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Cosun finances research into bioplastics at Avans

22 January 2016
The Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy (CoE BBE) of Avans in Breda is carrying out research into the production of bioplastics from renewable raw materials such as sugars. In the light of the very encouraging results so far, Royal Cosun is providing funds for a follow-up study.
Plants can provide renewable raw materials to produce bioplastics (biopolymers). In comparison with the current oil-based plastics, bioplastics are less harmful to the climate. Researchers Luiz Canalle and Jack van Schijndel and their students at Avans University of Applied Sciences have successfully developed an efficient method to make new chemical building blocks for high quality bioplastics.
“We have developed new sugar derivatives belonging to a class of compounds known as furans. They have a lot of potential; the best known example, HMF, is enjoying a great deal of international interest. The furan components we have made are stable and, according to the experts, offer lots of potential new applications. They are really very special,” says Canalle, head of biopolymer research at Avans.
Cosun is one of the biggest agrofood groups in the Netherlands and has serious growth ambitions in the biobased economy. A key pillar in its strategy is to develop high quality materials based on sugar, the main product to be made by Cosun’s Suiker Unie business group. Cosun’s innovation manager, Ad de Laat, explains, “The technology developed by Avans seamlessly matches our policy. We think it is truly innovative and promising.”
Faster development
Avans and Cosun officially sealed their partnership on Thursday, 21 January. Cosun has committed itself to work with Avans in the years ahead on the further development of the production processes for furans and the resultant biopolymers.