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DuPont opens Illinois plant providing alternative to oil-based plastics

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Most plastic use fossil fuels. DuPont wants to provide an alternative with FDME-based polymers.

DuPont and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) on Monday announced the opening of the world’s first biobased “furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME)” pilot production plant in Decatur, Illinois.

FDME is a molecule derived from fructose rather than fossil fuels that’s used to produce plastics. DuPont built the plant to provide a commercial alternative to oil-based plastics, which are used in everything from supermarket bags to electronic equipment.

“We’re confident FDME is both the more sustainable option and the better-for-business option,” said Michael Saltzberg, Ph.D., global business director for Biomaterials at DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “This molecule, and its numerous applications, will be high-performing, cost-effective and better for the environment.”

The success of the new molecule somewhat depends on companies’ desire to reduce their environmental footprint through more sustainable products. FDME-based polymers must also provide an affordable alternative.

“Companies and consumers are of course concerned about their environmental footprint, but their bottom line will always be a key priority,” said ADM Chief Technology Officer Todd Werpy. “This new, innovative product will help customers replace plastics with materials that are more environmentally friendly, better performing and cost efficient.”

One FDME-based polymer developed by DuPont is polytrimethylene furandicarboxyate (PTF), which can be used for lighter, more sustainable plastic bottles. DuPont cited research showing that PTF has up to 10-15 times better CO2 barrier performance.

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