This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

June 06, 2007

DuPont Launches a New Polymer Derived from Corn

DuPont unveiled a new polymer on June 4th that is derived entirely from corn. Like DuPont's Sorona, the new polymer, called Cerenol, is derived from 1,3-propanediol (PDO). In a joint venture with Tate & Lyle, DuPont began producing PDO from corn in 2006, creating a new biobased product called Bio-PDO. Both Sorona and Cerenol are now produced from Bio-PDO. The new entry, Cerenol, is a polyetherdiol, or polyol for short. According to DuPont, the polymer will mainly be used as an additive in personal care products, heat transfer fluids, and thermoplastic elastomers such as spandex. DuPont also plans to use Cerenol for a new line of automotive primer and clear-coat paints and for new grades of its Hytrel thermoelastic polymers, which are used to make a variety of plastic products.

Biobased materials such as Bio-PDO and Cerenol help to reduce the use of petroleum and often have additional environmental benefits, such as being biodegradable. For Cerenol, DuPont estimates that the material results in a 40 percent reduction in the use of non-renewable energy and yields a 42 percent reduction in greenhouse gases, compared to a similar petroleum-based product. See the DuPont press release, the company's "Renewably Sourced Materials" Web site, and for background, the 2006 article on Bio-PDO from the EERE Network News.

A number of other companies and universities are developing biobased products that have close ties to biofuels. Polytechnic University in New York has developed a biobased plastic that, after use, can be easily broken down to produce biodiesel. Dow Chemical Company is producing propylene glycol—a key ingredient in antifreeze—from glycerin, which is a byproduct of biodiesel production. Ashland Inc. and Cargill plan to launch a manufacturing plant in Europe that does the same thing. See the press releases from Polytechnic University, Dow, and Ashland.