Bluepha, a China-based cutting-edge biotech company, launched its first portfolio of marine degradable biopolymers, Bluepha™ PHA, on March 1st, 2023.
At this event, Bluepha founders and two of their colleagues introduced the product properties, applications, production processes, biorefinery construction, and the revolutionary technology 'Biohybrid'. Mr. Jan Ravenstijn, co-founder and Advisory Board Member of the Global PHA Organization (GO!PHA), and Prof. Weng Yunxuan, the secretary-general of the Degradable Plastics Committee of China Plastics Processing Industry Association, also sent congratulatory messages to this event.
Over the past five years, Bluepha has always been working on sustainable solutions for human lives. The following text offers an overview of this event.
Natural PHA, a gift from Nature
Plastic pollution has received increasing attention worldwide, but it is not easy to solve at its root. Although most people have realized how severe the problem is, few can offer concrete and workable solutions. Consequently, humans are trapped in a ‘paradox of plastics’, where everyone is both a participant and a victim. In the past 5 years, Bluepha has continued exploring the true solutions. We think out of the box, keep going deep, and finally find the answer. The answer is not to invent a new material, but to leverage the gift from nature and bring it to our everyday lives.
PHA is a natural polymer found in the cells of a wide range of microorganisms, where it serves as a storage of carbon and energy. This polymer has existed on Earth for billions of years as a part of nature. What Bluepha did was to develop an industrial process for its mass production, which is named Bluepha™ commercially, or 蓝晶™ in Chinese.
Unlike the other five groups of natural polymers, paper&wood, natural rubber, cotton&linen, leather, silk, Bluepha™ is produced by microorganisms rather than plants or animals, using biomass as fermentation feedstocks. The material can degrade in almost all typical environments without leaving a trace.
Therefore, Bluepha™ is 'a fabulous blend with nature'. We are like shepherd from nature to human lives, bringing a whole new world with countless possibilities sustainably, and finally realizing 'a phabulous blend with nature'.
We believe that Bluepha™ PHA has the potential to make a difference in the future as a new group of natural materials.
Bluepha™, a sustainable choice
Bluepha™ has mechanical properties similar to petrochemical plastics. It offers excellent performance in terms of toughness, heat resistance, and barrier properties. Therefore, it can be used to manufacture green packaging, cosmetics, fabrics, and other advanced products. Currently, we have developed 2 grades for commercial use. One is BP350, a flexible grade with a high comonomer content, and the other is BP330, a rigid grade with a low comonomer content. For the convenience of customer use, we can deliver our resins in powder and pellet form. In addition, the direct application of BP330 and BP350, as well as blends in different proportions, can be adapted for different products.
The biggest difference from other degradable materials is that Bluepha™ can be degraded in all typical artificial and natural environments. In 2022, both BP330 and BP350 completed degradation experiments in different environments, including home composting and marine degradation, which are the most difficult for degradable materials to pass. The test results from the Belgium-based leading testing institution OWS show that:
In the home composting test, Bluepha™ film samples of both grades were completely degraded in only 10 weeks.
In the marine degradation tests, it took only 16 weeks for both grades to reach a biodegradation percentage of nearly 90%, which is very close to cellulose.
Bluepha™ is not only biodegradable but also biobased, which can be produced from various renewable biomass. Currently, Bluepha™ is made out of sustainably sourced plant oil, and both grades were certified to have 100% biobased carbon content by TÜV Austria, a third-party authority.
Green factory, ensuring a reliable supply
In 2022, we completed the construction of our first industrial-scale facility, BioFAB1, in Yancheng for Bluepha™ production. Bluepha overcame huge challenges and uncertainties, realizing production in the same year. The first phase, BioFAB1, has the capacity to produce 5,000 tonnes of Bluepha™ resins every year, which lays a solid foundation for the stable supply of PHA.
Based on our own technology developed in-house, the entire facility and each step of the production process have been carefully designed and verified. The overall layout of the facility is U-shaped, which shortens the distance between each production unit and improves operational efficiency. In different workshops, we introduced advanced technologies and approaches, such as magnetic levitation, and the reuse of recycled water, to minimize the energy and resources consumed. All of these advanced features make BioFAB1 a 'green factory'.
Designing a good production line is just the first step, achieving a "stable supply" also requires a modern operation management system. The core operation members of BioFAB1 have worked in Chinese, European, American, and Japanese biomanufacturers for years, which brings extensive management experience. We strive for excellence in every dimension, from personnel, equipment, and raw materials, to operation procedures, environmental safety, and testing. Rigorous scientific process control protocols and standard operating procedures have been written and implemented. BioFAB1 operates following process control principles, with quality management in accordance with ISO9001. All of these lead to a stable production process through strict control of parameter range and intermediate testing, which enables us to deliver a stable product to our customers reliably.
The construction of BioFAB2 is also on the agenda. Once it's finished, the new super facility can produce 25,000 tonnes of Bluepha™ resins per year in total. Fundamental research, offering a complete solution