NatureWorks Broadens its Range of Chemical Intermediates Based on Renewable Feedstocks

Company is the first to offer high-purity, polymer-grade Ingeo™ meso-lactide in commercial quantities. Samples available in 2012 and commercial quantities in 2013.

MINNETONKA, Minn., July 6, 2011 --  NatureWorks LLC announced today that as part of a major capital investment at its Blair, Nebraska, Ingeo lactide and biopolymer manufacturing facility, the company will be the world’s first to offer in commercial quantities a high-purity, polymer-grade lactide rich in the stereoisomer meso-lactide. Identified as Ingeo M700 lactide, the new material can be used as an intermediate for copolymers, amorphous oligomers and polymers, grafted substrates, resin additives/modifiers, adhesives, coatings, elastomers, surfactants, thermosets, and solvents.

Until now, several niche-focused producers have attempted to address the functionality requested by the market with what are described chemically as racemic lactides. "Compared to these, the high-purity Ingeo M700 will be lower in cost, easier to process, and an overall better alternative to high-priced racemic lactide, as well as L- and D-lactides, in a host of industrial applications," said Dr. Manuel Natal, global segment leader for lactide derivatives at NatureWorks.

As compared to racemic lactide’s melting point of nearly 130°C, and L- and D- lactide’s 97°C, Ingeo M700’s melting point is below 60°C. This makes for a more effective chemical intermediate on a number of different levels. For example, Ingeo M700 offers a more efficient way to deliver ester functionality and, because it is effectively an anhydrous form of lactic acid, processors will not have to deal with water when using Ingeo M700. Meso-lactide is up to two times more susceptible to ring-opening reactions than L-, D-, or racemic lactides, which can mean less catalyst usage, lower reaction temperatures, or both. It can be processed below 70°C, which under most circumstances eliminates the need to handle expensive solid particles and allows easier processing.

NatureWorks was the first company in the world to manufacture a biopolymer in commercial quantities. Today, Ingeo is the world’s leading biopolymer brand and is used in rigid and flexible packaging, electronics, clothing, housewares, health and personal care, semi-durable products, and food service ware. In 2010, NatureWorks began offering high-performance L-lactide intermediates.

By early 2013, the company will offer thousands of tons of Ingeo M700 lactide. Prior to this availability, meso-lactide samples will be available in 2012 to advance market development.

For more information on the upcoming availability of meso-lactide Ingeo M700, contact Dr. Manuel Natal at inquiry@natureworksllc.com.

About NatureWorks LLC
NatureWorks LLC is a company dedicated to meeting the world’s needs today without compromising the earth’s ability to meet the needs of tomorrow. NatureWorks LLC is the first company to offer a family of commercially available, low-carbon footprint Ingeo biopolymers derived from 100 percent annually renewable resources with performance and economics that compete with oil-based plastics and fibers. For more information, visit www.natureworksllc.com.

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Ingeo and the Ingeo logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of NatureWorks LLC in the USA and other countries.

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