China grants UvA patent for innovative bioplastic
The Chinese Patent Office has granted patent rights to the University of Amsterdam (UvA) for the invention of the biodegradable polymer developed in 2011 by UvA researchers Dr Albert Alberts and Prof. Gadi Rothenberg.
The Chinese patent, designated ZL200180050240.7, will be in force until 2031. This patent, which was submitted in collaboration with the Innovation Exchange Amsterdam and the Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences, covers the bioplastic polymer itself as well as its synthesis and preparation procedure.
The new biodegradable polymer was discovered by Alberts and Rothenberg in 2011 while researching catalytic biomass conversion. The non-toxic, non-hazardous plastic is made from 100% plant-based materials that do not compete with food production. It can be produced at such a low-cost that it can compete with conventional oil-based plastics, notably polyurethane and in some cases polypropylene and PET.
The UvA has licensed the rights to the bioplastic patents to Plantics BV, a spin-off company of the UvA's Sustainable Chemistry research priority area, which is commercialising the bioplastic. Plantics was co-founded in 2014 by Alberts and Rothenberg together with Helias Andriessen, who is the company’s managing director. The company has recently moved to a new production location at the Port of Amsterdam, where it is producing the new bioplastic on ton scale for a variety of applications in the packaging, composites and adhesives sectors.
Extremely important market
In recent years, the value of obtaining patents in China has increased considerably, as the Chinese Government is enforcing more strictly the patent laws. The Chinese market is extremely important for bioplastic production, especially considering that citric acid, which is one of the two chemical components in the UvA’s bioplastic, is produced in China on a very large scale and is much cheaper there than in Europe.