Polylactic acid (PLA)

TMO are experts in engineering thermophilic bacteria and fermentation of cellulosic sugars into high value energy products such as second generation ethanol. TMO’s patented Geobacillus platform has a natural pathway that converts sugars into lactic acid which can be used for the production of high quality PLA.

Polylactic acid or polylactide (PLA) is a thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources. This polymer has many applications and can be processed by Injection Moulding, Sheet Extrusion and Extrusion Blow Moulding to name but a few.

In 2008 a Process Demonstration Unit  (PDU) was built at Dunsfold Park near Guildford at a cost of £8m.The PDU has been successfully used to demonstrate the viability of many feedstocks for the production of ethanol by means of cutting edge thermal and enzymatic hydrolysis systems and fermentation technology.

TMO are utilising the capabilities of the PDU by upgrading the site to produce up to 3,000 t/pa of PLA.
The plant will initially produce 1st generation, non-GM PLA. However due to the expertise of TMO derived from a decade of R&D, the intention is to produce a second generation product supported by an increasing demand for more environmentally friendly bioplastics.

It is expected that this will mark the advent of the UK’s first commercial PLA production plant.