Polyamide from renewable raw materials

A material developed, produced and marketed by BASF over fifty years ago in the pioneering phase of engineering plastics is undergoing a renaissance; at K 2007, the world’s largest plastics
exhibition, BASF is unveiling Ultramid© BALANCE, a polyamide 6,10. This is based to the extent of about 60 per cent on sebacic acid, a renewable raw material derived from castor oil.

“Given that interest in materials based on renewables has risen sharply in many markets we have decided to bring the product back into our range”, explains Kurt Hoefli, Head of Marketing for
BASF’s Engineering Plastics in Europe. “We have woken it up from a long sleep because the subject of renewable raw materials has become important to our customers.” This established and now
revitalized material combines a relatively low density for a polyamide with good low-temperature impact resistance and has great dimensional stability due to its low water absorption.
Accordingly, it can be employed not only in classic PA 6 applications, but also wherever the use of PA 6 in the past has run up against limitations.

Castor oil – suitable for many plastics – Apart from Ultramid BALANCE BASF has another plastic in its portfolio that is produced in substantial measure from castor oil. BASF’s subsidiary
Elastogran has already presented its new polyol Lupranol© BALANCE 50. This can be used for manufacturing slabstock foams for mattress production. Castor oil is obtained from the seed of
the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis). It was in use for thousands of years as a medicine, but it has also long been used in engineering oils, cosmetics, coatings and in hydraulic oils. The
principal regions where the castor oil plant is grown as a crop are India, Brazil and China.

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