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Valorisation of corn processing by-products into plastic bio-composites

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CORNposite (Valorisation of corn processing by-products into plastic bio-composites)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2016-07-31

CORN VALLEY and NATUREPLAST have developed CORNposite, an innovative biocomposite that takes advantage of the corn processing expertise of CORN VALLEY and the biocomposites know-how of NATUREPLAST to offer consistent high performance, corn by-products based biocomposites at competitive prices. The objective of CORNposite is to bring this technology into a commercial stage, placing on the market novel environmentally friendly biocomposites to be used for different applications (construction materials, packaging and agricultural films).
Biocomposites are strongly increasing their share in the plastics converters industries. The biocomposites sector is expected to grow at a 12% C.A.G.R. between 2016 and 2021. Current biocomposites are mainly based on wood or other plant fibres that have seasonal variability and are also used for other applications like particle and fibre board, textiles, pellets or briquettes. These circumstances limit their availability and increase their demand and prices. Corn stover and mycotoxin contaminated flours are abundant and low value corn processing by-products. By pretreating and blending them with plastics we have obtained competitive price, environmentally friendly biocomposites that show outstanding performance and processability and can be tailored to fulfil different end products requirements (construction materials, packaging and agricultural films). We expect the accumulated revenues from CORNposite will be over €8 million by 2023 while the accumulated turnover by that year is estimated to be more than €100 million.
CORNposite Feasibility Study has pointed out the unique business opportunity provided by CORNposite and its technical, commercial and economic viability and identified the technical and commercial tasks that need to be developed in order to get CORNposite successfully into the market. Therefore we have decided to continue with the project. As the natural path after the Phase 1 project from the SME Instrument, CORN VALLEY and NATUREPLAST consider the Phase 2 funding opportunity as the best option.
CORNposite has been demonstrated at TRL6 with the production of representative samples of corn stover and mycotoxins contaminated flours based biocomposites, tailored to manufacture our end users products (construction and building materials, packaging and agricultural films). During the last 5 months we have performed different tasks in order to analyse the technical and commercial viability of CORNposite:
- We have further developed CORNposite formulations (increasing fibre load to 30%), defined its end applications (construction materials, packaging and agricultural films), analysed the specific technical requirements and defined the necessary steps to execute the project and bring CORNposite into the market.
- We have evaluated the commercial potential of CORNposite and elaborated a Commercial Plan to achieve our sales objectives. To do this we have developed a market analysis, identified our end users and planned dissemination activities. In addition, we have performed a Freedom to Operate (FTO), Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and regulatory analysis. Our main potential competitors and market barriers have also ben researched.
- We have conducted a financial feasibility assessment, analysing our expected economic projections in three different scenarios: realistic, conservative and optimistic.
- Finally we have prepared a Business Plan including a definition of the business model and a risk assessment.
CORNposite shares the advantages of traditional biocomposites while overcoming their limitations. It combines excellent mechanical properties and processability in an eco-friendly material and guarantees a readily available and homogeneous product which can be tailored to suit the different end products requirements at an affordable price (2€/kg). We expect CORNposite will reach a 3.3% penetration (€30 million) in the wood plastic composites market (main market for CORNposite compounds) while CORNposite technology will be implemented in a 3% of the European production of biocomposites by 2023 (30,000 tons).
CORNposite is perfectly aligned with the flagship initiative for a resource-efficient Europe under the Europe 2020 strategy, which supports the shift towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy to achieve sustainable growth. CORNposite addresses this challenge in various ways: (1) finding a profitable use for low value agricultural by-products, (2) reducing the environmental impact of traditional plastic materials (30-50% reduction in carbon footprint) and (3) minimising waste generation by producing 100% recyclable materials (with up to 50% of bio-based content).