Select

Eco-friendly Plant-based Biodegradable Microbeads

Technology Overview

This technology is an integrated manufacturing solution to produce plant-based biodegradable beads to replace plastic microbeads.

Every year, more than 250,000 tons of plastic microbeads end up in our oceans. These plastic microbeads are used as abrasives in detergents, exfoliants in cosmetics, binders in paints and coatings, additives in lubricants for the oil and gas industry and many other applications. In some countries (UK, US and Canada), the use of plastic microbeads has already been banned for rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products, and now the European Chemical Agency is considering banning its use in all other applications. It is envisaged that other countries would soon follow suit, in order to reduce the environmental impact caused by these plastic microbeads.

This technology is targeted at cosmetic ingredients, chemical and cellulose manufacturers who are interested in adding an eco-friendly product to their portfolio. At full scale, the integrated manufacturing solution would allow the production of 100 tons/year of cellulose microbeads, and these microbeads can be used as a drop-in replacement for plastic microbeads in many applications.

Technology Features & Specifications

The integrated manufacturing solution consists of hardware, a production unit, a cellulose microbeads collection unit and a solvent recycling unit, software to control the process and proprietary know-how to optimise process parameters to produce beads with the desired characteristics. It is designed to work as a turnkey manufacturing solution with a continuous process to reduce costs and materials handling. It is also modular so that manufacturers can adjust production to demand.

The manufacturing solution has a narrow particle size distribution, and allows for customisation of beads in terms of:

  • Size (1μm – 1mm)
  • Colour
  • Texture (from smooth to rough)
  • Optical transmission (from transparent to opaque)
  • Porosity
  • Hardness

The cellulose microbeads produced using this method are comparable with plastic microbeads in the following aspects:

  • Density (bulk and true)
  • Humidity adsorption
  • Roundness
  • Hardness
  • Can be coloured

Potential Applications

The integrated manufacturing solution is targeted at specialty chemicals, cosmetic ingredients and cellulose manufacturers, allowing the production of up to 100 tons/year/unit of cellulose beads to be used as a drop-in replacement for plastic microbeads.

The cellulose microbeads are suitable for use in the following applications (but not limited to):

  • Personal care
  • Cosmetics
  • Detergents
  • Horticulture
  • Agriculture
  • Oil and gas
  • Building and construction
  • Paints, inks and coatings
  • Life science

Market Trends and Opportunities

The global microbeads market is $5.9 Billion in 2020 and expected to grow with a CAGR of 6.8% to 2025. Among the emerging market trends there is the increasing request for natural and biodegradable microbeads. The integrated manufacturing solution allows manufacturers to add an eco-friendly, biodegradable ingredient to their portfolio.

Customer Benefits

The cellulose microbeads produced using this technology has the following advantages:

  • Cost-effective
  • Biodegradable
  • Drop-in replacement for plastic microbeads
  • Multiple industrial application
  • Potential alternatives (e.g. sand, waxes, crushed kernels) are unable to match all the characteristics of plastic microbeads

Make an Enquiry