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Ajinomoto-Toray sign research agreement on biobased nylon
Feb '12
Ajinomoto Co Inc and Toray Industries Inc have entered into an agreement to begin joint research for manufacturing the nylon raw material 1,5-pentanediamine (1,5-PD) from the amino acid lysine produced from plant materials by Ajinomoto using fermentation technology, and commercializing a biobased nylon made from this substance.

Biobased nylon is a type of nylon manufactured by polymerizing chemicals produced from plant materials. The biobased nylon that Ajinomoto and Toray will research and develop is produced from plant materials by decarbonating the amino acid lysine through an enzyme reaction to make 1,5-PD, which Toray then polymerizes with dicarboxylic acid.

The amino acid lysine is a core product of the Ajinomoto Group produced using fermentation technology. This biobased nylon fiber made from 1,5-PD is not only sustainable because it is plant-based, but also shows promise for development into highly comfortable clothing. For example, nylon 56 fiber manufactured using 1,5-PD is pleasing to the touch, yet has the same strength and heat resistance as conventional nylon fiber made from the petrochemical derivative hexamethylenediamine. It also absorbs and desorbs moisture nearly as well as cotton.

The two companies have already carried out successful test production of 1,5-PD using Ajinomoto's feed-use lysine, as well as test production of biobased nylon made by polymerizing 1,5-PD. They plan to further expand the scope of their collaboration to include development of production processes and evaluation of use in textile and plastics applications.

This partnership between Ajinomoto, a leading manufacturer of amino acids, and Toray, a leading manufacturer of nylon, will enable the creation of biobased nylon products that are competitive in terms of quality, environmental protection and cost. Moreover, the companies will deepen their collaboration with a view toward using the membrane-integrated bioprocess being developed by Toray in the production technology for lysine, the raw material for 1,5-PD.

Through its businesses, Ajinomoto is working to contribute to solutions to the challenges facing humanity in the 21st century, namely global sustainability, food resources and human health. In its bioscience and fine chemicals business, Ajinomoto is leveraging core Bio-Fine (bioscience and fine chemicals) technologies to add biomaterials as a new business area in which it will work toward the realization of a low-carbon, sustainable, recycling-oriented society. To accelerate development of new businesses and products, Ajinomoto will continue to actively pursue open innovation through partnerships with other companies and organizations around the world.

Toray's management policy states that all business strategies must place priority on the global environment in an effort to help realize a sustainable low-carbon society. Under this policy, Toray is expanding its biomass-derived materials business centered on research and development of biomass-derived polymers, including biobased nylon and polylactic acid (PLA). Expanding the biobased polymer business is also an important initiative central to the Green Innovation Business Expansion (GR) Project, which is part of Toray's new medium-term management program ”Project AP-G 2013” launched in April 2011.

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