The greatest value is lasting value. The most sustainable solutions deliver economic value while considering tomorrow. But sometimes what it takes to actually bring a breakthrough technology to life is having the right partner. Collaboration can make the difference.
Corbion demonstrated the power of co-creation in dramatic fashion when we were presented with the Bio-Based Product of the Year Award by Bio Market Insights in April 2019 for our SENTIALL® biotechnology. SENTIALL is a versatile co-polymer platform that delivers specific, high-value functionalities such as adhesion or controlled release in a range of industries, encompassing pharmaceutical, biomedical, agrochemical, cosmetics, and household applications.
In accepting the award, we were accompanied by our collaborators from Green-Basilisk, a spin-off of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), with whom we co-developed an exciting application for the construction industry: self-healing concrete.
The concept was born when a team at TU Delft discovered how to manufacture a micro-organism that, when exposed to oxygen and water, would fill any cracks in concrete by converting substrates into limestone, thereby repairing those cracks automatically. Integrating this bacteria into virgin concrete, or applying it to cracks formed in existing concrete, would provide a means of “self-healing” in these structures.
The team experienced technical challenges, however, when using the self-healing concrete in practice; during the making, pouring and curing of the concrete, the substrate used failed to survive the process. So TU Delft (and later, its commercial spin-out, Green-Basilisk) partnered with Corbion to explore substrate alternatives that might overcome the technical hurdles experienced with the initial prototypes.
The solution was found in Corbion’s SENTIALL® controlled release technology, which provided a key component of the self-healing mechanism through an oligomer that releases the substrate when a crack occurs without affecting the setting time or the strength of the concrete.
“Thanks to Corbion's contribution, the bacteria are only released when cracks appear in the concrete,” says Bart van der Woerd, managing director of Green-Basilisk. “When the coating breaks off, it immediately serves as food for the bacteria.”
The result offers dramatic improvements in the durability of concrete structures, reduces costly maintenance and repairs, and helps to safeguard the integrity of tunnels, bridges, viaducts, and other structures affecting public safety.
By actively co-creating with experts in diverse disciplines and industries, Corbion is adapting the capabilities of SENTIALL technology to deliver efficiencies and product lifespans never before possible through sustainable solutions of lasting value.
By fine-tuning polymer architecture, SENTIALL can help yield specific properties such as flowability, adhesion, flexibility, toughness, or impact resistance. Controlled release may be triggered by many different mechanisms such as mechanical force, hydrolysis or melting, depending on the application.
In other words, the SENTIALL biotechnology is as promising as our next partner’s market-shifting idea.
“We do not focus on the end market, but actively look for partners who want to improve their products or make them more sustainable with our copolymers,” says Frederik Feddes, Vice-President of Biochemicals at Corbion. “When we combine our strengths and share a sense of urgency with the right partner, we can make things happen that never could before.”