Bob Moffit, product manager at Ashland Performance Materials

“While the bio-resin market hasn’t taken off yet, there’s no doubt that it’s active and important,” says Bob Moffit, product manager at Ashland Performance Materials in Dublin, Ohio. Moffit cares about the composites industry and has worked hard during his career to help it grow. Ashland is a global leader in unsaturated polyester resins and epoxy vinyl ester resins. The company developed its first bio-based resin under the Envirez™ brand more than a decade ago for the company John Deere.

One of Moffit’s focus areas is green composites. He is chair of ACMA’s Green Composites Council, one of the 12 Composites Growth Initiatives (CGIs). He has also led educational sessions at association events to discuss opportunities in the bio-based resin market.

CM Interviews recently spoke with Moffit about the dynamics of that market, and how the industry can better position itself for growth. Read the full article in the January/February issue of CM.

How has the bio-based resin market changed in the last few years?

Early on, bio-based resins generated a lot of publicity. They were new and fun to talk about, and Ashland received a lot of interest from fabricators that wanted to try “the soy resin,” as they called it. But that particular resin wasn’t really right for every processing application. Ashland monitored fabricators’ interest and began working on bio-based chemistries that would support these applications. Then, in the mid-to-late 2000s, more bio-based materials started hitting the market, including ones from DuPont Tate & Lyle, Archer Daniels Midland and others. That gave us and other resin companies more tools to work with and kept the interest up, in addition to allowing us to make products that fit different applications.

What’s driving the demand for green composites today?

There’s a lot of growth opportunities for composites, and much of that is driven through an increased overall interest in sustainable building practices. I’m working with the Green Building Council on a local and national level on issues that impact composite fabricators. What I’ve noticed is that many applications for bio-based materials are being driven by the push toward energy efficiency and low emissions. There’s also a big movement toward product transparency – talking about material ingredients and the effort to reduce higher-toxicity components. The Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Building Council is helping drive demand for the bio-based market. It is driving builders, architects, designers and others to search out lower-impact products and building methods, which creates opportunities for alternative materials. Composites overall are well positioned to meet the needs of green builders, because of the inherent characteristics of durability, low-weight, design flexibility and low thermal conductivity.