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Battelle Bio-based Toner Inks

Challenge

Develop an easily removed, bio-based toner ink.

Problem

More than 180,000 tonnes of electrostatic dry toners based on hydrocarbon-derived resins are used in the United States annually to make more than 3 trillion copies in photocopiers and printers. Conventional toners are based on synthetic thermoplastic resins such as styrene, acrylates and styrene butadiene. These conventional resins make it difficult to remove the toner during recycling; a process called de-inking. This makes paper recycling more difficult. Although others have developed de-inkable toners, none of the competing technologies has become commercial due to high costs and inadequate de-inking performance.

Solution

With support from the Ohio Soybean Council, Battelle and Advanced Image Resources (AIR) developed bio-based resins and toners for office copiers and printers using soy oil and protein along with carbohydrates from corn as chemical feedstocks. Bio-derived polyols were used in making polyester, polyamide, and polyurethane resins and toners, and chemical groups susceptible to degradation during the standard de-inking process were incorporated.

The new toner is sold under trade names BioRez and Rezilution.

Benefits

Easier recycling of waste office paper without sacrificing print quality
Lower toxicity components than traditional toner inks
Lifecycle analysis shows significant energy and carbon savings (at 25% market penetration in 2010, this technology could save 9.25 trillion Btu/yr and eliminate over 360,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions per year)
Improved, more efficient de-inking simplifies recycling and generates better quality secondary fibres

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