European Bio-based economy develops further through new alliances

European Bio-based economy develops further through new alliances

Renewable materials company Stora Enso (Sweden) and specialty chemicals company Rennovia Inc (USA) have announced a joint development and license agreement to cooperate on bio-based chemicals development.
Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will cooperate to develop processes for bio-based chemicals of interest to Stora Enso, employing Rennovia’s high-throughput catalyst discovery infrastructure and process development expertise. Rennovia focuses on the technology development of novel catalysts and processes for the cost advantaged production of chemicals from renewable feedstocks.

Valmet (Finland) and Biochemtex (Italy) will start to cooperate in the field of conversion of lignin into biochemicals. The development project will combine and adapt LignoBoost and Moghi technologies. LignoBoost is Valmet's proprietary technology for the extraction of purified lignin from black liquor produced by pulp mills. Moghi in turn is Biochemtex's proprietary technology for the conversion of lignin into biofuels and biochemicals. The cooperation with Valmet will allow to increase the feedstock available to produce bioPX, a key raw material for the production of PET made 100% from renewable sources. Existing pilot plant facilities, and the dedicated demo plant under construction in Italy will be key for these developments.

Dutch chemicals giant AkzoNobel and agro-industrial cooperative Royal Cosun have formed a new partnership to develop novel products from cellulose side streams resulting from sugar beet processing. The partnership will combine Royal Cosun's specialist knowledge in separating and purifying agricultural process side streams with AkzoNobel's expertise in the chemical modification of cellulose. Royal Cosun is currently performing a BBI Demo project Pulp2Value producing microcellulose fibers, galacturonic acid and arabinose from sugar beet pulp together with Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (Ghent).

IKEA SUPPLY AG (Sweden) and Newlight Technologies (USA) recently announced a supply, collaboration, and technology license agreement that will supply IKEA with AirCarbon PHA resins from Newlight’s commercial-scale production facilities and enable IKEA to produce AirCarbon thermoplastic under a technology license. Both the companies will work together to identify and select the low cost carbon sources and development of the technology to use a range of renewable substrates. The AirCarbon plants are initially intended to run using biogas from landfills as their sole carbon feedstock inputs, with intention to expand into carbon dioxide. Under the agreement, IKEA will purchase 50% of the material from Newlight’s 23 000 ton/year plant in the United States, and subsequently IKEA has exclusive rights in the home furnishings industry to use Newlight’s carbon capture technology to convert bio-based greenhouse gases, first from biogas and later from carbon dioxide, into AirCarbon thermoplastics. On the long term its the goal to develop capacities up to 453 000 ton/year.

Global Bioenergies (France) and LanzaTech (USA) announce the signature of a new collaboration agreement to broaden the feedstock flexibility of Global Bioenergies’ isobutene process and the product-portfolio of LanzaTech’s carbon capture technology.
Global Bioenergies has developed a process in which a microorganism can produce isobutene from renewable feedstock. Whereas the company’s primary focus has historically been to use industrial-grade or waste-derived sugars as feedstocks, the technological maturity of the process now allows us to envision a broader range of feedstocks, including non-biomass-derived sources of carbon.
LanzaTech’s carbon recycling technology enables the bio-based transformation of industrial wastes, such as carbon monoxide and/or carbon dioxide and hydrogen, into valuable commodities. Waste gases from the chemistry of steel making, for example, can be captured and recycled into biofuels or chemicals such as acetone and others. LanzaTech is currently building its first commercial facilities, which will produce ethanol from waste steel mill gases. These ethanol facilities will be able to change production to chemicals if desired through application of LanzaTech’s novel microorganisms. Global Bioenergies recently delivered isobutene from their demo-plant to Arlanxeo, a Dutch synthetic rubber manufacturer (JV of Lanxess and Saudi Aramco).

In addition, GlobalBioenergies and Cristal Union created a joined venture (50/50) IBN-One that is dedicated to construct a production plant (50 000 ton/year at the Pomacle-Bazancourt site) that uses fermentation to produce isobutene from first generation sugar. Ademe is providing 9 million euro funding through the Investissements d’Avenir programme, as part of the Demonstrators for the Environmental and Energy Transition section. As the project coordinator, Global Bioenergies will mainly be responsible for completing the industrial development of the process, and may receive up to €5.7 million. IBN-One may receive €3.3 million, which will mainly be dedicated to life cycle analyses, engineering design work in the plant, and the market value validation of derivatives intended for the fuels (gasoline and kerosene), materials and cosmetics. L'Oréal, a Fench cosmetics company is also involved in the project as potential first client for this bio-based isobutene. Derivatives of isobutene are important ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products, as they are CFC replacers in sprayers, foaming agent in mousses and shaving creams and has solvent properties (cleansing products). (Hydrogenated) Polyisobutene is used for formulation of lipsticks, but they can also be found in eye and facial makeup, skin care products and suntan products.

An agreement signed by Italian biotech company Bio-on and Cristal Union will see France’s first facility for the production of PHAs bioplastic from sugar beet co-products. The two companies, operating in sustainable biochemistry and sugar, alcohol and bioethanol production, will work together to build a production site with a 5 thousand tons/year output, expandable to 10 thousand tons/year. Requiring a 70 million euro investment, the facility will be located at a Cristal Union site creating 50 new jobs. PHAs, or polyhydroxyalkanoates, are bioplastics that can replace a number of traditional polymers currently made with petrochemical processes using hydrocarbons. The PHAs developed by Bio-on guarantee the same thermo-mechanical properties with the advantage of being completely naturally biodegradable.

Covestro, a Bayer Group company, and Reverdia – the joint venture between Royal DSM and Roquette Frères – have reached an agreement to jointly develop and promote thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) based on renewable raw materials. Covestro will employ Biosuccinium™ succinic acid from Reverdia (produced from 2012 using low-pH yeast technology) for the production of its Desmopan® -brand TPU (produced in Taiwan) available in various hardness grades, including 85 Shore A, 95A and 60D (resp. 85%, 52% and 42% bio-based content). Simulations by Reverdia suggest a roughly 65 percent reduction in the carbon impact compared with products produced with petrochemicals. Desmopan can be used in a variety of applications, including in the footwear and consumer electronics industries.

BASF and Avantium are teaming up to produce FDCA in the port of Antwerp (Belgium). More information can be found in this related news article