InterviewUS start-up firm replaces phosphates in cleaners

19 November 2009 22:15  [Source: ICIS news]

By Doris de Guzman

NEW YORK (ICIS news)--US start-up company Rivertop Renewables plans to sell a low-cost detergent builder based on glucaric acid in 2010, replacing phosphates in household cleaners, the company’s chairman said on Thursday.

Glucaric acid is formed by oxidising glucose. The US Department of Energy (DOE) recognised glucaric acid as one of the top 12 building block chemicals that can be converted to a number of high-value, bio-based chemicals or materials.

“There has never been any significant commercial production for glucaric acid because it is expensive to produce,” said Don Kiely, founder and chairman of Montana-based Rivertop Renewables, in an interview with ICIS.

The markets for glucaric acid, he said, are undeveloped with most current production being used in research or as a health supplement ingredient.

“Fortunately, our patented oxidation technology can now produce commercial-scale glucaric acid as well as other carbohydrate-based building block chemicals at an economical price,” Kiely said.

“Our target is to start pilot-scale production of around 3m lbs/year [1,361 tonnes/year] in the middle of 2010,” he added.

Rivertop Renewables is currently in talks with major carbohydrate chemical manufacturers that can make and distribute its chemicals at low cost, as well as with more than 20 companies interested in the potential application of its glucaric acid, Kiely said.

The company also plans to launch in late 2010 glucaric acid-based corrosion inhibitors for road salt de-icers.

Other applications in development include the use of glucaric acid in concrete admixtures as well as a biodegradable polymer gel in diapers that can compete with polyacrylates.

Rivertop Renewables was formed in January 2008. Kiely said the company just introduced themselves to the venture capital community a few weeks ago.

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By: Doris de Guzman
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