US Gevo commercial plant to produce bio-based PX by 2014

08 September 2011 19:31  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS)--US renewable chemicals producer Gevo expects to have its first commercial plant producing isobutanol-based paraxylene (PX) by 2014, a company executive said on Thursday.

The target date will depend on how its process development phase progresses, said chief operating officer Christopher Ryan, who spoke at the company’s investor day meeting in New York.

Gevo is currently discussing a bio-PX joint development agreement with a third party, which it plans to announce by the fourth quarter.

“We’ll finish off the process development for bio-PX, and we’ll likely go to pilot stage next year,” said Ryan.

Gevo expects its current partner, Japan-based Toray Industries, to be part of the commercialisation phase of the bio-PX project. Toray is the largest polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film supplier in the world, Ryan said.

PX and monoethylene glycol (MEG) are feedstock for PET.

The companies announced in June their successful sample production of a 100% renewable-based PET film using Gevo’s bio-PX and commercially available sugar-based MEG.

“We have a LOI [letter of intent] with Toray where they will source our bio-PX to produce renewable PET in the future,” said Ryan.

Consumer-goods producers such as Coca-Cola and Pepsico are currently looking to use renewable-based PET for their beverage bottles.

“The fact is the technology they’re using today only allows them to use 20% renewable-based materials coming from biobased MEG. They claim up to 30% renewable-based content using savvy marketing,” said Ryan.

He added: “What we’ve done is find a way to use bio-isobutanol to… make 100% renewable PET.”

Gevo estimates that by 2015, the global market for PET will be 31m tonnes and will be worth $6.5bn (€4.6bn).

The company is targeting bio-isobutanol production volume of around 10m gal/year in 2012 (38m litres/year) and 60m gal/year in 2013, ramping up to 200m gal/year in 2014 and 350m gal in 2015.

($1 = €0.71)

For more on PET visit ICIS chemical intelligence
Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives in Green Chemicals

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