07 May 2012 00:00 [Source: ICB]
US detergent and cleaning products companies Procter & Gamble and Seventh Generation are challenging renewable chemical firms to provide cost-effective plant-based surfactant raw materials that are stable and sustainable in terms of supply sourcing, and that can provide the same or improved properties as traditional surfactants.
Consumer products firms want drop-in, renewable feedstocks
"We want all of our products to be 100% renewable-based in the coming years," said Wolf. "We are challenging suppliers to come up with 100% bio-based surfactants."
Seventh Generation has already been selling a laundry detergent product that has 98% bio-based surfactants as certified by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The company is working with France-based chemical firm Rhodia on palm kernel oil-based surfactants called Laureth-6 alcohols.
The companies are aiming to produce the surfactant using sugar feedstock as well.
"One-hundred percent bio-based chemicals are not cheap but we are able to still offer customers competitive prices by reformulating our enzymes," said Wolf.
P&G Chemicals director of customer business development, Tom Nelson, reiterated P&G's sustainability goal of using renewable-based surfactant materials for its detergent products as soon as possible. P&G is working with several US renewable chemical companies such as Zeachem, LS9 and Amyris.
"Anybody that can produce long-term sustainable and cost-competitive raw materials will remain in P&G's long-term surfactants formulation," said Nelson. "We need to make sure we will be able to get the reliability to supply our products across the world."
BIO-BASED CHEMS IN ACTION
Bio-refining and novel molecules will be hitting the surfactants markets soon, ushering in new ways to meet evolving requirements, speakers from several US renewable chemical companies said at the ICIS conference.
Elevance Renewable Sciences' (ERS) 180,000 tonne/year biorefinery joint venture with Wilmar in Indonesia will be operational during the second half of 2012, said Andy Corr, platform leader for consumer intermediates and ingredients at ERS.
The company has a second bio-refinery of 270,000 tonne/year capacity planned for operations by 2013 at Natchez, Mississippi, in the US.
ERS will use a catalytic metathesis process that can produce molecules from C10-C18 chains and up, making "green" (non-petroleum) olefins and lauric oleochemicals by a rearrangement of unsaturated carbon bonds using a variety of feedstocks.
COMING FROM PHARMA
Codexis intends to take its expertise in the pharmaceutical area into the development of detergent alcohols, said vice president of biobased chemicals, Bill Rothwell.
Codexis uses a second-generation sugar feedstock, such as bagasse from sugarcane, that is converted to detergent alcohols via organic processes optimizing enzymes or micro-organisms.
"We want to move immediately to second-generation detergent alcohols using biomass," said Rothwell. "There's an emerging volatility on the sugar stream and by moving preemptively to second-generation sugars, that volatility will be substantially minimized."
The company said it is on the verge of commercializing its C12-C14 drop-in detergent alcohols but it will also work on tailored alcohols as well as biomass-based surfactant chemistries.
Patrick Foley, chief scientific officer for the newly formed P2 Science noted that innovative chemistry could set the pace for designing next-generation chemicals.
P2 Science is actively involved in bringing chemistries for carbohydrate-based surfactants to commercialization.
Algae oils producer Solazyme plans to introduce in 2013 its algae-derived lauric oils, which can be used as surfactant feedstock. The algae-based lauric oils can replace lauric oils based on palm kernel oil (PKO) or coconut oil (CNO), said Tim Dummer, senior director of business development at Solazyme.
"This will be an exact drop-in replacement for PKO or CNO-based lauric oils," he said.
By weight, PKO usually contains 45% lauric acid, and CNO contains 48%.
Solazyme can modify the fatty acid composition and saturation of its genetically engineered algae oils to produce lauric acid contents greater than 80%.
Solazyme estimates the PKO market at $9.3bn (€7.1bn) and CNO at $5.3bn as of 2011.
The company has formed a joint venture with US agribusiness firm Bunge to build a commercial-scale facility in Brazil that will produce 100,000 tonnes/year of algae-based oils, mostly for oleochemical applications.
The facility is expected to start by the second half of 2013.
For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.
Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.
Sample issue >>
My Account/Renew >>
Register for online access >>
|ICIS Top 100 Chemical Companies|
|Download the listing here >>|