Vertichem in the green chem scene

Sorry for the sparse posts folks, I have been very busy with my day job at ICIS Chemical Business plus attending several conferences including last week’s Investor Day by Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan.

I was able to interview Dow’s VP of Sustainability Neil Hawkins and will post that interview soon. I’ll also share some updates on Dow’s green polyethylene project plans in Brazil, their solar shingle business and bits and pieces of their strategies in the clean tech areas (wind energy and battery storage in particular).

Yesterday, during another investor day meeting this time in New York, lithium compound producer Rockwood Holdings talked about the huge potential market of electric vehicles and energy storage batteries to their business. I’ll also post some information about it.

For now, here is an interesting Canadian company that exploded in the green chem news scene last week.

Toronto-based Vertichem (according to their website) plans to harness the power of hardwood chips to produce specialty chemicals based on lignin (biopolymer), xylose (sugar) and cellulose. The company is looking at sawmills and forestry industries as source of feedstock. Vertichem said it holds exclusive US patents in the process of converting woody biomass into specialty green chemicals.

We don’t know yet what particular chemicals Vertichem will focus on first and where the company is right now in terms of development, production or commercialization stages but I’m sure we will hear more in the next few months (or weeks).

Vertichem has commenced a $25 million equity raise and has begun marketing an upcoming investor tour. Last week, the company announced it has received $3 million in capital-market funding, as well as forming a 50/50 exclusive joint venture with Warner Babcock Institute (WBI) to investigate new applications for lignin- and xylose-based specialty chemicals.

WBI is co-founded by John Warner, who is known in the green chem field as one of the fathers of Green Chemistry alongside EPA’s chief R&D Paul Anastas. WBI said, they chose Vertichem to be their exclusive partner in the lignin and xylose space because of the company’s patents.

Another interesting aspect of this company is the chairman and chief executive of Vertichem itself. David Milroy is also the founder of New Zealand-based Pure Power Global which started venturing in the lignin-based biofuels and chems as well as in algae since 2008. Here is a nice article from Forbes on Dave Milroy and about his Pure Power company.

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