Before all my interviews get buried deep in my draft box, let’s start with Bioformix’ CEO Adam Malofsky, which I had a great time talking with during the Infocast Biobased Chemicals summit in San Diego. California
The green blog has heard of Bioformix last year in June through fellow blogger Green Underworld. Until recently, I have not found much information about the company and its technology except a press release in May last year when the company raised $1.05m in venture capital funding from CincyTech and Queen City Angels (QCA).
During my interview, I get to learn more about adhesives, sealants and coatings where some of the issues centered on solvent use, curing times, energy costs, curing efficacy and of course, issues with bisphenol-A. This is actually an industry I’m not really familiar with so I did lots of googling although when it comes to Bioformix’ monomer platform – di-substituted vinyl monomers – I really had a hard time finding information!
Now, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based company was founded in September 2009 by mostly ex-employees of “super glue” developer Loctite company (which was acquired by Henkel in 1997). According to Malofsky, their monomers has been known for decades but every previous attempt to commercialize the product (until know) has failed.
“Historically, di-substituted vinyl monomers were very unstable and have very poor yields. No one has been able to make it commercial. We discovered the secrets last year and was able to develop a quantitative process with a 90% plus yield,” said Malofsky.
The company filed broad-scale IP on the multiple processes for the monomer manufacture, use of the specific, proper stabilizer systems in the monomer manufacturing process as well as their formulation, storage and transportation. Bioformix has partnered with contract manufacturer Shepherd Chemical for toll production of the monomer, which Malofsky said can easily be around 3m lbs/year.
Now the fun part about their monomers, according to Malofsky, is that they can make high performance resins and polymers that provides epoxy-like bonds with high-speed curing at ambient temperatures. Imagine having an adhesive and coatings that can stick instantly without applying heat and at the same time compostable and metabolically compatible (I guess it means you can chew on it as much as you want…maybe they have fruity flavors too…). The polymers are said to exhibit excellent UV and light resistance, as well as thermal, solvent and water resistance.
“Energy savings are the dominant feature via a high speed (seconds or less) cure that requires no heat input. By example, eliminating heat for adhesive and binder cure allows for dramatic energy savings and the selection of lower cost, non-heat resistant materials in products.” – Malofsky
Bioformix’ first target applications is in light assembly adhesives that could include consumer electronics assembly and consumer adhesives. These are the low-volume, high margin applications where their polymers could demand price anywhere between $25/lb to $1000/lb.
“We can be profitable almost immediately. We are bringing out products that we can essentially sell for $200/lb in small volumes and ride that technology over a period time to commoditization,” said Malofsky.
The company’s monomer’s feedstock, acetic acid, can be sourced from petroleum-based materials (which currently what the company is using) or biological-based materials such as direct fermentation from sugar. Bioformix expects to start looking into renewable-based feedstock next year. Malofsky said they can easily switch feedstock as needed.
Bioformix could already supply 1,000kg/day of the monomers if required, although Malofsky noted that they’re more focused on selling formulated products and finding an application instead of substituting a chemical. Long term, the company expects to sell the monomers at prices well below $1/lb, which can compete against acrylics, epoxies, urethanes and reactive polymers.
“We will start selling in adhesives and coatings this fall until early 2012. Within the first three years, we expect to complete higher production scale strategic partnerships for both monomer and polymer manufacture as well as application development,” said Malofsky.
The company is said to be working already with leading adhesive and coatings players in several application areas. The companies business strategy in end market applications is to license as well as set up a separate startup with another venture group. The company will also be looking to form strategic partnership with a large chemical company for the monomer manufacture.
Here is a video of the blog’s interview with Adam Malofsky: