Price and market trends: Renmatix and Virent unveil bio-based paraxylene and packaging collaboration

13 December 2013 15:03 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

Integrating local feedstock processing with on-site commercial production will increase the viability of using renewables

US-based biochemicals producers Renmatix and Virent have signed an agreement to cooperate on the conversion of cellulosic sugars to renewable chemicals and bio-based packaging materials.

In a strategic collaboration – revealed at the ICIS Innovation Awards event in London on 6 December – the companies will cooperate to optimise flows of sugar-based feedstocks from Renmatix to use Virent’s renewable-based technology for the production of paraxylene (PX).

PX is a basic raw material used in the manufacture of purified terephthalic acid (PTA), which is used in the production of plastic bottles and fibers made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

The companies said integrating local feedstock processing with on-site commercial production will lower costs and increase the viability of using renewable chemicals in bio-based packaging and plastics for industrial and consumer goods.

Selected by ICIS as the “Best Innovation by a Small to Mid-Sized Enterprise”, Renmatix’s Plantrose process produces affordable cellulosic sugars as the bridge between upstream biomass and downstream plant-based chemicals. Renmatix’s C5 (xylose) and C6 (glucose) Plantro sugars are produced by a water-based method known as supercritical hydrolysis.

“Products derived from renewable resources are in great demand and that demand is driving significant change across conventional value chains. This recognition from ICIS reinforces that sustainable technologies, which were once the seed of a meaningful shift have grown to become an industry mandate,” said Mike Hamilton, CEO of Renmatix.

“Working with the right partners, like Virent, on the common goal of providing scalable solutions with affordable economics, we are pioneering the bio-based value chains that can meet those needs,” he added.

Virent’s bio-based paraxylene product, BioFormPX, won this year’s ICIS award for Best Innovation for Sustainability. BioFormPX is chemically identical to paraxylene made from petroleum and allows manufacturers to offer customers 100% bio-based PET packaging, fibers and films.

Virent and Coca-Cola entered into a strategic partnership in 2011 to accelerate the commercialisation of 100% renewable, recyclable PlantBottle packaging.

“The market growth for sustainable products will be met by innovative technologies working in partnership with the world’s leading brands” said Lee Edwards, CEO of Virent.

He added: “The joint collaboration announced today between Virent and Renmatix in support of Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle goals… aims to accelerate delivery of commercial volumes of renewable chemicals by integrating our world class technologies to achieve lower costs and higher efficiency from sustainable biomass based feedstocks.

“We are delighted and proud to be recognized by ICIS, along with Renmatix, in this year’s awards.”

By Will Beacham