The American Chemistry Council creates a new Biobased Chemistry Network

The American Chemistry Council
The American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) – focused on anticipating and preventing accidents, as well as on educating the public about how to use chemical products safely – created a new Biobased Chemistry Network to help educate policymakers on how to develop workable regulatory programs for the growing biobased chemistry industry. Global sales of this segment range from $13.5 billion to $20 billion, with the US accounting for approximately 20 percent of those sales, or $2.7 billion to $4 billion.

Biobased chemistry is a subcategory of industrial biotechnology. It includes the manufacture of chemical products using enzymes, micro-organisms, fermentation, or bio-catalysis at any stage of production, and also includes the manufacture of chemical products from renewable resources.

According to professor Patrick B. Smith of the Michigan Molecular Institute, “biobased chemical technology is seeing resurgence today but it is by no means new.  Prior to World War II, furfural, furan and tetrahydrofuran were obtained from cellulosic materials (corn cobs). Butanol was produced by acetone/butanol/ethanol fermentation using carbohydrate subtrates. Glycerol was dehydrated to allyl alcohol and acrolein, the precursor for acrylic acid, as early as the 1880s. Hydrogenolysis of carbohydrates to produce 1,2-propylene glycol, ethylene glycol and glycerol was reported in 1933. Ethanol dehydration to ethylene was documented as early as 1932. The reason these biobased technologies were not successfully commercialized is obvious. During the time period of these early developments, between 1920 and 1969, the price of petroleum never exceeded $3.10 per barrel, and it was in abundant supply relative to other feedstocks”.

The American Chemistry Council said many of the benefits of this maturing industry have yet to be realized. Lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduced volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and other air pollutants, as well as reductions in energy needs can be achieved through biobased chemistry. Other potential benefits include energy diversity and security, and the growth of domestic manufacturing and associated job creation.

Currently, the network includes 19 member companies: Akzo Nobel Chemicals, BASF Corp., Braskem America, Inc., Chevron Oronite Company, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Eastman Chemical, ExxonMobil Chemical Company, Future Fuel Chemical, Galata Chemicals, Lanxess Corp., MeadWestvaco, Metabolix, Myriant Corporation, OPX, Biotechnologies, Shell Chemical, Solvay NA, Virent.

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