Italy-based Aquafil and Californian biotech company Genomatica join forces to create sustainable caprolactam, a key ingredient to producing 100% sustainable nylon. The collaboration between the two companies aims to develop a commercially-advantageous bioprocess (Genomatica’s GENO CPL process) to make caprolactam using plant-based renewable ingredients, rather than the crude oil-derived materials traditionally used by the nylon industry.
Used in a variety of nylon-based products including carpets and apparel, caprolactam has a worldwide market of over five million tons per year. Genomatica’s GENO CPLTM process aims to provide an environmentally-friendly way to make caprolactam with better economics, including for smaller-scale plants. Additionally, it will enable licensees and their customers to differentiate themselves by offering a more sustainable bio-based product whose performance will be fully comparable with nylon made from crude oil-derived caprolactam, and which will not require any machine or process adjustments by the nylon supply chain. Genomatica is the licensor of the GENO CPLTM process.
Aquifil is one of the leading players, both in Italy and globally, in the production of Polyamide 6 (nylon 6): a landmark in terms of quality and product innovation. The Italian company is a leading producer of nylon yarn and launched the ECONYL® Regeneration System in 2011 to produce nylon made from 100 percent regenerated waste. A large and growing number of globally recognized sportswear, fashion, luxury and carpet brands choose ECONYL® as the sustainable ingredient for their product. Like the ECONYL® process, the GENO CPLTM process eliminates the significant amount of by-products common to most crude oil-derived caprolactam production, and will allow producers to diversify their sources in terms of raw material.
Genomatica invites other leaders in the nylon value chain to join its bio-nylon program – and Aquafil encourages further collaboration with supply chain partners. By joining the program, companies ranging from chemical producers and product makers to agriculture companies and major brands can engage, influence priorities and gain access to Genomatica’s technologies and supply of bio-based chemicals.
“As proven by the success of ECONYL®, consumers and manufacturers look forward to opportunities to play an active role in the circular economy. We aim to be a leader of sustainability for nylon, and we are excited by the opportunity to be the first to bring the benefits of this new technology to our customers, which is perfectly in line with our commitment to creating sustainable products,” said Giulio Bonazzi, Chairman and CEO of Aquafil. “Genomatica brings the technology, innovation and track record to help us achieve this.”
“Visionary companies like Aquafil are delighting customers and gaining market share through more sustainable products,” said Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica. “This is another example of Genomatica applying the power of biology to rethink how widely-used chemicals can be made a better way. Just as we’ve surpassed key milestones for our commercial GENO BDO process and were named winner of the ICIS Innovation Award for our new naturally sourced butylene glycol, we now aim to bring biotechnology innovation to enable better nylon products.”