The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new report on the bioeconomy, “Indicators of the U.S. Biobased Economy”, which measures substantial economic growth, job creation, and household income for the agricultural sector from biofuel and bioenergy production. Moreover, it indicates great potential for additional prosperity from future growth in renewable chemicals and biobased products. BIO, the U.S. Biotechnology Innovation Organization, calculates that the global economic value of the biobased economy – including industrial biotechnology, renewable chemicals and polymers, biofuels, enzymes and biobased materials – is $355.28 billion.
There is a new Brazilian-Danish partnership in the world bioeconomy. Braskem, the Americas’ leading producer of thermoplastic resins, and Danish-based Haldor Topsoe, a world leader in catalysts and surface science, have signed a technological cooperation agreement to develop a pioneering route to produce monoethylene glycol (MEG) from sugar. The agreement calls for the construction of a demonstration plant in Denmark, with operation slated to begin in 2019.
Finnish pulp and paper giant UPM moves forward with the development of biochemicals business by evaluating the potential of building a biorefinery in the Chemical Park Frankfurt-Höchst in Germany. The new-to-the-world biorefinery would combine novel technologies and utilize sustainable wood raw material in an innovative way. This opportunity is the outcome of more than five years of extensive technology development and piloting.
“By taking the time to scale up efficiently and deliberately, our position in the bioeconomy is growing. Circa remains focused on creating non-toxic, high-performance chemicals from cellulose, using our FuracellTM technology. We are targeting a market of over 900,000 tonnes per annum, growing at 4%. While we do not want to compete in the inevitable price war currently unfolding, as companies vie to be ‘last man standing’ to extract some cash out of legacy plants producing these toxic products, we do see plenty of opportunity to sensibly scale into the market over the next 5-10 years”. To say this – in this long, exclusive interview with Il Bioeconomista – is Tony Duncan, CEO of Circa Group, an Australian innovative company which is converting biomass into advanced biochemical materials.
Interview by Mario Bonaccorso
Covestro, the leading supplier of high-tech polymers headquartered in Leverkusen, Germany, has scored a research breakthrough for the use of plant-based raw materials in plastics production: aniline, an important basic chemical, can now be derived from biomass. The German materials manufacturer achieved this by collaborating with partners on the development of a completely new process, initially in the laboratory. Until now, only fossil raw materials had been used for the production of aniline, which plays an important role in the chemical industry and is used as starting material for numerous products.
Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc., a leader in natural oil metathesis that produces novel, high-performing specialty chemicals from renewable feedstocks, partnered with Chemtura, a global specialty chemicals company recently acquired by German Lanxess, for Elevance Aria® WTP technology and market development.
Avantium, a leading chemical technology company and forerunner in renewable chemistry, partnered with AkzoNobel, Chemport Europe, RWE and Staatsbosbeheer for the development of a reference plant at the Chemie Park Delfzijl. This important step marks the next stage of a collaborative effort to determine the feasibility of a wood to chemicals biorefinery in Delfzijl.
Leaf Resources Ltd, the Australian company focused on making sustainable products from plant biomass, together with Leaf Development, its US-based joint development partner, achieved significant milestones related to the development in Malaysia of at least one commercial-scale, second-generation, bio-chemical production facility.
The U.S. Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) released the new report “Advancing the Biobased Economy: Renewable Chemical Biorefinery Commercialization, Progress, and Market Opportunities, 2016 and Beyond,” documenting substantial, ongoing growth in the renewable chemical industry and outlining federal and state policies that support the industry.
Virent and Tesoro announced last Tuesday they have reached an agreement for Tesoro to become Virent’s new strategic owner. The acquisition will support the scale up and commercialization of Virent’s BioForming® technology for the production of low carbon bio-based fuels and chemicals. As a result of the acquisition, Virent will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Tesoro and remain in Madison, Wisconsin.