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BASF, Avantium move on biopolymer

Companies form joint venture for key monomer furandicarboxylic acid

by Alexander H. Tullo
October 17, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 41

BASF and Avantium are advancing their efforts to develop the novel polymer polyethylene furanoate (PEF). The partners have formed a joint venture, Synvina, to build a plant at BASF’s complex in Antwerp, Belgium, for furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), a biobased chemical used to make PEF.

The companies say the plant will cost in the “medium three-digit million euro” range, putting the investment between $300 million and $700 million. Amsterdam-based Avantium is reportedly close to launching an initial public stock offering of more than $100 million to help fund the effort.

The plant will have FDCA capacity of 50,000 metric tons per year and is intended to be a “reference plant,” used to develop the technology further so it can be licensed for industrial-scale production.

The technology, developed by Avantium and called YXY, dehydrates carbohydrates to make 5-methoxy methyl furfural, which is subsequently oxidized to make FDCA. FDCA is reacted with ethylene glycol to get PEF.

Coca-Cola and Danone have been collaborating with Avantium for several years to develop the polymer as a biobased alternative to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is used for soda bottles.

PEF has much better oxygen and carbon dioxide barrier properties than PET and thus may be suitable for markets, such as beer bottles, that have been hard for PET to capture. Last month, Avantium and Japan’s Toyobo announced plans to make PEF polymers at Toyobo’s plant in Iwakuni, Japan, as well as PEF films.


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