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Total Cray Valley and Gevo to scale fusel oils to renewable isoamylene

In the United States (US), Total Cray Valley, part of France-headed oil, gas, and petrochemical major Total S.A.'s Polymers division and Gevo, Inc. has announced the successful completion of Phase 1 of their Joint Development Agreement (JDA) to upgrade fusel oils into renewable isoamylene. The companies are now seeking to advance to Phase 2 of the JDA, which will allow for the scale-up of Gevo’s technology at a demonstration scale.

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In the United States (US), Total Cray Valley, part of France-headed oil, gas, and petrochemical major Total S.A.’s Polymers division and Gevo, Inc., have announced the successful completion of Phase 1 of their Joint Development Agreement (JDA) to upgrade fusel oils into renewable isoamylene.

Fusel oils, made during the production of ethanol, equate to approximately 1 million tonnes of bio-based feedstock. The JDA, signed in 2020, is based on Gevo’s chemical-based catalytic processes that selectively convert low-value fusel oils, a mixture of alcohols that are byproducts from fermentation processes such as ethanol or isobutanol production, into higher-value renewable chemicals such as isoprene, ketones, aldehydes, or olefins, in this case, isoamylene.

The team has achieved an important milestone with the success of Phase 1 to deliver plant-based, low carbon solutions to our partner, Total Cray Valley. We look forward to continuing our track record of success at the demonstration scale. This is a new way to think about decarbonization and biogenic carbon sequestration. Now this byproduct from ethanol, instead of being burned, can be converted into usable products that take CO2 out of the atmosphere while delivering drop-in performance in final products on the market today. For every pound of biobased isoamylene made and used in durable products like resins, it is essentially the equivalent of sequestering 2.5 pounds of biogenic CO2 from the atmosphere, compared to that carbon being combusted. Another example of how Gevo is advancing our focus to net-zero and beyond, said Dr Paul Bloom, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Gevo.

Isoamylene is used in a diverse set of applications, including resins, pesticides, flavors and fragrances, pharmaceuticals, healthcare products, adhesives, antioxidants, and UV stabilizers. For Cray Valley, isoamylene is used as a raw material in resin manufacturing.

We were very satisfied with the results of pilot tests during Phase 1. Gevo’s technology was found to be robust and flexible and the initial economic assessment shows potential for a profitable business. This JDA between Total Cray Valley and Gevo is an excellent example of collaboration to develop the materials of the future produced from bio-based feedstock and meets a strong demand from our customers, said Valérie Goff, SVP Polymers at Total.

The companies are currently exploring options for scale-up and commercialization of the technology, which would provide the US market with a renewable source of isoamylenes, a world first.

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