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Anellotech’s "Bio-TCat" tech for biomass-derived BTX ready for commercialization

As previously announced, a 100 percent bio-based, polymer-grade p-Xylene produced in Anellotech’s TCat-8 pilot plant has been used by Suntory Group, a global consumer beverage company, to make 100 percent bio-polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin and successfully produce prototype PET beverage bottles. This achievement by Anellotech and its joint process development alliance partners, IFPEN and Axens, affirms their commitment to the innovative production of cost-competitive renewable chemicals.

A 100 percent bio-based, polymer-grade p-Xylene produced in Anellotech’s TCat-8 pilot plant has been used by Suntory Group to make 100 percent bio-polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin and successfully produce prototype PET beverage bottles, This achievement by Anellotech and its joint process development alliance partners, IFPEN and Axens, means that the technology is now ready for commercialization (photo courtesy Suntory Group).

As announced earlier this month by Suntory Group, the company has successfully produced prototype bio-PET bottles, starting with bio p-Xylene from the “Bio-TCat” technology of Anellotech through the subsequent downstream separation, purification, intermediate purified terephthalic acid (PTA), and final PET steps.

This was the last milestone to completely validate the Bio-TCat technology for the production of prototype 100% bio-based bottles and follows more than 5 000 hours of successful TCat-8 pilot plant operation using pine wood feedstock to produce tonnes of benzene, toluene, and xylene (BTX) aromatics.

We are extremely glad to announce this major step of our common development that fits in our goal to develop new technologies and products for a low-carbon economy. It shows that Bio-TCat BTX products can be used to make key polymers answering the needs of brand-owners for sustainable products and opening the road for sustainable processes to produce the main chemical intermediates, said Jean Pierre Burzynski, Process Business Unit Director at IFPEN.

To date, enough of the produced bio paraxylene was separated to allow potential production of more than 5 000 100 percent bio-based Plastic 500 ml bottles, while fully meeting polymer grade specifications. Anellotech also partnered with Johnson Matthey for the Bio-TCat catalyst development.

Anellotech’s TCat-8 pilot plant, built to develop the Bio-TCat technology, demonstrates the performance of this efficient thermal-catalytic process which converts non-food renewable biomass feedstocks into aromatics.

The Bio-TCat process will enable aromatic chemical producers and brand owners to meet environmental, sustainability product goals, due to its low carbon footprint and its non-food renewable biomass feedstock.

Bio-TCat benzene can be used to make a range of bio-styrenics, nylon, and polycarbonate, while Bio-TCat toluene can be used for the production of polyurethanes.

David Sudolsky, President and CEO of Anellotech.

“The competitive advantage of Anellotech’s Bio-TCat generated paraxylene is its process efficiency – it uses a single-step thermal catalytic process by going directly from biomass to BTX aromatics, as well as the opportunity it creates for a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) as compared to its identical fossil-derived paraxylene in the manufacture of PET, especially as it generates required process energy from the biomass feedstock itself, said David Sudolsky, President and CEO of Anellotech.

Ready for commercialization

Discussions are underway by Anellotech and its exclusive licensing partner Axens to commercialize the Bio-TCat Process, by identifying potential partners (including off-take) and a plant location for a first 500 tonne/day feed rate commercial plant.

A “white paper” process design package has already been completed by Axens for adaptation to the actual plant site, once selected.

I am delighted to announce this major achievement. It validates the bio-paraxylene produced by the Bio-TCat process showing the growing interest of the market for sustainable products and opening the way for the realization of the first commercial plant. This is part of our strategy to accelerate the deployment of bio-based products and to reduce substantially the GHG emissions of the chemicals value chain, said Pierre Beccat, CTO of Axens.

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