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Circa's new Cygnet 0.0 shows promise as alternative to toxic chlorinated solvents

A study using biotechnology company Circa Group’s renewable solvent "Cyrene" and a new solvent "Cygnet 0.0" has shown that they have enhanced performance in the production of membranes, as well as when used as solvents in the bio-catalyzed synthesis of polyesters. This work opens up a wealth of possibilities to replace toxic, fossil-based solvents throughout polymer chemistry.

A study by the UK’s University of York’s Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence on using biotechnology company Circa Group’s renewable solvent “Cyrene” and a new solvent “Cygnet 0.0” has shown that they have enhanced performance in the production of membranes, as well as when used as solvents in the bio-catalyzed synthesis of polyesters (photo courtesy Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence).

Research from the University of York in the UK has explored the use of a binary solvent system of bio-based Cyrene (dihydrolevoglucosenone) and another levoglucosenone (LGO) derivative Cygnet 0.0 in a variety of polymer applications. Individually or as mixtures, these two bio-based solvents show excellent promise in industrial chemistry.

We need a good number of new bio-based solvents to help us move towards a genuinely green and sustainable solvent toolkit. Cygnet 0.0 and its mixtures with Cyrene are positive steps in this direction. As with Cyrene, Cygnet 0.0 offers a set of polarity properties never seen before in carbohydrate solvents and with Cygnet 0.0 there are exciting similarities to the halogenated solvent DCM (dichloromethane). In our research, we utilized these unique properties to help us achieve outstanding performance in polymer and membrane synthesis. Following this current research, further applications of Cygnet 0.0 are now being explored and developed, explained Professor James Clark, from the University of York’s Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence and lead researcher on the project.

Established in 2006, Australia-headed Circa Group Pty Ltd converts waste, non-food biomass into advanced bio-based chemicals with its proprietary “Furacell” process. The Furacell process reduces the solvents’ carbon footprint by up to 80 percent compared to similar petro-based solvents with zero SOx and NOx emissions at the end-of-life stages of Cyrene and Cygnet 0.0.

Replacing chlorinated solvents such as toxic DCM is a real challenge for the industry and we are delighted that Cygnet 0.0 shows good performance in a range of applications. This is further proof that highly sustainable, bio-derived products have an important role to play in transforming processes and delivering a lower carbon global economy, said Tony Duncan, CEO and co-founder of Circa Group.

By creating renewable chemicals from cellulose, Circa is extracting value from non-food, waste biomass and addressing a gap in the market by providing bio-based alternatives contributing to a more circular economy.

Its developing product portfolio includes flavours, biopolymers, and bio-solvents including Cyrene, an alternative to traditional polar aprotic solvents, which is produced in one step from platform biomolecule LGO.

The scientific community is increasingly requesting greener alternative products and this latest research increases our understanding of the role that levoglucosenone derivatives can play in a range of industrially significant applications. We are excited to continue our partnership with Circa in this area, ended Dr Jane Murray, Global Head of Green Chemistry, the Life Science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

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