Company initiatives

New partnership deals

The blog has been a bit late delivering fresh news lately but hopefully our extra content is good enough compensation.

Early this week, Italian chemical company Versalis announced its partnership with Yulex, a US company that has developed a guayule plant-based biomaterials. The companies plan to manufacture guayule-based biorubber materials and will build an industrial production complex in Southern Europe.

According to Yulex, Guayule (pronounced why-YOU-lee) is a renewable, non-food crop that can be an alternative source of natural rubber. Versalis plans to include guayule rubber to its synthetic rubber portfolio as a supplementary business opportunity and an increased commercial offering.

“The partnership with Yulex is strategic to Versalis, considering concerns over the forecasted scarcity in the butadiene market and volatility of this chemical, which in turn causes long term pressure on the price of products like synthetic rubber,” said Daniele Ferrari, chief executive officer of Versalis. “Partnering with Yulex represents our commitment and momentum towards entering the global market as a major green chemistry player.”

The blog posted in November some of Yulex’ recent activities including partnership with sports/outdoor manufacturer Patagonia for the use of guayule in rubber wetsuit; and partnership with Cooper Tire & Rubber Company for guayule polymers and resins for tire applications.

In December, Yulex formed a partnership with Four D Rubber, a UK-based manufacturer of latex sheeting for the production of guayule-based dental dam (a rectangular sheet of latex used mainly in endodontic treatment and when putting fillings into teeth; and with US-based mattress producer Pure LatexBLISS for the manufacture of sleep products such as latex mattresses and pillows using Yulex’s guayule rubber.

Oh, and according to Pure LatexBliss yesterday at their Facebook page, their new Yulex Collection of mattresses and pillows have just been sold out.

Pure LatexBliss in Las Vegas furniture convention

As far as the Versalis partnership is concerned, the deal will include the entire manufacturing chain from growing guayule to biorubber extraction to the construction of a biomass power station. Versalis plans to manufacture guayule-based elastomers for various applications with initial focus on consumer and medical specialty markets, and eventually optimize the process to be able to manufacture materials for the tire industry.

Just a bit background about Versalis, the company is heavily involved in renewable chemicals development with tis 50:50 joint venture called Matrica with bioplastic player Novamont. The companies are building a biorefinery at Porto Torres, Sardinia, Italy, which will produce bio-based monomers, lubricants, additives for rubbers, fillers and plastics using non-food based vegetable oils and lignocellulosic feedstock.

For another news, Blue Marble Biomaterials (BMB) announced that it has secured an exclusive distribution contract with Sigma Aldrich’s custom manufacturing and services business unit SAFC. The deal gives SAFC’s customers ready access to Blue Marble’s biobased chemicals portfolio. The last time I reported about BMB was in September last year when I interviewed CEO Colby Underwood for an article.

Back then, BMB said the first products the company plans to sell are thiol esters for savory flavoring applications. The company started its 100,000 liters/month biorefinery in 2011 in Missoula, Montana, which will initially produce 60-70% carboxylic acids and 30-40% natural esters. The facility is producing 72 tonnes/year of fine chemicals, according to Underwood.

According to BMB, the SAFC relationship will include distribution of BMB’s all-natural, drop-in flavor and fragrance products. These products will be sold under the SAFC portfolio and are expected to be available for purchase in April of 2013. The company has actually been working with SAFC since 2010 to achieve food grade documentation and quality control features.

Blue Marble Biomaterials F&F samples

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.


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