I am still trying to catch up on blogging before I get very busy again next week for my September Biomaterials newsletter deadline at Tecnon OrbiChem. I am also almost finished with my glycerine presentation for the incoming ICIS Pan American Oleochemicals conference next month.
By the way, if anybody is attending EPCA in Budapest in early October, I will be there and would love to meet up to chat about bio-based chemicals. Follow @TecnonOrbiChem’s tweets at #EPCA50 for news at the conference.
In the meantime, here’s an announcement early this month from Toyobo and Avantium about their partnership on PEF (polyethylene furanoate) based on Avantium’s YXY technology for the production of FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid). The companies have developed PEF-based thin films about 10 micrometer in thickness, which can be applied for food packaging, in electronics applications, and in industrial and medical packages.
Compared to standard PET films, PEF films are said to have 10x higher oxygen barrier, 2-3x higher water vapor barrier, improved mechanical strength and are fully transparent. This is why FDCA and PEF are believed to have a big growth potential in the polyester market because of these benefits despite weak petrochemical price environment.
PEF’s benefits will enable new packaging opportunities such as transparent pouches for soups, sauces or baby foods, where the barrier properties can extend shelf life for packaging oxygen sensitive products like meat, fish, dairy products, even fresh pizzas (hmmmm pizza…) as well as moisture sensitive products like cereals, cookies, crisps, personal care or medical products. PEF can also enhance the aroma barrier for packaged cheeses, fish or detergents.
Market development of the PEF films in Asia will be performed in collaboration with Mitsui & Co., with which Avantium announced a partnership in December 2015. The parties expect to offer samples for packaging tests from 2017 onwards.
Toyobo and Avantium are also jointly optimizing polymerization processes in Toyobo’s existing polymerization assets to produce PEF resin at commercial scale from MEG and Avantium’s FDCA. The parties intend to scale up PEF resin production to Toyobo’s commercial polymerization lines in Iwakuni, Japan.
Avanium noted on the press release its exclusive negotiation with BASF with the intention of establishing a joint venture for the production and market development of FDCA and the marketing of PEF.
More analysis on this partnership as well as the recent blog post on Mercurius Biorefining’s own FDCA development will be reported on the Biomaterials newsletter.