Biotech company Virent has established a strategic consortium with four other companies aimed at completing the development and scale up of its proprietary BioForming® technology.
The company has joined forces with Tesoro, Toray, Johnson Matthey and The Coca-Cola Company to finalize technical developments and commercial arrangements, with the objective of delivering a commercial facility to produce cost effective, bio-based fuels and bio-paraxylene, a key raw material for the production of 100% bio-PET.
Virent's BioForming process features catalytic chemistry to convert plant-based materials into a full range of products identical to those made from petroleum. Specifically, it converts C5 and C6 sugars to hydrocarbons and other deoxygenated products via a pathway known as aqueous phase reforming (or aqueous phase processing). Unlike other processes, in which biomass-derived sugars, whether from corn, sugarcane, or agricultural residue, are converted to ethanol, Virent's pathway yields hydrocarbons.
“This is a critical and innovative approach to address scale-up challenges inherent in the deployment of renewable technologies,” said Lee Edwards, Virent CEO. “We are delighted to share a common vision with a global group of respected industry leaders, recognized for their innovation and commitment to meet the changing needs of their customers who seek more sustainable products and services.”
Tesoro, a refiner that recently announced that it was in the process of acquiring Virent, sees this Consortium as key to developing a deployment plan for the Virent technology on a commercial scale. “We are focused on fostering the development of high-quality, lower-carbon, renewable feedstocks and blendstocks that can either be co-processed in existing refineries or blended seamlessly with traditional fuels, “ said CJ Warner, Executive Vice President of Operations at Tesoro.
The Consortium will connect the key strengths and commercial opportunity of each member, who are all leaders in their sectors with a strong desire to advance competitive sustainable solutions. Each member will bring unique capabilities and resources in support of the primary Consortium objective to develop the first commercial production facility for the BioForming process. Individual members will contribute to that effort through technical and engineering assistance, infrastructure, supply chain support and/or product off-take commitments. The Consortium will work jointly to develop the scale up strategy, including the size and location of the first plant, which will be underpinned by fuel and chemical offtake commitments. Toray expects the Consortium to offer the “necessary technology and resources to accelerate the availability of commercial volumes of 100% bio-based polyester,” said Hidenori Terai, General Manager, Fibers and Textiles Green Innovation and Life Innovation Business Planning Dept. of Toray Industries, Inc.
Johnson Matthey and Virent will form a potent technical team to conclude catalyst and process development, as well as the subsequent marketing and licensing of the resulting low carbon fuels and chemicals technology platform.
“We are delighted to be contributing our catalyst and engineering experience and capabilities in support of this innovative project which further extends our portfolio of sustainable technologies”, said Geoff Otterman Director of Johnson Matthey’s Process Technologies Division.
“Participating in the Consortium offers The Coca-Cola Company a great opportunity to continue evolving our long standing relationship with Virent and creates a strong pathway to enhance the value proposition for our innovative and well recognized PlantBottle® packaging program. We are pleased to be part of this extraordinary team,” said Michael Knutzen, PlantBottle® Global Program Director, The Coca-Cola Company.
The combined capabilities and resources of the consortium members will provide significant advantages as the Consortium progresses the technology and commercial deployment. Other parties may join the Consortium over time to complement the current members and provide further support to the effort.
Biotech company Virent has established a strategic consortium with four other companies aimed at completing the development and scale up of its proprietary BioForming® technology. [more]
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