Avantium reserves capacity in its first FDCA production plant for Mitsui; a new thin film PEF for packaging emerges

Avantium-200x141In Japan, Avantium signed an agreement with Mitsui & Co., Ltd. to commercialize 100% biobased chemicals FDCA and PEF in Asia. As part of this agreement, Mitsui has been granted a right to purchase a sizable volume of FDCA from the first commercial FDCA plant to be constructed by Avantium.

Avantium and Mitsui have entered into a development and roll out agreement for PEF thin films in Asia and PEF bottles in Japan. Given its outstanding barrier performance, Avantium research demonstrates PEF can bring significant benefits as packaging material for oxygen sensitive goods such as food, beer and health care products. The parties are also partnering to launch and grow the market for other FDCA- based applications such as co-polyesters.

Timeline to scale

Currently Avantium is in the preparation stage of the construction of the first FDCA production plant and plans to share further details on the capacity, location and time lines for the construction in Q1 2016.

Reaction from the stakeholders

Tom van Aken, CEO Avantium, commented: “This partnership with Mitsui is a unique opportunity for Avantium to unlock the growth opportunities in the Asian market, one of the fastest growing markets for packaging materials. This collaboration expands our PEF developments beyond bottles, as supported by The Coca-Cola Company, Danone and ALPLA, into the new application of thin PEF films.

“Particularly Japan is a very attractive market for a high performance material like PEF. The Japanese packaging industry is highly innovative, resulting in a large variety of packaging formats to meet the high quality standards demanded by local consumers. It is our ambition to support Mitsui and their Japanese partners and customers to launch PEF and other FDCA-based applications to the market well in time for the Tokyo Olympics”.

For Mitsui, the collaboration with Avantium is an extension of its strong bio-based chemicals portfolio. Mr. Hidebumi Kasuga, General Manager of Specialty Chemicals Division II, Basic Chemicals Business Unit, commented: “Mitsui believes FDCA and PEF are bio-based building blocks with a high market potential. We are happy to strengthen our position in this field by collaborating with Avantium, who is the leader in FDCA and PEF production technology. This partnership fits well with Mitsui’s strategy in pursuit of future bio-refinery structures, combining our strength in feedstock, project management, chemicals, and end markets.”

The Avantium Backstory

Avantium specializes in tadvanced catalytic research. From 2005 onwards, Avantium has developed a proprietary technology to produce Furanics building blocks from plant based sugars, under the name YXY. These Furanics building blocks are the basis of a next-generation plant-based plastics and chemicals.

The YXY technology is a 2-step chemical, catalytic process to convert sugars to Furan-dicarboxylic acid (FDCA), a biobased alternative to terephthalic acid (TA). Avantium focuses its efforts on using FDCA to produce the polyester, Polyethylene-furanoate (PEF), a 100% biobased material that could replace Polyethylene-terephthalate (PET) in large markets such as bottles, fiber and film.

Together with its partners The Coca-Cola Company, Danone and ALPLA the company aims “to make PEF bottles a commercial success. Our proprietary YXY process to make PEF has been proven at pilot plant scale as we are now moving to commercial deployment. Furthermore, PEF has a huge opportunity in materials as fibers, films and other applications. Recently our partners made a new investment in Avantium, which brings us closer to the first commercial scale plant.”

The Avantium financial story

In June 2014, Avantium announced that it has closed a financing round of $50 million from a consortium of iconic strategic players. This unique consortium consists of Swire Pacific, The Coca-Cola Company, DANONE, ALPLA, and existing shareholders. Follow on investments were made by existing shareholders Sofinnova Partners, Capricorn Venture Partners, ING Corporate Investments, Aescap Venture, Navitas Capital, Aster Capital and De Hoge Dennen Capital.

PEF and the Plant Bottle

Coca-Cola has sold a gazillion Plant Bottles with 30% renewable content, but wants badly to go to 100%, and is investing to make the major ingredients renewably. What’s the latest?

Three companies are in league with Coke — Avantium, which intends to make a novel molecule, PEF; also, there’s Gevo and Virent, which have developed technolonogy to manufacture the incumbent molecule, paraxylene, renewably.

The companies partnered in 2011, signing multi-year, multi-million dollar Joint Development and Supply Agreements to scale-up Avantium’s plant-based PEF.  In the past, Coca Cola’s PlantBottles have included only 30% plant-based plastic. Virent’s chemical allows the remaining 70% of the bottle to be plant-based.

The Avantium 5-Minute Guide for 2015 is here.

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