Bio based chemicals are the unexpected beneficiaries of the North American shale gas boom, says a special report from IHS Inc., a leading global source of critical information and insight.
Sugars, glycerin and other plant-derived feedstocks are emerging as economically competitive starting materials for a range of commodity chemicals, in part, the report says, because of tight supplies of conventional feedstocks such as propylene, isobutylene, butadiene and isoprene.
The shortfall is due to the shale gas boom: North American ethylene producers have switched from petroleum-derived naphtha to lighter, natural gas-based feedstocks, reducing the output of valuable C3, C4, C5 and pygas co-products. These co-products, in turn, are the starting materials for a variety of chemical intermediates and polymers. Examples include synthetic rubber, an essential material for tire production, as well as nylon 6.6, used for fiber production and automotive parts, according to the IHS Chemical Special Report: Chemical Building Blocks from Renewables.
Evonik has closed on an equity investment in Biosynthetic Technologies, LLC (BT), a specialist in biobased lubricants headquartered in Irvine (California, USA). BT has developed and manufactures a new class of bio-based synthetic oils called estolides that are used primarily in the passenger car motor oil and industrial lubricant sectors. Field trials have shown that the technical characteristics of the biobased synthetic oils made by BT are exceptionally good, and include the ability to combat soot buildup in engines, which helps keep fuel consumption low. In addition to Evonik, BP Ventures also participated as a second strategic investor in this current funding round that focuses on growth. BP Ventures as well as Monsanto Company have already invested in previous financing rounds.
“Biosynthetic Technologies leads the way to high-quality sustainable lubricants,” says Dr. Bernhard Mohr, head of Evonik Venture Capital. “In view of the large automotive market and the strong trend towards fuel-economy and sustainability, this is a growing market with a strong fit to Evonik´s oil additives business.”
“We are excited to have Evonik join us as a strategic investor,” says Allen Barbieri, CEO of Biosynthetic Technologies. “In addition to its capital investment, Evonik brings world class manufacturing, R&D and sales & marketing expertise that will expedite our commercialization process.”
Evonik is a leader in the development of technologies for the production of lubricant additives. Its high-performance additives increase both productivity and fuel efficiency. Regional technology centers, modern global manufacturing centers, and a secure and reliable supply chain worldwide enable Evonik’s continuous development of customized solutions for customers anywhere in the world.
Biosynthetic Technologies’ new class of bio-based synthetic oils are made from organic fatty acids found in plant oils and have numerous uses in the lubricant, chemical, and cosmetics industries. They are biodegradable, nontoxic and they do not bio-accumulate in marine life. BT holds a broad patent portfolio to protect these novel biosynthetic oils that are marketed under the trade name LubriGreen® Biosynthetic Oils.
BT’s lubricants are now being tested and certified by many of the world’s largest lubricant manufacturers who want to use these as components in their existing or new motor oil and industrial lubricant product lines.
Within its venture capital activities Evonik plans to invest a total of €100 million in highly promising start-ups with break-through technologies and leading specialist venture capital funds. These investments will focus on Europe, the U.S. and Asia. Partnering with innovative start-up companies supplements Evonik’s approach of open innovation and creates excellent opportunities for accelerating the development of new businesses and opening up future growth fields.
Source: EvonikMore on biobased lubricants
EU and industry leaders have today launched a new European Joint Undertaking on Bio-based Industries (BBI). The aim is to trigger investments and create a competitive market for bio-based products and materials sourced locally and “Made in Europe”, tackling some of Europe’s biggest societal challenges.
€3.7 billion will be injected into the European economy between 2014 and 2024 – €975 million from the European Commission and €2.7 billion from the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) – to develop an emerging bioeconomy sector. Through financing of research and innovation projects, the BBI will create new and novel partnerships across sectors, such as agriculture, agro-food, technology providers, forestry/pulp and paper, chemicals and energy.
The aim of the BBI is to use Europe’s untapped biomass and wastes as feedstock to make fossil-free and greener everyday products. At the heart of it are advanced biorefineries and innovative technologies that will convert renewable resources into sustainable bio-based chemicals, materials and fuels.
Organised in five value chains – that range from primary production to consumer markets – the BBI will help fill the innovation gap between technology development and commercialisation, sustainably realising the potential of bio-based industries in Europe.
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said: “The bioeconomy has huge potential that is attracting investments all around the world. With this new partnership, we want to harness innovative technologies to convert Europe’s untapped renewable resources and waste into greener everyday products such as food, feed, chemicals, materials and fuels, all sourced and made in Europe.”
Peder Holk Nielsen, CEO of Novozymes, added on behalf of industry partner, the Bio-based Industries Consortium: “The BBI is an unprecedented public-private commitment because of its focus on bringing bio-based solutions to the market. It is an opportunity to deliver sustainable growth in European regions and to reverse the investment trend currently going to other regions of the world.”
The BBI is a shift from a fossil- and imports-based society to increase Europe’s share of sustainable economic growth, and is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs (80% in rural areas), revitalise industries, diversify farmers’ incomes, and reduce GHG emissions by at least 50% in comparison to fossil-based applications.
The BBI will manage the investments in the form of research and innovation projects that are defined in annual Calls for Proposals and implemented across European regions. In line with Horizon 2020 rules, all stakeholders are invited to submit innovative proposals and demonstrate progress beyond state-of-the-art.
Source: Bio-Based Industries