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December 18, 2013

BASF and Renmatix agree on a joint development for the production of industrial sugars from biomass

Gerald Ondrey

BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany; www.basf.com) and Renmatix Inc. (Philadelphia, Pa.; www.renmatix.com) will jointly scale up the Renmatix Plantrose process for the production of industrial sugars based on lignocellulosic biomass. The two companies signed a non-exclusive joint development agreement. The parties have agreed to key financial terms for future commercial licenses, which BASF can exercise at its discretion. The collaboration follows BASF’s $30 million investment in Renmatix in January 2012.

The Plantrose technology developed by Renmatix enables industrial sugar to be produced, at competitive costs, from a variety of non-edible biomass (lignocellulose) sources. The proprietary process breaks down lignocellulosic sources (such as wood, agricultural-residues or straw) into industrial sugars using supercritical water (for more details, see Chem. Eng., November 2011; www.che.com/chementator/8609.html). Industrial sugars are important building blocks for various basic chemicals and intermediates that can be produced, for example, by fermentative processes. The availability of these industrial sugars in sufficient quantities and at competitive cost is important to enable both environmentally-friendly and cost-competitive bio- based products. Incorporating biomass feedstocks as a first step in the value chain, creates a raw material change that can reduce reliance on fossil raw material sources like naphtha as principal feedstock.

Projects relating to the topic of raw material change make up one important technology field in BASF’s Research Verbund. BASF experts are engaged in identifying interesting processes for utilizing alternative raw materials, such as renewables, natural gas, and CO2.

“Raw material change will only be possible via process innovations that allow the utilization of alternative sources of raw materials,” says Peter Schuhmacher, president of BASF’s competence center Process Research and Chemical Engineering. “It requires processes like Plantrose, which will be further developed in a joint effort, that enable the use of non-edible biomass as a chemical feedstock and which do not compete with food or feed production. The Plantrose process addresses our needs for renewable raw materials. It will help us to support our customers in developing solutions that contribute to sustainable development.”

“Over the past two years, BASF has made significant investments of time and capital to support our efforts at Renmatix,” says Mike Hamilton, CEO of Renmatix. “At Renmatix we are focused on supporting the emerging biochemical market by enabling progressive leaders to scale up Plantrose capacity to increase the global chemical industry’s access to cost-effective industrial sugars.”

 


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