Lanxess recently ran a production campaign of bio-based PBT using 20 m.t. of bio-based BDO (1,4-butanediol) made with the commercially-proven process developed by San Diego-based Genomatica. The process converts sugars into the major chemical BDO in a patented ‘direct’ fermentation process. This took place at a world-scale plant for PBT compounds in Hamm-Uentrop, Germany, which is operated by DuBay Polymer, a 50/50 joint venture of DuPont and Lanxess and has a capacity of 80,000 m.t/yr.
The bio-based BDO fully complied with the demanding Lanxess specifications for petro-based BDO, allowing a direct feed for 100% bio-based BDO into the continuous production process. Says Hartwig Meier, head of global product and application development of Lanxess’ high performance materials business unit, “This is a strong signal to the market and a tremendous step forward in our future plans to offer our high-tech Pocan in a bio-based version, too. Due to its unchanged properties, Pocan compounds based on bio-based PBT can directly be used in established application fields such as automotive or electro & electronics area. This fits very well with our strategy for ‘Green Mobility’.” Genomatica’s CEO Christopher Schilling notes that Lanxess’ achievement proves how quickly bio-based monomers can be integrated into world-scale polymer production plant when you deliver the exact same performance for an existing , high-volume chemical. The company is developing processes for other high-volume chemicals, including butadiene.