Renewable chemicals company Avantium has signed an agreement with Japanese corporate giant Mitsui to commercialize its 100% bio-based chemicals FDCA (a building block) and PEF (a polymer) in Asia. And they are keen for you to be drinking from PEF bottles by the Tokyo Olympics in 2020! 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. Demonstrating the blockbuster potential for PEF and FDCA in the Asian market, Avantium has reserved a significant portion of the capacity from this first FDCA plant for Mitsui as part of this agreement.
Avantium and Mitsui have entered into a development and roll out agreement for PEF thin films in Asia and PEF bottles in Japan. Avantium research has demonstrated 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.
“It is our target to be at the Tokyo Olympics in time to drink beer,” Nathan Kemeling, a director at Avantium said during a press briefing reported by Bloomberg in Tokyo. “At a concert or a stadium, you cannot take a can, but a plastic bottle is allowed because of safety reasons.”
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.”
Avantium has developed the proprietary YXY technology, which enables a catalytic conversion of biobased carbohydrates (sugars) to FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid). FDCA has numerous potential applications as a biobased building block for new chemicals and plastics, such as PEF (polyethylene furandicarboxylate). PEF can be produced from FDCA using conventional industrial production plants. PEF is a 100% biobased polyester with strong performance benefits over PET, such as a higher barrier to oxygen and CO2, higher mechanical strength, and a reduction in carbon footprint of more than 50%. These properties of PEF enable improvements to existing bottles and packaging films, for example shelf life extension and lightweighting.
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