“We have the people, ambition and expertise to bring FDCA and PEF successfully to market, and are very pleased Marcel Lubben will strengthen the team to spearhead this.”
Dutch renewable chemicals company Avantium has retaken full ownership of its YXY plants-to-plastics technology through the purchase of BASF’s shares in the Synvina joint venture (JV). In a statement published on Sunday, Avantium also announced that it had appointed Marcel Lubben as managing director of Synvina to lead the commercialisation of its YXY technology, effective 1 February 2019.
Avantium has required the intellectual property, people and assets for YXY and has paid chemical giant BASF €13.7 million for its equity stake in Synvina, as agreed in the joint venture agreement. A net payment of €3.7 million was made for full ownership of the assets acquired by Synvina in the last two years.
The Synvina deal was formed in 2016 to commercialise the YXY technology developed by Avantium. The YXY technology catalytically converts plant-based sugar into FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid) and plastics, such as the new polymer PEF (polyethylenefuranoate). FDCA can be applied to many sectors including the food packaging, textile fibres, and automotive industry.
In October 2018, Avantium (@Avantium) announced that itself and BASF (@BASF) had disagreed over the time required to fulfil investment criteria to build a commercial-scale plant for FDCA in Antwerp, Belgium. The company also received notice from BASF stating that it would be entitled to exit from the JV if those criteria were not fulfilled by 5 December 2018.
On 18 December 2018, BASF notified Avantium that it would be exiting the JV effective 15 January 2019. On 15 January, BASF confirmed exclusively to Bio-Based World News that it would be exiting the JV.
On Sunday, Avantium said that it planned to make further announcements on its new strategy to commercialise YXY during the first half of 2019.
Avantium said that biotech executive Marcel Lubben will be appointed managing director of Synvina and will join Victor Vreeken (chief operations officer) and Willem-Jan Meijer (financial director) in Synvina’s leadership team.
Lubben worked for 25 years at DSM in various senior business roles, in licensing, corporate venture capital and technology. In his last role, he was president of Reverdia, a JV between DSM and Roquette for the production and sale of bio-based succinic acid.
Synvina has become a new business unit of Avantium, alongside the existing Catalysis and Renewable Chemistries business units.
Avantium’s renewable chemistry programs include Dawn Technology, which converts non-food feedstock to industrial sugars and lignin, and the Mekong technology, which transforms sugars into plant-based monoethylene glycol (MEG) used in the production of materials including renewable plastics and polyesters.
“Our belief in YXY and its market potential is rock solid,” Tom van Aken, Chief Executive Officer of Avantium, said. “Producing FDCA and PEF is a complex innovation process that requires a completely new value chain. I am convinced that the work done so far and the value chain we have built will spur the commercialisation of PEF. We have the people, ambition and expertise to bring FDCA and PEF successfully to market, and are very pleased Marcel Lubben will strengthen the team to spearhead this.”
Marcel Lubben, Synvina's new Managing Director, added: “Green, innovative materials are essential elements in the global transition to a circular economy.
“I have been following the progress on YXY for several years and am impressed by how it has been built out to a platform for unique materials with significant performance benefits. I am delighted to assume leadership of this Avantium business unit and bring this important technology to market.”