Gevo, with support from the Coca-Cola Company and Japanese chemical giant Toray Industries, has opened a demonstration-scale paraxylene plant in Silsbee, Texas.
The paraxylene facility is located adjacent to the renewable chemicals and biofuels firm’s existing jet fuel plant in Silsbee. Gevo says it establishes the site as a biorefinery that will serve the renewable chemicals and drop-in biofuels markets.
Paraxylene is a key building block for renewable, non-petroleum derived PET beverage bottles and polyester for packaging films and fibers used in textiles, clothing and other applications.
Gevo is working with the Coca-Cola Company on a new production technology for renewable paraxylene. Coke provided research and development support for this plant under a joint development agreement. The two companies first teamed up two years ago with an agreement under which Gevo would supply paraxylene for Coke’s bottles.
Gevo is also working with Toray, which produces fibers, plastics, films and chemicals, to develop renewable paraxylene. Toray provided funding assistance for the construction of the paraxylene plant. Gevo and Toray produced fully renewable and recyclable PET fibers and films from isobutanol at laboratory scale in 2011.
Toray has also signed an offtake agreement for paraxylene produced at the Silsbee facility. Toray will purchase paraxylene from Gevo and will convert it into PET fibers, textiles and films for scale-up evaluation and market development purposes.
The Coca-Cola Company’s Scott Vitters, general manager, PlantBottle packaging innovation platform, says while the technology to make bio-based materials in a lab has been around for several years, Coke believes Gevo’s technologies have the potential to create it on a global commercial level within the next few years.
Gevo’s Silsbee facility is “an important milestone” toward Coke’s vision of making all of its PET plastic packaging from responsibly-sourced plant materials, Vitters says.
More than 60 percent of the world’s PET production is for synthetic fibers, with bottle production accounting for around 30 percent of global demand, Gevo says.
Last month, Gevo began supplying the US Coast Guard research and development center with initial quantities of finished 16.1 percent renewable isobutanol-blended gasoline for engine testing. The Coast Guard is using the Gevo-blended fuel as part of a 12-month, long-term operational study on marine engines that began in June.