DuPont Industrial Biosciences and Archer Daniels Midland today said they have developed a “game-changing” technology — a process to develop a molecule that can be converted into several biobased chemicals and plastics with applications in packaging, textiles, engineering plastics and other industries.
The companies have developed a method for producing furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose. FDME is a high-purity derivative of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), one of the 12 building blocks identified by the US Department of Energy that can be converted into a number of high-value, biobased chemicals or materials. It has long been sought-after and researched, but has not yet been available at commercial scale and at reasonable cost, the companies say.
The new FDME technology is a more efficient and simple process than traditional conversion approaches and results in higher yields, lower energy usage and lower capital expenditures.
This partnership brings together ADM’s world-leading expertise in fructose production, and carbohydrate chemistry with DuPont’s biotechnology, chemistry, materials and applications expertise, all backed by a strong joint intellectual-property portfolio.
“This molecule is a game-changing platform technology. It will enable cost-efficient production of a variety of 100 percent renewable, high-performance chemicals and polymers with applications across a broad range of industries,” said Simon Herriott, global business director for biomaterials at DuPont.
One of the first polymers under development utilizing FDME is polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate (PTF), a polyester also made from DuPont’s Bio-PDO (1,3-propanediol). PTF is a 100-percent renewable and recyclable polymer that, when used to make bottles and other beverage packages, substantially improves gas-barrier properties compared to other polyesters. This makes PTF a great choice for customers in the beverage packaging industry looking to improve the shelf life of their products, DuPont says.
ADM and DuPont are taking the initial step in the process of bringing FDME to market by moving forward on the scale-up phase of the project. The two companies are planning to build an integrated 60 ton-per-year demonstration plant in Decatur, Ill., which will provide potential customers with sufficient product quantities for testing and research.
The global renewable chemicals market will reach $84.3 billion by 2020, up from $49 billion in 2015, growing at a CAGR of 11.47 percent, according to a Research and Markets report.