Bio-isobutanol producer Gevo, Inc. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its demonstration-scale paraxylene (p-xylene) plant in Silsbee, Texas. The paraxylene facility is located adjacent to Gevo’s existing jet fuel plant in Silsbee, and establishes the site as a biorefinery that will serve the renewable chemicals and drop-in biofuels markets.
Gevo has been working with The Coca-Cola Company since 2011 (earlier post) to deliver a new production technology for renewable paraxylene, a key building block for producing fully renewable PET for beverage bottles. Research and Development support for this plant was provided by The Coca-Cola Company under a Joint Development Agreement.
Gevo is also working with Toray Industries, Inc. to develop renewable paraxylene, a building block for fully renewable polyester for packaging films and fibers used in textiles, clothing and other applications. Funding assistance for the construction of the paraxylene plant was provided by Toray Industries, Inc., one of the world’s leading producers of fibers, plastics, films, and chemicals.
Gevo and Toray successfully produced fully renewable and recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (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.
In October 2012, Gevo filed a patent application for a method that provides a high yield pathway to 2,5-dimethylhexadiene from renewable isobutanol, which enables economic production of renewable p-xylene (and subsequently, terephthalic acid, a key monomer in the production of PET) from isobutanol.
We believe we have an elegant, viable route to fully-renewable, non-petroleum derived PET and we are pleased that The Coca-Cola Company and Toray have supported this work. Fully renewable PET has the potential to make the world a better place by reducing our dependence on oil and the environmental consequences associated with petroleum based raw materials.—Patrick Gruber, Gevo’s chief executive officer
The majority of the world’s PET production is for synthetic fibers (in excess of 60%), with bottle production accounting for around 30% of global demand. Gevo’s paraxylene, once converted to bio-based PET, has high potential for any commercial application currently served by petroleum-derived PET.
US Patent Application Nº 20120271082: Variations On Prins-Like Chemistry To Produce 2,5-Dimethylhexadiene From Isobutanol