|The DuPont Integrated Corn-Based Refinery concept has value-added chemicals such as Bio-PDO as a key output.|
DuPont expects to begin production in 2007 of new high-performance thermoplastic resins and elastomer products made from two of its latest bio-based materials. The products will be targeted for automotive, electrical/electronic and other industrial markets.
DuPont will make intermediates for Sorona polymer and Hytrel from corn sugar instead of petroleum, using a patented and proprietary process. The key ingredient in Sorona is Bio-PDO, which replaces petrochemical-based 1,3-propanediol (PDO). The new DuPont Hytrel offering is produced using a new DuPont polyol also made with Bio-PDO.
Sorona polymer for industrial applications will be commercially available mid-2007; the renewably sourced Hytrel grades will be available in late 2007.
DuPont also recently announced that it is developing a new generation of tough, chip-resistant automotive refinish products partly based on Bio-PDO. (Earlier post.)
In addition to replacing petrochemicals with renewable resources, the manufacturing of Bio-PDO requires approximately 40% less energy to produce than its petrochemical-based counterpart. That represents saving the equivalent of about 10 million gallons of gasoline per year, based on annual production volumes of 100 million pounds of Bio-PDO. The new products will contribute to DuPont’s corporate goal of deriving 25% of revenue from non-depletable resources by 2010.
The performance and processing characteristics of Sorona and renewably sourced Hytrel are as good as or better than those of current products made wholly from petrochemicals, according to DuPont. Among engineering plastics, Sorona exhibits performance and molding characteristics similar to PBT (polybutylene terephthalate). Preliminary evaluations comparing the new Hytrel grades to current offerings show improvement in some properties.
Loudon, Tenn. is home for the world’s largest aerobic fermentation plant for the production of Bio-PDO. The plant is owned and operated by DuPont Tate & Lyle BioProducts LLC, an equally-owned joint venture of DuPont and Tate & Lyle formed in May 2004 for Bio-PDO production. The JV has 25 patents for Bio-PDO, including biocatalyst, process and application patents.
The Bio-PDO plant is scheduled to come on stream later this year and will have the capacity to produce 100 million pounds of Bio-PDO (more than 45,000 metric tons) per year.
DuPont has been working for several years on the concept of an Integrated Corn-Based Biorefinery (ICBR). The ICBR takes both corn grain and corn stover (cellulosic feedstock) streams and convert them to a series of major products: value-added Chemicals (such as Bio-PDO); electricity (co-generation); and ethanol.