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Amyris/Cosan JV Novvi introduces 100% renewable Group III and IV base oils

Novvi LLC, a joint venture of Amyris, Inc. and Cosan S.A. Industria e Comercio, unveiled two new 100% renewable base oil—the main component of motor oils—products: a renewable polyalphaolefin (PAO) Group IV and a renewable version of its NovaSpec Group III+ base oil. The new base oil products add to Novvi’s growing portfolio of renewable oils.

The Novvi JV was created to develop, produce, market, and distribute high-performance oils and lubricants from renewable sources. Novvi applies Amyris’ synthetic biology platform to produce targeted hydrocarbon molecules from plant sugar and Cosan’s feedstock capabilities and supply and distribution infrastructure.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has defined five categories of base oils (API 1509). The first three groups are refined from petroleum crude oil. Group IV base oils are full synthetic (polyalphaolefin) oils.

  • Group I base stocks contain less than 90% saturates and/or greater than 0.03% sulfur and have a viscosity index greater than or equal to 80 and less than 120.

  • Group II base stocks contain greater than or equal to 90% saturates and less than or equal to 0.03% sulfur and have a viscosity index greater than or equal to 80 and less than 120.

  • Group III base stocks contain greater than or equal to 90% saturates and less than or equal to 0.03% sulfur and have a viscosity index greater than or equal to 120.

  • Group IV base stocks are polyalphaolefins (PAO). PAOs can be interchanged without additional qualification testing as long as the interchange PAO meets the original PAO manufacturer’s specifications in physical and chemical properties. The following key properties need to be met in the substituted stock: Kinematic viscosity at 100°C, 40°C, and -40°C; Viscosity index; NOACK volatility; Pour point; Unsaturates.

  • Group V base stocks include all other base stocks not included in Group I, II, III, or IV.

Novvi’s renewable PAO is a clean, direct replacement for conventional Group IV PAO base oils derived from petroleum and natural gas. Novvi is the first company to commercialize high-performance PAO oil from renewable materials. Novvi said that its streamlined supply chain reduces capex costs considered standard in the industry by bypassing upstream processing steps required by petroleum PAO.

Building upon the performance of Novvi’s Group III+ 50% renewable NovaSpec base oils, Novvi will now offer a 100% renewable NovaSpec. NovaSpec Base Oils offer much greater biodegradability than petroleum-sourced fluids and are nontoxic, allowing several grades and many formulated lubricants to meet stringent regulations, such as the European Ecolabel, NSF H-1 and HX-1 Food Grade, and the US EPA VGP 2013.

Base-oils-chart
Base oil group chart showing position of Novvi’s Group III+ NovaSpec base oils. Click to enlarge.

Because they are made from plant sugars, finished lubricants based on NovaSpec Base Oils meet USDA BioPreferred labeling requirements, depending on the amount of Novvi base oil in the final formulation.

Because it’s a pure hydrocarbon, NovaSpec is compatible with conventional additive packages.

Novvi’s 100% renewable NovaSpec base oil enables oil producers to blend renewable content more flexibly and efficiently. Moreover, 100% renewable NovaSpec maintains the biodegradability capability of Novvi base oils, offering a combination of performance and environmental characteristics.

Renewable oils offer customization of specs and performance that differentiate them from conventionally produced oils. A renewable oil that competes on performance and price is well positioned for the multibillion dollar lubricant and base oils market.

—Pavel Molchanov, senior vice president and equity research analyst at Raymond James

Novvi is now taking orders from its Houston, Texas, plant and will scale production through strategic industry partnerships. Novvi is currently shipping NovaSpec base oil from the Texas plant to a range of customers in automotive, marine and industrial markets around the world.

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