US-based Anellotech is starting up a pilot plant that could lead to a route for a completely bio-based PET resin.
The company is developing a biologically based process to make petrochemicals such as paraxylene, a precursor to terephthalic acid, which in turn is a key raw material for PET resin.
Anellotech has been working with partners to try to make paraxylene and other aromatic petrochemicals from biomass, all in one reactor, a process it claims avoids costly, multi-step pyrolysis methods that require large amounts of hydrogen.
Anellotech calls its process Bio-TCat. Catalyst specialist Johnson Matthey is one of its partners. Another partner is Suntory Group, an Osaka, Japan-based multinational beverage producer. Suntory would like some of its beverages packaged in 100% biologically derived PET. So far, it has sourced PET bottles with 30% plant-derived materials in the form of bio-based ethlylene glycol, the other key ingredient for PET resin. Suntory uses the partially bio-based PET bottles for its Tennensui brand mineral waters.
“We are pleased with the progress Anellotech and its industry-leading partners have made, which gives us confidence in their ability to develop and commercialize a sustainable and cost-effective process for producing bio-based aromatics,” notes Suntory's head of packaging material development Munehiko Takada.
Anellotech President and CEO David Sudolsky indicates the Bio-TCat process could also lead to bio-based raw materials for nylon, polycarbonate and other plastic resins.