New York-based sustainable technology company Anellotech and its European partners have advanced a bioplastics breakthrough with the production of high-purity bio-based paraxylene – a key feedstock for production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
The project, which involves collaboration with French catalysts and process engineering company Axens and Solaize, France-based IFPEN research centre, used Anellotech's bio-sourced aromatics made for the development of the paraxylene.
Anellotech has developed Bio-TCat technology, which uses a thermal catalytic process to convert non-food biomass feedstock material into BTX aromatics.
The BTX aromatics are claimed by Anellotech to be identical to their petro-based counterparts.
The BXT was then sent to the European partners in July last year for purification into bio-paraxylene.
Anellotech, IFPEN and Axens will now purify additional paraxylene to create pilot sample 100% bio-PET beverage bottles, according to a 26 Feb joint statement.
The trio will also produce sample quantities of bio-based benzene whose derivatives - nylon, ABS, polycarbonate and linear alkyl benzene - can be used as alternatives to fossil fuel-based plastics.
Anellotech has also partnered with global consumer beverage company Suntory to produce the bio-PET bottles.
“We're delighted with this achievement, a key milestone on the path to 100% bio-based PET bottles,” said Munehiko Takada, chief specialist of packaging material department at Suntory.
“High-purity bio-paraxylene is an important material for our business, especially from a sustainability viewpoint,” he added.
As larger amounts of paraxylene are purified by the French partners, Anellotech said it would begin to make renewable PET resin for prototype bottle manufacture and product trials.
“This latest breakthrough brings 100% renewable plastic bottles closer to reality,” said David Sudolsky, President and CEO of Anellotech.
According to Sudolsky, planning is also underway for the first commercial Bio-TCat process plant to produce paraxylene, benzene and other aromatics from loblolly pine wood, to be used in bio-based chemicals and biofuels.
According to Jean- Pierre Burzynskiof IFPEN, the new process developed by the companies offers “an innovative and cost-competitive path to bio-aromatics”.