In response to growing consumer interest in sustainable products, bioengineering leader Genomatica, headquartered in California, and Italy-based polyamide producer Aquafil are collaborating on the construction of a demonstration-scale facility for 100% renewably-sourced polyamide 6.
The new facility will represent a fifty-fold increase in the production capacity for bio-nylon - becoming the largest ever - and a significant acceleration towards its commercialisation.
“Bio-nylon is positioned to replace a material that’s used in millions of applications every day,” said Christophe Schilling, Genomatica CEO. “Our research shows that despite health and economic turmoil, 56% of Americans still want brands to prioritize sustainability. With this scale, Genomatica is offering our brand partners a key way to meet their sustainability objectives, differentiate themselves, and meet surging consumer demand.”
This multi-year agreement consolidates the longstanding partnership between Genomatica and Aquafil, who in January 2020 joined forces to produce the world’s first ton of bio-nylon-6 precursor at pilot scale.
Aquafil will build and operate the downstream operations of the new demonstration plant at its facility in Slovenia, where it will convert Genomatica’s bio-based precursor to commercial-quality bio-nylon-6 yarns, films and engineered plastics.
The produced material will be used to develop renewably-sourced products, replacing traditional polyamide, production of which is calculated to generate upward of 60 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Under this agreement, initial volumes of bio-nylon ingredients will be available in the latter half of 2021.
Genomatica has a proven track record of successfully scaling technology from idea to commercialisation stage for multiple renewably-made products. This expertise led the two companies now to move directly to a larger-than-typical demonstration scale to support initial commercial applications by committed brand partners. The first production runs are slated to create 50 tons of bio-nylon for pre-commercial use by Genomatica’s brand partners, with the demonstration plant to continue supporting product needs until commercial-scale plants are in operation.