Swiss greentech pioneer AVA Biochem AG and the Michelin Group have entered into a joint development agreement, the companies have announced, with the ultimate aim of establishing the world's first commercial-scale production plant of the platform chemical 5-HMF. This will allow 5-HMF to be further implemented in the production of various materials and chemical applications.
5-HMF, or 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural, is a 100% bio-based molecule consisting of a furan ring and containing both aldehyde and alcohol functional groups. It is formed through the dehydration of various sugars. AVA Biochem, founded in 2011, developed, patented and piloted a fully water-based process for the conversion of industrial sugars into 5-HMF. The company began producing the molecule in early 2014.
The present collaboration, said Michelin’s Christophe Rahier, demonstrates the ability of AVA Biochem to master their new process and added that Michelin will ‘contribute to its know-how in the industrialization and evaluation of the performance of these products in different applications’.
These applications are all targeted at improving the performance, economics, sustainability (low carbon footprint) and safety (non-toxicity) of a variety of both consumer goods and industrial products.
5-HMF can be used as a building block for a range of substances, enabling novel product applications to be brought onto the market based on this versatile chemical, including biopolymers, as well as resins and adhesives, where it replaces highly toxic formaldehyde.
The collaboration with Michelin offers a ‘powerful opportunity’ to develop eco-friendly industrial products, said Peter Achermann, Chairman & Co-Founder of AVA Biochem.
“It is an important step forward in AVA Biochem’s ambition to become a preferred partner and key provider of sustainable chemicals solutions and worldwide licenses to industrial and consumer goods groups.”