Johnson Matthey, BP and Virent Collaborate in Bio-Paraxylene Project

15th March 2019

Johnson Matthey, BP and Virent Collaborate in Bio-Paraxylene Project

BP, Virent and Johnson Matthey have agreed to collaborate to further progress the commercialization of Virent’s Bioforming process for producing bio-paraxylene (PX), a key raw material for renewable polyester.

BP will provide technical resources and also have exclusive rights to negotiate becoming the sole manufacturer of bio-PX using Virent’s technology.

Charles Damianides, BP’s vice-president of petrochemicals technology and licensing, said: “We consider Virent’s technology to be the leading route to commercial quantities of renewable bio-PX that may enable BP’s existing petrochemicals plants to produce a distinctive product in support of our commitment to advance a low carbon future.”

Eugene McKenna, Business Development and Innovation Director at Johnson Matthey, added: “This is an important step in increasing the quantity of renewable feedstocks used to make polyester packaging and fibers. We will continue to use our science and engineering skills to facilitate wider adoption of this technology."

Based on a novel combination of aqueous phase reforming (APR) technology with modified conventional catalytic processing, the Bioforming technology converts plant-based sugars into a range of drop-in hydrocarbon products that are identical to their petroleum-based counterparts. According to Virent, the process can work with conventional sugars such as those obtained from existing sources (e.g., corn wet mills and sugarcane mills), as well as a wide variety of non-food cellulosic biomass.

In July 2016, Virent formed a consortium with Johnson Matthey, Toray, Coca-Cola and Andeavor (then Tesoro) to scale up and commercialize the Bioforming process. In September 2016, Virent was acquired by Andeavor, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum.

Other companies working on bio-PX processes include Gevo and Anellotech. In September 2013, Gevo started up a demonstration plant for bio-PX in Silsbee, Texas, USA, supplying test quantities to Toray for use in fibers and films. Anellotech started planning the design and engineering for a commercial-scale plant based on its Bio-TCat process, which produces fuels and chemicals from non-food biomass, last October.

Photo: © Virent
BP, Virent and Johnson Matthey collaborate to further progress the commercialization of Virent’s Bioforming process for producing bio-paraxylene.

For more information visit www.chemanager-online.com/en/

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