PLANT

BASF, Renmatix partner to scale-up production of industrial sugars from biomass

Industrial sugars are important bio-based precursors for a variety of chemicals based on renewable feedstocks.


LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany and PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – BASF and American technology provider Renmatix Inc. will jointly scale up Renmatix’s Plantrose process to produce industrial sugars based on lignocellulosic biomass.

The two companies signed a non-exclusive joint development agreement following BASF’s $30-million investment in Renmatix in January 2012.

Renmatix’s Plantrose technology enables industrial sugar to be produced, at competitive costs, from a variety of non-edible biomass (lignocellulose) sources. The proprietary process breaks down lignocellulosic sources, such as wood, agricultural-residues or straw, into industrial sugars using supercritical water (water at high temperature and pressure). Industrial sugars are critical to various basic chemicals and intermediates that are produced by fermentative processes.

The availability of these industrial sugars in sufficient quantities and at competitive cost is important to enable both environmentally-friendly and cost-competitive bio-based products. Incorporating biomass feedstocks in the value chain, creates a raw material change that reduces reliance on fossil raw material sources like naphtha as principal feedstock.

“Raw material change will only be possible via process innovations that allow the utilization of alternative sources of raw materials,” said Dr. Peter Schuhmacher, president of BASF’s competence centre Process Research and Chemical Engineering. “It requires processes like Plantrose, which will be further developed in a joint effort, that enable the use of non-edible biomass as a chemical feedstock and which do not compete with food or feed production.”

Renmatix, based in Philadelphia, Pa., is a technology licensor for the conversion of biomass into cellulosic sugar, an enabling feedstock for petroleum alternatives in the biochemical and biofuels markets. Its operations in Georgia currently onvert three dry tons of cellulosic biomass to Plantro sugar per day.

BASF is a global chemical company, with more than 110,000 employees worldwide.