Global bio-based chemicals keep increasing

According to the American Chemical Weekly, despite the weak macroeconomic, the global demand for bio-based chemicals continues to grow due to the decarbonization transformation and consumer preference for green products, and corporate investment is still increasing. This is in sharp contrast to the cold investment in bio-based chemicals after the financial crisis in 2008.

Cory Terry, CEO of Trillium Renewable Chemicals, a developer of bio-based acrylonitrile based on thermochemical routes in Tennessee, USA, said: “In the last economic recession, the interest of the community in bio-based chemicals, including venture investors, has indeed weakened or even disappeared. This time, we see the strong interest of industry participants, who have a more realistic understanding and profound understanding of the market.”

Max Senechal, Chief Commercial Officer and Senior Vice President of CJ Biomaterials, a biomaterial company of First Sugar in South Korea, said that brand companies are actively building supply chains to find solutions for sustainability and packaging issues. Senechal said: “In the past, brand companies only looked for solutions and did not consider the cost of packaging solutions. Now the cost of plastic waste disposal has become one of the important contents of enterprise supply chain cost management.”

Technological progress is also accelerating the development of bio-based chemicals industry. “We have a deeper understanding of the genetics behind biochemical reactions, and the experimental tools have been greatly improved,” said Sunil Chandran, chief scientific officer and research and development director of Amiris, “The progress of synthetic DNA technology can transfer the genetic mechanism from other species to common organisms such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It can not only sequence organisms that could not be sequenced before, but also synthesize DNA that could not be synthesized before. In this way, we can analyze microorganisms in more detail than before.”

In terms of enterprise investment, Brasco announced last month that it was considering building the world’s first commercial scale facility of bio-based polypropylene (PP) in the United States. The facility will use the company’s proprietary technology and use bioethanol as raw material. Brasco is exploring cooperation opportunities with several customers, brand owners and suppliers. Mark Nickelich, CEO of Brasco Americas, said: “Incorporating bio-based PP resin into our product portfolio will help Brasco achieve the production target of 1 million tons/year of biopolymer by 2030, and help enterprises achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.”

The French company Afyren also announced that it would build a second bio-based carboxylic acid plant in Thailand. The company has signed a project cooperation agreement with the world’s third largest sugar producer, Thailand Liangyi Company, to provide raw materials for the facility.

Solvay said in January that he would invest in the construction of the company’s first circulating highly dispersed silica device in Livorno, Italy. The product of this device is made of bio-based sodium silicate extracted from rice husk ash, which provides a recycling solution for silicate process. The company said that the investment would accelerate and expand its innovative solutions using biotechnology. Since January 2022, Solvay has also been cooperating with Trillium to develop the supply chain of bio-based acrylonitrile and focus on the use of bio-based acrylonitrile in carbon fiber manufacturing.

Some chemical manufacturers are also stepping up mergers and acquisitions and adding favorable bio-based ingredients to their product portfolios. In 2023, Croda International, a British specialty product company, announced the purchase of Solus Biotech, a Korean manufacturer of ceramide, phospholipids and retinol, from Solus Advanced Materials for 350 billion won; The German essence giant Symrise has acquired a majority stake in Synergio; Maire Tecnimont, an Italian engineering and technology group, acquired a majority stake in CONSER, which holds a number of patents for converting plant glycerol substitutes into specialty products.

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