Plants as sustainable raw material: Materials manufacturer Covestro and biotechnology company Genomatica have joined forces to research and develop high-performance materials based on renewable feedstocks. With their collaboration announced on Wednesday, both partners are aiming to reduce the use of fossil-based resources such as crude oil. These are today still the most common carbon and raw material sources of the chemical and plastics industries. Using carbon from plants instead would help reduce CO2emissions and close the carbon loop in another move towards a circular economy.
This long-term partnership involves teams from both companies working together to drive commercially-focused innovations. Genomatica will deploy its strengths in developing industrial-scale bioprocesses to produce widely-used chemicals. Covestro complements the collaboration with strong know-how in chemical process technology and application development. This initiative is another example of Covestro’s approach to drive innovation by sustainability.
Reducing dependence on fossil raw materials
“The market is showing increasing interest in products based on renewable raw materials,” said Dr. Klaus Schäfer, Chief Technology Officer of Covestro. “Being able to increasingly derive key materials from biomass is essential for making our industry less dependent on fossil raw materials and market fluctuations. With this, we are pursuing our vision of making the world a brighter place.”
Christophe Schilling, CEO of US-based Genomatica, added: “We look forward to supporting Covestro in its efforts and providing our expertise in harnessing the power of biotechnology to bring much-needed change to many segments of the chemical industry.”
Genomatica is a widely-recognized leader in bioengineering and aims to lead a transition to more sustainable materials. It develops bio-based process technologies that enable a better way to produce widely-used chemicals, from alternative feedstocks, with better economics, sustainability and performance. Genomatica has earned widespread acclaim for its technology; has commercialized processes to make the chemical butanediol (for biodegradable plastics and apparel) and for butylene glycol (cosmetics and personal care); and is working on bio-nylon. Awards include the Kirkpatrick Award, for “the most noteworthy chemical engineering technology commercialized in the world” and the ICIS Innovation Award for its Brontide™ butylene glycol.
With sales of EUR 14.6 billion in 2018, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main sectors served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, and electrical and electronics industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,800 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) as at the end of 2018.