Avantium reported a 22% increase in consolidated revenues from operations to €13.8 million (FY 2018: €11.3 million), mainly driven by increased systems sales by Avantium Catalysis. Higher revenues in its Renewable Chemistries business related to collaboration agreements with partners. Revenues in Avantium Renewable Polymers arose from agreements allowing customers to validate the technology.
Avantium’s net loss for the year 2019 amounted to €23.5 million (FY 2018: €68.4 million). The 2018 results were influenced by the accounting of one-off expenses and impairment losses relating to Avantium acquiring 100% ownership of Synvina, amounting to approximately €50 million.
Cash at 31 December 2019 was €45.4 million (31 December 2018: €83.3 million). The 2019 cash outflow resulted primarily from investments in our technology programs and from a one-off payment of €17.4 million to regain full ownership of Avantium Renewable Polymers (formerly known as Synvina).
Avantium Renewable Polymers made good progress with the implementation of its revised commercialisation strategy, including preparations for the planned construction of a 5 kilotonnes FDCA flagship plant, currently planned to start-up in 2023. The location chosen was Chemie Park Delfzijl in the Netherlands – a location where Avantium is already operating a 10-tonne/annum plant-based MEG demonstration plant for its Ray technology and a pilot biorefinery for its Dawn technology.
The estimated cost of the flagship plant is approximately €150 million. Avantium aims to have the necessary financing (e.g. national and regional grants, bank loans and commitments from strategic partners) in place before the end of 2020, at which point the decion will be made as whether or not to proceed with the construction of the flagship plant.
The first important financing milestones to support the construction of the flagship plant were reached with a €25 million PEFerence grant and €30 million financing package from a regional consortium.
Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium said: “2019 was a pivotal year for Avantium, in which we continued to focus on our commitment to becoming a leader in renewable chemistry. By regaining full ownership of Avantium Renewable Polymers, we now have control over the scale- up and market-launch strategy for our YXY Technology to produce FDCA and PEF. We continue to make encouraging progress on the execution of our business strategies.”
In 2019, Avantium partnered with some of the world’s largest brands to help shape the sustainable plastic products and packaging material of tomorrow. In April, Avantium announced that it had produced the first plant-based pouches to package dry and liquid products such as cheese & dairy, dry snacks, sauces and cosmetics. These pouches are made from biaxially oriented polyethylene furanoate (BOPEF) film made from plant-based FDCA which Avantium has jointly developed together with the Japanese chemical company Toyobo.
In October, Avantium joined the Paper Bottle Company (Paboco®) – a joint venture between paper packaging material developer BillerudKorsnäs and bottle manufacturing specialist ALPLA. The Paper Bottle Project is an innovation community joining leading brands including Carlsberg, Coca-Cola Europe, L’Oréal and The Absolut Company. Paboco announced on 11 October that a thin layer of Avantium’s PEF will provide the Paper Bottle with the high barrier properties (the ability to withstand gas permeability through the bottle) needed for beverages such as beer and carbonated soft drinks. Development work on the Paper Bottle with the PEF layer is in progress, with the intention to start controlled testing in 2020.
In 2019, the first results of tests by OWS (Organic Waste Systems, Gent Belgium) on the biodegradability of PEF were presented. The results of the accelerated tests by OWS show that PEF degrades much faster than PET (polyethylene terephthalate, transparent polyester used for bottles and film) under industrial composting conditions (full biodegradation in 250-400 days at 58°C in soil).
Avantium Renewable Chemistries
Significant progress has been made within the three lead programmes – Ray Technology, Dawn Technology and the Volta platform.
Avantium’s proprietary Ray Technology converts glucose into plant-based mono-ethylene glycol (MEG). This is a major drop-in component used in the production of everyday products such as polyester textiles and film, PET and PEF resins, and coolants. It is a key ingredient in products such as plastic bottles and clothing.
Avantium’s proprietary Dawn Technology produces industrial sugars and lignin from forestry residues in its pilot biorefinery in Delfzijl. During 2019, Avantium completed the first full year of operations there. Trials were run using feedstocks from several potential partners and this has helped to further optimise the technology and support the validation of the process economics. Avantium aims to monetise Dawn Technology via licenses and is progressing partnership discussions.
Volta is a platform technology that uses electrochemistry to convert CO2 to higher value products and chemical building blocks. In 2019, Avantium opened a pre-pilot test unit for the Volta technology at the Port of Amsterdam.
Avantium Catalysis provides advanced catalysis testing systems and R&D services. The R&D Services business carries out customised contract research projects. The Systems business sells Avantium’s Flowrence® high-throughput catalyst testing systems, which are designed to accelerate catalyst screening and to study catalyst deactivation.
In 2019, two other business areas were identified to help diversify the R&D Services business of Avantium Catalysis: chemical recycling of plastics and adsorption testing.
Under the umbrella of the four-year IMPRESS research programme, Avantium Catalysis has developed two different adsorption test units which will be applicable to a range of issues faced by our customers.