13 August 2007

U.S.A.: World’s first propanediol production from corn sugar opened

DuPont Tate & Lyle $100 million joint venture

DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products, an equally owned joint venture of DuPont and Tate & Lyle, have officially opened the world’s first facility producing propanediol from corn sugar in the U.S. city Loudon/ Tennessee.

Loudon_2006_sunset_JV.jpgThe Loudon facility produces 1,3-propanediol (Bio-PDOTM) from renewable resources – in this case corn sugar – making it the first facility in the world to manufacture this new bio-based product. Bio-PDO is a versatile, biodegradable and high-performance ingredient that can be used in cosmetics, liquid detergents and industrial applications such as anti-freeze and many other applications that currently use glycols. It also can be used as a monomer to produce unsaturated polyester resins as well as other specialty polymers such as DuPontTM Sorona® and the latest renewably sourced polymer, DuPont CerenolTM. In addition, renewably sourced Hytrel® thermoplastic elastomers and a new line of renewable DuPont automotive finishes are two new product lines scheduled to be launched later this year. The first commercial product was sold in November 2006, and demand for new uses of Bio-PDO continues to grow with nearly a dozen product applications to date.

“It’s encouraging to see industry team up to make incredible advances in bio-based technology, building upon the Department of Energy’s efforts to reduce our reliance on imported oil, aggressively confront climate change and help maintain our nation’s competitive edge in the global marketplace,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said at the opening ceremony of the facility. “I’ve seen tremendous examples today of how private sector investment can make available to consumers more affordable, homegrown and environmentally sensitive products. I commend DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products for taking bold steps to maximize domestically grown resources, and I’d like to see more of this type of collaboration.”

The joint venture uses a proprietary fermentation process developed jointly by DuPont and Tate & Lyle to produce Bio-PDO using corn sugar instead of petroleum-based feedstocks. The production of Bio-PDO consumes 40 percent less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent compared to petroleum-based propanediol. Annual production of 100 million pounds of Bio-PDO will save the energy equivalent of over 15 million gallons of gasoline per year, or enough to fuel more than 27,000 cars.

At the event, the American Chemical Society (ACS) presented the research teams involved in the development of Bio-PDO with the prestigious 2007 Heroes of Chemistry award. The program highlights the vital role of industrial chemical scientists and their companies in improving human welfare through successful commercial innovations and products. Recipients are selected based on the technical merit of the chemical innovation, including talent and foresight demonstrated by the nominees, the commercial impact of the products on the marketplace, and the benefits to mankind through the products’ performance. Representing the teams and organizations receiving the award were: Charlie Nakamura and Cathy Babowitz of DuPont, Dennis Adkesson of Tate & Lyle, and Gregg Whited of Genencor International.

“The Loudon Bio-PDO production process is on the leading edge of industrial biotechnology,” said DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products President Steven Mirshak. “We are quickly growing into a business that delivers high performing, renewable products to diverse markets globally. This was the goal and vision of our parent companies. We are enabling our customers to produce high-quality, renewably sourced products based on SusterraTM and ZemeaTM propanediol.”

“We began looking at bio-based, renewable materials in 1993 as the natural evolution of DuPont science,” DuPont Chairman & CEO Charles O. Holliday, Jr. said. “Today, the growth opportunity is exponential with applications in personal care, automotive, paints, athletic equipment, apparel and more. Bio-PDO has demonstrated that our approach to integrated science works. We are seeing further evidence of this in the development of advanced biofuels and other renewable products in our pipeline. I am more confident than ever that we as a society are making progress toward building a global economy that addresses energy challenges in a sustainable way.”

Tate & Lyle’s Chief Executive Iain Ferguson said, “Today’s event is the culmination of our companies working together to open up real commercial opportunities and drive scientific advancement. Industrial biotechnology that remains focused on the consumer can help businesses not only reduce their dependence on traditional petrochemical fuel sources – helping companies to cut costs and pollution – but also can deliver more choice and better products for consumers.”

Bio-PDO is available in two grades: Zemea and Susterra propanediol. Zemea has been developed for the personal care and liquid detergent categories where high purity level and low irritation are key product requirements. Susterra propanediol is ideal for industrial applications such as de-icing fluids, anti-freeze and heat transfer fluids, where its low toxicity and biodegradability are beneficial.

(Cf. news of 2006-09-06, 2005-09-02 and 2006-05-31.)

Source: Tate & Lyle, press release, 2007-06-08.

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