S2G Biochemicals (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) announced last month that it has successfully initiated commercial production of bio-based Monopropylene Glycols
(MPGs) using glycerine at the Memphis, Tennessee USA site of S2G’s operating partner, Pennakem LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Specialty Chemicals Group Minafin (France) . The company started production of industrial-grade MPG in early April for a five-week, scale-up campaign. S2G’ CEO Mark Kirby said its products are being evaluated by multiple industrial customers looking to source USP grade bio-MPG as an alternative to petro-derived MPG for the manufacturing of e.g. bio-based resins. It also disclosed in an interview with my expert colleague Doris de Guzman that S2G was working on the development of an undisclosed high value specialty chemical in collaboration with a Fortune 100 partner.
Monopropylene Glycols or MPGs are miscible in all proportions with low molecular weight aliphatic alcohols and ketones. It is slightly to moderately soluble in aromatic hydrocarbon solvents, and only slightly miscible with aliphatic hydrocarbon solvents. Other chemical names for MPG are: 1,2-dihydroxy propane; 1,2-propanediol; 1,2-propylene glycol. It is primarily used for the production of polymers ( polyesters and polyurethanes) but also in food as humectant under the code name E1520 and preservative for tobacco products. It is also used as a solvent in pharmaceuticals as well as marine anti-freeze.
S2G does not use a fermentation process to produce the glycols, and its technology is actually looking to use C5 cellulosic sugars (xylose) down the road. Cellulosic sugars contained in the hemicellulose part of agricultural and forestry by-products are extracted from biomass in bio-refineries along with C6 sugars (glucose) and lignin. S2G has a pilot plant at its site which is said to be capable of producing more than 50 metric tons per annum of polyols.