BASF (Germany) and Avantium (NL) have formed a joint venture for the production and marketing of furan-dicarboxylic acid (FDCA), which is produced from renewable resources, as well as the marketing of polyethylene-furanoate (PEF) based on the new chemical building block FDCA. The companies had announced negotiations last March and confirmed on October 7 that they established Synvina headquartered in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) .
The Synvina JV reportedly plan to invest a “medium three-digit million Euro sum” to build a reference plant with an annual capacity of up to 50,000 metric tons per year at BASF’s Verbund site in Antwerp (Belgium). This translates into quite a high Capex per ton produced ratio but relates to a primary industrial installation. Synvina also foresee to license the technology for industrial scale production. Synvina will use the YXY® process developed by Avantium for the production of FDCA. One of Avantium’s many success stories is the YXY® technology, with which they created PEF: a completely new, high-quality plastic made from plant-based industrial sugars.
FDCA and PEF: new materials enabling improved food packaging films and plastic bottles
FDCA is the essential chemical building block for the production of PEF, a polyester suitable for food and beverage packaging as well as for fibers for carpets and textiles. Compared to conventional PET, PEF is characterized by improved barrier to gases like carbon dioxide and oxygen. This can lead to longer shelf life of packaged products, specifically carbonated or alcoholic beverages like cokes, sprites and beers. Due to its higher mechanical strength, thinner PEF bottle and solid packaging films can be produced. After use, PEF can be recycled. Alongside the polyester PEF, FDCA can be processed into polyamides for engineering plastics and fibers, to polyurethanes for foams, coatings and adhesives and to esters for personal care products and lubricants.
Synvina to continue Avantium’s partnering activities with leading companies
Synvina will continue Avantium’s established partnering activities with leading brands associated with FDCA and PEF. The goal of the cooperation platform is to develop a complete supply chain for PEF as sustainable bio-based packaging material. Together with Toyobo (Japan) and as per the partnership announced early September this year, Synvina will boost the PEF polymerization and further develop PEF films for food packaging, in electronics applications such as displays or solar panels, industrial and medical packages. And With Mitsui, as per the partnership signed in December 2015, Avantium and Synvina will work on developing PEF thin films and PEF bottles in Japan. Furthermore, Synvina aims to continue the development partnerships with The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, ALPLA and other companies on the Joint Development Platform for PEF bottles.
“With Synvina we’ll enter the promising business with FDCA and PEF and to support our customers in the various industries to create value. We strongly believe that the future belongs to these products based on renewable resources. They combine superior characteristics with a production process based on renewable feedstock”, said Dr. Stefan Blank, President of BASF’s Intermediates division. “Synvina is an innovative, entrepreneurial and highly competent, young company with an excellent starting position from which to build a globally leading role in FDCA and PEF.”
“FDCA is a sleeping giant with huge potential. Although it was first produced in the 1950s, it has never been successfully developed and brought to market until now”, said Tom van Aken, Chief Executive Officer of Avantium, and continued: “I strongly believe that Synvina will wake up that sleeping giant and make it available for industrial use. With the development of a proven FDCA production process, and the construction of a strong partnering and cooperation network, Avantium has provided Synvina with all necessary prerequisites. It will benefit from BASF’s expertise in market development and large-scale production and as a reliable chemical company in the business of intermediates and polymers.”
Mitsui (Japan) plugged into Synvina
Last December, bioplasticsnexs.com reported that Avantium had signed an agreement with Mitsui & Co., Ltd. to commercialize bio-based chemicals FDCA and PEF in Asia. As part of this agreement, Mitsui has been granted a right to purchase a sizable volume of FDCA from the first commercial FDCA plant to be constructed by Avantium. Avantium and Mitsui have entered into a development and roll out agreement for PEF thin films in Asia and PEF bottles in Japan.
So is Toyobo (Japan)
In September 2016, Avantium and Toyobo formed a partnership to produce PEF-based thin films based on Avantium’s proprietary YXY® technology for the production of FDCA. These PEF films are about 10 micrometer in thickness and can be applied for food packaging, in electronics applications such as displays or solar panels, and industrial or medical packages. Compared to standard PET films, PEF films have a 10x higher oxygen barrier, 2-3x higher water vapor barrier, improved mechanical strength and are fully transparent. This enables new packaging opportunities, such as transparent pouches for soups, and extends the shelf life when packaging oxygen sensitive products like meat proteins for retail case –ready applications.