In the Netherlands, Avantium secured a significant financial milestone of €25 million (about USD $27.5 million) in its mission to fund its FDCA flagship plant. Thanks to this grant, Avantium are well on the road to make plant-based FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid) and PEF (polyethylene furanoate) commercially available and represents an important financing milestone for Avantium.
The total funding need of Avantium for the FDCA flagship plant is around €150 million. Avantium intends to have this funding in place before the end of 2020.
This funding, directed by the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU), has been given to the PEFerence consortium, coordinated by Avantium, under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The funding aims to support the establishment of an innovative value chain for the use of FDCA and PEF, with the ultimate goal being to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions thanks to the completely recyclable properties of both.
Why the Preference for PEFerence?
The PEFerence partners have a lofty goal – to replace a significant share of fossil-based polyesters with the 100% plant-based PEF. PEF’s excellent barrier properties and its calculated cost price indicate that it can compete with traditional fossil-based products on price and performance when produced at scale, according to Avantium. PEF is plant-based and also completely recyclable, thereby significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Twelve reputable industrial companies and brand owners form the PEFerence consortium: LEGO System AS, Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, ALPLA Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH & Co. KG, Spinverse Innovation Management Oy, Tereos Participations SAS, nova-Institut für politische und ökologische Innovation GmbH, Nestec SA, OMV Machinery Srl, Worley, Kebony AS, Avantium Chemicals B.V. and Avantium Renewable Polymers B.V.
A bit of history – the PEFerence grant was originally awarded in 2017 to the PEFerence consortium under coordination of Synvina, the joint venture of Avantium and BASF. After the dissolution of the Synvina joint venture in January 2019, Avantium took full ownership of the YXY plant-to-plastics technology to produce FDCA and PEF. Avantium revised the scale-up and commercialization strategy for PEF, which includes a planned construction of a 5 kilotons FDCA flagship plant. As a result, Avantium needed to redefine the PEFerence project with BBI JU and its consortium partners. BBI JU has now agreed to the redefined project and has reactivated the PEFerence grant to the consortium, which will have access to the subsidy from 1 December 2019 onwards.
The total funding need of Avantium for the FDCA flagship plant is around €150 million, as indicated at the Technology & Markets Day of Avantium in June 2019.
This project has received funding under Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 744409.
Avantium currently has three technologies at pilot and demonstration phase. The most advanced technology is the YXY plant-to-plastics–technology that catalytically converts plant-based sugars into a wide range of chemicals and plastics, such as PEF (polyethylene furanoate). Avantium has successfully demonstrated the YXY Technology at its pilot plant in Geleen, the Netherlands.
The second technology is the Dawn Technology that converts non-food biomass into industrial sugars and lignin in order to transition the chemicals and materials industries to non-fossil resources. In 2018, Avantium opened the DAWN pilot biorefinery in Delfzijl, the Netherlands.
The third technology is called Ray Technology and catalytically converts industrial sugars to plant-based MEG (mono-ethylene glycol). Avantium is scaling up its Ray Technology and the demonstration plant in Delfzijl, the Netherlands opened on November 7, 2019.
The main building block for PEF is FDCA and according to Avantium, given the huge potential of FDCA, industrial production of this building block has been pursued and researched for over 100 years, without success. As such, FDCA has been called ‘the sleeping giant’. Avantium believes that its YXY Technology can finally unlock the full potential of FDCA. The FDCA monomer offers exciting opportunities to create a wide range of polymers, according to Avantium. These include polyesters, polyamides and polyurethanes as well as coating resins, plasticizers and other chemical products.
More on Avantium: The Multi-Slide Guides
Reaction from the Stakeholders
Avantium intends to have this funding in place before the end of 2020. Marcel Lubben, Managing Director of Avantium Renewable Polymers, comments: “The €25 million PEFerence grant for the establishment of an innovative value chain for FDCA is instrumental in securing the overall financing for the flagship plant and the market introduction of FDCA and PEF. It represents a significant step to cover the funding requirement for the flagship plant for FDCA and we are fully on track towards a planned start-up of the flagship plant in 2023.”
As reported in The Digest in October, Avantium joined the Paper Bottle Project for the fully plant-based and recyclable Paper Bottle, a sign that the company is making strides in getting plant-based polymers into consumer markets. The Digest also reported in November that Avantium’s partnership with R&F Chemical to market high-value PEF applications in Korea and that Avantium opened a branch office in Japan for PEF. Also in November they inaugurated their plant-based MEG (mono-ethylene glycol) demonstration plant in the Netherlands.
Plant-based chemicals are here and Avantium is helping bring it mainstream and to market. But we wouldn’t expect any less, after all, they were #11 in The Digest 2019 “50 Hottest Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy” rankings. We wouldn’t be surprised to see them move up a spot or two next year with all their progress this year on plant-based chemicals.