Placeholder Banner

The Future of Renewable Chemicals

December 11, 2014
On Monday, the BIO Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioenergy, heard from three companies and their perspectives on the future of renewable chemicals. Carolyn Fritz, Allylix, led the session and provided great insight to the similarities and differences among DuPont, BASF, and Green Biologics throughout the discussion.

Markus Pompejus provided BASF’s perspective on biobased chemicals. BASF understands that sustainability is a goal of many of their customers including the brand owners who are approaching BASF for sustainable solutions and materials based on renewables. BASF is innovating for their customer base which drives their success by producing chemicals in an integrated fashion. To that end, Pompejus explained the importance of Verbund to BASF. Verbund is the extremely efficient use of raw materials and energy while conserving natural resources and reducing emissions and waste which is key for competitiveness. However, the potential to switch to renewables, from fossil, is solely dependent on the individual product and the value proposition of the end product.

Karl Sanford, DuPont, discussed the progress required to build an industrial biotechnology powerhouse. The strategy is to be a premier market-driven science company and generate superior shareholder returns. DuPont is moving towards becoming more of a lifescience company and as a result is in a unique position to be at the forefront of the bio-based technology revolution. Bio-based technologies represent a new wave in innovation that draws on all aspects of DuPonts innovation platform.

DuPont remains a major player in the ethanol industry. Mainstream first generation ethanol is moving away from being a biofuel and simply becoming a fuel. This is a growing market and industry has seen success as it is supplied with increasing productivity from field to fuel tank and driven by technology improvements. DuPont is also invested in cellulosic ethanol. DuPont offers pre processing, fermentation and recovery which is distributed as ethanol for transportation fuels, ethanol for laundry formulations, and lignin co-products for energy. DuPont, like others, has found that when you compare the renewable industry to the petrochemical industry the end result is still the same, both industries result in stuff that people want including fibers, films, fuels, solvents, and molded articles.

Timothy Staub brought a slightly different perspective to the discussion. Green Biologics understands that in order to be successful you must fit into the industry, not the other way around. Green Biologics is currently in a race to raise capital and spend it efficiently to get their first production facility and get into the marketplace. Green Biologics is building a leading renewable n-butanol company, focusing on low cost cellulosic feedstocks, expanding technology lead with microbial and process advances, while understanding the key markets, and taking advantage of collaborations. Similar to DuPont and BASF, Green Biologics understands the importance of collaborating in order to move forward. While leveraging the value chain, Green Biologics is creating value and managing risk. Green Biologics has learned early on that the customers decide what is value and that is what key decisions must be based on.

Green Biologics, BASF, and DuPont have all realized in their different stages that constant discussions with the customer base in tandem with collaborations are critical to achieving success.