Lanxess converts 20 tons of Genomatica BDO into PBT, in commercial-scale trial

| June 25, 2013

First production of bio-based polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) in a world-scale plant using 1,4-butanediol (BDO) made from renewable feedstock

Product quality of bio-based PBT fully within specification and equivalent to petro-based PBT

In Germany, Lanxess has run a production campaign of bio-based PBT in Lanxess’ world-scale production plant using 20 metric tons of bio-based BDO made with Genomatica’s commercially-proven process.

The properties and the quality of the resulting bio-based PBT are fully equivalent to conventional petro-based PBT with regard to all tested parameters.

The world-scale PBT plant, with a capacity of 80,000 tons per year, is located in Hamm-Uentrop, Germany and operated as a joint venture in which Lanxess has a share of 50 percent.

Shown here, the PBT plant at Hamm-Uentrop, Germany, used by Lanxess for this conversion.

Shown here, the PBT plant at Hamm-Uentrop, Germany, used by Lanxess for this conversion.

PBT is, er, what again?

The distribution of global PBT demand, by market sector. Data source: Nexant.

The distribution of global PBT demand, by market sector. Data source: Nexant.

Polybutylene terephthalate is used for housings in electrical engineering, but also in automotive construction as plug connectors and in households for example in showerheads or irons.

It is also found processed into fibers in toothbrushes and is used in the keycaps of some mechanical keyboards because of its resistance to wear. PBT can also be made into yarn. This has a natural stretch similar to Lycra and can be incorporated into sports wear. On account of its chlorine resistance it is found especially in swimwear.

Initially, PBT was first used in the textile industry.  In the textile sector, PBT is spun into fibers and used in the carpet sector.  However, today due to competition with polyamides, PBT is mainly used as a substitute for metals, thermoset resins, and engineering plastics. The most important applications of PBT are for products used in the automotive, electrical, electronics, telecommunication, as well as precision engineering sectors.

PBT is marketed under a wide variety of brand names by companies such as Lanxess, BASF, SABIC, DSM, DuPont and Evonik.

Reaction from the partners

“This is a strong signal to the market and a tremendous step forward in our future plans to offer our high-tech plastic Pocan in a bio-based version,” said Hartwig Meier, Head of Global Product and Application Development of the High Performance Materials Business Unit of Lanxess. “Due to its unchanged properties Pocan compounds based on bio-based PBT can directly be used in established application fields such as automotive or electro & electronics area. This fits very well with our strategy of ‘Green Mobility.’”

“Lanxess’ achievement proves how quickly bio-based monomers can be integrated into world-scale polymer production plants when you deliver the exact same performance for an existing, high-volume chemical,” said Christophe Schilling, Ph.D., CEO of Genomatica. “This is additional proof that we got the details right.”



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