Coke invests further in scaling Virent’s paraxylene production for PlantBottle

September 9, 2014 |

In Wisconsin, Virent’s partnership with Coca Cola is to be extended with an additional investment of an undisclosed amount for Viret to scale up production of the paraxylene chemical which Coca Cola is using in their PlantBottles. The investment will fund purchase and installation of new equipment that is needed to chemically produce and purify paraxylene from one of the byproducts of Virent’s biofuel production process, said Kieran Furlong, director of chemicals business development.

The companies partnered in 2011, signing multi-year, multi-million dollar Joint Development and Supply Agreements to scale-up Virent’s plant-based Paraxylene (PX), trademarked BioFormPX, as a route to commercially viable, 100% renewable, 100% recyclable PlantBottle PET resin. In the past, Coca Cola’s PlantBottles have included only 30% plant-based plastic. Virent’s chemical allows the remaining 70% of the bottle to be plant-based.

Back in 2012, Virent announced the issuance of five new U.S. patents covering aspects of its catalytic BioForming platform. Three of the patents cover the production of various liquid fuels and chemicals related to its recent announced partnership with The Coca-Cola Company and its ongoing partnership with Royal Dutch Shell. The additional two patents are directed to the production of a range of other industrial chemicals and chemical intermediates using Virent’s BioForming process. These patents join the over 175 domestic and foreign issued and pending applications in Virent’s portfolio representing more than 25 different technology families.

Virent is one of three companies working with Coca-Cola on PlantBottle technology. The others are Colorado-based Gevo and Avantium, which is based in the Netherlands. In June, news has arrived that Gevo is now selling paraxyleme to Toray, one of the world’s leading producers of fibers, plastics, films, and chemicals. It’s producing PX from isobutanol, one of its three molecules in production (the others are jet fuel and iso-ocrane) at its complex in Silsbee, Texas. Toray expects to produce fibers, yarns, and films from Gevo’s PX.

Also in June, Avantium announced that it had closed a financing round of $50 million from a consortium of iconic strategic players. This unique consortium consists of Swire Pacific, The Coca-Cola Company, DANONE, ALPLA, and existing shareholders. Follow on investments were made by existing shareholders Sofinnova Partners, Capricorn Venture Partners, ING Corporate Investments, Aescap Venture, Navitas Capital, Aster Capital and De Hoge Dennen Capital.

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