Rockin’ PEFormance: €25M for Synvina-led consortium for biobased materials

June 11, 2017 |

In the Netherlands, a BBI subsidy of €25 million has been granted to “PEFerence,” a consortium consisting of 11 companies including Synvina, Avantium, BASF,  Tereos Participations (France), Alpla Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH & Co Kg (Austria), OMV Machinery Srl (Italy) and Croda Nederland B.V. (The Netherlands), Nestec Sa (Switzerland) Lego System As (Denmark), Nova-Institut für politische und ökologische Innovation GmbH (Germany) and Spinverse Innovation Management Oy (Finland).

The partners will jointly work on establishing an innovative supply chain for FDCA and PEF, including the intended construction of a 50,000 tons reference plant in Antwerp. Synvina will be coordinating the “PEFerence” project.

It was one of a trio of key stories this week for Avantium, voted #3 anong the 50 Hottest Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy by Digest readers earlier this year.

Avantium taps Zanna McFerson as CBDO

In other news, Avantium appointed Zanna McFerson as its Chief Business Development Officer.  McFerson is the former Chief Business officer at Amyris and before that a Vice-President at Cargill, where she led the successful introduction of the natural sweetener Truvia in the US, Latin America and Europe.

AVTX now included in the Small Cap index Euronext

In another development of note for Avantium, the company’s shares have been includedin the AScX index of Euronext as of the start of trading next Monday 19 June 2017.   The AScX index is composed of 25 funds that trade on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange and rank position 51-75 in size.

FDCA and PEF: The competitive edge

FDCA is the essential chemical building block for the production of PEF. Compared to conventional plastics, PEF is characterized by improved barrier properties for gases like carbon dioxide and oxygen. This can lead to longer shelf life of packaged products. Due to its higher mechanical strength, thinner PEF packaging can be produced, thus a lower amount of packaging material is necessary. Therefore PEF is particularly suitable for the production of certain food and beverage packaging, for example films and plastic bottles. After use, PEF can be recycled.

The European Joint Undertaking on Bio-based Industries backstory

The European Joint Undertaking on Bio-based Industries (BBI) is a public-private partnership between the European Union and the Bio-based Industries Consortium aiming at increasing investment in the development of a sustainable bio-based industry sector in Europe. It aims at providing environmental and socio-economic benefits for European citizens, increasing the competitiveness of Europe and contributing to establishing Europe as a key player in research, demonstration and deployment of advanced bio-based products and biofuels. The BBI Joint Undertaking will also play an important role in achieving a bioeconomy in Europe.

The Synvina backstory

Synvina is a Joint Venture of Avantium and BASF, located in Amsterdam. Operating a pilot plant in Geleen, the Netherlands, Synvina produces and markets furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) from renewable resources on pilot plant scale and markets the new polymer polyethylenefuranoate (PEF). For the packaging industry, PEF offers superior characteristics like improved barrier properties and a higher mechanical strength enabling thinner packaging. PEF is recyclable.

We reported last October that Avantium and BASF formed a joint venture, named Synvia, for the production and marketing of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), which is produced from renewable resources, as well as the marketing of polyethylenefuranoate (PEF) based on the new chemical building block FDCA.

The Synvina JV plans 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, and to license the technology for industrial scale production. Synvina will use the YXY process developed by Avantium for the production of FDCA.

The companies had announced negotiations last March as reported here.

More on Avantium and BASF: The Multi-Slide Guides

Going to scale: The Digest’s 2016 8-Slide Guide to Avantium

Elephant in the Bio-Room: The Digest’s 2015 8-Slide Guide to BASF

The Digest’s 8-Slide Guide to the Plant Bottle is here.

Synvina advances Avantium’s partnering activities

Synvina is continuing 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, the companies will jointly 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. With Mitsui, 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.

Reaction from the stakeholders

“The grant of the BBI is a strong signal for Synvina and our partners along the value chain to continue our mutual process to make PEF commercially available”, said Patrick Schiffers, CEO of Synvina, and continued: “To open up a market for a new plastic based on renewable feedstock is a major challenge that we best meet with strong partners and our combined expertise. We share the common goal to get PEF commercially to the market thereby providing the market materials with superior properties and to establish sustainable and bio-based plastic value chains.”

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