Anellotech and the advent of the Green ‘Enes

March 10, 2013 |

anellotech-logoFast pyrolysis developer plans to rapidly expand green benzene and toluene production in 2013 for downstream product development purposes.

Opens new pilot plant, R&D facility in New York; green BTX platform ready to emerge.

To the outsider, a green BTX probably sounds like a really cool bike for a 13-year old.

In the world of petrochemicals, it’s a platform class of chemicals — including benzene, toluene and xylene, that’s critical for packaging, nylons, polystyrenes, rubber — even octane boosters in everyday fuels.

The absence of aromatics is the primary reason that HEFA fuels (made by hydrotreating renewable oils) are limited to 50 percent blends with conventional jet fuel — jet engines are designed for aromatics, and drop-in fuels are required to have them in sufficient quantities.

The BTX group — benzene, toluene and xylene — are the key molecules among the aromatics. Though why they got that name is really anyone’s guess, since they aren’t always possessed of a strong aroma. The smell they give off? Really, when you get down to it — it’s the smell of money.

Not just money in the form of profit — also, quite literally, its in the smell of the kind that folds. Aromatics are a traditional ingredient in currency printing inks, used as solvents to adjust the viscosity.

With oil prices on the rise — why not make money for less?

And everything else that aromatics are used for — and that’s the reason why fast pyrolysis companies like KiOR and Anellotech — that use low-cost wood and residue streams to make fuels and chemicals — have been so much in the news of late.

News from the Pyromaniax Front

This week, Anellotech announced that it plans to make available large quantities (i.e. 100 kg) of green benzene and toluene to strategic partners for downstream product development purposes before the end of 2013.

Anellotech is the developer of a thermochemical catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFPTM) process for making aromatics directly from non-food biomass.  The company’s pilot plant operations are scheduled to commence in the second half of 2013.  It plans to offer kilogram scale samples of green benzene and toluene to selected customers in late 2013.

These large volume development lots will provide sufficient quantities for qualification of Anellotech’s green aromatics as drop-in feed stocks for use in downstream conversion into a variety of valuable derivatives.  This will provide early customer assurance that “green” plastics can be sourced from renewable aromatics produced from Anellotech’s CFP technology.  CFP produces xylenes as well as benzene and toluene, and similar sized xylene samples will also be made available.

Things you can make from BTX


Benzene, a high volume industrial intermediate currently made from fossil fuels, hit an all-time high price in 2013.  It is an important raw material in the production of several important industrial polymers including: ABS, styrene butyl rubber, nylon, polycarbonate, and polystyrene.

Toluene is used to make toluene diisocyanate (for polyurethane foam used in packaging), and as a solvent in a variety of applications.  Toluene is also used as an octane booster in gasoline fuels.

The Anellotech Process

Anellotech’s single step CFP process, invented by Professor George Huber (then University of Massachusetts-Amherst, now at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) and colleagues, enables non-edible renewable biomass to be processed in a fluidized-bed reactor into aromatics, including benzene, toluene and xylenes (BTX).

The CFP process pretreatment is simple drying and grinding.  It completes all chemical conversion steps in a single reactor and incorporates an economical Anellotech proprietary catalyst based on commercial zeolite catalysts commonly used in the refining and petrochemical industries.  Use of non-food biomass, such as agricultural wastes, wood chips, corn stover, sugar cane bagasse, and fast growing energy crops like switchgrass makes this technology greener than alternative approaches that convert food-based sugars.

Advancing towards commercialization

Pilot operation is scheduled to commence during the second half of 2013, with 100 kg samples of non-food biomass-derived aromatics available for strategic partners before year end.

In further developments, Anellotech also announced today the following:

·         The company has established a new headquarters, laboratory and pilot plant facility in Pearl River, New York, with a dedicated team of over twenty engineers, scientists and business people working in 11,000 ft2 facilities.

·         The company is actively expanding its intellectually property position.  The first US Patent covering the CFP Process was granted in October 2012 and many more patents are in the pipeline.

·         The company announced that Mann Lee has joined Anellotech as Vice President of Business Development.  Ms. Lee has over 28 years of business development experience in the petrochemical and oil & gas industries working at Sinopec, ABB Lummus and CB&I.

“We will be leveraging Mann’s knowledge and contacts to engage more strategic partners, customers and investors, as Anellotech continues to expand its market reach into green-oriented industrial and consumer markets,” said David Sudolsky, President and CEO of Anellotech.

Anellotech’s first platform application, Biomass to Aromatics (“BTA”), will produce “green” benzene, toluene, and xylenes (“BTX”) that can be sold into an existing $100+ billion market. Anellotech plans to build plants with joint venture partners, own and operate its own plants as well as license the technology.

More on Anellotech here.


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