Rivertop Renewables: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

March 15, 2015 |

5-Minute-Guide-logoRivertop has developed a way to make glucaric acid, glucarates and other biodegradable chemicals from renewable resources in abundant quantity and at a low cost. These and other renewable chemicals can reduce society’s dependence on oil, gas, and minerals and limit the amount of persistent chemicals in the environment.

The opportunity provided by Rivertop’s technology platform is significant: The economical production of glucarate alone — one of the top twelve renewable chemical building blocks identified by the U.S. Department of Energy ”could address a market of over 9 billion lb/yr with values between $0.85 and $2.20/lb.”

As the technology is scaled, Rivertop will become the first large-scale producer of salts of glucaric acid that is capable of serving large consumer and industrial markets. In order to demonstrate the broad applicability of glucaric acid derivatives, Rivertop has focused on the benefits it can bring to consumer detergents and industrial road de-icing solutions.

The Company’s Riose detergent builders enable automatic dishwashing detergent brands to meet consumer performance standards at a lower total cost of formulation. Rivertop’s Headwaters™ corrosion inhibitors provide more than a 70 percent reduction in pitting and rust formation on steel guardrails, bridge rebar and vehicle parts.


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Technology licensor and owner/operator

The Situation:

In December, Rivertop announced that it has begun construction of its first commercial plant, located at DanChem Technologies’ facility in Danville, Virginia.

DTI, a custom manufacturer of fine and specialty chemical products, is expected to begin production of Rivertop’s sustainable, high performing, cost-competitive, glucaric acid-derived products beginning in the summer of 2015. At full capacity, the plant will produce up to 10 million pounds of product per year.


• Chelation – The salts of Rivertop’s sugar acids can be applied to chelate various metal ions. For example, Rivertop’s Riose detergent builder demonstrates binding capacity to sequester free calcium at a rate comparable to that of phosphates.

• Coating – Salts of sugar acids exhibit strong corrosion inhibition properties through a coating mechanism, especially in saline environments. Rivertop’s Headwaters corrosion inhibitors demonstrate capacity to reduce the corrosivity of saturated salt brine (23.3% NaCl) by over 70%.

• Acidification – Initial screening of Rivertop sugar acids has demonstrated a capacity to drop pH to levels suitable for various applications in upstream and downstream oil and gas development. .

• Dispersion – Sustainable alternatives to polyacrylates are sought for application in various products used in home and personal care, paints and concrete.

• Absorption – A class of polymers built from Rivertop sugar acids exhibit characteristics of high liquid absorbency (indiscriminate of materials dissolved or suspended in the liquid), reasonable biodegradability, and activation by heat and/or pressure.

Past Milestones:

In September 2014, Rivertop announced that it has been selected by Montana Department of Transportation to supply a bio-based corrosion inhibitor that will be added to the salt brine used to de-ice state roads this winter. Rivertop’s Headwaters 40F corrosion inhibitor helps reduce the corrosive impacts of the low-cost salt de-icer on roads, bridges and vehicles. Derived from renewable sugars, the Headwaters inhibitor has been demonstrated to perform with a high level of consistency and is cost-effective. This is the fourth consecutive year that Rivertop has come up with a winning bid for MDT.

In April 2014, Rivertop Renewables announced that it has raised $26 million in its Series B investment round from Cargill, First Green Partners and existing investors. Rivertop said that it will leverage these funds and an existing manufacturing relationship to produce market development quantities of salts of glucaric acid for select customers.  In addition, it will complete construction and begin operations at a semi-works facility at its headquarters in Missoula, where it will optimize its process for world-scale deployment. Rivertop plans to hire more than 20 employees in the next 12 months to support commercial development, effectively doubling the size of its workforce.

Back in 2011, Rivertop Renewables was awarded a contract from the Montana Department of Transportation to supply 110,000 gallons of bio-based corrosion inhibitor for use with liquid deicers on the state’s snowy and icy roads this winter.

Rivertop’s “Headwaters” inhibitor was mixed with MDT’s salt brine deicers to prevent the corrosion of bridges and vehicles. Derived from renewable corn sugar, Headwaters is a completely biodegradable, cost-effective inhibitor.  Rivertop’s Headwaters is derived from sodium gluconate.

Future Milestones:

Scale-up to first commercial


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