US: Toray a step closer to bioPET with bioPX secured

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Gevo, Inc. (head office: Englewood, Colorado, U.S.; CEO: Patrick R. Gruber; hereafter referred to as "Gevo") the world's only commercial producer of bio-isobutanol, on August 26, 2013 held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its demonstration-scale bio-paraxylene (bioPX) plant in Silsbee, Texas.

Funding assistance for the construction of the paraxylene plant was provided by Toray Industries, Inc., (headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan; President, CEO & COO: Akihiro Nikkaku; hereafter referred to as "Toray") one of the world's leading producers of bio – fibers/plastics/films/chemicals.

Polyester (PET), commercially, is produced using two precursors: Petroleum based Paraxylene and Sugarcane based Monoethylene Glycol (MEG).

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Earlier in 2011, Toray had successfully undertaken PET polymerization to produce films and fibres, using bioPX from Gevo’s lab scale trials. Since then the interest in this technology, possible at lab scale but enigma at commercial scale, has been growing.

In this venture of producing bioPX, apart from Toray, Gevo has also been ably supported by The Coca-Cola Company. Says Patrick Guber, “We believe we have an elegant, viable route to fully-renewable, non-petroleum derived PET and we are pleased that The Coca-Cola Company and Toray have supported this work.” Research and Development support for this plant was provided by The Coca-Cola Company under a Joint Development Agreement.

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Two months ago, Toray and Gevo had entered into an off take agreement, which would give Toray the priority right to purchase bioPX produced by Gevo. The agreement will enable Toray to carry out pilot-scale production of fully renewable, bio-based polyethylene terephthalate (MEG produced from Sugarcane), of its fibers and films for the first time in the world. Toray also plans to offer samples to its business partners, who are the end-users, in 2013 for market evaluation.

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