Toray Industries has invested a further $8.2 million in Thailand-based Cellulosic Biomass Technology, an entity established in Bangkok with Mitsui DM Sugar Co. in January 2017 to demonstrate membrane-based saccharification process technologies. Toray seeks to draw on cellulosic sugar production technology to swiftly commercialize key polymers derived from inedible biomass. One target polymer is polyamide (PA). In 2022, Toray developed a 100% bio-based adipic acid, a raw material for this resin, from sugars derived from inedible biomass.
Toray is aiming for recycled resources to account for 20% of the raw materials in key polymer products by 2030. It is developing a range of technologies, including recycling used plastic products, switching to biomass-derived materials, and tapping carbon dioxide as a raw material.
To date, the company has created an energy-saving production technology that uses membrane separation technology to make cellulosic sugar derived from bagasse, an inedible biomass remaining after extracting juice from sugarcane. The technology avoids competition with the food chain
Another application of the additional Toray investment will be to augment an existing three tonnes/day setup for manufacturing cellulosic sugar from bagasse with new facilities set up at Cellulosic Biomass Technology to produce such sugar from cassava pulp. This would boost production capacity of this sugar to five tonnes daily. Toray will also install boilers that can burn biomass fuels and increase wastewater treatment capacity to reduce utilities costs in making cellulosic sugar. Toray aims to commercially produce around 100,000 tonnes/year of cellulosic sugar annually by 2030.
Toray has confirmed that the cellulosic sugar made through its technology can be used in microbial fermentation for manufacturing chemicals and is stable during storage and transportation. The Toray Group will use sugar from Cellulosic Biomass Technology for various raw materials groupwide and for production of adipic acid in-house. For a fee, Cellulosic Biomass Technology will also provide cellulosic sugar to chemicals companies already making chemicals from edible biomass.