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Avantium constructing pilot plant for new biobased monomers, polymers, and fuels

Calling the just-announced pilot plant a major milestone in the commercialization of a new generation of renewable materials, Avantium (Amsterdam) has started construction of a facility in the Netherlands at Geleen that will utilize its proprietary catalytic process to convert carbohydrates into furanic building blocks for use in green materials and fuels.

(Amsterdam) has started construction of a facility in the Netherlands at Geleen that will utilize its proprietary catalytic process to convert carbohydrates into furanic building blocks for use in green materials and fuels. Expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2011, the facility will have the capacity to produce several tons of its so-called "YXY" (pronounced ixy) building blocks per year, with Avantium collaborating with NatureWorks and Teijin Aramid to develop bioplastics based on the furanic building blocks. In terms of potential applications for the materials, Avantium listed water and soft drink bottles, carpets, textiles, high-performance fibers, coatings, and plasticizers. On the fuels side, Avantium is working with Paccar company, DAF Trucks.

Avantium was the winner of the fourth-annual Clean Tech competition held in conjunction with the Society of Plastic Engineers Global Plastics Environmental Conference. Covered by 15 patents, the technology could be used to create a biobased route to polyesters, polyamides, and polyurethane, with the technology applying polycondensation for polymerization that could allow it to run on retrofitted reactors.

Tom van Aken, Avantium CEO said after several years of developing a low-cost production process to convert biomass into YXY building blocks, the company believes that it has brought the technology to a point where, "[Avantium] can be price competitive with existing plastics and fuels that are made out of oil."

The pilot plant will be funded in part by a euro 1 million grant from the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture. To run the plant and to further accelerate the commercialization of YXY, Avantium is also working to raise additional private funding. The company expects to close a euro 15 million round by the end of 2010. Avantium's pilot plant is being constructed at the Chemelot site in Geleen, home to DSM and Sabic, among others. 

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