Anellotech Inc., a technology-based company focusing on producing low-cost green drop-in, green versions of widely used petrochemicals directly from non-food biomass such as wood, bagasse and corn stover, has announced that it plans to make available large quantities 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. By pyrolyzing biomass in the presence of a catalyst, the volatiles produced during the pyrolysis process can be converted into aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzene, toluene, and xylenes (BTX).
This 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. 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.
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.
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 Anellotech is currently moving at full speed to develop its technology. 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.