BASF and Avantium Finalize Renewables JV

After signing a letter of intent in March, BASF and Dutch renewables company Avantium have formed a joint venture named Synvina to commercialize the new polymer polyethylenefuranoate (PEF) and its bio-based feedstock furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA). Headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Synvina will invest a “mid-three-digit million euro sum” to build a 50,000 t/y FDCA reference plant at BASF’s site in Antwerp, Belgium. The plant will use Avantium’s fructose-based YSY technology, which will also be licensed for industrial-scale production.

FDCA is considered to be a promising building block chemical for various downstream products, including polyester PEF which has applications in food and drinks packaging as well as carpet and textile fibers. In addition, FDCA can be processed to polyamides for engineering plastics and fibers, to polyurethanes for foams, coatings and adhesives, and to esters for personal care products and lubricants.

The goal of the collaboration is to develop a complete supply chain for PEF as a sustainable bio-based packaging material. Avantium has previously entered into agreements with Japanese companies Toyobo and Mitsui, and Synvina will continue to progress these, as well as the development partnerships with Coca Cola, Danone and Alpla for PEF bottles. Together with Toyobo, the companies will jointly boost PEF polymerization and further develop PEF films for food, industrial and medical packaging, and in electronics applications such as displays or solar panels. With Mitsui, Synvina will work on developing thin PEF films and PEF bottles in Japan.

Stefan Blank, president of BASF’s Intermediates division, said Synvina has an excellent starting position from which to build a globally leading role in FDCA and PEF. Avantium’s CEO, Tom van Aken, described FDCA as a “sleeping giant with huge potential,” explaining that although first produced in the 1950s, the chemical has never been successfully developed and commercialized until now. “I strongly believe that Synvina will wake up that sleeping giant and make it available for industrial use.

With the development of a proven FDCA production process and the construction of a strong partnering and cooperation network, Avantium has provided Synvina with all necessary prerequisites,” he said.

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