Cargill and Helm Link on Bio-based Intermediates

11.06.2021 - US food giant Cargill and German distribution and marketing group Helm have formed a joint venture called Qore to help brand owners replace fossil-based chemistries with bio-based intermediates. The size of their individual stakes in the jv was not revealed.

Under the agreement, the companies will invest a total $300 million to build the first commercial-scale, renewable 1,4-butanediol (BDO) plant in the US. The plant at Cargill’s biotechnology campus and corn refining operation in Eddyville, Iowa will use technology licensed from Genomatica and initially produce 65,000 t/y. Start-up is scheduled for 2024.

“With consumers demanding more sustainable products, brands are not only looking for more innovative, environmentally-friendly solutions but also are needing supplier capabilities and resources that can consistently meet those expectations,” said Jill Zullo, Cargill’s vice president, biointermediates/bioindustrial. “This new venture combines Cargill’s end-to-end supply chain and long-standing, successful product commercialization in several bioindustrial markets with Helm’s expertise in effectively bringing unique chemical applications and other creative solutions to life and to the market.”

The bio-BDO output will be marketed under the name Qira. According to Cargill, Qira can save up to 93% of greenhouse gas emissions when used in place of traditional, fossil sources. Made biologically through the fermentation of plant-based sugars, Qira is a drop-in replacement for its fossil-based counterpart. It can be used in the usual BDO applications that include spandex and other polyester-based chemical fibers, biodegradable plastics, polyurethane coatings, sealants and artificial leathers.

Helm will work with brand owners, original equipment manufacturers and their suppliers to incorporate Qira into their products.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist