Anellotech, a sustainable technology company focused on producing cost-competitive BTX (benzene, toluene and xylene) – petrochemical-based aromatic hydrocarbons - from non-food biomass, has announced Toyota Tsusho Corporation, a member of the Toyota Group, as a multinational strategic equity investor and corporate partner in the renewable aromatic chemicals supply chain.
Most BTX production is currently still based on the recovery of aromatics derived from the catalytic reforming of naphtha in a petroleum refinery. As reducing dependence on fossil resources remains a significant concern for many nations, the replacement of fossil-based BTX with a renewable, bio-based BTX will play an important role in the reduction of fossil fuels in existing refineries. But as is the case with biofuels such as corn-based ethanol, replacing of fossil fuels-based materials with bio-based feedstocks that compete with the world’s food supply isn’t viable at scale. By using renewable and readily available non-food materials, such as sustainably harvested wood, corn stover and bagasse, Anellotech’s Bio-TCat process is less expensive compared to processes relying on sugar as a feedstock, and avoids competition with the food chain.
Toyota Tsusho’s interest in Anellotech’s technology is aligned with its goal of promoting sustainable biomaterials, including bio-based polyester (polyethylene terephthalate, or “PET”). Bio-sourced, “drop-in” BTX made from the Bio-TCat process is also useful in the manufacture of other derivative plastics including polyurethane, polycarbonate, polystyrene and nylon. These petro-identical, but now bio-sourced, derivatives have applications across a broad range of large global markets including polymer packaging & textiles, automotive, construction, adhesives, paints, coatings, appliances and detergents. Toyota Tsusho is one of the major value chain partners in the Anellotech alliance (along with Suntory, one of the world’s leading consumer beverage companies, which has partnered with Anellotech to advance the development and commercialization of cost-competitive bio-aromatics, including bio-paraxylene, the key component needed to make a 100 percent bio-based PET beverage bottles), further validating the global market opportunity for Anellotech’s Bio-TCat™ technology.
“As we saw at the Sustainable Brands conference in June, consumer brand owners are looking to replace petroleum inputs in their products with bio-sourced alternatives as a key component of their corporate sustainability programs,” said David Sudolsky, President and CEO of Anellotech. “Anellotech looks forward to continuing our progress and commercial deployment of the Bio-TCat process to further enable the sustainability performance of consumer brands around the globe.
“Toyota Tsusho is an outstanding partner for Anellotech and has provided significant financial support to our development process,” Sudolsky added. “Our companies share a common goal of developing Anellotech’s Bio-TCat process and cost-competitively producing renewable BTX.”
Toyota Tsusho’s investment has been used to fund development of Anellotech’s Bio-TCat technology, including the installation and commissioning of Anellotech’s new, fully integrated development and testing facility (“TCat-8™”). This 25-meter-tall unit’s purpose is to confirm the viability and suitability of the Bio-TCat process for scale-up, and generate the data needed to design commercial plants using Bio-TCat technology. The TCat-8 unit was jointly designed by Anellotech and its R&D partner IFPEN, and will use a novel catalyst under joint development by Anellotech and global specialty chemicals company Johnson Matthey. The TCat-8 unit has been installed at host South Hampton Resources’ Silsbee, Texas location.