FDME is a derivative of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), one of the 12 building blocks identified by the US Department of Energy that can be converted into bio-based chemicals or materials.
Packaging, textiles, engineering plastics
The technology has applications in packaging, textiles, engineering plastics and other industries but has not yet been available on a commercial scale at an affordable cost.
The two companies are now planning to scale-up production by building a 60 ton-per-year demonstration plant in Decatur, Illinois, for testing and research.
Simon Herriott, global business director, biomaterials, DuPont, said the molecule is a game-changer because it ‘will enable cost-efficient production of a variety of 100% renewable chemicals and polymers with applications across a range of industries’.
“ADM is the ideal partner with which to develop this new, renewable supply chain for FDME,” he said.
ADM has a background in fructose production and carbohydrate chemistry. The agricultural processor and food ingredient provider has more than 33,000 employees, 300 ingredient manufacturing facilities and 40 innovation centers.
One of the first polymers under development utilizing FDME is polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate(PTF), a polyester made from DuPont’s Bio-PDO (1,3-propandediol).
Bottles and other beverage packages
It is a 100% renewable and recyclable polymer that, when used to make bottles and other beverage packages, improves gas-barrier properties compared to other polyesters.
“Nearly one tenth of the world’s oil is used to make the plastic products we use every day, from shopping bags to shampoo bottles to frozen food containers,” said Herriott.
“If we could replace some of that oil in consumer plastics with a smarter biomaterial with even better performance, it’s closer than you think.
“The molecule furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) is a building-block that can be converted into a number of high-value, bio-based chemicals or materials.
“This breakthrough process delivers the possibility of commercially available FDME. Compared to the current process, which also makes other by-products, this innovative process uses all sugar in the feedstock, either to make FDME or for energy recovery.
“This process means increased performance for all the products that will use FDME as a building block, including high-performance renewable chemicals and polymers (polyesters, polyamides, plasticizers and polyurethanes) with applications in packaging, textiles, engineering plastics and many other industries.
“Not only can this replace petroleum-based materials in a wide variety of applications, the process of making FDME is smarter. Additionally, with all the process steps co-located in one facility, all operations are more energy efficient.”