The goal to produce a 100% biobased alternative to PET-- polyethylenefuranoate (PEF)--has been in the works by Avantium of The Netherlands since late 2010, when it started its pilot project for the production of furanics—a class of chemical building blocks used to produce innovative “green” fuels, chemicals, and renewable materials. Avantium has been operating a pilot plant for precursor furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), while PEF has been produced in PET reactors at toll manufacturers.
Now, Avantium and BASF, Florham Park, N.J., have announced the formation of a joint venture for the production and marketing of the “green” FDCA building block, as well as marketing of PEF. The new venture will use Avantium’s YXY process for the production of FDCA. The partners intent to further develop the process and to construct a reference plant for the production of FDCA with annual capacity of about 110-million lb/yr at BASF’s Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium. The ultimate aim is to build up world-leading positions in FDCA and PEF, and subsequently license the technology for industrial-scale application.
Because of its excellent barrier properties, high mechanical strength, and recyclability, PEF is viewed as highly suitable for the production of certain food and beverage packaging, including films and bottles. PEF reportedly has oxygen barrier that is 10 times that of PET, along with double the water vapor and four times the CO2 barrier. It glass-transition temperature of 190.4 F is 53.6 F higher than PET, with a tensile modulus that is 1.6 times greater.
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