Micromidas, Inc. of W. Sacramento, Calif., has developed a catalytic route to making paraxylene from cellulosic biomass and ethylene. Recent trials reportedly indicate that the process, which involves no fermentation, is cost-competitive with petroleum-derived paraxylene, a building block that constitutes 70% of the PET resin molecule. Up to now, only the 30% portion based on monoethylene glycol (MEG) could be renewably based on ethylene derived from sugarcane ethanol. The Micromidas development is one of several projects under way to achieve the goal eagerly sought by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and others of 100% biobased PET.
Micromidas is now commissioning a pilot plant for up to 1100 lb/day of biobased paraxylene. The company will report on its progress at the BioPlastek 2013 Forum on Bioplastics Today & Tomorrow, June 26-28 in San Francisco. The conference is sponsored by Schotland Business Research, Skillman, N.J.