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Two Partnerships to Produce Biobased Butadiene

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Last month saw the formation of two partnerships to produce biobased butadiene. Decreasing supplies and a lack of dedicated butadiene production facilities have resulted in significant long-term
pressure on the price and volatility of this essential rubber ingredient for HIPS and ABS.

First, a three-way partnership involves Italy’s Versalis, sub. of Eni Chemicals, a major elastomer producer; Novamont, a leader in biodegradable, starch-based plastics; and Genomatica, a San Diego developer of process technology for renewable chemicals. They will form a joint venture to develop a process for making polymer-grade butadiene from biomass. The process technology is intended to be made available for future licensing in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

The second partnership involves nylon producers Invista, Wichita, Kans., and biotechnology firm LanzaTech, Roselle, Ill. They will jointly develop ways to convert an industrial waste gas, carbon monoxide (CO), into butadiene. Initial commercialization is slated for 2016. The first phase will focus on producing butadiene from LanzaTech’s CO-derived butanediol. A direct single-step process will also be developed to produce butadiene directly through biological gas fermentation. The partners aim also to extend the technology to direct production of other industrial chemicals, including nylon intermediates.