DSM’s TPC to contain 73% biobased BDO

Dutch firm DSM has tested and approved biobased BDO (1,4-butanediol) made with US-based Genomatica’s process, for use in its Arnitel TPC (thermoplastic copolyester). This is a next step in the development of a biobased high performance portfolio for DSM. Used as a raw material, BDO made from Genomatica's process is able to increase Arnitel's biobased content up to 73%.

Arnitel is a high performance engineering plastic with flexibility, temperature resistance, strength and processing characteristics. DSM conducted in-depth tests with bio-based BDO, made with Genomatica's process, to produce PBT (polybutylene terephthalate), one of the building blocks of Arnitel TPC.

DSM says tests confirm that the biobased BDO made with Genomatica's process was of higher purity than typical fossil-based BDO. Additionally, when used to form polymers, this biobased BDO delivers equivalent in-spec behaviour and properties of the polymers compared to using petroleum-based BDO, and required no changes in DSM's processes. As a result, DSM considers BDO made with Genomatica's process to be a suitable raw material for commercial production of Arnitel.

DSM plans to start transitioning its Arnitel portfolio to this new BDO, as soon as supplies are readily available from one of the producers that Genomatica licenses to use its BDO process.

The first two key products to benefit from the new BDO are Arnitel Eco and Arnitel VT:

  • Arnitel Eco already has a biobased content of 22-53% depending on the hardness. The introduction of BDO made with Genomatica's process will increase the bio-based content up to 73%. Arnitel Eco is being used for food packaging films and for a number of soft touch applications in consumer electronics.
  • Arnitel VT is a very flexible material that, when made into membranes just a few microns thick, is 100% waterproof but also highly breathable and comfortable. The primary application is in outdoor apparel and shoes. Currently, Arnitel VT products are not biobased. The planned use of BDO made with Genomatica's process will result in an Arnitel VT that is up to 22% biobased.

Genomatica develops comprehensive manufacturing processes that enable its licensee partners to produce the world’s most widely-used chemicals a ‘better way,’ from renewable feedstocks, with better economics and greater sustainability than petroleum-based processes. Genomatica’s first process for BDO is now commercial. Genomatica’s BDO process was used to make 5 million pounds of BDO in late 2012, and has been licensed by BASF and by Novamont. Multiple companies, including Lanxess, DSM, Toray and Far Eastern New Century, have confirmed that BDO produced using Genomatica’s process can be used the exact same way for downstream products as chemicals made from fossil fuel feedstocks, simplifying and accelerating adoption. Genomatica is developing processes for additional major chemicals; the next is for butadiene, with Versalis as partner.


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