Science and agricultural leaders DuPont Industrial Biosciences (DuPont) and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) announced a new breakthrough process with the potential to expand the materials landscape in the 21st Century with exciting and truly novel, high-performance renewable materials. The technology has applications in packaging, textiles, engineering plastics, and many other industries.
The companies have developed a method for producing furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose. FDME is a high-purity derivative of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), one of the 12 building blocks identified by the U.S. Department of Energy that can be converted into a number of high-value, biobased chemicals or materials that can deliver high performance in a number of applications. It has long been sought-after and researched, but has not yet been available at commercial scale and at reasonable cost. The new FDME technology is a more efficient and simple process than traditional conversion approaches and results in higher yields, lower energy usage, and lower capital expenditures.
This partnership brings together ADM’s world-leading expertise in fructose production and carbohydrate chemistry with DuPont’s biotechnology, chemistry, materials, and applications expertise, all backed by a strong joint intellectual property portfolio.
“This molecule is a game-changing platform technology,” says Simon Herriot, Global Business Director for Biomaterials at DuPont. “It will enable cost-efficient production of a variety of 100% renewable, high-performance chemicals and polymers with applications across a broad range of industries. ADM is an agribusiness powerhouse with strong technology development capabilities. They are the ideal partner with which to develop this new, renewable supply chain for FDME.”
One of the first polymers under development utilizing FDME is polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate (PTF), a novel polyester also made from DuPont’s proprietary Bio-PDO (1,3-propanediol). PTF is a 100% renewable and recyclable polymer that, when used to make bottles and other beverage packages, substantially improves gas-barrier properties compared to other polyesters. This makes PTF a great choice for customers in the beverage packaging industry looking to improve the shelf life of their products.
“We are excited about the potential FDME has to help our customers reach new markets and develop better-performing products, all made from sustainable, biobased starting materials,” says Kevin Moore, President, Renewable Chemicals at ADM. “With their strong leadership in the biomaterials industry, DuPont is a great partner that can help us bring this product to market for our customers.”
ADM and DuPont are taking the initial step in the process of bringing FDME to market by moving forward on the scale-up phase of the project. The two companies are planning to build an integrated 60 ton-per-year demonstration plant in Decatur, IL, that will provide potential customers with sufficient product quantities for testing and research.