Anellotech, a sustainable technology company, has achieved new milestones in its pursuit of a 100-percent bio-based bottle.

The pilot project uses Anellotech’s Bio-TCat technology, which is an efficient thermal catalytic process that converts non-food biomass feedstock material into BTX aromatics. BTX aromatics is a group of renewable chemicals identical to their petroleum-based counterparts. The process can also produce other petroleum distillates for fuels.

Anellotech’s core technology, thermo catalytic biomass conversion (BioTCat), is based on scientific research initially performed in Professor George Huber’s lab at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

After continuous pilot plant operation, the first shipment of BTX has been sent to joint development partners IFPEN (IFP Energies nouvelles, a French public research entity) and Axens for purification studies to make bio-paraxylene—the key aromatic compound needed to make 100-percent renewable PET resin. The PET resin will then be used for prototype bottle manufacture and product testing. Axens is Anellotech’s partner for commercialization, global licensing, basic engineering, start-up and technical support for licensees.

Suntory, a consumer beverage company with over $25 billion in annual sales, has partnered with Anellotech to advance development and commercialization of cost-competitive aromatics, including bio-paraxylene. Suntory currently uses 30-percent plant-derived materials for its Mineral Water Suntory Tennensui brands and has been pursuing the development of a 100-percent bio-based bottle through its alliance with Anellotech as part of its commitment to sustainable business practices.

After a successful, two-week continuous pilot plant trial in March, over 1,200 hours of cumulative on-stream operation has been achieved, generating enough BTX for product testing and evaluation—and collecting data for future full-scale plant design. Anellotech also produces other aromatic products through its Bio-TCat process, including benzene and toluene. These can be used to make a range of bio-based polymers such as nylon, polycarbonates, acrylonitrile, butadiene styrene (ABS) and industrial chemicals such as linear alkyl benzene (LAB), which is used in laundry detergents.

“Following our announcements earlier this year on process development and continuous operation, we are glad that significant progress continues at our TCat-8 pilot plant,” says David Sudolsky, president and CEO of Anellotech. “We continue to move the technology towards commercialization, and shipping the pilot plant’s product for downstream evaluation is another major milestone. Having collaborated with Suntory since 2012 to advance development of cost-competitive bio-aromatics, we hope bio-based plastics made from our Bio-TCat process and a100-percent bio-based bottle soon become a reality.”

Currently, the Bio-TCat process has been demonstrated with pulpwood feedstocks at the pilot plant, but the process can use other non-food, renewable feedstocks that are less expensive than sugar, such as sawdust, corn stover and sugar cane bagasse (byproduct). BTX aromatics can also be used to make polyurethanes and fuels for transportation vehicles.

For more information, visit Anellotech’s web site.