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Biorefinery produces fully renewable paraxylene

Gevo, reportedly the world's only commercial producer of bio-isobutanol,has opened a demonstration-scale paraxylene plant in Silsbee, Texas.

The paraxylene facility is next to Gevo's existing jet fuel plant in Silsbee.

Gevo is working with the Coca-Cola Company to deliver a new production technology for renewable paraxylene, a key building block for producing fully renewable PET for beverage bottles. It is also working with Toray Industries, Inc to develop renewable paraxylene, a building block for fully renewable polyester for packaging films and fibres used in textiles, clothing and other applications. 

Gevo and Toray have successfully produced fully renewable and recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fibres and films from isobutanol at laboratory scale in 2011. 

"We believe we have an elegant, viable route to fully-renewable, non-petroleum derived PET and we are pleased that the Coca-Cola Company and Toray have supported this work," said Patrick Gruber, Gevo's chief executive officer. "Fully renewable PET has the potential to make the world a better place by reducing our dependence on oil and the environmental consequences associated with petroleum based raw materials."

"While the technology to make bio-based materials in a lab has been available for many years, we believe Gevo possesses technologies that have high potential to create it on a global commercial level within the next few years," added Scott Vitters, general manager, PlantBottle Packaging Innovation Platform at the Coca-Cola Company. "The opening of this facility is an important milestone toward our vision of creating all of our PET plastic packaging from responsibly-sourced plant materials."

The majority of the world's PET production is for synthetic fibres (in excess of 60 per cent), with bottle production accounting for around 30 per cent of global demand. Gevo's paraxylene, once converted to bio-based PET, has potential for any commercial application currently served by petroleum-derived PET.


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