DuPont Industrial Biosciences (Wilmington, DE) and Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM; Decatur, IL) have developed a method for producing furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose. The companies have described this as a breakthrough process with the potential to widen the materials landscape in the 21st century in regard to high-performance renewable products. The technology is suited for applications in packaging, textiles, engineering plastics and many other industries.
FDME is a high-purity derivative of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), one of the 12 building blocks identified by the U.S. Department of Energy. It can be converted into a number of high-value, biobased chemicals or materials that can deliver high performance in a number of applications. While it has been long sought-after and researched, it has not yet been available at commercial scale and at reasonable cost, the companies say. The new FDME technology is a more efficient and simpler process than conventional conversion approaches and has higher yields, lower energy usage and lower capital expenditures.
This partnership is a blending of ADM’s expertise in fructose production and carbohydrate chemistry along with DuPont’s biotechnology, chemistry, materials and applications expertise, all backed by a robust joint intellectual-property portfolio.
“This molecule is a game-changing platform technology. It will enable cost-efficient production of a variety of 100 percent renewable, high-performance chemicals and polymers with applications across a broad range of industries,” said Simon Herriott, Global Business Director for Biomaterials at DuPont. “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 polymers first at the bat for development utilizing FDME is polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate (PTF), an innovative polyester also derived 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 suitable alternative for brand owners 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, bio-based starting materials,” said Kevin Moore, Pesident, 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.”
The next step for ADM and DuPont in bringing FDME to market is to proceed with the scale-up phase of the project. The two companies are to build an integrated 60 ton-per-year demonstration plant in Decatur, IL, which will provide potential customers with sufficient product quantities for testing and research.