Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc., a high-growth specialty chemicals company, announced that it has authorized the next significant stage of its second world-scale biorefinery in Natchez, Miss., in order to expand production of its Inherent renewable building blocks in 2016. The decision is based on the successful start-up and operation of Elevance’s first world-scale joint venture biorefinery in Asia, as well as robust customer activity and demand forecasts for the company’s specialty and intermediate chemicals.
“Our current customer forecasts for Inherent renewable building blocks call for demand to exceed Gresik’s capacity,” said Elevance CEO K’Lynne Johnson. “With commercial production underway at Gresik, customer activity continues to increase in each of our market platforms. By building biorefineries in multiple geographies, we are able to meet customer demand for better-performing, cost-competitive renewable alternatives to petrochemicals across multiple industries. We will also be providing our customers the added security of two world-scale commercial plants with diversified feedstock supply chains.”
Elevance is the only specialty chemicals company that will have two world-scale biorefineries in operation by 2016. The Natchez project will be the second biorefinery based on Elevance’s proprietary metathesis technology. Elevance announced commercial shipments from the company’s first biorefinery, a 180,000 MT joint venture with Wilmar International Limited located in Gresik, Indonesia, earlier this year.
The Natchez biorefinery will initially operate using canola or soybean oil; the Gresik biorefinery is now operating on palm oil. Both plants are capable of running on multiple renewable oil feedstocks, including jatropha or algal oils when they become commercially available.
“We have been very pleased with the operation of the Gresik facility,” said Vice President of Manufacturing John Harvey. “Production at Gresik has hit all targets, including the ability to operate at design rates, and demonstrating the ability to shut down and restart without issues while delivering excellent product quality. Our operations in Natchez will complement our joint venture with Wilmar International in Asia and expand our global capabilities.”
Harvey said, “We have invested approximately $30 million in the Natchez site, and made several significant improvements that were required for today’s announcement.”
The high-value performance specialty chemicals, olefins and oleochemicals produced at the company’s biorefineries will be used in personal care products, detergents and cleaners, lubricants and additives, engineered polymers, and other specialty chemicals markets.
The biorefineries produce Inherent renewable building blocks, including renewable C10+ olefins and high-value, di-functional specialty chemicals with superior functional attributes, that were previously unavailable commercially until now. These molecules combine the functional attributes of an olefin, typical of petrochemicals, and a monofunctional ester or acid, typical of bio-based oleochemicals, into a single molecule. Inherent specialty chemicals enable detergents to be more concentrated and clean better in cold water; improved solvency for better hard surface cleaners; lubricant base oils with improved stability and fuel economy; and unique monomers for bio-based polymers and engineered plastics, including long chain polyamides, polyurethanes and polyesters.