Gevo held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday for its demonstration-scale paraxylene plant in Silsbee, Texas.
The paraxylene facility is located adjacent to Gevo's existing jet fuel plant in Silsbee, and establishes the site as a biorefinery that will serve the renewable chemicals and true drop-in biofuels markets.
Gevo says it 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. Research and development (R&D) support for this plant was provided by Coca-Cola.
Gevo is also working with Toray Industries to develop renewable paraxylene, a building block for fully renewable polyester for packaging films and fibers used in textiles, clothing and other applications. Funding assistance for the construction of the paraxylene plant was provided by Toray.
Project officials noted that Gevo and Toray have successfully produced fully renewable and recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fibers and films from isobutanol at laboratory scale in 2011.
Toray has also signed an offtake agreement for paraxylene produced at the Silsbee facility, in which Toray will purchase paraxylene from Gevo and will convert it into PET fibers, textiles and films for scale-up evaluation and market development purposes.
"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 CEO. "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."
The majority of the world's PET production is for synthetic fibers (in excess of 60%), with bottle production accounting for around 30% of global demand. Gevo's paraxylene, once converted to bio-based PET, has high potential for any commercial application currently served by petroleum-derived PET, according to company officials.