Chemical tech startup BioBTX is going to build a pilot plant on the Zernike campus to produce the raw materials for bioplastics on a larger scale. Last week, Carduso Capital announced it will participate in the funding for both the pilot plant and a full scale demo factory, and help scale up the technology and production.
BioBTX developed the technology for producing biobased plastics, which are plastics made from green materials, instead of crude oil. Currently, there are no PET-plastics on the market made from 100% biomass, and BioBTX has already proved the technology works on lab scale and in test lineups.
Frits Kok, fund manager of Carduso says the technology shows great promise: “BioBTX owns a worldwide license on this patented technology and wants to develop it for the usage of a wide range of Biomass. This can be a big step in decreasing independence on crude oil for the production of plastics”
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is one of the most common consumer plastics used worldwide. It is used as a raw material for making packaging materials such as bottles and containers for packaging a wide range of food products and other consumer goods, like soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, detergents, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products and edible oils.
Currently, plastics are made from oil and are recyclable of course, but not sustainable. BTX stands for benzene, toluene and xylene, which are the chemical building blocks of plastic and are normally extracted from natural crude oil. BioBTX developed a way in which the oil can be replaced by biomass, such as wood, meaning the company can significantly contribute to the transition to a “greener” chemical industry. Big companies like Coca Cola and Danone are already looking for ways to make their bottles and packaging more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
The pilot plant will be finished by the end of 2017 and fully operational by 2018. This plant will be able to produce 10 to 20 kilograms of materials per hour. “After the construction of a pilot plant in Groningen, our intention is to roll out the technology into the market”, Cor Kamminga, CEO of BioBTX explains. “The first step will be the construction of a plant in Emmen, together with our partners Cumapol and SunOil, to produce building blocks for example PET packaging for the cosmetic industry out of Glycerin”.
But the company already has plans for a bigger demo factory, producing 5 million kilos per year. The construction of this factory is planned to begin in 2019 and, according to Kamminga, is already economically viable, even at the current low oil prices.
BioBTX also previously received financial support of SNN and of the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe for its development plans and Carduso will help further to further accelerate the production and technology, making €5 million available to support the process.
Carduso Capital is an investment fund based in Groningen that participates in innovative technology companies with strong technological connections with the University of Groningen (RUG) and the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) and knowledge institutions within its network. Carduso Capital invests in innovative companies that are in the early stage or at some point want to find funding to continue growing.
Carduso Capital supports initiatives within the themes Life Sciences energy and sustainability on the basis of long term cooperation. In addition to financing, the fund also offers management support and the possibility to use a wide international network.