Gevo Inc. has successfully produced fully renewable and recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) with its potential customer, Toray Industries, Inc. (Toray). Toray is one of the world's leading producers of fibers, plastics and chemicals, while Gevo is a leading renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company. In April 2010, the two companies signed a non-binding letter of interest for the future supply of renewable paraxylene derived from Gevo's isobutanol sometime in 2012 or thereafter.
Working directly with this important potential customer, Gevo employed prototypes of commercial operations from the petrochemical and refining industries to make paraxylene from isobutanol. This renewable paraxylene was sent to Toray for conversion into biobased PET articles. Toray employed its existing technology and new technology jointly developed with Gevo and used Gevo's para-xylene and commercially available renewable mono ethylene glycol (MEG) to produce fully renewable PET (all of the carbon in this PET is renewable). The next step in this collaboration between Gevo and Toray is to move from lab-scale "proof of concept" to establishing commercial-scale operations. Gevo is currently working with partners to optimize the process technology needed to produce para-xylene from isobutanol at commercial-scale and competitive economics.
"We believe there is strong customer demand for fully renewable, non-petroleum derived PET and we are working to fill that demand as soon as possible. Last month, we disclosed that we had provided renewable para-xylene to international brand owners for evaluation and the production of a fully renewable bottle from PET," said Christopher Ryan, Ph.D., President and COO of Gevo. "We are pleased to have validated this technology with Toray and look forward to building a market for fully renewable PET as soon as possible." "Companies today are looking for ways to introduce new products and packaging that helps meet the growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products while at the same time, contributing to the sustainability goals of their companies," said Chiaki Tanaka, Executive Vice President and CTO of Toray. "Our partnership with Gevo and our internal progress to date suggest we are on track to help our customers fulfill these needs."