Rhodia and CTBE to jointly develop bio-based chemistry based on sugarcane

Rhodia, a subsidiary of Solvay, and Brazil's National Bioethanol Science and Technology Laboratory (CTBE) have joined forces to develop chemical routes and processes to acquire molecules of a high added value from sugarcane biomass.

The research, which will be carried out at CTBE, will focus on the development of chemical blocks now used in various applications and markets that the Solvay Group operates in, to replace non-renewable sources with biomass for the production of these substances.

CTBE research head Maria Teresa Barbosa said that the technologies will be developed on a laboratorial scale for the first two years, followed by improvements at CTBE's process development pilot plant.

Barbosa further said that the project in bio-based chemistry will also comprise computational simulations at the virtual sugarcane bio-refinery (BVC).

Rhodia will offer its proficiency in the chemical sector to develop new routes to high added-value molecules.

The Banco Nacional do Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES), Brazil's state-owned development bank, will provide R$7m ($3.7m) over three years for the project.

Rhodia research and development director for Latin America Thomas Canova, said the collaboration has brought together two organisations for comprehensive development of bio-based chemistry in Brazil.

"This initiative combines the group's belief in the growing importance of the chemistry based on renewable raw materials, and our focus on value creation", Canova added.

Founded to contribute to Brazil's bioethanol production, CBTE perceives sugarcane as a source of carbon which can be converted into fuels and various products for the food, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries.