Renmatix BioFlex Conversion Unit, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Renmatix, the leading manufacturer of bio-based sugar intermediates, commissioned its BioFlex Conversion Unit (BCU) in January 2013. The BCU is located at the company's headquarters in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
The BioFlex Conversion Unit is a multiple-feedstock processing facility for the production of cellulosic sugar used in global fuel and chemical markets.
The company earlier in 2008 commissioned a demonstration plant for its plantrose technology in Kennesaw, Georgia, which has capacity to convert three dry tonnes of biomass to sugar, xylose and glucose sugars per day.
The sugar intermediate produced from the unit can be converted into paints, perfumes, detergents, textiles and plastics. The company commissioned the unit planning to support its collaborators and its Fortune 50 downstream partners.
The new facility was constructed owing to the success of processing sugar intermediates using hardwood as feedstock at its demonstration plant in Georgia.
The BCU is capable of producing cellulosic sugar using its proprietary plantrose process using multiple non-food based feedstocks such as perennial grasses, agricultural residues, softwoods and waste streams, including hardwood.
Renmatix's plantrose technology
Renmatix's plantrose technology incorporates the supercritical hydrolysis method to produce cellulosic sugar. The first stage in the process involves conveying the feedstock into the plantrose process by mixing it with water to form slurry. The slurry is pumped into a fractionation reactor.
The slurry primarily comprises of water and biomass, with the biomass made up of hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin. The slurry then undergoes hemi-hydrolysis where hemicellulose is made to dissolve under less severe conditions to form a C5 sugar stream in a quick time. The cellulose and lignin remain as solid particles, in the process.
The next step in the process involves a solid and liquid separation process, where cellulose and lignin (solids) are separated from the C5 sugar stream. The C5 sugar stream is collected in a vessel, while cellulose and lignin are sent for cellulose hydrolysis where they are further mixed with water to form slurry and pumped into the cellulose hydrolysis reactor, where they are treated with supercritical water (hot compressed water) which acts as a solvent and catalyst.
In the cellulose hydrolysis reactor, the cellulose dissolves under more severe conditions to form a C6 sugar stream, while the lignin remains as a solid particle. The contents are finally cooled and put to a final post-hydrolysis stage involving another solid liquid separation process, where the remaining lignin is separated from the C6 sugar stream and the contents are collected in separate containers.
Benefits of Renmatix's process technology
The process technology developed by the company produces sugar in a faster and cheaper way, compared to the conventional methods of conversion using enzymatic hydrolysis and acid hydrolysis.
The cellulosic sugar produced by the company using different non-food based feedstocks can be used to prepare isobutanol, surfactants, propylene glycol, glycolic acid, lactic acid, polypropylene, polyethylene and ethanol.
Marketing commentary for Renmatix
Renmatix, headquartered in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, has a research and development (R&D) facility at its headquarters, besides its demonstration plant in Georgia and its BioFlex Conversion Unit.
The company announced a joint development agreement (JDA) with Waste Management in October 2012 to explore the possibility of using the company's technology to produce industrial sugars from post-consumer urban waste, including food scraps, construction debris and paper.
It also signed a JDA with UPM to convert woody biomass into low-cost sugar intermediates for subsequent downstream processing into biochemicals, in June 2013.
The company's projects are being funded by investors such as BASF, Waste Management and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Joule Unlimited, a company based in Massachusetts, US, commissioned its first SunSprings Demonstration Plant located at Hobbs in Lea County, New Mexico, in September 2012.
DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products, a joint venture (JV) formed between Tate & Lyle and DuPont in 2004, constructed a biochemical plant at Tate & Lyle's site in Loudon for manufacturing 1,3-propanediol (Bio PDO).