Technology firm Genomatica has signed a multi-year agreement with Italian nylon maker Aquafil SpA to develop sustainable caprolactam feedstock.
San Diego-based Genomatica will work with Aquafil of Trento to adapt Genomatica's existing Geno CPL process to make caprolactam using plant-based renewable ingredients, rather than the crude oil-based materials traditionally used by the nylon industry, officials said in a news release.
The firms aim to provide an environmentally-friendly way to make caprolactam with better economics, including for smaller-scale plants, they added. The global caprolactam market is estimated at more than 11 billion pounds annually.
Aquafil in 2011 launched its Econyl Regeneration System, which allows the firm to make nylon from 100 percent regenerated waste. Officials said nylon materials made through this process are being used by a number of globally recognized sportswear, fashion, luxury and carpet brands.
"As proven by the success of Econyl, consumers and manufacturers look forward to opportunities to play an active role in the circular economy," Aquafil Chairman and CEO Giulio Bonazzi said in the release. "We aim to be a leader of sustainability for nylon, and we are excited by the opportunity to be the first to bring the benefits of this new technology to our customers."
Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling added that "visionary companies like Aquafil are delighting customers and gaining market share through more sustainable products."
Aquafil was founded in 1968 and makes nylon 6 resins, fibers and compounds at 15 plants worldwide. Genomatica already has had success with bio-based butanediol, which is used to make plastics and rubber feedstock butadiene. The firm's bio-BDO process has been licensed by plastics and chemicals makers BASF SE and Novamont SpA.