A new joint venture from Minnesota-based Cargill Inc. and Germany's Helm AG, a chemical marketing company, will invest $300 million to build the first commercial-scale, renewable butanediol (BDO) facility in the U.S.
The JV, called Qore, will promote the replacement of fossil-based chemistries with bio-based intermediates. Its focus will be on the production of Qira, the next-generation 1,4-BDO, which is used widely in sectors ranging from the apparel to the packaging industry.
Its biobased counterpart is made biologically through the fermentation of plant-based sugars, and can save up to 93 percent of greenhouse gas emissions when replacing current widely used chemical intermediates made from traditional fossil sources, the companies said in a news release.
Qira can be used the same way as its chemical counterpart but with significantly better environmental performance, without sacrificing product performance or requiring users to alter their existing downstream manufacturing processes, according to the release.
"With consumers demanding more sustainable products, brands are not only looking for more innovative, environmentally-friendly solutions but also are needing supplier capabilities and resources that can consistently meet those expectations," said Jill Zullo, vice president for biointermediates/bioindustrial at Wayzata-based Cargill.
Cargill and Helm, based in Hamburg, plan to build the bio-based intermediate production facility at Cargill's existing biotechnology campus and corn refining operation in Eddyville, Iowa. The plant will be completed and operating in 2024 to meet the demanding specification of product supply chains.
Qore has licensed Genomatica's BDO process technology and will use Cargill's global feedstock supply and fermentation manufacturing expertise to initially produce and distribute an expected 65,000 metric tons per year minimally of its first bio-intermediate. Helm will work with brand owners, original equipment manufacturers and their suppliers to incorporate Qira into their respective products.
"For Helm, the joint venture marks an important milestone in our commitment to providing solutions for a successful transformation to a sustainable planet and society," said Axel Viering, a member of the executive board for business line chemicals at Helm. "Through partnership and collaboration with brand owners and their suppliers, we will bring sustainable product options to these consumer-driven industries that will not only help them differentiate their brands but also create a more environmentally responsible future."