Cargill & HELM partners to build first U.S. commercial-scale BDO plant

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2021-06-14 12:35:42 – Germany

Qore, a joint venture between Cargill and HELM, will assist prominent brands in replacing fossil-based chemistries with bio-based intermediates, allowing them to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Both firms will invest a total of $300 million to develop the first commercial-scale, renewable BDO plant in the United States as part of the agreement. The apparel, automotive, electronics, and packaging sectors will be able to reduce their environmental impact by using bio-based intermediates without losing product performance or changing their downstream manufacturing processes.

Vice President, Biointermediates/Bioindustrial at Cargill, Jill Zullo, said with customers expecting more sustainable goods, businesses are searching for suppliers that can not only provide new, environmentally responsible solutions but also have the ability and resources to continuously deliver those demands. Cargill's end-to-end supply chain and long-standing, successful product commercialization in numerous bio-industrial areas are combined with HELM's expertise in bringing innovative chemical applications and other creative solutions to life and to market in this new partnership.

The Qore joint venture will focus on producing QIRA™, the next-generation 1,4-butanediol (BDO) (BDO). Derived naturally through the fermentation of plant-based sugars, QIRA can save up to 93% of greenhouse gas emissions when replacing today’s commonly used chemical intermediates made from traditional fossil sources.

QIRA works in the same way as its chemical equivalent, but it is far more environmentally friendly. QIRA, for example, may be used to make spandex and other polyester-based chemical fibers, as well as biodegradable polymers, polyurethane coatings, sealants, and synthetic leathers, all of which have a lower environmental footprint. 

Member of the Executive Board for Business Line Chemicals at HELM, Axel Viering, said this joint venture is a significant step forward for HELM Chemicals in our commitment to offering solutions for a successful transition to a sustainable planet and society. They’ll introduce sustainable product solutions to these consumer-driven sectors through partnership and cooperation with brand owners and suppliers, which will not only help them differentiate their brands but also build a more ecologically responsible future.

Cargill and HELM want to construct the bio-based intermediate manufacturing plant in Eddyville, Iowa, where Cargill already has a biotechnology campus and a maize refining business. To meet the high specifications of product supply chains, the factory will be finished and operational in 2024.

Qore has licensed Genomatica's BDO process technology and will use Cargill's worldwide feedstock supply and fermentation manufacturing experience to develop and distribute its first bio-intermediate, QIRA, at a minimum of 65,000 metric tonnes per year. To implement QIRA into their individual products, HELM will engage with brand owners, original equipment manufacturers, and their suppliers.

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