Q&A with INVISTA
Intermediates Sustainability Leader - Dr. Gary Smith
Why is INVISTA investing in biotechnology?
Market signals drove INVISTA’s decision to invest in this field. We believe biotechnology has the potential to significantly improve the cost and availability of several chemicals and raw materials that we use to produce our current products.
For example, by developing a cost-competitive, biological route to butadiene, INVISTA has a unique opportunity to take what many people see as an industrial waste product and turn it into a value-added chemical.
How will INVISTA’s work in biotechnology impact the nylon value chain?
The research we are conducting—on our own and through our collaborations—has the potential to directly affect the raw materials used for INVISTA products. One of the potential uses of these bio-derived intermediate chemicals could be for the manufacture of polymers and other industrial materials.
While we are optimistic about the development of these processes, the work is highly proprietary in nature. We will provide more details as available.
When will INVISTA offer products made using these biotechnology processes?
While INVISTA is still in the early stages of research and development, initial research has gone better than expected. If the research continues to progress well, INVISTA expects to be able to begin commercializing this technology in 2018.
How many collaborations has INVISTA announced?
INVISTA has put in place a number of collaborations with external parties in the biotechnology space over the past few years.
INVISTA has recently announced biotechnology-related collaborations with the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), LanzaTech, Arzeda, SilicoLife, Ingenza and Eucodis.
Our collaborations are complementary, and the new technologies we develop will help accelerate our work overall.
What materials are these teams working to develop?
We are collaborating on the development of new technologies to enable bio-derived processes for the production of industrial chemicals. At this time, our primary focus is on nylon intermediates and feedstocks.
The initial focus of our collaborations with LanzaTech, Arzeda and SilicoLife is on the production of bio-derived butadiene.
The initial focus of our collaboration with Ingenza is focused on bio-derived processes for the production of industrial chemicals—for use in the nylon intermediates value chain.
The initial focus of our collaboration with CPI will be the development of new technologies to enable gas-based, bio-derived process technology.
The initial focus of our collaboration with Eucodis will be on screening and engineering enzymes that could further develop bio-derived processes for the production of industrial chemicals.
What is the difference between bio-based and bio-derived processes?
Bio-based refers to a product or process in which both the feedstock (e.g. sugars from sugar cane, corn, wood; biomass; waste streams from agricultural processes) and the conversion process to the product are biologically based (e.g., fermentation/enzymatic transformation involving a biological host/organism/enzyme).
Bio-derived refers to a product or process in which one of the feedstocks (e.g., sugars from sugar cane, corn, wood; biomass; waste streams from agricultural processes) or the conversion process to the product is biologically based (e.g., fermentation/enzymatic transformation involving a biological host/organism/enzyme).
How could this work affect INVISTA’s customers?
If we are successful, these bio-derived processes could help assure product supply and reduce price volatility in some cases.