04. May 2021
US-headquartered Trinseo and Russian catalyst company ETB have signed a letter of intent to collaborate on the development of purified bio-based 1,3-butadiene. This will see the two companies combine their respective technology and process expertise to accelerate the development of viable, renewably-sourced material solutions.
Under the partnership, the companies will jointly explore opportunities to scale up ETB's unique single-stage process to produce bio-based 1,3-butadiene from ethanol using polyfunctional catalyst technology. The collaboration will initially focus on demonstrating the viability of sustainable ethanol-based synthetic rubber in support of green tire production. To underline this mutual commitment, Trinseo, with ETB's support, will conduct a feasibility study to explore the construction of a dedicated bio-based 1,3-butadiene pilot plant in Europe. The pilot plant will also include a purification unit to achieve a purity target of 99.7%.
Bio-based butadiene is considered a vital first component in the value chain for enabling the replacement of fossil-based raw materials with renewable sources, thereby reducing the environmental footprint of consumer products, such as performance tires throughout their lifecycle. It also represents a key milestone in Trinseo’s transformation as a sustainable solutions provider.
Within the past six months, Trinseo has been granted International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) and has become the first synthetic rubber provider globally to gain mass balance certification. In addition, Trinseo recently announced it would be collaborating with BASF on the development of circular feedstocks, with the aim of strengthening the efforts of both companies in the development and management of styrene with an improved environmental profile.
“Sustainability is at the heart of Trinseo and this new partnership with ETB enables us to move towards truly differentiated material solutions with a lower environmental impact than ever before,” said Francesca Reverberi, Vice President, Engineered Materials & Synthetic Rubber, Trinseo. “Our customers are increasingly seeking new ways to add renewable and bio-based raw materials along the value chain to support their sustainability goals. The ability to derive bio-based butadiene from ethanol with close to 100% purity enables our customers to develop more sustainable products without compromising on performance.”
ETB can draw on over 100 years of experience and knowledge in the fossil-based petrochemical industry and catalysis, but now aims to change the environmental footprint of the rubber and plastic products produced by this industry. Bio-butadiene (Bio- BD) is the first chemical building block the company has chosen to target, focusing on bio-based ethanol as a feedstock. The company has its own laboratory and pilot plant in Russia and a global office at Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen, the Netherlands.
As Vladimir Trembovolsky, CEO, ETB, explained: "ETB is driven by the idea of bringing bio-based butadiene to the industry through our proprietary, patented process - currently demonstrated at our pilot plant in Russia. By working closely with Trinseo, we aim to unlock new opportunities throughout the value chain from biomass to end product. We look forward to sharing technologies and expertise as we strive towards industrial production of renewably sourced 1,3-butadiene at a purification level of at least 99.7%. ETB believes that true adoption of bio-based monomers is only possible through close collaboration between industry players along the entire value chain. Our joint partnership is a beacon for the industry thanks to the scale, reach and sustainable ethos of Trinseo."
The companies anticipate that the pilot plant evaluation study will be completed by the close of 2021. Both companies share the long-term ambition of scaling up live production globally.