Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- BASF is to invest $ 30 million in the American technology firm Renmatix Inc.
The BASF subsidiary BASF Biorenewable Beteiligungs GmbH & Co. led a $50-million financing round, joined by new and existing investors.
Renmatix's patented Plantrose process can make industrial sugar from lignocellulosic biomass (wood, cane trash or straw). BASF claims this technology "makes it possible for the first time" to produce industrial sugar in large quantities and at competitive cost from non-edible plant mass.
"The Plantrose technology could allow us in the future to broaden our use of renewable raw materials while improving the cost effectiveness of our value chains even further. In the partnership with Renmatix, BASF is pursuing a new direction while simultaneously underlining its corporate strategy of offering even more sustainable solutions," said Dr Josef Wünsch, senior vice president Modelling, Formulation Research and Technology Incubation at BASF.
Plantrose splits biomass into cellulose and sugar in supercritical water at high temperature and pressure in a two-step process. It utilises non-edible biomass as feedstock, so is not in competition with feed and food production.
"Thanks to the partnership with BASF we can now develop and commercialise our technology more efficient. We have already demonstrated the functionality of the Plantrose process in a pilot plant. In cooperation with BASF, we will be moving it to the industrial scale," said Mike Hamilton, chief executive officer at Renmatix.
BASF notes that industrial sugars are important renewable resources, for example, to make biofuels or basic chemical products and intermediates by fermentative processes. Availability of industrial sugars in sufficient quantities and at favourable cost is therefore important for the competitiveness of the products.
The announcement says that Renmatix's supercritical hydrolysis technology "deconstructs non-food biomass an order of magnitude faster than other processes and enhances its cost advantage by using no significant consumables."
Renmatix is privately held, with operations in Georgia, currently capable of converting three tonnes of cellulosic biomass to sugar per day.