Avantium acquires Liquid Light

By Avantium | January 11, 2017

Avantium, a leading chemical technology company and forerunner in renewable chemistry, recently announced it has acquired the assets of Liquid Light Inc., a renowned developer of electrochemical processes. Liquid Light has developed proprietary process technology to make major chemicals from low-cost, globally-abundant carbon dioxide (CO2). The acquisition combines the technologies of both Liquid Light and Avantium to develop a world leading electro-catalysis platform and to commercialize new process technologies using CO2 as feedstock to produce sustainable chemicals and materials.

Liquid Light, which was spun out from Princeton University in 2008, has invested more than $35 million on low-energy electrochemistry technologies to convert CO2 to major chemicals. It has filed over 100 national patent applications of which more than twenty have been granted. Their patent portfolio includes filings on producing multiple chemical building blocks used in large existing markets, including oxalic acid, glycolic acid, ethylene glycol, propylene, isopropanol, methyl-methacrylate and acetic acid for the production of polymers, coatings and cosmetics.

The technology and patent portfolio of Liquid Light will be integrated in Avantium’s Renewable Chemistry business unit and its existing R&D program in electrochemistry. The combination of Liquid Light’s expertise in electrochemistry with Avantium’s expertise in catalysis and process engineering will be the basis of an unrivaled technology platform to develop novel production technologies for converting CO2 to chemicals and materials.

Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium, said, “The acquisition of Liquid Light is an important step in our strategy to create and commercialize breakthrough technologies in renewable chemistry. It will extend our capabilities beyond catalytic conversion of biomass. This acquisition will enable the development of a powerful technology platform on the basis of carbon dioxide feedstock, meaning it turns waste into valuable products such as chemicals and plastics.”

CO2 is a greenhouse gas that originates as waste from the burning of fossil fuels, the production of electricity, fertilizers, chemicals, steel and cement. It is the biggest contributor to global warming. The development of electrochemistry has the potential to use CO2 as a feedstock for the sustainable production of chemicals and materials, and is seen as a ’game-changer’ for the chemical industry. The result is that greenhouse gas is sequestered into products that can replace plastics and chemicals that are now produced from fossil feedstock.

Gert-Jan Gruter, chief technology officer of Avantium, said, “Electro-catalysis is an emerging technology in the chemical industry that is based on electrical energy and catalytic reactions to drive chemical reactions. The technology enables the use of renewable energy for example from wind farms or solar panels for the chemical industry resulting in a significantly improved carbon footprint. The extensive patent portfolio of Liquid Light brings Avantium in the top of the world’s Intellectual Property position in electrochemistry.”

The integration of the Liquid Light assets into Avantium is complete and effective immediately. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.