Company to produce chemicals from sugarcane-based ethanol

By Erin Voegele
During a Renewable Energy Stocks Green Investor podcast on Aug. 18, Andy Badalato, chief executive officer of Florida-based Industrial Biotechnology Corp., detailed his company's plan to manufacture biobased polymers and plastics from ethylene derived from hydrous sugarcane-based ethanol. The project is being instigated through one of Industrial Biotechnology's two operating subsidies: Renewable Chemicals Corp.

According to Badalato, the company plans to use preexisting chemical infrastructure to replace petroleum-based ethylene with hydrous-ethanol-based ethylene. To that end, Renewable Chemicals has formed a joint venture with Brazilian-based sugar and ethanol producer Cosan S/A to solidify a feedstock supply for the project. Badalato said his company is looking to use sugarcane-based ethanol because sugarcane is most affordable, but the company is open to using other ethanol feedstocks such as corn and biomass if it makes financial sense.

Renewable Chemicals is currently in the process of completing feasibility studies and identifying a site for a facility. The company is targeting U.S. locations but hasn't ruled out Brazilian locations. "We believe we can procure and finalize [the site location] within the next six months," Badalato said.

The company has been working on this project for approximately 18 months. According to Badalato, the biggest challenge right now is making sure the project can produce competitively priced materials.

On Aug 26, Industrial Biotechnology announced a partnership with The Plastics Exchange, a plastics trading organization that provides research and news coverage on the resin marketplace. "What the plastics exchange provides is the ability to look at historical data and future predicted data utilizing a combination of both physical and futures market hedging to mitigate risk," Badalato said.

Industrial Biotechnology's second subsidiary Renewable Fuels of America Inc. is working to import sugarcane-based ethanol from Brazil. Because the Caribbean Basin Initiative provides an exemption to the 54-cent-per-gallon U.S. tariff currently imposed on Brazilian ethanol imports, the company is currently seeking a Caribbean Basin country with dehydration capabilities.