Elevance, Arkema ink deal to jointly develop biobased polymers

By Bryan Sims | March 05, 2012

Woodridge, Ill.-based Elevance Renewable Sciences Inc. and French global chemical firm Arkema have formed a global partnership to develop and produce renewable specialty polymers. The partnership combines Arkema’s expertise in the production of biobased specialty polymers with Elevance’s high-performance ingredients.

In the partnership, Elevance intends to supply its novel, differentiated and functionalized renewable raw materials, such as 9-decenoic methyl ester, from its biorefineries. Currently, the company has a biorefinery under development from a partnership with Wilmar International Ltd. and another from the retrofit of a former biodiesel production asset currently under development in Natchez, Miss.

By combining their expertise, both companies intend to work on the development of a range of biobased polymers based on Elevance’s specialty methyl ester intermediate. Details of which specific types of biobased polymers the companies might produce weren’t disclosed.

“Arkema’s position as producer of high-performing biosourced technical polymers is a natural fit for our unique specialty chemicals,” said Andy Shafer, executive vice president of sales and market development for Elevance. “We are pleased to be partnering with them in this important market for both of us.”

Arkema is an established producer of biobased polymers and derivatives, rapidly emerging as one of the world’s largest producers of castor-based polyamides. Late last year, the French chemical manufacturing company paid $365 million to acquire 100 percent ownership of two Chinese chemical companies, Hipro Polymers and Casda Biomaterials, as part of its strategy to bolster its position in biobased polyamides and increase its sales by $1.33 billion through acquisitions. Hipro Polymers is a producer of biobased nylon 10,10 and Casda Biomaterials is a leading producer of sebacic acid derived from castor oil, a key building block for Hipro’s bioproducts.

“Our partnership with Elevance offers Arkema the strategic opportunity to expand our current feedstocks for biosourced raw materials and to strengthen our leading position on the fast-growing biosourced polymer market with increased capabilities for our customers globally,” stated Jean-Luc Dubois, scientific director for Arkema.