Anellotech pilot to produce biomass-based aromatics

By Chris Hanson | March 19, 2013

Anellotech Inc. expects a new pilot plant in Pearl River, N.Y., to be completed midyear and ready to produce 100 kg samples of green benzene and toluene.

In addition to the pilot plant, the new 11,000 square foot facility will house Anellotech’s headquarters and laboratory.

The biomass-based aromatics will be produced using Anellotech’s thermochemical catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP). During the CFP process, Anellotech uses nonfood biomass, such as wood, bagasse and corn stover, in a fluidized-bed reactor using a zeolite catalyst to produce benzene, toluene and xylenes. The chemicals are then used by Anellotech’s strategic partners to produce nylon, polycarbonate and polyurethane.

Unlike other processes, the CFP process is simple and more economically competitive, according to a company spokesman. The process does not require external hydrogen, uses minimal external energy and needs a single reactor to produce the chemical products. In the reactor, the biomass is treated with zeolite catalysts commonly used in the refining and petrochemical industries. The method was invented by former University of Massachusetts-Amherst professor George Huber and colleagues.