Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc., a specialty chemicals company, has announced that it is continuing with its second world-scale biorefinery in Natchez, Mississippi in order to expand production of its Inherent™ renewable building blocks. The decision is based on the successful start-up and operation of Elevance’s first world-scale joint venture biorefinery in Asia, as well as robust customer activity and demand forecasts for the company’s specialty and intermediate chemicals.
“Our current customer forecasts for Inherent™ renewable building blocks call for demand to exceed Gresik’s capacity,” said Elevance CEO K’Lynne Johnson. “With commercial production underway at Gresik, customer activity continues to increase in each of our market platforms. By building biorefineries in multiple geographies, we are able to meet customer demand for petrochemicals across multiple industries.”
Elevance is the only specialty chemicals company that will have two world-scale biorefineries in operation by 2016. The Natchez project will be the second biorefinery based on Elevance’s proprietary metathesis technology. Elevance announced commercial shipments from the company’s first biorefinery, a 180,000 MT joint venture with Wilmar International Limited located in Gresik, Indonesia, earlier this year.
The Natchez biorefinery will initially operate using canola or soybean oil; the Gresik biorefinery is now operating on palm oil. Both plants are capable of running on multiple renewable oil feedstocks, including jatropha or algal oils when they become commercially available. Vice President of Manufacturing John Harvey states that; “Production at Gresik has hit all targets, including the ability to operate at design rates, and demonstrating the ability to shut down and restart without issues while delivering excellent product quality. Our operations in Natchez will complement our joint venture with Wilmar and expand our global capabilities.”
Harvey also stated that, “We have invested approximately $30 million in the Natchez site, and made several significant improvements, including transforming the existing operations from batch to continuous operations, begun site preparation for biorefinery construction, including the removal of obsolete equipment and structures that have resulted in savings of more than $1 million, and successfully completed initial capital projects that will speed the implementation of the overall Natchez biorefinery project.
The commercial-scale manufacturing facility in Natchez will produce novel specialty chemicals, including multifunctional esters such as 9-decenoic methyl ester; a unique distribution of bio-based alpha and internal olefins including decene; and a premium mixture of oleochemicals. It will have a capacity of 280,000 MT (approximately 617 million pounds).
The biorefineries produce Inherent™ renewable building blocks, including renewable C10+ olefins and high-value, di-functional specialty chemicals that were previously unavailable commercially. The company is headquartered in Woodridge, Illinois.