DuPont Industrial Biosciences and Archer Daniels Midland Company open groundbreaking biobased manufacturing facility in Illinois

1 May 2018

DuPont Industrial Biosciences (DuPont) and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) have opened the world’s first bio-based furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) pilot production facility in Decatur, Illinois. 

This plant is the centerpiece of a long-standing partnership that will help bring a greater variety of sustainably-sourced biomaterials into the lives of consumers including new bio-based plastic packaging materials. 

Nearly one-tenth of the world’s oil is used to make the plastic products we use every day. From water bottles to frozen food containers, fossil-fuel-based plastics are impossible to avoid because of a lack of commercially available alternatives.  This new development of bio-sourced FDME helps address this critical issue.

Combining their respective expertise in chemistry, biomaterials, and agricultural value chains, industry leaders DuPont and ADM have developed an innovative and efficient process for turning fructose from corn starch into a molecule called furan dicarboxylic methyl ester, or FDME. FDME can be used to create a variety of bio-based chemicals and materials, including plastics, that are ultimately more cost-effective, efficient and sustainable than their fossil fuel-based counterparts.

“We’re confident FDME is going to reinvent the way the world thinks about eco-friendly packaging – it’s not just the more sustainable option, it’s the better-for-business option,” said Dr Michael Saltzberg, global business director for Biomaterials at DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “This molecule, and its numerous applications, will be high-performing, cost-effective and better for the environment. ADM’s expertise in agricultural value chains and the chemistry of carbohydrates has made them the best possible partner on this initiative. We cannot wait to bring this game-changing technology to commercial scale.”

While a number of exciting materials can be made from FDME, one of the first polymers under development by DuPont is polytrimethylene furandicarboxyate (PTF), a novel polyester also made from DuPont’s proprietary Bio-PDO™ (1,3-propanediol). PTF is a 100 percent renewable and recyclable polymer that, in bottling applications, can be used to create plastic bottles that are lighter-weight, more sustainable and better performing.

Research shows that PTF has up to 10-15 times the CO2 barrier performance of traditional PET plastic, which results in a longer shelf life. With that better barrier, companies will be able to design significantly lighter-weight packages, lowering the carbon emissions and costs related with shipping carbonated beverages.

“Companies and consumers are of course concerned about their environmental footprint, but their bottom line will always be a key priority,” said Paul Bloom, vice-president of process chemical research at ADM. “By scaling up production of FDME and making it readily available to customers together with DuPont, a leader in biomaterials, we’re helping major beverage companies improve products, streamline processes and cut costs.” 

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