BioBTX, a spin-off of the University of Groningen and the Groningen companies KNN Group and Syncom, has succeeded, together with polyester manufacturer Cumapol, to produce polyethylene terephthalate (PET) from 100 % biological material. A world first. 3 million tonnes of PET bottles circulate in Europe every year. At the moment, most of these bottles are newly produced from fossil resources, but with the BioBTX technology, they could be produced from biomass.
BioBTX extracts the building blocks for PET from wood and other organic waste streams. The building blocks benzene, toluene and xylene (BTX), as produced by BioBTX, are not just used for PET, but also for many other plastic products. By extracting the BTX building blocks from biomass and waste streams, completely oil-free products can eventually be produced. This means less energy consumption, less waste and fewer CO2 emissions.
BioBTX is currently working together with its partners on a pilot plant to demonstrate that the technology is not only viable in a laboratory, but also on a larger scale. This new plant should process around twenty kilos of biomass per hour. If they are successful, there is huge potential for this northern technology.