BASF has produced its first commercial volumes of 1,4-butanediol (BDO) from renewable raw material, and is offering it to customers for testing and commercial use.
Among other uses, bio-based BDO could be used to make new stretch elastics for nonwoven-based aborbent disposables, which at 6% of the value of these items are projected to be $3 billion market in themselves by 2017.
BASF’s production process relies on a patented fermentation technology from Genomatica, based in California, which uses dextrose as a renewable feedstock.
The quality of the BDO based on renewable raw material is said to be comparable to petrochemical-based BDO and BASF plans to further expand its portfolio with selected BDO derivatives based on renewable feedstocks, including Polytetrahydrofuran (PolyTHF).
BDO and its derivatives are used for producing plastics, solvents, electronic chemicals and elastic fibres for the packaging, automotive, textile and sports and leisure industries, among others.
The starting materials for the production of conventional BDO are natural gas, butane, butadiene and propylene. BASF currently produces BDO and BDO equivalents at sites in Germany, the USA, Japan, Malaysia and China. In July it announced it would increase its global capacities for BDO to 650,000 metric tons and for PolyTHF to 350,000 metric tons within the next two years.