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11/30/2011 12:18 PM     print story email story  

Green Nylon Plant Make Ingredients for Carpets, Plastics, Textiles; Agilix Makes Crude Oil

SustainableBusiness.com News

Verdezyne, Inc., which like Amyris is developing petroleum substitutes from green chemicals, has opened its first pilot plant to make "green" nylon, used for engineered plastics, carpets, clothing and other textiles.

The Carlsbad, California facility will accelerate commercialization of Verdezyne's bio-based adipic acid, a base ingredient for making green nylon 6,6 and thermoplastic polyurethane resins from sources like non-food, plant-based vegetable oils.

"This is the first demonstration of the production of bio-based adipic acid at scale from a non-petroleum source. Our novel yeast platform enables production of adipic acid at a lower cost than current petrochemical manufacturing processes," says Dr. William Radany, president and CEO. The production processes also generate fewer carbon emissions than petroleum production.

Verdezyne says the plant will allow them to demonstrate the scalability of its manufacturing process, validate cost projections and generate sufficient quantities of material for commercial market development.

The company uses a proprietary process to develop unique yeast strains for cost-effective production of bio-based chemicals and fuels.

Current investors include BP Alternative Energy Ventures, DSM Venturing B.V., OVP Venture Partners and Monitor Ventures.

The company says the global market for adipic acid is over $6 billion.

Agilyx Turns Plastic Into Oil

Agilix, on the other hand, is turning non-recyclable plastics into oil that can be converted to crude in refineries.

It collects unrecyclable waste such as potato chip bags and candy wrappers - the stuff no one else wants or can do anything with other than toss in a landfill or incinerator.

Their process shreds the plastic, heats it until it becomes a liquid, and then gasifies it. Then they turn the liquid gas into a mixture of water and crude oil. 1,000 pounds of plastic can be converted to crude in five hours.

Agilix says the process makes five BTUs of energy for every one BTU of energy used to process the trash.

A plant in Tigard, Oregon is processing 10 tons of waste plastic a day.

While the system works for all kinds of plastics, the company doesn't accept commonly recycled plastics like PET and HDPE, because it doesn't want to compete with recyclers. Agilix would rather focus on plastics that have no further use including leftover waste from car shredding (auto fluff) and electronics.

"Landfill operators hate plastic," says Lew Feucht of Agilix in an interview with Waste & Recycling News. "They get paid by the ton. And plastic is low weight but high volume. So they get the least amount of money and it fills up their landfill faster."

The US generated 31 million tons of plastic waste in 2010, and only 8% was recycled, according to the EPA.

Agilix hopes to sell its technology to recycling facilities and other plants, to provide a new revenue stream for them, give another life to end-stage materials, preserve landfill space, and provide a new source of oil for the US that doesn't require drilling.

A 20-ton-per-day facility can produce 118 barrels of crude oil per day. At $85 a barrel, that's $3.3 million a year.

Waste Management and Kleiner Perkins are investors in the company.



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