Toray Industries, Inc. (Head Office: Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan; President, CEO & COO: Akihiro Nikkaku, hereafter referred to as “Toray”) has succeeded in producing laboratory-scale samples of the world’s first fully renewable biobased PET fiber by using fully renewable biobased PET derived from biobased para-xylene from Gevo, Inc. (Head Office: Englewood, Colorado, U.S.A, CEO: Patrick R. Gruber, hereafter referred to as Gevo), a leading company in renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels.
Gevo has succeeded in converting isobutanol, produced from biomass by employing its own highly effective production method that uses synthetic biology, to synthesize para-xylene employing conventional chemical process used in commercial operations.
Toray used terephthalic acid synthesized from Gevo’s biobased para-xylene and commercially available renewable mono ethylene glycol (MEG) as raw materials, and successfully produced the PET samples by applying a new technology and PET polymerization in June this year. This biobased PET has exhibited properties equivalent to petro-based PET in laboratory conditions.
Toray has also succeeded in the production of a fiber using this fully renewable biobased PET for the first time in the world.
PET has one of the highest production volumes among petrochemical products in the world. Around 40 million tons of polyester fiber, for which PET is the source, is produced worldwide annually. Polyester fibers are widely used in our daily life as well as in industry, and it is one of the core products manufactured and sold by Toray.
The success of this trial, albeit under laboratory conditions, is proof that polyester fiber can be industrially produced from fully renewable biomass feedstock alone. This is a significant step that would contribute to the realization of a sustainable, low-carbon society.
Toray is planning to exhibit this laboratory-scale fully biobased PET fiber samples at Eco-Products 2011, which will be held at The Tokyo Big Sight in December 2011.
Under its management policy that all business strategies must place priority on the global environment in an effort to help realize a sustainable low-carbon society, Toray has been promoting the development of biobased polymers while expanding the businesses related to biobased materials such as poly lactic acid (PLA). The expansion of biobased polymers is an important initiative central to the Group’s Green Innovation projects under its new medium-term management program “Project AP-G 2013”, launched in April this year.
Under the corporate slogan Innovation by Chemistry, Toray will enhance its efforts to develop advanced materials to contribute to the progress of a sustainable, recycling society.