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Avantium buys Liquid Light

Avantium buys Liquid Light

It can reduce the CO2 footprint of consumer products

Avantium has bought the American company Liquid Light Inc.

Liquid Light has developed the process technology by which chemical building blocks can be produced from CO2.

Formic acid from CO2

The acquisition results in a globally leading platform for electro-catalysis and the commercialization of new process technologies. One of the product lines of research will focus on the use of CO2 as a raw material.

The technology developed by Liquid Light and registered patents, has been integrated into the Avantium Renewable chemistries and the existing R & D program for electrochemistry.

Avantium has been working for more than three years on hardware (electrodes and electrochemical cells) and examines applications such as the production of formic acid from CO2.

Gert-Jan Gruter, Chief Technology Officer of Avantium: “Electro-Catalysis is an emerging technology in the chemical industry. It provides the ability to, on the basis of a relatively inexpensive feed stock CO2, produce chemicals in a cost-competitive way. Once optimized, it can compete with the (thermo) chemical processes.”

Avantium pilot

The acquisition of Liquid Light will accelerate the process of Avantium’s electrochemistry significantly, according to Gruter.

“We are particularly interested in the cell which can be produced on the basis of CO2 formic acid. This will constitute the basis for other chemicals, such as oxalic acid from glycolic acid (home care, etc.).

Ethylene glycol from oxalic acid, seems to be less interesting because of the low prices. One of the cells which have been developed by Liquid Light, has great potential in terms of effectiveness.

The trick is to use the process energy in the desired conversion as much as possible. Avantium will develop this technology in a pilot plant, the next two years. The scaling process is less complicated than with a conventional reactor. It is a matter of stacking.

Asked whether Avantium also will access the route from HMF into FDCA via an electrochemical route, the answer is no: “We have concluded that the chemical route is the most optimal. Therefore we will not prioritize it.”

Green electricity

Gruter sees electrochemistry as a promising enabler to create an economically viable business case. CO2 is already a relatively cheap raw material. It could even have a negative value as a carbon tax would be implemented. “Moreover, it can reduce the CO2 footprint of consumer products.

If you use green electricity from a wind farm or a solar plant and the CO2 from a bioethanol plant or a biomass power plant, the derivatives will generate a much lower CO2 footprint. In this way, the technology will contribute to a more sustainable economy.”

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