Bill Gates and Total Invest in Bioplastics Initiative Renmatix
Industry demand for competitive alternatives to petro-derived molecules is gaining traction, despite recent market pressures. Renmatix Inc., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, a producer of cellulosic sugars, today announced a USD14 million investment from computer technology icon Bill Gates and Total, the French energy giant.
Goal of the investment is to help Renmatix commercialize its Plantrose technology, which converts waste biomass into cellulosic sugars, which in turn can be feedstock for making bio-based plastics. It will help drive towards the first wave of Renmatix licensees building Plantrose-enabled biorefineries in diverse global markets like Canada, India, Malaysia, the U.S. and elsewhere. In parallel, that activity will facilitate further market development in downstream bioproduct applications.
According to Gates, "To effectively address climate change, we need to develop an energy infrastructure that doesn't emit greenhouse gas and is cost competitive. A critical component in this effort must be to decarbonize the industrial sector. Another is the possibility of cost competitive biofuels. Renmatix provides an innovative process that is an exciting pathway to pursue."
Gates is joined in the round by Total (NYSE: TOT), the global energy major which, after an initial investment in 2015, has expanded its investment and has additionally signed a licensing agreement with Renmatix for 1M tons of annual cellulosic sugar production capacity, at Total's discretion to build corresponding facilities. The license represents significant revenue potential for Renmatix, extending over the lifetime of the agreement.
The patented Plantrose process uses supercritical water to reduce costs in conversion of biomass to cellulosic sugars, the critical intermediary for second-generation biochemicals and biofuels. With faster reactions and virtually no associated consumable-expenses, Renmatix's supercritical hydrolysis economically enables a multitude of renewable process technologies to access the market for ‘high volume, low cost, broadly sourced' cellulosic sugars that is compounding today. From this well established foundation in industrial sugars, the company continues to expand its product portfolio by valorizing additional bio building block intermediates, including Omno polymers and crystalline cellulose.
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