Business Update: December 2023 | AIChE

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Business Update: December 2023

Business Update

Origin started up its demonstration-scale site

Origin Materials

Sustainable chemicals start-up, Origin Materials, announced that its demonstration-scale site in Sarnia, Ontario, is up and running.

Some helpful background. Origin’s core process technology converts lignocellulosic biomass into a few different molecules, but chloromethyl furfural (CMF) is the primary molecule of interest. CMF can be used to make paraxylene, which can be oxidized to make terephthalic acid (PTA). Finding a lower-emission route to PTA is important because it will yield a lower-emission route to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and the world makes a lot of plastic bottles and clothing with PET.

Getting you up to speed. Origin bought land in Sarnia from Arlanxeo in 2018 with the two-pronged goal of reducing technological risk before building their full-scale site, and producing enough material for Origin’s customers. Origin broke ground in 2020, completed construction two years later, initiated start up this past summer, and is now producing record quantities of CMF.

Looking forward. While Origin is currently using starch as its feedstock in Sarnia (instead of the lignocellulose they used at the pilot scale), they plan on switching over in the coming months. And, if everything goes as planned, they will start building their full-scale site within the next year or two. The full-scale site might take a stepwise approach: making biofuels via lignocellulose, then making...

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