• Plants for bio-based plastics.

Plants for bio-based plastics. (Photo : Avantium)

Avantium, a leading chemical technology company and a forerunner in renewable chemistry, will IPO this week to fund its game changing technology that will produce plant-based plastics on a large and commercially viable scale.

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Avantium expects to raise over $112 million from the IPO, most of which will be used to build a facility that will use its proprietary "YXY" technology platform to produce a wide range of novel materials and products -- all 100% bio-based --  by converting plant-based sugars into chemical building blocks like Furanics and Levulinics for plastics and other applications.

It claims its YXY technology is a game changer that offers bio-based products and fuels with superior properties at market competitive prices, enabling a green way of doing business. Avantium is based in The Netherlands.

Avantium's YXY technology converts plant-based carbohydrates to building blocks for making bio-based chemicals, materials and fuels. The basic philosophy behind Avantium's YXY technology is to develop products from renewable sources that compete on price and performance and with a superior environmental footprint.

Avantium says its new chemical is a 100% bio-based polymer polyethylene furanoate (PEF).     

It said PEF is a sustainable plastic that will revolutionize food and drink packaging and benefit the environment. The company expects PEF to eventually replace the ecologically unfriendly PET (polyethylene terephthalate) products such as bottles, food containers and bottle caps widely used worldwide.

Studies show it takes up to 500 years for PET products to decompose. Non-biodegradable plastic bottles are also difficult to recycle and, worse, are a threat to animals, especially to fishes and other marine life.

Talking of Avantium's early days that led to the discovery of PEF, CEO Tom van Aken said they realized other firms made little progress because they tried to make a product identical to PET using bio-based feedstock and consequently created an inferior product.

"We recognized that the feedstock should instead inform the product. As a result, we produced a bio-based polymer with superior properties over those used today. That is what differentiates PEF: it is not only bio-based, it has better properties," said Aken.                       

PEF offers a number of important advantages over the PET currently used for food and drink packaging. These include barrier properties (the ability to retain CO2 in carbonated drinks or keep out oxygen from beverages such as juice or beer) that exceed those of PET by five to 10 times.

PEF also offers possibilities for a significantly longer shelf life and allows for thinner bottles or packaging, reducing weight and lowering transport costs.