Solvay announced today that Rhodia and the National Bioethanol Science and Technology Laboratory (CTBE) in Brazil have signed an agreement to develop chemical routes and processes to obtain molecules of a high added value from sugarcane biomass, in what is known as bio-based chemistry.
Under the agreement, research will be conducted at CTBE, backed by researchers from both parties, who will work together on the development of chemical blocks currently used in different applications and markets that the Solvay Group operates in, with a view to replacing non-renewable sources with biomass in these substances' production processes.
The head of research at CTBE, Maria Teresa Barbosa, says that the first two years of development of these technologies will be carried out on a laboratorial scale, followed by scale up efforts at CTBE's Process Development Pilot Plant. The pioneering project at CTBE in bio-based chemistry will also include computational simulations at the Virtual Sugarcane Bio-refinery (BVC).
The project will be supported by Brazil's state-owned development bank, the Banco Nacional do Desenvolvimento Economico e Social - BNDES, which will provide BRL 7.0 million (EUR 2.8 million) over three years.
Besides this backing, Rhodia will also contribute its expertise in the chemical area for the development of new routes to high added-value molecules. Thomas Canova, director of Research & Development at Rhodia for Latin America, says the partnership has brought together two organizations that have a strong commitment to the comprehensive development of bio-based chemistry in Brazil, one of the country's strategic axes for sustainable growth. "This initiative combines the group's belief in the growing importance of the chemistry based on renewable raw materials, and our focus on value creation", adds Canova.