Biobased Processes Why Evonik focuses on Biobased Materials

Editor: Anke Geipel-Kern

Evonik Industries is presenting new Sepuran hollow fibers for efficient, energy-saving separation of gas mixtures.

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Sepuran hollow fibers are used for gas separation.
Sepuran hollow fibers are used for gas separation.

Evonik Industries specifically aims to use alternative raw materials and biotechnological processes. For the specialty chemical company, biotechnology is an important technology platform with considerable potential. The innovative company plans to offer new, sustainable products that are not reliant on fossil resources. “The search for alternative raw material sources is an important innovation field for us,” says Chief Innovation Officer of Evonik, Dr. Ulrich Küsthardt. Evonik Industries is presenting new Sepuran hollow fibers for efficient, energy-saving separation of gas mixtures. The new fiber material enables inexpensive air separation and, consequently, efficient recovery of nitrogen. Highly selective membranes are used for efficient recovery of helium from natural gas or process gases. With its new development, the specialty chemicals company is following the development of Sepuran Green, which became the established process for upgrading biogas worldwide within a short time. More than 40 biogas upgrading plants based on the membrane technology are now in operation or under construction.

Accordingly, Evonik will be presenting Vestamid Terra, a bio-based, high-performance polymer, which belongs to the polyamide family. The raw materials for this are recovered from the castor-oil plant and be used wherever there are high technical requirements or where a good eco footprint is desired. This includes applications in the automotive and construction industries as well as sports items, consumer goods, and electronics devices.

The company has another bio-based polyamide in the pilot phase. In Slovenska Lupca (Slovakia) a pilot plant is in operation for the biotechnological production of ω-amino lauric acid (ALS), a precursor of the high performance polyamide 12. In the long term, the new process will complement oil-based production of polyamide 12.

Evonik's innovation strategy focuses on the needs of a growing population - nutrition, health, access to new technologies, more care when using existing resources. “Evonik will become one of the most innovative companies in the world - that is our aspiration,” states Küsthardt once again. “After all, innovations open up new business areas and strengthen our leading market and technology positions.” As a result, Evonik Industries is to invest more than four billion euros in reserch and developement in the next ten years. In fiscal 2014, companies spent 413 million Euro on R&D, five percent more than the previous year, which is 3,2 percent.

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