Carbon negative materials company Origin Materials announced 27 June that it had commenced the startup of Origin 1, the world’s first commercial CMF plant, located in Sarnia, Ontario. In January, it was revealed that the facility had reached mechanical completion.
Calling the starting up of the plant a ‘tremendous accomplishment and milestone in our journey to decarbonise the world’s materials’, John Bissell, co-founder and co-CEO of Origin Materials said the plant represents a substantial scale up of the company’s core technology platform. This platform technology converts cellulose, the structural component in the primary cell walls of green plants, into chloromethyl furfural (CMF) and lignin (another plant structural component) into hydrothermal carbon (HTC). Woody biomass is Origin's feedstock.
“We expect the power of our platform intermediates, CMF and HTC, to be transformative for the chemical industry and how the world generally makes things,” he declared.
CMF (chloromethyl furfural) is a versatile chemical building-block made from sustainable wood residues that can be used to make numerous downstream products, including para-xylene, which is the precursor to PET plastic, and FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid), which can be used in numerous sustainable products and materials such as the next-gen polymer PEF (polyethylene furanoate). The plant will also produce HTC (hydrothermal carbon), whose applications include sustainable carbon black for automotive tires.
Previously, Origin announced that it had partnered with the Green Chemistry Division of the Minafin Group Minafin. Minafin will serve as the manufacturing partner for the downstream supply chain of Origin 1.
The CMF produced by Origin at Origin 1 will be delivered to Minafin, which will convert this into the downstream intermediates and products that can be used across a wide range of end markets, including clothing, textiles, plastics, packaging, car parts, tires, carpeting, toys and fuels. The arrangement is expected to help grow the value of the bio-based supply chain for high-value chemicals and materials including bio-based PET.
“We are thrilled to be making our intermediates available to industry on a scale never before achieved,” said Bissell. “The commercialisation of a molecule like CMF is historic, on the order of an ethylene. After working with CMF for over a decade at pilot scale, we couldn’t be more excited to begin commercial production here in Sarnia.”
Origin will initially use the Origin 1 factory in Canada to fulfill customer demand around qualification and sampling. The plant is expected to play a key role in the development of higher-value products and applications for CMF, HTC, and other co-products.
These higher value products are expected to be produced and sold at world-scale from future plants, including Origin 2, which is currently being developed in Geismar, Lousiana, Origin 3, and potentially licensed plants.
The company already has numerous partnerships and offtake agreement in place; in March of this year it a multi-year capacity reservation agreement with South Korean Hyosung Advanced Materials for PET and a hybrid polymer PET/F (a blend of PET and FDCA) for use in tire cord applications, HTC for use in battery materials, as well as furanic derivatives for use in spandex applications in the apparel industry. In April, Origin announced a partnership with SCGP, a leading multinational consumer packaging solutions provider, to explore licensing Origin technology for an Asia-based plant. And in May, Origin signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Thailand-based PET manufacturer Indorama to explore the potential for converting an Indorama Ventures’ U.S. facility into a bio-based materials plant to develop and commercialise low-carbon bio-based materials.
These latest initiatives complement the company’s existing partnerships and customer relationships with industry leaders including Danone, Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo, Ford Motor Company, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical, Kolon Industries, PrimaLoft, Solvay, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., Minafin Group, LVMH Beauty, Revlon, Mitsubishi Chemical Group, Kuraray, Intertex World Resources, and ATC Plastics.