DuPont, Archer Daniels Midland open bio-plastic pilot plant in Illinois


DuPont Industrial Biosciences  and Archer Daniels Midland Company announced the opening of the world’s first bio-based furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) pilot production facility in Decatur, IL.

The plant is the centerpiece of a long-standing collaboration that will help bring a greater variety of sustainably sourced biomaterials that are not derived from petroleum or coal.

Nearly one-tenth of the world’s oil is used to make everyday  plastic products as demand grows for bio-based products.

DuPont and ADM’s new bio-based FDME aims to come up with breakthroughs that will make bio-based plastic competitive.

FDME is a molecule derived from fructose that can be used to create a variety of bio-based chemicals and materials. Fructose is typically derived from corn and is used as to sweeten soft drinks and other beverages.

“We’re confident FDME is both the more sustainable option and the better-for-business option,” said Michael Saltzberg, global business director for Biomaterials at DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “This molecule, and its numerous applications, will be high-performing, cost-effective and better for the environment. ADM’s expertise in agricultural value chains and the chemistry of carbohydrates makes them the best possible business partner on this initiative. Our goal is to bring this game-changing technology to commercial scale as quickly as possible.”

“One of the first FDME-based polymers under development by DuPont is polytrimethylene furandicarboxyate (PTF), a  polyester made from DuPont’s proprietary Bio-PDO (1,3-propanediol). PTF is a 100 percent renewable polymer that, in bottling applications, can be used to create plastic bottles that are lighter-weight, more sustainable and better performing.

Research shows that PTF has up to 10-15 times the carbon dioxide barrier performance of traditional PET plastic, which results in a longer shelf life. With that better barrier, companies will be able to design significantly lighter-weight packages, lowering the carbon emissions and significant costs related with shipping carbonated beverages, a release stated.

DuPont has shifted to bio-materials. It sold off its petroleum-based nylon operations that are now owned by Invista, a Koch company.

A recent  DuPont venture in Iowa  that used corn stover – plant material left behind after corn cobs are harvested – was shut down. The plant made ethanol for for clean fuels.

Another venture with British company Tate & Lyle in Tennessee produces a key technology in DuPont’s Sorona bio-based fiber that is used in apparel or carpeting. 

DuPont’s businesses are now  part of DowDuPont and will be spun off into a company that will carry the DuPont name.

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