Renmatix announces collaborations with BASF, Virent

By Susanne Retka Schill | December 20, 2013

Pennsylvania-based Renmatix Inc. continues to expand its collaborations to commercialize its platform for the production of cellulosic sugars, Renmatix and Germany-based BASF announced Dec. 18 that they will jointly scale up the Renmatix Plantrose process. The announcement followed another two weeks earlier about an agreement with Virent Inc.

In the non-exclusive joint development agreement with BASF, the two companies agreed to key financial terms for future commercial licenses, which BASF can exercise at its discretion. The collaboration follows BASF’s $30 million investment in Renmatix in January 2012.

Earlier in December, Renmatix and Virent Inc. announced they would jointly evaluate the Plantrose platform and potentially optimize it to provide an affordable sugar stream for Virent’s Bioforming process for the large-scale production of biobased paraxylene, an intermediate chemical for plastics.

The Plantrose technology developed by Renmatix enables industrial sugar to be produced at competitive costs from a variety of biomass sources, including wood and agricultural residues. The proprietary process breaks down lignocellulosic sources into industrial sugars using supercritical water—water at high temperature and pressure. The company says the very fast reaction time reduces equipment sizes and associated capital expense. Since it uses hot pressurized water as the solvent, the Plantrose technology also avoids the costs associated with enzymatic batch processing and the expensive recovery systems associated with acid hydrolysis methods. Renmatix operates a 3-ton-per-day demonstration plant near Atlanta in addition to its research center outside of Philadelphia.  

Earlier this year, Renmatix and Finland-based UPM announced a joint development agreement to optimized the Plantrose process technology to convert hardwood biomass into cellulosic sugars for biocehmicals. Much of the optimization work in the 18-month JDA is to be performed at Renmatix’s facility in Kennesaw, Ga. In 2012, Renmatix and Waste Management Inc. entered into a JDA to explore the feasibility of converting post-consumer waste into cellulosic sugars.