July 18, 2013 was a very exciting day for the olefin metathesis community. The first press release from Elevance Renewable Sciences and Wilmar International Limited reported that their joint venture, a $40 million olefin metathesis-based bio-refinery located in Gresik, Indonesia was operational, leading to the first shipments of commercial products to customers.1 The Gresik facility has the capacity to process 400 million pounds of natural oil per year with the capability to expand to twice that amount. The bio-refinery will produce a variety of bio-based olefin streams, along with a series of traditional and specialty ester-based products, like methyl-9-decenoate, for downstream partners such as, Arkema and Stepan, serving detergent, lubricant, green/bio-derived polymer, and personal care markets. The achievement was also highlighted in the July 22, 2013 issue of C&EN on page 16.2
This day was also very special for us here at Materia, Inc. We have been involved in the project since it’s inception in 2004, starting as a joint DOE funded R&D project between Cargill Inc. and Materia aimed to investigate the metathesis-based processing of renewable seed oil-based feedstocks. In 2007, based on the success of the DOE project, Elevance Renewable Sciences was founded with a $40 million private equity investment from TPG Capital and the requisite technologies from Materia and Cargill.3 To this day, Materia is still connected with Elevance, providing funded R&D support. Personally, as someone who has been enthusiastic about olefin metathesis since first being introduced to the topic as an undergrad, and now having been directly involved in the R&D support effort for Elevance over the past 5+ years, I was proud and extremely excited by the news and wish their team much success in the further commercialization of the technology!
Next stop…Natchez, Mississippi, where Elevance has plans to convert an existing biodiesel facility into their 2nd world-scale bio-refinery by 2016. Good Luck!
3 Schrodi, Y.; Pederson, R. L.; Kaido, H.; Tupy, M. J. Synthesis of Terminal Alkenes from Internal Alkenes via Olefin Metathesis. US Patent 8,501,973 B2, August 6, 2013