DuPont Industrial Biosciences is a business unit under DowDuPont specializing in industrial biotechnology. It manufactures enzymes for animal nutrition, detergents, food manufacturing, ethanol production, and industrial applications; catalysts for clean air and oil refining applications; and the DuPont Sorona brand of fibers for carpet and high-performance apparel.
DuPont Industrial Biosciences generated $1.5 billion in revenue in 2016, making it one of the largest industrial biotechnology businesses in the world, although a significant amount of revenue is generated from oil refining catalysts.
DuPont Sorona is the brand name for a polyethylene terephthalate (PTT) polymer, which is one part 1,3-propanediol (PDO) and two parts terephthalic acid (TPA). The 1,3-PDO is manufactured by engineered microbes. DuPont won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Presidential Green Chemistry Award for Greener Reaction Conditions in 2003 for the bioprocess.
Sorona is estimated to generate over $300 million in annual revenue, making it one of the most successful non-pharmaceutical brands in the global biotech sector.
Archer Daniels Midland and DuPont are collaborating to manufacture furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose derived from corn. It is a derivative of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), one of 12 chemical building blocks identified by the U.S. Department of Energy as a high-value target for enabling a bio-based economy.
The companies do not use industrial biotechnology to produce FDME, but intend to use it as a platform molecule to enable a variety of 100% bio-based polymers and other chemicals. The first polymer identified for manufacturing from the FDME platform is polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate (PTF), which can be used to make 100% renewable plastics for beverage packaging.
Current bio-based plastic bottles utilize renewable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for 30% of the material and petroleum-derived mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) for the remaining 70%. Increasing the amount of PET above 30% makes a plastic bottle too permeable (resulting in loss of carbonation) and too malleable (the bottles lose their form). Replacing MEG with a polymer such as renewable PTF could enable a 100% bio-based plastic bottle.
The companies are building a 60 metric ton per year demonstration facility in Decatur, Illinois to develop the process for creating renewable FDME and downstream chemicals.
DowDuPont merger and spinoff
DuPont Industrial Biosciences was formerly a separate business segment under DuPont. When DuPont and Dow Chemical merged in 2017 to form DowDuPont, the business was combined with the nutrition portfolios of both companies to form the nutrition & biosciences segment, but only for financial reporting considerations. It continues to operate as a separate business unit.
The nutrition & biosciences segment, and therefore DuPont Industrial Biosciences, will be one of four business segments included in the specialty products spinoff of DowDuPont, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2019. The new specialty products company will retain the legacy name of DuPont.
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