Material manufacturer Covestro and biotechnology company Genomatica have developed a bio-based version of HMDA (hexamethylene diamine), an ingredient used in nylon, coatings, and adhesives.
Worldwide production of HMDA currently amounts to 2 million tons a year. Until now, it has been made entirely from petroleum sources. Covestro and Genomatica’s new plant-based HMDA is a sustainability milestone for several major industries, as the material is used in automobiles, construction, furniture, textile, and fibres. Covestro itself uses it to make its coating and adhesive products.
The companies have already made an initial production run and are in the process of testing the samples for quality and purity. They will now aim for full commercial-scale production and are planning to produce several tons shortly. Covestro has secured an option from Genomatica to license the commercial production process under the trademark GENO™ HMD.
“This programme is of great importance to us, because markets are increasingly asking for more environmentally compliant products based on renewable raw materials, which are just as powerful as their fossil-based alternatives,” said Thorsten Dreier, global head of the Covestro business entity Coatings & Adhesives.
Genomatica develops plant-based alternatives to materials conventionally made using fossil feedstocks. They supply brands and manufacturers in the apparel, food packaging, auto manufacture, and cosmetics industries. They have previously commercialised processes for making bio-BDO for plastics and bio-based butylene glycol for cosmetics.
Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, originated as the chemical and plastics unit of the Bayer Group. It was established as a legally independent company in 2015. It supplies high-tech polymers that support the circular economy. They have established an R&D centre to further the field of bio-based alternatives.
Covestro and Genomatica have embarked on their R&D partnership in 2019. Their partnership aimed to close the linear economy and reduce carbon emissions by making key industrial ingredients from renewable sources. Covestro has drawn on Genomatica’s experience in biotechnology to support its internal research aims of developing new and more sustainable polymers.