Science and agricultural companies DuPont Industrial Biosciences and Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) have developed a new process which they say has the potential to expand the materials landscape with novel, high-performance renewable materials.

By combining their technologies and expertise, the two companies have developed a method for producing furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose.

As ADM explained, FDME is a high-purity derivative of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), one of the 12 building blocks identified by the U.S. Department of Energy that can be converted into a number of high-value, bio-based chemicals or materials that can deliver high performance in various applications. It is not yet available at commercial scale and at reasonable cost, but the new FDME technology is a more efficient and simple process than traditional conversion approaches and results in higher yields, lower energy usage and lower capital expenditures.

“This molecule is a game-changing platform technology,” said Simon Herriot, global business director for biomaterials at DuPont. “It will enable cost-efficient production of a variety of 100 percent renewable, high-performance chemicals and polymers with applications across a broad range of industries.”

One of the first polymers under development utilizing FDME is polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate (PTF), a novel polyester that is 100 percent renewable and recyclable. According to ADM, when used to make beverage bottles it substantially improves gas-barrier properties compared to other polyesters, extending product shelf life.

“We are excited about the potential FDME has to help our customers reach new markets and develop better-performing products, all made from sustainable, bio-based starting materials,” said Kevin Moore, president of renewable chemicals at ADM.

Next, ADM and DuPont plan to build an integrated 60 ton-per-year demonstration plant in Decatur, Illinois, providing potential customers with sufficient product quantities for testing and research.