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BASF Achieves Renewables’ Milestone

April 18, 2016
Company now manufactures binders with sustainable raw materials

Launched in 2013, BASF’s “mass balance method” aims to replace up to 100% of fossil fuels with renewable resources to manufacture end products. Now, the company says it has produced its first-ever dispersions for interior paints based on this approach.


To manufacture binders for the Acronal brand, the company replaced 100% of the fossil resources used at the beginning of the production process with renewable raw materials.

Paint producer DAW, Hesse, Germany, already is using one of these dispersions for its premium paints.

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“Since these dispersions are based on the use of sustainably certified renewable raw materials in the production process, they help save fossil resources and reduce greenhouse emissions. That way, we at BASF can help our customers develop interior paints that combine environmental responsibility with uncompromising premium quality,” explains Robert Heger, vice president, dispersions business of BASF for construction and architectural coatings in Europe.

The mass-balance products are identical to their fossil-resource counterparts, he adds.

DAW specializes in architectural coatings and uses the dispersion to produce interior paints marketed under the brand names Caparol and Alpina. They have been available across Europe since March.

“By offering new paints based on the mass-balanced dispersion we are breaking new ground and are closing a gap in the market,” notes Wolfgang Hoffmann, head of Caparol product management at DAW.

BASF and technical inspection company TÜV SÜD, Munich, Germany, jointly developed the mass-balance process to build on the 3.5% of renewable-resource-based raw materials BASF purchased in 2013. The company sourced 30,000 different raw materials from more than 6,000 suppliers.

The idea here is that renewable raw materials are used as feedstock and allocated to the respective sales products using the jointly developed certification methods. The certified products contribute to sustainable development by saving fossil resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

At the heart of the strategy is BASF’s Verbund manufacturing system that intelligently networks together production facilities, energy flow, logistics and infrastructure to increase production yields, save resources and energy, and reduce logistics costs. For example, the byproducts of one plant often serve as feedstock elsewhere.

Some of the company’s most important raw materials are naphtha, natural gas, methanol, ammonia and benzene; many of the current projects focus on the cultivation and utilization of renewables that could replace existing sources.

An example here is Succinity, Dusseldorf, Germany, BASF’s joint venture with Corbion Purac, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, to produce and commercialize bio-based succinic acid.

Corbion is a global producer of lactic acid, lactic acid derivatives and lactides, as well as functional blends containing enzymes, emulsifiers, minerals and vitamins.

The two companies have been working together to develop a bio-based succinic acid with a significantly improved carbon footprint compared to conventional, fossil-based succinic acid or other dicarboxylic acids.

Succinity is based on renewable raw materials and fixes carbon dioxide. The proprietary microorganism Basfia succiniciproducens allows for a flexible usage of different feedstocks. Furthermore, Succinity bio-based succinic acid can be produced efficiently without major waste streams thanks to a closed-loop process. An elaborate downstream processing method ensures the production of high-quality bio-based succinic acid, says the company.

Bio-based succinic acid is a versatile building block with significant market potential in the chemical intermediates market. It can be used in a variety of potential applications, such as bio-polymers (polybutylene succinate, for example), polyurethanes, coatings and life-science products.

The joint venture’s first plant in Montmelo, Spain, has a 10,000-mt/y capacity and already is producing commercial quantities of bio-based succinic acid. Plans are on the drawing board for a second large-scale facility.

BASF and eight partners, including Alfa Laval, Lund, Sweden; Imperial College London; and Cargill Haubourdin, Haubourdin, France, also are cooperating in a €14-million European Union (EU) PRODIAS (PROcessing Diluted Aqueous Systems) project to optimize production processes for renewable-based products.

Together they hope to develop cost- and energy-efficient technologies for water purification, removal and product recovery needed to support downstream processing in white biotechnology.

This is crucial to the development of renewable resources, says the EU, because using biotechnological methods such as fermentation and biocatalysis often leave the desired products as part of a complex dilute aqueous mixture from which they must be purified, requiring many energy-intensive separation steps.

Seán Ottewell is Chemical Processing's Editor at Large. You can email him at [email protected].

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