Toray is developing to create monomers from sugars to contribute to a circular economy
Toray Industries and Mitsui DM Sugar have jointly demonstrated and established a basic technology to manufacture sugar derived from inedible biomass, a common raw material in fiber and resin production. The biomass includes surplus bagasse, a pulpy residue from sugarcane processing, and pulp that results from squeezing cassava (note 3) at starch factories.
Bringing this technology together with another that Toray is developing to create monomers from sugars should contribute to a circular economy by making it possible integrate the production of biomass-based polymers for fibers, films, resins, and other offerings.
This demonstration project entailed Toray verifying a process to separate, purify, and concentrate cellulose-derived sugars in inedible biomass. It leveraged a membrane-based bioprocess that combines the company’s water treatment membrane technology and enzymes that employ biotechnology. Toray undertook this effort at a demonstration facility in Thailand as part of a project that the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) is supporting. The company proved that carbon dioxide emissions from this process are less than half those of conventional production setups that concentrate sugar solutions by evaporating water.
In 2022, Toray developed a 100% bio-based adipic acid, a raw material for polyamide 66 (nylon 66), from sugars derived from inedible biomass. This achievement came from using a proprietary synthesis technique combining the company’s microbial fermentation technology and chemical purification technology that harnesses separation membranes. The recent demonstration was a first step toward creating a technology to make cellulosic sugar from biomass, putting it on track to mass production. The company now looks to establish an integrated technology to manufacture fiber and resin from abundant agricultural residue, avoiding competition with the food chain.
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