Polymer manufacturer Covestro and biotechnology company Genomatica have announced a partnership to produce significant volumes of a plant-based version of the chemical raw material hexamethylene diamine (HMDA).

With a worldwide market of 2M tonnes/year, HMDA is a key ingredient for a widely-used type of nylon (nylon-6,6), as well as an important component for raw materials for the manufacture of coatings and adhesives.

Traditionally manufactured from fossil feedstocks, coatings and adhesives are now being produced from bio-based HMDA using renewable feedstocks with areas of application including the automotive, construction, furniture, textiles and fibre industries, according to Covestro.

The automotive market, for example, used 500,000 tonnes/year of polyurethane coating based on HMDA.

In a 19 January statement, Covestro said it had been working with Genomatica to develop a commercial process technology for bio-based HMDA and expected to produce large quantities of the material.

Both partners had been processing and testing material from their initial production campaigns, the statement said, and were planning to move to full production scale.

Covestro said it had secured an option from Genomatica to license the resulting integrated GENO HMD process technology for commercial production.

“Our programme with Genomatica, which complements our internal R&D, is one of our largest external funding of biotechnology R&D to date,” Covestro CEO Dr Markus Steilemann said.

Genomatica is developing and scaling sustainable materials derived from plant and waste-based feedstocks in place of fossil fuels and has commercialised sustainable materials used in plastics, spandex and cosmetics, and is working on plant-based nylon, household cleaners and other products.

Leading polymer company Covestro serves the automotive and transportation industries, construction, furniture and wood processing, as well as electrical, electronics, and household appliances industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry. At the end of 2020, Covestro had 33 production sites worldwide.