The Illinois-based company has secured a $2.5m grant from the US Department of Energy to fund the test biorefinery which will use renewable oils to create specialty chemicals and biofuels.
Elevance already has a partnership in place with Dow Corning to market wax-like products to the cosmetics industry; however, this new facility will develop ingredients that can be used as building blocks for surfactants, antimicrobials and other personal care and cosmetics ingredients, explained executive vice president for sales and market development Andy Shafer.
Products will include olefins, triglycerides with modified fatty acids, saturated and unsaturated esters, and glycerine, all of which have many uses in the cosmetics world, according to the company.
Unlike the wax-like products created with Dow Corning which involve connecting the units of renewable oil into larger molecules and do not depend on the biorefinery, the new plant will shorten the molecules and create lighter products that can be used as building blocks.
The biorefinery will produce ingredients for both the market and consumer testing, Shafer told CosmeticsDesign.com.
Demo-scale to develop technology
At demonstration scale rather than a commercial venture, the plant, which will be constructed in Iowa, will help the company to integrate a number of processes that were developed on the small laboratory scale.
In addition, it will help test out new possible feedstocks such as soy, palm oil, canola and camelina, along with emerging potential materials such as jatropha and algae.
“Variations in these feedstocks occur naturally and these variations create variability in the process and potentially the quality of the products we produce. By understanding the variations in the feedstocks, Elevance can operate our processes more effectively and produce higher quality products,” Shafer added.
Furthermore, the demonstration scale biorefinery will help the company explore the potential for recycling streams within the system to ensure processes are occurring efficiently, effectively and with the smallest possible cost and environmental footprint.