L’Oréal backs bio energy project to produce isobutene

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

L’Oréal backs bio energy project to produce isobutene
As part of its efforts to reduce the company’s overall carbon footprint, L’Oréal has given its backing to a programme focused on developing the first bio-isobutene plant.

L’Oréal has signed up for a joint venture with Global Bioenergies, Cristal Union and IBN-One for a 44-month industrial and commercial project that aims to bring the facility online.

Isobutene, which is a colourless and odourless gas normally derived from petroleum and natural gas, is used is most commonly used by the cosmetics industry as a replacement for CFCs in aerosol hairsprays and some deodorants.

Isobutene is found in shaving cream and hairspray

It is also a foaming agent, so it can appear in any product that foams, including hair mousses and shaving creams, while it is also used as a platform molecule to product other materials such as gasoline and rubber.

But because the conventional way of producing the 15 million tons of isobutene that are produced globally every year relies on fossil resources, the quest to find a more sustainable and eco-friendly means of producing has become pressing.

Indeed, this is why Global Bioenergies has been working hard to develop a process to produce isobutene from renewable resources that include sugar, as well as agricultural and industrial waste.

A new phase for the facility's development

The combined efforts of the joint venture led to €9m in funding for the Investissments d’Avenir programme, as part of the Demonstrators for the Environmental and Energy Transition section, operated by ADEME, with the chief beneficiary expected to be Global Bioenergies.

“We would like to thank the French state, who has supported us ever since the Isobutene programme was launched,” ​said Frédéric Pâques, chief operations officer of Global Bioenergies.

“The process is now entering a new phase of development: step by step, we are leading up to our targeted performance, and we are getting ready to run the process in our demo plant, whose construction in Germany will be completed within the next few months.”

L'Oreal's involvement in the facility's development

L’Oréal has traditionally worked in conjunction with IBN-One - a joint 50/50 venture between Global Bioenergies and beet processor Cristal Union. And IBN-One is charged with the mission of building the first bio-isobutene manufacturing facility on one of Cristal Union’s sites in France.

According to the agreement, L’Oréal will test batches of compounds derived from bio-sourced isobutene, with a view to becoming an IBN-One client once the plant operational.

 “Isobutene is a molecule whose derivatives are widely used in cosmetics. Accessing sustainable, bio-sourced products is in line with our commitments towards protecting the environment,” ​said Laurent Gilbert, Sustainable Innovation Director at L'Oreal.

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