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Elevance Renewable Sciences developing a fire-resistant Biobased Polyol Ester

Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc., based in Woodridge, Ill., U.S.A. is developing a Biobased Polyol Ester (BPE) designed to address the demanding fire-resistant hydraulic fluid market.

According Greg Gerhardt, commercial development manager, Elevance BPE meets Factory Mutual requirements for fire resistance because of its high flash and fire point.

“In addition, unlike many other vegetable-based esters, such as TMP trioleate, Elevance’s BPE has a strong response to anti-oxidant that makes it a very attractive option to formulators of hydraulics and metalworking fluid. Elevance’s preliminary data suggests that our BPE meets or exceeds the cost performance of TMP trioleate in a number of key applications,” he said.

Elevance takes natural vegetable oils and, using metathesis reactions, converts them to three product streams: specialty chemicals, olefins and oleochemicals.

While Elevance products do come from a renewable source, Gerhardt said that the customers’ main priority is not so much sustainability as it is performance.

“So for us, this is the most important criteria,” he said. “Performance, and in particular, high performance, that we feel will be needed over the next three to five to 10 years in the lubricant marketplace.”

Gerhardt also revealed that Elevance is in the process of converting an existing biodiesel facility in Natchez, Miss., U.S.A., into a second world-scale biorefinery and derivatives facility. The Natchez manufacturing facility will have a capacity of 310,000  metric tonnes (MT).

“We plan to bring this capacity online as our customer demand exceeds the capacity of our 180,000 MT biorefinery in Asia,” he said. The Elevance plant in Asia is located in Gresik, Indonesia.

URS Corp., based in San Francisco, Calif., U.S.A., has been chosen to provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for this facility. The plant will produce novel specialty chemicals, including multifunctional esters such as 9-decenoic methyl ester; a unique distribution of bio-based alpha and internal olefins including decene; and a premium mixture of oleochemicals. The target date for completion is 2016.

At the Annual Meeting of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE) in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A., last month, Elevance showcased some of its recently introduced products, including Aria WTP-40, a synthesis of Groups IV and V base stocks, in which linear alpha olefins are co-polymerised with olefinic esters. Gerhardt explained that Aria offers some performance advantages over conventional polyalphaolefins (PAOs) in use today.

Aria WTP-40 is a high-viscosity base stock that can be used in engine and gear lubricants, industrial and hydraulic fluids and greases, he said. Elevance recently announced a partnership with E-360, Inc., in which the latter will provide customer support and service to customers in the U.S. and Europe for Aria WTP-40.

Gerhardt also said that when compared to a blend of PAO and esters, Aria WTP-40 shows several distinctions, in terms of color, brightness and clarity.

“We think that these differences speak directly to the improved additive solvency that you get with Aria WTP40 as compared to PAO-ester blends.”

In terms of additives, Gerhardt said that Aria WTP-40 would likely perform well with commercially available standard packages. However, he said, “we do see that performance could be enhanced, and we see the potential for additional increases in performance, should additive packages be optimized for the Aria WTP-40 technology. So this is a future step that we’ll be taking with other participants in the marketplace.”

Another product, which was released last year, is a grease processing aid called Concert CG-350, used in the manufacture of complex lithium greases. It shortens the batch time by 25-35%, and has a treat rate of 0.5 to 2%. Because of its low melting point, it blends easily into existing formulations, Gerhardt said.

Lubricants are only part of Elevance’s total output; its other two platforms are engineering polymers and customer intermediates and ingredients.