Gevo, Inc. has entered into an agreement with specialty chemical company Clariant Corp. to develop catalysts to enable Gevo’s ethanol-to-olefins (ETO) technology.

ETO is a process using ethanol as a feedstock to produce tailored mixes of propylene, isobutylene, and hydrogen, which are valuable as standalone molecules, or used to make other products such as diesel fuel and commodity plastics.

“We are pleased to be working with Clariant,” said Dr. Patrick Gruber, Chief Executive Officer of Gevo. “They have tremendous capability and know-how to scale-up developmental, customized catalysts to enable commercialization of new, large-scale processes.”

“We see the potential with this technology to address several major opportunities cutting across chemicals, plastics, fuels, and hydrogen.”

The catalyst of the catalyst

Underpinning the ETO technology is Gevo’s invention of proprietary mixed metal oxide catalysts that produce polymer grade propylene or high purity isobutylene, along with hydrogen in high yields in a single processing step from conventional fuel grade specification ethanol.

Clariant has signed on to develop and scale-up the catalyst, which is expected to continue the advancement of the ETO technology, while Gevo focuses the majority of its internal resources on the ongoing optimization of its core isobutanol technology.

“We see the opportunity for Clariant catalysts to convert ethanol, produced from cellulosic or other carbohydrate sources, into more value-added products to create greater growth potential for the ethanol industry,” said Stefan Brejc, Head of Specialty Catalysts Business Segment at Clariant.