Origins of Supercritical Hydrolysis

A 2013 industry study, chartered by Alberta Innovates - Energy & Environment Solutions’: "Identification of Opportunities for the Production of Bio-Products from Waste Bio-Mass in Alberta" presents the merits of Renmatix’s supercritical hydrolysis Plantrose Process in comparison with several other technologies.

Using supercritical water with residence times in single digit seconds, Renmatix has demonstrated its ability to deconstruct cellulose and extract five (xylose) and six (glucose) carbon sugars, and lignin streams in its two-stage Plantrose Process. These short residence times enable the use of a small reactor, which lends the process to capital efficient production facilities and enables various plant sizes that can be tailored to feedstock type and availability. Through this process, Renmatix is able to convert biomass into cellulosic sugars at competitive prices with corn sugar and sugar cane, and in addition generate a unique lignin as a co-product.

(Note: Renmatix’s current sugar economics do not factor in a price for lignin beyond burn value.)

Starting with cellulosic sugar: 

Our unique supercritical hydrolysis route to cellulosic sugar first received strong interest from commercial partners due to its highly competitive sugar economics.

Unlike acid, solvent, or enzyme based technologies (and hybrids thereof), the Renmatix process does not require costly consumables (catalysts, enzymes) or elaborate recovery systems (for solvents, acids, or both), which leads to lower OPEX and lower CAPEX than these earlier technologies.

The historical processes, while usually capable of conducting hydrolysis, economically suffered from different issues. Acidic conditions requiring high alloy construction, large recovery systems for acid catalysts and solvents, expensive pretreatments to minimize expensive enzyme addition, and multi-day reactors requiring sterility all contribute to cost and scale-up risks. The Renmatix system is a paradigm shift in technology.

Plantrose reactions take place with heat and water, and due to the very fast reactions, the reactors are very small. The small size and design significantly reduce scale-up risk, the use of water as the reactive media simplifies recovery, and state-of-the-art heat recovery engineering has created a process with breakthrough economics.

What is the impact of affordable bio building blocks?

Our Plantrose Process enabled the economical production of plant based products, chemicals, and fuels. Biochemicals made from our building blocks have a different starting point, but can be refined or fermented to reach the same chemical endpoint. Our customers' new refineries are fed with plant material that grows back year after year, instead of consuming material that only comes out of the ground once. Plantrose technology enables affordable renewable materials as alternatives to petroleum-derived chemicals and fuels.

In the real world of business and economics, the biobased industry requires access to high volume, low cost sugars. Conventional technologies that have been used to extract these second generation sugars, from cellulose, are typically more expensive than first generation sugars, like corn and cane. Renmatix developed the Plantrose Process to deconstruct biomass and produce cost-advantaged cellulosic sugars and novel polymers. These are the building blocks of biochemicals and advanced biofuels. They can be supplied without consuming food or relying on fossil feedstocks.

Access to these low cost sugars creates a compounding domino effect up and down the supply chain, enabling the broad scale-up of biochemical, cellulosic ethanol and second generation biofuel markets worldwide. By utilizing the Plantrose® Process, our partners are diverging from an era of relying solely on oil-based chemistry to one reinvented as sugar-based, via modern technology. The economic breakthrough encompassed by this new process means a lower cost starting point for bioproducts enabling them to cost-effectively compete with conventional petro alternatives.

Specializing in the in between: Intermediate Outputs

Renmatix bio building blocks are the starting point for an entire ecosystem of biobased products. Although consumers don't have the chance to see or touch our outputs (sugars, lignin, and SC3) – the finished goods of the bioeconomy cannot be created without them. Plantrose is the enabling technology that makes the economic substitution of sustainable ingredients possible.

Click to zoom
Demand for bioproducts continues to rise. Imagine our consumer goods came from plants – not petroleum: this graphic illustrates a representative example of products that can be derived from bio building blocks.