BASF has produced its first commercial volumes of 1,4-butanediol (BDO) from renewable raw material, and is offering this product to customers for testing and commercial use. The production process relies on a patented fermentation technology from Genomatica, based in California. The fermentation process uses dextrose as a renewable feedstock. The quality of BDO based on renewable raw material is comparable to petrochemical-based BDO. BASF plans to expand its portfolio with selected BDO derivatives based on renewable feedstock, including Polytetrahydrofuran (PolyTHF).
BDO and its derivatives are used for producing plastics, solvents, electronic chemicals and elastic fibers for the packaging, automotive, textile, and sports and leisure industries, among others. The starting materials for the production of conventional BDO are natural gas, butane, butadiene and propylene. BASF currently produces BDO and BDO equivalents at its sites in Ludwigshafen, Germany; Geismar, LA; Chiba, Japan; Kuantan, Malaysia; and Caojing, China. In July BASF announced to increase its global capacities for BDO to 650,000 metric tons and for PolyTHF to 350,000 metric tons within the coming two years.