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December 06, 2006

DuPont Joint Venture Begins Producing Major Chemical from Corn

DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products, LLC, a joint venture of DuPont and Tate & Lyle, began the first commercial shipments in late November of a chemical produced from corn sugar. The joint venture's new $100 million facility in Loudon, Tennessee, is the first in the world to manufacture 1,3-propanediol (PDO) from corn, creating a new biobased product called Bio-PDO. The chemical can be used in a variety of applications, either by itself or as an ingredient in the production of materials that have traditionally been based on petroleum feedstocks. DuPont will use Bio-PDO to produce a polymer called Sorona, which is used to manufacture carpeting, clothing, and other products. Sorona is currently produced from petroleum-based PDO, but DuPont will shift to Bio-PDO in early 2007. Bio-PDO can also be used in personal care and liquid detergent products, as well as in industrial applications such as de-icing fluids, antifreeze, and heat transfer fluids.

The production of Bio-PDO consumes 40 percent less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent versus petroleum-based PDO. Bio-PDO is produced via a proprietary fermentation and purification process that was jointly developed by DuPont and Tate & Lyle, a company with expertise in fermentation technologies. The companies plan to produce 100 million pounds of Bio-PDO per year, saving the energy equivalent of 10 million gallons of gasoline. See the Tate & Lyle press release.

The Bio-PDO process could also play a role in a plan to build an integrated biorefinery that would produce a variety of chemicals and fuels from corn or other biomass sources. DuPont has been working on a joint research agreement with DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) since 2003 with the aim of developing a pilot process for such a biorefinery. See the 2003 press release from NREL.

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