Tsinghua Smart Biotech breaks monopoly of PTT fiber production
The research team, led by Liu Dehua, professor of the Department of Chemical Engineering of Tsinghua University, has broken the long-term technological monopoly of polytrimethylene-tereph-thalate (PTT) fiber raw material production through years of effort.
As one of the most popular new polymer materials in the world, PTT fiber is widely used in daily necessities such as clothing, furnishings, and automotive interiors due to its excellent performance.
According to industry insiders, the key raw material in the production and synthesis of PTT is 1,3-propanediol (PDO). Therefore, the production and industrial application of PDO has become a hot spot in the industry.
Based on the requirements of environmental protection, production of PTT fiber raw materials by biological methods has become an industrial development trend.
The team has come through with solutions to such problems as screening and transformation of PDO production strains and optimization of fermentation processes, and has developed biological production technology with independent intellectual property rights.
According to Liu, the technology has completed a demonstration trial on a thousand-ton scale resulting in products with a purity of more than 99.7 percent. At present his team has signed raw material supply and marketing agreements with many domestic and foreign companies.
At the same time, corporate operations of the PTT industry are developing.
In 2017, Guangdong Tsinghua Smart Biotech Co, a provider dedicated to the R&D, production, sales and technical services of PDO and 2,3-Butanediol, was established. Lau was placed in charge of technology research and development.
To fill overseas orders from South Korea, Japan and Germany, the company is expected to yield 50,000-100,000 tons within five years, and annual sales should reach 1.5 to 3 billion yuan ($233.69 million to 467.38 million).
The bio-based PDO technology uses biomass such as glycerin and starch, which are by-products of renewable clean energy biodiesel. Data show that by this mean energy consumption can be reduced by about 40 percent and greenhouse gas emissions can be cut down by about 20 percent.
Liu noted that bio-based raw materials such as PDO will be gradually adopted in the production of polyester and polyurethane, which is conducive to reducing carbon emissions.