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FREE CONTENT: Partnership to develop bio-based carbon fibre

Solvay and Trillium Renewable Chemicals have signed a letter of intent to develop a supply chain for bio-based acrylonitrile (bio-ACN) for the manufacture of carbon fibre.

ACN is a precursor for carbon fibre and is typically made from petroleum-based feedstocks, such as propylene, before being polymerised into polyacrylonitrile (PAN) and spun. Trillium, of Birmingham, Alabama, USA, has developed methods for the production of ACN from such as xylose, glucose and glycerol harvested from wood-based biomass.

Through the agreement with Solvay, of Brussels, Belgium, Trillium will supply Solvay with bio-ACN from a plant it plans to build, and Solvay will evaluate the bio-ACN for the manufacture of carbon fibre. The aim of the partnership is to produce bio-based carbon fibre for application in industries such as aerospace, automotive, energy and consumer goods.

Trillium was established in April 2021 to commercialise technology developed at the Southern Research Institute, of Birmingham, Alabama, by Amit Goyal and colleagues(1). A Patent protecting the technology was issued in 2017(2).

Trillium says that its process has numerous advantages over conventional approaches for the production of ACN. The production of ACN from propylene emits significant amounts of heat and produces large quantities of hydrogen cyanide. The company claims that its process, by contrast, generates one-third of the heat and no hydrogen cyanide. It adds that, unlike propylene feedstocks, the raw materials that it uses are widely available around the world and their prices are much less volatile. The use of such feedstocks opens-up markets and allows production to be based in locations that are 100% reliant on imports. Finally, the six million tonnes of ACN produced each year from fossil fuels create 12 Mt of greenhouse gas emissions; Trillium claims that the carbon footprint of its process is 75% smaller.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Trillium, Corey Tyree, says: “We are excited to continue our partnership with Solvay, who have supported the bio-ACN process technology development since 2014." 


(1)Funding boost in search for biobased precursors for carbon fibre, https://www.technical-textiles.net/node/52387

(2)US Patent US9708249B1, Compositions and methods related to the production of acrylonitrile; Applicant: Southern Research Institute; Inventors: Amit Goyal and Jadid Samad.


Stephen Heinz, Head of Composites and Adhesives R&I, Solvay.
Email: [email protected]

Dina Morton, Marketing Communications Manager - Transportation, Solvay.
Tel: +44 (1773) 766200.
Email: [email protected]

Corey Tyree, Chief Executive Officer, Trillium Renewable Chemicals.
Tel: +1 (205) 757-5938.
Email: [email protected]