The UK-based company has recently updated and retrofitted its first production facility in Little Falls, Minnesota, where it started production of 100% bio-based n-butanol and acetone at the end of last year.
Now the company aims to build on this production capability with the expansion of a number of derivatives that will also help it to increase its naturally-derived offerings to the cosmetics and personal care field.
All about the bio-based derivatives
Cosmetics Design spoke to Dr. Chris Lanci, global manager of business development at Green Biologics, to discuss how the company has jumped from start-up to manufacturer and to find out more about the company’s goals.
“Right now we are working on creating derivatives from our n-butanol and acetone platform that are value-added,” said Dr. Lanci.
“In the cosmetic and personal care market, n-butanol and acetone are commodity solvents and we want to explore what we can do with them to create new and differentiated value-added propositions for our partners, while building on our core foundation of 100% bio based, high purity solvents derived from agricultural sugars.”
The US emerges as the manufacturing hub
The company was founded by Dr. Edward Green in Oxford, England in 2003, and is headed out of Milton Park in Abingdon, England. Green Biologics now has a commercial plant in Little Falls, Minnesota with offices and laboratory facilities in the US and the UK.
The US has emerged as the heart of its manufacturing operations since it merged with Ohio-based Butylfuel in 2012 and then acquired the assets of the Central MN Ethanol Co-Op at the end of 2014, securing a 21 million-gallon-per-year ethanol production facility in Little Falls. In 2015 and 2016, Green Biologics repurposed the ethanol plant to produce n-butanol and acetone, and restarted the plant in late 2016 as Central MN Renewables, LLC.
Along with successfully ramping up production and sales, the focus of the company is on value – diversifying operations into higher-value areas where the company believes it can provide naturally-derived solutions with improved performance attributes to replace less sustainable and lower performing options that are currently on the market.
Collaboration expansion in the US
“At the moment, we are developing some niche butyl esters for personal care applications, and bio-based acetone for nail polish removers which is a big market,” said Dr. Lanci.
“To further expand our offerings and applications, we have partnered with Acme-Hardesty to create BioPure, 100% bio-based high purity n-butyl and isopropyl esters in North America in the US. The company has a huge import capacity for natural acids and oils and has a reputation of being one of the best bio-based suppliers in the market place.”
Dr. Lanci also went on to explain that the partnership has given the company leverage in the butyl and isopropyl esters area, a type of additive that has become less commonly used in cosmetics and personal care formulation because it is generally petrochemical derived.
“We believe that companies who source naturally derived versions of these ingredients from us will see differentiated value in natural products, along with improvements in performance that seem likely based on early assessments, helping to turn the tide and propel new growth opportunities in nature-based cosmetic ingredients,” said Dr. Lanci.
Isopropyl esters take off
While butyl esters have unique characteristics in niche applications, Dr. Lanci points out that it is isopropyl esters that are really taking off.
They are widely used in skin care products, primarily for moisturization and anti-aging applications, and with a large market in the US, estimated at 90,000 tons annually, the company believes there is great potential to develop this area.
“Esters are fairly simple reactions of an alcohol and a reactant, usually an acid or oil, which is often already naturally derived. Using our 100% bio-based BioPure nC3-OL isopropanol, or our BioPure nC4-OL n-butanol, cosmetic formulators will have a 100% natural, bio-based, higher purity ingredient, resulting in a range of different performance enhancements to the petro-based alternative,” said Dr. Lanci.
Looking to the future
Right now, the company is focused on expanding its portfolio during the course of the next year, and will be looking to create a number of unique derivatives from its natural fermentation processes through collaborations and partnerships like their relationship with Acme Hardesty.
“The newest product under development is our bio-based isopropyl myristate (IPM), which will provide a drop-in replacement that is not derived from petroleum. This will save companies who are looking to introduce natural products the added costs of reworking tried and true high performance IPM formulas,” said Dr. Lanci.
“Looking further ahead to this time next year, we should have a far bigger portfolio to show, offering lots of green and natural products that support the huge market demand in the industry.”
Through further collaboration with other ingredient providers, the company is hoping it can eventually help some of the biggest multinational players in their quest to transform formulations that fall very short of natural claims into something very different. Recently, Green Biologics announced a collaboration with Jungbunzlauer to produce bio-based Citrofol citric acid based plasticizers, frequently used in nail lacquers.
“We’re working with partners to supply all the key ingredients to produce an all-natural nail lacquer – from solvents, plasticizers, polymers and even pigments and dyes, rheology modifiers, and UV stabilizers all from 100% natural sources,” Dr. Lanci emphasized.