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Joint venture formed for production of bio-based levulinic acid

| By Scott Jenkins

Towell Engineering Group (Muscat, Oman; and GF Biochemicals (Geleen, the Netherlands; announced the formation of a joint venture (JV) for the production and marketing of biochemicals using GF Biochemicals proprietary technology.
The aim of the JV, NXTLEVVEL Biochem (Geleen, the Netherlands; is to build a leading position in bio-solvents and bio-plasticizers based on levulinic acid. Levulinic acid is considered a key bio-based building block enabling a wide portfolio of derivatives.

The GFBiochemicals technology is the first that enables cost effective production of levulinate derivatives at industrial scale. The technology has been developed for more than 10 years and the company has more than 200 global patents to its credit. Combined with the robust pathbreaking technology from GF Biochemicals and Towell Engineering Group’s proven excellence in the field of engineering, construction & project management in addition to their financial strength, NXTLEVVEL Biochem BV is poised to become a global player in the industry.

Levulinate solvents have excellent solvency power. Target markets are industrial cleaning, home and personal care, but also coatings and agriculture. There are strong drivers in these markets to make a shift to bio-based chemicals, for example poor safety of incumbents, customers requiring green, more stringent regulations and the desire to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

After reaching economy of scale, the bio-plasticizer market will also be addressed. Levulinate based plasticizers offer superior performance in biopolymers, like PLA as well as in fast fusers for PVC applications. Aris de Rijke, who joined GFBiochemicals in 2014 after a career at Shell and DSM, will act as Chief Executive Officer of NXTLEVVEL Biochem. Steve Block, former executive of Elevance Renewable Sciences, will be the Vice President of Business Development, Sales & Marketing. Rudy Parton, who has devoted most of his professional life to the development of biomass to levulinic acid and its derivatives technologies, will be the Chief Scientific Officer.

Towell Engineering Group is the flagship business unit of the W.J.Towell group of companies. Towell Engineering is involved in Engineering & Construction business in the sectors of Oil & Gas, Infrastructure, and Power Generation, Industrial projects, Commercial / Residential projects and Steel Fabrication. The group has extensive capabilities in EPC and construction projects, Operation & Maintenance Services, Manufacturing & Fabrication, Electrical Transmission & Distribution projects, and has earned a reputation of a market leader delivering projects on or ahead of schedule.

GF Biochemicals was founded in 2008 by Pasquale Granata and Mathieu Flamini with the aim to develop and commercialize levulinic acid by technology innovation. GFBiochemicals has developed a breakthrough technology to convert lignocellulosic biomass into levulinic acid. After the downstream acquisition of Segetis in 2016, the focus has shifted to bring the derivatives of levulinic acid to the market. GFBiochemicals has a large and global IP-portfolio on levulinic acid and its derivatives. The technology is feedstock flexible and enables cost competitive production. The levulinate bio-solvents are safe and sustainable replacements and offer excellent performance in various applications, such as industrial cleaning, home and personal care, coatings and agro-solvents.