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Plant-based plastic bottles & biogasoline, the Virent way


Imagine the world’s endless supply and consumption of plastic water and soda bottles. Now imagine that they are produced from corn and other plant feedstocks. That’s huge, and it’s also the thought that came to my mind as Virent, Madison, WI, announced this week that it has successfully made Paraxylene (PX) from renewable plant sugars.


Virent reports that the PX molecule, when combined with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) technology, will allow consumer product manufacturers to offer 100 percent renewable, plant-based PET and packaging. This packaging could be made without crude oil, said Virent’s CEO Lee Edwards. What’s more, PX can be used in existing infrastructure.


Virent reported that it is working with potential partners and customers “to explore large-scale commercial options to augment its existing 10,000-gallon-per-year demonstration plant.”


This announcement came on the heels of Virent’s other announcement this month about being able to produce biogasoline from corn stover and pine harvest forest residuals. “Producing gasoline from cellulosics is an important milestone for our company, and for the biofuels industry overall,” said Randy Cortright, founder and CTO, Virent. “We anticipate further development in our production of drop-in fuels and chemicals from biomass, giving our nation long-awaited access to a wider range of feedstock choices.”


Virent’s technology is supported by investors, including Cargill, Shell and Honda. The company also has received several grants from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Energy and Agriculture. Visit


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