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Relement bv was founded in Bergen op Zoom in the quiet of summer this year: the first company to focus on the commercial production and marketing of bio-aromatics developed under the Biorizon programme. Relement was founded by and is a spin-off of TNO, the developer of this specific bio-aromatics technology within the Biorizon programme.

The company’s name references the ‘Renewable Element’. This way it emphasises the biobased origin of the aromatics. ‘For the first time it is now possible to manufacture biobased alkyd resins (paint, red). This was not previously possible. Aromatics were the missing link,’ says Roger Blokland, Founder and Managing Director of Relement.

Better properties

Moreover, Relement is not focusing on bulk chemistry, but specifically on speciality bio-aromatics responsible for a special function within the end product. ‘In many cases they are able to create better properties than is otherwise possible with petrochemical aromatics. The fact that they are biobased is a bonus for our customers. This is a far better proposition than if they were only better for the planet.’

Aromatics are indispensable in, for example, paint or lubricants. Due to their rigid chemical structure, they provide for hardness, gloss or UV stability. In lubricants they are used as a liquid base to stabilise lubricants and make them more resistant to higher temperatures.

‘This provides for various benefits. It means that a lubricant or coating has a much longer service life, as a result of which you need less and achieve sustainability in various ways, not only through the product’s greener formulation, but also by reducing consumption.’

Excellent choice

‘Furthermore, this involves the application of products that are difficult to recycle. This is the common denominator of all of our end products: because they are not very easy to recycle, the only option to make them sustainable is to look at their ingredients and properties. This makes biobased an excellent choice.’

In any event, the market in which Relement will be operating is big enough. ‘In comparison to bulk chemistry, the market for speciality aromatics is relatively small, but the added value is high and the global market size nevertheless is a respectable €2.5 billion. It is therefore a very interesting segment in which to introduce speciality biobased chemistry.’

Up until now only samples on a kilogram scale have been supplied to a number of important customers. They have been received with enthusiasm. ‘These kilogram-sized samples have been available for some time now due to the Biorizon programme. This provides Relement with an excellent base. The initial results are very promising.’

The next step is to bring the products to market in a strategic relationship with a toll manufacturer. ‘As soon as we achieve commercial sales, we will continue by designing a commercial plant. Our ultimate dream is to be able to construct a number of commercial plants for our speciality aromatics.’

This article was created in cooperation with Circular Biobased Delta.

Image above: TNO