Elevance: New Face in Veggie Oil


Materia, a catalyst technology company, last week announced the creation of Elevance Renewable Sciences, with more than $40 million in independent financing. Elevance is a new specialty chemical company that uses renewable oils to create commercial-grade waxes, and eventually lubricants and additives.

Led by investments from TPG Star L.P., and TPG Biotechnology Partners II, L.P., Elevance secured more than $40 million in venture capital. It emerged from a collaboration between Pasadena, Calif.-based Materia and Minneapolis-based Cargill that started in 2004 with a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Cargill and Materia will remain involved as commercial partners as well as investors.

Lisle, Ill.-based Elevance develops and commercializes products by applying Materias metathesis technology to low-cost renewable oils such as soy, canola and corn oils. Materia and the laboratories of Robert H. Grubbs of the California Institute of Technology continue to develop the catalyst technology.

Currently, Elevance produces commercial-grade waxes sold under the NatureWax name. According to Elevances Web site, the company operates by tolling its NatureWax manufacturing through Cargill refineries. Other metathesis product options include alpha olefins, acids/esters, epoxides, aldehydes and alcohols, which are alsotoll manufactured.

Elevance said it plans to expand the offerings with functional oils and anti-microbials in the near term, soon to be followed by lubricants, additives and other chemicals. The company aspires to generate more than $1 billion in sales by 2016.

Elevance was founded to create a next-generation specialty chemical company that can leverage multiple feedstocks such as soy, canola and corn, said KLynne Johnson, Elevance chief executive officer. In addition, Elevance has the advantage of four years of process improvement and commercialization experience with tremendous potential for further advancement within the specialty chemicals industry. We believe this transaction further validates the commercial potential of Materias catalyst technology and its value in the global marketplace.

We are currently engaged in discussions with partners across several markets and are very optimistic that we will finalize several relationships, said Andy Shafer, Elevance executive vice president of sales and market development. We have a history of close collaboration beginning with the original grant from the U.S. Department of Energy back in 2004 and culminating with the creation of the company as it stands today. We look forward to expanding our platform into new alliances.

Materia was founded in1998 to commercialize olefin metathesis catalyst technology. According to Elevance, Materias technology allows the carbon atoms in natural oils to swap places, thereby enabling new chemical compounds and manufacturing processes once thought to be impossible. The technology is efficient, stable, and predictable, and is already being applied commercially, the company said. The sophisticated technology enables relatively simple processing using widely available industrial equipment.

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