Rivertop Renewables to Expand Green Chemical Labs & Build Semi-Works
$3.5 million grant will accelerate commercialization of renewable chemical technology spun out of University of Montana
(April 8, 2011) MISSOULA, Mont. -- Rivertop Renewables (www.rivertop.com) today announced plans to expand its existing laboratories and build a semi-works facility for the production of renewable chemicals at its headquarters in Missoula. The capital improvement project, which will allow for the addition of more than 25 full-time jobs and create more than 20 construction-related jobs, will help accelerate commercialization of the company’s new green chemicals. The project is made possible today’s announcement of a $3.5 million grant awarded to the Montana Technology Enterprise Center (MonTEC), comprised of a $1.75 million expansion grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and a matching $1.75 million from the University of Montana (UM). Rivertop itself will contribute an additional $2.5 million in private capital to equip the labs and semi-works at the MonTEC facility.
“This grant allows us to begin manufacturing glucaric acid at greater scale, speeding our path to commercial production of detergent components that clean dishes and protect water quality,” said Jere Kolstad, President and CFO of Rivertop.
Rivertop’s planned facility is a “semi-works” designed for ongoing research and development. As the last step prior to commercialization, semi-works production will allow the company to fully engineer and determine the costs of its process at scale. Rivertop will first pilot the production of glucaric acid, a chemical at the headwaters of the renewable chemical industry. Pilot production of other sugar acids will follow, as will scaling of polymer technology that utilizes glucaric and the other sugar acids.
The semi-works facility will be capable of producing up to 100,000 pounds of product annually and will generate the engineering model necessary to build a future multi-million-pound commercial facility.
“Expanding our facility allows us to build a global chemical company right here in Missoula,” said Kolstad. “Montana’s educated workforce and unparalleled quality of life give our state an edge that is sharpened by this sort of strong support from the EDA and the University of Montana.”
The Rivertop-MonTEC project was selected by the EDA because of its immediate and direct impact on the local economy, the opportunity to stimulate further economic growth in the region, and the strong support by the university and local area economic development partners. One of those partners was the BitterRoot Economic Development District – a local agency who assisted in the plan development and collaboration between private and public sectors.
MonTEC is a technology and business incubator formed through a collaborative effort between the University of Montana and the Missoula Area Economic Development Foundation. MonTEC aims to bolster Missoula-area start-ups and to encourage the commercialization of UM research. Rivertop’s renewable chemical technology originated in the UM lab of company founder Dr. Don Kiely, who – after more than 30 years of research – spun the company out of the university with guidance from UM’s Office of Research.
“Rivertop is a great example of how the university’s research enterprise can impact our local economy,” said Joe Fanguy, Director of Technology Transfer at the University of Montana. “With this grant, Rivertop not only moves their renewable chemicals more quickly to market, but also grows their employee base here in Missoula. We will continue to foster these types of technology partnerships between the university and the private sector through MonTEC.”
Rivertop has developed a breakthrough technology to produce renewable chemicals in a scalable and cost-effective manner. The company’s first product is glucaric acid, which has been recognized by the Department of Energy (DOE) as one of the top 12 chemicals of the future made from renewable sources. Rivertop initially plans to use its glucaric acid as an effective and cost-competitive replacement for phosphates in the multi-billion-dollar global detergent market. Other near term market opportunities for glucaric acid include use in corrosion inhibitors to protect infrastructure and advanced biodegradable polymers.
To read the congratulatory press release issued by U.S. Senator Max Baucus, please visit Baucus Applauds Breakthrough for Montana Jobs, Sustainable Technology.
About Rivertop Renewables
Based in Missoula, Mont., Rivertop Renewables is innovating a new category of science – Progressive Chemistry. Merging proven science with renewable resources, Rivertop Renewables is creating an abundant and economical supply of sustainable, biodegradable chemicals and bioproducts derived from renewable plant sugars. In 2009, Rivertop was a national finalist in the Cleantech Open, the nation’s premier business plan competition for clean tech startups. More information is available at www.rivertop.com.