Johnson Matthey offers a range of high performance catalysts, absorbents and process technologies for the biochemical and advanced biofuel markets

We upgrade bio-based feeds into high purity products for chemicals and fuels
We upgrade bio-based feeds into high purity products for chemicals and fuels

We believe that biorenewable feedstocks offer environmental and sustainability benefits. When coupled with the best available catalyst and process technology they can offer economically attractive routes to higher value chemicals and fuels.

One focus is to take bio-based feeds, essentially sugars and the acids and/or alcohols produced through fermentation or derived from oils and fats, especially where they are derived from non food biorenewable material, and upgrade this material into high purity and added value products for chemical and fuel applications.

We also have a broad range of interests in lignocellulose based routes such as pyrolysis oil upgrading and biosyngas technologies including gas conditioning.


We often work in partnership with biotechnology groups and other organisations worldwide to accelerate the commercialisation of new technology solutions for our customers. We then bring these to market through technology licensing or direct product sales.

We are keen to understand the technical challenges facing biochemical producers and how our expertise can benefit them.

Efficient scale up to pilot and full scale catalyst manufacturing

We frequently convert lab scale catalysts through pilot scale trials to full commercial manufacture, usually using current assets. This includes customer specific programmes where custom catalysts are developed.

Our research activities also focus on new manufacturing techniques that will reduce cost of manufacture, the environmental impact or enable us to introduce a new class of catalysts to the market place.

Proven expertise in development and commercialisation of process technologies

Johnson Matthey has extensive capability, including laboratories, catalyst test rigs and mini process plants, so that we can develop, optimise, validate and continually improve both the catalyst and process technologies.

We combine know-how into full process designs and have extensive and successful experience of scaling up to design and commission commercial scale plants. We place a significant emphasis on managing the risks of commercialisation and have an outstanding record of success in the introduction of novel processes.

Products and technologies

Our commercially available products and technology for biorenewable processes include:

  • Process technology for production of propylene glycol from glycerol.
  • Process technology for the production of natural detergent alcohol.
  • Process technology for the production of ethyl acetate.
  • Process technology and catalysts for the production of bio methanol, bio-SNG and bio Fischer Tropsch liquids.
  • Process technology for biodiesel production from waste oils.
  • Process technology for the production of butanediol from renewable feedstocks (succinic back integration with Myriant).
  • Broad range of base and precious metal catalysts for hydrogenation and hydrodeoxygenation duties.
  • Solid acid and base catalysts for dehydration and esterification applications.
  • Custom catalyst manufacturing service for your biorenewable process.

Research and development

A key competence of Johnson Matthey's research and development is our ability to arrange, control and anchor metals on a nanometre scale. Controlling particle size tunes the activity and selectivity of these products while new shapes can take our products into new applications.

We can rapidly create, screen and test new catalysts and our close links to manufacturing ensure that the products can be cost effectively manufactured at scale in a catalyst form that best matches the requirements of the process

Johnson Matthey has a broad range of research and development interests in biorenewables. Areas of interest include:

  • Gasification.
  • Pyrolysis.
  • Upgrading of lignocellulose feedstocks.
  • Sugars to biochemicals.
  • Fats and oils to biofuels and biochemicals.

Examples of Johnson Matthey developments include:

  • Tar and methane reforming catalysts for biosyngas application.
  • Catalysts for upgrading of pyrolysis oil to products.
  • Catalysts for conversion of triglcerides into hydrocarbons.
  • Catalysts for the selective conversion of sugars to biorenewable chemicals.
  • Catalyst development and characterisation.
  • Process optimisation of catalysts in biorenewable processes.

If you would like to talk to us about our activities or how we can help with your biorenewables projects, visit our Process Technologies website.