Nature inspires Naugatuck company

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NAUGATUCK — P2 Science, a Naugatuck company, has found an environmentally friendly way to produce ingredients for scented products.

When P2 began commercial production this week, it became the first company in the world to industrialize the naturally-occurring process of ozonolysis.

“Pine forests, especially during the summer, have a haze above them, and that haze is a result of ozone in the atmosphere reacting with the pine chemicals that evaporate off of the forest,” said Neil Burns, president of P2 Science. “What we’ve done is industrialized that.”

P2, the brain child of Yale professor Paul Anastas and his student Patrick Foley has patented a method of having vegetable oil and other renewable feedstocks with ozone-enriched air to turn interact them into specialty chemicals used in flavor, fragrance and cosmetic ingredients. Burns said the primary fragrances the company deals in are musk and lily of the valley.

At the heart of the process is a 40-foot reactor — housed in a custom-built, standalone building behind the main facility — that receives the vegetable oil in liquid form and drops it down the length of the reactor as it’s exposed to the ozone gas. The intermediate product is then pumped back into the main building, where it is treated through a finishing process.

“Deceptively simple, but the first of its type in the world,” Burns said.

Ed Ogle, operations manager, said the 27,000-square-foot plant in the former Hospital Marketing Services building at 162 Great Hill Road is a zero-emissions facility because the excess ozone and carbon molecules are burned off later in the reaction process at 750 degrees.

P2 Science, which was founded in 2011 and opened a lab and offices in Woodbridge in 2015, received a 10-year, $1.2 million loan from the State Bond Commission at 2 percent interest in 2017 to equip the facility. The loan terms are conditional on P2 retaining four existing jobs and adding 25 by the end of 2019.

Burns said the Naugatuck site is ideal because it’s in an industrial park and has space in which the company can move its labs and offices eventually. The Naugatuck facility has a staff of five, and the Woodbridge offices employ 10. Burns said the company will add new employees as production increases.

“The first thing is to get the plant up and running and producing,” Burns said.