03 March 2008 16:27 [Source: ICIS news]
By Andy Brice
LONDON (ICIS news)--At least 20-25% of chemicals produced could be made more cost effectively using biotechnology, said Volkert Claassen of Netherlands-based producer DSM.
Currently less than 5% of chemicals are bio-based but there is room for significant growth, added Claasen, vice-president of the firm's white biotechnology sector.
“We see a number of chemical products in our portfolio that could probably be made more cost-effectively through biotechnology,” said Claassen.
“We see it as a competitive advantage to have these capabilities, and to be able to switch from chemical to biotech processes.”
In 2005, DSM identified white (industrial-use) biotechnology among four emerging business areas with significant growth potential through to 2015. The others are personalised nutrition, specialty packaging and biomedical materials.
To achieve this, the company is raising its investment in innovation from €30m ($46m) in 2005 to €70m by 2010.
DSM is concentrating on second-generation biofuels made from non-food feedstocks, helping to allay some of the fears aired about biodiversity and land use.
Although these concerns may be relevant further down the line as the market grows, he said that technologies are likely to see a significant improvement in efficiency so any detrimental effects should be minimal.
“This is really a tremendous opportunity but it will take time; the development on a commercial scale of cellulosic conversion may well take another five years to be fully implemented and be cost-effective,” he said.
“In the longer term I think there will be huge benefits. When you look at a country like ?xml:namespace>
For more on DSM’s plans for white biotechnology see the 17 March issue of ICIS Chemical Business
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