InterviewBio-isoprene demand may hit 5m t/yr

10 October 2008 23:33  [Source: ICIS news]

By Doris de Guzman

NEW YORK (ICIS news)--New applications could increase the market for biotechnology-based isoprene to over 11bn lbs/year (5m tonnes/year) if a highly efficient and cost-effective process can be developed, a senior executive at Danish firm Genencor said on Friday.

“When we look at the market today, the global market for high-purity isoprene is around 1.7bn lb/year,” said Richard LaDuca, senior director of business development at Genencor.

“We believe that, by the time we get to the end of our development efforts, we will have a process that is lower-cost, based upon our belief on how efficient we can make our micro-organisms to convert the renewable-based feedstock into bio-isoprene,” he added.

Industrial biotech company Genencor and US tyre manufacturer Goodyear are collaborating on the processing development of their BioIsoprene product, which, the companies said, has the potential to cost-effectively replace petroleum-based rubber and styrene-based elastomers.

Genencor’s parent company, Denmark-based Danisco, will invest $50m (€37m) over the next three years to scale up the process and make it more efficient. Using renewable feedstock, such as sucrose, and fermentation technology, the first commercial sales are expected in 2012, LaDuca said.

“What we have agreed to is that Genencor will control the manufacturing aspect, and we will have exclusive manufacturing rights worldwide,” LaDuca said. “We will be supplying Goodyear through a long-term supply agreement that will be developed between partners.”

LaDuca added that Genencor expects to market the product to the rest of the world as capacity is developed.

“What we are planning to do is put in manufacturing capacity to serve customers that we see on the near-term horizon and then continue to expand capacity to meet their needs and objectives,” LaDuca said.

Genencor has not yet determined how much capacity will be developed and when and where it will be built, he said

“Those are still elements of our project that we are working on,” LaDuca said.

($1 = €0.73)

Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives in Green Chemistry

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