InterviewUS Genomatica drops bio-MEK, focuses on bio-BDO

30 June 2010 23:35  [Source: ICIS news]

By Doris de Guzman

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US bio-chemical company Genomatica stopped its development of sugar-based methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and will pursue bio-butanediol (BDO) instead, a company executive said on Wednesday.

Genomatica started research on bio-MEK in the second half of 2008, when corn ethanol producers were being squeezed.

At the time, Genomatica expected to produce MEK from plants being idled by ethanol producers.

However, by 2009, the economy was weakening, making it difficult to develop such a project, said Dennis McGrew, Genomatica chief business officer. He made his comments in an interview with ICIS on the sidelines of the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotech and Bioprocessing in Washington.

McGrew said Genomatica was still able to show proof of concept for bio-MEK production last year.

Nonetheless, Genomatica would now focus on developing sugar-based BDO as quickly as possible, instead of pursuing two projects simultaneously, he added.

Earlier, the company said it had produced several 3,000-litre batches of BDO, using sugars as feedstock.

The company said it plans to scale-up its bio-BDO production to 30,000 liters in a demonstration plant by 2011. By 2013, it planned to start commercial production with a capacity of about 300,000 liters/year.

McGrew said Genomatica also had 19 other intermediates and base chemicals in the pipeline that it could develop with future partners.

The BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotech and Bioprocessing ends on Wednesday.

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

By: Doris de Guzman
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