Genencor mulls bio-isoprene pilot plant

23 February 2011 04:36  [Source: ICIS news]

PHOENIX, Arizona (ICIS)--Enzymes producer Genencor is considering construction of a bio-based isoprene pilot plant for the eventual production of tyres, a company official said on Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the National Ethanol Conference , Aaron Kelley, senior manager of business development for Genencor, said his company has collaborated with US tyre manufacturer Goodyear on bio-based isoprene production.

“That project is at a stage for siting a pilot facility and the final stages of engineering at the pilot scale,” he said.

“It’s a fermentation process so you have got to do a lot of metabolic engineering to take sugar to isoprene,” he said.

“When isoprene is formed it is a gas at fermentation temperatures…that is really beneficial for purification. It allows you in the future to take cellulosic type things and ferment them where you will not have a difficult separation system,” he added

The collaboration is presently focused on using conventional sugars for fermentation but could look at cellulosic materials as the feedstock in the future, he said.

Greg Bohlmann, director of biochemicals business development for Genencor, said the pilot project could be built next year, but added the future of the project may hinge on the full integration of parent company Danisco and DuPont.

DuPont has extended the tender offer period relating to its acquisition of Danisco to 1 April to leave more time to obtain regulatory approvals and clearances from competition authorities in the EU and China.

If the project moves forward, Danisco would make the investment in the pilot plant and its commercial applications, Bohlmann said.

Genencor, a subsidiary of food ingredients producer Danisco, develops and produces enzymes that can be used to make bio-based chemicals and biofuels.

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By: Brian Ford
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