InterviewDutch DSM aims to make bio-adipic acid in five years

29 September 2011 21:51  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS)--Netherlands-based chemical and life sciences firm DSM aims to achieve commercial production of bio-based adipic acid with partners in five years, a company executive said on Thursday.

“We are talking to a number of companies along the adipic acid value chain – from feedstock, biorefinery players and people that are producing and consuming petroleum-based adipic acid,” said James Iademarco, DSM business director for bio-based chemicals and fuels, in an interview with ICIS.

“We see a partnership strategy that spans several places along the value chain for our bio-based adipic acid,” he added.

The bio-adipic acid project became a fully resourced programme within DSM last year. It has progressed beyond the feasibility stage and has now entering the development phase, Iademarco said.

US-based start-up chemical firms such as Verdezyne, Rennovia and BioAmber are known to be working on the development of bio-based adipic acid. DSM said it does not have formal collaborations with any of these companies.

However, DSM made a strategic investment in Verdezyne in May 2011. The company said it is interested mostly in Verdezyne’s C5 and C6 sugar platform technology.

“Its sugar platform has a nice link to our bioconversion technology for our second generation biofuels portfolio,” said Iademarco.

“We found it interesting that it also has fermentation routes to adipic acid that could be promising, but we don’t have any formal collaboration with Verdezyne on this product,” he added.

DSM expects to see commercial bio-adipic acid plant capacity within the scale of 100,000-150,000 tonnes/year.

“We believe we could be at the commercial stage with that kind of scale around five years or more from now,” Iademarco said.

“It will depend on a lot of factors such as if we need to build a demonstration plant or if we could possibly retrofit an existing asset,” he added.

He cited Europe, North America and Asia as having a greater market opportunity in terms of bio-based adipic acid demand. Brazil was noted as a potential source of sustainable feedstock.

DSM estimates the global adipic acid market at $5bn (€3.7bn) with a growth rate of 3%/year. Around 60% of the global market is consumed for polyamide 6,6 production, said Iademarco.

Adipic acid is currently produced by using cyclohexane feedstock. The industry has been searching for a new process technology that could lessen its carbon footprint, he said.

“This is a large drop-in market where we felt we have multiple routes available that not only can provide cost-advantage in some key areas but can also significantly improve adipic acid’s carbon footprint. Adipic acid is also a nice strategic fit in some of our internal business groups that purchase adipic acid,” said Iademarco.

DSM currently uses adipic acid in some of its engineering plastics and a variety of resins.

($1 = €0.74)

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By: Doris de Guzman
+1 713 525 2653



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