APLA '11: Amyris-Nikko deal opens markets for renewable chems

08 November 2011 03:39  [Source: ICIS news]

BUENOS AIRES (ICIS)--The recent deal by US-based renewable chemicals producer Amyris to supply Nikko Chemicals with squalane is a development that could illustrate how the industry can create lower-cost processes to produce scarce chemicals, a company executive said on Monday.

Under the deal, Amyris will supply hundreds of tonnes of squalane to Nikko Chemicals for distribution in the Japanese market.

Squalane is an emollient and moisturiser which is sourced mainly from shark livers, said Mario Portela, Amyris’s COO.

Portela was speaking on the sidelines of the 31st Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA) annual meeting in Buenos Aires.

Demand for squalane is threatening shark populations, leading customers to find other sources for the material, Portela said.

Squalane is a C30 molecule and Amyris can use farnesene, a C15 molecule, to make squalane, he said. Amyris produces farnesene, in turn, by feeding sugar to yeast.

Molecules such as squalane point to new markets for renewable companies such as Amyris.

By using yeasts and other micro-organisms, companies can produce new building blocks for scarce or expensive chemicals out of readily available sugars, Portela said. 

Already, many companies are targeting renewable succinic acid which is used in a lower cost method of producing butanediol (BDO).

BDO is an intermediate for polytetramethylene ether glycol (PTMEG), tetrahydrofuran (THF) and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), according to ICIS chemical intelligence.

The APLA meeting ends on Tuesday.

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

By: Al Greenwood
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