Amyris, Cosan JV to produce renewable base oils in 2012

18 November 2011 18:59  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS)--Brazil-based Novvi, the 50-50 joint venture between US-based Amyris and Brazilian agribusiness Cosan, expects to start commercial production of renewable base oils in 2012, an official from Cosan said on Friday.

The raw material for the base oil will be made from Amyris’s farnesene molecule, trademarked as Biofene. Farnesene is a 15-carbon isoprenoid that the company produces by fermenting sugar.

Cosan did not disclose how much of the renewable base oil will be produced and where it will be produced.

“There is no specific volume yet,” said Nelson Gomes, Cosan’s lubricants and specialties business president, who spoke at the company’s investor day event at the New York Stock Exchange.

“We are planning to produce the first batches for companies who want to test the base oil for producing high end lubricants,” said Gomes.

Novvi will buy the farnesene from different Amyris’ plants, he added.

Amyris currently produces farnesene from contract manufacturers Biomin, based in Brazil, Antibioticos in Spain, and Tate & Lyle in the US, with a total production volume of 600,000 litres/month (158,400 gal/month).

Amyris also expects additional farnesene-based production next year from two joint ventures in Brazil that will have total production of 40m-50m litres/year.

Around 85 litres of ethanol is equivalent to 50 litres of Biofene, according to Amyris’ data.

Cosan expects to scale up production of the renewable base oil in the next 24 to 36 months and establish partnerships with finished lubricants players, said Gomes.

“We are still in the early stages of production. We don’t know yet where this is going but we know for sure that the technology is very promising,” he added.

Cosan expects the renewable base oil application to target the higher-end performance lubricants market, which will command premium pricing.

Base oil is the main raw material in producing lubricants.

By: Doris de Guzman
+1 713 525 2653

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