Calysta, NatureWorks partner to convert methane to lactic acid

18 June 2013 16:32  [Source: ICIS news]

MONTREAL, Canada (ICIS)--US biogas technology firm Calysta Energy announced on Tuesday that it is working with US biopolymer producer NatureWorks to develop a process of fermenting methane into lactic acid building blocks for bioplastics.

Calysta will develop its BioGTC biological gas-to-chemicals platform, using methanotrophic bacteria to convert methane into high-value chemicals such as lactic acid, lactide intermediates and other biopolymers.

Successful implementation of this technology would give NatureWorks feedstock diversification and a structurally simplified and lower cost platform to produce its Ingeo polymers.

Chemicals partnership is a first step in the goal of commercialising the company’s metabolic engineering assets through licensing partnership, said Josh Silverman, Calysta’s chief strategy officer.

“We’re really excited,” he said at the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology conference. “This is our first partnership, and we will be actively seeking additional partnerships to adapt validated pathways on methanotrophic hosts.”

Methane can be generated by plant decomposition, as well as organic waste from waste-water, landfills and anaerobic digestion.

The project will conclude with an evaluation of potential sources of a methane feedstock for commercial-scale production of lactic acid, examining criteria such as purity, availability, price, location to customers, greenhouse gas (GHG) sequestration potential and other environmental and energy impacts.

The companies will share commercialisation rights for select products developed under the exclusive, multi-year agreement.

The World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology conference runs through Wednesday.

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By: Tracy Dang
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