Price and market trends: Genomatica sees widespread support for bio-based chemicals

23 August 2013 09:40  [Source: ICB]

Major chemical companies and consumer product firms are committed to the development and use of bio-based chemicals, noted Christophe Schilling, CEO of US-based renewable chemical technology company Genomatica.

"Chemical companies such as DuPont, BASF and DSM are rolling out visible corporate strategies with clear messaging around intent to develop bio-based chemicals. Others that are not as vocal are also clearly interested," said Schilling, who spoke to ICIS on the sidelines of the Jefferies Industrial Conference in New York on 12 August.

"Consumer momentum also continues to grow in areas such as bottles, apparel and packaging," he added.

Genomatica is currently focused on two product platforms - bio-butanediol (bio-BDO) and bio-butadiene (bio-BD), but continues to explore potential in other chemical intermediates, noted Schilling.

"We wanted to first demonstrate our capability to harness the power of biotechnology in these two areas. Next step in our strategy is to leverage these successes together with our platform capabilities to target other basic and intermediate chemicals of interest," he said.

In May, Germany-based BASF agreed to license Genomatica's technology to build a bio-based BDO plant with a capacity of around 50,000 tonnes/year at a site yet to be determined.

Genomatica also has an agreement with Italy-based Novamont to retrofit a plant in Italy to produce bio-BDO. The plant will have a capacity of 20,000 tonnes/year.

In recent months, Genomatica has also made announcements with Japan-based Toray, Germany-based LANXESS and Taiwan-based Far Eastern New Century demonstrating the use of its bio-BDO for use in polymer resins and fibre applications.

In bio-BD, Genomatica has a venture with Italy-based Versalis to jointly develop and license bio-BD technology.

On the chemical sector side, the global shift towards using lighter or gas-based feedstock for petrochemical production also benefits certain product areas such as C4s for butadiene, noted Schilling.

"We're developing technology to meet a projected long-term shortage in butadiene and C4 products," he said.

"The fundamentals of a C4 shortage due to the shift to lighter feeds and the lack of sufficient technology and plans for on-purpose BD plants to make up for the shortage remain key drivers that are intact despite near term pricing dynamics," he added.

By: Joseph Chang
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