Innovation in the bio-based material sector continues to make ground. Amongst latest news is the decision by Netherlands-based major DSM to proceed with a 10,000 tonne/year commercial-scale facility for bio-succinic acid in collaboration with France's Roquette Freres. The plant, using yeast fermentation of crop-based materials, will be built on Roquette's site in Cassano Spinola in Italy, and be onstream in the second half of 2012.
Succinic acid is a chemical building block that can be used in the manufacture of polymers, resins, food and pharmaceuticals, says DSM, and provides an alternative to fossil-fuel based intermediates such as adipic acid and 1,4-butanediol. The two partners already have a demonstration plant running flat out in Lestrem in France and intend to create a joint venture company, Reverdia, to carry out business together.
Succinic acid can be used in packaging to footwear
Rob van Leen, chief innovation officer of DSM, commented: "The time is right to capitalize on the tremendous progress we have made together with Roquette in the last two years. Our proprietary yeast-based fermentation process not only allows cost effective production; it also eliminates salt waste and other by-products and thus improves the overall eco-footprint of end-products. This bio-based chemical building block is a substitute for various fossil feedstock derived monomers and proves that the bio-based economy is no longer a distant prospect."
And at an event in North America, DSM CEO Feike Sijbesma commented: "The so-called fossil-age will make a shift to the bio-based-economy. In two or three centuries from now, people will look back on our civilization as a merely brief moment in history where we in a period of just about 250 years shifted our total economy to coal, oil and gas. To make the shift back to living with, and especially off, nature, we need to start this shift now. We are at a turning point towards a next green industrial revolution to secure our feed and fuel needs in the future."
Sijbesma was receiving the prestigious George Washington Carver Award for Innovation in Industrial Biotechnology in recognition of his outstanding contribution and vision to the development and innovation in industrial biotechnology. He delivered a keynote address during a plenary session of the 2011 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bio-processing in Toronto, Canada.