Brewing bio-chemicals

Chemicals made from fermenting agriculture-based products are reaching their critical point.

A few days after agribusiness company Cargill and enzymes producer Novozymes announced their plans to develop bio-chemicals such as acrylic acid from fermented sugar-based 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HPA), chemical company DSM and starch derivatives producer Roquette are building a pilot plant for starch-based succinic acid. The chemical is currently produce as a derivative from crude oil and natural gas.

DSM said the demonstration plant will be operational by 2009. Succinic acid is used directly in a variety of industry applications, such as pharmaceuticals, food and automotive and also as an intermediate for the production of several (high-performance) polymers.

According to the consulting firm BCC Research, the global biorefinery market will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 13.0% over the next five years to reach approximately $155.9 billion in 2012. Aside from the growing trend towards more environment-friendly chemicals, cheaper enzymes now made it possible to spur developments of new biochemical products via fermentation.

Keep the non-poisonous green stuff brewing!

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