Breakthrough in sugar chemicals

Another eureka moment in the world of green chemistry is Genomatica‘s development of sugar-based 1,4 butanediol (BDO), a key feedstock in the manufacturing of hundreds of industrial chemicals for making plastics, rubber and fiber products.

The privately-held company, which has the backing of several Silicon Valley venture capital firms, said it was able to create strains of bacteria that has the potential to produce BDO via fermentation in a global-scale manufacturing plant in less than one year. Genomatica said it first produced sugar-based BDO in February this year, and is currently scaling its manufacturing output to meet the demands of large bioreactors.

The company expects that within a year its BDO process will cost less than the petrochemical-based processes even if oil prices drop to $50 per barrel. With that estimate, many chemical intermediate producers will definitely line up for this green material.

I guess Genomatica will now be included in my list of hot “Green Chemistry companies” to watch.

For other new sugar-based chemicals discovery, you can read my blog about succinic acid made from starch being developed by DSM and Roquette; a bio-based 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HPA) being developed by Cargill and Novozymes; and Solvay’s ethylene made from sugar cane-based ethanol.

The technology company Virent Energy Systems also just released its white paper about the company’s BioForming technology, which enables conversion of biomass-based sugars into hydrocarbons that can be used as feedstock of conventional gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and chemicals.
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