BIO Day 2 – Succinic acid, enzymes, ethanol

Developments in the bio-succinic acid market was my main highlight for Day 2 at BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing event held in Montreal. But before I delved into that, my attention was caught by Genencor‘s presentation of sustainability in textile manufacturing during the breakfast plenary session (which by the way started at 7:15 am).

According to Gled Nedwin, Genencor’s vice president of technical enzymes, the global textile and garment processing chemicals market in 2007 was estimated at $18bn. Dye chemicals account for $8.7bn while desizing, bleaching/scouring, and finishing account for the rest of the market.

Among these, said, Nedwin, 99% of materials used are chemicals and only 1% are enzymes.

“There is definitely a significant untapped potential for enzymes to replace chemicals in this market,” said Nedwin. “Genencor’s textile strategy is replace chemical processes with sustainable biotech solutions through our PrimaGreen enzyme portfolio.”

The PrimaGreen products, according to Nedwin, can lower processing temperatures, lower water, waste and carbon dioxide emissions, replace harsh chemicals, and decrease water consumption.

Genencor’s Gentle Power Bleach System, developed in collaboration with Huntsman incorporates PrimaGreen EcoWhite enzyme and is the first enzyme system for the bleaching segment. Textile wet processing, which included bleaching, is the most environmentally hazardous production stage within the textile supply chain, said Nedwin.

In denim bleaching, Genencor recently launched its PrimaGreen EcoFade LT100, which, added Nedwin, reducs almost 90% of energy consumption and carbon dioxide production compared to conventional denim bleaching.

In scouring/bleaching processes, Genencor expects its aryl esterase, pectate lyases and catalases enzymes to make inroads while in finishing process, enzymes with big potential include proteases, cellulases and laccases; also laccases in dye processing; and amylases in desizing.

Back to bio-succinic acid, three competitors – Myriant, Bio Amber (through the DNP Green Technology and ARD joint venture), and DSM/Roquette, are gearing up on which one would first commercialize the product. Succinic acid, currently produce via petroleum processing route, is an intermediate chemical with applications ranging from deicers, plastics, resins, solvents and fuel additives.

These companies are expecting to construct large-scale commercialmanufacturing facility for bio-succinic acid around 2011. As I havetons of info on these three presentations, I am separating them foranother post (yes, another teaser I know…).

According to BIO organizers, over 200 attendees packed thebio-succinic acid session room proving that interests in replacingpetroleum-based chemicals are on the rise.

Meanwhile, Day 2 also saw presentations, among many others, from Novozymes(enzyme company), Enerkem (waste-to-fuel green chem company), Qteros(cellulosic ethanol developer), and the University of California SanFrancisco’s Christopher Voigt (developer of cellulosic-based methylhalides).

Novozymes’ sustainability manager Arian Peters talked about thegrowing use of enzymes towards creating a bio-based economy. Petersestimated global worth of enzymes for industrial applications last yearat $2.9bn, and noted that their customers were able to reduced carbondioxide emissions by 28 million tons last year by the use of enzymes.

Enerkem’s Dino Milli, vice president of business development, talkedabout the importance of partnership to successfully commercialize theirwaste-to-biofuel technology. The Canadian-based company is using itsmulti-feedstock thermochemical technology platform to produce ethanol(and soon, chemicals such as methanol, acetic acid and acetates) frombiomass and waste materials.

In January, Enerkem started its 1.3m gal/year commercial demo plant in Westbury, Quebec,producing syngas from used electricity wooden poles. The syngasproduced will soon serve as feedstock for ethanol and methanolproduction.

The company plans to build a commercial 10m gallons/year bio-ethanol facility in Edmonton, Alberta, using sorted municipal solid waste as feedstock. The facility is expected to start in 2010. Enerkem also formedan advanced energy research center with the City of Edmonton and theAlberta Energy Research Institute (AERI), which was announced earlythis month.

Enerkem expects another waste-to-ethanol plant to start-up in 2011, this time in Mississippi, US, with a capacity of 20m gal/year using municipal solid waste and wood residues as feedstock.

Qteros (formerly called Sun Ethanol) talked about its microbialbioprocessing technology called Complete Cellulose Conversion (C3),which employs a novel bacterium from forest soil they called Q microbe.The C3 technology, according to Qteros’ Susan Leschine, eliminates theneed for costly enzymes and simplifies the cellulosic-based ethanolproduction process resulting in significant economic advantages.

Qteros announcedthat day that its Q Microbe was able to achieve outputs of 70 grams ofethanol per liter of fermentation broth (9% ethanol by volume) in asingle-step process on industrially pretreated cellulosic biomassfeedstocks. The threshold for commercial production of cellulosicethanol is said to be 50 grams per liter.

Lastly, Chris Voigt of UCSF talked about their development of biomass-to-methyl halides conversion technology. I wrote an article about it at ICIS Chemical Business.

More highlights on video taken by IAmBiotech.Org:

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