Industrial biotech interests surge

In honor of next week’s BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotech and Bioprocessing event in Montreal, ICIS Chemical Business (the company I work for) published last week its white biotechnology feature with articles about synthetic biology, bioplastic, overview on white biotechnology, Germany’s biotech plans, the surge in biorefinery investments in the US, and researchers from California San Francisco University developing methyl halides from biomass.

The magazine also featured the chemical industry sustainability survey by ICIS/Genomatica which I posted last week in the blog.

More about green chemistry/industrial biotechnology news and updates next week as I cover the BIO event (via tweets and blog) so stay tune!

1. Germany gears up for biotech future - a consultant from Euro Swiss Research reported the recent launch of the Chemical and Biotechnological Process Centre (CBP) in German chemical site Infraleuna, which offers access to non-food-chain renewable feedstocks such as straw, wood, starch, oilseeds and algae and respective transformation processes to existing, on-site refinery and chemical companies, as well as third-party off-site companies, R&D institutions, universities and others.

The CBP offers significant time, investment, and cost savings compared with a stand-alone pilot plant since it is a readily available, subsidized, fully equipped facility.

2. US biotech optimistic on gov’t funding - The US industrial biotech industry will tap significant funding from the Obama administration for biorefineries and biochemical plants. The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently expanded its grants for integrated biorefineries from $200m (€144m) to $460m, as part of the government’s massive stimulus package.

3. Synthetic biology could transform chemical manufacturing - Biologists have amassed an increasingly sophisticated set of tools for harnessing the productive capacities of living organisms through genetic engineering, and they have begun to use a new term to describe their activities: synthetic biology.

4. Bioplastic demand expands despite recession - Development and marketing are surging as bioplastics categories expand to meet a worldwide demand that is growing exponentially. The global bioplastics market is growing at 20-30%/year, and will jump from 400m lb in 2006, to 10bn lb by 2015, according to a consultancy.

5. White biotechnology starting to fulfill its potential - White Biotechnology has been touted as the next big thing for years but has never quite lived up to its billing as an alternative to key chemical processes. Thanks to increased consumer awareness and demand for all things green, coupled with advances in technology and political support, its potential is now starting to be realized.

6. Californian researchers develop biomass-based methyl halides - Using the microbial strain Actinolea fermentans, combined with genetically modified yeast, researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry were able to produce methyl halides from biomass such as unprocessed switchgrass, corn stover, sugar cane bagasse and poplar.

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4 Responses to Industrial biotech interests surge

  1. Max 27 July, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    ASTM 6400 is a standard which was designed by and for the PLA industry. Members of the ASTM 6400 committee were part of the original design team that developed PLA. ASTM 6400 is a standard for determining how fast PLA will compost in a commercial composting facility. Consumers and government officials are being misled into thinking that because PLA is meeting ASTM 6400 we will eliminate plastic waste and pollution. The actual disposal of PLA is problematic, most PLA is and will continue to end up in a landfill and PLA doesn’t biodegrade in a landfill.
    Per ASTM 6400 the proper way to dispose of PLA is through commercial composting and here in the U.S. commercial composting facilities are far and few between.
    ASTM 6400 is a standard written not to help the environment or protect the public, but rather, ASTM 6400 is a standard to restrict competition and innovation. ASTM 6400 is an attempt to force PLA on consumers by squeezing out other plastic innovations.
    The bottom line is that consumers and politicians are being misled. PLA may have its niche uses but if it is produced in the quantities of other plastics we will see; (1) An increase in green house gases, (2) A further reduction in available food crops, (3) Increasing negative impact from the genetically altered crops that are used to make PLA, (4) Increased use of pesticides, (5) Plastics accumulating in our landfills that will not biodegrade (PLA doesn’t biodegrade in a landfill environment), (6) Without proper consumer education, an increase in plastic litter (Consumers may think that because the product is considered compostable that PLA can be tossed with abandon).
    New, environmentally friendly plastics are being developed which can help our environment. As new plastics come to market, each should have their own appropriate ASTM standards and certifications. The actual impact that a product has on the environment should be easily understood by consumers. Plastic should be labeled as biodegradable, compostable or degradable and certified by independent organizations which are outside industry influence.


  2. Gate biotechnology 17 September, 2009 at 12:07 am #

    Your posted was well informative, that every person who read or see this will get knowledge
    about you posted. you made a great job for this and thank you for sharing your taughts
    on us..More power!

  3. Gate Biotechnology 3 March, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    well there is so much hype & hoopla around biotechnology in India also .. But there is dearth of good institutes … your article gave good insight ..

  4. nanotech 23 March, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    posting here is great!

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