There were tons of green chemistry and biofuel announcements since last week and as what I’ve mentioned before, development activities in the green chemistry field seem to be increasing fast. I’ll put a separate post for biofuels as there are big news as well in this area especially for biodiesel.
In the green chemistry sector, OPX Biotechnologies announced last week that they were now able to reduce their bio-acrylic production cost by 85% toward their commercial target of 50 cents/pound using their proprietary EDGE (Efficiency Directed Genome Engineering) technology. OPXBIO says that the global petroleum-based acrylic market is estimated at $8 billion today.
The company is currently constructing a pilot scale bioacrylic process which will be completed this year. A demonstration facility is expected in 2011 while a commercial plant will hopefully come onstream in 2013. OPXBio already retained Merrick & Company to design the demo and commercial-scale plants.
Zeachem, meanwhile, announced that it was able to produce a salable concentration of glacial bio-acetic acid via solvent extraction process. Zeachem says global demand for acetic acid is 14.3 billion pounds.year with estimated annual sales of $1bn.
ZeaChem’s fermentation-based acetic acid uses acetogen bacteria, which breaks down biomass without the use of enzymes. Early this month, the company was able to demonstrate successful fermentation of greater than 50 grams/liter of acetic acid in less than 100 hours.
The company will now further convert the product into derivatives such as ethyl acetate using esterification process. Zeachem is currently constructing in Colorado its first cellulosic biorefinery that will have capacity of 250,000 gal/year. Components of the facility will then be moved to the biorefinery site in Boardman, Oregon later this year. The plant will produce both ethyl acetate and ethanol for sale using the bio-acetic acid intermediate.
More information on this announcement from this video taken by ICIS news reporter Stephen Burns.
Verdezyne announced on February 8 that it was able to produce fermentation-based adipic acid using a yeast microorganism from an alkane feedstock. Verdezyne says it can also use sugar or plant-based oils to produce the adipic acid, and the feedstock flexibility of their process in turn can result in at least 20% cost manufacturing advantage over petroleum-based adipic acid.
According to Verdezyne, the global adipic acid market was approximately $4.9 billion in 2009 with its two major applications being polyamides and polyurethanes. The company is now looking for a partner to further take their bio-adipic acid development down the road.
Adding to my list of growing green chemistry companies is a newly launched company called Reluceo, which is created by Segetis founders Olga Selifonova and Sergey Selifonov. Sergey now serves as Reluceo’s president and chief technology officer while Olga serves as the company’s chief executive officer. Reluceo has secured Series A funding from Khosla Ventures.
The company’s technology centers on using C5 and C6 carbohydrates derived from hemicellulose and cellulose feedstocks. Unfortunately, I did not really get much more information from their website than that. By the way, I will post a separate article about other new companies that I have not mentioned in the blog before such as bioammonia developer SynGest, bioplastic monomer developer SyntheZyme, fermentation-based terpenes producer Allylix, Australia-based biotechnology company BioWish, and renewable bioproducts company GlycosBio.
Finally, not all news are happy news in green land. Soy-based polyol producer BioBased Technologies is restructuring its operations after getting its bankruptcy approval last week. Still, BioBased Technologies was able to get a private investor from northwest Arkansas to commit $2.8 million to recapitalize BioBased Technologies® and an additional $1.5 million line of credit.
The company will now have just two operating divisions centered on the product lines Agrol® brand, bio-based polyols; and BioBased Insulation®, spray polyurethane foam insulation products.
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