Update on Rivertop Renewables

Last year in November, the blog interviewed Rivertop Renewables’ founder Donald Kiely and we got to know more about the company’s development of glucaric acid.

Last month, the blog had the pleasure to talk to an old acquaintance, Jim Stoppert, who is now Rivertop’s new CEO. Recalling from a past post, Stoppert originally came from Cargill and became CEO of Segetis in September 2008. He noted meeting Don Kiely for the first time when he was still at Cargill.

Now, Stoppert said his first initiative is to buildup the company by first hiring experienced people (Hello new jobs!) from the industry, more for the research department and some in sales and marketing. One of Rivertop’s business model, according to Stoppert, is to look for contract manufacturers to toll produce their glucaric acid and quickly establish demand.

“”We can build a plant at fairly inexpensive rate but our plan is to first start working with contract manufacturers to toll manufacture our products and build up the market. From there, we can build a commercial plant with [an] initial capacity of around 60m lbs, hopefully around 2013,” Stoppert said.

Rivertop still plans to build a pilot plant with a capacity of around 100,000 lbs/year to demonstrate its process development. Stoppert said the company hopes to start the pilot plant by early next year.

The lead application for the company’s glucaric acid right now is replacing phosphates in detergents. Rivertop expects to be in the market a year from now for this particular application as soon as they can find contract manufacturers at reasonable cost.

“Phosphate replacement in detergents is a potential $10bn global market,” said Stoppert. “We can quickly get our glucaric acid product to the market as [the] approval cycle only takes six months.”

Rivertop is also working on developing the use of glucaric acid as corrosion inhibitors for road and water treatment, as building material additives, as cosmetic exfoliants, and, in the long-term, as building block for polymers.

Stoppert said they will form joint ventures for some of the applications where they need to work with formulators like in concrete additives and corrosion inhibitors for water treatment, while some applications, they will go to market alone. Rivertop plans to work with partners on the development of glucaric acid-based polymers.

Rivertop estimates market potential for corrosion inhibitors for road and water treatment at $4.8bn; building material additives at $1.7bn; and cosmetic exfoliants at $240m.

Here is Jim Stoppert’s presentation at the recent BIO industrial biotechnology conference:

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