Interview Update: DNP Green Technology

My apologies for posting this so late but I did file an ICIS news story* (subscription only) about DNP Green’s joint venture with DuPont late last June as well as part of my biorefinery story on ICIS Chemical Business published in July.

Here’s a recap of what DNP has been doing the past year with some input from president and CEO Jean-Francois Huc. The company has been very busy this year, which I’m sure I already mentioned in past posts before. The latest was the announced licensing agreement of its joint venture succinic acid company Bioamber with DuPont late last June.

DNP said it has licensed certain technology from US chemical company DuPont regarding production of bio-succinic acid derivatives although DuPont will not be involved in any marketing under this deal. DuPont, however, has the right of first refusal to secure offtake from future commercial plants.

Huc said DuPont’s technology will accelerate Bioamber’s succinic acid development program and shorten their time to market.

In April, DNP Green also formed a partnership with Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals to exclusively distribute Bioamber’s biosuccinic acid in Asia. Huc did not disclosed whether Mitsui will be interested in forming a partnership (or taking an an equity stake) in building a bio-succinic acid plant in Asia (or elsewhere) but Huc noted that Mitsui will be an ideal partner to do so.

DNP Green revealed during the interview that the company is currently in the middle of a negotiation to become an equity stakeholder in a consortia being formed by a large Asian group. The consortia will focus on production of bio-succinic acid in Asia. Mitsui is not involved in the planned consortia.

The objectives of the consortia, according to Huc, is to have three types of partners: technology partners, which would be Bioamber; feedstock partners, who will have access to low-cost feedstock in Asia; and marketing partners, who will be responsible for taking the output of the plant and using it either in downstream products or selling it to the market.

No other details about the consortia was divulged but I’m sure will be hearing more about it in the near future.

Meanwhile, in other activities this time in North America, DNP Green formed a partnership in April with GreenField Ethanol to build a $50m bio-succinic acid refinery for the production of de-icing solutions. GreenField will build and operate the refinery in Ontario, Canada, while DNP Green will hold a significant stake at the new joint venture. Feedstock for the refinery will come from grain-derived glucose.

Huc said there’s a lot of synergies between the production of succinic acid and derivatives, and ethanol production. One major synergy is ethanol infrastructure which succinic acid production can leverage in terms of energy and waste stream access.

“Ethanol plants produce a lot of carbon dioxide, and bio-succinic acid manufacture requires a lot of them. Having a regular, cheap source of CO2 next door is a good thing,”

Another synergy is the access of ethanol for succinic acid derivatives manufacture such as diethyl succinate.

“We can envision part of the succinic acid manufactured will be esterified with some of the nearby ethanol at cost to produce ethyl esters of succinic acid for diversification of product ranges. Our goal is to be able to produce a meaningful scale of some of these derivatives within the next several months.”

The company’s approach, according  to Huc, is to have a palate of products to be produced within a facility and then license the technology. The licensees could be part of a consortia. Products produced will be based on local demand and economics such as butanediol that could make more sense in Asia, or solvents for South America.

Asia might be a more strategic location in terms of manufacture for DNP after acquiring Sinoven Biopolymers last February. Sinoven Biopolymers now operates as a subsidiary of DNP with sales office in Philadelphia and a manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China.

Sinoven will manufacture modified polybutylene succinate (mPBS) in China using Bioamber’s bio-succinic acid. DNP said they are looking to partner their mPBS technology with a leading producer of PBS in order to build a large scale modification plant in proximity to a PBS plant.

Here’s a video interview of Jean-Francois Huc taken during the BIO conference:

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