CHEMTEX forges new renewables deals

Italian chemical firm Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi (M&G) and its engineering and technology subsidiary Chemtex have been very busy this year with regards to partnerships and collaborations on the renewable chemicals and biofuels front.

The recent ones are Chemtex’s collaborations with Brazilian biofuels and biochemicals company GraalBio Investimentos SA and the formation of BETA RENEWABLES with TPG Capital and TPG Biotech — both news announced on October 13.

Let’s start with the joint venture firm BETA RENEWABLES, which was established to exclusively license Chemtex’s PROESA Technology into the global marketplace. PROESA enables cost-effective production of fermentable sugars from cellulosic biomass, which can then be converted into biofuel and other chemical products and intermediates.

If readers recall, some of the companies that are expected to benefit from PROESA included Codexis on the development of ceelulosic biomass-based detergent alcohols; Genomatica on the production of cellulosic biomass-based 1,4 butanediol (BDO); Novozymes with its partnership with M&G for the production of cellulosic ethanol in Crescentino, Italy; and Colombiana de Biocombustibles Celulosicos (COLBIOCEL) for sugarcane bagasse-based cellulosic ethanol using the PROESA process.

TPG and M&G are investing a total capital of EUR250m into BETA RENEWABLES in which M&G will hold a majority stake. BETA RENEWABLES will handle the pilot plant in Tortona, Italy and the 40,000 tpy cellulosic ethanol plant being constructed in Crescentino.

The GraalBio deal will also use the PROESA process for the construction of cellulosic ethanol plant in Brazil. The new facility is expected to begin operation in 2013. Chemtex and GraalBio said they are currently in discussion towards broader development and production of biofuels and biochemicals in Brazil.

Speaking of Brazil, I just wanted to mention that US renewable chemical firm Cobalt Technologies recently announced its partnership with French specialty chemical firm Rhodia in the development and production of sugarcane bagasse-based n-butanol for biofuel and chemicals use throughout Latin America.

I will soon have an interview with Cobalt Technologies CEO Rick Wilson to know more about this partnership so stay tune!

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