Myriant develops cellulosic succinic, lactic

Yesterday, US bio-succinic acid producer Myriant announced that it was able to develop a proprietary process for producing succinic acid, L(+) and D(-) lactic acid from cellulosic feedstocks.

Myriant said this will enable them to produce low-cost price-stabled cellulosic-based chemicals around the world without being restricted to scarce availability and expensive food-based feedstocks. The company is currently building a 30m lb/year bio-succinic acid facility in Louisiana partially funded by the US Department of Energy. The plant is expected to start in the first quarter of 2013. Myriant said it plans to expand the facility to 170m lbs/year by the end of first quarter of2014.

Myriant is also in the early stages of planning other production facilities in Germany and Asia. By the way, a Tweety bird told me to expect an announcement soon on the bio-succinic acid front. I have a good feeling that this will involve Myriant (since BioAmber has pretty much announced a lot within the past several weeks).

One news that just came out today on ICIS (subscription only) is that Myriant’s partner PTT Chemical (PTTCH) said to our reporters to expect announcements coming soon on investments in succinic acid and derivatives in southeast Asia from the companies. A source from PTTCH said that the companies are exploring options in terms of marketing, production and technology. PTTCH has already invested $60m in Myriant last January.

By the way, Myriant also filed its own IPO (initial public offering) last May. I hope somebody can tell me any company update in that area…

Speaking of lactic acid, there’s a lot of biobased chemicals developments going on with this chemical as far as I recall in several conferences I attended the past two years. Major developers on scene included Roquette, Purac, and NatureWorks. I think the blog mentioned that Thailand seems to becoming the targeted hotspot for production of polylactic acid (PLA). I will not be surprised if PTTCH will also announce a facility for cellulosic-based lactic acid in partnership with Myriant.

PTTCH also filed a statement to the Thailand Stock Exchange in September that it is planning to acquire a 50% (or more) stake in an international PLA bioplastic producer. The company has not yet announced any details on this investment but anybody I asked within the bioplastic industry concluded that NatureWorks will be their final answer based on Reuters news ;-) . It was reported that the purchased should have been concluded last week.

According to F.O. Licht data, the only PLA producer right now in the US includes NatureWorks in Nebraska (140,000 tpy capacity), HEPLOM American Chronopol in Colorado (2,000 tpy) and Purac in Nebraska (75,000 tpy).

Back to Myriant, its D(-) lactic acid technology (using food-based feedstock) is currently being commercialized by Purac, who by the way has a partnership with BASF in bio-succinic acid production. It is interesting to note the twist and turns of biobased chemical partnerships these days…

Myriant continues to work with Purac in the development of high purity D(-) lactic acid for polylactic acid (PLA) production.

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