Eastman enters biobutanol

Interesting times in the bio-butanol industry. First we recently seen an announcement from Cobalt Technologies partnering with Rhodia for biobased n-butanol production in Latin America (just had an interview with Cobalt CEO Rick Wilson and will write an article on this soon), and then yesterday, Eastman announced that it has acquired the assets of TetraVitae Bioscience.

By the way, an official from Eastman Renewable Materials owes me an interview. You know who you are ;-)

Earlier this year, I actually had an interview with somebody from TetraVitae Bioscience but they were a little bit shy in discussing strategies. Not much was disclosed on the Eastman press release so I guess the blog has to dig in a little deeper.

From what the blog recalled, Tetravitae’s last announcement was in December 2010 when the company announced the demonstration of its biobased n-butanol process in a corn dry-mill pilot plant owned by the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) on campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

TetraVitae’s core technology, according to its website, is its bacteria Clostridium Beijerinckii that came from the University of Illinois. The company said it was able to capture the economic advantages of the organism and enables low capital implementation through retrofit of existing ethanol assets.

Like other bio n-butanol producers, the company uses the ABE (acetone, butanol, ethanol) fermentation technology. My last ICIS Chemical Business article on biobutanol was in September 2010 but I mentioned TetraVitae in my February 2009 article, which talked more about the ABE process.

Speaking of which, another bio n-butanol producer that was recently in the blog’s radar was China-based Cathay Industrial Biotech, which filed an IPO in July and retracted its IPO filing in August blaming the current economic condition.

I wonder if the renewable chemicals space is now in the M&A mode because of the current financial condition? One note that the blog also wanted to point out is the acquisition of Draths by Amyris, which Amyris has not yet publicly announced.

ICB is actually going to publish an article on the current investment environment in the biobased chemicals market on November 21 (written by ICBchief Joe Chang) so watch out for that! It’s free!.

Back to TetraVitae, the blog will aim to get more information as soon as possible. Stay tune!

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