Verdezyne starts pilot plant

It’s been awhile since the blog wrote something about Verdezyne’s development activities on bio-adipic acid. The company announced today that it has started its pilot plant operation in Carlsbad, California — Verdezyne’s first biobased adipic acid at scale.


The company said “the plant will be used to demonstrate scalability of their process, validate their cost projections and generate sufficient quantities for commercial market development.”

Of course the blog needs to know more information than this.

According to the newly appointed chief financial officer Brian Conn (he came onboard in September), Verdezyne expect to produce about 5-15 kilogram of the bio-adipic acid per week. The company said it is very close to moving into full commercial phase and is currently in partnership discussions “that could take it into production as early as 2012,” said Conn.

“An important objective of our pilot plant will be to demonstrate that we can manufacture adipic acid at costs consistent with our models. These models are based on yield data from our labs, feedstock costs and assumptions about plant operating costs that we believe are applicable to our processes. At the moment, based on our preliminary data and models, we estimate that we will be able to produce adipic acid at about 30 percent lower cost than petroleum based counterparts.” 

The blog asked what type of feedstock the company plans to use.

“An important goal of the pilot plant will be to characterize the many different feedstocks that will be used in industrial settings. Therefore, we will be using a variety of feedstocks over time, primarily fatty acid distillates, or soapstocks from the oil seed processing industry.

These feedstocks are typically used in low value, non-food products such as cheap soaps. They are widely available at very low cost. An example of this type of feedstock would be soybean oil soapstock, which is a byproduct of soybean processing and is used as a base oil for many soaps and as a dust control agent for unpaved roads. We estimate that the United States produces nearly 1 billion pounds of soybean soapstock per year.”

As a background, other current developers of biobased adipic acid include Rennovia, DSM, Amyris (via Draths acquisition), Genomatica and BioAmber. Those who are looking at it for their pipeline include Aemetis and Myriant. It’s interesting when I wrote my first bio-adipic acid article for ICIS Chemical Business last year in October and only two players – Verdezyne and Rennovia – were on my radar.

For those who are not subscribers to ICB, you can actually check out my last article about DSM’s plans on bio-adipic acid (published in October) as we made this one free for view! An early Christmas present =).

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