It was a fantastic 2-day marathon attending the Jefferies Global Clean Technology conference. I was able to file 5 news articles on ICIS (subscription-based):
- Bio-latex rises as alternative to styrene butadiene materials
- Codexis interim CEO allays investor fears on management changes
- US Metabolix eyes smaller 10,000 tonne/year bioplastic production
- Dutch Avantium plans to start selling bio-polyester by 2015
- US DuPont expects $1.2bn in 2012 sales for industrial biotech
Unfortunately, I am not able to post these stories for free but the good news is that I have more stories to post where these came from (hopefully after my school exam next week Wednesday).
In the meantime, let’s talk about LS9, and I’ve “whined” before that I really did not have any clue on what specific products they are aiming to commercialize even after their scale-up announcement last November.
The company is now ready to talk “future product sales” and even has a fancy new website to show for it (also got a brochure from the conference about their company). According to LS9 CEO Ed Dineen at the Jefferies conference, the company is hoping to hit their commercialization target (they are about 85% right now) by the end of this year.
The company’s initial products in the chemicals space are sugar-based fatty alcohols (C10-C18) and specialty esters. Dineen said it has already shipped a ton of fatty alcohol from its pilot facility (and headquarters) in San Francisco to Procter & Gamble late last year for sampling into surfactant products.
The pilot plant is running at 20,000 liter-fermentation capacity, which is expected to increase to 50,000 liter capacity this quarter. LS9 is also on the verge of starting up their 135,000 liter fermentation vessel at the company’s Okeechobee, Florida facility early in the second quarter.
“At that scale, we close to world-scale fermentation, which is about 3-4x away. We are well along the pathway towards de-risking our technology processing. The Florida facility has four (each at 700,000 liter) world-scale fermentation capability, which we could bring on in a commercial situation if we find the right opportunity. Today, we envision this facility to be mostly a demo and scaling up facility.” – Dineen.
Aside from P&G, LS9 is also looking at another type of fatty alcohols opportunity with a different company. This type of alcohol has an existing global market of $500m, said Dineen. The fatty alcohol market the company has been working with P&G has an existing market of $6bn.
Dineen said the company is looking for a strategic round of funding this year to go to commercial-scale up by the end of 2014.
The company is looking to build a brownfield 10,000-25,000 tonnes/year facility initially in Brazil to produce sugarcane-based chemicals. Dineen said they’re looking at between $35m and $50m for funding. The company said it is also close to getting funding support from a Brazilian development bank.
“We don’t necessarily need to jump into a 100,000 tonnes/year plant. Once we de-risk commercial production, we can just add more and more fermenters to build our way up to world-scale facility. The lower-scale approach also minimizes feedstock challenge. It is better to work your way up as mills also expand and grow.” – Dineen.
By the way, LS9 is also developing sugar-based fuels aside from chemicals although Dineen said the company has shift its emphasis more towards the chemicals side of the portfolio. For the rest of the products in the pipeline, Dineen said some will take about 1-1.5 years in development to bring those products to the front of the pipeline and towards commercialization.