Bio-Based Polymer News
BioAmber Will Expand Succinic Acid Production
5 years, 10 months ago Posted in: Bio-Based Polymer News 0

Scale-up: Firm selects Ontario site for intermediate chemical made by fermentation

By  Melody M. Bomgardner

Source: Chemical & Engineering News

08/30/2011 — BioAmber, a renewable chemicals firm based in Minneapolis, will build a bio-based succinic acid plant in Sarnia, Ontario. The plant is expected to have an initial capacity of 17,000 metric tons and be completed in 2013.

Bioamber’s plant is the latest in a string of succinic acid facilities planned by the nascent biobased chemicals industry for North America and Europe.

Succinic acid is a petrochemical intermediate that bio-based chemical firms say can be made more cheaply from renewable feedstocks, such as sugar. The fermentation-derived four-carbon acid has potential applications in bioplastics, polyurethanes, plasticizers, and solvents. Currently, synthetic succinic acid is made in small quantities for use in pigments, pharmaceuticals, and metal plating.

The Sarnia facility will be BioAmber’s first in North America; in 2009 it opened a 3,000-metric ton succinic plant in Pomacle, France. Government ministries in Ontario and Canada have provided BioAmber with $36 million in grants and loans to locate in Sarnia. The plant will generate 40 full time jobs in its first phase. In May, BioAmber raised $45 million in venture capital funding to help it expand succinic acid production.

The firm plans to double capacity at the Sarnia plant by 2014 through the introduction of a new yeast strain that it is developing with agriculture giant Cargill. In addition, the company says it will produce butanediol (BDO) using technology from DuPont that converts succinic acid to BDO. At its peak, BioAmber says, the facility will produce 35,000 metric tons of succinic acid and 24,000 metric tons of BDO.

BioAmber will face competition for both products. At least three other chemical firms or partnerships have plans to produce bio-based succinic acid. In August, BASF and Purac announced they will form a joint venture to produce up to 25,000 metric tons of the intermediate in Barcelona by 2013. DSM and Roquette, through their Reverdia joint venture, expect their 10,000-metric-ton plant in Spinola, Italy, to be online in the second half of 2012. And Myriant Technologies is building a plant in Port of Lake Providence, La., capable of producing up to 15,000 tons.

For BDO, meanwhile, bio-based chemicals start-up Genomatica recently announced an Italian joint venture with plastics maker Novamont. The plant will have a capacity of 18,000 metric tons per year and begin production by the end of 2012. Reverdia and Myriant have also disclosed that they plan to make BDO from succinic acid.

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