DSM, Roquette Invest In Succinic Acid | May 10, 2011 Issue - Vol. 89 Issue 20 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 20 | p. 9 | News of The Week
Issue Date: May 10, 2011

DSM, Roquette Invest In Succinic Acid

Industrial Biotech: Companies plan Europe's largest facility for biobased production
Department: Business
Keywords: succinic acid, biobased chemicals, BIO

DSM and Roquette plan to build what they say will be Europe's first commercial-scale plant to make succinic acid from biobased raw materials such as corn sugar. The 10,000-metric-ton-per-year facility is expected to open at Roquette's site in Spinola, Italy, in the second half of 2012.

The new plant is the latest development in the emerging market for the four-carbon organic acid. Today, succinic acid is a small-volume chemical mostly synthesized from maleic anhydride. But DSM and Roquette say the biobased version has the potential to be a 2 million-ton-per-year raw material for chemicals such as adipic acid and 1,4-butanediol that are now made from petroleum-derived feedstocks.

The two European firms first teamed up in 2007 to build a demonstration succinic acid plant in Lestrem, France. Last year, they announced the formation of a joint venture that will be called Reverdia once it wins regulatory approval.

Their venture is one of several contenders in the nascent business. Late last year, Myriant Technologies announced plans to build a 15,000-ton succinic acid plant in Louisiana by 2012 with the help of $50 million in Department of Energy funding.

At the Biotechnology Industry Organization's industrial biotechnology conference in Toronto yesterday, Jean-Francois Huc, CEO of BioAmber, stated his firm's intention to produce succinic acid in North America by 2013 and in Thailand through its cooperation with Mitsubishi Chemical by 2015. BioAmber currently makes biobased succinic acid at a 3,000-ton demonstration facility in Pomacle, France.

Will van den Tweel, chemicals business manager at DSM's innovation center, told attendees at the BIO conference that DSM's low-pH yeast fermentation process eliminates the salt created in the bacteria-based routes employed by competitors. Huc acknowledged the benefits of yeast and noted that BioAmber's new facilities will deploy yeast the firm licensed from Cargill.

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