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Three companies are taking steps to advance the production of biobased chemicals. The Swiss firm Ava Biochem has begun commercial-scale output of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural from renewable feedstocks at its plant in Muttenz, Switzerland. The company uses a modified hydrothermal carbonization process to make 5-HMF for use in new materials including polymers and additives. The facility will produce 20 metric tons of the monomer per year. Separately, Solazyme has begun commercial production of algae-derived oils at a facility in Clinton, Iowa, operated by Archer Daniels Midland. Output is expected to ramp up to a rate of 20,000 metric tons annually within the next 18 months. Meanwhile, DSM and SyntheZyme will collaborate on developing surfactants made via yeast fermentation. Based in Troy, N.Y., SyntheZyme was founded by Richard A. Gross, a chemistry professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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