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Business

Two biobased companies sell U.S. plants

Ineos Bio and Elevance change direction on biobased fuels and chemicals

by Melody M. Bomgardner
September 12, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 36

Changes in strategy at two biobased chemical firms—Ineos Bio and Elevance Renewable Sciences—will mean the sale of two U.S. facilities that make fuels and chemicals from biomass.

Ineos Bio, a subsidiary of the Anglo-Swiss chemical firm Ineos, plans to sell its bioethanol business, including a facility in Vero Beach, Fla., and a research center in Fayetteville, Ark. The Vero Beach plant opened in 2013, taking in yard waste and woody biomass to be gasified and fermented into ethanol.

Ineos spokesperson Charles Saunders says the company invested $300 million of its own funds in the business; it also received a $75 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a $50 million Department of Energy grant, and state and county tax incentives and job grants.

Despite reports of technical difficulties due to contaminants, Saunders says the facility achieved continuous operation and commercial-scale syngas fermentation. “Unfortunately, the U.S. market for bioethanol has changed,” he adds, and the economic drivers for developing the technology are no longer there for Ineos.

Elevance, meanwhile, has sold a biodiesel plant in Natchez, Miss., to operating partner World Energy, which has been producing biodiesel at the site.

Elevance acquired the facility in 2013 with the intention of spending $225 million to convert it into a plant that makes specialty chemicals from natural oils using olefin metathesis. Elevance now says it will supply chemical customers from its metathesis facility in Gresik, Indonesia, which it operates with partner Wilmar International, and from other locations.

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