Bioplastic, Company initiatives, Presentation

To Succinity and Beyond!

I’m on a study mode now but let me post this news from BASF and CSM today about the formation of their 50-50 bio-succinic acid joint venture company called Succinity. I love the name by the way and for some reason, I keep mixing this with the movie Toys Story’s famous quote “To Infinity and Beyond!.” =)

BASF and CSM have been working on bio-based succinic acid since 2009 and in fact, are currently modifiying an existing fermentation facility in Barcelona, Spain, owned by CSM’s subsidiary Purac. The Montmelo site, if memory serves me, is supposed to have a 25,000 tonne fermentation capacity.

The facility is expected to produce 10,000 tonnes/year biobased succinic acid, which is expected to commence operations in late 2013.

Succinity will handle the production and sale but its headquarters will be located in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Succinity is also planning for a second biobased succinic acid facility — location still undisclosed — with a capacity of 50,000 tonnes/year. The final investment decision for the second facility will be made following a successful market introduction for their bio-succinic acid, according to BASF and CSM.

According to BASF, their technology uses a bacterium called Basfia succiniiproducens which can process a wide variety of C3, C5 and C6 renewable feedstocks including biomass sources.

Now, there were several collaboration and partnership news that were announced this year concerning bio-based succinic acid.

Reverdia, the bio-succinic acid joint venture between DSM and France-based Roquette, has been formally launched in March this year. Reverdia claimed that it will be the first in the world to have a large scale bio-succinic acid production facility in the world with its 10,000 tonnes/year plant in Cassano Spinola, Italy, which will supposedly be operational by the end of September.

The blog is still waiting for its successful start-up announcement… Reverdia will be marketing its bio-succinic acid under the tradename Biosuccinium.

In July, bio-succinic acid player BioAmber has partnered with Evonik to develop and manufacture catalysts for making 1,4 butanediol (BDO), tetrahydrofuran (THF) and gamma butyrolactone (GBL) from bio-based succinic acid.

BioAmber is already producing bio-succinic acid in Pomacle, France with a 350,000 liter commercial scale fermenter. The company, together with Mitsui & Co., is building a 17,000 tonne/year bio-succinic acid and derivatives facility in Sarnia, Canada that will be operational in late 2013, with plans to expand capacity to 34,000 tonnes/year of succinic acid, and a 23,000 tonnes/year BDO plant in late 2014.

BioAmber has also partnered with NatureWorks in February this year to form a joint venture company called AmberWorks, which is now selling compounded bioplastics formed by combination of polylactic acid (PLA) resins and polybutylene succinate (PBS) resins.

AmberWorks has been developing the PLA/PBS compounds and manufactures the resins through several toll compounders. Back then, prices of the compounded bioplastic for food service applications were quoted around $2-2.50/lb.

PBS, by the way, is a biodegradable polyester traditionally manufactured using petrochemical-based succinic acid and BDO. AmberWorks have been sourcing the PBS component through third party manufacturers, which are most probably using BioAmber’s biobased succinic acid.

BioAmber has really been busy this year (although no updates have been heard yet about their current IPO status…), as the company partnered with Inolex in September for the marketing of succinate emollients.

Inolex are commercializing a range of succinate technologies such as its LexFeel N line of fluids that are alternative to silicone fluids. The emollients can be used in skin care, hair care, color and antiperspirant products.

Another bio-succinic acid producer, Myriant, (where its IPO status is also unknown at the moment…) has been active as well this year with its partnership with Japanese chemical company Showa Denko KK, which started producing PBS resin under the trademark Bionolle this year using Myriant’s bio-succinic acid.

According to SDK in July, it has started providing the renewable-based Bionolle film-grade samples to customers such as Natur-Tec, a US-based bioplastic products manufacturer. Natur-Tec is already using petrochemical-based Bionolle for certain high-volume consumer goods packaging applications.

SDK said it is planning to secure 10,000-20,000 tons/year of bio-based succinic acid to expand sales of its renewable-based Bionolle.

Another Japanese company already producing bio-based PBS (containing bio-succinic acid from BioAmber) is Mitsubishi Chemical Company. The company estimated the PBS market worldwide at 5,000-6,000 tonnes/year, and is expected to grow to 50,000 tonnes/year in the next five years.

Myriant has also partnered with Japan-based Sojitz late last year to develop plastics made from bio-succinic acid. Sojitz said it plans to set up a commercial biobased derivativese plant that will consume 150m pounds/year of Myriant’s biobased succinic acid. The facility is expected to start in 2015.

Another bio-succinic acid partner of Myriant is Europe-based engineering firm Uhde Inventa Fischer which announced in May its business expansion in the PBS market. Uhde has now been offering to build facilities that can produce at least 40,000 tonnes/year of renewable-based PBS (that can be completely or partially bio-based) using Uhde’s patented energy-efficient process reactors under the trademark ESPREE and DISCAGE.

Myriant and Uhde are actually building a bio-succinic acid pilot plant in Leuna, Germany using, which supposedly should have started operating in the third quarter this year.

Here in this link is a map that I made early this year on various bio-succinic acid projects. I hope these information are still correct… By the way, you can also check out (for free) the last bio-succinic acid article that I did from ICIS Chemical Business in January.

Finally, I came across this article from the American Chemical Society last August about a biorefinery project between Chinese researchers from the City University of Hong Kong and non-profit organization the Climate Group, where the researchers used waste coffee grounds and stale bakery goods from Starbucks Hong Kong, and convert them into succinic acid.

The researchers led by Carol S. K. Lin are planning to scale-up their biorefinery process using funds from the Government of Hong Kong.

Also, I almost forgot to add that the University of Manchester in the UK has developed a process for producing succinic acid from crude natural glycerol. The group has commissioned the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC) based in York to seek a partner interested in commercializing their technology. See their information below:

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.

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