Bioplastic, Company initiatives, Investments

More delays for METEX’ bio-PDO

France-based METabolic EXplorer (METEX) is joining the ranks of other public industrial biotechnology firms (such as Amyris, Codexis, Gevo…) who are not too happy with the way their stocks are falling this year.

Difficulty in financing and planned capacity delays are also hitting METEX hard with the company announcing on October 8 plans to reduce its workforce to 75 people, about 1/3 of its employees from a total count of 121 as of December 31, 2011, according to French news agency

According to METEX, the reorganization plan is a result of a difficult economic market conditions that started the beginning of this year, and that the company has to address “a greater need for competitiveness.”

METEX announced on October 15 that it is looking for an “expert”to look into its reorganization plans and that the company will have another council meeting scheduled for November 6.

The planned cost-cutting was actually preceded by the company’s announcement on October 5 of a seven month delay for its 50,000 tonnes/year bio-based 1,3 propanediol (PDO) capacity project in Iskandar, Malaysia. This investment — which was initially announced in November 2010 — is in partnership with Malaysia’s biotech hub owner Bio-XCell Sdn Bhd.

The facility is expected to have an initial output of 8,000 tonnes/year using crude glycerol as feedstock. I don’t recall METEX ever mentioning expected start-up date for the bio-PDO facility (which was probably wise of them to do so…).

METEX first announced a six-month delay for the bio-PDO project on March 9 this year, blaming a snag on an engineering-related documentation as well as soil condition preparation at the site by Bio-XCell.

On the October 5 press release, Bio-XCell reportedly needs more time for its “soil conditioning,” which has affected the construction schedule and led to contract suspension for the two parties. The partners agreed to renegotiate another contract by end of February 2013 after Bio-XCell has to finalize its soil conditioning analysis by December 2012.

Bio-XCell is expected to complete its soil conditioning work by end of April 2013, and of course, where METEX expects to resume construction of the bio-PDO plant thereafter.

As part of the contract suspension, Bio-XCell also returned to METEX its agreed-upon investment guarantee of Malaysian Ringgit (RM) 23.2m (EUR 5.5m, $7.1m). METEX said this action “clearly demonstrates the willingness of the partner to carry out this project.”

In return, METEX said it has committed to providing a new guarantee, at the end of the seven-month period, that does not draw on its available cash. The company said there are still active discussions underway for potential partners for its future bio-PDO products in Asia.


The only company I know currently producing bio-PDO — using cornstarch-based glucose as feedstock — is DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products, which was established in 2004. Capacity of the facility located in Loudon, Tennessee, USA, is currently around 60,000 tonne/year. The company actually expanded the capacity by 35% on 2010.

Their bio-PDO is used as an ingredient ranging from cosmetics and personal care formulations to fluids and polymers including DuPont’s Sorona® which is a polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT) resin made from bio-PDO and petroleum derived terephthalic acid (TPA). The renewable resource content of Sorona® is 37% by weight.

Industry sources reported that PTT has similar properties to that of PET (strength, toughness, stiffness, resistance to heat) processing properties of polybutylene terepthalate or PBT (low mould and melt temperature, processing cycle speed, quick crystallization), and can be used as a substitute for fiber polymers (Polyamide 6; PA 6,6; and polypropylene). It can also be used instead of polycarbonate for molding options.

The last time I heard about capacity update for Sorona® was in 2010. The bio-PDO is shipped from Loudon, Tenn., to the 10,000 tonnes/year Sorona® manufacturing operations in Kingston, N.C. and 30,000 tonnes/year Zhangjiagang Glory Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. (Glory) facility in Jiangsu Province, China.

These facilities polymerize the bio-PDO with TPA to manufacture the Sorona® polymer. Polymer chips are then shipped from these facilities to licensed textile mills for production of Sorona® fibers and to polymer facilities for the manufacture of other applications, including automotive and home furnishings, packaging and engineering thermoplastic resins.

It seems that the uses of Sorona® as well as bio-PDO have dramatically increased in recent years. You can check out some of the recent products made with DuPont Tate & Lyle’s bio-PDO on their website.

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.


2 Responses to “More delays for METEX’ bio-PDO”

  1. any news about this project ? who knows when the project ended ? never seen anything about the end of the story ”biox and metex . If anyone can tell me , would be GREAT !

    Posted by fairbank | March 10, 2015, 7:38 am
  2. news here :

    METabolic EXplorer and SK CHEMICALS Co. Ltd., Signature of an exclusive agreement to manufacture and sell PDO

    Clermont-Ferrand (France) and Seoul (South Korea) – July 1st, 2014

    METabolic EXplorer and SK CHEMICALS jointly announce that they have signed a worldwide Exclusive License Agreement to manufacture and market bio-PDO (1,3-propanediol) based on METabolic Explorer’s proprietary technology. This technology produces PDO through the optimized fermentation of crude glycerin, a renewable feedstock. PDO is a diol chemical building block, used in various applications including cosmetic, personal care, coatings as well as to produce polymers such as PTT (poly trimethylen terephthalate) and polyurethanes.

    Through this exclusive license, METEX will support SK Chemicals to successfully commercialize the PDO business and to benefit from expanding global demand for PDO. SK Chemicals, a leading South Korean company, has rapidly become one of the major green chemical companies through focusing on innovative chemicals and polymers and executing its vision to become a global leader for total solution provider for eco-friendly materials. SK Chemicals values METEX’s PDO technology on robustness, breadth of intellectual property and economical attractiveness.

    During the last three years, METEX, a European pioneer in industrial biotechnologies, sampled several tons of PDO on the market, tested dozens of different crude glycerine grades so as to accumulate expertise and to understand better product performance and drivers in key applications. SK Chemicals strong technology and market access in the field of chemicals and polymer business are the main reasons why METEX has finally decided to license its technology exclusively to SK Chemicals. As a consequence of this new project, METEX has terminated all other discussions with potential PDO partners as well as its negotiations aiming at resuming its industrial project in Malaysia.

    This exclusive alliance based on METEX’s technology will allow SK Chemicals to invest for the commercial production of PDO. The transaction’s financial terms consist of an upfront payment with subsequent milestone payments and royalties.

    “Through the completion of this strategic alliance, a major player in the emerging field of industrial biotechnology is recognizing METEX technology’ excellence and our ability to develop industrial processes. We see the highest potential for new PDO volumes’ growth in Asia. Our choice to work exclusively with SK Chemicals is not just because of its industrial and financial capabilities, but also for its profile as one of the most committed companies to develop as a leader in bio-based chemicals, not just to follow a fashionable trend but on a long term basis. We believe that working with an established company of the size of SK Chemicals is a better option for value creation, not just for our shareholders, but also for the end users who are waiting for PDO and deserve to be delivered today with our Products of the Future.” states Benjamin Gonzalez, founder and CEO of METEX.

    Younghwi Jin, SVP, the head of bio-based materials and energy division of SK Chemicals said “This exclusive license from METEX technology for PDO should be an exciting step forward for SK Chemicals to achieve its vision to become the world leading company in eco-friendly materials. Not only does it provide the opportunity to enter the PDO business, this exclusive partnership with METEX will also provide SK Chemicals a strong platform to expand our business portfolio for bio-based chemicals. Combining the most innovative leadership of METEX in the field of industrial biotechnology, and the extensive manufacturing, marketing experience and capability of SK Chemicals, we are confident to successfully execute the commercialization of PDO business.”

    About METabolic EXplorer –
    METabolic EXplorer is a biological chemistry company that develops and delivers innovative bioprocesses for the manufacturing of existing chemicals into the industrial markets.

    Using a unique asset combining an integrated set of technology platforms with an industrial pilot, METabolic Explorer develops sustainable solutions to replace today’s petrochemical processes with the use of a wide range of plant-based raw materials. METabolic EXplorer traces its history to 1999 with the aim to become a leading biotechnology company with the industrialisation of its innovations via industrial partnerships in the shape of joint ventures and licences and in some cases via own-account developments (ie, manufacturing plants).

    METabolic EXplorer has its principal offices in Clermont-Ferrand, France, is listed on NYSE Euronext in Paris (Compartment C, METEX) and is part of the CAC Small index.

    Get free financial information on METabolic EXplorer by registering with: or

    About SK Chemicals –
    Since its formation in 1969, SK Chemicals Co., Ltd. has grown into one of the major healthcare and chemical companies in Korea through a series of continuous innovations, achieving the consolidated revenue of $8 bn. in 2013. The company is now trying to leap forward by reorganising its corporate structure into Green Chemicals and Life Science, under the vision of ‘Becoming a global leader of ecofriendly materials and total healthcare solutions provider’.

    In its Green Chemicals Business, SK Chemicals is deploying a business portfolio of variety of excellent specialty chemicals and plastics and continuously implementing innovations to high performance plastics, bio-fuels and composite materials.

    Media and individual shareholder relations
    ATTITUDE Corporate
    Eric de Lambert
    T: +33 (0)1 4970 4341 / +33 (0)6 2529 0658

    Investor and analyst relations
    ACTUS Finance et Communication
    Jérôme Fabreguettes-Leib
    T: +33 (0)1 7735 0436

    This communication includes forward-looking information which is subject to risks and uncertainties. The potential development of the company could be substantially different from that anticipated in this press release because of the various risk factors which are described in the company’s Listing Prospectus.

    Posted by dudule21 | April 22, 2015, 7:31 am

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