Company initiatives, Earnings, Investments

METEX updates on bio-PDO and other projects

France-based METabolic EXplorer has been going through a lot of challenges lately especially with their recent restructuring (27 employees were laid off and the blog communicated with one of them) as well as the delay in the company’s biobased 1,3 propanediol (PDO) construction in Malaysia.

Last March, the company noted a tough 2012 performance although there were several milestones that were reportedly achieved:

  • METEX said it has cleared a new technical milestones for its 100% biosourced methionine under a collaboration project with Roquette. When I asked about the status of this project with Roquette in May during their Green Chemistry Symposium, the company said it will soon announced something within a month.
  • METEX reported a new technical milestone in its development for biobased monopropylene glycol (MPG), which was validated by the French innovation agency OSEO. The product’s technical performances reportedly attracted interest from manufacturers. METEX also received a €1m ($13.3m) grant from OSEO early in 2013 as part of the Bio2Chem green chemistry co-development program. The fund will finance further development of the MPG project, which has an estimated market of 1.96m tons worth €2.6 billion worldwide.
  • METEX said it has started initial development for biobased butyric acid, a byproduct of the manufacture of PDO. First samples were produced at the laboratory stage.
  • METEX said it has signed two letters of intent with two international manufacturers to sell tonnage of its biobased PDO, which will be commercialized under the trade name TEXEROL. The two manufacturers’ commitments will reportedly absorb more than half of METEX’s planned 50,000 tons/year future production capacity, although the facility is expected to have initial production of 8,000 tons/year. METEX has also been pursuing joint venture deals for biobased PDO although the company said negotiations are taking longer because of the global economic environment.

METEX also noted in March that it has suspended development of glycolic acid and butanol because of the discontinuation of a product development under the Bio2Chem program.

As for the status of its glycerol-based PDO construction in Johor State, Malaysia, METEX announced on Monday that the suspended project is now back on track after resolving several engineering and on-site issues with its partner, Malaysian biotech hub owner Bio-XCell. The two partners said they have reached an agreement on the terms and conditions by which the parties would cooperate to resume construction of the plant.

METEX said its biobased PDO production process has been improved upstream enabling the use of raw glycerines of different origins and qualities (after testing them out at its French pilot plant). The process also enables co-production of roughly 2,000 tons/year of butyric acid, which are used in the production of fragrances and animal feed additives.

The newly updated PDO process is also expected to generate a 10% increase of the unit’s PDO capacity up to 8,900 tons/year, which will significantly improve cash flow generation and enabling Bio-XCell to finance the needed additional expenditure of roughly €8m, for a new total of around €38m.

METEX said it will provide a corporate guarantee of €7.3m to make sure the company will be able to effectively deliver completion of the project. The plant construction is expected to start in late September 2013 and to be complete by the end of 2014 as per schedule.

The company said it has the resources to finance its development up to end-2015. As of year-end 2012, METEX reported a cash position of €23.2m.

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.

Discussion

3 Responses to “METEX updates on bio-PDO and other projects”

  1. Good afternoon, Doris

    thanks a lot for your insightful June 12 post about METEX.

    if I may, I’d like to comment about the malaysian PDO presales : I think we had asked, sometime ago, the Cy’s communication rep. wether the 2 letters of intent cover half of the intitial capacity of the plant, i.e. 8,000t, or half of the intended future full capacity of 50,000t; and the answer was half of initial 8,000t. Would you please confirm if you have collected fresher information from a more reliable source ?

    we are eager to reading the Roquette announcement about their methionine project;

    do you think they were formal and serious when they promised a news release during the Roquette America symposium on May 23 ?
    ( interestingly, we have noticed that the Roquette University internet site seem to have retweeted your May 23 tweet to myself ! )

    Do youy recall if that release would happen within the next month (the next 30 days) from May 23, or any day during the month of June ?

    that project is a major one within the renewable chemicals industry world, because industrial production of biosourced methionine from a sugar fermentation process will be a world premiere and do not know of any other ongoing competitor on that route

    again, thousand thanks for your cooperation in that matter

    I wish a long live to your greenchemicalsblog, it is so unique and so useful !

    Posted by Didier ("oru2day") | June 20, 2013, 12:31 pm
  2. Hi Didier,
    All the information in the post was just taken from their press release and not from any direct source. As for Roquette’s methionine project, I really can’t tell during their symposium whether they will follow through with their response of their plan to announce within a month or not. As soon as I hear anything, I will post it in the blog.

    By the way, I thought Arkema and CJ are also working on bio-methionine and in fact already constructing their plant in Malaysia?

    Posted by Doris de Guzman | June 20, 2013, 10:45 pm
    • Hi Doris
      Thanks for your reply.

      About CJ-Arkema:
      I have not heard anything new about their methionine project on thr eastern coast of Malaysia, since they officially launched their plant construction last year.
      Importantly, the CJ process is very different from the Metex process licenced to Roquette:
      the CJ-Arkema JV is a thiochemichals project in Asia, of which the methionine project.
      The CJ methionine process is using, among different feedstock, methyl mercaptan produced by Arkema, which is a traditional product derived from oil.
      The Metex process is using pure carbon renewable resource and is the only 100% biisourced process to produce l-methionine.
      According to Metex Science Manager (P. Soucaille, who by the way is the only of two in the world who has developped a biosynthetic process to produce bio PDO, besides DuPont), many giant companies producing methionine from oil, such as Evonik and Ajinomoto, tried a bioprocess but failed.
      Metex and Roquette are definitely a few steps ahead on the biosourced methionine route.
      However, we do not know details about the industrial development phase within the Roquette group. They seem to have applied for market approval with both Usa and Europe authorities and should now be close to obtaining the Ok.
      The CJ application to the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) is made public. CJ applied in may 2012 but the legal deadline for the Efsa decision was postponed several times, and is up to 22 August currentl, which is way off the usual 9 months Efsa review delay…

      Thanks for your time Doris.

      Posted by Didier (oru2day) | June 21, 2013, 4:44 am

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