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CSM changes name to Corbion, focuses on biochems

CSM, the parent company of lactic acid producer Purac, announced yesterday its new growth strategy for 2013-2016 starting with a new company name called Corbion. The new name and strategy marks the company’s transformation from a bakery ingredients supplier to a leading biobased products provider focusing on biobased food ingredients and biochemicals.

In biochemicals, the company is betting on fermentation-derived, sustainably-sourced chemical building blocks and currently has portfolio on lactic acid and derivatives such as PLA, and bio-succinic acid with its 50/50 Succinity joint venture with BASF. Corbion is targeting 15-20% average organic growth sales for its biochemicals within the 2013-2016 period mostly in the bioplastics area.

The company is expecting significant investments in lactic acid derivatives capacity expansion in 2014-2015 and further capacity investment in biosuccinic acid. Corbion currently has a 75 ktpy lactide capacity in Thailand, which started operations last year, and a 5 ktpy factory in Spain. Its global lactic acid capacity is more than 200 kpty, according to the company.

Corbion’s partner, Synbra, produces and markets PLA using their lactides and the lactide-to-PLA conversion process developed by Purac and Swiss engineering firm Sulzer. Purac has recently been awarded a contract to supply lactides to a new PLA production plant in Asia currently being built by Sulzer. The facility will have more than 10 ktpy capacity and is expected to start in the second half of 2014. The name of the Asian company has not been disclosed.

Meanwhile, Corbion also acquired early this year a facility in Tucker, Georgia, which will be a future second manufacturing facility for the company next to its existing one in Gorinchem, the Netherlands. The new plant will produce its FiberLive resorbable material used for human implants. The material is made of resorbable glass fibers and resorbable polymers and is said to be up to six times higher than cortical bone comparable to metal. Start-up of the facility is scheduled for early 2014.

In the bio-succinic acid area, Succinity, is expected to start operations in late 2013 for its new 10 ktpy facility in Barcelona, Spain. If the market for bio-succinic acid is good, the JV is expected to follow-up investment in large 50-100 ktpy facility to be built in 2015-2017.

Another interesting developments for Corbion is that the company is looking to develop organic acids to replace petroleum-based chemical acids. Calcium propionate and and 2,5 furan dicarboxylic acid (FDCA as replacement for terephthalic acid in PET plastics) are two molecules within the company’s feasibility studies.

Corbion said the global market value for biochemicals is expected to reach $500bn to $600bn by 2025 or 20% of the global chemicals industry.

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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