Amyris lowers farnesene costs

This will be my last post for the week before I venture off to my week-long vacation (Woohoo!).

The blog gets some update late Thursday from Amyris’ second quarter earnings report and conference call.

One of the major highlight of the company’s results is that the company reportedly hopes to achieve its cost target for its farnesene at $4/liter or less by the end of 2013. Amyris said its unit production cost decreased considerably last month as the company put all of its 6 fermenters in operation at its facility in Brotas, Sao Paulo, Brazil, which is adjacent to Paraiso sugarcane mill.

Amyris’ Brotas plant is supposedly capable of producing 50m liters/year of farnesene once it is is full commercial operation. The company admitted at the earnings call that it is still dealing with start-up issues mostly fermentation contamination. Amyris expects to step up its commercial production level over a three-year period. The company also terminated in July its toll manufacturing deal with Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas as the company indicated it has stopped using the site since early March.

Amyris said their successful ramp up of production in Brotas allowed their early exit from a higher-cost contract manufacturing facility.

By the way, T&L is looking for new customers for its semi-commercial fermentation facility (3x 220K liter bubble columns) if any company is interested in scaling up their operations. Their Loudon, Tenn., site also has a small-scale fermentation lab (1-50L) as well as a fermentation pilot plant (300-13,000L). T&L said it is open to various business arrangements, ranging from being a feedstock supplier (since the company has over 100 years experience in corn processing) to being a JV partner. Their current biobased chemicals partners include DuPont and Genomatica.

Back to Amyris, the company reported a record sales of $4.2m for its renewable products in the second quarter. This is a 40% increase over the prior quarter and 80% year-over-year. Renewable fuel sales (1/3 of the company’s total product revenues) were up 20% from the prior quarter, while its farnesene-based emollient product NEOSSANCE squalene had an increase of 65% over the previous quarter. Amyris’ distribution partners for its squalene include SEPPIC (global), Laserson (Europe), CenterChem (US) and Nikko (Japan).

Updates on other market applications for its farnesene:

  • Novvi for lubricants – Novvi reportedly has successfully produced large test quantities of renewable base oils from farnesene. The Novvi base oil will be used for testing with industrial and automotive lubricant companies.
  • Kuraray for liquid rubber – Kuraray is now field testing the farnesene-based materials with three leading tire manufacturers.
  • Total for fuel – Reportedly on track in terms milestones. Amyris received its 2013 funding from Total associated with this collaboration.
  • Flavors and fragrances with Firmenich, Givaudan, IFF – Amyris is looking for commercial scale production in a specialty contract manufacturing site later this year for its first fragrance oil molecule, which will be sold by Firmenich. Amyris said it as completed several successful pilot runs.
Amyris rolls out its first truckload shipment of farnesene in January

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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