Company initiatives, Earnings, Investments, Video

Turnaround for Amyris

Despite the current water shortage (due to drought) and electricity problems in Brazil, Amyris seems to be doing well according to the company’s third quarter earnings report. Amyris said its Brotas biorefinery plant in Brazil has been running for 3 months without any unscheduled interruptions. The company expects to continue operations until the sugarcane season comes to a close in the coming weeks in southeastern Brazil. By then, the company will reportedly perform planned maintenance before resuming production in early 2015.

In the third quarter, Amyris said it has completed production of its second molecule, a fragrance oil, and has then transitioned back to its farnesene production using a new strain. Based on this new strain, the company expects to produce farnesene at cash costs below $3/liter.

The last time the blog talked about Amyris’ operations in Brazil was in October 2013 when the company was hoping to achieve cost target for its farnesene molecule at $4/liter or less by the year-end 2013.  The company has been producing farnesene at incrementally lower production costs for the past two years.

Amyris now expects to get revenue growth in 2015 from the following products such as its Neossance squalene and hemi-squalene emollients; lubricants through its Novvi joint venture with Cosan; two farnesene derivatives for the flavors and fragrance industry; one new fragrance molecule; and two new products for end consumers (representing about $20-30 million).  The company is introducing a new farnesene-derived solvent under the brand name Merilene, for applications in industrial cleaners. Amyris anticipates to begin commercial sales of Merilene in early 2015 following standard regulatory review in the US.

For its farnesene rubber project, its partner, Kuraray, noted that at least two tire manufacturers will soon plan to begin initial production of specialized, high-performance winter tires containing liquid farnesene rubber in 2015. A new partner, Braskem, has also recently joined the collaboration between Amyris and Michelin for the development of bio-based isoprene, another rubber chemical intermediate.

Amyris is still working on farnesene-based fuels with its partnership with Total but the company admitted that most of its goals and developments are now aimed at chemicals. Last October, a passenger flight operated by the Brazilian low-fare airline GOL, flew from Florida to Sao Paulo using 10% blend of farnesane mixed with regular jet fuel. In September, Lufthansa also flew a passenger plane from Frankfurt to Berlin on 10% blend of farnesane with regular jet fuel.

Early this year, Amyris noted that it is on track to become cash-flow positive from operations and profitable by 2015. It noted that it has achieve operational targets at a run rate of more than 14 million liters/year, and has successfully commercialized artemisinic acid, patchouli and farnesene. The average selling price across all of the company’s products in the first quarter this year was around $9.84/liter, and is expected to stay in this range through the next several years representing an average selling price of around $9,000/ton.

The company recently appointed its current chairman of Amyris Brasil, Raffi Asadorian, as chief financial officer, effective January 6, 2015.

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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