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.