So while the bio-acrylic acid development and commercialization seem to have stalled a bit (see my recent post), France-based Global Bioenergies announced that it has reached its first milestone in the development of bio-based methacrylic acid (trademarked under BioMA+) using renewable isobutene feedstock. Methacrylic acid is a key intermediate in acrylic paints.
This milestone resulted in the company unlocking a €1.7m payment from the French “Investissements d’Avenir” State program. The French State had granted a €5.2 million financing to a consortium that included Global Bioenergies, Arkema and CNRS. The objective was to develop and demonstrate at pilot scale a complete process of producing bio-isobutene from a renewable resources and converting isobutene into methacrylic acid.
Global Bioenergies started up an industrial pilot in November 2014 on the agro-industrial site of Pomacle-Bazancourt (where BioAmber had its bio-succinic acid tolling facility). ARD, a subsidiary of the sugar refiner, Cristal Union, is in charge of the pilot’s operation, and now carries out on a weekly basis, fermentation trials mimicking exploitation at full-scale. By the way, Arkema is a major producer of petro-based methacrylic acid and downstream derivatives of MA.
Global Bioenergies said it has been able to produce more isobutene in the last three months compared to over the past five years. The company said the oil price meltdown does not affect its fundamentals in the short or medium term because of the expectation that the oil market’s equilibrium will be back before its commmercialization of its bio-isobutene process expected to begin in 2017-18. The isobutene process is also expected to be competitive from $50/bbl crude oil in specific markets.
There are other companies who are developing bio-methacrylic acid, which I will report on this month’s Bio-materials newsletter at Tecnon OrbiChem.