I can blog again! Yay! The blog’s maintenance took far longer than expected but keeping my fingers crossed that all is right in my blog world.
Meanwhile, let me post this recent news from France-based Leaf Technologies (Lesaffre Advanced Fermentation Technologies) on its R&D collaboration with Dutch DNA, a spin-out of independent research organization, TNO. Dutch DNA and Leaf Technologies will focus on the development of a new fungal host for the production of itaconic acid. The partners aims to create an engineered fungal host with superior performance, and that could utilize both simple and cellulosic sugars.
The goal is to reduce the production cost of itaconic acid and enable its broader use as a renewable building block chemical. Itaconic acid currently has a small market with limited industrial applications.
The only company the blog knows so far that are in the itaconic acid development is New Hampshire, US-based Itaconix Corporation, and we’ve reported in August some of the company’s commercialization of polymer products based on the derivative polyitaconic acid. The company noted in a presentation last year the potential addressable market for itaconic acid is around 10.8 million tons as a building block, as linear polymers, cross-linked polymers and emulsion polymers.
Supply of itaconic acid is reportedly around 70 kt of worldwide fermentation capacity from 3 large and 4 smaller facilities in China using C6 feedstock. One facility in the US is a repurposed facility using C6 feedstock as well.
Primary current use of itaconic acid is as a co-monomer in emulsion polymers, and demand worldwide is estimated at less than 40 kt. Current production of itaconic acid is through fermentation of glucose with A.terreus microorganism.
Other alternative routes include fermentation of hemicellulose sugars with Aspergillus Terreus; fermentation of glycerol with Aspergillus Terreus; biotransformation of citric acid; upgrading succinic acid; fermentation of glucose with Aspergillus Niger or using new organisms such as what Leaf and Dutch DNA aim to do.