Succinic Success

One of the best attended and most lively breakouts at this year's World Congress had nothing to do with switchgrass, algae, synthetic biology, or any of the other hot topics trumpeted in advance of the meeting. Tuesday's session, "Commercial Production of Succinic Acid", snuck up on me, bursting Track 3's session room at the seams. Over 200 attendees gathered to hear three tales of efforts to commercialize a little-heralded chemical that may well prove the building block of the bioeconomy. Succinic acid can be used to produce fuels, plastics, solvents, deicers, coolants, and more, and no less industry lights than DSM, Myriant, and DNPGreen Technology think industrial biotechnology can deliver a biobased version that could revolutionize the market. DSM has even entered a partnership with French chemical giant Roquette to make biobased succinic acid a reality. Biobased succinic acid would displace a range of chemicals made from petroleum, providing a boost to US energy security, and creating jobs in the whithering US chemicals industry. Better still, biobased succinic acid acutally consumes CO2 in the production process, providing a double benefit to the climate. Judging by the session's attendance, the secret is out.