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Panelists Look at Strategies for Building Differentiated Renewable Chemicals

December 15, 2014
Attendees of the Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy, had the opportunity to hear from panelists regarding “Strategy for Building Differentiated Renewable Chemicals” as part of the Renewable Chemicals Platforms Track. Moderated by Bill Baum, of Genomatica, the session featured panelists, Hans van der Pol of Corbion, David Gogerty of Global Bioenergies, David Sudolsky of Anellotech Inc., and  Jose Laplaza of Verdezyne.

Hans van der Pol, Director of Strategic Marketing and New Business Ventures at Corbion kicked off the session by introducing attendees to Corbion and the company’s work with lactic acid. As Director of Strategic Marketing, Dr. Hans van der Pol is responsible for development of new products.

Corbion, a Dutch multinational company, works in areas such as natural food preservation, biobased building blocks, and monomers for bioplastics. With 80 years of experience in the development, production and marketing of natural and biobased chemicals, Corbion is the global market leader in lactic acid.  Using a common fermentation process to achieve the lactic acid, Mr. van der Pol explained the major applications of lactic acid, including biobased food ingredients and biobased chemicals

Additionally, he explained Corbion has been focusing efforts on finding new technologies, specifically a path to lactic acid with no salt products.

Lactic acid market growth has been driven by continuous over the last 30 years. Most recently in bioplastics and chemicals.  Several external drives have impacted this growth including environmental concerns and regulatory measures. Since 2000, market drivers such as sustainability and technology have driven the growth and demand for lactic acid in the market.

Attendees next heard from David Gogerty, Business Development Manager at Global Bioenergies, He stressed the continuing importance to Global Bioenergies in discovering enzymes to produce hydrocarbons for products in our everyday lives. Mr. Gogerty explained that unlike other companies, the purpose of Global Bioenergies is solely focused on the development of innovative metabolic pathways for the production of light olefins from renewable resources through direct fermentation.

Light olefins are used in a variety of products including adhesives, rubbers, plastics, nylon, coating polymers, organic glass, fuels, carpet backing coatings, and foams. Global Bioenergies is not only driven to produce olefins through a renewable process, but there is an economic incentive as well as these products come from multi-billion dollar industries.

Much to the excitement of conference attendees, Mr. Gogerty mentioned that he last spoke at the Pacific Rim Summit in 2012, at which time, Global BIoenergies was a small, lab-based, R&D company. Since 2012, Global BIoenergies has experienced upward growth as a company and made several positive announcements in industrial production.

David Sudolsky, Founder, President and CEO of Anellotech Inc. shared his company’s product and plans for future development with Pacific Rim Summit attendees. Using technology developed at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst by Prof. George Huber, Anellotech has developed a clean technology platform for inexpensively producing petrochemicals from renewable non-food biomass materials. Working with feedstocks from residues of wastes such as wood chips, palm waste and corn stover, the feedstocks are ground and injected into a fluidized bed reactor in the presence of a proprietary zeolite-based catalyst and heated. The result is aromatic and olefinic hydrocarbons along with CO, CO2, H2O as well as unneeded coke. Some benefits of this technology shared by Mr. Sudolsky in his presentation of the technology are a great cost advantage, green chemistry based, and diversity in feedstock.

With development going forward, Anellotech has a demonstration unit, set to open in 2016. WIth plans to open their first commercial plant set for 2019-2020.

Mr. Sudosky explained with their growth and plans for the future, Anellotech is actively searching for new partners in the aromatics supply chain, commercial plant co-location partners, and feedstock partners.

Jose Laplaza, Ph.D., VP of Development for Verdezyne concluded the presentations.

Verdezyne is a renewable chemical company just north of San Diego, CA. Dr. Laplaza opened his presentation with some examples of common products were we may encounter Dodecanedioic acid (DDDA), including carpet, toothbrushes, and running shoes. Using a fermentation process with oil based feedstocks, Verdezyne can produce a number of widely-used, high-value chemicals, including DDDA.  Primary feedstocks used are by-products of vegetable oil production, such as those found in coconut oil and palm kernel oil.

Dr. Laplaza shared with attendees plans for Verdezyne demonstration facilities located in Malaysia due to access of feedstock.

Moderator Bill Baum then went to the audience for the Question and Answer portion of the session.  The discussion focused on downstream usability of renewable chemical products. The question of product usage was raised and all panelists agreed connecting with the future customer at the start of the process is vital.

Continue to check back with BIOtechNOW for more blogs highlighting the plenaries and track sessions that took place during the 2014 #BIOPacRim.