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BASF, Genomatica Plan Renewable Butanediol Facility

BASFBASF has inked a deal with California biochemical company Genomatica to build a production facility to make sugar-based 1,4-butanediol (BDO) using Genomatica’s technology.

The German chemical giant says renewable BDO has valuable applications for the plastics, textile and automotive industries.

Under the terms of the agreement, Genomatica will continue to advance its patented renewable BDO production process technology based on sugars while BASF will produce renewable BDO, which will be available in the second half of 2013 for sampling and trials.

The companies did not disclose financial details of the agreement.

BDO and its derivatives are widely used for producing plastics, solvents, electronic chemicals and elastic fibers. The starting materials for the production of conventional BDO are natural gas, butane, butadiene and propylene.

BASF currently produces BDO and BDO-equivalents at its sites in Ludwigshafen, Germany; Geismar, Louisiana; Chiba, Japan; Kuantan, Malaysia; and Caojing, China, and has an annual capacity of 535,000 metric tons.

BASF has also announced it plans to build a BDO complex in China with a capacity of 100,000 annual metric tons.

In June 2011, Genomatica won an EPA Greener Synthetic Pathways award for developing a microbe that uses sugar fermentation to make BDO. When produced at commercial scale, Genomatica’s Bio-BDO is less expensive, requires about 60 percent less energy, and produces 70 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than BDO made from natural gas, the EPA says.

Also this month, US based biochemical firm OPX Biotechnologies entered into an agreement with another German chemical company, Evonik Industries, to jointly develop bio-based chemicals.

The agreement calls for OPXBio to use its proprietary efficiency directed genome engineering (EDGE) technology to develop the bio-processes. OPXBio will also be able to market bio-based products resulting from the Evonik collaboration.

Biofuel mandates and growth in the biochemicals industry are expected to triple demand for biomass by 2030, placing pressure on available feedstocks, according to a February report by Lux Research.

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