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AkzoNobel, Photanol to Develop Photosynthesis-Based Chemicals

Photanol1AkzoNobel and Photanol have partnered to create technology that mimics the way plants use photosynthesis with a goal of producing “green” chemical building blocks that will eventually replace raw materials AkzoNobel currently obtains from fossil-based production.

AkzoNobel’s chemicals are used by the chemicals, detergent, construction, food, pulp and paper and plastic industries.

The collaboration is focused on Photanol’s existing proprietary technology that uses light to directly convert CO2 from the air into predetermined raw materials such as acetic acid and butanol. The only by-product is oxygen.

The Photanol concept uses engineered cyanobacteria that turn CO2 directly into predetermined products when exposed to light. By genetically introducing properties of fermentative bacteria into the cyanobacteria, the Photanol technology enables the bacteria to produce and excrete valuable compounds.

The CO2-consuming process is based on the principles of circular economy, and is sustainable, widely applicable and independent of the food economy, the partners say. The technology is not dependent on soil quality nor does it need high-tech infrastructure.

Application is modular and can be used globally to benefit consumers in both local small-scale settings and large scale industrial production.

In addition, compared to classical fermentation, Photanol uses 40 times less land area and up to 10,000 times less water.

AkzoNobel and Photanol will start by developing specific chemicals that are currently used by AkzoNobel’s Specialty Chemicals Business Area. The partnership is intended to be a stepping stone for potential commercial production of fourth generation bio-based chemicals.

Earlier this year AkzoNobel and renewable oil and bioproducts company Solazyme expanded their previous joint development agreement targeting an annual supply of up to 10,000 metric tons of renewable algal oils.

Last month AkzoNobel announced that it had created the world’s first fully compostable and recyclable paper cup using the company’s coatings technology, EvCote Water Barrier 3000, which is made from plant-based oils and recycled PET bottles.

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