Bioamber produces bio-based 1,4-butanediol on industrial scale

28.03.2012 - Bioamber Inc. is one step closer to the environmental summit. The company's goal is to establish sustainable, "green" chemistry on an industrial scale.

The French/US enterprise has now scaled up its hydrogenation catalyst technology for converting biologically produced succinic acid into 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BDO), tetrahydrofuran (THF) and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL). These bulk chemicals are needed for making polyesters, polyurethanes, spandex and biodegradable plastics. The global addressable market for these products exceeds $4bn, according to BioAmber, with an annual market for 1,4-BDO alone of 1.3m tons. Bio-succinate has being produced since 2010 near Reims in a huge 350,000L fermenter from corn. Other production sites are planned for Canada (Sarnia, Ontario) and Thailand. According to Chief Technology Officer Jim Millis, Bioamber "is developing an integrated plant engineering design that combines the production of bio-succinic acid and bio-based 1,4-BDO on a single site". So far bio-succinate comes from Bioamber S.A.S's factory in France (Banzancourt/Pomacle). The endeavour to refine succinate into 1,4-BDO was undertaken together with DuPont (USA) which is one of the world's leading commercial catalyst suppliers. After successfully having established industrial C4-chemistry based on renewable resources, Bioamber is in the process of producing a C6-molecule (adipic acid), also in a sustainable manner. However, industrial production is not anticipated to start before 2015.


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