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Bioamber beats BASF to punch in greener chemicals game

01.02.2010

Pomacle – Industrial biotech company Bioamber S.A.S. has beaten German chemistry giant BASF in the race to launch the first commercial production of bio-based succinic acid. The company, which is a joint venture between US-based DNP Green Technology and France’s Agro-industrie Recherches et Développements, in mid-January announced the start-up of an industrial-scale plant based in the town of Pomacle, not far from Reims. The facility has an initial annual capacity of 2,000 metric tonnes. Bioamber uses mainly glucose and sucrose derived from plants as feedstock for the production of bio-based succinic acid.

Purer than petroleum-based product

According to the company, the succinic acid produced by an engineered E.coli strain is of a higher purity than its petroleum-derived equivalent. The substance is used in a wide range of processes and applications in the chemicals and pharmaceuticals industry. An organic acid, succinic acid is a building block that can be chemically transformed to produce plastics, polyurethanes, polyesters, solvents and de-icers. The product is aimed at a EUR210m world market of approximately 30,000 metric tonnes per year. World market leaders BASF, together with green chemicals manufacturer PURAC, announced last September that they will begin commercial production of bio-succinic acid in the second quarter of 2010 at a 4,000 tonne capacity plant near Barcelona. Bioamber has announced it will be selling the bio-based succinic acid to a variety of customers, and is now negotiating the sale of licences to operate large-scale plants.

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