The US biotech company Amyris aims at becoming a great player in the world bioeconomy. Founded in 2003 in the San Francisco Bay Area by a group of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, Amyris – as anticipated during its prior quarter results call – has begun the production of its first fragrance oil at a specialty contract manufacturing facility. In 2014, building on the successful results of its initial fragrance oil production and based on feedback from its partner, Amyris plans to also produce this fragrance oil at its own Brotas production facility. The Brotas biorefinery currently produces Biofene, Amyris’s brand of farnesene, a renewable hydrocarbon used for a range of applications. Following planned improvements to the Brotas plant in early 2014, Amyris expects to be able to produce both Biofene and a range of other fermentation products, including its fragrance oils, at the plant.
This announcement follows the one of last December, when Amyris announced together with the French oil giant Total the formation of Total Amyris Biosolutions, a 50-50 joint venture that will produce market renewable diesel and jet fuel.
“We have produced our first fragrance oil for our partner Firmenich who will use it in its own formulations as well as supply it to some of its key customers. With the knowledge we have gained from successful scale-up runs, we plan to make modifications to our Brotas plant early next year that will allow us to produce this fragrance oil at our own facility. We believe this will help us increase volumes and lower our production costs, as well give us the flexibility to produce multiple products to maximize the overall efficiency of our Brotas operation,” concluded Melo.
“Amyris has proven it can produce at scale our first collaboration fragrance molecule using its innovative technology. This technology will enable Firmenich to make differentiated perfume creations with unique renewable ingredients. Our clients expect reliability of supply, cost innovation and olfactive differentiation, all of which we think the move to Brotas will help support,” said Boet Brinkgreve, Group Vice president, Ingredients at Firmenich.
Earlier last year, Amyris announced an expansion of its collaboration with Firmenich, with commercialization of its first fragrance molecule targeted for early 2014. The two companies continue to collaborate on additional molecules that Firmenich can market in the flavors and fragrances market. As detailed previously, the parties will share in the economic value derived from the sale of these ingredients.
As already said, last December Amyris and Total announced the formation of Total Amyris Biosolutions, a 50-50 joint venture that now holds exclusive rights and a license under Amyris’s intellectual property to produce and market renewable diesel and jet fuel from Amyris’s renewable farnesene. Total is Amyris’s largest investor, holding approximately 18% of its outstanding common stock, and is deeply committed to the development of next-generation renewable fuels from biomass.
“The joint-venture Total Amyris Biosolutions is a first step towards the commercialization of our renewable diesel and jet fuels. We are in the phase of scaling-up the industrial process and we expect to start commercialization within the next few years, once our joint research and development goals are met,” said Philippe Boisseau, President, Marketing & Services and New Energies, and a member of Total’s Executive Committee. “As far as commercialization is concerned, the new joint-venture will benefit from the know-how and customer access of Total, which operates in more than 130 countries and is aiming to become a key supplier in renewable fuels,” Boisseau added.
“The formation of this joint venture, anticipated by our streamlined collaboration agreement signed in 2012, paves the way for us to initiate our fuels commercialization efforts globally, building on Amyris experience with renewable diesel in Brazil and the growing demand for lower-emission jet fuels worldwide,” said John Melo, President & Ceo of Amyris, Inc. “Total has been a strategic partner for Amyris for the last three years and a model of how global companies can leverage our inspired science to deliver sustainable solutions for a growing world,” Melo added.
Amyris has developed advanced microbial engineering and screening technologies that modify the way microorganisms process sugars. The company based in California is using this industrial synthetic biology platform to design microbes, primarily yeast, and use them as living factories in established fermentation processes to convert plant-sourced sugars into renewable chemical and transportation fuel products.
This technology may help make it possible for producers to blend renewable hydrocarbons produced from sustainable biomass and organic waste into conventional fuel, in significant proportions. Renewable fuels developed by Total and Amyris may deliver energy density and engine performance comparable to the best petroleum fuels.