French Global Bioenergies, one of the few companies worldwide, and the only one in Europe, that is developing a process to convert renewable resources into hydrocarbons through fermentation, announces having reached the first milestone of the BioMA+ project which is financed by the French “Investissements d’Avenir” State program. The project aims at developing a renewable value chain to methacrylic acid, a key constituent of acrylic paints. Achieving this first milestone result unlocks a €1.7 million payment.
Global Bioenergies develops since 2008 a process to convert renewable resources into isobutene, a core petrochemical from which fuels, plastics and rubbers are derived. The company announced in 2013 that the French State had granted a €5.2 million “Investissements d’Avenir” financing to a consortium composed of Arkema, the CNRS and Global Bioenergies. The objective was to put together and demonstrate at pilot scale a complete process that would first convert renewable resources (sugar, cereals and agricultural and forestry waste) into isobutene, which would in turn be converted into methacrylic acid, a key constituent of acrylic paints.
The French company was granted €4 million for this project and had announced in 2014 having received an initial payment of €600,000. It had in this context started-up an industrial pilot in November 2014 on the agro-industrial site of Pomacle-Bazancourt.
The company ARD, a subsidiary of the sugar refiner Cristal Union, is in charge of the pilot’s exploitation and now carries out on a weekly basis fermentation trials mimicking exploitation at full-scale.
Tony Genovesi, Global Bioenergies’ manager of the BioMA+ program declares: “The process adapts well to its new industrial environment, despite it being radically different to the laboratory environment in which it has previously been developed. We have produced more isobutene in the last three months than we had over the past five years!” The French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), who operates the “Investissements d’Avenir” program for the State, has validated the first milestone of the BioMA+ project.
As a result, the company led by Marc Delcourt will soon receive a 1.7 million euro payment comprised for one third of a subsidy and for two thirds of a reimbursable advance. Delcourt, Ceo of Global Bioenergies concludes: “The steady progress in scaling-up our isobutene process takes place while the oil industry is facing a major crisis. This crisis is linked to the massive but very temporary exploitation of American shale oil. However, it does not affect Global Bioenergies’ fundamentals in the short or medium term because the oil market’s equilibrium will most certainly be back before commercial exploitation of the isobutene process begins in2017-2018. Moreover, our isobutene process would be competitive from $50 per barrel crude oil in specific markets, with demand that represents several commercial-scale plants”.