Genomatica and Cargill to accelerate the production of renewable chemicals


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Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica

Genomatica and Cargill have entered into a collaboration agreement to accelerate the production of renewable chemicals for industrial applications. The collaboration will give chemical producers, distributors and users access to a reliable, cost-effective source of carbohydrate feedstocks, co-location support services and production partnerships, based on GENO™ process technologies.

The companies will co-market Cargill’s feedstock and production services to current and prospective Genomatica licensees, and chemical users and distributors. To further strengthen the companies’ collaboration, Cargill made an equity investment in Genomatica and secured rights to make additional investments.

“Cargill’s production services give Genomatica an innovative way to accelerate deployment and better serve the chemical industry and needs of our customers,” said Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica. “This is a natural complement to the innovation, sustainability and cost-advantaged production enabled by our technologies.”

Combining Genomatica’s GENO process technologies with Cargill’s global strength in carbohydrate feedstock, risk management, operational expertise and readiness to build, own and operate plants worldwide for select customers, has the potential to help the bioeconomy expand more rapidly. “As Cargill continues to strategically expand its presence in the industrial biotechnology space, our collaboration with Genomatica broadens our portfolio of sustainable production solutions,” said Cargill Corn Milling Vice President Brian Silvey. “Companies will be able to produce or distribute chemicals used for industrial applications faster, more reliably and more cost-effectively.”

Industry participants – according to Genomatica – can gain different benefits. First of all, chemical producers can get started faster by having a ‘ready-to-go,’ reliable source for renewable feedstocks; and save time and money by locating next to a Cargill site for additional co-location services and potential production services. Users considering backwards-integration (production of their source chemicals) can now do so faster and more cost-effectively. Or, they can enter a long-term purchase agreement, without having to become a producer. Distributors can secure long-term supplies of high-quality, more sustainable products to supply to their customers to use in existing product value chains.

Genomaticas’s GENO BDO™ process is for the production of BDO, an intermediate chemical used in everyday products including athletic apparel, running shoes, electronics and automotive applications. The process is now commercial: it was used to produce 5 million pounds of BDO in late 2012, all sold and shipped; and has been licensed by BASF, the world’s first chemical producer and first BDO producer, as well as by Novamont in Italy.

In April 2013, Toray was the first company to publicly confirm successful production of bio-based PBT and part samples from BDO made with Genomatica’s process. In June 2013, Lanxess announced large-scale production of PBT in their standard world-scale plant. Also in June 2013, Far Eastern announced high-performance fibers and apparel made using BDO made with GENO BDO process. In October 2013, DSM announced they had approved BDO made with Genomatica’s process for use in their Arnitel product lines, and published a detailed technical paper with their testing process and results.

The US biotech company expects the first dedicated commercial-scale plant that uses its GENO BDO process to produce approximately 40 million pounds of BDO per year in a plant in Europe that is owned and operated by Novamont. Genomatica is also targeting deployment of larger BDO plants (>100 million pounds per year) by partners licensing its process in the United States, Europe and Asia.

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