Global Bioenergies, IBN-One, Cristal Union and L’Oréal launch a new bioeconomy project

Élysée Palace in Paris

Waiting for the French national strategy, the bioeconomy moves forward in France. Global Bioenergies, IBN-One, Cristal Union and L’Oréal announced yesterday the launch of a 44-month industrial and commercial project focused on the first bio-isobutene plant.

The €9 million funding was approved within the framework of the Investissements d’Avenir programme, as part of the Demonstrators for the Environmental and Energy Transition section, operated by Ademe, an agency which is active in the implementation of public policy in the areas of the environment, energy and sustainable development. This funding is made up of repayable advances in the event of success, and will be paid out in several tranches throughout the project, including an initial tranche of 15%.

Global Bioenergies, the project coordinator, will mainly be responsible for completing the industrial development of the process, and may receive up to €5.7 million.

Isobutene is a platform molecule that can be converted into gasoline, rubber, various materials, and which is also used in various applications by the chemical and cosmetics industries. Fifteen million tonnes of isobutene are produced every year from fossil resources. Since 2008, Global Bioenergies has been developing a process to produce isobutene from renewable resources (residual sugar, agricultural and forestry waste). This innovative process will reduce the carbon dioxide footprint for isobutene manufacture.

Frédéric Pâques, Chief Operations Officer of the French biotech company, stated: “We would like to thank the French state, who has supported us ever since the Isobutene programme was launched. The process is now entering a new phase of development: step by step, we are leading up to our targeted performance, and we are getting ready to run the process in our demo plant, whose construction in Germany will be completed within the next few months.”.

IBN-One, which was created in 2015 as a Joint-Venture owned 50% by Global Bioenergies and 50% by Cristal Union to engineer and build on one of Cristal Union’s site in France a first bio-isobutene commercial plant, and to operate it profitably, may receive €3.3 million, which will mainly be dedicated to life cycle analyses, engineering design work in the plant, and the market value validation of derivatives intended for the fuels (gasoline and kerosene), materials and cosmetics.

Bernard Chaud, Ceo of IBN-One, pointed out: “Obtaining this funding marks an important step on the road leading us to having the IBN-One plant up and running. We have just concluded the plant’s conceptual design, and will now enter the detailed engineering phase. This plant should become operational in 2019, with an annual capacity of approximately 50,000 tonnes. Atmospheric emissions of CO2 will be reduced by more than twice the amount of isobutene produced.”

Cristal Union is working on the supply of sugar beet substrates and preparing the integration of the future production unit into one of its sites.

“It will be the first commercial plant producing bio-sourced isobutene worldwide” said Xavier Astolfi, Deputy Ceo of Cristal Union. “This project is developing in the context of the impending end to sugar quotas, which is inspiring the entire European beet growing industry to identify additional outlets.”

L’Oréal will test batches of compounds derived from bio-sourced isobutene, with a view to becoming an IBN-One client once the plant operational.

Laurent Gilbert, Sustainable Innovation Director at L’Oréal, added: “Isobutene is a molecule whose derivatives are widely used in cosmetics. Accessing sustainable, bio-sourced products is in line with our commitments towards protecting the environment.”

According to Marc Delcourt, Ceo of Global Bioenergies, “this commercial plant project moves forward in a context where the main energy agencies consider the end of oil overproduction to be fast approaching. IBN-One will help to reduce the consumption of fossil resources and will contribute in building a more environmentally friendly world.”

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