Novamont’s bio-based butanediol plant will be on stream by the next September

Catia Bastioli, Ceo of Novamont

Novamont’s bio-based butanediol (BDO) plant in Bottrighe di Adria (Veneto, North-eastern Italy), established as a joint venture (Mater Biotech) with San Diego-based Genomatica and now entirely controlled by the company headquartered in Novara, will come on stream by the end of September. It is a big step forward for the Italian bioeconomy, which is confirmed in its leading role in Europe.

Thanks to an investment of 100 million euro, Novamont has managed to revive an abandoned manufactory site of Bioitalia, former Ajinomoto, who was acquired in 2012 by the company led by Catia Bastioli, safeguarding 27 jobs, which later became 51 at the end of 2015.

The plant of Bottrighe di Adria will be the first facility in the world capable of producing butanediol (BDO) directly from sugars (30 thousand tons yearly), and not from fossil sources, as is common, through a low-impact process, whose co-products are completely reused.

The plant will see Novamont use Genomatica’s production process to make BDO, an intermediate that can be used in polymers like Novamont’s biodegradable plastic, Mater-Bi. BDO and its derivatives are used for producing plastics, solvents, electronic chemicals and elastic fibers for the packaging, automotive, textile, and sports and leisure industries, among others.

Genomatica said that even though Novamont has committed to purchasing all of the output from the plant, it may purchase a portion to “support further market development”. The deal also includes the possibility that Novamont may build and operate a second BDO plant, added the U.S. biotech company.

The butanediol business also affects Basf. Last September, the German chemical giant and Genomatica expanded the scope of their license agreement for the production of 1,4-butanediol based on renewable feedstock (renewable BDO) using Genomatica’s patented process. The parties added certain countries in Southeast Asia to their initial agreement, which focused on North America.

The license agreement allows BASF to build a world-scale production facility that will use the Genomatica process to manufacture renewable BDO. BASF secured rights to allow production of up to 75,000 tons per year. Under the terms of the agreement, Genomatica will continue to advance its patented GENO BDO™ process technology for the production of renewable BDO. The process, which includes a single-step fermentation, can be based on dextrose or sucrose as renewable feedstock. It was agreed not to disclose financial details of the license contract.

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