French company Global Bioenergies has developed a process for converting plant resources into isobutene, one of the main building blocks of chemistry, whose derivatives are used in cosmetics, fine chemicals, commodities and fuels. A production unit is currently under construction in Pomacle to serve high value-added markets.
One of the intermediates in the isobutene synthesis pathway is of industrial interest: this 5-carbon intermediate, prenic acid, is also known as “methyl-crotonic acid”, “dimethyl-acrylic acid” and “senecic acid” (CAS 541-47-9). Its two chemical functions (acid and vinyl) allow it to be used in a multitude of compounds that are currently derived from petroleum and used most notably in flavours, perfumes and food additives.
As Frédéric Ollivier, Chief Technical Officer of Global Bioenergies, explains, “This is the first time this molecule has been produced from renewable resources. The production process for our biosourced prenic acid is now mature: it was developed in a laboratory setting and was brought to full industrial scale in 2021. We have already produced several tonnes of it. We have also developed a purification process, achieving purity readings of over 99%. Several major chemical companies have already expressed an interest in this molecule. We are preparing a sampling campaign for the spring.”
Marc Delcourt, co-founder and CEO of Global Bioenergies, added: “This process for the biological production of prenic acid is an opportunity to diversify our product portfolio. We are providing the C5 chemistry industry, which spans all molecules built from 5-carbon building blocks, with a new way of ensuring naturalness and improving the environmental footprint of countless products.”