An exclusive interview with Tony Duncan, CEO of Circa Group

“By taking the time to scale up efficiently and deliberately, our position in the bioeconomy is growing. Circa remains focused on creating non-toxic, high-performance chemicals from cellulose, using our FuracellTM technology. We are targeting a market of over 900,000 tonnes per annum, growing at 4%. While we do not want to compete in the inevitable price war currently unfolding, as companies vie to be ‘last man standing’ to extract some cash out of legacy plants producing these toxic products, we do see plenty of opportunity to sensibly scale into the market over the next 5-10 years”. To say this – in this long, exclusive interview with Il Bioeconomista – is Tony Duncan, CEO of Circa Group, an Australian innovative company which is converting biomass into advanced biochemical materials.

Interview by Mario Bonaccorso

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The bioeconomy is now: aniline can now be derived from biomass thanks to Covestro

Covestro, the leading supplier of high-tech polymers headquartered in Leverkusen, Germany, has scored a research breakthrough for the use of plant-based raw materials in plastics production: aniline, an important basic chemical, can now be derived from biomass. The German materials manufacturer achieved this by collaborating with partners on the development of a completely new process, initially in the laboratory. Until now, only fossil raw materials had been used for the production of aniline, which plays an important role in the chemical industry and is used as starting material for numerous products.

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Elevance Renewable Sciences partnered with Chemtura for lubricant applications

Elevance building in Illinois
Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc., a leader in natural oil metathesis that produces novel, high-performing specialty chemicals from renewable feedstocks, partnered with Chemtura, a global specialty chemicals company recently acquired by German Lanxess, for Elevance Aria® WTP technology and market development.

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Avantium and AkzoNobel to develop a reference plant at the Chemie Park Delfzijl

Avantium's pilot plant in the Nerherlands
Avantium’s pilot plant in the Nerherlands

Avantium, a leading chemical technology company and forerunner in renewable chemistry, partnered with AkzoNobel, Chemport Europe, RWE and Staatsbosbeheer for the development of a reference plant at the Chemie Park Delfzijl. This important step marks the next stage of a collaborative effort to determine the feasibility of a wood to chemicals biorefinery in Delfzijl.

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Leaf Resources invests in Malaysia for the construction of Bio-Manufacturing Facilities

Palm plantation in Malaysia
Palm plantation in Malaysia

Leaf Resources Ltd, the Australian company focused on making sustainable products from plant biomass, together with Leaf Development, its US-based joint development partner, achieved significant milestones related to the development in Malaysia of at least one commercial-scale, second-generation, bio-chemical production facility.

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The U.S. bioeconomy is alive and well. New report by BIO

Tom Vilsack and Barack Obama
Tom Vilsack and Barack Obama

The U.S. Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) released the new report “Advancing the Biobased Economy: Renewable Chemical Biorefinery Commercialization, Progress, and Market Opportunities, 2016 and Beyond,” documenting substantial, ongoing growth in the renewable chemical industry and outlining federal and state policies that support the industry.

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Tesoro becomes Virent’s new strategic owner

Tesoro

Virent and Tesoro announced last Tuesday they have reached an agreement for Tesoro to become Virent’s new strategic owner. The acquisition will support the scale up and commercialization of Virent’s BioForming® technology for the production of low carbon bio-based fuels and chemicals. As a result of the acquisition, Virent will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Tesoro and remain in Madison, Wisconsin.

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PTT Plc to develop biochemical products over the next five years in Thailand

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Asia is the new center of gravity of the world bioeconomy. Thailand’s largest energy company, PTT Pcl, plans to invest about 40 billion baht (approximately 1 bln euro) to develop biochemical products over the next five years.

The move will help Thailand become a centre for the bioplastic industry in the Asia Pacific region, Chansin Treenuchagron, senior executive vice president for PTT’s petrochemical unit, said, adding that biochemicals are expected to contribute about 2 percent of PTT’s revenue by 2020.

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The bioeconomy speaks Chinese

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Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of China

The bioeconomy speaks Chinese. Cathay Industrial Biotech, a Chinese leading privately-held industrial biotechnology company focused on producing specialty bio-based chemicals, announced a ground-breaking and agreement signing to initiate a significant expansion in their production capability for bio-produced long chain dibasic acids (LCDA) and ground-breaking of production facility for bio-pentanediamine (DN5), and bio-polyamide (bio-PA).

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New merger in the US bioeconomy: Aemetis acquires Edeniq

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Eric McAfee, chairman and Ceo of Aemetis

Aemetis and Edeniq, both headquartered in California (USA), announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Aemetis will acquire all of Edeniq’s outstanding shares in a stock plus cash merger transaction.

Edeniq, a leading cellulosic ethanol technology company, has developed patented innovations that unlock cellulosic and starch sugars through a combination of mechanical and biological processes. Its capital light and operationally efficient solutions can be easily integrated into existing corn ethanol plants. The company, founded in 2008, has raised approximately $100 million from some of the world’s leading venture capital firms, including Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Angeleno Group, The Westly Group, I2BF Global Ventures, and other leading investors, as well as US Department of Energy (DOE) grant funding.

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