Processing Magazine

Evonik and BioAmber partner on catalysts from bio-based succinic acid

July 31, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — Evonik Industries'' Catalysts Business Line recently agreed with U.S.-based BioAmber Inc. to cooperate in the development and manufacturing of catalysts for making BDO (1,4- butanediol), THF (tetrahydrofuran) and GBL (gamma - butyrolactone) from bio-based succinic acid. BDO, THF and GBL are large volume industrial chemicals used in a range of applications including polymers, paints, adhesives and solvents. The global market for these products currently made from petrochemicals is $4 billion.

BioAmber is a leading manufacturer of bio-succinic acid from renewable feedstock. Bio-succinic acid is a platform chemical that can be used to make a number of products currently made from petrochemicals. The company licensed BDO hydrogenation catalyst technology from DuPont in 2010, which has been further developed with partners Evonik and the Center for Applied Catalysis at Seton Hall University. In parallel, BioAmber and Evonik have started to develop a new generation of BDO catalysts.

BioAmber operates the world''s only dedicated production plant for bio-succinic acid in Pomacle, France with a 350,000 liter commercial scale fermenter. The company, together with Mitsui & Co., has broken ground in Sarnia, Canada on a 17,000 metric ton bio-succinic acid plant that will be operational in late 2013, with plans to expand capacity to 34,000 metric tons of succinic acid, and a 23,000 metric tons BDO plant in late 2014. BioAmber has plans to build additional succinic acid and BDO plants with Mitsui & Co.

"Through our collaboration with Evonik, we have secured the expertise and capabilities we need to rapidly bring competitive BDO and THF technology to market," Jean-Francois Huc, BioAmber CEO, says. "We are fortunate to have a partner of Evonik''s caliber who can both optimize and manufacture our immediate catalyst needs and also develop with us a new generation of catalysts," Huc adds.