Global Bioenergies starts scale-up of C 3 process
France-headed biochemical process developer Global Bioenergies has announced the start of the scale-up phase of a process converting renewable resources into acetone and isopropanol. In a further process, these two compounds can be converted to propylene, a key petrochemical building block with a market valued in excess of US$100 billion.
According to Global Bioenergies, the markets for the two 3-carbon compounds acetone and isopropanol are well established, extensively used in a wide range of industries including solvents, materials and cosmetics and worth billions of dollars. In a further process, these two compounds can be converted to propylene, a key petrochemical building block in the plastics industry with a market valued in excess of US$100 billion.
This initial success is a first step toward industrial-scale operation, to be implemented in a partnership business model. Global Bioenergies has both the scale-up equipment (pilot and demo) and the required chemical engineering and industrial design capabilities to drive the project forward, said Luc Mathis, Chief Business Officer of Global Bioenergies.
The innovative process is based on converting renewable resources by fermentation using bacterial strains with an engineered cellular metabolism. In nature, some bacteria produce acetone, but with a limited yield. Global Bioenergies’ innovation consists in radically remodelling the core carbon metabolism of the strains thereby unlocking high yields of sugar conversion.
Using strains whose core metabolism is engineered has enabled us to exceed the maximum fermentation yield obtainable by natural glycolysis-based bacteria in the lab while maintaining an important carbon flux towards the targeted products. In the future, these high-yield bacteria could be used to produce many other products, said Frédéric Pâques, Chief Operations Officer of Global Bioenergies.
The “C3 process” has been transferred to ARD, a company located on the Pomacle-Bazancourt agro-industrial site, which specialises in scaling up fermentation processes. A first fermentation run was successfully completed.
This first C3 process scale-up run has enabled the successful production of a mix of acetone and isopropanol at kilogram scale. We could reach tonne scale production as early as 2018, said Yvon le Hénaff, CEO of ARD.
Founded in 2008, Global Bioenergies develops processes to convert renewable resources into fuels and materials. The most technically mature process in the portfolio is for the production of isobutene, a 4-carbon compound, from which biofuels and biomaterials are derived.
While the process continues to be improved in the laboratory, demo plant trials are underway, and a full-scale plant project is being studied in a joint venture (JV) with Cristal Union, Europe’s fourth-largest sugar producer.
The isobutene and C3 processes target different markets which together constitute the core of the petrochemical industry, said Marc Delcourt, CEO of Global Bioenergies.