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January 10, 2011
Volume 89, Number 2
p. 7

Biobased Chemicals: Myriant To Build Succinic Acid Plant In Louisiana

Melody M. Bomgardner

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Myriant Technologies will build the world’s largest biobased succinic acid plant at Louisiana’s Port of Lake Providence, the firm’s CEO, Stephen J. Gatto, announced on Dec. 28 in a joint statement with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Synthetically derived succinic acid, mostly made in China, is currently used in small quantities in pigments, pharmaceuticals, and metal plating. Proponents of biobased succinic acid claim its lower cost will open big markets in polymers, fibers, surfactants, and detergents.

The $80 million Myriant plant will use sorghum as a feedstock to produce up to 15,000 tons of succinic acid per year. The project received $50 million in Department of Energy funding last year as part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009. DOE has named succinic acid one of the top 12 biobased products with potential as chemical building blocks.

The plant will begin operations in 2012, Myriant says, and will employ 49 workers. It will be the first plant to make biobased succinic acid on a commercial scale.

In 2009, Bioamber opened a demonstration-scale succinic acid plant in Pomacle, France. Bioamber plans to ramp up production there to 3,300 tons per year by the end of 2011. Meanwhile, the company just licensed a new-generation microorganism for succinic acid production from Cargill.

Other firms intend to enter or advance their biobased succinic acid businesses. For example, BASF is working with Dutch firm CSM to isolate a new bacterium for succinic acid fermentation with an eye to starting production. And Reverdia, a joint venture between DSM and Roquette, plans to scale up from a demonstration plant in Lestrem, France.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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