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February 21, 2011
Volume 89, Number 8
p. 11

Biobased Chemical Deals Abound

Green Chemistry: Customers, investors, and technology firms link up for renewables production

Melody M. Bomgardner

Segetis makes biobased chemicals at this semiworks plant in Minneapolis. Segetis
Segetis makes biobased chemicals at this semiworks plant in Minneapolis.
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A gathering of biobased chemical firms in San Diego last week provided a venue for several companies to announce partnerships that they claim will accelerate commercialization and market development of their renewable products.

The mood at the Next Generation Bio-Based Chemicals Summit was one of “pervasive optimism,” says Mark Bünger, research director at Lux Research. “The attendees were saying ‘the recession is over, money is flowing, we’ll be producing millions of gallons of chemicals, and we have a way to get there.’ ”

Among the announced deals was a product development agreement between Segetis and green household products firm Method. Segetis, which makes chemicals derived from levulinic ketals, said a Method tub and tile cleaner featuring its renewable solvent will hit store shelves in March. Earlier in February, Segetis said it had begun to expand manufacturing capacity for its solvent and nonphthalate plasticizers to several million pounds per year at a contract manufacturing site in the upper Midwest.

Gevo arrived at the summit fresh from its Feb. 9 initial public offering of stock, which raised $107 million from investors, including German chemical firm Lanxess. Lanxess bought shares worth $17 million, bringing its ownership stake in the company to 9.1%. It had initially invested $10 million in Gevo in May 2010.

Gevo, which makes isobutyl alcohol from sugars by fermentation, said its first commercial facility, with a capacity of 18 million gal per year, will begin production in 2012 in Luverne, Minn. Lanxess signed a supply agreement with Gevo as part of the two firms’ partnership to develop renewable butyl rubber for tires.

And Elevance Renewable Sciences announced it has licensed molybdenum and tungsten metathesis catalyst technology from XiMo, which was founded by chemists Amir H. Hoveyda of Boston College and Richard R. Schrock of MIT.

Launched in 2007, Elevance manufactures specialty chemicals from natural oils, using olefin metathesis based on ruthenium catalysts. Last month, the firm reported raising $100 million in a third round of venture financing. In 2010, it formed a joint venture with agribusiness giant Wilmar International to build in Indonesia what it says will be the world’s largest biorefinery.

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