Wednesday, June 30, 2010

BIO’s World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing

The BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotech and Bioprocessing happened in Washington DC, and BiofuelsDigest filed a report. The most interesting item was news about biorefineries.
... the cross-over from chemicals to fuels and back again is – that is to say, the integrated biorefinery model — is another trend at BIO.

ZeaChem is continuing to finish out a suite of 2-carbon products including ethyl acetate, acetic acid and ethanol. LS9 is continuing down a two-pronged strategy of diesel fuels and surfactants that are the chief components in detergents. Amyris last week announced a whole slew of partnerships to exploit its ability to make low-cost fanesene for the cosmetic and other industries. Solazyme is making renewable fuels for the US Navy (among others) as well as renewable oils for the food and fragrances industries. _BiofuelsDigest
Speaking of ZeaChem, they appear to be on the verge of commercial scale production of cellulosic ethanol PLUS a whole raft of co-products, using the biorefinery model:
ZeaChem’s approach can deliver a range of chemicals and fuels within the carbon chain product groups. Imbler says that the company has started work on its C3 organism (which would produce lactic acid, rather than the acetic acid produced by its current C2 organism). The C3 product platform would include propionic acid, propanol and propylene. Moving on to C4 could produce butanol.
Through the successful production of ethanol, we’ve completed ZeaChem’s C2 carbon chain suite of products, which includes acetic acid, ethyl acetate, and ethanol. The next step is to integrate these known processes to achieve the ultimate target of commercial production of economical and sustainable biofuels and bio-based chemicals.
—Jim Imbler
ZeaChem Carbon Chain Product Groups
C2 ChainC3 ChainC4 ChainC6 Chain
Acetic Acid
Ethyl Acetate
Ethylene Glycol
Lactic Acid
Propylene Glycol
Acrylic Acid & Esters
Propionic Acid
Methacrylic Acid & Esters

Feedstock. Although the ZeaChem process is feedstock agnostic, it is initially concentrating on its farmed hybrid poplar trees. ZeaChem’s analysis has shown the use of short rotation hybrid poplars offers the lowest cost per BDT/acre/year. These short-rotation hybrids can be harvested as often as three years, and require replanting only once every five harvests.

Zeachem's microbe produces acetic acid which is then chemically transformed to ethanol -- or a number of co-product high value chemicals for other industries.

An entire industry based on biorefineries is being born. Download the World Economic Forum's PDF report for more information.

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