Friday, November 05, 2010

Another High Value Chemical from Biomass: Farnesene

Tate and Lyle PLC is partnering with Amyris Inc., to produce farnesene from biomass sugars, to serve as a platform for production of high value chemicals and fuels. Amyris has developed a scale-up plan for production of bio-diesel from biomass sugars, with fairly ambitious near-term goals:
Amyris applies industrial synthetic biology to genetically modify yeast to produce defined molecules via fermentation for use as renewable chemicals and transportation fuels. The company is focusing on Brazilian sugarcane as its primary feedstock. According to UNICA, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, sugarcane is the lowest cost feedstock to produce renewable products at scale and using it enables us to leverage the established Brazilian infrastructure.

Common to both the Amyris process and the sugarcane-to-ethanol process is the use of fermentation. Amyris plans to establish production capacity taking as input the same sugar source that is routinely processed by existing sugar and ethanol mills and directing it to customized fermentors, where it will be combined with genetically engineered yeast. _GCC
As noted above, early pilot production will be based upon sugar feedstock from cane. As better methods are developed for producing sugars from bagasse and other cellulosic biomass, the sugar feedstock will necessarily shift to the most economical one -- depending upon availability at particular locations. Likewise, as yeasts are made better able, genetically, to handle a variety of sugars, the most economical sugar feedstock is apt to shift.

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