Genomatica forwards sustainable BDO

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Petroleum

Genomatica claims it can process 1,4-butanediol (BDO), a precursor in pharmaceutical production, with 99 per cent purity from renewable feedstocks, removing the need to rely on crude oil.

By adopting the process Genomatica believes companies can sustainably produce BDO, lower their carbon footprint and cut costs compared to those manufacturing using fossil fuels.

Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica, said: “The first 100 per cent renewably sourced and purified BDO – it’s a powerful sight that symbolises the transformation that is possible for our industry​.

With a cost advantage over traditional manufacturing processes, our biomanufacturing method for BDO will release chemical producers from the fluctuations of the hydrocarbon markets and lower their overall carbon footprint, while meeting the growing demand for sustainably manufactured products​.”

Achieving 99 per cent purity is the last of Genomatica’s three milestones, which also saw the company demonstrate that its microorganisms can directly produce BDO in a fermentation broth from sugars with a yield, rate and concentration consistent with commercial goals.

Genomatica believes it has created a cost-effective and scaleable process and is preparing to develop a demonstration plant that will begin operating next year.

The company is anticipating interest from producers of BDO, which Genomatica believes is a $4bn (€2.8bn) market, that are trying to decrease reliance on fossil fuels.

Prices for fossil fuels have fluctuated significantly over the past decade, creating difficulties for industries reliant on them, and climate regulation threatens to worsen the situation.

In contrast Genomatica’s process uses sucrose, which has a tradable forward market, less market volatility than hydrocarbon feedstocks and is readily available.

Genomatica believes it may be possible to use carbohydrates derived from lignocellulosic biomass, such as wood residue, municipal paper waste and agricultural waste or energy crops like switchgrass.

The process

Genomatica has developed the process using its proprietary computer modeling to examine all possible biological production pathways for production of certain chemicals from renewable feedstocks.

The company then used genetic techniques to reduce by-products and increase titers, with the separation of purification representing the final step in the process. Further efforts are being made to reduce costs in all steps of the process.

Once the demonstration plant is operational next year the company will look to commercialise the product, possibly by licensing with partners, and look to advance other chemical products in its pipeline.

Related topics: Contract Manufacturing & Logistics

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