SAN DIEGO, California -- Braskem and Genomatica announced an agreement for the joint development of commercial process technology to make bio-based butadiene from renewable feedstocks. Braskem is the world’s leading producer of biopolymers and the world’s third largest producer of butadiene.
Under the agreement, Braskem anticipates providing significant funding of Genomatica’s development work over several years; will allocate significant Braskem R&D resources; and fund the construction and operation of pilot and demonstration-scale butadiene production plants using the process. In return, Braskem will receive certain exclusive license rights to use the resulting process technology in the Americas. Genomatica will also receive fees and royalties for each licensed commercial plant.
“Braskem has a clear strategy for investing in the research and development of renewable based chemical technologies as alternatives to complement our current product portfolio based on petrochemicals. In 2012, we became the world leader in Biopolymers when we announced the production of plastic made from sugarcane, and we are now further reinforcing this vision," said Alexandre Elias, director of renewable chemicals at Braskem.
“Braskem’s leadership in biopolymers and understanding of the potential of biotechnology make them a natural partner for Genomatica,” said Christophe Schilling, Ph.D., CEO of Genomatica. “Our partnership brings the industry closer to commercializing a more sustainable and cost-predictable butadiene.”
Further accelerates Genomatica’s butadiene program; extends geographic reach
The new agreement adds significantly to Genomatica’s butadiene program, which now includes investments of over $100 million anticipated under current agreements. Program milestones already include the successful production of pounds of butadiene in 2011, and funding from Versalis for Genomatica’s development efforts announced in April 2013.
The combined strength of current and future program partners will facilitate aggressive pursuit and delivery of commercial-grade process technologies for licensing to and use by the global chemical industry, using a range of feedstocks. The agreements with Braskem and Versalis provide a commercialization path in all major butadiene-producing and consuming regions of the world.
Genomatica, with 71 issued patents and 450 additional patent applications, has been applying its intellectual property and technology platform to develop multiple approaches for the commercial production of bio-based butadiene, using multiple renewable feedstocks. Partners in Genomatica’s butadiene program will gain specific access to a range of the resulting technologies.
Significance: strategic alternative for huge market
Butadiene, with a worldwide market demand of over 20 billion pounds per year, is a raw material used in the production of rubber for tires, electrical appliances, footwear, plastics, asphalt modifiers, additives for lubricating oil, pipes, building components, and latex.
The supply of butadiene, an important ‘C4’ chemical, has been decreasing due to a long-term shift to natural gas at petrochemical ‘cracking’ plants, and a scarcity of dedicated, ‘on-purpose’ production processes and facilities. This has resulted in substantial pricing volatility, which in turn impacts butadiene-based products, including tires. The butadiene process being developed by Genomatica and Braskem is expected to provide an economically competitive and environmentally-friendlier alternative, while providing a strategic alternative to the use of petroleum-based feedstocks.
Braskem is amongst Americas' top thermoplastic resins producers. With 36 industrial plants spread across Brazil, United States and Germany, the company produces over 35 billion pounds of thermoplastic resins and other petrochemicals per year. Braskem is the world's leading biopolymers producer with its 440 million pound Green PE plant that produces polyethylene from sugarcane-based ethanol.
Braskem America is one of the leading producers of polypropylene in the United States, with five production plants located in Texas, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and a Technology and Innovation Center in Pittsburgh. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Braskem America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Braskem S.A.
Genomatica is a widely-recognized technology leader for the chemical industry. It develops comprehensive manufacturing processes that enable its licensee partners to produce the world’s most widely-used chemicals a ‘better way,’ from renewable feedstocks, with better economics and greater sustainability than petroleum-based processes.
Genomatica’s first process, for BDO, is now commercial. Genomatica’s BDO process was used to make 5 million pounds of BDO in late 2012; and has been licensed by BASF and by Novamont. Multiple companies, including Lanxess, DSM, Toray, and Far Eastern New Century, have confirmed that BDO produced using Genomatica’s process can be used the exact same way for downstream products as chemicals made from fossil fuel feedstocks, simplifying and accelerating adoption. Genomatica is developing processes for additional major chemicals; the next is for butadiene, with Versalis and Braskem as partners.
Genomatica’s recognition includes the Kirkpatrick Award, recognizing the most noteworthy chemical engineering technology commercialized in the world in the prior two years; the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award; the Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation award; and being voted #1 Hottest three years in a row by Biofuels Digest.