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White Biotech & Feedstocks: Manage Forthcoming Rarity

SpecialChem / Jean-Pierre Molitor – Mar 26, 2012

In every business school one teaches you that a viable strategy requires a good sense of anticipation to evaluate your project: Valorization of the limiting (or rare) factor; Risk & Opportunities; Value creation; Viability & visibility.

I hope I don't offend anybody if I say that the pilot plants, demonstration and production units built or under construction since 2005 fulfill at least 3 of these factors when an established biotech company sits in the driver seat while the vast majority of the remainder, mostly start-ups, are entering the adventure due to tax reducing venture capital, state guaranteed loans, subventions or tax exemptions supposedly limiting the financial risk.

In the white biotech today the most important rare or limiting factor is not only the usual "right microorganism" but also the biomass availability & supply chain and the competition with other usage like biofuel (of course) but also increasingly bioenergy (biogas & wood).

The topic of biomass availability has been investigated by various companies, stakeholders and institutes, much before the fuels versus food debate escalated back in 2008. The results differ by magnitudes following the methods applied. Let's look in details both philosophies and I will conclude with Ajinomoto's Cassava project in Indonesia -- Land availability estimation Top down, Land availability estimation Bottom-up, Ajinomoto's cassava project in Indonesia.

Most study cases I develop in this blog are primarily targeted at the biofuel or bioenergy production in order to fulfill the EU or US targets. For the bio-based chemical intermediates, the estimated land use is far lower than the actual acres devoted to biofuels.

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