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BioAmber, Evonik to develop catalysts for succinic acid chemicals

25 July 2012

German-based Evonik Industries' Catalysts Business Line and BioAmber have entered into a long term cooperation to develop and manufacture catalysts to produce BDO (1,4- butanediol), THF (tetrahydrofuran) and GBL (gamma - butyrolactone) from bio-based succinic acid.

"BioAmber operates the world's only production plant for bio-succinic acid in Pomacle, France, with a 350,000 litre commercial scale fermenter."

BDO, THF and GBL, with a global market value of $4bn, are industrial chemicals used in polymers, paints, adhesives and solvents applications.

Jean-Francois Huc, BioAmber CEO, said through the collaboration with Evonik, the company has secured the expertise and capabilities it needs to rapidly bring competitive BDO and THF technology to market.

"We are fortunate to have a partner of Evonik's caliber who can both optimise and manufacture our immediate catalyst needs and also develop with us a new generation of catalysts," Huc added.

BioAmber operates the world's only production plant for bio-succinic acid in Pomacle, France, with a 350,000 litre commercial scale fermenter.

Dr. Wilfried Eul, Evonik's Catalysts Business Line head and senior vice president, said chemicals from renewable feedstock for daily life products become increasingly important as replacements for crude oil based products.

''Catalysts are not off-the-rack products; they need to be specially tailored to every individual synthesis reaction and process condition,'' Eul added.

''Evonik is proud to innovate together with BioAmber as a leading company in the bio-based succinic acid field, supporting our growth strategy based on resource efficiency."

To expand succinic acid and BDO plant capacity to 34,000mt and 23,000mt respectively BioAmber, in association with Mitsui, has broken ground for a 17,000mt bio-succinic acid plant in Canada, which is expected to be operational in late 2013.