Metabolix partners with CJ CheilJedang to commercially produce specialty PHA

US-based bioplastics technology development firm Metabolix has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with CJ CheilJedang (CJ) for a strategic commercial manufacturing arrangement for specialty polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), including the company's recently launched amorphous PHA (a-PHA).

As part of the non-binding deal, both the companies have agreed to jointly work to complete the definitive agreements, under which CJ will fund, construct and operate a 10t per year PHA production plant at its Fort Dodge, Iowa, US facility, which uses Metabolix's PHA technology.

Under the contemplated definitive agreements, Metabolix expects to buy the specialty PHAs produced at the Fort Dodge facility from CJ as well as market and sell the materials to its commercial customers.

“We look forward to completing the definitive manufacturing agreements and beginning construction on the project.”

However, the companies are yet to define a framework for longer term expansion of the collaboration for larger scale PHA production and associated commercial activities.

Recently, Metabolix and CJ conducted a comprehensive feasibility study and assessment of CJ's Fort Dodge facility as a potential site for specialty PHA production and the finalised PHA plant.

Metabolix president and CEO Joseph Shaulson said: "The MOU with CJ provides a path to establishing the first tranche of commercial production capacity for our specialty PHA biopolymer materials.

"In addition to the significant investment in manufacturing at Fort Dodge, CJ brings impressive engineering capabilities and operating expertise that will be critical to the success of this project.

"We look forward to completing the definitive manufacturing agreements and beginning construction on the project in the coming months."

Last year, the company launched a-PHA from pilot production and this year the company is focusing on initial and continued sales of the product across the target application spaces.

CJ CheilJedang BIO head Hang Duk Roh said: "Metabolix's specialty PHA materials are well aligned technically and commercially, with our strategic plan to diversify the products and as CJ's first biopolymer product, a-PHAs will be a stepping stone for further expansion of the biochemical portfolio.

"The shift Metabolix has made to focus on a-PHA as a performance additive, as well as other specialty applications of PHAs is very promising and we are excited about the synergies that can be gained by combining our facilities and operating capabilities with the ongoing work Metabolix is doing to build the market for specialty biopolymers.

"Once the modification is completed, the Fort Dodge production facility will produce both lysine and a-PHA, diversifying our product portfolio."