Reverdia's Bio-Based Succinic Acid Plant, Italy

The plant is near the Port of Genoa

Reverdia, a joint venture (JV) between Royal DSM and Roquette Frères, announced the start of commercial operations at its new large-scale bio-based succinic acid plant in Italy in December 2012. The plant is located in Cassano Spinola and is the first large-scale production facility for bio-based succinic acid in the world. The construction of the commercial plant was started in 2011.

The plant applies non-fossil feedstock and patented environmentally-friendly technology. It has the capacity to produce 10,000t a year of pure and sustainable succinic acid.

Bio-based succinic acid is used in the manufacturing of products such as polymers and resins and final products used in the automotive, pharmaceutical and food industries. Major applications of the JV's products are for footwear, packaging and paints.

The decision to construct the plant at Roquette's site in Cassano Spinola was driven by its close proximity to the Port of Genoa, which helps to save time and reduce costs.

Joint venture background

"The plant is located in Cassano Spinola and is the first large-scale production facility for bio-based succinic acid in the world."

Royal DSM and Roquette Frères have been collaborating to develop succinic acid since 2008. A pilot demonstration plant with a capacity of 300t was launched in January 2010 at Roquette's site in Lestrem as part of the collaboration.

The optimisation of the technology and the results from the pilot plant further gave the impetus for the two companies to form a joint venture for developing the large scale commercial plant in Cassano Spinola. The decision to form the JV was announced in May 2011 and the joint venture was officially launched in March 2012, with approval from the European Commission to commercialise the product.

The JV currently markets the product under the brand name Biosuccinium. The product is also being supplied and produced by the JV in partnership with Helm.

Feedstock for producing bio-based succinic acid

The feedstock used for processing bio-based succinic acid at Cassano Spinola includes renewable resources. The use of plant-based feedstock (commonly starch from corn) for processing succinic acid enables energy savings of up to 40%, in contrast to the traditional use of feedstock based on fossil fuels (crude oil and natural gas).

Technology at the Cassano Spinola succinic facility

The process technology involved is the JV's patented low pH fermentation process includes the use of yeast.

"The plant applies non-fossil feedstock and patented environmentally-friendly technology."

The technology calls for fewer steps by processing the feedstock directly to acids, compared to other conventional technologies that use bacteria for processing the feedstock, which requires rigorous long steps. The JV's technology is also less susceptible to infection and hence requires less management.

The processing of feedstock at the plant begins with fermentation using yeast, followed by centrifugation, evaporation, crystallisation, dissolution and another round of crystallisation, before producing succinic acid. The product comes out with no salt content and mono-acids, which normally causes polymerisation.

The production plant at Cassano Spinola is also integrated with a co-generation plant and a wastewater treatment plant, further enhancing its environmental reputation.

Marketing commentary for Reverdia

Royal DSM is a Life Sciences and Material Sciences company primarily focused on health, nutrition and materials. The company is headquartered in the Netherlands and has 22,000 employees globally.

Roquette Frères, with its headquarters in France, has around 6,800 employees globally. The company's expertise is in nutrition, health and plant-based chemistry. It is one of the five leading starch manufacturers in the world and has a presence in more than 100 countries.

Reverdia, the joint venture company in which Royal DSM and Roquette Frères have equal stakes, functions using the expertise and experience of both companies. The JV further aims at launching another large-scale bio-based succinic acid plant by 2015 to meet the global demand for environmentally-friendly succinic acid.

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