Genomatica and Tate & Lyle signed a joint development agreement for the demonstration-scale production of Genomatica’s Bio-BDO (1,4-butanediol). (Earlier post.) The Genomatica process produces the same BDO product that is currently made from a variety of petroleum-derived feedstocks, but uses 100% renewable feedstocks instead. BDO, an intermediate chemical with a $4-billion market worldwide, is used to make spandex (PTMEG), automotive plastics (PBT), running shoes, insulation (TPU), and high-value downstream derivatives.
Under the agreement, Tate & Lyle will dedicate a demonstration-scale production facility in Decatur, Illinois, for exclusive use by Genomatica for the scale-up of the Bio-BDO process. Genomatica is ramping its process to 13,000-liter fermenters followed by an integrated downstream process for BDO recovery and purification. The demonstration plant is co-located with a corn wet mill owned and operated by Tate & Lyle, providing ready access to a cost-effective, renewable feedstock. With engineering already underway, fermentations are expected to begin the second quarter of this year followed by fully-integrated plant operations in the third quarter.
The BDO produced by the plant will be allocated to leading chemical companies who have made a commitment to future off-take contracts. Successful operation at demonstration scale is intended to validate the design and basic engineering package for construction of the first commercial-scale plant.
The partnership with Tate & Lyle marks continued progress for Genomatica toward full commercialization of its first product, Bio-BDO, which Genomatica has been successfully producing at pilot scale in 3,000-liter fermentation tanks since the first half of 2010.
To date, Genomatica has achieved productivity, yield and titer at lab scale that would allow cost competitiveness with the best petro-based BDO cash costs in North America, the company says. In 2011, Genomatica plans to achieve the overall Bio-BDO process performance needed to deliver compelling project rates of return for commercial plants, with the first world-scale plant to be operational in late 2013.
Genomatica’s technology portfolio consists of proprietary computational modeling, wet lab microbe modification and specialized process engineering. Genomatica has raised $84 million from investors including Alloy Ventures, Bright Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Mohr Davidow Ventures, TPG Biotech, VantagePoint Venture Partners and Waste Management.