Global Bioenergies announces a new milestone in scaling up its renewable resource conversion process into isopropanol and acetone. These two bio-based compounds target important markets in cosmetics and solvents. They can also be converted to polypropylene, a key component of the plastics industry, to more than $70 billion. A first pilot test was successfully conducted in December 2017. A demonstrator test corresponding to a new scale-up of a factor of 20 has now been successfully carried out and paves the way for a first commercial plant.
The C3 process, which enables the production of renewable isopropanol and acetone, is the second process in Global Bioenergies' portfolio to reach the scale of the industrial demonstrator. This process is based on a disruptive innovation: from bacteria to metabolism redesigned to maximize the use of sugars, thereby reducing the production costs of bio-based compounds.
Isopropanol and acetone are two compounds used by many industries (solvents, materials, cosmetics), and can be converted to propylene and then polypropylene, one of the main compounds in the plastics industry, with a market in excess of $70 billion.
The market's appeal for bio-sourced products, including green polypropylene, comes from environmental commitments made by major industrialists in fields such as food, cosmetics, toys and furniture.
ARD, which already operates Global Bioenergies' industrial pilot for the Isobuten process, had led the first phase of scaling up this isopropanol and acetone production process at the end of 2017.
The next phase, corresponding to the demonstration scale, was sub-processed to the Bioprocess Pilot Facility (BPF), located in Delft in the Netherlands. ARD and BPF are both members of the Smartpilots consortium, which brings together the main European institutions focused on scaling up innovative processes.
A first test was successfully carried out: the laboratory and pilot results were reproduced in a 4 m3 fermenter.
Frédéric Easter, Global Bioenergies' Chief Operating Officer, said: "The close collaboration between the Global Bioenergies and GMP teams has been one of the keys to success. We are very pleased with the responsiveness and industrial experience of GMP. The results not only validated this stage of scaling our process, but also demonstrated the robustness of it. ".
Marc Delcourt, Managing Director of Global Bioenergies, adds: "This fermentation scale is the last before commercial-scale exploitation. We still have several validations to do, and engineering work has only recently begun, but we are already discussing with major international manufacturers the commercial deployment of this process. The C3 process is now the second pillar of Global Bioenergies' value creation, after the Isobuten process. "