GlycosBio starts on commercial biorefinery
US-based biochemical producer GlycosBio has begun building its first commercial facility in southern Malaysia.
The plant will be used to produce anhydrous ethanol and targeted biochemicals based on demand.
GlycosBio’s bacterial fermentation platform can convert a variety of renewable, non-food feedstocks including crude glycerin from southeast Asia and palm oil derivatives from the region into higher value biochemicals, such as Bio-based Synthetic Isoprene Monomer (Bio-SIM).
Isoprene is a critical component of synthetic rubber and is globally in short supply.
‘We think we’re approaching the market at the right scale for the opportunity with an initial capacity of 10kT/year in 2013 – we can go bigger in the future,’ explains Robert Toker, the company’s WP for partnerships.
‘We’re looking ar a 19 month phase one build and a mid-2013 commissioning window. We think southern Malaysia is a good place to start this project. Aside from feedstock, we have good market access and an overall sound business environment. There is respect for private property and IP rights and we feel we can safeguard our business interests there.’
The company’s Bio-SIM product will be sold into the growing synthetic rubber market in the region. As Toker explains: ‘The tyre market supply chain drives the isoprene monomer market. The demand fundamentals are sound with new cars and tires on the road in emerging markets such as China, Indonesia and India and significant supply constraints. The petrochemical complex at Jurong Island in Singapore is a stone’s throw from our location and we can touch all of Asia from our facility.
According to some estimates, including the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology, the bio-based chemical market is expected to grow at over 20% per year between now and 2017. The total value of the bio-based chemical market is expected to exceed $500 billion (€ 385 billion) by 2017.
GlycosBio has plans to develop four production facilities over the next 60 months.