PDO is a bulk chemical used in the manufacture of a new class of polyester fibres as well as coatings and plastic films. The chemical can be formulated into composites, adhesives, laminates, powder and UV-cured coatings, mouldings, novel aliphatic polyesters, copolyesters, solvents, anti-freeze and other end uses. The rapidly growing PDO market is forecast to be worth $3.5bn within the next five years.
Metex has developed a range of proprietary technologies which allow it to design highly efficient bacteria able to produce existing bulk chemicals from a wide range of renewable bio-based feedstocks. The fermentation methods provide sustainable solutions to the chemical industry, offering significant economic and environmental benefits over oil-dependent chemical processes.
Under the new agreement, the company expects to benefit from IFP’s in-depth technical expertise in production process design & engineering as well as in process economic optimisation for the development of a new benchmark process to manufacture PDO from glycerol (glycerin). The partnership will improve the global economics of the biodiesel production process and provides Metex with the feedstocks it needs to produce PDO.
Our agreement with IFP is one important step to ensure that we are developing the most economic industrial process for the bio-production of PDO. This collaboration strengthens METabolic EXplorer’s ability to develop economic bio-based solutions that are real alternatives to the current petrochemical processes. - Benjamin Gonzalez, CEO of METabolic EXplorerThe PDO process could play a crucial role in the overall economics of biodiesel production, thus highlighting the potential to transform the value chains of many post-petroleum bulk chemicals.
Others working on the similar green chemistry technologies have projected that optimizing biodiesel production in such a way that it yields a higher quality type of glycerol to be converted into PDO, could make the product 15 times more valuable (earlier post):
energy :: sustainability :: biodiesel :: biobutanol :: biomass :: bioenergy :: biofuels :: glycerol :: propanediol :: biopolymer :: green chemistry ::
METabolic EXplorer is a leading 'green chemistry' company focused on the production of bulk chemicals. It has developed cell factories for five important bulk chemicals which together have current sales of approximately $11 billion. These products have applications in fibres, biodegradable plastics, paints, solvents and second generation biofuels. The company’s strategy to capture a significant element of major economic benefits that its novel technologies deliver is to use a collaborative business model to allow it produce and market its bulk bio-chemicals.
Metex is also involved in the development of biobutanol made directly from starch. This promising biofuel is produced in a way similar to ethanol, but has many advantages over the more widely used biofuel.
As an international research and training center, the IFP is developing the transport energies of the 21st century. It provides public players and industry with innovative solutions for a smooth transition to the energies and materials of tomorrow – more efficient, more economical, cleaner and sustainable. To fulfill its mission, IFP has five complementary strategic priorities: pushing back the boundaries in oil and gas exploration and production - converting as much raw material as possible into energy for transport - developing clean, fuel-efficient vehicles - diversifying fuel sources - capturing and storing CO2 to combat the greenhouse effect. An integral part of IFP, its graduate engineering school prepares future generations to take up these challenges.
Metabolix Explorer: Agreement designed to develop an optimised production process for Metex’ proprietary bulk chemical PDO - Ausgust 30, 2007.
Biopact: Steps to biorefining: new products from biofuel leftovers - August 10, 2007