Construction begins on Bioamber plant in France

By Erin Voegele
Web exclusive posted Dec. 19, 2008, at 10:03 a.m. CST

U.S.-based DNP Green Technology Inc. and France-based Agro-Industrie Recherches et Developpements, the research and development center for Champagne Ardenne agricultural cooperatives, announced Dec. 16 that their Bioamber joint venture has obtained the necessary permits and begun construction of a plant that will produce biobased succinic acid.

The Bioamber plant will be integrated into an existing biorefinery located in Pomacle, France, and is expected to produce 2,000 metric tons (600,000 gallons) of succinic acid annually. The plant, which is being financed by Agro-Industrie Recherches et Developpements at a cost of $27 million, will begin production in the fall of 2009.

Bioamber's technology can utilize a variety of renewable feedstocks, including wheat, corn, sugarcane, rice, lignocellulose and glycerin. Succinic acid and succinic esters produced through the technology are building block chemicals that can be used in the production of biopolymers, plastics, polyesters, resins, runway deicers, non-toxic solvents and as a diesel additive.

"The technology we've developed is very simple," said Roger Laurent Bernier, DNP Green Technology's vice president of research and development. "Instead of using oil-based [chemical] building blocks…we found a way to make the same building blocks with the same functionalities, but using biological processes."

The plant will utilize the U.S. DOE's proprietary E. coli bacterium, which is under exclusive license to DNP Green Technology and has been optimized by Bioamber. Through a fermentation process, the microorganisms feed on sugar and carbon dioxide to produce succinic acid. As a result of the microorganisms feeding on carbon dioxide, the technology captures the greenhouse gas rather than emitting it. In addition, the process can use sugars derived from a variety of sources, which makes the technology feedstock flexible. "You can apply and adjust the technology based on where you are located," Bernier said.

Bioamber is expected to make additional announcements in the coming months related to new strategic partnerships, contact sales of biobased succinic acid and the out-licensing of the technology platform to third parties through turnkey packages.