Myriant draws from DOE-awarded funds

By Lisa Gibson
Posted April 8, 2010, at 2:02 p.m. CST

Using funds it was awarded from the U.S. DOE, Massachusetts-based Myriant Technologies LLC has begun design and engineering phases in the development of its biobased succinic acid facility at the Port of Lake Providence, La. It will be the biggest of its kind in the world.

Myriant, a biotechnology developer and renewable biochemical manufacturer, was awarded up to $50 million for the project and hopes to begin construction on the facility by September of this year, according to Myriant. The company's process for producing its biobased succinic acid uses both carbon dioxide and local sorghum to displace petroleum-based feedstocks. Succinic acid is used in a variety of applications including plastics, fibers, polyesters and pigments.

Of the 19 integrated biorefinery projects that won funding or loan guarantees from the DOE in 2008, Myriant's is the only one focusing exclusively on biobased chemicals rather than biofuels. The project, which will also benefit from an additional $10 million from the Lake Providence Port Commission and the Louisiana Department of Transportation, will help revitalize the U.S. manufacturing base, bringing much-needed job growth to northeast Louisiana, according to the company. Myriant and the Port had previously invested more than $13 million to make the site shovel-ready and Myriant has plans to further expand at the location.

"This project unleashes a new era of investment and job creation here in the United States by bringing together our core strengths in biotechnology, agriculture and manufacturing," said Stephen J. Gatto, chairman and CEO of Myriant. "The advent of industrial biotechnology represents an extraordinary opportunity for the United States, and we believe, a defining moment in our history."