Amyris, Cosan team up for global production of biobased oils

By Bryan Sims | June 14, 2011

Brazilian ethanol giant Cosan S.A. and Emeryville, Calif.-based biotech firm Amyris Inc. have forged a joint venture entity under the name Novvi S.A. with the goal of establishing worldwide development, production and commercialization of renewable base oils made from Biofene, Amyris’s biobased farnesene.

Specifically, Novvi aims to commercialize a line of synthetic, renewable base oils for the lubricants market that are designed to improve upon the degrees of environmental characteristics to include biodegradability, toxicity and renewability when compared with traditional petroleum-derived base oils. Novvi plans to source Amyris’s Biofene initially from its production facilities, convert it through chemical processing into high-end renewable base oils and market the products globally. Longer term, Novvi may construct dedicated Biofene production facilities.

For Amyris, aligning itself with Cosan is a major step toward commercializing Biofene due to its breadth of knowledge in Latin American and global markets, supply/distribution infrastructure and other resources that the company can access, according to Chief Financial Officer Jeryl Hilleman. In 2008, Cosan acquired fuel, lubricant and specialty chemical assets from ExxonMobil worth an estimated $826 million. The acquired plants include a lubricants plant in Rio de Janeiro and a controlling stake in a lubricant terminal in Duque de Caxias. 

“[Cosan] brings a lot of expertise to really complement the potential of what we can do through our technology,” Hilleman told Biorefining Magazine, adding that Novvi expects to introduce its first products by next year.

Cosan is no stranger to partnerships in the renewable chemical and biofuels space. Most recently, Cosan, along with oil major Royal Dutch Shell, formed Raizen, to produce and sell ethanol derived from sugarcane.

The official formation of Novvi culminates an initial agreement both companies executed back in December 2010 when they conducted a set of business, technical and commercial studies and tests to assess the feasibility of the formation of a joint venture.