Novamont, Genomatica form JV, start biobased chemical facility

| August 22, 2011

Novamont, an Italian-based company that produces a biodegradable plastic from waste materials, and Genomatica, a California-based biobased chemical maker now have a lot in common. The two companies have formed a joint-venture to build an industrial biorefinery to produce Genomatica’s butanediol (BDO) for use in Novamont’s bioplastic products.

While Genomatica will provide an engineering design package and technology transfer help to Novamont, the terms of the agreement have put Novamont in charge of financing the future facility. The Italian-based company will also purchase the BDO produced at the plant, which is expected to reach roughly 40 million pounds per year when it goes online by the end of 2012. Novamont has indicated the company will convert an existing facility in Italy and will also run the facility once complete.

Catia Bastioli, Novamont CEO said on the agreement that Genomatica’s BDO process “is ready for scale-up,” and looks economically sustainable. “The scale-up of Genomatica’s BDO process will support the growth of Mater-Bi Bioplastics in line with Novamont’s strategy of integrated biorefinieries reviving de-industrialized sites.”

Christophe Schilling, Genomatica’s CEO noted that his company’s BDO process allows for production on a small scale, also calling Novamont a “leader in a rapidly growing segment of the BDO market.”

The partnership between the two companies is not the first for either. Genomatica has already partnered with Tate & Lyle, Mitsubishi Chemical, Gruppo M&G and Waste Management. Novamont has partnered with Eni, an Italian oil and gas company, to build another biorefining facility, located at a petrochemical plant owned by Eni. Novamont has also opened a North American facility in Connecticut.

Novamont believes that as incubator for new projects, the company should broaden the range of proprietary technologies and scope of applications that the company uses. “This means it has been able to equip itself with the technology necessary for upstream integration which is at the heart of the biorefinery,” according to the company. The project with Genomatica, “will connect the company to the region and create a strong platform from which to increase its international profile.”