Strategic Expansion

Global partnership drives commercialization of renewable diesel, chemicals
By Bryan Sims | January 09, 2012

If Amyris’ biobased farnesene, trademarked Biofene, isn’t a household name by now, it will be soon. The Emeryville, Calif.-based biotech outfit and French energy giant Total expanded their ongoing research and development collaboration to which Total will contribute an additional $105 million to the existing $180 million the two companies previously committed to the program, which was created in June 2010. Amyris plans to contribute at least $65 million to R&D of the renewable diesel program, according to an 8-K filing through the SEC in late November. Total owns approximately 21 percent of Amyris.

“With this expanded relationship with Total’s vast distribution network, as well as Total’s stated commitment to invest in production units, we expect to be able to co-develop products and, ultimately, deliver a global supply of sustainable renewable fuels at commercial scale,” says John Melo, president and CEO of Amyris.

In addition to the expanded R&D collaboration, Total and Amyris formed a 50/50 joint venture that will allow the two companies to have exclusive rights to produce and market renewable diesel and jet fuel worldwide and entail nonexclusive rights to other biobased products based off Amyris’ Biofene platform, such as drilling fluids, solvents, polymers and specific biolubricants. The venture is expected to launch by first quarter this year.

The creation of the joint venture “will strengthen Total’s position in the global renewable diesel market, which is projected to nearly double in size to 32 million tons in 2020 from 17 million tons in 2010,” says Philippe Boisseau, president of gas and power at Total.

—Bryan Sims