Ludwigshafen, Germany -- BASF SE and Purac, a subsidiary of CSM nv. are negotiating a joint venture to make bio-based succinic acid. The companies have been carrying out joint research on the material - used for example to make butanediol for use in polyurethanes -- since 2009.
BASF and CSM said their complementary strengths in fermentation and downstream processing has led to the development of a sustainable and highly efficient manufacturing process based on a proprietary microorganism -- Basfia succiniciproducens.
Both groups expect demand for succinic acid to grow strongly in the next years, driven by demand for bioplastics, chemical intermediates, solvents, polyurethanes and plasticisers.
"We are happy to bring our partnership with Purac to the next level," said Dr Andreas Kreimeyer, a BASF board member, describing the joint programme to date as "very successful," and saying the JV's goal is to "become the leading supplier in the succinic acid market."
"We aim to be the first commercial producer in the market with a 25 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) capacity fermentation production plant at the Purac site near Barcelona, Spain, with the intention to start up by 2013 at the latest," said Gerard Hoetmer, chief executive officer of CSM, in the joint statement.
Hoetmer said the venture is already planning a world-scale 50 ktpa plant to account for the expected demand growth.
"After successfully testing the BASF in-house applications we are now able to make large volumes available for external customers," commented Dr Thomas Weber, managing director of BASF Future Business GmbH.
The process combines high efficiency with the use of renewable substrates and fixation of the greenhouse gas CO2 during production. This results in a positive eco-footprint and makes bio-based succinic acid an economically and ecologically attractive alternative to petrochemical substitutes, the statement said. Basfia succiniciproducens is a natural producer of succinic acid and can process a wide variety of C3, C5 and C6 renewable feedstocks, including biomass sources.