Delft, The Netherlands -- Reverdia, a joint venture between Royal DSM and Roquette Freres to make bio-based succinic acid, has been formally approved by the regulatory authorities. The company is setting up a 10 kilotonnes-per-annum facility at the Roquette site in Cassano Spinola, Italy, scheduled to be operational by the end of Q3 2012.
The company claims this plant makes it the first in the world to have a large-scale facility for the commercial production of bio-based succinic acid. The organisation will also benefit from "the best and most sustainable fermentation technology to produce bio-based succinic acid," a process which has been under development since 2008, the company adds.
Reverdia said in a 28 March statement that it aims to build on its emerging leadership position for bio-based succinic acid, marketed as Biosuccinium, through its proprietary production technology and by ensuring reliable supply to meet the evolving market demands.
"Biosuccinium is a unique, high quality bio-based succinic acid produced with the most advanced and sustainable technology," said Will van den Tweel, Reverdia's general manager, in the company statement.
"Reverdia developed a unique proprietary yeast technology to convert sugars into succinic acid. The novel process is simple, stable, very energy efficient and generates less waste and impurities than the bacteria-based technologies which are currently being used in alternative routes for bio-based succinic acid."
As a business, Reverdia combines DSM's expertise in Materials Sciences and biotechnology with Roquette's know-how in plant-based raw material processing.
The company notes that bio-based succinic acid is produced with sustainable technologies that minimise carbon footprint. The material is a building block for the manufacture of polymers, resins and other products, with key uses including footwear, packaging and paints.
Reverdia says the proximity of the Italian site to the port of Genoa ensures efficient global logistics.
The plant will be fully backward-integrated with on-site production of the starch feedstock and will employ co-generation of steam and power as well as on-site waste water treatment. In total this results in a "best-in-class carbon footprint for Biosuccinium," Reverdia claims.
A demonstration plant has been operating since January 2010 on the Roquette site in Lestrem, France to validate and optimise the technology as well as to provide pre-commercial samples for application development.
"The demonstration plant provided an excellent opportunity to gain technical experience on the production process of Biosuccinium. Combined with the expertise we have with the scale-up of processes and installations, we expect a smooth start-up of our commercial plant in Cassano," said Jean-Pierre Vannier, operations director for Reverdia.
Biosuccinium will provide the impetus for an entire range of more renewable, and more sustainable products. At a larger commercial scale, Biosuccinium is envisioned to be able to compete with both petrochemical-based succinic acid and petrochemical-based adipic acid.
Existing markets for chemically produced succinic acid include pharmaceuticals, food, coatings and pigments, but Reverdia believes that the availability of competitive, high quality and sustainable succinic acid such as Biosuccinium will drive the emergence of new applications.
In addition to economic competitiveness, the product's sustainability will enable possible applications such as: polyester polyols for polyurethanes, polybutylene succinate (PBS), plasticisers, 1,4-butanediol, composite and coating resins.
In these uses it will serve end-markets as diverse as packaging, footwear, elastane clothing, shopping bags, mulch films, automotive interiors and more.
Reverdia is exhibiting at UTECH Europe 2012, 17-19 April, MECC, Maastricht, The Netherlands, on stand 1495.
PIC: Reverdia's bio-succinic acid plant at Cassano Spinola, Italy, under construction.