Italy-headquartered bio-based materials company Novamont has announced it has opened a plant for the production of butanediol (BDO) directly from sugars through the use of bacteria.
Derived from butane, butanediol is a chemical intermediate, usually obtained from fossil sources, which is used for the production of plastics, elastic fibres and polyurethanes.
Novamont says that the new facility, Mater-Biotech, in Bottrighe near Rovigo on Italy's Po River delta will produce 30,000 tonnes per year of low-impact Bio-Butanediol and save more than 50% in terms of CO2 emissions.
Novamont is investing €100m in the Bottrighe plant which will employ around 70 people directly when fully operational, plus another 180-200 when also considering the supply chain.
Currently, the company states, it is estimated that the BDO market is worth €3.5bn per year with a volume of 1.5 million tonnes and has an estimated capacity to grow to more than €6.5bn and 2.7 million tonnes by 2020.
Novamont partnered with California, US-based biotech company Genomatica for the new plant.
With Genomatica, Novamont has developed a biotechnological platform which takes sugars and transforms them into bio-butanediol through engineered e.coli type bacteria.
Catia Bastioli, Novamont CEO said: “Mater-Biotech is just one facet of a system of world leader, interconnected plants to be seen as a formidable accelerator, a way of multiplying opportunities in the bioplastics and chemicals fields for the producers of raw materials, for the producers of finished products, for new entrepreneurial initiatives, for the creation of jobs, and for those who are concerned about planning a future with greater environmental and social sustainability”.
“Mater-Biotech, together with the Novamont research centres in Piana di Monte Verna and Novara, represents a formidable platform for industrial biotechnologies, from basic research to flagship plants. A major opportunity to create competitive edge in partnership with other entities in the academic and industrial sectors”.
Novamont currently has around 600 employees and an annual global turnover of €170m. It has offices in Germany, France and the US and states it operates through its own distributors in Benelux, Scandinavia, the UK, China, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.