Italian levulinic acid producer GF Biochemicals and American Process Inc. (API), a bioprocess technology firm, have announced plans to jointly build a cellulosic biorefinery in the U.S. The refinery would be the world’s largest, with capacity to generate up to 200,000 metric tons per year of biobased products.
The agreement exploits the natural synergy between the two companies. API’s existing bio-refinery in Georgia can process any biomass or mixed feedstock to produce clean, low-cost, cellulosic sugars. Their performance equals that of dextrose. GF Biochemicals has already scaled up its own technology to produce levulinic acid and its derivations at commercial scale directly from biomass. The company has successfully produced levulinic acid, a building block molecule for various industrial applications, from sugars deriving from wood.
GF Biochemicals and API propose to set up a consortium to repurpose an old industrial site that has an existing biomass supply chain. GF wants to produce levulinic acid, polyols, plasticizers, esters, and solvents at the refinery. API aims to make ethanol, nanocellulosic products, and sugars.
The global market for bio-based chemical substitutes is set to grow substantially as industrial and energy companies seek environmentally sustainable alternatives for their raw materials that can compete on price and performance with oil-based equivalents. According to the API and GF, the markets targeted by the products they aim to produce have a potential annual value of USD 10 billion.
Dr. Theodora Retsina, founder and CEO of API, said that the agreement would be instrumental in delivering the new biorefinery and introducing high-quality bio-based products to the market at commercial scale. She added: “It will exploit synergies between our two companies and bring other parties to the consortium to create a world-class integrated biorefinery. This will be a structured process, powered by both the learning from our own success and failures and those of others in this space. We are pleased to join forces with GF Biochemicals in our shared vision to develop a viable bioeconomy.”
Pasquale Granata, Co-Founder of GF Biochemicals, said: “We are proud to be working with American Process as we move to the next phase in our strategy. Over the past few years we have de-risked our patented technology and have proven that it can produce levulinic acid at a competitive cost to the oil-based equivalents. Together with American Process we will be able to scale up our production of levulinic acid as well as offering a larger variety of bio-based products to the market.” (KL)
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