Bio-based chemical start-up Genomatica announced today that it has raised $15 million in a third-round of venture funding, led by new investor TPG Biotech. Genomatica will use the money to construct a demonstration-scale (about 30,000 liters a year) facility to make 1,4 butanediol (BDO). BDO is used to make high-performance polymers, solvents and fine chemicals for use in clothing, cars and electronics.
Bio-based – and so-called sustainable chemical firms – are grabbing some of the spotlight from their more well-publicized renewable fuels cousins. Proponents point out that chemical feedstocks bring in higher margins than fuels, and say that there is a ready market of eager chemical company customers that are looking to source their operations in a way that avoids swings in petroleum prices.
Christophe Schilling, Genomatica’s CEO, says that while the company works to design and construct the demo facility, it will also continue working on the throughput of the BDO made by its sugar-consuming organism. He tells C&EN the microbial workforce can make BDO at 99.7% purity and says by the time the demo facility is ready to house the process, that Genomatica will have a technology to make the feedstock cost competitive to the petroleum-based alternative.
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