Mitsubishi Chemical Partners for Bio-based Feedstocks
This week brings two announcements by two U.S. bio-based chemical intermediate firms that they will explore supply partnerships with Mitsubishi Chemical. First, BioAmber, a bio-based succinic acid firm said it signed an agreement to supply the chemical for Mitsubishi's proprietary polybutylene succinate, a renewable, biodegradable polymer.
Secondly, start-up Genomatica, which makes biobased 1,4-butanediol via fermentation by genetically modified microbes, has signed a broad memorandum of understanding that includes a possible joint venture to build the first commercial plant in Asia for bio-BDO. The memo also includes a development collaboration for other chemicals that the two firms are both interested in, and notes that Mitsubishi has invested its own funds in the start-up.
The earlier press release focused on the possibility of lower-cost production using bio-based materials, but the Genomatica release quotes a Mitsubishi spokesperson giving a more nuanced version of why the company is pursuing the partnership:
“We respect and share Genomatica’s vision of the importance of sustainability for the chemical industry—and we recognize their achievements with C4 chemicals, which are strategic to us”, said Hiroaki Ishizuka, Representative Director of Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation. “Asia is the fastest-growing chemicals market in the world and we see great potential to deliver bio-based chemicals to this market as a growing complement to our current conventionally-sourced chemicals. We believe that a strategic partnership with Genomatica will provide market-leading economics and quality which will benefit both parties.”
Bioamber's Biosuccinic Acid Production Plant in Pomacle, France. Credit: Bioamber