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Global Bioenergies and Synthos announce direct biological pathway for butadiene; program entering development phase

6 December 2012

Global Bioenergies, a France-based industrial biology company developing sustainable routes to light olefins, and Synthos, a European leader in the rubber industry, announced the discovery of a direct biological pathway to convert renewable resources into butadiene, a light olefin core to the petrochemical industry. (Earlier post.)

Presently, 10 million tons of butadiene are produced each year from oil, representing a market exceeding $20 billion. 7 million tons are used to manufacture rubbers; 3 million tons are used to manufacture nylon, plastics and latexes.

In July 2011, Global Bioenergies entered into a strategic partnership with Synthos, a $1.2-billion revenues rubber manufacturer with the aim of developing a process to convert renewable feedstock into butadiene.

The first phase of the partnership was dedicated to the discovery of metabolic pathways to convert renewable resources into butadiene through a direct, gaseous fermentation process.

This discovery phase has now been successfully accomplished—the first direct biological route to butadiene has been experimentally proven. Several patents have been filed to protect these biological assets.

The success of this first phase triggered a €1.5-million (US$1.95-million) milestone payment to Global Bioenergies.

The butadiene program now enters the development phase, for which Synthos will contribute several million euros in total through yearly fees.

After isobutene in 2010, and more recently propylene, butadiene is now the third molecule for which we obtained an experimental validation. We are resolutely building a pipeline of direct, gaseous fermentation processes to convert renewable feedstock into various light olefins.

—Marc Delcourt, CEO of Global Bioenergies

Global Bioenergies shall receive royalty payments from Synthos on bio-sourced butadiene used for the manufacturing of rubber. Global Bioenergies retains the exclusive rights for non-rubber applications, such as nylon, plastics and latexes, representing an existing market exceeding $6 billion.

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