BASF Future Business GmbH and PURAC, subsidiaries of BASF SE and CSM nv, respectively, are cooperating for the joint production development of bio-based succinic acid. Both partners have been working on the development of the industrial fermentation and down-stream processing of bio-based succinic acid and will start production of commercial quality and volumes in the second quarter of 2010.
Succinic acid, a four carbon dicarboxylic acid, has the potential to be a key building block for deriving both commodity and specialty chemicals, according to a US Department of Energy 2004 assessment of top value-added chemicals that could be derived from biomass. The basic chemistry of succinic acid is similar to that of the petrochemically derived maleic acid/anhydride.
The major technical hurdles for the development of succinic acid as a building block, the DOE report concluded, included the development of very low-cost fermentation routes. At the time of the report, there were two organisms under active development for the fermentation of sugars (both C6 and C5) to produce succinic acid. Based on the available information in the literature regarding these two organisms, significant improvement in the fermentation was still needed to be competitive with petrochemical routes, the report said.
Using a fully equipped fermentation and downstream purification plant, the BASF and PURAC will demonstrate the economical production of succinic acid on industrial scale using an innovative pathway on the basis of renewable substrate. CO2 will be used as a raw material and fixed during the highly efficient fermentation process, contributing further to sustainable development.
Bio-based succinic acid will be applied as a monomeric building block in a variety of biopolymers, e.g. biodegradable polyesters. Furthermore, low cost succinic acid has high potential as a platform chemical and its downstream products. Both companies will work together in order to achieve manufacturing cost levels making bio-based succinic acid competitive for a wide variety of novel applications.
BASF is a global leader in intermediates, chemical building blocks and polymers; PURAC is the world leading producer of lactic acid and lactides from renewable feedstocks.