Amyris Biotechnologies and São Martinho Enter Into Agreement for Boa Vista Mill to be First Commercial Producer of Amyris Renewable Products

03 December 2009

Amyris Biotechnologies, Inc. intends to acquire a 40% stake in the Boa Vista mill, an ethanol-producing mill owned and operated by the São Martinho Group, one of the largest and most efficient sugar and ethanol producers in Brazil. The parties will work together to convert this mill to produce Amyris renewable products with first production targeted for the 2011-2012 harvest season.

Amyris applies synthetic biology to alter the metabolic pathways of microorganisms to engineer “living factories” that transform sugar into any one of 50,000 different molecules used in a wide variety of energy, pharmaceutical and chemical applications. Amyris’s initial products include renewable molecules that will be used to make a variety of consumer goods, and in various industrial applications that are currently based on petrochemical components. It is also possible to produce renewable drop-in diesel and jet fuel with performance equal to or better than existing biofuels and oil-based fuels.

Embraer, General Electric, and Amyris Biotechnologies recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to evaluate the technical and sustainability aspects of Amyris’ No Compromise renewable jet fuel. The initiative can culminate in a demo flight, by early 2012, of an Embraer E-Jet using GE engines and belonging to Azul Linhas Aéreas. (Earlier post.)

Earlier in 2009, Amyris completed its first successful demonstration drive using Amyris renewable diesel. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also officially registered Amyris’s renewable diesel fuel, the first time a hydrocarbon-based fuel made from plant-derived resources. (Earlier post.)

The Boa Vista mill, located in Quirinópolis, Goiás, began operations in June 2008. The mill currently has 2.25 million metric tons of sugarcane crush capacity. In addition, the agreement will allow the Iracema mill, also controlled by the São Martinho Group, to adopt this technology one to two years following the Boa Vista commercialization.

Under the terms of the agreement, Amyris is to acquire its stake in the Boa Vista mill for Brazilian reais R$140 million (US$82 million), to be paid to São Martinho through a combination of Amyris stock, cash and a note payable. The agreement is still subject to the conclusion of the due diligence process as well as approval of the final contracts by the board of directors and shareholders of São Martinho and of Amyris.

The joint undertaking will produce renewable products in an integrated chain beginning with the harvest of sugarcane and ending with the final product, drawing on the São Martinho Group’s expertise in the production of renewable carbon with the lowest cost in the sugar and energy sector.

—Fabio Venturelli, CEO of São Martinho

The São Martinho Group is one of the largest sugar and ethanol groups in Brazil, processing 13.3 million metric tons of sugarcane each harvest year, for production of approximately 720,000 metric tons of sugar, 600 million liters of ethanol and 15,000 MWh of electric power. The group operates three mills: São Martinho in Pradópolis (in the Ribeirão Preto region of São Paulo state), Iracema, in Iracemápolis (in the Limeira region of São Paulo state), and Boa Vista (in Quirinópolis, 300 km from Goiânia in Goiás state), in addition to Omtek, a unit that produces ribonucleic acid (also in Iracemápolis). The average harvest mechanization ratio is 82%, with this figure reaching 100% at the Boa Vista mill.

"The initiative can culminate in a demo flight, by early 2012, of an Embraer E-Jet using GE engines and belonging to Azul Linhas Aéreas. (Earlier post.)"

If any new fuel is virtually chemically identical to the existing fuel (a "drop-in") and it's been jet engine tested, why are there often years of "preparation" required to typically run just one of four jet engines for only thirty minutes in flight?

The failure of an aircraft engine because of new fuel is not acceptable so their must be years of tests.

But here with have a clear issue fuel instead of food. All such acticles should clearly state that there is not enough sugar cane growing area in all of Brazil to meet Brazil's total requirement for energy.

BIO fuels are a fraud because there is not now enough crop plant growth in the world to meet the current liquid fuel demands. ..HG..

Agreed. There isn't enough sustainable biomass to alone meet all our energy needs. Therefore EV's powered by renewables (wind/PV/Solar thermal), with hydrocarbon range extenders are the way forward in the short term. With large scale EV or PHEV penetration, liquid hydrocarbon demand will reduce significantly - I would guess as much as 20-35% of current demand. That 20-35% can be met with biofuels in the short term if a country is looking at energy independence. Brazil already satisfies about 50% of their liquid fuels demand with ethanol.

Looking to the far future, the 'BIO' route will be important in providing feedstock for the chemicals and polymers industries as advanced batteries will hopefully render the ICE obsolete.

Let's say we can meet half of our needs for fuel with biomass and would reduce oil imports 20%, I think that is worth doing. Combine that with hybrids that get 40+ mpg and you have a lot less imported oil from places that could cut us off any time they want.

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