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DSM and Roquette to open commercial scale bio-based succinic acid plant in 2012; aspiration to switch eventually to biomass feedstock

Royal DSM, a global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, and the French starch and starch derivatives company Roquette Frères today will build a commercial-scale plant for the production of bio-based succinic acid.

Succinic acid is a chemical building block used in the manufacture of polymers, resins, food and pharmaceuticals among other products. Bio-based succinic acid, a renewable and versatile chemical building block, is an alternative to petroleum-derived chemical building blocks such as adipic acid and 1.4-butanediol. As a result of price competitiveness and its renewable nature, bio-based succinic acid is addressing a larger market than fossil feedstock based succinic acid.

With a capacity of about 10 kilotons per year, the plant will be Europe’s largest bio-based succinic acid facility. It is expected to come on stream in H2 2012 and will be built on the premises of Roquette in Cassano Spinola (Italy). Financial details of the investment will not be disclosed.

Early in 2010, DSM and Roquette opened a demonstration plant in Lestrem (France), which has been running at full capacity. In 2010 DSM and Roquette also announced their intention to establish a joint venture (which will be carrying out business under the name Reverdia) for their cooperation, subject to regulatory approval.

The new commercial production facility in Italy will be producing fermentation-based bio-succinic acid. The proprietary yeast-based fermentation process, which operates at a much lower pH than competing processes, according to DSM, allows succinic acid to be produced with a significantly higher energy efficiency compared to the traditional method. It is also one of the first bio-based processes that sequesters carbon dioxide in the production process.

The new production facility will for the time being use starch derivatives as feedstock. In the longer term the aspiration is to switch to second generation feedstock (cellulosic biomass).

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