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Codexis and Chemtex to collaborate on biomass-derived detergent alcohols for the household products market

Codexis, Inc. and Chemtex, a global technology and engineering company wholly-owned by Italy’s Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi, are collaborating to develop and produce sustainable detergent alcohols for use in the household products market. Their collaboration includes development of second-generation detergent alcohols from cellulosic (non-food) biomass.

Detergent alcohols—a $6 billion worldwide market—are surfactants which stabilize mixtures of oil and water. They are widely used in laundry detergents, shampoos and other consumer products. Detergent alcohols today are made from non-sustainable palm kernel and petroleum sources.

The collaboration with Chemtex includes the following:

  • Development of a world-class process for the conversion of cellulosic biomass to sustainable detergent alcohols. The process will utilize Chemtex’s PROESA Pretreatment and Viscosity Reduction Technology with Codexis’ proprietary CodeEvolver directed evolution technology to enable more cost-effective production of detergent alcohols from cellulosic feedstocks.

    Both elements—an efficient pretreatment and high performance enzymes—are required to enable commercial use of cellulosic feedstocks such as straw, sugar cane bagasse and energy crops to produce industrial products. The collaboration will focus on development of a technology package suitable for use with a wide variety of feedstocks. Under the terms of the agreement, Codexis will have exclusive rights to PROESA technology for the production of detergent alcohols.

  • Scale up of second generation detergent alcohols. Cellulosic sugars will be converted to detergent alcohols using a proprietary fermentation process developed by Codexis. The parties expect that this process will initially be piloted at Chemtex’s R&D facility in Rivalta, Italy. Larger scale demonstrations are anticipated at Chemtex’s 40,000 metric ton (88 million pound) per year cellulosic ethanol plant in Crescentino, Italy, that is expected to be operational in 2012.

  • Engineering services for Codexis commercial facilities. Chemtex is a leader in chemical engineering and renewable processes. Chemtex will provide engineering services for the design and construction of Codexis commercial facilities for the production of detergent alcohols. Codexis will market products resulting from the collaboration.

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