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Global Bioenergies receives €475K funding from French innovation agency OSEO to support industrialization of bacteria-produced isobutene

One month after its IPO (earlier post), Global Bioenergies, a France-based startup that has engineered a series of bacterial strains that can produce isobutene, has received €475K (US$680K) in funding from the French innovation agency OSEO. The funds will be used to start the industrialization of the company’s process to convert renewable resources into isobutene, a gas which can be converted into liquid fuels and various polymers.

The process developed by Global Bioenergies allows the conversion of plant resources such as cane or beet sugar, crop-derived starch or agricultural and forestry lignocellulosic waste (e.g. straw) into isobutene, one of the key building blocks of the petrochemical industry.

Global Bioenergies had already received OSEO funding of €760K US(1.1 million) in 2009 to support an earlier development phase of the isobutene process. The additional €475K refundable advance (upon success of the program) will contribute to finance the first step of the industrialization phase of the process.

The process involves the spontaneous volatilization of gaseous isobutene from the fermentation broth, thereby avoiding two major drawbacks of other fermentation technologies: the accumulation of products in the medium up to concentrations toxic for the production microorganism, and the high energy requirement associated with downstream extraction processes (e.g. distillation). Global Bioenergies says that those advantages will positively impact the economic and environmental balance as compared to existing processes leading to the production of liquid fermentation products.

Using well-proven, inexpensive chemical processes, the gaseous isobutene can then be easily converted into fuels (gasoline, jet-fuel, Diesel) as well as into various polymers (tires, organic glass, various plastics).

This new funding has been obtained following an in-depth review carried out by a recognized industrial biology expert mandated by OSEO. The examination covered our past and future scientific approach, each technical milestone planned in the development, the intellectual property strategy and the commercial potential of the process. Receiving this new support validates the results obtained with our prototype and further strengthens our confidence in the options chosen for the next phase, dedicated to industrializing the process.

—Marc Delcourt, CEO



There will be a demand for liquid fuels even when electric energy is abundant. For a while anyway.

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