Global Bioenergies has succeeded in the production of bio-sourced propylene by direct fermentation. This marks the first time an entirely biological production process—i.e. without any chemical step—is reported for propylene, a central building block for the manufacturing of plastics. Polypropylene accounts for more than half of the plastics used in the car industry.
After isobutene in 2010 and butadiene earlier this year, Global Bioenergies has created a proprietary prototype strain able to convert glucose into propylene at laboratory scale.
More than 80 million metric tons of propylene are produced yearly, corresponding to a market exceeding $100 billion—the second largest of the petrochemical industry after ethylene. It is a key building block for the manufacturing of different plastics that has so far only been produced through fossil resources and principally obtained from naphtha cracking.
Global Bioenergies is one of the few companies worldwide developing a process to convert renewable resources into hydrocarbons through fermentation. The company initially focused its efforts on the production of isobutene, one of the most important petrochemical building blocks that can be converted into fuels, plastics, organic glass and elastomers.