Global Bioenergies has produced “second-generation” isobutene, in a push to diversify accessible feedstock towards cheaper resources. As a first step in manufacturing bio-sourced isobutene, Global Bioenergies has been using first-generation feedstock such as wheat-derived glucose to set-up and to optimize its bio-isobutene process, which produces the gaseous hydrocarbon via fermentation. (Earlier post.) However, the process was designed to be versatile in terms of feedstock.
With the right technical adaptations, the process is suited to the usage of non-edible biomass feedstock such as wheat straw, corn stover, sugar cane bagasse or even wood chips.
Various companies are presently de-bottlenecking the conversion of second-generation materials into fermentable sugars. These technologies have now matured to commercial scale, with five plants having started operations in the last 24 months. This industry ultimately has the potential to provide fermentation processes with low-cost sugars derived from abundant resources.
Global Bioenergies recently established collaborations with nine companies from three continents developing the most promising technologies to convert various resources (straw, bagasse, wood...) into fermentable sugars.
Preliminary tests have resulted in successful second-generation isobutene production at the laboratory scale, with process performances similar to the ones observed using wheat-derived glucose.
Isobutene is used in the production of rubber for the tire industry and in plastics, anti-oxidants and fine chemicals. It is also used to produce polyisobutene, a starting product for lubricants, fuel additives, adhesives and sealants.
We have now demonstrated experimentally that our isobutene production process is compatible with a range of second generation resources. Using impurity-containing sugar solutions is usually difficult in classical fermentation processes that lead to liquid compounds, because the accumulation of such impurities in the culture broth makes purifying the product more complex. Our process, which is based on the production of a gaseous product, alleviates these issues and will allow us to use the cheapest types of feedstock.—Frédéric Pâques, Chief Operating Officer at Global Bioenergies
Global Bioenergies is one of the few companies worldwide, and the only one in Europe, that is 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. Global Bioenergies continues to improve the yield of its process and recently announced success with first testing in its industrial pilot. The company also replicated its achievement to propylene and butadiene two members of the gaseous olefins family, key molecules at the heart of petrochemical industry.