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American Refining Group taking 1/3 stake in Amyris/Cosan Novvi JV; accelerating commercialization of renewable base oil and lubricants

American Refining Group (ARG) is taking a 33.3% stake in Novvi LLC, a joint venture of Amyris and Brazil-based Cosan S.A. formed in 2011 to produce renewable base oils and lubricants from Amyris’ Biofene—Amyris’s brand of a renewable, long-chain, branched hydrocarbon molecule called farnesene (trans-ß-farnesene). (Earlier post.) Both Amyris and Cosan will continue to hold share ownership stakes in Novvi, together with ARG.

Biofene is the basis for a wide range of products varying from specialty products such as cosmetics, perfumes, detergents and industrial lubricants, to transportation fuels such as diesel and jet fuel.

Base oils, currently derived from the crude oil refining process, are the building blocks of lubricating oils. Additives are combined with base oils to change their properties, characteristics and/or performance—e.g., anti-foam, anti-wear, corrosion inhibitor, detergent, dispersant, pour point depressant, anti-oxidant, or friction modifier.

Source: Novvi. Click to enlarge.

Novvi’s NovaSpec Base Oils, renewably sourced from plant sugars, perform like poly-alpha olefins (PAOs) and meet Group III specifications, providing a viable alternative to petroleum.


These renewable base oil and lubricants are designed to improve upon key environmental metrics including biodegradability, toxicity and renewability when compared with petroleum-sourced base oils, while delivering the high-performance characteristics of today’s leading oils.

Novvi is developing, producing, marketing and distributing the high-performance renewable base oils, on a worldwide basis, for use in the lubricants market.

Our launch of Novvi’s synthetic base oils has been embraced by manufacturers in a range of top-tier lubricant segments, across both automotive and industrial applications. Our partnership with American Refining Group will help accelerate our growth by providing the necessary resources to ensure manufacturing, supply, and delivery capabilities to scale our business for volume and to meet customer expectations.

—Jeff Brown, Novvi CEO

American Refining Group converts hydrocarbon feedstocks into high-quality waxes, lubricant base oils, gasoline and fuels, as well as a wide variety of specialty products. ARG’s Bradford, Pennsylvania refinery, founded in 1881, is the oldest continuously operating refinery in North America.

We are very pleased with ARG’s financial, technical and commercial support of Novvi and their participation along with the strong demand for Novvi technology enables us to significantly grow into another billion dollar market for our farnesene technology.

This agreement is the first of several we expect this year where we are divesting from non-core marketing activity while remaining key technology developers and producers of high performance chemistry that is remaking the world in a more sustainable way. And, with ARG's support, we have the opportunity in working together with Cosan to more quickly expand the availability of renewable products into the global markets for base oils and lubricants, which are expected to reach $42 billion and $70 billion in size, respectively, by 2020. This market is yet another example of how Amyris’s farnesene is able to support the growth of large and diverse markets.

—John Melo, President and CEO of Amyris


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