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Basics Fig. 1: (source

Basics Fig. 1: (source [2]) HO O Succinic acid by Michael Thielen O OH As industry transforms from petro-based to environmentally sustainable materials, succinic acid is emerging as one of the most competitive of the new bio-based chemicals [1]. Succinic acid (IUPAC name Butanedioic acid, other names are amber acid or ethane-1,2-dicarboxylic acid) is a colorless, crystalline, aliphatic dicarboxylic acid with a chemical formula C 4 H 6 O 4 and structural formula HOOC-(CH 2 ) 2 -COOH [2] Succinic acid is a platform or bulk chemical with global production rate of between 30,000 and 50,000 tonnes per year. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.7% from 2011 to 2016. It can be used directly or as intermediate for a large number of applications such as for plastics, paints, food additives and other industrial and consumer products. Until recently, succinic acid was produced mainly by chemical processes from petrochemical feedstocks, such as butane or benzene via the conversion of maleic anhydride to succinic anhydride followed by hydrolysis. Alternative routes include the oxidation of 1,4-butanediol and the carbonylation of ethylene glycol [3, 4, 5]. But succinic acid can also be produced by fermenting carbohydrate or glycerol using engineered bacteria or yeast. Current commercial routes are based on proprietary E. Coli and yeast strains, developed by BioAmber and Reverdia respectively. BioAmber are also developing a next generation process based on yeast fermentation, developed by Cargill [4]. The downstream processing of succinic acid post fermentation is critical to the cost of production. The need to control (buffer) the pH during fermentation results in succinate salt formation which then needs to be ‘cracked’ to recover the free succinic acid. The use of low pH tolerant yeast removes the need for buffering and therefore simplifies downstream processing reducing costs [4]. Fig. 3: thermoformed clamshells made of PBS (GS Pla, source Mitsubishi Chemical) Bio-succinic acid Different companies are active in field of biobased succinic acid [4]: BioAmber, a renewable chemicals company based in Minneapolis, USA has been producing and supplying biosuccinic acid at commercial scale out of a plant in Pomacle, France, since 2010. This plant was built in partnership with Agro Industrie Recherches et Developpements (ARD) of France and has a capacity of 3,000 tonnes. BioAmber’s product is marketed under the brand name BioAmber Bio-SA The comoany has been working with Cargill on a second-generation organism to produce BioAmber Bio- SA, based on Cargill’s proprietary SBA yeast, which builds on decades of Cargill experience in the field. BioAmber is building an industrial scale plant for bio-succinic acid and bio-1,4 butanediol, with an initial projected capacity of 30,000 tonnes of Bio-SA and 50,000 tonnes of bio-1,4 butanediol in Sarnia, Canada. The SBA yeast enables lower capital and operating costs, as well as a simplified purification process, which drives down facility and production costs to ensure 60 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/13] Vol. 8

Basics Fig. 2: Examples for of typical polyurethane applications including the renewable content due to the use of bio-based succinic acid (Source Reverdia) the lowest cost option for bio-succinic acid. BioAmber Bio-SA produced using the SBA yeast can metabolise non-agricultural feedstocks and has a carbon neutral Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) from field-to-gate, effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 99.4% and providing energy savings of 56.3% compared to petroleum succinic acid. [6]. Reverdia (a joint venture between DSM and Roquette Frères) is employing a low-pH yeast technology to produce their product which is branded Biosuccinium. The proprietary technology is less complex, direct and has several distinct advantages over bacteria-mediated conversion technologies, but one of them in particular stands out: the Reverdia process converts feedstock directly to acid. Bacteria-based processes are indirect, and therefore require extra chemical processing, additional equipment and additional energy to convert intermediate salts into succinic acid [7]. Reverdia recently opened the worlds first commercial-scale bio-based succinic acid plant in Cassano Spinola, Italy. It has a capacity to produce around 10,000 tonnes of Biosuccinium succinic acid every year [4]. Myriant, as successor to BioEnergy International, have been awarded million by the US Department of Energy to help fund the construction of a succinic acid plant in Louisiana, US. Scheduled for start-up in 2013, the plant will produce about 14.000 tonnes of bio-succinic acid annually. The technology is based on Myriant’s proprietary fermentation complemented by ThyssenKrupp Uhde’s downstream process. [5]. BASF and Purac (a subsidiary of CSM) are establishing a joint venture for the production and sale of biobased succinic acid. The to be formed company with the name Succinity GmbH intends to be operational in 2013. A modified existing fermentation facility in Spain was announced to commence operations in late 2013 with an annual capacity of 10,000 tonnes of succinic acid [8]. Mitsubishi Chemicals and PTT are jointly investigating the feasibility of the manufacture of bio-based polybutylene succinate (PBS) in Thailand. BioAmber will be the supplier of biobased succinic acid to a Faurecia-Mitsubishi Chemical partnership for the production of PBS for automotive interior applications [9]. A similar approach is perfomed by Showa Denko K.K (SDK), who announced Myriant as its global supplier of biosuccinic acid for the production of PBS [5]. Feedstock First generation of succinic acid fermentation processes use traditional feedstock like starch hydrolysate, molasses or industrial sugars. In the near future this will shift to lignocellulose based fermentation feedstocks, as they are being developed for second generation bio-ethanol [10]. Applications Bio-based succinic acid can for example replace fossilbased succinic acid or adipic acid used for the manufacture of polyester polyols and polyurethanes. Another field of application is the manufacture of polybutylene succinate (PBS) (Fig. 3), a biodegradable polymer sold under brand names such as Bionolle ® and GS bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/13] Vol. 8 61

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