Green Biologics: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

January 21, 2015 |

5-Minute-Guide-logoGreen Biologics is focused on the production of renewable n-butanol and other C4 chemicals from various renewable feedstocks, including sugar (cane, molasses, beets), starch (corn) and cellulosic biomass (corn residues, sugar cane bagasse, forest materials and grasses).

GBL works with feedstock partners to deliver capital efficient production models, and we work with downstream partners to deliver high quality, competitively priced products for the global renewable chemicals and biofuels markets.


GBL has a broad technology platform that is unique, highly differentiated and world leading. We have demonstrated significant improvements in fermentation performance and we have the skills to deliver further improvements in strain and fermentation process performance for ABE and other renewable chemicals.

The GBL technical program focuses on the production of low cost, high quality chemicals around a C4 platform. Leveraging a leadership position in Clostridia microbiology, biochemistry and fermentation, GBL develops microbes and processes that utilize sustainable and diverse feedstocks to produce a portfolio of valuable chemicals and future biofuels. While maximizing performance GBL focuses on minimizing environmental impact.

Clostridia are highly suited to commercial use for the production of industrial chemicals. Proven commercially for a century, they are robust, solvent tolerant and can utilize a variety of feedstocks and sugars including C5 and C6 monomers, dimers and some polymers. Most importantly more of the energy provided (in the form of sugars) is recovered in the form of usable products (solvents and energy) than is the case for most commercially utilized organisms, such as yeast.

Business Model

Systems licensor and owner/operator

The Situation

The company is poised for scale — as of 2015, now in detailed engineering to convert its Minnesota-based ethanol plant to n-butanol by mid-2016.

In January, the company announced the closing of an internal follow-on equity round of $42 million co-led by Swire Pacific Limited and Sofinnova Partners. Existing investors Capricorn Venture Partners, Oxford Capital Partners, Morningside Technology Partners and ConvergInce Holdings also participated in the round.

Green Biologics has transitioned from a development stage company to a commercial company — and that we can expect to see commercial-scale construction throughout this year. This is bolt-on technology, so right now the plant will be running in full ethanol production mode while the new technology is built and installed on site in Minnesota.

Sometime in Q1 2016 we can expect the existing plant to shut down while the new technology is tied in to the existing plant — and we can expect that by the end of Q2 the plant should be in full production of n-butanol and acetone.

Past Milestones

In December 2013, Green Biologics announced the closing of a $25 million Series B round led by Sofinnova Partners with strategic participation by Swire Pacific Limited. Follow on investments were also made by Capricorn Venture Partners, Oxford Capital Partners, Morningside Ventures and ConvergInce Holdings. “This investment round underlines the strength of Green Biologics’ commercial and technical position, and will allow us to execute our plan to bring on stream our first commercial production facility in the U.S. in 2016, ” said Green Biologics CEO Sean Sutcliffe.

In December 2013, an asset purchase agreement was executed and approved by Central MN Ethanol Co-op shareholders. The aim is to retrofit the 23 Mgy plant to produce renewable n-butanol and acetone in 2016.

In July 2013, Green Biologics announced a collaboration and planned investment in facilities with Iowa’s Easy Energy Systems. The collaboration will result in the modification of Easy Energy’s ethanol demonstration plant in Emmetsburg, IA to produce renewable n-butanol and acetone. In mid-2012 GBL successfully produced butanol and acetone from corn mash at the Emmetsburg facility in Iowa at a 40,000 liter fermentation scale.

In March 2013, Green Biologics was awarded grant funding from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the UK’s innovation agency, to engineer a novel bacterial host for biobutanol production. The project is in collaboration with the Clostrida Research Group (CRG) at the University of Nottingham which are funded by the Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The total project costs are £492k made up from contributions by Green Biologics (£62k), TSB (£185k) and BBSRC (£245k). the project duration is 18 months and due to commence on 1st May 2013. The strategy focuses on the modification of a clostridia species (Clostridium pasteurianum) for the fast growing renewable chemicals market. The deliverable will be a novel engineered strain C. pasteurianum that ferments starch to butanol in high yield.

In January 2012, Green Biologics Limited announced the merger between GBL and butylfuel Inc., a US-based renewable chemicals and biofuels company. The new company will operate under the Green Biologics name and continue to be head-quartered in Abingdon, UK with a strong operational presence and commercial focus in the US contributed by butylfuel Inc., which will become Green Biologics, Inc. The merged GBL aims to be a globally managed company focused on the production of C4 chemicals and advanced fuels from renewable feedstocks, primarily from waste and by-product agricultural sources.

Future Milestones

Retrofit and opening of the retrofitted CMEC plant in Minnesota, in 2016.

Follow-on commercial deployments.


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