NatureWorks to construct 8300 sq ft lab to support methane-to-biopolymer project 

March 13, 2016 |

In Minnesota, NatureWorks  will construct a new, $1 million, 8,300 square-foot laboratory to commercialize a fermentation process for transforming methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into lactic acid, the building block of Ingeo biopolymer. NatureWorks is hiring six scientists to staff the new facility. The methane to lactic acid research project began in 2013 as a joint effort between NatureWorks and Calysta Energy, Menlo Park, Calif., to develop a fermentation biocatalyst. In 2014, laboratory-scale fermentation of lactic acid from methane utilizing a new biocatalyst was proven, and the United States Department of Energy awarded $2.5 million to the project. In 2016, the opening of the new laboratory at NatureWorks headquarters marks another major advancement in the journey from proof of concept to commercialization.

Based on the research collaboration between NatureWorks and Calysta, NatureWorks hopes to subsequently develop a 25,000 square-foot pilot plant in Minnesota by 2018 and hire an additional 15 employees. Within the next six years the company is looking at the possible construction of a $50 million demonstration project. It’s conceivable that within the next decade NatureWorks will bring online the first global-scale methane to lactic acid fermentation facility.

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