Evonik and LanzaTech sign 3-year development deal for biobased plastics

December 9, 2013 |

Synthetic biology to enable the production of bioprocessed precursors for specialty plastics made of synthesis gas.

In Germany, Evonik Industries and LanzaTech have signed a three year research cooperation agreement which will see Evonik combining its existing biotechnology platforms with LanzaTech’s synthetic biology and gas fermentation expertise for the development of a route to bioprocessedn precursors for specialty plastics from waste derived synthesis gas.

In this route, microorganisms placed in fermenters are used to turn synthesis gas into chemical products. Synthesis gases comprise mainly of either carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide and hydrogen and can come from a variety of gasified biomass waste streams including forestry and agricultural residues and gasified municipal solid waste.

“Industrial biotechnology is one of the core competences of Evonik. It enables new approaches to specialty chemicals and processes,” explains Prof. Stefan Buchholz, the head of Creavis. Creavis, Evonik’s strategic innovation arm, is committed to developing alternative bio-based pathways for the production of such specialty chemicals, to not only reduce dependence on fossil fuels, but also reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their manufacture. “The use of renewables and specific waste streams is one of the main focuses of our research and development work, and LanzaTech offers an additional interesting approach,” says Buchholz.

“We are really happy to be working with Evonik,” said LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren, ” which has a tremendous biotech capability – so makes us feel good that they feel we are the experts in this sector plus they are not just trying to do all this work by themselves.  We are also happy to be extending our chemicals tool box into precursors to plastics.

“If we can make all these fuels and chemicals make economic sense from waste carbon – the brain damage associated with discussions about global warming and climate change will go away as we will be able to align industrial growth and reducing environmental footprint. Why bury carbon if you convert it into valuable products?”

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