Bio based Materials Conference Puts Spotlight on Bio Succinic Acid

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The Seventh International Conference on Bio-Based Materials just took place in Cologne, Germany, from April 8 to 10 2014. Participants were from academia and private companies. Companies that participated were mostly from the European bio based chemicals, plastics and composites. They included Novamont, Succinity, Reverdia, Nova Institut, Myriant, Arkema, and Corbion Purac.

The second day of the Conference focused on the topic of “Bio Based Succinic Acid”.

Succinic acid is used in a in a broad range of markets, from high value niche applications such as personal care products and food additives, to large volume applications such as plasticizers, polyurethane, resins and coatings. The traditional sources for succinic acid are fossil fuels. Succinic acid is one of the most promising building blocks that can be produced commercially from biomass rather than from fossil fuels. Thus, there is growing interest.

There are a number of companies that are producing bio-based succinic acid. For example, Reverdia, a joint venture between Dutch chemical company DSM and France-based starch derivatives producer Roquette, has been producing commercial bio-succinic acid at a 10,000 tonnes/year capacity plant in Cassano Spinola, Italy, since October 2012.

Butanediol (BDO) is a major application for bio succinic acid. It offers large volumes and large revenues. It is used in the production of tetrahydrofuran (THF), an intermediate in the production of elastic fibers, and engineering thermoplastic polybutylene terephthalate (PBT).

Global capacity of BDO is 4.5bn lb/year, half of it used in THF production. The largest global BDO producers include BASF, Dairen Chemical (Taiwan), LyondellBasell (The Netherlands), ISP (now owned by Ashland), INVISTA, and China National BlueStar. It is estimated that 1.7bn lb of succinic acid or its ester is produced captively in BDO processes worldwide.

There is growing interest for succinic acid-based products from many companies around the world. The bio-succinic acid supply is becoming reliable with the incoming new capacities. The bio market of succinic acid is relatively stable because of the low volatility of feedstock price

The price of bio succinic acid has been a concern, it is still higher than petroleum based succinic acid. The price of petrol-based succinic acid is around $2,400 to $2,600 / MT, whereas that of bio based succinic acid is around $2,800 to $3,000/ MT, depending upon the supplier and the quality of the product.

As the market grows, because of the growing need for sustainable solutions, products with an improved environmental footprint, biodegradable and bio-based products, the bio industry is confident that the issue of price can be solved with mass production. The availability of bio-succinic acid will enable this growth. In the long term, it will be as competitive as the petroleum-based succinic acid.

Annual production volume for succinic acid, including succinic acid derivatives worldwide, is expected to reach 699,449 MT in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 32.9% from 2010 to 2020, according to some industry reports. The global market for bio succinic acid market volume is expected to grow at a CGAR of 45.6% between 2013 and 2020, expecting to reach 710 kilo tons, corresponding to a revenue of $1.1 Bn global in 2020.

Petroleum-based succinic acid manufacturers include DSM, Israel-based Gadiv Petrochemical Industries, Japanese companies Mitsubishi Chemical, Kawasaki Kasei Chemicals and Nippon Shokubai, and many small Chinese producers such as Anqing Hexing Chemical and Anhui Sunsing Chemicals, plus small producers in India.

Some of the bio succinic acid manufactures include BASF-Purac JV, Novomer, Bio Amber, Myriant, Reverdia, and Bio Amber-Mitsui JV (exclusive for Mitsubishi Chemical for its polybutylene succinate).

What should be the role of governments in helping the use of biochemical for materials use? Michael Carus of Nova Institut suggested that the European Union must define a framework that is more favorable to the use of biomass for biochemical as opposed to bio fuels. According to him, the European Renewable Energy Directive discourages investments into bio-based chemistry. He argued that Europe needs a policy that encourages less biofuels and more bio chemicals.

What do you say? Please leave a comment

  1. A clear directive towards biomass consumption would go a long way to lead the world into using sustainable materials in a large scale

  2. It is a good information. While there are lot of industry drivers for sustainability viz; Reusable materials, Energy efficiency contributions, presence of environmentally preferred content in formulations, it is a good way forward for synthesis of bio-based materials.

    An international survey conducted by Accenture revealed some interesting statistics about the state of sustainability in the mindset of corporate leaders. Though a majority see the benefits only 66% see sustainability as an investment, while 34% see it as a more of a cost.

    Though the cost is bit more now-a-days, it is quite evident that in the future , more demand for crude will lead to rise in cost of petroleum based materials too over a period of time, which in turn will allow these bio-based materials to be cheaper.

    A drastic drift can be expected in the years to come….

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