Bioscience development agreement looks to commercialize renewable C4 materials

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

US bioscience company Metabolix has teamed up with a Korea-based firm CJ CheilJedang to develop and commercialize renewable four carbon (C4) materials, which can be used in cosmetics products.

The C4 chemical market is a $3 billion industry which Metabolix claims is growing at 4 percent per year.

The joint development agreement will see both companies advance production technology and assess investment options for the commercialization of renewable C4 chemicals via fermentation.

"We are excited to be working with a company with such a strong track record of growth,"​ said Rick Eno, president and CEO of Metabolix.

Strong market need

"CJ's global fermentation asset base and product expansion plans fit very well with the market needs for C4 chemicals. Together, we hope to meet the strong market demand for this important family of materials."

Today, C4 chemicals are produced from non-renewable, fossil-based hydrocarbons and are used to make personal care products as well as spandex fibers, polyurethanes and engineering resins.

Within the joint development agreement, CJ will contribute fermentation assets and expertise to produce pilot quantities of dried whole fermentation broth containing raw C4 chemicals.

"As CJ continues to execute its bio-products growth strategy, we see the addition of renewable C4 chemicals as an important component. We have been impressed with the Metabolix technology and look forward to the joint development of C4 chemicals and potential collaboration in commercialization,"​ said. John Kang, vice president of CJ BIO.

Collaboration of expertise

The technology being discussed is Metabolix’s Fast recovery process which produces high-purity C4 chemicals directly dried whole fermentation broth.

In order to ensure the commercialization of renewable C4 chemicals, Metabolix states that both companies will conduct thorough market analysis and examination of the investment.

The initial market entry is expected to be through gamma butyrolactone (GBL), with subsequent growth into butanediol (BDO), tetrahydrofuran (THF) and polyester engineering resins (PBT).

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