Genomatica and Tate & Lyle Form Strategic Partnership as CEO Explains “Feedstock Strategy”

3/15/11Follow @bvbigelow

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part everyone was waiting for, as Genomatica scales up its technology to make BDO in 13,000-liter batches at a Tate & Lyle facility in Decatur, IL. “We’ll have a fully integrated demonstration plant there by the end of the third quarter,” Schilling said. More importantly, he added, is that the fermenters will be fully integrated with Tate & Lyle’s corn wet mill operation at the same facility, providing easy access to a renewable source of sugar feedstock at a relatively low cost.

Christophe Schilling

Genomatica plans to ship large-volume samples of Bio-BDO made in Decatur to companies that usually get their BDO feedstock from petrochemical companies. “The key is to make BDO, and giving it to our customers and letting them use it to make products,” Schilling said. The recent $45 million infusion “is everything we need to do that, and more,” he added. A successful demonstration of producing large-volume quantities also validates the basic engineering as Genomatica then moves to construction of its first commercial-scale bio-BDO plant.

Tate & Lyle “are not looking to become producers of chemicals,” Schilling said. “They’re looking to leverage their expertise and feedstock materials, which are used to make gluten, animal feed, and ethanol, among other things. Creating new markets for its high-fructose corn syrup also comes at an ideal time, as nutritionists and health experts increasingly raise concerns about the prevalence of corn syrup in American diets, which many believe is a prime reason the nation suffers from an epidemic of obesity and diabetes.

“ADM, Cargill, and Tate & Lyle are the big corn mills, and for them, the key to a successful operation is keeping the ‘grind rate’ high, and so they’re looking for alternate markets” Schilling says. “We represent a great opportunity to put that sugar to use.”

From there, Schilling says the next step for Genomatica is to explore the use of … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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