Construction will begin soon in Louisiana to build a plant that will produce an oil-alternative feedstock for plastics. It’s less than 400 miles from the site of last year’s Gulf oil spill. The 392,000-square-foot plant being built by Myriant Technologies at the Port of Lake Providence will be the world’s largest bio-based succinic acid plant.
Bio-based succinic acid can directly substitute for the oil-based version, thus reducing U.S. dependence on oil. Succinic acid has been mostly produced from petroleum feedstocks for use in polybutylene succinate (PBS), pharmaceuticals, fibers, surfactants, detergents and flavors.
PBS is a synthetic aliphatic polyester with similar mechanical properties to PET. It is often blended with starch to improve economics. Demand for PBS is growing at more than 40 percent a year, according to a report from BCC Research.
The Louisiana plant received subsidies and will create 176 new jobs in the area and represent a capital investment of approximately $80 million.
Once operational in 2012, the project will use sorghum and carbon dioxide to produce up to 30 million pounds per year of succinic acid.
Headquartered in Quincy, MA, Myriant Technologies is becoming a major player in bioplastics. Commercial-scale production of lactic acid started in June 2008 for use in polylactic acid. Myriant’s second commercial product, succinic acid, will begin commercial production in 2012. Myriant’s initial commercial production of succinic acid relies on first-generation fermentation technologies for conversion of biomass containing readily accessible sugars. Future projects are expected to use lower cost cellulosic feedstocks such as bagasse, rice straw, wood chips and paper sludge. New proprietary microbial platforms maximize the yield of five and six carbon sugars while lignin byproduct is collected and used for its thermal value.
Caption: The Port of Lake Providence site in Louisiana provides rail, highway and barge access.
Source: Myriant Technologies