Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Biocatalyst or Bust

Early on in the series on Department of Energy grants to promote renewable fuels and chemicals we profiled BioEnergy International, LLC (private) based in Quincy, Massachusetts. See the January 12, 2010 post “Bio-Bonanza.” The company was awarded a $50.0 million grant from the DOE to product succinic acid from sorghum at a plant in Lake Providence, Louisiana.

BioEnergy’s sister company, Myriant Technologies, LLC, is running with the ball on this project. Myriant is the apparently the brains in the family and is focused on building a portfolio of biobased chemicals, including succinic acid. Myriant claims talent in genetic engineering as well as biomass pretreatment, fermentation and purification. Its platform is designed to economically recover sugars from cellulosic feedstocks that can be converted by Myriad’s proprietary microbial process into specialty chemicals.

Myriant touts its proprietary platform for reducing carbon emissions by replacing fossil fuel-based specialty chemicals. That U.S. producers could source chemicals from domestic sources is also a plus for the trade deficit and employment security - two problems top-most on most policy makers to-do lists.

I recently touched base with Myriant, learning that they have made real progress on the Lake Providence project. Engineering plans are under way and the group expects to start construction in September 2010.

I will be checking on Myriant in the coming months for a progress update. Myriant has some competition in the bio-succinic market - a joint venture between Royal DSM of The Netherlands and Roquette Freres of France and possibly two other developers. At its current pace of progress Myriant appears poised to catch up with the others.

Neither the author of the Small Cap Strategist web log, Crystal Equity Research nor its affiliates have a beneficial interest in the companies mentioned herein.

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