San Diego-based Genomatica, which describes itself as a sustainable chemicals company, announced a major win.
The company signed a strategic joint development agreement Waste Management (NYSE:WM) to research and advance Genomatica’s technology and manufacturing processes for the production of intermediate and basic chemicals from syngas made from municipal solid waste.
Under the agreement, Genomatica will create proprietary, specially-designed organisms and complete manufacturing processes to convert syngas into chemical products.
Biological production of chemicals would provide another potential use for any syngas produced by or for Waste Management through anaerobic digestion, gasification and landfill gas.
“Waste Management wants to maximize the value of the materials it manages”, said Tim Cesarek, managing director of Organic Growth at Waste Management. “Genomatica’s technology complements Waste Management’s advancement of thermo-chemical conversion and fermentation technology platforms.”
“Genomatica is already on a path to deliver sustainable, lower-cost, smaller-footprint chemicals made from renewable feedstocks, including various commercially-available sugars, rather than from oil or natural gas”, said Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica. “This agreement accelerates our initiatives to provide greater feedstock flexibility, by enabling the use of syngas to produce a range of chemicals, and in particular, syngas derived from waste materials.”
Syngas is produced throughout the world from natural gas or liquid hydrocarbons, and through the gasification of coal, biomass, and waste materials. Syngas is often used to generate electricity, and can also be converted into liquid fuels. Converting syngas to chemicals is primarily done through chemical processing techniques, which are somewhate energy-intensive. Genomatica says is biological conversion process is less energy intensive and offers a wider range of conversion options–particularly for major-market intermediate and basic chemicals.
In March 2010, Genomatica raised $15 million in Series C funding to support the commercialization of Bio-BDO (1,4-butanediol), made from renewable feedstocks rather than oil or natural gas. BDO is an intermediate chemical with a $4 billion market worldwide–used to make spandex, automotive plastics, running shoes and more.