Not All Chemicals Are Created Equal™

Author Archives: Alif Saleh

We have more news that not only further demonstrates Myriant can deliver on its overall strategy but that when it comes to carbon efficiency it can be done to amazing levels of environmental efficiency.  In this instance, we’re talking about the recently announced success of Myriant and the UK’s Johnson Matthey – Davy Technologies in the production of market grade, bio-based butanediol (bio-BDO) at a commercially competitive cost level and with superior carbon efficiency. How efficient? This bio-butanediol has an over-all carbon efficiency of 87%, far exceeding the levels achieved in the direct fermentation route to bio-butanediol.

But please don’t overlook the other qualifiers in that previous sentence… market grade and commercially competitive cost. These are qualities now verified by the global leader in bio-BDO as specifically addressed in this statement from Antoine Bordet, Managing Director at Davy Technologies:  “We have provided process technologies based on petroleum feedstocks to the butanediol markets globally for 25 years and understand what it takes to be competitive from a cost and quality point of view. The Davy Technologies butanediol technology, which has undergone significant improvements over the past 10 years, can now be offered with process and performance guarantees to produce commercial grade bio-butanediol, tetrahydrofuran and gamma-butyrolactone equivalent to the petrochemical material that is currently produced in commercial plants that utilize the technology, from Myriant’s bio-succinic acid at a commercially competitive cost level.”

It should be becoming more and more clear that Myriant has the big three in hand: great science, tremendous technology, and a powerful commercialization capability that meets or exceeds demand factors for cost and quality. Now with Johnson Matthey-Davy Technologies providing process and performance guarantees for bio-BDO produced from our bio-succinic acid we have gained immediate entrance into yet another large global market.

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This is about a very recent, important, European-focused story from the Environmental Leader, which is self-described as the leading daily trade publication keeping corporate executives fully informed about energy, environmental and sustainability news. You could say the article, entitled $8m Project Drives Bio-Based Economy, can’t be very meaningful because it doesn’t involve big money. But this European Commission (EU) project will see fifty Innovation Coupons made available to small- and medium-sized businesses in northwest Europe to conduct feasibility analysis, lab work and pilot tests to demonstrate innovative bio-based technologies.

A comparatively small investment, yes, but backed by at least a couple of big ideas other sovereign governing bodies around the world should note. 1.) The EU totally gets the size and scope of the bio-based economy in Europe. As the story reports, Small and medium business (SMEs) will play a major role in growing Europe’s bio-based industries, projected to be worth more then €2 trillion ($2.62 trillion) by 2020… 2.) This EU project is also very clear-headed in that it doesn’t appear to hinge on bureaucratic selection of specific corporate winners and losers but instead upon the general support of a broad sector. And, 3.) While it is perhaps possible 50 out of 50 pilots won’t strike oil, if you’ll forgive the pun, it is highly unlikely that at least some innovations won’t gain traction and benefit bio-based industries, big and small, everywhere.

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Myriant announced a major new distribution agreement today that will deliver a tremendous boost to the marketing and distribution of Myriant’s bio-succinic acid and Myrifilm® solvent in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The distribution agreement is with Hamburg, Germany-based BCD Chemie, one of the major European chemical distributors linking chemical manufacturers and chemical users. More specifically, BCD Chemie provides business-to-business distribution solutions for industrial and specialty chemicals with over 4,000 products and a world-class supplier base offering one-stop-shop solutions to more than 10,000 customers.

In the news release, available here, BCD Chemie’s Johannes Weiner, Head of Corporate Development, cites the significant reasons why he anticipates strong demand for Myriant solutions in the region. “We see tremendous growth potential in Europe for Myriant’s bio-succinic acid and Myrifilm® solvent across a wide range of applications. Preliminary customer feedback and rigorous testing confirm the quality and performance of Myriant’s products and we’re looking forward to partnering with Myriant to bring its products to our target markets.”

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In the real world as opposed to, well, let’s say the political world, it doesn’t take a lot of convincing among business types with skin in the game to do the right thing, defined in this case as anything that keeps them from losing their shirt or share by ignoring consumer demands.

That’s the lesson to be learned from this report in by Sally Edwards, all about major retailers not exactly waiting around for policies to be aligned in Washington, DC, and other parts of the world. The gist of her story is this: Retailers are finding that their institutional and individual customers have become more sophisticated about, and aware of, toxic chemicals in products and are demanding that chemical information be disclosed and that these risks be eliminated. In response, leading retailers are developing a range of approaches to chemicals management that they are implementing throughout their supply chains…

The article then launches into a brief review of the various programs in this regard being launched by such companies as Staples, Kingfisher, Wal-Mart, Boots, and Walgreen.

The point is these retailers may be doing more, faster, to advance green chemistry than any other force. Take Staples as just one example. Ms. Edwards writes: Suppliers are asked to disclose whether they are using any chemicals on a list of chemicals of concern that Staples has compiled and if so, to find a safer alternative that is cost neutral. In cases where a safer alternative is not available, suppliers are asked to provide a timeline for phasing out the use of the chemical of concern.

How many of those suppliers reply to this by saying they don’t have to; it’s not required by law; I’m waiting for policy clarifications? Um… about zero don’t you think? That was easy.

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This major event for decision-makers and thought leaders in the coatings industry occurs every two years. In 2011, this show drew 887 exhibitors from 45 countries and 25.955 visitors from 108 countries. More than 900 exhibitors have made plans to attend this year and Myriant is among them.

Our focus at this event will be on our ultra low odor, high efficiency coalescing solvent that works in a variety of applications. Also featured will be Myriant’s other coating raw materials including binders, intermediates for construction chemicals, additives, plasticizers, and pigments. These are produced by our proprietary process that uses bio-based materials that can substitute for existing petroleum-based chemicals at comparable performance and price. This revolutionary process also uses less energy, consumes carbon dioxide and creates less pollution than conventional petroleum-based production processes.

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