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lunes, 22 de mayo de 2017

METEX plans to build a PDO/BA production facility

METabolic EXplorer (METEX) is a pioneer company in the industrial biotechnology sector. It was co-founded by Benjamin Gonzalez, its current chairman, as a spin-off of the Université d’Auvergne in 1999. It is located at the Clermont Limagne technology park, on the outskirts of Clermont-Ferrand (France). Using renewable raw materials, it develops innovative industrial fermentation processes to produce chemical compounds used in basic products of everyday life such as animal nutrition additives, plastics, textiles, cosmetics and resins, among many others. With its biotechnological innovations, METEX contributes to the necessary transition from petrochemistry to renewable chemistry.

Figure 1. METEX facilities at the Clermont Limagne technology park (extracted from METEX web page)

On 12th May, the company announced its new strategic priorities (see press release): becoming the market leader for natural butyric acid (BA) for animal feed and the benchmark producer of GMO-free 1,3-propanediol (PDO) for cosmetics applications. And, the next step to achieve those goals involves the building of a production facility for developing those markets. Main data known about the project are summarized in the next table.

24 kton/year.
First stage: 6 kton (5 kton of PDO and 1 kton of BA).
Second stage: 18 kton (15 kton of PDO and 3 kton of BA).
Current status
Discussions are under way with two top-ranking industrial players in Europe to host the new production unit at industrial sites under redevelopment.
Points under discussions are:
- Costs to be borne by the industrial partner.
- Amount of participation from financial partners and stakeholders.
- Regulatory aspects regarding the authorisations required.
Construction works should start toward the end of the first half of 2018 (with a clearance of 3 months). By this time, the company will have selected the prime contractor, management assistance and financial partners for the project.
Market release of the products is set for 24 months after the start of the works on the new plant.
CAPEX for stage 1
Around 25 M€.

METEX has developed a patented technology to produce PDO through the fermentation of crude glycerins from either vegetable oils (first generation) or recycled oils (second generation). It has also validated the recovery of BA, a key by-product of the technology. With the new production facility, METEX will be able to sell BA directly and PDO through its own distribution agreements.

BA market
The world market for organic acids in animal feed is estimated at more than 1,000 M€. Within this, butyric acid is particularly experiencing a strong growth (of 250% since 2010). This growth rate is linked to its nutritional, metabolic and antimicrobial qualities that make it beneficial to animal growth and health. This growth is expected to rise with the introduction of new regulations banning the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in Europe and the USA. METEX is targeting an eventual 20% share of the market for natural butyric acid in animal feed.

PDO market
The market for preservatives in cosmetics applications is estimated at 400 M€ in 2016. The METEX PDO could substitute controversial preservatives such as parabens, formaldehydes and halogenated. PDO production will also open access to the world biopolymers market, especially as regards polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT). METEX is aimed at achieving a 50% share of the market for PDO in cosmetics and a 40% in the PTT textile market.

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