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jueves, 22 de junio de 2017

Amyris seeks to replicate its Brazilian farnesene plant in Australia

Queensland is in the spotlight once again. The recent Blog post (12/06/2017) on the project of a new biorefinery in Mackay (Australia) finished stating: “Additional potential biorefinery projects are expected to be announced for regional Queensland in the coming months”. The next announcement has not taken long.

Amyris, Inc. (renewable products company) and the Government of Queensland (Australia) announced two days ago, their plans to develop a leading industrial biotechnology hub in Southeast Asia (Amyris press release and Government of Queensland statement). Those plans call for developing a new plant with support from local partners to produce farnesene, which is used in cosmetic emollients, fragrances, nutraceuticals, polymers and lubricants. The proposed biorefinery would aim to produce 23,000 tons per year of that bioproduct, seeking to replicate the Amyris reference plant in Brazil. In a previous press release of Amyris, it was reported that the first industrial production should occur in 2020 and a $60-$80 million in annual revenue was anticipated.

Figure 1. Amyris fermentation plant located in the city of Brotas, Brazil (extracted from the article: “Developing Commercial Production of Semi-Synthetic Artemisinin, and of β-Farnesene, an Isoprenoid Produced by Fermentation of Brazilian Sugar”)

In San Diego, for the BIO2017 International Convention (June, 19-22), Annastacia Palaszczuk (Queensland Premier) said that the planned biorefinery could create upwards of 70 jobs and further boost Queensland’s reputation globally as a leading biofutures hub. The growing demand for vitamins, cosmetics and fragrances in the Asian markets supports a new specialty farnesene fermentation factory in Queensland. It is an ideal location due to its favorable business climate, extensive sugar industry and geographic proximity to large Asian markets. According to John Melo (President and CEO at Amyris): “Like all our new projects, this factory is expected to be sold out when it starts operating with agreements to supply our current partners in China and other Asian markets.”

Last December, the Biofutures Acceleration Program of the Government issued an Expression of Interest to seek proposals from experienced parties that develop commercial scale biorefinery projects in Queensland (see post). 26 parties submitted detailed expressions of interest and Amyris was one of the firms chosen. The company and the Government of Queensland have successfully partnered on a number of initiatives. The cooperation initially began with the 2010 Queensland Sustainable Aviation Fuel Initiative, which studied the feasibility of locally producing aviation biofuels using Queensland sugar. More recently, in June 2016, Amyris and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at The University of Queensland signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support the development of a Queensland-based biotechnology industry using feedstock from local sugarcane.

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