San Diego-based Genomatica, bioengineering pioneer and technology leader for bio-based chemicals, has acquired certain assets of the Renewable Energy Group’s Life Sciences (REG LS) division, the largest supplier of advanced biofuels in North America. Genomatica intends to use these assets to develop a wider range of sustainable chemicals, which, in turn, are used to make numerous everyday materials and products.
The asset acquisition provides Genomatica with its third major product platform, allowing it to expand into household and industrial cleaning products, and flavors and fragrances, further growing its ingredients for the apparel, packaging and personal-care markets. Genomatica will also work with ExxonMobil to further the research program for advanced biofuels from biomass started at REG LS, along with Clariant, which recently joined the collaboration.
“Consumer demand for sustainable products continues to grow, and successful companies will increasingly switch to ingredients that reduce harm to the environment and work with partners with shared values,” said Christophe Schilling, Genomatica’s CEO. “This acquisition adds powerful technology and talent to help Genomatica enhance the sustainability of everyday products.”
The acquisition enhances Genomatica’s ability to make long-chain chemicals from renewable feedstocks. These chemicals are widely used to make products such as surfactants, cosmetics, solvents, polymers, fuels and food ingredients, said the company. They range from eight to 18 carbon atoms in length and may contain multiple functional groups, resulting in long-chain alcohols, esters, acids, ketones, aldehydes, alkanes, amines, amides and branched products.
Genomatica’s approach to making these “oleo-chemicals” via fermentation from natural, plant-based sugars or biomass-based feedstocks is more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and provides new functional (performance) attributes, said the company.
“Genomatica’s strengths will help us realize our journey by scaling sustainable chemicals for mainstream applications,” said Fernando Sanchez-Riera, the former Vice President of R&D at REG LS who has now jointed Genomatica to lead the continued development of the long-chain platform.
Genomatica’s existing C4 platform has already delivered commercial products for bio-based 1,4-butanediol (used in biodegradable plastics and apparel).