Total and Amyris, Inc. announced Wednesday the signing of agreements to expand their current R&D partnership and form a joint venture to develop, produce and commercialize a range of renewable fuels and products.
Total and Amyris have agreed to expand their ongoing research and development collaboration to accelerate the deployment of Biofene® and develop renewable diesel based on this molecule produced from plant sugars. The ambitious R&D program, launched in 2010 and managed jointly by researchers from both companies, aims to develop the necessary stages to bring the next generation renewable fuels to market at commercial scale. Total has committed to contribute $105 million in funding for an existing $180 million program.
In addition, Total and Amyris have agreed to form a 50-50 joint venture company that will have exclusive rights to produce and market renewable diesel and jet fuel worldwide, as well as non-exclusive rights to other renewable products such as drilling fluids, solvents, polymers and specific biolubricants. The venture aims to begin operations in the first quarter of 2012.
“The creation of the joint venture and the implementation of the new renewable diesel R&D program are two more major steps forward for Total, which is aiming to become a key supplier in renewable fuels,” commented Philippe Boisseau, President of Gas & Power at Total. “Renewable fuels produced with Amyris’s advanced technology will benefit from the know-how and customer access of Total, which operates in more than 130 countries. It will strengthen Total’s position in the global renewable diesel market, which is projected to nearly double in size to 32 million tons in 2020 from 17 million tons in 2010.”
“From fuels to chemicals and beyond, Amyris is working to usher in a new era when customers and consumers no longer have to compromise on traditional measures of value and performance when choosing a renewable alternative to petroleum-based products,” said John Melo, President & CEO of Amyris. “With this expanded relationship and Total’s vast distribution network, as well as Total’s stated commitment to invest in production units, we expect to be able to co-develop products and, ultimately, deliver a global supply of sustainable renewable fuels at commercial scale. This is an ambitious undertaking ideally suited for our two companies.”
About the Technology
Amyris has developed advanced microbial engineering and screening technologies that modify the way microorganisms process sugars. Amyris is using this industrial synthetic biology platform to design microbes, primarily yeast, and use them as living factories in established fermentation processes to convert plant-sourced sugars into renewable chemical and transportation fuel products.
Amyris operates laboratories and a pilot plant in California as well as a pilot plant and demonstration facility in Brazil. Amyris has been scaling its Biofene production in Brazil, Europe and the United States through various production arrangements and is currently building additional dedicated facilities in Brazil.
This technology will help make it possible for producers to blend renewable hydrocarbons produced from sustainable biomass and organic waste into fuel in proportions that significantly exceed the current 7% set by European Union regulations or other government mandates. Renewable diesel developed by Total and Amyris will deliver energy density, engine performance, and storage properties comparable to the best petroleum diesel, as well as improved lubricity and superior cold weather performance.