2016: World’s first industrial scale plant for production of butanediol (1,4 BDO) from renewable materials via biosynthesis (fermentation from micro-organisms)

Nominated by: Federchimica Assobiotec 

Organisation in nomination: Novamont (Italy)

1,4, Butanediol is a chemical intermediate used for a wide range of applications, including industrial processes (as a solvent), and manufacture of diverse products including textiles, electronics, automotive and consumer goods as used in the biopolymer sector. It has traditionally been produced through chemical processes, and the development of a biotechnology-derived process now enables its production with a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  It is a significant shift towards biotechnology within the production of bioplastics and biochemicals.

Novamont uses the 1,4 BDO from renewable sources produced by Mater-Biotech as a building block for the production of Mater-Bi biodegradable and compostable bioplastics.

In 2016 Novamont developed the world’s first industrial scale plant that integrated a biorefinery into existing chemical processes for the production of 1,4 BDO directly from sugars, enabling the significant reduction in greenhouses gases from biotechnology-driven process. The plant could produce up to 30,000 tons per year and is a starting point for further integration of feedstock supplies (raw materials for fuel or production) for manufacturing in Italy. Novamont had six inter-connected sites and four new technologies, linked to a process of regeneration of decommissioned or no longer competitive industrial sites with world-first technologies and plants.

The use of biobutanediol allows the reduction of the net Global Warming Potential “Cradle to gate” by 50% in terms of CO2 equivalent emissions, compared to the fossil alternative. Moreover, the plant is designed to reuse by-products for its own energy purpose, optimizing the whole life-cycle process. In 2020, the anaerobic digester started the first biogas production from industrial waste consisting of thermally inactivated bacteria and their residues. By introducing an additional treatment system, the biogas is now converted into biomethane and fed into the national network, allowing to further increase the plant efficiency.

Mater-Biotech is the only active plant able to transform sugars directly in BDO through a fermentation process. The plants commenced operations at the end of 2016 and from 2017 onwards, production capacity has achieved 30 ktons.



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