At the recent World Bio Markets conference, president Marcel Lubben of Reverdia delivered an optimistic speech on the future of biobased chemicals. There is a place in the world for its star product biobased succinic acid, he said, even at oil prices of $ 30/bbl. The opportunity can be calculated at some $ 1.5 billion according to him, in many different end products: PBS, PUR, resins, solvents.
Reverdia is the joint venture of Royal DSM, the global life sciences and materials sciences company, and Roquette Frères, the global starch and starch-derivatives company. It is one of the few companies that produces and sells biobased succinic acid, under the name of Biosuccinium™. Reverdia does not look for drop-ins (it judges these to be too dependent on oil price) but instead tries to develop new products through partnerships. The company acknowledges that this requires endurance, as new value chains will have to be organized. But this may also bring additional benefits. The idea is to create market pull with brand owners and value chain partners.
Last month, the company came up with one of the fruits of this strategy. Mäder, a major producer of paints and coatings, launched a new range of bio-based alkyd paints. These are based on Reverdia’s bio-succinic acid combined with Roquette’s isosorbide marketed under the name of POLYSORB® (about which we wrote a few months ago). These paints are commercialised under the brand CAMI and are called CADÉLI. The range includes two EU Ecolabel-certified products: an anti-microbial interior paint and a depolluting (anti-formaldehyde) interior paint. Mäder claims that they have extra key physical properties, such as hardness and scratch resistance. Both paints are 98% bio-based. In the press release, Marcel Lubben said: ‘These new paints respond to growing consumer demand for safe and environmentally friendly products with a lower carbon footprint. Once again, Biosuccinium™ has enabled a sustainable, market-ready solution.’
Reverdia has a ‘winning technology’
Reverdia, said Lubben at the conference, employs a global flexible business model and will both build, operate and sell new products and license its technology to users of bio-succinic acid (parties that want to be vertically integrated), in order to speed up the adoption of biobased plastics and materials. The company relies heavily on its ‘winning yeast-based technology’ that can operate at low pH and therefore produces little waste. Reverdia puts an extra demand on the robustness of its production strain as the company sets out to be feedstock agnostic. The food/feedstock relationship differs among regions, says Lubben, and the company does not want to be inflexible in this field. But this implies that the company’s yeast strain will be able to accommodate different qualities of glucose and sugar as its feedstock, including cellulosic sugars.
A new biobased paint may be a small step towards the biobased economy. But it testifies to the idea that biobased chemicals should rather not be drop-ins but the agents of new yet undiscovered and superior qualities. Reverdia is convinced that many more steps on this path will follow.