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Cellulosic Biomass Sugars Developer Gains BASF Backing

Sugar cane (USDA.gov)

Sugar cane (USDA.gov)

Renmatix Inc., a developer of biofuel sugars from cellulosic feedstocks in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, has secured a $50 million investment round led by German chemical manufacturer BASF. The BASF subsidiary, BASF Biorenewable Beteiligungs GmbH, contributed $30 million to the investment round, joined by new and existing investors.

Renmatix has devised a technology platform called Plantrose that generates industrial sugars from cellulosic non-edible biomass feedstocks, such as wood chips, sugar cane waste, or straw. The technology splits biomass into cellulose and sugar using water at high temperature and pressure as a catalyst. Most other biomass processing technologies, says the company, use enzymes as catalysts, which raises costs and adds steps and time to the process.

Industrial sugars are important resources for the chemical industry as well as for fuels, and can be used to produce chemical products and intermediates by fermentation processes. The availability of industrial sugars based on renewable rather than fossil fuel sources can help stabilize supply and costs, and is therefore important for the competitiveness of chemical products.

Renmatix says it has two production facilities in Georgia, a pilot plant that converts 100 kg per day of dry biomass to sugars, and a larger plant to demonstrate the scalability of its technology that converts three tons of biomass per day. It’s next commercial scale plant expects to be able to produce 100,000 tons of cellulosic sugars per year. The company says the Plantrose technology does not require a large amount of space and can be built to co-locate with other existing facilities.

Read more: Biofuels Start-Up Adds BP as Investor

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