Biobased levulinic acid plant to start up in Italy; targeted at plasticisers

Italian biobased chemicals company GFBiochemicals is starting commercialisation of its levulinic acid thanks to its proprietary breakthrough technology. Commercial-scale production will start in the summer 2015 at its Caserta plant in Italy with capacity of 2,000 tonnes/year, making it the world’s largest levulinic acid plant producing directly from biomass. This plant will provide design and operating data for future production, allowing annual capacity to scale up to 8,000 tonnes/year by 2017. The process technology has been developed and tested on a demo-scale since 2008.

A new experienced management team has been put in place to take GFBiochemicals forward. Marcel van Berkel is GFBiochemicals Chief Commercial Officer. Van Berkel spent over 25 years at Solvay and DSM, including in DSM’s Bio-based Products and Services division. Davide Gremmi joins as Chief Financial Officer. Gremmi has over 20 years’ finance experience, most recently at Chemtex Group. Marcello Taglietti is Chief Operating Officer with over 20 years’ experience, including at Air Products and Ashland.

CEO Maxim Katinov said, “Our team of experts has decades of experience in innovation, production and business development. We are now perfectly-placed to bring biobased levulinic acid to market and enable new applications that will replace petro-based products.”

Levulinic acid is an intermediate platform chemical with huge potential in chemicals and fuels. It was recognised by the US Department of Energy as one of 12 biobased building block chemicals of the future. The carbon-based compound (C5H8O3) has potential to generate value-added derivative chemicals and biofuels. Applications are broad and cover pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, flavours and fragrances, personal care, food additives, resins and coatings, plasticisers, solvents and fuel additives.

Levulinic acid production creates useful value-added secondary chemicals, including furfural, acetic acid and formic acid.


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