Genomatica Wins EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award
The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Genomatica the top honor in green chemistry, the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, which recognizes technologies that have broad application while incorporating the principles of green chemistry. The award honors Genomatica's affect on the production of major industrial chemicals – those made and sold in billions of pounds per year – with better economics and a smaller environmental footprint, using biological organisms and renewable feedstocks.
"This award is further evidence signaling the beginning of a chemical industry transformation," said Jeffrey Plotkin, vice president at Nexant, a leading industry consulting firm. "Genomatica's constellation of meaningful partnerships, their demonstration-scale production and a rich pipeline of major chemicals places them among technology leaders developing monomers and intermediates from renewable resources for the chemical industry."
The judges broke with tradition and "promoted" Genomatica into the "Greener Synthetic Pathways" category, rather than considering it a "small business." Last year's winning entry was a technology jointly developed by BASF and Dow, which together had total corporate revenue of more than $100 billion dollars in 2010. Previous winners in this category have included Eastman Chemical Company, Merck, Archer Daniels Midland and Monsanto. DuPont, Bayer and Procter & Gamble have also been honored with the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in recent years.
The EPA will give Genomatica an award for "Production of High-Volume Chemicals from Renewable Feedstocks at Lower Cost." The judges recognized the potential economic and environmental impact of Genomatica's technology across many large, existing chemical markets. By producing the exact same chemicals made today from fossil fuels with renewable feedstocks instead, Genomatica's technology has the potential for broad industry impact.
The award recognized both the breadth of Genomatica's potential effect on the industry and the tangible commercialization milestones for its first product, Bio-BDO, an intermediate chemical with a $4 billion market worldwide. The milestones include partnerships with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, Tate & Lyle, Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi, and Waste Management. Genomatica also recently announced demonstration-scale production of Bio-BDO.
"We're working to green intermediate and basic chemicals while delivering better economics. We believe this will help transform the supply chain and make thousands of products more sustainable," said Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling. "We're honored and humbled to receive the same award as leaders like Dow, BASF and DuPont."
The technology was recently featured in the peer-reviewed Nature Chemical Biology. The article describes the first time that BDO, a major industrial chemical that is made and sold in billions of pounds per year, has been made directly by a biological organism from renewable carbohydrate feedstocks.
The company also recently received a Department of Energy grant to improve the economics and efficiency of converting non-food biomass feedstocks into high-value chemicals. The research will enhance the commercial profitability of biorefineries by producing Bio-BDO from biomass.