Will France become a leader in isobutene production?

Cristal Union and Global Bioenergies have formed a joint venture, entitles IBN-One, to build and operate France’s first bio-sourced isobutene production plant. IBN-One is a limited liability corporation jointly owned by the two companies.

The two French companies already collaborated to develop the scaling up of the isobutene production process. Thanks to the partnership, the production of the first batch was achieved in a record time, and Global Bioenergies already delivered its first renewable gasoline sample to car-maker Audi.

IBN-One expects several licenses to be granted over the next few years. The first one, of course, came from Global Bioenergies. The company has granted IBN-One a non-exclusive license to use its isobutene process for a 50,000 tonne capacity plant to be located in France.

Initially, IBN-One will carry out a detailed project study covering technical, regulatory, commercial and financial aspects to flesh out the project planned in France. The venture expects to finance the cost of the engineering work with a financing round scheduled for 2016. However, the construction and start-up of the plant, that could be operational by 2018, will require additional funding.

IBN-One will provide a bridge between the sugar and petrochemicals industry. The market for fossil isobutene in materials and fuel is very large indeed. This raises the prospect of a global first for France in industrial biology. Thanks to the high value-added of its derivatives, renewable isobutene will address market segments adjacent to those currently served by conventional processes, such as renewable ethanol.

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