Total, Amyris to Form Renewable Fuels JV
Total and Amyris, Inc. announced Wednesday that they will form a joint venture to develop, produce and commercialize various renewable fuels and products. The JV will expand upon the companies' current research and development partnership.
"The creation of the joint venture and the implementation of the new renewable diesel R&D program are two more major steps forward for Total, which is aiming to become a key supplier in renewable fuels," Philippe Boisseau, President of Gas & Power at Total, said in a statement. "Renewable fuels produced with Amyris' advanced technology will benefit from the know-how and customer access of Total, which operates in more than 130 countries. It will strengthen Total's position in the global renewable diesel market, which is projected to nearly double in size to 32 million tons in 2020 from 17 million tons in 2010."
Under the deal, Paris-based Total and Emeryville, Calif.-based Amyris will work to speed the deployment of Biofene—a renewable hydrocarbon building block. The companies plan to develop renewable diesel based on this molecule, which is produced from plant sugars. The latest agreement is an extension of the $180 million R&D program that Total and Amyris formed in 2010 with the intent of bringing next-generation renewable fuels to market at commercial scale. Total has committed to provide $105 million of the program's funding.
The 50-50 JV company will own the exclusive rights to produce and market renewable diesel and jet fuel globally. Moreover, the JV will have non-exclusive rights to other renewable products including drilling fluids, solvents, polymers and specific biolubricants.
"With this expanded relationship and Total's vast distribution network, as well as Total's stated commitment to invest in production units, we expect to be able to co-develop products and, ultimately, deliver a global supply of sustainable renewable fuels at commercial scale," said John Melo, Amyris' President and CEO. "This is an ambitious undertaking ideally suited for our two companies."
According to Amyris' website, the company's "industrial synthetic biology platform" is enabling it to design microbes—primarily yeast—that use fermentation processes to convert sugars from plants into renewable chemical and transportation fuel products. The company claims that its technology will help producers blend biomass- and organic waste-based renewable hydrocarbons into fuel in proportions significantly higher than the European Union's current seven-percent threshold. Moreover, it contends the JV's renewable diesel will provide energy density, engine performance and storage properties comparable to petroleum diesel currently on the market.
Amyris operates pilot plants in the U.S. and Brazil and is scaling its Biofene production in those countries and in Europe. Total and Amyris expect the JV to begin operations during the first quarter of next year.