At last week's Bio-based Materials Conference in Cologne, the second day was dominated by three talks on the developments around bio succinic acid. Of the four major players in this area, three - Reverdia, Succinity and Myriant - discussed the state of the art and presented their views on the market potential for this rising bio-based building block.
All three estimated the addressable market at around $7 billion. And all three were generally optimistic about the outlook, betting on, among other things, the increasing demand in the replacement of maleic anhydride and adipic acid for the manufacture of, for example, BDO, a large-volume chemical used in the manufacture of thermoplastics, polyesters and plasticizers. But all three also talked of wrestling with the strategies needed to grow. Growth requires investment, and proven value is needed in order to attract that investment. It a process that takes time, as Markus Hummelsberger of Succinity pointed out: "It's a marathon, not a sprint."
So what is bio succinic acid? It's a platform chemical that can be used to make PBS, coatings, polyurethanes and plasticizers, to name but a few. As Richard Janssen, from Reverdia, the joint venture between DSM:(Netherlands) and Roquette (France), pointed out, historically petro-based succinic acid has been a small volume, high price chemical. He thinks that will change, with the advent of a bio-based alternative. "We have an alternative process that can compete with other chemicals out there," he said. "It's a low pH yeast process that is robust, simple, reproducible and sustainable that offers feedback flexibility and better economics."