Gevo signs agreement to build biobased isobutanol facility in Southeast Asia

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Chemical company Gevo has signed a collaborative agreement with the intent to site a cellulosic biomass isobutanol facility in Southeast Asia, as it looks to grow in one of the fastest growing chemical markets.

Gevo's president, Chris Ryan, signed the collaborative agreement with representatives from the Malaysian government's East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), Malaysian Biotechnology Corp (BiotechCorp) and the State Government of Terengganu.

Isobutanol, or 2-methyl-1-propanol, is an organic compound and is used in a number of cosmetic applications such as nail polish, nail polish remover, hair spray, hair dye, and false eyelash adhesive and remover.

Following demand

After a year of ongoing development work in Malaysia, Gevo is strategically partnering along the supply chain to provide biobased isobutanol at a cost competitive price, and the company is in the final stages of evaluating additional partners to complete the biomass to isobutanol value chain.

"The technology for a sustainable cellulosic feedstock is expected to be commercially viable this year, so now is the appropriate time to begin our cellulosic platform,"​ said Ryan.

"We're excited to follow the demand, especially since Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing chemical markets, and Malaysia provides an excellent growth opportunity for Gevo. Our ambition is to move toward definitive agreements by the second half of 2012 with a target of having a cellulosic plant operational by late 2015 or early 2016."

Plans in place

The current plan under consideration is to construct a fermentation facility to produce bio isobutanol made from cellulosic biomass. The proposed site is in the State of Terengganu at the Biorefinery Complex in Kertih.

"The establishment of a Gevo facility in East Coast Economic Region Malaysia is further testament to investors' confidence in the Region and we look forward to facilitating Gevo's investment in Malaysia,"​ said CEO of the ECERDC, Jebasingam Issace John.

The Terengganu State Government was represented by its State Secretary, Mazlan Ngah and BiotechCorp was represented by its CEO, Dr Mohd Nazlee Kamal. The document exchange ceremony was held in conjunction with the Bio International Convention and Exhibition that is currently taking place in Boston, Massachussetts.

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