Green Biologics closes biochemicals plant in US

Article by Amanda Doyle

GREEN Biologics (GBL), a biobased chemical firm headquartered in the UK, has announced that it will close its plant in Minnesota, US, due to financial difficulties.

The plant, at Little Falls, began operations in 2016, producing acetone and 1-butanol via fermentation at a modified ethanol plant. GBL developed a modified strain of Clostridium microbe that produces acetone and 1-butanol from sugar, and the plant was its first commercial facility. The process was previously used up until the 1960s, but petrochemical processes then became dominant. GBL markets its products as replacements to petroleum-based products, but struggled to compete with the petrochemical processes due to cost.

Last year it launched the world’s first bio-based acetone nail polish remover, bio-based dry cleaning solvent, and bio-based and barbeque lighter fluid. The company was also named in a report by Lignocellulosic Biorefinery Network (LBNet), which listed n-butanol as one of the ten biochemicals where the UK is primed to go from demonstration to industrial-level production.

The company said that it cannot secure sufficient funding to grow sales and keep the plant running. In a statement on its website, it said: “After a detailed review, the Board of Green Biologics … has concluded that it is not possible to secure funding to enable it to continue with its plan to build up sales and production levels of renewable butanol and acetone at the group’s Little Falls, Minnesota plant to the point of cash break-even. In the short term the Board of GBL will be considering strategic options for the future of GBL.”

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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