Amyris Opens Pilot Plant to Produce Renewable Diesel Fuel
Amyris Biotechnologies, Inc. today announced that it has opened its first pilot plant producing No Compromise(TM) renewable diesel fuel. The pilot plant, which was completed in September, is an important milestone for Amyris towards its goal of developing and commercializing its sustainable, hydrocarbon-based fuel, which it expects to bring to market in 2010.
The plant serves as a technical gateway to commercialization in Brazil and other manufacturing locations. It will demonstrate Amyris’ technology in scaled down process equipment that is representative of full commercial scale operations; generate essential engineering data for designing Amyris’ full scale plants; and produce product samples for performance testing.
Amyris’ diesel is characterized as a No Compromise(TM) fuel because it is designed to be a scalable, low-cost renewable fuel with performance attributes that equal or exceed those of petroleum-sourced fuels and currently available biofuels. Other attributes include:
— Superior environmental performance: Preliminary analyses show that Amyris diesel fuel has virtually no sulfur and significantly reduced NOx, particulate, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon exhaust emissions relative to petroleum-sourced diesel fuel.
— High blending rates: Because Amyris renewable diesel contains many of the properties of petroleum diesel, Amyris can blend the fuel at high levels — up to 50 percent — compared with 10-20 percent for conventional biodiesel and ethanol.
— Compatibility with existing infrastructure: Unlike many commercially available biofuels, Amyris expects to distribute its renewable diesel through the existing fuel distribution and storage infrastructure, thus speeding time to market while minimizing costs.
— Adaptive: Amyris can produce its fuels from a broad range of feedstock including sugar cane and cellulosic biomass. It is starting with Brazilian sugar cane because it provides the most environmentally sound, economical, and scalable source of energy available today.
“This new diesel fuel has all the characteristics to make an important contribution toward solving our global transportation energy and climate crisis,” said John Melo, chief executive officer of Amyris. “The opening of our pilot plant is a significant business marker for us, taking us one step closer to bringing our diesel fuel to market.”
In parallel with this effort, Amyris will open a larger pilot plant in Campinas, Brazil in the spring of 2009 where it will finalize processes for Brazilian operations; transfer the technology to manufacturing sites in Brazil; and provide ongoing support for optimizing production in Brazil.
Earlier this year, Amyris established Amyris-Crystalsev Biofuels, a Brazilian venture in partnership with Crystalsev, one of Brazil’s largest ethanol distributors and marketers, to work with Brazilian sugarcane mills and fuel producers to scale up production of Amyris diesel fuel. SantelisaVale, the second-largest ethanol and sugar producer in Brazil has committed two million tons of sugar cane crushing capacity for the initial production of Amyris diesel, including its flagship Santelisa mill.
Amyris’ proprietary synthetic biology platform enables Amyris scientists to engineer microorganisms such as yeast so that they can transform sugar into 50,000 different molecules used in a wide variety of energy, pharmaceutical, and chemical applications. Amyris is working on the development and commercialization of several of these molecules to provide a range of renewable products, including diesel fuel, jet fuel and specialty chemicals.
The platform has already proven successful through the development of a strain of yeast to enable the production of a precursor to artemisinin, a key ingredient in anti-malarial drugs, at significantly lower cost than can be achieved with conventional technologies. This technology was developed as a not-for-profit initiative, and has been transferred to sanofi-aventis.
Amyris is applying a proprietary synthetic biology platform to create No Compromise(TM) products — low cost renewable fuels and chemicals that are intended to be environmentally friendly, compatible with the existing infrastructure, and have performance attributes comparable to petroleum-based fuels. Amyris has also developed a technology to produce a second supply of an anti-malarial drug. Founded in 2003, Amyris has raised over $120 million in equity funding to-date, including investments from Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, TPG Biotech, and DAG Ventures. Amyris has over 200 employees and facilities in Emeryville, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Campinas, Brazil. More information about Amyris is available at www.amyris.com.
The statements in this Investor Update are forward-looking statements based upon Amyris’ current expectations, and involve risks and uncertainties. Amyris’ actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements as a result of these risks and uncertainties, which include, without limitation: (1) inability to obtain additional equity and/or debt financing in the future, (2) failure to develop or commercialize products as planned; (3) inaccurate assessment of forecasted mill adoption, production scale-up timing and volume, and customer demand for Amyris products; (4) inability to achieve forecasted production economics and operating results; (5) risks associated with Amyris Fuels, Inc., including hedging exposure, access to working capital, terminal and other storage facility lease availability and customer demand for ethanol; (6) exposure to exchange rate fluctuations between the U.S. dollar and the Brazilian real; (7) inability to secure certification of our products or processes, and (8) general economic conditions, including downturns specific to the energy sector. Amyris expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release any updates or revisions to these forward-looking statements, except as the law may require.