Metabolix Awarded Two U.S. Patents for Technology to Produce Biobased Polymers and Industrial Chemicals
Metabolix, Inc. (NASDAQ: MBLX), an innovation-driven bioscience company focused on delivering sustainable solutions for plastics, chemicals and energy, today announced that the company has been awarded two new patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) related to the novel and efficient production of biobased polymers and industrial chemicals.
U.S. Patent 8,093,022 titled "Polyhydroxalkanoate Biopolymer Compositions" enables production of a series of new PHA biopolymer compositions using genetically engineered microbial strains.
U.S. Patent 8,114,643 titled "Polyhydroxalkanoate Production from Polyols" enables creation of genetic constructs to make the biobased chemical 3-hydroxypropionic acid in microbial and crop plant systems. It also describes the use of polyols, including glycerol and sugars, as alternate, renewable feedstocks. 3-Hydroxypropionic acid is useful for the production of PHA polymers and C3 chemicals including biobased acrylic acid, malonic acid, esters and amines.
"We firmly believe that the pace of adoption of chemicals made from renewable resources will rapidly accelerate throughout this decade," said Richard P. Eno, president and CEO of Metabolix. "The growing commitment from brand owners and consumers to produce and use ‘green' products, combined with the rapid advances in biotechnology, means that our technology for producing biobased chemicals will be very well positioned to benefit from this trend."
"These recently issued patents highlight the breadth and depth of Metabolix's PHA technology platform. The recently issued patents describe a process that enables us to engineer microbes and plants to accumulate unique biobased monomers and PHA polymers inside their cells. The unique PHA polymers can then be extracted and used as bioplastics or converted directly from dried biomass using our FAST technology to chemical intermediates. In the case of the 3-hydoxypropionic acid polymer, using our FAST recovery technology results in the direct production of acrylic acid. We believe this approach will provide a significant advantage for creating cost-effective downstream recovery systems at commercial scale," commented Oliver Peoples, an inventor on the patents and chief scientific officer of Metabolix.
With more than 700 issued and pending patents, Metabolix has led the industry in the development of a family of biopolymers found in nature called PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates), including members of the PHA family. Metabolix is developing biobased industrial chemicals as "drop-in" replacements for petroleum-based products. In recent months, Metabolix has produced biobased gamma-Butyrolactone ("GBL," a C4 chemical) at semi-works scale (60,000L) and has produced biobased acrylic acid (a C3 chemical) at lab scale. In the second quarter, Metabolix expects to begin sampling to prospective strategic partners dried biomass for conversion to biobased acrylic acid.
According to industry sources, the combined global market for conventional four-carbon ("C4") and three-carbon ("C3") industrial chemicals is estimated at more than $10 billion annually. C4 chemicals are used in applications ranging from high-performance engineering plastics to spandex. C3 chemicals have applications in paints, coatings, diapers and adhesives.