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DuPont making another foray into the biosciences sector

Posted on December 15th, 2015 by in Chemical Manufacturing Excellence

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DuPont has already established itself as a leader in the biosciences sector, particularly in terms of biofuel production and its leading Sorona material line. Now, the company is taking its efforts to another level through a purchase of the C1 platform from Dyadic International.

Technically speaking, the DuPont Industrial Biosciences division has purchased C1, but the overarching theme is clear, DuPont is committed to fueling bioscience innovation, and it is doing so in two key ways – materials innovation and biofuel generation. Combined, these efforts hold the potential to drive major sustainability gains.

DuPont and materials innovation
Even prior to this purchase, DuPont has led the charge in bioscience material generation. Its Sorona line of material can be used as a replacement for various synthetic fabrics, and does so while being constructed through the use of renewable materials. Approximately 37 percent of the material in Sorona stems from plant-based renewables, making it an attractive component that is already used in carpets (for home, commercial and automotive applications) and apparel.

Creating Sorona from renewable materials is only one component of the innovation coming from DuPont. The new synthetic also requires significantly less energy to produce than its counterparts. For example, DuPont’s website claims that Sorona production requires approximately 40 percent less energy during production than nylon 6,6 and reduces emissions of greenhouse gases by 56 percent.

Sorona is something of a flagship material for DuPont’s Industrial Biosciences division, and the biopolymer can also be produced as Sorona EP, a synthetic thermoplastic that can be used for automotive parts and similar applications.

This move to create biomaterials is running in parallel with DuPont’s focus on biofuel, as these biosciences projects can combine to dramatically reduce energy consumption while also providing more sustainable means of creating power. DuPont’s materials efforts come alongside the creation of a 30-million gallon cellulosic biorefinery, and its new purchase of Dyadic’s C1 platform will pay dividends in this area.

Unpacking the DuPont-Dyadic deal
DuPont Industrial Biosciences purchased Dyadic’s C1 platform, as well as the rest of Dyadic’s enzyme technologies, for $75 million. Dyadic’s team had developed both liquid and dry enzyme products using its C1 technology, which serves as a fungal expression solution that supports enzyme manufacturing. This functionality will prove critical as DuPont expands its reach into the biosciences field and works to develop sustainable biofuel and biomaterial solutions.

DuPont Industrial Biosciences President William Feehery explained that the purchase will help DuPont deliver its bioscience products across a wide range of industries.
“The C1 platform complements DuPont’s world-class enzyme expression systems and provides additional operational flexibility to bring our strong innovation pipeline to market,” said Feehery. “Further, with the acquisition of Dyadic’s commercial enzyme portfolio, we look forward to serving new customers and offering additional product choices to our existing customers in the animal nutrition, food and beverage and other industrial markets.”

According to DuPont’s release pertaining to the deal, the purchase will play a huge role in accelerating DuPont’s biorefinery efforts. As already mentioned, DuPont has developed a large biorefinery that will allow it to create a wide range of biomaterials, and the new enzyme production functions will make it easier to break down and process raw materials to turn them into various biofuel types and biopolymers.

Green chemistry at center of sustainability efforts
Green chemistry innovation has been happening at a breakneck pace in recent years, as many organizations are becoming aware that gleaning valuable chemicals and materials from renewable resources – ranging from human waste to plants – can fuel major sustainability gains across society.

Biofuels can be used to eliminate many fossil fuel types while also providing a more predictable, reliable energy source than solar or wind power. At the same time, new synthetic materials that are made of natural materials and are more efficient to produce than existing options can lead to sustainability gains across a diverse range of industries.

All of these gains are only possible through green chemistry advances, but figuring out the science is only part of the issue. Leading chemists have been embracing green chemistry for years, but getting solutions from conception out to market represents a huge challenge. Between needing to develop efficient production methods that reduce the cost of recycling materials and creating manufacturing lines that allow for mass production of biofuels and biosynthetics, the commercialization burden facing the green chemistry sector has been huge.

This is where this new deal between DuPont and Dyadic really stands out. DuPont has been among the leaders in producing usable, commercially viable products that come as a result of green chemistry innovation, but gaining the capacity to deploy large-scale production lines presents major challenges. Dyadic’s C1 platform resolves many of these issues by allowing for the cost-efficient production of key enzymes that can be used in biomaterial refinement.

Scientific advances can be valuable on their own as they drive ideological advances and help us understand the world better. But when it comes to combating global climate change and dealing with the dwindling supply of fossil fuel resources around the world, new ideas aren’t enough to drive change. They are only the catalyst. Ideas must be developed through proof-of-concept phases and into production as quickly as possible to maximize the sustainability gains they offer.

As green chemistry innovation has accelerated at a breakneck pace, real change is on the horizon. This purchase emphasizes just how close we are to seeing meaningful developments across the biofuel and biomaterials sector. DuPont’s growing ability to ramp up production doesn’t just create greater potential for innovative solutions reaching the market, it also creates a potential paradigm that other green chemistry leaders can follow as they work to develop new production methodologies.

The future of the green chemistry industry isn’t lingering on the horizon any longer. Advances in commercializing biomaterials are advancing the sector to a place where it is ready to make immediate contributions to society right now.

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