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Verdezyne Receives U.S. Patent For Biobased Adipic Acid Production Method

Verdezyne Inc. — a Carlsbad, Calif.-based producer of chemicals from renewable, non-petroleum sources — has been granted U.S. Patent No. 8,241,879 for its biobased adipic acid production process. The patent, titled "Biological Methods for Preparing Adipic Acid," presents a proprietary process to selectively convert non-petroleum-based oils into adipic acid, which is a key ingredient in the production of renewably sourced nylon 6,6 (N 6,6), thermoplastic resins and coatings.

The company opened a pilot plant to produce biobased adipic acid in November 2011 (See " Verdezyne Opens Biobased Adipic Acid Pilot Plant In California," TextileWorld.com, December 6, 2011). The production process involves yeast fermentation of non-food, plant-based oils and is targeted specifically for N 6,6 production. In addition to environmental advantages that also include reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants during production, the biobased adipic acid is expected to offer economic advantages when compared to petroleum-based adipic acid.

"Verdezyne's proprietary process allows us to produce adipic acid at high yields and selectively from any plant-based oil, regardless of its fatty acid composition — making the entire process more cost-effective and environmentally friendly," said Stephen Picataggio, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, Verdezyne. "Since our feedstock position is not carbohydrate-based, we are also not competing for sugar in the food or energy value chain."

Verdezyne President and CEO E. William Radany, Ph.D., said the biobased adipic acid produced using Verdezyne's process is 99.99-percent pure and noted that the company has partnered with another United States-based company to polymerize N 6,6 made with the biobased adipic acid and spin the fiber into yarn for carpet applications. Verdezyne also is drafting definitive agreements to conduct trials for apparel yarn.

"Our strategy is to demonstrate through our pilot work that we can manufacture adipic acid that can meet all the quality criteria for polymerization and then spinning and dyeability, in addition to demonstrating the economics of the process," Radany said, calling it a "drop-in replacement" for conventional adipic acid. Several N 6,6 manufacturers are interested in incorporating biobased adipic acid into a 50-percent renewable fiber, but Radany noted that Verdezyne also is developing a pathway to manufacture hexamethylenediamine, which would enable production of 100-percent biobased N 6,6.

"There have been a number of chemical routes to do that, and we would like to develop a path that is not chemical, but biological," he said.

The company is exploring funding strategies to build a manufacturing plant that would be located in close proximity to the product's feedstock, including waste streams from soybean and canola oil production in the Midwest.

August 21, 2012