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Iowa breaks ground on first U.S. plant producing bio-BDO

Iowa breaks ground on first U.S. plant producing bio-BDO

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds joined the groundbreaking on construction of a new facility in Eddyville, Iowa, to produce bio-based butanediol, a sustainable version of a raw material widely used by manufacturers.

The $300 million investment is a joint venture of Cargill and HELM, who will produce a product called QIRA, a bio-BDO or bio-butanediol. Bio-BDO is a green alternative to butanediol (BDO), which is a chemical traditionally produced with fossil fuels and used in industrial production of a range of plastics, fibers, and solvents. The project will use a biomanufacturing process developed by Genomatica, who announced last year that they licensed GENO BDO® to Cargill.

“Made biologically through the fermentation of plant-based sugars, QIRA can save up to 93 percent of greenhouse gas emissions when replacing today’s widely used chemical intermediates made from traditional fossil sources,” according to Cargill. “QIRA can be used for making spandex and other polyester-based chemical fibers as well as biodegradable plastics, polyurethane coatings, sealants and artificial leathers, thereby improving their environmental footprint.”

Once completed, the project will be the first commercial-scale bio-BDO facility in the United States, said the press release from Cargill.

“Sustainable chemicals are quickly becoming table stakes for our customers and our investments will enable the chemicals industry to embrace new markets with the materials consumers are demanding from companies they trust,” said Jill Zullo, Vice President, Biointermediates/Bioindustrial at Cargill.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds praised the benefits of the new facility and QIRA. “This product will mean better market opportunities for farmers and benefits for people across the state of Iowa and around the world. And you can count on Iowa to deliver,” she said, according to KHQA.

“Innovations and creative partnerships are essential for the realization of new and improved value chains to meet the ever-rising demand for more sustainable solutions that consumers, brands and our planet need,” Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling said. “We are pleased to supply our innovative sustainable technology to Cargill and HELM, whose venture and complementary strengths are ideally suited to do just that—ensure that an essential chemical found everywhere from our shoes and clothes to our cars will be produced in a superior way with a far lower environmental impact.”

Once the facility in Eddyville is completed in 2024, Genomatica said, its unique technology will enable a global annual bio-BDO production of more than 100,000 tons.

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