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Three awards for bio-based chemistry


DuPont opens a

production line in France


Synthetic biology PENNAKEM

« Our investments

may increase, depending on demand of furfural »

Special report


A work

in progress

substitutes oil



Picardy is at the forefront once again


ith the increasing awareness that fossil resources will only be a distant memory in the history of mankind, man is naturally turning to Mother Nature. Already, around the world plans to substitute fossil carbon by carbon plants are multiplying. And for the

last decade, an American scientist, Janine Benyus, has proposed going further by bringing the

idea of biomimetics up to date. This discipline is not limited to the mere imitation of life, such as the reproduction of shark skin to make wetsuits or the small hooks on burdock plants to make Velcro. More broadly, she also recommends inspiration from the organisation strategies seen in nature which are constantly adapted and improved. In France, many laboratories are conducting research in this area, but often on the margins of their main work. Therefore knowhow is geographically dispersed throughout the country and there is no real emulation based around this emerging discipline. However, thanks to the town of Senlis, that situation is about to change. In fact, the city in Picardy has taken the initiative by creating the first European biomimetics centre. It will open in 2014 and will house a campus, research and higher education institutions, innovative

Sylvie Latieule Chief editor

The town of Senlis has created the first European centre for biomimetics.

start-ups, SMEs and VSEs and even large industrial groups. “The goal of this centre for excellence dedicated to biomimetics is to develop and mutualise exchange and collaboration spaces between all of the public and private actors based around innovative collaborative projects which can generate growth,” says Francis Pruche, a researcher and alderman of Senlis, describing a veritable platform for open innovation. The idea of this centre is very recent, one a half years ago, with the arrival of a new team in the Senlis town hall. After the departure of a military battalion in

September 2009, leaving behind 10 hectares of disused barracks, a first tranche of land had been dedicated to the creation of a new residential area. But the new team did not approve it. “Our idea is to revitalise Senlis, combining economic activity with housing, with the aim of rebuilding employment,” explains Pascale Loiseleur, the new mayor of Senlis. In terms of funding, the State will participate to the tune of 1.5 million euros as part of a local revitalisation plan (PLR) signed on July 13th, 2012. Also, the project team will have to find additional funding of 12 million euros to implement the first phase of the project. But Pascale Loiseleur remains confident because she has already managed to bring on board several partners, such as the Regional Council of Picardy, the IAR cluster, the State via the PLR and the Cleantuesday association. And then, by combining biomimetics and open innovation, this new centre aims to create a culture of breakthrough innovation. Many manufacturers will be more than a little interested in the latter.


FormuleVerte - N°11 -October 2012


The boomerang effect for PLA ■ It’s not just boomerangs that return. Recycled PLA can now be used. The company Futuramat offers its Biofibra range composed of recycled PLA loaded with wood fibre and containing plant-based additives. It is a range which attracted Wallaby Boomerangs for their boomerangs which are manufactured and painted entirely by hand. Their inks and varnishes are also water-based. The Biofibra range from Futuramat comes in various formulations

erangs by Boom © Walla

whose compositions are adjusted according to the final application and transformation method (thermoforming, injection, calendering etc.)

Green showcase Biomass is being used in many everyday products, even in the façades of houses. © Tirouvady Moutty

Baby eats organic ...plastic

© Mother’s


■ “Save the earth!” “Preserve the future!” This is the motto of Mother’s Corn. This brand which offers dishes for babies has developed its products using PLA. Their range of plates, glasses, and cutlery is made from bio-plastic. The research teams at Mother’s Corn have also managed to make products which are resistant to heat so that they can be used in the microwave. The manufacturer uses certified non-toxic inks. Mother’s Corn obtained a certification for container safety from the Technical and Test Institute in Prague for Construction in Prague.

Coffee and tea in cardboard ■ Coffee capsules are booming with consumers, but using capsule coffee is not very environmentally friendly. Tirouvady Moutty has worked for five years on creating a capsule which is biodegradable and environmentally friendly. The Moutty capsule is made of cardboard with a biodegradable film derived from corn starch which serves as a natural barrier agent. Finally, the capsule can contain coffee or tea and can be recycled into compost within 45 days. The company also highlights the benefits of the properties of coffee grounds in compost for agriculture. Moutty has also developed a machine for using these capsules.

Walking on bio-plastics ■ The world of luxury has adopted renewable materials. This summer the Gucci brand has marketed shoes using bioplastics. The luxury brand has adopted ecological soles for two models. The insoles are made of bio-plastic which is biodegradable into compost. For men, the luxury brand offers their California Green sneakers with ecological Gucci soles, vegetable tanned lambskin, organically


FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012

certified laces and metal details. For women, the Marola Green shoes are designed entirely in bio-plastic.

© Gucci

os reC atu ©N

Microalgae climb the façades of buildings ■ While the microalgae industry grows, the question of finding areas to cultivate them in arises. The agency X-TU Architects, the engineeringenvironmental–food laboratory of the University of Nantes along with the consortium SymBio2 are proposing to use the façades of buildings to grow microalgae. The first prototypes have been carried out. Flat and thin intensified photo-bioreactors are integrated onto the

rear panel of a curtain wall. Thermal regulation of algal cultures on the front (between 18 and 25 °C) reduces the overheating effect of large glass surfaces. In addition, such a facility would allow a reduction of more than 40 % in the operating costs for algal cultures compared to cultures in horizontal glasshouses.

A playground for “organic” children

© BE-Basic

■ How do we educate the younger generations about gestures to help the planet? The Dutch government intends to do so

while they are playing. Inside the pavilion “My green world” in Venlo, a playground named Kidshouse was built from natural materials. The company Purac notably participated in this project initiated by BE-Basic, a publicprivate partnership. For the playground, the waterproofing the roof is provided by materials made from vegetable oils. Coconut and hemp fibre panels are used for the interior walls. Bio-plastics made from potato peeling are used for electrical outlets.

■ Keeping products separate from components which are synthetic or petrochemical is the goal of NatureCos with their cosmetics brand Couleur Caramel. The brand uses ever more ingredients from organic agriculture. As NatureCos points out: “Our range contains less than 1% synthetic ingredients, except for the nail polish.” For its eye shadow, the company offers a micronized powder with active ingredients such as olive oil derived from red tea extract. And there is no question of using plastic packaging derived from petrochemicals; the brand has turned to kraft paper for that.

Z O O M A natural fibre insulating reinforcement for PVC work EcoRenfort is an isolating reinforcement combining natural fibre insulation unmatched in its thermal performance whilst providing the necessary rigidity for PVC profile work. It is lightweight and made in its majority from plant fibres. By simply replacing steel reinforcements, EcoRenfort significantly improves the performance of PVC work as well as their carbon footprint. EcoRenfort is a product from the company Innobat, a member of the IAR cluster.

© Innobat

© X-TU Achitects

Kraft paper wraps up organic cosmetics

Information selected by the site FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012



Three awards for bio-based chemistry Created to reward innovations in sustainable chemistry, this award annually honours projects in plant-based chemistry.


tical group Sanofi for the development of an innovative industrial process for manufacturing artemisinin, the main active ingredient of an anti-malaria drug. Rather than extracting the active ingredient from the Artemisia plant, whose cultivation is long and expensive, the process combines a bacterial culture step with a photochemical step. The bacterium was obtained by synthetic biology and feeds agricultural carbon sources. “With this new innovative process, production time has been reduced by a factor of three to just four months. We are very pleased to announce the launch of this new production as of this month,” says Francis Carré, vice president of Chemistry & Biotechnologies at Sanofi. This large-scale production required an investment of 15 million euros. For Francis Carré, this joint production project also represents a model

© Ministère du redressement productif

lant-based chemistry was showcased on September 12th on the occasion of the presentation of the seventh Pierre Potier Prize by Arnaud Montebourg, Minister for Industrial Recovery. This award was created in 2006 by the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry in partnership with the French Federation for Chemistry Sciences (FFC) and the Union of Chemical Industries (UIC) with the aim of rewarding initiatives in sustainable development. For this seventh edition, 29 applications were submitted, with six of them directly related to biobased products. “It has been a good year. We received 29 quality applications and we ended up awarding three trophies instead of two,” says Maurice Leroy, president of the FFC. Among the winners was the pharmaceu-

Awards presented by the Minister for Industrial Recovery, Arnaud Montebourg.


FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012

for the future which he wants to apply in particular to the production of corticosteroids. These products are now seeing strong competition from Asian production, but the discovery of a cheaper synthetic pathway could help stabilise production on French territory. A trophy was also awarded to the company Fermentalg. Created in 2009 by Pierre Calleja, it has developed a method for the industrial exploitation of microalgae. The algae are grown in fermenters from organic substrates (glycerol, whey, cellulose, and vinasse) and are able to produce various molecules (omega 3, colorants, antioxidants, and hydrocarbons). “We entered the arena of the exploitation of microalgae in competition with Asia and America. But with our 15 patents, we are a global leader. Moreover, our company is experiencing strong growth. At the time of filing our candidature for the Pierre Potier Prize, we had 22 employees. Fermentalg now has 38 employees,” says Pierre Calleja. The company Wheatoleo received a medal for the development of innovative agrosurfactants (APP and lipid sophoroses) from agricultural co-products. Wheatoleo has used ARD patents since 1996, but continues to file them. “This award is a mark of recognition of the research work by the agricultural sector which has taken responsibility for research and which remains committed to industrialisation on our territory,” says Yvon Le Hénaff, president of ARD.* Alongside this prize, the platform Chemstart’up awarded a prize for a young and innovative company with a value of up to 150,000 euros, if industrial development is relocated to Lacq. This year Ecoat, a start-up created in Grasse in 2011, was awar-

[DISTINCTION] In light ded for the development of new bio-based polymers for the paint industry. For this, the company has developed and patented a new reaction mechanism based around plant-based synthons which are applicable to numerous polymers. This mechanism is activated at the time of paint application, and substitutes oxidative drying paint which is usually catalysed by Cobalt salts.

is an investment in intelligence. We want to extend innovation within the framework of the 2013 Finance Act,” said the Minister. He showed the same determination in regards to future investments and clusters. “These are tools which strengthen and reinforce.” In addition, the minister referred to the planned Public Investment Bank for the financial support of SMEs and MSEs. “This bank will slow the pace of return on investment,” he said. Obviously being very attached to the notion of industry, the minister indicated that in the near future he would meet with the strategic committee on Chemistry and Materials. ■ SYLVIE LATIEULE

In his closing speech, the minister Arnaud Montebourg recalled that chemistry is at the heart of all science and technology: materials, biotechnology, nanotechnology, electronics. “Long perceived by the public as a source of pollution, the chemical industry is today showing that it is able to provide technical solutions that are able to meet the major challenges of sustainable development, while increasing the use of renewable sources raw materials (green chemistry),” he said. He also referred to existing programs for supporting innovation. “We want the ring-fence the Research Tax Credit because it

© Fermentalg 

Forward-looking chemistry

By rewarding Fermentalg, the jury has confirmed interest in the industrial exploitation of microalgae.

* Two other winners were awarded, but their projects did not concern plant-based raw materials. These were the group Arkema for their nanostructured Altuglas ShieldUp acrylic glass and BASF with an industrial process for the production of MOFs (Metal Organic Frameworks) in aqueous media.



Diversification into plant-based is being studied As producers of pharmaceutical active ingredients and speciality molecules, French fine chemicals producers see opportunities in plant-based chemistry.


rench fine chemistry is a profession which generates a turnover of between 1.5 to 3 billion euros in revenue and accounts for 10,000 to 12,000 employees in the country. About 60% of them work for large pharmaceutical companies producing active ingredients. The remaining 40% are employed by subcontractors or CMO’s, such as Novasep, Isochem, PCAS and Axyntis. They are spread over three businesses - production of generics, custom manufacturing and specialty fine chemistry – this profession is currently eyeing development opportunities in plant chemistry, particularly to offset the decrease in exclusive pharmaceutical synthesis. “France has the good fortune of being a large agricultural country which has the resources and the ability to recover a great deal of plant residues which can be recovered and transformed into plant based carbon,” says Vincent Touraille, President of Sicos and CEO of PCAS. Certainly, chemicals actors are not intending to position themselves in the transformation of agricultural matter. However, they do think they can gravitate to biorefineries and extract carbon chains which they will then be able to transform. The Pivert project, supported by the Sofiprotéol group, which should soon lead to the establishment of a “biorefinery” in Picardy is a proof of concept, says Vincent Touraille. His company is also one of the project partners with expertise in both chemical and enzymatic synthesis which is provided by their subsidiary, Proteus. In

10 FormuleVerte - N°11 - Octobre 2012

addition, by starting from highly oxygenated raw materials, unlike fossil raw materials, they should be able to access more innovative products: new solvents which are less harmful to humans and the environment, as well as highly oxygenated molecules. “Oil will become scarce and expensive, resulting in soaring prices for fossil-based chemistry. Plant chemistry opens up new perspectives,” says Vincent Touraille. Like PCAS, Isochem is also aiming to look into these new markets for plant chemistry. “One of our axes for strategic development is focussed on diversifying into non-pharma, while retaining our custom supplier model”, says Xavier Jeanjean, commercial director at Isochem. Already, the company has made its first steps in the field of plant chemistry. In this emerging field, biotechnology is well established, but Xavier Jeanjean considers that it cannot do everything. It is sometimes easier to make one or two conventional chemical reactions in order to functionalise a molecule. “These two technologies are complementary. Also, we can play the role of the missing link in the field of green chemistry”, he says. Isochem already has projects at the pilot stage with partners who have found new specialty molecules and need the involvement of a chemist with a green approach. “This area is more sensitive than pharmacy in terms of the environmental impacts of processes, which is an interesting challenge for us in terms of innovation,” adds Xavier Jeanjean.

© Novasep

To capture these new markets, Isochem implemented a marketing strategy approach over a year ago and hired a dedicated business manager. “At first we were not sure about the result, but now we have already achieved some initial success and we are even a little ahead of our business plan,” he says. For Isochem, this new business focused on plant chemistry could represent 10% of the company’s turnover in the medium term, while its competitor PCAS does not rule out the possibility of creating a new division dedicated to this activity. ■ SYLVIE LATIEULE

The view of Professor Daniel Thomas


* Johan Sanders, Elinor Scott, Ruud Weusthuis, Hans Mooibroek, Macromolecular Bioscience 2007, 7, 105–117

Norbert Patouillard, sales director for Europe and South America at Pennakem Europa SAS since October 2011, details the strategy of the Minafin subsidiary, specialising in the use of furfural in the sectors of solvents and intermediates.


“Our investments may increase, depending on demand” Pennakem was created following the acquisition of Penn Specialty Chemicals by Minafin. What is your assessment of the first year? Norbert Patouillard: When we created Pennakem in 2008, we were not starting from scratch. We received a business with more than sixty years of expertise in furfural. However, the activity of Penn Specialty Chemicals underwent stagnation. Between 2000 and 2005, annual turnover totalled an average of 15 million dollars annually over that period. Since then sales have grown to approximately 50 million dollars projected for 2012. Our goal is to reach 75 million dollars in sales in the next two to three years. We have not attained this progress via simple maintenance activity. In recent years, Pennakem teams have been working on developing new product lines based around biomass. © Pennakem Europe SAS

© Pennakem Europas SAS

In light [STRATEGY]

Which markets are Pennakem active in? N.P.: We specialise in furan. We are mainly present in two segments: solvents and intermediates. And anecdotally, we are developing a third segment, monomers. We are in the project and development phase in that segment. Renewable monomers are

12 FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012

gaining importance with polymerists. Our goal is to develop furan monomers which can be substituted for petrochemical monomers. In the fields of polymers and solvents, the furan nucleus could be an alternative to petrochemical products in high volume applications. Our size will not allow us to be the main player in this market, but we want to showcase our expertise.. What areas of development are being envisaged? N.P.: We are part of the Minafin group and the goal is to develop synergies within the group, especially with Minasolve which is also in the growth phase and has no real production tools. This leads us to look at what is possible in the field of cosmetics.

We are also working on building upon our green solvents for new applications as well as developing new solvents. Our third area for development is the synthesis of intermediates and active ingredients for the agrochemical industry. We want to be more active there. In parallel to these axes, we are developing new uses for biomass in order to expand our product range. Today we are buying furfural derived from corn cobs and sugarcane bagasse. We are looking at other sources of biomass and we are open to the use of other building blocks. However, we are not starting from zero. We are analysing a combination of our technological tools and the use of certain biomass. Our strength lies in our expertise in heterogeneous catalysis, notably in catalytic hydrogenation, reductive amination and in the thermolytic transformation cycle, coupled with a strong capacity for distillation in our solvent activity.

The mothballed green THF unit at the Memphis site.


You have a production site in Memphis (Tennessee). Do you have other site projects in the world? N.P.: Currently we are expanding our presence in Europe and Asia. In 2012, of the approximately 50 million dollars in projected sales, 28 million dollars has been made in the United States, 16 million dollars in Europe and 6 million dollars in Asia. However, we have no plans for new sites. The Memphis site offers us many opportunities to increase production capacity. For example, in the solvent segment, we produce 5000 to 6000 tonnes per year of specialty solvents. We have the ability to produce THF at a rate of 30,000 tonnes per year. In fact, this product was manufactured at the site until it was halted due to competition from petrochemical THF and Asia. The production tool was stopped and kept mothballed. The same goes for intermediates. We have a multiservice site which is currently running at 100%. There is an investment program underway to the tune of several million dollars to expand production lines and refurbish buildings that are no longer used. Over the past two years, we have invested between 2.5 and 4 million dollars. And these investments could increase depending on demand; we have unused capacity. Our policy is to use existing facilities and refurbish them for multi-product use or, as appropriate, to install new technological tools in parallel. ■ INTERVIEW BY AURÉLIE DUREUIL FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012



DuPont opens a production line in France The American chemical company has opened a betaine unit in Origny-Sainte-Benoîte (Aisne) to supply the animal feed and cosmetics markets.


evaporation and membrane filtration. “This unit is a way of utilising the co-products of sugar beet distillery. The vinasse, once the betaine is removed, is recovered by Tereos to be used in spreading on agricultural land,” says Yves Belegaud. “Our capacity for innovation and scientific research and our collaborative approach allow us to meet market needs whilst generating new opportunities,” says James C. Collins, president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences. The betaine produced can be used for animal feed (a product improving the intestinal health of livestock), as well as cosmetics and personal hygiene (moisturisers). It also has more industrial applications, such as in de-icing products used mainly for airport runways. DuPont, which

The plant was inaugurated in the presence of elected officials and executives from Tereos and DuPont.

14 FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012







© Tereos

he American company DuPont has opened its betaine production plant located in Origny-Sainte-Benoîte in the Aisne region. With an investment of “some tens of millions of euros”, the unit has a production capacity of about 8000 tonnes per year. “This production line is located on the site of the largest Tereos sugar beet distillery, which produces over 100,000 tons of vinasse per year,” says Yves Belegaud, CEO of Tereos France, adding that “the two companies have signed a collaboration agreement for a minimum of 15 years.” Betaine is produced from beet vinasse, a co product of the distillation of beet into ethanol, via a process involving a chromatographic technology involving steps of


Chemical structure of natural betaine (or trimethyl-glycine).

owns other betaine units around the world, is currently the world’s largest supplier of this product for applications in food, animal nutrition and industrial applications.

The legacy of Danisco The production line at Origny-SainteBenoîte is “the largest production unit in the world for natural betaine produced from beet vinasse,” which, according to both partners, will employ 20 permanent Tereos staff, as well as an employee from DuPont. In production since April 17th, the production site works 235 days a year, 24 hours per day. The commissioning of the new unit is part of the overall strategy of the U.S. chemical group, which is seeking to benefit from three megatrends: food (animal and human), energy, and environmental and population protection. “One of our strategic priorities, with about 60% of our research budget, is the agri-food sector,” says James Laughton, executive vice president of Bioactives, one of the activities of the Industrial Biosciences division. Construction on the betaine unit project was initiated by Danisco in 2010, prior to its acquisition by DuPont Group, finalised in May 2011. Since then, the activities of the Danish company were incorporated into the Industrial Biosciences division of the U.S. chemical group, which had a turnover of 705 million dollars (€ 574 million) in 2011. ■ ORIGNY-SAINTE-BENOÎTE, DINHILL ON



Synthetic biology substitutes oil The young company Alderys produces key chemical components thanks to technology from synthetic biology. It targets the sectors of animal and human nutrition, and intermediates for the synthesis of molecules of interest.

© Alderys


estled among trees, Alderys has taken up residence in Orsay. The colour green suits it well, as the fledgling company is developing new processes for industry from biomass. “10% of world oil is not converted into fuels,” said Emmanuel de Maistre, head charge of business development at Alderys. A portion of this 10% is used to produce food and industrial compounds, such as methionine, an essential amino acid in animal nutrition. Alderys’ niche is to produce these chemicals, not from petroleum, but thanks to microorganisms. The company is aiming at the industry for animal and human nutrition, as well as that of synthons, the building blocks for constructing more complex molecules. In order to achieve this, the company uses synthetic biology. First emerging in the 2000’s, synthetic biology allows for the construction of new metabolic pathways and the development of new enzyme catalysts. This science aims to create microorganisms designed to produce molecules of interest. The Alderys story began a little over two years ago with Dominique Thomas, a former director of

Dominique Thomas, founder of Alderys.

research at CNRS and specialist in yeast metabolism. After founding a drug research company in 2000, he took the helm of Incuballiance in 2007, a technology incubator on the campus of ParisSaclay-Ile-de-France. “I closely followed work in metabolic engineering. I felt there was an opportunity to create a company,” he says. At his side, Philippe Marlière, a synthetic biologist and designer of processes for the chemical industry, took charge of scientific consulting at the

ALDERYS IN FIGURES AND DATES ● 22 employees ● 2011 turnover: 1.3 million euros ● Laboratory space: 1000 m2 ● Investment in materials and equipment:

16 FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012

2.5 million euros ● July 2010: founded ● August 2010: signing of first industrial partnership in animal nutrition ● Nov. 2011: signing of a

second industrial partnership ● December 2011: first fundraising, with 2 million euros from the venture capital company Emertec

company. Today the company has more than twenty employees. Alderys draws its expertise from so-called disruptive technologies. There are three of them: metabolic design, accelerated Darwinism and massive genome modifications. They were developed within a year, with the overall aim of transforming methods of synthesising compounds of interest in optimised microorganisms. Synthetic biology can apply rational engineering methods to biology. The technology of metabolic design aims to fully redesign metabolic pathways in microorganisms. The objective is to increase fermentation yields and consume less energy. Alderys is working on the design and selection of yeasts, whose metabolism is rectified in order to produce a high yield. The technology consists of implanting (or remove) new genes into yeast strains to produce new enzymes. The activity of these enzymes is then tested and validated. Finally, the production of metabolites of interest follows fermentation trials. The process, which is highly iterative, continues until satisfactory results are obtained. The genetically modified microorganisms thus produced do not leave the fermenters, and are destroyed after production phases. Finally, thanks to robotic manipulation, Alderys has created hundreds of variants by directed robotic evolution. It is accelerated Darwinism. Robots evolve thousands of yeast strains in parallel by applying selection pressures. More efficient modified enzymes are thus selected. Directed evolution optimises either a specific reaction (selection of more effective modified enzymes) or an entire yeast (improved fitness of a production strain). “The protocols are specific to our company,” says Dominique Thomas, co-founder of Alderys. And to exploit these technologies, Alderys uses three platforms: genome enginee-

ring for the construction of genetically modified strains, biological chemistry for the analysis of metabolites, and robotics for the evolution of strains. Their equipment is situated in 1000 square meters of Alderys laboratories. Yeast is at the heart of all of the technologies used by Alderys. Why this choice, rather than bacteria, for example? Yeast is easier to work with from a genetic point of view, has no antibiotic resistance cassettes, and does not have virus issues... In addition, yeast growth is possible in an acidic medium, which simplifies the purification process. This sexed organism allows for the combinatorial recombination of genetic traits, and as it has extra chromosomes, new features can be introduced massively. Finally, production yields from this robust body can be retained during ramping up to industrial scale. In addition to its technology, Alderys has adopted a strategy of flexible development, allowing its partners to be involved at several stages. Depending on the client and the molecules in question, the company may be involved from design to production technology including scaling up, in partnership with industry in order to respond to a specific request. Business development agreements can be established at an early stage or after pre-industrial scale-up. Alderys also plans to develop its own capabilities for piloting and


© Alderys


Alderys set up its laboratories in Orsay.

production. “This third strategy is planned for the coming three to five years,” says Emmanuel de Maistre. “We have already identified the relevant markets in which we will develop.” Market potential is promising. To return to the example of methionine, “800,000 tonnes are produced annually worldwide, of which 80% are for breeding chickens. And every day, mankind consumes 100 million chickens,” says Emmanuel de Maistre. Besides the fact that methionine is

produced from petroleum, its synthesis involves constraining regulations at Seveso plants. An alternative biobased method would be a considerable advantage for a competitor. Four programs are underway, including two conducted with heavyweight industrial partners. Other very promising partnerships are on the horizon for Alderys. “Our ambition is to become the French leader in green-tech industry,” says Emmanuel de Maistre, enthusiastically. ■ RAPHAËLLE MARUCHITCH


Special report ECO-DESIGN

A work in progress Manufacturers in plant chemistry want to move towards products which are more eco-designed. However, environmental impact assessment and life cycle analysis of products is still complex. Therefore one of the challenges for eco-design is to communicate in a manner which is clear, simple and scientifically relevant to consumers.

n a context where environmental issues are increasingly important, renewable resources have the wind in their sails. In particular, biomass (derived from agricultural, forestry and microalgae production) which is incorporating ever more bio-products such as fuels, solvents, materials, lubricants, plastics, etc. These biobased products can in particular contribute towards meeting the challenge of the increasing scarcity of




18 FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012

fossil resources in economic terms. Although some biobased products are an alternative to fossil fuel products, environmental benefits remain difficult to assess. However, the benefits of bio-products have yet to be evaluated in a very accurate and reliable manner. Better assessment and understanding of positive and negative impacts related to the production of biobased products will allow for better environmental protection and resource management. Reducing the impact of products on the environment can be achieved through a process termed eco-design. It consists of integrating the environmental dimension at the product design stage, and combining different elements in order to reduce its impact on the environment at different stages of the life cycle of a product. For example, these choices may involve the use of recyclable raw materials, the use of less energy or processes consuming less water or toxic reagents. At Roquette, eco-design focuses on optimising the production process. “There are two possible approaches. On the one hand, we can optimise the efficiency of the use of raw materials by improving their use and reducing waste via the recovery of all fractions of the material. On the other hand, we can reduce the consumption of energy and water and encourage recycling,” says Camille

Burel, head of business innovation at Roquette and co-leader of the group of experts on LCA at the Association in of Plant Chemistry (ACDV). At DRT, efforts in eco-design follow two axes, as explained by Eric Moussu, sales and marketing director of DRT, specialized in the production of rosin and terpene derivatives: “On one hand, our work focuses on the use of raw materials which are less harmful towards the environment. For example, we recently launched our Pithys range where we substituted a fossil-based component by an equivalent made from sugar cane. On the other hand, we are seeking to reduce the impact of the manufacturing processes for our products, by trying to limit our consumption of energy, water and waste.” In terms of raw materials, it is necessary to analyse all impacts, as Eric Moussu says: “It is sometimes better to opt for a fossilbased product, rather than choosing a biobased one. Indeed, the use of plantbased raw materials can lead to worse environmental impacts than the fossilbased option.”

LCA analysis in 4 steps In order to help manufacturers establish their eco-design strategy, there is a tool called Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). First appearing in the 1970’s, this methodology allows companies to evaluate the environmental impacts of products, from raw material extraction right up to their end of life, including their manufacture, distribution and use. “This is a very comprehensive analysis tool, but is very heavy in terms of data,” says Camille Burel. “LCA is also a way of giving customers a scientific assessment of the environmental impact,” adds Eric Moussu. LCA consists of four main steps. The first is to define

[ECO-DESIGN] Special


Examples of impacts and environmental indicators Category Consumption of resources

Climate Change Air Pollution

Water Pollution


Impact indicator

Significance of indicator


Depletion of non-renewable resources

Potential depletion of abiotic resources

Quantifies the extraction of non renewable natural resources, consumed at a rate greater than the time required their natural production.

Kg of Sb (antimony)

Consumption of non-renewable primary energy

Potential for consumption non renewable primary energy

Includes all non-renewable primary energy sources extracted from natural reserves (coal, natural gas, oil and uranium)..

Mega joule (MJ)

Water consumption

potential depletion of water resources

Potential depletion of water resources


Greenhouse effect

Potential global warming

Identifies increase in the average concentration of anthropogenic substances (CO2, CH4, N20, etc.)

Kg of CO2

Air pollution

Potential acidification

Identifies the amount of acidic substances in the lower atmosphere (SO2, NOx, NH3, HCl, HF, etc.).

Kg of S02

Photochemical oxidation

Potential for creation photochemical ozone

Identifies impacts due to organic substances involved in the formation of tropospheric ozone..

Kg of C2H4 (ethylene)

Depletion of the ozone layer

Potential depletion of the ozone layer

Caused by reactions between stratospheric ozone and compounds such as CFCs.

Kg of CFC-11


Potential for eutrophisation

The introduction of nitrogen or phosphorus nutrients promotes the proliferation of certain species (algae, plankton) into aquatic systems.

Kg of PO43(phosphate)

Source : Valbiom

the purpose and scope of the study, which identifies the data needed to quantify environmental impacts. The second step, which is highly complex and detailed, aims to identify all of the consumption of resources and emissions at each stage of a product’s life cycle. Then comes the step of evaluating impact, where the collected data has to be converted into environmental indicators according to the impact of the study (see table). For example, relevant indicators for assessing potential for climate change are calculated from emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.). Finally, the last step of LCA is to interpret the life cycle, i.e. analyse and comment upon the environmental impacts obtained in order to draw conclusions, explain limitations and provide recommendations in terms of the objectives and scope of the study. Although the tool is standardised via a series of ISO

standards (ISO 14041-14044), it has its limitations: in fact, two analyses of the same product may differ depending on the objectives, assumptions, methodological choices and quality of the data collected. Despite this drawback, LCA is the most successful and suitable tool for assessing the environmental impacts of products, and therefore even if they are wholly or partially biobased. Indeed, its complexity can take into account all steps related to the existence of a bio-product, and even more so during the production phase, where it is possible to identify all energy flows, inputs and reagents in the agricultural and industrial phase. “The advantage of biomass products in LCA studies is that they are able to fix CO2 during the production of the biomass which is the raw mate-

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FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012


Special report [ECO-DESIGN] >

rial, as compared to a product derived from petroleum,” says Camille Burel (Roquette). She continues: “However, as this is a living material, its environmental impact will not be the same, depending on cultures, location, etc, which makes collection of data on the production phase difficult.” In addition, the LCA methodologies used have to be adapted, in particular taking into account the management of agricultural by-products, changes in land use for crops, and the reactions in the transformation processes. Indeed, little LCA data for biobased products is available, as confirmed by Camille Burel (Roquette): “In the field of plant chemistry, processes for conversion of biomass and the innovative technologies on which they are based are evolving at such a rate that LCA results should be reviewed regularly and due to this there is little communicated.” It is a view shared by Eric Moussu (DRT): “With regard to specialty chemicals, we have very little feedback in terms of LCA for biobased products.” Currently, the most commonly used indicator to assess the environmental impact is carbon-14 content. “This indicator is relevant but is not sufficient because plants are not entirely made of carbon,” says Eric Moussu. And to overcome this lack of information, the ACDV is currently working on a complementary indicator for specific products made from biomass, reflecting the vegetable content of products. “The ACDV has established a certification based on an analysis of product components (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, etc.), which would be performed by an independent laboratory. Thus,

The life cycle of a product

Extraction and processing of non-renewable resources

Management of co-products and waste management

Agricultural production and pre-treatment of biomass

End of Life Cradle to factory gate Cradle to grave Source : Ademe

this elemental analysis, coupled with the measurement of biobased carbon would allow us to verify information from manufacturers about bio-products,” explains Camille Burel. The association is also working on the standardisation of this indicator at European level.

Guidelines on end of life LCA thus helps to quantify the impact on the environment at every stage of the life of a product, to identify the elements with the greatest impact, and thus serve as a basis for an overall assessment of environmental integration. LCA allows the best possible management of waste at the end of product life to be

RECOMMENDATIONS BY THE ADEME FOR SIMPLIFIED LCA In December 2009, the ADEME carried out a study on LCA and made a number of recommendations for simplifying the process. Firstly, the study recommends the examination of three essential points: the purpose of the LCA, the scope of the study, and the choice of indicators. In order to make the evaluation of the environmental impact of the agricultural phase easier (which is highly dependent on

20 FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012

Use phase which is often overlooked

Production of bio-products

criteria such as the type of culture, the climate, soil, use of fertilizers or pesticides, etc. ), the ADEME recommends using data aggregated by country and not by plot of land. In addition, it recommends the use of a credit logic for carbon storage of biogenic origin. Finally, the study indicates that an LCA must include end of life scenarios (recycling, incineration or landfill).

determined, notably in terms of recycling. “Even if eco-friendly designed bioproducts are designed to be recyclable or biodegradable, there is still the problem of the separation of similar products at end of their life for effective recycling. This is very expensive today because volumes remain low,” says Camille Burel (Roquette). “Existing recycling processes for petrol-based materials might work for biobased materials” says Sylvain Caillol. He adds: “But before talking about recycling, it’s necessary to implement a sorting process to capture resources.” It is an opinion shared by Camille Burel: “The hardest part is correctly collecting, separating and treating waste. It has a veritable process logic to it and the challenge is to organise it in a viable manner.” The complexity of LCA limits its implementation for each individual product, and many manufacturers use their own variant of the methodology for the eco-design of products. For example, the sustainable development strategy at Roquette includes systematic measures necessary for carrying out LCA in order to make data collection and the calculation of impacts automatic. “Impact monitoring allows us to set goals for improvement and integrate

[ECO-DESIGN] Special


© Roquette

© Molydal


gress to be made in France. “France is lagging behind in terms of eco-design and LCA, and research projects on sustainable development have just begun. With the little money that is being allocated to R&D, LCA is not yet a priority area,” says Sylvain Caillol (ChemSud). ■ DINHILL ON

© DR

ign approaches, the ADEME advocates promoting a better understanding of the subject via the establishment of an information portal and approaches to encourage professionals. Although the trend is toward greater transparency in terms of the environmental assessment of bio-products, there is still pro-



these parameters in our decision making,” says Camille Burel. For DRT, an internal project which ran from December 2009 until mid-2011 allowed them to develop an LCA tool with the help of the company BioIntelligence Services. “We have computer software coupled with a database to evaluate our products from raw materials right up until they leave the plant,” explains Eric Moussu. Thus, on request, the company is able to provide a dossier of environmental data when required by the cladding and construction sector. “Clients using our products have an exclusive contract, allowing them, if need be, to use the information for their own environmental assessment,” says Eric Moussu. According to a study by the ADEME (the French Environment and Energy Management Association) on eco-design completed in 2010, this upsurge in individual initiatives is explained by “a strong heterogeneity in the needs and expectations of businesses, related to their level of maturity vis-à-vis the subject.” The studies show that the absence of the application of a global framework of reference encourages the proliferation of ad hoc methods and tools. In order to help companies implement their eco-des-

FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012


Publi-information This future PPP is a perfect illustration of a new investment dynamic shared by both public and private sector to promote innovative businesses and their future economic outlets. Europe faces a major new challenge: becoming one of the leaders in the new global biobased economy.

"Biobased for Growth", pursuing European leadership in the biobased economy


A new PPP announced for 2014 "Biobased for Growth " is intended to kickstart radical innovation and the emergence and reinforcement of competitive and innovative biobased sectors, by injecting funding precisely where it is most needed in Europe: demonstration and flagship plants. The PPP is also committed to developing solutions to the major challenges facing modern society, such as the growing pressure on fossil fuel reserves and the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. Its members are focusing on generating new momentum for the agriculture and forestry sectors that will eventually help to revitalise rural areas and develop a circular economy based on sustainably managed renewable resources. The PPP will play a key role in the shaping and development of this new economy, whose potential other parts of the world have been quick to grasp (Brazil, Asia and the USA, to name but three). The stakes are high, not only in terms of joint public-private steering but also in terms of giving industry a chance to make its mark on the world stage. At the outset, i.e. from the beginning of 2014 and running through to 2020, it will involve investment of some €2 billion, half from industry and the other half from the European Commission. The industrial partners will be responsible for designing

22 FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012

not imagine each member country being programmes to tackle the key challenges of represented by one or two structures of this industrial growth, while the Commission kind? As far as we are concerned, they act as will analyse and validate the programmes highly efficient relays and remove many of for the benefits and social spinoffs they are the constraints that we, as expected to provide. It is here industrialists, are subject to," that the partnership comes states Jean-François Rous, Direcinto its own: it will be based tor of Innovation, Sofiproteol on dialogue and a shared Group, in an indirect reference vision over the seven years of to the success of the PIVERT its existence. Not forgetting, project. "Being a part of the creaof course, the necessary tion of this structure is an economic balances, starting opportunity open to everyone. with the basis on which the Getting on board now also future structure will operate. Jean-Marie Chauvet, means enjoying a strategic "We are in the process of Head of the Biorefinery advantage," claims Camille scaling up, with less fragmenResearch & Innovation Burel, Manager for Innovation platform tation in terms of funding Affairs, Roquette Group. France and greater concentration on has a strong agro-food industry, a strong large-scale projects; this is a unique opportuchemicals industry and very high levels of nity to catch up on ground lost to the United research. "Setting up this PPP is also imporStates, which drew up its roadmap some time tant as a source of solutions for the growth ago and has massive funding available," of agriculture and for maintaining a strong remarks Jean-Marie Chauvet, Head of the rural society and the jobs to go with it," she Biorefinery Research & Innovation platform. adds. Everyone has come away from the In short, this is an opportunity for Europe to discussions surrounding the PPP with a establish its visibility and its credibility in the sense of confidence, everyone shares in the biobased economy on the global stage. challenges, and quality and pragmatism Following the clear statement of intent from will be the order of the day in the representhe private and public sector partners, all that tation and organisation of the partnership. remains is to finalise the European partnership and turns this powerful lever into a Biobased for growth, strike force for French and European firms an opportunity for all spearheading innovation, and just waiting for a chance to position themselves. While all private sector members are welcome to join the PPP between now and Strong commitment from 2014, the first members to sign up to the French firms and agencies project will be central to future roadmaps. The partnership remains open, however, "This PPP is an opportunity for groups of and the terms on which private sector firms stakeholders representing sector interests – and research institutes not involved from the agriculture and agro-industries, the forestry outset will be admitted to membership are sector, the pulp and paper industries, chemicurrently under consideration as part of cals – to organise and start working together future calls for projects. The intention is in no to form new value chains from which all way to create a private club, but to ensure will benefit," adds Jean-Marie Chauvet. Strucevery chance of success for the project and tures such as ACDV, the IAR cluster or ARD, give as many members as possible a chance already perform this representative role in to be involved. "This PPP offers a real opportwo areas in which France is particularly tunity to create even stronger links between strong: agriculture and agro-industry. companies collectively involved in the future The involvement of the competitiveness successful marketing of biobased products," clusters, with the organisation and the says Christophe Luguel, Head of Internatiosupport they provide, can help reinforce the nal Affairs at the IAR cluster. "Currently, the commitment of French stakeholders. "Why © D.R

: the three letters stand for Public-Private Partnership, a financing tool introduced in 2008 and which has already resulted in five operational programmes. The healthcare, aeronautics and transport sectors are already reaping the benefits, with hundreds of new projects and applications already creating value and jobs. PPPs give industry a role alongside government in defining European innovation strategies and more direct involvement in calls for innovation-based projects. PPPs also provide a response to the challenges of fierce global competition by attracting high-growth sectors and the jobs they generate. Europe is already gearing up to become a pacesetter in one of the new economies of tomorrow: the biobased economy.

© D.R

© D.R

forestry, agriculture, chemioutsourcing these calls for projects create, develop and maintain a sense of cal and agro-industrial will cost Europe less, it will cost momentum for a partnership currently still sectors are represented. The industry more to finance them in the formative stages. involvement of these successfully". Hence the perfectly Industry and the Commission will need to complementary sectors, understandable call for a financial find the right balance between everyday alongside the European commitment from as many partreality, organisational constraints and simpliCommission, in the years ners as possible. fied processes to make the launch of this ahead will help establish new partnership a success. The importance sound strategy and funding Biobased for Growth marks a new step in of balanced, simplified for innovation in the bioeterms of mode of governance, levels of calls and strict governance conomy over the long for projects and more direct involvement of term," adds Camille Burel. industries with an interest in potential appli"It mustn't turn into a hotchpotch, Jean-François Rous, True, the time span is cations. In fact, this is probably the most strithough," warns Jean-François Director of Innovation, measured in years, but this king innovations in terms of project Rous. "The success of the PPP will Sofiproteol Group only underscores the financing policy: all the stakeholders, the be largely determined by the importance of maintaining future road maps, a novel form of goverquality of its governance." Quality of organihigh quality of dialogue between the private nance, all the industrial sation, first and foremost, and sector and Commission members, and ensumomentum - all united behind the number and commitring their continued involvement over time. in a very real vision of applied ment of members. "The objecresearch and process demonstive is to find the right balance The challenge of SME tration. between the representative involvement in a major Now is the time to move nature of the member firms European programme towards a concrete projection, at the European level and the applied to markets where Even so, the question arises of what role capacity for each member to demand exists, all the way SMEs will play in this new financing scheme. be really involved on a day-tothrough to industrialisation in While the issues of SME participation are day basis." The message is the form of demonstrators. A still under discussion, one thing is clear: SMEs clear: it would be a pity to closer look reveals that this is must be given the chance to benefit from this fail to make the most of this Camille Burel, Manager exactly what the Commission dynamic new initiative. "They have not been new financing tool by impofor Innovation Affairs, is considering as part of its forgotten," explains Jean-Marie Chauvet. sing an organisation that is Roquette Group future funding plans. Things "Professional organisations and associations too restrictive or time-consuhave changed; industry now have been and continue to be active in raising ming. has a say in and control over the awareness of the opportunity on offer". In Administrative processes will also have to be programmes that will enable it to compete addition, a clear definition of themes and a kept as simple as possible in order to be on an equal footing on international concentration of new resources around a "appealing", the term used by Camille Burel, markets. ■ structure that will require its own specific who shares the views of Jean-François Rous applications should have a beneficial knockand adds, "To avoid the risk of slipping into on effect for the SMEs involved. "Of course the an organisation that is too complex for firms, issue arises, and there is no question of their the PPP's governance must match the attracFor anyone interested exclusion," explains Jean-François Rous, "but tiveness of the project as a whole". That in plant-based chemistry it's also important to remember that while attractiveness will be based on the drive to


© DR

Interview with Christophe Luguel, Head of International Affairs at the IAR cluster What decided the IAR cluster to get involved in the PPP? We have, in fact, been part of the process since 2009, when the Star-COLIBRI project was launched. The aim of the project was to unify the visions and roadmaps of the different industrial sectors of the bioeconomy and thus prove to the Commission that our industry was ready to move on to the next stage. We were in the right place at the right time and now we are able to capitalise on that experience.

How is the PPP strategic for the cluster? As you know, it is not the level of research in France and Europe that poses a problem, but the link between research and bringing a product to market, what is known as the "innovation valley of death". This is a real challenge for Europe's bioeconomy and also for our members. The PPP is specifically designed to meet this challenge. The cluster offers its members, particularly SMEs, support for innovation and the PPP marks another step: where do SMEs stand in the PPP?

It's the ideal tool for them! The Commission decided that industrial firms, and innovative SMEs in particular, should have their say in ensuring that research is applied to the markets that matter to them. What role does the cluster play in governance? We are one of the three European clusters involved in the founding of the PPP, and proud of the fact. Proud on our own behalf, and proud for our members and for the SMEs we represent..

FormuleVerte - N°11 - October 2012



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Formule Verte - N°11 October 2012