BASF and CSM have been conducting research under a joint development agreement on succinic acid since 2009. The complementary strengths in fermentation and downstream processing led to the development of a sustainable and highly efficient manufacturing process based on a proprietary microorganism. The bacterium used is Basfia succiniciproducens which produces succinic acid through natural processes and is capable of metabolizing a variety of renewable feedstocks into succinic acid. The new process combines high efficiency with the use of renewable raw materials and the fixation of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in the production of succinic acid. This makes biobased succinic acid an economically and ecologically attractive alternative to petrochemical raw materials.
The demand for succinic acid is anticipated to grow strongly in the years ahead, driven mainly by bioplastics, chemical intermediates, solvents, polyurethanes and plasticizers. The two companies are currently modifying an existing fermentation facility, at Purac's Montmélo site near Barcelona, Spain, for the production of succinic acid. This plant, which will commence operations in late 2013 with an annual capacity of 10,000 metric tons of succinic acid, will put the new joint venture company in a leading position in the global marketplace. This is complemented by plans for a second large-scale facility with a capacity of 50,000 tons of succinic acid to enable the company to respond to the expected increase in demand. The final investment decision for this facility will be made following a successful market introduction.