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NatureWorks Teams With Calysta For Methane Conversion

Ingeo® lactides and biopolymers developer NatureWorks LLC, Minnetonka, Minn., and Calysta Energy Inc., Menlo Park, Calif. — developer of methane-based biological gas-to-liquids™ (BioGTL™) and biological gas-to-chemicals™ (BioGTC™) technologies — have announced a collaboration to develop a process to ferment methane into lactic acid, which is used for the production of Ingeo, lactide intermediates and biopolymers. The companies believe that commercialization of such a process could broaden and complement the range of carbon-based feedstocks currently used in Ingeo production and result in reduced Ingeo production costs.

Ingeo currently is produced from "first-generation" simple plant sugars such as cornstarch or cane sugar. NatureWorks is also looking into the use of "second-generation" cellulosic sources such as bagasse, a byproduct of sugarcane processing. Calysta's BioGTC platform could enable NatureWorks to utilize methane as a feedstock that is said to be "several generations removed" from the first-generation feedstocks. According to NatureWorks, diversification of feedstocks would enable it to produce Ingeo using carbon sources that are most abundant, available and appropriate for the region in which the production facility is located.

July/August 2013