Teaming up with a leader in microbial fermentation will hasten Metabolix's vision for large-scale availability of its specialty PHA products.

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Having signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Korea’s CJ Cheiljedang Corp. (CJ) for a strategic commercial manufacturing arrangement for specialty PHAs, including its newly launched amorphous PHA (a-PHA), Metabolix, Cambridge, Mass., is that much closer to realizing its vision for large-scale production.

 

Under the agreement, CJ will fund, construct and operate a 10 kilo tonne (20-million/lb) PHA production unit at its Fort Dodge, Iowa facility, based on Metabolix’s PHA technology. The Fort Dodge facility is operated by CJ’s divison CJ BIO, a world leader in microbial fermentation based R&D and manufacturing for a range of amino acids, including lysine, as well as nucleotides.

 

Under the contemplated definitive agreements, Metabolix will buy the specialty PHAs produced at the facility, and market and sell the material to its commercial customers. The team also expects to define a framework for longer-term expansion of the collaboration for larger-scale PHA production and related commercial activities. Having successfully completed their comprehensive feasibility study and assessment of CJ’s Fort Dodge facility as a potential site for the specialty PHA production, CJ is finalizing a detailed budget for the capital investment needed for the 10 KT of annual PHA capacity on the site and the two companies are turning their attention to the definitive agreements for the project. Production startup is anticipated within the next 18-24 months.

 

“Metabolix’s specialty PHA materials are well aligned technically and commercially with our strategic plan to diversify the products and as CJ’s first biopolymer product, a-PHAs will be a stepping stone for further expansion of the biochemical portfolio. The shift Metabolix has made to focus on a-PHA as a performance additive as well as other specialty applications of PHAs is very promising and we are excited about the synergies that can be gained by combining our facilities and operating capabilities with the ongoing work Metabolix is doing to build the market for specialty biopolymers. Once the modification is completed, the Fort Dodge facility will produce both lysine and a-PHA, diversifying our product portfolio,” said Hang Duk Roh, head of CJ BIO.

 

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