Amyris to develop technology to produce farnesene from wood

Amyris Inc., based in Emeryville, Calif., U.S.A., an integrated renewable products company, has been awarded a three-year multi-million dollar contract from the U.S. Department of Energy to further the manufacturing of cellulose-derived farnesene for biofuels. Amyris, in cooperation with Renmatix and Total New Energies USA, will work to develop a manufacturing-ready process utilising wood as the cellulosic feedstock to produce farnesene, a hydrocarbon building block used to manufacture a variety of products ranging from cosmetics to detergents, as well as base oils, lubricants, diesel and jet fuel.

“We’re pleased to partner with Renmatix and Total in furthering the advancement of cellulose-derived farnesene,” said John Melo, president and CEO of Amyris. “Success in this project could enable farnesene cost below USD 1 a litre, which will deliver breakthrough results in a variety of products, including biofuels, while at the same time leveraging the existing large forestry infrastructure to utilise renewable wood sources and wood waste as a sugar source to produce it.”

Advancements in the use of cellulosic materials as a source of low-cost sugars for fermentation are anticipated to bring down the cost of production and has the potential to increase geographical distribution of manufacturing plants, especially in rural areas in need of new economic opportunities.  The goal of this project is to produce farnesene at the same projected cost of current farnesene produced from sugarcane syrup. This would expand the global availability of farnesene, as well as increase the number of potential product applications for which this building block can be used.

Under this Amyris-led three-year contract, Amyris expects to receive several million dollars annually over the term of the contract as it achieves technical milestones tracking progress towards lower cost production of cellulosic farnesene.