Chemistry and Biotechnology: A Productive Partnership - ECCE 2011

conversesoilBiotechnology

Dec 3, 2012 (4 years and 8 months ago)

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Chemistry and Biotechnology:
A

P
roductive
P
artnership


Dr. Günter Wich

Director Biotechnology, Central Research

Wacker Chemie AG


With revenues of 145 Bn. € and 416,000 employees, the chemical industry
belongs to

the most
i
m
portant economic sectors in Ger
many. The
G
erman chemical industry ranks number one in
Europe, number four in the world and number one with respect to chemical exports (VCI 2010)
.

O
ne of the most important factors
for this success is a continuous stream of technological

inn
o-
vation.


The
driving force of innovation within the chemical industry
comes from countering an

increa
s-
ing energy de
mand while facing

limited resources
of fossile feedstocks
.

A
t the same time
, there
is also

an increasing

demand for sustainable economic growth in
cluding

environmental and cl
i-
mate protection. White (Industrial) biotechnology is one of the most important technological pla
t-
forms of the chemical industry
to address these issues and to provide
innovative and sustai
n
a-
ble
solutions
.


T
o date, the biotechnologial
industry is focussed predominantly on complex organic
-
chemical
products. Biotechnological processes optimize or even replace cost
-
sensitive chemical pr
o-
c
esses or processes with a high ecological burden. Even more, they
afford new products with
high value
-
added potential.


Wacker has been on the forefront of recognizing biotechnology’s potential for the chemical i
n-
dustry and its business division “Biosolutions” has successfully
involved

biotechnology to d
e
ve
l-
op high
-
value products in the business fields of
pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and nutr
i
tion.

The bi
o
technological processes employed not only provide economic success but, at

the same
time, are environmentally sustainable. As an example, the Wacker L
-
Cysteine process which
employs manufacturing of this

essential amino acid

through biotechnological ferment
a
tion, has
received the 2008 Environmental Award of the Federal Association of German Indu
s
try.


Firmly established with high
-
value products, more and more
processes based on biotechnology
are evaluate
d for manufacturing bulk chemicals and low
-
value commodities which, to date, rely
on the petrochemical industry. Cutting edge biotechnological processes afford manufactu
r
ing of
base chemicals from renewable feedstocks, independent of petrochemical resource
s and
with a
low
carbon

footprint
.

There is
indeed
an enormous potential for industrial biotechnolgy in cl
i
mate
protection and saving
of
val
u
able resources.


At the Wacker
C
entral
R
esearch, there are several ongoing research programms of developing
bio
-
bas
ed processes for the manufacturing of bulk chemicals of strategic importance. As carbon
feedstock, Wacker relies on 2
nd

generation biorefineries, i.e. using lignocellulose biomass
not in
competition with food production. Since 2009, Wacker is operating a p
ilot plant to produce ac
e-
tic acid from biotechnological feedstocks
including

an innovative chemical downstream process.
This together with ethylene derived from bio
-
ethanol provides a non
-
petrochemical manufactu
r-
ing route of “green” VAM and its class of po
lymers.


There is, however, for the implementation of
industrial biotechnology to be successful,

innov
a-
tion
still
in

high demand
. This

provides
, on the long run, tremendous opportunities
for the Ge
r-
man industry, not only enconomically but also ecologically
. The Boston Consulting
Group
, in
2007, has published a report “Innovationsstandort Deutschland
: Germany as a location for i
n-
novation
, Quo Vadis”. It is recognized that Germany ranks top concerning research in the field
of indu
s
trial biotechnology but, at
the same time, realize
s

a lack in transforming this advantage
into ec
o
nomic success. It is on
German
politics, academic science and industry to
provide

a
framework
that allows us
to capitalize on
our leading position in the field of industrial biotec
h-
nology.



For more information:

Wacker Chemie AG

Corporate Communications

Ms Nadine Baumgartl

Tel. +49 89 6279
-
1604

Fax +49 89 6279
-
2604

Nadine.Baumgartl@wacker.com