BIOTECH: Carlsbad Firm Uses Yeast for ‘Green’ Chemicals from Veggie Oil to Nylon
by Bradley J. Fikes (North County Times) Vegetable oils are versatile substances. They’re used not only for cooking, but also for making soaps and for biofuels. If Carlsbad-based Verdezyne Inc. is successful, you may soon be wearing them, in a manner of speaking.
Verdezyne, a “green” industrial chemical company, has just received a patent for a method of making adipic acid, a key component of a rugged form of nylon. Called nylon 6,6, the nylon is used in clothes, carpets and industrial applications.
Adipic acid is now made from a petroleum byproduct. Privately held Verdezyne says its method of producing adipic acid from yeast, nourished with various vegetable oils, is more environmentally friendly than a petroleum-based “feedstock,” as the industry jargon calls it.
…But Verdezyne needs to demonstrate that its laboratory technology works at an industrial scale. So it has constructed a pilot production plant in Carlsbad, which opened in November. The yeast are grown in fermentation tanks, a common method biotech companies use to make chemicals. The plant has the capacity to produce a metric ton of feedstock a year.
The company is using the plant as a showcase to attract corporate partners, so they can inspect the process and verify the quality of feedstock produced in the plant, Radany said.
…Verdezyne is developing other products from yeast. In January, the company received a patent for a genetically engineered variety of yeast that is better able to digest cellulose-based feedstocks to produce ethanol.
Radany said the flexibility of being able to use many types of vegetable oils will help keep costs down, as the feedstock can be changed as prices fluctuate. READ MORE