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Amyris opens biodiesel demo plant in Brazil

Fill it up: Brazilians use more ethanol than gasoline in their cars, having had policies that support biofuels since the 1970s. STOCKXPERT

Amyris Brasil Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento, Ltda., a wholly owned subsidiary of Amyris Biotechnologies, Inc., has opened the Amyris Renewable Products Demonstration Facility in Campinas, Brazil. This facility will be the last step before the company starts commercial production.

The first of its kind in Brazil, the facility is built amid Brazil’s bustling sugar cane industry. Though a demo plant, it can produce more than 10,000 gallons of Amyris products under conditions representing full-scale manufacturing. It also gives Amyris the ability to test and validate its commercial equipment design and manufacturing processes before commercial production planned for 2011.

For 2012, Amyris plans to work with independent mill owners through “capital-light” agreements. The company provides the technology and the distribution while mill owners use their mills to produce Amyris renewable products.

One of their initial products is biodiesel fuel they claim can outperform petroleum-sourced fuels and other biofuels out on the market. Amyris renewable diesel has hydrocarbons found in today’s petroleum fuels, enabling it to blend with petroleum diesel at much higher levels than typical biofuels without causing performance issues. Last April, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s approval made it the first hydrocarbon-based fuel made from plant-derived resources for commercial sale.

The company also recently completed its first successful demonstration drive using this fuel. The renewable diesel fuel powered a 30-passenger hybrid diesel bus used by International Olympic Committee members who were visiting Chicago to assess the city’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games in April.

“This facility represents a crucial step toward the commercialization of our fuels and chemicals,” said John Melo, Amyris Biotechnologies chief executive officer.

Brazilians use more ethanol than gasoline in their cars. The country has had policies that support biofuels since the 1970s. Brazil is the world’s number one exporter of ethanol and is moving into biodiesel production.

“The new facility represents the intersection of the best of today’s renewable technologies with Brazil’s extensive resources, with promising implications for the Brazilian cane industry, our energy needs and the environment,” said Fernando Reinach, a member of the Amyris Biotechnologies board of directors.

-   Oliver M. Bayani

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