Headquartered in Emeryville, California, USA Amyris Biotechnologies produces renewable chemicals and fuels. Its synthetic biology technology platform is branded as ‘No Compromise’. It converts plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules which are useful not only in transportation fuels such as diesel and jet fuel but also in products such as cosmetics, perfumes, detergents and industrial lubricants.
A broad range of plant sugars including lignocellulosic ones are suitable for Amyris’ technology.
Amyris Technology: Synthetic Biology
Amyris uses genetic engineering and advanced screening technologies to alter the sugar metabolism pathways of yeast strains. This results in the production of desired target molecules during plant based sugar fermentation process by them.
Biofene™ Biofene is the brand name of Amyris’ building block molecule for production of renewable fuels and chemicals. It is a long-chain, branched hydrocarbon molecule called farnesene (trans-ß-farnesene). It can be hydrogenated to a diesel or jet fuel equivalent.
Commercial plant at São Paulo, Brazil
The plant is located at a facility owned by Biomin do Brasil Nutricão Animal Ltda., a company focusing on animal nutrition. It became operational in December 2012. The plant has three fermentors of 20,000 liter capacity. Sugarcane syrup is being used as feedstock. The proprietary yeast digests the syrup and produces farnesene which is then separated and purified.
Amyris also owns a pilot plant in California and a demonstration facility in Campinas, Brazil.
The company is currently selling renewable diesel in metropolitan areas in Brazil. In July 2014 Brazilian airline, GOL’s Flight from Orlando, USA to Sao Paulo, Brazil became the First international commercial flight to use sugarcane derived Amyris-Total farnesene biofuel with up to a 10 percent blend.
In December 2013, Amyris has partnered with TOTAL and formed Total Amyris BioSolutions B.V. to develop renewable drop-in fuels from cellulosic sugars.
Amyris Brazil has been granted permission by National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) to use farnesene blended diesel. As per the press release dated 16th Sep 2014 the buses of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janerio will now use farnesene upto 10% blend. The composition of the blended fuel will be 84% diesel oil, 10% farnesene and 6% biodiesel.
From Nov 1st, the biodiesel portion will be increased to 7%, thereby reducing the fossil fuel content to 83%. Amyris Brazil has been instructed to submit monthly reports on fuel quality and overall fuel use semi annually.
Being drop-in substitute the Amyris’ fuel does not require infrastructural changes. Other drop-in biofuel producers are Virent, Avello bioenergy, Cool planet Energy Systems, Neste Oil, Solena Fuels, Muradel, Fulcrum BioEnergy KiOR.