Biotechnology as an innovation areaEvonik regards biotechnology as an important technology platform and high-potential innovation area. "Biotechnology particularly contributes to the megatrend health and nutrition. By 2020, we hope to achieve sales of €1 billion in the Health & Nutrition Business Unit alone from biotechnologically manufactured products," emphasizes Wohlhauser.
In terms of volume, the most important biotechnology product of Evonik is the feed additive Biolys (source of L-lysine). The company completed the expansion of its existing capacities for Biolys to a capacity of 280,000 metric tons per year in Blair, USA. Evonik also builds new facilities for the biotech production of Biolys in Brazil and Russia. The two plants will increase the annual output by almost 200,000 metric tons. The total investment volume for the projects in the U.S., Brazil, and Russia will be approximately €350 million.
In addition to Biolys, the company also produces the feed additives ThreAMINO (L-threonine) and TrypAMINO (Ltryptophan) with biotechnological methods.
High performance polymers from renewable resourcesUsing a completely new technology, two-phase fermentation, Evonik is now able to manufacture a precursor of the highperformance polymer polyamide 12 from palm kernel oil. A pilot plant for the production of ω-amino lauric acid (ALA) went onstream in Slovenska Lupca (Slovakia) in early 2013. In the long term, the new procedure will supplement the petroleum-based production of Polyamid12.
Specialty chemicals from waste streamsGiven the changing availability of resources, Evonik is committed to become more independent of fossil fuels and individual renewable resources. For this purpose, the scientists of the specialty chemicals company are exploring the third generation of biotechnology, which is capable of using various waste materials as a basis instead of sugar or plant residues. The laboratories of the strategic innovation unit Creavis have succeeded in generating 2-hydroxy isobutyric acid, or 2-HIBA for short, from syngas with biotechnology methods. 2-HIBA is a precursor for Plexiglas and syngas can be generated, for instance, from waste streams.