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ADM and Solugen partner to scale plant-based specialty chemicals with new US manufacturing facility

#ADM and Solugen partner to scale plant-based specialty chemicals with new US manufacturing facility

ADM’s corn processing complex in Minnesota, US.
ADM’s corn processing complex in Minnesota, US (Image credit: City of Marshall).

31 Oct 2023 — ADM has joined forces with climate technology company Solugen to establish a new biomanufacturing facility in Minnesota, US. The partnership aims to scale plant-based specialty chemicals and bio-based building block molecules. 

“[Environmental] sustainability is one of the enduring global trends powering ADM’s growth and underpinning the strategic evolution of our Carbohydrate Solutions business,” says Chris Cuddy, president of ADM’s Carbohydrate Solutions business. 

“ADM is one of the largest dextrose producers in the world and this strategic partnership will allow us to further diversify our product stream as we continue to support plant-based solutions spanning sustainable packaging, pharma, plant health, construction, fermentation and home and personal care.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Solugen will construct a 500,000-square-foot facility adjacent to ADM’s existing corn complex in Marshall, Minnesota. The facility will utilize dextrose provided by ADM to scale Solugen’s current line of lower-carbon organic acids while developing new, innovative molecules that can replace existing fossil fuel-based materials. 

close-up of white powderThe new Marshall facility will utilize dextrose provided by ADM to scale Solugen’s current line of lower-carbon organic acids.Commercializing biomaterials
Solugen’s Bioforge technology, which combines computationally engineered enzymes and metal catalysts, converts plant-derived substances into essential materials traditionally made from fossil fuels. The process reportedly offers a “significant” reduction in carbon footprint compared to conventional ingredients.

The companies plan to collaborate on commercializing these biomaterials for various applications, including energy, water treatment, agriculture, construction materials, cleaning and personal care.

“The strategic partnership with ADM will allow Solugen to bring our chemienzymatic process to a commercial scale and meet existing customer demand for our high-performance, cost-competitive, sustainable products,” says Gaurab Chakrabarti, co-founder and CEO of Solugen.

“As one of the few scaled-up and de-risked biomanufacturing assets in the country, Solugen’s Bioforge platform is helping bolster domestic capabilities and supply chains that are critical in ensuring the US reaches its ambitious climate targets.”

Developing Minnesota
The construction of Solugen’s facility is set to begin offsite this year and on-site construction in early 2024. The initial phase will start in the first half of 2025, creating at least 40 permanent jobs and another 100 temporary construction jobs during the commissioning phase.

“The initial phase of the project will significantly increase Solugen’s manufacturing capacity, which is critical for commercializing our existing line of molecules and kicks off plans for a multi-phase large-scale US Bioforge buildout,” details Sean Hunt, co-founder and CTO of Solugen. “The increase in capacity will also free up our Houston operation for research and development efforts into additional molecules and market applications.”

With a reliable and cost-competitive supply of corn, advanced corn-to-dextrose conversion technology, and a skilled workforce, Minnesota was chosen as the “ideal” location to support Solugen’s product scaling. The local community and regional governments are looking forward to the project, as it is expected to have a positive economic impact on the region.

City of Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes expressed his anticipation, saying: “As a community with a strong foundation of agriculture and innovation, we look forward to welcoming Solugen to Marshall. This industry-leading facility will serve as a powerful economic driver for the city, creating new jobs and diversifying our industry.”

Edited by Radhika Sikaria

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