Heerlen, NL, 09 March 2009 08:15 CET

Royal DSM N.V., the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company headquartered in the Netherlands, and the French starch and starch-derivatives company ROQUETTE confirmed during the international Life Sciences Forum, BioVision, that its bio-based succinic acid demonstration plant in Lestrem (France) will be operational by the end of 2009. The pilot scale production has proven that this biological route for producing succinic acid can be commercially viable. The first tests for customers are already underway with this ‘green’ succinic acid.

For the first time succinic acid – a chemical building block used in the manufacture of polymers, resins, food and pharmaceuticals among other products – will be produced using biological means. DSM and ROQUETTE have developed a method to produce succinic acid from starch using an innovative enzyme-based fermentation technology rather than the traditional ingredients, crude oil and natural gas. The Lestrem demonstration plant will enable this manufacturing process to be refined further before it is scaled-up to full commercial industrial production in 2011/2012.

This new white biotechnology-based route could result in up to 40% reduction in energy requirements compared to the traditional method, and have a positive impact on reducing CO2 emissions, as carbon dioxide is actually used in the production process.

In addition to the sustainability benefits, the successful production of bio-succinic acid at the industrial level will help provide the knowledge, economies of scale and open up new markets and applications for bio-based products in other fields including pharmaceuticals, fuel, chemicals, food and feed and materials.

DSM and ROQUETTE are both leaders in the field of white biotechnology and, according to Feike Sijbesma, CEO of Royal DSM: “The progress made in the development of bio-based succinic acid confirms that white biotechnology will have a major impact on our sector, and in enabling the development of a more sustainable economy and society. It also validates our belief that it is at the interface between life sciences and material sciences that many of the future business and innovation opportunities will present themselves. For DSM this will allow us to focus on new product-market combinations in materials sciences.”

Marc Roquette, Chairman of ROQUETTE, recognizes that: “The complementary skills and knowledge that DSM and ROQUETTE have brought to this venture make it an extremely exciting one, not just for industry, but for society as a whole. As well as the proven environmental benefits of producing succinic acid through a bio route rather than a chemical one, new production techniques also bring with them the potential for new, better-performing products to deliver further environmental benefits and extra functionality to those products that are in the market today.”


ROQUETTE is one of Europe’s largest and one of the world’s most advanced starch and starch-derivatives businesses and world leader in polyols (sugar alcohols). ROQUETTE derives over 650 products from six million tonnes of maize, wheat, peas and potatoes, and adds outstanding value to over 500,000 hectares of agricultural output. ROQUETTE has annual sales of more than EUR 2 billion and employs some 6,000 people worldwide.

ROQUETTE is a private family business dedicated to long-term development. With production facilities in Europe, North America and Asia, ROQUETTE serves customers all over the world in the food, paper/board, biochemicals, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and animal nutrition sectors. The company is headquartered in Lestrem (France). More information: www.roquette.com.