Technological Watch

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De Smet Engineers & Contractors to build new METEX NØØVISTA plant 

METEX announced in December the signing of the financing agreement for METEX NØØVISTA, a joint venture between Bpifrance and majority shareholder METabolic EXplorer (METEX), an industrial biochemical company specialising in the development and industrial application of green and sustainable fermentation processes.

METEX holds a 55% and Bpifrance a 45% stake in METEX NØØVISTA. With that, METEX NØØVISTA had the financing needed to start the construction of the first biochemical production unit at the Carling Saint-Avold site.

The METEX subsidiary will operate a plant there for the bio-based production of 1,3 Propanediol (PDO) and butyric acid (BA), two natural molecules of natural origin with applications in the cosmetics, animal nutrition and health, and bio-based polymers industries (e.g. textiles).
The first stage of this plant will have a capacity of 6kt (5kt of PDO and 1kt of BA) and directly create 48 new jobs.

Following the announcement of the closing of METEX NØØVISTA’s financing with the SPI (“Société de Projets Industriels”) fund managed by Bpifrance, an EPCM (Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management) contract was signed with the DE SMET Engineers & Contractors (DSEC) Group, an internationally-renowned Belgian engineering firm specialised in the agroindustry field, particularly in the sugar, edible oils, biofuel and green chemicals sectors.

The PDO/BA technology developed by METEX is a disruptive technology that employs a single process to obtain two distinct products – PDO and BA – each of which is intended for different markets where performance and naturalness are differentiating and highly valued characteristics.

These two products will meet needs in the following markets:

  • The market for functional ingredients in cosmetics, worth about €13 billion2. METEX PDO is a multifunctional ingredient that can replace in particular the controversial preservatives such as parabens and glycols when it is used as an emollient. 
  • The global market for organic acids used in animal nutrition, estimated to be worth more than €1 billion3. METEX BA is an additive used in animal nutrition for its nutritional, metabolic, and antimicrobial properties, which promote healthy growth in animals. Sales of this organic acid are growing rapidly (by a factor 2.5 since 2010), driven by the willingness of major prescribers to ensure that consumers are buying products made from animals raised without antibiotics.
  • Last, PDO production will give METEX an entry into the world market for bio-based polymers, which is worth approximately €15 billion4. METEX PDO is also a monomer found in the composition of polyesters and high-performance polyurethanes. It is used in particular for the manufacture of PTT, a polyester that is going to be more and more widely used thanks to properties that make it superior to PET and that meet the growing demand from upmarket brands for bio-based, high-performance textile fibres.

With this production unit, METEX will be able to market PDO and BA through its subsidiary METEX NØØVISTA either directly or through distribution agreements or, in the case of PDO for polymers, through licencing agreements. Effective commercialisation is scheduled to begin late in the second half of 2020.


» Publication Date: 22/01/2019

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