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Grant to help harness methane as feedstock for Ingeo biopolymers

The grant supports a multi-year joint development programme with the specific goal of transforming renewable biomethane into lactic acid.

5th November 2014

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Minnetonka, MN

Industrial, Medical/Hygiene, Sustainable

The grant supports a multi-year joint development programme between NatureWorks and Calysta, with the specific goal of transforming, via a fermentation process, renewable biomethane into lactic acid, the building block for Ingeo naturally advanced bioplastics and intermediates that are used in a host of consumer and industrial products.

Strategic interests

The research and development collaboration with Calysta addresses NatureWorks’ strategic interests in feedstock diversification and a structurally simplified, lower cost Ingeo production platform and leverages Calysta’s Biological Gas-to-Chemicals platform for biological conversion of methane to high value chemicals.

This June, a year after the joint development programme was announced, Calysta demonstrated lab-scale production of lactic acid from methane. Fundamental R&D should be completed in the next two to three years, enabling pilot production in three to five years.

Revolutionary technology

“If proven through this collaboration, methane to lactic acid conversion technology could be revolutionary, providing sustainable alternative feedstocks for Ingeo,” said Ken Williams, Programme Leader for the Calysta-NatureWorks collaboration, NatureWorks.

“When coupled with NatureWorks’ proven commercial process for lactic acid to Ingeo, the methane to lactic acid process would transform a harmful greenhouse gas into useful and in-demand consumer and industrial products.

This disruptive platform could support high-value chemicals and liquid fuels. Our team thanks the Bioenergy Technologies Office and is proud to have been recognized by the Department of Energy grant for this NatureWorks and Calysta research collaboration.”


A greenhouse gas 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, methane is generated by the natural decomposition of plant materials and is a component of natural gas.

Biomethane refers specifically to renewably sourced methane produced from such activities as waste-water treatment, decomposition within landfills, farm wastes, and anaerobic digestion. If successful, the technology could directly produce lactic acid from any of these methane sources.


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