Amyris Builds Brazil Plant to Turn Sugar Into Source of Diesel

Amyris Inc., a U.S. biotechnology company, built its first industrial-scale facility to produce from sugar-cane syrup a compound that can be converted into a renewable fuel, tapping Brazil’s expansive cane industry for feedstock.

The plant in Sao Paulo state on a property owned by Biomin do Brasil Nutricao Animal Ltda. will go into production next month, Emeryville, California-based Amyris said today in a statement. It will make farnesene, a compound that can be processed further into diesel or lubricants.

Brazil, the world’s largest sugar producer, is expected to crush 568.5 million tons of sugar cane this harvest, 2.1 percent more than last year, the Sao Paulo-based cane industry association Uniao da Industria de Cana-de-Acucar said in a statement.

Amyris, which will operate the plant, will spend less than $20 million for the facility that initially will generate 2.5 million liters a year, Chief Executive Officer John Melo said by telephone. It will be scaled up to produce 17 million liters in 18 months, he said.

In Brazil, the company is developing farnesene-production plants with the Pradopolis-based ethanol producer Sao Martinho SA that may produce 100 million liters a year, he said, and another with Paraiso Bioenergia SA, according to the statement.

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