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Genomatica to Scale Bio-Nylon 50-Fold with Aquafil

Clean manufacturing specialist Genomatica has signed a deal with Aquafil to build a demonstration scale facility to produce the largest quantity of 100 percent renewable nylon-6 ever.

Responding to rising consumer interest in sustainable products, the material will go to global brands eager to explore and develop renewable products, create showcase goods and test feedback with customers, Genomatica said. The deal is a 50-fold expansion over previous production levels and represents significant acceleration toward commercializing renewably sourced nylon-6.

This multiyear agreement provides the foundation for a more sustainable nylon value chain by expanding a longstanding Genomatica partnership with major European nylon producer Aquafil. The two companies teamed in January to produce the world’s first ton of bio-nylon-6 precursor at pilot scale.

Genomatica and Aquafil are now moving directly to a larger-than-typical demonstration scale to support initial commercial applications by committed brand partners. The first production runs are slated to create 50 tons of bio-nylon for pre-commercial use by Genomatica’s brand partners, with the demonstration plant to continue supporting product needs until commercial scale plants are in operation.

“Bio-nylon is positioned to replace a material that’s used in millions of applications every day,” Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling said. “Our research shows that despite health and economic turmoil, 56 percent of Americans still want brands to prioritize sustainability. With this scale, Genomatica is offering our brand partners a key way to meet their sustainability objectives, differentiate themselves, and meet surging consumer demand.”

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Genomatica and Aquafil will work together to implement and refine their respective technology contributions through this demonstration program and create large quantities of bio-nylon. Aquafil will build and operate the downstream operations of the large-scale demonstration plant at its facility in Slovenia, where it will convert Genomatica’s bio-based precursor to commercial-quality bio-nylon-6 yarns, films and engineered plastics.

The produced material will be used to develop renewably-sourced products, replacing traditional nylon that generates upward of 60 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Under this agreement, initial volumes of bio-nylon ingredients will be available in the second half of 2021.

Genomatica is harnessing synthetic biology to remake the world of everyday products and materials through the power of clean manufacturing. The company is developing more sustainable, higher-performance key ingredients for everyday products, using plants and waste rather than fossil fuels or other non-sustainable sources like palm oil. Genomatica has already commercialized products to make better plastics, spandex and cosmetics.