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May 6, 2008

Süd-Chemie/Linde to develop production plants for second-generation biofuels

Gerald Ondrey

Süd-Chemie AG ( and Linde Group (both Munich, Germany; have agreed to co-operate on an exclusive basis to develop and market plants for the production of second-generation biofuels. This will involve a biotechnological process to extract fuels, such as ethanol, from plant matter containing cellulose, such as wheat and maize straw, grasses or wood. Based on these renewable resources, second-generation biofuels are said to offer a significant improvement in terms of climate and energy balance compared with the first-generation biofuels already in use today, such as biodiesel made from rapeseed oil. Also, second-generation biofuels do not compete with the cultivation of either food or animal feed.

The partners in this alliance, which is currently unique in Europe, offer highly-complementary mutual benefits. Whereas Süd-Chemie will be contributing its know-how in the sectors of biocatalysis and bioprocess engineering, Linde — with its subsidiary Linde-KCA-Dresden — will provide leading engineering expertise in the areas of biotechnology and chemistry. This competent partnership will be available to assist potential customers, such as ethanol producers and other companies in the industrial or agricultural sectors, as well as investors interested in second-generation-biofuel plants, in planning and constructing these plants on a worldwide scale.

In view of the growing shortage and increasing price of oil, as well as the impending climate change, the extraction of biofuel from cellulosic vegetable raw materials represents a highly attractive market of the future. According to the management consultants McKinsey & Company, the entire global market for biofuel will grow to $61 billion by 2010. Recent U.S. legislation also stipulates that by 2022, about one quarter of current U.S. fuel consumption is to be replaced by biofuel. This is mainly to be achieved with the aid of bioethanol obtained from cellulosic vegetable raw materials.


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