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Wacker starts up cystine production in Spain

By Mary Page Bailey |

Production plants for fermentation-generated cystine at WACKER’s site in León.

Production plant for fermentation-generated cystine at WACKER’s site in León.

Wacker Biosolutions, the life sciences division of the Wacker Chemie AG (Munich, Germany; www.wacker.com), has begun producing fermentation-generated cystine at its new site in León, Spain. Over the past eighteen months, the division has extensively modernized part of the 800-m³ fermentation capacity acquired there at the end of 2016. In addition, it has built a production line for cystine. Capital spending for the site totals some €30 million. In the next few months, the plants are to be gradually qualified and ramped up to full capacity. The new site enables Wacker to meet its customers’ rising global demand. Cystine and cysteine produced from cystine are used in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Wacker currently employs more than 40 people in León.

“With our investment in the León site, we are well equipped to further strengthen our position as the global market and technology leader for fermentation-generated cystine,” said Dr. Gerhard Schmid, head of Wacker Biosolutions, explaining the expansion measures. “The modernized fermentation plants and the new cystine production plant enable us to reliably meet our customers’ growing demand for cysteine and cystine, and to commercialize new fermentation-generated products.

Cystine and cysteine, the amino acid produced from it, are widely used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food sectors not only, for example, to manufacture flavorings and make doughs in baked goods easier to process, but also as a free-radical scavenger in cosmetics products or as an expectorant in cough medicines. Wacker is the first company in the world to produce cystine by fermentation in a patented biotech process.

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