Eni's chemicals subsidiary Versalis has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Genomatica and Novamont to form a joint venture for the production of butadiene from biomass.

Butadiene is a raw material in the production of rubber which is in turn used in tires, electrical appliances, footwear, plastics, asphalt modifiers, additives for lubricating oil, pipes, building components, and latex.

Versalis will be the majority stake holder in the joint venture, using its expertise in catalysis process development and process engineering scale-up and market applications of butadiene derivatives to build the first commercial plant using the said technology.

Speaking of the MoU Versalis CEO Daniele Ferrari said, "Genomatica’s process technology for on-purpose butadiene combined with our experience in downstream applications and our ability to rapidly scale and commercialize the process can expand our industry’s approach to C4 production, seizing a promising business opportunity in a market that is experiencing a critical time."

Genomatica will bring its proprietary technologies and intellectual property for producing butadiene, with Novamont’s contributing its experience in renewable feedstocks.

"Together we will have a great opportunity to apply Novamont’s concept of third generation integrated biorefineries to a well-known chemical like butadiene, applying new biotechnological and chemical processes to local biomass for an innovative industry at local level, thereby improving environmental, economical and social sustainability," said Catia Bastioli, CEO, Novamont

"Versalis and Novamont are ideal partners to join us in leading the development of process technology for the production of butadiene from renewable feedstocks," added Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling.