Yokogawa Bio Frontier Inc., a subsidiary of Yokogawa Electric Corporation ("Yokogawa"), and Swiss startup Bloom Biorenewables SA ("Bloom") announce the signing of an agency agreement to promote biomass material in Japan. Under the agreement, Yokogawa Bio Frontier will provide Bloom's products to potential customers in Japan in the chemical, food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries who are interested in alternatives to petrochemicals, and develop market opportunities.
The agency agreement builds on the investment and partnership agreement signed by Yokogawa and Bloom in August 2020. It will enable Yokogawa Bio Frontier and Bloom to evaluate customer needs and market demand in Japan and expand the sales of Bloom's products in the region. It is the first initiative for the newly established Yokogawa Bio Frontier, and marks the company's first step as a provider of biomass materials to a range of industries.
Bloom has developed ground-breaking technologies to manufacture chemicals and fuels from plant-based raw materials. The startup focuses on valorizing underutilized parts of plants, such as hemicellulose or lignin* found in all non-edible agricultural wastes or in wood. These new biomass-based products are expected to substitute current fossil-based materials in applications such as fragrances, flavorings, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. The potential of these biomass materials continues to attract strong attention, and Bloom has received additional investment led by the Breakthrough Energy Ventures-Europe investment fund to accelerate the market entry of its bio-based chemical products.
Mitsuhiro Iga, president and CEO of Yokogawa Bio Frontier, commented, "This agency agreement marks the starting point for concrete business collaboration with Bloom. For Yokogawa Bio Frontier, we plan to make this initiative a key pillar of the environmental business portfolio we will build over the long-term. Moving forward, we will work closely to achieve the goal shared by both companies–the adoption of environmentally friendly materials on a global scale."
* Lignin is one of the main structural components in terrestrial plants. It binds together cellulose and hemicellulose fibers to form the structure of the plant cell wall. It is composed of monolignols, which represent the largest renewable source of phenolic compounds on Earth. Phenolics are currently mainly synthesized from petroleum and used as a key raw material for many chemical products, pharmaceuticals, and functional chemicals such as plastics, inks and fragrances. For petrochemical substitution, the depolymerization of lignin into monolignol is a necessary step. However, because of lignin's molecular structure, this has proven difficult to achieve at a commercial scale. Bloom's chemistry offers a unique path to convert lignin to monomers, which unlocks its full potential and paves the way to a sustainable carbon economy.