Biobased Lubes Lure Evonik


Evonik Oil Additives invested in and will collaborate with Biosynthetic Technologies, which makes base oils synthesized from fatty acids found in vegetable oils.

Essen, Germany-headquartered Evonik recently closed on an investment in its existing partner, Irvine, Calif.-based Biosynthetic Technologies. Evonik didnt disclose the volume of the investment, or the precise amount of ownership it has in the company, but it is a minority stake which includes a seat on Biosynthetic Technologies board of directors, Evoniks head of venture capital, Bernhard Mohr, told Lube Report.

For us, collaboration with innovative startup companies around the world has two advantages. It gives us access to disruptive technologies from which we hope to gain important impetus for our business, Mohr said. On the other hand, we value entrepreneurialism and the pioneering spirit that prevails in young technology firms.

Besides the equity deal – conducted through Evoniks corporate venture arm, Evonik Venture Capital – the companies plan to work together as well. There are plans to collaborate intensively with Evoniks oil additives business unit in order to further develop the technologies and tap common markets, Mohr continued. Evonik and Biosynthetic Technologies are active on the market for high-performance lubricants with complementary products. Collaborating on a technical level and in relation to tapping new markets brings benefits for both companies.

Evonik will be very involved in sales, marketing, and further research and development, Biosynthetic Technologies Chairman and CEO Allen Barbieri told Lube Report. While his company primarily focuses on developing formulations for passenger car motor oils, Evonik will also bring expertise in a wide variety of industrial-type applications, and will be integral in helping develop and validate Biosynthetic Technologies move into the industrial space.

Evonik will assist in scaling up manufacturing as well, Barbieri added. Evonik is currently operating a demonstration manufacturing facility with specialty chemical company Albemarle, in Baton Rouge, La. Biosynthetic Technologies is looking to raise additional funding for building a full-scale production facility.

BP Ventures also invested in the biobased oils manufacturer twice in the past and in this round of funding, which is currently closing. Agriculture company Monsanto made a $7 million equity investment in the manufacturer in 2012. Biosynthetic Technologies will have additional funding rounds in the near future, and is currently talking with a few investors.

So far, all the investments have come from existing corporate relationships, Barbieri said. While weve had a lot of interest from venture capital and equity firms, we are more interested in working with investors with whom we have a corporate strategic partnership.

Biosynthetic Technologies makes biobased synthetic molecules from plant oils fatty acids, or estolides, which can be used as a renewable feedstock in lubricants manufacturing, according to the companys website. Biosynthetic Technologies is currently focusing on industrial oils and automotive lubricants, including passenger car motor oils.

Evonik Oil Additives is a global company that specializes in additives for lubricants based on polyalkyl methacrylates.