AFYREN inaugurates its first factory, AFYREN NEOXY, a first-of-its-kind biorefinery

  • The plant, in Carling Saint-Avold in France’s Moselle region, uses short supply chains to produce seven 100% biobased acids that offer customers in sectors such as food, flavors and fragrances or chemicals as an alternative to the petro-based acids usually used
  • A unique, low-carbon, zero-waste biorefinery strategically located in the heart of Europe for its international customers and suppliers
  • Production will ramp up to 16,000 metric tons of biobased carboxylic acids in 2024, saving 30,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year
  • A unique industrial accomplishment resulting from the association between AFYREN and Bpifrance, through its Sociétés de Projets Industriels (SPI) fund. The project has created 60 direct and 200 indirect jobs, and is playing a key role in the emergence of the bioeconomy sector

Clermont-Ferrand/Lyon, September 29, 2022 at 8 A.M. CEST – AFYREN, a greentech company that offers manufacturers bio-based, low-carbon ingredients produced using unique fermentation technology based on a completely circular model, is inaugurating its first large-scale plant, AFYREN NEOXY, in Carling Saint-Avold (Grand Est, Moselle, France) on the Chemesis industrial platform.

A factory that came online within its deadline and budget

After the start of construction in December 2020, major milestones included obtaining the operating permit, completion of civil engineering work, construction of the plant and the gradual industrial commissioning of its various units. All told, it only took 20 months for AFYREN NEOXY to open its doors, on September 29, 2022.

Perfectly operational and secure, the biorefinery has reached production start-up phase in the 2022 calendar year, as announced. AFYREN plans to gradually increase volumes to produce 16,000 metric tons of carboxylic acids within two years, a world first. At this stage, 70% of AFYREN NEOXY’s target production of organic acids has already been pre-sold.

Nicolas SORDET, CEO of AFYREN: “The inauguration of this first industrial unit on time and on budget, despite the health crisis, is a tribute to all the efforts made to keep to the schedule we had set for ourselves. On behalf of AFYREN, I would also like to thank all our partners who have supported our project and enabled us to meet our objectives for growth.”

A strategic location

Thanks to its location in the center of the European beet-producing basin, AFYREN NEOXY has been able to commit to respecting short supply chains through a contract that provides for the delivery of co-products from sugar-beet crops located within a maximum radius of a few hundred kilometers from the factory.

As it is close to its main customers in Northern and Eastern France, the Benelux countries and Germany, the plant can offer secure, low-carbon delivery to its partners.

Jean Saint Donat, President of AFYREN NEOXY: “This inauguration is the concrete expression of AFYREN’s ambition: to decarbonize chemical production on a large scale while maintaining a local approach. Our location in the Grand Est region allows us to ideally reconcile our regional presence with international scope.”

A proprietary technology platform based on natural microorganisms

Based on natural micro-organisms and protected worldwide by ten patent families, our AFYNERIE® technology produces seven 100% biobased organic acids. These acids have several applications in six key sectors: human food, animal feed, flavors and fragrances, lubricants, materials science and life sciences.

The carboxylic acids produced by AFYREN offer a low-carbon alternative to their traditionally petro-based equivalents. They are directly derived from sugar beet co-products and are transformed on the Saint-Avold platform through fermentation, extraction and purification steps.

This biomimetic process also produces a fertilizer that can be used in organic agriculture, optimizing resources in a completely circular approach. By producing biobased acids that have the same application performance as petro-based acids, and that meet stringent certifications, AFYREN offers a sustainable alternative to its partners, allowing them to achieve a significantly improved carbon footprint.

A biorefinery grounded in the environmental, economic and societal challenges of the territories where it operates

AFYREN has raised a total of more than €80 million euros in funding from public and private sources to complete this industrial project:

To take its technology into the industrial phase, AFYREN chose to partner with Bpifrance, through its Société de Projets Industriels (SPI) fund. AFYREN NEOXY is a joint venture, 51% owned by AFYREN and 49% by the “Société de Projets Industriels” (SPI) fund managed by Bpifrance.

“We are convinced of the potential of AFYREN’s technology in terms of the decarbonization of industry and its ability to promote a strong, competitive and job-creating bioeconomy. This alliance through AFYREN NEOXY is a perfect illustration of our purpose: to enable the most promising industrial projects to find support for their development,” said Magali Joessel, Director of the SPI fund at Bpifrance.

The company has also benefited from strong support from the European Union and the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU), which initiated the creation of the AFTER-BIOCHEM international partnership platform, which brings together 12 key bioeconomy players.

As part of the conversion of the Carling Saint-Avold platform, Total Energies not only provided financial support but also offered operational assistance, supporting AFYREN NEOXY as it navigated issues related to the environment, utilities, services and methods, facilitating the industrial hosting of the plant on the platform.
In addition, the construction of the production site benefited from significant support of the Grand Est Region and the Communauté d’Agglomération de St-Avold Synergie (CASAS), both very involved in the development of the bioeconomy sector.

AFYREN also relied on financing from the France Reliance recovery plan to set up its Saint-Avold site and to do some of the advance work for the AFYREN NEOXY plant.

AFYREN NEOXY was also able to count on the support of its long-standing partners in the structuring of its bank financing: BNP, Banque Populaire, Crédit Agricole and Bpifrance.

A meaningful industrial project that creates jobs

The commissioning of the site involved the recruitment of 60 people, covering the whole range of industrial professions (production, maintenance, quality control, security, and administration).

AFYREN NEOXY set up a partnership with Pôle-emploi and the IUT of Saint Avold to recruit its factory operators, selecting a wide variety of candidate profiles according to their capacities and skills, and training them in the trades required. With the recruitment of this diverse and competent team, AFYREN seeks to strengthen its CSR governance model, grounded in benevolence and the involvement of its employees within a meaningful project.

While solidly anchored in its region, the company is contributing to the development of the bioeconomy sector in France and Europe, serving a growing global demand and creating industrial jobs that cannot be outsourced.

“On the strength of this first success, we are already studying two scenarios for the establishment of a second plant in North America or Asia. We are obviously evaluating the structuring of the financing, but we are also carefully studying the environmental components so that this second plant will also benefit from access to local biomass and short supply chains,” said Nicolas Sordet, CEO and co-founder of AFYREN. “This first inauguration is therefore only the beginning of a major collective undertaking: building a global and circular low-carbon industry by providing biobased solutions built for and with our environment.”

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