GlucanBio Announces Research Collaboration with Sarawak Biodiversity Center, Malaysia

December 8, 2014


Glucan Biorenewables Research Collaboration and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre  

 St. Louis, MO; December 3, 2014. Glucan Biorenewables is pleased to announce a research collaboration with the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre, Sarawak, Malaysia to utilize local biomass for conversion into high-value sugars, drop-in chemicals, and biofuels.

Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC), located in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, is pleased to announce a research collaboration with Glucan Biorenewables LLC (GlucanBio), located in St. Louis, Missouri USA, to further Malaysia’s vision of creating a more sustainable economy by using biological resources and industrial biomass waste for various industrial applications such as biofuels and natural chemicals.

GlucanBio is commercializing a biomass conversion platform that delivers cost-disruptive sugars, drop-in chemicals, and biofuels. The technology uses novel organic liquid phase catalysis to fractionate biomass 100 times faster than aqueous-based systems, separating the cellulose and the hemicellulose into two streams.  Both streams are further processed to produce furfural, a valuable chemical, and glucose at very competitive costs.

Furfural, a $450M worldwide market, is a renewable, non-petroleum based, chemical used for making resins, lubricants, and has been used as a pre-cursor for tetrahydrofurfuryl alcohol (THF, a green industrial solvent).

In recent years, furfural has been made predominately in China, though there is significant growth potential at the right price point. GlucanBio expects furfural unit cost savings of approximately 40% relative to currently practiced water-based biomass conversion technologies.

The technology is an ideal front-end platform for first and second generation ethanol plants given its ability to produce cheap glucose for ethanol production while co-producing furfural, a higher value biorenewable chemical.

Under the research collaboration, GlucanBio will study several materials provided by Sarawak, including biomass from oil palm, nipah palm, sago pith, and wood chips to produce low cost renewable chemicals such as furfural and sugars. The research will include measurements of product yields to show economic viability models.

Victoria Gonzalez, Chief Executive Officer of GlucanBio said the company is extremely pleased to be working with SBC and to help further the goals of creating a more sustainable bioeconomy using innovative technologies.

“GlucanBio’s experienced technology team has a strong track record of innovation and research in creating high-value chemicals from biomass and we are confident that our collaboration will provide value and contribute to Malaysia’s economic growth and sustainability goals,” said Gonzalez.

Meanwhile, SBC is certain that collaboration will play an important role in the development of the biomass and renewable energy sector in Sarawak as it aims to evaluate the economic value of converting its biomass to industrial biochemicals using the technological innovation of GlucanBio.

According to SBC’s Acting CEO, Dr Yeo Tiong Chia, “There are many benefits in harnessing multiple high-value chemical products from biomass wastes that would otherwise be under-utilized”.

The collaboration between SBC and GlucanBio materialized when a Sarawak delegation to the international BIO Conference in San Diego in June 2014 identified GlucanBio’s technology to be one of the key drivers to deliver a green and renewable bio-industry in Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).


About Glucan Biorenewables

Glucan Biorenewables is a cleantech start-up commercializing a cost-disruptive biomass conversion platform based on its unique organic liquid phase catalysis technology.

The company was founded in April, 2012 with technology from the laboratory of Dr. James Dumesic at University of Wisconsin-Madison along with intellectual capital from the Center for Biorenewables Chemicals (CBiRC) at Iowa State University.

The company’s process can use a variety of wet or dry biomass feed stocks to simultaneously produce sugars, drop-in chemicals, and biofuels.  Compared to current water-based biomass conversion technologies, GlucanBio’s solvent system operates with lower unit costs because of higher yields.

The GlucanBio laboratory is located in Madison, Wisconsin with the business headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri.


About Sarawak Biodiversity Centre

Sarawak Biodiversity Centre is a state research agency that carries out R&D onto Sarawak’s biodiversity for applications in pharmaceutical, therapeutic, personal care industries, as well as industrial use.

The Centre identifies and establishes meaningful research collaborations in areas of biodiversity with research institutions and corporate organizations to bring new technologies and start-up bio-industries to Sarawak.

Its unique research programs leverage on traditional knowledge of indigenous communities to provide scientific leads of ethno and useful plants.  The Centre also maintains a Library of Natural Products that contains over twenty thousand plants extracts and eighteen thousand microbe strains from the forests of Sarawak.



Yeo Tiong Chia, PhD
Acting CEO
Sarawak Biodiversity Centre
Tel: +6082610610


Victoria Gonzalez
Glucan Biorenewables LLC