Mathieu Flamini – Levulinic Acid King
by Andrew Crawshaw
There have been a number of reports recently in the Press that our Mathieu is doing extremely well for himself outside the world of football.
In 2008 he founded a company, GF Biochemicals, in Italy with a friend Pasquale Granata. This has been kept very quiet until this week when they have gone public and announced that they are producing Levulinic Acid on an industrial scale. Indeed they claim this to be a world first and a potential “game changer” in a $20bn a year industry. Here is a link to the company website for those of you who want to look in far more detail.
Levulinic Acid (C5H8O3) in itself isn’t new, it has been produced since 1870 and has significant potential as an industrial chemical and as a partial replacement for oil. Some uses are as resins and coatings, solvents, pharmaceutical, personal care, detergents, fuel additives, plasticizer, textile, animal feed and antifreeze.
It is said to have a number of significant advantages over existing chemicals being non-toxic and far more bio-degradable. What is new is the claim from GF Biochemicals that in July this year they started to produce it on an industrial scale directly from biomass (essentially most sorts of plants including waste from other processes – currently they list grass, wheat straw, wood and cellulose).
Levulinic Acid is recognised by the US Department of Energy as one of the top bio-based platform chemicals of the future. It is a versatile building block for other chemicals and other materials derived directly from biomass.
The company is based in Caserta in Italy and currently has about 80 employees with a further 320 or do dependent jobs, so that in itself isn’t insignificant. They have a very large research and development team who along with commercial staff are based in the Netherlands, and have worked closely with the University of Pisa (one of Italy’s best universities) and the Polytechnic University of Milan.
Their projections are for production to be 4,500 Tonnes in 2016 rising to 10,000 in 2017 and 50,000T in 2019 as they expand production worldwide. Clearly an important product looking into the future. By 2020 the company projections are for an annual market of somewhere in the region of 1,500,000 Tonnes so clearly vast scope for expansion beyond current aims.
Matthieu says that he has invested a lot of money in the company. Whilst nothing in life is certain, except for death and taxes [and transfer rumours – Tony], I would guess that whatever his investment is it is likely to repay him back on a ratio of somewhere between 100 and 1,000 to one (always assuming that the process works as it is claimed to). Nice one Son!
- 17 November 1993: Ian Wright scored four goals for England in a World Cup match v San Marino.
- 17 November 2004: George Curtis died. He went to Southampton in 1947 and gained the nickname “Twinkletoes”, and then moved to Valenciennes in France in August 1952. He later followed up his wartime Indian connections by coaching the Indian Olympic squad of 1948 before moving to be Chelmsford City’s player-coach, later coaching Sunderland, Brighton, Cambridge University, Hastings, Stevenage Town, Hull City, San Diego Toros, and Rosenborg in Norway, the Norwegian national team and finally in Qatar.
The Untold Books
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal