Business Update: August 2022 | AIChE

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Business Update: August 2022

Evonik is making more lipids for vaccines

Evonik is making more lipids for vaccines

German specialty chemical company, Evonik, has announced plans to build a $220 million lipid production facility with funding from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

The context you need. The pharmaceutical industry uses lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) to encapsulate biologically active agents (such as mRNA) for effective drug delivery. We typically make LNPs by creating lipid spheres (by mixing lipids in water) and then filtering those spheres through nanometer-sized pores.

What lipids? There are four main lipids used to make these LNPs — ionizable amino lipids, phosphatidylcholine lipids, polyethylene glycol (PEG) lipid conjugates, and cholesterol. Most of these lipids are derived by some combination of vegetable oil and petrochemicals. For example, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine used a lipid called PEGylated diglyceride. The PEG came from the ethylene value chain, and the diglyceride came from vegetable oils.

Next steps. BARDA is allotting up to $150 million to help fund the site for the “advanced development of medical countermeasures to respond to 21st century health security threats.” Evonik will cover the rest and plans to start construction in Lafayette, IN, in time for startup in 2025...

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