Football star Flamini unveils secret biofuel company

Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini has this week revealed an eight year secret plan that has seen him set up a market-leading biofuel technology firm in a sector worth up to £20bn.

According to the Sun on Sunday, the French footballer set up GF Biochemicals in the Italian province of Caserta in 2008. The firm is reportedly a leader in developing levulinic acid (LA) – a green alternative to oil that can be used in biofuels, cosmetics, plastics and food preservatives.

Alongside his friend and business partner Pasquale Granata, Flamini has seen GF Biochemicals become the first company to mass produce the chemical. Flamini also revealed that the company now has several patents in place for LA.

He told the Sun on Sunday: “It’s a molecule identified by the US Department of Energy as one of the 12 molecules with the potential to replace petrol in all its forms. Researchers told us LA is the future and by doing research in that field we could come up with a great discovery and success.

“After several months we came up with the technology of how to produce LA on an industrial scale, meaning cheaply and cost-effectively. We patented it. We are the first company — and the only one in the world — to produce LA on an industrial scale.”

GF Biochemicals currently staffs 80 people in its plant in Italy, while the mass production of LA has created an additional 400 jobs within the supply chain. The company also has offices in Milan and Holland with plans already drawn up to move to the US.”

Speaking at the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology earlier this year, GF Biochemicals chief commercial officer Marcel van Berkel said: “Caserta is now the world’s largest operational production plant for LA. A fundamentally lower price range is now possible using our unique technology. This will give access to previously undiscovered market segments.”

Last month the company was awarded with the prestigious John Sime Award, given to the most innovative new technology, at the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy (EFIB).

“I invested a lot of money in this,” Flamini said. “It was a big risk. But to be successful you take risks. It was a challenge.”

Football focus

The Arsenal midfielder joins a host of famous faces who have made personal goals to help combat the effects of climate change. Former Manchester United right back Gary Neville recently teamed up with Ecotricity to launch the Sustainability in Sport initiative, which encourages sports clubs to change the way they live and play.

Flamini’s reveal will provide a boost to the idea of sustainability in football. edie recently ran a feature highlighting what is being done in the beautiful game to create a clean and sustainable future. It can be read here.

Matt Mace

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