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Taking off: Velocys, Shell, British Airways,  UK Government, New Energy Risk, Red Rock Biofuels, TCG Global, PQ, and Advanced Plasma Power figure in key renewable jet fuel project advances

Biofuels Digest - 10 hours 16 min ago

New Energy Risk’s new performance insurance for TCG Global’s gasifiers and a significant project advance from Velocys in the UK are on the docket today. 

These companies and the news this morning are united as key project components in the Red Rock Biofuels project which breaks ground in Lakeview, Oregon next month, aiming to supply 15 million gallons per year of renewable jet fuel to FedEx, Southwest Airlines and potentially the US Navy, made from waste woody biomass. TCG supplies the gasifier system and Velocys microchannel FT technology is converting that syngas to fuels.

Let’s look at the news.

New Energy Risk Develops Performance Insurance For TCG Global and Red Rock project 

In California, New Energy Risk has created an insurance product for TCG Global that will cover TCG Global’s high-efficiency gasifier as it is field-tested and installed, beginning with the Red Rock Biofuels’ Lakeview, Oregon plant. 

In order to cover delivery and installation of its gasifiers and reduce uncertainty for new customers, TCG Global turned to New Energy Risk and its affiliates. New Energy Risk’s custom insurance solution not only accelerates time to market but also provides support for TCG Global in terms of warranting and insuring performance through delivery and startup of the gasifier. This support greatly mitigates the gasifier technology risk to project financing partners and other stakeholders.

We’ve seen New Energy Risk at work with other advanced projects in recent months. We reported several months back that NER provided Fulcrum BioEnergy with a technology performance insurance solution for Fulcrum’s Sierra BioFuels Plant near Reno that broke ground last month. Fulcrum recently raised $150 million in bond financing for the Sierra BioFuels project, and turned to New Energy Risk, an affiliate of global insurance giant XL Catlin, to provide a performance insurance product to support the financing. 

Velocys secures £4.9M for next stage of UK waste-to-jet fuel project from Shell, BA, UK gov’t

In the UK, Velocys has secured funding to deliver the next development phase of the waste-to-sustainable jet fuel project that the company is developing in the UK. A grant of £434k has been secured from the Department for Transport under the Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition. The award of this grant, together with ongoing policy support provided by the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, will help this innovative waste-to-fuels project bring jobs and clean growth to the UK. The project is being developed with the financial and technical support of Shell and British Airways, and £4.5m has been committed by the industry partners including Velocys.

The team is developing the engineering and business case for the construction of a first plant in the UK. Subject to a final investment decision, this plant will take hundreds of thousands of tonnes per year of post-recycled waste, destined for landfill or incineration, and convert it into clean-burning, sustainable fuels. The jet fuel produced, to be used by British Airways, is expected to deliver over 70% greenhouse gas reduction and 90% reduction in particulate matter emissions compared with conventional jet fuel. This would contribute to both carbon emissions reductions and local air quality improvements around major airports. The project partners expect to reach a final investment decision in the first half of 2020.

The next development stage will include detailed pre Front End Engineering and Design engineering study and site permitting activities. Advanced Plasma Power has been selected as preferred gasification technology licensor for this UK waste-to-fuels project. APP offers an efficient and tested solution for conversion of waste to synthesis gas (for onward conversion to fuels via Velocys’ Fischer-Tropsch process). 

In a boost to the long term commercial viability of the project, changes to the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation came into force on the 15 April 2018. For the first time, renewable jet fuel is to qualify for credits under the RTFO, providing long term policy support for sustainable aviation fuels.

Velocys, PQ Corporation Partner on catalyst supply

Meanwhile, Velocys has partnered with PQ Corporation for the supply of commercial quantities of Velocys’ proprietary catalyst to be used in multiple biorefineries incorporating its technology. PQ is a leading global provider of specialty catalysts, services, materials and chemicals for the refinery, emissions control and petrochemical industries.

Catalyst produced by PQ has already been used to successfully produce renewable transportation fuel and other products at ENVIA, the world’s first commercial smaller scale gas-to-liquids plant, which incorporates Velocys technology. In addition, PQ will manufacture the catalyst to be used by Velocys’ licensees as well as by the biorefinery projects that the company is developing with its industry partners, including the Red Rock Biofuels project and the proposed UK project.

Reaction from the New Energy Risk and Red Rock stakeholders

“New Energy Risk has been a tremendous partner for us,” said Creg Hughes, CEO of TCG Global. “Insurance was the critical element in supporting the performance of our gasifier, and no other team had the ability and dedication to understand our technology and creatively structure insurance around it, thereby creating a financeable product we could provide to Red Rock Biofuels.”

“TCG’s gasifier presents the best gasification technology for producing fuels with this feedstock,” said Jeff Manternach, CFO of Red Rock Biofuels, “However, at this first commercial scale, the financing partners wanted additional security around the performance of the technology. New Energy Risk’s insurance solution completed the package, allowing us to move forward.”

“Our team at New Energy Risk, with the support of our XL Catlin insurance affiliate, has developed extensive expertise in gasification technologies and is deeply dedicated to bringing TCG’s best-in-class gasifiers to market, at scale, beginning with Red Rock Biofuels this year,” said Tom Dickson, CEO of New Energy Risk. “TCG Global is one of the leaders in gasification technology and we look forward to supporting their roll-out and fostering increased customer adoption.”


Reaction from Velocys, Shell, British Airways and the UK government

“Today the UK has taken another step forward towards becoming a world leader in low carbon aviation,” said David Pummell, CEO of Velocys. “Government funding, recent policy changes and successful completion of the feasibility study have enabled Velocys and its partners to move forward to the next phase in developing the UK’s first waste-to-renewable jet fuel plant. With Shell and British Airways we have a terrific set of partners to complete the project.”

“We are very pleased that the Government has recognized the importance of alternative fuels for aviation,“ said British Airways CEO Alex Cruz, “and has supported our joint project with Velocys which will help to reduce carbon emissions and create UK jobs and growth.”

“Shell’s ambition is to be a leader in advancing the sustainable solutions that can deliver a low carbon future for the aviation industry,” said Anne Anderson, Vice-President Shell Aviation. “In addition to combining innovative technologies with a diverse set of technical expertise and industry backgrounds, this project brings together partners across the aviation industry that share this aim. Biofuels can play a valuable role in a future low carbon energy system, and especially in sectors like aviation where the alternatives to liquid fuels are limited.”

“The waste-to-jet fuel project has the potential to help transform the aviation industry” said Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, “by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the air quality around our country’s airports. That is why we are providing support to this important technology as part of our £22 million of funding for alternative fuels, which will pave the way for clean growth in the UK. Supporting important developments like this is just part of our work to help ensure our aviation sector is greener than ever, and we will explore further measures as part of our Aviation Strategy.”

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Inventure Renewables implements Mixed Super Critical Fluid technology at Chinese Wilmar biodiesel plant

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 8:33pm

In Alabama, Inventure Renewables has announced the successful implementation and nearly year-long operation of its Mixed Super Critical Fluid technology at a Wilmar International processing plant in Jiangsu province, China. The technology is being used to produce FAME for oleochemicals and biodiesel from a wide range of vegetable oil feedstocks.

“The launch of the plant in Taizhou, China is a validation of our MSCF technology’s scalability to a commercial level,” said Mark Tegen, chief executive officer of Inventure. “The plant is an example of the end-to-end, customized solutions Inventure provides for agribusiness.”

“Inventure has worked closely with us throughout the integration of their technology at our Jiangsu plant,” said Rahul Kale, Group Head of Oleochemicals and Biofuels at Wilmar International Limited. “We are beginning to realize tangible returns from the use of Inventure’s technology.”

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Royal DSM introduces eBOOST™ to boost ethanol yields

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 8:32pm

In New Jersey, Royal DSM introduced eBOOST, a complete solution for ethanol producers seeking higher yield and significantly reduced glycerol production in starch conversion processes. The launch took place at the annual Fuel Ethanol Workshop ( in Omaha, Nebraska, USA (11-13 June 2018). Developed by DSM’s Bio-based Products & Services business, the solution includes yeast; a license to proprietary, patented technology; and technical service from DSM’s local team.

To establish the comprehensive viability of this solution, DSM undertook several full-scale application trials. The trials demonstrated that the solution enables a step change in performance for the ethanol market, increasing ethanol yields up to 6% and reducing glycerol formation more effectively than other industry-standard yeast products. This superior performance was demonstrated during continuous use over extensive periods, resulting in clear benefits to plant owners and managers looking to improve their plant economics and reduce energy consumption to make them more competitive and profitable.

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Brazilian mills hit hard during recent truckers strike

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 8:31pm

In Brazil, Reuters reports that sugar mills could have processed 13 million metric tons more cane during the last half of May were it not for the truckers strike that also kept more than 300,000 tons from being exported or supplied to the local market. Ethanol production fell to 1.74 billion liters during the period compared to 2.07 billion liters during the first half of the month. Ethanol continues to be more economically viable for mills than sugar production so they are likely to continue favoring ethanol during the next crushing period.

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Construction of Bharat Petroleum’s 2G ethanol plant to begin by August

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 8:30pm

In India, construction of Bharat Petroleum Corporation’s $148 million cellulosic ethanol plant in Bargarh is set to begin in July or August following delays due to the Odisha authorities failing to grant the land required for the facility. The plant is expected to use straw and other biomass as feedstock. It is one of several cellulosic plants planned by oil marketing companies to help produce enough ethanol to satisfy the future 22% ethanol blending mandate.

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NATSO launches Alternative Fuels Council

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 8:27pm

In Washington, NATSO Inc. on June 12 launched a new business venture known as the Alternative Fuels Council ( to help fuel retailers leverage the resources necessary to learn about and incorporate alternative fuels into their supply offerings.

The Alternative Fuels Council will work with members of the truckstop and travel plaza community and other fuel retailers to navigate the litany of state and federal fuel regulations, and to utilize available government incentives for alternative fuels, including the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Alternative Fuels Council will also help its partners implement profitable strategies related to alternative fuel supply options and fuel infrastructure.

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Kansas ethanol plant fire leads to evacuation of neighboring houses

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 8:26pm

In Kansas, residents four miles north and four miles west of the EGE Products ethanol plant near Minneola were evacuated Tuesday following a fire that broke out and took four hours to get under control. Local fire officials were concerned smoke, especially chemicals potentially present in the smoke, could cause health problems for people nearby. Fewer than 10 homes were evacuated, however. No cause of the fire or what damage was caused has been reported as of yet.

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Researchers find way to improve electron transfer in enzymatic biofuel cells

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 8:24pm

In Asia, team of researchers with members from institutions in Singapore, China and the U.K. has found a way to improve electron transfer in enzymatic biofuel cells. In their paper published in the journal Nature Energy, they describe their technique and how well it works. Huajie Yin and Zhiyong Tang with Griffith University in Australia and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in China, offer a News & Views piece on the work done by the team in the same journal issue.

Enzymatic biofuel cells are, as their name implies, a type of fuel cell based on enzymes as catalysts instead of expensive metals. Because of their potential, scientists have been eager to find ways to overcome problems that have inhibited commercial applications—they are expected to be much cheaper to make than those now in use.

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EPA administrator believes he has statutory right to approve year-round E15

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 8:21pm

In Iowa, Reuters reports that the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency said during a charm offensive in the Midwest that he believes his agency has the statutory authority to grant year-round E15 sales, a process that would require rulemaking along with a notice and comment period. The administrator has come under heavy fire for being anti-ethanol despite President Trump insisting that his administration is in favor of the fuel. Farm states have strongly called for his resignation as a result of what are seen as anti-ethanol policies such as boosting the amount of hardship waivers for oil refineries.

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The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of June 21st, 2018

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 1:50pm

The pace of invention and change is just too strong, we’ve realized, to highlight annual or even quarterly or monthly rankings and summaries of significant product and service advances. For now, we’re going to be tracking these on a weekly basis to keep pace with the changes. Here are the top innovations for the week of June 21st.

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Succinic’s next season: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to BioAmber

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 1:49pm

BioAmber’s Mission? To be a fast growing producer of chemical intermediates that uses sugars instead of fossil fuels and sells competitively priced, sustainable chemicals with strong profit margins and the cleanest environmental footprint in the industry.

In this overview of the company’s progress and promise, we’ve combined the most recent ABLC presentation by CEO Rick Eno and the most recent corporate overview.

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Strategic Intent: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Novozymes

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 9:08am

Novozymes is a world leader in biological solutions. Together with customers, partners and the global community, the company supplies innovations to the world’s leading companies across 40 markets. Best known for industrial enzymes, the company is highly active also in agriculture, biomass conversion, ethanol production and more.

Here we have an illuminating look at Novozymes’ progress and promise, as seen in their most recent corporate presentation and latest financial results presentation.

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Where Are They Now?

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 8:33am

In today’s Digest, we look at some of the industry rock star leaders of recent years who have moved on to other duties. Some have remained within the sector, in several cases in equally or more prominent roles — some are soaring with the eagles elsewhere. But they were always interesting, dynamic, sharp, worth knowing and worth following then and always. Here’s what some our friends are up to.

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Copersucar boosting ethanol production despite smaller cane crush

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 7:13pm

In Brazil, Reuters reports that Copersucar will boost its ethanol production to 4.5 billion liters this season, up from 4.3 billion liters last year. That’s from a 3% smaller anticipated cane crush of 83 million metric tons. Currently, ethanol gives the equivalent of 16 cents per pound of sugar compared to raw sugar prices sold at around 12 cents per pound on the global market. The company sees the national cane crush at 555 million tons this season compared to 596 million tons last year.

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Gevo says EPA approval of iosbutanol good start but 16% blending will be better

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 7:12pm

In Washington, on June 12, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency announced the approval of isobutanol at a 16% blend level in gasoline for on-road use in automobiles.  Previous to this isobutanol had been approved for on-road use up to a 12.5% blend.

Commenting on the announcement, Patrick Gruber, Chief Executive Officer of Gevo, said, “Blends of isobutanol at a 16% level have previously been used for boats and off-road applications.  We congratulate Butamax in getting this registration done.  We all benefit.  16% blend levels allow more RINS per gallon, high octane, and many other benefits.  At Gevo we have been developing the markets for isobutanol containing gasoline, in particular to meet the demand for the “ethanol free” segment of the gasoline market.  A 16% blend option will give our customers and partners an option for an even better product for on-road use.”

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Indian minister says no need for higher ethanol prices thanks to cheaper molasses

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 7:11pm

In India, the Times of India newspaper reports that the food minister is opposed to sugar mills’ request to boost the sales price for ethanol above the current 60 cents per liter because the bumper sugarcane crop this season has significantly lowered the price of molasses for feedstock. When ethanol prices were established last year, molasses cost $880 per ton but that has fallen to just $220 per ton. Mills are demanding higher prices to help pay off debt to cane farmers.

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Scania to implement bus system in Burkina Faso will including alternative fuels

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 7:10pm

In Sweden, to strengthen public transport in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, Scania and RATP Group have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Burkina Faso to establish a modern and efficient bus system with 460 buses and 90 coaches.

Traffic will start next year with the delivery of the first 225 buses. The project includes supplying buses and coaches, establishing a bus depot, building bus stops and bus lanes as well as training drivers and service technicians. In collaboration with RATP Group, Scania will ensure efficient fleet management. Scania will also work on the introduction of alternative fuels with the ultimate aim of operating the entire fleet on biodiesel and biogas.

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Mexican court overturns injunction against 10% ethanol blending

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 7:08pm

In Mexico, Platts reports that a federal court overturned an injunction last week that had limited ethanol blending to 5.8% from the mandated 10% although the lead attorney fighting against the injunction said it could take days or weeks for the official court filing to be published. Although the ruling is in favor of higher blends, it is only part of the wide legal case that may take longer to resolve in order for the mandate to be implemented as planned.

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Punjab could produce bio-CNG and ethanol from rice straw in addition to power

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 7:07pm

In India, Punjab’s Minister of Power and Renewable Energy says he is working to promote the use of rice straw for bio-CNG and ethanol production in the state in an attempt to significantly reduce or eliminate burning of the 20 million tons of straw produced every year. About a quarter of it is used, but the rest is burned. Seven biomass-power plants using rice straw as feedstock are currently under development but the minister estimates as much as 6 tons of bio-CNG could also be produced.

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ORNL researchers find additional biofuel and bioproduct uses for enzymes

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 7:02pm

In Tennessee, for decades, biologists have believed a key enzyme in plants had one function—produce amino acids, which are vital to plant survival and also essential to human diets.

But for Oak Ridge National Lab researchers, this enzyme does more than advertised. They had run a series of experiments on poplar plants that consistently revealed mutations in a structure of the life-sustaining enzyme that was not previously known to exist.

Their discovery could alter the course of gene functional studies in plants and, if applied, it could squeeze more potential out of poplar as a renewable resource for making biofuels and bioproducts.

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