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The Competitive Edge: Licella

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 5:19pm

Q: What was the reason for founding your organization – what was the open niche you saw that could be addressed with a new product or service? What was the problem, or gap, or opportunity?

The Cat-HTR platform was invented in Australia by Dr Len Humphreys (Licella CEO) and Prof Thomas Maschmeyer. Having identified the limitations of traditional biomass to biocrude techniques, they turned conventional thinking on its head. The high water content of biomass had always been an issue for techniques such as pyrolysis, requiring feedstock to be dried prior to processing adding significant costs.

The breakthrough happened when they realised that water need not be the enemy and instead embraced water as the agent of change. Lignite became the feedstock and water the processing medium in late 2006. This lead to a simpler and much more economical upgrading process. The same Cat-HTR transformation principles that work for lignite can, with modifications, be applied to pulp and paper residues. This is how Licella was formed in 2007. We are today excited to be moving towards our fourth generation and commercial scale Cat-HTR plants with plants with our partners.

Q: Tell us about your organization. What do you do?

Licella’s Cat-HTR (Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor), is the most commercially advanced hydrothermal upgrading platform globally. With over $75M invested over 10 years of development, the Cat-HTR is the only platform of its kind proven at large pilot scale.

The Cat-HTR platform is now commercial-ready and Licella are working with our strategic partners to build the world’s first commercial-scale hydrothermal upgrading plants.

Licella’s biocrude is renewable, stable, miscible and non-corrosive. Licella’s biocrude is capable of being blended within a conventional refinery to produce drop-in biofuels and valuable biochemicals.

Q: What do your technologies, products or services do and accomplish – how does it (they) work, who is it (they) aimed for?

Using water at near or supercritical temperatures, the Cat-HTR converts a wide variety of low-cost, waste feedstocks and residues into high-value products.

The Cat-HTR has been extensively tested at the world’s first large scale continuous-flow pilot plant, converting biomass residues, End of Life Plastic, non-edible biomass, used lubrication oil and lignite into a stable biocrude or synthetic crude oil.

Licella’s Cat-HTR platform can be fully integrated within our partners existing infrastructure, to provide a brand new revenue stream to industries such as pulp and paper and Resource Recovery.

By doing so, we are helping to provide a high value proposition for our partners low value residues, diverting End of Life Plastic and other residues from landfill and the natural environment and reducing our reliance on virgin fossil crude.

Q: Competitively, what gives your technology, product or service set an edge in cost or performance, sustainability, or any other aspect, that makes it stand out from the crowd, In short, what makes it transformative?

Licella’s Cat-HTR process is significantly less energy intensive relative to other technologies, including gasification to Fisher Tropsch synthesis, which need to add external hydrogen. Cat-HTR utilisies the hydrogen in the water of the feedstock.

The Cat-HTR’s modular design integrates into existing production facilities reducing cost and our carbon footprint, making it arguably one of the easiest platforms to scale-up commercially.

Summary of Cat-HTR Technical Advantages vs competitors:

– A truly versatile platform proven to process a wide variety of feedstocks;

– A highly controllable process that delivers a consistent and high quality oil;

– No need to dry biomass feedstock prior to processing;

– No need to add external hydrogen (significantly reduces cost of capital and production);

– Inexpensive catalysts used;

– The Cat-HTR process is a net producer of water it utilises the water within the feedstock.

Q: What are the 3 top milestones you have accomplished in the past 3 years?

 

  1. 2016 – Licella and Canfor Pulp JV established. Provides a pathway to fund commercial biomass plant, to be built at Canfor’s Prince George facility in Canada – which will be the largest second generation bio-refinery in the world. In 2017 Canfor was awarded a CA$13M non-repayable contribution through Sustainable Development Technology Canada.
  2. 2017 – Licella and Armstrong Energy JV established to commercialise the Cat-HTR for End-of-Life Plastics globally (Australia exempt from JV). The first commercial plant sub-licensed and funded in the UK (ReNew ELP formed). In 2018 we announced the collaboration with Neste to explore the potential of using mixed waste plastic as a raw material for fuels, chemicals, and new plastics.
  3. 2017/2018 – Licella forms iQ Renew alongside Australian recycler Stop Waste to commercialise the Cat-HTR for End-of-Life Plastics in Australia. iQ Renew profiled on War on Waste – the first company in Australia to combine physical and chemical recycling of plastic.

Q: What are the 3 top milestones you will accomplish in the next 3 years?

 

  1. 2020 – The first commercial Cat-HTR plant comes online in the UK, as part of the JV with Armstrong Energy. This commercial plant will be built in Wilton in the North East of the UK and will convert 20,000 tonnes of End-of-Life Plastic per annum. The JV will sub-license the Cat-HTR technology for End-of-Life Plastics to waste producers globally.
  2. 2020/2021 – iQ Renew to build the first commercial Cat-HTR in Australia, targeting End-of-Life Plastics.
  3. 2021/2022 – First commercial Cat-HTR plant to be built for biomass, as part of the JV with Canfor Pulp. This will transform Canfor’s Prince George facility into a bio-refinery capable of producing renewable crude at a comparable price to conventional crude, while having a >80% carbon intensity reduction. At 500,000 bbl/annum biocrude production, the plant will be one of the largest “2nd generation” bio-refineries in the world.

 

  1. Where can I learn more about Licella?

Click here to visit Licella’s website.

Categories: Today's News

Organic Waste to Energy: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Ag-Grid Energy

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 5:15pm

Ag-Grid Energy LLC has 5 projects underway currently where the emphasis is organic waste to renewable energy. Ag-Grid Energy has a vision to drive dairy farm sustainability by converting agricultural and organic waste to energy, enhance nutrient management practices thereby improving farm viability and financial stability.

Rashi Akki, Founder & CEO, Ag-Grid Energy LLC gave this illuminating overview of not only industry trends with food waste to energy but the business case for waste to energy instead of composting, and the financial aspects of such projects and more.

Categories: Today's News

Bunge and BP may team up in mega sugar/ethanol JV to rival Raizen

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 4:00pm

In Brazil, Bloomberg reports that BP is looking to team up with Bunge on a joint venture that would link up sugar and ethanol assets that would create a similar giant to Shell’s JV with Cosan, Raizen. Bunge has been looking to offload its sugar assets in Brazil for a number of years with no luck. Currently the two companies are valuing their assets to figure out the structure of the JV, with Bunge advised by Itau Unibanco.

Categories: Today's News

Thai government sues Rajburi Ethanol over week-long 2016 wastewater spill

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 3:59pm

In Thailand, the Bangkok Post reports that the government wants Rajburi Ethanol to pay nearly $200,000 in damages following a wastewater leak that included molasses over the course of nearly a week in October 2016 that led to significant fish kill. The Pollution Control Department and Fisheries Department sued the company for damages related to the clean up on May 15 but earlier this month the court requested the two sides try to negotiate an out-of-court settlement instead of going to trial.

Categories: Today's News

South African opposition calling for support to fledgling KZN biofuels industry

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 3:58pm

In South Africa, the African News Agency reports that the Democratic Alliance political party has called for the urgent creation of a task force to support the biofuel industry in KwaZulu Natal in response to sugar companies suffering from an onslaught of cheaper sugar imports that has put the sugar industry itself in jeopardy. Tongaat Hulett, one of the sugar companies suffering from the current trade situation, has already invested into crop research and potential opportunities for diversification into biofuel production but the current policy climate doesn’t favor its development.

Categories: Today's News

European bioeconomy experts call for pragmatic discussion of winners and losers

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 3:57pm

In Finland, Xinhua news agency reports that European bioeconomy experts are calling for a pragmatic discussion regarding the winners and losers of a future bioeconomy rather than pretending that everyone will be better off, as that scenario is impossible, and some sectors will suffer. Already competition over waste streams has popped up as circular economy and bioeconomy initiatives are developed and implemented among individual member states. Finland, who currently holds the presidency of the European Union and is making the bioeconomy one of its priorities, has had a national bioeconomy strategy in place since 2014.

Categories: Today's News

Toyota to roll out hybrid ethanol Corolla from October but price still unknown

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 3:55pm

In Brazil, Bloomberg reports that Toyota plans to roll out its hybrid ethanol Corolla in October while planning future roll outs in other Latin American countries with strong ethanol industries including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. As many as 70,000 of the hybrid vehicles will be produced at the company’s Sao Paolo manufacturing plant using engines manufactured in Japan, but the retail price of the new vehicles has not yet been announced even though they’re meant to go on the market in just a couple of months.

Categories: Today's News

Swedish biofuel consumption reaches 1.7 million m3 in 2018

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 3:54pm

In Sweden, a new report from the Swedish fuel and biofuels agency SPBI says the volume of biofuels in the transport sector including work machines amounted to approximately 1.7 million cubic meters in 2018. The biggest in the market is HVO drop in, followed by HVO 100.

When the share of renewable fuels in the transport sector on energy base is calculated for 2018, the share of renewable energy will fall to 19.5% compared with the previous year of 21.4%. However, the figures are not comparable with the previous year due to extensive changes in the reporting system. The volumes of biofuels in 2018 are distributed in addition to the transport sector to other work areas such as work machines, tractors and fixed installations, which was not done in the previous reporting.

The reduction obligation was introduced as a policy instrument on 1 July 2018. HVO drop in is still dominant on the market with 7.8% or 680,000 m3, then HVO 100 with 4.5% or 395,000 m3 followed by low-incorporated FAME with 3% or 271,000 m3.

Categories: Today's News

Jersey looks to biofuels to solve algae plague

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 3:52pm

In the UK, a new report from the Jersey government shows that sea lettuce and other species of macroalgae that plague the island’s waters and shores every summer are among those that are ideal for producing ethanol and biogas due to their high levels of sugars. Getting technology to scale in order to rid the island of its algae plague could take at least 10 years however because those lab-scale research has shown good results, commercial scale processing will require much more work to make it economically and technologically feasible.

Categories: Today's News

IATA slams French eco aviation tax as impeding transition to biofuels

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 3:51pm

In France, the International Air Travel Association says that the new eco aviation carbon tax announced recently in France is misguided and goes counter to helping airlines transition towards cleaner fuels. It will also damage EUR100 billion that aviation generates for the French economy, and 500,000 new jobs are at risk from the lack of competitiveness of French aviation. IATA says it will hold the French government to account to spend this tax on accelerating aviation sustainability, especially prioritizing more efficient air traffic control and promoting sustainable fuels.

Categories: Today's News

NBB tells EPA, Stop Damaging the Biodiesel Industry

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 3:49pm

By Donnell Rehagen, Chief Executive Officer at National Biodiesel Board

Special to The Digest

This year has been brutal for the biodiesel industry. As if the absence of the biodiesel tax credit wasn’t enough of a challenge, these unjust retroactive small refinery waivers are destroying the biodiesel market and devastating farmers and the workers we support.

The EPA has begun routinely undercutting the demand for biodiesel and renewable diesel by giving small refinery waivers to everyone who asks. The agency is making no effort to ensure renewable volume obligations it sets are met following the waivers. In fact, the agency falsely suggests recent court decisions force it to grant all these waivers.

It’s clear that small refinery waivers are allowed in the RFS law. What is unclear is why the EPA changed the rules of the game over the last couple of years. Instead of granting waivers very judiciously, as the agency did for the previous years, this EPA granted nearly every exemption requested in 2016 and 2017.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions was the posterchild for economic hardship, supposedly resulting from the RFS. In 2018, the ownership filed for bankruptcy and then begged EPA to wipe away its overdue RFS obligations, claiming it was necessary to protect the jobs of the refinery’s workers. After at least 10 meetings with the PES owners, EPA waived $175 million worth of required RFS credits, which reduced demand for hundreds of millions of gallons of biodiesel and ethanol. But the RFS was never the cause of PES’s problems. And no amount of favors from EPA could save the jobs at that refinery.

For our industry, the RFS rules have been the same since the beginning. The EPA sets the annual volume target. We plan and invest accordingly to produce those volumes. These refinery waivers act to reduce the demand after those volumes and investments have been put into place. All so some of the largest corporations in the entire world can save some money. Just based on the reported quarterly earnings from some of those major corporations who have received these waivers, I think they are doing just fine for themselves.

Has EPA forgotten about the small entrepreneurs that have answered the government’s call to build biodiesel plants and to use what has generally been a zero-value waste stream of feedstock to make one of the best and cleanest fuels on the face of the planet?

This lack of checks and balances is undermining our industry’s ability to grow as it is totally capable of doing thereby providing even higher volumes of cleaner liquid fuels to the marketplace.

Professor Scott Irwin, Laurence J. Norton Chair of Agricultural Marketing at the University of Illinois, estimates that the economic losses for our industry could exceed $2 billion each year with total losses of $7.7 billion for the 2017 to 2019 period.

Now, EPA believes the approval of year-round E15 sales will make up for the damage from these waivers. It will not. We are happy for our friends in the ethanol industry and happy for our planet that more ethanol will be in use. But, the truth of the matter is E15 does nothing to help biodiesel producers. In fact, one could argue, it actually harms the biodiesel industry due to the way the RFS is built with its nested categories of biofuels.

It’s disheartening that an EPA leader tasked with administering such an important program as the RFS has such little understanding of how it really works.

Biodiesel is an important market. We owe it to our producers who took signals of support years ago and invested their hard-earned money to grow production and add value to the supply chain. We need to see those same strong signals and have the rules applied fairly and consistently going forward so those investments can expand and we can experience the growth in our industry that so many count on.

In a recent letter sent to EPA Administrator Wheeler, NBB stated, “EPA is required to repair the demand destruction for biodiesel and renewable diesel resulting from the agency’s flood of unwarranted, retroactive small refinery exemptions.”

The biodiesel industry is asking for fairness from the EPA. No more seeking opportunities to help major corporations save on their compliance costs at the expense of biodiesel and renewable diesel producers. No more changing the rules in the middle of the game.

Categories: Today's News

New coalition working on SAF: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to AFCC

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 3:46pm

Alternative Fuels & Chemicals Coalition advocates for public policy to promote the development and production of alternative fuels and chemicals, especially sustainable aviation fuels. It’s a collaborative government affairs effort formed just months ago in January 2019 and organized by Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton & American Diversified Energy.

Rina Singh, PhD, Executive Vice President of Policy for AFCC gave this illuminating overview of what AFCC’s current focus is, the appropriations process, and what they are trying to do for the growth of jet biofuels and renewable chemicals and more at ABLC 2019 in Washington, D.C.

Categories: Today's News

Heard on the Floor at the 2019 BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 6:27am

Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa speaking at the opening plenary luncheon of the 2019 BIO World Congress in Des Moines, Iowa.

For the past 12 months, there have been an alarming number of t-shirts floating around the bioeconomy suggesting that people “get their biomass to Iowa,” or maybe it was in Iowa.  We’re all supposed to be in Iowa, that’s for sure, and this week, as the bioeconomy’s biggest and grandest show, the BIO World Congress, takes us on an accustomed journey through the present and future in a sector that has more twists and turns than the rides at Six Flags and the acceleration of a mission to Mars.

Well, we all got our biomass(es) to Iowa, or in, or whatever. We’re here, and what a show. More than 800 delegates were on hand on opening mornigng and BIO was indicating that they expect overall attendance to reach 900 as the World Congress, validating its bold move to a mid-summer date and picking Des Moines, Iowa as the WC host.

The Biobased economy grows, fast

In new research, Jesse Daystar of Duke University said that the US biobased industry employed 4.65 milion people and generated $459 billion in value-added manufacturing  for the US economy in 2016. This is up from 4.02 million jobs and $369 billion in economic impact in 2013. If the same growth rates have been maintained, we can project that the US biobased industry would reach $570 billion this year.

The authors noted that “the growing bioeconomy also leads to environmental benefits, which include reducing the use of fossil fuels and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report shows potential reductions of GHG emissions of 60%, with analyses indicating that up to 12 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents may have been reduced in 2016.”

The report is the fourth volume in a series of reports tracking the impact of the biobased product industry on the U.S. economy and seeks to address seven important questions regarding the contributions of the biobased products industry: 

You can download a copy of the report here.

DMC Biotechnologies’ first close of $10.3M Series A Financing Led by Sofinnova Partners

DMC has raised a Series A equity financing led by Sofinnova Partners. The company also announced the addition to its Board of Directors of Josko Bobanovic, Partner and Manager of the Sofinnova Industrial Biotech Fund. Current investors Capricorn Venture Partners and Breakthrough Energy Ventures also participated in the fundraise. This funding builds on the company’s successful non-dilutive awards to date which exceed $1.8M from the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, and the US Department of Agriculture.

DMC makes bio-based products using enhanced microbial fermentation. The development of microbes and associated bioprocesses has historically been complicated, slow, and costly. DMC is deploying its technology to reduce biological complexity and enhance the speed of development, creating a low cost, fermentation-based manufacturing platform that has the capability to produce a broad diversity of products. The company’s platform enables low cost distributed manufacturing of existing products and new-to-the world products that are only accessible using the precision of biology.

A new brand from Checkerspot

Checkerspot announced he launch of WNDR Alpine and its first product the Intention 110 ski. Since Checkerspot’s inception in June 2016, the vision was to animate what is possible with our technology and bring to life what the future of high performance materials could hold. We sought to work with true innovators who could see the potential and build entirely new products that not only performed better but that were better for the planet, through the vision of Matt Sterbenz WNDR Alpine and the 110 Intention Ski is the embodiment of this vision.

Elevance Renewables Sciences achieves ISCC EU Certification for Biorefinery process residue 

We received news that Elevance Renewable Sciences has certified two process residue streams, olefins and saturated heavy methyl esters, produced at its Gresik, Indonesia, biorefinery as process residue under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) EU system.  The biorefinery, which is a joint venture between Elevance and Wilmar, produces novel, high-performing unsaturated midchain methyl esters from vegetable oils, which are used as chemical intermediates and solvents in a wide range of applications.    

With these certifications, Elevance’s biorefinery process residue can now be utilized as ISCC Certified process residue to produce advanced biofuels in Europe.  ISCC certification provides proof of compliance with the sustainability and traceability criteria set by the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED) for the biofuels markets.  

“Our biorefinery process residue can now be utilized as sustainable and compliant biofuel feedstock within the European Union, aiding member states in meeting their renewable energy goals while improving the sustainability of our manufacturing process,” said Rusty Pittman, chief commercial officer for Elevance.

Crop conditions

There were subsiding concerns over the 2019 corn and soybean harvest. A visual multi-county inspection of corn crop condition by the Digest found that the corn, at the end of the day, is behind its expected growth rates  — frankly looking more like June than July corn. Experts advised that corn plantings focused on shorter-season varietals and there’s been an increase in soybean plantings; combined with large corn inventories, experts polled by the Digest predicted that overall impact on market prices will be limited and local for this year, though harvest totals are likely to be affected. US corn prices have been on the rise in recent weeks as crop planting reports have been circulated. 

Thumbs up but early days on advanced foods

On the main stage, Spruce Capital’s Roger Wyse, Triton ALgae CEO Xun Wang and Amyris SVP Jim Iacaponi gave a thumbs up to new nutrition products of the Beyond Meats and Impossible Foods types, while cautioning that these are still early days with products just now reaching consumer shelves. Iacaponi predicted that by 2030 30% of all sweeteners used in the US will be made by fermenation and would feature RebM, a molecule made naturally in small quanitites in the setvia plant and for which Amyris has developed a fermenation-based process. Wyse noted that as many as 500 advanced nutrition companies are somewhere in the process of company formation and development and a sorting and shaking out was inevitable to concentrate demand around the winning technologies.

Over at Gevo, better finance and better carbon

Gevo CEO Pat Gruber highlighted that the company’s low-carbon ethanol will become even more carbon-friendly shortly, as the company intends to launch Gevo Energy, brining biogas from manure into the company’s power supply for ethanol production., Gevo also tipped that it expects shortly to improve its debt position with a refinancing effort now underway.

Breakthroughs in polymers for cosmetics

Also in the EU: Saxony-Anhalt researchers say they’ve broken through on production of the sugar polymer Levan for cosmetics. In the natural world, the Levan structure varies according to the environmental conditions. A long-chain, high-molecular Levan has different properties to a low-molecular Levan, for instance.  The project partners optimized the production of the enzyme and then the production process for Levan itself. Innovent was responsible for the analytics, GMBU for the adaptation of the technology to large-scale use, and artefactum for the use of Levan in the production of cosmetics.

The rise of electro-magnetism as a growth accelerator

Mark Pelletier said InVironmental Integrity is exploring Tesla inspired electric and magnetic field based product and system development. Pelletier speculated that electro-magnetic stimualtion activates ancient capabilities in DNA that developed during times when lightning was more prevalent on earth. Pelletier said that we are just beginning to measure the impact of electromagnetism as a factor in the advancement of fermentation. Looking at mnodified organisms that produce isoprene showed a spike in responsiveness. Bench-based EMF research expects to reach pilot scale potentially at Berkeley in cooperation with the ABPDU team there. 

Categories: Today's News

Heard on the Floor at the 2019 BIO World Congress in Iowa

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 6:26am

 

 

Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa speaking at the opening plenary luncheon of the 2019 BIO World Congress in Des Moines, Iowa.

For the past 12 months, there have been an alarming number of t-shirts floating around the bioeconomy suggesting that people “get their biomass to Iowa,” or maybe it was in Iowa.  We’re all supposed to be in Iowa, that’s for sure, and this week, as the bioeconomy’s biggest and grandest show, the BIO World Congress, takes us on an accustomed journey through the present and future in a sector that has more twists and turns than the rides at Six Flags and the acceleration of a mission to Mars.

Well, we all got our biomass(es) to Iowa, or in, or whatever. We’re here, and what a show. More than 800 delegates were on hand on opening mornign and BIO was indicating that they expect overall attendance to reach 900 as the World Congress, validating its bold move to a mid-summer date and picking Des Moines, Iowa as the WC host.

The Biobased economy grows, fast

In new research, Jesse Daystar of Duke University said that the US biobased industry employed 4.65 milion people and generated $459 billion in value-added manufacturing  for the US economy in 2016. This is up from 4.02 million jobs and $369 billion in economic impact in 2013. If the same growth rates have been maintained, we can project that the US biobased industry would reach $570 billion this year.

The authors noted that “the growing bioeconomy also leads to environmental benefits, which include reducing the use of fossil fuels and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report shows potential reductions of GHG emissions of 60%, with analyses indicating that up to 12 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents may have been reduced in 2016.”

The report is the fourth volume in a series of reports tracking the impact of the biobased product industry on the U.S. economy and seeks to address seven important questions regarding the contributions of the biobased products industry: 

You can download a copy of the report here.

Elevance Renewables Sciences achieves ISCC EU Certification for Biorefinery process residue 

We received Elevance Renewable Sciences has certified two process residue streams, olefins and saturated heavy methyl esters, produced at its Gresik, Indonesia, biorefinery as process residue under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) EU system.  The biorefinery, which is a joint venture between Elevance and Wilmar, produces novel, high-performing unsaturated midchain methyl esters from vegetable oils, which are used as chemical intermediates and solvents in a wide range of applications.    

 With these certifications, Elevance’s biorefinery process residue can now be utilized as ISCC Certified process residue to produce advanced biofuels in Europe.  ISCC certification provides proof of compliance with the sustainability and traceability criteria set by the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED) for the biofuels markets.  

“Our biorefinery process residue can now be utilized as sustainable and compliant biofuel feedstock within the European Union, aiding member states in meeting their renewable energy goals while improving the sustainability of our manufacturing process,” said Rusty Pittman, chief commercial officer for Elevance.

Crop conditions

There were subsiding concerns over the 2019 corn and soybean harvest. A visual multi-county inspection of corn crop condition by the Digest found that the corn, at the end of the day, is behind its expected growth rates  — frankly looking more like June than July corn. Experts advised that corn plantings focused on shorter-season varietals and there’s been an increase in soybean plantings; combined with large corn inventories, experts polled by the Digest predicted that overall impact on market prices will be limited and local for this year, though harvest totals are likely to be affected. US corn prices have been on the rise in recent weeks as crop planting reports have been circulated. 

Thumbs up but early days on advanced foods

On the main stage, Spruice Capital’s Roger Wyse, Triton ALgae CEO Xun Wang and Amyris SVP Jim Iacaponi gave a thumbs up to new nutrition products of the Beyond Meats and Impossible Foods types, while cautionining that its still early days with products just now reaching consumer shelves. Iacaponi predicted that by 2030 30% of all sweeteners used in the US will be made by fermenation and would feature RebM, a moleciule made naturally in small quanitites in the setvia plant and for which Amyris has developed a fermenatuion-based process. Wyse noted that as many as 500 advanmced nutrition companies are somewhere in the process of company formation and development and a sorting and shaking out was inevitable to concentrate demand around the winning technologies.

Over at Gevo, better finance and better carbon

Gevo CEO Pat Gruber highlighted that the company’s low-carbon ethanol will become even more carbon-friendly shortly, as the company intends to launch Gevo Energy, brining biogas from manure into the company’s power supply for ethanol production., Gevo also tipped that it expects shortly to improve its debt position with a refinancing effort now underway.

DMC Biotechnologies’ first close of $10.3M Series A Financing Led by Sofinnova Partners 

DMC has raised a Series A equity financing led by Sofinnova Partners. The company also announced the addition to its Board of Directors of Josko Bobanovic, Partner and Manager of the Sofinnova Industrial Biotech Fund. Current investors Capricorn Venture Partners and Breakthrough Energy Ventures also participated in the fundraise. This funding builds on the company’s successful non-dilutive awards to date which exceed $1.8M from the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, and the US Department of Agriculture. 

DMC makes bio-based products using enhanced microbial fermentation. The development of microbes and associated bioprocesses has historically been complicated, slow, and costly. DMC is deploying its technology to reduce biological complexity and enhance the speed of development, creating a low cost, fermentation-based manufacturing platform that has the capability to produce a broad diversity of products. The company’s platform enables low cost distributed manufacturing of existing products and new-to-the world products that are only accessible using the precision of biology.

A new brand from Checkerspot

Checkerspot announced he launch of WNDR Alpine and its first product the Intention 110 ski. Since Checkerspot’s inception in June 2016, the vision was to animate what is possible with our technology and bring to life what the future of high performance materials could hold. We sought to work with true innovators who could see the potential and build entirely new products that not only performed better but that were better for the planet, through the vision of Matt Sterbenz WNDR Alpine and the 110 Intention Ski is the embodiment of this vision.

Breakthroughs in polymers for cosmetics

Also in the EU: Saxony-Anhalt researchers say they’ve broken through on production of the sugar polymer Levan for cosmetics.In the natural world, the Levan structure varies according to the environmental conditions. A long-chain, high-molecular Levan has different properties to a low-molecular Levan, for instance.  The project partners optimized the production of the enzyme and then the production process for Levan itself. Innovent was responsible for the analytics, GMBU for the adaptation of the technology to large-scale use, and artefactum for the use of Levan in the production of cosmetics.

The rise of electro-magnetism as a growth accelerator

Mark Pelletier said InVironmental Integrity is exploring Tesla inspired electric and magnetic field based product and system development. Pelletier speculated that electro-magnetic stimualtion activates ancient capabilities in DNA that developed during times when lightning was more prevalent on earth. Pelletier said that we are just beginning to measure the impact of electromagnetism as a factor in the advancement of fermentation. Looking at mnodified organisms that produce isoprene showed a spike in responsiveness. Bench-based EMF research expects to reach pilot scale potentially at Berkeley in cooperation with the ABPDU team there. 

Categories: Today's News

Department of Commerce keeps antidumping duties in place for Argentine biodiesel imports

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 4:20pm

In Washington, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) preliminarily determined that changed circumstances do not exist warranting any changes under the antidumping duty (AD) order for biodiesel from Argentina. Commerce also determined, however, that changed circumstances exist warranting a change to the cash deposit rates under the countervailing duty (CVD) order. It said there remains a price gap that still exists between domestic and world prices, as a result of the export tax on soybeans, which continues to impede external trade and competitive domestic pricing for soybeans. The decision is open for public comment for 30 days.

Categories: Today's News

National Biodiesel Board launches its own ad campaign against small refinery waivers

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 4:20pm

In North Dakota, News Dakota reports that the National Biodiesel Board has followed the oil industry’s TV ad campaign against small refinery waivers with an ad campaign of its own, urging President Trump to live up to his promises to farmers by supporting the biofuels industry and not let waivers cut demand for biodiesel, in particular. The ads are set to run for a week each in both Washington, D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa where presidential candidates have been campaigning heavily over the July 4th holiday.

Categories: Today's News

Maharashtra seeks permission to use sugar as ethanol feedstock in wake of drought

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 4:18pm

In India, the Economic Times newspaper reports that with the drought’s negative impact on sugarcane and therefore molasses availability for ethanol production, the state’s sugar industry is seeking permission to use sugar as feedstock for ethanol. The state, country and global market are drowning in excess sugar supplies, weighing on producers that in turn weighs on farmers. The Indian government has been pushing for increased ethanol production while creating measures to prop up farmers with higher cane prices and millers with soft financing to help pay those higher cane prices.

Categories: Today's News

Malaysian palm oil reserves top 3 million tons as production rises

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 4:18pm

In Malaysia, the Malaysian Reserve reports that domestic palm oil stocks are expected to pass 3 million metric tons this year thanks to production growing 9% on the year through H1 2019. Even though the country recently boosted the blending mandate to 10% for automobiles and 7% for industrial users, boosting annual palm oil demand to 760,000 tons, it’s nowhere near enough to help absorb additional production and reduce import demand from countries like those in Europe who are reducing consumption due to environmental concerns.

Categories: Today's News

Harsh frosts hit Brazilian cane areas but extent of damage not yet known

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 4:17pm

In Brazil, Reuters reports that harsh frosts over the weekend have hit sugarcane growing areas across the country, with Sao Martinho reporting as much as 12,000 hectares of its cane plantations have been impacted. The company said it expects impacts to be minor, however it is still evaluating. Mills across the country are surveying impacted areas which could take as long as 10 days to accumulate and analyze the final results. The country has been pushing for more ethanol production as its consumption increases in the wake of higher fossil fuel prices and policy drivers such as RenovaBio.

Categories: Today's News

Oil industry asks EPA to not allow USDA access to information in small refinery waiver applications

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 4:16pm

In Washington, DTN reports that a lawyer from Perkins Coie has written to the Environmental Protection Agency administrator on behalf of oil refineries opposing the agency from sharing data provided by refiners in their applications for small refinery hardship waivers with the USDA. The letter says the USDA has no legal authority over the hardship waivers and that the information was provided under the understanding that it was confidential and only available to the EPA and DOE.

Categories: Today's News

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