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EU project looks to include 3D printing in biofuel production

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 5:43pm

In Cyprus, Omni3D Ltd, which is specialized in the production of industrial 3D printing, is conducting an innovative project in collaboration with the Cyprus University of Technology within the European M-Era net.

The participants of the project “The production of biofuel in process using BioElectroCathodes and CO2” include Research and Innovation Centre Pro-Akademia – subordinate to the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Cyprus University of Technology, Eneres CPM Ltd – an international company providing services in the area of energy, and Omni3D Ltd. The firm is one of the few beneficiaries that have been qualified for the realization of twenty-six European projects in 2018.

The aim of the project is to implement innovation in biological electrosynthesis biocatalysts. An international team will be working on inventing new cathodes and using 3D printing to build a Microbial Electrosynthesis Baffle Reactor, which can transform CO2 into biomethane and/or ethanol.

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Group of 14 bipartisan Senators ask Department of Commerce to look closer at Argentine biodiesel

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 5:41pm

In Washington, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) thanked a bipartisan group of 14 Senators – led by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) – for writing to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross regarding his agency’s recently launched “changed circumstances” review of U.S. duties on biodiesel imports from Argentina. In the letter, the Senators ask Commerce to develop a complete record of Argentina’s biodiesel trade actions before determining whether revisiting the U.S. duties is warranted.

The letter notes that in early 2018 the U.S. Department of Commerce issued countervailing duty and antidumping orders on imports of certain biodiesel products from Argentina, following an extensive trade investigation. Then in December 2018, Commerce initiated “changed circumstances” reviews to assess Argentina’s most recent modification to its export tax regime and whether it warrants a review of the U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty orders issued only months before.

Domestic biodiesel production increased by 17 percent or more than 300 million gallons in 2018, compared to 2017.

The letter is co-signed by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mike Braun (R-IN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-WI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Thune (R-SD), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

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Cellulosic Commercialization: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Cellulosic Ethanol

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 3:23pm

Lee Enterprises Consulting is the world’s largest bioeconomy consulting group with over 100 subject matter experts (SME’s) in all areas of the bioeconomy.

Douglas B. Rivers, PhD, from Sunflwr Consulting and a member of Lee Enterprises Consulting offers this illuminating overview xxxxx and more

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Anellotech teams up to process renewably-sourced aromatics

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 6:19pm

In New York state, Anellotech and its joint development partners IFPEN and Axens have processed renewably-sourced aromatics made at Anellotech’s TCat-8® pilot plant to successfully recover high-purity bio-based paraxylene – a key component for making 100% bio-based PET bottles a reality.

This is a key development milestone for Anellotech and global consumer beverage company Suntory, as the two partners will collaborate to produce the bottles. Anellotech, IFPEN and Axens will now purify additional paraxylene to create pilot sample 100% bioPET beverage bottles – as well as sample quantities of bio-based benzene whose derivatives (nylon, ABS, polycarbonate, linear alkyl benzene) are used in clothing, toys, mobile phones and laundry detergent.

Anellotech has been producing renewably-sourced aromatics for purification by IFPEN and Axens in Europe. Since the announcement of a successful two-week continuous trial in March 2018 at Anellotech’s TCat-8® pilot plant at Silsbee, Texas, over 4,000 hours of cumulative on-stream time have been achieved.

An initial volume of high-purity bio-paraxylene test samples has been produced. These samples have completely met all of the ASTM International specifications for downstream derivatives in conversion to PET. As larger amounts of paraxylene are purified, Anellotech will begin to make renewable PET resin for prototype bottle manufacture and product trials. This will be the industry’s first major production of bio-PET from continuous, cost-effective processing of non-food biomass.

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Zimbabwe’s ethanol storage project delayed by lack of foreign exchange availability

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 6:18pm

In Zimbabwe, the country’s national oil infrastructure company still needs another $1.5 million in order to complete its ethanol storage tank project that would help it to better manage ethanol flows for blending throughout the year, especially during the rainy season when ethanol production slows significantly and supplies are scarce. A lack of foreign currency has impeded the finalization of the project that would increase storage for 6 million liters. The project is already delayed from its prior expected commissioning date last December.

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API’s newest report says EPA proposal to reform RINs even worse than status quo

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 6:17pm

In Washington, the American Petroleum Institute released a new study that found EPA’s proposal to reform the Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) market will only worsen program. API’s new report finds that RINs prices tend to react to demand for RINs, which is directly related to EPA’s approach to setting annual renewable fuel volumes. This could ultimately harm consumers, it said.

“API’s new study makes clear that the EPA’s RINs reform proposal both misdiagnosed the problem and provides misguided and counterproductive solutions,” said API Vice President of Downstream and Industry Operations Frank Macchiarola. “Our analysis confirms the previous findings of the EPA, as well as findings by independent analysts, that refined product prices already reflect the cost of obtaining RINs and that no significant reform of the current RIN system is needed. In fact, reforming the RINs market will exacerbate the already broken fuels mandate – the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) – which is costly and unnecessary for U.S. consumers.

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POET signs on for another decade of landfill gas for Chandler plant

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 6:16pm

In South Dakota, POET has signed on for another 10 years of using methane extracted from the Sioux Falls landfill for use at its Chandler ethanol plant. During the past decade, by using 5.7 million BBTUs worth of methane from the landfill instead of natural gas, the company has saved 200,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions from its ethanol production process. The first decade saw the company pay about $17 million for the energy but the new contract is valued at $12.7 million for the next 10-year period.

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Brazilian hydrous ethanol mill sales soar nearly 51% on year during H1 February

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 6:16pm

In Brazil, Platts reports that UNICA data shows during the first half of February hydrous ethanol sales by mills rose nearly 51% on the year to 926.85 million liters as retailers rushed to ensure they had enough supply for the second half of the month, despite expectations from the market that demand would fall during the period. So far this month, ethanol prices have increased more than 20% to $612.18/ cu m. Hydrous ethanol production rose more than 40% to 21.2 billion liters during the season that traditionally ends in December but technically ends March 31 compared to an increase in demand of almost 36%  at 18.41 billion liters.

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Massachusetts awards nearly $2.9 million in grants for renewable heating fuels

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 6:15pm

In Massachusetts, the Commonwealth has awarded five grants totaling $2,889,285 to Massachusetts businesses to fund infrastructure projects to increase the availability of low-carbon, renewable heating fuels. The grants, funded by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), are part of the Renewable Thermal Infrastructure Grant Program, an initiative focused on expanding the availability of renewable thermal technologies in Massachusetts.

Grant awardees are required to match at least 50 percent of the project costs, which will result in approximately $6 million dollars of infrastructure upgrades across the Commonwealth. Funded projects include woody biomass processing and delivery equipment, testing of modern wood heating and emission control devices to current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards and the installation of a tank to blend eligible biofuels with conventional heating oils.

With updates to the Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS) regulations encouraging greater use of renewable thermal technologies, both residents and businesses in the Commonwealth are now able to earn incentives for meeting their heating needs with renewable energy.  New renewable thermal technologies included in the APS include air and ground-source heat pumps, modern wood heating, liquid biofuels, biogas and solar hot water.

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Texas A&M researcher finds way to use SOFA to produce lignin-based products

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 6:13pm

In Texas, lignin, used as a renewable resource to produce high-value products, has presented both production and economical challenges for biorefinery operations.

However, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist suggests the use of an extraction method, plus other refining processes to produce multiple lignin streams. Researchers propose the use of selective organic solvent extraction, also known as SOFA, a process that uses different conditions such as pH and temperature to derive lignin with different chemistry. As a result, tailoring the lignin chemistry using SOFA provides a sustainable means for upgrading the low-value lignin and thus contributes to the profitability of biorefineries.

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Ag secretary hopes China will drop ethanol tariffs below 15%

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 6:12pm

In Washington, the One American News Network reports that the US administration has asked China to reduce ethanol tariffs to below 15%, according to the agriculture secretary. US trade negotiators are trying to get tariffs reduced but China has yet to respond to the proposal. Tariffs on US products were meant to be hiked again last Friday but those hikes were delayed, which could indicate a softening in Beijing’s stance regarding the ongoing trade war with the US.

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High Tide for Brontide – Genomatica’s Butylene Glycol and its markets

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 4:22pm

If forced to guess in a game of Balderdash, the average citizen might well describe Brontide as a detergent used by the Flintstones back in Bedrock City, right up there name-wise with the BrontoBurger — a memorable chemical indeed it is, but not that one. It’s the marketing name for Genomatica’s butylene glycol, and 21 trucks rolled out from a (Novamont) contracted manufacturing site with 600 tons of the stuff the other day. And therein lies another striking chapter, and a victory, in the story of the advanced bioeconomy.

BG, as the molecule is generally known amongst the formulator community, is one of the linchpins of the personal care and cosmetic industries — in fact, more than 250 formulators have evaluated Brontide for use in their products to date, which gives you a sense of the breadth of its appeal. The overall market is smallish in volume — the 600 tons Genomatica just made represent as much as 12 percent of overall global demand. But BG goes at a good price because it’s actually somewhat difficult to make BG from petroleum, and despite the demand for safe, clean ingredients, no one hitherto had come up with an affordable way to make BG from renewable sources.

The Brontide clean product story

Accordingly, Brontide has 50% lower global warming potential than conventional butylene glycol, according to an independent, comprehensive lifecycle analysis (LCA). A summary of the LCA study was featured in the November 2018 issue of SOFW Journal, a publication targeting personal care and home care product formulators. That’s why the interest has been strong since Brontide was first discussed and since sample-sized shipments commenced in 2017 when Genomatica made 12 tons in a demonstration run and to seed the market with samples and provide product for the certifications process.

The shipments

Ultimately, Daicel (Japan) Azelis (EU), and Viachem signed on as distributors, and Genomatica has now commenced commercial-scale production. Genomatica will also be making direct sales in the EU and in North America. One third of this original production run has already been sold, and the stocks are not expected to last long. To request a product sample or learn more, contact Genomatica at Brontide@genomatica.com and visit www.brontidebg.com.

A story about Values

“It’s been kind of exciting,” Genomatica’s senior vice president, Specialty Chemicals, Damien Perriman told the Digest. “Here we are connecting around values, and that’s something different than other products and partnerships. In the past two years, in all the conversations we have had in the personal care industry, not one person has asked us how competitive we are with oil. It’s not in the mindset, because the conversations are about performance and the value set. In this journey into personal care, we’ve been exploring why do people want natural ingredients, and how do we communicate to each other about that. Is it non-GMO, is it organic, how safe is it — these are the questions.”

The shift in value sets by product type

“The values someone has govern how they engage with the supply chain,” Perriman added, “for example, like someone who hates plastic waste in the ocean, these people have this desire to use materials in a closed loop. We see it in plastics and packaging, where there is this movement against single-use plastics, and to reduce ocean waste. These are values that the downstream customer hold, and [our collective job is to understand] how those values influence their decision.”

“In personal care, where you are applying the product to your face, the value of safety [becomes paramount], and they look for things in their supply chain,” said Perriman. “And when they are looking at products on the shelf they are looking on their cell phones and looking at those ingredients — and they are asking, are these good ones or not.”

“So, the value set for personal care doesn’t so much demand a closed loop but would be focused, for instance, on natural ingredients, safety, not having heavy metals,” said Perriman.

Getting to the front of the label

For now, the INCI registry determines how products get labeled, and no matter what the value-set for Brontide and for this renewably sourced BG, it’s going to be called butylene glycol on the back of the label and the chances of changing that any time soon are almost zero. It’s going to be one of a long list of chemicals that most people have no idea what they are, and butylene glycol “sounds chemical” and to a section of the public that “sounds bad”.

One opportunity for renewables and natural ingredients is to help simplify the back of the label by making molecules that are more broadly functional, so you need fewer of them. A shorter list of ingredients that more people are more familiar with — that’s a step forward, and offers a place not only for renewables as a class but Genomatica’s butylene glycol, which can work as an emollient but also in other roles in the formulation.

But the back of the label doesn’t really get into the sourcing of any particular chemical — what’s “chemical” and what’s “natural”. The battleground between the supply chain of old and the supply chain of the future, for some time to come, may well be fought on the front of the label. Sustainability scoring, performance attributes, the clean and natural source that renewably made sugars represent.

Worrisome in this? Consumers are not often connecting with science, but rather with influence groups.

For Genomatica, look for more of these types of molecules.

For a smaller company with a core competency in process development, BG represents the future in many ways — the identification of niches where the company can bring forward candidate molecules where the volumes are attractive, and there’s a real supply chain problem that causes a disconnect with the customers’ value set and which can be solved using biotechnology.

Consider these break points in the supply chain — potential disruptors — and now that Genomatica has built a marketing engine that understands how to move material and moves quickly enough from R&D to seeding and then commercial-scale production, and communicating performance and values — look for more break points to be explored.

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Challenges and Opportunities: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Biomass Gasification

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 4:20pm

Lee Enterprises Consulting is the world’s largest bioeconomy consulting group with over 100 subject matter experts (SME’s) in all areas of the bioeconomy.

Mark Robertson, from Small Planet Engineering and a member of Lee Enterprises Consulting offers this illuminating overview of the global potential for biomass gasification, current status and technologies, challenges and opportunities facing these types of bioenergy projects and more

 

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NEXT Renewable Fuels buys 25 acres in Oregon port to produce Advanced Green Diesel

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 4:32pm

In Oregon, NEXT Renewable Fuels has agreed to purchase a 25-acre parcel at the Port of Columbia County’s Port Westward Industrial Park. The land is zoned industrial and was purchased from Teevin Bros, a local material handling and timber company.

“We are extremely pleased to be working with the Teevin team on our renewable diesel project and happy to have secured the land that will allow us to start filing permits,” said Lou Soumas, president of NEXT Renewable Fuels.

NEXT will supply the West Coast with its Advanced Green Diesel, creating emissions savings equal to removing 1 million vehicles from the road. Scheduled to open in 2021, this state-of-the-art facility will eventually employ more than 200 skilled workers on site and will position Oregon as a leader in advanced biofuels production.

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RFA releases three videos to help public learn more about ethanol

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 4:31pm

In Washington, the Renewable Fuels Association is pleased to announce the release of three new educational videos that will help the public learn more about the advantages of using more renewable fuels like ethanol. The videos, released last week at RFA’s 24th annual National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, focus on the ethanol production process, facts about the industry and the benefits of renewable fuels, and testimonials about ethanol-blended fuels from avid motorcycle riders.

The Ethanol Process video gives consumers and students an inside look at how fuel ethanol is produced, with a virtual tour of sophisticated biorefineries that use state-of-the-art technologies to convert grains, beverage and food waste, cellulosic biomass and other feedstocks into clean, renewable fuel.

Using updated data, the Ethanol Facts video highlights basic facts about today’s industry and underscores ethanol’s significant economic, energy independence, and environmental benefits. For example, last year the U.S. ethanol industry supported nearly 366,000 American jobs, while displacing an amount of gasoline that would have required the refining of 594 million barrels of imported crude oil.

Finally, the Ethanol & Motorcycles video unveiled last week offers first-hand accounts from bikers who share their experience with ethanol-blended fuels. They discuss the high quality of ethanol and the increased engine performance they get when using gasoline blends with 10% ethanol to fuel their bikes. The video also features comments by Paul Teutul Jr., who highlights what he learned about ethanol while working on the custom-built RFA motorcycle, which was featured on the hit TV show “American Chopper.”

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Iowa grants tax benefits to proposed $58.7 million renewable diesel project

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 4:30pm

In Iowa, ReadiFuels-Iowa, LLC is a newly created entity started by Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) and C&N Biofuels, LLC. The company will utilize a variety of feedstocks to produce approximately 34 million gallons of renewable diesel and renewable naphtha annually – the first facility of its kind in the state. ReadiFuels-Iowa plans to construct a new production facility utilizing existing infrastructure at a partially abandoned property near Hull in Sioux County. The board awarded the company tax benefits from HQJ for this $58.7 million capital investment. The project is expected to create 31 jobs, of which 27 are incented at a qualifying wage of at least $20.47 per hour.

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CVR Energy’s 2018 RIN compliance costs fell 76% on year

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 4:29pm

In Washington, Bloomberg reports that an SEC filing by Carl Icahn’s CVR Energy shows the company saved $189 million in RIN compliance costs last year on the back of extensive lobbying he did with the President to get the Renewable Fuels Standard changed to reduce RIN costs for small refiners. RIN prices have tumbled in the aftermath of lower RIN demand as smaller refiners received waivers, cutting CVR’s 2018 costs to just $60 million, down 76% on the year.

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Targray opens EU biodiesel trading desk in Geneva

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 4:27pm

In Switzerland, Targray has announced the opening of its EU biodiesel trading desk in Geneva. Part of a broader investment plan to meet demand for low-carbon fuels in the EU, the Geneva trading desk will leverage off Targray’s global franchise and in-house expertise to create differentiated value for biodiesel consumers throughout Europe.

Targray’s EU biofuels business will be led by biodiesel trader Vincent Cariou. Prior to joining the company in 2019, Vincent worked for nearly 10 years at agricultural commodities company Cargill, helping optimize procurement and logistics for biodiesel, vegetable oil and soybean meal customers in the European Union.

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EPA to finish up ethanol air quality study by March 2020 after Sierra Club lawsuit

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 4:26pm

In Washington, Reuters reports that following a lawsuit by the Sierra Club, the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to the impact of ethanol as a vehicle fuel on air quality by March 2020, part of a partial agreement to settle the lawsuit overall. The Sierra Club says the study was originally due in 2012. The Sierra Club and some other environmental NGOs say that rather than improving air quality as the Renewable Fuel Standard was meant to do that it has instead promoted the conversion of crops to farming while also continuing to depend on combustion engines for transportation.

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Princess Anne launches BioYork initiative

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 4:25pm

In the UK, Princess Anne was guest of honor at the official launch of University of York’s new bioeconomy initiative, BioYork. The project, BioYork, has been established as a focus for bioeconomy activity in the North of England as part of an interdisciplinary approach to research into health, food and bio-based fuel and chemicals.

The Princess Royal’s visit included meeting senior University staff involved in the initiative as well as touring the research facilities, including the glasshouses. The bioeconomy is estimated to be worth £220 billion in the UK alone, and the Government’s Industrial Strategy is setting ambitious targets to double its size by 2030. Projects like this will be fundamental in supporting this growth and development.

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