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Today's News

EPA revives rule that could release biofuel waiver refiner names

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 7:07pm

In Washington, D.C., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moved forward in what is considered as a win for the corn industry with its first step in reviving part of a rule that could reveal the names of oil refineries that applied for exemptions that have been marking controversy recently. The waiver program has been critiqued for its lack of transparency and keeping names confidential of those who have applied and received exemptions.

“On Friday, the EPA signed a Federal Register notice saying it is reopening the comment period for a provision in a rule related to the small refinery exemption program that was first introduced in 2016, according to Reuters. “That provision from 2016 proposed to establish a determination that basic information related to EPA actions on petitions for RFS small refinery and small refiner exemptions may not be claimed as confidential business information, according to a document on the provision on EPA’s website.”

“With respect to each decision on a small refinery/refiner exemption request, we would release to the public the petitioner’s name, the name and location of the facility for which relief was requested, the general nature of the relief requested, the time period for which relief was requested, and the extent to which EPA granted or denied the requested relief,” the document said.



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Ethanol production up slightly

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 7:05pm

In Washington, D.C., according to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production increased 3,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 0.3%, to an average of 1.002 million barrels per day (b/d), equivalent to 42.08 million gallons daily. The four-week average ethanol production rate eased 0.1% to 995,000 b/d—equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.25 billion gallons. This represents the smallest 4-week average production rate in two years years. Stocks of ethanol tapered for the second straight week, decreasing 3.3% to 23.2 million barrels. There were no imports for the 21st week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of January 2019.)

Gasoline supplied to the market jumped 7.4% to 9.806 million b/d (411.9 million gallons per day, or 150.33 billion gallons annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol expanded 1.1% to 919,000 b/d—equivalent to 14.09 billion gallons annualized. Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production declined to 10.22%—the lowest level since Oct. 2017.

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Interest in old-crop rapeseed has waned

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 7:04pm

In Germany, UFOP reports that both buyers and sellers of rapeseed are notably reluctant at present. The former are stocked up well till the end of the season, but are also holding back as regards new-crop contracts. The latter are finding bids too low and their hopes as regards the 2019 harvest are somewhat clouded.

Nothing has been the same after the February price slide. Although the market is no longer as paralysed as it was three weeks ago, it definitely lacks momentum. This may be due to the slow pace at which prices are rising. In view of firming forward prices in Paris, farmers now continue to wait for a chance to obtain more money for the last rapeseed they have in storage. On the other hand, oil mills are adequately stocked up with rapeseed. They draw on extensive supply from imports. Consequently, the market is extremely calm at the moment.

However, what is new is that bids for rapeseed from the 2019 crop have exceeded those for old-crop rapeseed for approximately two weeks. This usually happens towards the end of the marketing year, especially when the crop forecast is low. Producers obviously find the contract prices much too low.

Weather conditions are the biggest uncertainty at present. Above-average high temperatures in the previous months and lack of rainfall in some areas have caused concerns about how the field crops might develop. However, things look good for the time being. Plants are not showing any signs of drought-related stress anywhere. In the wake of last year’s experience, farmers are now especially wary. No farmer wants to conclude contracts for volumes they will not be able to supply.

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Walnut farm uses BioMax tech and gets award for converting walnut shells to power

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 7:03pm

In Colorado, SynTech Bioenergy, a company that transforms biomass, agricultural waste and municipal solid waste into renewable heat and electricity, congratulates customer Dixon Ridge Farms for its receipt of the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA) for converting its walnut shells to heat and power.

The organic walnut farm and processing operation’s use of SynTech’s BioMax technology was a key consideration in GEELA’s assessment of Dixon Ridge as advancing sustainable climate change solutions in agriculture. The GEELA award is the state of California’s highest environmental honor.

“Dixon Ridge Farms is a shining example of the environmental and business benefits of bioenergy,” said Wayne McFarland, Chairman and CEO, SynTech Bioenergy. “Russ Lester and his team have used our BioMax technology to transform their agricultural byproduct – in this case, walnut shells – into renewable heat and power since 2008.”

Dixon Ridge Farms worked with the University of California, Davis to determine that their entire operation of 1,400 acres and walnut processing is greenhouse gas and carbon negative, producing about half of the emissions of comparable organic farm systems.

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BASF to increase capacity by 20% for Alkylethanolamines

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 7:01pm

In Germany, BASF will increase the production capacity of Alkylethanolamines (AEOA) by 20 percent at the BASF Verbund site in Ludwigshafen. After the start-up in 2020, BASF’s global annual nameplate capacity of AEOA will be more than 110,000 metric tons per year at its production facilities in Ludwigshafen, Germany; Geismar, USA; and Nanjing, China.

“As one of the world’s leading suppliers of amines, we continue to support the fast-growing customer demand for products of our Alkylethanolamine portfolio by increasing our capacity. The demand is particularly high for high-performance products in the Water- and Gas Treatment industries”, said Dr. Andrea Frenzel, President, BASF Intermediates Division.

“The additional capacity in Ludwigshafen will primarily serve our strong European customer base”, adds Dr. Frank Stein, Senior Vice President, BASF Intermediates Amines Europe. “We have highly efficient manufacturing processes, and with this investment, we provide our customers greater flexibility and reliability of supply than before.”

The versatile Alkylethanolamines are mainly used as precursors for flocculants applied in water treatment and in the coatings industry where they act as binders between pigments and resins. Other applications include gas treatment, fabric softeners, in additives for metalworking fluids and polyurethanes.

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DSM reduces CO2 emissions at vitamin production facility with biomass power

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 7:00pm

In Switzerland, Royal DSM, reduced its CO2 emissions at its vitamin production facility in Sisseln, by 50,000 tons/year through a new biomass heat and power plant on the site. The power plant was built, is owned and will be operated and maintained by energy company ENGIE and Swiss energy provider ewz.

The biomass power plant supplies steam to the production facility of DSM Nutritional Products in Sisseln and other non-DSM production sites. The renewable electricity – enough to power 17,500 local households – is fed into the public grid. The plant will generate 267 GWh of steam and 42 GWh of renewable electricity per year and will be one of Switzerland’s largest and most efficient biomass power plants, according to their press release.

The new heat and power plant is another example of DSM’s commitment to reducing 30% of its greenhouse gas emissions from direct production and purchased energy in absolute terms by 2030 compared to 2016. DSM will decouple emissions from its growth through energy efficiency measures and sourcing more renewable electricity. As a complementary target, DSM will be purchasing 75% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030, with 41% already being renewable in 2018.

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A20 new fuel developed by Eni and FCA

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 6:58pm

In Italy, Eni and FCA teamed up to develop “A20”, a new fuel with a low level of emissions due to its 15% methanol and 5% bio-ethanol alcohol content. By harnessing its low carbon content, bio component and high octane number, the new alternative fuel emits up to 3% less in CO2 exhaust emissions quantified using the new Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedures (WLTP).

The formula was designed to reduce direct and indirect CO2 emissions and is compatible with the majority of petrol cars sold from 2001 onwards, which accounts for more than 60% of the petrol cars in Italy, equivalent to approximately 12 million vehicles.

An initial test run of five Fiat 500s from the Eni Enjoy fleet in Milan ended successfully a few weeks ago. The cars were rented out around 9,000 times and travelled for 50 thousand kilometres during the 13 months of the test without experiencing any problems, demonstrating a reduction in emissions and better performance as a result of the high octane number.

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Queensland’s quest for a circular bioeconomy

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 6:44pm

It’s the land of the Queen, and Queensland, Australia is investing big in the bioeconomy. Named in honor of Queen Victoria who allowed separation of the colony from New South Wales back in 1859, it’s now the 2nd largest and 3rd most populous state in Australia. With over 5 million people, it’s often called the “Sunshine State” with its warm tropical climate, a sister of sorts to the U.S.’s Sunshine state of Florida.

Today we look at Queensland, Australia – the innovators, the leaders, the investors.

In the last few days, a Queensland oil refinery said it is making biofuel from old tires and hopes to commercialize it soon to help take care of a huge tire waste issue in Australia as well as help the country’s fuel security. One tire equals two liters of fuel and Southern Oil Refineries said it has conducted large scale pilot tests showing it works. They are moving into demo stage this year and plan on producing 10 to 20 million liters next year.

Southern Oil Refineries general manager Ben Tabulo told ABC News, “[We’ve proven] renewable diesel can work in Australia’s engines and does have the same efficiency on the road. The renewable diesel … has been refined from post-consumer waste, mainly mixed tyre crude oil and refined into 100 per cent drop-in diesel. Our laboratory has shown this diesel is indistinguishable from fossil diesel and will give all the performance that you expect from fossil diesel. Today we’ve put renewable diesel made from tyres, into this engine … it is a normal engine as you would find it trucks and boats, there is nothing special about it.”

Scania, one of the largest producers of heavy vehicle and industrial engines globally, is working with them to approve the fuel for use in their engines. Scania national manager Andre Arm told ABC News, “I think sustainable fuel is the future and no one can deny that there is a push worldwide to have a look at where we’re going with our conventional fuel. It shows Aussie ingenuity, it provides the possibility for fuel security and there’s the environmental benefit as well for sure.”

Government-backed bioeconomy

When we talk about innovators, we usually talk about inventors, researchers, the geniuses behind the newest technologies, but a government can also fill that role, as Queensland did just a few months ago. The Queensland government was the first jurisdiction in the World to sign on to below50, the low-carbon emissions initiative, highlighting their commitment to a more sustainable fuel industry for the State. below50 is a global campaign of WBCSD promoting the production and implementation of fuels which produce 50% less CO2 emissions compared to traditional fossil fuels.

Coupled with the biofuel mandate, the move further promotes the State’s biofuels industry, looking to capitalize on a gap in the Asia-Pacific to make Queensland a regional biofuels hub.

As the regional hub host of below50 Australia, QRFA have been driving a low-carbon fuel economy and promoting further uptake of sustainable fuels for the State and Australia.

QRFA Managing Director Larissa Rose, said, “Queensland is in prime position to become a world leader in renewable and biofuels, with its large agriculture sector, its proximity to Asia, and possessing State Government backing.”

Queensland’s potential as a biofuel hub in the Asian Pacific region was also brought up during government meetings in D.C. back in July 2018 between Queensland’s Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick and the U.S. Department of the Navy, as reported in The Digest. The Minister met at the Pentagon with biofuel experts and announced the appointment of Queensland’s new US-based Strategic Biofutures Advisor, Chris Tindal.

The Queensland government and the US Department of the Navy signed a Statement of Cooperation in August 2016 to collaborate on developing alternative fuels. “Since the agreement with the US Navy was signed we have seen positive growth for the industry here, Minister Dick told Manufacturers’ Monthly. “The Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant, Australia’s first advanced pilot biofuels refinery, has been constructed, and work is underway for the production of fuels that meet military requirements.”

Innovating tomorrow, today

Southern Oil Refineries and the government, aren’t the only innovators and forward thinkers in Queensland, however. You don’t have to look very far to see R&D work being done to discover the next best thing for our bioeconomy.

Researchers at the University of Queensland supported by the US Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and Sugar Research Australia are testing a range of sugarcane varieties to identify which types produce ethanol most effectively and efficiently, as reported in The Digest in March. Their gene-editing of sugarcane for use in renewable energy and bio-plastics could help secure the industry’s future.

Researchers are also collaborating with the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi to investigate processes that break down sugarcane fiber to make bioplastics.

Another study being conducted by researchers at Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Tropical Coprs and Biocommodities is the first to assess biofuels from biomass before turning to bottles and will look at whenter PEF from sugarcane can be more economical than PET at scale.

The three-month pilot is looking at the economic viability of turning sugarcane waste, bagasse, into other compounds including plastic bottles. It is being conducted in partnership with Mercurius Australia using a patented process created by the U.S. based parent company Mercurius Biorefining.

Funded by the Queensland Government’s A$150M Jobs and Regional Growth Fund and the aim is to take the bagasse and produce biofuel and bioplastics at scale in a sustainable manner. “Dr. Rackemann told Beverage Daily that “The science has been proven. The engineering now is trying to prove the economics.”

And speaking of investment…

Putting money where your mouth is

Ok, so the government is on board. Innovative companies are on board. Researchers and scientists are on board. But what about the investors? Looks like they are on board too, given the latest investment action in recent months – heck, even in the last few weeks.

Proposals were recently being accepted for the $5-million, Queensland Waste to Biofutures Fund aimed at cultivating technologies that convert waste into useful products and create jobs in the state, as reported in NUU in March. Feedstocks can include food and household wastes, tires, plastics, fats and oils, and biosolids from sewage treatment facilities.

“The Queensland Waste to Biofutures Fund offers grants from $50,000 to $1 million to develop pilot, demonstration or commercial-scale projects that produce bio-based products instead of conventional fossil fuel-based products,” Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick tells Energy Magazine. “The fund will support projects that transform carbon-rich waste from agriculture, food processing, construction and industrial processes into bioenergy, biofuels and bioproducts. Through this initiative we’ll see innovative waste processing technologies emerge that are scalable and can be deployed statewide, particularly in regional areas of Queensland.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is even promoting Queensland overseas for additional investments with a recent trip to Germany. At an event hosted by Australia’s Ambassador to Germany, Lynette Wood, the Premier said “Germany and Queensland are entering a new era of innovation-led investor relations, which will be strengthened further by the new Free Trade Agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and Australia and my Government’s $650 million Advance Queensland initiative.”

She also met with German representatives at top companies like Bombardier Transport, ShareNow, Siemens Energy, renewables finance group KfW and waste management company Remondis International, a variety of logistics companies during her trip last week. She mentioned that DB Schenker has been involved in bringing sustainable aviation fuel to the Brisbane Airport.

Shell is even investing in Queensland, albeit for an 800-hectare endangered native forest regeneration project.

Bottom Line

We see the makings of a positive future for Queensland – between the government’s realization that the bioeconomy is key and worth supporting, the investments in R&D and initiatives to promote biobased businesses, and the already existing entrepreneurship and innovation that is creating new technologies, Queensland is sure to lead by example.

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BioAg of the Future: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Novozymes BioAg

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 04/14/2019 - 11:21am

Novozymes is the world leader in biological solutions focusing on enzymes and microbes. Since 2000, they have brought more than 100 new molecules to market to address specific industry and customer challenges. We account for 2/3 of the entire global investment in developing enzymes, and dedicate 13-14% of our total revenue to R&D. With 48% market share in industrial enzymes, they deliver bioinnovation to 130 countries and manufacture across North America, South America, Europe and Asia.

Tina Sejersgard Fane, EVP of Agriculture and Bioenergy and Prisca Havranek-Kosicek, CFO & EVP at Novozymes, gave this illuminating overview of the their continuation with Bayer as a core partner for their BioAg business, the new setup with more partners and more, at ABLC Global 2018 in San Francisco

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Dutch companies team on biofuel storage tank project

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 6:49pm

In the Netherlands, SJR Tank Construction and HES Botlek Tank Terminal, a subsidiary of HES International B.V., are proud to announce a new partnership. HES Botlek Tank Terminal (HBTT) has contracted SJR Tank Construction to construct six high-quality tanks for biofuel storage.

Following their successful partnership in 2017, in which seven fully-assembled tanks with a joint capacity of no fewer than 70,000 m3 were delivered, both HBTT and SJR Tank Construction are delighted to start a new partnership. The storage tanks each have a capacity of 3,400 m3, a diameter of 12 meters and are 30 meters in height. The first four tanks are currently being constructed in the conditioned production hall at the RDM site in Rotterdam and will be followed quickly by the final two tanks. The completely finished tanks will then be transported by water and installed in the foundations at HBTT in Botlek.

The construction of these six tanks forms part of a considerable investment in HBTT’s tank storage. The capacity was doubled to 490,000 m3 in 2017. The delivery of these six tanks increases the total storage capacity to 510,000 m3. As well as the partnership with SJR Tank Construction, civil engineering works were also contracted to De Vries en Verburg Bouw and are already in full flow. HBTT is one of the most modern and certified tank terminals in the world and is the first terminal in the Netherlands to hold the ISO 28001 certificate.

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Marquis Ethanol’s Quad Cities facility catches on fire but northern unit keeps producing

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 6:47pm

In Illinois, local press reports that the northern unit of the Marquis Ethanol facility outside the Quad Cities area is continuing to operate despite a fire that was underway over several floors of one of the company’s buildings at its south unit. No employees were injured as a result of the fire. First responders and fire departments from five surrounding areas responded to the fire and quickly had it under control before it could spread to other parts of the plant.

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Ondo State needs 4,000 cassava farmers to supply planned ethanol project

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 6:45pm

In Nigeria, local press reports that at least 4,000 cassava farmers in Ondo State will be required to produce the 146,000 metric tons of feedstock needed annually for the ethanol production facility currently under development. The Ondo state governor’s wife is pushing for the inclusion of women farmers in the project that has received support from all levels of government as an effort to promote industrial development in the region. Nigeria traditionally imports ethanol for blending into gasoline but has been trying to develop a national industry for several years.

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Ethanol smuggling in Kenya kicks up a notch with policy involvement

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 6:44pm

In Kenya, the Standard newspaper reports that local legal authorities including police forces are facilitating the illegal import of ethanol. Earlier this week a shoot-off between criminal investigators and police manning a roadblock near the border with Tanzania which highlighted the smuggling. Police interviewed by the Standard newspaper said the police involvement had been ongoing for at least five years, providing $4,000 per week in bribes to the officers involved. How many officers involved were not indicated in the article.

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Australian tire-to-fuel pilot project seeing good results

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 6:43pm

In Australia, the national broadcasting corporation reports that the tire-recycling facility producing waste-based drop-in fuels at the Southern Oil Refinery in Gladstone has successfully completed pilot tests demonstrating the technological process as well as the use of the fuels. The engines used for testing are for both vehicles and boats. The company says that a standard automobile tire can generate two liters of fuel while mining tires, of which there are many in Australia due to its large mining industry, would provide significantly more.

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Malaysian March palm oil stocks rise against February but biodiesel soars 126%

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 6:40pm

In Malaysia, the Bernama news agency reports that palm oil production continued to rise in March to 1.67 million metric tons, up more than 8% from February, increasing the stocks of processed palm oil to 1.23 million tons but crude palm oil stocks fell more than 12% to 1.69 million tons. Exports nearly matched production in March, however, at 1.62 million tons. Biodiesel imports jumped more than 126% on the month to 83,753 tons but production figures were not reported.

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SEAT-led research looks at impact of biomethane on passenger vehicles

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 6:39pm

In Spain, a biomethane research project underway by auto manufacturer SEAT shows that the organic fraction of municipal solid waste in Barcelona is enough to fuel 10,000 cars running on biomethane driving 15,000 kilometers annually. Current drive tests on biomethane are being done using three Leon cars and one Arona with the aim of determining what impacts the fuel may have on cars and any potential damage that the vehicle manufacturer needs to be aware of before rolling out biomethane cars.

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China currently reviewing USGS proposal to lower tariffs on US-based imports

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 6:37pm

In China, Reuters reports that the country’s commerce ministry is reviewing a request from the US Grains Council to review anti-dumping measures with an eye to reducing the import tariff on US-origin DDGS. The US farm belt has been hit hard by the on-going trade war between the US and China, especially corn and soy farmers as well as those processing those crops including ethanol producers. Efforts are also underway to reduce tariffs on ethanol imports.

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Coffee without the coffee bean, bioplastic burial pods, fruit and algae clothing, soy straws, and more: The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of April 12th

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 6:31pm

The pace of bioeconomy invention and change continues at a frenetic pace. Here are the top innovations for the week of April 12th

In today’s Digest, coffee without the coffee bean, bioplastic burial pods, fruit and algae clothing, soy straws — these and more, ready for you now at The Digest online.

#1 Coffee without the coffee bean – molecular coffee kicks it up a notch

In California, a new coffee is in town that doesn’t even use coffee beans. Atomo Coffee has created what tastes and looks like traditional coffee by analyzing the molecular compounds in coffee and using them to create coffee without coffee beans.

Jarret Stopforth, Ph.D., Chief Scientist and Co-founder basically reverse engineered the bean to create coffee from the ground up. “We looked at all the compounds in coffee at a molecular level – the body, mouthfeel, aroma, color – over 1,000 compounds in a roasted bean. We found the essential compounds for aroma and flavor. Then we sourced naturally-derived compounds to design our own coffee.

“We are building mouthfeel and body of molecular coffee to mimic that of conventional coffee by replacing the polysaccharides, oils and proteins found in the insoluble part of the coffee ground with natural, sustainable and upcycled plant-based materials that deliver the same great effect,” said Dr. Jarret Stopforth. At this time they aren’t disclosing their ingredients.
More on the story, here.

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From Bioenergy to Bioproducts: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to JBEI

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 6:30pm

Joint BioEnergy Institute is a U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Center dedicated to developing advanced biofuels—liquid fuels derived from the solar energy stored in plant biomass that can replace gasoline, diesel and jet fuels. Inside JBEI’s Emeryville laboratories, researchers are using the latest tools in molecular biology,  chemical engineering, computational and robotic technologies to transform biomass into biofuels and bioproducts.

Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, VP of Biofuels and Bioproductions at JBEI, gave this illuminating overview of their research in biofuels and their various divisions focused on feedstocks, deconstruction, biofuels and bioproducts, technology, lifecycle, economics and agronomy, and more, at ABLC Global 2018 in San Francisco

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The Advanced Bioeconomy: New Fortunes 2019

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 1:46pm

Let’s turn to New Fortunes 2019 – our overview of what we believe will be the 24 hottest market segments in the near term – places to focus your innovations and to unlock value – and we hope these are valuable in the discussions during ABLC week.

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