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This bud’s for you: Amyris’s $255M cannabinoids project is dope

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/11/2019 - 5:06pm

In California, we reported that Amyris signed a binding term sheet for a planned cannabinoid development, licensing and commercialization partnership valued at up to $255M (not including royalties once the products are commercialized) with a confidential partner.

No, Amyris is not exactly transforming into an Industrial Budtender. Let’s look at this announce in depth.

The Amyris deal in detail

The $255 million in payments include an upfront payment and the remainder are linked to milestones that are expected over the next 12-36 months following the signing of a definitive final agreement. In addition to lab-based milestone payments, this agreement also provides for significant milestone payments for commercially scaling each product. Commercialization of products expected within the next 18-24 months assuming appropriate regulatory approvals.

The partner is expected to provide initially lab-based and later commercial scale milestone cash payments in tranches for the development and scaling of technology to produce CBD. In return, the partner will be granted a license to commercialize these products.

In addition to the milestone payments and assuming commercialization is achieved, Amyris will be eligible to receive substantial ongoing royalty payments. These payments are expected to be significant given the size of the global cannabinoid market.

The technology drivers

Hitherto, the cannabis plant has been the source the products of interest known as the cannabinoids, which include THC, CBD other compounds that have both medical and (um, well-documented) recreational applications.

To simplify the story line, let’s clarify that recreational markets chase THC while medical markets chase CBD. CBDs are not psychoactive , though they are found in marijuana and, in fact, in hemp, too. CBD is used in a variety of treatments and epilepsy is among them.

One of the problems of CBD is that, during the decades where people were chasing Highs instead of Cures and Treatments, planters were trying to breed the CBD out.  of marijuana that is used to treat a number of diseases, including epilepsy and autism. Now, it’s comeback time.

Enter, industrial biotechnology. With cannabis, we’re still in the medieval era that aspirin traveled through, when headache sufferers would chew targeted barks and such. To the extent that cannabis has been optimized, it’s been through hybridization of the plant for yield, hardiness and varietal products. Since the products have had a “barely legal” status around the world until recently, there’s been little work in the lab on synthetics, grown in the fermenter instead of the field.

That Amyris is in the mix is of little surprise, although the deal size and speed are shockers. A cannabinoid isn’t actually all that far in structure from monoterpenoids such as camphor, and if someone were to come up with an efficient metabolic pathway for cannabinoid production, going through the terpenes and terpenoids makes a certain amount of sense and that’s Amyris Country — whose signature products for many years, artemisinin and farnesene, are both sesquiterpenes.

The need drivers: The 6 What’s and Whyfores

Bottom line, Amyris could use cannabinoids and vice-versa — now that legality is spreading and applications ware growing, cost, purity, sustainability and certainty are going to be major factors for the big players who are moving into the field now. They’re looking for a competitive edge for those markets that are established, and that’s the Amyris promise, summed up in its No Compromise brand line, and in this case, you get:

Consistent purity and dosage depending on formulation due to highly controlled fermentation-based production without the variability resulting from plant-based ingredients

Fermentation high purity, which should support lower regulatory risk

Significantly reduced cost over traditional production methods

Improved yield of economically difficult-to-source compounds with sufficient purity and efficacy

100% free from pesticides, as ingredients are not farm or grow operation sourced

Sustainably-sourced products derived from rainfall-hydrated, natural sugarcane feedstock that results in less water and land usage relative to growing cannabinoids

And, they’re looking for a window into new applications and uses, and, there, Amyris’ entrepreneurial savvy and deep experience in the turbulent process of bringing forth something new, desirable and affordable — also known as Mr. Biotechnology’s Wild Ride — is a distinct core competency and a reason that so many who choose to innovate, choose Amyris.

A bigger step forward: The Undiscovered Country

In the recreational market, there’s been quite a lot of amateur and plant-based work in blends. For example, using pinene to mellow some of the side-effects associated with THC. There’s been some combining of alkaloids such as cocaine or heroin with marijuana.

You don’t need to have smoked a bowl of Atom bomb, Woo-woo, Fry Daddy or Jim Jones, as some of these powerful combos are known, to see that a big step forward will be an exploration of combinatory options that sweeten flavor, alter the experience, and reduce side effects such as reward-cycle addictive aspects.  None of that is in the current deal, but someone’s going to venture into The Brave New World.

Why not this, why not now? For now, the players dread the consequences in cost and controversy and the risks of failure more than they desire the windfalls of breakthrough discovery. Often, industrial biotechnology finds itself in a halfway house, science contained by infrastructure, customs, trepidation, attitudes, fears, and the ignorance that leads to cost overrun and uncertain adoption. We usually are found trampling out the vintage where the Grapes of Easy Cash are found.

As Shakespeare’s Hamlet observed, ‘Who would choose to grunt and sweat through an exhaustions and insufferabilities of conventional life, unless they were afraid of something dreadful after death, the undiscovered country from which no visitor returns, which we wonder about without getting any answers from. Hamlet’s questions were more existential in nature than those of industrial players, who worry over the 2021 financials slightly more than the mysteries of the Hereafter, but for many, the “native hue of resolution Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pith and moment, With this regard their currents turn awry,, And lose the name of action.”

Reaction from Planet Amyris

“We are pleased to have been recognized by a well-capitalized partner as the company best suited to leverage fermentation-based technology in the production of the best quality and lowest cost and sustainably-produced cannabinoids,” said John Melo, Amyris President & CEO. “The dollar value of this agreement and our roster of partners who are leaders in global markets combines to be a strong endorsement of our technology platform and ability to bring No Compromise, sustainably-produced products to market. We share the mission of our partners to become the leader in sustainably-sourced CBD products in the near term as we focus on enabling the global beverage and skin care markets, including our own brands, to support the health and wellness of people and our planet.”

The Bottom Line

At the same time, Amyris could use a target market which is going to be fast-growing, with no dominant players, and where the economics are much better than the commodities it once targeted. Fuel economics proved impossible once sugar soared and fuel dove; commodity chemicals that are not granted a price on carbon are worse, if anything; and the beauty market is crowded.

We placed cannabis among out Top 10 Trends for 2019 for exactly the reasons that collaborators are turning to AMyris, it’s a great product for the advanced bioeconomy and industrial biotechnology, especially since the presence of a recreational market creates opportunities for scale that don’t exist for most pharma applications, and where the cost factors are even more critical, as they always are in the commodity markets where Amyris has long travelled.

We’d sure like to know the name of the Amyris’ mystery date, but that’s a story for another time. For now, questions will abound from financial markets over the timing of collaboration funding and the future structure of royalties: in a perfect world, this is the transition point for Amyris to live off cash flows and reach profitability — we’ll see about that soon enough.

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Going, Going, Gone to the Highest Bidder: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Auctions in the Bioeconomy

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/11/2019 - 5:04pm

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.

Birdsong Auction & Real Estate Group and United Country Real Estate, members of Lee Enterprises Consulting, offers this illuminating comparison of absolute auctions vs. reserve auctions, overview of the auction process in the bioeconomy realm, and more

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Agricultural Biomass: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Ag Waste and Purpose Grown Crops

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/10/2019 - 4:04pm

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.

Glenn Farris, of Farris Advisory Services and a member of Lee Enterprises Consulting offers this illuminating prediction of the future of ag waste and purpose grown crops, challenges to growing and using these feedstocks, and more

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Global forestry and agroforestry research organizations CIFOR and ICRAF merge

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/10/2019 - 3:17pm

In Germany, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), also known as World Agroforestry, the two leading organizations focused on forestry and agroforestry research, policy and development agreed to merge to strengthen capacity, provide the evidence needed to scale up investment in sustainable development, and accelerate impact.


The merger becomes effective on 1 January 2019 through a common Board with subsequent implementation of a single leadership team and unified policies, processes and systems.

“This progressive decision to merge will allow us to respond more effectively to the increasing demands to integrate landscapes and land management for a more equitable, climate resilient and productive world,” said Claire O’Connor, Chair of the ICRAF Board of Trustees.

In agreeing to the merger, ICRAF and CIFOR confirmed that all existing commitments and contracts will continue to be honoured to ensure delivery of the public goods the organizations’ donors and stakeholders, including host countries, expect.

Combined, the two organizations employ over 700 staff in more than 20 countries throughout the global south, with an annual budget of over $100 million.

“Working as one will allow us to leverage our combined $1.8 billion legacy investment in research, policy and development to seize emerging opportunities with greater agility and further our contributions to the realization of ecosystem services needed to create the jobs and resilient green economy of the future,” said Jose Campos, Chair of the CIFOR Board of Trustees.

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Clean energy innovation report identifies breakthrough technologies

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/10/2019 - 3:16pm

In the United Kingdom, a new report on clean energy innovation headed by two of the world’s leading energy experts assesses the state of the clean energy innovation ecosystem in the U.S. and identifies clean energy technologies with the highest breakthrough potential.

The report—led by former U.S. Secretary of Energy and Energy Futures Initiative founder, Ernest J. Moniz and IHS Markit vice chairman Daniel Yergin—evaluates ways to maintain U.S. leadership in clean energy innovation by better aligning the policies, players and programs that will drive technologies that can keep the nation globally competitive. The report, entitled Advancing the Landscape of Clean Energy Innovation, was commissioned by Breakthrough Energy.

The report assesses energy technologies based on four criteria—technical merit, market viability, compatibility with other energy systems and consumer value.

The report identifies the key innovation pathways that are necessary to maintaining U.S. leadership in clean energy. Among them: increased and better targeted public investment across all stages of innovation—from fundamental research through commercial scale demonstration; a research and investment portfolio embracing multiple technology options; and a strengthened role for states, cities and tribal governments in the innovation process.

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USGC gets nearly $14M for grains and ethanol market development work

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/10/2019 - 3:14pm

In Washington, D.C., new funding to the U.S. Grains Council from the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program – part of a larger “trade aid” package offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the wake of new tariffs and global market uncertainty – will expand the organization’s global footprint and dramatically increase the promotion effort it undertakes for feed grains products, especially ethanol.

The Council was awarded just under $14 million from the one-time program, which granted a total of $200 million for organizations working in overseas market development for U.S. agriculture and food products.

Much of the funding will be used to dramatically expand the Council’s ethanol programs, which it coordinates with corn and sorghum checkoff organizations, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association, as well as USDA. Funds will also be used to stimulate new demand in existing and untapped grains markets and explore new approaches to value-added products that hold demand promise.

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Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership welcomes Imtex Membranes to the region

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/10/2019 - 3:13pm

In Canada, the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership announced that Imtex Membranes Corp. will be constructing a scaled demonstration site located within the Sarnia-Lambton Hybrid Chemistry Cluster.

The demonstration site will showcase Imtex’s patented gas separation process called Permylene. Achieving a greater than 99.5% purification rate, Permylene helps extract chemicals such as ethylene, propylene, and butene from gas, while reducing energy consumption by over 30% when compared to traditional separation processes, while also producing less waste.

The initial announcement was made at Imtex’s Mississauga headquarters, where Canada’s Federal Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, announced Imtex would be receiving a $6 million funding injection from Sustainable Development Technology Canada.

The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership and Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) have worked closely with Imtex as they worked through their site selection process and funding applications. Imtex credited SLEP and BIC with being forward thinking and acting as the catalysts for clean technology.

Imtex’s hope is that their field demonstration system in Sarnia will further open the door for monetizing Canadian and Sarnia-based project opportunities.

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Covestro and UN call for Young Champions of the Earth competition participants

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/10/2019 - 3:09pm

In Germany, Covestro and the United Nations are calling for nominations for Young Champions of the Earth, a prize for environmental entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 30 with a big idea for the world’s future. Each of seven winners in the 2019 program, the third year of the global competition, will receive $15,000 seed money to invest in their projects, invitations and funding to attend high-level UN meetings to share their ideas with the world, and training and mentorship.

Covestro CEO Dr. Markus Steilemann says: “Engaging with the Young Champions from the past two years has demonstrated the concern and commitment they have over the future of our planet. Their passion is very much shared by Covestro and I am delighted to help launch a further round of this global competition, which is a brilliant platform to help young professionals make their dreams become reality. Together we can make the world a brighter place.”

Joyce Msuya, UN Environment Acting Executive Director and Assistant Secretary-General of the UN, adds: “The Young Champions of the Earth prize combines two ingredients that are critical to save our planet – innovation and the drive of young people. We need both in equal measures to address the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges.”

Following an open call for applications, a global jury will select the seven 2019 winners.

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Ethanol production down 4.4%

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/10/2019 - 3:08pm

In Washington, D.C., ethanol production fell to 967,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 40.6 million gallons per day, which was down 45,000 b/d (4.4%) from the previous week, according to government data released and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association. This was the lowest weekly production level since October 2017. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined to 1.015 million b/d, the lowest since April 2018, equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.56 billion gallons. Weekly production was 8.5% lower than the level a year ago, while the four-week average was 3.8% lower.

Stocks of ethanol receded to 23.9 million barrels. Stocks were relatively steady in most regions but fell in the Gulf Coast, reversing an increase the previous week.

There were no imports for the twelfth week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of November 2018.)

Average weekly gasoline supplied to the market fell back to 9.073 million b/d (381.1 million gallons per day), equivalent to 139.09 billion gallons annualized, after surging the prior week. Still, the four-week average and year-to-date average remain more than 1% above year-ago levels. Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol increased 2.0% to 887,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.60 billion gallons annualized. Ethanol blending remains higher on a weekly (2.2%) and four-week-average (2.7%) basis than year-ago levels. Still, net inputs of ethanol have accounted for less than 10% of gasoline product supplied for four of the last five weeks.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production ticked up to 10.66%.

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Argentina and the EU settle dispute over biodiesel imports

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/10/2019 - 3:06pm

In Germany, according to the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Crops, European oilseed producers are the losers due to the decision of the representatives of the EU Member States in the Trade Defence Instruments Committee (TDI) of 30th January 2019. The association criticizes the Committee’s approval of the Argentine Government’s proposal for a so-called “price undertaking” agreement, which will allow Argentina’s biodiesel producers to export around 1.2 million tonnes of biodiesel duty-free to the EU every year.

This amount of biodiesel accounts for 10% of total biodiesel consumption in the European Union. This market access is coupled with compliance with a minimum import price, which is to be calculated on the basis of monthly average soy bean oil prices. The concrete and legally binding calculation procedure will be announced in the EU Official Journal. UFOP fears that as a result of the procedure for setting the minimum import price, which is not yet known in detail, market access will be ensured through a price level which will have an overall negative effect on the EU biodiesel price and consequently on oilseed producer prices. Biodiesel quantities that exceed this import quota are subject to company-specific countervailing duties between 25 and 33.4 percent.

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Fish model shows forest management can produce biofuels and restore salmonids

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/10/2019 - 3:05pm

In Washington, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have been modeling to understand the costs and benefits of thinning forests and the potential for improving habitat, yielding benefits not only for the environment, but also for the economy.

Decision models linking process-based and biological models are powerful tools for determining how forest management can simultaneously produce biofuels and help restore at-risk salmonids. Beyond supplying biomass and salmon, selectively thinning Northwest forests also has a third benefit—reducing the risk of intense wildfires.

Thinning scenarios that restore threatened and endangered species while lowering the risk of high-intensity fires creates a triple win scenario—and that’s good news for the biomass industry. Forest restoration efforts in the Pacific Northwest can tap into an international biomass market capable of purchasing pellets from a region largely new to the biomass industry, increasing American competitiveness.

Researchers at PNNL, ORNL, and USFS have developed spatial models linking wildlife species, landform-specific forest thinning treatments, and hydrologic flow regimes with the habitat for juvenile spring Chinook salmon and bull trout.

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MEGA MEG – Braskem and Haldor Topsoe’s monoethylene glycol from sugar is in operation

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/10/2019 - 3:01pm

It’s a big day for MEG. No, not Meg Ryan, though we are excited about her engagement with John Mellencamp. We are talking about monoethylene glycol which just got bigger with a new demo unit in operation.

Brazil-based Braskem and Denmark-based Haldor Topsoe just commissioned their pioneering demonstration unit, located in Denmark, for the development of monoethylene glycol (MEG) from sugar. Their innovation for renewable plastic made from sugar instead of traditional fossil fuels has been getting attention and this news marks a decisive step forward towards the goal of producing renewable MEG on an industrial scale.


In case you didn’t know, Braskem is America’s largest resin producer and a world leading biopolymer producer. Haldor Topsoe is a global leader in catalysts and technology for the chemical and refining industries.

Announced in 2017, the cooperation agreement between Braskem and Haldor Topsoe focuses on developing a new technology for converting sugar into MEG at a single industrial unit, which reduces the initial investment in production and consequently makes the process more competitive. So this news is like a marriage made in heaven. And their cute little baby is named MEG. Except MEG is big.

The Mega MEG market

So what’s so big and great about MEG? MEG is an important raw material for industrial applications – like for making polyester (PET) resins, films and fibers. You know, the stuff that’s used all the time in textile and packaging industries, and especially for making plastic PET bottles.

According to Braskem, the global market for MEG currently is at around $25 billion and this joint bio-based MEG plant is a major step forward in improving the sustainability of PET plastic packaging and reducing carbon emissions.

The demo unit

The demo unit built in Denmark has annual production capacity of hundreds of tons of glycolaldehyde, a substance that is converted into MEG. The goal is for the plant to convert various raw materials, such as sucrose, dextrose and second-generation sugars, into MEG. Currently, the compound is made from fossil-based feedstocks, such as naphtha, gas or coal.

Starting next year, clients will receive samples to test in their products.

“Haldor Topsoe is a global leader in catalytic solutions and is driven to maintain its leadership in the renewable energy industry. We are pleased to embark, together with Braskem, on the next phase of the validation of the MOSAIK solution for producing biobased MEG. Our goal is to show that innovative catalytic technologies can make chemical products from biomass a commercially attractive option,” said Kim Knudsen, executive officer at Haldor Topsoe.

“The process for developing renewable MEG in partnership with Haldor Topsoe represents a major advance in competitiveness for Green PET. The partnership strengthens the leading role we play and adds value to our I’m green portfolio, which already features Green Polyethylene and Green EVA, both made from sugarcane. It also will further corroborate our vision of using biopolymers as a way to capture carbon, which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” explained Gustavo Sergi, director of Renewable Chemicals at Braskem.

The technology

MOnoSAccharide Industrial Cracker – or MOSAIK – is a solution for cracking of sugars to an intermediary product which can be further converted to MEG or other biochemicals, such as methyl vinyl glycolate or glycolic acid, using Haldor Topsoe’s patented processes and catalysts.

Current processes to produce MEG from biomass involve several steps. This can be reduced to two simple steps with MOSAIK and Topsoe’s unique catalyst and technology for the production of MEG. The new solution brings down investment costs and boosts productivity to a level, where it can compete on commercial terms with traditional production from fossil feedstock (naphtha).

Innovation Fund Denmark has co-financed the development and upscaling of MOSAIK.

Making MEG

Unlike the process to create a baby or the love filled Valentine’s week, making MEG is often about breaking things down, not joining them together. And Braskem hasn’t been the only one working on MEG. As reported in NUU in March 2018, France-based CARBIOS has demonstrated an enzymatic depolymerization process for polyester terephthalate polyester fibers from textile waste. The process broke down the material into its original monomers: terephthalic acid and monoethylene glycol.

CARBIOS says that polyester accounts for half of the overall fiber market. “Each year, 43 million tons of PET is produced for the fiber market, compared to 15 million tons dedicated to the production of plastic bottles,” the company says.

“Turning unwanted polyester textiles into high quality raw materials for new products using CARBIOS enzymatic technology is an opportunity for completely changing textile manufacturing and trade in Europe and beyond,” says Alain MARTY, Chief Scientific Officer of CARBIOS. “From a sustainable perspective, our approach will significantly improve the overall life cycle impact of textile products.”

Even Avantium is in on the action with their retaking of full ownership of its YXY plants-to-plastics technology through the purchase of BASF’s shares in the Synvina joint venture. Avantium’s renewable chemistry programs include the Mekong technology, which transforms sugars into plant-based monoethylene glycol (MEG) used in the production of materials including renewable plastics and polyesters.

Bottom Line

From Braskem’s sugarcane-based EVA used in flip-flop sandals to the first polyethylene of renewable origin to be produced in the world that is applied to coffee pillow packs and their ‘I’m green’ polyethylene (PE) biopolymer, Braskem sees the huge market for biochem and bioplastics and are taking action on it. While still a petrochemical company, they see the way of the future and this demo plant is a step towards the alternative biobased solutions path. We are sure there is more to come from them and others on MEG in the future.

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Biorefineries Assessment: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to IEA Bioenergy Task 42

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 6:35pm

IEA Bioenergy Task 42 is working on the analysis and assessment of biorefining in the whole value chain in order to meet its mission to facilitate the commercialisation and market deployment of biorefinery systems & technologies.

Johannes Lindorfer from the Energy Institute at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria gave this illuminating overview of biorefineries classification systems, assessments, analysis, and their role in a future bioeconomy at ABLC Global 2018 in San Francisco

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Flax fiber skis, biobased turf for 2020 Olympics, Gevo’s isoprene, Veja vegan leather, castor oil jacket membrane and more: The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of February 8th

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 6:29pm

The pace of bioeconomy invention and change continues at a frenetic pace. Here are the top innovations for the week of February 8th.

In today’s Digest, flax fiber skis, biobased turf for 2020 Olympics, Gevo’s isoprene, Veja vegan leather, castor oil jacket membrane — these and more, ready for you now at The Digest online.

#1 Flax fiber skis and snowboards hit the slopes

In the United Kingdom, flax fibers are becoming more prevalent as part of the layers in skis and snowboards as a biobased alternative. While early skis were made from wood, modern skis and snowboards are increasingly made of composites and layers with a variety of materials, typically made with plastic, carbon, or glass fibers. However, many of those materials are not sustainable or biodegradable, so flax fibers is a greener option while also having some technical advantages over glass and carbon fibers, according to Paul Sherratt of the Sports Technology Institute at Loughborough University.

“Flax is much better at dampening, so it helps reduce vibrations and improves the feel of products, which is an incredibly complicated area within sport,” Sherratt told

Ignaas Verpoest of the Composite Materials Group at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, in Belgium, told that “there is a simple reason why vibrations disappear faster: the structure of flax. A carbon or glass fibre is a solid filament, while a flax fibre is a made up of tiny elementary fibres, which dissipate energy and produce fewer vibrations.”

Bcomp is one of the companies that now produces flax fiber fabrics and a range of balsa wood and flax cores for skis and snowboards.
More on the story, here.

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Finnish Parliament approves 30% biofuel mandate for 2030

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 6:29pm

In Finland, the Finnish Parliament on February 6 approved a law that sets a gradually increasing 30% biofuels target for 2030. Furthermore, the law sets a world-leading advanced biofuels target of 10% in 2030. UPM welcomes the Finnish government’s ambition to take transport decarbonization seriously:

“UPM is a leading producer of advanced biofuels as defined by the EU Renewable Energy Directive, and we consider this move by Finland as a bold step forward in setting concrete measures for transport decarbonization,” says Sari Mannonen, Vice President, UPM Biofuels.

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Spanish researchers use AI to develop plant-based phosphorus and nitrogen maps

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 6:28pm

In Spain, researchers of Valencia University (UV) have developed the first global maps of phosphorus and nitrogen content in vegetation, as well as efficiency in water use, via artificial intelligence and big data techniques. The application of these maps could benefit fields such as biodiversity, agriculture and the adaptation of species to climate change.

Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques and Google mass satellite observation data have made it possible to generate the first global maps on vegetation variables that until now were only available locally.

The research team has developed a methodology to generate global maps of key parameters, variables and features of the planet’s vegetation. The AI technique works with Google’s cloud to exploit thousands of images from the NASA and the ESA, enabling the generation and monitoring of global vegetation with high spatial and temporal resolution. The studies have revealed very interesting patterns in key parameters related to climate change, such as phosphorus or nitrogen content and plant foliage.

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Former UK oil refinery set to host advanced biofuels production from 2020

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 6:28pm

In the UK, local press reports that the ambitious Thames Enterprise Park project is moving forward with another $11 million investment in 7 hectares of land preparation. The project converts a 1950s oil refinery into an innovation park that is meant to house more than 4,500 jobs in the future, including advanced biofuels and renewable energy as part of its Energy Hub. Its Sustainable Industries Hub will also include energy aspects. The latest round of land preparation should be done this year with the first companies set to enter the park by the end of 2020.

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Aemetis starts permitting and construction of multi-dairy renewable biomethane digester cluster

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 6:27pm

In California, Aemetis, Inc. announced it has initiated the permitting and construction phase of its multi-dairy renewable biomethane digester cluster.  In July 2018, the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) awarded two matching grants for a total of $3 million to build biomethane digesters at the first two dairies in the Aemetis biogas project.

The CDFA grant program provides California state funding support for dairy digester projects to reduce methane emissions, decrease air pollution, improve the environment and lower carbon emissions. In addition to the on-dairy covered lagoon digesters, Aemetis plans to construct a local pipeline designed to connect about a dozen dairies to the Aemetis biorefinery in Keyes, California, then clean the biomethane for use in ethanol production or for powering compressed renewable natural gas (RNG) vehicles.

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US ethanol takes the slow boat to China in order to avoid import tariffs

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 6:27pm

In China, Reuters reports that by taking advantage of trade rules that allow ethanol to enter the country duty-free if blended with 40% Asian-origin fuel, US-origin ethanol was able to enter the Chinese market after a two-month journey, a stop in Malaysia, and ship-to-ship transfer. So far since the China-US trade war kicked off last summer and a 70% tariff was slapped on US-origin ethanol, Malaysia has exported 69,000 metric tons of ethanol to China despite not producing ethanol while Malaysia also imported 88,000 tons of the fuel from the US.

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Replacing petroleum diesel by 2030 with biomass-based diesel seen feasible

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 6:26pm

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stated goal of eliminating petroleum diesel emissions in California by 2030 is achievable through the growth in the market for clean, sustainable diesels, according to a new report from the California Advanced Biofuels Alliance.

Transitioning to sustainable diesels will represent a 71 percent decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to those from climate-changing petroleum diesel, the report states. Furthermore, through a mixed approach of efficiency improvements, further electrification of vehicles and continued growth in the use of sustainable clean diesel fuels, the state can significantly improve air quality for millions of Californians, particularly those living in disadvantaged communities.

The findings are contained in “A Roadmap for Eliminating Petroleum Diesel in California by 2030,” an industry report on the impact and viability of sustainable fuels. Use of the two major types of sustainable diesel fuel (biodiesel and renewable diesel) has grown rapidly since 2010, jumping from less than 1 percent to approximately 15 percent, the report states.

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