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E15 could go year-round but will be paid with restrictions on RIN trade

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 6:21pm

In Washington, Reuters reports that as the Trump Administration looks to approve year-round E15 sales it is also likely to restrict RIN trade in an effort to reduce costs for oil companies by reducing speculation. Restrictions include a 120% cap of RINs vs. compliance obligation to keep companies from speculating while some parties could be restricted from holding on to RINs for longer than 30 days. EPA’s issuance of hardship waivers to smaller refiners has introduced enough of a surplus into that RIN market to push down prices to five-year lows.

Categories: Today's News

Expanded Technology Readiness Level (TRL) Definitions for the Bioeconomy

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 2:59pm

By Dave Humbird, Ph.D., Member, Lee Enterprises Consulting, Inc.

Special to The Digest

For new technologies in the bioeconomy (and in the chemical process industry more broadly), the putative path to commercialization is some form of: lab, pilot, demonstration, commercial. The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale is often proposed to track this progression, effectively ranking the maturity of a technology. For a new chemical process technology, TRLs 1-3 may represent fundamental R&D, TRLs 4-6 scale-up and integration, and TRLs 7-9 demonstration and commercial deployment. TRL definitions for specific industries have generally been produced by funding or regulatory entities [1], and in most cases are simply a list of expected R&D activities that help these entities identify a technology’s current TRL. Technology developers, however, tend to find the definitions less useful because they lack guidance on how to exit a TRL and progress to the next. Put simply, however, this progression requires funding; funding that must come from investors, whether internal, private, or public. In process technology development, TRLs 1-2 are typically achieved with government or academic grants, TRLs 3-4 with seed rounds, and TRLs 5-7 with Series A/B/C funding rounds. Reaching the final TRLs 8 and 9 (building large plants) generally requires a bank loan for capital equipment and construction.

In this article, we present an expanded set of TRL definitions, combining elements of DOE-BETO’s definitions (2015 and earlier), which are well suited for the bioeconomy [2], with elements of the startup-to-VC “Investment Readiness Level” framework proposed by Steve Blank [3]. Along with expected R&D activities, we discuss appropriate conceptual process design and production cost estimation activities (otherwise known as techno-economic analysis or TEA) that should be performed concurrently to ensure process scalability. We also discuss TRL exit criteria and deliverables that technology developers should expect to provide to investors when looking to secure the additional funding needed to progress. We use the expanded definitions in our consulting practice as a roadmap and a common terminology to help bioeconomy technology developers and their investors progress to commercialization harmoniously. We would like to note, however, that these definitions of course remain open for debate, and we welcome feedback from all interested parties.

TRL 1: Basic research, elevator pitch

In TRL 1, initial scientific research begins. Principles and phenomena of a new technology (e.g., molecule or process) are identified. First-principles modeling and simulation may complement physical experiments. To exit TRL 1, the basic science should be validated through peer-reviewed publications. With this fundamental but possibly qualitative understanding, the technology may be ready to transition to applied research in TRL 2. Developers in TRL 1 should therefore identify a need within the bioeconomy and begin to articulate their technology’s potential to satisfy that need. This includes activities like finding a customer segment, understanding those customers’ pain points, and explaining how they will benefit from the new technology under development. This knowledge can be turned into an elevator pitch for securing TRL 2 funds and used to develop the applied research plan. Developers who are unable to articulate their potential to satisfy such a need should be content with their publications and refocus elsewhere.

TRL 2: Applied research, business plan

TRL 2 activities will confirm the technical and business potential of the technology to satisfy the need identified in TRL 1. Ongoing R&D should corroborate the basic observations made previously, and the experimental plan should be organized with an eye toward the ultimate practical application(s). This deeper understanding is intended to reduce scientific risk to a level where external investors can be approached. Securing the funding to move past TRL 2 requires a sound business plan around a well-defined value proposition. Technology developers should assess commercial opportunities using market studies that examine the expected market size and competitive landscape. In the bioeconomy, competitive advantage over existing technologies may come in the form of lower production costs, higher purity, increased yield, and/or better sustainability. Early exploration of these opportunities, such as discussions with potential customers, should be documented. Developers should also start assessing the intellectual property value of the R&D to date, in case the opportunity survey indicates that the technology is perhaps better suited for implementation in the future.

TRL 3: Technical proof of concept, confirmed value proposition

In TRL 3, applied research continues and early-stage process development begins. Laboratory experiments are designed with repeatability and quality control in mind, to quantitatively verify that the concept works as expected.

Techno-economic analysis (TEA) activities begin around TRL 3. While TEA can be performed at varying levels of detail, developers and investors should understand that TEA sophistication needs to be consistent with the maturity of its core technology. Process concepts that have been thoroughly researched in the lab with no consideration given to scale-up challenges should be viewed as insufficiently de-risked. Conversely, a highly detailed process design with an unproven core element should be dismissed as fantasy.A preliminary TEA in TRL 3 should bound the minimum contribution of feedstock and other significant chemical inputs to the final product cost, using assumed yields informed by R&D and projected input price informed by market studies. As a starting point, the inset discussion of this article demonstrates how to compute a theoretical product yield and cost contribution from a given feedstock, using degrees of reduction.

To solidify the business plan, this minimum product cost (with some reasonable inflation to account for conversion costs) can be used in additional market research. Potential customers and partners should be polled for interest, to quantify potential market share. If it turns out that the minimum cost is already unacceptable, additional work must be done to identify a different feedstock or negotiate a lower feedstock price. Credits and subsidies (e.g., RINs) can affect the outcome of these studies. This effort validates the technology’s value proposition and commercial viability and gives confidence to investors that it is ready for scale-up.


Discussion: Theoretical yield and minimum product cost

A simple way to estimate theoretical yield is to use the degree of reduction (γ), a measure of the number of electrons available for reaction in a compound. For a molecule with formula CxHyOz, the degree of reduction is given by γ = 4x + y – 2z. For conversion of one molecule to another (say, glucose to ethanol), the ratio of γfeedstock/γproduct gives the best possible molar yield obtainable; the yield will not be better than this without additional electrons (e.g., hydrogen). For most such conversions, feedstock cost dominates overall production costs, so this theoretical cost contribution can be considered a minimum cost of production, i.e., the cost of production if capital, labor, and all other operating expenses were free. Consider the following example molecules, produced from glucose syrup (C6H12O6, γ=24) at a spot price of $0.55/kg [4]. Using degrees of reduction, we can compute theoretical yields and the minimum feedstock contribution to product cost:

  γ Theoretical yield $/kg

theo. $/kg

spot [4] Molar Mass Ethanol 12 2.00 51% $1.08 $0.84 n-Butanol 24 1.00 41% $1.34 $1.14 C15 alkane (diesel equiv) 92 0.26 31% $1.79 $0.67 Fatty acid methyl ester (soy oil equiv) 107 0.22 37% $1.49 $0.72 1,4-butanediol 22 1.09 55% $1.01 $1.14

Most of these feedstock contributions are unacceptable compared to the current spot price of each product—one would not buy spot glucose to make them! Rather, one would negotiate a lower price, or produce one’s own glucose from starch. Refined starch, however, is not traded as a commodity on the same scale as glucose syrup, so we travel up the supply chain to corn and biomass. The current price of corn is about $3.50/bu ($125/US ton) [5]. If we assume corn is 60% starch (monomer C6H10O5, γ=24), then the price of starch is $0.23/kg. The cost and availability of lignocellulosic feedstock are more speculative, but DOE currently targets $84/US ton of herbaceous material with 60% carbohydrate, comprising about 40% cellulose and 20% xylan [6]. The price of the convertible fraction (average formula C1H1.6O0.8, γ=4) is thus $0.15/kg. The costs of ethanol production can be compared:

  $/kg theo. Ethanol from spot glucose $1.08 Ethanol from corn starch $0.40 Ethanol from biomass carbohydrate $0.27

We see that $84 biomass indeed offers some economic advantage over corn at $125, an advantage that vanishes near price parity and probably significantly lower, given the relative difficulty of converting biomass to fermentable sugars. More detailed TEA is required to accurately determine this point. In such further analysis, government credits or ‘soft’ market factors favoring cellulosic products over corn could also be considered.


TRL 4: Development of the minimum viable process

TRLs 4-6 represent the bridge from development to demonstration and the reduction of engineering risk. TRL 4 is the first step in determining whether the individual components of a technology (for instance, fermentation and recovery) can be integrated as a process. In the lab, process components are validated individually, and may be integrated in an ad hoc manner. We call this the minimum viable process—the cheapest experiments that test the whole idea.

TRL 4 is generally where conceptual process design begins. An integrated process model is developed that includes core technology as well as upstream and downstream operations (feedstock handling, product separation). Performance specifications for individual components are obtained from lab experiments; in this way, the TEA model may be leveraged to prioritize research targets according to economic impact. In TRL 4, TEA can be performed in spreadsheets if flowsheet simulation software is not available [7], but it must provide an overall material balance for the proposed process at scale. An energy balance may be elusive at this stage, due to uncertainties surrounding process externalities like utility demands in downstream processing. Developers should use the material balance to (1) understand the production costs associated with all material inputs (e.g., fermentation media, solvent makeup, catalysts, hydrogen) and (2) confirm that demand for these process inputs and any byproducts can be served by the existing market. (An example that comes to mind is organic acid production being limited by gypsum offtake.) In subsequent TRLs, developers will perform more and longer integrated experiments and will look to design and procure pilot-scale equipment. Exiting TRL 4 thus requires a significant funding commitment to support additional technical labor and capital equipment. Above all, the TEA efforts in TRL 4 should present a compelling story to investors, ideally resulting in a Series A investment round.

TRL 5: Integrated validation of the minimum viable process

TRL 5 traditionally marks the end of bench-scale work and final reduction of scientific risk. Continuous, integrated tests should be designed to produce small lots of the end-product, from its intended feedstock and with its intended formulation and specifications. These test lots can be provided to offtake partners or regulatory agencies. Some developers in the food, biomaterials, and personal-care spaces may have the opportunity in TRL 5 to provide samples to the public. (Be aware, however, that attempting to make a profit on R&D lots can have unwanted tax implications.)

There is generally no sharp transition between TRL 5 and TRL 6, which focuses on the design and operation of a pilot-scale testing unit (nominally 1/100th of commercial scale). Pilot development may still take place in a laboratory, but experiments are carried out at engineering scale, rather than bench scale. Pilot-scale unit operations may be designed and procured while bench-scale work continues, with the larger units replacing smaller units as they are brought online and validated.

From TRL 5 on, TEA activities could more broadly be called “process engineering,” so companies should seek to grow their engineering departments, by hiring full-time process engineers and/or expanding relationships with engineering and consulting firms. By TRL 5, the process flowsheet and TEA model should be sophisticated enough to include all material costs, major utility costs, and rough estimates of the major capital equipment at scale. Such data needs to ideally be in place by TRL 5 to position a developer for the scrutiny they should expect when trying to obtain hundreds-of-million-dollar loans in the later TRLs. These will be further refined as pilot development reduces engineering risk.

TRL 6: Integrated pilot development

As stated above, the line between TRL 5 and 6 is somewhat blurry and developers may find themselves in TRL 6 at the point where most of their development activities center on operating the pilot plant (1/100thcommercial scale). It is important that the pilot plant include engineering-scale equivalents of all the unit operations that will be required at scale, including prototypes of any novel operations, e.g., product separation. If not adopted earlier, the process flowsheet that informs the TEA model is built with a proper chemical flowsheet simulation program, paying attention to physical limitations of equipment (pump motors, compressor discharge temperatures), materials of construction, and thermodynamic accuracy, particularly in separations. This level of detail generally requires senior process engineering staff or specialized consultants. The TEA model will be used by an EPC firm to develop construction estimates for a demonstration plant (1/10thcommercial scale), and relatively accurate capital cost estimates for the full-scale plant. These will be used to procure financing to go forward.

To the extent that there exists a valley of death for bioeconomy ventures, it is almost certainly TRL 5/6. The next TRL culminates with a demonstration of extended, continuous pilot plant operation. Careful selection and specification of pilot equipment in TRL 5, and a deep understanding of their operational nuances in TRL 6 is critical to a successful continuous run in TRL 7.

TRL 7: Integrated pilot continuous operation

TRL 7 comprises continuous, integrated operation of the pilot plant, from feedstock to product. These activities will expose engineering and manufacturing risk that may surface at larger scale. Developers should propose—and use the pilot plant to test—solutions that will apply to demonstration scale. A continuous, steady-state run of 1,000 hours is the industry standard needed to instill confidence in large investors (i.e., banks). Some developers have gone to demonstration scale with fewer, but 1,000 hours should be the threshold for new developers to bear in mind. Documentation is critical in TRL 7—developers should record which operations were running during every run, for how long, and how they performed.

Between TRL 7 and TRL 8, the demonstration plant (1/10thcommercial) will be designed and constructed—potentially a project taking tens of months and tens of millions of dollars. Developers should expect that investors will employ independent engineers (IEs) to scrutinize and validate the R&D and pilot runs to this point. To facilitate communication with IEs, the flowsheet and TEA model should be refined to near-final form, with a very high level of detail. With learning from the pilot operation, design, construction, and startup of the demonstration plant proceeds with external EPC resources. Heat and material balances from the refined model will be used to develop detailed construction estimates for a commercial plant.

TRL 8: Precommercial demonstration

Our discussion around TRLs 8 and 9 is rather brief, because we find that developers who reach TRL 8 already have a high level of competency, and the remaining problems tend to be very specific growing pains that are not of interest to a general audience.

In TRL 8, the demonstration plant is constructed, troubleshot, and operated continuously. Operating conditions are explored, to prove the process within and outside of normal parameters. TRL 8 represents the end of R&D in almost all cases. (Some definition sets omit TRL 9 because R&D is effectively complete.) By analyzing demonstration operability, true manufacturing costs will be determined. Deviations from the predictions made during the pilot stage are identified and mitigation plans are developed. The process simulation is finalized and scaled up to commercial scale.

TRL 9: Full commercial deployment

Technologies in TRL 9 are in their final form and have been proven throughout the full range of operating conditions. R&D, pilot, and demonstration resources can be directed to other commercialization targets. A full-time process engineering staff continuously verifies that operations are meeting cost, yield, and productivity targets. Frequently, operating companies continue to find value in highly specialized experts for implementing advanced process control programs, or process debottlenecking.



[2] DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office, Multi-Year Program Plan, March 2015

[3] Steve Blank,

[4] IHS Chemical, PEP Yearbook, Accessed March 2018

[5] The University of Illinois, Dept of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, October 2017

[6] DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office, Multi-Year Program Plan, March 2016


About the Author

Dr. Humbird, Principal of DWH Process Consulting LLC, is a member of Lee Enterprises Consulting, the world’s premier bioeconomy consulting group, with more than 100 consultants and experts worldwide who collaborate on interdisciplinary projects, including the types discussed in this article. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and do not necessarily express the views of Lee Enterprises Consulting.

Categories: Today's News

Sylvatex and its remarkable progress near the Land of Misfit Feedstocks

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 10/01/2018 - 2:52pm

From California comes the happy news that Sylavatex CEO Virginia Klausmeier is expecting a new child in a couple of weeks, and that the significant scale-up taking place in that department is paired with the news that Sylvatex and Trucent have succeeded in a scale up and blending of MicroX renewable blendstock from an optimized distillers corn oil to free fatty acid hydrolysis process. (That’s DCO and FFA to those of you not otherwise deep-engaged in Future Farmers of America.or the Defense Department’s Defense Connect Online.)

A note on Trucent

It used to be Valicor, and best known in this sector for its recycling and recovering technologies including corn oil extraction from ethanol productionrecently sold off its environmental services division to the private equity firm Wind Point Partners, and with the sael went the company’s brand name. The remaining five divisions were re-branded as Trucent. Same management team, same technology focus. Just a label-change, really.

The what and the why of Sylvatex

The technical explanation is this:  MicroX enables oxygenates, such as ethanol, to blend seamlessly into diesel leading to a very low carbon lifecycle, and low emissions fuel with significantly favorable production economics. 

In English, that means you take one gallon of free fatty acids (made, in this case, by hydrolyzing distiller’s corn oil) and one gallon of conventional corn ethanol, creasing thereby two gallons of a diesel fuel blendstock.

Thereby, one can make diesel fuel without the fuss of actually upgrading an alcohol to a hydrocarbon.

Why would we consider corn oil and ethanol to be Misfit Feedstocks, since you can make good, valuable biodiesel from DCO and corn ethanol has a 15 billion gallon mandated market in the US? Well, the RFS calls for 15 billion gallons, but its actually more like 14, and an excess of ethanol supply is depressing prices for fuels, and back to corn producers.

And, A number of ethanol producers would like to see an alternative market fto biodiesel for their distillers corn oil — in the world of acronyms we would say that the problem of handling the FFAs of DCO limits many to working with REG and there’s a resultant downdraft in the ROI, PDQ. Just FYI.

Alcohols are not normally stable when blended into diesel, especially in the presence of water, leading to phase separation.  Why not simply convert alcohols to hydrocarbons by other means? Among other things, it costs you time, money, aggravation and mass. 

With Sylvatex’s microemulsion technology, the free fatty carboxylic acids produced as a byproduct of the fuel alcohol production process act as a surfactant to stabilize the water and alcohols by encapsulating them in tiny bubbles. These inverse micelles are thermodynamically stable and can form readily under ambient conditions with only simple splash-blending, and do not phase separate over time.  

The latest on standards

How does ASTM view this striking new advance in fuel formulation? Good news on that front. MicroX meets ASTM D8181, a recently approved standard that covers specifications for microemulsion blendstocks for middle distillate fuels. This new standard for renewable bio-based blendstocks that can be used as a diesel alternative provides specifications to ensure that the fuel being produced meets quality and consistency measures while also correlating with vehicle performance to fuel properties.

The Sylvatex backstory

The scale up followed completion of development, construction and operation of a pilot system that was undertaken as part of the joint development agreement the companies entered in February 2018.  

As we reported then, In California, Sylvatex teamed up with Valicor——to jointly develop, build out and commercialize Sylvatex’s MicroX technology. MicroX creates renewable nanoscale emulsion systems using distillers corn oil and other bio-based oils as feedstock. The systems have applications in fuels, lithium battery manufacturing, and other specialty chemical applications including food and cosmetics. The agreement builds upon previous collaboration between the two companies.

Sylvatex teams with Valicor to bring the MicroX technology to market

The value play

As we reported in February, what is “interesting to us is the arbitrage play. In this case, $21 million in value-add, per year, for a $3 million investment for the technology bolt-on, at a reference-case 100 million gallon plant.” We went through the math here.

Next steps: calling ethanol producers

The companies are now working to identify commercial ethanol producers interested in becoming co-location partners and private fleets for fuel demonstration partnerships.  

Other markets

Looking beyond fuel markets for higher margins and less policy-dependency? The MicroX platform can be used for a number of fuel and specialty chemical applications. Currently, surplus fuel ethanol has been the primary alcohol component that the blendstock has been made from, though other alcohols such as propanol, butanol, and pentanol could also be options.  And, Sylvatex creates renewable nanoscale emulsion systems that can be used in not only in fuels, lithium battery manufacturing, and other specialty chemical applications such as food and fragrances.

Reaction from the stakeholders

“We are very pleased with the success of the scale up. Coupled with the new ASTM standard it ensures a positive pathway to commercialization.” said Virginia Klausmeier, CEO of Sylvatex. “Our collaboration with Trucent has been beneficial to both parties, and we are now engaging in an active search for companies interested in joining us to commercialize MicroX blendstocks. In addition to the performance and economic benefits, the compelling carbon life cycle assessment of MicroX offers ethanol producers and fuel demonstration partners a significant added value.”

“Scale up affirmed the technology break-throughs we developed during lab testing.  Our enzyme recycle technology and low energy reactors resulted in even lower operating costs than predicted,” said James Bleyer, Director of Technology Development for Trucent.“The pilot plant and technology is now ready for a co-location demonstration, and production of market development quantities of MicroX”.

More on the story

Here’s the Sylvatex website.

The Multi-Slide Guide

Q.E.D.: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to the Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit

Categories: Today's News

HERO BX – Even kryptonite can’t stop the largest biodiesel producer in the Eastern U.S. from getting stronger and bigger

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 2:15pm

The largest biodiesel producer in the Eastern United States is getting larger, and stronger. Lake Erie Biofuels dba HERO BX purchased the assets of a Clinton, Iowa biodiesel facility from Tenaska Commodities, LLC, an affiliate of Tenaska, Inc.

The ambitious HERO BX Founder & CEO Samuel P. “Pat” Black, III, has been eyeing strategic acquisitions across the United States and quickly found a second facility in Iowa. HERO BX began a tolling arrangement at the Iowa Renewable Energy (IRE) facility in Washington, Iowa, in May 2018. “Expanding our expertise harvested from our flagship plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, nationwide is part of our growth strategy.”

The Clinton plant is particularly strategically located in east central Iowa, on the Illinois border, and within driving distance to the Chicago markets.

Tim Keaveney, Executive Vice President of Business Development at HERO BX offered, “We are bullish on biodiesel and all Iowa has to offer. It is a terrific market, feedstock is plentiful, and Iowa along with neighboring state Illinois have tax incentives in place for biodiesel. It’s a very attractive geography to produce and sell biodiesel.”

Tenaska Commodities offered a market-ready, operational asset where HERO BX will apply many of its proprietary processes that continue to set the company apart from its competition.

HERO BX Vice President of Operations John Nies added that a new acid esterification process will be added along with, “new reactors to increase efficiency along with cooling towers and boilers allowing the facility to reach desired production capacity.”

HERO BX cites the professionalism of Tenaska Commodities as a main reason for the expedited and aggressive timeline of acquisition and operation. Chris Peterson, President of HERO BX spoke highly of the process, “Tenaska and staff were gracious and courteous and made what could have been difficult and tedious, very smooth and easy. We are grateful.”

HERO BX expects the upgrades to be completed by mid-Q4 2018 and production to begin. This acquisition brings the production complement of HERO BX to Erie, Pennsylvania; Moundville, Alabama; South Roxana, Illinois; tolling at the IRE facility in Washington, Iowa as well as blending and distribution in North Hampton, New Hampshire.

“I get by with a little help from my friends…”

It’s been a big year for HERO BX, not just with this new acquisition, but with smart partnerships. We all know superheroes don’t usually work alone. They join forces to fight the evil-doers. They work together for the common good.

“It takes two to tango.”

“Two heads are better than one.”

“I get by with a little help from my friends.”

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford

The sayings go on and on about how things are always better with more people, and that seems to be the case with HERO BX as they proceed with smart partnerships to move their business further.

In May, the Digest reported that HERO BX invested $1 million in a Penn State biofuels lab. Students are working with HERO BX chemists and other researchers to reduce the sulfur in biodiesel feedstocks, which are processed for reuse as transportation fuels and heating oil. Subsequent studies will focus on increasing the efficiency of biodiesel in cold-temperature applications, including commercial aviation.

HERO BX announced a strategic partnership with Iowa Renewable Energy LLC based in Washington, Iowa, to manufacture and market biodiesel from IRE’s Iowa facility, as reported in The Digest in April. “It has been my ambition to expand the biodiesel expertise harvested from our flagship plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, nationwide much like has already happened in Alabama and in New Hampshire,” said HERO BX founder and CEO Samuel P. “Pat” Black III. “Now we will call Iowa our newest home. Accomplishing this milestone alongside IRE, a company that shares our commitment to quality, corporate culture and core values is key to achieving our joint vision. To be operating in Iowa—America’s epicenter for renewable energy—allows HERO BX to operate together with some of the pioneers who helped build this great industry.”

HERO BX launched a branded bioheat Program in Pennsylvania last year, offering heating oil retailers the opportunity to carry the HERO BX brand and supporting technical and marketing benefits in exchange for Bioheat supply contracts. As reported by The Digest in January 2017, HERO BX leased a 5,000-barrel storage facility in North Hampton, NH to help jumpstart the program. HERO BX invested in the infrastructure that allows for biodiesel/heating oil rack blends from B2 through B80, allowing branded retail dealers an automated solution for Bioheat supply and distribution.

Bottom Line

HERO BX doesn’t just have a cool name. They are living and breathing their name. Between the acquisition and turning around a sitting bare biodiesel facility to bring jobs back to the area and striking up key partnerships and agreements with others like Penn State’s biofuels lab, Iowa Renewable Energy LLC, and the bioheat program, HERO BX is acting very much like a super hero.

Categories: Today's News

Green Energy Biofuels opens 3rd biodiesel plant

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 1:58pm

In South Carolina, Green Energy Biofuels is opening their third plant, a former biodiesel facility that they acquired, modified, and improved in Aiken County. The massive facility and multitude of 32 tanks, along with their staff will allow them to process 180,000 gallons of product daily, totaling over 60,000,000 gallons annually. The new plant will run three shifts, 24 hours a day.

This new facility allows Green Energy Biofuels to expand operations and staff to unprecedented levels. They plan on hiring an additional 40 employees over the next 5 years, helping bring jobs and industry to the Aiken area. Founder and co-owner Bio Joe told The Digest, “the sky is the limit with this new plant.”

Green Energy Biofuels told The Digest that the new plant will be online later this fall, most likely in early October.

Categories: Today's News

JM and BP license waste-to-fuels technology to Fulcrum BioEnergy

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 1:56pm

In the United Kingdom, Johnson Matthey, alongside BP, signed an agreement with Fulcrum BioEnergy to license their Fischer Tropsch (FT) technology to support biofuels producer Fulcrum and their drive to convert municipal solid waste into biojet fuel.

The simple to operate and cost advantaged FT technology can operate both at large and small scale to economically convert synthesis gas, generated from sources such as municipal solid waste and other renewable biomass, into long-chain hydrocarbons suitable for the production of diesel and jet fuels. Fulcrum will use the technology in their new Sierra BioFuels Plant located in Storey County, Nevada, approximately 20 miles east of Reno.

“We have been following BP and Johnson Matthey’s progress for several years, including the demonstrated performance and reliability of their innovative design. We are pleased to partner with them and license this improved FT technology for our Sierra BioFuels Plant,” said Jim Macias, Fulcrum BioEnergy President and Chief Executive Officer. “The BP/JM technology enhances the value of Fulcrum’s process for converting waste to low carbon, drop-in fuels. We look forward to working with BP and JM as we build out our large development programme.”

Categories: Today's News

NGL Crude pays $25M penalty for RFS fraud and retires $10M in RINs

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 1:55pm

In Oklahoma, NGL Crude Logistics LLC agreed to pay $25 million civil penalty and agreed to retire $10 million in renewable fuel production credits as part of the settlement with the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Department of Justice and EPA alleged that NGL entered into a series of transactions with Western Dubuque Biodiesel, LLC in 2011 that resulted in the generation of an extra set of renewable fuel credits for approximately 24 million gallons of biodiesel. NGL’s scheme generated approximately 36 million additional credits or RINs.

“Enforcement actions such as the one we announce today are essential to ensuring the integrity of government programs,” said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio.  “Fraud in the RFS market will not be tolerated. I applaud the work of the EPA and DOJ enforcement team who achieved today’s excellent result for the taxpayers.”

“A strong enforcement program is essential to maintaining the integrity of the RIN market,” said Assistant Administrator of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) Susan Bodine.  “Through this settlement EPA and DOJ are holding NGL accountable for its violations of the RFS program.”


Categories: Today's News

EU holds off on tariffs for cheaper Argentine biodiesel

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 1:53pm

In France, in a major blow for European biofuel producers, the European Commission will not be imposing provisional import tariffs on cheaper Argentine biodiesel until it gathers more information. EU biodiesel producers were negatively affected when the EU scrapped duties last year in response to a ruling by the World Trade Organization, which allowed Argentina’s cheaper biodiesel to come into the EU, threatening local producers.

“The Commission’s preliminary conclusions are that the Argentinian imports of the product concerned into the Union are subsidized and that there appears to be a threat of material injury to the Union industry,” the Commission said in the document obtained by Reuters.

“However, the Commission finds it necessary to collect further information on developments after the investigation period which could further confirm the Commission’s preliminary findings in this investigation as well as shed more light on the Union interest,” it said. “In view of its findings, the Commission will continue the investigation without the imposition of provisional measures.”

Several biodiesel makers including Saipol, Bunge and Archer Daniels Midland Co have been reducing production or even closing plants in the EU, saying the poor market conditions are due to the huge influx of cheaper Argentine biodiesel coming in.

Categories: Today's News

Soybean ending stocks increasing strongly

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 1:51pm

In Germany, UFOP reports that world soybean production in the 2018/19 marketing year will likely be higher than previously expected. Since Chinese demand is shrinking, stocks could surge to a record high.

In its September report, the USDA raised its estimate of global soybean production for 2018/19 by 2.2 million tonnes to 369.3 million tonnes. This would be up 32.5 million tonnes from the previous marketing year. With a forecast bumper crop of 127.7 million tonnes, the US is seen to be the largest soybean producer. According to the USDA outlook, 2018/19 global consumption is likely to exceed the previous year’s level by 16 million tonnes. Nevertheless, the volume of soybeans processed of 353 million tonnes would still be 16 million tonnes smaller than the tonnage harvested.

According to an Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI) estimate, global ending stocks will likely exceed the previous year’s figure substantially at the end of the marketing year. Based on the current forecast of 108 million tonnes, the increase would amount to around 13 million tonnes compared to 2017/18, resulting in the largest ending stocks in history. Just in June 2018, ending stocks were only forecast at 87 million tonnes. China will still be the world’s most important soybean importer in 2018/19. At 94 million tonnes, imports are projected at the previous year’s level. The stagnation in soybean imports is due to the trade dispute with the US. Just a few months ago, USDA projected Chinese soy imports at more than 103 million tonnes.


Categories: Today's News

Ethanol production thins out slightly at 1.4% less than prior week

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 1:49pm

In Washington, D.C., ethanol production averaged 1.036 million barrels per day (b/d)—or 43.51 million gallons daily – output thinned by 15,000 b/d, settling 1.4% under the prior week, according to government data released and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association. The four-week average for ethanol production receded to a 15-week low of 1.048 million b/d for an annualized rate of 16.07 billion gallons. Stocks of ethanol eased to 22.6 million barrels. That is a 0.4% decrease and an 8-week low. There were zero ethanol imports recorded for the third consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of July 2018.)

Average weekly gasoline demand dropped for the fourth straight week, plummeting 5.7% to 8.987 million barrels (377.5 million gallons) daily. This is equivalent to 137.77 billion gallons annualized and the lowest consumption in 16 weeks (the start of summer driving season). Refiner/blender input of ethanol likewise shrank to the lowest use in 16 weeks, contracting 2.9% to 901,000 b/d. That is equivalent to 13.81 billion gallons annualized. Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production lifted to a 7-week high of 11.53%.


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Biofuel-powered sensor monitors body’s signals and diagnose diseases

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 1:47pm

In Washington, researchers at Washington State University developed an implantable, biofuel-powered sensor that runs on sugar and can monitor a body’s biological signals to detect, prevent and diagnose diseases. A cross-disciplinary research team led by Subhanshu Gupta, assistant professor in WSU’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, developed the unique sensor, which, enabled by the biofuel cell, harvests glucose from body fluids to run.

The research team has demonstrated a unique integration of the biofuel cell with electronics to process physiological and biochemical signals with high sensitivity.

Many popular sensors for disease detection are either watches, which need to be recharged, or patches that are worn on the skin, which are superficial and can’t be embedded. The sensor developed by the WSU team could also remove the need to prick a finger for testing of certain diseases, such as diabetes.

“The human body carries a lot of fuel in its bodily fluids through blood glucose or lactate around the skin and mouth,” said Gupta. “Using a biofuel cell opens the door to using the body as potential fuel.”


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U.S. talks with Japan, 2nd largest buyer of U.S. corn

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 1:44pm

In Washington, D.C., leaders of the United States and Japan, one of the largest U.S. grain customers and second largest buyer of U.S. corn after Mexico, announced that the two countries would pursue trade talks. The impact on agriculture is to be determined in the talks.

The country is also a strong purchaser of sorghum, barley and distiller’s dried grains with solubes, and the Japanese government recently modified its national biofuels policy in a way that could open the door for sales of U.S. ethanol-based additives or ethanol for fuel use. The Council, which partners with local industries and governments to develop markets for grains products, has worked in Japan since 1961.

“Positive movement with Japan related to trade and our countries’ relationship as a whole is critical to the U.S. grains sector,” said Tom Sleight, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) president and chief executive officer. “Japan is one of the largest and most loyal buyers of U.S. grains, and our relationships with our Japanese customers run deep. We are pleased to see this development in the work between our two countries.”

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The Road to Bioeconomy: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Bioenergy production in Croatia

Biofuels Digest - Sat, 09/29/2018 - 1:44pm

IEA Bioenergy Task 43’s goal is to contribute to sound bioenergy development driven by well-informed decisions in the forestry, agriculture and energy sectors as well as in investment institutions and government agencies.  The group addresses critical issues for deployment of sustainable biomass and bioenergy supply chains, including social, economic and environmental outcomes of feedstock production and supply.

Biljana Kulišić gave this illuminating overview of the progress and promise of bioenergy production in Croatia at an IEA Bioenergy Task 43 meeting.


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Biomass Feedstocks for Energy Markets: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to the BELT Biorefinery concept

Biofuels Digest - Sat, 09/29/2018 - 1:32pm

IEA Bioenergy Task 43’s goal is to contribute to sound bioenergy development driven by well-informed decisions in the forestry, agriculture and energy sectors as well as in investment institutions and government agencies. The group addresses critical issues for deployment of sustainable biomass and bioenergy supply chains, including social, economic and environmental outcomes of feedstock production and supply.

Patrice Mangin gave this illuminating overview of the progress and promise of the BELT concept at an IEA Bioenergy Task 43 meeting.

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Development, deployment of integrated biorefineries: The Digest’s Multi-Slide Guide to Biorefining in Italy

Biofuels Digest - Sat, 09/29/2018 - 1:25pm

IEA Bioenergy Task 42’s goal is to contribute to the development and deployment of integrated biorefineries as part of highly efficient sustainable value chains (co-)producing food/feed ingredients, chemicals, materials, fuels, power and/or heat out of sustainably sourced biomass (wood, crops, residues, etc.) as base for a global BioEconomy.

Isabella de Bari and Maria Teresa Petrone gave this illuminating overview of the progress and promise of thermal gasification of biomass in Germany at an IEA Bioenergy Task 42 meeting.

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Development, deployment of integrated biorefineries: The Digest’s Multi-Slide Guide to Biorefining in the US

Biofuels Digest - Sat, 09/29/2018 - 1:21pm

IEA Bioenergy Task 42’s goal is to contribute to the development and deployment of integrated biorefineries as part of highly efficient sustainable value chains (co-)producing food/feed ingredients, chemicals, materials, fuels, power and/or heat out of sustainably sourced biomass (wood, crops, residues, etc.) as base for a global BioEconomy.

Borislava Kostova  gave this illuminating overview of the progress and promise of thermal gasification of biomass in the United States at an IEA Bioenergy Task 42 meeting.

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Development, deployment of integrated biorefineries: The Digest’s Multi-Slide Guide to Biorefining in Germany

Biofuels Digest - Sat, 09/29/2018 - 1:17pm

IEA Bioenergy Task 42’s goal is to contribute to the development and deployment of integrated biorefineries as part of highly efficient sustainable value chains (co-)producing food/feed ingredients, chemicals, materials, fuels, power and/or heat out of sustainably sourced biomass (wood, crops, residues, etc.) as base for a global BioEconomy.

Heinz Stichnothe  gave this illuminating overview of the progress and promise of biorefining in Germany at an IEA Bioenergy Task 42 meeting.

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Greenbelt and Biofuels & Energy Execute Contract for Colorado Project

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 09/27/2018 - 6:59pm

In California, Greenbelt Resources Corporation and Biofuels & Energy executed a contract for engineering services on the SLV Biopro Project located in San Luis Valley, Colorado. Greenbelt will provide engineering consulting services to B&E during the development phase of this project, which intends to utilize various food wastes and surplus, including potato industry processing waste and off-spec grains.

The total SLV Biopro Project budget is estimated at $8.0 to $9.0 million, depending on final location and production capacity, of which about $7.2 million is allocated to Greenbelt’s system.

Extensive feasibility analysis conducted by B&E indicates that the SLV region produces a significant variety of wastes which qualify as feedstocks, in quantities well beyond that needed for the project. B&E is currently securing both feedstock and off take agreements for the project.

Greenbelt has pioneered this local community scale model, which uses a variety of organic feedstocks and converts these into valuable bioproducts such as bioethanol and biobased protein products. The Company is currently raising funds for two projects focused on producing bioethanol for use in the cannabis industry as extraction solvent, using winery and brewery wastes as feedstocks: PRECO and the California BioEthanol Project.

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Biofuel plant still on hold with vote delayed until Nov. 7

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 09/27/2018 - 6:58pm

In Kansas, residents in Sumner County met with the Sumner County Planning and Zoning Committee to talk about the proposed biomethane plant that VNA Corporation is trying to build in the area. The vote to change the zoning for more than 100 acres of land so that VNA Corporation can build the biofuel plant was postponed until November 7. The land is currently designated a rural area and VNA Corporation is seeking to change it to an industrial use zone to build the plant.

According to KWCH News, VNA says the plant would create renewable energy and that it won’t need to use water from the river. VNA already drilled a test well and plans to use groundwater.

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Wheat pushes beets into 2nd place for bioethanol feedstock

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 09/27/2018 - 6:57pm

In Germany, the proportionate use of cereal raw materials in the production of bioethanol has shifted in Germany in recent years. As the Deutsches Maiskomitee eV (DMK) reports, the range of products and prices has led to the fact that wheat in Germany is now the most important crop for bioethanol production with a share of more than 50%, pushing beets to second place. Corn currently accounts for about 10% of cereal raw materials, compared to 25% five years ago. In absolute terms, the use of corn did not change significantly; in 2013 it was 279,000 t, in 2017 it was 236,000 t. Like corn, rye also lost significant proportions, while triticale has grown in importance.

According to the Federal Monopoly Administration, last year a total of 2.145 million t. cereals were used for bioethanol production, almost twice as many as five years ago. After years of positive growth, bioethanol production in Germany fell again last year for the first time.

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