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Consumer Values Drive Demand for the Bioeconomy Specialty Chemicals

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 5:29pm

By Bogdan Comanita, PhD/MBA, Principal MarketChemica Inc.[1] and member of Lee Enterprises Consulting, Inc.

Special to The Digest


VIRIDISOL®, ecoXTRACT® and GreenFlame® are examples of B2B brands launched in 2018 that support the use of new biobased products in large B2C markets. All these B2B brands are in perfect alignment with powerful B2C brands in markets as divers as pharmaceutical, cosmetics and hearth & patio industries. The article concludes that identifying upfront the ultimate consumer target market segment and aligning the B2B brand to consumer demand is critical for commercial success. Strategic marketing and market communications services are therefore an important contributor to all other technical, regulatory and legal services offered by Lee Enterprises Consulting Inc, the worlds largest bioeconomy consulting group.


Sustainability as Macroeconomic Opportunity

Sustainability is a long-term business driver, anchored in societal fundamental values and not driven by topical politics (Figure 1).

Academia is preoccupied by definition with the application of the scientific method to uncovering immutable laws. These discoveries are to inform the scientific community, public opinion and government policies. They take a long time to be transformed from scientific facts in the values held dear by the electorate at large, in sustainability case the story goes back to mid 20th century.

[1] MarketChemica Inc. is a marketing specialist for Lee Enterprises Consulting Inc.

Figure 1: Long-term sustainability problems transcend short-term electoral cycles

Since the electorate is at the same time the workforce for businesses it is only normal that these values will penetrate the business culture above and beyond the legal requirements imposed by government policies.

In conclusion, the short democratic electoral cycle does not allow the easy reversal of a half of a century trend. For as long as academia continues to demonstrate that sustainability is a problem, bioeconomy will be part of the solution and marketing will be essential to create business opportunities.


What Do Consumers Want?

While the ideological clash provides the backdrop of macroeconomic societal trends, marketing remains the critical tool for maintaining demand for sustainable solutions at the microeconomic level.

Figure 2 shows what consumers want across a wide range of industries. Interestingly, the consumer is looking beyond the product at raw materials and processes used in the manufacture of a product. Terminology might differ from one industry to another ranging from “clean label” to “free from” to “biodegradable” as it might be driven by sectorial/national legislation. There is however a common thread overarching all industries, countries and product categories that speaks to the need for a sustainable economy. Obviously, B2C brands have to meet their buyers’ needs and wants by disclosing the ingredients used by their formulations as well as raw materials and manufacturing processes.

This creates wide opportunities to suppliers to B2C brand manufacturers by aligning their B2B brands to end game demands.

Figure 2: What do consumer want across industries, countries and product categories

The Concept of Supply Chain Brand Alignment

By way of example, Green Biologics, Inc. agreed to supply in 2018 their patented GreenFlame® bio-based charcoal lighter fluid formulation exclusively to Kingsford Charcoal.

Figure 3: Kingsford’s EcoLight B2C brand is based on Green Biologic’s GreenFlame® B2B brand

The licensing agreement builds on the successful 2017 introduction of GreenFlame®, a natural USDA BioPreferred® certified, clean-burning charcoal lighter fluid based on Green Biologics’ proprietary advanced fermentation process for biobutanol and acetone. Kingsford decided to market GBI’s formulation under their own brand EcoLight, sold in large retail chains across US the market. The brand architecture along the supply chain is highlighted in Figure 3.

Figure 4: VIRIDISOL® M supports the pharma’ need to reduce carbon footprint

In another recent example, Pennakem LLC launched in 2018 the VIRIDISOL® range of solvents offering a biobased alternative to fossil based solvents (Figure 4). Pennakem marketing was very much aware that the pharmaceutical industry needed to reduce its carbon footprint due to use of notoriously large amounts of solvents in multistep synthesis. They understood that the consumer image of pharma companies is tied directly into the corporate social responsibility report.

VIRIDISOL® M reduces the solvent specific consumption by comparison to oil based THF due to its biobased nature as well as easy recycling. Its brand positioning is therefore consistent with the pharmaceutical industry desired public image.

A third and final example comes from the same company. Pennakem LLC launched in 2018 ecoXTRACT®, a biobased alternative to hexane, a solvent used in the extraction of lipophilic moieties for F&F and cosmetic industries (Figure 5).

Various cosmetics and F&F brands have a need to differentiate their offering to consumers by using a natural, biobased solvent instead of the oil based hexanes and the B2B brand supports this.

Figure 5:  Cosmetics and F&F B2C brands are supported by ecoXTRACT®

The Importance of Strategic Marketing

Charcoal lighter fluid market in US is one of countless potential markets for GreenFlame® biobutanol based formulation. Pharmaceutical solvent market for VIRIDISOL® M or cosmetics market for ecoXTRACT® are not necessarily obvious choices either.

The launch of these brands was not done just for the sake of having a pretty name. All companies above looked in fact at the size of the B2C market driving their demand and they took the time to understand the positioning of the brands they are selling to.

This is the object of strategic marketing. Unlike marketing communications strategic marketing identifies specific market segments that are large and profitable enough to meet the required ROI.

Launching the B2B brands simply translates earlier strategic marketing decisions into efficient market communications.


 As a macroeconomic trend, sustainability is anchored deeply in long-term societal values, not passing political choices. Bioeconomy is one of several possible answers to the sustainability problem.

Sustainability responds to multifaceted consumer needs and the supply chain brand architecture from raw material to B2C delivery must sustain this desiderate

B2B manufacturers can identify the most productive market niches for their products by reinforcing their strategic marketing capabilities. In a nutshell, bioeconomy manufacturers need to align their brand positioning to support the end of chain B2C brands

LEC has the capability to support clients with best in class strategic marketing and communication consulting through its various member organizations including MarketChemica Inc.

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Fuel & Engine Co-Optimization: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to NREL

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 5:13pm

National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) is working to address key questions like what fuels engines really want, what fuels work best and what will work in the real world.

John Farrell from NREL gave this illuminating overview of their work thus far on answering those questions, their work on Co-Optima research and analysis, and more at ABLC Global 2018 in San Francisco

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European Biodiesel Board signs off on 1.2 million ton limit on Argentine biodiesel imports

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 5:49pm

In Belgium, during last week’s Trade Defense Committee (TDC) meeting, Member States’ representatives discussed and approved with a large majority anti-subsidy (AS) duties against Argentinean unfair imports of biodiesel. A Price Undertaking agreement between the European Commission and Argentinian producers was also approved. The European Biodiesel Board welcomed the adoption of the definitive AS duties vs. Argentinean unfair exports. The measures were approved by a large majority. The EBB says this is an important confirmation that the EU considers Argentinean Export Taxes an illegal subsidization practice generating unfair and distorting effects in the international market of biodiesel.

A Price Undertaking (PU) agreement between the European Commission and Argentinean producers also got approved by a majority of Member States this morning. Such agreement was part of the package of measures against Argentina. It provides that Argentinean exporters will be allowed to export towards the EU, without paying the duties, a maximum of approximately 1.2 million metric tons of biodiesel every year to be sold at a minimum price level set to create a level playing field. In order to avoid peak exports no more than 37% of this annual volume will be allowed to be traded on a single quarter

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Malaysia’s B10 mandate comes into full implementation

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 5:46pm

In Malaysia, Platts reports that the country’s B10 blending mandate for the transportation sector that came into play on December 1 came into full implementation on Friday while the B7 mandate for industrial users is set for July 1. The higher mandate for transport from B7 previously is expected to generate between 100,000 and 250,000 metric tons of additional demand annually while some analysts expect the increased demand from industrial users come July could be even less.

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FQTP installs new SGT™ technology at CHS ethanol facility

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 5:45pm

In Illinois, Fluid Quip Process Technologies (FQPT) has completed the installation and startup of its patented Selective Grind Technology (SGT) at the 150 million gallon per year CHS ethanol facility located in Rochelle, IL.

“Adding the SGT system to an ethanol plant not only increases yields but enables these plants to switch to more cost-effective enzymes. This leads to lower overall operating costs and higher revenue, resulting in a more profitable ethanol facility,” said Neal Jakel, V.P. Strategy and Development, FQPT.

Jakel continued, “Our SGT technology continues to prove out nearly 2x the ethanol and oil yield gain over any other comparable technology in the ethanol space.  We have developed a grind simulation test in which a plant can see what the results could look like before they commit to an SGT project. We utilize these results to determine the process guarantees, so a plant will know what their guaranteed ROI will be before they begin.”

The SGT System is installed in the mash cook process to expose more starch for conversion to ethanol and to shear open the germ to release more corn oil. The SGT system reduces starch in DDGS which reduces dryer loading and increases DDGS Pro-Fat levels. FQPT provides customized systems based on plant size and objectives. These include various screen and mill sizes and custom flow setups to achieve industry-leading yields. The FQPT SGT grind mills are exclusively installed with an auto-gap adjuster technology that ensures optimize milling performance automatically.

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Brazilian sugar mills may reduce ethanol production this year as sugar prices set to rise

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 5:44pm

In Brazil, Platts reports that with ethanol set to account for 65% of cane crushed during the 2018/19 season that is just wrapping up, the highest seen in a decade, oil and gas prices are expected to impact ethanol—and therefore sugar—more than ever before. With global sugar production falling this year and edging toward a more balanced market with a slight deficit, sugar prices may strengthen and in turn increase demand for cane to produce sugar rather than ethanol.

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GoodFuels uses blockchain to help BHP and Japanese shipping company fuel up with biofuel

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 5:41pm

In the Netherlands, global mining company BHP, Japanese shipping company NYK, leading sustainable biofuel company GoodFuels and BLOC (Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration) the leading developer of blockchain applications for the maritime industry, announced the successful delivery of sustainable biofuels to the BHP-chartered, NYK-owned bulk carrier Frontier Sky, with CO2 savings verified with BLOC’s blockchain fuels assurance platform.

The advanced biofuel, supplied by GoodFuels via logistics partner Varo Energy, is a ‘drop-in’ marine gasoil (MGO)-equivalent, and was blended with conventional fossil-based MGO in a mix of 30% biofuel to 70% conventional MGO. This delivery saves over 50 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of approximately 125,000 miles driven by car, and sets the stage for further savings, driven by switching to this carbon neutral fuel.

This is an important step in the decarbonisation strategies of both BHP and NYK. NYK was recently recognised as a global leader on corporate climate action by the environmental non-profit organisation CDP, achieving a place on the Climate Change A-List for its climate strategy. NYK’s reduction targets for GHG emissions are 30% per ton-km by 2030 compared with a 2015 base year, and 50% per ton-km by 2050.

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German researchers discover natural herbicide derived from cyanobacteria

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 5:40pm

In Germany, researchers at the University of Tübingen have discovered a natural substance that could compete with the controversial herbicide glyphosate: a newly discovered sugar molecule synthesized from cyanobacteria that inhibits the growth of various microorganisms and plants but is harmless to humans and animals. It was published in the journal Nature Communications on Friday.

Chemists and microbiologists at the University of Tübingen discovered an unusual antimetabolite with a simple chemical structure: a sugar molecule with the scientific name 7-deoxy-sedoheptulose (7dSh). Unlike ordinary carbohydrates, which usually serve as an energy source for growth, this substance inhibits the growth of plants and microorganisms, such as bacteria and yeasts. The sugar molecule blocks a key enzyme of the shikimate pathway, a metabolic pathway that occurs only in microorganisms and plants. For this reason, the scientists classify the substance as harmless for humans and animals, and have already demonstrated this in initial studies.

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UC Santa Barbara researcher says biofuels rarely have environmental benefits

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 5:39pm

In California, in efforts to curb our use of greenhouse gas-generating fossil fuels, plant-based biofuels are among the top contenders as alternative liquid energy sources for transportation. However, strategies to produce high yields of biomass for fuels are not a one-size-fits-all proposition, according to a study led by UC Santa Barbara professor of ecology David Tilman.

“It is difficult to make a biofuel that actually has environmental benefits,” said Tilman, a faculty member in the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, and co-author of a paper published in the journal Nature Sustainability. “When a food crop is used to make a biofuel, this, in essence, takes food away from poor people around the world, and, it turns out, offers little, if any, greenhouse gas reductions.”

Whereas conventional production of biofuels has largely used food crops such as corn, soybeans, oil palm and sugarcane, these practices have their pitfalls, such as intensive use of nitrogen fertilizers, and competition for fertile croplands that had been growing food. In Tilman’s 10-year experiment, the researchers explored alternative ways to generate biomass, but with fewer environmental and economic side effects.

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RFA tells EPA to include missing RIN gallons in planned RVO “reset”

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 5:38pm

In Washington, the Renewable Fuels Association wrote a letter to the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency last week requesting that the planned “reset” of renewable volume obligations for 2020-2022 take into consideration the 500 million gallons of renewable fuel improperly waived from the 2016 standards, as required by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ remanding Americans for Clean Energy v. EPA, the approximately 232 million RIN “write-off” as part of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining and Marketing, LLC (‘‘PESRM’’) bankruptcy settlement, and the 2.25 billion RINs attributable to 48 small refinery exemptions granted for compliance years 2016 and 2017. The proposed reset is meant to reduce the RVOs for cellulosic and advanced biofuels due to lower-than-expected production.

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Almond Joy: CEC poised to award $10 million to advance Aemetis, West Coast nut waste-to-fuels commercial projects

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 5:26pm

In California, the California Energy Commission has issued a Notice of Proposed Award (NOPA) for a $5 million grant to the Aemetis Riverbank cellulosic ethanol biorefinery, and $5 million for West Coast Waste Co., to assist in the development of its innovative commercial-scale, low-carbon biorefinery, known as Madera Renewable Energy One (MADRE I) project.

The West Coast Waste project

This one is a partnership between West Coast Waste and Enerkem.

MADRE I is aimed at producing  45 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural biomass that is currently subject to open field burning, land application, or disposal. The facility will be located at WCW’s existing 80-acre biomass processing facility at 9537 Road 29 ½ in Madera County and will bring 59 permanent, living-wage jobs to this rural, disadvantaged community. The WCW Team anticipates that the project will receive CEQA-approval during the first quarter of 2019.

The Balakian family, the owners of WCW, have been farming in the Madera and Fresno County regions of the Central Valley for over 100 years. Their sister company, California Grinding, Inc. (CGI), began offering nut and citrus tree removal services in 1990. Since CGI’s founding, it has provided these services for 75 different growers and managed more than five million tons of orchard wood. WCW owns two existing operations permitted for biomass handling, composting, and anaerobic digestion.

MADRE I will utilize advanced versions of Enerkem’s Edmonton gasification processing line to produce 45 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol, an unprecedented scale in the U.S. and three times the amount that will be produced nationwide in 2018. Its cellulosic ethanol will annually displace roughly 352,000 MTCO2E of gasoline and is expected to achieve a carbon intensity (CI) score of 6 or less. Due to the elimination of open field burning, this project will displace an additional 168,900 MTCO2E per year. This results in an overall cost-effectiveness of $1.92 of CEC funding per metric ton of carbon reduced, assuming a 5-year grant term.

The plant will process 330,000 tons per year of almond wood as well as almond shells and pistachio hulls (1,000 “as received” tons per day for a 330-day operating year), dramatically reducing the need for this material to be burned in the field. CGI has committed to provide and prepare this feedstock for MADRE I under a 15-year price-certain agreement.  The material will be sourced primarily from Fresno and Madera Counties, which have the largest concentration of growers and acreage in the state.

Enerkem has a modular plant design and standardized manufacturing infrastructure in place to enable large scale roll-out. Its waste-to-cellulosic ethanol system has been 90% modularized. Each of its future bioethanol lines will be comprised of 105 prefabricated modules, enabling 80-90% of its related fabrication costs to be de-risked and bid under not-to-exceed contracts prior to the construction phase.

MADRE’s secret sauce?

We haven’t seen details yet, but there’s a potential technology trigger point in this project. MADRE I is said to be preparing introduce a proprietary technology that will double the cellulosic ethanol output of Enerkem’s technology from 90 to 180 gallons per ton of feedstock.  This project will be the first implementation of this innovative addition to the Enerkem process and will also be Enerkem’s first commercial facility to be fueled exclusively by biomass.

We’ve yet to see the details, and let’s keep in mind that these are very early days for the project — miles to go with financing, permitting, and this new leap to 180 gallons per ton.

Just some speculation along those lines — it feels like there’s something else going into the biomass feed, such as hydrogen. 180 gallons a ton in our back of the envelope calculation, that’s around 1990 pounds of alcohol out of a ton of biomass, or a 59 percent yield. Now, wood waste is around 49 percent carbon, 43 percent oxygen and around 6 percent hydrogen.  By mass, ethanol is around 52 percent carbon, around 13 percent hydrogen and about 35 percent oxygen, so adding a little hydrogen in there, the outputs and inputs match up reasonably well. But if you don’t have extra hydrogen, the yields could fall catastrophically, as you might start to see CO2 forming instead of an alcohol. Chemist alter! We’re journalists, not chemists, so we raise this as a flag for discussion, not as a barrier to innovation.

The Aemetis project

The CEC grant program provides California state funding support for projects that reduce air pollution, improve the environment, and lower carbon emissions. The CEC grant will support the state’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and chronic air pollution in California’s Central Valley through Aemetis’ conversion of waste orchard wood, which could otherwise be burned and released into the air, into low carbon biofuel at the planned Aemetis Riverbank plant.

It was big news almost a year ago that Aemetis completed its operation of an integrated demonstration unit for more than 120 days of continuous operations with 94% uptime, meeting the requirements for a federal USDA 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program guaranteed loan.

In partnership with its key technology providers InEnTec and LanzaTech, Aemetis successfully optimized the integration of an advanced arc furnace and gas fermentation technologies to convert waste biomass into low carbon, renewable cellulosic ethanol and fish meal. The unit was built at the InEnTec Technology Center in Richland, Washington and demonstrated the fully integrated system, including biomass handling, gasification, gas clean up, waste treatment and distillation systems.

At the time, Aemetis CEO Eric McAfee told the Digest:

“With 1.5 million acres of almonds and walnuts in the Central Valley generating about 1.6 million tons of waste wood and nutshells each year, about 160 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol needs to be produced to eliminate the air pollution from burning or decomposition of this material (as well as Construction & Demolition, vineyard, dairy and collected food waste).

“Set to open in 2019, the Aemetis 12 mgy cellulosic ethanol plant is located at the former Riverbank ammunition plant near Modesto. Using waste orchard wood to produce biofuels is projected to generate more than $70 million of revenues from cellulosic ethanol, fish meal and biogas, and about $50 million of annual positive cash flow.

“With about 20 million shares outstanding, each 12-14 million gallon phase is projected to generate $2.50 per share of operating cash flow.  Adding two of the 14 million gallon expansions at the same Riverbank site will create a 40 mgy plant.  We plan to build until we have four, 40 million gallon capacity cellulosic ethanol plants in the Central Valley.”

For the demonstration unit, Aemetis used waste orchard wood and nut shells from almond and walnut trees as feedstock, gasified the biomass using a high temperature plasma gasification system to produce synthesis gas (syngas), cooled and cleaned the syngas, and supplied the syngas to a patented gas fermentation bioreactor to produce an ethanol broth. The broth was subsequently distilled to produce commercial grade ethanol.

The feedstock to be supplied comes from the more than 1.6 million tons of waste orchard wood and nutshells that are generated each year from approximately 1 million acres of almond, walnut, and pistachio orchards in the Central Valley. Aemetis’ price of the feedstock is approximately $20 per ton delivered for the first ten years.

Aemetis plans to construct multiple phases of cellulosic ethanol production and add more than 40 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol capacity at the Riverbank, California site.

Aemetis has exclusive California rights to the LanzaTech technology for biomass and global rights to the InEnTec gasifier for any use with LanzaTech fermentation.

The Aemetis Riverbank project was selected as a “Hot Waste-to-Value Project” in 2018 by Biofuels Digest, citing benefits from the conversion of waste orchard wood into valuable biofuels, the low carbon content of the biofuel produced from agricultural waste, the rise in the value of credits for low carbon fuels under the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and the project’s 20-year feedstock supply agreement with fixed prices for 10 years.

“This $5 million CEC grant supports the work essential to the construction of the Aemetis Riverbank plant to produce below zero carbon biofuels from waste biomass that could otherwise be burned,” stated Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis.

The proposed CEC grant is in addition to the recently announced $12.7 million sales and use tax waivers by the State of California to reduce the cost of equipment and other purchases for the construction of the Aemetis Riverbank plant.

The Bottom Line

These are Notices of Proposed Awards, so not quite over the finish line yet, but close enough to fill the glasses with bubbly if not time for toasting and quaffing.

If you’ve been driving along the San Joaquin Valley any time recently, you’ve no doubt noticed the huge expansion of nut cultivation, the nasty signage about water allocation, and the smog. Thirty years ago, on the drive from Tejon Pass to Tracy, you hardly saw a nut tree by the side of the freeway, just the Harris Ranch and its swarm of cattle, and the farms were much farther to the east back then.

The smog has a lot of people worried, and burning orchard waste isn’t helping that one little bit. Converting to higher value products, instead of combusting by fire — that’s a good idea and will help with the soot and particulates, mightily. And, create a new value stream in California with all that home-grown energy made from those home-grown nut tree wastes.

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Global Action: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to IEA Bioenergy

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 5:23pm

IEA Bioenergy has several new tasks moving forward including Flexible Bioenergy and System Integration, climate and sustainability effects of bioenergy within the broader bioeconomy (broadening of Task 38), and the deployment of biobased value chains (broadening of Task 40), and several new proposed intertask projects.

Jim Spaeth, Chair of IEA Bioenergy’s Executive Committee, gave this illuminating presentation on their expansion in the new triennium, the linking of multilateral efforts, and how we can work together to move bioenergy forward at ABLC Global 2018 in San Francisco


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Ethanol production contracts 1.9%

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 2:45pm

In Washington, D.C., ethanol production decreased 1.8% (down 19,000 barrels per day, or b/d) to an average of 1.012 million b/d—or 42.50 million gallons daily, according to government data released and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association. The four-week average for ethanol production remained at 1.023 million b/d for an annualized rate of 15.68 billion gallons. Weekly production was 2.7% lower than the level a year ago, while the four-week average was 1.6% lower. Stocks of ethanol increased 2.1% to a 15-week high of 24.0 million barrels. The stocks build occurred primarily on the Gulf Coast. There were zero imports recorded for the eleventh week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of October 2018.)

Average weekly gasoline supplied to the market vaulted 7.8% to a 20-week high of 9.564 million b/d (401.7 million gallons per day), equivalent to 146.62 billion gallons annualized. Refiner/blender input of ethanol slid 1.5% to 870,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.34 billion gallons annualized. Still, ethanol blending remains higher on a weekly (1.4%) and 4-week average (2.8%) basis than year ago levels. Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production declined to 10.58%.

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Reduced rapeseed processing

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 2:36pm

In Germany, UFOP reports that small rapeseed crops in Germany and the EU-28, inadequate third-country supply, unsatisfactory margins and, on top of all that, low water levels in rivers. German oil mills have processed less rapeseed in the running marketing year than a year earlier.

Already in the marketing year 2017/18, German oil mills cut back on processing because feedstock supply was low. When another small rapeseed crop was harvested in 2018, there was even less domestic rapeseed available.

The decline was not fully set off by imports, because some of the traditional rapeseed supplying countries also reaped a smaller harvest of rapeseed. In general, the share of domestic rapeseed in total consumption was 43 per cent, the same level as 2017.

From July to November 2018, German oil mills processed around 3.7 million tonnes of rapeseed. This translates to a decline of just under 200,000 tonnes year-on-year. On average, processing amounted to 741,600 tonnes per month. By comparison, previous average monthly tonnages were 785,400 in 2017 and even 814,600 in 2016.

The decline in rapeseed use was not set off by increases in other oilseeds as their processing volumes also dropped from the previous year.

Official rapeseed processing figures for December 2018 are not available yet. However, Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft mbH (AMI) expects a strong slowdown from the same month the previous year. The reason given is the low water levels in inland waterways, which on the one hand slowed the dispatch of by-products, above all rapeseed meal, and on the other hand noticeably curtailed the delivery of feedstock. Since most foreign rapeseed is delivered directly by ship, its processing could have seen a particularly sharp decline, because in December 2018, ships on the River Rhine were only allowed to be loaded to one fourth their capacity. Stocks, which stood at 250,000 tonnes at the beginning of December, likely compensated for part of the shortfall. Nevertheless, processing of rapeseed went down in December. This was noticeable in the rapeseed meal market into January.

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CIFOR highlights report published

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 2:34pm

In Indonesia, scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research have been contributing to global discussions and research on forest-related issues for about 25 years and have published their 2018 report highlighting major achievements.

Maintaining its commitment to advancing human wellbeing, equity and environmental integrity, in 2018 CIFOR continued to advance research on, and action for, forests and people. In their latest report, you will find highlights of their achievements throughout 2018 – all of which are testament to their ongoing innovative research, efforts to build capacity, and meaningful and productive engagement with all stakeholders.

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DOE researchers win 32 of the R&D 100 awards

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 2:32pm

In Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Energy researchers have won 32 of the R&D 100 awards given out this past year by R&D Magazine, including a Bioenergy Technologies-funded project focused on a green nitrilation process to produce acrylonitrile. The annual awards are given in recognition of exceptional new products or processes that were developed and introduced into the marketplace during the previous year.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s acrylonitrile through nitrilation project provides a cleaner process to produce acrylonitrile, a building block for carbon fiber. Biomass replaces petrochemicals as the starting point, making the process renewable. More than 7 billion kilograms of acrylonitrile are produced globally each year for use in such products as clothes and carpets. Learn more.

DOE’s national laboratories have received more than 800 R&D 100 awards since the annual competition began in 1962. The awards are selected by an independent panel of judges based on the technical significance, uniqueness, and usefulness of projects and technologies from across industry, government, and academia.

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NREL Seeks Participants for 2019 Executive Energy Leadership Program

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 2:29pm

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is seeking applicants for its 2019 Executive Energy Leadership Program—otherwise known as Energy Execs.

Energy Execs provides non-technical business, governmental, and community leaders throughout the country an opportunity to learn about advanced energy, energy-efficiency technologies, analytical tools, and financing to guide their organizations and communities in energy-related decisions and planning.

Leaders in the private sector, communities, non-profits, and government are eligible to participate in the program. Participants are required to travel to NREL’s main campus in Golden, Colorado, for four multi-day sessions from June through September.

“NREL’s mix of government, private, academic and nonprofit Energy Execs promotes collaboration to advance renewable energy and meet community sustainability goals with the latest innovative technologies and access to leading global researchers,” said Mandy La Brier, Director of Energy Management for the City of Chicago and class of 2018.

Energy Execs was founded in 2007, and 20 participants are selected each year from a national pool of candidates. The application deadline is March 1.

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Exploitation permit for CO2 storage on the Norwegian Continental Shelf

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 2:28pm

In Norway, Equinor has been awarded an exploitation permit for CO2-storage on the Norwegian Continental Shelf by the Norwegian government. The allocated area for storage of CO₂ is located near the Troll oil and gas field. Equinor is currently performing front-end engineering and design (FEED)-studies on storage with project partners Shell and Total. The storage solution is part of the large-scale carbon capture and storage-project in Norway.

The government has an ambition to realize a cost effective solution for full-scale carbon capture and storage in Norway, given that this will result in international technology development. The companies’ effort to mature a storage solution is a prerequisite for a successful project, said Kjell-Børge Freiberg, Minister of Petroleum and Energy.

The allocation of an exploitation permit is necessary to continue the FEED-studies for a CO₂-storage solution. The FEED-studies will also provide more accurate cost estimates necessary for an investment decision. This is the first exploitation permit for storage of CO₂ on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

Equinor, together with project partners Shell and Total, will now mature the storage concept towards a Plan for Development and Operations (PDO) scheduled for delivery in 2019. An investment decision for the Norwegian full-scale carbon capture and storage project is expected in 2020/2021.

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CEC grants wishes to some for biofuels projects

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 2:21pm

Wishes are coming true for some California bioenergy projects. Aemetis, Oberon Fuels and others will receive millions from the California Energy Commission for their bioenergy projects, from DME to advanced ethanol. As Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” One thing he forgot to add though, was funding…money…without that, it’s hard to get bioenergy dreams to come true, isn’t it?

The background

Back in August 2018, the California Energy Commission released a solicitation (GFO-18-602) called “Demonstration-Scale Advanced Biofuels Production Facilities” under the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP). This grant solicitation was an offer to fund low carbon biofuel production projects that scale-up, scale-out, and prove a technology or process at the first demonstration-scale biofuels production facilities at a site-specific location. The grant solicitation offered the availability of up to a nice $6 million to fund such projects.

The second solicitation, GFO-18-601 called “Community-Scale and Commercial-Scale Advanced Biofuels Production Facilities” is also under the ARFVTP. This grant solicitation was an offer to fund low carbon biofuel production projects at new and existing biofuel production facilities. The grant solicitation announced the availability of up to a whopping $16.9 million to fund such projects.

Why is the CEC offering up all this dough? Well, the state of California is trying to encourage the production of alternative and renewable transportation fuels in California that can significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, displace petroleum fuel demand, and stimulate economic development.

It looks like their wish is coming true, as are the wishes of several projects that were approved. CEC came to a decision and published a proposed awards table that identifies which applicants got their wish to come true and which got a ‘nope’ or ‘maybe next time.’

Of course, the CEC made it clear in their disclaimer that funding of the proposed projects is contingent upon the approval of these projects at a publicly noticed Energy Commission Business Meeting and execution of a grant agreement.

The projects

The GFO-18-602 proposed awardees are an interesting lot. The one with the highest “score” that the CEC gives each applicant based on various criteria, is California Grinding, Inc. for their Thermophilic Bacterial Pretreatment of Organic Feedstocks Demonstration. They are receiving the full $3 million they requested.

The Southern California Gas Company is receiving $3 million for its Hydrothermal Processing of Wastewater Solids (HYPOWERS Demonstration Facility).

Technikon LLC is getting a little over $1 million for its Hyper-Philic AD Demonstration of Green Waste Conversion to Renewable Natural Gas for fueling station.

Technology and Investment Solutions is getting $2 million for its In-situ Biomethanation in Food Waste Digesters Using CO2 and Catalytically Derived Hydrogen from Biogas.

Another interesting project is Oberon Fuels, Inc., #7 in The Digest’s 2017 Hottest Company list. Oberon is receiving nearly $3 million for its “Renewable DME: Pathway to Zero Emission Vehicles” project. Oberon Fuels converts biogas, methane, CO2 and other hydrocarbon rich waste streams to higher valued commodities such as DME and methanol. In 2013, their pilot plant, in Brawley, California, produced the first fuel-grade renewable DME in North America. This ASTM D7901 compliant fuel is currently being used in North American demonstrations of DME-powered, heavy-duty trucks. Check out The Digest’s Multi-Slide Guide to Oberon Fuels here.

For the GFO-18-601 proposed awardees, an interesting commercial-scale proposed project is Aemetis’ low carbon advanced ethanol project. They are receiving a decent $3 million – the exact amount they requested. On the other hand, Aemetis’ biomethane cluster community-scale project was passed but not funded, as was a biomethane plant from Quantitative BioSciences, Inc.

Other commercial-scale projects that were passed but not funded include Rialto Bioenergy’s biomethane for waste management refueling project, a POM Wonderful biogas project from pomegranate residue (quite an interesting concept), WIE-AGRON Bioenergy’s biodiesel modernization project, and Imperial Western Products used cooking oil (UCO) to biodiesel, and a few others.


A little more on Aemetis as that project caught our attention since they have been in the news quite a bit lately and is definitely one to watch.

First, some background – Aemetis owns and operates 110 million gallons per year of ethanol and biodiesel facilities in the US and India, and is upgrading the plants using patented technology to produce lower carbon, higher value advanced biofuels and chemicals using lower cost, non-food energy sources and feedstocks. Of special interest is the Aemetis cellulosic refinery using agricultural waste to generate cellulosic ethanol in a technology partnership with LanzaTech among others. Check out The Digest’s Multi-Slide Guide to Aemetis here.

Aemetis was just in The Digest in January for scoring I-924 Exemplar Approval from the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) for its $50 million EB-5 Phase II funding related to the Aemetis Riverbank cellulosic biorefinery project in California. Three EB-5 investors filed with the USCIS and funded $1.5 million to the Aemetis project in December 2018 to launch the $50 million EB-5 Phase II funding round. With the I-924 Exemplar Approval of the Aemetis project by the USCIS, EB-5 investors receive faster processing of their EB-5 investor documents.

Just a week before that, Aemetis announced a huge tax break from California – the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA) awarded the Aemetis Riverbank Advanced Biofuels Project an exclusion from the payment of California sales and use taxes valued at $12.7 million. The CAEATFA financial assistance program provides for up to $100 million per year of California state funding support for projects that enhance job creation and advance other state goals, including reducing air pollution, improving the environment and lowering carbon emissions.

Also in January as reported in The Digest, Aemetis announced that its Universal Biofuels subsidiary has completed a two-year upgrade of the Kakinada, India biodiesel and glycerin plant. While that is beyond the California scope, it’s still pretty exciting since the upgrades included installation of a pre-treatment unit to process lower-cost and waste feedstock into oil; expansion of boiler and other utility capacities; and implementation of environmental systems to enable full production of 50 million gallons per year of biodiesel and bio-oil while simultaneously operating the biodiesel, pretreatment and glycerin refining units.

In December 2018, The Digest reported that Aemetis’ subsidiary, Aemetis Biogas LLC, closed a $30 million equity investment without any dilutive stock issuances by Aemetis, Inc. and funded the first $8.3 million tranche to subsidiary Aemetis Biogas to build, own and operate dairy biomethane digesters, pipelines and gas cleanup/compression facilities primarily under 20-year agreements with dairy farms in California.

The project will initially connect about a dozen dairies to Aemetis’ ethanol plant in Keyes, California, with expansion plans to more than three dozen dairies in the local area. The Aemetis plant supplies Wet Distillers Grain feed to about 100 dairies.

Bottom Line

Even a quick look at some of these projects show the way of the future is quite fascinating and hopeful – much like Walt Disney may have felt when he said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Aemetis and Oberon Fuels in particular are super interesting stories indeed, full of hope and new doors. This additional funding and support from CEC is helping to move things forward for them and the others on the awardee list. It seems that CEC gets Disney’s mindset – after all “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” And with this additional money, those projects can begin doing.

Categories: Today's News

No Carbon Left Behind: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to LanzaTech

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 02/03/2019 - 1:21pm

LanzaTech has over 20 years experience sourcing and supplying over 5 million tons of wood fiber and organic feedstock in markets across North America. They offer biomass feedstock supply and analytics to understand and minimize supply chain risk.

Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech gave this illuminating overview of how all carbon is precious, LanzaTech’s technology, updates on their implementation around the globe, and more at ABLC Global 2018 in San Francisco

Categories: Today's News


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