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RFA welcomes new Vice President of External Affairs

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 01/07/2018 - 10:25am

In Washington, D.C., agriculture industry advocate Jessica Bennett joined the Renewable Fuels Association as vice president of external affairs. Bennett will primarily focus on building stakeholder support through policy and messaging at the RFA. She was most recently director of renewable fuels for the National Corn Growers Association, where she also previously served as director of public policy handling ethanol issues, and also worked at Bunge North America as director of government relations and was responsible for representing the company’s interests on issues related to agriculture at the federal level.

“Jessica brings a wealth of knowledge about agriculture and public policy to RFA,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “She will be a tremendous asset both to our organization and the entire industry as we continue to pursue legislative and regulatory efforts to grow ethanol domestically and around the globe. I welcome Jessica to RFA and am confident she will help us meet our goals, in the halls of Congress and throughout the country.”

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U.S. Ethanol Exports Swell in November – Brazil is Top Destination

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 01/07/2018 - 10:22am

In Washington, D.C., U.S. ethanol exports totaled 107.2 million gallons (mg) in November, up 14% from October shipments, according to government data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association. Despite the imposition of a tariff rate quota and 20% tariff in September, Brazil was the leading destination for U.S. ethanol exports for the first time in six months, receiving 28.1 mg. November also saw a small volume of denatured ethanol exported to China, which has not imported any U.S. fuel ethanol in the prior 10 months. Canada scaled back its imports of U.S. product to 24.2 mg, a 29% reduction from October. Exports to India perked up at 15.5 mg, a 17% increase, while shipments to the Philippines more than doubled to 9.9 mg. These four countries accounted for nearly three-fourths of all U.S. ethanol shipments in November. Exports to all destinations for the first eleven months of 2017 stood at 1.19 billion gallons, indicating a record annualized export volume of 1.30 billion gallons.

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Grain used for feed production trends upwards

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 01/07/2018 - 10:18am

In Germany, UFOP reports that Global production of grains in the 2017/18 marketing year, an estimated 2.1 billion tonnes, is intended for human consumption, but also used as a livestock feed and feedstock in bio-ethanol production. At 44 per cent, the largest part of the grain harvests goes into feeding troughs, trending upward. By contrast, demand for grain for use in transport fuel production increases only slightly, remaining at around 8 per cent for several years, the Inter-national Grain Council (IGC) reports. This means that there is enough grain to meet the growing demand for food, feedstuff and industrial uses.

In the US, bioethanol is mostly made from maize. The process generates Dried Distillers Grains with Solu-bles (DDGS), which is used as a protein feed. One tonne of wheat that is pro-cessed into bioethanol produces on average 295 kg of DDGS with a moisture content of 10 per cent. One tonne of maize yields 309 kg of DDGS. According to Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft mbH (AMI), increasing grain prices lead to a decrease in processing to biofuels, followed by savings in feed. The high added-value potential in the food markets ensures that grain mostly goes into the production of food when grain prices are high. The biofuels market serves as a “supply buffer” that ensures grain is constantly available for human consumption and feed, emphasises the German oilseed association UFOP.

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France requires 60pc GHG from ex-EU biodiesel imports

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 01/07/2018 - 10:16am

In the United Kingdom, Argus Media reports that French biodiesel imports from outside the EU must have a minimum 60pc greenhouse gas savings value from 1 January — a measure that could have considerable impact on trade flows from Argentina. The law, thought to be an attempt to protect French biodiesel production from swelling Argentinian soy methyl ester imports, applies to plants that began operating outside the EU from January 2008. The majority of Argentina’s biodiesel production became operational after that time and default GHG value of its SME falls short of the new requirement.

Around 387,000t of Argentinian SME was scheduled for export to Europe in November-December 2017, some of which is expected to arrive this month. A significant portion of the Argentinian SME sent to Europe in recent months has made its way to France after being received in the Netherlands and Spain.

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MKU signs MoU with U.S.-based institutions for biofuel research

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 01/07/2018 - 10:12am

In India, Madurai Kamaraj University signed a memorandum of understanding with U.S.-based Extreme ProTech to collaborate on research together in the fields of extremozymes, biopolymers and biofuel production based on micro-organisms. MKU also signed another MoU with South Dakota School of Mines and Technology which involves a staff exchange, student and faculty visits between the institutions, joint conduct of workshops, research and publications, and creating a program for student exchanges.

Rajesh Sani, Chief Scientific Officer of Extreme ProTech, said in a statement to The Hindu Times that he was looking forward to collaborating the Assistant Professors with the School of Biotechnology in MKU, working in similar research areas.

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Study shows that using ethanol cookstoves has positive impact on birth outcomes

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:41pm

In Washington, a new study released today by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which is hosted at the United Nations Foundation, has found that replacing traditional cookstoves that burn wood and kerosene with clean-burning ethanol cookstoves can have a positive impact on birth outcomes, further evidence of the link between clean cooking and improved health.

After controlling for other risk factors, the randomized intervention study, “Pregnancy outcomes and ethanol cook stove intervention: A randomized-controlled trial in Ibadan, Nigeria,” showed that babies born to mothers who cooked with ethanol were born later (39.2 weeks vs 38.2 weeks average gestational age) and heavier (88 grams) than babies born to mothers cooking with either wood or kerosene.

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Anellotech commissions 25 meter tall TCat-8® pilot plant

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:35pm

In New York state, Anellotech announced the completion of the commissioning of its 25 meter tall TCat-8® pilot plant, and the commencement of the critical development and testing program. An integrated team of Anellotech and IFPEN research engineers and technicians will optimize process variables and generate data for process development and scale-up. Commercial Bio-TCat plant design and process licensing will be carried-out by Axens.

Anellotech and its development partners IFPEN and Johnson Matthey will also develop next generation catalysts, evaluate loblolly pine and other sustainable bio-feedstocks, and confirm Bio-TCat’s process economics at commercial scale.

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Uttar Pradesh chief minister to commission Kisan Sahkari Chini ethanol plant

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:34pm

In India, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh will attend the grand opening of Kisan Sahkari Chini sugar mill’s new ethanol 40,000 liter per day distillery in Sathiaon. The project was part of a wider expansion program for the mill that was re-commissioned in March 2016.  The mill was originally built in 1974 and commissioned a year later but was shut down in 2007. Now that it is back online, more than 17,000 farmers supply sugarcane to the mill.

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Finland’s Neste shareholding falls below controlling 50% as it gives shares to charity

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:32pm

In Finland, as part of the legislative motion submitted by Members of Parliament and approved by Parliament, the government plenary session decided today to donate state-owned shares of Neste Corporation to the Itla Children’s Foundation. The Foundation will receive 922,168 shares worth a maximum of EUR 50 million in honour of the centenary of Finland’s independence.

Due to the donation, the State will in future hold less than 50 per cent (49.74%) of the voting rights carried by the shares in Neste Corporation.

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New York Harbor prompt barge premium hits one-year high

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:13pm

In New York state, Platts reports that the ethanol price for New York Harbor continue to soar as a result of short-term logistical hiccups that began last week in Pennsylvania but have expanded across the region including the Midwest where most supplies originate due to extreme cold weather, pushing the prompt barge premium to a one-year high at $1.45/gallon, 14 cents over Argo. February prices have hardly been affected by the weather as the market expects the kinks to work out on their own over the next few weeks.

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Integrated Biorefinery Optimization program awards UT-Knoxville $3 million

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:11pm

In Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded nearly $3 million to improve biorefinery technologies through the Integrated Biorefinery Optimization (IBO) program. The funding comes from NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which addresses challenges in food and agricultural sciences through research, extension, and education.

Through IBO, the grant will fund research totaling $2,994,429 at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The project proposes to develop and commercialize solvent fractionated lignins to polymeric products for their potential market in building and construction sectors. The overarching objective of the proposed research is to develop integrated pathways for the extraction of value-added polymeric products from lignin waste/under-valued stream from biorefinery.

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Ames Lab researchers demonstrate magnetic fields of bacterial cells and magnetic nano-objects

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:10pm

In Iowa, a research team led by a scientist from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory has demonstrated for the first time that the magnetic fields of bacterial cells and magnetic nano-objects in liquid can be studied at high resolution using electron microscopy. This proof-of-principle capability allows first-hand observation of liquid environment phenomena, and has the potential to vastly increase knowledge in a number of scientific fields, including many areas of physics, nanotechnology, biofuels conversion, biomedical engineering, catalysis, batteries and pharmacology.

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Brazil’s competition watchdog greenlights BP and Copersucar’s ethanol trading JV

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:08pm

In Brazil, the competition watchdog Cade ruled that the proposed joint venture between BP and Copersucar to own and operate a recently built ethanol storage complex in the city of Paulínia on a 50/50 basis would not negatively impact the domestic ethanol or storage market so has given the green light for the deal to go forward. The JV announced in November includes 10 ethanol tanks capable of storing 180 million liters at a time with an annual flow capacity of 2.3 billion liters.

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Make Haste Slowly: The story of Anellotech’s journey towards a bio-BTX breakthrough

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 2:49pm

Cosimo de Medici’s mark, the tortoise equipped with a (bio-based) sail.

The inventor of the paperback book, italic type and scientific publishing, Aldus Manutius, had for his motto the old Latin saying Festina lente (make haste slowly), and the printer’s mark of the Renaissance’s most famous printing operation, the Aldine Press, was a dolphin and anchor which illustrated the theme.

Manutius got it from Cardinal Bembo (father of the madrigal) who thought it dated back to the Roman Emperor Vespasian, but Vespasian got it off Augustus — who knew a thing or two about organizing scale-up, having re-engineered the Roman Empire such that it survived his death by 460 years.

Mark of the Aldine Press, the founder of scientific publishing — the dolphin and the anchor.

Augustus had a bunch of sayings he liked on the theme: “Better a safe commander than a bold“; and “That which has been done well has been done quickly enough” and coins of his era featured a crab and a butterfly, a rabbit in a snail shell, and the dolphin and the anchor. He was a master of the slow burn.

Cosimo de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany

Cosimo de Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, rendered the idea as a tortoise equipped with a sail, and the idea of “making haste slowly” shows up repeatedly in Shakespeare. So, we can still see, in stage productions and films of Love’s Labour’s Lost and so forth, how important this idea was to the inventors, innovators, and soldiers who organized the Renaissance and the Classical World.

Or, if you prefer, try “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get”, which was Lewis Carroll’s way of putting it.

In it, we are reminded that innovation is a never-ending war between two brothers named Urgency and Diligence — and the conflict comes roaring back to life when we consider the news that occasionally seeps out of that mysterious Middle Earth country, best known in the bioeconomy as Anellotech.  The world is a fan of Urgency, but the company and its strategic backers are followers of Diligence, and it’s been an Augustine slow burn in Pearl River, New York — but one which is getting, as Rome once did, pretty interesting as a long-term value proposition.

Augustus had the crab and butterfly as the obverse on this beautiful gold coin that dates back to the founding days of the Roman Empire.

This week from Anellotech, which sends out messages about its progress about as frequently as Roman Catholic cardinals send out white smoke from a Sistine Chapel conclave, we have the news of the completion of the commissioning of its 25 meter tall TCat-8 pilot plant, and the commencement of the critical development and testing program. An integrated team of Anellotech and IFPEN research engineers and technicians will optimize process variables and generate data for process development and scale-up. Commercial Bio-TCat plant design and process licensing will be carried-out by Axens.

Stealthy like a cat, that TCat development is for sure, but not always as fast.  In the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, you can definitely forget about casting Anellotech’s R&D team in the role of the Rabbit. Rather, I suspect they are trained in deer-stalking prior to commencing employment. But then again, Cosimo de Medici took 18 years to wear down Siena, including a 15-month siege, so let’s keep the timelines in perspective.

The BTX backstory

This is a remarkable technology all right — a catalytic pyrolysis process in which you shove loblolly pine in at one end, and at the other end appears the useful and fundamental BTX molecules which are, among other things, provide a necessary component for renewable clear plastic bottles made from PET.

Anellotech’s pilot unit

“A lot of brand owners have sustainability goals,” Anellotech CEO David Sudolsky told The Digest, “but there just haven’t been options for engineered benzene derived polymers. For those customers, we have something which is not just talk, but a 25 meter tall unit that you can see, with loblolly pine going in, and BTX molecules coming out.”

It’s true. You can’t make yoga pants from solar panels, as LanzaTech’s Jennifer Holmgren is fond of saying. There’s more to sustainable living than renewable electrons, all right — especially if you see any uses for rubber, lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, explosives, and pesticides in your future.

So, In addition to prototype paraxylene sample production for PET applications testing, the TCat-8 unit output will be used to make prototype test samples of benzene and toluene for conversion to polymer derivatives such as bio-based ABS, polycarbonate, polyurethane, and high performance engineered polymers for use by current and/or future strategic investor product development, corporate marketing, and sustainability programs.

The investors surrounding Anellotech are all strategics — companies that are vitally interested in the products that the process will produce, or the opportunities to make and sell catalysts or process technology once Anellotech has reached commercial-scale. They’ve been notable primarily for a level of anonymity that the principals of the Manhattan Project would have admired.

The technical advance

These Anellotech advances are generally technical in nature at this time. Essentially, the company has validated that the process works, and you really do shove in pine at one end and get chemicals at the other. And the unit runs — now doing so for multi-day runs. The work on yield, catalyst stability and validating of the process economics, and developing the data for scale-up design — those projects can now begin.

Next steps

Anellotech and its development partners IFPEN and Johnson Matthey will also develop next generation catalysts, evaluate loblolly pine and other sustainable bio-feedstocks, and confirm Bio-TCat’s process economics at commercial scale.

The TCat-8 unit is designed to demonstrate the Bio-TCat (thermal catalytic biomass conversion) process in a fluid bed reactor with internal process recycle streams and continuous catalyst regeneration. The pilot plant was jointly designed by Anellotech and IFPEN and is located in Silsbee, Texas on the plant site of South Hampton Resources (SHR). The process will use a novel catalyst under joint development by Anellotech and Johnson Matthey.

The Anellotech backstory

Anellotech Confidential: Pilot running, new mystery investor as catpyro begins to scale

Toyota: Let’s Go Places with Anellotech, Bio-places that is

Thermal catalytic biomass conversion: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to Anellotech

Anellotech has another Mystery Date.

Anellotech picks up $3M in equity from mysterious “multinational strategic

Why it matters

Anellotech’s Bio-TCat process is designed to produce cost-competitive renewable aromatic (BTX) chemicals (benzene, toluene and xylenes) from non-food biomass for use in making plastics such as polyester, nylon, polycarbonate, polystyrene, or for renewable transportation fuels.

The key differentiators

There are two.

First, the MinFree biomass pretreatment.

The MinFree technology reduces mineral (ash) content of biomass feedstocks, thereby enabling economic catalyst lifetimes. “This is a breakthrough innovation for the industry and vital to technological success” said Anellotech CTO Chuck Sorensen. “It opens up the possibility to use many types of low-cost biomass feedstocks that contain high levels of well-known catalyst poisons. MinFree technology represents a major step forward, enabling the cost competitiveness of Anellotech’s biomass conversion process.”

It’s free of a lot of things besides Min namely, free of association with the various pretreatment schemes that have elsewhere sunk or damaged a number of early-stage cellulosic ventures while at the same time, allowing the venture to stay away from costly (if renewable) sources of conventional sugars.

Second, the one-reactor catalytic process. The Bio-TCat reactor outlet hydrocarbon product requires only mild hydrotreating to remove trace impurities using existing oil refining technology. As opposed to multi-step pyrolysis processes that make a highly-oxygenated bio-oil intermediate product which requires costly high pressure hydrogenation and additional refinery upgrading.

The Bottom Line

It’s the beginning of the middle, not the end of the road for Anellotech. But they’re making haste slowly, keeping in mind that “People forget how fast you did a job – but they remember how well you did it”, as Howard W. Newton put it.

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Breaking the bottleneck: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to POET-DSM cellulosic biofuels commercialization

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 1:58pm

In November we reported that POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels achieved a major breakthrough in cellulosic biofuels production at its Project LIBERTY plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The company has solved the critical challenge in pretreatment, overcoming what has been the No. 1 hurdle to commercialization for producers around the world, according to their news release. Project LIBERTY is now running pretreatment at 80 percent uptime.

POET-DSM and other producers have identified the pretreatment stage in the past as the major chokepoint in commercial production. With a newly installed pretreatment system, designed by POET engineers, POET-DSM is now able to direct its attention to fine-tuning downstream processes and prepare for future licensing efforts that will spread this technology around the world.

Now, DSM BioBased president Atul Thakrar has put together this illuminating overview of lessons learned on the road to cellulosic ethanol commercialization, which were presented at ABLC Next in San Francisco.

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Global Bioenergies and Clariant team on bio-based polymer for cosmetic creams and lotions

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 6:38pm

In France, Global Bioenergies and Clariant announced the development of a new bio-based polymer for cosmetic creams and lotions, which is derived from renewable isobutene.

Developed with Global Bioenergies’ sugar-based isobutene, Clariant’s new ingredient is a rheology modifier that influences formulation viscosity and achieves specific sensorial and texturizing properties for creams and lotions. It contains more than 50% renewable carbon, and consequently meets the ISO 16128:2016 standard for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients and products.

The bio-based polymer is a breakthrough for the industry as it is proven not to change the properties of an application, offering formulators a direct 1:1 alternative to petroleum-based equivalents. The building block of Clariant’s new cosmetics ingredient is currently produced on a small scale at Global Bioenergies’ demo plant located in Leuna, Germany. The companies are working on upscaling production with larger volumes.

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Ontario corn farmers look to boost sales to ethanol industry as E10 draws near

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 6:37pm

In Canada, Ontario corn farmers are excited about the opportunity to supply more corn for the proposed 10% ethanol blending mandate that will see demand increase by about 500 million liters per year. The province’s ethanol facilities are currently running at nearly 100% of installed capacity, meaning expansion and new facilities will be required, and they’ll need more corn. Currently about 34% of the province’s corn crop is used for ethanol production while about 221 million liters of ethanol are imported annually to reach the 5% mandate in place at the moment.

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Residents given opportunity to voice concerns about proposed West Virginia biodiesel plant

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 6:36pm

In West Virginia, residents of Greenbrier County have been asked to submit concerns and questions about a proposed biodiesel plant in writing by January 16 so the project developers may address them during a county commission meeting on January 25. Residents have voiced concerns about the project but the commission wants to avoid a back-and-forth debate on the issue, so instead is inviting questions to be answered so the project can move forward without community resistance.

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European bioplastics industry want duty-free ethanol imports to compete with Latin America

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 6:35pm

In Belgium, the European bioplastics industry has asked the European Commission to secure duty-free ethanol imports specifically for chemical intermediates in order to better compete with Latin American producers like Braskem who have nearly unlimited access to cheaper ethanol supplies. The European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) brought up the issue during the recent EU-Mercosur trade negotiations in hopes of gaining access to supplies without upsetting the ethanol fuel market.

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Gevo still has its eye on making Luverne facility profitable

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 6:34pm

In Colorado, Gevo’s goal is to aggregate enough confirmed commercial off-take to support the capital expense of expanding Gevo’s production facility based in Luverne, MN.  Gevo plans to expand its business development capabilities in 2018 to achieve this goal.

Gevo is undertaking several initiatives to improve the cash flow profile of its business in 2018 compared to 2017.  This improvement is expected to be achieved by increasing sales of isobutanol into the ethanol-free marketplace, increasing sales of its alcohol-to-jet fuel (ATJ) and isooctane produced out of Gevo’s hydrocarbon demonstration plant based in Silsbee, TX, improving the cash flow profile at the Luverne Facility and reducing overall corporate expenses. Gevo expects to sign its first commercial license in India, through its partnership with Praj Industries.

Gevo: The Digest’s 2015 5 Minute Guide

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