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Today's News

Tax extenders could be including in resolution to keep government running

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 6:32pm

In Washington, hopes are not lost for the tax extenders bill for biodiesel and other renewable energy despite not having been approved before Congress broke for the Christmas recess. A continuing resolution to keep the government running is set for a vote on January 19 where the National Biodiesel Board is fairly confident a tax extenders package could be added on and approved as a rider. The biodiesel industry among others were banking on the tax credits to be made retroactive for 2017 and extended through 2018 or beyond.

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US Navy researchers develop new class of renewable diesel

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 6:31pm

In California, researchers from the US Navy at China Lake have developed a new class of drop-in renewable diesel from biomass using acid catalyzed condensation of 2-tridecanone with a series of diols through fermentation that provide similar energy levels as traditional biodiesel while providing up to a third more octane levels and nearly double those of fossil diesel. As such, blending these new fuels with fossil fuels could provide cleaner power with higher oxygen content.

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Bangladesh heads towards E5 with waste feedstocks only

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 6:30pm

In Bangladesh, the government has approved an E5 blending mandate in response to local demand for building ethanol production plants. A notice was published in the national gazette December 12 advising interested party to begin developing the plants but only crop waste feedstocks will be allowed under the new policy. Ethanol produced is to be sold directly to Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation for blending and distribution. The local petroleum transportation association said it is concerned ethanol blending will boost fuel prices at the pump.

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Affordable, low-capex GTL is here: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Velocys

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 2:52pm

Velocys enables modular gas-to-liquids and biomass-to-liquids plants to convert unconventional, remote and problem gas and waste biomass into valuable, drop-in liquid fuels.

After 15 years and some $300 million in investment, Velocys technology is at commercial-scale. The ENVIA project is now producing fuels in Oklahoma, and more projects aimed at the US market are on the docket.

Dr. Philip Stratmann gave this illuminating overview on progress and promise of the technology at ABLC Next in San Francisco.

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LanzaTech, Novozymes, Amyris, DSM, Enerkem, POET, BASF, Genomatica and Braskem take early Hot 50 voting lead

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 2:03pm

LanzaTech, Novozymes, Amyris, DSM, Enerkem, POET, BASF, Genomatica and Braskem have taken the lead in early voting in the 50 Hottest Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy ballot. The Digest released the early-voting totals from Subscriber Voting — which do not yet include Invited International Selector votes. This week’s summary includes phioto and other bonus votes which are just now beginning to come in, also.

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International companies, strategics, synbio and nutrition on the Rise

Notable among the leaders is the rise of a trily international set of leaders — from Europe: Novozymes, DSM, BASF, Avantium, Clariant, Stora Enso, Green Biologics, IKEA, Bayer, MetGen and Soffinova are among the early leaders; from Canada, Enerkem and Ensyn; from Brazil: Braskem. LanzaTech, though ow a US company, was founded in New Zealand.

Also notable are the strong presence of major strategics such as DSM, ADM, BASF, Braskem, Clariant, IKEA, and AkzoNobel among others. And, the number of (primarily) chemicals players such as BASF, Braskem, Green Biologics, Genomatica and Avantium.

Also, fresh faces such as Impossible Foods, Ginkgo BioWorks, Evolva, Bolt Threads, Beyond Meat, and  Zymergen were scoring well with voters.

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Noble Americas South Bend Ethanol sold for final price of $18.1 million

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 6:20pm

In Singapore, the Business Times says the final price paid for Noble Americas South Bend Ethanol plant in South Bend, Indiana was $18.1 million instead of the $18.5 million Mercuria Investments paid on December 12 after an adjustment was made and $400,000 was returned to the new buyer. The sale was part of a larger asset divestment by Noble to reduce its $3.5 billion debt load, forcing it to sell the ethanol plant well below its $80.4 million book value.

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St1 Group merges with St1 Nordic

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 6:19pm

In Finland, St1 group implemented the plan whereby St1 Group Oy merged into its sister group St1 Nordic Oy on December 31, 2017. The merger plan was announced earlier in June.

The intra-group reorganization aims at simplifying group’s structure and administration, enhancing the efficiency of the group’s operations and ensuring long-term product supply and logistics. Following the implementation of the merger, St1 Nordic group’s combined turnover is expected to amount to approximately EUR5.5 billion annually.

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African Development Bank grants Asticom Kenya $995,000 to study 10MW WTE project

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 6:18pm

In the Ivory Coast, Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), managed by the African Development Bank, has approved a grant of $995,000 to Asticom Kenya Ltd., to support the construction of a 10 megawatt (MW) grid-connected municipal waste-to-energy (WTE) plant.

The grant will fund the cost of conducting a full environmental and social impact assessment, detailed engineering designs, and  provide project-related legal advisory services, as well as financial/transaction advisory services.

The project will be located in Kibera, a suburb of Nairobi, and will generate electricity from municipal solid waste by converting them to biogas/ fuel ethanol. The planned diversion and use of municipal solid waste will have significant health, social and development outcomes, and will be of benefit to the inhabitants of Kibera− a community that receives 1,000 tons of municipal solid waste daily from the Nairobi County.

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EPA settles with SeQuential a $31,893 penalty for several federal Clean Water Act violations

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 6:16pm

In California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached a settlement with Encore Oils, LLC and Ottone-Salinas, Inc., to take steps to reduce the risk of oil spills from their biodiesel processing facility in Salinas, CA to the Monterey Bay watershed. The agreement, which includes a $31,893 penalty, resolves several federal Clean Water Act violations.

Encore Oils, known as SeQuential, operates on property owned by Ottone-Salinas. The facility is located ten feet from Alisal Creek, a tributary of the Salinas River, which feeds into Monterey Bay. A September 2016 inspection by EPA found the company violated the Clean Water Act’s Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rules by failure to:

  • • provide adequate secondary containment around tanks to keep spilled oil from leaving the site and entering surrounding waters
  • • use safe and appropriate containers for oil storage
  • • regularly conduct inspection and tank integrity testing
  • • provide and maintain records substantiating the company’s compliance with requirements, including inspection reports, and test records

Under the June 2017 agreement, SeQuential has implemented multiple safeguards to ensure spills will not discharge into nearby waterways, including permanently closing failing tanks and improving secondary containment. The company is in the process of installing new aboveground oil storage tanks to replace inadequate infrastructure.

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Amino Labs releases the “Easy-Bake Oven” for biology

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 6:15pm

In Canada, Amino Labs has released its first product – the DNA Playground – the “Easy-Bake Oven” for biology.

DNA Playground is easy to use equipment for exploring the world of genetic engineering. The DNA Playground is unlike all other existing lab tools in that it is designed for non-scientists, makers, tinkerers, and students. Its designed for readers like you, and your children.

The DNA Playground is like an “Easy-Bake Oven for genetic engineering”, says Chief Science Officer Justin Pahara. “It is so easy to use that your children can reliably do university level stuff in school or at home and it costs less than an iPad.”

“I’m so excited that young kids, can do the same experiments that I could only start doing when I was 20 years old and in university – these kids are going to be so well equipped – they are going to become the Bill Gates of the biotechnology world.”

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Thieves steal eight ethanol trucks from Sao Paulo ethanol plant

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 6:14pm

In Brazil, a gang invaded a plant in Patrocínio Paulista (SP) and fled after loading eight trucks with ethanol in the early hours Sunday. According to the first information obtained by the Military Police, the armed robbers captured 12 employees of the Cevasa plant later on Saturday and held them hostage for about five and a half hours. The group fled with a safety-gauge 38-caliber revolver and a car from the plant. As of Sunday morning, the culprits hadn’t yet been apprehended.

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Colombian researchers receive US patent for cheaper, faster biodiesel process

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 6:13pm

In Colombia, researchers at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia have designed and received a US patent for a process to produce biodiesel using fewer steps and less equipment creating cheaper, faster production. It uses a tube reactor that requires no physical mixing of vegetable oils with alcohols allowing the fuel to be produced and glycerin to be extracted much easier. The system is the result of the principal researcher’s first idea presented in his doctoral thesis in 2003.

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City of New York to study alternative fuels for city ferries

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 6:11pm

In New York state, the City of New York is set to spend the next two years analyzing the use of alternative fuels to power the city’s ferries following a successful City Council vote in mid-December. The study will look at biodiesel and hybrid electric, battery electric and fuel-cell electric technologies but also look at new ferries to evaluate their compatibility with these cleaner fuels. The study should be submitted to the city council by December 31, 2019.

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What is Shaping AgTech: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Advanced Agriculture and its technologies

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 8:43am

Last year, industry consultant Vonnie Estes — whose latest Digest column is here — picked up the Rosa Franklin Award for leadership in industrial biotechnology — and her most recent presentation decks offer a pretty good sense of why — she’s given us this overview on cellulosic sugars, this on Caribou and CRISPR technology, this one on partnering and its realities — and now, this one on opportunities in the Advanced Agriculture sector. There isn’t much that she doesn’t have the go-to contacts and knowledge of.

This deck on Advanced Agriculture originally was presented onstage at ABLC Next in San Francisco and  offers an illuminating overview of that sector’s progress, promise and milestones to date and just ahead.

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Top 10 Bioeconomy Predictions for 2018

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 8:30am

A mere “The Year in Rewind” as we sail into 2018? Not the good ship Digest! Instead, we dust off our crystal ball and offer our predictions for the year ahead.

As the sunset of 2017 gives way to the dawn of 2018, once again roll the dice as we list the Digest’s 10 Top Advanced Bioeconomy Predictions for 2018. 

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October biodiesel production fell slightly to 146 million gallons

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 7:21pm

In Washington, Reuters reports the Energy Information Agency data for October shows biodiesel production fell to 146 million gallons, about a million gallons less than the month prior. With 577 million pounds of soybean oil used to produce biodiesel, soybean oil remained the largest feedstock employed for the month, although it was less than September’s 604 million pounds used, in line with lower production for the month overall. The industry is waiting to see if Congress renews and extends the biodiesel tax credit.

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European biodiesel premiums slide as gas oil futures rise

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 7:16pm

In the Netherlands, Platts reports that European biodiesel premiums fell to nearly three-year lows last week as the RME premium fell to $328/mt FOB ARA, the lowest in 31 months and down $1/mt on the week, while FAME 0 premium slid $26/mt on the week to $224/mt FOB ARA, the lowest in 32 months. Gas oil futures rose in line with the rest of fossil fuel products last week, helping to squeeze biodiesel premiums further.

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REG confirms it won’t move forward with crude oil project in Grays Harbor

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 7:13pm

In Washington state, REG confirmed to local authorities it will not continue with Imperial Renewables earlier plans to handle crude oil through its facility in Hoquiam. The company originally announced the unlikelihood of moving forward with the plan when it bought Imperial Renewables in 2015 but only now officially confirmed it through the withdrawal of the permit application. Instead, the company said it is exploring potential opportunities throughout the state to produce biodiesel rather than fossil fuel projects.

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New York Harbor ethanol prices see short-term tightness due to PA rail logjam

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 7:09pm

In Pennsylvania, Platts reports short term logistical rail challenges have kept Midwestern ethanol from moving towards New York Harbor where an unexpectedly large volume of ethanol barges have been booked for January, causing a momentary spurt in prices to 10.75 cents above the January Chicago ethanol swap last Thursday. With Midwest ethanol producers continuing to churn out record or near record volumes, the higher premium for January hasn’t spilled into February as the market expects the logistical logjam to resolve itself shortly.

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Thai bioeconomy development plan could be approved by cabinet in early 2018

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 7:01pm

In Thailand, the cabinet is waiting to receive the first ever proposal for a bioeconomy development plan that is aimed at attracting private sector investment to boost the agri-economy as well as interest in tech companies. Hopes are that the policy could be approved by the cabinet early in 2018 and follows on work begun in early 2017 across 23 different state agencies, academia and the private sector in five main areas: ethanol, bioplastics, food, bioenergy and biopharmaceuticals.

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