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Today's News

Indonesia looks to bring forward B30 transition in response to EU palm oil ban

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 03/28/2019 - 6:47pm

In Indonesia, the Jakarta Post reports that the European Union’s ban against palm oil for use in biodiesel due to its indirect land use change calculations is the driver for Indonesia to race towards implementation of a B30 mandate, helping to absorb some of the surplus oil that would typically go to Europe. Introduction of B30 was originally planned for some time in 2020 but will be brought forward to September or October 2019, easing in with 30 million to 50 million liters per month at first before the wider roll out kicks in. The country has also threatened to pull out of the Paris climate deal in response to the EU’s ban.

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No Compromise: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Amyris

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 03/28/2019 - 5:37pm

Amyris has a proprietary process of engineering organisms (yeast) using renewably-sourced carbon from plants (sugarcane) to make sustainable, custom molecules. They use their technology to create products that support biopharmaceutical drug discovery and production, from cosmetic emollients and fragrances, to fuels, solvents, lubricants, and nutraceuticals.

The company recently released this financial overview and 2019 expectations that include continued high-growth performance of skin care and purecane natural sweetener, successful commercialization of 2-3 new products to market, revenue outlook and plans to reduce operating expenses  – and it’s ready for you now at The Digest online.

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Pacific Ethanol agrees deal on outstanding credit payments

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 7:14pm

In California, Pacific Ethanol, Inc. announced that Pacific Ethanol Pekin, LLC (“Pekin”) and Kinergy Marketing LLC, each a direct or indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Pacific Ethanol, Inc., entered into amendments to their credit agreements and related agreements with their respective lenders which returns Pekin to full compliance with its credit facility and provides additional liquidity under the Kinergy credit agreement to help facilitate the Company’s strategic initiatives.

Neil Koehler, Pacific Ethanol’s president and CEO, stated: “The agreements with our lenders provide the Company with additional liquidity and support further strengthening of our balance sheet. We are pleased to be working cooperatively with our lenders while we pursue our previously announced strategic initiatives.”

Further details on the credit agreement amendments and related agreements can be found in the Company’s Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 27, 2019.

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Western fuel markets are being pushed higher due to lack of ethanol

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 7:12pm

In Oregon, Platts reports that gasoline prices in Portland have increased 33 cents per gallon since March 12 to $2.2231/gal because ethanol was not able to reach the market following a bomb cyclone the Midwest that shut down ethanol production and transport. Other Western fuel markets like in Tucson, AZ have also suffered similar price rises due to the lack of ethanol supplies while Las Vegas prices rose only half as much as in Portland.

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Spanish biodiesel plant near Palencia from local coop

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 7:11pm

In Spain, the Hispaenergy a Sociedad Cooperativa General Agropecuaria has purchased the 42,000 metric ton per year biodiesel facility near Palencia. The extensive facility spread across 57 ha includes oilseed crushing along with biodiesel production and biodiesel blending facilities in addition to a wastewater treatment plant, fire suppression system, electric substation, air compression system, water storage and gasoline storage facilities. In addition to biodiesel, the facility also produces glycerin, dried seeds and crude oil but no feedstock was mentioned.

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RFA says USDA data shows January ethanol exports hit 129.7 million

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 7:09pm

In Washington, U.S. ethanol exports totaled 127.9 million gallons in January, according to government data released this morning and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). This reflects an 8.5% decline from December and the lowest monthly volume in four months, but it represented an increase from the 88.3 million gallons shipped in January 2018.

Brazil remained the top U.S. customer for the second straight month at 38.5 million gallons, buying 3% more than in December and capturing 30% of global sales. India’s purchase of U.S. ethanol more than doubled (108%) in January at 20.0 million gallons. Canada sharply reduced its U.S. imports at 19.97 million gallons (-29%), its smallest purchase in a year. Exports to South Korea ticked up to 13.5 million gallons, while Colombia expanded to a record 9.5 million gallons. These five countries accounted for roughly 80% of January exports of U.S. ethanol.

January exports of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol thinned by 10.1% to 69.6 million gallons. Over half the shipments (38.5 million gallons) were destined for Brazil, a slight increase over December volumes. India increased its offtake by 22% to 9.3 million gallons, and South Korea purchased 7.4 million gallons, a 22-month high. Other markets for undenatured fuel product included Mexico (4.0 million gallons), the Netherlands (2.2 million gallons), Norway (2.1 million gallons), and the Philippines (2.1 million gallons).

American producers exported 53.5 million gallons of denatured fuel ethanol in January, 4.7% under prior month sales. U.S. shipments to Canada weakened by 28% to 18.9 million gallons. Exports to India intensified to 10.7 million gallons following an absence of activity in December, effectively nabbing its second-highest monthly offtake. Colombia also stepped up with record U.S. imports of 7.6 million gallons, up 165%. South Korea (5.7 million gallons, down 55%) and the Philippines (4.5 million gallons) were other significant destinations.

The global market for U.S. ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes lost traction in January with 22% lower sales at 4.8 million gallons—the majority (89%) was undenatured. Japan (1.8 million gallons), Canada (1.0 million gallons), Colombia (0.8 million gallons), and Saudi Arabia (0.7 million gallons) were significant destinations.

January was absent of any fuel ethanol imports for the first time in six months. Imports have averaged less than 6 million gallons per month over the past four years.

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US-origin ethanol still finding creative ways to penetrade Chinese market

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 7:08pm

In China, ICIS reports that ship-to-ship transfers of US-origin ethanol is one way the fuel is making its way to lucrative Chinese markets despite 70% tariffs on ethanol imports. In 2016, about 17% of total US ethanol exports found their way to China. Malaysia and the Philippines have become common “new” origins for US-origin ethanol once it’s been transshipped so it can avoid import duties, a move which isn’t legal. Tariffs could soon be lifted now that the US-China trade war is cooling off.

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Quảng Ngãi and Bình Phước are ramping back up

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 7:07pm

In Vietnam, part of the government’s plan to revitalize state-owned projects among a variety of sectors includes the revamping of Quảng Ngãi ethanol plant has seen the project already kick off while Bình Phước is set to commission upgrades soon so it can restarted trade. First-ever production Quảng Ngãi begin in November 2018 and has continued to ramp up production as part of the commissioning process. The facility uses cassava as feedstock for fuel ethanol.

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CO2CRC gets funding to produce bioenergy through steel gas emissions

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 7:06pm

In Australia, CO2CRC has been awarded funding to conduct important research into reducing greenhouse gas emissions in steel production. The year-long study has been made possible by a grant from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (Coal Innovation NSW Fund).

The project will explore pathways for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in steel production, including carbon capture from major emission sources and geological sequestration. Importantly, emerging technologies for emissions reduction at BlueScope Steel’s facility in Port Kembla NSW will be explored. A major component of the study involves investigation of options to utilize a steel plant waste stream, converting carbon monoxide which would otherwise be flared and emitted as CO2, into a value-added product.

The project has strong support from BlueScope Steel, who will be supplying relevant information for this study from their Port Kembla steelworks.

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Trump’s EPA looked other way for E15 environmental reviews

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 7:05pm

In Washington, Bloomberg reports that the Trump Administration quickly wound up research into the viability of year-round E15 sales after the president promised last summer that the fuel would be approved in time for the 2019 summer driving season. The Environmental Protection Agency backed away from doing an environmental impact assessment of the proposed policy because it believed the increased volumes of ethanol required by the year-round demand wasn’t enough to bother with.

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Edible seaweed-based packaging, dissolvable polyvinyl alcohol grocery bag, bioplastic from apple and orange waste, Levi’s cottonized hemp, biobased composite car seat, and more: The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of March 28th

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 5:29pm

The pace of bioeconomy invention and change continues at a frenetic pace. Here are the top innovations for the week of March 28th

In today’s Digest, edible seaweed-based packaging, dissolvable polyvinyl alcohol grocery bag, bioplastic from apple and orange waste, Levi’s cottonized hemp, biobased composite car seat — these and more, ready for you now at The Digest online.

#1 Edible, seaweed-based packaging now available for sale

In Indonesia, seaweed-based food packaging firm Evoware says its products are now available for sale online.

Edible-grade packaging, which has halal and food safety certifications, dissolves in hot water and can be eaten, discarded, or used as fertilizer. Suggested uses include dry seasoning packets and burger wrapping. Evoware’s biodegradable grades are available for household items like soap. Both can be bought on the company’s website,

The company was one of six to win $1 million awards in a recent Ellen MacArthur Foundation and OpenIdeo contest aimed at supporting companies with promising technologies to tackle the global plastic waste epidemic. Evoware cofounder David Christian told Science Times that Indonesia is home to four of the world’s most polluted rivers, which inspired the company’s products.
More on the story, here.

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High-Protein Feed Ingredients & Ethanol: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Green Plains

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 5:28pm

Green Plains Inc. is North America’s third largest producer of ethanol and recently announced its portfolio optimization plan in which it would divest assets that do not support the company’s strategic focus on the production of high-protein feed ingredients and ethanol exports to significantly reduce or eliminate the company’s term debt and invest in high-protein process technology at certain ethanol facilities.

The company recently released this financial overview and business update at a recent investors call.

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The Next Chapter for Algae

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 11:09pm
The Farm Bill of 2018 recognizes algae as a crop for the first time. Will we be bold enough to treat it like one?

By Dr. Rebecca White, Vice President of Operations, iWi (Qualitas Health, Inc.)

Special to The Digest

This Wednesday marks a major milestone in the history of the American algae industry: the first meeting in which the Biomass R&D Board Technical Advisory Committee officials will discuss algae as an agricultural crop. Up until now, the vast majority of governmental funding and support has gone to one particular application of algae: biofuels. The success of biofuels is extremely important. But so is the success of algae in other applications, such as protein, omega-3s and fish and animal feed, which all have the potential to change the way we feed and nourish the world.

As an 11-year veteran of the algae industry, I’ve dedicated my entire career to proving the principle that algae is agriculture, first at Sapphire Energy, focused on translating traditional agronomic practices to algae, and recently as an industry professional growing algae at commercial scale. In my current role as VP of Operations for the food and nutrition company iWi, my team and I grow algae in open ponds on large scale farms throughout the Southwest United States, using the tools of crop protection and agronomic practices utilized by traditional farmers throughout the nation. Through all this work, I’ve learned a simple lesson: if you want to grow algae as a crop, you have to treat it like one. This mindset is what is critical to reaching scale and is the secret to iWi’s success.

Today’s meeting signals a new beginning for algae, which is finally on the cusp of being categorized as a mainstream crop, a designation that could drive algae’s fortunes in the decades to come. This significant but quiet transition – a momentous occasion for the industry – deserves some recognition, and a few comments on where it can take us.

The Department of Energy has brought algae this far – now the USDA can help take it further

It’s no exaggeration to say that the broader algae industry owes much of its progress – both technologically and commercially – to the DOE’s dedicated stewardship. For the 50 years preceding the 2018 Farm Bill, most of the investment into algae research was done by the Department of Energy, so it was no accident that the vast majority of grants and support were directed towards algal biofuels.This investment in biofuels also benefited the entire industry by leading to technology advancements that have opened up the possibilities for algae-based products of all sorts. In addition to the traditional nutraceuticals, supplements and cosmetic ingredients that have been the quiet, steady foundation of the commercial side of the industry, we are now seeing major, successful commercial endeavors in aquaculture feed, animal feed, human food and ingredients, materials, wastewater cleanup and other related areas.

The 2018 Farm Bill was a critical turning point for algae’s crop status

With this foundation in mind, we stand at a crossroads for the future of algae. The algae industry will likely be discussed in two distinct forms: before and after the Farm Bill of 2018. As part of the 2018’s Farm Bill reclassification of algae as a crop, the USDA – a department concerned with food, agriculture and nutrition – will contribute its unique federal role to help the algae industry achieve a new scale of work. By widening the government’s focus from biofuels to supporting an entire crop ecosystem (algae biomass), the Farm Bill paved the way for algae to be regulated and supported alongside other crops like wheat, corn and soy; the USDA will be building an algae production assistance and research program complementary to the currently ongoing research under DOE and other programs. Put simply, this means that the federal priority has expanded from supporting algal biofuels to algae biomass of all sorts – agnostic of products.

In order to get there, we’re going to need USDA and the DOE work closely together

The USDA can further expand the foundation that DOE created with its commitment to supporting algae technology and commercial development. DOE’s continued role in the space will help ensure that near term innovations in the algae industry are enabling of a long-term future, which includes biofuels.

As a start, here are three concrete recommendations that the Algae Industry Working Group can use to get its 2019 works started on the right foot:

  1. Build on the DOE’s 5+ decades of work: The DOE has compiled many years of algae research and production data from their programs. This data could benefit the development of USDA programs such as the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Crop Insurance, and the Algae Agriculture Research Program. Additionally, it could be used to develop a primer on algae production for the USDA Extension Service, to better serve algae producers, especially in states with large production facilities.
  2. Establish a handful of “reference” algal species: Reference varieties are used for trials of other crops like wheat and soy; one of the issues with algal research is a lack of standard reference strains. Identifying a series of reference algal species and sequencing their genomes to support future R&D efforts would help the industry better standardize field trials (at a minimum).
  3. Be inclusive of CO2 capture and delivery technologies: Many of the current CO2 capture and re-use scenarios for algae facilities are centered around co-localization with emitters, and are focused on future facilities. We need to ensure that Direct Air Capture technology for CO2 delivery is supported in the regulations so algae facilities can more easily participate in the CO2 economy; it removes the co-localization requirement and makes room for current algae facilities that are not co-located with emitters to participate.

We now sit at the beginning of a new chapter for the algae industry. We have the opportunity to elevate algae from a niche research project to a mainstream crop, and it’s ours for the taking. I’m looking forward to working with the rest of the industry and our partners in government agencies to make this happen.

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New Argentine program aims to promote products and services made with bioenergy

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 7:27pm

In Argentina, a new certification scheme that translates to “Made in Santa Fe with Renewable Energy” showcases products made in the soy and biodiesel hub of Santa Fe province partially or entirely made from a wide range of renewables including biodiesel, biomass and biogas. Products and services that either make renewable energy from those sources or whose transport was powered by renewables can qualify for the seal. The province’s secretary of state for energy manages the program.

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TerViva scores $20 million in Series D funding for pongamia

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 7:26pm

In Hawaii, TerViva, an agriculture technology firm commercializing resilient pongamia trees that produce as much as ten times the beans per acre as soy for the supply of plant protein, vegetable oil, and biofuel raised an additional $20 million in its first close of its Series D funding and current commitments. This latest round of investment was led by a diversified agricultural family office, Evans Properties, The Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust, and a group of Florida agricultural family offices, who join existing investors including the Elemental Excelerator, the Yield Lab, Astia Angels, Allotrope Ventures and Howard Fischer of Gratitude Railroad. New funds will allow TerViva to accelerate research connecting the pongamia bean’s valuable functional properties to critical processing and product development partnerships that will demonstrate commercial viability of pongamia protein and oil.  These funds will also grow TerViva’s infrastructure to supply farmers with the company’s patented high-yielding oilseed trees in Florida and Hawaii.

TerViva sells farmers patented non-GMO cultivars of pongamia selected for their high yields and hardy growth. Farmers partner with TerViva to grow pongamia on abandoned agriculture lands with little to no fertilizers or pesticides. TerViva buys back the crop for processing into plant protein, livestock feed, and high-oleic oil. By cultivating high seed-producing trees and successfully removing compounds impacting taste, TerViva is the first company to make the ancient pongamia tree’s protein and vegetable oil yields accessible for food applications.

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Brazilian sugarcane crush could kick off slowly due to ethanol stockpiles

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 7:25pm

In Brazil, Reuters reports that the 2019/20 sugarcane crush is getting off to a slow start partly due to large ethanol inventories with just 27 mills crushing during the first half of March compared to 50 mills during the same period last year. Slow development of cane is also keeping mills from jumping into the crush early before the traditional season’s start date of April 1. Wet weather during the start of the crush period usually sees cane used for ethanol rather than sugar production.

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Paul McCartney latest to hold concert powered by biodiesel in Argentina

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 7:23pm

In Argentina, Paul McCartney used 5,000 liters of biodiesel to power his concert in Buenos Aires last Saturday where more than 60,000 fans showed up to hear the rock legend play. McCartney is one of several artists pushing for the use of biodiesel in their Argentine concerts in an effort to highlight the need to transition to cleaner energy sources. Santa Fe’s Bio2G supplied the biodiesel for McCartney’s concern as well as Ed Sheehan’s recent show.

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Biodiesel producers getting nervous renewable diesel could eat into market share

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 7:23pm

In Texas, ICIS reports that traditional biodiesel producers are beginning to feel threatened by renewable diesel producers as expansion of the newer technology could potentially threaten market share. With oil industry players like Valero jumping in with major investments like Diamond Green Diesel in Norco, Louisiana where an additional $1.1 billion is destined to expand name plate capacity to 675 million gallons from 275 million gallons currently, biodiesel could start to look a bit out of date.

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Argentine biofuel producers stucks waiting for government to set March prices

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 7:22pm

In Argentina, ethanol and biodiesel producers alike are stuck between a rock and a hard place because the government hasn’t set the prices for biofuels for March, requiring them to continue selling at prices set in February despite production costs having risen in the meantime. The government sets prices on a monthly basis taking cost of production and other factors into consideration but with just a few days in the month left to go, producers are nervous about what April could look like.

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Researchers spin starch fibers using Lego pieces that could precursor lab-grown meat

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 7:21pm

In Pennsylvania, a new technique to spin starch fibers using Lego pieces could have future applications for lab-grown “clean” meat, according to a team of food scientists from Penn State and the University of Alabama.

To produce fine starch fibers using electrospinning, electricity is applied to a starch solution as it dispenses from a nozzle. The electrical field that forms between the nozzle and a rotating collection drum draws the starch into long threads. In wet electrospinning, the drum is submerged in a bath of alcohol and water to help congeal the fibers.

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