I don’t usually follow much of the earnings season (except for titanium dioxide, chlor-alkali and soda ash that I have to cover for ICIS Chemical Business…) but I’ll make an exception on this quarter for some of our renewable chems companies such as Codexis, Amyris, Gevo, Solazyme, and Metabolix. I hope I did not miss anybody else.
Codexis, however, told investor analysts during its third quarter earnings call on November 1, that it is re-positioning itself as more of a “product company” than a tech licensing company. Codexis said much of its future revenue will now come from product sales made using the company’s enzymes and microbes instead of R&D funding.
“While more than half of our revenue today comes from R&D funding, we expect in the future to earn revenue from three sources – the sale of enzymes, of products made using our enzymes and microbes, and royalties from the use of our technology. We now have more than 50 pharmaceutical companies using our enzymes. We intend to repeat that revolution in biofuels and bio-based chemicals – where our CodeEvolver platform enables us to extract sugar from non-food biomass and to turn that sugar into high value chemicals and fuels.” – Alan Shaw, CEO of Codexis
Codexis recently announced that it is now marketing its biobased detergent alcohol products called Codexol targeting the household cleaning products market. Codexis will also deploy its CodeEvolver technology platform to improve Raizen’s current process for producing sugarcane-based ethanol.
Solazyme, on its Q3 earnings call on Monday, announced that United Airlines flew the world’s first commercial Boeing 737-800 plane that used 40% Solajet (Solazyme’s algae-derived jet fuel) and 60% petroleum-derived jet fuel. The flight departed from Houston, Texas’ IAH airport and landed at Chicago’s O’Hare airport carrying 189 passengers.
United Airlines said it will buy 20m gal/year ( around 70,000 tonnes/year) of the biofuel from Solazyme for delivery as early as 2014. The blended fuel is processed by Honeywell’s UOP technology. Solazyme said it will ramp up production capacity to produce 500,000 tonnes of their renewable oil by 2015.
During its earnings call, Solazyme said it has signed four non-binding agreements accounting for around 90% (450,000 tonnes) of its estimated 2015 capacity. Initial fermentation operations at the Peoria, Illinois, facility is said to be on track for startup in the first half of 2012. In August, Solazyme and Bunge formed a joint venture to construct a 100,000 tonne/year triglyceride oils facility in Bunge’s sugarcane mill in Brazil, startup expected in 2013.
In October, Solazyme also expanded its commercial development agreement with Unilever for the use of its algae oils in soap, personal care and nutritional products.
Telles, Metabolix’ PHA (polyhdroxyalkanoate) bioplastic JV with ADM, is said to be adding more customers this year for its Mirel bioplastic – total customer counts of 57 up from 50 with 26 repeating customers (up from 15). However, commercialization timeline for the bioplastic has been delayed to the first half of 2012. Jefferies analyst Laurence Alexander estimated that Telles has already shipped around 500,000 lbs of Mirel to date and is expected to reach the 1m lb commercialization milestone in 75-150 days.
Resin sales to compounders are expected to be below the $2.25-$2.75/lb target for compounded materials, according to Alexander. Metabolix also recently announced new distribution partners Entec Polymers and Channel Prime Alliance for Mirel in North America.
In terms of Metabolix’s C4 chemicals platform, the company said it has successfully scaled up its C4 chemicals fermentation capacity to the 15,000 gallon (60,000 liter) scale and remained on target to reach tonnage scale production of samples by the end of the year.
Metabolix announced in July its development partnership with Korea-based CJ CheilJedang to commercialize C4 chemicals. Initial market entry with its C4 chemicals is expected to be through gamma butyrolactone (GBL), with subsequent growth into butanediol (BDO), tetrahydrofuran (THF) and polyester engineering resins (PBT). The Company also noted that it had seen increased interest among potential partners for C3 chemical development, particularly in the bio-acrylic market. Jefferies’ Alexander said he expects a commercial plant design to be available by year-end.