Semi-monthly news roundup

So I have a problem keeping up with my weekly news roundup these days…might as well experiment with a semi-monthly instead. We’ll see…

SABIC creates VC for renewables

Petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) has launched a new global corporate venture capital arm called SABIC Ventures based in the Netherlands that will seek out innovative technologies and businesses such as in the areas of advanced materials and composites, alternative feedstocks for chemicals and materials, alternative energy, and cleantech. Targeted countries for sourcing venturing investments incude the US, Europe and Asia.

Zeachem raises $19m

Zeachem has raised $19m in series C funding led by Birchmere Ventures. Zeachem expects to soon startup its 250,000 gal/year demonstration biorefinery in Boardman, Oregon, later this year initially producing cellulosic ethanol and ethyl acetate.

Cereplast completes Italian plant purchase

Cereplast has finalized the $12m purchase of a 125,000 sq. foot facility in Cannara, Italy, that will produce 100,000 tons/year (220m lbs/year) Cereplast bioplastic. The first phase will allow for a 50,000 ton capacity with manufacturing expected to begin by the fourth quarter of 2012, with the second phase expected to be completed based on market demand. Cereplast has also expanded its distribution agreement with Italy-based ColorTec Srl to supply bioplastic resin to the Italian and Slovenian markets effective November 4, 2011 through December 31, 2012. ColorTech projects to purchase $20m of materials in 2012.

ADM produces USP bio-PG

Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) announced the production of a renewable-based propylene glycol that meets the US Pharmacopeia (USP) and USDA Certified Biobased Product Label standards. The product will be sold under the trade name EVO-100 starting November.

Dow and Mitsui JV approved

Dow Chemical and Mitsui said it has secured all regulatory approvals and has completed the formation of their 50:50 sugar ethanol and bioplastic joint venture in Brazil, which was announced in July. Engineering and equipment fabrication for a new sugarcane-to-ethanol facility in Santa Vitoria is on-schedule and is expected to start in second quarter of 2013.

Bunge enters palm oil industry

Bunge Agribusiness Singapore Pte, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bunge Limited has formed a joint venture with PT Bumiraya Investindo (BRI), the Indonesian palm plantation subsidiary of PT Tiga Pilar Sejahtera Food Tbk. Bunge Agribusiness Singapore Pte. Ltd would acquire a 35% minority stake in BRI. This would be Bunge’s first investment in the palm oil industry.

Synthetic Genomics forms Agradis

Synthetic Genomics has launched a new agbiotech company called Agradis that will focus on developing and commercializing products that will improve crop production efficiency using genomics and plant breeding. The first two crops the company will focus on  are castor and sweet sorghum.

LanzaTech’s first commercial sale

LanzaTech signed its first commercial customer India-based Concord Enviro Systems (CES) where it licensed LanzaTech’s syngas-to-ethanol technology. CES plans to have initial demonstration plant that will convert municipal solid waste to ethanol.

Rentech biorefinery construction complete

Rentech’s integrated demonstration biorefinery in Commerce City, Colorado, is expected to start up by the end of 2011. The facility will produce cellulosic ethanol using wood waste and sugarcane bagasse feedstock. The demonstration-scale project is expected to lead to the final design basis for commercial-scale facilities including for potential biomass-to-energy projects that are contemplated in the southeastern United States, Hawaii and Canada.

Algenol, Dow collaboration ends

Algenol Biofuels‘ joint development program with Dow Chemical has come to an end, and the relationship will shift to purchasing specialty plastics and films developed during the program for use in Algenol’s photobioreactors for the pilot scale biorefinery. Algenol starts construction of the pilot scale biorefinery, which will have a capacity to produce 100,000 gal/year fuel-grade ethanol.

Chinese firm invests in BlueFire Renewables

BlueFire Renewables has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China Huadian Engineering Co. to finance its integrated power plant and biorefinery in Fulton, Mississippi, and up to 5 additional plants in the US. Huadian will initially buy an equity stake in BlueFire Fulton project. The MOU also contemplates formation of similar joint venture projects in China. The Fulton project uses wood waste as feedstock for the production of 19m gal/year cellulosic ethanol.

Bunge invests in Argentina ethanol

Bunge has partnered with Aceitera General Deheza to invest in a corn wet milling plant for the manufacture of ethanol and by-products. The 140,000 m3/year plant will be located in Alejandro Roca, south of Cordoba City in Argentina. In stage one, dry milling volume is expected to reach 1000 tons/day by the first quarter of 2013. In stage two, processing capacity is expected to reach 1,400 tons/day, with the wet milling and refining processes for corn by-products operating at full speed.

And in ICIS News (requires subscription):

Bio-based industrial lubricants for use in typical base oils applications make up less than 1% of the global lubricant market, a representative of Evonik said.

Brazilian health regulator Agencia Nacional de Vigilancia Sanitaria (Anvisa) suspended the use of bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles citing recent studies about evidence that BPA posed risk to human health.

Braskem expects to ship ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) holding the Bonsucro certificate of sustainability to Europe in the next few weeks, a company source said.

Solvay does not expect its Epicerol (glycerin-to-epichlorohydrin) projects in Thailand and China to have a big impact on glycerin demand, a company official said.

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