Semi-monthly news roundup

Finals has made me a grumpy green blogger yesterday but I just found out that I passed the semester course so all is well. In the meantime, I will try to do my best to post as much as I can before the year is out as I am starting my winter school program on the first week of January.

For starters, here are some of our recent news most from last week. I saw that Coskata has also filed an IPO last week so we will look into that in another post. Speaking of financing, watch out for my Renewable Chemicals investments 2012 outlook coming soon in January 2 on ICIS Chemical Business publication.

OriginOil forms biorefinery JV

Algae extraction developer, OriginOil, has co-founded a new joint venture (JV), to develop biorefineries serving U.S. and NATO military requirements for alternative fuels. The JV, Future Energy Solutions Unlimited, Inc. (FES), with its wholly owned Australian subsidiary, Alternate Energy Systems Pty Ltd (AES), plans to carry out bankable feasibility studies supporting project development and project delivery for diversified biofuel refining centers in strategic locations around the world. The Energime Group of Companies has given preliminary commitments to provide $1.5m in matching funds to AES and $3m to FES. The investments, to be finalized in early 2012, are intended to fund the planned bankable feasibility studies, leading to a key role for Energime in designing, building, operating and owning these refineries.

DuPont launches Sorona in India

DuPont will launch its renewable-based Sorona fibers for the Indian textile market. The business is organizing seminars in New Delhi and Bangalore to focus on applications developed by Indian mills and textiles companies. Partner mills, featuring Sorona® based products, including Arvind, Raymond UCO, KG Denim, Vardhman, Banswara Syntex, Suditi, Raymond Zambaiti, Precot Meridian and JCT.

Enerkem raises C$15m

Canadian waste-to-biofuels and chemicals company Enerkem has raised C$15m ($14.7m) coming from Waste Management and EB Investments. Enerkem raised total financing of C$103m in 2011. Enerkem is currently building a full-scale commercial facility in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

B&W bags DOE’s CO2 scrubbing grant

The Babcock & Wilcox Company’s subsidiary B&W Power Generation Group has been selected to receive a $2.8m grant from the US Department of Energy to study formulations to improve the performance of its Regenerable Solvent Absorption Technology (RSAT) process solvent used to capture carbon dioxide from coal-powered plants. Project participants also include the University of Cincinnati and FirstEnergy Corp., which will act in an advisory role to provide input from a utility operator’s perspective.

NextSteppe raises $14m for bio-feedstock

NextSteppe, a feedstock solutions provider for biofuel and biobased products industries, has raised $14m it its second round of funding led by venture capital firm Braemar Energy Ventures. The company will use the proceeds to scale up its sweet sorghum, high biomass sorghum and switchgrass breeding programs, and to advance its first products toward commercialization.

Gevo bags new isobutanol patent

Gevo has received patent No. 8,017,358, covering additional “Methods of Increasing Dihydroxy Acid Dehydratase (DHAD) Activity to Improve Production of Fuels, Chemicals, and Amino Acids” from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) on another aspect of its yeast technology that enables the low-cost, high-yield production of biobased isobutanol.

Dow to expand cellulose ether

Dow Chemical is planning to expand its cellulosic ether grades such as hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC), hydroxyethyl methyl cellulose (HEMC), and hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose (HPMC) particularly for construction grade applications focusing on the Asia Pacific region. Global demand for cellulosics in the construction industry grew nearly 15% in the past year alone, outstripping global supply. In the building and construction industry, cellulosic products act as thickening agents in a variety of dry mix applications.

Neste Oil’s microbial pilot plant

Neste Oil is planning to build an €8m ($10.4m) pilot plant to produce waste-based microbial oil at its Porvoo refinery in Kilpilahti industrial area, Finland. The facility is expected to be completed in the second half of year 2012. It will be the first pilot plant in Europe designed to produce microbial oil for use in manufacturing renewable fuel from waste-based raw materials.

And in ICIS News (requires subscription):

The Indian authorities have warned of a rising death toll in West Bengal state after at least 102 people died from consuming methanol-tainted alcohol.

US biofuels firm Bio Architecture Lab (BAL) has broken ground on a pilot facility in Chile to further develop its technology to make biofuels from seaweed. BAL’s technology can metabolise the sugars in seaweed into fermentable sugars competitive with conventional sugar sources. The company said it has already managed to produce ethanol and isobutanol from seaweed.

BDI BioEnergy International will build a multi-feedstock BioGas plant in northern France, which will produce almost 4.2m normal cubic meters of biogas and 2.1 megawatts of electricity per year. BDI expects construction of the plant to be completed some time in 2012.

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