The Netherlands-based Purac sent to the blog this press release today stating the successful start-up of its new 75,000 tonnes/year lactide plant in Thailand, which started construction in March 2010.
According to the company several batches of PURALACT lactides have already been produced and actual deliveries to customers are scheduled to start early 2012. For those who are new in the bioplastic business, lactides are precursor for polylactic acid (PLA) resins but it can also be used as a building block for intermediate chemicals.
Purac said the EUR45m plant will produce lactide monomers for biobased resins and plastics, which will be supplied to Purac business partners in the polymer and chemical industry.
"The PLA polymers made from the PURALACT® L and PURALACT® D monomers aim at gaining a significant share of today's plastics market and enables Purac's partners to produce PLA with application temperatures up to 180 °C (266 °F)."
In the packaging arena, a product formulation was developed by Purac and its partners based on blends of PLA homo-polymer resins i.e. PURALACT® based PLLA and PDLA. This blend was extruded into a sheet material and subsequently thermoformed on an industrial production line for applications such as hot food trays.
The blog recalls some of its partners such as Indorama Ventures PLC and Arkema although the blog is not sure if BASF is a partner only on Purac's succinic acid project or if BASF also has interests in Purac's PLA -- given that BASF's Ecovio plastic is made from a blend of the company's petroleum-based biodegradable resin Ecoflex PBAT (polybutyrate-adipate-terephthalate) and starch-based PLA.
So many news came out today and I haven't had a sip of my already-lukewarm coffee yet!
First stop, Elevance and France-based specialty chemical company Arkema announced that the companies partnered to develop and produce renewable-based specialty plastics. Elevance will supply the raw material such as its 9-decenoic methyl ester from their biorefineries (one being built in Indonesia via its Wilmar partnership, and another being planned in Natchez, Mississippi).
Not much information was released on the types of plastics the companies are developing. Arkema has long been developing bioplastics and in fact, the company is one of the biggest producer of castor-based polyamides. The blog interviewed Arkema in 2010 about their renewable-based materials strategy.
For more on Elevance partnerships with different chemical companies, you can check out the blog's coverage of their IPO filing last year.
Our next news is from Genomatica and Japan chemical firm Mitsubishi Chemical announcing their negotiation for a joint commercial operation in Asia in the production of bio-butanediol (BDO) using Genomatica's process technology.
Mitsubishi made an up-front $3.5m payment to Genomatica while they are working on the kinks of the deal, which is expected to finalize by the end of June 2012. It seems like a long time for these two to work things out though. Not much information was disclosed on this announcement so I guess the blog have to wait between now and June.
The companies have been looking to partner not only in the production of bio-BDO in Asia but also in the development of other green intermediate and basic chemicals. Mitsubishi has also been part of Genomatica's $45m series C funding acquired last year.
More on Genomatica's recent partnership here from their IPO filing last year.
Finally, Amyris (which cancelled its presentation at the Jefferies Clean Technology conference last week), announced today that it was able to secure a $83.7 additional financing through private placements of its common stock and from convertible debts.
The $58.7 private placement at $5.87 per share came from existing investors Temasek Holdings, Total Gas and Power USA, Naxyris SA and new investors Biolding Investment SA, an entity affiliated with John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and somebody affiliated with director Fernando Reinach (who?).
The common stock transaction included a commitment on the part of Biolding to invest an additional $15 million in common stock upon satisfaction by Amyris of criteria associated with the commissioning of Amyris's Paraíso Bioenergia SA production plant in Brazil by March 31, 2013
Amyris is expected to report its 4Q and 2011 financial report today after the market closes. Everybody is waiting for this announcement give the company's recent gloomy news about scrapping their second industrial-scale production plans in Leon, Spain.
By the way, BioAmber also announced last week while I was busy covering the Jefferies conference that it was able to get $30m in its series C financing coming from current investors Naxos Capital, Soffinova Partners, Mitsui, and the Cliffon Group (all in total of $20m) as well as specialty chemical firm Lanxess (contributed $10m).
LANXESS will be joining the BioAmber board of directors and has named Jorge Noguiera as its board representative.
Here's a short post as I give myself a break from studying for Wednesday's exam. France-based Roquette announced last week that it started its 25,000 tonnes/year starch-based thermoplastics production facility at its Lestrem site.
The resins, which is being marketed under the trade name Gaialene, are produced by grafting polyolefins onto modified starches. According to Roquette's website, the resins has over 50% bio-based content; are designed for durable and semi-durable uses; but are not biodegradable - with mechanical properties similar to polyethylene and polypropylene.
Some of their beneficial properties include low density, low melting temperature, silken/leather-like texture, and natural antistatic properties. Gailene is said to be compatible with in-house recycling processes - alone or with polyolefins; reusable as new after recycling; and can be easily separated from conventional plastics in the production stream.
The resin is processable by extrusion blowing, injection or extrusion blow-molding.
Unfortunately, I am not able to post these stories for free but the good news is that I have more stories to post where these came from (hopefully after my school exam next week Wednesday).
In the meantime, let's talk about LS9, and I've "whined" before that I really did not have any clue on what specific products they are aiming to commercialize even after their scale-up announcement last November.
The company is now ready to talk "future product sales" and even has a fancy new website to show for it (also got a brochure from the conference about their company). According to LS9 CEO Ed Dineen at the Jefferies conference, the company is hoping to hit their commercialization target (they are about 85% right now) by the end of this year.
The company's initial products in the chemicals space are sugar-based fatty alcohols (C10-C18) and specialty esters. Dineen said it has already shipped a ton of fatty alcohol from its pilot facility (and headquarters) in San Francisco to Procter & Gamble late last year for sampling into surfactant products.
The pilot plant is running at 20,000 liter-fermentation capacity, which is expected to increase to 50,000 liter capacity this quarter. LS9 is also on the verge of starting up their 135,000 liter fermentation vessel at the company's Okeechobee, Florida facility early in the second quarter.
"At that scale, we close to world-scale fermentation, which is about 3-4x away. We are well along the pathway towards de-risking our technology processing. The Florida facility has four (each at 700,000 liter) world-scale fermentation capability, which we could bring on in a commercial situation if we find the right opportunity. Today, we envision this facility to be mostly a demo and scaling up facility." - Dineen.
Aside from P&G, LS9 is also looking at another type of fatty alcohols opportunity with a different company. This type of alcohol has an existing global market of $500m, said Dineen. The fatty alcohol market the company has been working with P&G has an existing market of $6bn.
Dineen said the company is looking for a strategic round of funding this year to go to commercial-scale up by the end of 2014.
The company is looking to build a brownfield 10,000-25,000 tonnes/year facility initially in Brazil to produce sugarcane-based chemicals. Dineen said they're looking at between $35m and $50m for funding. The company said it is also close to getting funding support from a Brazilian development bank.
"We don't necessarily need to jump into a 100,000 tonnes/year plant. Once we de-risk commercial production, we can just add more and more fermenters to build our way up to world-scale facility. The lower-scale approach also minimizes feedstock challenge. It is better to work your way up as mills also expand and grow." - Dineen.
By the way, LS9 is also developing sugar-based fuels aside from chemicals although Dineen said the company has shift its emphasis more towards the chemicals side of the portfolio. For the rest of the products in the pipeline, Dineen said some will take about 1-1.5 years in development to bring those products to the front of the pipeline and towards commercialization.
US producers of bio-based products will be happy to know that President Obama signed a presidential memo yesterday that requires the federal government via the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) BioPreferred Program to track and increase its purchases of products made from plants and other renewable agricultural materials.
The memorandum directs federal agencies to take decisive steps (such as small business assistance, increase biobased product categories, education and outreach) to dramatically increase the purchase of biobased products over the next two years. This Memorandum is expected to result in a 50% increase in the number of new products that are designated as biobased within a year.
According to the USDA, this memorandum will expedite job creation in rural part of the US. The USDA's BioPreferred program, which started in 1998, has two major initiatives: certify and award labels to qualifying biobased products, and designate categories of biobased products that are afforded preference by Federal agencies when making purchase decisions.
Here is a short video from USA Today on the news about President Obama's biobased products memo.
At Jim Lunt's bioplastic seminar held on Monday, BioPreferred Program's deputy manager Kate Lewis actually talked about the factors driving growth for biobased products including bioplastics. The BioPreferred program currently has about 9,000 individual products listed on its database under 64 categories that the USDA designated for preferred Federal procurement.
"Consumer preference are clamoring for these types of innovative, more sustainable products although they don't really know what they're asking for and what they're getting. Another reason this market is poised for explosive growth is corporate commitment in reducing greenhouses gases as well as reducing their carbon footprint. They're looking and starting to implement opportunities. Finally, international and national policies, mandates and regulations are supporting and contributing in the forward movement of biobased products." - Lewis
By the way, Lewis noted that federal agencies and the US Department of Defense actually spent about $500bn for their "stuff." She also noted that because of efforts, they know that there are about 25,000 biobased products that are being manufactured at this time and that 10,000 are listed in their database. About 3,100 manufacturers are also listed under the 64 categories of biobased products.
With regards to jobs, Lewis said that in the US, about 100,000 direct new jobs a year were created as a result of biobased product activities (development, science, technology, trade) throughout the value chain.
Another interesting point she noted in her presentation is that only about 1% of corn grown in the US are directly consumed by us and most go to animal feed. Also, 1/3 of every bushel of corn used for ethanol is returned back as animal feed called DDGs (dry distilled grain), which is a byproduct from ethanol production that are high in protein.
"Factors that really drive prices up for commodity products such as food staples is really the increase in demand for fuel and high oil prices. As long as oil stays at $90-100/bbl, that has ripple effects throughout different products and industries. The high costs of fertilizer, energy use for harvesting and delivery is impacting prices - it's not about the use of agriculture for biofuel." - Lewis.
Another big factors are increasing global population which leads to increase in demand for food, energy and other products where resources are not unlimited; uncontrollable weather such as drought, crop failures...
Meanwhile in Europe, the European Commission has actually launched early this month its own bioeconomy roadmap "Innovating for Sustainable Growth: a Bioeconomy for Europe." THe goal focuses on developing new technologies and processes for the bioeconomy; develop market and competitiveness in bioeconomy sectors; and push policymakers and stakeholders to work more closely together.
The Commission defined bioeconomy as an economy using biological resources from the land and sea, as well as waste, as inputs to food and feed, industrial and energy production. It also covers the use of bio-based processes for sustainable industries.
The EU bioeconomy reportedly already has sales of nearly €2 trillion and employs more than 22 million people, 9% of total employment in the EU. It includes agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food and pulp and paper production, as well as parts of chemical, biotechnological and energy industries. Each euro invested in EU-funded bioeconomy research and innovation is estimated to trigger €10 of value added in bioeconomy sectors by 2025, according to the Commission's report.
Still, some industry organizations note that the new strategy lacks specific actions to support biobased industries in Europe. While welcoming the EU bioeconomy strategy, the European Bioplastics said it hoped for more specific measures for bioplastics to be integrated into the strategy.
"The bioplastics industry is technologically well developed and can demonstrate a wide range of mature applications already today. What we need are strong measures to support the market development of bioplastics products."
I had a great time attending Jim Lunt's bioplastic seminar yesterday in Orlando, Florida, and hopefully can share some of the presenters' insights in the next several days. In the meantime, two articles (out of three that I filed) came out on ICIS News last night and for those who are subscribers, you can access them on this links:
You can also check out the blog's twitter updates that came from the seminar yesterday under the #ITR12.
Tomorrow and Thursday, the green blogger is going to attend the Jefferies CleanTech Conference and hopefully will have wifi available for tweeting. Follow my tweets at @ICISGreenblog.
For today, let's explore recent news in the renewable chemicals, cleantech and biofuels world.
Anheuser-Busch, Blue Marble Bio in partnership
Beer company Anheuser-Busch and Blue Marble Biomaterials plan to collaborate on a pilot biorefinery at a North American Anheuser-Busch facility, which will convert spent grains and biogas from the brewing process into chemicals that can be used in applications, such as food, cosmetics, and personal care products. Blue Marble Bio has already been testing small batches of Anheuser-Busch grain in its pilot facility since last year.
Battelle, Biobent Polymers in soy plastics
The United Soybean Board (USB) has awarded funding to Battelle and Biobent Polymers, a Marysville, Ohio-based bioplastics company, to commercialization Biobent's new bio-composite polymers made from soy. The bioplastics can be used as a replacement for virtually all polypropylene and polyethylene.
SucreSource, GS Caltex in cellulosic chems
SucreSource, a wholly owned subsidiary of BlueFire Renewables has partnered with GS Caltex, a Korean petroleum company, to build a cellulosic sugar plant in Korea. The facility, owned and operated by GS Caltex, will process 2 tons of construction and demolition debris per day into cellulosic sugar, which will be converted into a high value chemical by GS Caltex's proprietary technology. Once the initial facility is validated, SucreSource will work with GS Caltex to develop and build larger commercial scale facilities in Korea and throughout the world.
Showa Denko launches Starcla bioplastic
Showa Denko has introduced Starcla bioplastic, a hybrid compound composed of starch, polylactic acid (PLA) resin, and Bionolle, Showa Denko's polybutylene succinate (PBS) brand of biodegradable plastic. Depending on the grade, Starcla can contain up to 60% bio-based materials, and can be used as alternative to traditional polyethylene product applications such as in mulching films, shopping and compost bags.
DuPont, Yingli in $100m solar deal
DuPont and solar energy company Yingli Energy (China) have signed a $100m deal for photovoltaic materials aimed at accelerating the adoption of solar energy. Yingli will purchase photovoltaic materials including DuPont™ Solamet® photovoltaic metallization pastes used in solar modules and protective backsheet for solar modules made with DuPont™ Tedlar® polyvinyl fluoride film.
Fast growth for Asia fuel cells market Pike Research forecasts the market for fuel cells in Asia Pacific will reach $6.7 billion by 2017, up from just $52.8 million in 2011. Prices for fuel cell-based systems, across a range of applications, are expected to decline significantly in the next few years, removing a critical barrier to adoption. Stationary fuel cells represent the largest segment for the fuel cell market in the region. Fuel cell vehicles and fuel cells for portable power applications - particularly consumer electronics - hold strong potential as well.
And in ICIS News (requires subscription):
The US produced a record 13.9bn gal of ethanol in 2011, according to a report by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).
Costs of some aviation biofuels could be close to that of conventional jet fuel by 2018, but take-up will happen only if there is forced compliance by governments, a jet fuel buyer said.
Chemical major BASF announced that it will buy German speciality and pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA's electrolytes business for high-performance batteries.
I actually saw tweets last week about Amyris' announcement to scale back its 2012 farnesene "Biofene" production but I wasn't sure if I should wait further for the company's fourth quarter earnings results, which will be out on February 27, before posting this.
However, given that I will cover NatureWorks' bioplastic conference "Innovation Takes Roots" in Orlando on February 20, and the Jefferies Global CleanTech Conference on February 22 and 23, PLUS, Gevo and Solazyme will also post their quarter earnings results in the next few days, there will be lots more news piling up my draft box (Codexis' earnings result that came out on February 7 is already waiting in there...)
So let's get on with this one.
When Amyris announced its unexpected "not-so-positive"earnings guidance on late February 9, several investment firms downgraded the company such as Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Piper Jaffray, Raymond James and RW Baird. The company's shares dropped 29% to $6.93 on February 10, well below it's previous 52-week low of $8.77.
Amyris told analysts that:
It is scrapping its plans for its second industrial-scale production facility, which is owned by penicillin producer Antibioticos S.A. in Leon, Spain. Instead, Amyris will only complete its initial industrial-scale plant project in Piracicaba, Sao Paulo, where it has formed joint ventures with Paraiso Bioenergia and Grupo Sao Martinho. Last year, Amyris received $12.6m in financing from the Brazilian Development Bank for the Piracicaba project.
In conjunction with the cut, it will no longer produce 40-50 million liters of Biofene the company projected for 2012. Amyris said it has produced over 1m liters of Biofene from three contract facilities -Biomin in Piracicaba, Brazil; Antibioticos in Leon, Spain; and Tate & Lyle in Illinois, US. The company set production target at 9m liters in early 2011 and was reduced to 1-2m liters in the latter months.
Another in conjunction, Amyris will not be able to forecast positive cashflow this year and instead needs to raise additional equity financing. The financing is expected to close in the coming weeks, according to Amyris.
The company will also eliminate reporting production forecasts on its quarterly earnings, and instead will only provide production results and updates on their progress.
Another big change is refocusing its Biofene commercialization in higher-margin markets like polymers, cosmetics, flavors and fragrances, and branded consumer products, instead of higher-volume markets such as biofuel and base oil. Development in the biofuel/base oil areas will instead be pursued through joint ventures with partners "capable of driving these products to scale," the company said. Amyris, emphasized, however, that it is not stopping its relatively small scale biofuel production, where some of is already being used to make diesel fuel for buses in Sao Paulo (supply contract ends in 2012) and Rio de Janeiro (fleet test ends in July 2012)
"We showed conclusively that our technology does work at scale, but also learned that it takes time to translate from peak yield levels in the lab to maintaining those yields over longer operational periods in the field. Our priority is now to establish reliable production across our facilities. We need to retain flexibility in how we optimize between production volume, cost, customer demand and cash, rather than driving to deliver a predetermined production volume." - John Melo, CEO.
More information will be shared next week during Amyris' presentation at the Jefferies CleanTech conference as well as the company's quarterly financial results on February 27.
Sorry about the delay in the posting of the story. The blogger had to move to another cubicle...again...I think we have been moving from floor to floor (or cubicle to cubicle) every year at work. So I have been packing and unpacking the whole day.
Anyway, here is the story I submitted to ICIS News about NatureWorks and BioAmber announcing today the formation of their joint venture, AmberWorks. I will write a separate, more detailed article for ICIS Chemical Business, which will be published on February 27.
InterviewBioplastics JV AmberWorks to sell resins at $2-2.50/lb
16 February 2012 20:55[Source: ICIS news]
NEW YORK (ICIS)--AmberWorks, the new US-based bioplastics joint venture formed by polylactic acid (PLA) producer NatureWorks and bio-succinic acid producer BioAmber, will start selling compounded PLA and polybutylene succinate (PBS) resin grades at $2-2.50/lb, an executive at NatureWorks said on Thursday.
"The costs of our blends are similar to the price of biopolymer compounds that are already commercially available in the market," said Steve Davies, global marketing director for NatureWorks, in an interview with ICIS.
"We are encouraged with this starting point given that we are still at small-scale production compared to other biopolymer compounds currently produced," he added.
AmberWorks will develop the PLA/PBS compound and will manufacture the bio-based resins through several toll compounders, he said.
The blended resins will be marketed exclusively through NatureWorks' global commercial organisation.
NatureWorks is already offering samples of developmental PLA/PBS blended grades aimed at thermoforming and injection-moulding processes.
"The resins are specifically designed for food service ware applications such as hot cups, hot cup lids, plates and cutlery," said Davies.
Based on market interest, further applications beyond food service will be assessed over the coming 12-24 months.
AmberWorks will use the use the PLA/PBS compounding intellectual property owned by Sinoven Biopolymers, a subsidiary of BioAmber.
Davies said the PBS component will be sourced through third party manufacturers.
PBS is a biodegradable polymer manufactured using succinic acid and 1,4 butanediol (BDO).
Current PBS producers worldwide include Japan-based Mitsubishi Chemical and Showa Denko, South Korea-based Samsung Fine Chemical and a number of small companies in China.
Mitsubishi Chemical has been pre-marketing bio-derived PBS using bio-succinic acid supplied by BioAmber.
BioAmber currently produces bio-succinic acid at its 3,000 tonne/year plant in Pomacle, France. The company is planning to build three world-scale commercial facilities for bio-succinic acid and bio-BDO to be located in Canada, Thailand and the third facility either in US or Brazil.
I just filed my story about the AmberWorks JV on ICIS News, and will soon post it on the blog as well.
In the meantime, let me share this hilarious graph send to me by the blog's good friend from the American Oil Chemists Society (I am not sure if it is wise to mention the name). This graph was to remind me of our future plans to have a drinking contest on how much "sustainability" word we can stomach during a particular conference.
I'll probably die of intoxication before the first break time starts.
Just had my first school exam for the semester tonight so hopefully my lack of blog posting this week was justified. I saw this news on Wednesday morning about Ajinomoto partnering with Toray on the development of nylon raw material 1,5 pentanediamine (1,5 PD) using plant-based amino acid lysine via Ajinomoto's fermentation technology.
According to the companies, the amino acid lysine is decarbonated through an enzyme reaction to make the 1,5 PD, and then Toray polymerize the chemical with dicarboxylic acid. An example of nylon that can be made from this process is nylon 5,6 fiber, which Toray said has the same strength and heat resistance as conventional nylon fiber made from petrochemical-based hexamethylenediamine.
The companies have already produced both 1,5 PD and nylon made from the plant-based 1,5 PD in the laboratory. Toray said they plan to further expand their collaboration to include development of production processes and evaluation of use in textile and plastics applications.
The blog is definitely seeing increasing research on the bio-based nylon market given our recent post on Rhodia and Avantium's bio-polyamide partnership.
Here is a very short notice from the American Chemistry Council on their plans to launch a Biobased Chemistry Network. There was no press release on this and the blog just stumbled on this information at ACC's Smart Brief site.
All the blog can comment is, it's about time the trade group recognizes this growing sector. Make sure to attend the webinar!
Biobased chemistry is a developing and expanding area of the business of chemistry. ACC is launching a new network to provide a forum for companies and ACC to share information on existing programs and policies affecting biobased chemistry, as well as emerging developments.
To launch this new network, ACC is hosting a webinar on Feb. 21 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. to introduce the network and solicit member company feedback on future activities. For more information, e-mail Emily Kolarik: firstname.lastname@example.org
Germany-based gas producer Linde via its engineering business Linde Engineering Dresden has acquired the Carbo-V technology of the insolvent biofuel producer CHOREN (insolvent means bankrupt by the way, according to Google).
The Carbo-V technology is a multi-stage biomass gasification process, which was CHOREN's main asset. Linde said it will offer the technology as licensor and also as an engineering and contracting company for commercial projects.
CHOREN filed for insolvency in July 2011 because of financial difficulties in starting up its synthesis gas demonstration plant in Freiberg, Saxonia. CHOREN processes biomass such as wood and wood wastes into synthesis gas, and in turn into biofuel - ethanol in particular.
ICIS actually wrote an article about CHOREN's insolvency last year where there was an allegation reported that the company may have misled government officials about feedstock costs and its technology to gain financing support for its Freiberg plant project. (A bell rings in the blogger's ears...who is that well-financed biomass ethanol producer in the US that had the same bankruptcy fate???)
The blog actually covered CHOREN's first bout of financing problems in November 2009 when one of its biggest investors, Dutch oil company Shell, sold its shares in CHOREN to remaining shareholders that include a group of Hamburg-based entrepreneurs and carmakers Daimler and Volkswagen.
Shell started working with CHOREN in 2005 in the development of biomass-to-liquid (BTL) fuels using mostly wood products and wood-based waste as feedstock. Shell did not comment at that time on its specific reasons for exiting CHOREN.
Last October, administrators sold CHOREN's components business, which makes specialised gasification components and equipment.
The blog previously posted in August 2010 about these researchers from the Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland who have have developed biobutanol using whisky byproducts for feedstock.
It turns out that a few a weeks ago, these researchers launched a new company called Celtic Renewables to commercialize their biobutanol process for biofuel application after receiving government funding at each stage of their product development.
Celtic Renewables' initial research project received £267,000 from Scottish Enterprise's Proof of Concept Programme, as well as a £70,000 Scottish Enterprise SMART: Scotland grant to assist the technology scale-up and commercial feasibility.
The company's production process can also produce acetone and ethanol as well as high grade sustainable animal feed, and based by this, I'm guessing their process is via acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation route, which produces n-butanol.
Celtic Renewables is now working with Scottish Enterprise to produce the biofuel on an industrial scale using two main by-products of whisky production - 'pot ale', the liquid from the copper stills, and 'draff', the spent grains.
According to the company, Scotland's £4 billion malt whisky industry produces 1.6bn liters of pot ale and 500,000 tonnes of draff each year.
Doug Ward, founder of Scotland's largest biofuel producer, Argent Energy, has been appointed as chairman of the start-up, which has secured significant private investment from Adelphi Distillery co-owner, Donald Houston.
Novozymes' seaweed-to-biofuel R&D
Novozymes is collaborating with India-based Sea6 Energy to develop a process for the production of biofuels from seaweed. The research alliance will use enzymes to convert seaweed-based carbohydrates to sugar, which can then be fermented to produce ethanol, fine chemicals, proteins and fertilizers. Novozymes will research, develop, and manufacture enzymes for the conversion process, while Sea6 Energy contributes its offshore seaweed cultivation technology.
Enerkem, GreenField Ethanol JV
Enerkem and GreenField Ethanol has formed a joint venture partnership to build and operate a 38m liters/year waste-to-biofuels plant in Varennes, Quebec. The plant will use non-recyclable waste from institutional, commercial and industrial sectors, and from construction and demolition debris. The Government of Quebec is investing $27m in the partnership.
Dynamic Fuels, Mansfield Oil partnership Dynamic Fuels LLC has entered a marketing alliance, commercial off-take and supply chain management agreements with Mansfield Oil Company to distribute synthetic renewable diesel to the commercial fleet vehicle market. Dynamic Fuels is a 50-50 venture of Tyson Foods and Syntroleum that produces synthetic biofuel from animal fats and greases. Mansfield markets and distributes over 2.5bn gal/year of fueling products to thousands of commercial customers across US and Canada.
Aventine resumes ethanol project Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings is resuming work on its ethanol plant located in Canton, Illinois. The Company delayed in starting-up the plant due to uncertainty surrounding its ability to secure critical third-party technical and engineering support. Aventine anticipates
production at the plant will commence in summer 2012.
Enviva, E.ON biomass supply contract
Enviva and E.ON have agreed on a multi-year 240,000 metric ton per year wood pellet supply agreement. The contract begins in early 2013. Enviva will supply the wood pellets from its facilities in the Southeastern U.S.
OriginOil, Aquaviridis commercial deal
Aquaviridis signed a commercial agreement with OriginOil to help develop the multi-phase algae production rollout at its Mexicali, Mexico site, a potential model for algae sites throughout the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) region, with a focus on desert areas of the American Southwest and Mexico. OriginOil will provide its expertise to help develop growth and harvesting solutions and implement appropriate OriginOil technologies. Commercial scale production capacity is expected by the second quarter of 2013. The facility will also serve as a test bed for OriginOil innovations.
BASF starts biodiesel catalyst plant BASF inaugurated its new world-scale production plant for sodium methylate in Guaratinguetá, Brazil, its largest site in South America. The plant has a capacity of 60,000 metric tons per year and is supplying the regional market. Production started at the end of 2011. Sodium methylate is used as catalyst for the production of biodiesel.
On ICIS News (requires subscription):
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) confirmed that it would permanently close its 30m gal/year (114m litres/year) ethanol plant in Walhalla, North Dakota, because of poor returns and difficulty competing in the marketplace because of its geographic location.
US-based acetyls producer Celanese expects to become the low-cost industrial ethanol producer in Asia with its TCX technology, the company said.
Germany's bioethanol production fell 4.4% in 2011 to 576,828 tonnes on high sugar prices, German bioethanol trade group BDB said.
I'm starting to prepare my bioplastic presentation for BIOPLASTEK 2012 on March 30 as well as studying for my first school exam this semester so bear with my empty blog this past few days.
On February 20, I'm also attending Jim Lunt's pre-conference seminar on NatureWorks' Innovation Takes Roots annual event in Orlando, so hopefully, I'll be getting a lot of bioplastic information to share (and tweet).
Here are this week's news roundup. I'll have a separate post for biofuels news, speaking of which, Enerkem and Ceres just filed their IPOs. We'll see if their S-1 form will have anything on industrial chemicals as well.
Roquette, Rhodia in bio-cellulose acetate
Roquette and Rhodia Acetow have partnered to develop new starch derivatives-based polymer cellulose acetate and cellulose acetate fiber. Trials of starch acetate production is expected to be carried out from early 2012 providing several tons available for testing in diverse industrial applications that include paper, paint, dye and pharmaceuticals.
DaniMer partners with EnerPol
Bioplastic producer DaniMer Scientific has partnered with EnerPol, an upstream oil and gas technology firm, to promote DaniMer's degradable polymers that can be used in the oil and gas extraction process. DaniMer recently expanded its polymer application into the oilfield services sector through the development of a series of new biodegradable polymers.
DuPont, Suntech partners in solar initiatives
DuPont and solar panel producer Suntech Power Holdings are collaborating on technology advancements, supply chain optimization cost reduction initiatives and co-marketing opportunities to help expand adoption of solar energy. The companies aim to further improve solar energy technology to help reduce costs and build greater awareness of its benefits to consumers.
Carbon Sciences' syngas catalyst Carbon Sciences plan to demonstrate its proprietary catalyst fo ruse by existing syngas plants by the end of 2012, which the company said will deliver more output at a lower cost and will be an attractive drop-in replacement for existing steam reforming plants. Existing steam reforming plants worldwide usually replace their catalysts every 3-5 years and could cost as much as $5m-$10m, according to Carbon Sciences.
Solvay operates fuel cell-based electricity Solvay has commissioned its 1 MegaWatt (MW) industrial demonstration Fuel Cell at the SolVin plant in Lillo, Antwerp, Belgium. The Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell converts coproduced hydrogen in the plant into electricity and is now producing for weeks at a steady rate. The Fuel Cell has generated over 500 MWh in about 800 hours of operation, which amounts to the electricity consumption of 1370 families during the same time frame.
2011 VC investment at $4.9bn
Ernst & Young reported US venture capital investment in cleantech companies reached $4.9bn in 2011, flat in terms of deals and down 4.5% in terms of capital invested compared in 2010. Energy/electricity generation segment led investment last year with $1.5bn raised through a total of 71 rounds, down 5% in dollars invested from 2010. Growth last year was supported by five cleantech IPOs, Solazyme, Gevo, Kior, Rentech and Intermolecular. A total of $688.2m was raised through cleantech IPOs in 2011.
ACC launches energy campaign
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has launched a new energy advocacy and awareness campaign, "From Chemistry to Energy" to promote development of energy policies highlighting chemistry's role in enabling a sustainable, secured energy future in the US. A recent ACC study found that the use of chemistry in energy-saving products and technologies helps save up to 10.9 quadrillion BTUs of energy annually, enough to power up to 56m households or up to 135m vehicles per year, and saving Americans up to $85bn/year in energy costs.
On ICIS News (requires subscription):
US-based agricultural processor Bunge expects its sugar business to soften in 2012 in response to an ongoing drought in Brazil.
Dover Chemical Corp has agreed to pay $1.4m (€1m) and to end production of certain chlorinated paraffins in order to resolve federal allegations that it violated the US Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Justice Department said.
Global chemical major BASF and Hyundai Motor Group have jointly developed a one-of-a-kind concept car that is lighter, more fuel-efficient and more environment-friendly, a senior BASF official said.
High recycling rates will bring on more positive public reception of plastics, a senior executive of US-based ExxonMobil said.
Who knew you can use liquid extracted from cashew nut shell and use it for chemical feedstock?
The blog received this news from BioBased Technologies (a US biobased polyol producer) about their partnership with Palmer International, a US company working with Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL) for over 50 years. The firms is developing a new bio-based polyols from CNSL in rigid foam systems.
The blog was immediately intrigued about CNSL given the unfamiliarity of this material. After a bit of googling, the blog came across this document submitted to the US EPA (dated June 2002) from New Jersey, US-based Cardolite Corporation about CNSL. Cardolite is another company working on CNSL for decades.
According to Cardolite, CNSL, a source of naturally occuring phenols, is composed of 70% anacardic acid, 18% cardol and 5% cardanol, with the rest made of other phenols via cold, solvent extraction. In technical CNSL (such as heat extracted), the composition is 52% cardanol, 10% cardol, 30% polymeric material and the rest are other substances.
Here are some of the industrial uses of CNSL:
CNSL resins have typically been used in the manufacture of friction-resistant components in applications such as brake and clutch linings. CNSL-aldehyde condensation products and CNSL-based phenolic resins are used in applications such as surface coatings, adhesives, varnishes and paints. Various polyamines synthesised from CNSL or cardanol are used as curing agents for epoxy resins.
CNSL and its derivatives have been used as antioxidants, plasticisers and processing aids for rubbercompounds and modifiers for plastic materials. Resins based on the reaction products of cardanol phenol and formaldehyde are used to improve the resistance of rubber articles to cracking and ozone.
CNSL, cardanol and cardol are all used to provide oxidative resistance to sulfur-cured natural rubber products. Cardanol, CNSL or sulfurated CNSL is added to rubber gum stock or nitrile rubber to improve the processability, mechanical properties and resistance to crack and cut properties of the vulcanisates.
A number of products based on CNSL are used as antioxidants, stabilisers and demulsifiers for petroleum products. Metal xanthates of partially hydrogenated, sulfurised cardanol is used to lower the pour point of lubricating oils as well as acting as antioxidant and anticorrosive properties. Soluble metal derivatives of CNSL are used to improve the resistance to oxidation and sludge formation of lubricating oils.
Oxidised CNSL and its derivatives are used as demulsifying agents for water in oil type petroleum emulsions.
Cardolite said it is already offering CNSL-based polyols for polyurethane coatings and rigid polyurethane foams. As for Biobased Technologies and Palmer, the companies said they need to make sure their CNSL-based products will be a drop-in replacement for traditional polyols that they are targeting to replace.
BioBased Technologies will be responsible for R&D of the new polyol in rigid foam systems, marketing and sales of the final product. Palmer will be responsible for scale-up and manufacturing. The partners will use both companies' existing research and manufacturing facilities.
By the way, a 2004 study by the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization (UN FAO) reported main markets for CNSL back then were the United States, the European Union (mainly the United Kingdom), Japan and the Republic of Korea. Together these account for over 90% of world trade, most of which is supplied by India and Brazil.
Tall oil is another industry that the blogger started covering 11 years ago but unfortunately, has not been up-to-date with this market since 2009. If you want to know more about tall oil, I suggest contacting TAPPI, a big association for global pulp, paper, packaging and converting industries or the Pine Chemicals Association, which also has members from all over the world.
Most of the companies involved in the tall oil market are in the pulp and paper industry given that crude tall oil is obtained from treating skimming of black liquor (a byproduct of sulfate pulping) with sulfuric acid. I got this information from the American Chemistry Council:
Tall oil is essentially a mixture of oleic and other unsaturated fatty acids and rosin acids. More than 90% of the tall oil produced is distilled or fractionated for upgrading to fatty acid, rosin, and tall-oil pitch. The latter contains rosin anhydrides, estolides, miscellaneous hydrocarbons, and distilled tall-oil heads. The remaining crude tall oil is refined with acid or sold as crude tall oil. In its modified forms as salts, esters, and adducts, rosin is used in a variety of industrial applications. Major uses include printing inks, paper sizing, and adhesives as well as chemical intermediates, rubber, and coatings.
When the blog last posted about tall oil in 2009, producers have increasingly been burning the product for energy (they got biofuel credits for it in the US) and producers of tall oil chemical derivatives were complaining back then that they were losing their feedstock supply.
In Europe especially Finland and Sweden, using tall oil for fuel have been very popular given their vast supply of the material. The two countries provide 90% of total EU production and 80% EU consumption of tall oil, according to industry sources. One big producer in Sweden is Sunpine, which started a 26.4m gal/year tall oil-based biodiesel plant in mid-2010 in Pitea.
This time in Finland, pulp and paper giant UPM announced yesterday that it is investing EUR150m in a biorefinery in Lappeenranta that will produce 100,000 tonnes/year of crude tall oil-based biodiesel. Construction of the biorefinery will begin in the summer and expected to be complete in 2014.
UPM said the demand for biofuels in the European Union is expected to grow by 7%/year. The EU target is to increase the share of biofuels in transport fuels to 10% by the year 2020, and to 20% in Finland. UPM said its biorefinery's annual output will contribute one fourth of Finland's biofuel target.
There are not really a lot of bio-isobutanol producers out there -- the blog counts three right now and two of them are at each other's throats when it comes to patents.
Both US-based Gevo and Butamax (the biobutanol business of DuPont and BP) have been going at it for a year now when Butamax first filed an infringement lawsuit in January last year regarding a patent (7,851,188) that Butamax received from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on December 2010.
In August 2011, Gevo asked the USPTO to invalidate the patent '188 and as well Butamax's patent 7,993,889 (granted to Butamax that month) which covers methods for low-cost bio-isobutanol production.
In September 2011, Gevo received two patents (8,017,375 and 8,017,376) covering its own bio-isobutanol production. At the same time, Gevo filed a counter-lawsuit against Butamax for allegedly infringing on their newly issued patents.
Last month (I can't believe it's February already!), Gevo announced that it has received another patent (8,101,808) from the USPTO covering the company's separation technology used to produce propanols, butanols, pentanols, and hexanols. The claim also address how ethanol plants can be retrofitted to produce higher alcohols.
Gevo filed another lawsuit against Butamax claiming that it has infringed on this newly issued patent. Butamax responded back and stated that Butamax does not use this technology.
"Because vacuum flash fermentation technology was found to require high energy and water consumption to meet commercial productivity, Butamax developed fundamentally different product recovery systems. The Butamax™ approach combines energy integration, reduced environmental impact and attractive production metrics. Butamax™ technology is covered by the 7,993,889 patent which is the subject of the Butamax™ lawsuit against Gevo for their unlawful infringement. This patent has significant priority over all of Gevo's patent filings." - Butamax
Butamax said it has already filed a motion to dismiss Gevo's earlier lawsuits and will also pursue another injunction against Gevo on this latest suit. BUtamax said the court will consider the injunction in March 2012. The company will seek a permanent injunction post-trial set for April 2013.
Butamax also claimed that the validity of Gevo's recent patent is already challenged by a Brazilian inventor.