Recently in Event Category
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
The parties involved have committed to sending zero waste direct to landfill during the Games, with a minimum of 70% to be reused, recycled or composted. Bioplastics will be used in fast-food wrappers, sandwich boxes and drink cartons, the NNFCC said.
After they are disposed of, the materials will be suitable for anaerobic digestion (AD), allowing them to be made into renewable energy. An estimated 6.5 million people will attend the London Olympics and in the space of just 17 days will generate over 3,300 tonnes of food packaging waste.
Good times to invest now in bioplastics production. I do wonder if some of these materials will be imported outside the UK. The only bioplastic companies right now that I am aware of based in the UK are Innovia (cellulose-based films under the tradename NatureFlex) and Nuplas (developing second generation PLA under the tradename G2PLA).
Okay, I am back. Sorry for the long hiatus and right now I also have a article deadline this Friday because of the incoming Memorial Weekend so I'll try as best as I can to put up some posts from my growing draft list.
First, a peek of my participation at a Bioeconomy panel discussion at the Helsinki Chemicals Forum held last week. Thanks to my ICIS colleague Franco Capaldo who took this video. I was actually afraid of watching this but I guess I did alright (not sure if I will do this again as my stomach can't take the stress!)
In this link are some of the highlights of the two-day event taken by the Forum's own reporters.
I was also tweeting the first panel discussion about Sustainable Chemistry. Here are some of the more interesting comments that I noted:
- First panelists at #HCF2011 talking about sustainable chemistry
- Cefic's Hubert Mandery moderating the first panel. Opening comments by Kemira CEO Harri Kerminen, who noted that sustainability for the company is all about facing challenges about growing population, megacities, depleting resources as well as clean water resources. Kerminen pointed out that global population at 2050 will be 9.2bn (up 33%) from 6.9bn in 2010. This means lots of business opportunities.
- For Kemira, sustainable chemistry is about the design, manufacture and use of efficient, effective, safe and more environmental benign chemical products and technologies. The company is big on water treatment chemicals and technologies by the way. According to Keminen, water treatment technologies will be desperately needed to fill 40% gap of water demand vs supply by 2030. Most of the water demand will be coming from Asia primarily from agriculture, industrial and municipal growth.
- Keminen noted that companies have to be practical as well when it comes to sustainability. "Sustainable Chemistry products must also be competitive and financially sustainable."
- A list of the top trends for chemicals to 2020 was shown by Kemira. At the #1 spot was using biobased feedstocks. Others on the list include enabling low carbon technologies; improving safety and security; globalizing regulations; consumers and developing economies; use of global communications; growth in intelligence solutions; globalizing competition; new technologies needing new materials; and waste reduction.
- European companies, according to Keminen, are responding to sustainability challenges by focusing on sustainability sectors such as water or biofuels; boosting R&D through partnerships especially funded programs such as SusChem, LRI programs of CEFIC; and focusing on their own strategies such as energy and resource efficiency in their own operations. Of course he also mentioned that chemical legislations such as Reach has to be developed carefully in order to support a financially-stable sustainable chemistry. A sustainable domestic chemical market in Europe has to be competitive with other markets around the world where their definition of sustainability might be different.
- Kemira's overall message: Sustainable Chemistry is an enormous business opportunity for the chemical industry; Chemicals are the key solution in many emerging technologies in sustainable development; How can companies and the public sector build competitive edge from sustainable chemistry within the EU?
"Green is now embedded in the DNA of every chemical industry's research and development activities"This is what industry analyst Chris Cerimele of Houlihan Lokey noted during the Question and Answer session at the Green Chemistry panel I co-moderated in New York last week.
The panel discussion and webcast hosted by the American Chemical Society's Chemical and Marketing Economics (CM&E) group - NY chapter - was well attended with over 60 audience in total (including in the webcast), according to co-moderator Neil Burns of Neil A. Burns LLC, who also helped organized the event.
Here are some of the interesting points that took my attention during the discussion:
- Bill Barclay, the co-founder of Martek BioSciences (now part of DSM) noted that investors are too impatient when it comes to the development of algae-based biofuel. According to Barclay, there are still some major technical issues needed to be resolved for algae biofuels which could take years and he is worried that there are people/companies that are promising short term returns.
Barclay predicts that there is going to be a negative impact on algae biofuels in the next year or two because of overpromising the technology too fast and too soon.
"On algae photosynthesis, the industry needs to have patience as it will take 10-15 years before that technology comes online for biofuels. They have to figure out how to harvest efficiently as well as deliver carbon dioxide efficiently as feedstock. This is an exciting area but they really need a strong dose of patience here." - Barclay
- Martek BioSciences is actually currently working with BP on algae biofuels since 2009 and said that the companies have already identified several processes in the last 5 years to be able to make cheaper biofuels. Barclay noted that they were able to change the fatty acid profiles to match those currently used for biofuels in Europe.
- Martek is also gearing up to enter the biochemicals market with its successful microalgae technology and noted polymers and surfactants as "potential areas" where their organisms can be very adaptable.
- Jason Anderson, manager of Novomer's Polymers Business Development, noted the biggest barrier for bioplastic in general is still performance. He cited the problems being encountered with using polylactic acid (PLA) resins (case in point is the SunChips bags) as well as in vegetable oil-based polyols (automotive companies can only use a very small portion of it in their overall foam use because of smell issue, not as reactive, etc..)
"We have to replace existing plastics which have been around for decades. It needs to match and exceed all the end product performance characteristics which is a huge challenge. There is also the entire processing infrastructure that the industry needs to adapt to. If you need a different type of extruder or film blower to make your polymer work -- that could be almost a game stopper." - Anderson
- Having a green product to offer is a door opener but the company does not count on getting any sort of premiums especially when competing in the commodity plastics market. Novomer is currently developing its polypropylene carbonate (PPC) made from carbon dioxide and propylene oxide, and polyethylene carbonate (PEC) made from carbon dioxide and ethylene oxide.
- Initial applications focus for the carbon dioxide polymers is in thermosets and eventually in thermoplastics. According to Novomer, application testing from customers is already underway for coatings, composite resins and foams application. Coating resins is especially an attractive application for Novomer's technology given the current issue surrounding bisphenol-A (BPA).
- Houlihan Lokey's Cerimele presented his views on mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and initial public offerings (IPOs) concerning green chemistry technologies. In the M&A area, the value is usually when a particular technology fits into the buyer's business needs (e.g, to solve their regulatory or technical problems such as having water-based or low-VOC solvents products). Development of green products in adhesives and sealants markets is particularly being driven by regulations.
"Right now there are traditional chemical companies who have green products on their portfolio but either it is too expensive or their efficacy is not up to par," said Cerimele.
- On the IPO front, Cerimele noted only five companies (associated with green chemistry) that venture into this area since 2008. Most of them were losing money when they went public (and are selling on a promise) but there had been continuous strong level of enthusiasm and interests from investors.
Cerimele noted industries such as adhesives and sealants, surfactants and preservatives (and other consumer products-oriented chemicals) as areas of opportunities for green chemistry companies to focus on.
"These IPOs generally traded up after they closed. There is significant investor interests in the equity community for these even though they tend to be in an earlier stage."- Cerimele
I guess I have to eventually show my non-caricature face to the public and get out more from my glorious blogging anonymity. I am excited to announce (although I am also nervous to do this for the first time) that I will be co-moderating a Green Chemistry Panel Discussion/Webcast on March 3 hosted by the American Chemical Society's Chemical Marketing & Economics (CM&E) group - NY chapter.
The panel will include Bill Barclay, chief technology officer at Martek Biosciences (which you will recall, the company is being acquired by DSM); Chris Cerimele, head of chemicals practice at Houlihan Lokey; and Peter Shepard, executive vice president at Novomer.
My co-moderator is the green blog's esteemed colleague (and a blogger of his own right), Neil Burns, managing partner of Neil A Burns LLC. I'm hoping he'll do more of the talking actually so I can write down notes (haha!).
Here are further information for the event. I hope to see you there!
You can click here for registration.
My second day at the Biobased Chemicals East conference in Boston last week saw familiar companies such as Allylix, Avantium, Elevance, Novomer, Purac, DNP Green, Genencor, Myriant, and Metabolix. However, there are two companies that were new to me: Anellotech and Arzeda. We'll get to those two later in another post.
I was finally able to meet Carolyn Fritz, CEO of Allylix, in person as well as get to hear other interesting information about the company's technology from VP of R&D Richard Burlingame. If you recall from my recent post about Allylix, the company specializes in the cost-economic production of fermentation-based sesquiterpenes for flavors and fragrance application (among others).
Their recent commercialized products are valencene, an orange flavor and fragrance; and nootkatone, a grapefruit flavor and fragrance. According to Burlingame, one fully-developed commercial scale fermentation based on their technology will produce as much valencene as 1.2m tonnes of oranges!
He also noted that the biobased market today already holds 10-20% of the global specialty chemicals sector, and is expected to grow to 45-50% by 2025. Biobased market potential within the $200bn fine chemicals market is expected to grow by 45-50% as well from today's 20-25% range. The fine chemicals sector is already familiar with biotechnology products after all such as flavors and fragrances, vitamins, food ingredients, enzymes, nutraceuticals, pharmaceutical intermediates and cosmetic chemicals.
Not much new information from bio-succinic acid producers DNP Green and Myriant. I have yet to sit face-to-face with Alif Saleh, senior director of Myriant's global specialty chemicals business but I'm sure there will come a time soon. Meanwhile, Saleh noted the company's ongoing project in building their 30m lb/year commercial succinic acid plant in Lake Providence, Louisiana, funding courtesy of the Department of Energy ($50m) and the Louisiana state ($10m).
The plant is expected to start-up in Q4 2011. Saleh said several supply agreements were already signed for the first production train coming from the plant, and that over 50 customers have already sampled their succinic acid. The company does not expect any green premium for their products.
Myriant's feedstock is based on starch although Saleh said they will be able to transition to cellulosic sugars once the economics are there.
I'm sure you've already read about my recent posts regarding Purac's lactic acid/lactide activities although it is interesting to note that the global lactic acid market is currently estimated at 250,000 tons excluding the volume used to produce polylactic acid (PLA).
According to Edward Ludwig, Purac's business development manager, the company is aiming to create superior heat resistant PLA based on L and D lactides for its second generation PLA product. The third generation PLA will be based on a gypsum-free lactic acid process that are carbon neutral, while the 4th generation PLA will use biomass as substrate.
By the way, in case our good readers forget, Purac is working on bio-succinic acid as well in joint development with BASF. Ludwig estimated global sales of biobased chemicals were at EUR 49bn ($66bn) in 2007 and is expected to grow to EUR 135bn in 2012.
Not much updates on bioplastic developer Metabolix and bio-isoprene producer Genencor as well. Metabolix reiterated that their joint venture Mirel bioplastic plant with Archer Daniels Midland is already operating in Clinton, Iowa.
Metabolix is also developing specialty C4 chemicals via fermentation with initial focus on GBL and pyrrolidones. Scale-up activities and customer evaluations are already underway for these two chemicals. The specialty C4 chemicals market is estimated at $800m.
For more on Genencor's bio-isoprene, read this recent article from ICIS Chemical Business.
I have also posted in the blog my recent interview with Elevance. The company's chief scientific officer Steve DiBiase explained at the Biobased Chemicals conference how they were able to manipulate plant oil molecules into the desired compounds they are looking to produce such as 9-decenoic acid methyl ester and 9-dodecenoic/9-octadecenedioic acid methyl esters using metathesis reaction.
Here is a flowchart of their biorefining process:
As for Novomer, received a $20.6m DOE funding for its carbon dioxide-based polymers development last July. The company has two platforms, one to produce chemicals and polymers using carbon monoxide catalyst, and the other to produce high performance plastics, coatings, composites and surfactants using CO2 catalyst.
One example from the CO2 platform is the production of polypropylene carbonate polyol containing more than 40% by weight of CO2. Business potential for this platform is estimated at $20bn (or greater than 8.5m tons), according to Novomer VP of business development Peter Shepard.
The Novomer polyol also has the potential to replace bisphenol-A in epoxy lining of a can. Shepard said 1.4 grams of CO2 per can can also be avoided with the use of this polyol.
I mentioned Avantium last year with their development of furanics-based polymers. Avantium's furanics are made from C6 sugars using the company's catalytic biomass conversion.
An interesting information relayed by Avantium's Dirk Den Ouden, director for new business development, is the possibility of creating 100% renewable-based polyester like PET by using biobased ethylene glycol and replacing purified terephthalic acid (PTA) with Avantium's platform chemical 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA).
According to Ouden, FDCA has a lot of potential applications not only in polyesters but also polyamides, polyurethanes, thermosets and plasticizers. Compared to PTA, which saw average price of around EUR 600-1200/tonne, FDCA price is comparable at estimated EUR 500-1200/tonne based on a 2005-2009 raw material prices.
Avantium plans to have a 20 ton/year pilot plant for its furanics-based monomer and polymer production starting by early next year. A demonstration plant of around 1,000 ton/year is estimated at 2012 and an industrial plant with capacities between 10,000 and 100,000 tons/year is expected by late 2014.
The company is also currently collaborating with NatureWorks on Furanics polyesters. Avantium is also working on the development of furanics-based biofuel.
From ICIS News (requires subscription):US DNP Green aims to lower bio-succinic acid price by 25-35c/lb