October 11, 2015

Emery opens green polyols facility

I will try to blog as much as I can this week before I leave for the ICIS World Oleochemicals Conference in Croatia next week. Speaking of oleochemicals, Emery Oleochemicals finally opened its new $50 million green polyols facility in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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July 13, 2015

Study: EU Bioeconomy worth EUR2 trillion

Source: Unknown
The EU might be currently facing challenges right now with the Greece debt issue but it is noticeable that this region is upping its ante when it comes to investing in bio-based chemicals with its various public-private R&D and commercialization programs.

In a preview from a new study by nova-Institut, it is estimated that the EU-28 bioeconomy is reportedly worth EUR 2 trillion providing 19 million jobs based on available 2011 statistics from Eurostat.  Industries under this statistics include agriculture, forestry and fishery as well as the manufacture of food products, beverages, tobacco products, paper and paper products, forest-based industry and biofuels.

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March 5, 2015

Levulinic acid commercialization expands

There were two recent press releases about levulinic acid that were just announced the past two weeks and it was an interesting coincidence that we just published a comprehensive chemical profile about levulinic acid in Tecnon OrbiChem's February BioMaterials newsletter issue.

For those who are not familiar with levulinic acid, it is a non-toxic organic compound that has been
listed as one of the Top Value Added Chemicals from Biomass by the US Department of Energy (DOE) in 2004.  The bifunctionality of the keto and carboxyic acid groups (seen in the formula here) makes levulinic acid a versatile chemical intermediate that can be converted into many other useful chemical products such as in solvents, pesticides, herbicides, polymer resins, cosmetics, and even gasoline or diesel components.

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January 3, 2015

Raizen, Iogen starts cellulosic etoh production

Joining the startup of several other cellulosic ethanol facilities such as from DSM-POET, Abengoa and Granbio, is Raizen who recently began its own production of cellulosic ethanol using Iogen's technology at Raizen's newly expanded Costa Pinto sugarcane mill in Piracicaba, Sao Paulo, Brazil.  The 40 million litres/year facility, with investment worth of $100 million, will use sugarcane bagasse and straw for feedstock.

Raizen said it intends to deploy Iogen's technology in seven more Raizen sugarcane mills, with a goal to produce up to 1 billion litres of cellulosic biofuel by 2024.

December 16, 2014

Port of Rotterdam looking to attract Bio investments

The blog has reported in the past about the Malaysian Biotech hub, Bio-XCell, trying to attract several renewable chemical companies looking to invest capacities in the region such as the recent announcement from Verdezyne.

However, there are other chemical hubs who are looking to expand into the bio-based sector and one of them is the Port of Rotterdam.  Last year, the Port of Rotterdam Authority has partnered with E.ON (power and gas company), Evides Industriewater (wastewater treatment company), Stedin (heat and power infrastructure), Vopak (chemical distributor) and Air Liquid (industrial gases), to create an 80-hectare 'Plug & Play' Bio-based Cluster on the Port's Maasvlakte 2 with the partners aiming to offer services to businesses that would want to set up in the area. Port of Rotterdam is hoping to grow into an international bio port with this project.

December 9, 2014

Bioplastics merger - Cardia Bioplastics, Stellar Films

Australia-based Cardia Bioplastics has signed a proposed merger with Stellar Films Group, which manufactures film-based packaging catering to personal care, hygiene and medical product industries with facilities in Melbourne, Australia, and Port Klang, Malaysia. Under the proposed merger, Cardia Bioplastics will acquire all of the shares and units issued in Stellar Films, and issue ordinary shares in Cardia Bioplastics to the owners of Stellar Films. It is expected that Cardia shareholders will own 42% of the merged group and the owners of Stellar Films will own 58%.

The terms sheet provides for an exclusivity period of 4 months from November 21. The companies originally partnered to produce Cardia's Biohybrid films tailored for the global personal care and hygiene products industry. The Biohybrid film produced on Stellar  Films' proprietary cast film process, reportedly exhibits a high-performance property profile and differentiated through its unique soft touch and warm feel that is ideal for personal care product applications such as nappies/diapers, feminine or incontinence products.

December 8, 2014

Iowa State University in glycerine-based adhesives R&D

The world is again awash with glycerine this year because of growing biodiesel mandates from Southeast Asia and Argentina (not to mention biofuel tax incentives and mandates in the US).  Throughout the years that the blog covered the oleochemical industry, there had been developments, albeit a bit slow, for new uses of glycerine and the American Cleaning Institute (formerly Soaps and Detergents Association) even holds a Glycerine Innovation Award at their annual meeting in Florida in collaboration with the National Biodiesel Board.

For those who are not familiar with glycerine, it is a co-product coming from soap and oleochemical manufacture as well as from biodiesel. Some of the new applications now commercially available for glycerine is in manufacture of epichlorohydrin, propylene glycol, propanediol and methanol. Check out my oleochemical presentation last year for more background on glycerine.

In this news, researchers from the Iowa State University (ISU) are developing cheaper bioplastic adhesives using glycerine as an alternative to acrylic adhesives currently on the market. The project recently received a grant of $1 million from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to show that their technology can be competitive in the marketplace.

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December 5, 2014

Turnaround for Amyris

Despite the current water shortage (due to drought) and electricity problems in Brazil, Amyris seems to be doing well according to the company's third quarter earnings report. Amyris said its Brotas biorefinery plant in Brazil has been running for 3 months without any unscheduled interruptions. The company expects to continue operations until the sugarcane season comes to a close in the coming weeks in southeastern Brazil. By then, the company will reportedly perform planned maintenance before resuming production in early 2015.

In the third quarter, Amyris said it has completed production of its second molecule, a fragrance oil, and has then transitioned back to its farnesene production using a new strain. Based on this new strain, the company expects to produce farnesene at cash costs below $3/liter. 

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December 3, 2014

Evolva buys Allylix

I can't believe it is already almost the end of the year! The blog is grateful for celebrating its 7th year last November and thank you for those who continue to follow it.

Let me start the month of December with this news from Switzerland-based Evolva acquiring California-based Allylix. It has been in October 2012 since I last reported about Allylix, which focuses its R&D on fermentation-based flavors and fragrance ingredients. Evolva will acquire Allylix in return for an overall consideration of 46 million newly-issued Evolva shares. Cargill, Evolva's partner on its stevia program, will invest $4 million in Evolva shares in support of the transaction. The transaction is expected to close by mid-December 2014.

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November 7, 2014

Expanding cellulosic ethanol production worldwide

It felt like everybody was in a group hug when I attended a biofuel panel discussion at the recently-held World Bio Markets USA with POET-DSM, GranBio and Abengoa Bioenergy in attendance.

Abengoa had its grand opening celebration last month with its new 25 mgpy cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas. The facility is expected to use around 350,000 tons/year of biomass (corn stover residues). The facility will also feature an electricity cogeneration component that will generate up to 21 megawatts of electricity - enough to power itself and provide power to the local community.

According to Abengoa CEO, Manuel Sanchez Ortega, the Hugoton plant is the result of 10 years of technical development, roughly 40,000 hours of pilot and demonstration plant operation. Abengoa received a $134.2 million loan guarantee and a $97 million grant from the US Department of Energy to support construction of the Hugoton facility.

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August 17, 2014

Global Bioenergies commercialization in momentum

France-based renewable chemicals company, Global Bioenergies, has speeded up its commercialization plans as it sets up its new industrial fermentation pilot unit in Pomacle, France, which is expected to be commissioned by the end of September, and be ready for a first fermentation run producing bio-based isobutene this fall.

The pilot plant has a maximum capacity of 10 tons/year and will focus on the production of methacrylic acid using bio-based oxidation-grade isobutene in collaboration with Arkema. Global Bioenergies said it is currently producing kilograms of bio-isobutene at its site in Evry using a conventional fermentation pilot, which was adapted for isobutene production.  The new fermentation unit in Pomacle will go through the mechanical and functional commissioning by the end of September.

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August 8, 2014

Genomatica enters bio-polyamides market

So far, Genomatica's business model seems to be doing pretty well as the company tries to stay out of burning cash through manufacturing, letting its partners from the chemical industry do the commercial production and marketing, and Genomatica instead focuses on R&D of various fermentation-based chemicals for its technology licensing portfolio.

The company announced this week that it has entered the bio-based nylon intermediates market focusing on hexamethylenediamine (HMDA), caprolactam, and adipic acid.  Genomatica is developing complete process technologies for the bio-based production of these intermediates, which it will then license to major firms in the nylon value chain.

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Lesaffre acquires Butalco

There were several bio-butanol news last month and these were all reported at Tecnon OrbiChem's Bio-Materials newsletter. In the meantime, here was one from Lesaffre, a France-based manufacturer of yeast and other fermentation products.

The company said it has acquired Butalco, a Swiss start-up bio-butanol technology developer, for an undisclosed amount.

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August 6, 2014

Solazyme, AkzoNobel expand surfactant partnership

Algal oils producer, Solazyme, has expanded its algal oil supply agreement with specialty chemicals company, AkzoNobel,  with a new five-year supply of up to 10,000 tons/year of Solazyme's Tailored™ algal oil for surfactant production pending successful joint product development.

The parties expect that the algal oil under the joint development agreement would be able to replace both petroleum and palm oil-derived chemicals.  The target product is designed to have improved functional and environmental performance, as well as a lower overall cost to AkzoNobel.

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August 5, 2014

M&G forms JV with Anhui Guozhen

Tecnon OrbiChem's Bio-Materials Issue 11 newsletter is now done and out, and we have some interesting news that came from China.  In the meantime, there were also several recent announcements that came out and I will post some of them starting with M&G Chemicals and Anhui Guozhen's joint venture announcement.

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June 30, 2014

Matrìca inaugurates green chemistry complex

Tecnon OrbiChem's 10th Bio-Materials & Intermediates issue is now out and here are the highlights of the report:

  • Ethylene/PolyethylenePetro-based PE coatings are being replaced by bio-based and biodegradable resins
  • Glycols
    Jilin Zhongxin Chemical Group is building a 120 ktpa bio-based EO with bio-based MEG as byproduct
  • Polyethylene Terephthalate5-Chloromethylfurfural (5-CMF) is being developed as an alternative to 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF)
  • PolyamidesThe US imported 800 tons of sebacic acid in April this year, up 25% compared to March
  • Butanols
    Gevo has shipped isobutanol-derived paraxylene to Toray
  • Epichlorohydrin
    Purchasing interest in bio-based ECH in China remains weak
  • Butanediols
    LanzaTech is on schedule to meet its goal to design commercial bio-butadiene units by 2015 via the
    2,3 BDO route
  • Succinic AcidReverdia is looking to build a new 50 ktpa bio-succinic acid facility to start by 2016
  • PolyolsINVISTA has manufactured its first commercial batch of TERRIN™ 170 polyol that contains recycled
    or renewable materials
  • Fatty AcidsArizona Chemical is increasing its tall oil fatty acid pricing by 5 c/lb
  • Fatty Alcohols
    The debate over Indian import duties on fatty alcohols continues to heat up
  • Glycerol
    US imports of Argentine glycerine for first quarter 2014 are at record-high
  • Polylactic acid (PLA)Calysta demonstrates laboratory-scale production of lactic acid from methane

    To view sample or subscribe please click here

I am hoping to be able to blog this week before I hit the road for my first vacation of the year (woohoo!). This one is a big news from Matrica, the 50/50 Italian joint venture between bioplastic producer Novamont and chemical company Versalis (Eni).  The joint venture recently started-up its new green chemistry complex in Porto Torres, which will have three plants that will produce a total capacity of 70 ktpa bio-products using vegetable oils as feedstock.

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June 19, 2014

Soy-based materials continue to expand

There are several presentations about the industrial use of soybeans at this week's Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, hosted by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Initiative (ACSGCI), that I might as well dig these articles that have been fermenting in my draft box for quite a while now.

Yesterday, Linda Kim-Habermehl of Omni Tech International noted in her presentation the company's partnership with the United Soybean Board (USB) and cited several examples of already-commercialized soy-based products in the market developed through the USB Checkoff program. The soybean checkoff helps facilitate market growth and creation by funding and directing marketing, research and commercialization programs.

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June 17, 2014

Pine Chemicals GHG study now available

It has been awhile since I last covered the tall oil market that includes crude tall oil (CTO), tall oil rosin (TOR), and tall oil fatty acid (TOFA). In my past experience, it has been difficult to get information on this industry as pulp and paper chemicals companies are not that many and they are not really that media-friendly. If you want to get some information on this industry, you might want to visit the Pine Chemicals Association website.

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June 13, 2014

Roquette starts microalgae production in Lestrem

Remember when France-based Roquette announced last year that it has dissolved its microalgae joint venture with Solazyme (Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals LLC)? Well, it's because Solazyme now has a competition in this area as Roquette announced its newly-started 4,000-5,000 tons/year production unit at its Lestrem, France, industrial site, which will cultivate chlorella by fermentation.

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Enerkem starts commercial waste-to-biofuels plant

Enerkem officially commissioned last week its first commercial biorefinery in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, that will produce biofuels and chemicals using municipal waste. The facility, operated by Enerkem Alberta Biofuels, will have a capacity of up to 38 million liters/year initially producing biomethanol.  A module converting the biomethanol into advanced ethanol will be added by the end of 2015.

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