July 29, 2010

Interview: Update on Elevance

I have already written several articles for ICIS News* and ICIS Chemical Business noting Elevance's joint venture announcement in June with Indonesian oleochemical producer Wilmar. Talking to president and CEO K'Lynne Johnson as well as vice president of sales, Andy Shafer, at the BIO industrial biotech conference revealed more information about this announcement.

To start, the companies are building a 400m lb/year, which can be expanded to 800m lb/year, commercial-scale biorefinery located within Wilmar's new integrated manufacturing complex now under construction in Surabaya, Indonesia. Johnson said both parties are expected to invest in building the plant although no figures were disclosed.

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Interview: Update on Genomatica

Four more BIO interviews remaining in the pipeline (woohooo!). This one is my interview with Dennis McGrew, Genomatica's new executive vice president of business development and chief business officer.

Genomatica announced at the BIO industrial biotech conference that it was able to achieved pilot-scale validation of its bio-based 1,4 butanediol (BDO) at 3,000 liter-batches, a 100-fold increase from lab scale within two months. The scale-up was performed at MBI, a not-for-profit technology company affiliated with Michigan State University’s BioEconomy Network.

The next step is another 10x scale up between 20,000 and 50,000 liters within the next several months. Genomatica plans to have an integrated demonstration facility to come online in the second half of 2011, and commercial production either late 2013 or early 2014 for their bio-BDO.

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July 27, 2010

GM uses green refrigerant

General Motors said it was the first auto manufacturer to use a new greenhouse gas-friendly air-conditioning refrigerant, which will be incorporated in 2013 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models in the U.S

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Algae development going strong

This is going to be one very busy week so I'll posts as much as I can. This one is an update on algae-based biofuels.

The blog posted last week about ExxonMobil's milestone on their algae research with Synthetic Genomics. While some doubts continue on the economics of algae as biofuel feedstock (Vinod Khosla for example), the US Department of Energy (DOE) is eager to explore this field and recently announced their additional $24m grant for algal biofuels research.

During the BIO Industrial Biotech conference near Washington, DC, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Cathy Zoi announced the Department of Energy's (DOE) $24 million grant for 3 research groups - Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium, Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization, Cellana, LLC Consortium - to tackle key hurdles in the commercialization of algae-based biofuels.

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July 26, 2010

New TSCA bill introduced

As I've mentioned in the previous post, the US House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce introduced a bill last week which could overhaul the 1976 Toxic Chemicals Safety Act (TSCA).

U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, introduced H.R. 5820, the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010.

Waxman said the TSCA reform is long-overdue. The bill intends all chemicals will be reviewed for safety; dangerous chemicals will be restricted or eliminated; and new, safer chemicals will be developed using the green chemistry principles.

The American Chemistry Council noted in a statement that the bill needs more work.

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Weekly News Roundup

Record-breaking news (for me anyway) came out last week and a lot from biofuels and solar. Also, last week's chemical regulatory talks are centered mostly on the overhauling of TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act), with the introduction of Bill 5820 by Representatives Bobby L. Rush and Henry A. Waxman.

One of the goals under this bill, by the way, is to promote innovation and investment in green chemistry. More about this new bill in another post. For now, here are this week's news roundup!

FEDIOL withdraws membership
FEDIOL, the EU oil and protein meal industry, decided in June to withdraw its support from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB). FEDIOL said RSB's principles and criteria are totally disconnect with the reality of biofuels production, making compliance from the industry nearly impossible.

Sud-Chemie in cellulosic ethanol
German specialty chemical company Süd-Chemie will build Germany´s largest plant to date cellulosic ethanol in Munich with a capacity of 2,000 tonnes/year using the company's sunliquid process. The plant will start at the end of 2011.

Dow Corning in solar R&D
Dow Corning and The University of Toledo (UT) will form a collaboration on photovoltaic (PV) solar research and development efforts to help reduce the cost of solar energy to make it a viable and economically competitive energy option globally.

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July 22, 2010

Ethanol debate heats up

So many things going on in the US ethanol market day after day, it's driving me nuts! (I'm writing an ethanol article this week...)

First of all, the ethanol industry is in a tizzy over the ticking 45c./gal subsidy which is set to expire at the end of the year. Second, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been delaying its decision whether to lift the cap on the 10% ethanol blend (E10) in gasoline to 15% (E15).

The agency was originally expected to rule on the issue in December 2009, but postponed the decision, pressured by car manufacturers and the oil industry, which claim that more ethanol in gasoline could interfere with vehicle performance and void warranties.

The group FollowTheScience.org released a statement yesterday calling on Congress to require thorough and objective scientific testing of ethanol in automobiles before allowing an increase in the amount of ethanol in gasoline.

The group includes the Environmental Working Group; Natural Resources Defense Council; The Hispanic Institute; Engine Manufacturers Association; International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association; Motorcycle Industry Council; National Marine Manufacturers Association; Outdoor Power Equipment Institute; American Frozen Food Institute; American Meat Institute; Grocery Manufacturers Association; Snack Food Association; American Petroleum Institute; National Association of Truck Stop Operators; and National Petrochemical & Refiners Association.

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July 21, 2010

Update: OPX Biotechnologies

I apologize for the late posts coming from my BIO interviews. The blog still has 6 more to go...

This one is an update from Colorado-based OPX Biotechnologies concerning their bio-acrylic acid project as well as their recent $6m grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) in converting carbon dioxide and hydrogen to biodiesel (pretty cool!) -- both of which utilize the company's EDGE™ (Efficiency Directed Genome Engineering) technology.

Talking to Chas Eggert, OPXBIO's president and CEO,the company is said to be well on its way in its bio-acrylic production goal after reducing their bioacrylic production cost by 92% now toward the commercial target of 50c./lb.

FYI, the market for acrylic acid has been very tight this year and ICIS estimated June contract price for glacial acrylic acid at around $1.16/lb compared to last year's 60c./lb!

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July 19, 2010

Verenium sells cellulosic ethanol to BP

Another big news last week is the exit of Verenium from cellulosic ethanol as the company announced the sale of this business to BP.

Verenium said it will focus on the enzymes market instead. According to the company, cellulosic ethanol is still a big potential market but it needs large organizations with resources and capabilities such as its current partner BP to advance and build commercial plants.

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ExxonMobil advances in algae

I just wanted to assure those concerned that I am still working on several interviews (and post-interviews) from the BIO industrial biotechnology conference.

Back to the biofuels news, ExxonMobil announced last week that they are entering the next phase of their algae program with Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI) with the opening of a new greenhouse facility at the SGI headquarters in La Jolla, Calif.

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Lactic acid from waste paper

Before I venture into the big biofuel news from last week, here's an interesting announcement from Dutch lactic acid producer Purac.

The company said it is participating in a consortium that will develop a process to produce lactic acid feedstock from cellulosic waste derived from the pulp and paper industry.

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July 14, 2010

Introducing LanzaTech

The green blogger is out the rest of the week. For now, the blog will leave you a little information about this interesting new company based in New Zealand that came into my radar three weeks ago.

The newly-hired CEO of LanzaTech, Jennifer Holmgren, wrote me an email regarding the company. If any of the ICIS Chemical Business readers recalled, I used to talk to Ms. Holmgren when she was still the director of renewable energy and chemicals business at Honeywell's UOP LLC.

LanzaTech is also part of Khosla Ventures' investment, and Mr. Khosla in fact, talked about the company briefly at the BIO Industrial biotech conference. More on Vinod Khosla's presentation in another post next week.

Back to LanzaTech, the company has developed a proprietary gas fermentation technology for producing ethanol and high value chemicals such as methyl ethyl ketone, acrylic acid, etc. from waste flue gas streams. Their process has already been demonstrated since November 2008 at a 15,000 gal.year pilot plant using waste flue gas streams from an operating steel mill of BlueScope Steel in Glenbrook, New Zealand.

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July 13, 2010

Update: Rivertop Renewables

Last year in November, the blog interviewed Rivertop Renewables' founder Donald Kiely and we got to know more about the company's development of glucaric acid.

Last month, the blog had the pleasure to talk to an old acquaintance, Jim Stoppert, who is now Rivertop's new CEO. Recalling from a past post, Stoppert originally came from Cargill and became CEO of Segetis in September 2008. He noted meeting Don Kiely for the first time when he was still at Cargill.

Now, Stoppert said his first initiative is to buildup the company by first hiring experienced people (Hello new jobs!) from the industry, more for the research department and some in sales and marketing. One of Rivertop's business model, according to Stoppert, is to look for contract manufacturers to toll produce their glucaric acid and quickly establish demand.

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Interview: Glycos Biotechnologies

I have several interviews lined up for posting and most of them came from the recent BIO industrial biotechnology conference.

While the blog has previously mentioned Glycos Biotechnologies' activities, this is the first time that the green blogger had the pleasure of talking with CEO Rich Cilento. GlycosBio also deals with biochemical production mostly focusing (for now) on transforming crude glycerin and waste fats into chemicals such as ethanol, isoprene, acetone, hydrogen, 1,2 propanediol and other organic acids such as lactic acid, succinic acid and formic acid.

GlycosBio announced in May that it is building a biochemical plant as well as a biotech R&D facility in Malaysia under a collaboration with the country's biotech hub Bio-XCell Sdn. Bhd. The company plans to produce bio-based acetone, technical grade ethanol and isoprene using crude glycerine as feedstock from their new 20,000 - 40,000 tonne/year facility, expected to come onstream in 2012.

More about the investment in Malaysia on this video:

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July 12, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

Have you heard the news about the relaunched of ICIS Chemical Business? (that's the magazine I worked for). It will now have new weekly columns on Petrochemicals, Polymers, Intermediates and Inorganics/Oleochemicals/Biofuels.

The green blogger will handle the last section (inorganics/oleo/biofuels) and that might take some time away from the blog --- I hope not but it remains to be seen. Still, all of us are excited with the new focus as we will be able to provide essential pricing information and market analysis to help buyers and sellers in key chemical markets that ICIS focuses on.

You can access the online version of the magazine (for free!) in here:

And of course, here is the blog's news roundup for this week:

Petrobras biofuel partnership
Petrobras has partnered with Dutch firm BIOeCON to develop a new process for enhanced conversion of biomass lignocelluloses into chemicals or advanced biofuels. The companies plan to establish proof of concept on pilot scale in the Netherlands and to build a demonstration facility in Brazil.

Air Products builds a solar farm
Air Products will build a 12-acre solar farm at its corporate headquarters in Allentown, Pa., capable of generating 1.5 MW of electricity. The 1.5MW will serve the energy needs of nearly half of Air Products' administration buildings. The project is expected to begin construction this fall and be onstream in the spring of 2011.

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July 9, 2010

DuPont in bio-succinic acid

I reported this news last week about DuPont and bio-succinic acid player DNP Green Technology having some sort of collaboration albeit without much information given by the companies.

DNP Green Technology, the co-owner of France-based bio-succinic acid producer Bioamber, sent out their latest press release yesterday regarding their licensing deal with DuPont focusing on bio-succinic acid derivatives.

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July 8, 2010

Plastics from biomethanol coming soon

The recent startup of a methanol-to-olefins (MTO) demonstration plant in Belgium by Total Petrochemicals proves that plastics can also be produced from biomass-based methane, according to UOP LLC (a Honeywell company), which developed the MTO technology.

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Elevance settles metathesis issue?

This is an interesting development when the blog heard that Elevance Renewable Sciences (they seem to be generating a lot of news lately) has licensed the metathesis technology patents 7,738,528 and 7,652,145, from German chemical company Evonik.

I've been trying to find out more information about Evonik's metathesis technology and to my surprise, the company actually filed a complaint against Elevance and Materia - the founder of Elevance and main source of Elevance's patented metathesis technology - early this year. Evonik claimed under the complaint that they are the original developer of olefin metathesis process, which are filed under the patents 7,738,528 and 7,652,145.

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July 7, 2010

Phthalate-free plasticizers demand rises

The green blog might have to postpone the BIO interviews to next week due to deadlines this week. For now, I'll post bits and pieces of news that are already clogging the blog's draft box, starting with this announcement from German specialty chemical company Lanxess.

Lanxess said demand for phthalate-free plasticizers is growing so the company is expanding capacity for its Mesamoll plasticizer, which are alkanesulfonic acid esters, by 40% at Krefeld-Uerdingen, Germany.

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July 6, 2010

BIO video interviews on industrial biotech

The green blog is still editing its own video interviews taken at the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing conference. For now, here are videos provided by BIO, which shows what's on the minds of several companies about this growing profitable world of industrial biotechnology:

Genencor's Vice President of Technology, Karl Sanford, discusses bio-isoprene on Goodyear tires.

IF, LLC President David Haberman on genetic engineering and algae.

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Industrial biotech announcements

As I've mentioned before, it was a pretty busy 3-day event last week at BIO's World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing conference. Here's Brent Erikson BIO Executive Vice President discussing some of the highlights at this year's conference:

Several companies took the opportunity to announce recent milestones and various joint ventures. Here are some of them:

DSM and Roquette to start bio-based succinic acid joint venture

DSM announces breakthrough in technology for second generation biofuels

Elevance Renewable Sciences Announces Joint Venture With Wilmar International to Build World Scale Biorefinery

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The future of biorefineries

The green blog is still transcribing tons of interviews and presentations from last week's BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing conference held near Washington DC.

For a few insights on what transpired at this fast-growing event, the blog suggests on visiting BIO's official industrial biotech blog "Biofuels and Climate" by Paul Winters.

One big news from the conference is the release of a new report from the World Economic Forum about the importance of industrial biorefineries not only in reducing carbon emissions but placing the US at a competitive advantage in manufacturing and energy.
“In an oil-based society, the United States is at a competitive disadvantage,” said Steen Riisgaard, CEO of Novozymes, who presented the report at the conference. “America has only two percent of the world’s oil reserves, while it uses more than 20 percent of the world’s oil. But in a bio-based society, America has a huge resource advantage. The U.S. has the world’s largest reserves of biomass available and more than 70 percent of the planned second generation biorefineries.”

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July 5, 2010

Green Chemistry awardees

Also forgot to post this from last week!

Congratulations to Dow Chemical, BASF, Merck, Codexis and LS9 for winning this year's Presidential Green Chemistry awards given by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)!

Dow and BASF won EPA's Greener Synthetic Pathways Award for their joint development of Hydrogen Peroxide to Propylene Oxide (HPPO) process. The HPPO process is said to be more economical and has environmental benefits when compared to conventional propylene oxide process technologies.

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Weekly News Roundup

Hope you all had a good July 4th weekend! It has been a very hectic but productive last week and I have many juicy information from the recent industrial biotechnology conference I attended waiting to be posted. The blog will also post several video interviews from the conference as companies such as OPX Biotechnologies, Genomatica, Elevance Renewable Sciences, Glycos Bio and DNP Green talked about recent milestones.

Stay tune for those! For now, here are the past two week's news roundup (to make up the lack from last week):

PPG advances in solar
PPG Industries made major advances in solar mirror development for concentrated solar power (CSP) applications, including improvements in solar mirror reflectance performance of up to 1 percent after heat treatment; production of flat solar mirrors as large as approximately 89 x 126 inches on standard production equipment; and formulation of a lead-free encapsulant that prevents solar mirrors from degrading and losing reflectivity in accelerated testing.

Ford uses soy foam cushions
Ford's 2011 Ford Explorer which goes into production later this year will feature soy-based polyurethane foam in seat cushions and seatbacks.There are more than 2 million Ford Motor Company vehicles on the road today with bio foam content.

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