August 31, 2010

Bio-butanol from whisky

I received this news from my colleague a couple of weeks ago regarding the development of whisky as another bio-butanol feedstock source. I thought that will be such a waste of a good drink.

Fortunately, researchers from the Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland are instead using two main by-products of the whisky production process – ‘pot ale’, the liquid from the copper stills, and ‘draff’, the spent grains for producing butanol for fuel.

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August 30, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

I have not forgotten to post this but unfortunately my day job is taking my blog time away. By the way, I just confirmed my registration at the Biobased Chemicals East conference in Boston so I hope to share a lot of breaking renewable chemical news from there.

I am working on a renewable-based surfactant article. Any companies, consultants, analyst, etc., that would like to participate, feel free to email me at

On the interview post lineup are DNP Green, Eastman, Novozymes, Cereplast, Rennovia...I will get there soon, I promise...

Bio-dispersants R&D grant
Modular Genetics and scientists at Columbia University, Iowa State University (ISU) and the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center were awarded a one-year $200,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) RAPID Response grant, which will support work on production and testing of bio-dispersants that can replace the chemical dispersants currently used for oil spill management.

Bunge invests in Solazyme
Bunge Limited has joined Solazyme's Series D round as a strategic investor. The investment represents a step for the two companies to collaborate at critical portions of a new value chain enabled by Solazyme's sugar to oil technology platform.

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Biobased chemicals conference in Boston

The green blogger is excited to attend (although I'm still waiting for my official media registration) this incoming Biobased Chemicals East conference, which will be held in Boston on September 13-15.

The 3-day event is packed with juicy presentations, not just development updates from renewable chemical and biofuel companies, but end market consumers such as Henkel, Ford and Sherwin Williams will be discussing the future of biobased chemical applications as well.

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August 25, 2010

Shell and Cosan in $12bn sugar JV

[Photo from]

Codexis sent this news today about Shell and biofuel producer Cosan announcing their planned $12bn joint venture to produce and market sugarcane-based ethanol and electricity in Brazil as well as explore business opportunities to produce and sell ethanol and sugar worldwide.

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August 24, 2010

VC investments are up in renewable chems

 Cleantech Group sent this report about venture capital investments in renewable chemicals sector reaching $361m in the first half of 2010, which could drive 2010 to a record-year if the second half will see the same pace. VC deals in renewable chemicals for 2008 reached a total of $425m.

The study's principal author Andrew Thomson noted that VCs are becoming more interested in renewable chemical companies as they continue to build up their understanding of the market and developed their networks in this space. At the same time, biofuel developers, who have already been exposed in the VC arena, are increasingly using their technology platforms to produce high-value chemicals.

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Interview: Allylix

Allylix, which was briefly mentioned by the blog in the past, is a little bit different compared to other renewable chemical companies I've spoken to. For one thing, they are not focusing on commodity chemicals but in specialty chemicals particularly bio-engineered sesquiterpenes, which are chemical compounds used as flavors and fragrances, in insect repellants, anti-fungal products and pharmaceutical applications among others.

Talking to CEO Carolyn Fritz, Allylix was founded in 2005 and focuses its proprietary metabolic engineering/fermentation platform on renewable production of diverse terpenes at very low cost. Terpenes, in one form or another, have been commercialized for ages but up until now, there are no cost-effective ways to make them. Allylix said its technology uses a low-cost fermentation process based upon bio-engineered yeast strains that produce high-volume, customized terpenes.

In a more scientific wording: "Allylix's production technology utilizes metabolically-engineered yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae expressing sesquiterpene synthases to produce sesquiterpenes in high-yielding formation."

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LanzaTech produces bio-butanediol

The blog first mentioned about LanzaTech last July and last night, I just received an email from the company announcing their successful production of 2,3-butanediol (2,3-BD) from waste flue gas using the company's gas fermentation technology.

2,3-BD is said to be a building block in the production of polymers, plastics and hydrocarbon fuels. It can be converted to intermediates such as butenes, butadienes and methyl ethyl ketone (MEK).

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Weekly News Roundup

The green blogger is apologizing (again!) for the lack of posts the past week. I've been immersed in the world of chlor-alkali and soda ash, which are very new to me, and I need all my focus on these so as not to screw up.

In my interview posts line-up are Allylix, DNP Green, Eastman, Novozyme and another new renewable chemical firm on the block, Rennovia. This one, you might have to wait until early next month. For now, here are this week's news roundup:

Dow expands encapsulant output for PV
Dow Chemical has introduced ENLIGHT Polyolefin Encapsulant Films, which can enhance efficiencies in photovoltaic (PV) module production and lead to lower conversion costs. The films will initially be produced at Dow’s manufacturing plant in Findlay, Ohio, and commercial-scale manufacturing start in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Cellulosic methanol produced
Range Fuels has produced cellulosic methanol from the initial phase of its first commercial cellulosic biofuels plant near Soperton, Georgia using non-food biomass. The cellulosic methanol will be used to produce biodiesel for transportation fuel markets, in heating applications, to power fuel cells or used as a fuel additive in gasoline-powered motor vehicles.

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August 17, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

For those who are subscribers of ICIS Chemical Business (ICB), I hope you'll read my latest article about new glycerin applications, which was just published yesterday.

As any oleochemical insider knows, glycerine is a big potential feedstock for the production of epichlorohydrin (an intermediate in the production of epoxy resins). My colleague Serena Seng noted glycerine-based ECH projects such as Wilmar's 100KT/year plant in China, Vinythai (via Solvay's Epicerol process) in Thailand with 120KT per year, Dow Shanghai's 150KT/year and Samsung Korea with 30KT/year.

For blog readers, more on glycerine here. Enjoy! For now, here are this week's news roundup:

Sales up for soy polyurethane
Elasco reported an increase in sales of its newly formulated “green” polyurethanes made from soybean oil. Orders are reportedly expected to increase further based on contacts with existing clients and potential new customers interested in reducing their carbon footprint and marketing their products as eco-friendly.

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August 16, 2010

Gevo files for $150m IPO

After the buzz on PetroAlgae's IPO filing plans last week Wednesday, biobutanol producer Gevo announced on Thursday its own IPO filing. Renewable companies are probably holding their breath and praying for their success so more can follow through...

Gevo has been in the news lately regarding the near commercialization of their bio-butanol product with the acquisition of an ethanol facility in Minnesota. Capital costs expected to incur in the retrofitting of the ethanol plant is $17 million to produce 18m gal/year of isobutanol.

Gevo also recently hooked up with German specialty chemicals company Lanxess on the development and production of bio-based isobutene for rubbermaking.  Gevo anticipates initial commercial production of their isobutanol in the first half of 2012, and aside from Lanxess, the company is currently negotiating the final terms of several definitive agreements with customers and partners such as Total Petrochemicals, Toray Industries, United Airlines and CDTech (a hydrocarbon technology provider).

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August 12, 2010

Interview: Update on Verdezyne

Here's my recent interview with Verdezyne's vice president of business development Damien Perriman talking about the company's update on their bio-adipic acid project.Verdezyne announced in February their milestone development in the production of adipic acid via fermentation process using either sugar, vegetable oils or alkanes feedstock.

The company has been working with bio-adipic acid for 12 months and aims to scale up from lab to pilot production in the next 12 months. Perriman said they are working to partner for the pilot-scale level and if everything will go well, commercialization could happen in the 2014-2015 timeframe.
"Our business model is to form a partnership or joint venture for the scale-up for both pilot and demonstration. We aim to license our organism and the process for making bio-adipic acid as this is such an enormous market, we feel that licensing our process is the best way to reach the entire market in a faster manner," said Perriman.

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P&G to use Braskem's bioplastic

After Frito Lay's and Coca-Cola's move to use bioplastic, this news from Procter & Gamble (P&G) is another big boost to the bioplastic industry.

P&G said today that it will use sugarcane-based high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic made by Braskem into some of its packaging on its Pantene Pro-V, Covergirl and Max Factor brands. Pilot products will be rolled out globally over the next two years with first commercial products expected on the shelf in 2011.

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Linde starts CO2-from-ethanol plant

Gas company Linde announced today the start-up of its 600 ton/day carbon dioxide plant produced from Sunoco's ethanol plant (housed in a former brewery) in Fulton, NY, 23 miles north of Syracuse.

Linde says Sunoco's 100m gal/year ethanol plant is the largest ethanol facility in the Northeast, which uses 41 million bushels of corn.

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August 11, 2010

ADM offers bio-isosorbide as BPA alternative

Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) announced today it has begun offering its corn-based isosorbide to the market as potential alternative to bisphenol-A (BPA) in plastics and other chemical applications.

ADM said it is the first North American company to offer renewable isosorbide on a commercial scale. Isosorbides can be used in polyesters for inks, toners, powder coatings, packaging and durable goods; polyurethanes for foams and coatings; polycarbonates for durable goods and optical media; epoxy resins for paints; and detergents, surfactants and additives for personal care and consumer products.

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PetroAlgae to file for IPO

Florida-based PetroAlgae is preparing for its initial public offering (IPO) as the company announced today its S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not been announced but according to the filing, PetroAlgae hopes to get a maximum of $200m from the IPO.

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Upward Cleantech Investments

Just finished my weekly article on ICIS Chemical Business (this one about glycerine) so I have time to blog for the next 2 days. I am also hoping to post my last three BIO interviews (Verdezyne, DNP Green and Allylix) and one sustainability interview with Eastman.

Before all that, here's a recent report from Ernst & Young about the comeback of venture capital investments in clean technology companies. According to the consulting firm, 2Q VC investment in cleantech companies this year hit $1.5 billion in 68 financing rounds, a 63.8% increase in capital and an 4.6% increase in deals compared to Q2 2009.

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August 10, 2010

Gevo buys ethanol asset for isobutanol

After its collaboration announcement with Lanxess on isobutene development and future production, Gevo said it is planning to acquire an ethanol production facility in Luverne, Minnesota, to begin its isobutanol commercialization efforts.

According to experts, bio-butanol production can easily adapt to existing or new grain and sugarcane ethanol plants unlike other biofuel manufacture. In an article I did last year on butanol, Gevo said it's technology can cost less than 30 cents/gal to retrofit an ethanol plant to make isobutanol.

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August 9, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

I'm back from a week-long vacation and have to catch up with lots of emails and news. I'll try to post another news roundup later this week as these (below) are kind of late.

LS9 scientific breakthrough
LS9 scientists announced the discovery of novel genes that, when expressed in E.coli, produce alkanes, the primary hydrocarbon components of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. The one step sugar- to-diesel process does not require elevated temperatures, high pressures, toxic inorganic catalysts, hydrogen or complex unit operations

Arkema on waste heat-based AC
Arkema, Power Partners, Inc. and the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) teamed up on a $2.54 million research program to improve the efficiency and test new refrigerants in a type of air conditioning unit that runs on waste heat or heat from solar thermal collectors. The goal is to utilize PNNL's advanced materials and develop adsorption chillers that are smaller, more efficient and affordable enough to be used more frequently in commercial buildings.

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