September 29, 2010

Amyris trading at $16/share

Despite the lower-than-expected initial public offering (IPO) price of $16/share as opposed to between $18-$20/share, Amyris, the California-based synthetic biology start-up did pretty well as it raised nearly $85m on the first day and its stock closed at $16.85/share on the second day of trading at NASDAQ.

As Amyris is one of the first advanced biofuel/renewable chemical startup company that went public, the company is kind of a bell wether on how this industry will turn out in the financial world. So how did its venture backers fared with this initial trading? Here's a very interesting analysis from The author noted that the company's series A investors, Khosla, Kleiner Perkins and TPG Biotech did pretty good with their investments with Amyris.

I have not really covered Amyris that much in the past so here's some pertinent info about this company.

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September 28, 2010

Biobased Chemicals East: Day 3

Sorry for the delay on this post. The last day at Biobased Chemicals East held in Boston two weeks ago saw familiar presentations from DSM, OPX Biotechnologies, Verdezyne, and Rivertop Renewables. Rennovia also formally introduced itself to the green chemicals community in one of the morning sessions.

DSM's presentation was about having an open innovation within the industry by using internal and external ideas, and to profit from outside R&D and other's IP. An example is their industrial park/campus Chemelot in Europe where different companies and R&D institutions/schools are sharing infrastructure, costs, knowledge and networks to innovate.

DSM also noted that they are developing/moving products within the next 5 years that will fit within the "cradle-to-cradle" concept using lifecycle analysis (LCA). Another project is focusing on cellulosic-based feedstock for chemical manucfature.

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Weekly News Roundup

Here are this week's [late] news roundup. Pls. also read the blog's first Opinion post from our guest blogger Sam Nejame of Promotum. I hope we'll get more of these types of articles for the blog.

Novamont bioplastic in Thailand
Bioplastic producer Novamont signed a deal with Thantawan Industry for the distribution of its Mater-Bi bioplastic in Thailand. If a positive market will result, Novamont said it is willing to establish a plant manufacturing starch-based Mater-Bi bioplastics made from cassava starch in Thailand.

Biodiesel as natural gas substitute
LPP Combustion, LLC demonstrated their conversion of biodiesel and other liquid fuels into inert gas creating a substitute natural gas (LPP Gas™), which is then used to power combustion device. LPP Combustion installed a demonstration unit in Columbia, MD.

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OPINION: A guest post from Promotum

I am encouraging the green blog readers to submit their views and opinions about what is going on in the green chemical space. Here's our first one from Sam Nejame, founder of Promotum.


Doris is a great voice for green chemicals and it’s an honor to be able to contribute to her blog. I always like reading about what she thinks is interesting. Here are some of my recent takes on what’s going on (in three little green pieces).

What’s in a name? 
A number of things strike me these days as I read the trade press, attend conferences, and pour over the recent spate of S1 filings. For one, the shift in how companies identify themselves is telling. Biofuels used to be cool. Everyone was a biofuels company. No more.

Now, many identify as chemical companies first and biofuels companies second. Startups Gevo and Amyris have made the switch in their literature, while Cobalt Biofuels recently changed its name to Cobalt Technologies and Aurora Biofuels mutated to Aurora Algae. Overall, there’s been a lot of rebranding since we’ve failed to meet those pesky cellulosic ethanol mandates. Are investors getting impatient, is it the start of another industry shakeout or have companies realized higher margins are to be had in chemicals? Stay tuned for more rough weather, it’s probably all of the above.

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Sam Nejame is the Founder of Promotum, a management consulting firm specializing in technology commercialization and business development.

September 23, 2010

Booming photovoltaics

The green blog has been noticing constant new chemical introductions focusing on the photovoltaics market and today, DuPont confirmed in a webcast the profitability of this sector to their electronics and communications business.

DuPont said it expects this year to achieve $1 billion in revenue from sales into the photovoltaic (PV) market — one year ahead of schedule, driven by new market-driven innovations that improve solar module efficiency and performance, bringing costs down in line with other forms of energy. The company expects to exceed $2bn in sales by 2014.
"Several notable new product launches this year have helped us to accelerate growth above market. We also are investing in greater production capability and partnering with our customers to help keep pace with the fast-rising global demand,” said Dave Miller, president of DuPont Electronics and Communication.

Biobased Chemicals East: Day 2

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.

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).

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September 22, 2010

Biobased Chemicals East: Day 1

Day one of the Biobased Chemicals East conference gave the green blog an opportunity to hear the side of end consumer companies looking to capitalize on the use of renewable-based chemicals such as wheat straw-based polypropylene in Ford Motor's cars; biobased surfactants on Henkel's cleaning products; PLA-based fibers for US carpet maker Interface; and PLA-based polystyrene foam trays from Canadian manufacturer Dyne-a-Pak.

Ford's Ellen Lee brought several interesting samples of bio-based materials that the company has been working on. One is their soybean-based polyurethane foam that are now being used in seating applications for several Ford models. Lee said the soy foam is cost neutral or sometimes even cheaper than petroleum-based foam. Around 844m bushels of soybean could be consumed just by using the soy foams on all interior foams of Ford Motor cars!

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September 20, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

Very tight deadline today and I'll start blogging about the Biobased Chemicals East conference on Tuesday after I finish my "bio-adipic acid" article for ICIS Chemical Business based from Verdezyne and Rennovia's presentations at that event.

I am now including the topic Green Chemicals to my weekly rotation of inorganics/biofuels/oleochemicals for ICB, so that will be exciting (ad alert! haha!).

For now, here are this week's news roundup, which seems to be revolving more around biofuels:

Jatropha financing
Bioenergy crop company SG Biofuels completed a $9.4m Series A financing from Flint Hills Resources, a privately held company based in Kansas, Life Technologies Corporation, a biotechnology tools company based in Carlsbad, Calif., and participation from existing investors. The financing will support the company's efforts to advance Jatropha as a high-yielding, low cost feedstock for diesel, jet fuel and petrochemicals.

Biodiesel investment in Canada
The Canadian government has granted through its ecoENERGY for Biofuels program up to $18.79m to million Biocardel Quebec Inc. for its biodiesel project. The company, located in Richmond, Quebec, will produce about 40 million litres of biodiesel a year using vegetable/cooking oil or animal fat.

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September 19, 2010

Iogen looking to sell?

Iogen is probably thinking of doing the same move as Verenium when it sold its cellulosic ethanol joint venture to BP.

Iogen announced last week that it has "initiated a process to explore strategic alternatives for enhancing shareholder value and funding the deployment of its world leading renewable energy technology." The company has retained Goldman, Sachs & Co. as its exclusive financial advisor.

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September 16, 2010

Introducing Rennovia

Just got back from covering the Biobased Chemicals East conference in Boston and I hope you were able to follow my tweets via @ICISchemicalbiz or hashtag #ICIS.

I was planning to write about some of the presentations next week as I have a very tight deadline this week writing about green surfactants. But as I was eager to start some of them so I'll post first about Rennovia since I was able to talk to them three weeks ago.

This California-based start-up company was founded last year by Symyx Technologies veterans Tom Boussie and Vince Murphy. I first heard about them in September 2009 when it was able to closed a $12m series A funding from 5AM Ventures and Versant Ventures.

Rennovia's technology is focused more on its high throughput catalyst R&D infrastructure where it can fast develop multi-biobased product pipeline using any type of renewable-based feedstock.  Unlike most other green chemical companies embedded in fermentation processing (or in some cases hybrid chemical/biological processing), Rennovia is producing their drop-in bio-based chemicals only via chemical catalysis processing. So in short --- plants, yes, but bugs, no.

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September 13, 2010

Purac bioplastic updates

Purac has been busy last week and sent me two news, one about their partnership with Arkema, and another, about their investment in biomedical polymers.

Purac and Arkema is collaborating on the development of lactide-based block copolymers that will enhance the thermochemical and physical properties of bioplastics such as polylactic acid (PLA).

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September 12, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

I'm here in Boston for this week's Biobased Chemicals East conference. Hopefully, I'll have internet connection to tweet some info via @ICISchemicalbiz and #ICIS hashtag. Stay tune!

For now here are this week's news roundup. Biofuel seems to be the theme in last week's news.

Record-high ethanol output
US ethanol production reached an all-time high in June 2010 while ethanol demand also hit a record level, according to data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Ethanol production in June was 854,000 barrels/day (b/d), up from 846,000 b/d from May and more than 160,000 b/d higher than June 2009. Ethanol demand also reached an all-time high of 857,000 b/d, up from 721,000 b/d one year ago, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

W.R. Grace bags biofuel grant
W. R. Grace & Co. will receive up to $3.3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop technologies for thermochemical conversion of biomass to advanced biofuels that are compatible with existing fueling infrastructure. The technologies will upgrade bio-oils into gasoline, diesel and jet fuels using a specialized catalytic reactor designed to resist corrosion and extend catalyst lifetime.

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September 9, 2010

P&G compacts US powder detergents

Procter & Gamble announced this week that it will compact its entire US and Canadian powder laundry detergents starting February 2011, which will help reduce waste, save energy and save water.

The smaller packaging and compacted formulas will also reduced fuel consumption, according to the company. With the proper dosage use as recommended, consumers can still clean the same number of loads using less detergent compared to non-compacted formulas.

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September 8, 2010

Interview Update: DNP Green Technology

My apologies for posting this so late but I did file an ICIS news story about DNP Green's joint venture with DuPont late last June as well as part of my biorefinery story on ICIS Chemical Business published in July.

Here's a recap of what DNP has been doing the past year with some input from president and CEO Jean-Francois Huc. The company has been very busy this year, which I'm sure I already mentioned in past posts before. The latest was the announced licensing agreement of its joint venture succinic acid company Bioamber with DuPont late last June.

DNP said it has licensed certain technology from US chemical company DuPont regarding production of bio-succinic acid derivatives although DuPont will not be involved in any marketing under this deal. DuPont, however, has the right of first refusal to secure offtake from future commercial plants.

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Solazyme's bubbling algae investors

Solazyme has been a very, very busy company this year gathering big time investors from across various industries to its fold. Many industry analysts are speculating this is part of a big-time preparation for an IPO (initial public offering).

Today, Solazyme announced its current development partner Unilever has joined its Series D financing round although no investment figures were disclosed. Recalling from a past post in March, Unilever and Solazyme joined in a developing deal to use algal oil in soaps and personal care products. I also mentioned in the post that Solazyme has a patent filed last year on algae-derived polysaccharides that can be used as an anti-aging skin care ingredient.

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September 7, 2010

LanzaTech in coal-based ethanol demo plant

New Zealand-based LanzaTech and Chinese coal producers Henan Coal and Chemical Industrial Corp. (HNCC) announced their plans yesterday to produce ethanol fuel and chemicals from the gasification of coal using LanzaTech's gas fermentation technology.

The companies will jointly build a 300 tonne/year demonstration plant in Zhengzhou, Henan province, which will initially produce ethanol. The facility will be operational by the second half of 2011. If successful, the companies could also look into building a full-scale commercial facility based on coal-derived synthesis gas.

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Green chemicals in August

The monthly green chemicals product launch is back! (at least while I have extra time to put it all together) August seems to be the month for new product introductions focusing on the energy market. I also have a growing list of new bio-based products in the retail market that hopefully, I'll be able to post soon.

Next week, watch out for a couple of announcement posts (crossing my fingers) coming from the Biobased Chemicals East conference in Boston. I'm definitely writing one about Rennovia ;-)

For ICIS Chemical Business subscribers, I hope you enjoy my latest update on bio-butanol in this week's issue! Next week will be about fatty alcohols.

1. DuPont battery separator - DuPont has introduced Energain™, the first nanofiber-based polymeric battery separator that boosts the performance and safety of lithium ion batteries. The separators can increase power 15–30%, increase battery life by up to 20% and improve battery safety by providing stability at high temperatures.

2. Rhodia green emulsifier - Rhodia has introduced Rhodiasolv® INFINITY, an eco-friendly micro-emulsion based on biodegradable ingredients, which gives formulators the flexibility to reduce or eliminate traditional VOC solvents in industrial and institutional cleaning products.

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Weekly News Roundup

Green chemistry collaboration
Rhodia has signed a long term green chemistry collaboration with the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the Ecole Normale Superieure of Lyon (ENSL) and the East China Normal University (ECNU) of Shanghai. The deal aims to develop common research on materials and processes based on eco-design principles and renewable raw materials.

Mascoma acquires SunOpta
Biofuels company Mascoma has bought SunOpta BioProcess Inc. The combined companies will have comprehensive capabilities for converting non-food cellulose (wood chips, energy crops and organic solid waste) into ethanol and high value co-products.

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September 3, 2010

New solvent for CO2 capture

Before I file my fatty alcohol article for ICIS Chemical Business is an interesting development on carbon capture technology coming from German companies RWE, BASF and Linde.

The companies claimed that new chemical solvents can increase efficient separation of carbon dioxide from flue gas by being able to reduce energy input by 20%. The new solvents also feature superior oxygen stability, which reduces solvent consumption significantly.

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