March 31, 2010

Palm oil supplier in trouble

I guess the "persuasive" power of Greenpeace is stronger than it seems as two more global food conglomerate, Nestle and Cargill, have followed Unilever's footstep in dropping Indonesian palm oil producer Sinar Mas as their supplier.

Unilever dropped Sinar Mas last year December after Greenpeace alleged in a report that the company is engaging in illegal deforestation and peatland clearance in Indonesia. Unilever said it also conducted an independent audit of its major suppliers, which revealed several areas of concerns regarding Sinar Mas.

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Weekly News Roundup

No rest for the weary, that's all I can say... Here are this week's news roundup that was supposed to be posted on Monday:

Camelina and coal in jet fuel

Accelergy Corporation and Great Plains Oil & Exploration – The Camelina Company have joined forces in the development of biojet fuel made from blended camelina oil and coal using a coal biomass-to-liquid (CBTL) technology. The technology has been proven at laboratory and small scale pilot projects.

Bioplastic in Chile and Peru
Cereplast has entered into a new distribution agreement with Santiago, Chile-based ATSA CHILE SA to supply both Cereplast Compostables and Hybrids Resins bioplastic resins in Chile and Peru.

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March 29, 2010

A chemical consultant's view on BPA

As noted on my previous post, here is my full Q&A interview with Michael Brown, president of consulting firm StrategyMark, on his views about bishpenol-A.

Mr. Brown's previous chemical career highlights include as global coatings director of Quaker Chemical (2006-08), partner and VP of ChemQuest Group (1999-2006); business manager at DuPont (1981-1999), process engineer at PPG Industries and Sun Petroleum.

Q: Which alternatives to BPA use have you seen demand increasing?

Polycarbonate seems to have drawn the majority of the attention for BPA, likely because of its close association to infant and toddler care products, especially in non-packaging (sippy cups, baby bottles). A clear (no pun) winner in this area has been the copolyesters of Eastman with its Tritan brand, which was reportedly sold out shortly after the BPA issue erupted last year. Its success has been largely due to its "drop in" match of physical and processing properties versus polycarbonate. Polypropylene is likely the second winner in this space, not only due to the BPA issue, but also a longer trend toward reducing the material costs.

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EPA moves in on BPA


This news is very timely given my article on Bisphenol-A published today on ICIS Chemical Business. Let's go first to the EPA news before I discuss my article.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it plans to add BPA on its list of chemicals of concern, which will require its further testing related to its environmental effects. The EPA says it shares the FDA's (US Food and Drug Administration) concerns about the potential human health impacts of BPA, and that it would also study its potential effects and ways to reduce BPA exposure in food packaging. BPA releases to the environment is said to have exceed 1m pounds/year, according to the EPA.

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BP closes solar plant in Maryland

BP Solar layoff.jpgBP might be investing left and right in wind farms in the US but when it comes to solar cell and wafer manufacturing, the wind has gone out of this business' sail because of material pricing woes.

BP announced last week that it will shutdown its solar manufacturing facility in Frederick, Maryland, and sad as it may be, this move makes financial sense given the fact that more cheaper materials are being manufactured in places such as China and even India.

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Air Force tests camelina jet fuel

Here's my last update from last week (I think) and then I'll try to post about my recent trip to Wacker Chemie's annual press conference to talk about their sustainability strategies and their very interesting developments toward green chemistry.

Also in my draft are my interviews with Zeachem CEO Jim Imbler, and Antonis Papadourakis of Arkema's Sustainability Additives group. Further down are some interesting bits and pieces from various interviews covering the issue of Bisphenol-A. This article just came out and I'll put a separate post about it today. Sooo many information that needs to be posted!

And so where was I?

Ahh yes, I got this email from Honeywell about the first-ever flight of an aircraft last week powered solely on a biomass-derived jet fuel blend made from the non-food plant camelina. The US Air Force flew its A-10 Thunderbolt II jet aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida last Thursday, and everything went smoothly (as seen on the cool video below this post).


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March 28, 2010

Biosuccinic partnership

Here's another news that came out last week while I was in Munich. I think I mentioned in another post before that news seem to be coming out right and left whenever I'm traveling?

Last Thursday, DNP Green Technology announced a partnership with GreenField Ethanol to build a $50m bio-succinic acid refinery that will produce de-icing solutions. The bio-succinic acid technology, which came from DNP's joint venture company Bioamber, will be licensed by the new partnership.

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Green bucks are here

Alright, I'm back from my drinking binge in Germany (just kidding!). I wish the world is hooked on wifi for free so I can tweet and blog to my heart's content! Or ICIS will just give me a portable internet connection (crossing fingers...) = )

Anyway, here's an announcement from Genomatica last Thursday about their recent $15m fund raising coming from TPG. The company says the investment will accelerate their development and scale-up of Genomatica's flagship process for commercial-scale production of 1,4 butanediol (BDO).

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March 23, 2010

Cytec forms green chemisty alliance

It's 4am here in Munich and my body clock is still adjusting so instead of staring at the ceiling, might as well make myself useful by scanning recent tweets from my green chemistry friends.

@BeyondBenign sent me this news about their recent new green chemistry alliance with specialty chemicals company Cytec Industries, and product lifecycle software and service company Sopheon. The alliance launched a website, www.isustain.com, which allows chemical manufacturers and users to track their progress in developing greener products over time.

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Shell starts first biogasoline demo plant


I just got this email from Shell announcing their successful start-up of the world's first demonstration plant converting plant sugars into gasoline and gasoline blend components (instead of ethanol) in Wisconsin, USA.

The demo plant has the capacity to produce up to 38,000 litres/year (10,000 gal/year), which will be used for engine and fleet testing.

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Weekly news roundup

I am here today in Munich, Germany, preparing to cover Wacker Chemie's annual international press conference in the next few days. In the pipeline for possible tweeting and blog (if I can get a wifi connection) includes Wacker's solar business, sustainability strategies, biotechnology and green chemistry. The green blogger will be a little bit busier than before so pardon the sparse posts.

By the way, this week, my bioplastic article from ICIS Chemical Business also came out, so please check it out. A new bioplastic presentation from Jim Lunt & Associates accompanies the online version.

Eastman buys non-phthalate plasticizers
Eastman Chemical will acquire Genovique Specialties Corporation, a global producer of specialty plasticizers, benzoic acid, and sodium benzoate. The acquisition will establish Eastman as a global leader in non-phthalate plasticizers for both general purpose and specialty markets.

BP's wind farm in Idaho
Ridgeline Energy, LLC and BP Wind Energy are mobilizing the construction site for the Goshen North wind farm in Bonneville County, Idaho. When fully operational, the wind farm will have a generating capacity of 124.5 megawatts and will be the largest wind facility in the state of Idaho.

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March 18, 2010

New bioplastic recycling company

I decided to separate this news from my previous post on NatureWorks' lactic acid announcement. This one is pretty interesting given the fact that bioplastic recycling -- needing to separate disposed bioplastics from traditional plastics -- especially here in the US is still an issue.

This new company called BioCor LLC based in Concord, California, is in the business of buying, aggregating, and processing post-consumer Polylactic acid (PLA) plastic products. BioCor says it will pay recyclers an economically attractive price for PLA in any packaging format and work with recyclers to achieve efficient separation of post-consumer PLA from other plastics.

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NatureWorks markets lactides

I'm being bombarded by bioplastic news this week! Here's one from NatureWorks, which announced last Monday its plans to enter the lactic acid intermediates market.

The company says it now offers for sale a range of polymer-grade lactides to support the rapidly growing global demand for these products in bio-based plastics and fibers. These products are used to produce the company's Ingeo polylactic acid (PLA)-based resins.

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Metabolix CEO interview

I've got some great stuff covering the Jefferies Global Clean Technology Conference yesterday and I hope my lovely readers followed my @ICISgreenblog tweets from there.

I was also able to talk to the CEO and president of Massachusetts-based bioscience company Metabolix and got some nice updates of the company's activities not only about their joint bioplastic venture Telles but also about their industrial chemicals and crop technology developments.

The blog already talked about Telles' recent start-up of its 110m lb/year Clinton, Iowa PHA-based resins plant. Here are some of the other salient points of the meeting and then watch my video interview with Rick Eno as he talked about last year's accomplishments and this year's expectations. Sorry about the slight shakiness to the video as I'm not yet proficient in this form of interview = )
  • The company expects to be selling food contact injection molding products such as cutlery in second quarter this year; and film and thermoforming products such as coffee lids, yogurt cups, and storage bags in the second half of the year.

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March 16, 2010

Dictionary of cleaning ingredients

Consumers are now demanding transparency on product ingredients that they use and the trade group Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) are working on compiling information on these ingredients in a so called "Consumer Product Ingredient Dictionary."

CSPA, which deals with the markets for air care (such as air freshners and air sprays), floor care, automotive cleaning products, pest management products, and other industrial and institutional cleaning products, announced this initiative last year in December to prepare manufacturers that will voluntarily participate in the joint CSPA and Soap and Detergent Association's (SDA) Consumer Product Ingredient Communication Initiative.

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March 12, 2010

Metabolix starts bioplastic plant (Q&A)

I'm trying to tie up my bisphenol-A article today for ICIS Chemical Business' March 29 issue and hopefully will have more time to blog.

Before my bioplastic article will come out on March 22, here's an update from Metabolix about their bioplastic joint venture business, Telles, with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). The company announced it has already started operations of its new 110 million lbs/year polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA)-based resins plant in Clinton, Iowa. Construction of this plant has been ongoing for four years and start-up has been constantly delayed since its first announcement in May 2008.

According to Metabolix, capacity utilization levels at Clinton are still expected to remain relatively low for the next few quarters but it is expected to increase as production processes are optimized and as demand increases through acquisition of new customers.

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March 10, 2010

Algae in soaps

Here is another reason why the momentum for algae development is stronger than ever.

This morning, Solazyme announced that it has partnered with consumer products giant Unilever in developing algal oil for use in soaps and personal care products.

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March 9, 2010

Lanxess uses sugar cane power


Germany-based rubber company Lanxess started its new onsite bagasse-powered cogeneration plant in Porto Feliz, Brazil. The 4.5 megawatt (MW) renewable-based power plant produces electricity and steam for use in Lanxess' iron oxide pigment production at the site.

The project started in 2008 and cost around EUR 8 million ($10.9m). Lanxess says the new cogeneration plant enables the company to significantly cut CO2 emissions at the site which will be 44,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalents less than in 2002's emissions.

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Plastic recycling up in 2008

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported last week that US recycling of non-bottle rigid plastics such as high density polyethylene (HDPE) tubs, polypropylene (PP) cups and other food containers, and durable items such as crates, carts, buckets and electronic casings, was up 11% to 0ver 361 million pounds in 2008 compared in 2007.

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[Photo from msnbc.com]

New Green Chemistry companies

I've postponed this post about new green chemistry companies for too long and I'm very sorry = (. It seems there are new companies I come across each month that my list keeps on growing! But that's a good thing.

On the back of my recent green investment article on ICIS Chemical Business, here are several new green chemistry companies that came to my attention. Some of them might already be a veteran in the field for all I know, but one thing is certain is that there are more of them to come!

Reluceo
Reluceo launched itself in January this year and was formally introduced during the Next Generation Bio-based Chemicals Summit held in San Diego, California, on February 9-10. As previously mentioned in another post, Reluceo is created by Segetis founders Olga Selifonova and Sergey Selifonov, with backing from Khosla Ventures. The company's technology centers on using C5 and C6 carbohydrates derived from hemicellulose and cellulose feedstocks to replace petroleum-derived chemicals and fuels.

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March 8, 2010

Green out of Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympic games is over but of course environmentalists have to check if there is a heavy carbon footprint left behind.

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, the recent Vancouver Olympic games garnered a Bronze medal for overall efforts to reduce the event’s climate impact. Achievements include building energy-efficient venues, using clean-energy sources, relying on public transit during the Games, and offsetting part of the Games’ emissions.

Of course, I'm more interested in sustainable materials that were used during the games. One big example is from major sponsor Coca-Cola.

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Green R&D chemical partnerships

Two France-based specialty chemicals companies recently separately announced a research and development collaborations towards green materials and processing.

Rhodia formed a multi-year partnership with the University of Pennsylvania and the French National Center for Scientific Research (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, or CNRS) to develop new, sustainable technologies in the field of soft condensed matter such as liquids, colloids, polymers, foams and gels. The partnership also formally launched a new international research collaboration called COMPASS.

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Green Chemicals from February

A lot of biofuel-related new chemicals last month. Not surprising as companies always like to launch products during major trade shows, and February was the month where the National Ethanol Conference and the National Biodiesel were held. For more on news from these shows, check out my biofuel posts part 1 and part 2.

1. Verenium ethanol enzyme - Verenium introduced Xylathin, a highly active enzyme designed to significantly improve the economics of fuel ethanol production from cereal grains.

2. Novozymes biomass enzyme - Novozymes launched Cellic® CTec2 enzymes for production of biofuel from agricultural waste. The enzyme enables the biofuel industry to produce cellulosic ethanol at a price below $2/gallon, says Novozymes.

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March 7, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

My bioplastic article has been filed and will be out for the March 22 issue of ICIS Chemical Business. Right now I'm working on about bisphenol-A (BPA) which is getting to be really interesting. Can't wait to share that!

For now here are this week's news roundup:

Lithium expansion in Korea
Celgard will expand production capacity of its lithium-ion battery separator production at its existing facility in Ochang, South Korea. The facility will come online in 2011, and will serve customer growth in consumer electronics applications.

Mitsui's biomass refinery in Asia
Mitsui will build a number of biomass refineries in Southeast Asia using Inbicon's biomass refinery technology. Mitsui intends to apply the technology in the palm oil industry, where wastes from palm oil production can be converted into ethanol, solid biofuel for energy production, and animal feed.

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March 4, 2010

Strong algae momentum

Two recent big news on the algae front are developments from Honeywell's UOP business and from DuPont. Both companies were able to get funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) - $1.5 million for UOP and $8.8 million for DuPont.

In UOP's case, The funding will be used for the design of a demonstration system that will capture carbon dioxide from exhaust stacks at Honeywell's manufacturing facility in Hopewell, Virginia, and deliver the captured CO2 to a cultivation system for algae. Algal oil will be extracted from the algae for biofuel feedstock, and the algae residual can be converted to pyrolysis oil, which can be burned to generate renewable electricity.

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March 2, 2010

Investment insight from DSM

The blog previously posted about DSM Venturing's growing recent investments in renewable chemistry and clean technology projects. It is now our pleasure to share insights coming from Erik Rutten, DSM Venturing's senior investment manager, on how green chemistry companies can attract strategic partners such as DSM.

Q: What are the challenges that DSM Venturing confronts when it comes to investing in green chemistry-based companies?

In general green chemistry based companies are of interest to DSM because of our company's strategic focus on innovations in the area of climate and energy. DSM’s Global Strategy is fundamentally to leverage strengths in the areas of Life Sciences and Materials Sciences via Innovation driven by the global trends, amongst others, in this field. This implies, for instance, using its white biotechnology competences to develop new generation 'green' materials. To speed up developments in this field, DSM applies an open innovation model, a.o. through its venturing activities.

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Walmart's supply chain beware

Let me get this news from Walmart last week before it becomes stale. Everybody knows in the supply chain community that what Walmart and other big box retailers do vibrates all the way even up to chemical feedstock producers.

This year, Walmart decided to further put their nose in their supply chain's businesses by asking them (very nicely of course) to reduce their own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if they still want to be part of the Walmart empire. The retailer is coordinating with groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund, ClearCarbon Inc., PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Applied Sustainability Center (ASC) at the University of Arkansas, to implement this huge task.

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March 1, 2010

Weekly News Roundup

While I'm knee-deep last week transcribing phone interviews for my bioplastic article as well as trying to find people interested in talking about bisphenol-A (this one should be interesting), Walmart was busy announcing its latest sustainability strategy of eliminating 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015.

More on that in another post but in the meantime, I am happy to announce that this week's news roundup is finally on time (yey!).

Ukraine gets green thumbs-up

Alternativa and GreenShift Corp. have entered into an exclusive supply and cooperation agreement for the purpose of designing and developing sustainable integrated feedstock and renewable energy production facilities, the first being in Ukraine. The facility will be designed to process rapeseed into substantial quantities of renewable fuels, edible oils and animal feed.

EcoPure in containers
Casey Container Corp. acquired the licensing rights to incorporate EcoPure™ biodegradable additive into the manufacture of plastic containers for use in the food, beverage and pharma packaging industries. The containers will be 100% biodegradable as well as recyclable, and can therefore be mixed into the standard PET recycling stream.

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ICB's Green feature this week

My green article masterpiece is finally out (on print) this week as part of ICIS Chemical Business' March 1 green feature. My article is about the investment environment for green chemistry companies and it has definitely been an eye opener for me on how these companies were able to get the money flowing for their R&D operations.

Within the next few weeks, I'm hoping I'll be able to post additional tidbits of information coming from biobased succinic acid producer DNP Green Technology, levulinic ketal technology developer Segetis; bio-MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) developer Genomatica; bio-acrylic acid developer OPX Biotechnologies; bio-acetic acid developer Zeachem; green chemistry company Elevance Renewable Science; as well as from Verdezyne who recently announced their development on bio-adipic acid.

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