January 25, 2011

Myriant and PTT Chem in bio-succinic JV

Southeast Asian chemical companies seem to be ahead of the game when it comes to partnering with renewable chemical companies (mostly US-based).

First we had Elevance Renewable Science partnering with Wilmar for specialty chemical production in Indonesia. Then BioAmber (formerly DNP Green Technology) partnering with Mitsui Chemicals for exclusive bio-succinic acid distribution in Asia, and Glycos Bio and METabolic Explorer partnering with Bio-XCell to build glycerine-based chemicals plants in Malaysia.

Now, Myriant announced yesterday that it formed a joint venture with Thailand-based PTT Chemical through a $60m equity investment. PTT Chemical, by the way, is Thailand's largest petrochemical producer (and co-owner of Malaysia-based oleochemical player Emery Oleochemicals --- just can't resist adding this). As far as announcements in the renewable chems sector this month, this is pretty significant indeed!

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January 23, 2011

Weekly News Roundup

Posts will be sparse this week as the green blogger travels to Orlando (No snow! woohoo!) to attend the annual American Cleaning Institute meeting.

Here are this week's news roundup:

Novamont forms North American company
Italy-based bioplastic producer Novamont forms a new company Novamont North America, Inc. headquartered in Danbury, Connecticut. The company’s goal includes a prospective a biorefinery integrated in the North American territory.

Cargill discloses ingredients
Cargill is disclosing product ingredients — as well as the percentages of all melting ingredients — on its Diamond Crystal® ice melter packaging. The disclosure is part of a broader effort Cargill is undertaking to inform buyers and users about ingredient performance, based on established Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) test data.

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January 21, 2011

New label to boost biobased chems demand

It's a happy week this week for all biobased chems and products manufacturers as the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the launched of a new voluntary product certification and labeling program for qualifying biobased products (and chemicals).

The new label will clearly identify biobased products for all buyers and consumers and not just federal agencies anymore. The USDA identifies biobased products as those composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients coming from renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. The label will have a prescribed percentage amount of biobased content certified to meet the USDA standards.

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Loans, loans, loans!

I can't believe how busy January has become with so many news popping up all over the place. Here's my current top news for the month (still subject to changes):

1. DuPont acquiring Danisco
2. USDA launches biobased product label
3. EPA defers GHG permitting requirements for industries that use biomass
4. Butamax files patent infringement against Gevo
5. Gevo targeting between $93-$100m IPO

...and several loans for biorefineries/renewable diesel investments coming from the US Department of Energy (DOE), US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Iowa Power Fund.

The blog already posted the DuPont acquisition and so we'll start the next one with green loans that seem to have exploded this week.

This news from the DOE caught my attention immediately given the implication of this project to future animal fats/grease supply to the US oleochemical market.

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January 20, 2011

Growing glycerine-to-ECH plants

The green blogger is attending next week's American Cleaning Institute's (formerly Soap and Detergent Association) annual meeting in Orlando. I am excited to announced that I will be interviewing Seventh Generation's Martin Wolf  (Director, Product Sustainability and Authenticity) as well as companies such as Evonik Goldschmidt, Procter & Gamble, BASF, VVF Ltd., and FMC.

I was hoping to talk to Solvay as well since it's a major producer of soda ash and chlor-alkali products not to mention that I'm interested in their current glycerine-to-epichlorohydrin projects. By the way, I usually write a comprehensive market update on oleochemicals every year just for the ACI event. You can now access my latest article on ICIS Chemical Business.

Back to Solvay, the company announced in December that it is planning to build an epichlorohydrin plant in China with initial capacity of 100,000 tons/year using glycerine as feedstock.The facility is expected to start producing ECH in 2013.

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January 18, 2011

Green diesel article and interview

I've been having too many interviews lately about renewable fuels not to mention several interesting regulatory news within the US ethanol industry during December. We'll get to ethanol some other time but for now, I want to post this interview I had with Honeywell's UOP business about their green diesel technology.

This interview is complement to my ICIS Chemical Business article published on December 13. As a belated holiday gift, I am making this article free for viewing (and also to entice readers to subscribe - hey, it's just $157.50/year + free chemical profile archives - a pretty darn good deal!)

As a background, renewable diesel or green diesel is different from traditional biodiesel where the latter is usually esterified fats and oils while the former is usually produced through hydrotreatment of fats and oils. Only Neste Oil and Dynamic Fuels are currently producing green diesel at scale, according to Lux Research.

In my interview with Jim Rekoske, Vice President and General Manager of the Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit at UOP,  he explained that the company does not produces its own commercial green diesel but instead provides license for the technology. UOP currently has a small-scale production facility in operation to provide fuel for samples and testing.

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Weekly News Roundup

Evergreen Solar closes plant
Evergreen Solar intends to shut down operations at its Devens manufacturing facility by the end of first quarter citing price pressure for 2011 because of significant capacity expansions in China combined with potential adverse changes in government subsidies in several markets in Europe.

GM licenses Argonne's lithium battery tech
General Motors and U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have reached a worldwide licensing agreement to use Argonne's patented composite cathode material to make advanced lithium-ion batteries that last longer between charges and can charge at higher voltages. Argonne's composite cathode material has a unique combination of lithium- and manganese-rich mixed-metal oxides in a stable materials-design approach.

Rhodia develops rare earth recycling process
Rhodia has developed a new process for the recovery and separation of rare earths contained in used low-energy light bulbs. The luminescent powders, containing high concentrations of rare earths can now be recycled at two of the Group's plants in France (Saint-Fons and La Rochelle).

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January 17, 2011

Biofuel News Roundup

There have been sooo many biofuel news last week, I decided to separate them from the blog's weekly news roundup...

IndianOil and LanzaTech in ethanol
India's petroleum firm IndianOil and LanzaTech will collaborate to demonstrate fuel grade ethanol production in the region using LanzaTech's gas fermentation technology. The collaboration will enable the parties to accelerate techno‐economic and feasibility analyses.

Valero in cellulosic ethanol 
Oil refiner Valero Energy proposes to invest up to $50m of equity to finance the construction of Mascoma's commercial scale wood-based cellulosic ethanol biorefinery slated to break ground in Kinross Charter Township, Michigan, this year. The biorefinery will produce 40m gal/year of cellulosic ethanol to be covered by the off-take arrangement with Valero.

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January 13, 2011

Introducing Anellotech

My ICIS Chemical Business article about the increasing use of biomass feedstock in chemical production is out now (free access!) and one of the companies featured on the story is NY-based Anellotech, which is developing aromatics that use biomass feedstock.

I had the opportunity to interview Anellotech CEO David Sudolsky in December as their BTA - Biomass to BTX (benzene, toluene and xylenes) technology really piqued my interests ever since I've heard about it at the Biobased Chemicals East conference in September.

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January 11, 2011

Cereplast to expand in Europe

I've been wondering who has the most active press communications based on press release announcements among the companies that I've previously covered. Amyris and Cereplast seem neck and neck but I'm betting on Cereplast.

The blog received 3 announcements the past two weeks alone. The biggest one is the company's plans to open a manufacturing plant in Europe sometime next year that will handle at least 200m lbs of capacity, double the size of its US production facility in Seymour, Indiana.

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DuPont expands industrial biotech biz

2011 seems to be starting with a big bang for industrial biotech after hearing two acquisitions activities worth billions of dollars within a month.

After DSM's announcement of its $1.09bn acquisition of Martek late December, DuPont announced yesterday its $6.3bn acquisition of food ingredients company Danisco, which has big enzymes and burgeoning biofuels/biomaterials businesses.

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January 10, 2011

Weekly News Roundup

Big news this week is DuPont's acquisition of Danisco for $6.3bn. We will analyze more about the implication of this acquisition in another post in terms of DuPont expanding its industrial biotechnology (and biofuels) portfolio. Meanwhile, last week saw a slew of  more biofuel news as you can see in this week's roundup:

Qteros joins Praj and bags $22m
Cellulosic ethanol developer Qteros partnered with Praj Industries to accelerate commercialization of low-cost cellulosic ethanol. The companies plan to retrofit Praj's existing pilot plant in Pune, India with Qteros' technology plantform, which will become the foundation for accelerated production scaling. In another news, Qteros closed a $22m series C financing, which is expected to find the company's development and commercialization plans.

Virent and HCL gets grant
Virent Energy Systems and HCL Clean Tech have been awarded a $900,000 grant from BIRD Energy, a program for US-Israel joint renewable energy development. The project combines HCL's lignocellulosic conversion technologies with Virent's Bioforming technology that converts plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules.

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January 5, 2011

Perspective on bioplastics - Jim Lunt & Associates

Here is an industry insight on bioplastics from Jim Lunt of Jim Lunt and Associates, LLC. The blog asked his opinions on the industry's performance in 2010 and his perspectives on the trends for 2011.


2010 was a pivotal growth year for bioplastics after the economy-induced flat period of 2009. Several prominent studies projected almost 40% growth in 2010 for the major players. Although I believe these figures to be generally very optimistic, there is little doubt that products such as PLA, starch blends and cellulosics overall did see approximate sales increases of 14% to 20%.

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Two events in one month

On top of school -- yes, it's back to school again! -- I will be attending two great events within the span of a month, which would make me a very busy girl.

The first one is the American Cleaning Institute (formerly the Soap and Detergent Association) annual meeting which will be held from Jan. 25-29 in Orlando, Florida, and the second is Infocast's 2nd annual Biobased Chemicals Summit in San Diego, California, which will be held on February 14-17. All places without snow! Yeah!

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Spilled animal fat in Houston channel

ICIS News (subscription only) has been reporting this spilled animal fat in Houston Ship Channel today.

Some 250,000 gallons of beef tallow leaked on early Tuesday evening from ruptured storage tank owned by Jacob Stern & Sons Inc., a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based agricultural products company.

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January 4, 2011

BioAmber in Cargill succinic acid deal

That's right folks, you read it first right here on the Green blog. We just received a scoop that BioAmber (formerly DNP Green Technology) is developing a new generation of microorganism for succinic acid production under exclusive license from Cargill.

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Green Chemicals 2011 outlook

After the dark economic events of 2009, 2010 is a brighter year for renewable chemical/industrial biotechnology/green chemistry companies as far as project milestones, investment activities and company exposures are concerned.

More traditional chemical [and petroleum] companies are jumping into the concept of using renewable-based feedstock as alternative to petroleum, as well as expanding investments in chemicals/materials that are used in clean technology platforms such as solar, wind, electric vehicles and biofuels.

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January 3, 2011

Weekly News Roundup

I hope everybody had a great holiday off and wishing all a successful 2011 ahead!

As expected, news were thin for the last week of the year. The green blogger managed to scrap some interesting news and currently trying to rack her brains for some brilliant 2011 industry insights all the while trying to meet deadline for two articles. It's juggling time!

Thai bioplastic venture
Bangkok Post reported Thailand's Science and Technology Ministry plans to form a one-billion-baht ($32.2m) joint venture with PTT Chemical Plc (PTTCH), Siam Cement Group (SCG) and Mitr Phol Group to build the country's first polylactic acid pilot plant to supply materials to make biodegradable plastic. The PLA plant is expected to have annual production of 10,000 tonnes.

Biodegradable plastic use ramps up
Casey Container plans to increase production capacity of its biodegradable plastic preforms and bottling products, which uses the biodegradable plastic additive EcoPure supplied by Bio-Tec Environmental. Casey Container received purchase orders from three bottled water companies, one international and two domestic, with combined orders of nearly 40m preforms over the first 12 months once production commences in early 2011.

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