March 31, 2011

BASF starts compostable bag pilot project

BASF says its biodegradable plastic Ecovio FS film is being used in a pilot project by German waste management service AWB. Ecovio FS film is made from combination of petroleum-based Ecoflex FS biodegradable polyester (also produced by BASF) and corn starch-based PLA (polylactic acid).

Starting April 6, a 3-month test will be conducted to see whether the bags are suitable for collecting organic waste and how the bags would do on a large scale at an organic composting plant.

More on this post...

March 30, 2011

Weekly News Roundup

The countdown begins! I need 6 more twitter followers to reach my 1000 mark before my birthday ends today. For those who are already in the twitter world and would like to get instant blog updates (and updates from conferences I attend from time to time), follow me at @ICISgreenblog.

And after that self-advertising, here are this week's news roundup =)

Gevo denies Butamax infringement claims
Bio-butanol producer Gevo denies all claims of patent infringement filed against them relating to the production of isobutanol by Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC (a joint venture between DuPont and BP). Gevo said the company's Integrated Fermentation Technology (GIFT) is covered by over 150 patent applications and has a different approach than  the one described in the Butamax patent.   

Construction of flue gas-to-ethanol demo plant begins
LanzaTech, Baosteel Group and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have launched the construction of a 100,000 gal/year demonstration plant that will produce fuel ethanol from steel mill off-gases using LanzaTech's gas fermentation technology. A new joint venture company Shanghai Baosteel LanzaTech New Energy has been formed to run the unit and future commercial production facilities.

More on this post...

March 28, 2011

Biobased chemicals article on NPRA supplement

It is interesting to note that the petrochemical industry is now interested in learning more about renewable-based chemicals alternatives as seen on this year's International Petrochemical Conference supplement commissioned by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) for distribution at their annual meeting this week in San Antonio, Texas.

The NPRA picked ICIS to do the supplement although the trade group already had suggested topics for coverage. I, of course, was happy to contribute when I heard the NPRA wanted to know more about bio-based chemicals and their developments.

More on this post...

March 24, 2011

Rhodia ready to invests in US green chems

France-based specialty chemical company Rhodia seems to be now looking to invests in US-based green chemistry/renewable chemicals companies after the blog heard this announcement today of the company acquiring equity stake in a a venture capital company Phoenix Venture Partners based in Silicon Valley, California.

Phoenix Venture Partners specializes in start-up companies focusing primarily on advanced materials but the venture fund group stated that it will now include Rhodia's strategic focus in the area of green chemistry and bioresourced materials when scouting for start-up candidates.

More on this post...

Weekly News Roundup

Failed to meet my schedule yet compensate, I have more than enough two weeks worth of news here. I am also preparing to write an article on bio-based surfactants so those who are interested to participate, just email me.

Eastman stops phthalates production
Eastman Chemical will discontinue the manufacture and supply of two of its orthophthalate plasticizers and will no longer offer the products as of December 31, 2011. Eastman said it has broad offering of non-phthalate alternatives.

Materia to build catalyst plant in Singapore
Materia will open a catalyst manufacturing and R&D facility in Singapore with initial operating capacity of 10 tonnes by the end of 2012. Material expects to choose the site in 3Q 2011 and construction to begin by year-end. (FYI: Materia's olefin metathesis catalyst technology is currently being used by Elevance Renewable Sciences.)

More on this post...

March 21, 2011

Solazyme files for IPO

I can't believe I missed this news! I must have been very busy that week (that or I was in a zombie land) when this news about Solazyme filing for IPO (initial public offering) came out on March 11.

As you've probably seen in recent previous posts, Solazyme has been very busy with the launch of its algae-based skin care line Algenist, collaboration with Dow Chemical on algal oil-based dielectric insulating fluids and partnering with Qantas airline for algae-derived jetfuel Solajet.

The SEC prospectus did not indicate how much the company is targeting but sources indicate initial target of up to $100m IPO common stock to be listed on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol SZYM. 

More on this post...

Battle of the bioplastic bottle

I am still working on the Weekly News Roundup but in the meantime there is an interesting and very lively discussion going on in one of LinkedIn's group that I joined regarding PepsiCo's recent announcement of its plans to use 100% plant-based polethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle.

PepsiCo said that its "green" bottle is made from raw materials such as switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. In the future, the company expects to expand its raw material sources such as orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural food by-products.

Pepsico plans to pilot produced the new bottle next year and intends to move directly to full-scale commercialization once the pilot scale is successfully operated.

More on this post...

March 18, 2011

Weekly News Roundup

Here's our very,very late news roundup for the apologies. Jury duty is over and my next civic duty that I should really tackle now is filing my tax report!

Solazyme and Dow in algae industrial fluids
Solazyme is collaborating with Dow Chemical to advance the development of Solazyme’s algal oils for use in bio-based dielectric insulating fluids key to transformers and other electrical applications. Dow may obtain up to 20 million gallons of Solazyme’s oils for use in dielectric insulating fluids and other industrial applications in 2013 and up to 60 million gallons in 2015.

Sustainable packaging trade group formed
Several companies including Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, ConAgra, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Kellog, MeadWestvaco, Procter & Gamble, Tetra Pak and Sealed Air Corporation formed a new packaging trade organization called AMERIPEN that will engage on public policies impacting the packaging value chain. The trade group aims to encourage science-based decision-making on sustainable packaging initiatives.

More on this post...

March 16, 2011

ICIS coverage of Japan's crisis

While on jury duty, I've been trying to catch up as much as I can about the impact of ongoing crisis in Japan within the chemical industry based on the coverage from ICIS. The green blog along with my ICIS colleagues are deeply saddened and very much concerned about the disaster still happening in Japan.

The principle of sustainability and green chemistry is not just focusing on improving environmental and economic aspects within the chemical industry but also the social responsibility of each companies. The blog is glad to note the humanitarian efforts of Dow Chemical and Dow Corning. I'm sure there are more companies right now doing the same thing.

My ICIS colleagues John Richardson, Malini Hariharan and special contributions from Nigel Davis on the Asian Chemical Connections blog have excellent post updates on plant shutdowns and impacts on several petrochemical markets. We are glad to hear from many chemical companies based in Japan that their employees were not harmed.  I have met so many great colleagues and acquaintances from Japan throughout my years writing for ICIS/Chemical Market Reporter and my thoughts and prayers for their safety and health go out for them.

Finally, blogger colleague Paul Hodges from the Chemicals and the Economy blog looked at the potential impacts of the Japan disaster on the petrochemical and polymers industry as well as the energy markets, end user markets, and financial markets.

By the way, a quick thought that popped in my head is that we have seen how disasters can quickly create water and energy problems. It might be time to look at how green chemistry innovation can enable the development of creating quick and efficient portable water and energy sources.

March 15, 2011

BioAmber enters adipic acid

Biosuccinic acid producer BioAmber is now venturing into the bio-adipic acid market (and other intermediates) with an exclusive licensing deal with US bioengineering firm Celexion LLC.

More on this post...

Tate and Lyle to produce Genomatica's bio-BDO

Genomatica announced today that food ingredient producer Tate & Lyle will produce its bio-1,4 butanediol (BDO) in Decatur, Illinois, starting third quarter this year.

Tate & Lyle seems to be profiting from being a toll manufacturer for green chemicals production, first with Amyris and now Genomatica.

More on this post...

March 14, 2011

Oil firms at center stage

I've been picked as a juror! Fortunately, the lawyers of both side said it will be a one (or maybe two)-day trial - let's hope that's true as you never know the truth from lawyers right? Ha!

And yes, they know that I'm a blog/twitter/facebook junkie so they forbade me to do any of these things regarding the trial ;-) I'll try to hold off my fingers from my laptop/Iphone.

In the meantime, I'm still putting together the weekly news roundup and saw last week's two big announcements coming from oil firms Total based in France and BP based in the UK.

My colleague John Baker who has his Chemicals and Innovation blog first noted the announcement from Total's petrochemical business about participating in a development collaboration on producing bioethylene by dehydration of ethanol with IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN) and its subsidiary Axens. IFPEN is a public research center focusing on energy, transport and the environment.

More on this post...

[Photo from BP]

March 13, 2011

Green blogger on jury duty

The green blogger will be doing her patriotic duty and hopefully will have internet access while doing so. Not yet sure when I'll be back online but in the meantime I found this hilarious blog post on ways to spice up the jury duty selection process...

This is the green blogger's first time attending the selection process and personally hoping that... "people on trial that day set tables up next to the line and offer free face painting and cotton candy."

March 11, 2011

Green Chemistry Panel overview

"Green is now embedded in the DNA of every chemical industry's research and development activities"
This is what industry analyst Chris Cerimele of Houlihan Lokey noted during the Question and Answer session at the Green Chemistry panel I co-moderated in New York last week.

The panel discussion and webcast hosted by the American Chemical Society's Chemical and Marketing Economics (CM&E) group - NY chapter - was well attended with over 60 audience in total (including in the webcast), according to co-moderator Neil Burns of Neil A. Burns LLC, who also helped organized the event.

Here are some of the interesting points that took my attention during the discussion:
  • Bill Barclay, the co-founder of Martek BioSciences (now part of DSM) noted that investors are too impatient when it comes to the development of algae-based biofuel. According to Barclay, there are still some major technical issues needed to be resolved for algae biofuels which could take years and he is worried that there are people/companies that are promising short term returns.

More on this post...

March 9, 2011

Metabolix's PHA-based chems coming soon

I just finished my biochemicals article, which will be included in the National Petrochemical and Refineries Association (NPRA) supplement to be distributed on March 28 at their international meeting in San Antonio, Texas. 

The article focuses on the commercialization advancement of succinic acid, biobased 1,4 butanediol (BDO) and bio-acrylic acid. With Metabolix, I was actually surprised how advanced the company's commercialization goals for their C4 chems focusing on the pyrrolidones and BDO segment of the market. Metabolix just announced its Q4 and 2010 earnings yesterday.

The company tailors its polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) technology to produce a range of C2-C5 chemicals using a common fermentation and recovery process. Metabolix says it will first focus on C4s and C3s.

More on this post...

Weekly News Roundup

There are several news that came out this week especially from Metabolix and Solazyme (a bird told me Genomatica is also coming out with something), that I have my hands full with the weekly news roundup. Let's start first with those that came out last week...

Genomatica raises $45m
Genomatica has raised $45m with new investors that include VantagePoint Venture Partners, Bright Capital and Waste Management. The new cash inflow will be used to complete the company's bio-butanediol (BDO) demonstration scale production planned for this year. Genomatica plans to have its first commercial scale plant start operating in late 2013.

Evonik buys medical bioplastic biz
Evonik has acquired the biodegradable polymer portfolio Resomer from Boehringer Ingelheim. The degradable RESOMER® polymers are made from lactic acid and glycolic acid for use mostly in pharmaceutical and medical applications.

More on this post...

Biofuel News Roundup

I'm still assembling my weekly news roundup but decided again to separate biofuels as there seem to be several interesting ones that came out last week

BASF's 2nd biodiesel catalyst plant
BASF plans to build its second Latin American sodium methylate plant in Rosario, Argentina with annual capacity of 60,000 tonne. It's first biodiesel catalyst plant located in Brazil will start at the end of 2011. The company said it wants to strengthen its regional presence in one of the most important growth markets for biodiesel.

More on this post...

March 8, 2011

50 Best Blogs for Green Business Students

I am still working on the Weekly News Roundup including a separate Biofuel News roundup but in the meantime, I want to acknowledge, an online MBA school information and resources, for including Green Chemicals blog in its list of 50 Best Blogs for green business students.

Not sure if the blog has been included in any list before but it is exciting and encouraging to hear that MBA students are interested in the economics and new technologies coming from the green chemistry field.

The blog was included under the category "Industry and Engineering"  citing an archived post about green buildings trend as a recommended read.

Thank you very much for putting the blog on the list!

[Photo image by Go Green Blog]

March 7, 2011

Solazyme's algae now in skin care

Exciting news from Solazyme this morning as the company announced its microalgae-based skin care line Algenist will now be available in Sephora stores and on television shopping channel QVC (my favorite shopping channel actually).

Solazyme said its Algenist anti-aging skincare products include its patented alguronic acid, a polysaccharide extracted from microalgae.

More on this post...

March 5, 2011

Codexis enters detergent alcohols market

This news I actually first heard during Codexis' presentation in a recent Clean Technologies conference hosted by investment and securities firm Jefferies & Co. 

According to Codexis' Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer Robert Lawson, the company hopes to soon begin commercial production of detergent alcohols using sugar as feedstock. Detergent alcohols will be Codexis’ first chemical product target for their planned bio-based chemicals portfolio.
“We have already produced laboratory-scale detergent alcohols today,” said Lawson. “We first plan on using sugar as feedstock and proceed to biomass in the near future.

More on this post....

Introducing Bioformix

Before all my interviews get buried deep in my draft box, let's start with Bioformix' CEO Adam Malofsky, which I had a great time talking with during the Infocast Biobased Chemicals summit in San Diego. California

The green blog has heard of Bioformix last year in June through fellow blogger Green Underworld. Until recently, I have not found much information about the company and its technology except a press release in May last year when the company raised $1.05m in venture capital funding from CincyTech and Queen City Angels (QCA).

During my interview, I get to learn more about adhesives, sealants and coatings where some of the issues centered on solvent use, curing times, energy costs, curing efficacy and of course, issues with bisphenol-A. This is actually an industry I'm not really familiar with so I did lots of googling although when it comes to Bioformix' monomer platform - di-substituted vinyl monomers - I really had a hard time finding information!

Now, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based company was founded in September 2009 by mostly ex-employees of "super glue" developer Loctite company (which was acquired by Henkel in 1997). According to Malofsky, their monomers has been known for decades but every previous attempt to commercialize the product (until know) has failed.

More on this post...

March 2, 2011

PLA supply in Thailand coming soon

Dutch ingredient company Purac and its partner, Thailand-based polyester supplier Indorama Ventures PLC (IVL) are now in discussions for the construction of their new polylactic acid (PLA) plant in Rayong, Thailand, which will have initial capacity of 10,000 ton/year and capable of expanding into 100,000 tons/year.

More on this post...

[Photo source from]

Weekly News Roundup

My draft box is piling up with pending posts from the Infocast Biobased Chemicals Summit (I had an interesting conversation with Bioformix CEO Adam Malofsky which I'll put out soon) as well as from my attendance of the annual Jefferies Clean Technologies meeting last week where several renewable and big chemical companies update investors of their green strategies for the year.

Tomorrow, I'll be co-moderating the CM&E Green Chemistry Panel and it will be interesting to get views from Martek Biosciences, Novomer and Houlihan Lokey. For now, let's start with the very much delayed Weekly News Roundup:

Nippon Air uses DuPont's bio-PDO deicer
All Nippon Airways (ANA) has placed a significant order of DFSustain deicer made with DuPont's Susterra bio-propanediol (PDO). DFsustain has the potential to use up to 40% less energy in manufacturing than more traditional fluids. In performance tests, the fluid was effective at temperatures as low as –40ÂșC, the company said.

Eastman expands non-phthalate output
Eastman Chemical has completed debottlenecking of its manufacturing capacity for Eastman 168™ non-phthalate plasticizer at its Kingsport, Tenn., USA, facility. The approximate 10% increase in capacity came on stream at the end of 2010. Demand is said to be rising for the plasticizer in toys, childcare articles, medical devices and a wide range of other consumer applications worldwide.

More on this post...