May 31, 2011

Myriant files for IPO

Hope the blog's US readers had a great Memorial Day weekend! So here are last week's big news that came out such as Solazyme's successful IPO and Novamont to build a biorefinery/bioplastic in Italy. I also just finished writing an article about Dow Chemical's successful pilot project on incinerating plastics for energy. This article will come out next week Monday on ICIS Chemical Business.

But let's start today with Myriant's big announcement on its filing for its own IPO.

The US-based bio-succinic acid producer filed its S-1 form with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today for a proposed $125m IPO under NASDAQ (symbol "MYRT") . The filing did not disclose how many shares the company plans to sell or the expected price of each share.

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May 26, 2011

Zeachem bags low-cost feedstock

US-based Zeachem, which is building a 250,000 gal/year cellulosic demonstration biorefinery in Boardman, Oregon, producing ethanol and ethyl acetate, announced last week that it will be able to soon get 100% of its  feedstock at a cost 50% lower compared to Brazilian sugarcane and 80% less compared to corn-based materials.

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Elevance expands specialty chems output

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicElevance also announced that it has completed a 1m pound/year (500 tonne/year) production run of renewable-based specialty chemicals at toll manufacturing facilities located across the US, compared to a previous 40,000 lb/year (20 tonne/year) production runs. The company has already begun shipping products to customers from the manufacturing facilities.

By the way, Elevance's Andy Shafer recently gave a presentation at the ICIS 1st Surfactants conference held in may 12-13...

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Bioplastics - Hot in Italy?

Is the global bioplastic industry already benefiting from plastic bag ban in Italy? US-based Cereplast thinks so as it currently goes through its construction plans of a 100,000 tonne/year bioplastic facility in Assissi (Cannara), Italy.

"After exploring possible sites in several countries in Europe, we identified a central location in Italy, where we have established several strong distribution relationships. In addition, the Italian government has expressed its strong support for the development and use of bioplastics, therefore it was the obvious location choice for our plant.” - Frederic Scheer, Cereplast CEO.
According to Scheer, 85% of their business is already based in Europe, where bioplastic demand is expected to reach 1m tons by 2014. The European bioplastics market is growing by 15-20%/year according to the European Bioplastic Association.

[Photo by Fashionblabla]

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May 25, 2011

Bioeconomy panel at Helsinki Chemicals Forum

Okay, I am back. Sorry for the long hiatus and right now I also have a article deadline this Friday because of the incoming Memorial Weekend so I'll try as best as I can to put up some posts from my growing draft list.

First, a sneak peek of my participation at a Bioeconomy panel discussion at the Helsinki Chemicals Forum held last week. Thanks to my ICIS colleague Franco Capaldo who took this video. I was actually afraid of watching this but I guess I did alright (not sure if I will do this again as my stomach can't take the stress!)

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May 15, 2011

Weekly News Roundup

The blog will be on hiatus for 1.5 weeks as the green blogger attends the Helsinki Chemicals Forum this week as well as prepares for her final exam on May 24.

There have been a couple of big news the past week such as DSM's announcement of the construction of their commercial bio-succinic acid plant with Roquette; Verdezyne hooking up with BP and DSM on their recent financing round; Singapore-based oleochemical company Wilmar building a natural fatty alcohol plant in Europe in partnership with chemical company Huntsman; Metabolix receiving $6m grant from the DOE for a project aimed at increasing fuel and chemical yields from bio-based products made from switchgrass; another announcement (currently embargoed) coming in this Tuesday; and more announcements below.

I will try to expand on some of them in another post when the blog comes back as well as start writing some overview from the very successful ICIS 1st surfactant conference.

Linde and Sapphire Energy in Algae Fuel
Carbon dioxide supplier Linde Group and algae developer Sapphire Energy have entered a multi-year development deal for a low-cost system to deliver carbon dioxide to commercial-scale, open-pond algae-to-fuel cultivation systems. A single commercial algae-fuel production facility is estimated to require 10,000 tonnes/day of CO2, which is comparable to 30% of the current merchant market for CO2 in the U.S.

Elevance and DSM in bio-plastic
Elevance and DSM have signed a letter of intent for a collaboration to evaluate Elevance's monomers for production of specialty bio-based high performance thermoplastic materials for DSM's engineering plastics portfolio. Elevance will provide natural monomers from plant oils.

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May 6, 2011

ADM's glycerin-based PG onstream

This is already a two-week old news but I believe still worth mentioning. US agribusiness major Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) said its 100,000 tonne/year bio-based propylene glycol (PG) plant in Decatur, Illinois, had a successful start-up and is now producing industrial-grade PG using refined glycerin as feedstock.

The facility's operations started-up in late March and over the next few months, ADM will ramp up the plant’s production capacity and work toward adding production of propylene glycol which meets USP specifications.

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Weekly News Roundup

The green blogger is going to be a very busy bee for the next two weeks covering the "sold out" ICIS 1st Worlds Surfactants conference (I'll do the welcome speech too) in New Jersey, and after that, the 3rd Global Helsinki Chemicals Forum in Helsinki, Finland, where I will participate in a roundtable talking about bio-economy (my stomach has butterflies just thinking about this).

Hopefully, my colleague Clay Boswell, who will attend next week's BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing in Toronto, Canada, will have some goodies to share after I come back.

For now, here are this week's news roundup:

Cobalt bags $20m funding
Biobutanol developer Cobalt Technologies has closed a $20m series D funding round led by Whittemore Collection Ltd., the investment vehicle of Parsons & Whittemore, a global pulp manufacturer. The funding will help Cobalt build its new 470,000 gal/year n-butanol demonstration plant in Alpena, Michigan.

Purac joins advanced bioprocess consortium
Purac is investigating the participation in a multi-purpose Bioprocess Pilot Facility (BPF) in a consortium of a number of industry partners and universities, including DSM and Delft University of Technology. This Bioprocess Pilot Facility is planned to be built in Delft, The Netherlands and aimed at scale-up research and education for next generation bioprocesses.

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May 5, 2011

Interview: Carbon Sciences

My apologies to Carbon Sciences for putting this interview post very, very late. However, this could be a good timing given that price of gasoline is once again within the $4/gal range.

Carbon Sciences, a California-based public company, is developing drop-in gasoline using carbon dioxide and methane gas as feedstock. The company's intellectual property (IP) is centered on its methane dry reforming catalyst based on inexpensive non-noble metals. These catalysts according to Carbon Sciences CEO Byron Elton, are now going through rigorous commercial testing to meet the needs of the oil and gas industry.

Now, I am not that familiar with Carbon Sciences but I did recall talking to former CEO Derek McLeish in late December 2008 about their project of using recycled CO2 to produce precipitated calcium carbonate. The company back then has also been using biocatalysts. Elton noted that the calcium carbonate project has been shelved for now as the company now focuses on producing gasoline from natural gas since the US has plenty of that feedstock lying around. Elton joined the company in January 2009.

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May 4, 2011

BioAmber readies for North American plant

We got some new information today about BioAmber's planned North American succinic acid facility as the company announced the closing of its series B $45m financing.

According to BioAmber CEO Jean-Francois Huc, the company is finalizing its plans for a 200,000 tonne/year plant and the choice of the site is now down to two candidates. BioAmber expects to start building this year and commission the facility in the first half of 2013.

[Photo of BioAmber's succinic acid facility in Pomacle, France]

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May 3, 2011

Cereplast to build Italy-based bioplastic plant

Cereplast announced today that is planning to build a bioplastic manufacturing plant in Assisi (Cannara), Italy. The plant will be owned and operated by Cereplast Italia SPA and will be financed through local and regional financing/subsidies with Italian institutions from various state and local agencies. Initial investment is expected around EUR10m-EUR12m ($14.8m-$17.8m).

[Photo by Elsa Wenzel/CNET]

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Avantium starts bio-polyester pilot plant

Last week, Avantium announced the start-up of its furanics-based polyester pilot plant at the Chemelot site in Geleen, the Netherlands. The green blog has been following Avantium's development of its platform chemical 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) which will be marketed under the brand name YXY (pronounced ~ ixy).

Avantium CEO Tom van Aken said the 5 ton/year polyester pilot plant is part of a bigger pilot plant that the company is building at the site to demonstrate its YXY technology. The second pilot plant will produce 40 ton/year FDCA monomer, which is expected to come onstream in the second half of 2011.

[Aerial view of Avantium's pilot facility in the Netherlands]

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