October 31, 2011

CEO Interview: Blue Marble Biomaterials

The blog was able to interview the CEO of Seattle-based Blue Marble BioMaterials Kelly Ogilvie and get to know the company. At first the blog compared Blue Marble BioMaterials (we'll call it BMB for short) to Allylix and Amyris as the company also aims to target the food, flavorings and cosmetic markets with their fermentation-based terpenes, organic acids and natural esters products.

The difference is BMB's use of waste feedstock specifically fermentation residues like spent grains from beer manufacture and spent coffee grounds. The company does not genetically modify bacteria but instead combines different species of bacteria and hybridize them to produce the molecules they want.

So here's how their AGATE (Acid, Gas, and Ammonia Targeted Extraction) process works: The feedstock go through emulsification, subcritical and supercritical extractions followed by a fermentation process which is a hybridization of up to 9 different varieties of molecules. One of the byproducts is hydrogen sulfide (H2S) production which is converted into mercaptans and thiols for food flavorings and personal care applications.

The waste stream undergoes pyrolysis and gasification creating syngas while fermentation and distillation produces natural esters and organic acids. Supercritical extraction meanwhile yields carotenoids, terpenes and oils.

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Amyris buys Draths

I guess you could call this Halloween a nice treat for Michigan-based Draths Corporation as the blog found Amyris' intention in an October 28 filing notice at the US Security and Exchange Commission to buy Draths for an undisclosed sum.

Draths, if readers don't know this company yet, has the fermentation technology to produce renewable-based monomers from muconic acid that can lead to production of 100% bio-based polymer such as nylon and PET. The company's product portfolio includes bio-based terephthalic acid (PTA), caprolactam, adipic acid and hexamethylene diamine (HMDA).

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October 26, 2011

Big bioplastic news

These are some of the bioplastic news that have been piling up in my draft box for the last several months. I am actually working on a bioplastic article for ICIS Chemical Business' November 21 green chemicals issue so these are worth looking over especially as I am focusing more on the consumer side of the market.

Hopefully, several brand owners who have recently announced the use of bioplastic in their product packaging will take pity on me and talk to me soon (my deadline is looming!).

For a little macroeconomics background on bioplastic, BCC Research estimated the global biodegradable polymers market to reach 932m lbs this year and to further increase to 2.5bn lbs by 2016 at a compound annual growth rate of 22% for the 5-year period. The market reached 771m lbs in 2010. The packaging segment accounted for 70% of the  market in terms of total volume in 2010. This sector reportedly will reach 656m lbs this year and should increase to 1.7bn lbs in 2016.


Consumer news:
  • AT&T started using sugarcane-based PE for its branded accessory packaging mostly device cases and power accessories as of October 2.

  • Coca-Cola introduced PlantBottle packaging to Africa as it opens a new facility that will manufacture the company's Valpre Spring Water manufacturing plant in Heidelberg, southeast of Johannesburg. Coca-Cola also rolled out its PlantBottle packaging in the UK starting September. Coca-Cola suggested on this NNFCC article that the company's next generation renewable packaging could be released by 2014.
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October 24, 2011

CHEMTEX forges new renewables deals

Italian chemical firm Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi (M&G) and its engineering and technology subsidiary Chemtex have been very busy this year with regards to partnerships and collaborations on the renewable chemicals and biofuels front.

The recent ones are Chemtex's collaborations with Brazilian biofuels and biochemicals company GraalBio Investimentos SA and the formation of BETA RENEWABLES with TPG Capital and TPG Biotech -- both news announced on October 13.

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October 23, 2011

Weekly News Roundup

The blog apologizes for the delay in my NatureWorks/PTT interview story on ICIS Chemical Business. This was supposed to come out and October 24 and will now be out on November October 31. In the meantime, here is a free access link on my story about Japanese chemical companies and their renewables chemicals strategies.

The story is part of ICB's Japan issue published this week. For the blog, here are this week's news roundup:

Solazyme, Unilever extends deal
Solazyme and Unilever continued their collaboration deal with a new commercial development agreement, which is funded by Unilever to expand the companies’ current research and development efforts. Initially, the two parties will continue focusing innovation efforts on the production of tailored oils for use in soap and personal care product applications, while committing additional efforts to developing new tailored oils for use in other applications.

Amyris forms Brazil Biofene JV
Amyris and ETH Bioenergia, a Brazilian producer of ethanol, electric energy and sugar will form a joint venture to produce Biofene®, Amyris’s renewable farnesene by 2014. The JV would be able to access up to 2m tons/year of sugarcane crush capacity at one of ETH’s greenfield mills in Brazil. The joint venture will be controlled by ETH, and Amyris will have exclusive marketing rights for the Biofene produced at the facility.

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October 21, 2011

BioAmber, LANXESS in bioplasticizers

So many news that came out while I am away (Solazyme, Amyris, Cobalt Technologies, Chemtex...). Thank goodness for free wifi in Vienna airport so I have 15 minutes to write this post about BioAmber and Lanxess working on biosuccinic-based plasticizers.

By the way, just wanted to let my readers know that I already suspected some sort of partnership will happen between the two companies when BioAmber announced that it is building a 17,000 tonne/year bio-succinic acid plant in Sarnia, Canada, given that Lanxess' bio-based chemicals manufacturing (e.g. bio-isobutene for tires from the Gevo partnership) seems to center in Sarnia.

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October 20, 2011

ICIS Oleochemicals Conference Day 2

October 19, 2011

ICIS Oleochemicals Conference Day 1

October 13, 2011

Weekly news roundup

Yes, this week's news roundup is one day early (or four days late I guess) as the blogger is going to be in the middle of a big editorial board meeting this Friday and trying to promote the blog's course towards fame (back me up here now my faithful readers!). I might also be able to get an interview with the CEO of Thailand-based PTT Chemical very early Friday morning - crossing my fingers.

Maybe I should just camp out in the office on Thursday night after school...

On Wednesday, we received a formal announcement about PTT Chemical acquiring 50% of US bioplastic producer NatureWorks. The green blog had the opportunity to interview NatureWorks marketing director Steve Davies, and the interview will be on ICIS Chemical Business' October 24 issue under the Green Chemicals column.

Speaking of ICB, my article (subscription required for this link) about my interview with DSM on their bio-adipic acid strategy came out this Monday. As I've mentioned before, DSM  is looking to commercially produce drop-in biobased adipic acid (produced either through fermentation or chemo-catalytic routes) by forming partnerships along the value chain. DSM said a 'cost-advantaged and more sustainable route' for adipic acid will offer significant value in the company's polyamide markets. DSM has a global leading position in caprolactam, a key precursor to polyamide 6.

DSM said it is looking at a 100,000-150,000 tonne/year commercial scale with the possibility of entering the market around five years or so.

Next week, I will be in Vienna attending ICIS' 8th Oleochemicals conference. If there's a free wifi, I will try to tweet some of them via @ICISchemicalbiz so stay tune! When I come back, I will start on my interview with BlueMarble Bio as well as information on Renmatix, updates on Dow and BASF. Did I already mention that my first midterm exam is coming up on Oct. 25? Whew!

For now here are this week's news roundup (I'm separating a post on several bioplastic news that I came across the past two weeks):

Allylix starts Valencene production
Allylix has begun production of valencene for the flavor and fragrance industry in large-scale commercial quantities using 200,000 liter fermentation tanks. Allylix’s fermentation process is said to offer a stable supply of valencene at a fifth or less of the cost of these traditional methods. Valencene is an orange flavor and fragrance material being used as a key element in beverage, confection and OTC healthcare flavors, among other applications. Traditional methods of producing valencene entail extracting it from the peel of valencene oranges.

LanzaTech partners with Virgin Atlantic
In partnership with New Zealand-based LanzaTech, Boeing and Swedish Biofuels, Virgin Atlantic plans to use jet fuel made from waste gases captured from industrial steel production. The waste gas using is fermented and chemically converted into jet fuel using Swedish Biofuels Technology. A demo flight with the new fuel is planned in 12-18 months.  LanzaTech expects to have a commercial facility producing the waste gas-based fuel by 2014.

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October 12, 2011

PTTCH to buy NatureWorks

It's 12 midnight and my school exam Tuesday night was not exactly pretty so here I am scanning news reports (because I can't sleep) and I saw this one from Thailand-based The Nation about PTT Chemical reportedly buying 50% of NatureWorks for $150m (Baht 4.6bn).

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October 6, 2011

Myriant develops cellulosic succinic, lactic

Yesterday, US bio-succinic acid producer Myriant announced that it was able to develop a proprietary process for producing succinic acid, L(+) and D(-) lactic acid from cellulosic feedstocks.

Myriant said this will enable them to produce low-cost price-stabled cellulosic-based chemicals around the world without being restricted to scarce availability and expensive food-based feedstocks. The company is currently building a 30m lb/year bio-succinic acid facility in Louisiana partially funded by the US Department of Energy. The plant is expected to start in the first quarter of 2013. Myriant said it plans to expand the facility to 170m lbs/year by the end of first quarter of2014.

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October 5, 2011

Biochem people on the move

I've been seeing a lot of movements within renewable chems within the past several weeks...
  • Sam Kratzer has joined BioBased Technologies as the company's chief operating officer. Kratzer comes to BioBased Technologies® most recently from Archway Sales where he was director of marketing. Archway is a distributor of Agrol® polyols, one of the products developed by BioBased Technologies®.
  • Elevance Renewable Sciences has picked David Kelsey as its new chief financial officer. Kelsey was most recently senior vice president and CFO at Sealed Air Corporation, a Fortune 500 company and a leader in global manufacturing of a wide range of food, protective and specialty packaging materials and systems.
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Plant oil-based foams in vogue

Yesterday, I attended Dow Chemical's Investor Day event and got some interesting news on their bio-based chemicals portfolio including an update on their bio-polyethylene project in Brazil with Mitsui.

One of their announcements was their development of soybean oil-based acoustical foam formulation under the the tradename BETAFOAM Renue. Dow said it is currently in trials with a major North American OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and will be commercialized starting December this year.

[Photo credit: Cargill's BiOH soy foam]

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