November 30, 2011

Verdezyne starts pilot plant

It's been awhile since the blog wrote something about Verdezyne's development activities on bio-adipic acid. The company announced today that it has started its pilot plant operation in Carlsbad, California -- Verdezyne's first biobased adipic acid at scale.

The company said "the plant will be used to demonstrate scalability of their process, validate their cost projections and generate sufficient quantities for commercial market development."

Of course the blog needs to know more information than this.

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Weekly News Roundup

For those who have emailed me the past few days, bear with me as I am sifting through hundreds of emails (mostly newsletters and press releases - yeah I do need to unsubscribe to some of them one of these days...) My system inbox is also berating me for having several mega-byte attachments - it's not my fault!!

I still have Renmatix and OPX Bio on my next blog interview post line-up. I will not be doing any more blog interviews for the rest of the year so I can clean up my draft box in preparation for 2012.

By the way, I just wanted to share that the Green Blog celebrated it's 4th year last month so thanks to those who still hang on and follow the blog. I am currently working on Renewable Chemicals 2012 investment outlook for ICB's January issue so for those investors out there looking for exposure, let me know if you're willing to share insights.

For now, here is our weekly news roundup. I'm posting separate ones on the recent Amyris/Total JV and Verdezyne pilot plant start-up news.

BASF in bio EU project
BASF is participating in the EU-supported research project called BIONEXGEN (Next Generation of Biocatalysts) that includes 17 other partners from industry and academia wil a goal to develop new generation biocatalysts for more sustainable production processes in the chemical industry. BASF is taking part in research activities on new biocatalytic amine syntheses and on the use of enzymes for the synthesis of functional polymers from renewable feedstock.

Tessenderlo starts PVC recycling plant
Tessenderlo Group through its subsidiary Eurocell has started the UK's largest PVC (polyvinyl chloride) recycling operation in Derbyshire. The recycled PVC material is used for the manufacture of new energy-efficient products such as thermal inserts and cavity closers used in window systems.

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November 23, 2011

Weekly News Roundup

Before I indulge myself into the holiday (and shopping) mood, let's get this weekly news roundup out of the way, which seems to be biofuels-centric. By the way, the blog just received an interesting news from LanzaTech and Global Bioenergies so we will take a look at it later this week -- after I finished my shopping.

For the US readers, enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday!

ConocoPhillips enters biomass fuels
ConocoPhillips has partnered with Enviva LP, a manufacturer of processed biomass fuel in the US and Europe, to create a new company called ECo Biomass Technologies which will bring torrefied biomass fuels to the market. Torrefaction involves superheating biomass to create highly efficient fuel akin to coal. ECo Biomass' initial facility, scheduled to start in 2013, will produce wood pellets that will be sold under agreements with major utilities.

BASF creates global battery biz
BASF has created a new Battery Materials global business unit that will be effective January 1, 2012. The new business will integrate BASF's existing battery activities and catalysts division focused on cathode materials development), intermediates division focused on electrolyte formulations, and BASF Future Business GmbH that is focused on next-generation lithium battery opportunities.

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November 21, 2011

AE Biofuels enters renewable chems

California-based AE Biofuels, which just changed its name to Aemetis, has refocused its company from producing first generation biofuels to producing renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels instead.

In June, AE Biofuels acquired Maryland-based industrial biotech company Zymetis, which led to the change of the company's direction. Aemetis now owns Zymetis' proprietary aerobic marine organisms, ( Saccharophagus degradans 2-40 trademarked Z-microbe) that will  enable the company to produce bio-isoprene, glycerine, and in the pipeline - adipic acid and butanediols.

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Toray's 100% bio-PET via Gevo PX

Let me put this news in before I completely get lost on the incoming busy holiday season.

Japan chemical firm Toray announced last week that it has successfully produced in laboratory scale its 100% renewable-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fiber using Gevo's isobutanol-derived paraxylene (PX).  If readers recall the blog's recent post on Gevo, the companies are currently on the planning stage to establishing commercial-scale operations for the bio-PX, targeting a pilot production next year and commercial production by 2014.

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November 16, 2011

Dow Chemical on bioplastic Q&A

Here is a brief Q&A with Dow Chemical's Jeff Wooster, global sustainability leader, regarding the company's views on bioplastic. Some of these will be included in my bioplastic article that will be published next week Monday, November 21 on ICIS Chemical Business.

As a background, Dow has partnered with Japan chemical firm Mitsui this year on sugarcane ethanol and bio-polyethylene plastic in Brazil. Feel free to read ICB's latest article on the Dow/Mitsui JV.

Q: It seems like increasing branded companies are increasingly promoting the use of bioplastic, how are they benefiting from using bioplastics and has these already translated to increase in their demand/sales profit?

A: Brand owners are eager to provide consumers with packaging made from bio-based plastics because the use of those materials offers several potential benefits. Among those are reduced use of fossil fuels and reduced greenhouse gas emissions during the manufacturing of the packaging materials.

In each case those benefits need to be confirmed through the use of scientific methods such as the completion of a full life cycle assessment. If a particular bio-based material provides the right combination of performance attributes for a specific application then its use can provide meaningful environmental benefits as well.

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BioAmber files for $150m IPO

Sorry this post was late. I had to deal with the magazine deadline and a headache-inducing exam. The good news is that this news about BioAmber's IPO filing came in just in time for my editor-in-chief to include it in his upcoming article covering the financing environment within the renewable chemicals space. This article is going to be published on ICIS Chemical Business' November 21 Green Chemicals issue.

So let's analyze some of the S-1 information that BioAmber registered on the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). First of all, BioAmber hopes to raise $150m from this stock offering. We've covered enough of BioAmber and succinic acid developments on the blog that I will enumerate some of the "new information" that stood out in my view:

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November 13, 2011

EcoSynthetix expands bio-latex capacity

Admittedly, the blog is not that familiar with Ontario, Canada-based EcoSynthetix. The company first came into the blog's attention when it filed an IPO on the Toronto Stock Exchange on July this year and began trading on August 4 as it raised around C$100m by selling 11.15m shares at C$9 (C$1= US$1).

By the way, just an interesting information to share, EcoSynthetix relocated its operations from Lansing, Michigan, to Burlington, Ontario,  this year after accepting government grants from Canada.

We will get to know more abut EcoSynthetix in a later date but for now, the company announced on November 4 that it has commissioned a new 80m lb/year production line in an existing facility in Oosterhout, the Netherlands, bringing its current total capacity to 155m lbs/year that will produce its ECOSPHERE Biolatex binder for the coated paper and paperboard market.

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Semi-Monthly News Roundup

So I have a problem keeping up with my weekly news roundup these days...might as well experiment with a semi-monthly instead. We'll see...

SABIC creates VC for renewables
Petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) has launched a new global corporate venture capital arm called SABIC Ventures based in the Netherlands that will seek out innovative technologies and businesses such as in the areas of advanced materials and composites, alternative feedstocks for chemicals and materials, alternative energy, and cleantech. Targeted countries for sourcing venturing investments incude the US, Europe and Asia.

Zeachem raises $19m
Zeachem has raised $19m in series C funding led by Birchmere Ventures. Zeachem expects to soon startup its 250,000 gal/year demonstration biorefinery in Boardman, Oregon, later this year initially producing cellulosic ethanol and ethyl acetate.

Cereplast completes Italian plant purchase
Cereplast has finalized the $12m purchase of a 125,000 sq. foot facility in Cannara, Italy, that will produce 100,000 tons/year (220m lbs/year) Cereplast bioplastic. The first phase will allow for a 50,000 ton capacity with manufacturing expected to begin by the fourth quarter of 2012, with the second phase expected to be completed based on market demand. Cereplast has also expanded its distribution agreement with Italy-based ColorTec Srl to supply bioplastic resin to the Italian and Slovenian markets effective November 4, 2011 through December 31, 2012. ColorTech projects to purchase $20m of materials in 2012.

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November 10, 2011

Myriant expands in Asia

I've got 20 minutes before going to school so here's a short news from Myriant announced yesterday about plans to expand distribution of its biobased succinic acid in Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan through a partnership with Japan-based Sojitz Corporation.

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3Q Renewable Chems Earnings news

I don't usually follow much of the earnings season (except for titanium dioxide, chlor-alkali and soda ash that I have to cover for ICIS Chemical Business...) but I'll make an exception on this quarter for some of our renewable chems companies such as Codexis, Amyris, Gevo, Solazyme, and Metabolix. I hope I did not miss anybody else.

We've already covered a bit about Amyris in this post. Not much new information on Gevo after the blog covered the company's investor day in September.

Codexis, however, told investor analysts during its third quarter earnings call on November 1, that it is re-positioning itself as more of a "product company" than a tech licensing company. Codexis said much of its future revenue will now come from product sales made using the company's enzymes and microbes instead of R&D funding.
“While more than half of our revenue today comes from R&D funding, we expect in the future to earn revenue from three sources – the sale of enzymes, of products made using our enzymes and microbes, and royalties from the use of our technology. We now have more than 50 pharmaceutical companies using our enzymes. We intend to repeat that revolution in biofuels and bio-based chemicals – where our CodeEvolver platform enables us to extract sugar from non-food biomass and to turn that sugar into high value chemicals and fuels.” – Alan Shaw, CEO of Codexis

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November 9, 2011

Mitsubishi develops bio-MMA

Mitsubishi Rayon (MRC) and its subsidiary Lucite International announced today that they have developed bio-based methyl methacrylate (MMA), a chemical used in coatings, transparent plastics and adhesives.

Most of MMA is polymerized into polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), a transparent thermoplastic sometimes called acrylic glass which is an economical alternative to polycarbonate. Lucite by the way, is one of the well-known acrylic glass trademarked.

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November 8, 2011

LS9 expands production

I have 15 minutes before I leave for school so let me squeeze in this news from LS9 that came in yesterday about their successful scale-up production from 1,000 liters to 20,000 liters-scale in the company's pilot facility in California.

LS9 said it has utilized a 20-fold step-up process to produce approximately one ton of a specific chemical for its strategic partner, Procter & Gamble.

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BioAmber, Mitsui in succinic, BDO plants

The race for bio-BDO commercialization is on as BioAmber and Mitsui announced their collaboration to build both bio-succinic acid and bio-1,4 butanediol (BDO) plants - one in Sarnia, Canada, and the other in Rayong, Thailand. A third one is being planned either in North America or Brazil (I'm betting on Brazil...).

BioAmber and Mitsui have long been partners as Mitsui currently distributes BioAmber's biosuccinic acid-derived products. The companies expanded their partnership today when Mitsui decided to go all the way in the bio-succinic acid/BDO business by jointly investing with BioAmber in the new manufacturing facilities.

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November 7, 2011

Amyris partners with Method

So, the blog was finally able to listen to the Amyris earnings webcast on November 1 and heard the confirmation that the company did buy Draths' assets although no amount was disclosed. Draths, according to Amyris, has been working with E.coli on bio-monomers production but Amyris intends to switch over to using yeast.

Draths' technologies in producing biopolymers such as biobased terephthalic acid (TPA) for PET manufacture and biobased polyamides and polyurethane represent over $50bn opportunity in several specific markets, according to Amyris.
"Draths' technology will be integrated really well in our current R&D activities," says Amyris. "Several very large companies are very interested in the Draths platform and we expect to have collaborations in place in the next several quarters."
And before the blog forgets the heading of this post, Amyris also announced its partnership with consumer product company Method to collaborate and develop ingredients such as surfactants and solvents based on Amyris' Biofene molecule for household and personal care products.

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November 3, 2011

Eastman enters biobutanol

Interesting times in the bio-butanol industry. First we recently seen an announcement from Cobalt Technologies partnering with Rhodia for biobased n-butanol production in Latin America (just had an interview with Cobalt CEO Rick Wilson and will write an article on this soon), and then yesterday, Eastman announced that it has acquired the assets of TetraVitae Bioscience.

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