December 31, 2012

Metabolix updates

As I've said I'm cleaning my draft box in preparation for next year. Here are several announcements that came from US bioplastic producer Metabolix this December.

The company said its Mvera B5008, a new certified-compostable film grade resin, is now available for shipment to customers. Compounded in Europe for local markets and widely available for global customers, Mvera B5008 is designed for applications including compost bags, can liners used for organic waste, as well as shopping and retail bags that can be reused as compostable organic waste bags.

Metabolix is also now shipping its I6001, a biobased polymeric modifier for PVC (polyvinyl chloride) formulations based on Metabolix PHA resin. The I6001 is designed as a performance additive to improve the mechanical and environmental performance characteristics of PVC. The company noted PVC market demand is estimated at 35m tonnes/year.

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December 30, 2012

Production updates: Novamont, Solazyme, Amyris

Aside from Reverdia, several other biobased chemicals production milestones were announced this month such as from Solazyme and Amyris. Novamont did not actually put out an announcement (not in English anyway) but there had been several Italian news reports about the company's bio-based 1,4 butanediol (BDO) activities worth mentioning -- thank you Google Translate!

First stop is Solazyme's announcement on December 13 where the company said it has successfully completed multiple initial fermentations at ADM's Clinton, Iowa, facility. The fermentations were conducted in 500,000-liter vessels, 4x the scale of the vessels in Solazyme's Peoria facility.

ADM Clinton, Iowa, plant

Solazyme it is targeting 20,000 tonnes/year production of its algae-based tailored oils using corn dextrose (for feeding the algae) at the ADM facility starting early 2014, and expects to expand to 100,000 tonnes/year in subsequent years. Solazyme is currently constructing a 100,000 tonne/year facility in Moema, Brazil, under the Solazyme-Bunge joint venture, which is expected to begin operation in Q4 2013.

The key question here, as posed by analyst Lawrence Alexander of Jefferies & Company in a recent equity report, is whether the expertise used at Clinton can be extrapolated to the Moema site.

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December 29, 2012

World's first bio-succinic acid plant

I can finally post this news which came out on December 13 about the start-up of the world's first large-scale bio-succinic acid plant in Cassano Spinola, Italy, operated by Reverdia, the joint venture between DSM and Roquette Freres.

The facility, which uses a yeast-based fermentation process, has a 10,000 tonnes/year capacity producing a plant-based succinic acid marketed under the brand Biosuccinium™. If the blog remembers correctly, the facility initially use starch derivatives for feedstock and will switch to cellulosic biomass in the longer term.

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Feedstock News Roundup

I don't usually focus on feedstock but here are some interesting announcements and market studies that might be of interest...I have to do some draft box cleaning up before the New Year begins!

DOE finds gene for xylan extraction
Researchers with the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified a gene in rice plants whose suppression can improve extraction of xylan from plant cell walls. Xylan is reportedly the most abundant biomass material on Earth and represents an enormous potential source of stored solar energy for the production of advanced biofuels.

Ceres, Syngenta in sweet sorghum
Energy crop company Ceres announced that its Brazilian subsidiary Ceres Sementes do Brasil Ltda has signed a sweet sorghum market development agreement with Syngenta. The companies will work together to support the introduction of sweet sorghum as a source of fermentable sugars at Brazil's 400 or more ethanol mills. Sweet sorghum is said to be a hardy crop that can extend the ethanol production season by up to 60 days in Brazil. Brazil's government recently announced in its agricultural plan for 2012-2013 that sweet sorghum would be considered a strategic crop due in part to increased demand for ethanol and sugarcane shortages.

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December 28, 2012

Biofuel News Roundup

I have not been following the biofuel market for some time but there are definitely still a lot of investment activities going on despite the regulatory/subsidy challenges especially in the US and in Europe.

Here in the US, the uncertainty on the future of the Farm Bill program is now hanging over corn and soybean growers. Farmers depend on this subsidy to help them in times of bad crops. The US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) also remains a contention between various industries.

Speaking of EPA, the agency's Administrator Lisa Jackson just resigned from her post yesterday. The food industry, the petroleum industry, and several livestock industries have all been after the EPA to change the status quo for the Renewable Fuels Standard for 2013. The RFS2 requires 13bn gallons of ethanol to be produced in 2013. Several industry food groups are arguing that the RFS requirement is aggravating food prices because of the use of corn.

The EPA denied the request for the RFS waiver last month but this issue will surely not go away next year. For biodiesel, the EPA also boosted demand for the biofuel in 2013 with a mandate that will increase volume of biomass-based diesel for consumption in the US next year from 1.0 billion to 1.28 billion gallons. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) has filed a request for reconsideration on this final mandate.

Not everything is doom and gloom in the biofuel world, at least not in Brazil, where it is benefitting from some of the investments recently such as from BP and Petrobras. Biofuel Digest has an interesting article about their biofuel predictions for 2013 that you might want to check out. In the meantime, here are the blog's news roundup for biofuels this month.

BP invests in Brazilian ethanol
BP Biofuels plans to invest $350m to expand its ethanol processing capacity of Tropical, one of its sugarcane processing ventures in Brazil. Tropical's capacity located in Goias State will double to 5m tons/year of sugarcane producing 450m liters/year of ethanol equivalent. The mill is expected to be operating at full capacity by the end of 2014 or early 2015.

Petrobras expands biodiesel capacity
Petrobras Biofuel will expand its Darcy Ribeiro biodiesel plant located in the state of Minas Gerais by 40% to 152m liters/year. The expansion will cost $28m. This latest expansion will increase Petrobras Biofuel's total biodiesel capacity to 765m liters/year. The Darcy Ribeiro plant currently operates at full capacity and has produced to-date a total of 260m liters of biodiesel.

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December News Roundup

Playing catch-up after two weeks. Round-up for biofuels will be posted separately. I seem to be seeing several companies that I have not heard before in recent months -- that's a good sign I think. I hope you all had a nice few days off during the Christmas break!

Cereplast markets algae bioplastics
US bioplastic producer Cereplast announced the commercialization of Cereplast Algae Bioplastics with the introduction of Biopropylene 109D. Biopropylene 109D is an injection molding grade manufactured with 20% post-industrial algae biomatter.The company anticipates generating revenue from the algae bioplastic during the first half of 2013.

Cardia Bioplastics' Chinese supply contract
Australia-based Cardia Bioplastics has secured a $1.2m/year contract with the Shanghao Pudong City District in China for the supply of its Biohybrid kitchen waste bags. The Cardia Biohybrid resin is made from starch-based thermoplastic combined with a polyolefin material. The contract follows a six-month trial of Cardia's products in the region earlier this year.

BioBased Technologies buys soy polyol
BioBased Technologies has acquired Rhino Linings Corporation's Soyol polyol technology assets, which it bought from Urethane Soy Systems earlier this year. In return, Rhino has bought BioBased Insulation, a division of BioBased Technologies. Terms of the acquisition were not released.

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December 24, 2012

Happy Green Holidays!

Wishing everybody a very happy holiday and a prosperous new year ahead!

The green blog is back in business as school is finally over!! Hurrah!

Unfortunately it has been two weeks since I've checked the green chemistry world so let me start scanning old and new news as I eat my Christmas ham and unwrap presents. 

Enjoy the holidays!

                                                                                                                   - Doris

December 7, 2012

Green milestones: LanzaTech, Global Bioenergies

Two separate news came out this week announcing their project milestones, one about butadiene from Global Bioenergies, and the other about ethanol from LanzaTech

Incidentally, these two also have a partnership with each other on developing bio-based isobutene but that's another story to tell some other time.

France-based Global Bioenergies said the first phase of its bio-based butadiene development project with Polish synthetic rubber manufacturer firm Synthos has now been successfully accomplished with the discovery of metabolic pathways converting renewable feedstock into butadiene through a direct, gaseous fermentation process.

Global Bioenergies said several patents have been filed coming from this development. The companies, which formed their partnership in July last year, will now enter their next development phase for which Synthos will contribute several million euros in total  over the next three years.

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December 6, 2012

Survey says: China likes biobased products

This is a very interesting survey released by DuPont this week about urban Chinese consumers increasingly favoring products they perceived offering environmental benefits. According to DuPont, China is now a ripe market for biobased product growth given their rising purchasing power and the government's initiatives to reduce their carbon emissions and energy use.

In the DuPont China Green Living Survey: Consumer Awareness and Adoption of Biobased Products, DuPont found that a majority of Chinese consumers are likely to buy apparel, personal care, hygiene and household products made from biobased ingredients that offer environmental benefits. This is despite the fact that just 4 in 10 surveyed are very or somewhat familiar with what constitutes a green product.

DuPont said, 70% of the consumers surveyed expressed high confidence in the environmental claims of green products. In fact, compared in a similar survey done in North America, only 60% of Americans and 65% of Canadians expressed the same confidence.

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December 5, 2012

New Sites to see

The green blog just wanted to give a shout out of welcome to these new sites and hopefully readers will check them out as well:

SpecialChem's new online platform dedicated to bio-based chemicals and materials. The website is said to offer the following:

  • BioBased Products Selector: a bio-based chemicals and materials selector, organized by industry, chemical category and applications. 
  • Patent Updates: A weekly selection of the latest bio-based patents from the USPTO and the EPO.
  • Open Innovation: Featuring services of bio-based technology scouting and bio-based technology out-licensing.
  • Bio-based Market Needs: An area dedicated to market needs regarding bio-based products, publishing results of "Click N' Votes" (on-line mini-surveys) and market-oriented content written by renowned experts.

Journal of Renewable Materials
A web-based community as well as publishing platform for peer-reviewed original research on macromolecules and additives obtained from renewable/biobased resources. JRM also has a blog that focuses on articles published on JRM as well as a LinkedIn group.

An open innovation online platform covering biorefineries worldwide and their associated upstream chains. The goal is to connect and provide companies and organizations seeking solutions with key partners that can offer models, tools, and collaborative environments on a global scale.

The blog has been checking out this site's global crowdmapping initiative, which highlights projects and initiatives in the field of biorefinery developments worldwide. The Biorefinery Initiatives database is presented in two views: direct on the map geolocating key initiatives by categories (feedstock, technology, scale of production, organization, events, funding etc.) and the cataloged reports including detailed information about each mapped initiatives.

Polyols from bio-PDO and succinic acid

DTL's biobased PDO production facility
This year seems to be a good year for expanding DuPont Tate & Lyle's (DTL) bio-based propanediol (PDO) applications. This week, the company announced that its Susterra bio-based PDO combined with bio-succinic acid supplied by Myriant, are now being used by Piedmont Chemical to produce 100% bio-based polyester polyols.

Polyester polyols (dicarboxylic acids + diols) are chemical intermediates used in the production of urethane foams, coatings, adhesives and sealants. The new polyols are said to be functionally equal and cost-competitive with petroleum-derived polyols. DTL said the bio-based polyols do not have green-price premiums.

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December 4, 2012

Purac promotes PLA recyclability

The blog is in a video mode this week so here's another one from lactic acid producer Purac showing how easy it is to recycle PLA (polylactic acid) plastic through a do-it-yourself, interactive machine created by the Perpetual Plastic Project that Purac has sponsored.

The project is an initiative created by former students from the Delft University of Technology (in the Netherlands), and is designed to educate people on the recyclability of bioplastic.

According to Purac, the Interactive Machine provides users with a small-scale demonstration of PLA recycling (see video below). The machine is currently touring the Netherlands at various events.

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December 3, 2012

DuPont breaks ground on Iowa biorefinery

Last week, DuPont has made a statement on its commitment to cellulosic ethanol as the company broke ground on its planned 30m gal/year biorefinery in Nevada, Iowa.

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December 2, 2012

Teijin's Bio-PET Fiber in Nissan

Hello blog readers! Missed me? I am very sorry for being quiet lately as I had to recuperate coming out of a gallbladder surgery on top of a Thanksgiving week and this week's exam.

This month will also be my finals and therefore I need to focus on school for now until the week of December 22. Hopefully there will not be too many important news in the renewable chems industry that I will miss.

The blog will be fully active again by January. In the meantime, here is a news from Japanese company Teijin about their own activities in the bio-based PET (polyethylene terephthalate) market under the brand ECO Circle PlantFiber. Teijin said the bio-polyester has been selected for use in the seats and interior trim surface of the 100% electric Nissan LEAF automobile.

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