April 30, 2013

Sulzer to build 10KTY PLA plant in Asia

Sulzer's PLA pilot plant
Swiss engineering firm Sulzer has been awarded a contract for the delivery of a polylactic acid (PLA) production plant in Asia based on its proprietary technology. The facility will have more than 10,000 tons/year capacity and is expected to start in the second half of 2014.

Of course, the question here is where exactly in Asia it is going to be built and who is the company that will produce the PLA.

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April 29, 2013

Biofuel News Roundup

Waste-to-fuel plant in Maui
The County of Maui, Hawaii, has awarded an integrated waste conversion and energy project at the Central Maui Landfill in Puunene to Anaergia Services, the California-based subsidiary of Anaergia Inc. Anaergia will design, build, own, operate and privately finance the renewable fuel facility that converts Maui's waste streams including municipal solid waste, food waste, sewage sludge, oils and grease into liquified natural gas and refuse-derived fuel (RDF).

VTT's cellulosic ethanol tech on Brazil
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has partnered with Odebrecht, a Brazilian diversified conglomerate for the use of its biomass processing technology in Odebrecht's planned  construction of a demonstration plant in Brazil producing cellulosic ethanol. VTT's research centre in Brazil has been granted BRL 10m (EUR 3.8m) in funding by the PAISS programme, established by the Brazilian Development Bank BNDES and the Brazilian technology financing organization FINEP.

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April 26, 2013

Weekly News Roundup

Amyris Picks Laserson for Squalene distributor
Amyris has picked Laserson, S.A., a supplier of ingredients for the health and beauty industries, as the new exclusive distributor of Amyris Squalane in the European market. Squalene had previously been sourced only from shark liver or olive oil but Amyris said its technology converts plant sugars into squalene for use in cosmetics and personal care.

Carbios' €7m deal with INRA
Green chemistry company Carbios signs a €7 million strategic collaboration with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). The Carbios-INRA project will focus on the development of innovative bioprocesses for recovering plastic waste and producing biopolymers.

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April 25, 2013

Toray, Genomatica advances bio-PBT development

Here is another exciting news, this one from Genomatica and Japanese chemical firm Toray. The companies said Toray has successfully produced prototypes of molded partially bio-based PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) engineering plastic components using Genomatica's bio-based 1,4 butanediol (BDO). PBT is currently produced by polymerizing petroleum-based BDO and terephthalic acid (TPA).

Sample molded parts made with partial bio-based PBT

Toray has been working on the biobased PBT with Genomatica for more than two years and produced the first PBT pellets made with bio-BDO samples in February 2011. Toray said the partially bio-based PBT has physical properties and formability equivalent to PBT made with petroleum-derived BDO.

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April 24, 2013

Rennovia updates bio-nylon feedstock developments

It has been awhile since the blog heard from US bio-adipic acid producer Rennovia. Today, the company put out a press release that it has successfully demonstrated production of hexamethylenediamine (HMD) from renewable feedstock

Now, some of you are probably wondering what is HMD? Some actually use the acronym HMDA for this chemical, which is one of the precursors for the production of nylon 6,6 aside from adipic acid. HMD is also produced using adipic acid (ADA) as feedstock. Here is a simplified chart that I took from an old presentation from Rennovia:

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Minimal land use for bioplastics

You probably noticed by now that the blog has a make-over as it prepares for its own "commercial start-up" of sorts. Stay tune for that. In the meantime, here is a report from the European Bioplastics stating that approximately only 300,000 hectares of land worldwide was use in 2011 to grow feedstock for bioplastic manufacture, an equivalent of 0.006 percent in relation to the global agricultural area of 5bn hectares.

According to the organization, this is akin to placing a cherry tomato next to the Eiffel Tower. The European Bioplastics market data depicts production capacities of 1.2m tonnes worldwide in 2011.

The land-use data was based from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and calculations of the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (IfBB) based in University Hannover, Germany.

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April 22, 2013

Biobased Products on shelves

In honor of Earth Day (it has been awhile since the blog last posted about this event), here is a list of some of the new bio-based products in the market as well as several chemical products launched in the past weeks (or so).

According to a Sustainability Survey white paper published last year by the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS) and DuPont, the trend to purchase "green products" was most pronounced with food, detergent and appliances, and that among different regions, European consumers were more inclined to purchase "green products" in the area of personal hygiene rather than appliances.

Asian consumers, meanwhile, are the most concerned about "green" issues when making product purchase decisions. In fact, Asian consumers ranked sustainability credentials much higher in their purchase consideration than their European or North American counterparts.

Barriers that prevent consumers from purchasing more "green products," according to the survey, include perception of higher cost; perception of reduced quality or performance; low awareness or understanding of "green products"; and perception that the "green label" is a marketing gimmick.

  • Bio-buddy Dog Waste Bag - Custom Bioplastics LLC launched its new "Bio-Buddy" dog waste bag using Cardia's BioHybrid technology and recycled resin. The Biohybrid resins are blends of starch-based thermoplastics and petroleum-based olefins. 
  • Ecoverde Coffee packs - McCullagh Coffee, a US coffee roasting company, has introduced a compostable pack for its Rainforest Alliance Certified Ecoverde Coffee brand using cellulose-based (wood pulp) NatureFlex from Innovia Films. The renewable biobased content of NatureFlex films is typically 95% by weight of material.
  • Greenware containers - Fabri-Kal has launched Greenware On-The-Go boxes made from NatureWork's Ingeo polylactic acid resin. Other products on the Greenware brand include cold drink cups and portion containers all made with Ingeo biopolymer. The products are 100% compostable in actively managed municipal or industrial facilities and are not suitable for backyard composting.
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April 19, 2013

Versalis, Genomatica Bio-Butadiene JV

As the blog mentioned yesterday, development for bio-butadiene seems to be expanding as evident with the entry of Cobalt Technologies and its two Asia-based partners announced this week.

Last week, similar to what Cobalt Technologies is planning, Versalis and Genomatica formalized its technology joint venture agreement to develop a complete end-to-end process for on-purpose production of butadiene from non-food biomass as well as start licensing this technology across Europe, Asia and Africa.

Future licensees of the process, including Versalis, will provide the capital required for the construction and operation of their own plants. The JV will also be responsible for use and sale of the resulting bio-butadiene.

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April 18, 2013

Cobalt Tech enters bio-butadiene

Biobased n-butanol producer Cobalt Technologies has been very busy this week with a partnership deal and a production milestone.

The company first announced that it is entering the bio-butadiene space by partnering with two Asian chemical companies to develop a biomass-to-butadiene processing technology, and followed by construction of a commercial-scale biorefinery in Asia.

The partners will also build or license additional plants to support growth in global butadiene demand. The Asian chemical companies is putting into Cobalt through equity investment to support this deal.

The bio-butadiene space is definitely seeing a lot of investments such as the recent JV announcement with Versalis and Genomatica, which I will post later on; INVISTA's partnership with Arzeda and LanzaTech;  Global Bioenergies' partnership with Synthos; and Amyris' partnership with Kuraray to develop farnesene-based polymers that can replace petroleum-based butadiene and isoprene feedstock.

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April 17, 2013

BioAmber continues IPO filing

I wonder if BioAmber's continued intent to become a public company via its IPO (initial public offering) filing last week with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) signals renewed funding optimism within the renewable chemicals industry?

So far, another bio-succinic acid producer Myriant has yet to announce if it will also push through its IPO plans which was initially announced on May 2011.

BioAmber first filed its IPO intent on October 2011 looking to raise $125m. Last week, it has filed an amended S-1 looking to raise between $120m and $136m by offering 8m shares at a price range of $15 to $17 per share. At the midpoint of the proposed range, BioAmber would command a fully diluted market value of $325m, according to IPO research and investment services Renaissance Capital.

Under the S-1 filing, BioAmber reportedly booked $2.29m in sales for 2012 ending December 31 compared to $560,000 in 2011. The company intends to list on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol BIOA. Credit Suisse, Societe Generale and Barclays are the joint bookrunners on the deal.

Sarnia, Ontario, bio-industrial park owned by Lanxess

Biofuel News Roundup

I am cleaning up my draft box as usual. Here are last week's biofuel news roundup. Issues and debates on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) especially for cellulosic ethanol as well as E15 ethanol use continue but I won't go in that direction. I will leave these debates for now in the capable hands of biofuel experts.

TMO Renewables in cellulosic ethanol JV
UK-based TMO Renewables and Usina Santa Maria Ltda plan to form a joint venture to build cellulosic bioethanol plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, using sugarcane waste (bagasse) for feedstock.  The plant will initially have a capacity of 10m liter/year and will be followed by a full-scale industrial plant. Production start-up is scheduled in 2014. The bioethanol will primarily be used to power Flex-Fuel vehicles in the domestic market.

Extreme Biodiesel in acquisition mode
Extreme Biodiesel is in discussion to acquire Promethean Biofuels, a cooperative corporation that manufactures biofuels and "earth-friendly" industrial chemicals and fertilizers as well as operate a waste collection services. With the exception of used motor oil and waste vegetable oil collection programs, Promethean Biofuels' products and services are available only to members of the Cooperative. Its industrial products include methanol, solvents, surfactants, adjuvants and ion exchange resins among others. Extreme Biodiesel is also in discussion to acquire SoCal Biofuels, an waste cooking oil recycling company.

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Weekly News Roundup

My apologies for the lack of post as I have to submit my "Biobased Chemicals Feedstock" presentation for APIC this week not to mention several ongoing projects at Tecnon OrbiChem that is keeping me busy. There are three big news that I have to post separately but in the meantime here are this week's (or last week's) news roundup.

GranBio acquires API
Brazilian biotechnology company GranBio has completed the acquisition of a 25% equity stake in Atlanta, Georgia-based cellulosic sugar developer American Process Inc. (API). GranBio will have access to API's proprietary biomass pretreatment platform that reportedly can manufacture cost-economic cellulosic sugar as feedstock for biochemicals and biofuels.

SYNPOL bags waste-to-bioplastic fund
The SYNPOL consortium led by the Spanish Biological Research Centre and scientists from 8 European countries has secured EUR 7.5m in funding under the Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology theme of the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to develop biopolymers such as polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) from different waste streams via pyrolytic syngas production and subsequent bacterial fermentation. The R&D activities will span from 2012 to 2016. Waste streams include municipal solid waste, agricultural residues, sewage sludge from water treatment plants.

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April 12, 2013

Russia in Bio Movement

The blog is wondering what's the potential market for bio-based products and chemicals in Russia given that DSM and Purac just separately announced bio-based activities within the region.

Dutch biobased chemicals firm Purac briefly stated that it has signed a cooperation agreement with technology firm ROTEC, a subsidiary of private Russian financial firm RENOVA Group, to study the feasibility of an economical PLA bioplastic supply chain in Russia.

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Synthetic bio success in anti-malaria drug

The blog does not usually cover the pharmaceuticals market being that I am unfamiliar with the players and the products in this industry. However, this news coming from University of California Berkeley warrants a post as professor of chemical engineering Jay Keasling -- also the co-founder of Amyris, announced that France-based pharmaceutical company Sanofi will launch a large-scale production of a partially synthetic version of artemisinin, a chemical critical in making an anti-malaria drug.

Artemisinin is a compound that until now has been extracted from the sweet wormwood plant Artemsia annua. Keasling and his colleagues at Amyris engineered a yeast strain that can produce artemisinin, which is then turned into the active anti-malarial drug artesunate and typically mixed with another anti-malarial drug in what is called artemisinin combination therapy (ACT).


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April 11, 2013

Arkema acquires castor oil stake

While the blog is waiting for some answers from Versalis regarding their recent bio-butadiene joint venture announcement with Genomatica, let me post this news from France-based specialty chemical firm Arkema about its JV with castor oil and derivatives producer Jayant Agro.

It's a great coincidence that I just posted about bio-polyamides this week as according to Arkema, its acquisition of a 25% stake in castor oil producer Ihsedu Agrochem, a subsidiary of Jayant Agrochem, will provide long-term secure and competitive access to castor oil -- a strategic raw material for the manufacture of bio-polyamides.

Arkema said Ihsedu Agrochem has an experience of over 60 years in the processing of castor seeds into oil and has been one of Arkema's main suppliers from the outset.

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April 10, 2013

Evonik's bio-polyamides game

Evonik wants to give some insight into their VESTAMID® Terra polyamide applications and so the company is currently holding a riddle contest.

Evonik's Bigfoot named ECO is looking for castor bean plant

Evonik said it will have a series of 6 riddles over the course of the next 3 months, with a chance to win prizes by participating. I already joined this month's riddle so good luck to me and to those entering the contest!

Now on to the more important stuff. VESTAMID® Terra is Evonik's line of bio-based polyamides (PA 6,10; PA 10,10; and PA10,12) where the monomers are obtained partly or entirely from castor oil. The products are typically applied in injection molding, fibers, powder, extrusion and films.

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April 9, 2013

Myriant partners with BCD Chemie

Big opportunities for bio-based solvents
Bio-succinic acid producer Myriant announced another partnership following its recent deal with Turkish chemical distributor Bayegan Group.

Myriant said it has signed a distribution deal with Hamburg, Germany-based BCD Chemie to market and distribute Myriant's bio-succinic acid and Myrifilm solvent in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. No other new pertinent information has really been announced aside from the name of the partner although the mention of the bio-based solvent Myrifilm caught my eye.

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Gevo gets 2nd demo unit

SHR's Silsbee, Texas, facility
Texas-based Arabian American Development Co. (ARSD) recently announced a new contract with Gevo to extend its toll processing services of the hydrocarbon processing demonstration plant at its South Hampton Resources (SHR) facility in Silsbee, Texas, and to construct a second demonstration unit to provide Gevo with toll-processing services to manufacture up to 16,000 pounds per month of mixed octane materials produced on the existing bio-isobutanol to jet fuel demonstration unit.

SHR's first demonstration plant, which was completed in late 2011, can process up to 10,000 gallons per month of Gevo's isobutanol into a variety of products such as jet fuel, isooctane for gasoline, isooctene and paraxylene for evaluation and product qualification for Gevo's current and potential customers.

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April 8, 2013

Weekly News Roundup

Thank goodness this week's news roundup are manageable at least. Here are some of the interesting announcements that caught the blog's recent attention:

P&G's zero manufacturing waste
Procter & Gamble announced that 45 of their facilities have now achieved zero manufacturing waste to landfill. Over the past five years, P&G said they were able to create over $1bn in value from waste.

Shell to invests in new tech firms
Shell will invest several hundred million dollars in emerging technology companies with the aim to accelerate the deployment of innovations that add value to the company's operations such as areas in gas production and conversion, geophysical imaging, chemical manufacturing and conversion, novel materials, enhanced oil recovery, and water treatment. Shell Technology Ventures will make investments over the next 6-8 years.

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April 5, 2013

Booming University green chems research

The blog has been seeing a lot of R&D news from various universities on how to improve green chemistry processing and these are definitely worthwhile checking out.

Here's one from the University of Florida (UF) about their research in turning sugarcane bagasse into succinic acid using a newly engineered strain, called XW 136, which produced more than 30 grams per liter of succinate.

The researchers said this was the first time succinic acid production from sugarcane bagasse had been achieved without the use of expensive and cost-prohibitive steps to remove the inhibitors.

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April 4, 2013

Cereplast seeks $50m opportunity in Italy plastic bag ban

Bioplastic producer Cereplast put out this news yesterday about an Italian decree enforcing the legislation of a plastic bag ban effective May 27, 2013.

Cereplast noted that the decree -- published on March 18 in Italy's Official Gazette -- stated that merchants must discontinue the use of traditional single-use plastic bags in favor of bioplastic bags or other alternatives (such as paper, woven fabrics of natural fibers, polyamide fibers...). The law reportedly prohibits the use of Oxo biodegradable additives and requires Italian merchants to use compostable bags as defined by EN 13432 (a European standard evaluating the biodegradability of a material).

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April 3, 2013

Amyris updates partnership deals

I've been reading Amyris' recently filed annual report (10-K) with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which gives a comprehensive summary of the company's performance last year, and it reminds the blog how difficult and risky it is for a company to establish and commercialize new technologies especially within traditional, matured markets such as the fuel and chemical industries.

Anyway, Amyris has some good news to announce such as a possible $30m funding coming in by July this year from Total as part of a revised collaboration agreement announced last year. Amyris and Total could also form a joint venture company by mid-2013 to market renewable diesel, jet fuel and other specialty products that will use Amyris' farnesene molecule marketed under the brand Biofene.

Amyris roll out its first truckload shipment of Biofene in January

April 1, 2013

Biofuel News Roundup

It's Spring season and the green blogger needs to clean up the blog's draft box...
  • Mascoma withdraws IPO registration statement
  • NASA begins flight research campaign using alternate jet fuel

Weekly News Roundup

There were so many news that came out last week that it is hard for me catching up with some of them. In this rare case, I am posting the weekly news roundup with only the headlines and links in order for the blog to be able to get a breathing space. My apologies.
  • Global Bioenergies receives 740,000 euros from OSEO, a French SME-funding state agency to support the creation of an isobutene production strain compatible with industrial pilot testing.
  • MBI and Michigan State Team Up to Speed Bio-based Technologies to Market

Metabolix partners with Tianjin GreenBio

I entered my 3*th year this weekend suffering from a bad cold but the good news is that there will be no more traveling until early May when I have to present a Biobased chemical feedstock paper at the Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC) along with other Tecnon OrbiChem consultants.

I have two weeks to prepare for that presentation so this should be fun!

In the meantime, let me post my last week's interview with Metabolix CEO Rick Eno regarding their recent announcement on their partnership with another PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) producer Tianjin GreenBio Materials Co. Ltd. ("GreenBio"). The company is based in Tianjin, China and has a current capacity to produce 10,000 tonnes/year of PHA in Binhai District. Another interesting information about this company if readers recall is that Dutch chemical firm DSM actually has a stake in this PHA production when DSM invested $20m in GreenBio in 2008.

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