May 29, 2013

Braskem launches green LDPE

Brazil-based chemical firm Braskem seems to be still optimistic about the demand for its sugar-based polyethylene plastics as the company announced its expansion with a 30,000 tons/year capacity producing a new line of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) resins.

The product will be made available in the market starting in January 2014.

Braskem has been producing sugarcane ethanol-based high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) since September 2010 at its 200,000 tonnes/year Green PE plant in Rio Grande do Sul near Porto Alegre, Southern Brazil.

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May 22, 2013

Bio-rubber developments

Last post before I start tweeting at the Roquette Green Chemistry Symposium this afternoon (I do hope the place has a wifi!)

There had been several announcements in the past two weeks regarding bio-rubber developments and the blog might as well put them in a separate post.

This is the first time that I've heard about California-based Kultevat LLC, a crop technology company specializing in Russian dandelions (Taraxacum koksaghyz or TKS). The company said it is ready to go head-to-head against guayule rubber after five years of building its operations and growing its TKS acreage in 12 states.

Kultevat plans to have a full-scale production of rubber and sugar syrup from TKS in the US and abroad by 2016. The company is in the midst of raising $5m from individual investors and plans more fund-raising drive in the future.

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Biofuel News Roundup

My draft box on biofuels is filling up very quickly....sometimes I think I need help managing these news roundups *sigh*. As I finish this news roundup in Geneva, Illinois, don't forget to follow today's  and tomorrow's tweets as the blog covers Roquette's Green Chemistry and Fermentation Symposium under the hashtag #RoquetteUniv.

Enerkem starts Canadian biofuel project
Waste-to-biofuels and renewable chemicals company Enerkem launched a new research project with the Government of Canada. The project aims to develop new catalytic processes for the conversion of waste into drop-in biofuels that are fully interchangeable with hydrocarbon fuels like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. The Government of Canada is contributing $1.1m to the project via Natural Resources Canada.

Edeniq surpass demo milestones
Biomaterials and biofuel firm Edeniq noted a completed successful performance test for its first cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant in Visalia, California, US. The facility reportedly exceeded the benchmark of 1,000 hours of continuous operation, and can process over one tonne/day of cellulosic feedstock to cellulosic ethanol exceeding the plant's initial target.

AGP closes corn processing plant
Ag Processing has permanently shut down operations of its corn processing plant at Hastings, Nebraska amid challenging economic conditions. The Hastings industrial complex also operates a soybean processing plant, a vegetable oil refinery and an AminoPlus production facility, and the company said these operations will not be impacted by the announcement.

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May 21, 2013

Weekly News Roundup

Don't forget to follow the blog's live twitter updates from Roquette America's Green Chemistry and Fermentation Symposium on Wednesday and Thursday!

For now here are this week's news roundup:

PlanktOMICS targets algal biomass
PlanktOMICS Algae Bioservices has finalized a spin-out agreement with the University of Wyoming in a deal that will allow the company to develop its patent-pending technologies of domesticating algae for agricultural and industrial production into commercial ventures. PlanktOMICS provides advanced phenotype analysis (testing biological traits) and screening services, custom algal vector design and construction, algal transformation and gene-expression analysis.

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May 20, 2013

BASF expands enzymes portfolio

The blog has not focused as much on enzymes - proteins that consist of long chains of amino acids held together by peptide bonds, and are important biological catalysts in accelerating the rate and specificity of metabolic reactions. The enzymes market was estimated in 2011 at around $2.6bn worldwide in terms of applications categorized under detergent enzymes, technical enzymes, food enzymes and animal feed enzymes.

BASF announced last week that it has strengthened its enzymes portfolio with three transactions: The acquisition of Henkel's detergents enzyme technology; A research and license agreement with Florida, US-based biotechnology company Dyadic International on access to a new production host technology; and an R&D collaboration with Germany-based Direvo Industrial Biotechnology to develop a highly-efficient feed enzyme for animal nutrition.

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OPXBIO partners with Evonik

Unfortunately, the blog was not able to get any other information from both OPX Biotechnologies and Evonik Industries about their recent collaboration announcement.
The two companies said they have entered an agreement to jointly develop certain bio-based specialty chemicals which will use OPXBIO's EDGE (Efficiency Directed Genome Engineering) technology. The companies did not disclose the specific types of chemicals or market applications the companies are looking to enter. OPXBIO said it will be able to market bio-based products resulting from the Evonik collaboration.

May 17, 2013

Biochems financial news

The blog has compiled several news from the financial community starting with the closing of BioAmber's initial public offering (IPO) on Wednesday.

I'm guessing it is still a difficult market for renewable chemical companies wanting to be public as BioAmber was only able to get to the low end of its IPO expectations, raising $80m or an equivalent of $10/share of an 8,000,000 unit offering. BioAmber already reduced last week its initial target range of between $15 to $17/share reported in the company's amended S-1 filing in April to $10 to $12/share.

According to BioAmber, the units consists of one share of common stock and one warrant to purchase half of one share of common stock at $10/unit before discounts and commissions. Each warrant will be excisable at a price of $11 per whole share of common stock.

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May 15, 2013

Micromidas enters bio-PX research

OPX Biotechnologies and Evonik announced yesterday a development collaboration on bio-based specialty chemicals but unfortunately there is not much information given on the press release and so I am hoping to get something more soon.

In the meantime, California-based Micromidas Inc. recently announced that it has developed a chemocatalytic route to paraxylene from cellulosic biomass (e.g. post-consumer paper products, agricultural residues, wood waste, paper sludge) and ethylene. The blog first heard about the almost five-year old biotech start-up in late 2011 when Micromidas has partnered with Michigan Molecular Institute (MMI) through a $130,000 research funding to develop polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) polymers from municipal waste.

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May 14, 2013

BASF to build bio-BDO facility

The blog posted last month the possibility of Genomatica licensing its bio-based 1,4 butanediol (BDO) processing technology to BASF after Toray announced that it has successfully produced prototypes of partially bio-based PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) engineering plastic components using Genomatica's bio-BDO.

BASF, Toray started its PBT production in 2006
If readers recall, the blog noted BASF's Malaysian subsidiary BASF Petronas Chemicals is currently supplying petroleum-based BDO to Toray BASF PBT Resin Sdn Bhd - a 50/50 JV between Toray and BASF that manufactures PBT in a 60,000 tonnes/year facility in Kuantan, Malaysia.

Late last week, BASF announced that it plans to begin production of bio-BDO using Genomatica's one-step fermentation process, which uses sugar for feedstock. BASF did not disclose where it will produce bio-BDO or how much it will produce but the company said the bio-BDO it will produce will be available in the second half of 2013 for sampling and trials.

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May 10, 2013

Toyota Tsusho's bio-PET in bottled water

The blog hopes that readers are following our live tweets coming from #APIC13 (Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference). According to Mitsubishi Chemical, it is planning to expand capacity for its isosorbide polymer DURABIO from the current 5,000 tonnes/year to 16,000 tonnes/year by 2014.

Mitsubishi Chemical also noted that that its biodegradable polymer polybutylene succinate (PBS) project under the PTT MCC Biochem joint venture is in progress and that their 20,000 tonnes/year bio-based PBS plant being built in Thailand is expected to be completed by the first half of 2015 (as opposed to the original plan to start by 2014). a

Mitsubishi Chemical said its R&D for producing 100% PBS is in progress via its partnership with BioAmber, which supplies the biobased succinic acid, and Genomatica, which supplies the bio-based 1,4 butanediol (BDO).

Now back to our headline, Japan-based plastic producer Toyota Tsusho recently announced that it is expanding the use of its bio-based PET (polyethylene terephthalate) resins marketed under the brand GLOBIO in bottled mineral water packaging.

Toyota Tsusho said the bottled mineral water using its bio-PET will be marketed by Japan-based Suntory Beverage & Food Limited starting this month.

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May 9, 2013

Tecnon OrbiChem APIC presentations

Good news blog readers! My presentation on bio-based chemicals feedstock as well as my colleagues' presentations on bio-based fibers and polymers are now available for download at Tecnon OrbiChem's website.

You can also download other Tecnon OrbiChem presentations for those who are interested in overview of shale gas, current markets on methanol-acetyls, chlor-alkali, urethanes, polyester and intermediates, polyamide and intermediates, phenol and acetone.

May 8, 2013

AkzoNobel, Solazyme in algal partnership

Good morning from Taipei, home of this year's Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (#APIC13). My apologies for the sparse blog post as I prepare for my presentation later this afternoon about bio-based chemicals feedstock. If my boss will let me, I will post the presentation later this week.

APIC 2013 conference in Taipei, Taiwan

In the meantime, here is an interesting news on the surfactants front. Specialty chemical firm AkzoNobel announced yesterday that it has partnered with Solazyme for the development and commercial sales of specialty surfactants as well as paints/coatings made from tailored algal oils.

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May 3, 2013

Solvay, Bayer MaterialScience in solar flight

I just saw this really cool video on a local news tonight about a solar power plane called "Solar Impulse" currently flying across America. The airplane prototype HIB-SIA, is the first designed to fly solely on solar power without any fuel and its goal for the second aircraft model HIB-SIB is to fly around the world in a zero-fuel aircraft by 2015.

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Weekly News Roundup

The green blogger is preparing for her trip to Taipei next week for a presentation alongside Tecnon OrbiChem at the APIC (Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference) on May 9. If she is lucky with getting a free wifi, she will tweet some of the good stuff coming from the conference. Follow hashtag #APIC13 (as #APIC2013 is already taken by infection control conference...)

IFF, Amyris in multi-year collaboration deal
International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) and Amyris have announced a multi-year collaboration to develop and commercialize a specific set of renewable fragrance ingredients. IFF will have exclusive rights to the renewable-based fragrance ingredients in the F&F applications, while Amyris will have exclusive rights in other fields.

Blogger's note: Why do I get the feeling that this press release has been recycled a couple of times now??

Cereplast's new algae-based resins
Cereplast announced a new bioplastic resin grade Biopropylene® A150D, an injection molding grade manufactured with 51% post-industrial algae biomass. The bioplastic resins will be commercially available this quarter. Biopropylene® A150D can be processed on existing conventional electric and hydraulic reciprocating screw injection molding machines, and is recommended for thin wall injection molding applications. Cereplast's subsidiary Algaeplast is expected to develop a 100% algae-based plastic within the next three years.

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May 2, 2013

Solvay invests in bio-based PA 6,10

Last week, France-based chemical firm Solvay (through its Polyamide & Intermediates business) announced its plans to invest in a polyamide 6,10 production unit at the Saint-Fons Belle-Etoile site in Lyon in order to "better serve customers seeking for more eco-friendly solutions."

No other information was given such as how much PA 6,10 will be produced in the new unit. Solvay said it is a major global producer of PA 6,6 polymers and intermediates, which include adipic acid and HMD. However, there was no indication in the press release that the company also produces PA10, which is the bio-based component of the PA 6,10.

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Roquette's Green Chemistry Symposium

The green blog has just signed in as a media partner for Roquette University's Green Chemistry and Fermentation Symposium, which will be held on May 22-23 at Roquette America's Innovation Center in Geneva, Illinois.

Here is the preliminary line-up for the event. Maybe I'll also get a lab tour if I get lucky!