August 30, 2013

Blue Marble buys site for commercial biorefinery

Specialty biochemical manufacturer Blue Marble Biomaterials (BMB) announced yesterday that it has completed the purchase of former GTC Oats Inc. facility in Missoula, Montana, which was previously a wet extraction processing plant for food ingredients manufacture.

The site includes 3.81 acres of land, a 19,000 square foot building complex, and parking stalls for over 100 employees. BMB said the site will become the company's first large commercial biorefinery. The building will be retrofitted with systems that will allow for greater energy efficiency and enable the site to be a showcase for the company's "zero waste" focus", according to Colby Underwood, co-CEO and chief business officer for BMB.

BMB's semi-commercial facility

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Jayant Agro, Mitsui, Itoh Oil on castor polyol JV

India-based castor derivatives manufacturer Jayant Agro plans to form a joint venture with Japan-based Mitsui Chemicals and Itoh Oil Chemicals -- a manufacturer of castor oil-based specialty chemicals. The joint venture called Vithal Castor Polyols Pvt. Ltd. will focus on manufacturing castor oil-based polyols.

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August 29, 2013

Unilever launches renewable chemicals research

Unilever recently announced the launch of a research project with the University of Liverpool to develop biomass-based renewable chemicals such as surfactants and polymers for use in the manufacture of Unilever's home and personal care product ranges.

The three-year project will involve using feedstock such as surplus sugars, fats, oils and carbohydrates produced from waste streams via commodity by-products and forestry wastes.The project is also partly funded by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

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August 27, 2013

ADM, CIC forms bio-SAP JV

The blog has constantly been monitoring the developments for biobased acrylic acid but this news from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) has led the blog to look for more information on starch-based (or even collagen-based) superabsorbent polymers (SAPs).

SAPs is one of the main applications for acrylic acid and is mainly used in diapers and other hygienic products. According to bio-acrylic acid developer OPX Biotechnologies, the market for SAPs consumes 70% of the global glacial acrylic acid end use. The diapers market accounts for 24% of the $10bn global acrylic acid market.

Like OPXBIO, ADM is also in the race for producing biobased acrylic acid. However, the company is already producing biobased SAPs using modified starch technology for raw materials (marketed under the brand BioSAP™. ADM said their biobased superabsorbents have physical properties similar to those of petroleum-based superabsorbents, and they do not require changes in the manufacturing process. BioSAP™is also reportedly biodegradable.

ADM announced last week that it has joined Sri Lanka-based CIC Holdings PLC and its subsidiary Chemanex PLC to form a joint venture company called Chemcel Pvt Ltd. The JV will build and operate a processing facility near Colombo, Sri Lanka to manufacture ADM's biobased SAPs.

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August 26, 2013

Gevo opens bio-PX demo facility

Silsbee, Texas, facility
I am still working on my presentation for the ICIS World Chemical Purchasing Summit and the deadline is this Friday (yikes!). Goodluck to me!

Meanwhile, the blog still has a lot of catching-up to do with several news from the past two weeks especially concerning biofuels. The blog will try to do a big biofuel news roundup for those. In the meantime, here's an interesting news that came out from Gevo this morning.

Gevo said it has opened its demonstration-scale biobased paraxylene plant in Silsbee, Texas, adjacent to Gevo's existing jet fuel plant. Gevo's current bio-PX partners Coca-Cola and Toray Industries participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

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August 23, 2013

BioAmber phases out E.coli use

The blog is just catching up with some of the earnings conference calls from last week. Here are some highlighted information from BioAmber. I am also checking out Codexis, Cereplast and Syntroleum if they have any interesting updates for the quarter.

An interesting information from BioAmber's recent earnings call is the phasing out its use of E.coli and has now switched to using yeast, which it has exclusively licensed from Cargill. BioAmber said it has successfully operated its yeast and purification process at large scale in the Pomacle, France, demonstration plant.

You can also read the blog's recent interview with BioAmber president Jean Francois Huc during the company's visit at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

BioAmber currently produces it bio-succinic acid at a demo facility in Pomacle, France.

August 22, 2013

TMO Renewables to produce PLA

An official from UK-based cellulosic ethanol developer/producer TMO Renewables announced today it is expanding its portfolio to include polylactic acid (PLA) that will be produced at their Dunsfold Airfield site near Guildford, Surrey, starting the fourth quarter of 2014.

Demand for bioplastics in the UK is expected to increase.

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New bio-butanol player: Optinol

There's a new kid in the bio-butanol town.

I saw this press release last night while I was going through my newsfeed and this is the first time I've heard of San Francisco-based Optinol -- a collaborative venture between SynGest Inc. (which is working on biomass-based fertilizers), Unitel Technologies, and Louisiana State University Agricultural Center.

The company is focusing on developing cellulosic sugar-based n-butanol mostly for biofuel application. Optinol announced that it was able to achieve energy cost parity with ethanol for its n-butanol production at pilot scale using a wide variety of sugars such as sugarcane juice, corn starch, sweet sorghum juice, molasses and cellulosic sugars.

Source: Teriin.Org

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August 21, 2013

Big green news from last week

I am back from my vacation and trying to delete/answer hundreds of emails from the past 10 days. Meanwhile, let me posts these news from last week before I start completing my presentation for next month's ICIS World Chemical Purchasing Summit.

One big news is from INVISTA and life science company SilicoLife regarding their collaboration on the development of bio-butadiene and other technology platforms for bio-based chemicals production. The partnership will leverage INVISTA's capabilities in biotechnology and catalysis, and SilicoLife's metabolic engineering and synthetic biology capabilities.

SilicoLife provides in silico (performed on computer or via computer simulation) metabolic engineering solutions, building computational models of microbial cells and developing proprietary state-of-the-art algorithms to find the most efficient pathways between raw-material and end-product.

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August 10, 2013

Amyris lowers farnesene costs

This will be my last post for the week before I venture off to my week-long vacation (Woohoo!).

The blog gets some update late Thursday from Amyris' second quarter earnings report and conference call.

One of the major highlight of the company's results is that the company reportedly hopes to achieve its cost target for its farnesene at $4/liter or less by the end of 2013. Amyris said its unit production cost decreased considerably last month as the company put all of its 6 fermenters in operation at its facility in Brotas, Sao Paulo, Brazil, which is adjacent to Paraiso sugarcane mill.
Amyris rolls out its first truckload shipment of farnesene in January

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August 9, 2013

OPXBIO starts funding round

It has been more than a year since the blog had the pleasure of again chatting with OPX Biotechnologies (OPXBIO) CEO Charles Eggert. Last Tuesday, Eggert mentioned that the company has started this month their plans to raise their fourth round of funding through private equity financing from new and old strategic and [or] financial investors.

OPXBIO is expecting to raise around $35m for the D round funding, and according to Eggert, current investors have indicated that they will continue to support OPXBIO with additional funding.

Eggert admitted that it is not that easy these days to get funding compared to their last C round in September 2011 when several companies in the renewable chemicals space have been successful in their IPOs. OPXBIO was able to raise $41m back then.
"Raising funding back then was easier as there was a lot of optimism in the space. Clearly since then, there had been some challenges with pricing for publicly sold stocks lower than what they were during their IPOs. That always put a bit of a damper on the enthusiasm even for private investment space. However, we are confident with this round as OPXBIO is in very good shape coupled with the fact that we have a set of strong current investors who continues to support the company." - Eggert
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August 8, 2013

Solazyme partners with Sasol on erucic algal oils

The oleochemical industry is definitely getting more and more interesting as erucic acid (C22:1), traditionally sourced from high erucic rapeseed oils (HERO), can now be sourced from algal oils as is the case with Solazyme's recent announcement.

I remember the old days when I used to cover this niche market for Chemical Market Reporter. The last time I had an update on HERO pricing was in 2006 when it was around 80 cents/lb, while in 2008, HE rapeseed contracts was around $9/bushel including freight incentives and buyer guarantees.

HERO contains around 48% erucic acid or more. Erucic acid is a key raw ingredient for the fatty amide erucamide, used mostly in plastic film application. Other end uses of erucic acid are found in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and personal care, and as additives in industrial lubricants and biofuels.

Solazyme said it has finalized commercial terms with Sasol Olefins and Surfactants GmbH for the supply of erucic acid algal oils for use in downstream derivatives such as behenyl alcohol. Sasol produces and sells C22 derivatives such as behenyl alcohol for use in markets such as paper, water treatment, personal care, lubricants, oil and gas, paints, inks, coatings and adhesives.

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August 7, 2013

EPA Finalizes 2013 RFS

Amidst the bickering between the petroleum industry and the biofuel industry about this year's biofuel volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally decided on its 2013 annual percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advancd biofuel and total renewable fuel.

2013 standard for cellulosic biofuel is at 6m ethanol-equivalent gallons, which, according to the EPA, reflects a reasonable representation of expected production based on consultation with the Energy Information Administration (EIA) as well as information from industry, public comments and EPA's own assessment.

Volume requirements for advanced biofuel is at 2.75bn gallons, total renewable fuel at 16.55bn gallons, and biomass-based diesel at 1.28bn gallons (actual volume).

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Gevo updates bio-isobutanol production plans

Earnings season is in full force for the next week or so, and unfortunately (or maybe fortunately??) I will be on vacation with no internet connection starting this Sunday.

By the way, it was a pleasure talking with OPX Biotechnology CEO Charles Eggert again as he gave the blog updates on the company's activities and plans yesterday. I will post a short article on the interview later on. Meanwhile, let's talk about Gevo.

The company reported yesterday during its 2Q earnings call that it is planning to bring its whole bio-isobutanol plant in Luverne, Minnesota, up and running this year as it resumed commercial production from its first fermenter in June (after shutting it down in late 2012 due to microbial contamination), and then started its second one million liter fermenter in July. Start-up of the final fermenters are being planned on the second half of 2013, while ramp-up of sales and production is expected through 2013 and 2014.

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August 5, 2013

Codexis battles with Dyadic on enzymes

Codexis has received notice from Dyadic International alleging that Codexis is in breach under a license agreement established by the companies on November 14, 2008. According to the notice, Dyadic intends to terminate the agreement in 60 days if the breach is not cured to Dyadic’s satisfaction. Codexis said it is considering all available remedies to protect its interests under the Dyadic license agreement.

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New report on succinic, itaconic acids and FDCA

I'm trying to cram a lot of work this week before my 'no-internet' vacation arrives this Saturday. By the way, I will be presenting next month September 13 at the ICIS World Chemical Purchasing Summit in Boston about the bio-based chemicals market. I am looking forward to meeting new and probably some familiar faces back from ICIS days. See you there!

And now, here is a nice summer treat brought to you by the folks from the EU funded project BioConSepT coordinated by TNO (Netherlands). This free report compiled by project partner Weastra includes market analysis of succinic acid, itaconic acid and FDCA (2,5 furandicarboxylic acid).

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August 2, 2013

INEOS Bio ships cellulosic ethanol

INEOS Bio's recent announcement of its cellulosic ethanol production at its Indian River BioEnergy Center in Vero Beach, Florida, has created a big buzz in the biofuels sector.

INEOS Bio said their first ethanol shipments will be released this month. Their facility uses gasification and fermentation technology to convert biomass such as vegetative and yard waste, citrus, oak, pine and pallet wood waste into bioethanol with production capacity of 24 ktpy (8m gpy) and renewable energy (6MW gross). The Centre is also permitted to use municipal solid waste, which the company will use during 2014.

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August 1, 2013

BioAmber Interview at NYSE

Before I start with this post, I just wanted to say thank you for those companies who have already subscribed to Tecnon Orbichem's new Bio-Materials & Intermediates service! We are thrilled to have very many positive response within a short time of introducing the service.

Now onto the blog's interview with BioAmber CEO Jean-Francois Huc yesterday morning when the company rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

BioAmber recently finished its IPO (initial public offering) and was able to raised $80m in capital. On July 18, BioAmber also closed a $25m three-year term loan with Hercules Capital. The financing and the capital from the IPO will enable BioAmber to proceed with the construction of its 30 ktpy bio-succinic acid facility in Sarnia, Ontario. BioAmber estimated during the IPO proceeding that the cost of the Sarnia facility will be around $125m.

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Metabolix expands collaboration with Samsung Fine Chemicals

It has been a great day seeing the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Trading Floor for the first time as the blog covered BioAmber's ringing of the NYSE's opening bell yesterday morning. More on my interview with CEO Jean-Francois Huc in another post.

In the meantime, let's cover Metabolix's announcement yesterday of its expanded partnership with Samsung Fine Chemicals during the company's second quarter earnings conference call. Metabolix said it has formalized a collaboration with Samsung Fine Chemicals (SFC) focusing on marketing biodegradable polymer products worldwide.