September 30, 2013

Proterro's sugar ready for pilot scale

Sugar developer Proterro is in the process of commissioning a pilot plant in Florida, and has also already completed a preliminary design, layout and associated cost estimate for a demonstration-scale plant.

Proterro said it has developed a scalable biosynthetic process using carbon dioxide, sunlight and water to produce a fermentation-ready sucrose stream rather than a mixture of sugars allowing simple, low-cost downstream processes. The sucrose produced can be used as delivered, concentrated by water removal removal or purified to a grade depending on application.

September 26, 2013

September News Roundup

Ok, so maybe this should be August-September news roundup but I will again try to do this at the end of every month if I can. No more weekly news roundup though. My brain can't do it. By the way, anybody going to the World Bio Markets USA in San Francisco on Oct. 29-30? I will be presenting at the conference and would love to chat during breaks. For those who can't come, I will be tweeting some of the presentations, just follow #wbmusa13.

Amyris applies for sustainability certification
Amyris has applied for RSB (Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials) Certification, a global sustainability standard and certification system for biofuels and biomaterials production. RSB's planned sustainability certification will cover Amyris's renewable farnesene produced from Brazilian sugarcane feedstock at Amyris's plant in Brotas, Sao Paulo state.

Evogene files for IPO
Israel-based plant genomics company Evogene has filed a registration statement the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a proposed public offering of its ordinary shares in the US to be listed under the symbol EVGN on the NewYork Stock Exchange. The size of the offering has not yet been finalized.

DSM, Ravago on recycled PA partnership
Royal DSM has expanded its partnership with the Ravago Group to combine DSM's expertise in polyamide 6 with Ravago's recycling know-how in order to develop a portfolio of glass reinforced recycled PA6 compounds. The materials will be offered by DSM directly under its Akulon brand, and distributed by Ravago Group member Resinex. DSM is supplying grades with 30% and 35% glass fiber reinforcement.

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Emery launches bio-polyols business

Malaysia-based Emery Oleochemicals has established a new business unit called Eco-Friendly Polyols (EP) that will include its brands such as EMEROX® Renewable Polyols and InfiGreen® Recycle Polyols. Emery said the new business unit will offer innovative, sustainable polyols for use in the manufacturing of flexible and rigid polyurethane foam commonly found in transportation, construction, packaging, furniture, bedding and in coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers applications.

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September 25, 2013

Solazyme, Unilever Signs Algal Oil Supply

Unilever has long been Solazyme's development partner -- five years to be exact -- but I guess the company is now convinced that Solazyme can deliver the goods (tailored algal oil in this case) as it prepares for commercial production to start later this year at the 100 ktpa Solazyme Bunge Renewable Oils facility located in Moema, Brazil.

The companies announced a supply agreement today where Solazyme will initially supply Unilever with at least 10,000 tons of their jointly developed tailored algal oils starting in early 2014. Unilever expects to purchase the full volume within 12-18 months. Product validation trials are scheduled to take place in Q4 2013.

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BASF expands compostable plastic in the US

BASF is now ready to expand production of its ecovio® compostable plastics, this time in North America via a recent partnership announcement with Mississippi, US-based Heritage Plastics.

Production of ecovio® will begin this September at the Heritage facility in Picayune, Mississippi. How much compounding capacity does Heritage has for ecovio®? The blog does not yet know. What I know is that Heritage already manufactures its own biodegradable polymers under the brand Bio (tm) 970, a compound based on a blend of high purity mineral (10%) and biodegradable resins that include an aliphatic/aromatic co-polyester.

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NatureWorks picks Jacobs for Asia plant project

Polylactic acid (PLA) producer NatureWorks has chosen engineering firm Jacobs to provide its services for NatureWorks' new Ingeo (tm) production plant in Southeast Asia.  Thailand is currently NatureWorks' preferred plant location for its second facility.

Under the terms of the contract, Jacobs is providing front-end engineering design including major equipment design.  The companies did not mention capacity for the Asia plant but it was expected that it will be the same scale as NatureWorks' 150 ktpa Ingeo(tm) capacity in its flagship Blair, Nebraska, facility.

NatureWorks INGEO(tm) PLA plant in Blair, Nebraska

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September 24, 2013

Novomer to produce CO2-based acrylic acid

Novomer said it has received a $5m grant from the US Department of Energy (DoE) announced in March as part of the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI). Novomer's project is in partnership with one of the world's largest producers of industrial gases, aims to sequester and convert waste carbon dioxide into commodity chemicals such as acrylic acid, butanediol, etc.  There are only very few major industrial gas producers around -- Airgas, Air Liquide, Air Products & Chemicals, Linde, BOC Gases, and Praxair. Did I miss any other company?

Novomer did not disclose who its industrial gas partner for the project. The partner's role is to convert waste carbon dioxide (CO2) into carbon monoxide (CO) via solid oxide electrolyzing process. The electrolyzer operates like a fuel cell in reverse and can leverage the investments made-to-date by the government and private sector to more quickly commercialize the technology.


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September 23, 2013

Novozymes, Raizen on cellulosic ethanol partnership

Novozymes will supply enzyme technology to Raízen’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Brazil, scheduled to be operational by end 2014. The plant will be a bolt-on facility to Raízen’s Costa Pinto sugarcane mill in the state of São Paulo and will have the capacity to produce 40 million liters of cellulosic ethanol a year from sugarcane bagasse and straw. 

BASF to acquire enzymes biz Verenium

Traditional chemical firms are more and more looking into biotechnology to expand their products and feedstock portfolio. There was the acquisition of Danisco by DuPont in 2011, DSM's acquisition of Martek in late 2010, Lanxess investing in evocatal GmbH last June, and BASF acquiring Henkel's detergent enzymes technology.

BASF announced last Friday that it is planning to acquire California, US-based enzymes firm Verenium for $62m (EUR48m) in cash. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Holders of outstanding shares of Verenium's common stock will receive $4/share, representing a 56% premium to the volume weighted average closing price of Verenium's stock 6 months before the announcement of the transaction.

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September 22, 2013

Elevance sells C18 diacids

We, at Tecnon OrbiChem, finally published on September 20 our first issue of the monthly newsletter Bio-Materials & Intermediates. It was a 50-page newsletter (Whew!!) with lots of information that will be hard to find anywhere else. If you haven't yet, feel free to check out our sample issue last July on the link above.

In the meantime, the blog saw several big news last week and actually had several interviews related to these news. I will share some of them here but all information that I had was already included in the newsletter for those who have already subscribed.

Let's start with Elevance's announcement on its new C18 diacids known as octadecanedioic acid (ODDA) under the trademark Inherent(tm). The mid-chain length diacid has long been available in the market in limited quantities but Elevance's metathesis processing technology at its newly started 180 ktpa biorefinery in Gresik, Indonesia, now made it possible for the diacid to be largely commercially produced with the potential of significantly expanding its applications in several markets.

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September 16, 2013

Walmart initiates sustainable chemicals policy

The pressure is on this week as I work on the first issue of Tecnon OrbiChem's Bio-Materials & Intermediates newsletter. I hope some of you can subscribe soon so you'll be able to read some of the great information that, unfortunately, I am unable to post in the blog.

I am also preparing for next month's presentation at the World Bio Markets USA in San Francisco, California. Anybody going there, let me know so we can chat. I've got a 20% discount code for those who are interested in attending this conference!

Now onto the news part. Walmart announced last week that it is working with suppliers to reduce or eliminate an initial 10 chemicals that the company indicate as high priority that are currently used in household cleaning, personal care, beauty and cosmetic products sold by Walmart. According to Walmart, 9 of their consumables products alone have 80,000 chemicals associated with them.  The company is hoping to drive further transparency and risks associated with each chemicals they use.

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September 11, 2013

Green Biologics buys ethanol plant

Commercialization of cellulosic n-butanol is bubbling near the surface as the Brazil-based partnership Granbio/Rhodia recently recently announced plans to build the world's first biomass-based n-butanol plant in Brazil that will start in 2015, while UK-based Green Biologics announced yesterday its planned acquisitions of all of Central MN Ethanol Co-op's (CMEC) assets in Little Falls, Minnesota.

The CMEC- Green Biologics transaction is expected to close in 2014. If they're fast enough in closing the deal, Green Biologics could catch up with Granbio/Rhodia on who's going to build the world's first biomass-based n-butanol plant.

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Biofuels will not impact bioplastic developments

The green blogger will be in Boston for the rest of the week attending (and will be presenting) at the ICIS World Purchasing Summit. I will do a live blog of the event, where most of the major focus will be on the impact of shale gas. Follow me on twitter as well under #Purchasing13 starting Thursday, September 12.

Unfortunately the blog will be a bit sparse as I continue to work on Tecnon OrbiChem's first publication of our Bio-Materials & Intermediates newsletter. This will come out next week Friday.

In the meantime, here is an interesting short study from the Society of the Plastics Industry Bioplastic Coucil talking about the future of bioplastics. According to the study, the bioplastic industry will develop regardless of what happens with biofuels. Why?
  • Bioplastics is emerging in a world of mature and sometimes obsolete manufacturing facilities. Bioplastic players have the opportunity to leverage and repurpose existing infrastructure
  • Bioplastics is already facing reduced market uncertainties with well-established applications for plastics
  • Shale gas can directly enhance the economic drivers for biobased equivalents of other polymers such as polyesters and polyamides.
  • The potential environmental and societal impacts of bioplastics will not be as large as the impacts of the biofuels industry. 
  • The smaller scale bioplastic industry could move rapidly in terms of innovation and commercialization of new technologies compared to the larger-scale biofuels.
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September 7, 2013

New cellulosic sugar player in town

A new cellulosic sugar developer, Midori Renewables, founded by investment firm Flagship VentureLabs has deployed its new catalyst technology dubbed Breaking the Biomass Barrier™, which melts non-food biomass into low cost sugar. Unlike most technology being developed these days, the catalyst is made of a solid material (not an enzyme, microorganism or aqueous acid), that can be easily separated from the reaction and be reused.

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September 6, 2013

Bio-Materials 1st issue on September 20

My apologies for the lack of analytical blog posts as I am currently working on Tecnon OrbiChem's first issue of the Bio-Materials & Intermediates newsletter, which will go live on September 20. Exciting!

Here is our press release. I'd also like to thank those who subscribe already, especially as you are the source of my income right now :).

In the meantime, I will be presenting at the ICIS World Chemical Purchasing Summitin Boston next week, and then next month at the World BIO Markets USA in San Francisco. Let me know if you're attending those conferences so we can meet and chat.

By the way if you're interested in attending any of these two conference, you can still get 20%-25% off the full delegate rate by emailing me ( and I'll give you a promo code.

That's it for now, as I need to go back to work! (*whiplash sound*)

September 5, 2013

JBI, Crayola launches “COLORCYCLE” program

This is a pretty cool (and colorful) idea! Waste plastic-to-fuel developer JBI has partnered with Crayola to convert used markers as feedstock for diesel and other liquid fuels using JBI's Plastic2Oil (P2O) Process.

The “COLORCYCLE” program will be conducted throughout the US in participating K-12 schools and encourages students to responsibly dispose of used Crayola markers through an in-school collection process. Markers will be sent to JBI, where they will be used as feedstock to produce diesel and other liquid fuels using JBI’s Plastic2Oil® (“P2O”) process.

September 4, 2013

Biofuel News Roundup

Too many biofuel news!! It's driving me nuts. Thank goodness I don't focus on this industry as much or I won't get any work done on my consulting gig for Tecnon OrbiChem. Still, the technologies and feedstock between biofuels and biobased chemicals are always intertwined so the blog always needs to pay attention to this market.

Here are compiled news announcements for the month of August:

  • Praj Industries claimed to be the first company in South Asia to set up an integrated 2nd Generation (2G) Cellulosic ethanol plant. The 2G Cellulosic ethanol demo plant will use a variety of biomasss such as corn stover, cobs and bagasse with a capacity of 100 dry tonnes of biomass per day. The demo plant will enable Praj to consolidate its 6 years of R&D efforts, starting with laboratory trials to pilot scale trials. The same plant will also enable Praj to develop various biochemicals and bioproducts. 
  • CropEnergies AG, Mannheim, acquires the UK bioethanol producer Ensus Limited, based in Yarm, England. The company operates one of the largest production plants for bioethanol in Europe, in the northeast of England with an annual capacity of 400,000 cubic metres of bioethanol and 350,000 tonnes of dried protein animal feed (DDGS).