October 29, 2013

Ecover plans for 100% bio-based materials use

I'm here in San Francisco and excited to start the World Bio Markets USA conference. I don't have that much time to blog for the next few days but here's an interesting video from WBM USA webinar about Ecover's strategies regarding the use of bio-based chemicals and materials. Last year, Ecover, the European cleaning products company that promote plant-based ingredients, has merged with another eco-conscious cleaning products company, Method, based in the US.

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October 28, 2013

Elevance advances Natchez biorefinery plans

Following Elevance's successful start-up of its 180 ktpa Gresik, Indonesia, facility, in 2012, the company is now proceeding with its plans to retrofit a purchased biodiesel facility in Natchez, Mississippi, into its second biorefinery with a capacity of 280 ktpa (617m lbs/yr). The biorefinery will produce novel specialty chemicals including multifunctional esters such as 9-decenoic methyl ester; a unique distribution of alpha and internal olefins including decene; and a mixture of oleochemicals but more C16 than C18 chains.

Start-up of the second biorefinery is expected in 2016.

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October 27, 2013

Meredian aims 30 ktpa PHA capacity in 2014

Tecnon OrbiChem's 2nd issue of its Bio-Materials & Intermediates newsletter is now out, and I am really excited for this one as we were able to get several major updates for bio-PET and bio-MEG including price premiums, the future of bio-PET commercialization, and new R&D developments. It also has an update on several PLA capacity coming out of Asia, and many more news and analysis for various renewable chemicals products (50 pages in total!).

This is why the blog was silent last week, and unfortunately, I was unable to posts several interesting news that recently came out (although all those news are now in the newsletter as well). I will try to post some of them today but this week starting Oct. 29, the blog (via twitter) will be covering the World Bio Markets USA conference so stay tune for that.

In the meantime, let me start posting...this one is from Georgia-based Meredian on their goal to operate its new PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) polymer facility at full capacity by the second quarter of 2014. The company started operations of the PHA plant in Bainbridge late last year.

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October 18, 2013

Lanxess' customers showcase PBT using bio-BDO

This week is chock-full of press releases especially coming from K2013 that hopefully it will calm down next week because it is my newsletter deadline week!

For this news, Genomatica has been building up the downstream applications for its bio-based butanediol (BDO) and at the K Show, the company announced partners such as DSM and Lanxess achieving product milestones in the use Genomatica's BDO to make bio-based PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) - a thermoplastic engineering polymer made from BDO and terephthalic acid, and is closely related to thermoplastic polyesters such as PET.

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October 17, 2013

Solvay launches high-performance bio-based polyamides in electronics

Solvay Specialty Polymers has expanded its Kalix® high-performance polyamide (HPPA) product line, with a new portfolio of bio-based high-performance polyamides offered for use in smart mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets, laptops, and other smart mobile electronics.

The introduction includes the Kalix® HPPA 3000 series, the first bio-based amorphous polyphthalamides (PPAs), and the Kalix® 2000 series, a family of bio-sourced semi-crystalline polyamide grades that provide outstanding impact performance.

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LanzaTech, SK Innovation in bio-butadiene

The blog has featured SK Innovation before about its carbon its carbon dioxide-based polypropylene carbonate (PPC) under the trademark Green Pol. The last I heard about this product is that SK Innovation will supposedly start commercial production of its PPC around 2013-2014.  I guess it's time to contact SK Innovation again about its Green Pol products.

In the meantime, the company just announced its partnership with LanzaTech on the development of a new process technology for the production of carbon monoxide-based 1,3 butadiene. SK Innovation will work with LanzaTech to develop and integrate this new technology with LanzaTech's gas fermentation process, which converts industrial waste gas and on-purpose syngas derived from the gasification of wastes into fuels and chemicals.

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October 16, 2013

Avantium, Wifag-Polytype on thermoformed PEF

Avantium and Wifag-Polytype Group agreed to collaborate on thermoformed products based from 100% polyethylene furanoate (PEF), a novel polymer produced by Avantium's proprietary YXY technology -- the brand name for Avantium's technology platform that catalytically convert plant-based carbohydrates into chemical building blocks like furanics and levulinics.

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Corbion Purac highlights new PLA uses

This latest press release from lactic acid producer Corbion Purac reported some of its partnerships as well as recent product developments for polylactic acid (PLA)-based plastics. There is definitely a lot of recent developments and improvements for using PLA plastics and I'm jealous that I won't be able to see and hear most of them, which will be presented at the K Plastics and Rubber International Trade Show that started today in Dusseldorf, Germany.

On this press release, Corbion Purac finally released the name of its Asian PLA partner, Taiwan-based SUPLA, which has contracted Corbion Purac for the supply of its PURALACT lactides to a 10 ktpy PLA polymerization facility being constructed somewhere in Asia (I am still looking for this information). The facility is expected to start operation in the second half of 2014. The target market for SUPLA is on high heat PLA for durable and demanding applications such as automotive and electronics part.

In fact, SUPLA said it has developed optimized PLA compounds for the consumer electronics industry based on Corbion Purac's lactides, and recently launched the world's first bioplastic touch screen computer developed in cooperation with Kuender, a leading Taiwanese OEM/ODM of consumer electronics for many brand customers. The high gloss housing of the computer is made from high-heat PLA. In addition to increased heat resistance, the PLA blends used for the monitor screen reportedly also bring improved impact resistance, excellent high gloss finish and stable, precise processing.

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October 15, 2013

Bio-based chemicals discussion at #WBMUSA13

To my fellow twitterers, prepare your tweets and questions on October 30 as I am chairing a whole day of several panel discussions on bio-based chemicals and materials at the World Bio Markets USA conference that will be held in San Francisco.

Here are the topics and panelists for the Bio-based Materials and Materials session:

Bio-based vs. Petroleum: Competing on Price, Performance and Quality
Date: 30 October 2013, 9.00am
Duration: 90 minutes
  • Judy Giordan, Managing Principal, ecosVC
  • Paul T. Anastas, Director, Yale University Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, former Science Advisor and Assistant Administrator for Research and Development, United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • Alan Shaw, Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer, Calysta Energy 

Partnering to Progress: Biopolymer Solutions for the 21st Century Consumer Market
Date: 30 October 2013, 11.00am
Duration: 45 minutes
  • Gregory Keenan, Vice President, Business Development, Penford Products
  • Dylan Boday, Senior Engineer - Team Lead, IBM

Spotlight Session on Guayule for Bio-based Isoprene
Date: 30 October 2013, 11.45am
Duration: 45 minutes
  • Todd Copeland, Environmental Product Specialist, Patagonia 
  • Jeff Martin, President & Chief Executive Officer, YULEX 

Bio-based Platform Chemicals: Breakthrough Case Studies
Date: 30 October 2013, 2.00pm
Duration: 90 minutes
  • Christophe Schilling, Chief Executive Officer, Genomatica
  • Robert Wedinger, Chief Executive Officer & President, Rennovia 
  • Brian Turk, Business Manager, USA/Canada, Bayegan

Bio-based Application Opportunities
Date: 30 October 2013, 4.00pm
Duration: 90 minutes
  • Benjamin Borns, Staff Chemist, Product Technology, Global Supply Chain R&D, The Sherwin-Williams Co.
  • Pete He, Senior Research Fellow, Sustainability, Henkel Consumer Goods 
  • Mike Knauf, Chief Executive Officer, Rivertop Renewables
  • Kaj Johnson, Green Chef/Sr. Director Product Development, Method
I will be tweeting while the panelists are presenting for 10-15 minutes and will monitor any questions via #WBMUSA13. Help me out here! This is my only second time chairing a session (five sessions!! Eeeek!!). Looking forward to the tweeting interactions on October 30! If you're at the site, feel free to say hello during breaks or anytime on October 29 as I will be tweeting some of the keynotes presentations as well for that day.

October 14, 2013

Amyris meets production milestone

Good news for Amyris investors. Last week, the company announced that its farnesene plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil has achieved production rate of 1m liters over a 45-day period. Amyris said it is on track to achieve its year-end cost targets with all of its six fermentors running at the ongoing production rate. The Brotas plant is expected to produce more farnesene this year than the company's entire production at its former contract manufacturing operations (via Tate & Lyle's facility in Decatur, Illinois.).

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DSM increases bioplastic activities

Major chemical firms BASF and DSM seem to be significantly increasing their presence in the bioplastic arena especially this year. DSM and Genomatica last week announced that it has tested and approved the use of Genomatica's bio-based 1,4 butanediol (BDO) in its Arnitel® TPC (ThermoPlastic Copolyester).

Arnitel is a high-performance engineering plastic with flexibility, high temperature resistance, strength and excellent processing characteristics. Industry applications automotive/transportation, packaging, furniture, consumer goods/sports, and electrical and electronics materials.

The first two products under the Arnitel line that will use Genomatica's bio-BDO are Arnitel Eco and Arnitel VT:
  • Arnitel Eco already has a bio-based content of 22-53% (made with rapeseed oil) depending on the hardness. The introduction of BDO made with Genomatica's process will increase the bio-based content up to 73%. Arnitel Eco is being used for food packaging films and for a number of soft touch applications in consumer electronics.
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October 10, 2013

Segetis starts levulinic acid pilot production

The blog has always been intrigued with levulinic acid, which is considered by the US Department of Energy (DOE) as one of the top biomass-based chemical building blocks. However, it seems there are not many companies (as far as the blog knows) that are developing further commercialization potential for this building block with the exception of Segetis and Biofine Technology LLC in the US, and Green Future S.R.L based in Coserta, Italy.

Segetis recently announced that it has successfully started its pilot plant facility in Golden Valley, Minnesota, demonstrating the viability of its proprietary process to convert biomass to levulinic acid. The pilot plant has a nameplate capacity of 80 metric tons/year and currently uses corn sugar as feedstock although the company said its process has broad capability and is intended to be used to explore many other feedstocks as Segetis' technology develops.

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October 9, 2013

Beta Renewables starts cellulosic ethanol facility

The momentum for commercial cellulosic ethanol facility start-ups is going strong and this one from Beta Renewables is considered a big one as the company opened its 25m gal/year (75m liters/year) cellulosic ethanol facility in Crescentino, Italy. The facility is claimed to be the first in the world to be designed and built to produce ethanol from agricultural residues (wheat straw and rice straw) and energy crops (Arundo Donax) at commercial scale using enzymatic conversion (via Novozymes' Cellic® enzymes).

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Bioplastics get attention at #K2013

There are so many news that are coming out this week but let me first post this one, which has been stewing in my draft box for weeks.

There seems to be a lot of bioplastic launch (or products related to bioplastics) planned at the incoming K2013 Plastics and Rubber Tradeshow, which will be held on October 16-23 in Dusseldorf, Germany. The triennial international trade fair is expected to have more than 200,000 visitors with 3,100 exhibitors from 60 countries this year.

According to the organizers of K2013, about 147 companies are listed as exhibiting bioplastics at the show (I wish I could attend!!). The blog already posted BASF's K2013 preview announcement with the launch of new variants under its ecovio® line; Lanxess to highlight its new bio-based EPDM rubber grades that uses Braskem's sugarcane-based ethylene; and Bayer MaterialScience to highlight its carbon dioxide-based polyether polycarbonate polyols (PPPs) for use in high-quality foams.

October 7, 2013

Butamax begins bio-butanol retrofit in Minnesota

Bio-butanol technology company Butamax™ Advanced Biofuels LLC and ethanol producer Highwater Ethanol LLC have begun to retrofit Highwater’s ethanol plant in Lamberton, Minnesota for the production of bio-butanol. Butamax’s technology package will include the installation of novel corn oil separation technology. Butamax and Highwater have entered into definitive agreements for license of Butamax’s patented corn oil separation technology, which is an integral part of a full retrofit to bio-butanol production and can also be installed independently as a first phase of the conversion.

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October 2, 2013

Rennovia produces 100% bio-based nylon

The quest to produce a 100% bio-based nylon 6,6 polymer has now come to fruition as Rennovia announced that it has produced and shipped samples of their RENNLON™100% bio-based nylon 6,6 polymer, believed to be the first produced worldwide. The bio-based nylon was made from the combination of Rennovia's RENNLON™adipic acid and RENNLON™hexamethylenediamine (HMD or HMDA). No mention of Rennovia's prospective partner who is sampling the 100% bio-based nylon product.

Last April, the blog posted an update on Rennovia's developments for its bio-adipic acid and bio-HMDA. Rennovia has been able to produce both adipic acid and HMD using glucose for feedstock using its proprietary chemical catalytic process technology. Rennovia produces its bio-adipic acid by aerobic oxidation of glucose to produce glucaric acid, which then undergoes hydrodeoxygenation to produce adipic acid.

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October 1, 2013

Renewable chems tax credit waiting for Congress

US producers of renewable chemicals are hopeful that a recently introduced bill called "Qualifying Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit Act of 2013" (H.R. 3084) sponsored by House Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Steve Stockman (R-Texas), Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif) and Richard Neal (D-Mass), will be approved by US Congress and signed into law.

The legislation provides renewable chemical producers access to production tax credits currently available to other energy producers. According to several renewable chemical companies and industry trade group BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization), the tax credit is critical for the industry's efforts to attract capital.

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