December 31, 2013

Learning Deinococcus bacterium

The blog is usually not familiar with the type of microorganisms that industrial biotechnology companies use for their fermentation processes but I was intrigued about this Deinococcus bacterium that is being developed and promoted by France-based start-up biotech company Deinove.

The company claimed to be the only one in the world to design and develop a new generation of industrial processes based on this bacterium, which is said to have exceptional properties such as high resistance to numerous kind of stresses; ability to integrate large fragments of DNA from bacteria, fungi and even plants in a highly stable manner; having the ability  to manufacture rare compounds such as carotenoids, antibiotics, enzymes, antifungals from biomass; and the ability to co-digest several sugars.

More on this post...

December 30, 2013

Cellulac to build lactic acid plant

The countdown for 2014 begins and I hope next year will bring in revenue for the blog (for the first time in 6 years!). This woman needs to eat!

Anyway, I had a really interesting interview with Ireland-based industrial biochemicals company Cellulac as it recently announced its plans to build a lactic acid acid facility in a former Irish brewery site in Dundalk owned by Great Northern Brewery.  The facility will initially produce 20 ktpa of ethyl lactate, (D-) lactic acid and (L+) lactic acid starting June 2014.  Capacity is expected to increase to 100 ktpa by 2016.

The interesting information here is about the market on (D-) lactic acid. According to CEO Gerard Brandon, the polylactic acid (PLA) industry is increasingly using combination of (D-) and (L+) lactic acid, which offer more performance advantages such as heat tolerance compared to just using L-lactic acid. However, (D-) lactic acid is still small with very few producers worldwide.  Cellulac said it has several proprietary technologies throughout the entire end-to-end production that will enable its new facility to manufacture (D-) lactic acid at 40% below current producers' costs. It will also be the biggest production facility for (D-) lactic acid worldwide.

More on this post...

December 27, 2013

Cellulosic sugar news galore

I hope the blog's readers are having a great holiday! Already got my presents and I'm currently enjoying the aftermath of good food, drinks, and post-Christmas shopping sales. This is also as good time as any to write a post about sugars (and which I seemed to have consumed a lot in the past several days) given my free time away from Tecnon OrbiChem's newsletter.

I'm writing specifically about recent cellulosic sugars activities especially from Renmatix, Proterro and Sweetwater. I also had a nice chat with Helios Scientific during the World Bio Markets USA in San Francisco in late October, and just recently, with a Midwest sorghum farmer who was inquiring about the bio-based chemicals market.

Let's start with Renmatix, which recently announced two big-time partnerships this month -- BASF and Virent/Coca-Cola.

More on this post...

December 20, 2013

Evonik, LanzaTech bio-based chems activities

The blog is having trouble keeping up with so many news this month (and last month), and juggling with the Tecnon OrbiChem newsletter, so my apologies.  Tomorrow is officially my holiday vacation until January 2, but I will try to sneak in a couple of posts if I can before the year ends.

Here are some of the news this month that came out from Evonik and LanzaTech. I will write in a separate post on news from Renmatix, Deinove and Cellulac.

In the meantime, check out some of the highlights in our 46-page December Bio-Materials & Intermediates newsletter published yesterday. There are so much more information (including lots of interviews) that I wrote on the newsletter so hopefully that will entice some of you out there to subscribe for 2014. And yes, you read it right that JBF Industries has postponed its planned 500 ktpa bio-based MEG project in Araraquara, Brazil. That's all I'm going to say about the subject for now :)

More on this post...

December 13, 2013

Gevo hoping for a better 2014

The clock is ticking for bio-isobutanol producer Gevo, and it needs to prove as soon as possible that its 18m gal/year Luverne, Minnesota, facility can successfully fully operate. The company needed an influx of cash very quickly and has announced this week a public offering of 18.53 million common shares at $1.35 each. The stock offering is expected to close on or about December 16. Funds raised by the offering at around $25 million in gross proceeds will be used to fully operate its isobutanol production at its facility in Luverne, Minnesota, and repay $5.1 million in long-term debt.

More on this post...

December 11, 2013

More bio-butadiene partnerships

Two exciting news just came out this week regarding bio-butadiene.

Michelin announced in early November that that it has partnered with European research organizations, Axens and IFPEN (IFO Energies nouvelles), to develop and bring to market a process for producing bio-butadiene called "BioButterfly" process.  The partners also committed to laying the groundwork for a future bio-sourced synthetic rubber industry in France.

BioButterfly is backed by a EUR52 million budget extending over 8 years.  IFPEN will bring to the project its expertise on industrial processes and catalyzers, and Axen its process engineering and marketing of new technologies.

More on this post...

December 10, 2013

Wilmar, Unilever pledges sustainable palm oil policies

The palm oil industry is definitely feeling the sustainability pinch from worldwide environmental groups, investors and even from large buyers such as multinational food companies.

Green Century Capital Management, a coalition of institutional investors from the US and Europe representing about $270bn in assets sent letters this month to about 40 major palm oil producers, financiers and consumers, asking the companies to adopt palm oil purchasing policies that go beyond the RSPO standards such as purchasing palm oil traceable to suppliers verified as not engaging in deforestation, development on peat, or exploitation of people and communities.

December 6, 2013

Codexis exits fatty alcohols project

Sugar-based alcohols business is not that sweet?
The big news last month on Codexis's third quarter earnings call is that the company stopped further development of its CodeXol® detergent alcohols franchise earlier in the year as the company also decided to exit its CodeXyme® cellulase enzymes business. The cellulase enzymes catalyse the conversion of cellulose into fermentable glucose, and it is used to produce the  CodeXol®

According to Codexis, the company has started winding down the CodeXyme® franchise after being unable to secure a suitable partnership for the cellulase enzyme business.

More on this post...

Amyris, Total form 50-50 renewable fuel JV

My apologies for the lack of posts (again) as I have been busy working on getting information for the Bio-Materials newsletter before folks from around the world start their holiday events.

However, let me post this one from Amyris' recent announcement on its joint venture formation with its largest investor, French oil firm, Total. Yesterday, Amyris announced the formation of a 50-50 joint venture called Total Amyris BioSolutions B.V. with Total. The JV now holds exclusive rights and a license to produce and market renewable diesel and jet fuel from Amyris's farnesene.

The JV company was formed as a Netherlands-based private company with limited liability. Total and Amyris each contributed EUR 50 million in cash to the joint venture, which in the case of Amyris, was borrowed from Total via secured promissory note. Total has certain rights to buy out Amyris's interest in the JV before the completion of their R&D program.

More on this post...

December 3, 2013

BASF produces first bio-BDO commercial volumes

BASF has produced its first commercial volumes of 1,4-butanediol (BDO) from renewable raw material, and is offering this product to customers for testing and commercial use. The production process relies on a patented fermentation technology from Genomatica. The fermentation process uses dextrose as a renewable feedstock.

According to BASF, the quality of BDO based on renewable raw material is comparable to petrochemical-based BDO. BASF plans to expand its portfolio with selected BDO derivatives based on renewable feedstock, including Polytetrahydrofuran (PolyTHF®). BDO and its derivatives are used for producing plastics, solvents, electronic chemicals and elastic fibers for the packaging, automotive, textile, and sports and leisure industries, among others.

More on this post...