February 18, 2014

Cereplast files for Bankruptcy

It looks like the renewable chemicals/bio-materials industry is now seeing the start of restructuring with LS9 recently being acquired by Renewable Energy Group, Codexis changing its business strategy and focus, and now Cereplast filing for bankruptcy.

The Indiana-based bioplastic producer has filed voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 in the US Bankruptcy Court led by the lack of traction of bioplastic demand in the US, repetibantive delays in implementation of the bioplastic regulation in Europe, especially Italy, and legal problems created by several of Cereplast's lenders.

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February 17, 2014

The search for high oleic oils

There had been quite a few inquiries that came to the blog regarding the market for high oleic oils and I just wanted to post some recent news about this market.

One is from Australia's national science agency, CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization). The agency said it has received trial approval for its super high-oleic (SHO) safflower oil, and has moved ahead with field trials of its first generation crop this summer.

The safflower oil contains super high levels of monounsaturate oleic acid -- consistently over 90%. CSIRO has a patented hairpin RNAi gene silencing technology that turn off unwanted linolenic acid, which boosted content of desirable oleic to 92-94% in first generation plants. Second generation and so forth are expected to have even higher oleic acid content.

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February 14, 2014

Versalis, Elevance Partnership

Given my limited background in organic chemistry, I am still trying to comprehend the potential importance of olefin metathesis technology within the overall chemical industry. However, Elevance has a nice summary of what metathesis is all about on its web page.

Elevance recently announced its partnership with Italian chemical firm Versalis on the joint development and scaling up of new catalysts that Elevance has been developing with Swiss-based metathesis catalysts developer, XiMo AG, since 2011. Elevance and XiMo  have been working on Molybdenum-catalyzed metathesis of natural oil esters and olefins, particularly ethene.

Elevance is currently using Ruthenium-based metathesis technology licensed from Materia on its biorefinery in Gresik, Indonesia. The biorefinery uses butene with Ruthenium.

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Sophorolipids from Mahua Oil

Aside from Tecnon OrbiChem's coverage of oleochemicals on the monthly Bio-Materials newsletter, I have not covered much of the bio-based surfactants market in months. However, the blog recently received an interesting information on sophorolipids, a fermentation-based glycolipids that can be used to produce surfactants.

The blog last mentioned sophorolipids in a September 2012 post when Europe-based consumer products company, Ecover, a producer/consumer of sophorolipids, has acquired Method, a US-based cleaning products company. Back then, the only sophorolipids producer/developer that the blog mentioned included Ecover, France-based Soliance/WheatOleo, Japan-based Saraya, South Korea-based MG Intobio, and US-based Synthezyme.

A Japan-based company called Allied Carbon Solutions (ACS), it seems, has also been developing sophorolipids for years, and now it is marketing its bio-based surfactant products in Asia, with the intent to expand in North America and Europe. At first, ACS has been using jatropha for feedstock but has moved towards the use of a non-edible oilseed called Indian Mahua (INCI Name - Candida Bombicola/Madhuca Longifolia Seed Oil Ferment Extract).

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February 7, 2014

Mitsubishi Chemical expands Durabio output

Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) recently announced that it is expanding production of its isosorbide-based engineering plastic, DURABIO, at its Kurosaki Plant in Fukuoka, Japan.

DURABIO is being marketed as alternative to impact-resistant petro-based polycarbonate. The disadvantage of traditional polyarbonates, according to MCC, is that it distorts in light transmission, which makes it difficult for uses to see the touch panel.  The new grade nearly eliminated distortion in light transmission, making it easy to see the touch panel surface.

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February 6, 2014

The quest for sustainable rubber

This has been in my draft for quite some time and I am glad to be able to post it after an interesting presentation that I heard from Patagonia and Yulex during the World Bio Markets USA conference last year in October.

Since December last year, Patagonia has already been offering its Yulex R2 Front-Zip wetsuit using guayule rubber as an alternative to traditional neoprene. According to Patagonia, the guayule-based wetsuit matches the technical performance of a traditional neoprene-based Patagonia wetsuit. The wetsuit has already been offered in Japan although in limited quantities.

The price for the Yulex wetsuit is around $479, which is the same price as the non-Yulex wetsuit.  The companies said development of the next generation of the Yulex wetsuit is underway.

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February 4, 2014

Pathways to novel chemicals - Inform

There are a lot of focus on the commercialization of drop-in renewable chemicals, and sometimes novel chemicals such as glucaric acid, itaconic acid, levulinic acid, etc. are not being given its proper recognition. The American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS) has published an article (free access!) on its magazine, INFORM, about several of these novel chemicals and processes in a summarized form.

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February 2, 2014

January News Roundup

It's Superbowl Sunday and I got bored so back to blogging (36-0 Seahawks at this point). Anyway, I just confirmed last week that I will be attending the Palm and Lauric Oils Conference (POC) in Kuala Lumpur on March 3-5, so for those who will be attending, let me know if you want to meet.

Here are some news roundup from last month (and before that). I will be posting Solazyme's latest news soon, as well as what's going on with the Farm Bill proposal in US Congress. Stay tune!

Toyota uses bio-PA in bio-alloys
Toyota Boshoku Corporation, a manufacturer of automotive interior systems, and Toyota Central R&D Labs, have developed a high-impact bio-based plastic alloy incorporating castor-derived polyamide 11 (PA11) and petro-based polypropylene.  The performance of the bio-alloy reportedly surpasses polycarbonate alloys.  The bioplastic is being incorporated in interior decoration parts such as automotive door trims, installment panels or as a collision energy absorber.

ACC forms Waste Plastics-to-Oil Alliance
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has formed within its Plastics Division, a new group, called Plastics-to-Oil Technologies Alliance, that will work to increase awareness of the benefits of plastics-to-oil technologies, enhance the industry's voice through expanded membership, and demonstrate broad support for plastics-to-oil technologies through expanding network of allies. Founders include Agilyx, Cynar, RES PolyFlow.

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