A Nebraska-based company has expanded its operation to turn an ethanol byproduct into a bio-based resin additive. Composites World reports Laurel BioComposite LLC held an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony for its new 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, which will crank out 7 million pounds annually of its trademarked Bio-Res PE.
Tim Bearnes, CEO of Laurel BioComposite, was on hand to welcome special guests Gov. Dave Heineman, Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul, USDA Rural Development and Mayor Mark Patefield. “We held the event to celebrate some important milestones,” says Bearnes. “It also gave us the chance to thank a lot of people that supported our project from its inception and believe in our future.”
Laurel BioComposite’s mission Bearnes explains is to produce Bio-Res PE products from a renewable resource. “Our product replaces a portion of traditional plastic resins and creates a positive environmental impact by reducing the industry’s reliance on crude oil,” he says. “It remains our goal to cost-effectively manufacture a quality bio-based product. We don’t make the plastic. We make the plastic greener.”
The new production line converts feedstock into a powder for thermoset applications or master batch pellets for use in thermoplastics applications such as injection molding.
A second phase currently underway will expand the company’s annual output to 48 million pounds. The products made from Bio-Res include shipping materials, lawn and garden, agricultural and automotive products.
Several University of Michigan researchers have joined together a fungus and E. coli bacteria to turn tough, waste plant material into isobutanol – a product that can be converted into biochemicals and biofuels. A paper based on this research, “Design and characterization of synthetic fungal-bacterial consortia for direct production of isobutanol from cellulosic biomass,” was published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Xiaoxia “Nina” Lin, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and leader of the research said her team used corn stalks and leaves to produce the isobutanol. Focused on creating a super team of microbial specialists, the team landed on the fungus Trichoderma reesei, an up and coming star when its comes breaking down tough plant material into sugars. Escherichia coli, meanwhile, is relatively easy for researchers to genetically modify and the team used a strain developed by James Liao’s lab at the University of California – Los Angeles that had been engineered to convert sugars into isobutanol.
The Lin group put both microbe species into a bioreactor and served up corn stalks and leaves. Colleagues at Michigan State University had pre-treated the roughage to make it easier to digest. “If you’ve ever had puffed rice cereal, it’s somewhat analogous,” said Jeremy Minty, first author of the paper and a recent doctoral graduate in Lin’s lab.
The fungi turned the roughage into sugars that fed both microbe species with enough left over to produce isobutanol. The team managed to get 1.88 grams of isobutanol per liter of fluid in the ecosystem, the highest concentration reported to date for turning tough plant materials into biofuels. They also converted a large proportion of the energy locked in the corn stalks and leaves to isobutanol – 62 percent of the theoretical maximum. Continue reading
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) recently toured and met with Colorado-based Gevo to discuss renewable fuels and chemicals for Colorado and the U.S. economy. Senator Bennet met with Gevo executives including chief executive officer Patrick Gruber, Ph.D. to discuss energy policy and see first-hand the research and development Gevo has done on creating isobutanol to be converted to biochemicals and renewable fuels.
Isobutanol is a drop-in product that can be used in existing infrastructure. Gevo’s isobutanol has successfully cleared registration with the U.S. EPA as a fuel additive, is the first isobutanol to be listed in the EPA’s Fuel Registration Directory, making it approved for blending with gasoline. Last June Gevo worked with the United States Air Force (USAF) to provide fuel for the first successful “alcohol-to-jet” (ATJ) fuel test flight in an A-10 Thunderbolt II.
“We applaud Senator Bennet’s support for the renewable energy industry and appreciate his visit to our headquarters to learn about the technology that makes Gevo a leading renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company,” said Gruber.
Senator Bennet remarked that he very much enjoyed his visit to Gevo and said, “Colorado has a strong reputation as a hub for innovation and firms like Gevo are leading the way. By developing innovative techniques for converting biomass to fuel, Gevo is a critical part of developing a balanced national energy portfolio.”
Amyris, Inc. has announced they have entered into an agreement for the sale of convertible notes in a private placement for up to $60 million in cash proceeds.
Under the terms of the agreement, one of Amyris’s largest stockholders, Temasek, agreed to purchase $35 million of the notes in an initial tranche and, at Amyris’s election, up to $25 million in a second tranche. Both tranches are subject to Amyris’s satisfaction of closing conditions, including stockholder approval of the transaction at an upcoming special meeting of stockholders.
“This financing agreement is an affirmation of our largest stockholders’ continued support for our strategy. This funding will provide us with financial flexibility to help us achieve our business objectives,” said John Melo, Amyris President & CEO.
“Our progress to date developing and manufacturing molecules developed under our proprietary synthetic biology platform, including ramp up of our new industrial fermentation facility for the production of farnesene in Brazil, continues to demonstrate our leadership in the sector,” Melo concluded.
Abengoa has inaugurated its demonstration plant that uses Waste-to-Biofuels (W2B) technology. The plant has a capacity to treat 25,000 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) from which it will obtain up to 1.5 million liters of bioethanol for use as fuel.
The demonstration plant located in Babilafuente (Salamanca, Spain) and uses W2B technology developed by Abengoa to produce second-generation biofuels from MSW using a fermentation and enzymatic hydrolysis treatment. During the transformation process, the organic matter is treated in various ways to produce organic fiber that is rich in cellulose and hemicellulose, which is subsequently converted into bioethanol.
Abengoa says the the production of bioethanol from municipal solid waste is a major technological breakthrough in the waste management model, since it increases the recovery rate, minimizes the carbon footprint and generates major benefits for society. The company says the fuel produced from its plant will reduce greenhouse gas emissions per kilometer travelled by 70 percent. In addition, Abengoa’s technology maximizes the recovery of the organic fraction of the MSW and prevents more than 80 percent of the waste ending up in landfill.
During the opening, Manuel Sánchez Ortega, CEO of Abengoa said, “This plant once again highlights Abengoa’s commitment to technological research and innovation, which has enabled it to maintain a competitive advantage in its sectors, leading projects with huge technological potential and programs that involve world-leading research centers and strategic partners.”
The bioethanol produced at the W2B plant has multiple uses such as an additive for gasoline, increasing its octane rating; as fuel for cars; for use in the chemicals and pharmaceutical industry (in solvents or cosmetics, for example), and even as an intermediate product in producing jet fuel.
Provider of sugars for biofuels Renmatix teams up with European pulp and paper giant UPM in an agreement to develop biochemicals. This Renmatix news release says the companies will use Renmatix’s water-based Plantrose™ process to convert woody biomass into low-cost sugar intermediates for subsequent downstream processing into biochemicals.
“We are very excited about this truly collaborative endeavor. It combines UPM’s core competencies in sustainable sourcing and efficient industrial processing of wood, with Renmatix’s unique conversion technology,” noted Michael Duetsch, Director of Biochemicals, at UPM. “Access to second generation, lignocellulosic, sugars through a process that uses almost no consumables is a crucial factor in Plantrose technology’s attractiveness.”
The Plantrose process employs water at very high temperatures and pressures to breakdown biomass through supercritical hydrolysis. Under such conditions water can act as both a powerful solvent and catalyst, creating rapid reactions.
“We believe this pioneering approach leads to real cost advantages over conventional methods. Our growing relationship with UPM gives Renmatix an opportunity to support them expanding the Biofore story,” commented Mike Hamilton, CEO of Renmatix. “Renmatix, as a U.S. based technology provider, takes great pride in working with global companies across the emerging bio-value chains. It reinforces the demand that exists for licensing Plantrose technology as the bridge between sustainable sources of upstream biomass, and downstream manufacturing of biochemicals and fuels.”
The deal is seen as part of the growing interest among forestry players to diversify their product portfolio and enter into the growing biochemical and biofuels markets.
LS9 has announced plans to expand its operations at their Okeechobee, Florida demonstration facility with a successful customer trial. The Florida facility was initially designed, and has been used, to scale-up LS9′s fermentation technology and generate large commercial samples for testing and product qualification by key partners and prospective customers. Since the company’s initial run at 135,000 liter scale in the third quarter of last year, LS9 has made several additional fatty alcohol runs of this size as well as smaller production runs of fatty acid methyl esters (biodiesel).
In addition, LS9 has successfully completed a pilot production run at its Florida plant for another advanced bioproducts company, Cobalt Technologies. According to LS9, fermentation scale-up is an expensive proposition and requires the proper facilities and expertise to make an effective run. The need to run trials is also intermittent so it is not cost-effective for many companies in the industry to make the investment in a larger plant.
LS9 says its Florida demonstration plant was designed to manage a multitude of processes, and with this successful customer run, they have proven they can leverage their state-of-the-art facility and the expertise of its operations staff to work with partners to commercialize renewable products. Given the success of the initial production run, says LS9, Cobalt is considering future work at LS9′s Florida facility.
“The capability to transition from the lab to 135,000 liter scale is a key milestone on our road to commercial success, and we know we are not alone in this requirement,” said Tjerk de Ruiter, President and Chief Executive Officer of LS9. “Our ability to support other companies’ technology scale-up activities is not only an example of the flexibility and the capabilities of our team, it is also an excellent example of how, as an industry, we can work together to make a renewable future a reality. This new revenue source, together with a recent $6 million investment from our current investors, positions LS9 to enter into new partnerships with our technology and advance our own products.”
Green Biologics has received funding from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), based in UK, to engineer a bacterial host for biobutanol production. The project is in collaboration with the Clostridia Research Group (CRG) at the University of Nottingham which is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
The goal of the 18 month project is to develop a novel bacterial host for the production of 1-butanol from renewable feedstocks. The strategy focuses on the modification of a clostridium species (Clostridium pasteurianum) for the fast growing renewable chemicals market. According to Green Biologics, this microbe has many desirable features that make it an attractive fermentation host including fast growth rates, robustness and good butanol tolerance, but suffers from technical limitations.
In this project, the partners will deploy advanced molecular biology tools for clostridia and introduce synthetic metabolic pathways that increase the range of feedstocks and also improve butanol production. The deliverable will be a novel engineered strain C. pasteurianum that ferments starch to butanol in high yield.
Sean Sutcliffe, CEO at Green Biologics (GBL), said, ”We are extremely pleased to receive grant funding from the TSB. This award recognises GBL’s leading technical and commercialisation leadership position and also facilitates collaboration with the CRG led by Professor Nigel Minton from the University of Nottingham, a world expert in clostridial gene technologies.”
The CRG, one of the largest labs at Nottingham, develops and patents advanced gene tools for the modification and manipulation of clostridial genomes focused on strain enhancements.
“Green Biologics is developing next generation products using clostridia as production hosts. This project builds on GBL’s extensive industrial strain collection and opens up longer term market opportunities,” added Dr. Edward Green, CSO at GBL. “We are greatly encouraged by the recent alignment between the TSB and the research councils for Industrial Biotechnology which enables meaningful collaboration between academics and SME’s. Funding initiatives are essential to maintain a UK leadership position.”
Amyris has shipped it first commercial product from its plant in Brazil. The facility was the company’s first purpose-built industrial fermentation facility and produces Biofene, the company’s brand of renewable farnesene, to be used in a range of specialty chemical and fuel applications.
“This initial shipment marks the successful completion of our start-up activities. We have operated multiple tanks without contamination or surprises through several production runs during the first month of operation,” said John Melo, President and CEO of Amyris.
“We are now focused on ramping up Biofene production and delivering product to our customers, from renewable diesel for bus fleets in Brazil to squalane emollient globally and soon a range of specialty chemical applications,” Melo concluded.
Amyris’s Biofene plant in Brotas, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, sources its sugarcane feedstock locally from the Paraíso mill. Prior to the start-up of this facility, Amyris relied solely on contract manufacturing for commercial production.
Amyris has announced that it has completed a $42.25 million private placement of its common stock. The company has also begun production of its industrial fermentation facility in Brazil and is producing Biofene, its brand of renewable farnesene, a fragrant oil chemical. When adding a hydrogen molecule to farnesene, you get farnesane, which is the foundation molecule for renewable diesel.
“We are encouraged by the continued, strong commitment from our major investors, particularly as we start up our new industrial fermentation facility for the production of our renewable hydrocarbons in Brazil,” said John Melo, Amyris President & CEO. ”Our own farnesene plant at Paraiso has been successfully commissioned, with initial farnesene production underway. We anticipate sales from this facility during the first quarter of 2013.”
The Company sold 14,177,849 shares of common stock in a private placement to existing Amyris investors. The transaction included $37.25 million in cash proceeds and the conversion by Total Gas & Power USA, SAS of $5 million from an outstanding senior unsecured convertible promissory note.
Renewable fuels and green petrochemical maker Anellotech Inc. has inked a deal with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst that will triple the amount of plastics feedstock made from biomass. The agreement adds a new technology capability to Anellotech’s process that triples the amount of p-xylene used to make plastic bottles, clothing, carpeting, automotive and other products usually made from nonrenewable petroleum but now could be produced from non-food biomass.
Anellotech’s core technology, catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP), was invented in Professor George W. Huber’s laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Anellotech is developing the process to produce benzene, toluene, xylenes and olefins from non-food biomass. The additional breakthrough technology was first reported in an article published in the prestigious journal Angewandte Chemie in October 2012, where Professor Huber, Professor Fan and collaborators describe how to modify the catalyst used in this process to triple the yield of p-xylene within the benzene, toluene and xylenes product stream. The new invention allows the more economical production of renewable p-xylene from non-food biomass, thus enabling the production of lower-cost renewable PET. This research was funded by the Department of Energy Energy Frontiers Research Centers as part of the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation which is led by the University of Delaware. Anellotech is currently working on scaling up the new CFP technology and bringing it to the market place.
“There is increasing demand for p-xylene, particularly for making consumer products” said David Sudolsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of Anellotech Inc. “This new technology we will be developing under license from the University of Massachusetts will enable beverage manufacturers to obtain 100% renewable PET bottles made from green ethylene glycol (already on the market by others) together with Anellotech’s green p-xylene.”
The process could replace some of the petroleum now used to make 54 million tons of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) globally.
Dyadic International has received its 12th patent, U.S. Patent No. 8,304,212 entitled “Methods and compositions for degradation of lignocellulosic material”. The patent covers methods and compositions for using enzymes mixtures to convert plant biomass into fermentable sugars for the production of various products. The patent also covers novel combinations of enzymes including those that provide a synergistic release of sugars from plant biomass.
“In developing and selling industrial enzymes, our customers and partners not only benefit from Dyadic’s patented C1 platform technology but also from Dyadic’s fungal strains and technologies based on the Trichoderma fungal organism,” said Dyadic’s President and CEO, Mark Emalfarb. “Dyadic uses these strains to produce specialty enzymes that can be used for a variety of applications in such fields as animal health and nutrition, biofuels and bio-based chemicals. As with our growing portfolio of patents covering the C1 technology, this patent will provide Dyadic, its customers and licensees with additional protection for our Trichoderma-based enzyme mixtures.”
The patent also specifically describes methods of increasing the yield of fermentable sugars from fermentation of dried distillers grains (DDGs) using enzyme mixtures comprising glucoamylase, beta-glucosidase and alpha-arabinofuranosidase. More specifically, it specifically covers Trichoderma-based enzyme mixtures, which significantly and unexpectedly increase the yield of fermentable sugars from DDGs. DDGs are obtained after the fermentation of the starch derived from a number of grains including corn, wheat, barley, oats, rice, and rye and are typically used for animal feed. DDGs are also a byproduct of ethanol production which creates synergies in using enzymes for both biofuels and animal feed applications.
The Advanced Biofuels Markets conference is underway in San Francisco and many advanced biofuels companies have been making announcements. One of these companies is Cobalt Technologies who has announced that Bunge Global Innovation has joined its Cobalt’s Series E Preferred Stock round an a strategic investor.
The investment comes on the heels of Cobalt’s agreement with Bunge and specialty chemicals company Rhodia Poliamida e Especialidades Ltda. (“Rhodia”) to operate a pilot plant demonstrating the production of n-butanol utilizing sugarcane bagasse as feedstock at the Laboratório Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia do Bioetanol facility in Campinas, Brazil. The partners will also work together to develop a co-located, demonstration scale biorefinery at a Bunge sugarcane mill.
“We are pleased to have forged this strategic partnership with Bunge, one of the largest sugar producers in Brazil,” said Bob Mayer, CEO, Cobalt Technologies. “Bunge’s investment and supply of raw material for feedstock will allow us to begin demonstrating the value of our biobutanol technology and help unlock its potential.”
Ben Pearcy, Managing Director, Sugar & Bioenergy and Chief Development Officer of Bunge Limited, added, “Cobalt’s promising technology presents the opportunity to leverage Bunge’s sugarcane processing assets to produce new high-value products that diversify our revenue streams and enhance returns.”
SG Biofuels has expanded it global network of hybrid trial and agronomic research sites with the addition of eight new JMAX Knowledge Centers located in Brazil, Guatemala and India. The company is also expanding it production facility in Guatemala. Current trials are underway in San Diego, California. The company focuses on the the production of Jatropha for use in biofuels, biochemicals and biomaterials.
According to a company statement SG Biofuels’ hybrids are performing better compared to commercial varieties across multiple geographies in terms of plant vigor, health, flowering consistency, stress tolerance and yield. The success validates the ability to produce crude Jatropha oil for less than $99 per barrel in a range of growing conditions.
“The performance of our hybrids in multiple geographies not only validates the strength of our genetics, but our ability to deploy profitable energy crop projects around the world,” said Kirk Haney, president and chief executive officer. “Through our network of JMax Knowledge Centers, we are developing the highest performing hybrids of Jatropha while establishing best agronomic and production practices for deploying those hybrids at commercial scale.”
According to the company, JMax Knowledge Centers are professionally managed trials using experimental design and statistical analysis to evaluate hundreds of hybrids in a range of environmental and agronomic conditions. The centers serve as outdoor classrooms where SGB agronomists and technical teams conduct training and field tours with customers and growers, develop localized agronomic studies and recommendations and develop high performing Jatropha hybrids for commercial deployment. SGB’s hybrids have been developed following five years of research, drawing from a diverse germplasm library including more than 12,000 unique genotypes.
Hyrax Energy and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) have signed a licensing agreement for a renewable chemical and biofuel production method. The chemical process uses ionic liquids to break down cellulosic or non-food plant-based biomass without using enzymes or the need for pretreatment steps. The technology was developed with the aid of University of Wisconsin-Madison biochemistry professor and Hyrax founder, Ron Raines.
The company’s process creates fermentable sugars, which can be converted into a variety of chemicals, including fuels and plastics. Hyrax says the process developed avoids the need for costly pretreatment efforts typically used to overcome key problems with biomass including its water-insolubility and resistance to molecular deconstruction. The technology avoids these problems by employing ionic liquids to dissolve raw biomass from the beginning.
“Doing the entire conversion process in ionic liquids eliminates enzymes, pretreatment steps and harsh energy inputs and leads to a dramatic reduction in process complexity and capital intensity,” said Raines. Coupled with its scientific significance, the licensing of the new technology marks a major step toward commercializing this approach to biofuel production on an industrial scale.”
Raines said the paten-pending technology has been validated by third parties. He also said that the help of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) and WARF Accelerator Program helped to fund development of the technology and provide the intellectual property protection necessary to support the process of commercialization. Hyrax is the first company that is part of GLBRC to begin the process of commercialization and also won the 2012 Clean Energy Challenge sponsored by the Clean Energy Trust.