High-Performance: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Avantium

The company is now safely emerged from its celebrated IPO, and is embarked on the development of the first commercial plant project with its JV partner BASF — so, its been a big period and even more critical thresholds lie ahead for Avantium.

Avantium’s YXY technology converts plant-based sugar into chemicals and plastics, including 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid, a precursor to the promising bioplastic polyethylene furanoate.

As the company observed, “In 2011, Avantium was the first company to build an FDCA pilot plant with a production capacity of 15 tons FDCA per annum. This pilot plant enabled Avantium to test PEF through its partners and to continue its process development efforts to improve the economics of the process and strengthen its engineering package in preparation for the scale up to commercial and industrial scale.”

Here we have combined a recent deck from CEO Tom van Aken with an illuminating overview by CCO Zanna McPherson from ABLC 2018 in Washington. to give a fuller picture company’s prospects and progress .

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ADM and DuPont team up to develop, produce and market cellulase enzymes

In Illinois, Archer Daniels Midland Company and DuPont Industrial Biosciences announced a collaboration to develop, produce and market cellulase enzymes for operators of grain-based ethanol plants.

Cellulase enzymes assist in hydrolyzing the corn kernel fiber, which consists mostly of cellulose and hemicellulose carbohydrates. Once the fiber is broken down, more sugars can be liberated and then fermented into ethanol, helping grain-based fuel ethanol producers get more out of existing feedstocks. As corn kernel fiber is part of a lower-value co-product stream, the potential to develop more valuable “Gen 1.5” ethanol is attractive. Ethanol from corn kernel fiber may qualify for D3 RINS under the Renewable Fuel Standard, which encourages producers to use technology in order to utilize non-starch components of grains and other waste products in the production of biofuels.

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ePure study shows European ethanol delivers 70% average GHG emissions savings

In Belgium, European renewable ethanol delivered an average of more than 70% greenhouse-gas savings compared to fossil fuels in 2017, according to new certified data from European ethanol producers.

The number represents the latest of a string of annual increases in the climate-change-fighting potential of European ethanol, which has shown improved performance every year since 2011.

Ethanol produced by ePURE members is refined from European feedstock and works at scale in today’s vehicle fleets. According to a new study from Ricardo Energy & Environment, Europe’s push to decarbonize road transport would benefit significantly from the use of low-carbon fuels such as renewable ethanol, especially with a high percentage of cars with internal combustion engines still on Europe’s roads for decades.

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Brazilian Senate approves bill allowing direct hydrous ethanol sales

In Brazil, RTT News reports that the country’s Senate has given the green light for direct hydrous ethanol sales to fuel stations in a 47-2 vote but the House is yet to give its approval. The idea is to cut out middlemen in an effort to lower prices at the pump but the bill only deals with hydrous and not anhydrous ethanol. Anhydrous ethanol is blended with gasoline so needs an intermediary, whereas hydrous can be sold directly without any gasoline.

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EPA could re-allocate RIN requirements during RVO announcement Friday

In Washington, Reuters reports that the Environmental Protection Agency could announce re-allotments of RIN requirements waived under the hardship waiver program to other refiners as early as Friday, a move that would reduce the potential 1.8 billion gallon ethanol glut left when smaller refiners were granted waivers. The EPA has tripled the volume of waivers approved this year compared to ordinary years. The announcement could come jointly with 2019 and 2020 renewable volume obligations that have passed through the White House and other agencies for approval.

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Growth Energy says E15 could boost ethanol demand by 350 million gallons by 2021

In Washington, more than 2,800 retail sites will offer E15 by 2021, generating approximately 350 million new ethanol gallons annually, according to a one-pager released by Growth Energy. The report touts the immense success of E15 and the accomplishments of Prime the Pump, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping build the infrastructure and distribution of higher biofuel blends, to give more and more Americans the choice of E15 at the pump.

“Thanks to the hard work and generosity of participants in the Prime the Pump program, American consumers can purchase E15 at more than 1,400 locations across 30 states,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “American drivers have logged more than 4 billion miles on E15, because when we give them a better option, consumers are choosing E15 again and again.”

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Federal grand jury indicts two Colorado business owners for biodiesel tax credit scam

In Colorado, a federal grand jury for the District of Colorado has returned an indictment, which was unsealed Wednesday, charging two Colorado business owners with conspiring to defraud the United States and to commit money laundering, money laundering and filing false claims, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

According to the indictment, Matthew Taylor and Martin Fields owned businesses in Colorado and New Jersey and allegedly conspired with the owner of a Colorado-based home heating oil business, Shintan, Inc., to file more than $7 million in false claims for refundable fuel tax credits with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  A refundable fuel tax credit called the “Biodiesel Mixture Credit” was available to blenders of biodiesel mixture who used the mixture as a fuel or sold it for use as fuel.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison on the conspiracy to defraud the government count, 5 years in prison on each false claim count, and 10 years in prison on the money laundering conspiracy count and each money laundering count.  They also face a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.  An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed.  A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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DOE announces $40 million for 31 microbe-based research projects benefiting biofuels and bioproducts

In Washington, on June 18 the U.S. Department of Energy announced $40 million in funding for 31 projects to advance research in the development of microbes as practical platforms for the production of biofuels and other bioproducts from renewable resources.

The projects will further the ongoing revolution in biology and biotechnology, and will increase our understanding of how nature’s sophisticated production capabilities at the cellular level can be harnessed to produce sustainable, clean, and efficient fuel as well as drive other industrial production processes.

Organisms under study range from yeast and fungi to cyanobacteria and rare thermophilic microbes that thrive at extremely high temperatures.  Products to be produced range from biofuels to alcohols to other valuable precursor chemicals with multiple possible downstream applications.

In addition to the projects focused on specific microorganisms, approximately one third of the projects are focused on developing and improving the essential imaging tools for this work of characterizing and modifying organisms on a microscopic scale.  Several of the projects also seek to enhance capabilities for real-time “in situ” imaging. This means observing in real-time how nature’s microscopic processes unfold in detail at the cellular level.

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Zimbabwe boosts ethanol blend to 20% thanks to increased supplies

In Zimbabwe, the government has pushed mandatory ethanol blending back up to 20% from the previous 15% to reflect increased supply availability of ethanol from Green Fuel. With gas prices currently running at $1.44 per liter, it is hoped that higher ethanol content will help to bring down consumer prices. Green Fuel remains the sole licensed supplier of ethanol for the domestic market although other producers like Triangle have been engaged for spot supplies at times. It is negotiating with the government to be a regular supplier.

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Taking off: Velocys, Shell, British Airways,  UK Government, New Energy Risk, Red Rock Biofuels, TCG Global, PQ, and Advanced Plasma Power figure in key renewable jet fuel project advances

New Energy Risk’s new performance insurance for TCG Global’s gasifiers and a significant project advance from Velocys in the UK are on the docket today. 

These companies and the news this morning are united as key project components in the Red Rock Biofuels project which breaks ground in Lakeview, Oregon next month, aiming to supply 15 million gallons per year of renewable jet fuel to FedEx, Southwest Airlines and potentially the US Navy, made from waste woody biomass. TCG supplies the gasifier system and Velocys microchannel FT technology is converting that syngas to fuels.

Let’s look at the news.

New Energy Risk Develops Performance Insurance For TCG Global and Red Rock project 

In California, New Energy Risk has created an insurance product for TCG Global that will cover TCG Global’s high-efficiency gasifier as it is field-tested and installed, beginning with the Red Rock Biofuels’ Lakeview, Oregon plant. 

In order to cover delivery and installation of its gasifiers and reduce uncertainty for new customers, TCG Global turned to New Energy Risk and its affiliates. New Energy Risk’s custom insurance solution not only accelerates time to market but also provides support for TCG Global in terms of warranting and insuring performance through delivery and startup of the gasifier. This support greatly mitigates the gasifier technology risk to project financing partners and other stakeholders.

We’ve seen New Energy Risk at work with other advanced projects in recent months. We reported several months back that NER provided Fulcrum BioEnergy with a technology performance insurance solution for Fulcrum’s Sierra BioFuels Plant near Reno that broke ground last month. Fulcrum recently raised $150 million in bond financing for the Sierra BioFuels project, and turned to New Energy Risk, an affiliate of global insurance giant XL Catlin, to provide a performance insurance product to support the financing. 

Velocys secures £4.9M for next stage of UK waste-to-jet fuel project from Shell, BA, UK gov’t

In the UK, Velocys has secured funding to deliver the next development phase of the waste-to-sustainable jet fuel project that the company is developing in the UK. A grant of £434k has been secured from the Department for Transport under the Future Fuels for Flight and Freight Competition. The award of this grant, together with ongoing policy support provided by the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, will help this innovative waste-to-fuels project bring jobs and clean growth to the UK. The project is being developed with the financial and technical support of Shell and British Airways, and £4.5m has been committed by the industry partners including Velocys.

The team is developing the engineering and business case for the construction of a first plant in the UK. Subject to a final investment decision, this plant will take hundreds of thousands of tonnes per year of post-recycled waste, destined for landfill or incineration, and convert it into clean-burning, sustainable fuels. The jet fuel produced, to be used by British Airways, is expected to deliver over 70% greenhouse gas reduction and 90% reduction in particulate matter emissions compared with conventional jet fuel. This would contribute to both carbon emissions reductions and local air quality improvements around major airports. The project partners expect to reach a final investment decision in the first half of 2020.

The next development stage will include detailed pre Front End Engineering and Design engineering study and site permitting activities. Advanced Plasma Power has been selected as preferred gasification technology licensor for this UK waste-to-fuels project. APP offers an efficient and tested solution for conversion of waste to synthesis gas (for onward conversion to fuels via Velocys’ Fischer-Tropsch process). 

In a boost to the long term commercial viability of the project, changes to the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation came into force on the 15 April 2018. For the first time, renewable jet fuel is to qualify for credits under the RTFO, providing long term policy support for sustainable aviation fuels.

Velocys, PQ Corporation Partner on catalyst supply

Meanwhile, Velocys has partnered with PQ Corporation for the supply of commercial quantities of Velocys’ proprietary catalyst to be used in multiple biorefineries incorporating its technology. PQ is a leading global provider of specialty catalysts, services, materials and chemicals for the refinery, emissions control and petrochemical industries.

Catalyst produced by PQ has already been used to successfully produce renewable transportation fuel and other products at ENVIA, the world’s first commercial smaller scale gas-to-liquids plant, which incorporates Velocys technology. In addition, PQ will manufacture the catalyst to be used by Velocys’ licensees as well as by the biorefinery projects that the company is developing with its industry partners, including the Red Rock Biofuels project and the proposed UK project.

Reaction from the New Energy Risk and Red Rock stakeholders

“New Energy Risk has been a tremendous partner for us,” said Creg Hughes, CEO of TCG Global. “Insurance was the critical element in supporting the performance of our gasifier, and no other team had the ability and dedication to understand our technology and creatively structure insurance around it, thereby creating a financeable product we could provide to Red Rock Biofuels.”

“TCG’s gasifier presents the best gasification technology for producing fuels with this feedstock,” said Jeff Manternach, CFO of Red Rock Biofuels, “However, at this first commercial scale, the financing partners wanted additional security around the performance of the technology. New Energy Risk’s insurance solution completed the package, allowing us to move forward.”

“Our team at New Energy Risk, with the support of our XL Catlin insurance affiliate, has developed extensive expertise in gasification technologies and is deeply dedicated to bringing TCG’s best-in-class gasifiers to market, at scale, beginning with Red Rock Biofuels this year,” said Tom Dickson, CEO of New Energy Risk. “TCG Global is one of the leaders in gasification technology and we look forward to supporting their roll-out and fostering increased customer adoption.”

 

Reaction from Velocys, Shell, British Airways and the UK government

“Today the UK has taken another step forward towards becoming a world leader in low carbon aviation,” said David Pummell, CEO of Velocys. “Government funding, recent policy changes and successful completion of the feasibility study have enabled Velocys and its partners to move forward to the next phase in developing the UK’s first waste-to-renewable jet fuel plant. With Shell and British Airways we have a terrific set of partners to complete the project.”

“We are very pleased that the Government has recognized the importance of alternative fuels for aviation,“ said British Airways CEO Alex Cruz, “and has supported our joint project with Velocys which will help to reduce carbon emissions and create UK jobs and growth.”

“Shell’s ambition is to be a leader in advancing the sustainable solutions that can deliver a low carbon future for the aviation industry,” said Anne Anderson, Vice-President Shell Aviation. “In addition to combining innovative technologies with a diverse set of technical expertise and industry backgrounds, this project brings together partners across the aviation industry that share this aim. Biofuels can play a valuable role in a future low carbon energy system, and especially in sectors like aviation where the alternatives to liquid fuels are limited.”

“The waste-to-jet fuel project has the potential to help transform the aviation industry” said Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, “by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the air quality around our country’s airports. That is why we are providing support to this important technology as part of our £22 million of funding for alternative fuels, which will pave the way for clean growth in the UK. Supporting important developments like this is just part of our work to help ensure our aviation sector is greener than ever, and we will explore further measures as part of our Aviation Strategy.”

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Inventure Renewables implements Mixed Super Critical Fluid technology at Chinese Wilmar biodiesel plant

In Alabama, Inventure Renewables has announced the successful implementation and nearly year-long operation of its Mixed Super Critical Fluid technology at a Wilmar International processing plant in Jiangsu province, China. The technology is being used to produce FAME for oleochemicals and biodiesel from a wide range of vegetable oil feedstocks.

“The launch of the plant in Taizhou, China is a validation of our MSCF technology’s scalability to a commercial level,” said Mark Tegen, chief executive officer of Inventure. “The plant is an example of the end-to-end, customized solutions Inventure provides for agribusiness.”

“Inventure has worked closely with us throughout the integration of their technology at our Jiangsu plant,” said Rahul Kale, Group Head of Oleochemicals and Biofuels at Wilmar International Limited. “We are beginning to realize tangible returns from the use of Inventure’s technology.”

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Royal DSM introduces eBOOST™ to boost ethanol yields

In New Jersey, Royal DSM introduced eBOOST™, a complete solution for ethanol producers seeking higher yield and significantly reduced glycerol production in starch conversion processes. The launch took place at the annual Fuel Ethanol Workshop (fuelethanolworkshop.com) in Omaha, Nebraska, USA (11-13 June 2018). Developed by DSM’s Bio-based Products & Services business, the solution includes yeast; a license to proprietary, patented technology; and technical service from DSM’s local team.

To establish the comprehensive viability of this solution, DSM undertook several full-scale application trials. The trials demonstrated that the solution enables a step change in performance for the ethanol market, increasing ethanol yields up to 6% and reducing glycerol formation more effectively than other industry-standard yeast products. This superior performance was demonstrated during continuous use over extensive periods, resulting in clear benefits to plant owners and managers looking to improve their plant economics and reduce energy consumption to make them more competitive and profitable.

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Brazilian mills hit hard during recent truckers strike

In Brazil, Reuters reports that sugar mills could have processed 13 million metric tons more cane during the last half of May were it not for the truckers strike that also kept more than 300,000 tons from being exported or supplied to the local market. Ethanol production fell to 1.74 billion liters during the period compared to 2.07 billion liters during the first half of the month. Ethanol continues to be more economically viable for mills than sugar production so they are likely to continue favoring ethanol during the next crushing period.

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Construction of Bharat Petroleum’s 2G ethanol plant to begin by August

In India, construction of Bharat Petroleum Corporation’s $148 million cellulosic ethanol plant in Bargarh is set to begin in July or August following delays due to the Odisha authorities failing to grant the land required for the facility. The plant is expected to use straw and other biomass as feedstock. It is one of several cellulosic plants planned by oil marketing companies to help produce enough ethanol to satisfy the future 22% ethanol blending mandate.

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NATSO launches Alternative Fuels Council

In Washington, NATSO Inc. on June 12 launched a new business venture known as the Alternative Fuels Council (NATSOAltFuels.com) to help fuel retailers leverage the resources necessary to learn about and incorporate alternative fuels into their supply offerings.

The Alternative Fuels Council will work with members of the truckstop and travel plaza community and other fuel retailers to navigate the litany of state and federal fuel regulations, and to utilize available government incentives for alternative fuels, including the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Alternative Fuels Council will also help its partners implement profitable strategies related to alternative fuel supply options and fuel infrastructure.

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Kansas ethanol plant fire leads to evacuation of neighboring houses

In Kansas, residents four miles north and four miles west of the EGE Products ethanol plant near Minneola were evacuated Tuesday following a fire that broke out and took four hours to get under control. Local fire officials were concerned smoke, especially chemicals potentially present in the smoke, could cause health problems for people nearby. Fewer than 10 homes were evacuated, however. No cause of the fire or what damage was caused has been reported as of yet.

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Researchers find way to improve electron transfer in enzymatic biofuel cells

In Asia, team of researchers with members from institutions in Singapore, China and the U.K. has found a way to improve electron transfer in enzymatic biofuel cells. In their paper published in the journal Nature Energy, they describe their technique and how well it works. Huajie Yin and Zhiyong Tang with Griffith University in Australia and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in China, offer a News & Views piece on the work done by the team in the same journal issue.

Enzymatic biofuel cells are, as their name implies, a type of fuel cell based on enzymes as catalysts instead of expensive metals. Because of their potential, scientists have been eager to find ways to overcome problems that have inhibited commercial applications—they are expected to be much cheaper to make than those now in use.

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EPA administrator believes he has statutory right to approve year-round E15

In Iowa, Reuters reports that the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency said during a charm offensive in the Midwest that he believes his agency has the statutory authority to grant year-round E15 sales, a process that would require rulemaking along with a notice and comment period. The administrator has come under heavy fire for being anti-ethanol despite President Trump insisting that his administration is in favor of the fuel. Farm states have strongly called for his resignation as a result of what are seen as anti-ethanol policies such as boosting the amount of hardship waivers for oil refineries.

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The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of June 21st, 2018

The pace of invention and change is just too strong, we’ve realized, to highlight annual or even quarterly or monthly rankings and summaries of significant product and service advances. For now, we’re going to be tracking these on a weekly basis to keep pace with the changes. Here are the top innovations for the week of June 21st.

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Succinic’s next season: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to BioAmber

BioAmber’s Mission? To be a fast growing producer of chemical intermediates that uses sugars instead of fossil fuels and sells competitively priced, sustainable chemicals with strong profit margins and the cleanest environmental footprint in the industry.

In this overview of the company’s progress and promise, we’ve combined the most recent ABLC presentation by CEO Rick Eno and the most recent corporate overview.

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