At the leading edge of lipid technology, scientists turn to the french fry of biofuels, acetates, to grow more renewable oils faster, cheaper.
Unsurprisingly, we find LanzaTech’s cohort of carbonpreneurs in Malaysia and especially India right in the thick of it.
Today’s hottest news comes from LanzaTech, and India’s Centre for Advanced Bio-Energy, which have partnered to create a new process for the direct conversion of waste CO2 into “drop-in” fuels through an acetates-to-lipids pathway.
LanzaTech had previously developed gas fermentation technology that can directly convert waste CO2 gases into acetates. The Centre for Advanced Bio-Energy, a joint venture between Indian Oil Corporation and the Indian government’s Department for Biotechnology is working to increase the production yield of lipids (oils) by “feeding” acetates to microalgae.
Two of the underlying economic challenges of the bioeconomy have remained the relative inefficiency of lipid production by terrestrial plants, and the high cost of sugars.
Between them, they have bedeviled the cost structures for “traditional” products processes such as biodiesel and ethanol — biodiesel has struggled with the high costs of traditional biobased oils (e.g. soybean oil), while ethanol has struggled with the cost of corn and cane sugars.
The “crush spread” — that is, the difference between the price of underlying sugars (and oils) and the fuels that they can replace can be a) insufficient to justify any production at all or b) a risky rollercoaster that many investors choose to bypass.
In addition to the difficulties experienced by first-generation biofuels companies – sugar is an underlying feedstock for companies like Amyris, LS9 and Solazyme, which have an array of downstream fuels and chemicals that can be derived from their processes. But observers have noted that the high cost of sugars has limited their opportunities in the mass market of fuels.
In today’s Digest, the search for low cost sugars or affordable alternatives; the problem of making commodities from commodities; lipids from acetates; the Two-Step Method; Why India, why now? and The Bottom Line, all via the page links below.
Category: Top Stories