Helena Tavares Kennedy – Biofuels Digest http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest The world's most widely-read advanced bioeconomy daily Sun, 14 Jul 2019 22:53:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 Designer proteins lay foundation for engineered nano-scale circuits, sensors and filters http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/07/14/designer-proteins-lay-foundation-for-engineered-nano-scale-circuits-sensors-and-filters/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 16:01:36 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=108393

In Washington, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Washington School of Medicine demonstrated that artificial proteins engineered from scratch were assembled into nanorod arrays, designer filaments and honeycomb lattices on the surface of mica, demonstrating control over the way proteins interact with surfaces to form complex structures previously seen only in natural protein systems.

The study provides a foundation for understanding how protein-crystal interactions can be systematically programmed. This sets the stage for designing novel protein-inorganic hybrid materials.

The goal of the research was to engineer artificial proteins to self-assemble on a crystal surface by creating an exact match between the pattern of amino acids in the protein and the atoms of the crystal. The ability to program these interactions could enable the design of new biomimetic materials with customized colors, chemical reactivity or mechanical properties, or to serve as scaffolds for nano-scale filters, solar cells or electronic circuits.

India’s Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways pushes for biofuels http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/07/14/indias-union-minister-for-road-transport-and-highways-pushes-for-biofuels/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 16:00:26 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=108391

In India, at an event on Friday celebrating the launch of India’s first ethanol based motorcycle, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, spoke of how the use of biofuels, like ethanol and butanol in particular, could help India’s GDP growth and save foreign exchange, according to The Week.

The Week reports that Gadkari said, “Oil imports cost India Rs 7 lakh crores every year, at the same time there is pollution also. But bio-fuels like ethanol and butanol (which can be used in planes) can be extracted from sugar cane and used in vehicles and aircraft. This is time for the country to replace the Rs 40,000 crore we spend on importing aviation petroleum, and replace it with (locally produced) butanol, it is cheaper and standards have already been finalised. Boeing, Bombardier, Airbus all have the capability. This will solve the problems of the aviation industry.”

Gadkari also said at the event that he was going to ask the petroleum ministry to allow ethanol fueling stations at regular pumps, according to The Week.

Palm and soybean oil lose a lot of ground http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/07/14/palm-and-soybean-oil-lose-a-lot-of-ground/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 15:58:56 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=108387

In Germany, UFOP reports that the vegetable oil price index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) dropped 12 per cent over the past marketing year and is currently at a level lower than that recorded in December 2018.

The FAO vegetable price index shows the changes in international prices for ten different vegetable oils, weighted with their export shares in world trade. Following a slight rise in the first half year 2019, the index declined 6 points to 126 points. This translates to a 1.6 per cent decrease from the previous month and also the lowest level since December 2018. The decline is due to the slide in palm and soybean oil prices. International prices for palm oil at the Kuala Lumpur exchange dropped just less than 10 per cent over the past 6 months, Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI) has reported. The reason was sluggish demand on the global market on which the largest palm oil producing countries, Indonesia and Malaysia, account for almost 90 per cent of palm oil supplies. Seasonal growth in output in Southeast Asia also had a negative impact on the market. Prices of soybean oil also flagged, because low export prospects and forecasts of adequate global supply generated pressure.

In contrast, prices of sunflower and rapeseed oil did not follow the downward trend. The reason was continued buoyant demand based on expectations of smaller harvests in key countries of origin.

Indian producers investigate Philippines ethanol model during GBEP Bioenergy Week http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/07/14/indian-producers-investigate-philippines-ethanol-model-during-gbep-bioenergy-week/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 15:57:25 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=108385

In the Philippines, the seventh annual Bioenergy Week of the Global Bioenergy Partnership provided an opportunity for the U.S. Grains Council to highlight how the government and private industry in the Philippines cooperate to promote ethanol to a delegation of sugar-based ethanol producers from India.

While in the Philippines, the Indian delegation had side meetings with industry, university and government representatives to discuss the two-tier system and how public-private work has achieved cost-savings and environmental benefits – both important considerations for India.

“If India would implement an E10 blending mandate using domestic and imported ethanol, similar to the Philippines, cost-savings could range between $2.87 to $3.12 billion,” said Amit Sachdev, USGC consultant in India. “A consistent availability of ethanol across the country will not only save money, but also ensure lower particulate matter, improving air quality.”

Access to the fuel sector would also benefit global ethanol exporters. The country is already the third largest market for U.S. ethanol, despite only importing ethanol for industrial uses. India has imported 163.3 million gallons (57.9 million bushels in corn equivalent) of U.S. ethanol in 2018/2019, a 32 percent increase that continues an upward trend over the last five marketing years.

Avantium CFO Frank Roerink to step down at the end of 2019 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/07/14/avantium-cfo-frank-roerink-to-step-down-at-the-end-of-2019/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 15:56:08 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=108383

In the Netherlands, Avantium’s CFO and member of the Management Board, Frank Roerink, will leave the company at the end of 2019. He will continue to fulfill his responsibilities for the remainder of the year. This allows the company to start looking for a successor.

Kees Verhaar, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, said, “As Avantium enters the next chapter of executing its strategy to commercialize its renewable chemical technologies, we concluded that this phase requires a different composition of the Management Board. For more than twelve years, Frank has played a vital role in building Avantium as a leading company in renewable chemistry. As our CFO, he was invaluable in securing solid funding needed for the investments towards a fossil-free world and preparing the company for its successful listing in 2017.”

NEXT signs agreement with labor union for operating renewable fuels plant http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/07/14/next-signs-agreement-with-labor-union-for-operating-renewable-fuels-plant/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 15:54:35 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=108381

In Oregon, NEXT Renewable Fuels signed a peace agreement with UFCW 555, agreeing to remain neutral in any future union organizing efforts for operating staff at their planned biofuels manufacturing plant at Port Westward in Columbia County. The agreement allows future NEXT plant workers and UFCW representatives to work together during any future organizing and collective bargaining process.

“Our biofuels plant cannot be built or operated properly without skilled workers. That’s why we previously agreed to work with regional trade unions for the hiring of union and non‐union labor to construct our facility. Our agreement with UFCW 555 extends our commitment to let local unions meet with our future employees to discuss their mutual desire to work together,” said Lou Soumas, president, NEXT Renewable Fuels.

NEXT is planning an advanced biofuels facility at Port Westward in Columbia County to produce biofuels made from renewable plant feedstock. Initially when the facility opens in 2021, NEXT will produce more than 37,500 barrels/day of advanced biofuels, growing to more than 50,000 barrels/day at full capacity. The facility will produce mostly Advanced Green Diesel, plus a small amount of Renewable Propane and Renewable Naphtha.

Lyonsdale Biomass facility to be dismantled, looking for prospects http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/07/14/lyonsdale-biomass-facility-to-be-dismantled-looking-for-prospects/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 15:52:52 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=108379

In New York, the Lyonsdale Biomass energy facility will be dismantled this summer and the vacant 46-acre property will be transferred to the Lewis County Industrial Development Agency, and ReEnergy will work with the Lewis County IDA to market the site and share prospect leads, according to the Lewis County IDA press release.

The 22-megawatt biomass-to-electricity energy facility had used biomass material from logging operations and local sawmills to produce an average of 162,000 MWh of electricity per year, enough to supply approximately 21,000 homes. The facility also had supplied process steam to the adjacent Twin Rivers paper mill when requested and its ash by-product was used by local farmers as fertilizer.

“We believe this property can be an effective asset for future economic development in Lewis County. Prospective developers, potentially in the forestry or energy production industries, will find this property attractive for business growth,” said Eric Virkler, executive director of the Lewis County Industrial Development Agency.

Under the terms of the agreement, “There are multiple parties who have shown an interest in developing the site, and the interconnection to the electricity grid makes the site of interest to solar developers,” said ReEnergy Chief Executive Officer Larry D. Richardson. “We also have been in talks with biofuel companies that are interested in siting a biorefinery in New York State.”

Green Biologics closes Minnesota butanol and acetone plant http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/07/14/green-biologics-closes-minnesota-butanol-and-acetone-plant/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 15:50:50 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=108376

In Minnesota, UK-based Green Biologics Limited is winding down operations and closing the Little Falls, Minnesota plant that produces renewable butanol and acetone. Just last year, the company was working with Florida-based Kreussler on a corn-based dry cleaning solvent, as reported in NUU in June 2018, and was working on selling ingredients for a biobased nail polish remover and barbecue lighter fluid.

The statement on their website home page states:

“After a detailed review, the Board of Green Biologics Limited (GBL) has concluded that it is not possible to secure funding to enable it to continue with its plan to build up sales and production levels of renewable butanol and acetone at the Group’s Little Falls, Minnesota plant to the point of cash break-even. Accordingly, given this withdrawal of financial support, the Board and Managements of its subsidiary companies, Green Biologics, Inc., and Central Minnesota Renewables LLC have commenced an orderly closure of operations and wind-down of those corporations for and subject to any actions by their creditors. In the short term the Board of GBL will be considering strategic options for the future of GBL.”

Yum, yum, CO2 in my tum – NovoNutrients moves forward with CO2 to fish feed plans http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/07/14/yum-yum-co2-in-my-tum-novonutrients-moves-forward-with-co2-to-fish-feed-plans/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 15:45:23 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=108368

Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but show him how to make fish food from CO2 and he’s got fish for a lifetime. That’s what NovoNutrients is working on to solve the huge global fishmeal supply/demand issue in the aquaculture industry. You may have seen in the Digest’s “Breaking News” story on Friday, NovoNutrients is moving forward towards their goal of transforming industrial waste CO2 into feed, initially for the fast-growing aquaculture sector, thanks to a $300,000 investment from the U.S. Department of Energy.

But that’s not all. The Digest caught up with NovoNutrients leadership and got the scoop on future plans beyond the protein meal business and into Novoceutical – we are talking feed additives like: enzymes, carotenoids, vitamins, and other high-value biochemicals relevant to animal nutrition.

In today’s Digest, an in-depth look at the fishmeal supply and demand issue, the technology behind NovoNutrients high-protein NovoMeal, why the partnership with NREL, what this DOE funding is doing to move things forward towards commercialization, a look into the crystal ball of NovoNutrients’ future, and more.

The supply/demand issue

‘There’s a lot of fish in the sea’ is something you have probably heard at least once in your life, maybe from your Mom after a break up or a best friend as they handed you a spoon and ice cream carton. But are there really a lot of fish in the sea?

It all comes down to supply and demand…more fish total demand (apparently we really like our salmon and bass!) but less fishmeal supply.

Less wild fish are being caught (because there are less of them out there and there is higher demand for seafood globally) and more and more fish are being raised via aquaculture to try and meet the higher demand for the tasty sea creatures that humans love so much. But with more aquaculture, there is more demand for fishmeal to feed them. But supply is not keeping up with the demand, so the price is going up, up and away.

Check out NovoNutrients data below to get a visual on the whole supply and demand issue.

So how do you feed all those fish? How do you meet the increasing demand when supply is so low for fish meal?

How to feed the fish?

The days of mobsters ‘feeding you to the fish’ are over so there goes that idea. NovoNutrients has a much better, and legal, idea…taking CO2 and converting it into high-protein feed. How can they do that?

Let’s get techy. To start, NREL’s existing aerobic bioreaction CFD models will be adapted to NovoNutrients’ gas fermentation (CO2, H2, O2) technology. The multiphysics CFD simulations require thousands of high performance computing node hours to simulate the complex geometries and contents of NovoNutrients’ industrial bioreactors. The experimentally validated CFD models will be used to identify optimally efficient and productive bioreactor designs and operating conditions. Robust, physically-based computational models of the technology will significantly increase productivity and efficiency, accelerating NovoNutrients’ technology to manufacturing scale.

“This project supports DOE’s goals for expanding the use of hydrogen in the economy and for making maximal use of fossil fuel energy and other scarce resources,” said Tze. “Without this model, our technology development would rely more on time consuming trial & error experiments, resulting in additional development cycles and less efficient, higher cost, sub-optimal designs.”

“Using energy from hydrogen, we transform waste carbon – primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) from untreated industrial emissions – into protein and other high-value products for the aquaculture and animal feed industries,” Tze told The Digest. “In doing so, we address three enormous challenges: the rising costs of feed ingredients for meat and seafood at a time when global consumption is increasing substantially; depletion of the world’s fisheries; and climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. The technology is based on high productivity, energy efficient microbial bio-factories that produce nutrition from CO2 and renewable energy. In creating carbon negative, high value products from low value, problematic wastes, we see a path to worldwide expansion of our manufacturing plants.”

Tze told The Digest that their plants can even be carbon negative if powered by renewable energy. “Our technology has the potential to dramatically increase the energy efficiency and productivity of feed and food production in the United States,” said Tze. “Relative to protein produced by conventional agriculture, a single manufacturing plant will be up to 1000x more productive and 100x more energy efficient. If powered by renewable energy, our plants will be carbon negative, capturing up to 1.9 tons of CO2 per ton of feed produced.”


NREL has unique capabilities for creating and running such computational models. “The high performance computing resources and computational fluid dynamic modeling expertise of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will enable us to develop critical in-silico tools which will improve and accelerate our development of better gas fermentation bioreactors at scale,” Brian Sefton, CTO, Founder, and President of NovoNutrients told The Digest.

NovoNutrients and NREL are looking for others to work with as well to speed things up to commercialization.

“Our business will be increasingly dependent on successful partnerships: strategic project financing from animal nutrition companies, pilots with CO2 emitters, relationships with hydrogen producers and hydrogen production technology companies, long-term cooperation with EPC firms, broad collaboration with multi-industry conglomerates, working with cutting edge synbio tools, and a wide variety of collaborative research with institutions and other SMEs,” said David Tze, NovoNutrients’ CEO.

The DOE funding

The $300K in funding from DOE is key to move things forward for NovoNutrients because it will allow their modeling to be done at least a year earlier than they would have otherwise, according to Tze. “The alternative would have been to wait to initiate until after we’d completed a Series A venture round.”

Sefton told The Digest that this grant has a big impact for next steps. “Converting CO2 into new products through gas fermentation presents a number of complex engineering problems,” said Sefton. “This grant will allow the gas fermentation experience we have at Novonutrients to be combined with the expertise and high performance computing capabilities of NREL to push forward the ability to model these systems. Application of this computational fluid dynamic modeling work will accelerate the development and deployment our CO2 to new product technology.”

A single NovoNutrients’ commercial manufacturing plant will capture and convert over 200,000 tons/yr of CO2 into over 100,000 tons/yr of high-protein feed. Key to the rapid and widespread deployment of the technology is maximization of its productivity and energy efficiency.

That’s big news for aquaculture which is desperate to meet its increasing demand for fishmeal.

What the future holds

If we could look into a crystal ball, what would we see for NovoNutrients? Tze gave The Digest an exclusive glimpse into what their plans are for the future.

“In a year, we should be able to talk about a specific market introduction plant site,” said Tze. “That will be a facility where we’d make commercial volumes of Novoceuticals and early volumes of Novomeal. Beyond the protein meal business, we are also building another product family on that same platform: Novoceuticals. That’s what we’ve dubbed our line of feed additives: enzymes, carotenoids, vitamins, and other high-value biochemicals relevant to animal nutrition. Some of that we can achieve through our IP for manipulating the membership of our consortium. Other products will require the application of synbio tools. We’ll have both natural and GMO products in our line-up.”

“Three years after that, we anticipate being active with a mass production plant for a version of Novomeal that has significantly more nutritional value per ton than fishmeal, but sells for less. The feed markets will be mainstream aquaculture and pets, as well as specialty poultry and swine. Also, plant-based protein foodtech companies will be knocking on our door, looking for natural ingredients to replace the relatively expensive and low nutrition-soy and pea protein in their increasingly popular burgers and other vegetarian-friendly products.”

Bottom Line

We see no reason why mobsters need to start feeding the fish again as NovoNutrients is getting closer to commercialization with NREL and DOE’s help. It seems they found a win-win-win solution to the environmental issue of CO2 and converting it into something valuable and useful that we don’t have enough of to meet aquaculture’s demand. Even better is that they are already looking outside aquaculture and seeing the possibilities beyond.

NovoNutrients gets $300K from DOE program for CO2 to feed technology http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/07/11/novonutrients-gets-300k-from-doe-program-for-co2-to-feed-technology/ Thu, 11 Jul 2019 23:56:52 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=108360

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $600,000 in federal funding for two projects that fall under the High Performance Computing for Materials (HPC4Mtls) program. 

One of the projects caught The Digest’s eye in particular – California-based NovoNutrients‘ fermentation technology which utilizes energy from hydrogen to transform industrial carbon dioxide emissions into premium animal feed ingredients and other valuable products. NovoNutrients will partner with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to improve CFD models in order to identify efficient and productive bioreactor designs and operating conditions for NovoNutrients’ fermentation technology. The project that received DOE funding today is called, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Simulation of Aerobic Gas Fermentation to Enable Commercial Conversion of CO2 into Aquaculture and Animal Feed.

FE Contribution: $300,000

The projects represent the first joint round of funding for the High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation (HPC4EI) initiative, the umbrella program for the HPC4Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) and HPC4Materials (HPC4Mtls) programs.  The HPC4Mtls program is funded through DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office and Vehicle Technologies Office, with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as the lead laboratory. This program includes participation from eight DOE partner laboratories, including: Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, National Energy Technology Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratory.

The HPC4Mtls program aims to leverage the national laboratories’ world-class computational resources to advance the President’s energy agenda and increase American competitiveness.  More specifically, the program aims to utilize the high performance computing (HPC) technology of DOE’s National Laboratories to help the industry develop new or improved materials that can withstand extreme conditions.  The projects selected under this program will have access to DOE’s HPC laboratory facilities, in addition to the laboratories’ expertise in modeling, simulation, and data analysis.

Get more details and an in-depth look at NovoNutrients in Monday’s Digest.