Jim Lane – Biofuels Digest http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest The world's most widely-read advanced bioeconomy daily Thu, 19 Sep 2019 16:49:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.11 The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to the bioeconomy MEGATRENDS http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/09/19/the-digests-2019-multi-slide-guide-to-the-bioeconomy-megatrends/ Thu, 19 Sep 2019 16:49:43 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=111426

What are the MEGATRENDS? What are the forces shaping the economy, new markets, the carbon agenda, the pursuit of new products and more. The Digest’s Jim Lane gave these slides in the opening remarks at the MEGATRENDS panel at the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit in Orlando.


Heard on the Floor at the Algae Biomass Summit http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/09/18/heard-on-the-floor-at-the-algae-biomass-summit-2/ Wed, 18 Sep 2019 20:52:18 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=111407

We know this about algae. They’re small, they die off quickly in great numbers, and every time you look around there’s more of them coming, there’s more diversity every day, but the pace of algae birth (think minutes) exceeds the pace of algae evolution (think millennia).

Pretty much sums up the algae industry these days. Couple of good trends to point to:

1. Lot more emphasis on farms and farming these days. It’s still an industry dominated by people in white coats, but there are some more overalls around the ABS than we’ve ever seen before.

2. A little more emphasis on commercial apps can be seen, but it’s not exactly Hollywood-grade product marketing, yet. Not as many blue blazers and khaki marketing mavens as one would like to see.

3. Food, food, food. Algae technology fits the food cost profile better than other large sectors such as fuels or commodity chemicals, and the industry has learned a lot about mouth feel, odor and taste profiles. And more than a few have noticed companies like Beyond Meat headed towards the valuation stratosphere, and said, “hey, algae’s vegan, too”. But when you look at Corbion’s progress with AlgaPrime DHA product line, you begin to realize that the industry is out of diapers now. Algae is a crop, and food is the anciently obvious thing we do with crops. Algama says that consumers are looking for new products, large companies are losing big, innovation is being outsourced, and algae has a big opportunity. Barriers include the high cost of biomass, taste factors and a lack of products (so far) meeting market demands.

4. Clean my water! There are more people at ABS shopping water purification systems than actually buying them but the offerings are stronger now, the technologies more mature.

5. Investors are a little on the scarce side. Still an awful lot of DOE money powering this sector, which keeps companies from actually shouting “fuels are impossible” from the algae rooftops, but sometimes you get the impression that fuels people are putting up the money for food technologies. An interesting development for those readers who survived food vs fuel.

6. News arrived that Cellana, ASU LightWorks and the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation have expanded on a partnership which first began with the Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership. Under a new MOU, Cellana’s proprietary algae strains will continue to be maintained at AzCATI and available for potential joint R&D by the parties to optimize the performance of such strains, as well as for evaluation by potential investors and strategic partners of Cellana and other third parties. Concurrently with the MOU, Cellana has entered into a Material Transfer Agreement with AzCATI to make certain of Cellana’s proprietary algae strains available to third parties for testing.

7. News arrived that DOE selected the St. Louis-based Danforth Center to lead Deep Green, a multi-institutional collaboration that will predict functions for hundreds of uncharacterized plant genes that could be important to stress tolerance in a range of potential bioenergy crops. They are starting from a set of hundreds of “Deep Green” genes that are shared among land plants and their green algal relatives, but with unknown functions. These Deep Green genes are likely to play important roles in photosynthetic cells, but have not previously been studied. Stress and drought tolerance are among the targets.

8. In Japan, Mazda is working on carbon-neutral biofuel by giving funding to the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Hiroshima University so researchers can look at genome editing and plant physiology, including microalgae specifically for biofuel. Autocar reported that “Mazda anticipates a gradual transition to biofuel, if that path is taken, with both fuels coexisting for a period until engineered fuel usurps petrol.” Mazda is also preparing to launch its first electric vehicle as it looks to alternative ways to lower the automobiles carbon footprint. As reported in The Digest in November 2018, Mazda as well as several other car manufacturers are looking at algae as an alternative fuel for vehicles.

9. Biomar says that the future of aqua feeds includes more single cell protein and more ingredients from lower trophic levels, and the majority of the diet will still be vegetable.

10. From the Philippines we are receiving reports that OrbitX, the country’s first space start-up, is developing reusable rockets that will be fueled by liquid methane produced from biogas that uses algae as feedstock. The rockets will fly on a mixture of liquid methane with liquid oxygen. The Philippines recently created a national space agency but those launches are handled by international agencies due to lack of domestic capacity so the startup is looking to fill that gap.

A juicer that turns peels into bioplastic cups, shellfish plastic, White Dog Labs’ feed supplement, eucalyptus fiber and wool sneakers, plant starch dog toys, and more: The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of September 19th http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/09/18/a-juicer-that-turns-peels-into-bioplastic-cups-shellfish-plastic-white-dog-labs-feed-supplement-eucalyptus-fiber-and-wool-sneakers-plant-starch-dog-toys-and-more-the-digests-to/ Wed, 18 Sep 2019 20:51:01 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=111405

It seems that plastic is in the news daily between bag bans, straw bans and even Ray-Bans. But there are companies out there tackling the plastic problem with alternatives like the new “Feel the Peel” juicer that turns orange peels into bioplastic cups by drying, milling, and mixing the peels with polylactic acid and 3D printing the cups. Or marine biotech company that is scaling up production of bioplastic produce packaging made with crustacean shells. Get these and more innovations for the week of September 19th.

In today’s Digest, a juicer that turns peels into bioplastic cups, shellfish plastic, White Dog Labs’ feed supplement, eucalyptus fiber and wool sneakers, plant starch dog toys — these and more, ready for you now at The Digest online.

#1 “Feel the Peel” juicer turns orange peels into bioplastic cups

In Italy, design firm Carlo Ratti Associati and energy major Eni are touring a juice machine that turns orange peels into bioplastic cups. Dubbed “Feel the Peel,” the prototype turns the orange peels into filament by drying, milling, and mixing the peels with polylactic acid. After heating, the filament is then used to 3D prints cups. All the steps take place within the 3-meter tall machine, which can hold 1,500 oranges.

Feel the Peel will tour various public places around Italy to raise awareness of the circular economy concept.

“The principle of circularity is a must for today’s objects,” Carlo Ratti, founding partner at CRA and director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tells dexigner.com. “Working with Eni, we tried to show circularity in a very tangible way, by developing a machine that helps us to understand how oranges can be used well beyond their juice. The next iterations of Feel the Peel might include new functions, such as printing fabric for clothing from orange peels.”
More on the story, here.

Design and Deconstruction: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Recycling and Upcycling Plastics http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/09/18/design-and-deconstruction-the-digests-2019-multi-slide-guide-to-recycling-and-upcycling-plastics/ Wed, 18 Sep 2019 20:49:45 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=111380

We all know plastics are an issue but could there be a solution with a circular carbon economy for plastics? That’s exactly what BETO is looking at with biobased designs for recyclability, reduced use, improved properties, and anaerobic digestion and composting. They are asking what can we make when we are no longer limited by the constraints of a petroleum starting material? Check out what Jay had to say, as part of the 2019 BETO Peer Review, of the opportunities in terms of design and deconstruction with biobased plastics and bioproducts, and more.

Will the RFS Deal Protect Innovation and Our Planet? http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/09/17/will-the-rfs-deal-protect-innovation-and-our-planet/ Tue, 17 Sep 2019 22:54:38 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=111361

Stephanie Batchelor, Vice President, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)

Special to The Digest

As we speculate on the details and implications of the administration’s renewable fuels deal, the future of an entire green industry hangs in the balance.

The debate over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has become muddied with rhetoric about special interests and government handouts while energy innovation and the health of our planet are being held hostage.

If the administration, as rumored, increases the 2020 volumes for conventional and advanced biofuels, that would be welcome news and a move that might help smooth over some of the fury caused by the recent announcement of refinery waivers issued to oil companies under the RFS.

Unfortunately – as long as lost gallons from these exemptions are not reallocated in 2020 – that increase would do nothing to provide meaningful relief to American farmers and biofuel producers who are already experiencing significant hardship.

World Energy, a low-carbon fuel supplier with operations across the country, has already announced it will be closing plants in Georgia, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania as a result of the administration’s waiver decision. And POET announced that it will be closing a 92-million-gallon ethanol plant in Cloverdale, Indiana.

Plant shutdowns like this illustrate the vast impact RFS waivers have on U.S. energy production and local economies. And these impacts are wide reaching. Along with the loss of jobs and industry, investment and development of new technologies grinds to a halt. But waivers aren’t the only villain here.

Couple this with continued delays in the approval of new biofuel pathways and registrations for production facilities, clean-burning biofuels are sitting dormant waiting to be unleashed.

These include advanced biofuels that can decarbonize our roadways and skies, including those made from agricultural residues, industrial waste gases – even algae. And many of these feedstocks are produced in rural communities.

The administration needs to uphold the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard by providing a solution that encourages investment in clean energy innovation.

As long as pathways for such advanced biofuels remain unapproved and unnecessary regulatory exemptions go unchecked, our investment in green energy erodes. Similar to the stock market, uncertainty serves as a repellent to investment and, ultimately, growth.

The current administration – as well as any candidate campaigning on the issue of climate change – has an opportunity to secure our energy independence, reduce environmental impact, bolster rural economies, and protect American farmers.

If we truly embrace a renewable fuels future, we can put our country and our planet first.

Stephanie Batchelor is a vice president at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), which represents biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers, and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations.


Replacing the Barrel: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Conversion Technologies http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/09/17/replacing-the-barrel-the-digests-2019-multi-slide-guide-to-conversion-technologies/ Tue, 17 Sep 2019 22:51:48 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=111293

Developing efficient and economical biological and chemical technologies to convert biomass feedstocks into energy-dense liquid transportation fuels, such as renewable gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, as well as bioproducts, chemical intermediates, and biopower is the primary goal of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Conversion R&D team.

As part of the 2019 BETO Peer Review, Program Manager of Conversion R&D Kevin Craig shared what BETO’s conversion team’s goals, their portfolio structure and budget, and how they are trying to enable cost-competitive (<$3/GGE) lignocellulosic biofuels in the near term (~5-10 years), the Chemistry Catalysis for Bioenergy, ChemCatBio, approach DFA and DFO success stories with Vertimass and others, cell-free synthetic biology and biocatalysis and more.

Joules for Schools: Middlebury College leads trend towards renewable natural gas on the campus http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/09/16/joules-for-schools-middlebury-college-leads-trend-towards-renewable-natural-gas-on-the-campus/ Mon, 16 Sep 2019 22:22:56 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=111274

In Vermont, representatives from Vanguard Renewables, Middlebury College, Vermont Gas, Goodrich Farm, and the State of Vermont were on hand the other day to celebrate the official groundbreaking for the largest anaerobic digester east of the Mississippi, with Middlebury will be the primary consumer of the RNG produced at the dairy farm.

But the students should have been on hand, really.

As Vanguard CEO John Hanselman told the Digest, Middlebury had an innovative had a 2016 net zero carbon campaign, and it was the students who called tBS on the series of carbon sequestration credits that were used, on their forest land and so forth. And the students back in 2015-16 and the faculty said “Let’s get real” and create an offset for the thermal load not just the power. Northern institutions have a big energy suck because of the long winters, and that’s how they came around to anaerobic digestion.”

“We came in once the program conceptualized,” Hanselman added. “They knew they should have a digest component, they didn’t know how to do it. We were able to show them on Massachusetts farms how it can work, and how it can fit into the educational mission. Once we got in front of the president and the board of trustees, they were incredibly willing to do it.”

The project

Wellesley, Mass.-based Vanguard Renewables will build, own, and operate the digester, which will process 100 tons of manure and 180 tons of organic food waste daily into RNG. Vanguard is currently contacting local and Vermont-based food manufacturers to source the food waste. Vermont Gas has begun construction on Halladay Road on a 5-mile pipeline that will connect the farm with the company’s pipeline network in Addison County.

Construction on the Farm Powered anaerobic digester will be completed in 2020. RNG produced there will travel by pipeline to Middlebury College’s main power plant. Once the digester is operating, the gas it creates will supply about half of the energy that Middlebury uses for heating and cooling. The College’s biomass plant will continue to produce the other 50 percent. Both sources provide some of the College’s electricity.

The digester is expected to produce 180,000 Mcf per year. (A Mcf is 1,000 cubic feet of renewable natural gas.) The College will buy 100,000 Mcf of the gas from Vanguard, Vermont Gas will buy 40,000 Mcf, and Vanguard will retain 40,000 Mcf.

The digester’s benefits to the farm include free heat for farm use, high-quality liquid fertilizer that will reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers, and a reduction in the farm’s phosphorus levels and greenhouse gas emissions. An annual lease payment for hosting the digester will diversify the farm’s revenue sources. Located on more than 2,400 acres, the Goodrich Family Farm is a generational dairy farm with 900 milking cows. It is a member of the Agri-Mark Cabot Creamery Cooperative.

Vanguard currently owns and operates five other digesters that are all located in Massachusetts. The facility at the Goodrich Farm will be the company’s first in Vermont.

Spreading some good

“The collaboration with Middlebury is our first with a college,” added Hanselman. “There isn’t another college in the country that’s in a partnership with a digester. Middlebury is a true leader in this regard.”

On the tail of the Middlebury program, Hanselman noted that Vanguard is now actively out talking with ‘a dozen other colleges and universities’ who have similar goals.

“Another exciting aspect of the digester is how it further connects the College to the local community and Vermont,” said Laurie Patton, Middlebury president. “The College’s interest in pursuing the facility also reflects our longstanding commitment to innovative environmental education and sustainability projects. Building on our carbon neutrality initiative, it will provide our students and faculty with new research and teaching opportunities.”

Reaction from the Stakeholders

“One of the key components of Middlebury’s Energy 2028 plan is to shift the College completely to the use of renewable energy,” said David Provost, Middlebury’s executive vice president for finance and administration. “The digester is fundamental to this change.”

“The project is an exciting development in Vermont’s dairy industry and the Goodrich family deserve credit for their leadership,” said Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts. “We hope a project like this sparks more innovative partnerships that include other Vermont farms.”

“Our energy landscape is changing, faster than ever. Vermont Gas (VGS) is committed to be a leader in this transformation. Through innovation, efficiency, and adding renewable natural gas to our fuel supply, we are giving customers essential tools to reduce their carbon footprint and make Vermont even greener in the decades ahead,” said Don Rendall, president and CEO of VGS. “We are the first local distribution company in the country to offer customers renewable natural gas service. This project, will bring a local source of RNG – helping a local farm, enhancing local sustainability, contributing to our local economy. This will be another big win for Addison County, for Vermont, and for our planet.

Using 100 percent renewable energy sources is one of the components outlined in Middlebury’s Energy 2028 plan that the College announced in January. The 10-year plan also calls for reducing energy usage by 25 percent, divesting Middlebury’s endowment of investments in fossil fuels, and educating and involving the entire campus community in its implementation.

The Bottom Line

Students are calling for positive action on climate change. Amazing that this is the very first project involving a campus and anaerobic digestion. Some of that has to do with the triangulation of a campus to use the RNG for heat, and a farm close enough and large enough to supply it. Though it’s not hard to connect farms to campuses via pipelines.

And, not every campus across the nation uses as much heat as the northern schools.

Yet, we’d be surprised and disappointed if students all over the country didn’t propose this model for their own campuses. What a positive and local way to do some good.

Use it or Lose it: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Waste Carbon Utilization http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/09/16/use-it-or-lose-it-the-digests-2019-multi-slide-guide-to-waste-carbon-utilization/ Mon, 16 Sep 2019 22:21:25 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=111246

CO2 is one of those things you love to hate, but it’s there and it’s not going away, so if we don’t find a way to use it, isn’t it a missed opportunity? As part of the 2019 BETO Peer Review, Ian Rowe from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office gave this illuminating overview of trends in CO2 management, current CO2 utilization efforts, how to rewire carbon utilization, re-engineering biomass conversion, bioenergy carbon capture and storage, direct air capture and more.

Pick up the PACE: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Algae for Coproducts and Energy http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/09/15/pick-up-the-pace-the-digests-2019-multi-slide-guide-to-algae-for-coproducts-and-energy/ Sun, 15 Sep 2019 14:39:23 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=111205

PACE – Producing Algae for Coproducts and Energy, has several project goals including increasing algal biomass productivity to >25 grams dry weight per meter squared per day using robust engineered algal strains to reduce costs. So how do we get these high value, high market algal coproducts?

Matthew Posewitz from the Colorado School of Mines gave this illuminating overview of the work they’ve done so far to improve biomass yield, produce coproducts and technical accomplishments, and more.

Warding off armyworm, wiping without worry, banana fiber sanitary napkins, mango bioplastics, wearable fermentation-based protein jacket and more: The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of September 13th http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/09/12/warding-off-armyworm-wiping-without-worry-banana-fiber-sanitary-napkins-mango-bioplastics-wearable-fermentation-based-protein-jacket-and-more-the-digests-top-10-innovations-for-the-week/ Thu, 12 Sep 2019 23:15:11 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=111171

Not only is it Friday the 13th, it’s also a full moon tonight. But don’t worry, this week’s Top 10 innovations will scare all the boogies away, starting with Provivi’s new fall armyworm pheromone now produced at ton scale that will ward off those nasty armyworm pests that damage corn, rice, sorghum, cotton, sugarcane and other crops. And you don’t need to be afraid of wiping anymore with Lenzing’s wood-based cellulose fibers that are suited for wet wipes and other hygiene products. So let your Friday Fears slip away with the top innovations for the week of September 13th.

In today’s Digest, warding off armyworm, wiping without worry, banana fiber sanitary napkins, mango bioplastics, wearable fermentation-based protein jacket — these and more, ready for you now at The Digest online.

#1 Provivi Announces Metric Ton Production of Fall Armyworm Pheromone

In California, Provivi has produced its fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) pheromone at ton scale. The fall armyworm is a Lepidopteran pest that feeds on more than 80 plant species, causing major damage to corn, rice, sorghum, cotton, sugarcane and vegetable crops. Native to the Americas, the fall armyworm has now invaded Africa and large parts of Asia causing major disruptions to farmer livelihoods and food production in these regions. The fall armyworm is notoriously difficult to control with conventional pesticides, and thus new solutions to this global problem as urgently needed.

Pheromones are natural products used by insects of the same species to mediate mating. Their application allows for the control of deleterious pests while preserving beneficial insects. Provivi’s patented production methods enable a step change in the cost of manufacturing pheromones, allowing use of this proven tool in large-acreage crops such as corn, rice, and soy.

Provivi’s Pherogen product, aimed at controlling the fall armyworm, is being tested in multiple geographies as part of the company’s mission to bring this innovative solution to the farmers who most need it around the world.

“Over the past five years, our dedicated team of chemists and engineers has worked tirelessly to invent, develop, and scale new methods for synthesizing pheromones at unprecedented cost and simplicity. Today’s announcement marks another milestone towards realizing the potential of pheromones as a credible foundation of insect control in modern agriculture at a global scale,” says Dr. Peter Meinhold, Provivi’s CTO.
Bill Evanko, Provivi’s VP of Engineering added: “the production of these initial metric ton quantities demonstrates that the technology is robust and scalable. The learnings from this effort will allow us to accelerate the scale-up of additional pheromones and produce significantly larger quantities still in 2019.”
More on the story, here.