Jim Lane – Biofuels Digest http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest The world's most widely-read advanced bioeconomy daily Wed, 27 Mar 2019 00:27:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 Biotechnology Commercialization Roadmap http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/03/26/biotechnology-commercialization-roadmap/ Tue, 26 Mar 2019 22:54:36 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=104245

By Mark Warner, PE, Founder, Warner Advisors LLC

Special to The Digest

As the next wave of first-of-a-kind biorefineries ramps-up, the subject of project engineering once again comes to the forefront. Questions about the overall process, why it takes so long and costs so much abound, all capped off by the realization that an EPC solution counted on is not always the reality. An understanding of the entire process is key for those heading down the commercialization path. The graphic below is a concept to commercial operation roadmap, with detailed descriptions that follow.

Project Development

Front-end loading (FEL) is the engineering development process to take a concept from the idea stage to the point that funding sources (banks or governmental agencies) and/or company boards of directors can make decisions to move forward on the project. It is structured in a stage-gated process, with each step targeted at developing adequate information to make an informed go/no-go decision on the path forward. The process is typically broken into 3 phases (FEL1, 2 and 3) that collectively represent what is referred to as Front End Engineering Design (FEED). This process usually costs 2-3% of the total cost of the project and needs to be funded by the company before project financing can be secured.

Execution Phase

The execution phase is the period from the start of detailed engineering to the end of construction (mechanical completion). Detailed design converts the concepts of the FEED package into documents that can be used by contractors to build the facility. Major focus is on developing drawings and specifications for civil, structural, mechanical, architectural, electrical and control systems. Construction begins with the site being prepared, utilities are brought in and foundations prepared. Equipment is placed on foundations and connected with pipes, power and controls. The construction phase is complete when mechanical completion is reached. This is the point where the facility has been constructed, but not tested or operated.

Commissioning and Start-up

Once the plant reaches mechanical completion, the process of commissioning and startup begins. This is a structured process that verifies the operability of each component before operating them individually, then in groups, then as a full process facility. Start-up is the point when raw materials are introduced to the process with the intent to make product.

The technology commercialization process can appear very structured, but is based on decades of best-practice learnings from the process industries. Some key perspectives, applicable to industrial biotechnology commercialization, are as follows:

FEL is different than facility construction documents – The development stage of the project is more strategic than operational, with the goal being to set the framework that the project can be built within. It’s focused more on the operational specifications of the process (temperature, pressure, fermentation time, etc) than the equipment details (how thick is the tank wall, what type of concrete foundation). I often describe this as the “interior design” phase of the project, with construction being when the “sheet-rockers” start their work.

The world of engineering firms that are good at FEL is getting smaller – As an alumni of the engineering services Industry, I can attest to the fact that few firms do both FEL development work and design/build very well, as they are dramatically different. The development phase is where multiple options are considered, tweaked and morphed into a final project concept. By contrast, detailed design is a very structured process, guided by governmental regulations and requirements. The slowdown in all process industries over the last 5-10 years has impacted the number of firms that have extensive FEL expertise and this is often the more challenging support to find.

EPC is not what you think – Quite simply, EPC stands for Engineer, Procure and Construct, the primary phases of project execution. Unfortunately, over the years it has become synonymous with an integrated “turnkey” project execution, hiring a firm that can build a fully operational facility and guarantee its performance. This has been common in industries with fully proven technology, such as corn ethanol, but is rare to non-existent in emerging technologies. You can find qualified firms capable of both engineering and building a facility, but unless you have other operational facilities that have passed a performance test, it is very unlikely that any performance guarantee will be provided.

Understanding engineering industry terminology and typical path forward is a key to ensuring the process meets time, quality and cost expectations.

Mark Warner is a registered professional engineer with 30 years of experience in process commercialization, focusing for the last 10 years on taking first-of-a-kind-technologies from bench-top to commercial operation. He is the founder of Warner Advisors, providing consulting services and acting in interim engineering leadership roles for advanced bioeconomy clients. He can be reached at mark@warneradvisorsllc.com or visit www.warneradvisorsllc.com.

Food, feed, and beyond: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to ADM http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/03/26/food-feed-and-beyond-the-digests-2019-multi-slide-guide-to-adm/ Tue, 26 Mar 2019 22:50:20 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=104219

ADM is one of the world’s largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers, with approximately 31,000 employees serving customers in more than 170 countries. With a global value chain that includes approximately 500 crop procurement locations, 270 food and feed ingredient manufacturing facilities, 44 innovation centers and the world’s premier crop transportation network, they connect the harvest to the home, making products for food, animal feed, industrial and energy uses.

ADM recently presented highlights from 2018 on their investors earnings conference call as well as an overview of their progress and financial details for various product lines including oilseeds, ethanol, nutrition, and more

The Digest’s Top 10 Celluosic Project flashpoints, 10 Quick Takes http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/03/25/the-digests-top-10-celluosic-project-flashpoints-10-quick-takes/ Mon, 25 Mar 2019 21:40:59 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=104200

It’s all very rosy on the cellulosic potential frontier. As Gevo and Renmatix recently observed, “cellulosic sugars are one of the most abundant feedstocks in the world, and in many geographies with dense vegetation, using woody biomass feedstocks to generate useful sugars is the most cost-effective solution.”

And there’s been positive progress, much, on cost. In Florida, study results from the University of Florida bio-refinery pilot plant in Perry, Florida (using crushed sugarcane and sweet sorghum stalks) to produce fuel ethanol.showed that the lowest break-even price for producing cellulosic ethanol is still higher than the price of gasoline. At their most optimistic, UF/IFAS researchers say cellulosic ethanol could be produced for about $1.50 a gallon.

And, policymakers have been coming aboard. In India, Praj expects the new national policy to promote second-generation ethanol production and consumption to go a long way towards achieving higher ethanol blending goals. The company has invested extensively over the last several years in developing the technology in order to get it ready for commercial roll out. It expects to start seeing returns on those technology investments in 2020. Praj’s CEO said offtake agreements of 15 years are under consideration to help get these projects financed.

Praj expects second-generation ethanol to take off thanks to new policy

So, where are the gallons? What are the hot projects? Here are hthet etop 10 cellulosic storylines of the past year.

#1 Clariant launches flagship sunliquid plant in Romania as the EU bids to decarbonize transport

In Romania, Clariant officially started construction of the first large-scale commercial sunliquid plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol made from agricultural residues. The project represents the biggest industrial commitment by an international corporation in this region. At full capacity, the plant will produce 50 000 tons of cellulosic ethanol annually — using around 250 000 tons of wheat straw (and other grain residues) sourced from local farmers to . By-products from the process will be used for the generation of renewable energy with the goal of making the plant independent from fossil energy sources. The resulting cellulosic ethanol is therefore an advanced biofuel that is practically carbon-neutral.
More on the story, here.

Connecting the Dots: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Evogene http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/03/25/connecting-the-dots-the-digests-2019-multi-slide-guide-to-evogene/ Mon, 25 Mar 2019 21:09:49 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=104151

Evogene combines expertise in life science and cutting-edge computational technology to connect the dots in agriculture. They develop novel products for life science markets through the use of a unique computational predictive biology platform. In Agriculture, the Company currently focuses on three key target markets: Seeds – addressing essential seed traits such as: yield, environmental stresses and resistance to insects and diseases; Ag-Chemicals (AgPlenus) – developing novel herbicides and insecticides; Ag-Biologicals (Lavie Bio)– developing a broad range of bio-stimulants & bio-pesticides.

Evogene’s business model is composed of independent or collaborative R&D with advanced development and commercialization conducted by our partners. Evogene currently has strategic collaborations and licensing agreements with world-leading agricultural companies, such as: BASF, Corteva, ICL, Monsanto and more. Evogene has three subsidiaries focusing on agriculture, industry end-markets and pharma: 1) AgPlenus –  focusing on the design and development of effective and safe next generation agro-chemical products. 2) Evofuel – focused on the development and commercialization of castor seeds. 3) Biomica – focused on the discovery and development of human microbiome-based therapeutics.

The company recently released this illuminating overview of the technologies and company promise and progress

Ingredients and Innovations: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Corbion http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/03/24/ingredients-and-innovations-the-digests-2019-multi-slide-guide-to-corbion/ Sun, 24 Mar 2019 12:59:59 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=104113

Corbion is a global market leader in lactic acid, lactic acid derivatives, and a leading company in emulsifiers, functional enzyme blends, minerals, vitamins and algae ingredients. In 2018, Corbion generated annual sales of € 897.2 million and had a workforce of 2,040 FTE.

Corbion’s recent investor presentation offers an overview of their two lines of business – Ingredient Solutions which focuses on food and biochemicals and Innovation Platforms that focus on new biotech like the joint venture with Total for poly lactic acid bioplastic (Total Corbion PLA) and  the succinic acid joint venture with BASF (Succinity), their algae ingredients business, and more

Port of Seattle and Washington state coalesce for sustainable aviation fuels http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/03/21/port-of-seattle-and-washington-state-coalesce-for-sustainable-aviation-fuels/ Thu, 21 Mar 2019 20:03:35 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=104088

Port of Seattle Sustainable Aviation Fuel Summit Conference.

By Fred Felleman, Port of Seattle Commissioner
Special to The Digest

Despite our reputation as environmentally progressive and determined protectors of the climate, Washington state has not kept up with its neighbors to the north and south when it comes to a clean fuel standard or supply. We know how to make the fuel. Washington state is home to innovative biofuel production companies. Yet, our manufacturers export their supply to California, Oregon, and British Columbia where a statewide “clean fuel standard” policy creates a more profitable market.

With the Washington legislature’s consideration of a Clean Fuel Standard and commitments from the aviation and transportation industries, Washington is closer than ever before to addressing this gap in our sustainability agenda. This is a critical time for our environment. This requires that all of us in Washington state, the home of aviation, collaborate to develop a local supply chain.

One sign of that progress was the incredible talent that came together at Washington state’s first ever Sustainable Aviation Fuels Summit, sponsored by Earth Day Northwest 2020, Port of Seattle, Boeing, Alaska Air, and Delta Air Lines, and led by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, former Secretary of U.S. Navy Ray Mabus, Port of Seattle Commissioners and industry leaders. We look forward to the work that will be done as a result of these conversations to develop a Washington-based supply chain. Our partners at Boeing, Alaska Airlines and World Energy made an exciting announcement during the Summit to offering biofuel for airlines to fly new airplanes home. Alaska will be the first airline to participate in the program.

The second sign of progress is that the Washington State Legislature is considering a clean fuel standard for our state with HB 1110. The bill passed the House on March 12, 2019 and now proceeds to the Senate Environment, Energy, and Technology Committee. This is an essential underpinning to the production of biofuels in Washington state.

This is a make or break time for the climate and for the transportation sector. Transportation contributes more carbon emissions than any other sector in the state. While cars and trucks have market-ready options that could dramatically reduce GHG emissions and particulates, there are currently no other options for aviation than switching to an alternative fuel source now. Furthermore, improvements in the efficiency of new on-road vehicles has resulted in a decline in fuel use, but increases in air travel have resulted in overall emissions going up.

While aviation contributes just a slice of those emissions, the Port of Seattle is determined to reduce the carbon emissions from jet fuel. We set a goal to power every flight fueled at Sea-Tac Airport with 10% sustainable aviation fuels by 2028. That’s about 80 million gallons of clean fuel.

Documentation of the impacts of climate change are no longer relegated to scientific papers for they are ubiquitous — from dramatic shifts in weather resulting in uncharacteristic floods, freezes and wildfires, to increasing ocean acidification and declining populations of orcas and fish on which we all depend.

Port of Seattle Sustainable Aviation Fuel Summit Conference.

While the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Maritime Organization (IMO) have taken steps to reduce the carbon emissions of their sectors, the 2015 Paris Accord exempted international maritime and aviation travel from needing specific GHG reduction goals, while domestic aviation emissions were included within each nation’s goals. Before the Paris Accord, industry leaders and the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) signed the Commitment to Action on Climate Change in 2008, which developed environmental goals for the short, medium and long-term to reduce aviation emissions.

Back in August 2016, the EPA made a jeopardy finding regarding the impacts of GHG emissions from airplanes on public health and welfare. But given the current Administration’s reliance on alternative facts and the glacial pace of international accords, juxtaposed with the urgent need to reduce our carbon footprint, it’s critical that we exert our own leadership in this region. The State of Washington is already a leader in the advancement of scientific innovations in aviation, agriculture, and the environment. All of these sectors are now converging in the development of sustainable aviation fuels across Washington state and the region.

The Port of Seattle has a unique role to play if we are going to bring this concept to reality. As a public agency operating Sea-Tac Airport, we have responsibilities to the traveling public, our airline partners and cargo carriers, as well as to the health of our neighboring communities and the broader environment.

The Port also serves as a bridge between the producers and users of aviation fuels. We can exercise the policy leadership that can help to create the market demand for alternative fuel use. Disadvantaged communities are most exposed to pollutants and the impacts from climate change.  This needs to be considered when contemplating the balance with potential impacts on the price of gas.

Today, we have put our money where our mouth is. Our 2019 budget includes a $5-million-line item to help us identify regionally-sourced sustainable feedstocks and to identify ways they can be used cost-competitively at Sea-Tac.

Washington state’s biofuel production companies are selling their products to California, Oregon, and British Columbia, jurisdictions with policies that make the use of sustainable fuels cost-competitive. To address this disparity, we have made the passage of HB 1110 and creating a Low Carbon Fuel Standard with an opt-in provision for aviation fuels a priority of this legislative session.

HB 1110 is an incredible opportunity for Washington to clean our air while creating jobs and rural economic development. This bill is the underpinning for us to get clean fuels into Sea-Tac Airport. A local supply chain of sustainable and clean fuels benefits everyone and it will continue advancing our state’s leadership and innovation for the environment and in aviation.

I appreciate the efforts of all the industry leaders in academia, business, government, and the public who recognize that we are at an urgent time for our environment and it will take all of us working together to make a prosperous clean energy economy. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks about our state’s progress towards a clean fuel standard and the return of a Washington SAF Summit in 2020.

Disruptive Technologies: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Praj Industries http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/03/21/disruptive-technologies-the-digests-2019-multi-slide-guide-to-praj-industries-2/ Thu, 21 Mar 2019 19:59:21 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=104056

Praj Industries is an end-to-end solutions provider in the ethanol arena from concept to commissioning and feedstock handling to effluent treatment. They have technology and engineering solutions for biofuels, biochemicals and water.

Dr. Pramod Kumbhar, Chief Technology Officer at Praj Industries offers this illuminating overview of their latest achievements and developments including bench and pilot scale facilities, Praj’s current portfolio in fuel, biochemicals, health and nutrition, what they see as the top 18 disruptive technology trends, and more at ABLC Global 2018 in San Francisco

Plant and algae-based tuna, lignin plastic alternative, rice husks in architecture, seaweed T-shirt and lube, jute and kenaf composites and more: The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of March 21st http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/03/20/plant-and-algae-based-tuna-lignin-plastic-alternative-rice-husks-in-architecture-seaweed-t-shirt-and-lube-jute-and-kenaf-composites-and-more-the-digests-top-10-innovations-for-the-week-o/ Wed, 20 Mar 2019 21:05:09 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=104038

The pace of bioeconomy invention and change continues at a frenetic pace. Here are the top innovations for the week of March 21st

In today’s Digest, plant and algae-based tuna, lignin plastic alternative, rice husks in architecture, seaweed T-shirt and lube, jute and kenaf composites — these and more, ready for you now at The Digest online.

#1 Stinky tuna no more! Plant-based tuna hits shelves

In New York, Good Catch created a plant-based albacore tuna that doesn’t smell like tuna but tastes just like the usual tuna fish. The tuna is made from legumes, beans and algae in order to replicate the tuna flavor but without using any actual fish.

“In terms of texture, that was probably the biggest feat. Diversifying the proteins enabled us to create the texture with six different beans,” co-found Chad Sarno told MarketWatch. As for the small, “We use algae oil and seaweed extract. It gives it the taste that tuna has, but smells more like the ocean than it does fish,” said Sarno.

The tuna is currently for sale at Whole Foods and online retailer Thrive Market. While the cost is higher than standard canned tuna fish, the plant-based tuna is a hit with vegans and vegetarians as well as others who are concerned about over-fishing or mercury and other toxins in fish.

“It’s almost identical to tuna,” Sarno told MarketWatch. “It’s basically right on par when it comes to fat, protein and omega-3s. The biggest difference is ours is mercury-free.”
More on the story, here.

Methane to Chemicals: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to iMicrobes http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/03/20/methane-to-chemicals-the-digests-2019-multi-slide-guide-to-imicrobes-2/ Wed, 20 Mar 2019 14:41:50 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=104020

Industrial Microbes upgrades methane to various multi-carbon chemicals using synthetic biology.

Noah Helman, CSO and Co-Founder of iMicrobes gave this illuminating overview of methane as a feedstock, the breakthrough in active MMO in E.coli that has allowed easier methane to methanol conversion, and more at ABLC Global 2018 in San Francisco

Commitment to R&D is the Key http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2019/03/19/commitment-to-rd-is-the-key/ Wed, 20 Mar 2019 00:05:01 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=103998

By Debi Durham, Director, Iowa Economic Development Authority

Special to The Digest

As the nation’s No. 1 producer of ethanol and biodiesel and with country’s second-lowest cost of doing business, Iowa is recognized as a bioprocessing hub. The state successfully blends ample biomass with a business-friendly regulatory environment designed to stimulate the growth and profitability of the private sector.

Though these well-known factors alone make Iowa an attractive destination for bio-based businesses, our state’s long-standing commitment to investing in research and development is an often-overlooked element of our state’s appeal. In fact, a Biofuels Digest survey revealed that just 17 percent of its readers associate Iowa with cutting edge R&D — a belief that belies the reality.

Iowa’s extensive experience with the full supply chain — from raw ingredients to finished goods — has cemented the state as a place where companies successfully manage their entire process, from ideation to production. But we also understand that fueling this very ideation requires an intentional, thoughtful and data-driven approach. Collaboration with stakeholders in state government, the private sector and institutions of higher learning ensure companies operating in Iowa remain at the forefront of discovery, innovation and efficiency.

Incentivizing Innovation

Without an environment that encourages research and exploration, it’s understandable why some companies may shy away from that freedom to explore, instead looking to what will immediately drive the bottom line. However, that model is not sustainable for companies that seek to be pioneers in biorenewables. Toward that end, Iowa offers incentives such as the Research Activities Tax Credit to alleviate the potential financial risk associated with R&D investments, and ultimately, improve the potential for profitability.

As one of the few states providing this kind of incentive, Iowa offers a 6.5 percent refundable tax credit for qualifying R&D expenditures ranging from employee wages and supplies, to property and land improvements. Though federal research credits often fluctuate due to intermittent expiration dates and reinstatement periods, Iowa is proud of its consistent support of the Research Activities Tax Credit.

Leveraging Our Homegrown Talent

Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa also bring us great pride – not only for their collective achievements on the field and in the classroom – but for their world-renowned research capabilities that have helped sustain the state’s innovation pipeline. Combined, these institutions leverage more than $1 billion annually in external funding – including research grants – toward R&D projects that have yielded or been the catalyst for many important discoveries and process improvements in the biosciences, agriculture, biofuel production and more. Moreover, they constitute a trifecta of young, homegrown talent that helps drive the state economy and new methods of tackling real-world problems with cutting-edge discoveries.

Building for Success

From a point of practicality, our commitment to R&D also has important applications in the world of advanced manufacturing – Iowa’s leading industry. For example, Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) has been tasked with improving the performance of Iowa’s advanced manufacturing industry by providing technical assistance to thousands of manufacturers in engineering, energy, biorenewables and more. CIRAS staff also provide access to a variety of College of Engineering laboratories to broaden the product and process design capabilities across the state. These improvements ultimately pay dividends as they contribute to enhancing efficiency, service, production — which all boost profitability.

Looking to the future, we don’t believe that the next generation cost-efficient fuels, chemicals and polymers will be discovered serendipitously – their discoveries will be the result of a steadfast commitment to and investment in research and development. We are both encouraged and excited by what we’ve been able to uncover so far, and look forward to bringing new innovation-minded partners into the fold as we pioneer new paths in bio-business and beyond.

Debi Durham was appointed to lead the Iowa Economic Development Authority by Governor Terry Branstad in January 2011 and as of 2019, also serves as the director of the Iowa Finance Authority. Previously, she served as president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce and the Siouxland Initiative. Join Debi and other members of the Iowa Economic Development Authority in Des Moines for the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology, July 8-11, 2019. For more information, visit https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/bioscience.