Jim Lane – Biofuels Digest http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest The world's most widely-read advanced bioeconomy daily Sun, 18 Mar 2018 16:37:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Cow Power: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Ag-Grid Energy http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2018/03/18/cow-power-the-digests-2018-multi-slide-guide-to-ag-grid-energy/ Sun, 18 Mar 2018 10:11:16 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=89292 Ag-Grid Energy has a vision to convert agricultural and organic waste into renewable energy, compost and support local area practices that lead us towards a sustainable environment. The company intends to finance, build, own (jointly), operate the waste to energy conversion facilities in US, and has four projects underway in New England.

Ag -Grid Energy CEO Rashi Akki gave this illuminating overview of the company;s promise and progress at ABLC 2018 in Washington DC.

The Digest’s 2018 Visual Guide to the economics, politics of renewable fuels http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2018/03/15/the-digests-2018-visual-guide-to-the-economics-politics-of-renewable-fuels/ Thu, 15 Mar 2018 19:37:56 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=89255 If you’ve ever wondered why corn farmers march, organize and generally are adamant about the Renewable Fuel Standard, this chart will help. It will also explain why you almost never see Wall Street activists pounding the pavement for the RFS.

In this illuminating graphic from the Center for Agricultural & Rural Development at Iowa State, you see right away that the bulk of the money in the ethanol business goes ultimately back into the corn supply chain. Now, that’s far more than growers — it’s the seed business, crop protection, land values (and the state tax revenues that depend on high property values), farm machinery, water, fuels, rural energy and more.

And yeasts and enzymes are important in those operating costs you see broken out separately in purple; and labor is there too.

It’s big business, those 15 billion gallons of ethanol and the associated DDGs, corn oil and CO2 which is produced at these biorefineries. Although more bushelage goes to DDGs and CO2 than to ethanol, some 5.6 billion bushels of corn go to the biorefinery and if the RFS were to go away — Lord knows what would become of corn prices and the Midwestern economy but no one thinks of anything except of a point between recession and a return to the days of Farm-Aid.

In the end, the corn, the dirt, the fossil fuels, the sun and the rain — they all work for free — this money goes back to people: for their assets in IP and real property, or for their labor. And, it goes in a knock-on effect to all the people who depend on the farm system And that’s why the RFS has a staying power way above the number of actual farmers. The RFS floats an entire regional economy and is creating a modern, sustainable Midwest at the expense primarily of fossil petroleum.

About those Wall Street activists. You can see that the returns from the ethanol business rain economic sunshine on the supply chain, but investors have been getting the short end of the stick for a long time. That’s one reason that there’s not too much ethanol plant construction going on (demand constraints are another). You can see in that black line the profitability point at which new plant construction might begin to become feasible, and the industry doesn’t cross it on a consistent basis.

But when we start looking at the economics of cellulosic ethanol in another slide later in this deck, you’ll see why Wall Streeters get much more enthused about that related but not-exact-same sector.

Algility: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to algae as a new crop and technology platform http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2018/03/15/algility-the-digests-2018-multi-slide-guide-to-algae-as-a-new-crop-and-technology-platform/ Thu, 15 Mar 2018 18:08:38 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=89232 Algae has been reinvented in recent years as a Sustainable New Crop for Food, Feed, Fuel and other products. Part of an international effort to expand Agricultural Production and productive land, and keeping key nutrients on the farm while restoring soil, algae is seen as a technology platform leading to job creation, benefits for the rural economy that will bring in new farmers and catalyze rural manufacturing and value-added agriculture.

Algae Biomass Organization executive director Matt Carr gave this illuminating overview of algae’s promise and progress at ABLC 2018 in Washington DC.

Crack that Whip! Modern Meadow, Evonik partner to take vegan leather to world-scale http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2018/03/14/crack-that-whip-modern-meadow-evonik-partner-to-take-vegan-leather-to-world-scale/ Wed, 14 Mar 2018 18:47:52 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=89199

News has arrived from the US East Coast that Evonik will be Modern Meadow’s worldwide development partner to industrialize and scale-up collagen production for use in the company’s bioleather materials technology. The long-term partnership was just announced, and ends a short but intense period of wondering for Modern Meadow’s many fans – who propelled the company into the #42 spot out of more than 1,000 eligible organizations in the recent 50 Hottest Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy rankings.

Here’s what we know

Moving beyond a joint development agreement, the companies will be working together in partnership to improve the fermentation process. They will also be optimizing the yeast organisms for higher yield of collagen, leaving open the door for future collaborations in developing other proteins.

Here’s what everyone will want to see from this collaboration

For one, the scale-up steps, Modern Meadow we understand will take a strategic and rifle-shot approach to commercializing the technology — entering a select number of sectors initially and producing (for now) commercial samples in order to seed to the application development with customers. So there’s no gigantic rush on to reach say, 500,000 liter fermentation scale. But the global leather market is huge and ultimately the winners in this sector are going to offer, in addition to a win on sustainability and cool technology, the lower-cost advanced leathers.

How big is the leather goods market? According to Lucintel, “industry revenue is forecast to reach $91.2 billion by 2018, with a CAGR of 3.4%, over the next five years. The competitive rivalry seems to be high due to the large number of players competing with each other to gain market share.”

Another thing. Progress on rate, titer and yield. According to Modern Meadow, there’s been significant advances made on all three — but according to CTO Williamson, “we’ve come a long way on rate, but the upside on all three (Rate, titer and yield) is substantial, and we continue and will continue to make gains.”

Here’s what we don’t know

For one, where the partnership will land for the development work. The Evonik facility in Blair, Nebraska screams out as a candidate (It’s home to Evonik’s world-scale lysine production, and recently became home to the DSM-Evonik JV, Veramaris, in omega-3 production).

We also don’t know the timing of the next scale-up stages, and we don’t know much about the carbon energy source that Modern Meadow is currently using, or much about the organism, except to say that the pathways that are used to produce collagen have been installed inside a yeast chassis, and that the yeast species in question is Pichia pastoris, which is widely-used for protein production in the world of digital biology.

And, we don’t yet know the nature of exclusivities which Evonik holds as the first global development partner.

Why Evonik?

“We started the conversation with Evonik a couple of years ago,” Dave Williamson, Modern Meadow CTO told the Digest, “and as we moved from tissue culture to fermentation and developed an organism that could be dropped in to existing assets, we started looking to the Evonik’s of the world who have exceptional development and operational skills. A partnership like this gives us the ability to take the scale-up steps, to 1000, to 5000, to 50,000 liters and to go from there, and allows us to focus on optimizing our core technology. Evonik was not only a great technological fit for us, they have been culturally well fitted for us. They understand the risks of moving from one scale to another.”

Evonik will leverage more than three decades of expertise in the development, scale-up and commercial production of fermentation-based products to optimize Modern Meadow’s fermentation strains and processes and bring collagen protein biofabrication to commercial scale.

And, for sure, the company has huge resources at its call. Evonik is active in over 100 countries with more than 36,000 employees. In fiscal 2017, the enterprise generated sales of €14.4 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of €2.36 billion.

The Modern Meadow backstory

Modern Meadow’s technology platform uses the latest DNA editing tools to engineer specialized collagen-producing yeast cells. The cells are optimized to manufacture the type and quantity of collagen required. Once purified, the collagen is formulated and assembled into materials for consumer applications. Zoa bioleather materials are innovative, advanced materials which can be combined with other natural or man-made materials to offer new aesthetic and performance properties.

The company raised an impressive $40 million Series B round in 2016 Led by Horizons Ventures and Iconiq Capital with other investors participating in the round including ARTIS Ventures, Temasek, Breakout Ventures, Red Swan Ventures, Collaborative Fund and Tony Fadell. The funding brought Modern Meadow’s total funds raised to $53.5 million.

The Pivot to fermentation

Last year, the company announced a major turning point from lab-scale tissue culturing to a fermentation approach.

“This announcement marks a substantial turning point for the company,” said Dave Williamson at the time. “Now, using our proprietary biofabrication process, we are producing animal-free, recombinant collagen that rivals any collagen currently on the market. This shows that it’s possible not only to create breakthrough materials but to do so at an industrial scale.”

As we reported last October,  a T-shirt made of animal-free leather is being displayed at the Museum of Modern Art. Biotechnology firm Modern Meadow used an engineered yeast to make the material—a collagen that looks like cow leather.

The T-shirt “will change the way you think about leather,” David Williamson, Modern Meadow CTO, told Plant-Based News. Company CCO Suzanne Lee said the technology aims to explore materials that enable “never-seen-before functionality, aesthetics, and performance possibilities.” The exhibit was entitled “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” and ran through January 28.

Cow-free leather exhibited at Manhattan’s MoMA

We reported last month that Modern Meadow added former Shinola executive Bridget Russo as Chief Marketing Officer and former Michael Kors executive Anna Bakst to its Board of Directors. The news comes on the heels of the debut of Zoa, the bioleather materials brand that Modern Meadow introduced in October at the Museum of Modern Art.

The new additions to Modern Meadow’s executive and advisory teams will help guide the company’s transition from R&D to commercial production. Modern Meadow added 40 new staff in 2017, bringing the head count to 72 full time employees. To accommodate continued growth, Modern Meadow also relocated company headquarters to the former Roche headquarters in Nutley, New Jersey and established a design and applied research studio at New Lab in Brooklyn.


The vegan leather back story

We reported last August as One Green Planet outlined recent efforts to develop leather substitutes to meet growing demand on the fashion industry for vegan alternatives.

Ananas Anam is producing a leather-like material from pineapple leaves, a byproduct of pineapple cultivation. The byproduct of the fiber extraction process is then used to make fertilizer.

Green Banana Paper is using  recycled banana trees to produce water-resistant wallets. The Kosrae, Micronesia, company says it has already recycled over 170,000 pounds of leaves.

After 20 years of research, MycoWorks is using mushroom mycelium to make leather. Based in Milan, Italy, Vegea has developed a way to make leather using the skins, stalks, and seeds of grapes.

We also reported in December that a political science major at Liberty University has been growing his own clothes. Luis Quijano, now a senior, said he has been growing a leather-like material via fermentation with water, sugar, green tea, and kombucha.

Interest in renewable fabrics and vegan leather is growing due to the fashion industry’s poor environmental performance. The use of 3D forms to dry sheets of biobased materials into a shape could revolutionize the way clothes are made.

“It has the potential to eliminate a lot of waste from the fashion industry,” says Quijano. “This textile circumnavigates a lot of the processes of the industry.”

Quijano originally became interested in the process after a 2011 TED talk by fashion design Suzanne Lee, who also is chief creative officer at biobased leather startup Modern Meadow. Quijano began fermenting the fabric in his dorm room, but has since moved production to incubators at Liberty’s Center for Natural Sciences.

Virginia college senior grows his own clothes

Reaction from the principals

“This announcement marks a historic moment for us, as we look to scale fermentation on an order of magnitude that will enable us to move into commercial production” added Williamson. “Evonik is a clear leader in microbial fermentation, and their innovation and production capacity convinced us that they are the right partner for this critical program.”

“We at Evonik are honored and excited to have been selected to take part in this highly innovative program, which will see Modern Meadow’s bold vision come to life through the production of new  bioleather materials addressing unmet customer needs,” said Dr. Jean-Luc Herbeaux, Head of the Business Line Health Care of Evonik. “We look forward to working with Modern Meadow on the scale-up and industrialization of their advanced collagen biofabrication technology.”

The Bottom Line

Many questions remain including some basic ones about the nature of the technology and the Evonik partnership — those will be answered surely in the fullness of time. Meanwhile we wait to see those scale-up steps and for Modern Meadow to realize that upside in rate, titer and yield.

The market is huge, the desire for alternatives is intense, the margins can be hefty in the world of fashion and leather goods. It comes down to technology and of course Evonik’s commitment says quite a bit about that. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Blair, Nebraska for the next few months — that’s for sure.

More on the company.

The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Sustainable Bioeconomy for Arid Regions (SBAR) http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2018/03/14/the-digests-2018-multi-slide-guide-to-sustainable-bioeconomy-for-arid-regions-sbar/ Wed, 14 Mar 2018 17:41:23 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=89180 Sustainable Bioeconomy for Arid Regions (SBAR) is a multi-level research project that will cultivate two desert-dwelling crops, guayule and guar, for a sustainable bioeconomy. Combined, guayule (perennial) and guar (annual) feedstocks can provide biomass year round for biofuel production.

Both crops are drought and heat tolerant, grow on marginal lands, and provide economic returns. Scale up to profitable production, however, requires feedstock improvements, expansion of cultivation, agronomic knowledge and practices, and economic crop residue utilization.

Researchers from The University of Arizona (UA), Bridgestone Americas, Inc., Colorado School of Mines (CSM), Colorado State University (CSU), New Mexico State University (NMSU), and the USDA-ARS will collaborate on research, development, and deployment (RDD) activities to: 1) improve feedstock; 2) produce feedstock in a sustainable manner; 3) understand how conversion to fuel is affected by variable feedstock quality; and 4) enhance transport, techno-economic, and sustainability models to provide a clear path to commercialization. Partners such as Iowa State University, Pacific Northwest Laboratories, and Mercurius Biofuels Inc. be engaged midway through the project to assess and scale-up bagasse conversion and upgrading to jet, biodiesel, and gasoline.SBAR will co-produce biofuels and bioproducts using minimal water and nutrients from guar and guayule crops.

New Mexico State’s Catherine Brewer gave this illuminating overview of the project’s promise and progress at ABLC 2018 in Washington DC.

Harmonizing a Three-Headed Regulatory Monster http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2018/03/13/harmonizing-a-three-headed-regulatory-monster/ Tue, 13 Mar 2018 20:20:03 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=89158 By Graham Noyes, Low Carbon Fuels Coalition, and Doug Durante, Clean Fuels Development Coalition

Special to The Digest

Widely considered to be Godzilla‘s arch-nemesis, King Ghidorah (キングギドラ) is a three-headed dragon kaiju that first faced Godzilla in the 1964 Godzilla film Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.

While not as entertaining to watch as a Godzilla film with a three-headed flying monster, the current regulatory struggle over national auto standards between the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is a high stakes battle between determined stakeholders. Viewed through the tactical lens of the ethanol industry, this regulatory drama sets the stage to restore manufacturing incentives for autos and light trucks that utilize mid-level and higher ethanol blends to reduce petroleum use and increase vehicle efficiency. Since EPA eliminated key crediting provisions for flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) after model year (MY) 2015, this rulemaking is likely the ethanol industry’s last shot to remain a contender. Here is a quick look at the current battle, how the federal programs determine what vehicles get built, and how a couple of mechanical fixes could keep FFVs on the road and pave the way for high octane vehicles (HOVs) that utilize engine downsizing, turbocharging, and other advanced technologies.

Early in his term, President Obama announced a unified national auto policy that set the strictest fuel efficiency standards for new cars and trucks in American history. As part of the agreement, the major foreign and domestic auto companies signed letters promising not to challenge the new standards in court, and the state of California deemed compliance with the federal standards to be compliance with California’s GHG standards. Generally speaking, the federal standards require an estimated combined fleet-wide average (including autos and light trucks) of over 42 mpg by 2020, and over 48 mpg by 2025. Due to the extended time horizon, the agreement contained a mandatory Mid-Term Evaluation to determine if the standards, and the assumptions behind them, were still “appropriate”. That evaluation was to have taken place over an 18-month period but the outgoing Obama Administration rushed it through in just a few months, making the Final Determination an easy target for incoming EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to re-open for a more detailed look. Depending on the outcome, changes to the federal programs could potentially unravel the unified national program, particularly if California re-instates its own standards. On the other hand, opening the rules and making program adjustments such as smart and fair fuel and vehicle crediting for ethanol blends would provide relief and savings to the automakers.

The devil is in the details of the complex and shifting federal programs with program components like the efficiency of vehicle air conditioning systems, dual fuel vehicle crediting, dedicated alternative fuel vehicle crediting, and off-cycle credits significantly impacting vehicle scoring. Under the Obama era standards currently in place, electric vehicles (EVs) are a game changing technology and therefore benefit from a suite of credit enhancers including bearing no regulatory responsibility for GHG emissions from the power generating source, being deemed 6.67x times more efficient than a conventional vehicle (California’s efficiency calculation for EVs is 3.4), and receiving a 2x credit multiplier in MY 2017. While FFVs had previously enjoyed favorable credit generating status (though never quite as favored as EVs), that changed dramatically between MY 2012 and MY 2020. To understand the nature and impact of the changes, it is necessary to separate out the two distinct federal programs: NHTSA’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards (GHG) program. Lessons learned from how the variable crediting of FFV manufacturing impacted automakers’ manufacturing decisions provide valuable indicators regarding the importance of these programs to the roll-out of next-generation HOVs that can cost-effectively provide performance, fuel efficiency, and petroleum reduction.

During MY 2012-2014, strong CAFE and GHG crediting for FFV manufacturing stimulated substantial investment and dramatic expansion of the FFV fleet. FFV production peaked in MY 2014 when over 2.8 million FFVs were manufactured. During MY 2012- 2014, the automakers overall accrued 8-9 g/mi. of FFV credits each year; with US automakers GM, Ford and Chrysler heavily investing in FFV models and generating 14-17 g/mi. in FFV credits. The pending elimination of FFV credits caused manufacturing and credits to drop 6 g/mi. in MY 2015; but GM, Ford and Chrysler maintained strong FFV manufacturing programs and generated 12-13 g/mi. in credits. Subsequently, when EPA collapsed the regulatory value of FFVs to near zero in MY 2016, all automakers phased down FFV manufacturing. FFV production dropped to about 1.3 million that year, representing more than a 50% decline in two short years.

The drastic changes in FFV crediting methodology significantly impacted the overall GHG compliance profile of the automakers.   As EPA highlighted in Finding #1 of the Manufacturer Performance Report for MY 2016, the near elimination of the FFV credit in the GHG program was a major contributing factor to MY 2016 being the first year in which the auto industry generated an overall GHG emissions deficit of 9 g/mi. after having generated 7g/mi. of positive credits in MY 2015 and 12-13 g/mi. of credits in MY 2012-2014.

With the Mid-term evaluation underway, EPA Administrator Pruitt recently remarked that his agency is examining the role of fuels in enabling efficient vehicle technologies. This could be seen as somewhat of a reversal—letting fuels determine vehicle capabilities rather than the other way around.   This comment by Mr. Pruitt indicates an opening for the low carbon liquid fuels industry to achieve some level of parity with EVs that currently receive all manner of credit multipliers. If this opening is missed, the industry will be playing against other technologies on an uneven field of CAFE and GHG compliance for years to come.

What is truly exciting about this opportunity is that from an ethanol perspective it could offer something for everyone. In California where low carbon fuel is rewarded, the market for E85 has tripled in five years and FFVs are critical. In other states and regions where the high octane sweet spot for ethanol blends is in the 25-40% range for non FFVs, the same CAFE and GHG crediting mechanisms can be prorated to reward these mid-level blends.

The specific regulatory mechanical fixes necessary are for EPA to extend the current usage factor (known as the F-factor) to MY 2019 and beyond, and for EPA and NHTSA to harmonize the crediting for FFV manufacturing under the CAFE and GHG programs.  We also need to fix the so-called R factor which currently penalizes ethanol blends for a mileage loss. And finally, however one chooses to use ethanol, the carbon footprint of ethanol is demonstrably better than the power sources for EVs. Ethanol should therefore be treated as carbon neutral as is already the case for EV power. These changes can be implemented quickly and easily, will enhance automaker compliance with the standards and save money, and can be calibrated to recognize real world GHG and petroleum reductions. The FFV mechanisms can also be crafted to facilitate the CAFE and GHG crediting of high efficiency vehicles that utilize high octane fuels.

Our industry needs to argue strongly and with a unified voice on very specific mechanisms for the opportunity to contribute to the public policy goals of energy security, economic development, and reducing emissions. As it currently stands, the auto industry gets no credit for using our fuel to meet these objectives. While EPA and NHTSA are adjusting the CAFE and GHG programs, this deficiency can easily be rectified at no cost to consumers or taxpayers.


The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to the 2018 Bioeconomy Business Outlook http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2018/03/13/the-digests-2018-multi-slide-guide-to-the-2018-bioeconomy-business-outlook/ Tue, 13 Mar 2018 20:12:05 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=89132 In Florida, The Digest reports that 72 percent of bioenergy executives are more optimistic about their organization’s prospects for growth and 68 percent about industry growth, than 12 months ago. The findings were among the highlights of the 2018 Bioenergy Business Outlook Survey conducted by the publication.

Below are the highlights from the results.

Bioeconomy execs bullish on 2018, 74% of companies expect revenue growth, 62 percent expect jobs increase; 48% seeking finance http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2018/03/13/bioeconomy-execs-bullish-on-2018-74-of-companies-expect-revenue-growth-62-percent-expect-jobs-increase-48-seeking-finance/ Tue, 13 Mar 2018 20:08:44 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=89128

In Florida, The Digest reports that 72 percent of bioenergy executives are more optimistic about their organization’s prospects for growth and 68 percent about industry growth, than 12 months ago. The findings were among the highlights of the 2018 Bioenergy Business Outlook Survey conducted by the publication.

Respondents also named the EU, US, South East Asia and Canada as the markets most critical to their growth, and said they expected crude oil prices to increase by 6.1%, biodiesel by 3.48%, natural gas by 2.94%, renewable diesel by 2.79%, cellulosic biofuels by 1.43%, and they expect first-gen ethanol prices to be flat for the year.

Demand drivers and new capacity

53 percent said that rising demand for alternatives was the biggest driver of expected growth in 2018, followed by new technology (46%). 67 percent of respondents were working on a project to add capacity by the end of 2020/21, with fuels representing 52 percent of those projects, chemicals 19 percent and biomaterials or other products representing 29 percent.

48 percent of respondents said that their organization would be completing at least one commercial-stage project by 2021.

Industry growth and financing

In money matters, 36 percent reported that they had sought additional finance in the past 12 months, and that 24 percent were successful in the effort. 48 percent said that they would seek additional financing in the next 12 months, 40 percent said that they expected to see more completed IPOs in 2018 than 2017, and 70 percent said they expected more mergers and consolidations in 2018 than last year.

Government support and growth drivers

In commenting on support from their respective national governments, 52 percent rated their governments “highly” or “moderately” supportive of bioenergy (back in the earliest versions of this survey in 2010-12, this figure was as high as 78 percent). 26 percent rated their government’s attitude as moderately to very unsupportive.

Among government policies favored by respondents, “Carbon price legislation” was rated as the was rated as the measure that would create strong opportunities for industry revenue and job growth over the next 12 months, with 53 percent of respondents citing this as the top factor. Increased grants, or incentives (39 percent), more R&D spending (34%) and tax credits (30 percent) were seen as the next most popular potential measures.

Other factors cited by respondents included higher blend standards, better loan guarantee programs, or fuel neutrality measures, more Only 6 percent opted for “Status quo – Everything staying as it is.”

Renewable diesel tops poll as “fastest growing advanced biofuel”; wood, waste feedstocks dominate

Among fuel types, 53 percent predicted that renewable diesel would reach one billion gallons in global capacity by 2021. 47 percent cited aviation biofuels, 41 percent opted for cellulosic ethanol, and 21 percent to renewable gasoline.

Among feedstocks, 41 percent said that they plan to employ woody biomass as a feedstock, while 25 percent opted for MSW, 28 percent for forest residues, 15 percent for corn stover, 12 percent for bagasse, and 31 percent for “other agricultural residues”.

The Bioenergy Business Outlook Survey is conducted by the Digest and its sister publications What’s Nuu in Chemicals & Biomaterials, What’s Nuu in AgTech, and What’s Nuu in Food & Nutrition?

Complete Results

Complete survey results can be seen here, in our Multi-Slide Guide.

Leveraging the Power of Algae: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Algenol http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2018/03/12/leveraging-the-power-of-algae-the-digests-2018-multi-slide-guide-to-algenol/ Mon, 12 Mar 2018 20:30:59 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=89094 Algenol is a global, industrial biotechnology company that is commercializing its patented algae technology platform for production of ethanol and other biofuels, chemicals and biobased materials.

Formed in 2006, and headquartered in Fort Myers, Florida with an R&D facility in Berlin, the company operates in multiple sectors: AgTech, natural food colorants, biofertilizer biostimulants, human and animal food protein, plus Contract research, development and manufacturing, Algal product research and development, Synthetic biology, Photobioreactor-based algae production tolling and biofuels.

Algenol CBO Jacques Beaudry-Losique gave this illuminating overview of the company’s progress at ABLC 2018.

What happened? Pyrolysis breakthrough could cut drop-in biofuels cost to $2.58 per gallon http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2018/03/12/what-happened-pyrolysis-breakthrough-could-cut-drop-in-biofuels-cost-to-2-58-per-gallon/ Mon, 12 Mar 2018 20:24:50 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=89091

We have a breakthrough in pyrolysis to report today that could reduce the estimated cost of producing fuel from $3.27 per gallon to $2.58 per gallon.

And no one quite understands how the new process works — but it works.

“What we have achieved is process intensification – multi-fold increases in biomass throughput for a given size reactor – while preserving oil yield,” said Iowa State University’s Robert Brown, the Godfatha of catalytic pyrolysis himself.

Iowa State engineers call the process “autothermal pyrolysis.” The Iowa State University Research Foundation has applied for patent protection on the technology and has licensed it to Easy Energy Systems of Mankato, Minnesota for commercial use.

Here’s what happened

Others have experimented with adding oxygen to their pyrolyzers, but Brown said a review of the scientific literature didn’t find much success. In many cases, researchers dramatically reduced their yields of bio-oil.

As the Iowa State engineers continued to study autothermal pyrolysis, graduate student Joseph Polin decided to substitute inexpensive air for the pure oxygen used in earlier tests.

Polin found that to keep air-fuel ratios similar to the experiments with pure oxygen, he needed to feed biomass into the reactor five times faster. Brown was initially skeptical the reactor was big enough to handle so much more biomass. But it did.

“The epiphany was that biomass throughput for a pyrolysis reactor was limited by our ability to get heat through the walls of the reactor,” Brown said. “By burning the biomass internally to generate the energy needed to drive pyrolysis, we eliminated the heat transfer bottleneck, allowing us to open up the throttle, so to speak, on our reactor.”

Here’s what we know

Brown and the engineers in his research group had worked for years to develop a thermochemical process called fast pyrolysis to produce biorenewable products. The process uses heat in the absence of oxygen to break down corn stalks, wood chips and other biomass to produce a liquid bio-oil for energy and a biochar for fertilizer.

The engineers had explored adding a little oxygen to the reactor. Brown suggested adding more and more. And that started to change everything. Now, rather than trying to improve pyrolysis by pushing more heat from outside the reactor, the engineers discovered burning a small amount of biomass inside the reactor could more efficiently provide the energy to drive pyrolysis.

Here’s what we don’t know

No one can quite figure out how it works.

And that’s going to inhibit the design of larger-scale reactors. Specifically, plans for two autothermal demonstration plants capable of processing 50 tons of biomass per day could really use, as Brown put it, “a model that predicts the performance of these big reactors.”

Here’s what it isn’t

Brown thought carbon monoxide and methane known to exit a conventional pyrolyzer might be burning during autothermal pyrolysis. Iowa State graduate student Chad Peterson proved him wrong using a simple computer model that demonstrated pyrolysis temperatures are too low to ignite these gases.

DOE steps in

To figure out what we have, the U.S. Department of Energy has come forward with a two-year, $854,039 grant to an Iowa State team to study autothermal pyrolysis and develop software tools to help design other kinds of autothermal processes. The grant from the department’s Advanced Manufacturing Office is part of $35 million awarded to 24 research projects across the country. Final details of the Iowa State project are being negotiated.

Alberto Passalacqua, an Iowa State assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will lead the Iowa State project.

“First we want to figure the chemical reactions and mechanisms that make autothermal pyrolysis work,” said Passalacqua. “Then we want to develop models of the process and compare them to experiments. The final goal is to develop simplified design tools to design bigger reactors.”

The Iowa State engineers expect their design tools will be added to an open-source toolbox that is freely available to use. That could help reduce the risk of scaling up the technology for commercial use. And it could help apply the autothermal principle to other chemical processes.

The team

In addition to Alberto Passalacqua and Robert C. Brown, the research team includes Shankar Subramaniam, a professor of mechanical engineering; Mark Mba-Wright, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering; and Ryan Smith, the deputy director of the Bioeconomy Institute’s Thermochemical Research Program. The researchers will also hire one postdoctoral research associate and three doctoral students.

More on the story

Deep Stabilization: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to fast pyrolysis and bio-oil upgrading

The King of Biofuels: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to pyrolysis’ progress and prospects, Pt 2

The King of Biofuels: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to pyrolysis’ progress and prospects, Pt 1

Catalysis on a Hot Tin Roof: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to the ChemCatBio consortium