Meghan Sapp – Biofuels Digest The world's most widely-read advanced bioeconomy daily Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:54:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Former DuPont employee gets 42 months in prison for stealing trade secrets Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:54:33 +0000

In Iowa, Josh Harry Isler, age 55, from St. Ansgar, Iowa, was sentenced Wednesday in United States District Court in Cedar Rapids to serve 42 months’ imprisonment as a result of his July 11, 2018, pleas of guilty to one count of trade secret theft and one count of making a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“We appreciate the excellent work done by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation on this matter and are pleased to see it come to a close with today’s sentencing. We will continue to focus on serving our customers, providing innovative solutions, and upholding the highest standards of ethical conduct, to protect our proprietary technology and help safeguard a competitive environment within the industry,” said Jennifer Johnson, Associate General Counsel for the Specialty Products Division of DowDuPont.

As part of his guilty plea, Isler admitted that, during August 2013, while employed with DuPont, and after having accepted an offer of employment with a smaller competitor, he stole and misappropriated, without authorization, trade secrets of DuPont. According to admissions contained in a plea agreement and evidence presented at a prior hearing in the case, Isler was recruited by a competitor of DuPont in the ethanol fuel business to take a job with the competitor. The competitor offered Isler a new car and a significantly higher salary than Isler had been paid during his short tenure at DuPont, despite the fact that Isler had been underperforming and struggling to understand basic concepts while employed by DuPont.

On the same day Isler accepted a position with the competitor, the competitor’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) informed Isler that Isler would be servicing two particular ethanol plant customers, who had also been customers of DuPont, and asked Isler if he had seen “any baseline data” for those plants. Isler responded by stating, “let me see what I can before I can’t.” In a later message that day, the COO told Isler, “I think you made the right choice.”

Isler submitted his resignation letter to DuPont the following day. However, Isler did not leave DuPont until two weeks later. During the intervening two weeks, Isler downloaded and sent to the competitor numerous electronic files that contained proprietary and trade secret information of DuPont. This included test, yield, and pricing information for products and customers of DuPont.

A few days before leaving DuPont, Isler notified the competitor’s COO that he would be turning in his company phone to DuPont. The COO instructed Isler to “erase all texts with me before giving the phone back.”

During an exit interview with DuPont, Isler acknowledged that he understood a confidentiality agreement he signed before he started work with DuPont required that Isler keep DuPont’s intellectual property private even after he left the company.

A few months after Isler left DuPont, the FBI executed a federal search warrant at his residence and seized computers and other electronic storage devices that contained proprietary and trade secret information of DuPont. At that time, Isler falsely denied to the FBI that he had downloaded, to his DuPont or personal electronic storage devices, files containing proprietary information of DuPont.

At the sentencing hearing Wednesday, United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade emphasized that, although Isler had signed a confidentiality agreement and had been trained and counseled by DuPont concerning his obligation to protect trade secrets, he nonetheless committed several criminal violations of these obligations within about six months of being hired by DuPont. The court also expressed concern about the ethics of the competitor in receiving the stolen information.

Isler was sentenced to serve 42 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay a $200 special assessment and a $5000 fine. The court also ordered Isler to serve a 3-year term of supervised release following completion of the term of imprisonment.

Growth Energy releases new biofuels-focused high school curriculum Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:53:16 +0000

In Washington, Growth Energy, in partnership with the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE), announced the release of their new curriculum aimed at educating high school students to the world of biofuels. The curriculum is the first industry-supported biofuels curriculum that provides students a guided in-classroom experience and will offer ag educators the tools needed to provide students with an array of technical skills and historical knowledge in biofuels.

The curriculum offers agricultural educators a two-week long course with six activities. These activities not only allow students to produce their own biofuel and measure its energy content and emissions, but also give them the technological and historical background to ensure a full understanding of why science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities and biofuels are so important to agricultural innovation.

Novozymes sees 2G as a big opportunity for India Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:52:15 +0000

In India, Novozymes’ VP for biorefining commercial told the Business Standard newspaper that the country’s push towards 2G ethanol will not only help it achieve energy independence, but it will also create jobs in rural areas that are so desperately needed. The country’s biomass surplus is enough to produce 30 billion liters per year but policy is only looking to blend up to 10 billion liters by 2030. He said that the policy put in place to support biofuels last year is ambitious and move the industry in the right direction but that stakeholders need to work together to achieve those goals.

Indonesia’s B30 trials should be done by October Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:51:06 +0000

In Indonesia, the Jakarta Post reports that the national biodiesel associations expects road trials on B30 to be completed by October, with 40,000 kilometers of the trials already completed as of mid-April. Engine damage, tailpipe emissions and fuel efficiency are all being monitored as part of the testing program underway with Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, the national biodiesel association, Pertamina, the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology, the Association of Indonesian Automotive Manufacturers and the Bandung Institute of Technology.

Malaysia looking at opportunities for palm oil in aviation biofuel Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:50:06 +0000

In Malaysia, the palm oil board believes that palm oil could be a good feedstock for aviation biofuels and trials are currently going on with an unidentified American company in Chicago to test the possibility. The country’s palm oil industry is suffering from oversupply and is looking at ways to use the fuel while improving its energy independence. Already palm fatty acid distillate has been approved for use as an aviation biofuel feedstock but palm oil is so far proving viable in the tests.

Ethanol stocks fall as product moves out of the Midwest and exports rise Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:49:11 +0000

In Washington, Platts reports Energy Information Administration data shows that ethanol stocks fell for the third straight week last week to 22.2676 million barrels, down more than half a million barrels on the week, despite ethanol production averaging 1.016 million b/d, 14,000 b/d higher than the week before. Demand for exports are likely the main reason for falling stocks with the Gulf Coast region losing 394,000 barrels to 4.152 million barrels, while Midwest stocks also fell sharply to 8.535 million, down 318,000 barrels on the week.

WPI researchers develop novel process to produce isobutanol cheaper Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:48:21 +0000

In Massachusetts, taking a step closer to a “green” replacement for fossil fuels, a research team that includes a chemical engineer at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a novel process using an unusual solvent and an exotic microorganism that may make it possible to manufacture isobutanol and other biofuels more economically.

In a paper published recently in Nature Communications (Engineered Microbial Biofuel Production and Recovery Under Supercritical Carbon Dioxide), Timko and colleagues describe a novel method for producing and extracting isobutanol that uses supercritical carbon dioxide as a solvent and a bacterium that can thrive in this harsh, antimicrobial liquid. The team genetically engineered the bacterium, which was isolated from a naturally occurring reservoir of high-pressure carbon dioxide, by adding genes for the production of isobutanol. They then showed how supercritical carbon dioxide could overcome two important problems that plague conventional biofuel production methods: low yields and bacterial contamination.

Minnesota state legislature closer to investing in Crookston biodiesel facility Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:47:04 +0000

In Minnesota, funding for a soybean crush and biodiesel facility in Crookston has passed a key hurdle in the Minnesota legislature. The proposed Soy Innovation Campus at the University of Minnesota Crookston will receive $5 million in funding as part of a bill authored by Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake), who chairs the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance Committee.

Throughout the 2019 legislative session, farmer leaders from the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) have been pounding the pavement in St. Paul, meeting with legislators and Gov. Tim Walz’s administration to highlight the education and economic benefits of placing the SI Campus in northwest Minnesota.

Sumitomo Chemical partners with Zymergen on new multi-year specialty materials deal Wed, 17 Apr 2019 23:06:38 +0000

In California, Sumitomo Chemical and Zymergen announced they have signed a multi-year partnership to bring new specialty materials to the market. This collaboration between the two companies will enable the development of new materials to meet consumer trends in high-tech industries.

Today, electronics makers and consumers seek devices that are lighter, smaller, more battery efficient, have optimized displays, and new functionality– all at a lower cost. Electronics manufacturers are increasingly demanding next-generation materials for these next-generation electronics because the current petrochemical toolbox is limited, expensive, and difficult to manufacture.

In order to better meet these demands, Sumitomo Chemical has decided to partner with Zymergen, whose mission is to build a sustainable future through biology, to discover novel and improved molecules to bring to market competitive, high-performance, specialty materials to better serve the electronics industry and more. This partnership will leverage Zymergen’s proprietary platform which combines advances in artificial intelligence, robotic lab automation, and cutting-edge genomics, to unlock previously inaccessible sources of molecular diversity based on sustainable and renewable resources.

Sumitomo Chemical is a leading supplier to major electronics companies, with approximately 20 percent of the company’s sales revenue in IT-related chemicals. The company’s industry insight will ensure that materials meet application requirements that will drive the next generation of electronics products. Sumitomo Chemical brings access to key markets, a reputation for quality and excellence, and the applications knowledge to connect new materials to the best products.

Sumitomo Chemical and Zymergen will develop specialty materials that may include optical films for displays, hard coatings that won’t scratch, flexible electronics circuits and adhesive materials. These new materials can help make next-generation, high tech products a reality for consumers.

Enerkem closed another C$76.3 million in equity financing including Suncor Energy Wed, 17 Apr 2019 23:05:42 +0000

In Canada, Enerkem Inc. announced the closing of a new round of financing totalling C$76.3 million. The financing comes from Enerkem’s existing investors, as well as a new investor, Suncor Energy Inc.

This injection of additional capital will help foster the company’s growth by continuing the development of its other projects, including in Varennes, Québec, and Rotterdam, Holland.

Suncor, one of Canada’s largest energy companies, is joining Enerkem’s shareholders, comprising Braemar Energy Ventures, Cycle Capital, Fondaction, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Investissement Québec, National Bank of Canada, Rho Ventures, Sunkem, the Westly Group and Waste Management of Canada. In addition to its equity interest, Suncor will share technical resources to support acceleration of Enerkem’s growth.

Similarly, as part of this financing, the Government of Québec has increased its equity ownership in Enerkem by C$13.3 million through the Fonds du développement économique.