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.

Circular economies, from California to Sweden: Neste’s wheeling, rolling, moving, flowing Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:44:40 +0000

In California, waste feedstock from the city of Oakland is now being converted to Neste MY Renewable Diesel and fuels the city’s fleet.

The city, Neste, fuel distributor Western States Oil and local collectors for used cooking oil joined forces to gather waste cooking oils from restaurants and other businesses in the Oakland metropolitan area and convert it to fuel the city’s fleet. By making waste more valuable and supporting jobs that collect and treat it, this concept helps the local economy in the city while the cleaner-burning Neste MY Renewable Diesel improves the lives of its residents by reducing local emissions from the city’s fleet.

More renewable diesel for trucks in California’s Central Valley

Meanwhile, renewable diesel fuel is soon to be much more accessible to fleet drivers looking to fuel up in central California, thanks to the opening of Neste-branded pumps at Van De Pol card-lock at 5675 7th Street, Keyes, dispensing Neste MY Renewable Diesel.

We reported on the story in Keyes and at three other California locations here.

Card-lock locations are unstaffed fueling stations designed to accommodate fleet vehicles, including 18-wheel trucks. Drivers can fill up with Neste MY Renewable Diesel, a low-carbon fuel produced from 100 percent renewable and sustainable raw materials that cuts greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 percent compared to petroleum diesel.

“Since launching in California in 2011, we’ve had a lot of positive feedback from drivers and fleet managers using Neste MY,” Baines said. “And those who haven’t tried it yet keep asking where they can get it. We’re proud to offer Neste MY Renewable Diesel at these card-lock locations to further expand its accessibility and lead the renewable fuel revolution.”

Over to Sweden for jet fuel with Neste and Air BP

Over to Scandinavia for more Neste action. Neste, and Air BP, have entered into an agreement to deliver sustainable aviation fuel to airline and airport customers in Sweden in 2019.

Air BP has supplied sustainable aviation fuel in the Nordics since 2014 at around 10 airports, including most recently at Kalmar airport in Sweden and Oslo airport where they were the first to supply sustainable aviation fuel produced by Neste through the existing airport fueling infrastructure, in collaboration with other key industry stakeholders.

As backstory, Neste and Air BP announced in 2018 their plans to explore and develop supply chain solutions for delivering sustainable aviation fuel to airports and airlines. As a next step in their collaboration Neste will combine its expertise in the production and blending of sustainable low-carbon aviation fuel with Air BP’s recognized excellence in safe, efficient and effective aviation fuel distribution solutions to jointly develop a viable supply-chain solution for sustainable aviation fuel to the Swedish market.

What’s significant here.

First of all, let’s think about the expansion of distribution in California: note that this renewable diesel is being sold under the Neste brand, something we’ve seen in Finland but it’s a first for the US.

The second takeaway is a little more subtle, that’s the volume of these card-lock refueling stations that specialize in fleets. The Keyes facility alone supports 6 million road miles per year of fueling, and this is hauling something like 80,000 pounds per mile.

It would take 80,000 fully-loaded Tesla Model 3s to haul that same load. 4 stations provide more greenhouse gas reduction in the Big Heavy sector than you could achieve with all the electric cars sold in the U.S. last year put together. Which is not to say “don’t consider an electric” – please look carefully at the EV option where there is renewable electricity generation available to support EVs and where the range and cost meets your vehicle budget. What this is meant to show is that the Big Heavy is important and the impact of renewable diesel can be huge.

Third and fourth takeaway. The fuels are competitively-priced and all you have to do to use them is choose a different pump. No new vehicle, no modifications, no limit on blends, no hidden switching costs, no hassles, no kidding.

Fifth takeaway. Consider the positive local impact. Less NOx, lower particulars, and a lot more pleasant than the fossil diesel smell.

Some caveats to keep in mind

Neste is ramping up production, they have a big expansion of capacity in Singapore supporting this market that will come online in 2022, but it won’t be tomorrow and there may be some limits on supply if the fuels become as popular as they might. Neste will be able to expand quite a bit using existing production, but there will be some limits between now and 2022.

Feedstock acquisition will also be key to ensure that the supply chain continues to provide raw materials that are more and more sustainable, affordable, reliable and available — building up the supply network will be key. Neste is adamant that they don’t want to get into a market and then have trouble meeting the demand.

To that end, consider the Oakland program — that’s a very tight example of circular economies. Neste collects waste oils from Oakland’s sewers and makes renewable diesel, and sells fuel back to Oakland. There, a waste is eliminated in the form of a fuel that helps keep petroleum in the ground.

In some ways, this all started with ham in Finland, the traditional Christmas meal, and Neste started a program to have locals donate their Christmas waste oils, which Neste collects and processes into fuel. A great way for the ordinary person to take positive action, and a great way to help make renewable fuels affordable.

As Neste VP Jeremy Baines told The Digest, “More and more people are looking at the climate change discussion and saying, ‘I don’t know if I agree with everything people are saying, but this is happening’…I see the early springs, the forest fires and I know this is not normal — and here’s a small way in which the private citizen can do something about it.”

The Neste backstory

Renewables Take the Lead: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Neste is here.

Neste MY Renewable Diesel is a low-carbon fuel produced from 100 percent renewable and sustainable raw materials, primarily wastes and residues. It cuts engine-out emissions of nitrogen oxides by 9%, those of carbon monoxide by 24 % and fine particulates by 33 %, all while enhancing fleet performance. The concept by the city of Oakland and Neste saves greenhouse gas emissions by 74% compared to conventional, fossil diesel. Neste MY Renewable Diesel is a direct replacement fuel that requires no blending and is compatible with all diesel engines.

Recently, we reported that Neste’s growing Renewable Products business area will be divided into three business units and one operational platform each of which has its own Executive Vice President responsible in Neste’s Executive Committee: Renewable Road Transportation, Renewable Aviation, Renewable Polymers & Chemicals, and the Renewables Platform. More on that story here.

In December, we reported that Neste took the plunge and decided to invest EUR1.4 billion in tripling renewable production in Singapore. More on that here.

Reaction from the stakeholders

“Oakland is a proud leader in protecting our environment and practicing the highest levels of sustainability,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “This bold move will give our residents cleaner air, and it takes us one important step forward in our work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

“We are excited to partner with the city of Oakland to make ‘from city waste to city fuel’ a reality and do our part to improve the lives of the people in the city,” said

Jeremy Baines, vice president of sales, Neste US, Inc. “Oakland’s choice for a more sustainable diesel fuel and their support for making local waste part of their energy solution sets an example for the Bay Area, for all of California and beyond.”

“Switching from petroleum diesel to renewable diesel automatically converts the City’s oldest and dirtiest polluting vehicles into alternative fuel vehicles – overnight and with no additional costs,” Oakland Public Works Director Jason Mitchell said.

“Demand for cleaner fuels is on the rise globally, and California is a leader in the movement toward an emissions-free future,” said Jeremy Baines, vice president of sales for Neste. “Neste MY Renewable Diesel helps meet environmental needs without compromising performance or cost.”

“I am very happy to announce that our collaboration with Air BP has taken its first concrete step, as aviation is one of our strategic growth areas. Sweden is becoming a leading country in decarbonizing aviation with its proposal to introduce a greenhouse gas reduction mandate for aviation fuel sold in Sweden. Together with Air BP we are able to support air transport in Sweden in their efforts, and this collaboration gives both of us valuable insight into developing similar supply chains to decarbonize aviation in other markets,” says Neste’s President and CEO Peter Vanacker.

Jon Platt, Air BP Chief Executive Officer added: “I am pleased that through our collaboration with Neste we will be able to offer our Swedish customers sustainable aviation fuel at a number of airports across the country in 2019. We are committed to supporting our customers, through initiatives such as this, as they work towards reducing their emissions and realizing their low carbon ambitions.”

Putting CO₂ Emissions to Work: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Opus 12 Thu, 18 Apr 2019 21:41:56 +0000

Opus 12 has developed a device that recycles CO into cost-competitive chemicals and fuels. Their technology bolts onto any source of CO emissions, and with only water and electricity as inputs, transforms that CO into some of the world’s most critical chemical products. Opus 12 was one of six clean energy startups selected from around the country to be incubated in the first cohort of the prestigious Cyclotron Road program at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Today, their

commercial operations are in Berkeley, CA.

Etosha Cave, CSO, Nicholas Flanders, CEO, and Kendra Kuhl, CTO, all from Opus 12, gave this illuminating overview of their technology that recycles CO2 back into a carbon feedstock, their work with LanzaTech, White Dog Labs, NREL, Industrial Microbes, and others, how their electrolyzer could double the methane production of any biogas plant, their work with ethylene and ethanol, energy and mass balance for major products, and more, at ABLC Global 2018 in San Francisco