SG Biofuels: Biofuels Digest’s 5-Minute Guide

December 17, 2012 |

Address:  11260 El Camino Real, Suite O, San Diego, CA 92130

Company description:

SG Biofuels is a bioenergy crop company using molecular breeding and biotechnology to develop elite, hybrid seeds of Jatropha.  The company has sold more than 250,000 acres of its hybrid Jatropha seed, including orders from two of the top 20 largest energy companies in the world.

SGB’s JMax Jatropha Optimization Platform draws from the world’s largest and most diverse library of Jatropha genetic material, the sequence of the Jatropha genome, molecular markers and advanced biotech and synthetic biology tools to select, test and scale elite Jatropha cultivars for unique growing conditions around the world.

Major Investors:

• Flint Hills Resources (10th largest oil refiner in the United States; a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries)

• Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: LIFE)

• Kitano Capital

Type of Technology(ies):

Intensive selection and breeding programs are identifying and developing the most productive, regionally adapted strains from the company’s germplasm collection. Through outcrosses to combine important traits and inbreeding to improve uniformity, considerable advancements have already been achieved.

SG Biofuels plant biotechnology program is accelerating the improvement of Jatropha through the association of molecular markers with trait genes and the development of plant regeneration, transformation and dihaploid technologies.

The company has formed an alliance with Life Technologies Corporation, a leading provider of advanced biotechnology and synthetic biology tools.

The partnership has successfully sequenced the Jatropha curcas genome, using the SOLiD™ 4.0 System by Life Technologies. Working with Life Technologies, SG Biofuels has used the sequence to generate a high quality Jatropha reference genome. The genome has been used to compare re-sequences generated from SG Biofuels’ germplasm library– to identify molecular markers and trait genes to accelerate development of elite cultivars.

Feedstocks:

Jatropha:   a non-edible shrub that is native to Central America.  Its seeds contain high amounts of oil that can be used for a variety of bio-based materials including biodiesel and feedstock substitutes for the petrochemical and jet fuel industries.  Because it is non-edible and can be effectively harvested on marginal land that is considered undesirable for food crops, it does not compete with global food supplies.

Successful flights by Air New Zealand, Continental, Boeing, Rolls Royce and others have validated Jatropha as a superior source of jet fuel, in large part due to its superior performance at cold temperatures.

Products 

Crude Jatropha oil can be used for a variety of bio-based materials including renewable diesel, biodiesel and as a feedstock substitute for the petrochemical and jet fuel industries.

Through its JMax hybrid seed product line, and patent-pending hybrid seed production methodology, SG Biofuels provides growers high yielding, uniform and profitable Jatropha seeds that have been adapted to their growing conditions.  Hybrid seeds result in greater yield, uniformity and vigor while significantly reducing handling and deployment costs.

Product Cost.

SGB’s hybrid Jatropha can produce high quality Jatropha crude oil at a cost of between $99 or less per barrel today, with a clear path to reduce production costs through molecular breeding and biotechnology.

Offtake partners (if applicable)

Flint Hills Resources, Bharat Renewable Energy (BREL)

Milestones to Date

• Signed customers for more than 250,000 acres of hybrid Jatropha seed including 2 of the top 20 largest energy companies in the world, including Bharat Renewable Energy (JV of Bharat Petroleum, the second largest petroleum company in India).

• Developed industry-leading, patent-pending hybrid seed production methodology, revolutionizing Jatropha through increased yields, uniformity and reduced handling costs for growers.

• Established operations and customer relationships in Brazil and India.

Business Model: (e.g. owner-operator, technology licensor, fee-based industry supplier, investor)

Competitive Edge(s):

• JMax hybrid Jatropha seeds resulting in a production cost of crude Jatropha oil of between $55 and $65 per barrel.

• The executive management team includes direct experience at companies including DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred, Syngenta, Monsanto, Diversa, Dow Agro Sciences and Chromatin.

• A fully-integrated platform providing upstream and downstream expertise, led by partnerships and investments from Life Technologies Corporation and Flint Hills Resources and an alliance with Bharat Renewable Energy.

• Hybrid seed production technology, resulting in significantly greater yield, uniformity and vigor while reducing handling and deployment costs for plantation developers.

• Customer orders for more than 250,000 acres of hybrid Jatropha seed, as well as a global pipeline of more than 1.5 million acres.

• Access to the vast biotech and synthetic biology resources of Life Technologies. A completed sequence of the Jatropha genome, accelerating the identification and development of key traits.

• Development of the world’s largest collection of Jatropha genetic material, including 12,000 unique genotypes gathered from the center of origin for the plant in Central America.

• The JMax Jatropha Optimization Platform enabling the adaptation of elite hybrid varieties of Jatropha for growing conditions around the world.  Global coverage includes operations in Central America, Brazil and India.

Research, or Manufacturing Partnerships or Alliances.

• Bunge  (NYSE: BG)

• Flint Hills Resources

• Life Technologies Corp (NASDAQ: LIFE)

• Bharat Renewable Energy Limited (BREL)

• Brookhaven National Laboratory

• Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels

• Danforth Plant Science Center

• Hawaii Agriculture Research Center

 

Stage  (Bench, pilot, demonstration, commercial)

Commercial

 

Company website

 

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