A Million Minds in the Advanced Bioeconomy…and more.

August 25, 2014 |

million mindsNot too long ago, the Digest passed the million reader mark. Meaning that there are far more than a million minds working right now on eliminating petroleum dependencies, creating rural jobs and reducing carbon footprints – developing new options or giving them the support they need.

After 9/11, Don Henley and Glenn Frye wrote and the Eagles sang, in Hole in the World:

“There’s a hole in the world tonight,
don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.”

So many have answered the call. So many that deserve our thanks, and applause.

Thank you, each one of you among the Million Minds. What you do matters, more than you know.

So many are working on a better tomorrow, that it becomes a challenge helping those Million Minds to connect and interconnect. Especially with the new feedstocks, technologies, and end-use molecules that have debuted since 2007, when the Digest’s readership could be measured in the dozens or the hundreds.

That was then

Back then, by reading about the latest on corn, wheat or sugarcane ethanol, and soy biodiesel, well, you could just about keep up with the major trends.

Back then, it was clear that the landscape was shifting — cellulosic biofuels were beginning their historic transition from the lab to commercial-scale; waste feedstocks and dedicated energy crops were in the news; a revival in algae research was underway; technologies like fast pyrolysis and gasification were getting ‘mo; “drop-in fuels” and what would become known as “renewable chemicals” were just emerging as topics in the dialogue; and synthetic biology options were coming out of the labs, and out of stealth.

This is now

Today, there’s hardly a project developer, or project, that works on a “business as usual” basis, making the same products using the same technology from the same feedstocks as in 2007.

For existing ethanol locations — whether it is corn oil extraction, the switch to biogas and milo, CO2 monetization, cellulosic bolt-ons, or butanol conversion, the new strategies are now commonplace. For existing biodiesel plants — whether it is enzymatic or distilled biodiesel, or a proliferation of feedstocks to include fish oils, waste veggie oils, fats, greases, tallows and more — the new technologies have replaced the old ways.

And, dozens of new plants have opened, showcasing new technologies, target molecules and feedstocks.

New tools for new times

With all the changes, it’s become more and more important for the industry to “network like crazy” as the needs are more diverse, the technologies more numerous, and the feedstock options more dizzying even if more compelling. Turning opportunity into a supply chain requires more stakeholder communication and interaction than ever — from grower adoption to user acceptance testing and every point in between.

We’ll be debuting two new features this week to bring readers closer together. The first, today — a new editorial feature, “4 Minutes With…” in which we profile some of the Million Minds in the industry — help you to know them better. We debut today via “4 Minutes with Marc Verbruggen, CEO of NatureWorks,” which has been transforming the field of renewable chemicals for some time.

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