Special China Report: 10 Top Advanced Bioeconomy Stories in China and Taiwan

July 16, 2015 |

top-10The 10 Biggest Advanced Bioeconomy stories of the year we reported from the world’s second-biggest economic region.

1. DuPont, New Tianlong Industry Co. ink Cellulosic Ethanol pact; China’s first Advanced Renewable Fuel Project on the way

In July 2015, DuPont and Jilin Province New Tianlong Industry Co. announced a licensing agreement to begin the development of China’s largest cellulosic ethanol facilities. The facility will be located in Siping City, Jilin Province, China. The agreement calls for NTL to license DuPont’s cellulosic ethanol technology and use DuPont Accellerase enzymes, to produce renewable biofuel from the leftover biomass on Jilin Province’s highly productive corn farms. NTL is working to secure the necessary government approvals and government support confirmation for this agreement.

2. China Steel green-lights commercial-scale LanzaTech advanced biofuels project

In July 2015, Taiwan’s China Steel Corporation announced formal Board approval of a $46M capital investment in a LanzaTech commercial ethanol facility. This follows the successful demonstration of the revolutionary carbon recycling platform at the White Biotech Demonstration Plant in Kaohsiung using steel mill off gases for ethanol production.

As CEO Jennifer Holmgren tells the Digest, “the problem one always has in scaling is getting someone to agree to be the first.  We now have another partner that is interested in scaling our technology.  When you license technology – you need to scale more than at one facility to get the revenues you need to become self-sufficient and therefore having multiple units on track to scale up is important.”

In November 2012, CSC and LCY Chemical Corporation formed a joint venture, White Biotech, as part of a Green Energy Alliance with LanzaTech. The resulting demonstration plant met or exceeded all ethanol production milestones and the CSC Board have formally approved the capital to move to commercial-scale.

3. Cathay Pacific makes strategic biofuels investment in Fulcrum, signs $1B+ jet fuel deal

In August 2014, Cathay Pacific Airways announced a strategic investment in Fulcrum BioEnergy, and negotiated a long-term supply agreement with Fulcrum for an initial 375 million US gallons of sustainable aviation fuel over 10 years (representing on an annual basis approximately 2% of the airline’s current fuel consumption) that meets all the airline’s technical requirements and specifications.

Fulcrum plans to commence construction of its first commercial plant later this year and to build large-scale, waste-to-renewable jet fuel plants at multiple locations, including locations strategic to the Cathay Pacific network, primarily in North America.

4. M&G Chemicals, Anhui Guozhen ink pact to build world’s largest cellulosic biofuels plant

In July 2014, M&G Chemicals announced a joint venture with Anhui Guozhen CO, using PROESA technology licensed by Beta Renewables to convert 970,000-1,300,000 metric tons per year of agricultural residues into cellulosic ethanol, glycols and by-products such as lignin in Fuyang City (Anhui Province, PRC).

The biomass will be supplied by Guozhen under a long-term fixed price agreement, and the enzymes needed for the conversion of the biomass will be supplied by Novozymes as earlier announced.

M&G and Guozhen shareholding in the Green Refinery joint venture are 70% and 30% respectively and the total joint venture investment is estimated to be around $325 million, to construct what will be by far the largest cellulosic (i.e. using non-food biomass) bio-refinery in the world.

5. Edeniq signs R&D agreement with China’s Global Bio-Chem Technology Group

In December 2014, Edeniq announced a Joint Development Agreement with Global Bio-chem Technology Group Limited Following a letter of intent forged in July, the companies further cement their cooperation on developing the lowest cost process for converting corn stover to cellulosic sugars for use in the production of bio-based chemical products.

Edeniq and Global Bio-chem plan to integrate their technologies in a commercial demonstration plant at Global Bio-chem’s facility in the Jilin Province of China. Construction has been initiated on the plant, with a target to produce 50,000 metric tons per year of sugars from corn stover.

6. Dragonair to operate first commercial biofuel flight from Mainland China

In March 2015,, Dragonair, part of the Cathay Pacific Group, said it operates its first commercial flight using a biofuel blend. The KA859 service from Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport to Hong Kong on 21 March took off with the aircraft tanks filled with a 50:50 blend of fossil-based jet fuel and bio-based jet fuel, refined from 100% used cooking oil as feedstock. As well as being a first for Dragonair, this was the first time any international commercial flight has been operated from Mainland China using a biofuel blend.

7. China returns to top destination for DDGS exports as they reach record high

As of July 2014, DDGS exports to China have finally recovered, hitting a record high at 74% of total exports in May with 864,777 metric tons out of a total 1,171,916 metric tons. Ethanol exports reached 64.4 million gallons, down 14% from April. May marked the 22nd straight month the US was a net ethanol exporter.

In May, the Renewable Fuels Association says that exports of DDGS to China have recovered to previous levels following a tough 18 months when the country banned imports of certain GM strains in corn. Half of March’s exports went to China, totaling 469,354 metric tons. Current estimates are for annual exports to reach 9.74 million tons — but if China truly returns to the market for US DDGS, then exports could hit 11 million tons by year’s end.

8. USDA sees China’s biofuel production well below Five Year Plan goals

In January 2015, the USDA attaché in Beijing said that biodiesel production rose 5% on the year in 2014 to 1.13 billion liters with production expected to reach 1.19 billion liters in 2015. That’s slower growth than the 18% rise seen between 2012 and 2013. Ethanol production was up 6% in 2014 at 2.8 billion liters. China’s 12th Five Year Plan calls for 4 million metric tons of ethanol production and 1 million tons of biodiesel production by 2015 but is nowhere near those targets.

9. China New Energy making progress on Hungarian and Thai ethanol projects

In April, China New Energy reported that its projects in Hungary and Thailand are proceeding well. Visontai Bioetanol Fejlesztő Korlátolt Felelősségű Társaság informed CNE that the 30 million Euro project finance has been agreed with local banks and that CNE should expect to commence the construction of the 150 million liter per year corn-ethanol biorefinery in 2015. CNE is undertaking the project in partnership with the Oriental Scientific Instrument Import and Export Corporation (“OSIC) and local construction companies. CNE has an option to acquire 24% of the Viscontai project.

10. Novozymes sees China building second-gen plant in next two years

In China, Novozymes expects a commercial-scale second-generation plant to be online within the next two years, with between 50,000 and 100,000 tons of capacity, with several more plants online in five years. The company expects 1 million tons of second-generation production to be online in the next five years, with China contributing a large part of the volume.

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