Top 10 Storylines: Heard on the Floor at the 2017 BIO World Congress

July 24, 2017 |

Industrial biotech’s biggest and grandest show, the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology, opened today in Montreal and BIO itself was in the newsframe with a striking report debunking myths around RIN price surges.

10 Hot Newstories from the World Congress Floor

1. Going commercial. Verdezyne has started construction of its first commercial, in Malaysia completion expected in 2018. There’ll be an official ground breaking shortly, but shovels are in the ground.

2. Broin nabs Carver. Jeff Broin made a rare appearance on the BIO World Congress stage to accept the Carver Award for Lifetime Achievement, and made a deep impression with the origin story of POET from its days as a 1 million gallon family-owned ethanol plant bought out of bankruptcy to a $6 billion company today, and in his warm tribute to George Washington Carver as an inspiration to the bioeconomy today.

3. Australia calling. Mercurius is about to pick up a pilot project in Queensland, Australia — a worthy follow-on to their DOE pilot project in the US.

4. The bio-based Bottle. Origin Materials was presenting — last year they were still under their previous Micromidas banner — good things heard on capital raising and progress of the NaturALL Bottle Alliance (including Nestle and Danone) for selecting a site for a commercial-scale plant for this waste-to-PET technology.

5. Butamax rising? DuPont’s Jan Koninckx said progress has been steady with the Butamax commercial-scale biobutanol project just now in early stages in north Kansas.

6. zuChem lands Cummings as COO. zuChem announced that Dan Cummings is joining the compamny as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. Cummings  — known for his long-time tenure at INEOS Bio whnre he rose to President of the JV with New Planet Energy, and later as President of POST-DSM — will oversee manufacturing and commercialization of its xylitol product.

ZuChem’s proprietary technology platform allows it to inexpensively produce a variety of specialty sweeteners, pharmaceutical intermediates, nutritional prebiotics and other bio-products at industrial scale using renewable chemicals as raw materials.  The company is on the verge of commercialization as it launches its first manufacturing venture for xylitol with a joint venture in China and brings product to market later this year.

7. A cool paper. Penned by BIO’s own Paul Winters and appearing in the peer-reviewed Biofuels, this new paper uses EPA’s data on RFS compliance to demonstrate that that the “so-called ethanol blendwall” has “never been a barrier to the program.” .

The background. A seminal economic paper theorized that when US refiners encountered the 10% blend wall for blending ethanol into gasoline, they would experience a shortage of Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance credits and consequent higher prices. When Renewable Identification Number (RIN) prices spiked in 2013, many economists and policy makers incorrectly deduced it was due to the predicted shortage stemming from the blend wall. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response made changes to the RFS.

That’s where Winters attacks with an incisive analysis. The study shows that the changes EPA introduced to the program since 2014 have had no impact on the blendwall or the use of ethanol by obligated parties. Whether you look at the annual volume obligations for D6 and D5 ethanol, or the volumes of ethanol obligated parties actually used each year, both numbers are above 10 percent of obligated gasoline volumes every year since 2011. You can read all about it here.

8. Industrial Biotechnology: A Unique Potential for Pollution Prevention 

A decade ago, in 2007, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, “Bioengineering for Pollution Prevention,” found that industrial biotechnology and biobased manufacturing are more energy efficient, cleaner and make use of sustainable renewable resources. The report reviewed the state of the science and recommended future research priorities.  Now, the EPA has extended and updated the report with Industrial Biotechnology: A Unique Potential for Pollution Prevention, just released and you can read it in full here.

9. Gord Surgeoner to Receive 2017 BIO Leadership and Legacy Award. BIO  awarded its annual Leadership & Legacy Ward to Dr. Gord Surgeoner, former president of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies.

Surgeoner stated, “The global biobased economy provides new opportunities for Ontario’s and Canada’s agricultural and food industries. That is why I have dedicated much of my energy to expanding access to new technologies and market opportunities, which help Ontario producers compete in the global marketplace. I am honored to receive BIO’s Leadership and Legacy Award.”

10. Avantium takes next step and signs contract with AkzoNobel for pilot biorefinery in Delfzijl. Good news from The Netherlands/ Avantium and AkzoNobel have signed a contract for the pilot plant accommodation and the supply of various facilities and services.  The pilot plant will validate the technical and economic feasibility of Avantium’s Zambezi process, and will be located at the Chemie Park Delfzijl, a part of Chemport Europe and is supported by the Groningen province. The plant is expected to be operational in the second quarter of 2018 with Avantium’s Zambezi project on track.

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