Heard on the Floor at Day 2 of ABLC: 1325 attendees, sideline chat of ABLC Digital

July 8, 2020 |

Biogas, carbon, renewable diesel, biodiesel, methane, hydrogen, and many new markets, innovations, technologies, novel crops, and more were the talk of the day.

On day 2 of ABLC Digital it was chock full of content from 29 speakers that shared the latest content with 583 registered delegates – and 742 additional viewers took the stage virtually online for hours of ABLC content that was streamed on BioChannel.TV. About 50 people took part in zoom-based Digest Lounges in the after-hours to meet and connect in an informal environment.

And if you thought human interaction is low these days with COVID-19 restrictions, it was alive and well at ABLC Digital with hundreds of interactive comments recorded in the Americas main stage online channel.

If you missed some of the commentary, here’s a quick recap of some of the hottest topics and conversations from the audience on renewable natural gas, biochemicals, advanced biofuels, bioeconomy finance talk about dollars and funding, and more.

Burn, baby, burn! Renewable Natural Gas, Biobased Chem, CAPEX, OPEX

Wolf Weiss

always love Brian Foody’s presentations – data-rich, super-informative, great insights

9:12 AM

David Dodds

Was thinking that we need a “California LCFS” mechanism for bio-based chemicals.

9:13 AM

Paul Bryan (Indep. Consultant)

David – Yes, chemicals provide the same GHG benefits, so they should be on a level playing field with fuels

9:14 AM

David Dodds

“A fuel is just a chemical that you burn”.

9:14 AM

Jeff Passmore

David and Paul – agree re bio-based chems. But it’s a hard message to get across.

9:15 AM

Paul Bryan (Indep. Consultant)

The unique subsidy / mandate for fuels pushed a lot of people to try to leapfrog chemicals and go straight to the cheapest products of all.

9:16 AM

David Dodds

Good morning Jeff. You’re right, but if you tell a group of people to look at the “chemicals” that surround them – as you are talking – it can get the point across. Nylon and polyester in their clothes, carpeting, the paint on the walls, plastic coffee cups, chairs – there is quite alot that people don’t think about.

9:18 AM

Paul – the corollary is, people should be able to make as much, or more, with chemicals given the same arrangements – although the market volume is around 5% the size (in total carbon atoms!) of the fuel market.

9:19 AM

Paul Bryan (Indep. Consultant)

David – Yes, we need to get to fuels eventually

9:25 AM

Chris Roland Holst

What is the cost [CAPEX+OPEX] – additional value $ improvement analysis on these technologies? Have all of them been implemented and operated for 4000 hours? What are there sensitivities on feed stock variances

9:47 AM

Jeffery Mahaffey

The capex would of course depend on the size but for instance to handle 50 m3/hour an MEP system would cost around $600k and Opex would be around $50k per year. It would save nearly that much in purchased water per year.

9:49 AM

Frederic Clerc

SulphyPro: to what type of customers have you talked to? Do you see this technology applicable in an oil refinery?

9:51 AM

Jeffery Mahaffey

The big use for SulphyPro is to recover hydrogen from petroleum refining but it also works with biogas streams

9:52 AM

SulphyPro is a replacement for the typical iron sponge treatment

9:53 AM

Keith Simons

How do the costs of Sulphypro compare to a scrubber?

9:53 AM

Jeffery Mahaffey

Opex is very low but capex is more. No chemical use and it runs at 25 deg C.

9:53 AM

Daniel Dunleavy

Jeff: do you see a significant opportunity for industrial wastewater treatment ponds to “dome up” and try to produce biogas. pulp and paper industry process streams specifically

9:54 AM

Keith Simons

Typical payback?

9:54 AM

Jeffery Mahaffey

Payback is generally <2 years and in some cases closer to 1 depending on water cost. MEP can replace lagoons

9:55 AM

War on Waste Plastic! Bioplastic, Renewable Chemicals, Aromatics

Wolf Weiss

@Charlie (CEO of Checkerspot) – thanks for the presentation, and kudos on all the great progress

10:34 AM

Doris De Guzman

@David Sudolsky (CEO of Anellotech), Congratulations on the investment from R Plus Japan. Have you seen interests on biomass-based aromatics waning as opposed to aromatics from chemically-recycled plastic waste?

10:42 AM

Adrian Popescu

How sensitive is process to PVC contamination in feed streams?

10:44 AM

Chris Roland Holst

Are there any plastics you can not handle?

10:45 AM

Jim Lane

amazing news about R Plus Japan

10:49 AM

Michael Berube

Congrats! Plastic’s Initiative is very positive and aligns with DOE Priorities

10:50 AM

Rina Singh

@David Sudolsky, congrats for the JV, R Plus Japan!!

10:51 AM

Doris De Guzman

Chemical recycling is definitely a hot topic. You can check out my latest special report on this: https://orbichem.wordpress.com/2020/06/30/working-toward-a-circular-economy-in-challenging-times-the-chemical-recycling-solution/

10:51 AM

Rina Singh

Hi Doris! AFCC just published mechanical vs chemical recycling! David’s work is extremely important

10:54 AM

Advanced Biofuels – Methane, Renewable Dimethyl Ester, Gasification

During Mike Hart, CEO of Sierra Energy’s presentation, talk was that methane is THE problem of today and the focus was on utilizing “big problem feedstocks” such as recycled plastics, MSW, food waste continues.

11:01 AM

Chris Roland Holst

Time for landfill mining?

11:02 AM


Mike, GREET says that methane is 30x the effect of CO2. Can you explain the jump to 86x? Thanks so much.

11:03 AM

Wolf Weiss

better still: ‘stuff’ is collected and sent to MRFs. A lot of that waste stream can’t be economically retrieved and is sent to the landfill. A key will be to develop technology that can economically take that *mixed* waste and prevent it from going to the landfill, instead recycling the carbon and turning it into something useful/productive – and ideally, into higher-value products, not just (e.g.) ethanol.

11:05 AM

George Baskin

I’m always a little cautious of processes that require refined inputs like purified oxygen. is this economically and energy feasible.

11:08 AM

Chris Roland Holst

@George Some think it is. They are constructing!

11:08 AM

Jim Lane

Don Siefkes, full background on measuring methane is here https://www.factcheck.org/2018/09/how-potent-is-methane/  86X is accurate, so is the lower figure, and this article will explain how both can be correct

11:10 AM

Jim Lane

Very interesting series A funding

11:12 AM

George Baskin

@Chris building a military is not driven by economic forces. are they building elsewhere?

11:13 AM

Chris Roland Holst

Not to my knowledge

11:13 AM

Jim Lane

The Sierra calculator is available here https://sierraenergy.com/economics/cost-calculator/

11:14 AM

More on Sierra Energy Pathfinder is here https://sierraenergy.com/technology/our-systems/

11:15 AM

More on the Fort Hunter Liggett project which we saw featured is here https://sierraenergy.com/projects/fort-hunter-liggett/

11:16 AM

Some Sierra case studies are here https://sierraenergy.com/case-studies/

11:16 AM

Frederic Clerc

I’m not so familiar with the landfill industry, but in the case it’s very fragmented, how will these small owner/operator finance these types of investment?

11:16 AM

Jim Lane

More about the Oberon process here: http://oberonfuels.com/technology/oberon-process/

11:25 AM

We’ve had a number of presentations this week using a modular, smaller-scale approach – less carbon expended moving feedstocks around

11:26 AM

Ronald Cascone

Why would you ever want to make H2 fuel if DME iis aready zero carbon and far more convenient?

11:30 AM

George Baskin

#Ronald, i’m not sure why you wouldn’t just use DME directly as a fuel.

11:39 AM

Back to Renewable Chemicals –Brontide natural butylene glycol, Renewable Nylon

ABLC Digital turned to renewable chemicals again during Christophe Schilling, CEO Genomatica’s presentation.

Wolf Weiss

More info re LCAs, circular economy, etc in Genomatica’s sustainability report, at https://www.genomatica.com/wp-content/uploads/Genomatica-Sustainability-and-Social-Responsibility-2019.pdf

11:40 AM

Ronald Cascone

Steve/Christophe: You have done wonderful work with great products, Why has it taken so long?

11:43 AM

Wolf Weiss

hi Ron – one example – Brontide brand butylene glycol – Genomatica went from announcing demo-scale production to announcing first commercial-scale campaign in just one year

11:45 AM

Ronald Cascone

Yes, I recognize that you have been faster to commercialize than most, and at all

11:47 AM

very happy you are aiming at low cost, waste-based feeds, way to go

11:48 AM

Joanne Ivancic

How do you find “patient capital”? What does it take for a person/company/investment group to agree to be patient?

11:49 AM

Wolf Weiss

Also important: delivering processes/technologies that genuinely work at scale, with solid economics. We’ve all seen multiple companies try to commercialize technologies that were not yet ready – and the results were not good, for them or for the reputation of the industry. When Genomatica licenses a technology, like BDO, it really needs to deliver on its promises because a *customer* is paying to build and operate a plant – and they won’t do so if the tech doesn’t work. Novamont signed off on all license acceptance criteria about eight months after plant startup – which I feel is a positive sign of confirmation that things work.

11:49 AM

Ronald Cascone

To be clear, what Genonatica has done is very impressive

11:50 AM

Jennifer Holmgren

Way to go, Genomatica. Knocking it out of the park and showing the world that there is another way to make the chemicals we use every day. 👍👏👏

11:50 AM

Daily Digest Lounge

During the Daily Digest Lounge hangout, we relived the moment that Jennifer Holmgren said ‘There are no solar yoga pants’ and Jim Lane said carbon is a precious thing more than once to show just how precious it really is. But then someone asked what if from now on we say “de-fossilize” instead of “decarbonize”?

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  12:07 PM

Very interesting. Great to hear. I wonder what motivated the pivot, and when did it start?

From William Collings to Everyone:  12:12 PM

The pivot started with LCFS which makes these projects economically attractive.  Avoidance of paying RINs to date has not been enough to justify projects.  The payback is poor for projects that are solely based on RINs.  With LCFS, you can justify projects assuming you believe the value of the credits will last.

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  12:14 PM

Thank you Mr. Collings. A very helpful insight.

From George Baskin to Everyone:  12:16 PM

LCFS is a much clearer system than RINS.

From Joanne Ivancic to Everyone:  12:17 PM

I’ve been wondering if Big Oil will start coming back to ABLC and presenting on their renewables work.  I also think that because making renewable diesel is close to what they have done in the past, where there expertise is, helps.  Bio-based stuff like ethanol might have been too different, except for Valero.  Does that make sense to anyone else?

From William Collings to Everyone:  12:17 PM

LCFS in my estimation delivers about 2-3 times what RINs delivers in terms of project revenue.  Round numbers.

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  12:18 PM

It sounds like “Instant Dinosaur, Add Hot water & Stir”

From John Oyen to Everyone:  12:18 PM

Carbon Capture without utilization is a cost without a direct economic benefit

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  12:20 PM

I’m wondering if BigOil would be more receptive to the possibility of working with us.

Agility Matters

From George Baskin to Everyone:  12:20 PM

@Joanne. That makes sense to me. A reduction of lot tracking could also result in a exponential jump in renewables production.

From John Oyen to Everyone:  12:20 PM

LanzaJet is a great stand alone to get SAF moving faster.

Jim Lane wrapped it up by noting that values affect habits, habits affect action, action changes the world so it all starts with values. And Chris Tindal noted that getting traditional away from fossil fuels and traditional sustainable aviation jet fuel. We want traditional to be renewables not fossil.

12:30pm – 2020 William C. Holmberg Award

The winner of the 2020 William C. Holmberg Award for Lifetime Achievement was none other than Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. Amid many congratulatory messages, more than one in the audience referred to Jennifer as inspirational.

1:02pm – Joanne Ivancic

Whenever I give talks to students, I always mention Jennifer and her career journey as well as her achievements and her values. Because she is so inspirational.

1:02pm – Jennifer Holmgren

Forgive the email blast… I just wanted to thank all of you for your strong support through the years. Every time we have faltered, you have all been there to pick us up, to pick me up, and ensure we can keep going. Nothing would have been possible without the support and friendship of the broader community that Jim brings together for ABLC. THANK YOU!!!

The Bioeconomy Finance Forum

This panel was full of heavy hitters in the let’s talk money category – Mark Riedy, Kilpatrick Townsend, John Kirkwood, FaegreDrinker, Matt Lucas, New Energy Risk, Mark Glotfelty, Goldman Sachs, Jigar Shah, Generate, Scott Chabina, Chabina Energy Partners, Harrison Clay, BP.

Wolf Weiss

to presenters, if online: any comments on accessing ESG-focused capital? Many institutional funds looking for good ESG investments amongst public companies – what about private?

1:16 PM

John Shideler

To presenters: what degree of interest are you seeing in financing with green bonds or green loans?

1:19 PM

Jeff Passmore

Why are markets growing given what’s going on in the broader COVID economy? Some say Wall Street is completely out of touch with Main Street. And thoughts from the panel?

1:20 PM

Anju Krivov

To presenters: the media stories are indicating that due to COVID-19, venture investors are focused on maintaining their existing portfolio and holding off on investing in new companies. Any advice for bioenergy or related companies?

1:20 PM

Mark Riedy

ESG funding is being done significantly into private/non-public companies from strategic investors. We see a good deal in each of the SAF, RNG and renewable diesel technology and project companies from airlines and obligated parties from the refining industry and waste feedstock industry. Mark Riedy

1:22 PM

Green Bonds, and particularly vis-a-vis the municipal tax exempt market, are being driven by the institutional buyers of bonds lending into projects–pension funds, insurance companies, hedge funds, etc. Mark Riedy

1:24 PM

Wolf Weiss

@Anju: I wouldn’t describe it as a shutdown of new investments. E.g., see data from Crunchbase, Fenwick, etc. Think of it instead as any time there is greater market/economic uncertainty, that sets a higher bar for a company to break through these issues and get funded successfully. Puts a premium on having your ducks in a row, clarity re your milestones and growth path, pragmatism re valuations, etc.

1:25 PM

Mark Riedy

To Jeff Passmore–do you mean why is the stock market growing generally or the market for funding for bioeconomy project specifically? Mark Riedy

1:26 PM

Chris Roland Holst

Who are the typical tax exempt investors?

1:28 PM

Jeff Passmore

Mark – Generally, not specific to bioeconomy.

1:30 PM

Mark Riedy

To Anju–the venture capital investors long back left the bioeconomy and generally for IT and social media investments because they scale short with quick returns versus the long scaling of bioeconomy projects. VC funds have shown up in the energy storage space as they can provide returns more quickly when paired up with solar. Strategic investors largely are replacing VCs in the bioeconomy.

1:30 PM

To Chris–tax exempt investors typically are pension funds, asset management companies, insurance companies and hedge funds. Mark

1:32 PM

Wolf Weiss

adding to Mark’s comments: still see venture investments in things like tools/services – the shovels/picks for the bioeconomy. Later stage ‘bio’ companies can be a match for growth-stage investors that see potential to build real and sizable firms.

1:37 PM

Mark Riedy

To Jeff–The stock market typically has a long view on investments. It does not react as quickly to short term events like COVID 19. The market generally is betting on where the stocks will be a year plus down the road. It understands that with 150 vaccines in R&D at different stages that COVID will be a thing of the past withing the next year. That said, the market also reacts to certain trends–like the value increase in technology stocks that operate to the benefit of the current remote work environments or companies that can deliver consumer goods quickly through online purchases due to COVID–like Amazon.

1:38 PM

Doris De Guzman

Here’s an interesting press release to look into: Henkel first company to conclude a plastic waste reduction bond https://www.henkel.com/press-and-media/press-releases-and-kits/2020-07-03-henkel-first-company-to-conclude-a-plastic-waste-reduction-bond-1099796

1:40 PM

George Baskin

asking an EPC to provide a rap on unproven process technology is typically a non-starter. EPC’s will wrap scope, schedule; and budget. Not whether the process developed by researchers will work at commercial scale.

2:03 PM

Adrian Popescu

How much SAF can the LCFS market handle?

2:07 PM

Rashi Akki

What is your sense of LCFS expanding beyond California and Oregon?

2:07 PM

George Baskin

Some of the oil companies that i work with foresee the potential of LCFS growing to cover the west coast, northeast and Canada in the relatively near future.

2:10 PM

Mark Riedy

George–You are correct. An EPC will not provide a full performance bond wrap on a new technology that it did not develop itself nor previously built into successful operation. That is why we developed 12 years back the technology risk insurance with AIG that has now morphed to New Energy Risk/XL-AXA, Munich Re, ARGO/Llyods of London, and others now in a better form. Each of these companies is a bit different than the others in these policies. That said, NER pioneered the new tech risk policy format and is exceptionally strong versus the rest of the insurance industry. NER has demonstrated tremendous creativity and is protecting first commercial projects in the bioeconomy, energy storage, fuel cell, healthcare and other cutting-edge industries. It is also developing other policies requiring risk abatement.

2:16 PM

Adrian–Hard to say, as the LCFS is new to SAF since 1/1/20.

2:17 PM

LCFS is in developing legislation in 8 states and Canada at present.

2:18 PM

Joanne Ivancic

Too bad we can only choose one from each list

2:19 PM

Mark Riedy

LCFS is developing in Neb, Washington, SD, Minn, Iowa, Mass, NY, Pa.

2:20 PM

You can choose multiple of the presenters.

2:21 PM

George Baskin

@MarkR thanks for info. I have investigated projects that had those types of financial instruments, but none ever made it off the drawing board, so to speak.

2:48 PM

Advanced Biofuels – Moving into biochem and biomaterials, cellulosic ethanol

Pramod Chaudhari, Chairman of Praj shared their latest and huge news that Praj is now all set to make foray into global Renewable Chemicals & Materials space. Stay tuned for more on that. David Schwalje of Axens also shared their latest on cellulosic ethanol and second-generation biofuels.

Brandon Banks


2:56 PM

Look forward to the upcoming networking sessions to connect to further discussion on 2G Cellulosic Ethanol

2:56 PM

John Oyen, VP of ABB and Eloy Flores, VP, SWRI had many fans in the audience too.

Matt Snyder

Excellent presentation! Thank you John.

3:21 PM

Jennifer Gottwald

Talk was great – thank you!

3:22 PM

Joanne Ivancic

On the slide ethanol to ethylene to fuel–what is the fuel?

3:32 PM

Thank you Eloy. Excellent presentation.

3:37 PM

Has anybody come up with a biobased Indoline for auto emissions in-use compliance testing?

3:38 PM

Advanced Biofuels Summit

To wrap up the day of formal presentations, Ken Brown, CEO of Smisson-Mathis, talked about dirty disgusting FOG (fats, oils and greases) and how trash to treasure really does exist.

Martin Brandt

cool picture of the fat in the sewer!

4:05 PM

John Shideler

Need to go back to the feedstock processing step!

4:08 PM

Daily Digest Lounge – Part 2

The day wasn’t complete until the conversation turned to poop and gas of course. Poop to power and biogas that is.

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  04:41 PM

Poop goes mainstream.

From William Collings to Everyone:  04:43 PM

Why do you think bio gas is so hot?  What has changed since last year?

SME had that picture.  It was the enzymatic biodiesel presentation.

From Joanne Ivancic to Everyone:  04:49 PM

Part is LCFS and the promo of dairy waste as feedstock and much work on it there.  They were leaders making others able to follow.  People have been working in the background on that for years.  Everyone wants to be first to be second.

We’ve been following developments here: https://advancedbiofuelsusa.info/tag/renewable-natural-gas/

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  04:52 PM

Being the first is overrated on multiple levels.

From Joanne Ivancic to Everyone:  04:53 PM

Thus the preference to be second–or third.

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  04:55 PM

<silently nods with a smile>

From William Collings to Everyone:  04:57 PM

I’d say being first or close to first has been quite lucrative for companies like Neste and Diamond Green Diesel (Valero/Darling).

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  04:59 PM

Valero could have put algae-based biofuels back in 2015….had they been willing to engage with the algae industry a second time. Valero was treated horribly.

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  05:13 PM

LanzaTech is a work of Art.

Moo! <Algae Cow>

From AkashaKaur to Everyone:  05:18 PM

The California Energy Commission has been funding alternate fuels for years. Our Clean Transportation Program funding comes to an end 1/1/2024. So we are looking at the wisdom of grants. Should we wait for better ratios of private capital to public funds?

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  05:23 PM

Great Connect session.

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  05:30 PM

Feedstock availability…….Hmmm….

From Chris Roland Holst to Everyone:  05:31 PM

yes always a concern for finance market

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  05:32 PM

Eventually, California will run out of dead trees.

From George Baskin to Everyone:  05:32 PM

Matt are you implying that algae could be a plentiful feedstock?

From Matt Snyder to Everyone:  05:38 PM

That’s what I got into this business to bring to the world. Our technology is a continuously harvested biomass engine.

That’s scalable.

I would be glad to provide some basic information if you would like.

And the government would balance their budget.

Follow the money in California.

Stimulating conversation! Thank you to everyone.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: ,

Category: Top Stories

Thank you for visting the Digest.