Biofuels Digest The world's most widely-read advanced bioeconomy daily Mon, 18 Feb 2019 13:09:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2019 Hot 50 Voting: The Early Photo Votes Mon, 18 Feb 2019 13:09:40 +0000

In Florida, LanzaTech, Amyris, Novozymes, Neste, POET/DSM, POET, Impossible Foods, Anellotech, Beyond Meat and BASF have taken the lead in early voting in the 50 Hottest Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy ballot. More on the early leaders here.

Meanwhile, photo votes are now coming in — a highlight of the year for Advanced Bioeconomy creativity. Here’s the best of what we’ve seen to date.

Biochar Science and Market: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Biochar Sun, 17 Feb 2019 21:07:03 +0000

Lee Enterprises Consulting is the world’s largest bioeconomy consulting group with over 100 subject matter experts (SME’s) in all areas of the bioeconomy.

Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE, a technical expert in pyrolysis, biochar and activated carbon, and Gerald Kutney, PhD, a business expert in pyrolysis and biochar, and both members of Lee Enterprises Consulting offer this illuminating perspective on the science of biochar, associated commercial activities, and more.

Blockchain Bonanza – how blockchain is making things saner from farm to factory and beyond Sun, 17 Feb 2019 19:57:38 +0000

It’s a chain full of blocks and each block has information like a timestamp and transaction details. You add your block of information to the chain which has all prior handlers’ blocks attached. You can’t change their data, but it’s there. You just add yours and move it along to the next step in the chain. So when something, a feedstock, a product, whatever, reaches the end point, whatever that end point may be, it has a big, beautiful blockchain attached to it with a recording of all previous connections and links.

That’s about the quickest and most basic summary you can get of what blockchain is, yet it’s changing the world. It’s changing the way supply chains work. It’s changing even the way we look at currency with bitcoin.

So how does it work in the bioeconomy? Will blockchain be something that the biofuels and biomaterials industries use on a day to day matter of fact sort of way? Let’s take a look at how some are already using blockchain and what this could mean for efficiency, tracking and transparency and validation for the bioeconomy.

World’s first corn transaction using blockchain

Just recently blockchain changed the way corn transactions happen. New tech start-up Grain Discovery sets its sights on transforming the agriculture industry following the world’s first corn transaction using blockchain. This trade on the Grain Discovery platform is the first step in creating a more modern, transparent, and secure agricultural supply chain.

Founded in 2018 by leaders in the commodities, blockchain, trading and data fields, Grain Discovery aims to revolutionize how farmers trade their grain.

“Farming technology in the agricultural industry is incredibly advanced,” explained Rory O’Sullivan, CEO of Grain Discovery. “However, the way grain is bought and sold hasn’t changed much since our grandparents were farming! In the age of Amazon and eBay, we reckoned the industry deserves better.”

Grain Discovery’s online marketplace allows farmers and buyers to advertise their deals in real time and complete their trades through blockchain, resulting in secure and instant payment and built-in traceability that continues beyond the farm gate.

On December 24, 2018, following the unexpected rejection of two loads of corn, tested on-site to be just over the threshold for vomitoxin – a toxin produced by mould that has damaged much of Ontario’s corn harvest – Prince Edward County farmers Larry Reynolds and Lloyd Crowe used the Grain Discovery platform to find a new local buyer, confirm the trade and receive payment instantly.

“By using Grain Discovery, we were not only able to avoid hours of searching for a new buyer, but found one just down the road, at a better price than the original deal, and were paid instantly,” said Mr. Reynolds.

Grain Discovery is focused on untangling the complicated supply chain paths for grains. The Grain Discovery platform gives more control to both farmers and buyers and has endless applications, from allowing consumers to see the path their food travelled, to calculating the carbon intensity behind the production of food and biofuels.

“We are participating in a number of other pilot projects this year, including tracing soybeans from seeds in Canada to the export market in Japan and coffee from Columbia to your local café,” said Mr. O’Sullivan. “This transaction was the vital first step towards realizing our goals.”

For farmers like Mr. Reynolds it’s a simple equation: “If blockchain technology means a few extra dollars in my pocket and a few hours less trucking, then that’s a win.”

“Blockchain provides both corn producers and processors speed and transparency within the supply chain,” sums up Jim Grey, Former Chair of Renewable Industries Canada and Former CEO of IGPC Ethanol Inc. “Furthermore, emerging issues, such as grain and by-product quality, and the implied carbon intensity within the supply chain, will be better determined as a result of the providence blockchain technology provides.”

World’s first agricultural commodity transaction using blockchain

In The Netherlands, Louis Dreyfus Company, Shandong Bohi Industry Co., Ltd, ING, Societe Generale and ABN Amro completed the first full agricultural commodity transaction using a blockchain platform between the U.S. and China, as reported by NUU in January 2018.

In the test, the enhanced Easy Trading Connect platform was used to execute a soybean shipment transaction from the United States to China and covered the full complexity of the operation, including a larger number of participants and a broader scope. For the first time ever in the agricultural commodities sector, this trade included a full set of digitalized documents and automatic data-matching, thus avoiding task duplication and manual checks.

Time spent on processing documents and data has been reduced fivefold. Other benefits include the ability to monitor the operation’s progress in real time, data verification, reduced risk of fraud, and a shorter cash cycle. This shows huge potential to advance commodity trading and financing.

World’s first bunker delivery using blockchain

Earlier this month, GoodFuels used blockchain to help global mining company BHP and Japanese shipping company NYK fuel up with biofuel, as reported in The Digest. The successful delivery of sustainable biofuels to the BHP-chartered, NYK-owned bulk carrier Frontier Sky with CO2 savings was verified with BLOC’s blockchain fuels assurance platform.

In the Netherlands, GoodFuels Marine and blockchain technology and governance experts Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration (BLOC) successfully completed the world’s first bunker delivery and transaction using blockchain technology, as reported by The Digest in September 2018.

The delivery represented a landmark moment for the shipping industry, which has traditionally been beset by quality and quantity disputes when fueling vessels. Unlike traditional bunker delivery notes (BDN), a paper document still widely used in the industry, blockchain – a decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger – provides end-to-end traceability of marine bunkering transactions from storage, to the barge or jetty, and on to the vessel’s fuel tank, thereby providing assurance to shipowners, shippers and charterers.

The landmark also represented the first transaction for Maritime Blockchain Labs (MBL), an initiative by BLOC of blockchain pilot projects conducted in collaboration with blockchain practitioners and industry actors. In addition, the event marked the first sustainable low carbon marine fuel delivery as part of the GoodShipping Program, which is part of MBL.

Dirk Kronemeijer, CEO and Founder, GoodFuels Marine, commented: “For too long shipping has been reliant upon paper transaction notes when bunkering, which expose shipowners, shippers and charterers to the potential of being misled on the quality and quantity of fuel. At GoodFuels, we are always striving to break convention – not for the sake of it, but because in this era there is no technological barrier to providing customers better assurance.

“In addition, for GoodFuels Marine, as the world’s first supplier of sustainable ‘drop-in’ marine biofuel, we realise we have to go beyond current standards to ensure traceability. This transaction – the first of many to come – shows the confidence we have in delivering ‘on spec’, sustainable low carbon fuel.”

Deanna Macdonald, CEO, BLOC, added: “This project not only allows us to validate the value of blockchain technology in the marine fuels supply chain, but also to identify incentives to ensure that users input correct information into systems, and that any technology and systems created can be used as widely as possible.

“The bunker industry – with its multiple large volume transactions, and history of fraudulent claims – provides an ideal platform to examine where blockchain’s digital platform can be utilised to increase transparency, and create better compliance and strong governance. The fact that the first transaction was for low carbon fuel makes both the project and the opportunity for the future all the more exciting.”

COFCO, ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus

Those are some big names here and they are on top of the latest digital tech. As reported in The Digest in December 2018, in Switzerland, COFCO International Ltd partnered with Archer Daniels Midland Company, Bunge Limited, Cargill Incorporated, and Louis Dreyfus Company to standardize data and digitize global agricultural shipping transactions. Together, the companies are looking to increase transparency and efficiency for customers through digital technologies, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence.

Emerging technologies like blockchain give us the opportunity to create a transparent, secure and efficient platform and transform global agricultural trade operations,” said Johnny Chi, Chairman and CEO of COFCO International. “Our shared vision is to develop a new standard available to everyone, bringing industry-wide benefits.”

The partnership is initially focused on developing technologies to automate grain and oilseed post-trade execution processes, significantly reducing costs and resources needed to move documents around the globe. Longer term, the initiative will drive greater security, reliability, efficiency and transparency by digitizing manual, paper-based processes tied to contracts, invoices and payments, with a more modern, digitally based approach.

OriginOil and WaterChain

As reported in The Digest in April 2018, in California, the folks at OriginOil have been evolving their technology and applications into industrial water treatment as interest in algae biofuels died down earlier in the decade and are now evolving further by integrating blockchain technology into their new business WaterChain in an effort to offer wastewater treatment for industry powered by their own technologies mixed with blockchain.

Bottom Line

In the current times of questionable data, twists and turns, longer supply chains than we ever imagined, more data than we could possibly want, blockchain can really help with the need for transparency, the validation of factual data, and the need for speed when it comes to transactions, payments, verification and more.

Like Ruairi Hanafin, Chief Architect, Grain Discovery said in an exclusive Digest interview, “If there is just one source of truth which everybody can reliably reference, then questions around traceability and provenance can rapidly be addressed.”

Hanafin also said, “What makes blockchain revolutionary is the fact that everybody who uses the blockchain retains the rights and control of their own data – meaning no single participant controls the chain, decides how your information is used, or manages your data on your behalf.”

“Just as the internet is a free public resource for information where businesses can generate value by participating, a blockchain network representing a shared ledger for supply chain participants which through automation, streamlined efficiencies, and selective cooperation when it is to all parties mutual benefit, can generate value for all participants, even those which may ordinarily be competitors.”

For biofuel specifically, “the benefits of blockchain are two-fold: it supports transparent and efficient purchasing of feedstock, like corn or soy, and it gives you the ability to trace the feedstock to its origin which allows you to more accurately calculate the carbon intensity of your fuel and ensure the quality of your by-products, said Rory O’Sullivan, CEO of Grain Discovery. Simply put, “blockchain saves time and money and allows you to better market your fuel and by-products.”

And that is a game changer.

Pilot plant pushes forward economic research on sugarcane waste to biofuels Sun, 17 Feb 2019 19:22:36 +0000

In Australia, QUT researchers and Mercurius Australia have commenced work on a pilot plant to prove the economic viability of turning sugarcane waste into either biojet and biodiesel fuel or biochemicals. Their patented REACH technology, developed by U.S. parent company Mercurius Biorefining, has the potential to convert sugarcane bagasse and other biomass into cost effective drop-in biofuels and bio-chemicals, as alternatives to fossil fuels.

Dr Darryn Rackemann, Senior Research Fellow from QUT’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities (CTCB), said, “The science has been proven,” Dr Rackemann, “The engineering now is trying to prove the economics. And once the economics are proven, we can roll out the technology further.”

During its three-month operational period, the pilot biorefinery will provide work for around 30 people. Once the pilot is successfully delivered, Mercurius then plans to build a larger demonstration plant, which would scale up production of biofuels and bio-chemicals.

Dr Rackemann said the pilot plant would have a flexible technology base that would allow targeting production of renewable fuels and green chemicals.

He said the work by QUT researchers proved the system worked in producing grams of chemical and fuel samples, while the pilot plant this year would be able to demonstrate the viability of manufacturing kilograms of chemical and fuel samples.

India considering mandating UCO feedstock for biofuel Sun, 17 Feb 2019 19:20:55 +0000

In India, Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the government is “considering mandating biofuel from used cooking oil as advanced biofuel which can be blended with biodiesel,” which will help the government reach their goal of 20% ethanol and 5% biodiesel by 2030 under their biofuel policy, according to News18.

“We have set a target of blending 5 percent of biodiesel with diesel by 2030. But today the biggest challenge is availability of the feedstock, said Pradhan. “We have recognised the hazards of used cooking oil and also realised that it can be used as feedstock for biodiesel. This will help us meet the demand for feedstock to some extent.”

Pradhan also said “The government is currently offering 100 percent offtake guarantee and mandate for advance biofuel. We are also planning to make UCO biodiesel as advanced biofuel. We are also considering mandating certain amount of advanced biofuel in biodiesel blending so that it will help achieve the target.”

Sustainable Bioproducts and Bioenergy Program seeks internship hosts Sun, 17 Feb 2019 19:17:32 +0000

In North Carolina, with the goal of increasing awareness and interest of traditionally underrepresented groups in the bioeconomy, NCSU has established a professional development and certificate program called the Sustainable Bioprogram and Bioenergy Program. The program is funding with a USDA NIFA grant similar to CABLE.

The 18 participating undergraduate students represent colleges and universities across North Carolina and have a range of backgrounds including chemistry, biology, engineering, and environmental science. We are seeking internship positions for these students for Summer 2019 and our grant can fully fund their $8,000 stipend.

The Sustainable Bioproducts and Bioenergy Program (SBBP) will provide a diverse group of STEM undergraduate students with the knowledge, interdisciplinary tools, and hands-on experience necessary to advance America’s bioeconomy using plant-based and renewable bioproducts. The students’ two-year commitment consists of a series of courses centered on the bioeconomy and bioproducts and participation in a paid summer internship with a bioproducts industry partner.

UNICA Council approves Evandro Gussi as new president Sun, 17 Feb 2019 19:15:42 +0000

In Brazil, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) approved the appointment of Evandro Gussi as its new Director-President.

“We want to continue to contribute with Brazil, and our goal is to guarantee institutional bases that will bring clear and predictable rules to the national and international market. This is essential to provide security for investors and thereby develop the country and industry,” said Gussi as its main mission at the helm.

The new Director-President emphasizes that in this first year of management, the RenovaBio will remain a priority. “In the last two years, UNICA’s main agenda was the RenovaBio. The entity contributed technically to the creation and regulation of the program, which is expected to come into effect from 2020. We are sure that once implemented, it will bring the predictability that the industry needs to resume its investments in productive capacity and innovation, relieving the competitiveness of ethanol in the domestic market.” Gussi was the author of the National Biofuels Policy Bill (RenovaBio), built with the participation of the biofuels production sector.

USDA gives Aemetis $125M, 20-year loan for Riverbank Biorefinery Sun, 17 Feb 2019 19:14:39 +0000

In California, the USDA issued a Conditional Commitment under the 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program to guarantee a $125 million, 20-year loan to the Aemetis cellulosic ethanol plant to be built in Riverbank, California. The Riverbank plant is designed to convert orchard, forest and other biomass waste into cellulosic ethanol with below zero carbon emissions. Earlier this month, The Digest reported on the project here.

Following Phase I approval for a loan guarantee from the USDA in late 2016, Aemetis invested more than $10 million to build and operate an integrated demonstration plant, obtained an independent engineering review, secured the Riverbank site, signed an ethanol offtake agreement, entered into a 20-year fixed-price feedstock supply agreement, completed preliminary engineering, and obtained necessary environmental approvals in order to complete the requirements for the issuance of the USDA Conditional Commitment.

“The Aemetis Riverbank project is needed to meet the mandates set forth in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand domestic employment, reduce dependence on imported crude oil and attract investment into U.S. industrial projects,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis. “This USDA loan guarantee supports the conversion of waste orchard, forest and other biomass in California into clean, low carbon biofuels, launching the first phase of four Aemetis cellulosic biofuels plants planned in the Central Valley.”

Preliminary engineering has been completed and construction of the Riverbank plant is expected to begin in mid-2019.

Deal between Eni and RenOils to boost collection of UCO Sun, 17 Feb 2019 19:12:03 +0000

In Italy, Eni and RenOils signed a collaboration agreement to promote the recovery of used vegetable oils. Eni currently makes use of approximately 50% of the used cooking oil available in Italy and, in part thanks to RenOils-member regeneration companies, will extend its capacity to produce high-quality biofuel from this waste in the company’s bio-refinery in Venice, at Porto Marghera, and soon also in Gela.

A letter of intent was signed and includes information and environmental education campaigns to convey the benefits of reusing oil to produce fuel as an alternative to fossil fuels and awareness-raising projects for trade associations and consumer and environmental associations.

The goal is to increase collection and proper disposal, since used oils from households are currently wasted almost entirely. Around 75,000 tonnes of waste food oil were collected in 2018, almost exclusively from the food service and industrial sectors, which represent just 25% of oil produced in Italy, which in turn totals around 280,000 tonnes per year.

CARBIOS and CARBIOLICE sign agreement with Novozymes for enzymes Sun, 17 Feb 2019 19:10:22 +0000

In France, bioplastics company CARBIOS and its subsidiary CARBIOLICE, signed a co-development agreement with enzyme production leader Novozymes. Under the terms of this global and multi-year agreement, Novozymes will produce on an industrial scale the proprietary enzyme developed by CARBIOS and is committed to becoming, in the long term, exclusive supplier of CARBIOLICE.

“This unprecedented collaboration in the field of bioplasturgy is intended to provide a competitive and environmentally friendly solution for the biodegradation of single-use plastics,” according to the press release.

CARBIOLICE, a joint venture created by CARBIOS, Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients and Bpifrance, will produce and market a new generation of products allowing single-use plastics to be fully biodegradable in domestic conditions. Targeted markets cover commercial applications such as cash and retail bags, rigid and flexible packaging, disposable tableware and agricultural mulch films.

The planned commercial launch in 2020 will generate for CARBIOS the first license revenues from CARBIOLICE.