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Posts Tagged ‘cellulosic

Nifty 50 in bioenergy

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Biofuels Digest this week released its annual Top 50 “hottest” bioenergy company rankings and renewable oils developer Solazyme took the #1 slot.

Rounding out the top 10 were: POET (#2), Amyris Biotechnologies (#3), BP Biofuels (#4), Sapphire Energy (#5) Coskata (#6), DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (#7), LS9 (#8), Verenium (#9) and Mascoma (#10).

The rankings were based 50 percent on votes from a 75-member panel of international selectors, and 50 percent on votes from subscribers of Biofuels Digest.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

December 4, 2009 at 5:05 pm

BP ventures with Verenium, Martek provide biofuels boost

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cellulosic ethanolVerenium Corporation (Nasdaq: VRNM) a developer of next-generation cellulosic ethanol from biomass and high-performance specialty enzymes, reported a net second quarter loss for the period ending June 30 of $28.9 million on declining revenue and higher operating expenses.

Slightly more than $8.9 million of the total loss was attributed by Verenium to its “non-controlling interest in consolidated entities,” so the net loss on the part of the Cambridge, MA, company was $19.9 million. That was an increase of nearly 30 percent over the comparable period in 2008.

Despite the losses as the company’s joint venture with BP, called Vercipia Biofuels, gets underway and as it gears up to eventual commercial biofuel production, Carols Riva, president and CEO, told analysts that Verenium continues to make “significant progress on many fronts.”

He said the company has continued its aggressive expense management initiatives to control operating expenses and to conserve cash,. Verenium also amended financial covenants related to its 8 percent convertible notes to eliminate some of their “onerous restrictions.” Riva says that will simplify its financial structure and give the company financial flexibility.

Riva said that despite significant challenges that the ethanol industry has endured over the past three years, government support for biofuels ”remains strong as our government leaders realize that an overdependence on imported oil remains a critical weakness in our economy.“

The $300 million Vercipia 50/50 venture was selected in June to proceed with due diligence on a Department of Energy loan guarantee for Venerenium’s first commercial project in Highlands County, FL. That project is scheduled to break ground in 2010.

Riva says the guarantee “could extend the project debt covering up to 80 percent of eligible costs.”

The company is also making progress on the “optimization phase” at its demonstration plant in Jennings, LA, and has operated the plant on sugarcane bagasse and energy cane.

Riva says that Verenium remains optimistic that the markets for its products “will stabilize and improve as economic activity recovers.” He acknowledged that softening market conditions have affected revenues, which declined 11 percent to 16.3 million during the quarter. The revenue deline was mainly on the enzyme side of the business, regarding a change in “revenue recognition,” and the discontinuation of two product lines.

BP is also forging aheead on another biofuels front with the announcement earlier this week that it has entered a $10 million joint venture with Martek Biosciences Coporation to develop microbial oil for biofuels. BP and Martek said they will work together to develop a “step-change technology for the conversion of sugars into biodiesel.

Under the terms of the multi-year agreement they said they want to establish “proof of concept” for large-scale, cost-effective microbial biodiesal production through fermentation. The sugar-to-biodiesel plan converts sugars derived from biomass into lipids using unique fermentation mico-organisms. The lipids are then converted into fuelmolecules through chemcial or thermocatalytic processes.

Written by William DiBenedetto

August 20, 2009 at 7:30 am

MO shows for Saline Green biorefinery

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marshallmoAlternative energy company Saline Green Project this week chose Marshall, MO, as the site for a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol bio-refinery facility, producing renewable fuels, chemical products and electricity.

According to a report in The Sedalia Democrat the company has had an interest in opening a plant in Marshall for more than a year. Frank Imo, Saline Green CEO, said that local support for the project was encouraging and was a big factor in making the project possible.

Saline Green will provide start-up funds for the project, and will seek investors as it nears completion.

Saline Green spokesman Donte Tamprateep was quoted as saying that his company has been working with a group of scientists who helped develop the technology required to efficiently convert cellulosic biomass to its simple sugar state.

Cellulosic ethanol is a biofuel produced from wood, grasses and inedible plant parts. Tamprateep said the biggest challenge the company faced was finding a way to break down cellulose in a cost-effective manner.

The company apparently has hooked up with Pure Energy Corporation, which has invested more than $30 million over the last 15 years in an effort to develop the next generation of cellulosic ethanol technology.

“The Saline Green Project will serve as both a world-class sustainable energy production facility and also a showcase of cutting edge technology in the cellulosic ethanol, chemical and green electricity fields,” said Irshad Ahmed, president and CEO of New Jersey-based Pure Energy.

So why Marshall? One reason becomes apparent by looking at a map. The town of more than 12,000 is located in the middle of the country with excellent access to road and rail routes. From a supply chain distribution viewpoint, it’s a good choice.

Written by William DiBenedetto

May 21, 2009 at 9:13 am

Biofuels activity gives Verenium hope

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vereniumVerenium Corp., which develops next-generation cellulosic ethanol and high performance specialty enzymes, reported a “strong start” for the year, with a dramatic improvement in the net bottom line.

While the Cambridge, MA company posted a net first quarter loss of $286,000 that was a huge improvement compared to its first quarter 2008 loss of $23.1 million.

The story was not quite the same regarding its operating losses – revenue minus operating expenses – because they continue to mount. Its operating loss increased 7 percent over the last year’s first quarter to $18.4 million.

Verenium says it has made significant progress so far this year, especially in the biofuels segment of its business. Earlier this year it entered into a 50-50 joint venture with BP to develop, own and operate cellulosic ethanol facilities using non-food feedstocks with a total commitment of $45 million in funding and assets from the two partners.

It also identified Highlands County, FL as the location for a first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility. This facility will be developed as part of the joint venture with BP and is expected to provide the region with approximately 140 full-time jobs once commercial operations begin. The project was awarded a $7.0 million grant as part of Florida’s “Farm to Fuel” initiative. The joint venture also submitted a loan guarantee application to the Department of Energy during the quarter.

Also in the first quarter, Verenium began the “optimization phase” of its 1.4 million gallon/year demonstration-scale plant in Jennings, LA.  In a corporate move, it consolidated its R&D organization to include the Jennings pilot plant and demonstration-scale biofuels facilities under Greg Powers, EVP of Research and Development.

Verenium has also appointed James E. Levine, an energy banking and finance executive from Goldman Sachs, as EVP/CFO to support efforts to rebuild its capital structure and secure financing for commercial projects.

During the quarter it implemented “aggressive expense management initiatives” to decrease operating expenses. Operating expenses in the first quarter increased slightly, however, by $321,000, to $32.7 million.

On the balance sheet, Verenium reported that its cash position – including cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments – had more than doubled since Dec. 31 to $15.8 million.

Carlos A. Riva, president and CEO, commented in the company’s financial release: “As we look toward commercial operations, we continue to be very encouraged by the political climate and support for alternative energy and, specifically, biofuels.”

Written by William DiBenedetto

May 12, 2009 at 10:17 am

AE Biofuels, Pearson Fuels fuel up

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butte_scaledaebAE Biofuels signed a “strategic agreement” to supply cellulosic ethanol to Pearson Fuels in California.

Pearson, based in San Diego, is developing a network of renewable fuels filling stations in the state. In fact the company built the first E85 fuel station in California six years ago.

As usual, financial details of the deal were not disclosed. The companies only disclosed that under the terms of the agreement, the Cupertino-based AE Biofuels (stock ticker: AEBF) will supply Pearson with cellulosic ethanol “and other biofuels” for distribution through renewable fuels filling stations in California. They will also use available government programs to develop additional renewable fuels filling stations in the state.

Also, AE recently signed an agreement with Merrick & Company to commercially implement AE Biofuels’ “patent-pending enzyme based technology for the conversion of non-food biomass into ethanol and other materials through the design of new biofuels facilities or the conversion of existing biofuels facilities.”

Merrick, based in Golden, CO, is an $85 million provider of engineering and architectural design-build, procurement, construction management, and geospatial services.


Under this agreement, which also features no financial disclosures, AE and Merrick will “work to deploy AE’s next-generation biofuels technology to address the significant demand for cellulosic ethanol created by the revised Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).”


The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 increased the RFS to 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels, the majority of which must be advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol.

Written by William DiBenedetto

April 23, 2009 at 9:32 am

Cellulosic ethanol poised for Obama boost?

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cellulosic-ethanolAn Industry Week article speculates the Obama Administration is poised for a “major expansion” of cellulosic ethanol.

The report says the appointment of Steve Koonin, former chief scientist at BP, to the position of Under-Secretary of Energy, reporting to Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu is an indicator. Koonin and Chu are physicists who worked together through Energy Biosciences Institute.

From the IW article: “There are a multitude of folks chasing this cellulosic ethanol grail,” said Joe Skurla, CEO of Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE), a joint venture of Dupont; and Danish enzyme and biotech company Danisco. “Those that are aligned with large companies and have their own funding are more likely to succeed.”

Here’s the link to the article: Industry Week

Biofuels Digest has pulled together a list of cellulosic ethanol plants that are open or in the planning stages (sources: IEA Task 39 Group, Biofuels Digest, Reuters). It’s one of the more comprehensive lists of the players I’ve seen.

Company name location capacity in mgy feedstock

-AE Biofuels            Montana           0.15       Corn, corn stover
-KL Energy Corp      Wyoming           1.5         Wood
-Poet                     S. Dakota         0.02        Corn cobs
-Verenium              Louisiana         1.4           Bagasse

Commercial scale plants not yet open:

-Abengoa Bioenergy      Kansas            30          Biomass
-BlueFire Mecca Llc       Calif               17          Green waste
-Colusa Biomass           Calif              12.5        Rice hulls
-Gulf Coast Energy     Florida           25           Woody biomass
-Mascoma Corp           Michigan         40          Woody biomass
-Poet                          Iowa              25          Corn cobs, stover
-Range Fuels                Georgia          20          Woody biomass
-US Envirofuels LLC    Florida           20          Sorghum, sugar cane
-Verenium-BP            Florida           36           Energy cane, sorghum

Pilot, or pre-commercial plants, not open yet:

Company                 location          capacity   feedstock
-Abengoa                Nebraska          10             Corn stover
-BlueFire                 Calif                 3.2           Green landfill waste
-Citrus Energy Llc      Florida             4              Citrus waste
-Clemson University   S. Carolina       10             Wood waste, algae
-Coskata                  Pennsylvania     0.04          Woody biomass, waste
-Dupont Danisco        Tennessee        0.25          Switchgrass, stover
-Ecofin Llc                Kentucky           1          Corn cobs
-Fulcrum                Nevada            10.5          Municipal waste
-GulfCoast Energy      Alabama           0.4           Wood Waste
-Flambeau River        Wisconsin          6              Forest, paper waste
-ICM Inc                   Missouri           1.5       Switchgrass, sorghum
-KL Energy Corp        Colorado           5              Wood pellets
-Liberty Industries      Florida            7              Forest waste
-NewPage                Wisconsin          5.5           Woody biomass
-Pacific Ethanol        Oregon             2.7        Wheat straw, poplar
-PureVision              Colorado           2          Corn stalks
-RSE Pulp & Chem      Maine              2.2           Woody biomass
-SunOpta                  Minnesota        10          Corn stover, waste
-University of Florida  Florida             2              Bagasse
-West Biofuels          Calif                0.18       Wood chips

(Mgy: million gallons/year)

Written by William DiBenedetto

April 7, 2009 at 10:36 am

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