#ExEx16 Headliner Ag Investment Banker

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

Ag investment banker Christopher W. Nolan, Sr., with PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance, will be headlining this year’s Export Exchange 2016 (#ExEx16) in Detroit. The event will take place October 24-25 and is hosted by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). Nolan is a managing director and co-head of the company’s food, beverage and agribusiness division. He has extensive experience in providing advisory services to global ag commodities trading companies and has a unique outlook on the international grains market. His presentation is entitled, “Global Megatrends Affecting Agribusiness”.

exportexchange1I am honored to be the keynote speaker at Export Exchange,” Nolan said. “The international grains market is always expanding, and I look forward to sharing my views on the trends and future for this booming industry.” Nolan’s background includes numerous domestic and cross-border transactions in the food, beverage, agriculture, industrial, building products, chemicals and pharmaceuticals sectors.

“We are pleased that Mr. Nolan will address the Export Exchange as its keynote speaker,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “As a veteran investment banker with more than 20 years of mergers and acquisitions experience and a current focus in the ag sector, he can provide a bird’s-eye view of the global grains market.”

The event takes place every two years and brings more than 500 attendees from around the world together to buy and sell distillers grains.

Tom Sleight, USGC president and chief executive officer, noted, “We are thrilled to have Christopher Nolan joining us to provide the broad perspective our customers at Export Exchange are looking for as they learn about the advantages of U.S. grain products. Agriculture is the most global of all sectors, and it’s critical both our customers and those serving them in the U.S. grains industry have a high-level view of the factors affecting their businesses in the years to come.”

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Nancy DeVore, president of DHF Team, who will speak on the global grains outlook;
  • Dr. Jerry Shurson, professor of swine nutrition at the University of Minnesota, who will speak on DDGS nutrition;
  • Kyle Tapley, senior agricultural meteorologist at Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Information Systems, who will discuss weather trends and the global grain market; and
  • Paul Hishmeh, director of data and technology at Field to Market, who will present on big data and sustainability.

Click here for more information and to register.

Distillers Grains, Export Exchange, Exports, RFA, USGC

#Biodiesel Growth Discussed During #AgMedia Summit

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

Did you know that in the past 10 years, the biodiesel industry has grown from a few million gallons of biodiesel production per year to over 2 billion gallons of biodiesel production last year? And did you know that the three leading feedstocks for biodiesel are soybean oil, animal fats and corn oil? Well, now you do thanks to Kaleb Little, senior communications manager for the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).  Little shared the story of the biodiesel industry during the #2016 AgMedia Summit in St. Louis this week. Jamie Johansen spoke with him about some of the benefits the biodiesel industry brings including to livestock producers.

The livestock industry has always been important to biodiesel. As the biodiesel industry grows, it’s becoming more and more important to the livestock groups,” explained Little. “About 25 percent of the animal fats produced last year actually went in to biodiesel production. So a little over 2 billion gallons of fuel was produced in the U.S. market, so 25 percent of that came from animal fats. So that has a big connection.

Last year about half of the biodiesel gallons came from soybean oil ams16-117-editedand in terms of the co-product, soybean meal for animal feed, the industry’s number one customer is the livestock industry – a message that NBB shares with the industry.

Little stressed that the biodiesel industry is exploding and Jamie asked him what does the growth of the industry look like. He noted that as the industry continues to ramp up production, it will use larger amounts of feedstocks including soybean oil, corn oil and waste oils such as animal fats.

As the industry continues to grow into the future, up to 4 billion gallons by 2022, we see all of those feedstock categories growing,” Little added.

Listen to Jamie’s interview with Kaleb Little to learn more about the benefits the biodiesel industry is providing to the livestock industry: Interview with Kaleb Little, NBB

View and download photos from the event here: 2016 AMS Photo Album

advance biofuels, Audio, Biodiesel, NBB

AI Bio Funds $13M for #Biomass-Based Bioproducts

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Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions (AI Bio) has announced the funding for 61 projects to develop bioproducts from biomass resources. Totaling nearly $13 million, the monies will help support Alberta agriculture through the development of local feedstocks, such as forestry waste, to develop renewable products including replacements for fossil-fuel derived materials. The funds are also helping to diversify and strengthen the region’s economy.

Photo credit: Washington DNR

Photo credit: Washington DNR

The economy of the next 30 years is going to be very different than the economy of the past 30 years, and Alberta’s innovators are leading the way in finding solutions to future challenges and capitalizing on future opportunities,” said Alberta Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous. “Using renewable materials in fascinating new ways, they are helping to diversify our economy and keep our province competitive.”

According to AI Bio, the approved projects span the research and innovation continuum from early applied research to commercialization. In addition to AI Bio funding, 25 projects also have industry funding. The researchers and companies selected are using various methods to and multiple biomass feedstocks to develop or produce advanced biomaterials, biofuels, biochemicals or biocomposites for a broad range of applications.

Steve Price, CEO of AI Bio noted, “The projects were carefully chosen in a rigorous, competitive process, based on criteria designed to maximize public benefit and advance the bioindustrial sector in Alberta. Alberta is blessed with abundant biomass in our forests and crops, advanced infrastructure and universities, and highly qualified personnel in our academic community and bioindustrial sector. AI Bio works as a catalyst to bring these together to accelerate growth in an area with great potential.

Sevearl projects involve cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) for construction, manufacturing or medical applications. AI BIO says Alberta has one of only a number of facilities in the world capable of producing high-quality CNC, a high-performing, advanced biomaterial derived from cellulose, a compound in plants. The CNC research and innovation pilot plant is located at Alberta Innovates Technology Futures in Edmonton.

advance biofuels, Agribusiness, biomass, biomaterials, bioproducts, Biotech

Voters Question Trump-Pence Stance on Ag, #Biofuels

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

zp-nh1Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Is the Trump-Pence Republican ticket good for agriculture, energy?”

During his campaigning Trump has been supporter of biofuels and has repeatedly said he could “be a farmer.” Indiana Governor Mike Pence has vocally supported the ag industry understanding and supporting small farms and large agribusinesses. However, this week’s pollers seem to think differently with a majority believing the pair will be bad news for both agriculture and biofuels.

Here are the poll results:

  • Good for ag & biofuels – 30%
  • Good for ag but not for biofuels – 5%
  • Good for biofuels but not for ag – 0%
  • Not good for ag & biofuels – 55%
  • Could go either way – 10%
  • Other – 0%

Our new ZimmPoll is live and asks the question, Is the Clinton-Kaine Democratic ticket good for agriculture and/or energy? During her campaigning, Clinton said she is for biotech, the Farm Bill, animal welfare, climate and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). What about Senator Kaine? He is from a state, Virginia, where ag is the largest industry but he seems wishy-washy on the Farm Bill, but in 2013 he was a vocal supporter of the legislation. He has come out in support of renewable energy and in 2015 he visited his state’s only ethanol plant, Hopewell, to learn about ethanol production as the future of the RFS was then, and is today, hotly contested. What do you think? Vote now.


CYCLALG to Develop Algal Biorefinery

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A European research and development (R&D) consortium is seeking to develop an algal biorefinery. The three-year project, estimated to cost 1.4 million euros, of which 65 percent is being provided by ERDF funds, is a partnership of six organizations in the Basque Autonomous Community including Navarre and France -NEIKER-Tecnalia, National Centre of Renewable Energies (CENER), Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Association of Industry of Navarre (AIN), Association for the Environment and Safety in Aquitaine (APESA) and the Centre for the Application and Transformation of Agro-resources (CATAR-CRITT). The goal of the CYCLALG project is to bring algae-based biorefineries to fruition through the development and validation of technologies used to produce biodiesel from algae.

The European CYCLALG project brings together six R&D centres to develop an algae-based biorefinery. Photo Credit: CYCLALG

The European CYCLALG project brings together six R&D centres to develop an algae-based biorefinery. Photo Credit: CYCLALG

Using the circular economy as a guide, the project will use waste generated from the processes to provide nutritional components in the process to cultivate microalgae. CYCLALG is also based on a biorefinery model that seeks to make comprehensive use of microalgal biomass, extend the useful service life of the waste generated in the process and diversify it into new products of interest in the chemical, energy and agricultural industries, thus giving the microalgae biomass added value and improving the economic framework of the process.

Apart from coordinating the project, NEIKER will be responsible for establishing the optimum, cost-effective, sustainable conditions of the heterotrophic crops that will be producing the algal biomass destined to obtain biodiesel.

Building on previous CYCLALG work proving the feasibility of developing diesel substitutes using algae, the project will provide new approaches to problems such as the fall in productivity of oil in the pre-industrial scale phase. The groups plan to introduce the heterotrophic cultivation of species of oleaginous microalgae as an alternative means for improving the productive efficiency of the process.

In terms of productivity, the heterotrophic cultivation of microalgae as proposed in CYCLALG offers clear advantages over conventional phototrophic crops for obtaining biodiesel, says the consortium, even though they require organic sources of carbon and nitrogen that are much more expensive than traditional inorganic fertilizers. Thus, this “waste” will become a “food” for the process through hydrolysis, fractionation and solubilisation into nutritional concentrates. In addition, the CYCLALG project will research the development of other technologies that allow additional co-products to be created from waste such as the synthesis of biopolymers and other biomolecules, the obtaining of bio-fertilizers, animal foods and the production of biomethane.

advance biofuels, algae, Biodiesel, biomaterials, biomethane, bioproducts, Research

ePure: Strengthen the Framework for Sustainable #Ethanol

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 12.38.47 PMA new report released by the European Court of Auditors finds that there are several gaps in the European Commission’s existing biofuels sustainability certification framework even thought the study only looked at four member states. In response to the report, the European renewable ethanol association (ePure) agrees with the assessment that the sustainability framework for biofuels in Europe can, and should be, strengthened further to ensure that only the most sustainable biofuels are promoted via EU policy in 2020 and beyond.

Under the Renewable Energy Directive, European Union (EU) Member States can only use biofuels certified as sustainable to reach their 2020 target of sourcing 20 percent of the energy in transport from renewable sources. Most biofuels placed on the EU market are certified through voluntary schemes recognized by the European Commission, but the auditors concluded that the schemes suffer from weaknesses in the Commission’s recognition procedure and in its supervision.

In their recommendations, the auditors call on the Commission to ensure that the certification processes:

  • assess how much biofuel production entails significant socioeconomic risks and indirect land ‐use change;
  • verify that feedstock producers comply with environmental requirements for agriculture; and
  • provide sufficient evidence of the origin of waste and residues used for biofuels.

The report recommends that the Commission:

  • assess whether the schemes’ governance reduces the risk of conflict of interest and are sufficiently transparent;
  • check that the operations of the certified schemes comply with the standards presented at the time of recognition and that the schemes set up transparent complaints systems; and
  • seek evidence from Member States on the reliability of their biofuels statistics and harmonize the definition of waste substances.

“We are the only sector in the entire world which actually apply any type of mandatory sustainability rules for our products,” said Robert Wright, ePURE secretary-general. The GLOBIOM study clearly shows that there are a number of good biofuels, including European ethanol, that are entirely sustainable and the Commission should fully back these biofuels in its post-2020 policies. European ethanol has 63 percent of GHG savings, low land use impacts, and no negative social consequences or effects on food prices – it’s the type of good biofuel that Europe should support.”

biofuels, Ethanol, International

Texas A&M AgriLife Receives $2.5M DOE Grant

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Researchers from Texas A&M AgriLife Research have received a $2.5 million grant to conduct a three-year study to find ways to use a biorefinery waste to make new products. Dr. Joshua Yuan, a biotechnologist, is the lead scientist on the project that will primarily focus on ways to make plastic materials from the lignin waste.

Dr. Joshua Yuan is a Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant pathologist. Photo Credit: Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips.

Dr. Joshua Yuan is a Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant pathologist. Photo Credit: Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips.

In the biorefinery field, we have a saying: You can make anything but money out of lignin. And yet, that is the majority of waste or what’s left over in the biorefinery plants,” said Yuan who has been researching sustainability of biofuel for years. “Until we resolve this problem, biorefinery is not going to become economically viable.”

Nearly a billion dollars has been invested in creating a modern biorefinery industry, said Yuan who noted that progress has been made using energy grasses to produce biofuels. However, said Yuan, these types of biomass leave lignin after the fuel is extracted. Rather than try to burn it or otherwise dispose of it leaving an impact on the environment, he said, biorefineries prefer using the byproduct in additional products, which would help their overall bottom line.

This new project will use the biorefinery waste to develop plastic materials that could then be used to make other products, which in turn would be recyclable. “We’re hoping to help create an integrated biorefinery that will not only produce ethanol but also produce a lot of good and useful products out of this waste,” Yuan said.

In a corn refinery where ethanol is produced, for example, the waste can be used for animal feed and to make corn oil, he noted. In a petroleum refinery, along with gasoline, diesel and kerosene, the leftover becomes asphalt.

That is the model we seek for the grassy plant materials — to produce ethanol as the main product, but in the meantime to also produce bioplastics,” explained Yuan. “When we talk about renewable energy or renewable fuel, there are two important considerations: One is economic. It has to be product cost effective. We cannot compete with $30-per-barrel petroleum — it has to be more like $80-per-barrel petroleum for a biorefinery to complete, unless we have another product for which we can use the waste to make something wonderful.”

Yuan said his team will work with an engineered microorganism that is able to convert lignin to plastic while also concentrating on maximizing the amount of plastic that can be made from the waste.

advance biofuels, biomass, biomaterials, Research

Cologne Scientists Cultivate #Algae for Less

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

One of barriers that keep the cost of algal products from being competitive is cultivation. But in the near future, these costs could go down with research from scientists in at the University of Cologne. Professor Michael Melkonian, an algae specialist, along with his team have developed a new method that could make harvesting algae easier and thus reduce the costs of the algal products. The findings were published in the journal Trends in Biotechnology.

dreamstimefree_60120Using research on photobioreactors as the basis, the team used a “Porous Substrate Bioreactor” (PSBR), also known as the twin-layer system, to separate algae from a nutrient solution by means of a porous reactor surface on which the microalgae are trapped in biofilms. What is different is their procedure is that it reduces the amount of liquid needed in comparison to the current technology, which cultivates algae in suspensions, by a factor of up to one hundred. The PSBR procedure thus allows for a significant reduction in energy and for an increase in the portfolio of algae that can be cultivated.

Current successes in PSBR development and the rise in interest in this technology in recent years could signal a turn in the conception of future photobioreactors in microalgae biotechnology.

advance biofuels, algae, bioproducts

BioEnergy Bytes

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  • BioEnergyBytesDF1KXO Radio is reporting that the Imperial Irrigation District Directors have approved a $2.5 million grant for California Ethanol and Power for its processing plant located in Keystone Industrial Park in California’s Imperial Valley. The proposed $500 million facility would produce an estimated 66 million gallons of ethanol per year from 55,000 acres of locally grown sugarcane. At the same time, the project expects to generate up to 50 megawatts of electricity.
  • The European Commission has provided EUR 88,5 million in grants of NER 300 investment subsidies for the biofuel refinery planned by Kaidi in Ajos, Kemi.  The subsidy, which is directed towards producers of renewable energy, was initially granted in 2012 for the realization of a biofuel refinery planned by Vapo. Vapo halted the project in 2014. The funds will be used to complete the project.
  • The European Commission has published its Communication on a European Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility that explores policy options to decarbonise transport beyond 2020. The European renewable ethanol association (ePURE), representing conventional and advanced ethanol producers, welcomes the Commission’s commitment to assess the future role of low carbon fuels in Europe’s transport through a science-led approach.
  • Attendees at the STN Expo had their first opportunity to experience Blue Bird’s new Vision CNG bus, along with Blue Bird’s newest offering, the Vision Gen 4 Propane bus. It features Blue Bird’s industry-exclusive Ford/ROUSH CleanTech powertrain.  The new Type C Vision Gen 4 Propane bus exceeds emission standards, with virtually zero emissions, and has better fuel economy than other propane-fueled school buses due to the bus’ EconoShift optimization.
Bioenergy Bytes

IIT Researchers Receive #Bioethanol Patent

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Two scientists from Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Ben Stark and Tony Sanny, have received a patent for a method to genetically engineer bacteria and yeast to increase bioethanol production. During the development process, the team focused on cellulosic biomass from twigs, branches, plant stalks, husks and woodschips.

3D View of VHbThis patent is Stark’s, who is a professor of biology, and Sanny’s, a former Ph.D. student and now a partner with Swanson & Bratschun, third since 2014 for increasing bioethanol production by genetic engineering of microorganisms to express Vitreoscilla hemoglobin.

The team developed a method to genetically engineer Escherichia coli and Zymomonas mobilis, two bacterial ethanol producers, and yeast, a eukaryotic ethanol producer, to express Vitreoscilla hemoglobin (VHb). Engineering of microorganisms with VHb has been shown to enhance the production of many useful bioproducts as well as improve microbial degradation of certain toxic chemicals. Physical addition of small amounts of oxygen to ethanol producing cultures has been shown by others to enhance bioethanol production; the Illinois Tech (VHb) approach is a biological correlate of the physical method, and so works on its own without the need for an oxygen feed to the growth chamber.

According to the researchers, cellulosic and hemicellulosic-based bioethanols are the least common right now, because these polymers are fairly difficult to break down into their component sugars, thus making it difficult to produce enough fuel-grade ethanol cost-effectively. However, bioethanol from these feedstocks has the promise of being much more cost effective and sustainable, producing less greenhouse gas, and having a less direct impact on the food supply than using corn starch as a source of sugar. Work in recent years has focused on genetically modifying yeast and other materials used in producing bioethanol from cellulose and hemicellulose to speed the breakdown process, improve yields, and lower costs.

advance biofuels, Cellulosic, Ethanol, Research