Iowa Gov Branstad to Address BIO World Congress

biologoLongtime advocate for biobased fuels Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will speak at this summer’s Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) World Congress in Montreal, Canada. This news release from BIO says Branstad is slated to speak during the July 20 plenary session titled, “State and Regional Approaches to Developing the Biobased Economy.”

“Governor Terry Branstad is a true champion of our industry and the creation of a national biobased economy. He has voiced support for the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, advanced policies at the state level for a stronger rural bioeconomy and supported more research to advance second-generation biofuels,” said Jim Greenwood, President and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “BIO could not imagine a better person than Governor Branstad to kick off the world’s largest conference on industrial biotechnology.”

“Governor Branstad has regularly provided leadership in articulating the importance of the biotechnology industry to our state,” said Joe Hrdlicka, executive director, Iowa Biotech Association. “We’re thrilled he will have the opportunity to share Iowa’s vision at such a critical industry event with an international audience.”

“Iowa is the nation’s premier leader in the renewable fuels industry and is capitalizing on its success in agriculture and its research capabilities in plant, animal and human biosciences to build a thriving biosciences industry within the state,” said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. “Iowa’s bioscience enterprises are discovering the innovations that will spur future economic growth and create jobs, improving the quality of life for people on a global scale — Governor Branstad is poised to tell our story.”

More information on the conference is available at www.bio.org/worldcongress.

New Holland Loans Tractors to BioCentury Farm

fps-cnh-jj-54-editedThis morning during the Farm Progress Show, New Holland hosted a tour of the Iowa State BioCentury Research Farm. New Holland got involved with the project when they saw a need for the use of some of their equipment and loaned them two tractors, which provided new options for their biomass research projects.

The BioCentury Research Farm combines biomass feedstock production, harvesting, storing, transporting and biorefinery processing into a complete system to develop the next generation of biofuels and biobased products. A New Holland large square baler also was provided for a corn stover research project conducted by Matt Darr, an associate professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering.

“Providing the use of this equipment to the Iowa State BioCentury Research Farm helps us strengthen the relationship between New Holland and Iowa State,” says Ron Shaffer, New Holland’s North American Director of Growth Initiatives, Institutional & Specialty Sales. “The participation furthers New Holland’s commitment to the biomass industry and our position as the Clean Energy Leader.”

fps-cnh-jj-24-editedThe New Holland Agriculture loan arose from a tour Andy Suby, manager of the research farm, gave to company officials last year.
“We appreciate the equipment and research funding provided by New Holland Agriculture,” Johnson said. “The BioCentury Research Farm was intended to be a partnership with private companies.”

New Holland Agriculture provides the use of a model T8.330 and a T5.115 tractor with a loader to be used in research and education projects conducted at the facility. The tractors will be replaced with similar models when they reach 200 hours of operation.

The company provided the baler and funding to evaluate its use in baling corn stover for supplying to cellulosic ethanol plants. This “Leading the Bioeconomy Initiative” project was supported by an appropriation from the Iowa legislature. Suby said the possibility for funding more projects with gifts or loans of other equipment has been discussed.

2014 Farm Progress photo album.

U.S. Policy Outlook Featured at World Congress

A special pre-conference workshop has been added to the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology that is taking place May 12-15, 2014 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. “U.S. Policy Outlook: From the RFS to Tax Reform to Farm Bill Implementation – What Lies Ahead for Advanced Biofuels and Renewable Chemicals?” is designed to assess the threats and opportunities on the U.S. federal policy landscape for 2014. Issues discussed will include the Farm Bill, tax reform and potential changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

BIO logo“This robust policy discussion is a great way to start to the world’s largest event on industrial biotechnology. Industrial biotechnology touches all of our lives and changes to these policies could have significant impact the industry’s future growth,” said James Greenwood, President and CEO of Biotechnology Industry Organization. “I am pleased to lead a panel of such prominent policy experts in a conversation during a time when the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Farm Bill and tax reform have become top Congressional priorities, the Obama Administration and key federal agencies.”

Pre-conference Workshop on U.S. policy outlook for industrial biotechnology will be moderated by James Greenwood, President & CEO, Biotechnology Industry Organization, with opening remarks from Representative Allyson Schwartz (D), Member of Congress for Pennsylvania’s 13th District and Candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania (invited). Panelists include James Massie, Alpine Group; Ryan Stroschein, Green Capitol LLC; Tim Urban, Washington Council Ernst & Young; and Dr. Matt Carr, Managing Director, BIO.

Brazilian Industrial Biotechnology Association Formed

A group of industrial biotechnology companies have joined forces to form the Brazilian Industrial Biotechnology Association (in Portuguese ABBI – Associação Brasileira de Biotecnologia Industrial). This new association (ABBI) brings together companies and institutions developing and using microorganisms and its derivatives to deliver renewable products for industries and consumers worldwide. ABBI’s primary objective is to foster a dialogue within Brazilian society about the advancements of industrial biotechnology in Brazil. The founding members of ABBI are Amyris, BASF, BioChemtex, BP, Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira, Dow, DSM, DuPont, GranBio, Novozymes, Raízen and Rhodia.

ABBIABBI will promote a dialogue with stakeholders and policymakers to improve Brazil’s biotechnology regulations and update current legislation in light of technological advances of the last several years. The trade association also believes there is room for improvement in Brazil’s patent laws, particularly as they relate to biological products and processes. The group supports additional investments in research and development, capacity and training for skilled and technical labor, and laboratory infrastructure.

“The establishment of ABBI is important for the Brazilian government as this group is reliable partner in the formulation of a coherent positive agenda, with proposals for the advancement of business and technology,” said Luciano Coutinho, President of the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), who participated at the event launching ABBI yesterday in São Paulo. BNDES has invested R$1.2 billion (about US$540 million) in biotechnology projects in Brazil.

Brazil is one of most biodiversity rich countries in the world and provides good conditions to utilize industrial biotechnology to make significant gains in productivity and competitiveness. The use of such biotechnology can increase productivity, improve process efficiencies, and reduce waste and pollution in Brazil and beyond. Speaking at the event in Brazil yesterday, Professor Greg Stephanopoulos, of the Bioinformatics & Metabolic Engineering Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stated that industrial biotechnology would help Brazil take a leadership position in the 21st Century global economy.

Algae Facility Partners with ReVenture Park

Renewed World Energies (RWE) has agreed to enter into a partnership with ReVenture Park in Charlotte, North Carolina to develop an algae-to-fuel pilot plant. The Eco-Industrial Park caters to clean energy businesses and will work with RWE to expand its technology from pilot scale to commercial scale. The company is developing different strains of algae that will be utilized to create biofuels as well as health supplements. The pilot facility is expected to be operational September 30, 2012.

There are numerous species of algae and each one has its own unique characteristics. One goal of researchers is to identify and develop strains that are best fits for certain uses, such as to produce jet fuel or for use as a replacement for oil in cosmetics, food and fertilizer. RWE’s system produces algae oil and algae cake, which can be fed as a food supplement to livestock or to make fish feed.

RWE President Richard Armstrong founded his company in South Carolina but chose North Carolina to take it to the next level. “We were attracted to the eco-industrial synergies at ReVenture Park. North Carolina also seems to be more attuned to the renewable fuels, and offers multiple benefits for showcasing new technology.”

ReVenture Park took advantage of nearly 700 acres of abandoned land that was a former textile dye-manufactured site. It is now being transformed into an Eco-Industrial Park focused on research and development of clean technology.

“We are pleased to have struck a deal to have RWE move a facility to ReVenture,” said Tom McKittrick, President Forsite Development. “RWE was attracted to the sites extensive existing infrastructure which then can utilize and there are multiple opportunities for us to collaborate.”

Novozymes Nebraska Enzyme Plant Opens

Advanced biofuels took a $200 million step forward on the march toward commercialization Wednesday with the official opening of Novozymes’ enzyme plant in Blair, Nebraska.

The inauguration of Novozymes’ new Blair facility was celebrated with employees, customers, community leaders and government officials, including the governor of Nebraska, Dave Heineman, U.S. Department of Energy Senior Advisor Jason Walsh and Blair Mayor James Realph. The governor and the mayor together ceremonially started the fermentation process at the plant. “The grand opening of Novozymes is important for the ethanol industry and for energy independence,” said Governor Dave Heineman. “Nebraska is one of the top producers of ethanol in America, which makes our state the perfect site for this facility.”

With the 100 new jobs created by the plant opening, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted the importance of expanding tax credits for investments in clean energy manufacturing for the economy during a conference call today with Novozymes President Adam Monroe. Novozymes leveraged its $200 million private investment in the Blair facility with a 48C manufacturing tax credit from the federal government.

“This program (48C) along with several other tax credits really create the opportunity for a clean energy future with three very important results,” said Vilsack. Those results, he says, include increasing farm income, creating jobs, and reducing reliance on foreign oil.

Monroe says biofuels currently make up 16% of Novozyme’s $2 billion in revenues. “We’ve done a number of research projects funded by DOE and have reduced the cost of the key enzymes needed for advanced biofuels production by 90%,” he said. “Now it’s about getting steel in the ground and moving ahead. We wanted to be ready when this industry commercialized and now we are.”

Listen to comments from Secretary Vilsack and Adam Monroe here: Vilsack/Monroe press conference

Novozymes CEO Named BIO 2012 George Washington Carver Award Winner

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has named Novozymes President and CEO Steen Riisgaard as the recipient of its 2012 George Washington Carver Award for innovation in industrial biotechnology.

A panel selected Riisgaard as this year’s winner “to recognize his significant contributions to the industrial biotechnology field.”

Under Riisgaard’s leadership, Novozymes is creating tomorrow’s industrial biotechnology solutions and improving the use of our planet’s resources, while reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Riisgaard will receive the award and also deliver a short address during a May 1, 2012 plenary lunch session at the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing. The conference is being held at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando April 29-May 2.
Washington Carver Award Recipient

“I am honored to receive the 2012 George Washington Carver Award,” Riisgaard said. “At Novozymes, we see biotechnology as a way to reshape the world’s economy and create balance between better business, a cleaner environment and better lives. This award is a mandate to continue innovating with our customers, moving towards a world where everyday products are made with organic materials instead of oil.”

The award honors the original vision of George Washington Carver, an originator of the “chemurgy” movement who, more than a century ago, achieved world renown by combining agriculture and science to produce everyday biobased products, changing the nature of farm economics and sustainability. Industrial biotechnology is the modern-day equivalent, combining biotech innovations with renewable biomass to create solutions that can revitalize manufacturing and energy.

Novozymes to Research Ethanol From Seaweed

Novozymes has announced a new research agreement that will explore enzymatic technology to produce fuel ethanol, fine chemicals, and protein from seaweed.

NovozymesThe industrial biotech firm has entered into an agreement with India-based Sea6 Energy to jointly develop a process for the production of biofuels from seaweed. The research alliance will use enzymes to convert seaweed-based carbohydrates to sugar, which can then be fermented to produce ethanol for fuel, fine chemicals, proteins for food, and fertilizers for plants.

NovozymesNovozymes will research, develop, and manufacture enzymes for the conversion process, while Sea6 Energy contributes its offshore seaweed cultivation technology. “Seaweed is a natural complement to our efforts to convert other types of biomass to fuel ethanol,” says Per Falholt, Executive Vice President and CSO of Novozymes. “More than half of the dry mass in seaweed is sugar, and the potential is therefore significant.”

Sea6 Energy is currently trialing its cultivation technology in partnership with a few fishing communities around the coastal areas of South India. Novozymes’ Indian arm will work closely with Sea6 Energy to develop the conversion technology.

BASF Invests in Cellulosic Sugar Company

BASFGlobal chemical giant BASF has invested $30 million in a Pennsylvania-based company that has developed a process to produce cellulosic sugars for renewable chemicals and biofuels.

BASF, through subsidiary BASF Biorenewable Beteiligungs GmbH & Co. KG led a $50 million financing round in the technology firm Renmatix Inc.

BASFRenmatix has developed the patented Plantrose™ platform whereby industrial sugar can be produced from lignocellulosic biomass (wood, cane trash or straw). In the Plantrose technology, biomass is split into cellulose and sugar in supercritical water at high temperature and pressure in a two-step process.

Industrial sugars are important renewable resources for the chemical industry and can be used, for example, to produce biofuels or basic chemical products and intermediates by fermentative processes. The availability of industrial sugars in sufficient quantities and at favorable cost is therefore important for the competitiveness of the products.

Survey Says Consumers Consider Ethanol A Green Product

In a study released by Genencor during the BIO World Congress in Toronto, when U.S. consumers were asked to name a product they considered green, 39 percent of them named ethanol first and 31 percent of Canadian respondents also named ethanol as a green product. This is just one of results discovered in the Genencor Household Sustainability Index that researched the market potential for “green” household products with environmental benefits.

In addition, the study found that four in 10 American consumers and about a third of Canadian consumers have already heard the term “biobased” to describe various products including fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, as well as cleaning and personal care products and clothing.

“I think very clearly that they know what a green product is, but haven’t yet made the link on how we’re going to make those products green and how important biobased products are going to be,” said Tjerk de Ruiter, CEO of Genencor.

“It was very interesting to see that ethanol was at the top of the list. Now of course we were very pleased with that because ethanol is such an important product and such an important marketplace for us,” said de Ruiter. “But it also shows that the consumer really starts to buy in to the concept of the importance of home produced fuels and really the contribution that ethanol is delivering to the economy.”

Listen to my interview with Tjerk de Ruiter here: Genencor Household Sustainability Index

I asked de Ruiter how biobased enzymes, such as their product, differed from what we’ve seen in the past. “When you work with a biobased organism, you can continuously improve. If we look at the enzyme systems we have today, they are a lot more efficient allowing you to extract a lot more alcohol, or ethanol, out of the product itself, and quite often at lower temperatures and in the process reducing energy use,” said de Ruiter.

Other products consumers found to be green were detergents, cosmetics and some clothing. The survey will be used to create a baseline to determine if “biobased” products become better understood, accepted and adopted by consumers. Click here to learn more.

Click here to see photos from the 2011 BIO World Congress.