Williamsburg Students Win BioenergizeME Challenge

BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge winning team from Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design. From left to right: Nicholas Shannon, Najee Neil, Xavier Abreu Negron, Alfredo Sanchez III and Victor Perry. Photo credit: Joanna Schroeder

BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge winning team from Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design. From left to right: Nicholas Shannon, Najee Neil, Xavier Abreu Negron, Alfredo Sanchez III and Victor Perry. Photo credit: Joanna Schroeder

The future looks bright for the bioenergy industry as the next generation is already showing great enthusiasm and talent for sustainable fuels and products. This past spring, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) kicked off a pilot program for high school aged teams (grades 9-12) to use technology and their creative mojo to design bioenergy-based infographics. The BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge theme was “Exploring the Future of American Energy Landscape,” and the winner was announced during the BioEnergy 2015 Conference to great applause.

The wBioEnergizeME infographic challenge winnerinning team was a group of 14 year old freshman students from Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design located Brooklyn, New York: Nicholas Shannon, Najee Neil, Xavier Abreu Negron, Alfredo Sanchez III and Victor Perry. There were 76 teams that submitted entries and 50 teams shared their infographics through social media channels including Facebook and Twitter garnering more than 12,000 page views. Infographics from all competitors can be viewed on the BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge Map.

Teams were given four topic areas to choose from: Bioenergy History, Workforce and Education, Science and Technology and Environmental Impacts. Once a team selected their topic area, they conducted research and then developed an infographic that visually explained a specific area within a topic such as cellulosic energy or how algae is used to produce biofuels. With the success of the program, the BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge will be rolled out nationwide next spring.

View the 2015 BioEnergy 2015 photo album. 

Enogen Press Conference at Iowa Speedway

Engine Press ConferenceToday Syngenta announced a major donation to the Prime the Pump fund, an industry initiative to help early retail adopters of high-level ethanol blends through grants to reduce their initial investment in infrastructure. On the pane (l-r) are Chris Tingle, Syngenta; Ray Defenbaugh, Prime the Pump; Kelly Manning, Growth Energy; Delayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors and Chris Soule, Iowa farmer and star of ABC’s The Bachelor and Dancing With the Stars.

Syngenta says it will donate approximately $600,000 to the initiative by contributing $1 for every acre planted with Enogen corn enzyme technology. This effort stated in 2013 and is being extended to 2016. Besides the money being raised for the Prime the Pump initiative, the FFA students here today helping collect money for the fund will be receiving matching dollars for the money they raise. So, when you look at the value to the ethanol plants of Enogen corn which already has a vital enzyme for processing which saves the plant money; the fact that farmers growing Enogen corn are receiving a significant bonus incentive on the price of their corn; the fact that this initiative is helping expand the market and use of ethanol and local FFA chapters are benefitting, it seems like a win-win for everyone.

I have recorded the full press conference for you to listen to here: Syngenta Enogen Press Conference

2015 American Ethanol 200 Presented by Enogen Photo Album

Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 sponsored by Enogen
Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 is sponsored by Enogen

Novozymes on #FEW15 Advanced Biofuels Track

few15-novo-aaronNovozymes was first up on the Cellulosic and Advanced Ethanol Track at the 2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop with ways to help first generation biofuels producers take the next leap forward with enzyme technology.

“We’ve been looking at how we can take all of our significant efforts in research and development in cellulases and find applications for them,” said Novozymes scientist Aaron Hawkins.

One of those is Spirizyme® Achieve, the industry’s first fiber-degrading glucoamylase, which can increase ethanol yields by an average of two percent by getting more starch out of the corn fiber and ultimately be used to produce cellulosic ethanol.

“Corn fiber represents very low hanging fruit for the production of cellulosic ethanol,” said Hawkins. “If there were 100% adoption of a cellulosic ethanol process based on corn fiber, that could give us over a billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol capacity in the U.S. alone so there’s a very significant opportunity here for corn ethanol producers.” FEW 2015 presentation by Aaron Hawkins, Novozymes

Hawkins also talked about a brand new product they just launched for biodiesel producers called Eversa®, an enzymatic solution to make biodiesel from waste oils. “One of the major advantages of it is that it can utilize any feedstock with any free fatty acid composition,” including distillers corn oil, which Hawkins says “opens up new opportunities for corn ethanol producers to utilize distillers corn oil and upgrade it on site to biodiesel.”

These kinds of innovations, Hawkins says, are helping the industry move closer to a complete biorefinery concept. Interview with Aaron Hawkins, Novozymes

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

#FEW15 Ethanol Producer Panel Focuses on RVOs

few15-panelA diverse group of ethanol producer company representatives took the stage Tuesday at the 2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop and much of the conversation centered around reaction to the EPA’s new proposed volume obligations for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Panelists also discussed the industry’s continuing efforts to expand the marketplace for ethanol with higher blends, progress with cellulosic ethanol production facilities, and more.

BBI International president Tom Bryan moderated the panel, which featured:

Paul Koehler, Vice President, Pacific Ethanol
Mike Jerke, CEO, Guardian Energy Management
Jan Koninckx, Global Business Director for Advanced Biofuels, DuPont Industrial Biosciences
Chris Standlee, Executive Vice President, Abengoa Bioenergy
Dan Cummings, President, POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels
Ray Defenbaugh, President, CEO & Chairman, Big River Resources

This is a conversation worth listening to as each of these industry pioneers had insightful comments and a positive attitude about the ethanol business in the United States going forward.

FEW 2015 Producer Panel

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

EPA Proposal will be Hot Topic at FEW

The new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal for volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard will be a hot topic at the 2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop this week in Minneapolis.

aeclogoAdvanced Ethanol Council (AEC) Executive Director Brooke Coleman will be on the program tomorrow morning to talk about what the proposal means for the advanced biofuels industry. “The good news is it is clear that EPA and the Obama Administration want to send a signal to the marketplace that domestic renewable fuel markets are going to grow. The blending targets are definitely stronger and theoretically create new markets,” says Coleman. “But Clean Air Act regulations have to have backbone to actually achieve their ambitions, and EPA is still allowing the oil industry’s refusal to comply with the RFS to be cause to slow the program down.”

There continues to be concern in the industry about how the proposal will impact investment in advanced biofuels. “Renewable fuels are a huge opportunity for the United States to achieve President Obama’s climate change goals, capture private investment, create jobs and save drivers money. Today’s proposal undermines all of that,” says Adam Monroe, president of Novozymes Americas, a biotechnology company that provides enzyme solutions for biofuels production. “The EPA’s aspiration should not be a slow buildup in renewable fuel volumes, it should be an economy driven by clean technologies, supporting thousands of new jobs and billions in private investment. That all starts with aggressive goals for the RFS.”

Novozymes will be featured in many of the workshops at FEW and will be sponsoring our coverage this week.

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

Novozymes Part of Global Bioenergy Initiative

sustainableA new UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative was announced this week with the goal of “doubling the global use of renewable energy and ensuring universal energy access by 2030.”

Co-chaired by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the initiative includes Novozymes, a global technology provider for the biofuels industry, as a partner in the project to scale up the development and deployment of sustainable bioenergy solutions.

novozymes“With this initiative, we help bring together a diverse range of global frontrunners to advance the development and use of sustainable bioenergy in countries where the environmental and socio-economic benefits are greatest,” said Thomas Videbæk, Executive Vice President for Business Development with Novozymes. “It is a unique chance to involve governments, industry, financial institutions, academia, and civil society to identify opportunities where action on sustainable bioenergy can be accelerated.”

Accounting for nearly half of the global enzyme market, Novozymes has been a major player in the commercial development of cellulosic ethanol. “We produce the enzymes that help break down starch and make sugar available for first generation ethanol and we are working on a number of projects to help breakdown cellulosic material,” said Videbæk in an interview today with DomesticFuel.

Videbæk says next generation biofuels are considered “sustainable bioenergy” under the initiative’s High Impact Opportunity (HIO) goals. “I look at the biofuel area, be it first or second generation, as very sustainable forms of energy,” said Videbæk. “We certainly hope to see that continues going forward.”

Which is one of the reasons Novozymes wanted to be part of this initiative that they hope will help get some regulatory clarity regarding sustainable bioenergy around the world, including the United States. “And we can get politicians to commit to mandates and targets for this type of energy, because we believe that is for the best of the planet’s future,” Videbæk said.

In this interview, Videbæk explains much more about the new initiative and Novozymes’ role in it. Interview with Thomas Videbæk, Novozymes

Biofuel Producers Thrive Despite Cheap Oil

According to a new report, “How Alternative Fuel Companies Will Compete with $50 Oil,image001many biofuel producers are still able to thrive despite dropping oils prices nearing $50 per barrel. Lux Research evaluated 25 alternative fuel producers to identify the ones most likely to compete with cheap oil and found that renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel, gasification specialist Red Rock Biofuels, and Edeniq, which makes cellulosic ethanol, were among 13 alternative producers of fuels best positioned for cheap oil.

Lux Research analysts used its database of 400 alternative fuel producers to select 25 companies – from seven technology families, four feedstock types and three stages of development – for detailed analysis.

Among their findings:

  • Neste Oil, Diamond Green are benefiting from cost cuts. Thanks to lowered production costs achieved through feedstock diversification, renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel were the clear leaders in Lux’s model. On the other hand, Solena Biofuels and Joule Unlimited were among the laggards on account of delayed production and commercialization.
  • Developers move to alternate markets. Amid low oil prices, high-profile companies such as Solazyme, Amyris, and Gevo have shifted decisively toward specialty chemicals and nutraceuticals this year. Sapphire Energy also has shifted away from fuels and now targets nutraceuticals, producing Omega-3 EPA from its algae.
  • Oil majors remain a pillar of support. Believing cheap oil to be a short-term phenomenon, oil majors have remained prominent supporters of alternative fuel developers across various technology platforms. For example, Total has added to its existing portfolio in biofuels and bio-based chemical companies by investing in Renmatix, a biomass-to-sugars company.

“$50 oil was never an afterthought for technology developers,” said Yuan-Sheng Yu, Lux research associate and the lead author of the report. “Many companies have technology roadmaps for cheaper alternative fuels. Not all of them will actually achieve that benchmark, but some will – while others will find alternate markets or, ironically, use support from oil majors to survive until prices rise again.”

Biofuels Leaders Ask President for Meeting

A dozen organizations and companies representing biofuels interests this week sent a letter to President Obama asking for a meeting on proposed rules under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) due to come out next month.

fuels-americaThe letter comes on the heels of an analysis from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) showing how EPA delays in setting volume requirements (RVOs) under the RFS have resulted in the loss of some $13.7 billion in investment in advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol. The letter was signed by BIO, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, Advanced Ethanol Coalition, National Corn Growers Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, POET, DSM, Novozymes, and Abengoa.

“The EPA’s proposal in 2013 was an enormous disservice to you and your legacy, Mr. President,” the letter states. “Prior to the release of that proposal, we had asked to meet with the EPA, but were rebuffed. We would like to work with you to ensure that the mistake is not repeated.”

In addition to the letter and the analysis from BIO, the Fuels America coalition is running digital ads this week on Politico’s Environment & Energy section that say, “Will the next generation of biofuels be created in the United States or China? It’s up to you, Mr. President. Support the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

RFS Uncertainty Chills Advanced Biofuel Funding

biologoA new analysis from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) finds delays in rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have chilled necessary investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels.

According to the analysis, the industry has experienced an estimated $13.7 billion shortfall in investment over the past two years as the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed setting volume obligations for biofuels under the RFS.

(EPA) was nine months late issuing the 2013 RVOs and is more than 17 months late in issuing the 2014 rule. Further, the agency has made cellulosic biofuel producers wait an average of 29 months (more than two years) for approval of production pathways. Currently, 29 companies have unresolved petitions filed with EPA and they have been waiting on average more than 32 months for resolution. A majority of an estimated $13.7 billion shortfall in investment for cellulosic and new advanced technologies should therefore be attributed to EPA’s delays in issuing timely rules.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, notes that the situation came about just as plants were beginning to reach the commercial stage. “The chill in investment has had the heaviest impact on cellulosic biofuel developers,” said Erickson. “The delays in rulemaking have also undercut the industry’s ability to create new employment opportunities, resulting in the loss of more than 80,000 direct jobs.”

According to BIO, the industry has invested more than $5 billion in first-of-a-kind demonstration and commercial-scale biorefineries around the world. The analysis finds that as of April 2015, there are five commercial cellulosic biorefineries with a combined capacity of more than 50 million gallons within the United States and registered to meet the goals of the RFS, along with several pilot and demonstration plants. Additional commercial biorefineries are under construction.

Iowa Gov, Lt Gov to Tour Cellulosic Ethanol PLant

QCCPsyngentaQuad County Corn Processors (QCCP) and Syngenta will host Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds for a tour of the cellulosic ethanol production facility in Galva, Iowa, Tuesday, April 21. The QCCP plant is the first commercial cellulosic ethanol production in the state.

QCCP recently passed the 1 million gallon milestone for cellulosic ethanol production using Cellerate™ process technology. Cellerate is a collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of QCCP. Cellerate process technology is designed to increase an ethanol plant’s production by allowing the corn kernel fiber to be converted into cellulosic ethanol. With Cellerate, the biofuels industry now has the technology available to create 2 billion gallons of additional cellulosic ethanol – all from corn already being processed.