Business Briefs: People, Partnerships & Deals
1. Alter NRG Corp. announced the signing of a 22-month extension to its agreement with Coskata Inc. to provide testing services to support Project Lighthouse, a wood-to-ethanol facility, for a minimum value $4.1 million and up to $5.6 million if all contemplated tests are performed. This includes monthly fixed payments totaling $2.46 million over the term. Alter NRG’s wholly owned subsidiary, Westinghouse Plasma Corp., has been conducting gasification tests at the plasma center for more than 15 years. In April 2008, Alter NRG and Coskata signed an agreement that resulted in Coskata building its Project Lighthouse facility adjacent to the Westinghouse Plasma Center. Lighthouse was completed in late 2009 and, since then, Alter NRG and Coskata have been converting woodchips into ethanol and optimizing the overall process. Alter NRG converts the woodchips into a clean, tar-free syngas, and Coskata converts the syngas into ethanol using its patented technology.
2. Phoenix-based Heliae, an algae-growing technology and processing company, recently welcomed Dan Simon as its new president and CEO. Simon has more than 15 years of achievement founding and leading public and private energy, technology, and industrial manufacturing businesses. Prior to coming to Heliae, Simon was cofounder and executive with BioFuel Energy Corp., a public biofuel producer. Heliae is an end-to-end algae technology development company committed to producing renewable food, fuel and fertilizer.
3. Codexis Inc. has appointed William Rothwell as its vice president and general manager of biobased chemicals, a newly created position. Rothwell will be responsible for building and managing a new business by leveraging the Codexis-directed evolution platform in the growing field of biobased chemicals. He will report to Alan Shaw, president and CEO. Rothwell was a member of the Codexis board of directors from 2007 to 2009 as a representative of Royal Dutch Shell plc. He joins Codexis management after a 29-year career with Shell, focused on leadership and strategic development of Shell’s global chemical business, retiring late last year.
4. LanzaTech announced in November that Prabhakar Nair has joined the company as vice president of business development in Asia-Pacific. With this appointment, LanzaTech says it has added another prominent renewable energy executive to its growing international team. He joins chief executive Jennifer Holmgren and chief scientist Sean Simpson. Nair believes LanzaTech technology will play a vital role in meeting the Asia Pacific region’s ethanol mandates. “LanzaTech’s ability to produce fuel from waste is essential for regions where food resources are so critical,” Nair says. He joins LanzaTech from UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, where he was most recently marketing director for its renewable energy and chemicals business unit.
5. Englewood, Colo.-based Gevo Inc. received notification from the U.S. EPA that its isobutanol has successfully cleared registration for approval as a certified gasoline blendstock. The EPA’s approval makes Gevo the first company to have isobutanol listed in the EPA’s Fuel Registration Directory.
6. Vertichem received $3 million in capital-market funding to develop its portfolio of green technology products and launch the newly formed enterprise. The investment enables Vertichem to commercialize its exclusive U.S. patents for processing using woody biomass to produce high-value specialty chemicals: lignin, xylose and cellulose. The company, headquartered in Toronto, anticipates assisting the multibillion dollar specialty chemical industry in meeting its sustainability objectives.
7. Thawer Ashcroft Crowne & Co. has entered into an agreement with Algepower Inc. to offer investment collateral to the backend structure of the venture, where it will provide investors with a default-proof, collateral-backed portfolio of funded assets with face values equal to or exceeding the total amount invested in Algepower in case of a default ($25 million). Algepower is currently in its initial capital drive of $2.5 million for its pilot project, which it plans to operate through the second quarter of next year. Algepower is expecting to launch its commercial rollout the following quarter. Montpelier, Vt.-based Algepower is a producer of sustainable, renewable algoil and algae byproducts, and has patented the Algeponics system for enclosed photobioreactor facilities.
8. Pleasanton, Calif.-based waste-to-ethanol developer Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc. has received a detailed indicative term sheet from the U.S. DOE, and has begun the negotiation process to advance the loan towards closure and funding. The funding would be put towards construction and operating costs of its proposed 10.5 MMgy cellulosic ethanol facility, Sierra BioFuels near Reno, Nev. MSW feedstock tipped at landfills in the Reno-Lake Tahoe basin will supply approximately 90,000 tons of feedstock annually for the future plant. The facility will generate 16 megawatts of renewable electricity, which will be used to power the facility. Earlier this year, Texas-based global engineering and project developer Fluor Corp. was awarded the contract to provide EPC services to build the plant, which Fulcrum estimates should operational by 2012. Using proprietary waste conversion technology licensed from Bend, Ore.-based InEnTec LLC, Fulcrum’s thermochemical process will catalytically convert syngas made from the MSW using plasma-enhanced gasifiers.
9. The National Alliance for Biofuels and Bioproducts has successfully produced ASTM-quality biodiesel from oil extracted from algae. The NAABB, made up of scientists and engineers from universities, private industry and national laboratories, received $44 million from the U.S. DOE to develop a commercial process for algal biofuel. In its first year, it has produced a small sample of the algal fuel. The oil was supplied by Eldorado Biofuels and was converted using the T300 solid catalyst system developed by Catilin Inc. The consortium will now disperse samples of the algae-based biodiesel to all 13 of its members for further analysis.
10. Pall Corp. has launched a new system to support research and development activities in the biofuel and biochemical sectors. Pall’s Research and Modeling Scale Crossflow Filtration System is designed to help research and development teams evaluate the use of membranes in their processes, while also generating data that can provide them with early economic guidance for the future scale-up of their applications. The RAMs system is capable of concentrating fluid streams by more than 10 times, and enables operators to evaluate a wide variety of membranes including inorganic, ceramic, stainless steel, and organic hollow fiber membranes. The system is also highly flexible, which makes it ideal for cross-flow filtration feasibility studies to compare the effectiveness of different membranes in specific applications. It also enables the design of cost-effective “fit-for-purpose” pilot-scale systems.
11. DNP Green Technology and French agribusiness firm Agro-Industrie Recherches et Développements restructured their joint venture, called Bioamber, where DNP Green acquired 100 percent ownership of the joint venture and ARD now becomes a shareholder in DNP Green. Concurrent with the acquisition of ARD’s shares in the joint venture, DNP Green has officially changed its name to Bioamber Inc. Established as a 50/50 joint venture between DNP Green and ARD in 2008 to scale up and commercialize biobased succinic acid technology platforms, the decision for DNP Green to acquire ownership of the Bioamber joint venture was due to its evolving global business model to commercialize biobased succinic acid, according to Mike Hartmann, vice president of corporate affairs for Bioamber Inc.
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