People, Partnerships & Deals

By Biorefining Magazine Staff | March 18, 2011

1. The Houston-based technology transfer company Terrabon announced that it has retained Tri Nguyen to act as general counsel on behalf of the company’s operations. Nguyen will manage legal standards, policies, procedures, initiatives and regulatory compliance within the organization. As part of Terrabon’s management team, he will work alongside other executives to foster the achievement of Terrabon’s business development and goals. Nguyen’s experience includes advising entrepreneurs on entity formation and general corporate matters, and startups on angel and venture capital funding, private securities offerings, and general business and commercial transactions. He has also counseled midmarket and public companies on general corporate matters, commercial and business transactions, and acquisitions and dispositions of assets and entities.

2. The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers has revised its standard on biomass terminology and definitions. Revisions to the standard, titled “Terminology and Definitions for Biomass Production, Harvesting and Collection, Storage Processing, Conversion and Utilization,” or ANSI/ASABE S593.1, were completed based on positive feedback from standards users as well as intensified government interest and mandates regarding the production of bioenergy, biopower and bioproducts from biomass. The original standard was developed five years ago with the goal of providing those in the biofuels and biomass industries with a uniform set of terminology and definitions. According to Scott Cedarquist, ASABE’s director of standards and technical activities, the original standard established definitions for 69 biomass-related terms. The newly revised standard has defined 23 new terms, bringing the total to 92. In addition to adding new terms and definitions, Cedarquist also notes that the definitions of many of the original 69 terms have been revised or enhanced. Some of the new terms added to the standard include torrefaction, biochar, bone dry material, drop-in fuels, and fungible fuels.
3. Pump technology company Blackmer recently announced that it has upgraded the 4-inch model of its NP Series sliding vane pumps with optional electric heating. The 4-inch model joins the previously upgraded 2.5-inch and 3-inch models, completing Blackmer’s line of NP Series pumps with this option. The electric heating option may be used in place of jacketed heads in order to provide pump heating for applications that normally require jackets, such as handling asphalt, bitumen, molasses, lube oils and more. Blackmer will continue to offer jacketed heads for customers who need NP pumps with steam and hot-oil capabilities. Blackmer NP Series pumps are specifically designed to offer maximum versatility for handling a wide variety of clean, noncorrosive liquids, including fluids of varying viscosities and temperatures. These pumps have been designed to minimize sheer and agitation while providing self-priming and dry run capabilities.

4. California-based Aurora Algae has completed construction on its demonstration-scale facility in Western Australia. According to Scott McDonald, Aurora Algae’s chief financial officer, the facility is currently undergoing commissioning and inoculation, and is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of March. The company has also established new corporate headquarters in Hayward, Calif. Aurora Algae’s technology is focused on the use of open raceway ponds to cultivate algae. The demonstration facility in Australia includes six one-acre raceway ponds, four 400-square meter ponds, and four 50-square-meter ponds. Aurora Algae was awarded a $2 million grant by the Australian government under its Low Emissions Energy Development Fund to support the project. To date, the company has received $750,000 of the funding. The company expects to begin construction of its initial commercial-scale algae production facility in early 2012.

5. Algae-to-fuels developer Algenol LLC, the parent company of Algenol Biofuels Inc., has acquired Berlin, Germany-based biotech outfit Cyano Biofuels GmbH. Algenol previously held an indirect minority stake in Cyano Biofuels, working closely with the German company for the past three years. According to Algenol co-founder and CEO Paul Woods, Algenol’s acquisition of Cyano Biofuels is expected to increase Algenol’s research and development capacity and strengthen its reach into the European biotechnology community in the areas of algal growth development. In November, Algenol opened its new biofuels and green chemistry lab and research and development facility in Fort Myers, Fla. The 40,000-square-foot facility houses an advanced algae biology, engineering, carbon dioxide and green chemistry laboratory, as part of its larger Lee Integrated Biorefinery currently under development.

6. Neste Oil celebrated the grand opening of its renewable diesel plant in Singapore in March. The startup of the Singapore plant took place in November, and the production at the world's largest renewable diesel plant has run smoothly since, the company says. Neste Oil's Singapore plant was completed on-schedule and on-budget and marks a major step in its cleaner traffic strategy. The plant produces NExBTL renewable diesel, has a capacity of 800,000 metric tons per annum and cost around €550 million ($768 million) to build. It uses a variety of renewable feedstocks to produce NExBTL, including palm oil and side stream products of palm oil production from Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as waste animal fat from Australia and New Zealand.

7. Monsanto Co. is entering the algae business after announcing a collaborative effort with Sapphire Energy to utilize Sapphire’s algae research abilities. Monsanto hopes to discover genes that could potentially increase crop yield or reduce crop stress in one of its core products, corn, cotton or soybeans. The new algae venture is a first for Monsanto, Kelli Powers of Monsanto’s public affairs department, tells Biorefining Magazine. “For us, we have a pipeline and obviously that first step in our pipeline is discovery,” Powers says. “We see algae research that Sapphire is doing as a promising tool to screen genes early in that discovery process and to identify promising traits that could help with yield and stress.” The research efforts will take place at one of Sapphire’s New Mexico locations, and according to Powers the work will begin right away.

8. BlueFire Renewables Inc. announced that Joe Sparano has joined the company's board of directors. Sparano is former president and, subsequently, executive advisor to the chairman of the board of the Western States Petroleum Association, as well as former president of Tesoro Petroleum's West Coast Regional Business Unit. He’s retiring from WSPA at the end of March, after completing a 15-month term as executive advisor to the association’s chairman of the board.

9. BASF Corp. has created a tool the company calls the SELECT (Sustainability, Eco-Labeling and Environmental Certification Tracking) Eco-Label manager, a database that helps a user to search, analyze and compare “eco-labels, environmental claims, directories and rating systems,” states the company. The database includes 100 programs to review that range from North American programs like Built Green Canada, a residential construction checklist and energy rating system, and Green Guides, a Federal Trade Commission program that helps manufacturers make substantiated claims. “The demand for environmentally preferable products is rapidly evolving, influencing purchasing decisions along entire supply chains,” says Pat Meyer, senior product steward and program leader at BASF. “These purchasing requirements have spawned hundreds of eco-labels and programs from the federal government, large retailers, trade associations and third-party organizations, leading to a lot of confusion.” The tool is currently only available to BASF employees, preferred BASF customers, and stakeholders.

10. Lab analysis systems maker Metrohm and process analyzer company Applikon joined forces this year to bring the best of both brands to the process analytical industry. The Metrohm-Applikon alliance unites process technology with the precision of laboratory instrumentation to offer rugged systems that meet the demands of modern process plants. At-line and online analyzers feature automated sample preparation and continuous monitoring technology, which are integrated seamlessly into any process setup. In addition, each analyzer is customized to meet the exact needs of its environment. The partnership complements each company’s support offering, and now brings full application and product support to both the laboratory and process floor, the companies state.

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