Business Briefs

By Staff | January 09, 2012

Honeywell Process Solutions has signed on to support the scale-up of a drop-in biofuels process technology developed by California-based AliphaJet Inc. As part of the agreement, Honeywell will invest in the company via the supply of engineering services and equipment. AliphaJet will use Honeywell controls, instrumentation and advanced solutions, including its Experion Process Knowledge Systems and UniSim process simulations and field instrumentation. AliphaJet’s technology features a proprietary catalytic process that can covert renewable oil feedstock into drop-in hydrocarbon fuels, including biobased jet and diesel. Unlike many other biojet production technologies, AliphaJet’s is able to remove all the oxygen from the feedstock without the need for substantial amounts of hydrogen or co-location at a traditional oil refinery. AliphaJet’s pilot-scale facility is scheduled to be operational within 12 months. The proposed plant will likely be located adjacent to an existing biodiesel plant in the Midwest.

Codexis Inc. introduced its own line of cellulose enzymes, trademarked CodeXyme Cellulase enzymes, designed to convert biomass to sugar. The launch marks Codexis’ introduction to the global cellulose enzyme market, what is projected to be one of the largest industrial enzyme market. Codexis is in the final stages of customization of CodeXyme Cellulase enzymes with current partners. The company expects to have commercial samples for customers in the chemicals industry broadly available in the second half of this year. In July, Codexis announced a broad collaboration with Chemtex, an M&G Group company, to develop and produce sustainable detergent alcohols for use in the household products market. In the collaboration, CodeXyme Cellulase enzymes will be used to produce second-gen detergent alcohols from biomass. In May, Codexis announced successful 20,000 liter production of cellulase enzymes using the trademarked Codexis CodeXporter enzyme production platform. In other company news, Wes Bolsen has left Coskata Inc. to join Codexis as its vice president and chief marketing officer.

Working closely with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Nevada Economic Development Council, Mentor, Iowa-based Thesis Chemistry has selected a 40-acre site within the West Industrial Park of Nevada, Iowa, for a proposed biorefinery center that will produce a range of biobased chemicals derived from corn stover lignin from instate cellulosic ethanol production. Subject to financial and economic incentives, planned new buildings within the industrial park complex include an initial biorefinery, a corporate headquarters office building and a chemical research and development laboratory. Thesis Chemistry also plans to establish a pilot facility in conjunction with the Biomass Energy Conversion (BECON) research center, also located in the West Industrial Park. Phase one will be the production of the oxoaromatic compound vanillin used as a flavoring agent. The second will be cresols, used as disinfectants or deodorizers. The third will be the production of phenols, and the fourth will be the production of butanes and other fuel additives. Thesis Chemistry teamed with De Pere, Wis.-based Smet Construction Services in June to design and construct its first biorefinery, which is anticipated to be in production by early 2014. 

Toronto-based CORE BioFuel Inc. successfully completed testing the final stage of its wood-to-biogasoline process via catalytic conversion of dimethyl ether (DME) into benzene-free, 94-octane green gasoline. This is the remaining noncommercialized step in CORE’s patent-pending process with contract partner RECAT Technologies Inc., a commercial spin-off of the University of Western Ontario. Specifically, CORE is commercializing a patent-pending variant of ExxonMobil’s methanol-to-gasoline process, trademarked the Melnichuk-Kelly-Stanko Fuel Synthesis Process (MKS Process). The company modified the process by incorporating advanced indirect gasification modules developed by Energy Products of Idaho, creating an exothermic reaction for sufficient electricity and steam generation to power the process. CORE further improved the process by eliminating the methanol step entirely. It devised a route that can effectively and efficiently produce biogasoline straight from DME via a robust zeolite-based catalytic reaction without the need for further upgrading to meet retail pump 92-octane requirements.

Algae systems provider Algae.Tec Ltd. has signed a collaboration contract to build its first algae biofuels production facility in Asia. The facility will be built in Sri Lanka in conjunction with cement and building materials company Holcim Lanka Ltd. Algae.Tec stated that Holcim Lanka was attracted to its systems as a way of reducing its carbon footprint through channelling waste CO2 into the algae growth system and generating biofuel at below market cost. The facility will initially include a production plant of five photobioreactor modules. Holcim will then evaluate incorporating such a system at a much larger facility. Algae.Tec stated that it expects the technology could be rolled out at other sites. The photobioreactor modules are assembled at the Australian company’s U.S. manufacturing plant, the Algae Development & Manufacturing Centre, in Atlanta.

Algae company OriginOil Inc. has appointed Thomas H. Ulrich to its board of advisors. Most recently Ulrich was an Idaho National Laboratory advisory scientist working with OriginOil to create a strategic partnership between the two, and he launched the first Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between OriginOil and INL. OriginOil stated that Ulrich has been a key supporter of its technology, and that “he offers tremendous value to the company as a highly regarded thought leader in the field of biomass and bioenergy.” Ulrich worked with OriginOil to help design, implement, and complete its first phase CRADA in February 2009, which resulted in what the company calls “an unprecedented energy balance model bringing algae-based fuels one step closer to reality.” Ulrich has more than 25 years of experience in planning, securing funding, executing projects as a group leader and principal scientist in private industry and at INL.

Massachusetts-based cellulosic ethanol developer Qteros Inc. has gone through a reduction in staff, and longtime CEO John McCarthy “has stepped down,” confirmed the newly appointed CEO Mick Sawka. Prior to becoming CEO, Sawka was Qteros’ senior vice president of commercial development and engineering where he was responsible for developing and executing the company’s global commercialization strategy, including spearheading Qteros’ commercial development and partnering initiatives, as well as leading the company’s engineering and process design efforts.

Calif.-based bioplastic producer Cereplast Inc. has announced a three-year distribution agreement with GAMA Plastik AS to supply bioplastic resin in Turkey. GAMA Plastik plans to purchase 200 metric tons a month of the biobased resin this year, with a significant purchasing increase in 2013. Cereplast anticipates generating revenue from the agreement within the next 90 days. GAMA Plastik will be purchasing bioplastic resin from both Cereplast’s compostable and sustainable lines of materials. GAMA Plastik, a leading plastic trader located in Istanbul, will use the biobased resins to produce films and injection molded products. The resin material to fulfill GAMA Plastik’s orders will initially be produced at its Indiana factory. Cereplast is also working to develop a factory in Europe expected to be operational by late 2012. Once the new production facility comes online, it will likely be used to fulfill orders from Europe.

Developer of next generation bio n-butanol Cobalt Technologies appointed Bob Mayer as chairman of its board of directors and CEO. With more than 30 years of experience in the chemicals and biotech sectors, Mayer joins Cobalt to lead the company as it focuses on developing commercial facilities globally. As Chairman and CEO, Mayer will be responsible for setting strategic direction, cultivating partnerships and driving the company to profitability. Mayer, who has extensive experience growing businesses within the biotech sector as the former executive vice president of Danisco, will also lead the development of strategic business relationships and fundraising for the company. Most recently he was the CEO of Genencor International Inc. Additionally, Mayer will join Cobalt’s board of directors with significant board experience. He currently serves on the board of Edeniq Inc., a biofuels company, and Kalesec Inc. He formerly served on the board of Martek Biosciences Inc. prior to its sale to DSM earlier this year. Mayer started his career as an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ineos Bio has selected international engineering company AMEC to be its global license support engineering firm. AMEC will work with Ineos Bio in developing engineering design packages for future Ineos Biotechnologies licenses. AMEC will be playing a major role in the scale up of the company’s technology. AMEC is the engineering, procurement and construction provider for Ineos Bio’s first commercial-scale facility in Vero Beach, Fla. That plant, which is expected to begin operations during the second quarter, will be capable of producing 8 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year, along with 6 megawatts of renewable electricity. AMEC was chosen to serve as Ineos Bio’s global license support engineering firm for several reasons, including its global presence and ability to serve a global license base. Ineos Bio expects to begin licensing its cellulosic ethanol technology this year, and AMEC will ensure the engineering designs for these facility are optimized and customized for each site location.