October 2009

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Business Briefs

Vega chooses biomass expert as interim CEO



In the 1970s, Wheelabrator Technologies helped to launch a prosperous municipal solid waste-to-energy industry in the U.S. The industry wasn't immune to economic and societal hardships, however, and developers struggled to prosper; some didn't survive. Today, the same factors that fueled the industry in its infancy are reenergizing it.

Covanta Energy's waste-to-energy facility in Fort Meyers, Fla. PHOTO: COVANTA ENERGY CORP.

Taking Out the Trash

By Anna Austin

Covanta Energy operates more than 40 waste-to-energy facilities across the globe. These plants collectively convert 19 million tons-or more than 5 percent-of the nation's waste into renewable energy each year.

When Ramon Gonzalez discovered the secret to coaxing industrial E. coli strains to anaerobically ferment glycerin, commonly found in ethanol and biodiesel plant waste streams, he suspected it would be significant to the biofuels, ethanol and biochemicals industries. GlycosBio, the company founded around that discovery, is now on the verge of commercializing its biochemical production capabilities.

The buzz about biochar is getting louder. Many companies have recently unveiled biochar production systems, and advocates are campaigning to include the soil enhancer in global carbon emission reduction policies.

Rocket Science Meets Biodiesel

Rocket Science Meets Biodiesel

By Susanne Retka Schill

In collaboration with the U.S. Navy and Biodiesel Industries, Aerojet-a company that helped put man on the moon-has turned its sights toward biodiesel.

Pacific Rim Panorama

Pacific Rim Panorama

By By Nicholas Zeman

Malaysia and the Philippines are building their exporting power as the market for biodiesel becomes increasingly global. China and Japan are investing heavily in feedstock development for their own biofuels industries. Other regions of Asia are also becoming hot spots, even though some suggest these developments may come at the expense of ancient, ecologically diverse landscapes.

Mixed Signals

Mixed Signals

By By Nicholas Zeman

Biotechnology is starting to have a dramatic impact on global trade scenarios as international testing, container use and tolerance levels are inconsistent. Negotiations are ongoing to prevent intense stress felt by buyers, sellers and risk managers when international trade is disrupted.


The Promise and the Reality

By Susanne Retka Schill

Some entrepreneurs have hyped algae claims, yet business plays a key role in keeping the effort grounded while researchers advance the science. Everyone agrees, however, algae holds great promise.


Finding the shortest distance between product and protection may take forms other than patents, and may more closely align with a company's goals and the realities of the marketplace.

Canadian corn products refiner, Casco, recently upgraded its 4 million-gallon wastewater anaerobic digester to include a state-of-the-art floating and insulated geomembrane cover, designed and installed by Geomembrane Technologies, effectively streamlining biogas collection, improving odor control and optimizing bioreactor heat retention.

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