Leaf Resources (ASX: LER) Joint Venture to Develop Five Projects with World-Class Project Ceveloper Claeris, LLC
(Leaf Resources) Leaf Resources Ltd (ASX: LER, “Leaf” or “Leaf Resources”) is pleased to announce the signing of binding legal agreements with US-based project developer Claeris, LLC (“Claeris”), to establish a joint venture (JV) entity, Leaf Development, LLC (“Leaf Development”), for the purpose of developing up to five renewable chemical projects that utilise Leaf Resources’ proprietary GlycellTM process.
Claeris has a proven track record of developing successful, large-scale renewable projects, and believes that both the investment community and chemical industry are keen to participate in well-structured, well-credentialed renewable chemical projects.
The joint venture arrangement with Claeris provides significant additional opportunities for the deployment of the GlycellTMprocess across a variety of biomass sources in a number of jurisdictions. In particular, Claeris has identified development opportunities using empty fruit bunches in Asia and hard woods in the US and will actively pursue these development projects.
The GlycellTM Process is an innovative technology that uses a low cost, recyclable, biodegradable reagent glycerol, in a simple process that breaks down plant biomass into lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose at low temperature and pressure. The cellulose is then converted to cellulosic sugars through enzymatic hydrolysis and the lignin, hemicellulose and glycerol become valuable co-products.
Cellulosic sugars are a major feedstock for green, renewable biobased chemicals, bioplastics and biofuels, products whose markets are multi $billions and fast growing. Many biobased products can now economically replace petroleum based products.
The GlycellTM process can produce cellulosic sugars at under $50 per tonne when coproducts are included. This compares with $220 per tonne for sugars produced from the conversion of corn starch, the cheapest alternative and $280 per tonne for raw sugar.
By dramatically reducing the cost of the main feedstock for bio based chemicals, plastics and biofuels, the GlycellTM process has the potential to change the face of global renewable production. READ MORE and MORE (Biofuels Digest)
Excerpt from Biofuels Digest: Leaf Resources’ previously announced joint ventures and MOUs with Monaghan Mushrooms, ZeaChem, and projects related to rice husks are excluded from the Claeris arrangement. Leaf Resources will continue to develop these pre-existing partnerships.
And, as CEO (Ken) Richards told The Digest, “we haven’t had to build a demonstration plant, or run it; the ZeaChem plant is essentially the core of our plant and their design is transferrable, and they bring a pile of engineering skills as well. Plus, we’ve excluded our JV with Zeachem from this transaction.”
The trend recently for companies in this space has been to conserve cash by focusing on the development of core technology and partnering for everything else. Leaf’s been an example to all in this respect — partnering with ZeaChem on engineering and leveraging the ZeaChem demonstration plant for it’s own scale-up, recognizing that what the company has to do is make its technology work in a ZeaChem design.
Now, Leaf’s taken this approach on project development — after a period where they had invested in a small business development presence in the North American market, they’ve concluded that a JV with an established project development team offers more speed and broader access to project development opportunities.
It’s not only the route that Gevo took, it’s the route that Inbicon took as well. Other companies in the cellulosic sugars field have tended to focus on a first commercial plant with their own internal development team — Renmatix and Sweetwater Energy come to mind.
But it is not really a case of Sweetwater vs Leaf vs Renmatix.
It’s really all of these companies vs the inertia we’ve seen in the sector — the Billion Ton report is out there telling us that the feedstock is available at affordable rates. Now, it is a matter of chasing those resources into projects.
One note we’ll make. With natural gas and oil prices so low — and no Renewable Chemical Standard in sight — it’s going to be tough sledding (and is) for companies to bring forward drop-in renewable chemicals at this time, where the only differentiator is price. And bringing forward novel renewable chemicals will require time and expertise in developing applications, relationships with formulators and so on.
Meanwhile, cellulosic ethanol gallons are worth well in excess of $4.00 each because of the way that carbon credits are stacking up — far in excess of the value of gasoline or conventional ethanol. READ MORE