Special EU Biofuels Report: The Top 10 Stories of the Year, and More
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) The technology is there. Demand for alternative fuels, chemicals and materials is there. Feedstock is expensive. In so many of the signature developments announced around the world this year, there’s been an EU technology in the mix. Whether it is the host of EU technologies targeting Brazil, the US or China, there’s been a lot heard from the giants like BASF, Novozymes, Evonik, UPM and more.
E4tech has released a report finding that advanced biofuels could grow to 12-15% of energy to the transport sector by 2030, representing overall greenhouse gas emission savings of around 8%. And could reach at least 8% of the EU’s 2020 10% Renewable Fuels target. That’s the finding from the first Auto-Fuel Biofuels Roadmap for the EU to 2030. With future energy scenarios showing liquid fuels remaining important to the long-term energy mix, biofuels and vehicle efficiency will be essential if the European transport sector is to cut greenhouse gas emissions and meet its decarbonization targets.
Here are the Top 10 developments of the year.
1. The European Commission’s $4.87 billion Public Private Partnership proposal for Biobased Industries
In July, the European Commission proposed a $4.87 billion (€3.8 billion) Public Private Partnership on Biobased Industries, in order to accelerate the commercialization of biobased products in Europe. It’s the biggest, boldest and most sophisticated biobased initiative ever launched.
2. Beta Renewables plant opens commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Italy
In Italy, Beta Renewables and Novozymes marked the official opening in Northern Italy of the world’s largest cellulosic biofuels facility. Situated in fields outside the city of Crescentino, it is the first plant in the world to be designed and built to produce ethanol from agricultural residues and energy crops at commercial scale using enzymatic conversion.
The plant uses wheat straw, rice straw and arundo donax, a high-yielding energy crop grown on marginal land.
3. Abengoa reaches demo scale in Spain with waste-to-biofuels process
In July, Abengoa inaugurated its demonstration waste-to-biofuels plant, with a capacity to treat 25,000 tons of municipal solid waste from which it will obtain up to 1.5 million liters (400,000 gallons per year) of ethanol.
The demonstration plant, located in Babilafuente (Salamanca, Spain) uses waste-to-biofuels technology developed by Abengoa to produce second-generation biofuels from MSW using a fermentation and enzymatic hydrolysis treatment.
4. BASF and UPM tap Renmatix technology for industrial sugars
Last week, BASF and Renmatix signed a non-exclusive joint development agreement to scale up the Renmatix Plantrose process for the production of industrial sugars based on lignocellulosic biomass.
The news follows closely on an announce last week by Renmatix and Virent of a strategic collaboration to convert affordable cellulosic sugars to renewable chemicals and bio-based packaging materials.
5. Lanxess demonstrates biobased PBT at scale using Genomatica’s process
In Germany, Lanxess has run a production campaign of bio-based PBT in Lanxess’ world-scale production plant using 20 metric tons of bio-based BDO made with Genomatica’s commercially-proven process. It was the First production of bio-based polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) in a world-scale plant using 1,4-butanediol (BDO) made from renewable feedstock.
6. Borregaard reaches demo scale in Sarpsborg
In April, Norwegian Finance Minister Sigbjørn Johnsen officially inaugurated the Borregaard biorefinery demonstration plant in Sarpsborg, which will produce green chemicals and sugars based on biomass from wood and agricultural and forestry waste.
7. Naturally Scientific heads for the US for tissue-cultured fuels and industrial sugars
In October, Sweetwater Energy announced a 50/50 joint venture with Naturally Scientific, Inc. to produce sugar from waste carbon dioxide.
The new technology converts carbon dioxide taken directly from the emissions of industries such as ethanol refineries, natural gas power plants and many others, into usable sugars.
The joint venture expands Sweetwater’s sugar-production reach beyond biomass-based, second-generation feedstocks into third-generation feedstocks.
8. Biorefinery Midscandinavia — a biofuels time machine under development in Sweden
In July, we profiled biorefinery R&D project number 100 at the Swedish Processum cluster, aimed at thermochemically converting lignin from black liquor to bio oil. It is run by the Swedish-Norwegian cooperation project “Biorefinery Midscandinavia” and the project partners are Processum Biorefinery Initiative, PFI, Metsä Board Sweden, Viken Skog (a Norwegian forest owner association) and the Bergen University.
9. Green Biologics raises $25M, heads for scale
…The aim is to retrofit the 23 Mgy plant to produce renewable n-butanol and acetone in 2016.
10. Evonik, LanzaTech ink 3-year research deal for specialty plastics from waste derived synthesis gas.
In December, Evonik Industries and LanzaTech signed a three year research cooperation agreement which will see Evonik combining its existing biotechnology platforms with LanzaTech’s synthetic biology and gas fermentation expertise for the development of a route to bioprocessed precursors for specialty plastics from waste derived synthesis gas. READ MORE