Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bioenergy News

Cambridge Mass. startup Joule Biotechnologies changed its name today to Joule Unlimited. Joule received a fresh $30 million in funding, and its pilot plant in Texas is scheduled for completion this summer.
The growing 40-employee company plans to use its new funding for its pilot plant underway in Leander, Texas, which is expected to test its solar fuels. The funds, which are also expected to later fund its demonstration efforts, came from undisclosed institutional and private sources that joined Flagship Ventures, Joule’s founding venture capital investor. Sims wouldn’t disclose how much the company has raised to date.

...The funds are also anticipated to support developments in genome engineering, bioprocessing, and hardware engineering to optimize productivity and generate product samples, offering validation of the company’s process beyond the lab.

On the biology side, Joule has advanced its diesel product, produced from the same Helioculture process that makes its ethanol. Sims said the company has already shown the production possibilities of diesel and can start demonstrating at a faster pace.

“Once the piloting is done, we are going to be very focused on diesel,” he said.

A demonstration facility is expected to follow the pilot plant in the summer of 2011, with a commercial facility in 2012 centered on diesel. Sims said Joule expects to be fully commercial by 2013. At full-scale production, the company projects producing up to 15,000 gallons of diesel per acre annually, at costs as low as $30 per barrel equivalent. _CleanTechMedia

French oil giant Total is investing in Coskata -- cellulosic ethanol plasma gasification startup. Coskata also has ties to General Motors.

BP and DuPont are teaming together in the bio-butanol company Butamax. Their plans are quite ambitious in comparison to other bio-butanol startups.
We are coming online this year. The UK demonstration plant commissions in Q3, and is designed to help us prove out the integrated technology. We’ll enter the US market and be commercially viable in late 2012 and early 2013, and at commercial scale. Our focus will be ethanol plants retrofitted to biobutanol , and the sales of licenses to other plants that can retrofit to biobutanol. We are also looking at entering Brazil on a commercially viable basis in 2013. Our focus there will be exports to strategic markets, including US and Europe.

...We needed to have a technology that could be applied to an existing plant – its an add-on, There are two areas when you retrofit, one is in the fermentation, one is distillation. We have an advanced yeast technology, in that we have altered yeast to make other alcohols. The discovery that Dupont and BP have been working on is a yeast that can produce at commercial scale and cost.

... We are at a threshold where its time for us to seek out partners. demonstrate biobutanol at an energy equivalent basis – not volume – at partity with bioethanol – Discovery is still moving towards our commercialization target of having parity with ethanol on an energy equivalent basis [note: the same production cost per BTU of fuel energy] and by 2013 we will have that commercial viability. _BiofuelsDigest

A study of New York biomass resources concludes that New York state could supply 16% of its liquid fuel using biomass to liquids technologies. 16% may not sound like much to some observers, but in reality it is a huge quantity to trim from the liabilities ledger for any economic jurisdiction.

Naturally Scientific claims to have made a deal with China to build 6 $50 million facilities to produce bio-oils using CO2 and cell cultures. The cell culture approach is distinctly different from conventional biomass, seed oil, or microbial approaches to producing bio-oils. It will be fascinating to learn more details as they come out.



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