There was high drama in Washington, DC as the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference got underway and President Trump readies to meet at the White House with a number of biofuels leaders about the RFS and bioeconomy policy in a session currently scheduled for 2pm ET today.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue reiterated the President’s support of the Renewable Fuel Standard at the 2018 Commodity Classic also in progress this week.
The ABLC sessions opened yesterday afternoon for the 545 delegates representing 330 companies in the development, construction, operation and financing of advanced bioeconomy technologies and projects. VADM Dennis V. McGinn (Ret.) accepted the industry’s William C. Holmberg Award for Lifetime Achievement and urged the delegates to continue striving for their technologies, recalling Bill Holmberg as “not just an authentic American hero, but the most tenacious person you ever met” in describing Holmberg’s work in catalyzing the advanced bioeconomy.
US Standards for Biomass Supply Chain Risk announced
In headline news, EcoStrat CEO Jordan Solomon announced the US Standards for Biomass Supply Chain Risk (BSCR) this year. This has been an ongoing 3 year USDOE/BETO project which we are leading with Idaho National Labs for the past year and a half and which has the participation and support of key players in S&P, Moody’s, Fitch, JP Morgan, Poet, Ensyn, Dupont, Pacific Ag, Agco, New Energy Risk, USDA, Chemtex, Georgia Biomass, Argonne National Lab, Raymond James, Stern Brothers, Kilpatrick Townsend, Hamilton Clark, Texas AM, UC Davis and about 25 more.
The BSCR Standards will be a huge impact on decreasing project debt cost and accelerating bio-project development in the US — pertaining to ways to De-Risk Biomass Supply Chains as gathered over the past 16 months though interviews with key participants in the industry.
Inscripta’s big $55M capital raise
In Colorado, Inscripta closed a $55.5 million Series C funding round led by Mérieux Développement and Paladin Capital Group. Additional participants include all existing Inscripta investors: Venrock, Foresite, MLS Capital, and NanoDimension. The new funding comes on the heels of the company’s release of its first CRISPR enzyme (MAD7), and will accelerate Inscripta’s development and commercialization of gene-editing tools, including instruments, reagents, and software, and grow the company’s expert team.
“Gene editing is one of the most exciting scientific advancements of this young century, but to realize its full potential, researchers need to have better, more scalable tools to forward engineer proteins, pathways and genomes,” said Kevin Ness, CEO of Inscripta. “The past 20 years of genomic advancements have been in the field of genome reading, but we believe that future advancements in biology will be in the applications of genome writing.”
Inscripta will use the funding to expand its research capabilities and strengthen its internal team of high-performing research experts. The company has open positions that offer growth opportunities for scientists and engineers in the fields of microfluidics, genomics, cell biology, synthetic biology, and computational biology at locations in both Boulder, Colo. and the Bay Area. In addition, the company is significantly expanding its commercialization efforts.
At the close of last year, Inscripta introduced its MAD7 enzyme, which is fully available for commercial and academic researchers with no up-front licensing fees or “reach-through royalties” on products made using the technology. This unique approach was the first step in the company’s path to re-shape forward genome engineering and make it more accessible for the research community.
New from the Department of Energy
Also, the Energy Department has released two studies from the Co-Optimization of Engines & Fuels initiative (Co-Optima) — and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy Steven Chalk and Bioenergy Technologies Office director Jonathan Male will be on stage today (Thursday) to explore this topic in more detail.
The study, Fuel Blendstocks with the Potential to Optimize Future Gasoline Engine Performance, identifies eight representative high-octane blendstocks across five chemical groups that could be blended into gasoline for better performance. These new blendstocks, co-optimized with advanced gasoline engines, show potential to improve passenger vehicle fuel economy by 10%. The companion study, Efficiency Merit Function for Spark Ignition Engines, outlines a new mathematical equation which quantifies the fuel efficiency potential associated with different fuel properties. The goal of this research is to provide American industry with the scientific foundation needed to maximize vehicle and fuel performance and efficiency, thereby enabling increased fuel economy and more affordable transportation. For a typical American household, transportation costs are second only to housing expenses.
“Increasing the efficiency of internal combustion engines is one of the most cost-effective approaches to improving the energy efficiency of new vehicles in the near- to mid-term in conventional, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons. “Researching engines and fuels as a system offers the opportunity to improve the affordability and efficiency of future gasoline engines for American families and businesses.”
The Co-Optima initiative aims to co-develop advanced engine technologies and fuel components to significantly increase fuel economy over today’s vehicles. While advanced engine designs are being introduced commercially, they are limited by current fuels. Co-Optima explores fuel and engine innovations that work together to maximize vehicle performance and fuel economy. The advanced fuel components can be derived from domestic biomass resources which can increase U.S. energy security and create jobs in rural America.
The representative blendstocks identified in Fuel Blendstocks with the Potential to Optimize Future Gasoline Engine Performance can be blended into gasoline and used in smaller but more powerful and efficient spark-ignition engines. The study explored and evaluated a broad and diverse range of blendstocks across chemical groups that could be derived from domestic sources, including natural gas, petroleum, and biomass. The assessment criteria included physical properties, high-level health-impacts, the ability to improve advanced spark-ignition engine efficiency, and the potential to be introduced commercially in the 2025–2030 time frame.
The research into fuel property impacts on engine efficiency and performance detailed in the first study was guided and informed by a new engine efficiency merit function, or mathematical equation. Efficiency Merit Function for Spark Ignition Engines documents the development of this merit function and how it can be used to improve the scientific understanding of the dynamic relationship between fuel properties, including octane, and engine efficiency.
News from Syngenta
Also active at ABLC this year was Syngenta, which reported yesterday that premiums-to-date paid to Enogen corn growers are expected to surpass $100 million during 2018. According to Chris Tingle, head of commercial operations for Enogen at Syngenta, providing alpha amylase enzyme to ethanol plants as Enogen grain is helping corn growers maximize return on investment for their ethanol acres. He added that this unique business model supports rural America by keeping enzyme dollars local and helping ethanol plants be more successful.
Syngenta is currently contracting with more than 1,700 corn growers and has marketing agreements with 31 ethanol plants across 12 states. 2018 ethanol production with Enogen corn is expected to be over 2.5 billion gallons.
NOx additive OK’d in California
In California news, CARB approved Targray’s NOx mitigating Biodiesel Additive (CATANOX) for the California market. See CARB’s executive order here:
Targray, one of the largest Biofuels marketers and distributors in California, is now the second company in the state to offer a CARB-certified NOx mitigation solution for biodiesel blenders. Beginning in March 2018, Targray will offer its CATANOX additive as part of a fully blended, B20-ready solution at five fuel terminal locations in California — Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield and Los Angeles.
Klobuchar, Homgren, Chalk, NBB, BIO, ABBC, ABFA and Growth Energy on stage today
ABLC action continues today with keynotes from Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren as well as the special address by Steven Chalk. The Domestic Policy Forum featuring the National Biodiesel Board, BIO, the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, the Advanced Biofuels Association and Growth Energy — and the first of two Industry Horizons Forums.
Hot 50 announcement at 630ET
At the end of the day the 50 Hottest Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy will be officially announced live from the ABLC stage. Also opening today are the Advanced Biofuels Summit, the Renewable Chemicals & Biomaterials Summit, the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Summit and the Biotechnology Leadership Roundtable sessions.
ABLC live streams
Live streaming of ABLC plenary sessions begin at 8am, March 1st, 2018 and are available here.