Busines Briefs

By Staff | February 28, 2012

Bridgeport BioDiesel LLC hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand opening of its 1 MMgy biodiesel multifeedstock production facility located in Bridgeport, Conn. The new plant is one of several tenants sited at an ecoindustrial park that’s currently under development in Bridgeport. Expected to be fully complete in the next decade, the park will house co-located renewable energy and ecofriendly projects such as an anaerobic digester, an algae farm and a mattress recycling facility. The plant is currently permitted to produce 1 MMgy of biodiesel exclusively from used cooking oil sourced from area restaurants, hospitals, school cafeterias and other food processing establishments in a 60-mile radius. The facility is designed for capacity expansion to 3 MMgy. The company noted it is in the process of obtaining a second permit to produce an additional 1 MMgy of biodiesel derived from collected brown grease. A third shift may be added, Russo said, to produce yet another 1 MMgy.

BASF officially inaugurated its new world-scale production plant for sodium methylate in Guaratinguetá, Brazil, its largest site in South America. The plant has a capacity of 60,000 metric tons per year and is supplying the regional market. Production started at the end of 2011 and the plant has been continuously delivering product quality. It is the first BASF plant for this product in South America and the second in the world, in addition to a plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Capital expenditure for the project was in the low, double-digit million euro range. Sodium methylate is an efficient and reliable catalyst for the production of biodiesel. Legislation in Brazil requires fuel to contain 5 percent biodiesel. In Argentina, biodiesel makes up 7 percent of fuel. Other South American countries have similar legislation.

Melbourne, Fla.-based PetroAlgae Inc. has changed its name to Parabel Inc. According to information released by the company, the new name better reflects its strategic changes and commercial milestones. Information issued by Parabel noted that its proprietary technology addresses global demand for new sources of feed, food and fuel. According to the company, its open-pond bioreactor technology enables customer licensees to grow, harvest, and process locally available, aquatic microcrops. Parabel’s technology is used to cultivate microcrops from the Lemnaceae family, including duckweed. The company filed an IPO registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission August 2010, and amended that registration December 2011. Due to the pending IPO, Parabel is not currently able to offer additional comments on the name change. Parabel operates a demonstration-scale algae production facility in Fellsmere, Fla.

California-based TerViva Bioenergy Inc. is focused on the development and commercialization of Pongamia pinnata, a legume tree native to Australia and India, which, according to the company, holds equal, if not superior, potential as a viable biodiesel feedstock in the U.S. TerViva has developed special varieties of pongamia trees that produce seed-bearing pods. They typically contain between 30 and 40 percent oil, which consists of nearly 50 percent oleic acid. The pods can be harvested via existing mechanical shaking equipment such as those employed in the nut industries, and the oil can be extracted using existing crushing equipment with no modifications. TerViva has established test plot operations for cultivating and harvesting its elite lines of pongamia trees, 30,000 trees worth (about 200 acres), in south Texas in an effort to demonstrate and communicate to area farmers the benefits of pongamia as a valuable oilseed crop that can positively contribute to their overall operations.

San Diego-based SG Biofuels Inc., a bioenergy crop company using breeding and biotechnology to develop hybrid seeds of jatropha, has secured $17 million in a Series B round of financing led by Thomas, McNerney & Partners with participation from Finistere Ventures and existing investors Flint Hills Resources LLC and Life Technologies Corp. As a result of the fresh infusion of funding, Pratik Shah, partner at Thomas, McNerney, and Jerry Caulder, managing director for Finistere Ventures, joined SG Biofuels’ board of directors. According to a statement by the company, the funding will be used to expand research and development and advanced commercialization efforts and global jatropha planting operations. The company employs molecular breeding and biotechnology to significantly improve yields of jatropha seedlings and reduce input costs. The company added that it has developed proprietary hybrid seed production technology that enables large-scale deployment of higher-yielding and uniform planting material adapted to unique growing conditions around the world. Its hybrid seeds, trademarked JMax, on average provide double the yield of existing commercial varieties planted in similar conditions.

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