Business Briefs

By Staff | November 02, 2012

While petroleum-based methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) has largely been replaced with ethanol as a gasoline additive in the U.S. due to environmental concerns of groundwater contamination, Evonik recently announced it has been producing commercial volumes of a biobased version of the antiknock agent using an ingredient refined from crude glycerin, a coproduct of the biodiesel production process. Evonik produces its bioMTBE from isobutene and biobased methanol. Horst-Oliver Buchholz told Biodiesel Magazine that Evonik does not produce the biomethanol itself, but rather the chemical firm buys the glycerin-derived product from the market to manufacture bioMTBE alongside conventional MTBE at its factory in Marl, Germany. The company said because the biomethanol is made from raw glycerin, it is classified as a waste product according to the EU Renewable Energy Directive, thereby doubling its value for determining bioenergy content.

Portugal-based biodiesel technology provider Incbio is marketing its latest development to the global biodiesel industry: a multifeedstock platform based on heterogeneous, solid catalysis. Incbio says the technology has been commercially proven already in biodiesel plants with production capacity up to 30 MMgy and feedstock up to 90 percent free fatty acids. The catalyst lasts one to three years without replacement, provided appropriate feedstock pretreatment is performed to remove reactive contaminants, polymers and phospholipids that can foul the conversion beds. Incbio contends advantages of its system include ability to use lower-grade feedstock; “instantaneous” reaction and consistent quality from ultrasonic reactors; continuous production; skid-mounted modular design; variable flow rates from 500 kilograms an hour to commercial-scale flow rates; an energy-efficient design; methanol recovery; low capital and operating expenses; and the possibility of integrating (with automation) the process technology with existing commercial facilities. The firm says it can also “future proof” plants with distillation and glycerin purification modules.

Biodico Inc. and LamdaGen Corp. have entered a collaboration whereby Lam-daGen's nanobased Meta-Catalytic Surface technology will be integrated into Biodico’s research and development programs for biomass-based diesel, combined heat and power and biochemicals. Additional LamdaGen technologies will be incorporated into Biodico’s ongoing R&D programs, one of which developed the game-changing ARIES (Automated Real-time, Remote, Integrated Energy System) technology under the auspices of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the U.S. Navy in 2002. Biodico is located at the National Environment Technology Test Site on Naval Base Ventura County, Calif.

Investors in Paseo Biofuels LLC, the Missouri Soybean Association and Cargill announced an expansion to the Paseo biodiesel plant in Kansas City, Mo., that will increase biodiesel production capacity by 40 percent. Using soybean oil as its primary feedstock, the facility, which opened in 2008, produces 40 million gallons of biodiesel and 30 million pounds of food-grade glycerin annually. The expansion is expected to be complete by March 2013. Paseo was started out of an equity drive in 2006, in which more than 650 agricultural producers in the state purchased shares. The company then formed a joint venture with Cargill to help make the facility a reality. It is located near the Paseo Bridge in Kansas City, Mo.

Algae.Tec Ltd. and Lufthansa have signed a collaboration agreement for the construction of a large-scale algae-to-aviation biofuels production facility. The site will be in Europe, adjacent to an industrial CO2 source. Lufthansa will arrange 100 percent funding for the project. Algae.Tec will receive license fees and profits from the project, which will be managed by Algae.Tec. As part of the agreement, Lufthansa commits to a long-term offtake agreement of at least 50 percent of the crude oil produced at an agreed price. The agreement forms the base for a long-term cooperation between Algae.Tec and Lufthansa for the industrial production of crude algae suitable for conversion into aviation kerosene and conventional diesel fuels. A final feasibility report will be completed once the first site has been selected.

A new hub of biodiesel distribution is up and running in Des Moines, Iowa, leading to greater consumer access to biodiesel. On Sept. 14, the Iowa Biodiesel Board congratulated the Magellan Pipeline Co. for completing a new biodiesel distribution facility at its largest petroleum distribution terminal in the state. The company announced the opening of the terminal facility at the IBB annual meeting Sept. 7. The installation of new equipment will allow for the unloading, storage and blending of biodiesel at the terminal. Magellan received partial funding for the project from the Iowa Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Board, the Iowa Soybean Association and soybean checkoff program, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority funded by the U.S. DOE. The infrastructure upgrade will enhance distribution of biodiesel by making it simple for petroleum distributors to access preblended fuel.

Biodiesel is now available via truckload from Renewable Energy Group’s new biodiesel location in Rancho Dominguez outside of Long Beach, Calif. The first truckload of biodiesel was picked up by Whole Energy, a regional distributor and retailer with locations in Washington, Oregon and California. REG also recently registered its REG Seneca (Ill.) plant with CARB in accordance with the low carbon fuel standard, and REG-9000 biodiesel from that location has a carbon intensity as low as 4.0 gCO2e/MJ, according to CARB.

BDI-BioEnergy International AG has concluded a contract with Portuguese company Assunto Importante S.A. to upgrade the existing biodiesel plant in Sines. The local petroleum industry will be the end-user of the biodiesel produced. The order volume is in the single-digit million range. The objectives of the project are to not only increase the raw material flexibility of the existing plant, but also, and in particular, to improve the quality of the biodiesel so it satisfies the requirements of the stricter quality standard EN14214/2013, which will have to be observed in the future. This is being done in the context of the BDI RetroFit program. The company in Sines is opting to use such waste materials as animal fat or used cooking oil to manufacture biodiesel, and as a result, 25,000 metric tons (approximately 7.5 MMgy) of “second-generation” biodiesel (i.e., biodiesel from waste streams rather than first-use materials) will be produced for the local petroleum industry per year as a result.

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