Solazyme and the Year of Living Dangerously

Jim Lane Solazyme steps up to slay the scale-up dragon. Will the company stay on its scale-up schedule, at the final step where Amyris, Gevo and KiOR ran into crushing delays? In California, Solazyme (SZYM) announced results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2013. The Results Q4 Revenue (vs Q4 2012): $11.3M (+34%) Q4 Net (vs Q4 2012): -$33.3M (+35%) 2013 Revenue (vs 2012): $39.8M (-10%) 2013 Net (vs 2012): -$116.4M (+40%) So widening losses, falling annual revenue. So, why the excitement amongst most of the analysts? 2013 Highlights Scale-up:...

An Insider’s Take on the Ethanol Industry

Biofuels: Panacea or Pandora's Box? Last night, I attended a talk in the Rocky Mountain Institute's "Quest for Solutions" lecture series titled "Biofuels: Panacea or Pandora's Box?"  We were told that a video of the event will soon be up on RMI's website.  Most of us were probably there to hear Amory Lovins speak, and no doubt most of the news coverage of the event will focus on him.  Amory is a visionary as well as an engaging speaker, and Tom Foust of the National Renewable Energy Lab helped shed light on the science of biofuels, but for stock...

Propel Fuels’ Sales of Neste Renewable Diesel Jump 15x

Jim Lane West Coast renewable fuel retailer says the launch of 100% drop-in renewable diesel has spiked sales on a per-outlet basis 5X jump in renewable content, and 3X jump in gallons sold. In California, Propel Fuels is reporting a 15X jump in per-outlet sales of renewable fuel for diesel engines, based on a 3X increase in gallons sold of its new Diesel HPR fuel and 5X increase in renewable content for Diesel HPR (100% renewable content, vs the 20 percent renewable content in B20 biodiesel, which Propel formerly sold). With the news, Propel is expanding...
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Biofuels & Biobased Earnings Roundup: Aemetis

by Jim Lane The Top Line. In California, Aemetis (AMTX) reported that Q2 revenues increased $4.3 million and gross margins increased by $1.1 million compared to the second quarter of 2017. Similarly, during the first half of 2018, revenues increased $15.7 million and gross margins increased by $3.5 million compared to the first half of 2017. Revenues were $45.0 million for the second quarter of 2018 compared to $40.8 million for the second quarter of 2017, driven by an increase in ethanol sales volumes from 15.6 million gallons to 16.4 million gallons and by stronger wet distillers grain and glycerin demand and pricing. Operating loss...

Greenshift’s New Extraction Technology a 62% Improvement, but Challenges Abound

by Debra Fiakas CFA Source:  Chicago Board of Exchange Two months ago GreenShift Corporation (GERS:  OTC) ambitiously promised to introduce by the end of 2012 an improved corn oil extraction system.   The company has developed technology to extract oil more from corn used as feedstock by ethanol producers.  GreenShift claims its first system is recovering an incremental 0.8 pounds of oil per bushel of corn in current installations.  The new system  -  called COES  II  -  is expected to increase the oil yields to 1.3 pounds  - ...

Codexis Moves to the Front With CodeXyme4

Jim Lane Compared to prior generations, CodeXyme 4 and CodeXyme 4X significantly reduce the cost of cellulosic sugar production for biofuels and bio‐based chemicals. In California, Codexis (CDXS) announced the launch of CodeXyme 4 and CodeXyme 4X cellulase enzyme packages for use in producing cellulosic sugar for production of biofuels and bio‐based chemicals. Codexis’ latest generation of advanced cellulase enzymes, CodeXyme 4 for dilute acid pretreatments and CodeXyme 4X for hydrothermal pretreatments, exhibits excellent performance, converting up to 85% of available fermentable sugars at high biomass and low enzyme loads. Combined with high strain productivity using...

The Cleantech IPO Window – Closed for business?

Jim Lane IPOs are struggling, all across cleantech – and the biofuels IPO queue is long and tiring. Why Kiwano countries may be in your future. And, what is a Kiwano country, anyway? So, amidst all the legislative and policy hoopla last week for advanced biofuels, including winning funding for an energy title in the US Senate’s Farm Bill and the release of the US Bioeconomy strategy, Enerkem’s IPO skidded to a halt and was withdrawn. Sure, it was very early stage – their first commercial wasn’t complete, the company wasn’t producing much in the way of revenue,...

Rentech After Fischer-Tropsch

by Debra Fiakas CFA A long article appearing in early March 2014 on Biofuels Digest about Emerging Fuels Technology (EFT) gave me pause.  The article has since been removed from the site but it was an interesting primer on Oklahoma-based EFT’s use of the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert carbon-based feedstock to liquid fuel, otherwise called Gas-to-Liquids. While Emerging Fuels Technology has been listed in Crystal Equity Research’s Alternative Chemicals Group of the Beach Boys Index of companies trying to harness energy from the sun through biomas, I must admit the company had not been taken seriously.  ...

Senator Inhofe: 9x Cost for Biofuels Is Too Much, but 29x Was OK for...

Jim Lane Arch-critic of the cost of military biofuels Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe comes under scrutiny over earmarks for natural gas-based military fuels that cost 29 times more than conventional fuels. In Washington, the battle over advanced military biofuels took a turn for the bizarre this week, amidst revelations that a leading Senate sponsor of legislation to restrict Navy purchases of advanced biofuels, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, had previously secured earmarks for Syntroleum Corporation (SYNM) to produce natural gas-to-liquid alternative fuels which were priced 29 times higher than conventional fuels. Overall, Syntroleum reported receiving nearly $6...

Third Quarter Earnings: Biofuels: Gevo, Solazyme, and Amyris

Jim Lane SZYM, AMRS, GEVO check in with Q3 results. What’s heavenly, what’s hellish? In years gone by, it was not too hard to write up a summary of Gevo (GEVO), Solazyme (SZYM) and Amyris (AMRS) all aimed at fuels, all in the development stage, all used synthetic biology in closed fermenters, all had big backers ranging from brand-name equity partners to big-time strategics, all went public in the same 2010-11 IPO window. These days, much more complex. It’s a jungle of production costs, average selling prices, offtake deals, LOIs, and MOUs. Following them...

Gevo Finds A Way

Jim Lane Like Rocky Balboa, no matter how many punches they take, Gevo just won’t fall over. In fact, the company’s prospects have brightened considerably in recent months is the company “gonna fly now”? How and why is success on the horizon? For most of its history, Gevo has looked like a long-shot a company aiming at making high-value, bio-based butanol, mostly from corn sugars, via retrofitting its exotic bug into ethanol fermenters. The opportunity is pretty simple to understand. Isobutanol sells for around 60 cents a pound, sugars check in at 16 cents...

Gevo: Are We There Yet?

by Debra Fiakas CFA The renewable chemicals and biofuel company Gevo, Inc. (GEVO:  Nasdaq) is scheduled to report fourth quarter 2013 financial results on March 25th.  Analysts have a couple of weeks to prepare questions for management during the earnings conference call.  Top on the list has to be got to be about Gevo’s recent agreement to license its novel isobutanol technology to Porta Hnos of Argentina.  Porta Hnos is a well established ethanol producer so if the license is consummated, it is expected that this partner has the ability to execute on plans to produce isobutanol for...

KiOR: “You’ve Cooked The Books”

by Jim Lane Note. This is Part 3 of our series on the inside true story of KiOR. In part 1 of our series here, and part 2 here. Our story so far KiOR was hanging by a thread as the summer of 2010 commenced. In a few days, the first recorded visitors to Pasadena demo unit, representatives of the Mississippi Development Authority, were expecting to see the demonstration unit in action. The company was beginning to hurtle towards an IPO. But the fuel yields were low; the fuel was not usable by their initial chosen downstream partner; the catalyst they were using...

Biodiesel’s Nightmare: Renewable Diesel

Until algae farms move from the research and demonstration stage, biodiesel usage is going to be tightly constrained by available feedstock.  The feedstocks for biodiesel are oils and fats, which naturally occur in quantity only in animals or the seeds of plants.  As such, the quantity of oil available is much smaller than the sugars, starches, and cellulose which occur not only in the seeds and fruits of plants, but also in the stems and leaves, and can be used to make ethanol.  Because sugarcane contains the best ethanol feedstock, sugar in the stem (not just the...

Everything Going for KiOR – Just Not Very Fast

Jim Lane What’s up with the cellulosic biofuels leader? Good news, bad news? If you have ever spent any time reading up on ion thrusters a next-gen engine technology that NASA recently employed on the Dawn spacecraft you might chuckle when you think of the plight of poor KiOR (KIOR). The good news about ion thrusters is that they can ultimately achieve speeds of 200,000 miles per hour, ten times that of the Space Shuttle. The bad news is that the Dawn took four days to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour. Yep, zero...

Alaska Airlines and Gevo to Demonstrate Alchohol-to-Jet Fuel

In Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) and Alaska Airlines announced a strategic alliance to purchase Gevo’s renewable jet fuel and fly the first-ever commercial flight on alcohol-to-jet fuel (ATJ). The demonstration flight is expected to occur after Gevo receives ASTM International certification for its fuel, sometime in mid to late 2015. Gevo has been working through the rigorous ASTM process for six years, which includes extensive engine testing and data analysis by all of the major original equipment manufacturers to establish the specification for this drop in fuel. Once approved, this fuel can be seamlessly integrated into the existing distribution...