Gusher! KiOR starts production of US cellulosic biofuels at scale

Jim Lane The Lucas gusher at Spindletop Hill, South of Beaumont, TX. Jan 1, 1901.   500 ton per day wood biomass to biocrude plant commences oil production – the long wait for cellulosic biofuels at scale is over. “With a roar like a hundred express trains racing across the countryside, the well blew out, spewing oil in all directions.” Well, the startup of biocrude production at KiOR, Inc.’s (KIOR)Columbus plant arrived with less drama than the above-described gusher at Spindletop in 1901. And James Dean was nowhere to be...

KiOR: a 5-Minute Guide

Jim Lane KiOR, Inc. is a next-generation renewable fuels company that has developed a proprietary technology platform to convert sustainable non-food biomass into cellulosic gasoline, diesel and fuel oil. Using standard refinery equipment, KiOR’s products are compatible with the existing fuel infrastructure. KiOR strives to ease dependence on foreign oil, reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and create high-quality jobs and economic benefit across rural communities. Address: 13001 Bay Park Road, Pasadena, TX 77507 Year founded: 2007 Stock: Nasdaq: KIOR. As of 8/31/12 Khosla Ventures, Artis Capital, Alberta Investment Management Corporation and other major...

BP Biofuels: a 5-Minute Guide

Jim Lane Address: 1 St James’s Square, London, SW1Y 4PD. UK. Year founded BP Biofuels was set up in 2006. BP p.l.c. celebrated its centenary in 2009. Company description: BP Biofuels is a leading global biofuels player, with a breadth of investment that is unique in terms of both its scale and its reach. Since 2006, BP has announced investments of more than $2 billion in biofuels research, development and operations, and has production facilities operating or in the planning/construction phases in Brazil and Europe. BP Biofuels has investments throughout the entire...

Is Gevo still Gevolicious?

Jim Lane Though a panic-inducing analyst report circulates on the internet, the consensus among analysts continues to be bullish on the biobased isobutanol pioneer. With Gevo, Inc.’s stock (NASD:GEVO) in the toilet as of now, trading at $2.00 the company has a market cap of $79 million and $92 million in the bank. When any company much less one with a hot technology is trading at less than its cash-on-hand value, it’s both rare and a reason to reflect on the financial state of affairs. Especially since alarming reports such as David...

Gevo: a 5-Minute Guide

Jim Lane Address: 345 Inverness Dr. South; Bldg. C; Suite 345, Englewood, CO 80112 Year founded: 2005 website: www.gevo.com Stock: NASD: GEVO Type of Technology(ies): Gevo has two proprietary technologies that combine to make it possible to retrofit existing ethanol plants to produce isobutanol, a four carbon alcohol which serves as a  hydrocarbon platform molecule.  We have developed a robust industrial scale yeast biocatalyst to produce isobutanol without typical byproducts operating at parameters equivalent to commercial ethanol producers.  The second piece of technology is a separations unit that operates continuously and removes isobutanol...

Honeywell’s UOP: a 5-Minute Guide

Jim Lane Based in: Illinois Business: Honeywell’s UOP has developed a renewable jet fuel processing technology, as well as a joint venture. UOP and Ensyn announced the formation of a new joint venture, dubbed Envergent Technologies, that will market technologies and equipment for generating power, transportation fuel and heating oil from biomass using pyrolysis. The joint venture will utilize forest and agriculture residues as feedstocks in a Rapid Thermal process, where feedstocks are heated in the absence of oxygen, to produce pyrolysis oils that can be utilized directly in heating oil or power gen. UOP...

Amyris: a 5-Minute Guide

Jim Lane Address: 5885 Hollis Street, Emeryville, CA Year founded: 2003 Annual Revenues: $38 billion (DuPont overall for 2011) $1.2 billon (Industrial Biosciences unit for 2011) Company description: Amyris is an integrated renewable chemicals and fuels company founded in 2003 and based in Emeryville, CA, with additional operations in Chicago, IL and Campinas, Brazil. Amyris has over 400 employees, with three-quarters of its employees located in the United States. Amyris subsidiaries include Amyris Brasil Ltda., a wholly-owned Brazilian company through which Amyris conducts its Brazilian operations for the manufacture and...

Dupont Industrial Biosciences: a 5-Minute Guide

Jim Lane Address: 1007 North Market Street Wilmington, DE 19898 Year founded: DuPont: 1802 DuPont Industrial Biosciences: 2011 Annual Revenues: $38 billion (DuPont overall for 2011) $1.2 billon (Industrial Biosciences unit for 2011) Company description: Last year, DuPont purchased Danisco and its Genencor unit and added their expertise into a new unit: DuPont Industrial Biosciences. This integration allows us to optimize DuPont’s bioscience technology and commercialization capabilities with Genencor’s biofuel enzyme technology. DuPont is committed to being a part of the solution to develop renewably sourced biofuels. For...

Codexis: a 5-Minute Guide

Jim Lane Address: 200 Penobscot Drive Redwood City, CA 94063 Year founded 2002 Annual Revenues: $107 million (2010) Company description: Codexis serves major worldwide markets where clean technology can make a positive economic and environmental impact. Codexis CodeEvolver ™ directed evolution technology accelerates development of high value sustainable products. Our focus is on the cost-effective conversion of renewable resources into transportation fuels, pharmaceuticals and biobased chemicals, and on the development of new technologies for effective air and water treatment. Stock: CDXS; NasdaqGS Type of Technology(ies): Directed evolution – CodeEvolver™ directed evolution...

Big Biofuel Balance Sheets: A Stampede of Elephants

Jim Lane Elephant herd running photo via Bigstock 28 big balance sheets deploying capital into commercial-scale advanced biofuels. Who’s writing the checks, and for what, and when? It’s become an article of faith among the unenlightened that advanced biofuels are always five years away, and the chief investors are the US Department of Energy and a gaggle of key Obama campaign donors. The Wall Street Journal, last December, opined: “Congress subsidized a product that didn’t exist, mandated its purchase though it still didn’t exist,...

Solazyme: Microbes in the Dark

by Debra Fiakas CFA The previous post “Solazyme's Detours on the Way to Algae Biofuel” began a discussion of Solazyme, Inc. (SZYM:  Nasdaq), a self-described “oil developer” targeting three commercial markets that are known heavy oil users:  chemical and fuel, nutrition and skin care.  Solazyme touts its ability to serve customers with oils tailored to their specific needs, creating a paradigm shift from the status quo where formulators and manufacturers must design around the limitations of conventional oils. Solazyme is attempting to harness the oil producing capability of microalgae -  the most diminutive...

Emissions Standards Driving Algae Aviation Fuel Sourcing…or not

by Debra Fiakas CFA Algae in the River Wate photo via BigStock My post “Algae Takes Flight” featured Algae-Tec (ALGXY:  OTC/PK),  Lufthansa’s new biofuel partner.  Algae-Tec has agreed to operate an algae-based biofuel plant in Europe to supply Lufthansa with jet fuel.  Lufthansa is footing the capital costs of the plant, which is to be located in Europe near a carbon source.  Algae thrive on carbon so industrial plants and power plants using fossil fuels make the best neighbors.  Lufthansa has agreed to purchase a...

Why Aren’t First Gen Biofuel Companies Making Money?

Jim Lane On October 8th, Renewable Energy Group (REGI), the leading US biodiesel producer, announced unexpectedly that it now expects to report Adjusted EBITDA ranging from a loss of $2 million to a loss of $7 million. The company’s prior guidance for Adjusted EBITDA was a gain of $10 million to $15 million. The company expects to report gallons of biodiesel sold in a range of 60 to 63 million, compared to prior guidance of 55 to 60 million. The good news REG CEO Daniel Oh said that “Despite these fluctuations in our markets, we remain optimistic about...

Algae Takes Flight

by Debra Fiakas CFA Algae powered plane photo via BigStock No one has been more disappointed than me in the failure of algae-based biofuel operations to achieve commercial production  -  at least so far.  The model is beguiling:  feedstock for biofuel production in the form of oils produced by simple and widely available algae that can thrive on carbon dioxide, an otherwise be a toxic emission.  However, scale seems to have eluded algae-base biofuel producers. GreenShift Corp. (GERS:  OTC/BB) recently shifted its focus...

Gevo Switches Refinery Back to Ethanol: Amyris Redux?

Jim Lane Amyris redux, or fiscal caution in the ramp-up process? We look at the data, as the advanced isobutanol pioneer switches Luverne from isobutanol to ethanol amidst production shortfalls. In Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) announced that, while making significant progress towards economic production levels, the company does not now expect to achieve its desired year-end run rate – instead it has delayed hitting that target into 2013. “While we have made significant progress towards economic production levels,” said Gevo CEO Pat Gruber, “we have decided to optimize certain specific parts of our technology to further enhance bio-isobutanol...

EPA Ups Renewable Diesel Mandate By 30%

Jim Lane Biodiesel pump photo via Bigstock What will bigger targets mean for producers, livestock, obligated refiners, and the diesel-using public? In Washington, the EPA issued its final rule for 2013 establishing 1.28 billion gallons as next year’s biomass-based diesel volume requirement under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), up from 1.0 billion gallons in 2012. “This 1.28 billion gallon level is in-line with what the EPA had originally proposed for 2013 dating back to last year,” commented Raymond James energy analyst Pavel Molchanov. “However, the...