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...

Corn Ethanol Emissions Savings Skyrocket

Jim Lane In Washington, an explosive new peer-reviewed report from ICF found that greenhouse gas emission reductions from typical corn-based ethanol production have soared to 43 percent compared to 2005-era gasoline. The report projects that by 2022, corn-based ethanol will achieve a 50 percent reduction, and could reach “76 percent in 2022 if there is more widespread adoption of optimal crop production and biorefinery efficiency.” The report, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, based its revolutionary emissions math on a November 2014 study by researchers at Iowa State University, which found that farmers around the world have...
butanol

Biofuels Rocking The Boats (and Ships)

Companies that rock the boat often end up leading the way for others. While some companies have paved the way for road transportation and others reached high in the sky for aviation, there are some big boats out there that are also looking for alternative renewable fuels. Here are some companies that are answering the call for the maritime and shipping sectors with viable biofuel alternatives, the technologies and innovations, the rough waves that still lie ahead, and how they can reach that destination on the horizon. Gevo and Butanol We start with Gevo (GEVO) and their butanol. Why butanol? It...

Investors Sweet on Second-Gen Biofuel IPOs But Caveats Remain

by Ivan Castano Second-generation biofuel IPOs are all the rage this year with recent deals pricing well above initial expectations and a growing number of companies expected to tap the capital markets in coming months. But analysts caution some of these companies will have a hard time wooing investor interest unless they become more transparent about their accounts and future path to profitability. "None of these companies will be earning much any time soon so investors want to see clarity and visibility about the enterprise story behind the companies," says Stacey Hudson, an analyst with Raymond...

REG Buys Imperium Renewables

Jim Lane The biggest US biodiesel, renewable diesel producer Renewable Energy Group (REGI), or "REG" buys the biggest US facility in asset deal. The fully-operational 100-million gallon nameplate capacity biorefinery will be renamed REG Grays Harbor. The facility includes 18 million gallons of storage capacity and a terminal that can accommodate feedstock intake and fuel delivery on deep-water PANAMAX class vessels as well as possessing significant rail and truck transport capability. REG will pay Imperium $15M in cash and issue 1.5 million shares of REG common stock in exchange for substantially all of Imperium’s assets. In addition to...

More Sorghum Sowers

by Debra Fiakas CFA Sorghum Bicolor photo by Matt Lavin   The post “Ceres Plants Seeds of Success” featured seed and trait developer Ceres, Inc. (CERE:  Nasdaq).   This agricultural technology company develops seeds and traits for high-energy, low-cost feedstocks  like sorghum.  Ceres is not the only player in the sorghum game. The presence of large agriculture products suppliers like Monsanto Company (MON:  NYSE) and Dow AgroSciences of the Dow Chemical Company (DOW:  NYSE) provide some validation of sorghum demand even if also triggering competitive concerns.  DuPont’s Pioneer HiBred...

Advantage Biodiesel

By Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Because of rising fertilizer prices, farmers are planting more soybeans than corn.  Soybeans are a legume, meaning that they can fix their own nitrogen in the soil, meaning that they need less nitrogen fertilizer, the price of which is spiking due to rising natural gas prices.  Corn, in contrast, needs more nitrogen than most other crops.   High gas prices are rising because of Putin’s war on Ukraine, which is also preventing Ukrainian farmers from planting this year’s wheat crop, while sanctions are likely to disrupt wheat supplies from Russia as well. Corn and (to a lesser extent,...

Xethanol to Acquire Plant in Georgia

Xethanol Corporation (XTHN.OB) announced that its CoastalXethanol subsidiary has signed a letter of intent with Pfizer, Inc. to purchase Pfizer's pharmaceutical manufacturing complex located in Augusta, Georgia. While details are yet to be finalized, CoastalXethanol and Pfizer are working together to complete the transaction. The state of the art, 40 acre site includes: an 89,100 square foot manufacturing facility, a 25,000 square foot warehouse facility, 7,300 square feet of laboratory space, and 16,000 square feet of offices and conference rooms. CoastalXethanol intends to retrofit the site to produce 35 million gallons per year of ethanol. The facility will...

The Ginsu Knife of Biofuel Litgation: Butamax vs Gevo

Jim Lane  It’s like the selling of Ginsu knives, the legal dispute between these two companies. No matter how much you hear….but wait, there’s more! This week, we heard from Butamax that the District Court of Delaware has issued an order scheduling two further rounds of patent infringement actions pending between Butamax and Gevo (GEVO) for resolution. The next phase of litigation, involving three Butamax patents asserted against Gevo, will begin in September 2014 with the discovery process and trial is scheduled for August 2015. Thereafter the remaining cases, involving three other Butamax patents asserted against Gevo,...

Renewable Energy Group Acquires LS9

Jim Lane A stunner at NBB. Renewable Energy Group (REGI) deploys its balance sheet and takes aim at renewable chemicals as it acquires the storied LS9. In Iowa, Renewable Energy Group (REGI) announced it has acquired LS9 for a purchase price of up to $61.5 million, consisting of up front and earnout payments, in stock and cash. Most of the LS9 team, including the entire R&D leadership group, will join the newly named REG Life Sciences, LLC, which will operate out of LS9’s headquarters in South San Francisco, CA. Under the terms of the agreement between REG...

Abengoa Bioenergy files for Chapter 11

In Missouri, Abengoa (ABGB) Bioenergy US Holding, LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on behalf of itself and 5 of its US bioenergy subsidiaries. The companies involved in the filings include the US holding company; companies that own and operate four of Abengoa Bioenergy’s six US starch ethanol plants; as well as various support/service companies for Abengoa’s US bioenergy operations. This action follows the filing of two separate involuntary bankruptcy proceedings in Nebraska and Kansas earlier this month concerning the company’s starch ethanol facilities located in Ravenna and...

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part V: Algae

Tom Konrad CFA There are many proposed solutions to the liquid fuels scarcity caused be stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies.  Some will be good investments, others won't.  Here is where I'm putting my money, and why.  This fifth part takes a look at the growing consensus that our biofuels should come from non-food crops grown on land that is not otherwise productive, and the one crop that shows promise of delivering the high yields needed to satisfy our enormous thirst for fuel is algae. In part I of...

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,...

Biofuels Companies Rev Up While Oilcos Sputter

Jim Lane  What’s going on – aren’t biofuels supposed to be dead, and fracking changing everything forever in oil & gas? Yet, tough times for growth at the public oil companies, while bellwether renewable fuel equities are on the rise. Why aren’t results tracking the hype? It’s earnings season time to look away from the pundits, the fans, and the Las Vegas oddsmakers and look squarely at who made how much, where, when and why. And time to draw some conclusions and look ahead towards the 2014 calendar year. Neste Oil (NEF.F) Renewable diesel owner/operator...

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...
Velocys rocks with Red Rocks

Velocys Rocks With Red Rocks

by Jim Lane In the United Kingdom, renewable fuels company, Velocys (VLS.L, OXFCF), received a “notice to proceed” action to commence manufacturing of the Fischer-Tropsch reactors and catalyst for the Red Rock Biofuels biorefinery that will be located in Lakeview, Oregon. RRB has commenced construction of the biorefinery, which will incorporate Velocys’ technology, and produce low- carbon, renewable diesel and jet fuel. Velocys’ role will be as a licensor for its technology to the project. Red Rock’s construction is estimated to take 18 months, with operations planned to start in 2020. RRB is a subsidiary of IR1 Group LLC, which has 325 million gallons...
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