Synthetic Fuels and Drop-in Biofuels

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Biofuels & Biobased Earnings Roundup: Gevo

by Jim Lane The Top Line. In Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) reported Q2 revenues of $9.4 million compared with $7.5 million in the same period in 2017. During the second quarter of 2018, revenues derived at the Luverne Facility related to ethanol sales and related products were $8.8 million, an increase of approximately $2.0 million from the same period in 2017. This was primarily a result of increased ethanol production and distiller grain prices in the second quarter of 2018 versus the same period in 2017. Non-GAAP cash EBITDA loss in the three months ended June 30, 2018 was $2.6 million, compared...
rice straw

Making Cash From Rice Trash

by Jim Lane In our three-part series this month on utilizing waste resources, we’ll turn to rice straw, which is a major headache for Chinese and Indian emissions. Praj and Gevo are working hard on perfecting a technology to address this. Specifically, in the past month, Gevo (GEVO) also executed an agreement with Praj to develop jet fuel and isooctane from rice straw and other feedstocks. Gruber noted that “we believe this second-generation technology combination has great potential to address India’s rice straw burning problem and related air pollution, while generating low-carbon hydrocarbons for jet fuel and gasoline. Praj is a leader...

EPA Reneges on Trump’s Biofuels Deal

by Jim Lane “EPA Reneges on Trump’s Biofuels Deal”, said the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association in reacting to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s new plans for fulfilling federal renewable fuel requirements. EPA released a proposed supplemental rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard today, and the bioeconomy is up in arms, and the outrage is centered in farm country, once a Trump bastion of support. “IRFA members continue to stand by President Trump’s strong biofuels deal announced on Oct. 4, which was worked out with our elected champions and provided the necessary certainty that 15 billion gallons would mean 15 billion gallons, even after...

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.  ...
biodiesel operating margins

Renewable Energy Group’s New CEO: C.J. Warner

by Jim Lane In Iowa, white smoke has emerged from the Renewable Energy Group (REGI) conclave: Tesoro EVP and former Sapphire Energy CEO C.J. Warner has been named chief exec of Renewable Energy Group, at a pivotal moment for biodiesel in Washington and around the world and amidst a boom for renewable diesel like the world has never seen. REG has been making good progress with Wall Street under interim CEO Randy Howard and its share price has been on the rise, and the plants have been humming along nicely churning out hundreds of millions of gallons of biodiesel and the liquid gold...
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...

The Future Should Be Bright for Coal-to-Liquids

You are at a cocktail party somewhere, and, after joining a random group of revelers, you utter the following words: “If I say alternative fuel, what’s the very first thing that comes to mind…don’t even think about it, just answer!��? If this fiesta was taking place last night, 9 folks out of 10 would have answered “ethanol��?. The remaining 10% would have probably made-up a mix-bag of “biodiesel��?, “hydrogen��?, and, in extremely rare cases, “synthetic fuels��?, also known as synfuels. Ten years from now, I bet you anything that far more than 10% of the general public will be...
oil price spurs biofuels

The Return of Advanced Biofuels

by Jim Lane For several years now we have seen a significant number of players pivoting from biofuels towards smaller but higher-value markets in chemicals, nutrition,  nutraceuticals, pharma, materials, flavorings, fragrances, cosmetics and more. We’ve reported on the proliferation of applications both in the Digest and in What’s Nuu? and indeed there’s been so much that’s Nuu, it’s been dizzying at times with all the spinning and twirling. Capital costs and policy uncertainty have played their part, but the foot on the pedal for many has been oil prices. The scale of operations to compete with oil prices in the 2014-2017 period...

Rentech’s Wood Saw Hits a Knot

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week Rentech, Inc. (RTK:  NYSE) revealed plans to idle its wood pellet production facility in Wawa, Ontario Canada.  To operate efficiently the plant requires additional repairs and upgrades beyond the replacement of conveyors that was completed in Fall 2016.  Beside the fact that the additional repairs were not included in the regular capital budget, Rentech management has apparently determined the expenditure is not economic given profits from Wawa.  When Rentech reports financial results for the fourth quarter ending December 2016, shareholders will be treated to an asset impairment charge for the Wawa facility....

Aviation Biofuels: The Year of the Tree

by Jim Lane When the world’s leaders for sustainable aviation fuels have a general meeting the week before the COP24 global climate sessions (this year in Poland), you can bet that the focus will be breaking the “You Can Have Two out of Three Conundrum” of aviation fuels. Which is to say: affordable, available at scale, and sustainable, pick any two of the three. Fossil fuels are (usually) affordable and always available at scale. Sustainable jet fuels that are available at scale have generally not been affordable to date, and affordable sustainable fuels have been mostly explored at bench scale, so...

Velocys Thinking Big with Microreactors

by Debra Fiakas CFA Keep the applause down!  Contain your enthusiasm for yet another biomass- or gas-to-liquids company.  Over the past several weeks I have written about a number of privately-held developers of one technology or another intended to produce a drop-in renewable fuel from biomass or natural gas.  There are more,  In this post we check in on Velocys (VCL:  London), which stands out from the rest as a public company.  No matter that it's technology looks like that of the very next renewable fuel company, it is accessible to minority investors. Until recently Velocys was...
low-sulfur Diesel Crisis

The Low Sulfur Diesel Crisis of 2020 And How To Prevent It

“The global economy likely faces an economic crash of horrible proportions in 2020, not for want of a nail but want of low-sulfur diesel fuel,” writes renowned energy analyst Phil Verleger in a note this month titled “$200 Crude, the Economic Crisis of 2020, and Policies to Prevent Catastrophe”. Not good timing for a White House re-election effort if, as expected, the blame falls on lack of preparedness in the 2017-2020 run-up to the projected crisis.. It’s a dire scenario but there’s hard data behind it, and though few go as far as Verleger, almost every expert is warning of a...

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part VI: Barriers to Substitution

Tom Konrad CFA There are two types of solution to the liquid fuels scarcity caused by stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies.  The most obvious is to find a substitute to replace oil.  These substitute have barriers to their use as a replacment petroleum based fuel.  Understanding those barriers also leads us to the investment opportunities that arise from these substitutes.  As I wrote the first five parts of this series, looking into potential substitutes for gasoline and diesel, it was clear that many potential substitutes would need...

Rentech Retrenches

by Debra Fiakas CFA Clean energy solution provider Rentech, Inc. (RTK:  NYSE) is scheduled to report second quarter 2012 results the first week in August.  Usually the seasonally strong period, this year the June quarter has shareholders sweating.  That is because the warm weather conditions sent farmers out into fields earlier than usual to prepare fields.  Orders for fertilizer products from Rentech’s East Dubuque, Iowa facility were coming even before the end of the March quarter.  The net effect was to pull sales forward.  The question now is whether June will now present...

Milestone for Gas-to-Liquids Fuel Plant

Syntroleum Corp (SYNM) commemorated the successful production of more than 140,000 gallons of ultra-clean fuels at its gas-to-liquid (GTL) fuels plant at Port of Catoosa, Oklahoma. The plant also manufactured 60,000 gallons of additional products, such as syncrude. Gathered to mark the occasion were representatives from Syntroleum, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Marathon Oil Company and Integrated Concepts and Research Corporation (ICRC).

Betting On Renewable Diesel: Valero or Darling?

Valero Energy (VLO:  NYSE) recently disclosed ongoing discussions to expand its renewable diesel production to a second plant that would be built and managed by its Diamond Green Diesel joint venture with Darling Ingredients (DAR:  NYSE).  The proposed plant that would be located in Port Arthur, Texas and turn out 400 million gallons of renewable diesel and 40 million gallons of naptha per year.  As a food by-products processor Darling has easy access to low-cost used cooking oils and animals fats that serves as the feed stock for Diamond Green’s renewable diesel production.  Valero management has cited increasing global demand for low- to no-carbon...