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...
rebecca white

Algae On The Cusp

By Dr. Rebecca White, Vice President of Operations, iWi (Qualitas Health, Inc.) for Biofuels Digest This Wednesday marks a major milestone in the history of the American algae industry: the first meeting in which the Biomass R&D Board Technical Advisory Committee officials will discuss algae as an agricultural crop. Up until now, the vast majority of governmental funding and support has gone to one particular application of algae: biofuels. The success of biofuels is extremely important. But so is the success of algae in other applications, such as protein, omega-3s and fish and animal feed, which all have the potential to...
Topsoil lost in flood of the Guadalupe river,

Vagrants on the Earth: Implications of Topsoil Loss

“When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” -Genesis 4:12* In 1970, an agronomist named Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  He advocated hybridization of grains for higher crop yields, ushering in a new era of industrialized agriculture.  The Nobel Committee recognized Borlaug’s work as instrumental in saving a billion people from starvation.  Unfortunately, intensive farming that is part and parcel of the industry may be fostering an acceleration of another big problem. Unsolved it could leave humanity wandering like vagrants on the earth…with very empty bellies. Topsoil...

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...

List of Biomass Stocks

Biomass stocks are publicly traded companies whose business involves growing, collecting, or using biological matter (biomass) which can be used to make some other form of energy. Biomass includes human waste, municipal solid waste, sewage sludge, as well as industrial wastes such leftover wood from logging operations. 4energy Invest (ENINV.BR) Andritz Group (ADRZF) Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. (RKDA) BioAmber (BIOA) Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc. (BNET) Bunge, Ltd. (BG) Claymore/Clear Global Timber Index (CUT) Darling Ingredients (DAR) Deltic Timber Corp. (DEL) EcoSynthetix, Inc. (ECO.TO) Enviva Partners, LP (EVA) IQ Global Agribusiness Small Cap (CROP) iShares Global Timber & Forestry Index Fund (WOOD) John Deere (DE) Market Vectors® Environmental Services ETF (EVX) Pinnacle Renewable Holdings Inc. (PL.TO) Plum Creek...

Solid Play in Solid Waste

by Debra Fiakas CFA The last article “Advanced Disposal Services:  Hauling a Heavy Load” on July 18th inspired a closer look at the solid waste management sector in which it competes.   The solid waste industry is growing at a good pace between 1.6% and 2.0% per year, largely on population growth and the human penchant for consumption and waste.  In the U.S. solid waste collection is still populated by many localized, family-owned businesses, despite the emergence of several large consolidators that now command as much as 55% of the revenue in waste handling and disposal.  Fragmentation creates...

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....

What Trump’s Victory Means For The Bioeconomy

Jim Lane In Washington, Donald Trump captured the US Presidency in an upset victory that confounded pollsters and political pundits even as it delighted supporters of his maverick candidacy based on themes of immigration and trade reform coupled with a message that government policies of the past generation had failed for too many Americans. An unexpected series of wins across US Midwestern states – capturing Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio which had gone for Obama in 2012 – provided a comfortable margin of victory in the Electoral College and the popular vote. 5 Themes Some immediate themes emerge...

Biochar and Activated Carbon Markets

Biochar and Activated Carbon Markets by Hugh McLaughlin, PhD., PE Biochar is an emerging market; growing rapidly, still in its infancy, but with gigaton market potential when we, as in humanity, start addressing the climate crisis. Activated carbons are a mature market of about one million tons annual production, which is growing slowly. They are basically like fraternal twins; they have a lot in common, they share the same world, and they are different. First, let’s explain the basic difference between THREE materials: activated carbon, charcoal and biochar. Activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal and several...

Darling Ingredients’ Bean Stalk

by Debra Fiakas CFA Once upon a time there was a boy named Jack, Who lived with his widowed mother On their small farm in the country. Benjamin Tabart, The History of Jack and the Bean Stalk Jack made a mistake or two on the road to fixing his family’s income problems, but in the end Jack’s bean deal prove lucrative.  We are wondering if Darling Ingredients' (DAR:  NYSE) acquisition of VION Group in early 2014, will prove as beneficial to the food by-products processor.  The VION operation was a division of VION Holdings N.V. based in the Netherlands that just like Darling collects...

Shock Rise In Corn Production A Boon To Biofuel Producers

Jim Lane In grains, the big news has been the USDA prospective plantings report, which has corn up to 93 million acres in 2016, up 5 million over last year, and it was an unexpected gain given that stock levels of grain are high now. Big stocks plus a big planting equals even bigger ending stocks and prices have declined substantially for corn as a result, down 15 cents per bushel on the report. The USDA report? Officially, here’s what USDA had to say: Corn planted area for all purposes in 2016 is estimated at 93.6 million...

Darling Soldiers

by Debra Fiakas CFA This week Darling Ingredients (DAR:  NYSE) reported financial results for the quarter ending December 2015, demonstrating management’s collective ability to manage margins in a period of low inflation.  The fourth quarter 2015 top-line was $809.7 million, providing $84.4 million in net income or $0.52 per share.  Revenue was 19.1% lower than the same period last year, but net income increased by 20.7% year-over-year.  Weak commodity prices led to lower sales volumes and selling prices that translated into lower year-over-year revenue.  At the same time the commodity market compression also reduced raw materials...

The Great Algae Flour Fight: Solazyme Wins Again

Jim Lane After the bizarre attempted heist detailed in The Great Algae Robbery, Roquette tries the US courts but comes up short, in its quest to get a hold of Solazyme’s (SZYM) algae tech. On a slow news day just before Christmas, those of us on the industrial biotechnology beat have no need to stop by the firehouse to ask if there is a breaking story to report, because we always have the lively docket of Judge Sue Robinson, Federal District Judge for the District of Delaware. This Christmas she did not fail us, for in our Christmas news...

Enviva: Wood Pellets Into Dividends

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week Enviva Partners, LP (EVA:  NYSE) reported financial performance for its wood pellets business in its quarter ending September 2015.  Sales totaled a whopping $116.6 million, representing a 53% increase compared to $40.5 million in the same quarter last year.  The big jump in revenue resulted from higher volumes to larger customers.  Distributable cash flow totaled $12.6 million compared to $8.2 million in the year ago period.  Quarter performance made possible a declared cash distribution of $0.44 per common unit, which is 7% higher than the minimum quarterly distribution. At its...

King of the Cow Pats

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc. (BNET: OTC/QB) announced that the company has applied for patent protection of a process to recover nitrogen from livestock waste.  The process yields a crystalline, water-soluble fertilizer product that is about 12% to 15% nitrogen.  Since the nitrogen is extracted from the livestock waste without the use of chemicals and leaves behind potentially toxic salts, metals and minerals, the company is also applying for certification as an organic material. The company believes there will be a strong demand in the agriculture sector for its products. ...

Ceres Focuses On Food & Feed After Bioenergy Disappoints

Jim Lane In California, Ceres (CERE) announced the a realignment of its business to focus on food and forage opportunities and biotechnology traits for sugarcane and other crops. As part of the realignment, the company will restructure its Brazilian seed operations and is exploring discussions with additional local partners and collaborators to support the continued development and commercialization of its technology in Brazil. Earlier, the Company announced that due to the economic challenges faced by the Brazilian ethanol industry as well as changes in the global energy market, it had expanded the number of market opportunities available for...