The commercialization of renewable fuels, chemicals and biobased product: 4 new views, in depth

Biofuelsdigest, em 11/05/15

New targets, new markets, new tech, new methods, new outcomes.

LanzaTech, Genomatica, Amyris and Brazil’s CTBE share in-depth presentations from the 37th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals. 100 of the most fascinating slides you’ll see all year.

This past week, a notable session wrapped up at the 3th SBFC convention, this one on commercialization and economics. Four of the presenters have agreed to share their slides with the Digest audience, including:

Antonio Bonomi, Director, CTBE (Brazilian Bioethanol Science and Technology Laboratory): Biochemical and thermochemical routes integrated in a sugarcane biorefinery. Download the complete presentation here.

Rasmus Jensen, Senior Scientist, LanzaTech: Production of sustainable fuels and chemicals from waste gas streams. Download the complete presentation here.

Joel Cherry, President, Research & Development, Amyris: Amyris synthetic biology: purposeful, predictable, profitable. Download the complete presentation here.

Michael Japs, ‎Associate Director, Commercial Opportunity Development, Genomatica: Rapid Commercialization using an Integrated Approach to Bioprocess Development. Download the complete presentation here.

Optimizing Brazilian production — the latest data on the options

In this presentation from CTBE, Professor Bonomi looked at three scenarios for improving the economics and greenhouse gas reuction contributions via the Brazilian ethnaol industry. In the first, a combination of ethanol, sugar and electricity production from conventional cane; in the offseason, 1G ethanol and electricity production from energy cane.


In a second scenario, he looked at a combination of 1G and 2G ethanol production, plus sugar and electricity production from conventional cane; in the offseason,  both1G ethanol and electricity production from energy cane.


In the third scenario, he looked at 1G and 2G ethanol production, plus sugar and propanol production from conventional cane; in the offseason,  both1G ethanol and propanol production from energy cane.


Key findings?

1. The 1G2G thermochemical biorefinery  approach greatly increases output of liquid biofuels.

2. The ratio of Carbon for biofuels to carbon inputs is highest in the 1G2G thermochemical biorefinery  approach.

3. Ethanol production cost remains practically unchanged in all scenarios.

4. CAPEX of thermochemical unitis higher, impacting IRR results.

5. Considering greenhouse gas emission and fossil depletion, thermochemical route presents better performance — but that may require policy intervantion as strict economics prefer a less adventurous route.


A 2-degree carbon budget requires leaving fossil carbon untouched – how does the economy perform with that constraint?

As LanzaTech’s Rasmus Jensen notes, 2-degree carbon budgets will require countries to leave 80 % of coal, 50 % of gas and 33 % of global oil untouched, and that means sourcing as much as 86% of demand currently supplied by petroleum from other sources. Today’s technologies are not enough, new feedstocks, new approaches are needed.


In this presentatation Jensen looks at the LanzaTech technology as a solution for carbon emissions, noting that the process yields 1800 tons of CO2 reduction for every tonne of ethanol produced via averying the flaring of carbon monoxide and displacing gasoline.



The application of LanzaTech technology across the steel, calcium carbine, ferroalloy and phosphorus industries would be the equivalent of taking 11.6 million cars off the road, in China alone.


The presentation not only dips into the carbon monoxide story, which LanzaTech is commercializing now, but also the opportunities to use this process in converting municipal solid waste to valuable material.

Biotechnology can be advantaged even at $50 oil: Rapid Commercialization using an Integrated Approach to Bioprocess Development

In Michael Japs’ presentation, he looks at Genomatica’s commercial-scale bioprocess for production of 1,4-butanediol (BDO) directly from carbohydrates, which has been producing thousands of tons since 2012 — focusing on the integrated approach inherent to Genomatica’s biotechnology platform that made this faster and less expensive than traditional bioprocess development and scale up.


“A key differentiator of this platform includes an emphasis on modeling and technoeconomic analysis from the very start; using this information to guide decisions on organism, fermentation, and downstream process design,” Japs said.


“Combining this integrated approach with real-world commercial expertise enabled highly-reliable and predictable scale-up and scale-down results across multiple orders of magnitude.”


Bottom line: Biotechnology can be advantaged even at $50 oil, as Japs found in comparing Genomatica’s BDO vs. best available petroleum-based, at 50KT scale.



Repurposing a life-saving anti-malarial platform to make thousands of innovative products

In Joel Cherry’s presentation, he looked at how a breakthrough in anti-malarial treatment, synthetic artemisinin that Sanofi is producing commercially and which is credited with saving more than 100,000 lives — can be repurposed into an isoprenoid platform can make thousands of products including isoprene for ties, fragrance precursors, and diesel, jet and chemical precursors.



In doing so, Amyris diesel, for example, can lift productivity from the 468 liter / hectare per year with soybean biodiesel to as much as 5,684 liters per hectare per year — a 12X increase in productivity within a few years, and offering more miles per year than even a comparable result from an efficient ethanol production plant.


“Amyris is Purposeful: our Mission is to use synthetic biology to solve big problems; Predictable, with our optimized terpene pathway that can produce thousands of useful molecules; and Profitable, as our technology enables speed to target molecule.”


“Standardization is the key to efficiency,” Cherry says: Parts Standardization, with genetic elements that can be easily interchanged using the same or similar tools; Tool Standardization, with consistent, simple and reliable enzyme and/or chemical treatments for the isolation/manipulation of genetic elements; and Process Standardization, with consistent, simple and reliable methods for the insertion and deletion of genetic elements.

The result could be higher theoretical maximums, Cherry contends, with synthetic yields as high as 29.8% compared to a 23.8% yield limit for native strains and a 4X increase in productivity per hour.


The key to success? “Technology improvement expands addressable markets,” notes Cherry, looking at Amyris’s progress from micro-markets such as Artemisinin, to the $32B fragrances and $37B plastic additives markets in the here and now, to the $300B bulk polymers markets, $309B jet fuel and $809B diesel fuel markets in the 2016+ time frame.”

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