Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume V, Issue 3, January 19, 2015
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "TerĂº") 

Teru's Trash Talk

'Just how commercial ARE they?' That's a question we hear whenever a developer, a municipality, or an investor is considering a waste conversion technology vendor. Determining viable commercial status in this emerging, constantly evolving industrial sector is fraught with buzz word pitfalls, a lot like 'Clean Energy': just how clean are they? I tend to answer that question with a question: 'Clean, compared to what ?'

Just as it takes both a good operator and a good system design, the path of commercialization must be understood for both for the company and the technology platform . A company may be quite economically viable and fully commercial without ever getting one system commissioned; while they develop the technology, they contract out their expertise. Each model of a technology progresses along its own path of commercialization, and every new model that an inventor / builder / developer christens and sends out into the marketplace is embarking on its own voyage of commercialization. Granted, market penetration of Model A must be expected to be far more difficult than obtaining a fully commercial status for the 7th patent position Model C, yet that compressed commercialization timeline must still move through the same basic stages.

It is tempting to overlay arbitrary metrics that suit our need to put things in cleanly defined boxes, but commercialization is a messy process of fits and starts. Market development, for the company and/or the product, ranges through a continuum that can collapse back on itself at the worst possible time, and then leap forward seemingly inexplicably - especially if we do not have a real sense of the small steps leading to the major milestones. If we watch enough of this sausage-making, we begin to see trends, stages that keep occurring across the breadth of the sector, some good, and all too often not so good. Judging when and where the good progress is about to occur is the key to picking sound investments; precognition of the speed bumps, snake pits, and precipitous cliffs is requisite to providing sound company guidance.

Gauging the path correctly is crucial to getting to the goal. We can map out rather simple metrics of tech platform commercialization: lab testing proceeds to a small scale pilot, the pilot is progressively scaled up, and then graduates to a demonstration at some scale approaching what the market demands. Once demonstrated at this 'commercial scale', the company is (hopefully) ready for that first real-market sale. Maybe we can say that with that first cash-positive transaction, the company and the technology are now commercial , but that doesn't answer the initial question. We need key markers along that progression.

Here's one crucial stage in establishing commercial status for a particular technology platform: Has the system been in operation long enough to determine its optimal operational mode, or 'sweet spot'? Here's another, perhaps one of the most important: Can others well-versed in this particular technical venue clearly determine that the thing works as described? External validation is that magic milestone when other smart people have ripped into your whole process, and come away believing your bit of kit is as spiffy as you think it is

Hey Rube!

As you read the News this week, ask yourself that question, and see if you can form an idea of the commercial status of each company, each technology. As usually, they are all over the map.

By the Way

In case you hadn't noticed, we have added a language translator to our website. For those of you who are perfectly happy reading  in English, this won't matter. If you prefer a different language, however, take a look and let us know how it works. You will find it at the top of the right column on most pages.

This Week's Top Story

Plastic2Oil Closes 1st Sale of Proprietary Processors and Technology License

New York based Plastic2Oil, Inc has announced entering into a series of contracts for the sale of six Plastic2Oil(TM) processors over a three year period, its proprietary catalyst, and the non-exclusive license, as well as monitoring and maintenance 01/13/2015

The Week's News

Vencor Receives 1st Purchase Order from Vega Biofuels for Bio-Coal

Colorado based Vencor International, Inc has announced that it has received a Purchase Order from Norcross, Georgia company Vega Biofuels, Inc to produce 3,000 tons of bio-coal valued at approximately $600,000, and is scheduled to begin production later this month. 01/16/2015

CPI Project to Transform Food Waste into Graphene and Renewable Hydrogen

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is leading a European collaborative project that with the goal of transforming food waste into graphene and renewable hydrogen. 01/16/2015

BDI Constructs 65K Ton/Year Poultry Manure to Biogas Plant in Poland

Austria based BDI - BioEnergy International AG has been commissioned to provide the engineering and supply of a multi-feedstock anaerobic digestion (AD) plant for the recycling of poultry manure in northeastern Poland. 01/15/2015

OWS Celebrates Opening of DRANCO Waste to Biogas Facility in France

Belgium based Organic Waste Solutions OWS) has announced the grand opening of its latest DRANCO (DRy ANaerobic COmposting) facility, this one in Chagny, France. 01/15/2015

Tamar Energy signs PPA with EDF Energy for 5 Anaerobic Digestion Plants

Tamar Energy has announced that it signed a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with EDF Energy at the end of 2014 for its current 11MW generation portfolio. 01/14/2015

Pacific Ethanol Installs 3.5 MW Cogeneration Technology at Stockton Plant

California based Pacific Ethanol, Inc has announced its agreement with Dresser-Rand to install a 3.5 megawatt (MW) cogeneration system with gradual oxidizer at its Stockton, California plant for approximately $12 million. 01/14/2015

BCN and Energy Club to Host Waste Management and Diversion Session

The University of Alberta, Canada's Biorefining Conversions Network (BCN) is partnering with the University's student Energy Club to host a free panel discussion and networking session focused on Waste Management and Diversion. 01/14/2015

Chinese Researchers Use Soil to Speed Wood-to-Biogas AD Processing

A new open access article published in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels details research at Lanzhou University, China in "Using the properties of soil to speed up the start-up process, enhance process stability, and improve the methane content and yield of solid-state anaerobic digestion of alkaline-pretreated poplar processing residues." 01/13/2015

BBI Offers Webinar Series on Planning and Financing Bioenergy Projects

In advance of this year's International Biomass Conference and Expo, BBI International is hosting a free project development webinar series beginning January 28, 2015. 01/13/2015

New York City Fire Department Places First Order for MagneGas® Fuel

Florida based MagneGas Corporation has announced that it has received formal confirmation from the Special Operations Command of the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) that it has successfully completed testing of MagneGas® for use as a metal cutting and extraction tool and has placed its first order of fuel. 01/12/2015

The Week's Action Items

Due 02/23/2015: Grant Applications to CDFA for Diary Digester Funding

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is requesting applications for the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP), authorized by the Budget Act of 2014. 01/12/2015

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Teru Talk is an online publication of JDMT, Inc with the goal of opening the dialogue and providing current news and commentary on issues and successes associated with waste conversion to renewable energy, biofuels and other bio-based products for resource recovery.

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