Teru Talk News

Teru Talk Newsletter

Volume V, Issue 30, July 27, 2015 
Teru Talk by Michael Theroux (pronounced "Terú")  

Teru's Trash Talk

Repeat after me, the new flavors of Money: biosuccinium, 5-hydroxy-methyl furfural, levulinic acid, muconic acid, and butadiene. There’s bio-more; in fact, smart folks are now finding there really isn’t anything that was ever made out of petroleum that can't be coaxed out of biomass.

How fast, the times they are a-changing. Biofuels just started to get popular and now Science and Industry have blown right past ethanol and biogas. Why make a few bucks a gallon, when you can make a few bucks a gram? Alternative chemicals made from wastes and residues short-circuit the entire linear supply chain idea and wrap our economy right back around on itself. Make it, use it, take the old stuff apart, and make something new out of it. That sure beats bartering for desert-sourced crude.

OK, but given time, we will find a way to mess up even the Pope-sanctioned Bio-Sourced Circular Economy. We need some logical, common sense rules to curb basic human greed and stupidity. This month, one of the leading European think tanks wrote out their perspective on the good and bad of making biofuels for transport. Here's the thing: if you rip out a virgin forest and plant oil palms to make biodiesel, the environment would probably be better off if you’d just dug an oil well. Oh, you aren’t the one who planted those palm trees; you just buy the oil and make the biodiesel? Better check your supply chain.

There are risks associated with making biofuels, biochemicals and bio-what-ever-else we need, just as there are with making petroleum sourced transport fuels and traditional foundation chemicals. You can control the processing, but it's the feedstock, silly: what collateral damage happened on the way to the refinery? This European institute (the IEEP) isn’t saying we should stop turning corn and soy into ethanol. For that matter, we shouldn't stop standard petro-refining (even if we could). Society is an energy-hungry creature, and still needs all the energy carriers and chemical building blocks we can get our hands on. The IEEP is arguing that turning waste and residuals into biofuels causes less damage, and makes more sense. They are singing our song.

So you've got plans to make biofuel, and even have the money all piled up to do so. Sure, use the corn, but add on systems that use the corn stubble as well. Yes, you can sell really large quantities of fuel-grade ethanol; you can also integrate a smaller system that turns the left overs into high-value chemicals. We need to learn how to absorb all the waste and biomass we generate, mush it around, and turn it all into the diverse fuels, chemicals, and refined goods we need. This Circular Economy thing is all starting to make sense, but we must pay close attention to the whole pathway and take care to lessen the damage we do, while we are doing Good. 

Hey Rube!

California has a new Waste Czar by name of Scott Smithline. Scotty came to CalRecycle in 2011 from the interesting non-profit Californians Against Waste (aptly named CAW), as past-director Carol Mortensen’s side-kick and waste-whisperer. Now he's got the Director's mantle and gavel, and right off the bat, you can bet he'll wrangle empire-building AB 1063 through the legislature to fill the royal coffers. What a way to start a dynasty. Let's hope he stems the rising tide of agency abuse, and listens to the strident pleas of his Loyal Subjects (that's us, right?).

This Week's Extra Viewing

Bioenergy: America's Energy Future is a short documentary film showcasing examples of bioenergy innovations across the biomass supply chain and the United States. The film highlights a few stories of individuals and companies who are passionate about achieving the promise of biofuels and addressing the challenges of developing a thriving bioeconomy. This outreach product supports media initiatives to expand the public’s understanding of the bioenergy industry and sustainable transportation and was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Green Focus Films, and BCS, Incorporated. 

This Week's Top Story

GFBiochemicals Starts Producing Levulinic Acid from Cellulosic Biomass

Bio-based chemical company GFBiochemicals has begun commercial production at its 10,000 MT/a capacity levulinic acid plant in Caserta, Italy. 07/202015

The Week's News

Brazilian Cellulosic Ethanol Facility Officially Opens with Iogen Technology

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff launched Raizen's new cellulosic ethanol facility adjacent to its Costa Pinto sugar cane mill in Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil on July 22, 2015. 07/24/2015

MagneGas Forms Joint Venture for Expansion into Louisiana and Texas

MagneGas Corporation has announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Green Gas Supply, LLC to expand into Louisiana and Texas with sale of a $550,000 Plasma-Arc Gasification system. 07/24/2015

IEEP Report - Delivering Low Carbon Transport Fuels for Europe Post 2020

The Institute for European Environmental Policy’s (IEEP) Summer newsletter introduces a report released earlier this month entitled Low Carbon Transport Fuel Policy for Europe Post 2020. 07/24/2015

LA County Blasts CalRecycle for Lack of Transparency in 250% Fee Increase

The Los Angeles County (LA County) Solid Waste Management Committee / Integrated Waste Management Task Force (Task Force) has submitted comment to California Governor Brown and the Senate Chair of the State’s Environmental Quality Committee voicing strong opposition to proposed Assembly Bill 1063 (AB 1063) as amended July 15, 2015. 07/23/2015

Reverdia Is New Partner in ADMIT SuccInnovate Consortium

The Netherlands based Reverdia has joined the consortium ADMIT BioSuccInnovate, an innovative Climate-KIC initiative funded by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), along with the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University and other European partners. 07/22/2015

GlucanBio Wins Sofinnova Partners Renewable Chemistry Start-Up Award

Paris based renewable chemistry venture capital firm Sofinnova Partners has announced that Glucan Biorenewables LLC (GlucanBio) is the winner of the prestigious Renewable Chemistry Start-Up Award. 07/21/2015

Red Rock Biofuels Contracts with FedEx to Provide Renewable Jet Fuel

Colorado based Red Rock Biofuels LLC has announced that it has contracted to produce approximately three million gallons of low-carbon, renewable jet fuel per year for FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. 07/21/2015

DEINOVE Unveils Bio-Based Muconic Acid Production Program

Paris company DEINOVE has announced that it has completed conclusive proof of concept for the production of muconic acid by a Deinococcus bacterium and has decided to launch a new research and development (R&D) platform in this field. 07/21/2015

Genomatica and Cargill Collaborate to Bring Renewable Chemicals to Market

Genomatica and Cargill have announced entering into a collaboration agreement to accelerate the production of renewable chemicals for industrial applications. 07/20/2015

Kroger Releases 2014 Sustainability Report and Sets 70% Diversion Goal

Ohio based Kroger Corporation has released its Sustainability Report for 2014 and set steep waste management and energy goals for the future. 07/20/2015

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Recommended Reading:

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Out of the Wasteland: Stories from the Environmental Frontier by Paul Relis


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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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