Business Briefs

By Erin Voegele | December 28, 2015

Genera Energy Inc. has hired Chad Covert to join its business development team. Prior to joining Genera, Covert managed U.S. ocean import processing for an international freight forwarder.
Growth Energy has committed to provide $90,000 in funds over the next three years to an agricultural education scholarship fund. The Upper Division scholarship from the National Association of Agricultural Educators is for students majoring in agricultural education during the semester they student teach.
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association has announced the launch of an updated logo and website, with new features, an enhanced consumer focus, improved tools for retailers, and more. In addition to an enhanced home-page, the website updates include the addition of a dedicated page for motorists, a page for retailers, and improved resources and statistics.
Novozymes announced the launch of Avantec Amp, an advanced enzyme product that improves yield and throughput in corn-ethanol production, while increasing corn-oil and reducing the need for several harsh chemicals used in ethanol production. Avantec Amp continues the success of the original Avantec, introduced in 2012. It combines multiple enzyme activities into one product, and surpasses competing enzyme solutions by squeezing more ethanol from each kernel of corn and enabling increased output from the ethanol plant. Avantec Amp allows urea use to be cut by more than 70 percent. Surfactants and ammonia use can also be reduced.  By switching from standard enzyme technology to Avantec Amp, Novozymes said a typical ethanol plant with a capacity of 110 million gallons can make up to $2.5 million a year in additional net profits.  
Deinove, a biotech company developing processes to produce biobased fuels and chemicals from Deinococcus bacteria, has announced an agreement with Flint Hills Resources, a subsidiary of Koch Industries focused on the refining, petrochemical and biofuels industries, to develop a process for producing ingredients for animal nutrition. The companies aim to develop conditions for an industrial biological production process based on selected bacteria from Deinove and raw materials supplied by Flint Hills Resources. Over the next 17 months, Deinove will screen its library of 6,000 strains, identify and optimize bacteria that are able to grow in good conditions using raw materials supplied by Flint Hills Resources and produce the targeted compounds in acceptable quantities. Flint Hills Resources is covering the cost of the project. If successful, the companies will study the terms of a licensing agreement for the technology developed by the research and development project.
Vertimass LLC has announced the completion of the technology validation that verifies the benchmark performance, initial process design and preliminary cost information for a new award of $2 million by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technology Office. The achievement allows the company to begin the process to scale-up its technology for converting ethanol into hydrocarbons.
Genera Energy and PrecisionHawk, a terrestrial data acquisition and analysis company, have partnered to develop new analysis algorithms specific to improving the efficiency and quality of sustainable biomass crop production and distribution. The algorithms will convert raw aerial imagery collected by drones and satellites into an actionable report for biomass crop farmers. The tools will be publicly licensed for use in the Data/Mapper software platform.  
Gevo Inc. has entered into a license agreement and a joint development agreement with Praj Industries Ltd. to enable the licensing of its isobutanol technology to processors of noncorn based sugars, including the majority of Praj’s global customer base of ethanol plant owners. As part of the agreements, Praj will invest substantial resources in the development and optimization of Gevo’s isobutanol technology for use with noncorn feedstocks, including sugarcane, sugar beets, cassava, rice, sorghum, wheat and certain cellulosic sugars. The development work is expected to lead to process design packages (PDP) designed to accelerate the licensing of Gevo’s technology to processors of these feedstocks, particularly in Praj’s customer base. The development work is expected to build on the PDP Gevo has already developed for corn. Under the agreements, Praj would be the customer-facing entity marketing Gevo’s isobutanol technology to its existing customer base, and would provide the engineering, procurement and construction services for such projects. Gevo would be the direct licensor of its technology to these end customers. The two companies expected to license up to 250 million gallons of biobutanol capacity over the next 10 years under this partnership. In addition to the PDP development, Praj will contribute engineering services to optimize Gevo’s Luverne, Minnesota, facility, with the initial focus on optimizing energy and water usage at the plant in order to further lower the cost of the isobutanol process.
U.S. Water, an Allete Co., has announced the acquisition of A and W Technologies, a Georgia-based company that provides specialty chemicals and engineering service for water treatment in data centers, light industrial, institutional and food industries. A $9 million purchase agreement was signed by both parties in November.
American Process Inc. has announced the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted the company a patent for its BioPlus nanocellulosic technology. U.S. Patent No. 9,187,865 covers an AVAP process for producing a nanocellulose material, as well as downstream applications using the nanocellulose. The process includes fractionating a biomass feedstock with an acid, a solvent for lignin, and water, to generate cellulose- rich solids, and then mechanically treating the cellulose-rich solids with a relatively low amount of energy to form cellulose nanofibrils or nanocrystals. Other patents are pending for the nanocellulose material and compositions that include the nanocellulose, as well as for other aspects of the technology, in the U.S., Brazil, Europe, Japan, China, India, Russia, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, and South Africa.

Edward Breen has been named chair and CEO of DuPont. Prior to joining DuPont, Breen served as CEO of Tyco International plc, where he oversaw the design and implementation of a comprehensive action plan to revive the company from near bankruptcy and rebuild its brand and credibility. During his time at Tyco, Breen oversaw a restructuring, including two break-ups of the company resulting in the spin-offs of Covidien, Tyco Connectivity, ADT Corp. and the merger of Tyco Flow Control with Pentair. Breen also previously served as president and chief operating officer of Motorola, and as chairman, president and CEO of General Instrument Corp.
Bill Levy, CEO and founder of Pacific Ag, recently received a Distinguished Luminary Award from Oregon State University. The award is designed to publicly acknowledge the accomplishments of outstanding alumni, and is given to an individual who made early career and community contributions that clearly identify him as a future leader. Pacific Ag is a biomass supply chain management provider. The company’s customers include U.S. cellulosic biorefineries, forage importers in Asia and the Middle East, U.S. cattle and dairy operations, and others.