New biodiesel catalyst plant opens in Saudi Arabia

New biodiesel catalyst plant opens in Saudi Arabia

F O C U S doubled to over 4 bn l/y. Also included in the jv are Iogen, a Canadian firm attempting to produce ethanol from straw, and Codexis, an enzym...

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F O C U S doubled to over 4 bn l/y. Also included in the jv are Iogen, a Canadian firm attempting to produce ethanol from straw, and Codexis, an enzyme producer. Because second-generation biofuels could take up to ten years to commercialize, in 2009 Shell sold its stake in Choren, a German producer of such biofuels. Shell and Cosan retail operations in Brazil will be combined and Shell will gain an additional source of ethanol for its global sales network. Economist, 6 Feb 2010, 394 (8668), 70 & Chemistry and Industry, 22 Mar 2010, (6), 12

Verenium and BP extend Galaxy joint R&D programme Verenium Corp announced that it has extended the joint development programme established in Aug 2008 with BP for an additional month until Apr 2010. BP and Verenium will continue their ongoing joint development work to accelerate the development and commercialization of cellulosic ethanol, while the two parties continue negotiations for a longer-term collaboration. Verenium will receive an additional $2.5 M from BP to co-fund the cellulosic ethanol programme for the month of Mar 2010. Press release from: Verenium Corp, 55 Cambridge Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA. Tel: +1 617 674 5300. Website: (1 Mar 2010)

NEW PLANTS BASF to break ground for new sodium methoxide plant in Brazil On 10 Feb 2010 BASF broke ground for its new sodium methoxide production plant in Guaratingueta, Brazil (its largest site in S America). The plant will have a capacity of 60,000 tonne/y and is primarily intended to supply the regional market. It is the second BASF plant for this product, in addition to a plant in Ludwigshafen. The project will involve a capital expenditure in the low double-digit €M range. Sodium methoxide is an efficient and reliable catalyst for the production of biodiesel, which has developed into an important and increasing alternative for diesel fuels in the past years. Biodiesel meets the requirements of engine manufacturers for high-quality fuels. BASF expects about 15% of the annual global demand for biodiesel




(30 M tonnes) to come from S America in 2015. The group’s Guaratingueta plant is expected to be operational from end 2011. Legislation in Brazil requires fuel to contain 5% biodiesel from 2010 onwards. Argentina has also mandated that biodiesel makes up 5% of fuel by 2010. Other S American countries have similar legislation. Press release from: BASF SE, D-67056 Ludwigshafen, Germany. Tel: +49 (0) 621 600. Website: (10 Feb 2010) & Chemie Technik (Heidelberg), 12 Feb 2010 (Website: (in German) & Chimie Pharma Hebdo, 15 Feb 2010, (497), 8 (in French) & BNAmericas Petrochemicals News, 11 Feb 2010 (Business News Americas Ltda. Website:

New biodiesel catalyst plant opens in Saudi Arabia A 60,000 ton/y plant for sodium methoxide was inaugurated by German firm SMOTEC Plus in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, in Dec 2009. SMOTEC, which stands for sodium methoxide technology plus other related chemical products, is promoting product from its additional catalyst production capacity to US, Brazilian, and Canadian customers such as biodiesel makers. The company’s sodium methoxide production technology does not employ mercury cell-based chlorine and sodium metal unlike other companies’ technologies; instead, raw materials such as caustic soda and methanol are used. The Dammam facility also makes sodium methoxide powder for oil transesterification in food applications. The use of caustic soda and methanol makes the firm’s sodium methoxide much more suitable for the food sector and biodiesel companies looking to market their refined glycerol to the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical sectors. Additionally, SMOTEC Plus expects to start up by 2011 another 50,000 ton/y sodium methoxide output capacity, in anticipation of an increase in global biodiesel demand. Biodiesel Magazine, Feb 2010 (Website:

Woods to wheels: new BioDME biofuels plant under construction in Sweden Construction work is ongoing in Pitea, Sweden, for what is claimed to be the

world’s first biofuel facility to produce renewable ultra low-carbon automotive fuel called BioDME. The black liquor biorefinery, located at the Smurfit Kappa paper mill, is based on a gasification technology from Chemrec and its US arm, Chemrec USA. The project aims to demonstrate the manufacture of dimethyl ether (DME), an advanced diesel fuel, using forest biomass as feedstock via the black liquor route. It will also demonstrate the use of DME in commercial heavy vehicles. Pulp and Paper International, Feb 2010, 52 (2), 19-22

Coal to MTG plant proposed for New South Wales Australian energy developer Coalworks Ltd will build Synthesis Energy Systems’ (SES) first coal gasification and methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) plant under a strategic partnership deal. The plant, to be build at Oaklands in New South Wales, will be based on the U-GAS gasification technology, which was licensed by the Gas Technology Institute to SES. The technology is claimed to be suitable for lower grade sub-bituminous coal such as that produced in Oaklands. If the outcome of the feasibility study to be conducted by SES proved encouraging, SES would license the technology to Coalworks. Nitrogen + Syngas, Jan/Feb 2010, (303), 12

NEW TECHNOLOGY Biotech firm launches new fuel enzyme A Danish biotechnology company has launched a new enzyme which it said will make it possible to turn agricultural waste into biofuel at a competitive price. The breakthrough will allow the biofuel industry to produce cellulosic ethanol for less than US$2/gal (around EUR cents 37/litre), Novozymes said in a statement. This cost would put the fuel on a par with petrol and conventional ethanol, the company said. Novozymes said the new enzyme, known as Cellic CTec2, breaks down cellulose in agricultural waste into sugars that can be fermented into

APRIL 2010