I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In: Anellotech, Edeniq, Novvi


bd-ts-122116-3-ships-cover-smThe old Christmas carol goes, “I saw three ships come sailing  in,” and those perched on a widow’s walk this morning might have espied Anellotech, Edeniq, Novvi steaming in with material advances in their respective stories.

For Anellotech, a new technology to extend catalyst life by reducing catalyst poisons that cause catalyst and product cost to soar. For Novvi, a signature investment from Chevron. From Edeniq, word that their technology is now EPA-approved at a second plant, this one Flint Hills’ 120 million gallons ethanol plant in Shell Rock, Iowa.

It’s what would have been on any investor’s letter to Santa this holiday season, for the companies in question.

Please Santa, send Anellotech a technology breakthrough that will ensure it can compete with low-cost oil when it reaches scale. Please Santa, send Edeniq a second approved customer in these EPA-approval starved times. Please Santa, send to the market a clear validation and accelerator for Novvi’s technology that will accelerate its already considerable progress.

Anellotech’s MinFree

Up along the Hudson at Tarrytown, not far upriver from where Clement Clarke Moore worked by day (as he penned “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” by night), Anellotech announced that it has developed proprietary technology to extend catalyst lifetime in its Bio-TCat process for low cost conversion of biomass into valuable aromatic chemicals and renewable fuels.

The new MinFree technology reduces mineral (ash) content of biomass feedstocks, thereby enabling economic catalyst lifetimes. “This is a breakthrough innovation for the industry and vital to technological success” said Anellotech CTO Chuck Sorensen. “It opens up the possibility to use many types of low-cost biomass feedstocks that contain high levels of well-known catalyst poisons. MinFree technology represents a major step forward, enabling the cost competitiveness of Anellotech’s biomass conversion process.”

“MinFree is an important development needed to advance our Bio-TCat process toward commercialization as it contributes to our ability to achieve attractive returns even in a low oil price environment, whether licensees opt for using Bio-TCat products as renewable fuels or chemicals,” added Anellotech CEO David Sudolsky.

We reported on the Anellotech backstory in “Toyota: Let’s Go Places with Anellotech, Bio-places that is“.

Edeniq’s new pathway approval to expand to Iowa

Far to the west in America’s breadbasket of northeast Iowa, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved Flint Hills Resources’ registration of its 120 million gallon Shell Rock, Iowa ethanol plant for cellulosic ethanol production using Edeniq’s Pathway Technology.

Edeniq’s Pathway Technology is the lowest-cost solution for producing cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber utilizing existing fermenters at corn ethanol plants. Edeniq is the leader in developing analytical methods to quantify cellulosic ethanol co-produced with conventional ethanol during fermentation, which is required for EPA registration. And you can read all about it here.

Shell Rock is the second plant to receive a cellulosic ethanol registration from the EPA after deploying Edeniq’s Pathway Technology. Pacific Ethanol’s Stockton plant received its cellulosic ethanol registration in September.

“We are greatly encouraged by the EPA’s rapid approval of this second registration,” said Brian Thome, President and CEO of Edeniq. “We are excited that a growing number of our customers are generating cellulosic ethanol, transforming the ethanol industry and benefiting our country.”

“Our goal is to create as much value out of every kernel of corn as possible,” said Jeremy Bezdek, Flint Hills Resources’ vice president, Biofuels & Ingredients. “The Edeniq Pathway technology helps increase ethanol yields and corn oil recovery, and allows us to produce cellulosic ethanol. We appreciate the strong partnership Flint Hills has with Edeniq and look forward to evaluating the potential use of the Pathway technology at our other plants.”

“We would like to thank the Flint Hills team for their ongoing support as we position ourselves as the leader in the cellulosic ethanol industry,” said Cam Cast, Chief Operating Officer of Edeniq. “Our team is working diligently to move plants through commercial trials and the EPA cellulosic ethanol registration process as quickly as possible despite a growing backlog.”

We reported on the Edeniq backstory in “Edeniq: the Billion Dollar Baby is Torn between Two Lovers.”

Chevron invests in Novvi’s Renewable Base Oil

Of all the ships come sailing in, perhaps the most surprising is Chevron’s equity investment in Novvi, After all, we did know that Flint Hills was pursuing the cellulosic pathway approval with EPA, and that Anellotech was going to squeeze every last drop of life out of its catalyst prior to embarking at scale. But Chevron, Novvi. Novvi is really-far out technology, and Chevron is where Swiss bankers go for training on how to be more selective in their investments. This is a company so buttoned down that for many years at its old headquarters on Bush Street in San Francisco, the CEO had a private elevator so he could be insulated from being glad-handed and lobbied by the employees.

So it’s big news that Chevron Products Company made an equity investment into Novvi, the joint venture of Amyris, Cosan, and American Refining Group. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. In addition to the equity investment, Chevron and Novvi plan to work together to introduce new base oils and lubricants to the industry in key areas.

Novvi’s products and technology are recognized by the global lubricant market to deliver sustainable, high-performance solutions in a range of lubricant applications. Since launching first commercial production in 2014, Novvi has been steadily increasing base oil manufacturing to keep up with robust and growing demand for a variety of applications.

Now, fair to say that Chevron is a leading manufacturer of premium base oils and has its own base oil licensing technology platform. So, there’s reasons to watch new tech — but not always endorse it with a contribution from the company treasury.

“The investment in Novvi will provide us with access to high-performance renewable base oils, which is strategically aligned with our aggressive growth plan, particularly in the synthetic and renewable lubricants space,” said Dr. Brent Lok, Manager, Chevron Base Oils Marketing and Business Development. “Novvi’s technology creates new possibilities for longer-term product development within Chevron,” he added.

“As we continue to increase our global market penetration, Chevron’s well-established industry position in base oils and lubricants can further enhance our growth plan,” said Novvi CEO Jeff Brown.

We reported on the Novvi backstory in “American Refining Group invests in Novvi to accelerate renewable base oils, lubricants.”

The Bottom Line

Three innovative storylines in the Christmas stocking this year. What is the common line here? It’s the pace of innovation — we’ve seen old-line strategics pouring in to Anellotech this year, and customers like Flint Hills for Edeniq, and Chevron for Novvi. You know the old adage, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. And when you’re beating out world-class strategics who have access to top-flight talent, you know there’s something special about your platform — which is to say that you have developed a technologically-advanced fleet that can sail into any port and disrupt at will.

And that’s the precious cargo of the three ships come sailing in — rejoice in renewable disruption on Christmas week, on Christmas week in the morning.