U.S. DOE Goes Two for Three at the Plate With MEGA-BIO Project Funding

In February, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced up to $11.3 million in funding for biomass-to-hydrocarbon biofuels under the name MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels (DE-FOA-0001433). As the name implies, the key focus of the grant is to identify technology pathways that either produce an intermediate product that can be converted to chemicals or fuels, or a pathway that produces both chemicals and fuels simultaneously. In result, the addition of value-added chemicals will aid in lowering the overall production cost of today’s hydrocarbon biofuels and potentially achieve cost parity in a time when oil has consistently hovered around $40 per barrel and as the U.S. DOE strives to achieve $3 per gallon of gasoline equivalent (GGE) production costs for advanced biofuels by 2022. Continue reading

Could Chinese Soybeans Save the Rainforest? What Would It Mean for You?

China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (FYP) includes intentions to focus on science and technology, specifically clearing a path to support approvals of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for agriculture. Approvals will be prioritized first for indirectly edible cash crops, then for edible crops. Because of corn’s myriad non-food and ingredient uses, GMO corn varieties will likely be first up, with GMO soybeans following close behind. These policies align well with additional plans to reduce emissions per unit GDP and to increase the proportion of the country’s energy use that comes from non-fossil fuels.  Thanks to their status as a legume crop with less reliance on chemical fertilizers, soybeans are up to the task of reducing emissions from agriculture. For the world’s most populous country, even small moves that affect the food supply can have worldwide implications. Even though there is significant uncertainty in predicting exactly when things might change, we’ll take a look at some of those potential global impacts, and what they could mean for you and your business. Continue reading

CJ CheilJedang Corporation Purchases Metabolix’s PHA Assets for $10 Million

After recently announcing it is ending its biopolymer business to focus on its Yield10 crop improvement platform (client registration required), Metabolix (client registration required) announced last week that it has entered into a binding letter of intent (LOI) with CJ CheilJedang Corporation for the sale of its biopolymer assets for a total price of $10 million. This includes Metabolix’s biopolymer intellectual property (IP), such as the platform microbial strains used for the company’s fermentation products and patents for the production/use of PHA. The agreement also includes purchase of related laboratory equipment and an expected sublease of its Woburn, Massachusetts facility. Continue reading

FabCity 2016: Collaborative Innovation Drives Growth in the Construction Market

During the first half of 2016, an Arts & Design program took place in the Netherlands with the title “Europe by People, the Future of Everyday Living.” Within this program, a temporary campus called FabCity was built at Amsterdam’s Java Island. This campus included approximately 50 pavilions, installations, and prototypes around various themes relating to future circular cities. These projects have set examples of off-grid housing, prefabricated homes, and the use of sustainable building materials as well as advanced construction technologies. Some of these projects also showed that business growth is possible through collaborative innovation. Continue reading

Six Reasons Why Electric Vehicles and Autonomous Vehicles Will Inevitably Merge

As the automotive industry evolves, two major innovations have emerged almost in parallel – increased electrification, peaking in fully electric vehicles (EVs), and increased driver assist features, peaking in the (not yet achieved) idea of self-driving cars (client registration required for both). A common question we receive is whether these two must be combined: Must self-driving cars be electric? The short answer is no – or, more accurately, not yet. It will be possible to make a competent self-driving car using older internal combustion engine (ICE) technology as the power source that drives the wheels. However, there are six good reasons why it is most likely that self-driving cars will be overwhelmingly electric – that is, six reasons why the two technologies will “merge”: Continue reading

The Shift to Alternative Proteins: Novel Formulations Address Hurdles to Adoption

Proteins remain a hot topic throughout the food industry, and several drivers converge to spark the development and production of alternative proteins. These alternative proteins come from a variety of sources, such as plants, algae, insects, synthetic biology, agricultural and food waste, and even in-vitro meat, and range drastically in their developmental timelines. Lux classifies these drivers into three categories: supply concerns, consumer preference, and environmental concerns. Continue reading

How Policy in Emerging Markets Will Shape the Next Wave of Solar Deployment

Solar has emerged as the power source that will probably have the biggest long-term impact on the world going forward: Photovoltaic technology will eventually do the most to shift the world away from fossil fuels and towards renewables, with wind power also playing a contributing role. However, after initially growing in some early-adopter countries like Germany, Italy, and the U.S., solar developers now need to push further, lest they be stuck in maturing markets with flat revenues. That means focusing on Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. To fuel this expansion, policy is key: On average, solar technology is still not yet cost competitive with fossil fuels, particularly given that the price of gas has plunged over the past few years – and in emerging markets, consumers are even more cost-sensitive.

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Softbank Acquires ARM; Yet to Be Seen If It Can Remain Neutral Enough to Win in IoT

What They Said

SoftBank is acquiring ARM for just over $31 billion as it intends to move deeper into the Internet of Things (IoT). As a short background, SoftBank is currently the world’s 69th largest company, according to Forbes, and had sales of $74.8 billion in 2015. SoftBank is based in Japan, and is the third largest telecom in Japan (it bought Vodafone Japan in 2006 and Yahoo Broadband in 2001) and fourth largest telecom in the U.S. (after buying Sprint in 2013). In addition to its telecom activities, it invests in internet companies where it is typically the largest shareholder, with companies including Alibaba, Snapdeal, and Tokopedia. The company has been rapidly branching out into areas like smart homes, intelligent transportation, and robotics (with its acquisition of Aldebaran and launch of Pepper). Continue reading

New Membrane Produces Benzene From Natural Gas With Minimal Carbon Emissions

What They Said

Coorstek Membrane Sciences recently announced the development of a new membrane reactor for the conversion of raw natural gas into aromatic chemicals such as benzene, used in a wide variety of industrial applications. Developed in collaboration with the University of Oslo, Norway and the Instituto de Tecnologia Quimica, Spain, the reactor uses a ceramic membrane for direct, non-oxidative conversion of methane into benzene. The process, called methane dehydroaromatization (MDA), generally suffers from coke (carbon) buildup and thermodynamic instability, leading to poor yield of aromatic compounds. The researchers claim that their novel barium zirconate membrane tackles these key issues by simultaneously extracting hydrogen and injecting oxygen into the reactor. Continue reading

Seriforge: Automated Carbon Fiber Layup Equipment Developer and Service Provider

What You Need To Know About This Company

  • Seriforge is developing an automatic layup process for producing carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) net shape parts
  • The automated system stacks and orients carbon fiber sheets while binding each layer together with carbon fiber yarn to create a 3D preform
  • Weaving layers together improves interlaminar shear properties, damage tolerance, and impact resistance, and reduces resin infusion time
  • Seriforge targets the automotive markets, and is also exploring other markets
  • Seriforge plans to offer preform design and production as a service, selling CFRP preforms to customers
  • Those involved in CFRP manufacturing should discuss current capabilities with this startup as it is still in stealth mode.

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