Covestro looks to biobased feedstocks, "zero negative impact" | Researchers modify plastic-eating enzyme to boost recycling efforts | Red Rock Biofuels' proposed biofuels plant to begin operations in 2020
Covestro is working on biobased materials for the production of polyurethanes and polycarbonates, said Chief Sustainability Officer Richard Northcote. "I believe we should have zero negative impact through all of our processes -- that has to be our target, at the end of the day," he said.
Scientists have tweaked a natural enzyme produced by the Ideonella sakaiensis bacteria, which has evolved to eat plastic waste, in hopes that the enzyme, called PETase, can improve the recycling process. PETase speeds up the process of breaking down PET, which is used in the creation of plastic bottles, and other plastics, according to researchers at the UK's University of Portsmouth.
Red Rock Biofuels will soon begin the construction of a renewable biofuels plant in Lakeview, Ore., after receiving final approval. The plant, which will produce renewable fuels for the aviation industry by converting forestry waste, is expected to start operating in 2020.
Utility and site work at SynSel Energy's proposed cellulosic ethanol plant at a former Smurfit-Stone Paper mill in Michigan is expected to commence while completing engineering work over the next 14 months after the company has secured the funds to build the facility. SynSel's biorefineries use non-food biomass feedstock, such as wood waste and forest residue, to produce aviation fuel, synthetic gasoline and diesel.
Ethanol production in the US averaged 1.034 million barrels per day, down by 3,000 barrels per day from the previous week, the third week in a row of declines, according to government data. However, the four-week average increased to 1.040 million barrels per day for an annualized rate of 15.94 billion gallons.
A joint $9.5 million contract was awarded to synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks and robotic automation software developer Transcriptic via the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Synergistic Discovery and Design Program. The funds will be used to hasten iterative testing and advance biological experimentation for synthetic biology.
Bill Gates says CRISPR technology and gene editing could benefit food production and fight diseases such as malaria. The technologies could be used to make more productive animals and produce crops that can withstand harsher growing conditions, says Gates, whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation backs gene editing.
Researchers from Qatar University are working to develop aviation biofuels from algae-based biocrude in the Qatar Biofuel Project. The program, currently in its second phase, will provide Qatar Airways with aviation biofuel, helping the company and the country comply with the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference goals.
German luxury carmaker Audi and French biotech firm Global Bioenergies are using nonfood feedstock, such as sugar beet waste, wheat straw and wood chips, to produce biofuels. Germany's Fraunhofer Institute converts the biofuels that come from Global Bioenergies' demo plant in Leuna, Germany, into gasoline additives that are then used in Audi sedans.