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Wanted: More Innovators, "Wild" Demand

A few weeks ago, I posted “Code Green: Making Renewables a Common American Purpose,” which touched on Thomas Friedman’s book Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

Here’s another quote from the book, “If you take only one thing away from this book, please take this: We are not going to regulate our way out of the problems of the Energy-Climate Era. We can only innovate our way out and the only way to do that is to mobilize the most effective and prolific system for transformational innovation and commercialization of new products ever created on the face of the earth—the U.S. marketplace.”

Friedman continues, “. . . We need 10,000 innovators, all collaborating with, and building upon, one another to produce all sorts of breakthroughs in abundant, clean, reliable, and cheap electrons and energy efficiency. And we need to create demand, huge demand—crazy, wild-off-the-charts demand—for existing clean power technologies, like wind and solar, in order to reduce the cost of these technologies and make them competitive with conventional fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas.”

Improving Biodiesel Yields

A recent announcement between Verenium Corporation and Alfa Laval is an example of innovators building upon each other’s technologies. Verenium Corporation develops specialty enzymes and next-generation cellulosic ethanol; and Alfa Laval (as dairy producers well know) is a global provider of heat transfer, separation and fluid handling technologies.

These companies will now jointly market enzymatic degumming of vegetable oils using Verenium’s Purifine PLC enzyme and Alfa Laval’s engineering services and equipment. Purifine enzymatic degumming is designed to significantly increase yields in edible oil production. Verenium reports that use of this process also enhances yields of biodiesel from crude oil.

Under the terms of the agreement, Alfa Laval will be able to market Purifine enzymatic degumming packaged with its process engineering equipment and services to customers processing vegetable oils for edible and biodiesel use. In turn, Verenium will support Alfa Laval’s marketing efforts and recommend their engineering services to target customers.

“Together, our companies offer a comprehensive solution to increase efficiencies in edible oil and biodiesel production,” said Janet Roemer, Verenium’s executive vice president, Specialty Enzymes Business.

Corn Plus, Continued Innovation

And then there is Corn Plus, Winnebago, MN (, no stranger to innovation. The Free Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX recently reported on the ethanol company’s proposal to use treated municipal wastewater rather than pure water from aquifers. This plan will help substantially reduce groundwater consumption.

Corn Plus also is working with EdeniQ, Visalia, CA (, which has developed a combination of mechanical and biological processes to increase ethanol yields from corn by more than 10%. In the March 2009 issue of the ethanol producer’s newsletter the Courier, Keith Kor, Corn Plus manager, reported that Corn Plus is working with EdeniQ to help bring its ethanol yield up to 2.82 undenatured gallons or 2.88 denatured gallons per bushel of corn. Corn Plus hopes to have preliminary results by the end of April or May.

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