Track 1 Session Details

AFCC Conference Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions are 90 minutes, each one has one moderator with a maximum of four speakers.


Breakout sessions will be focused on the following three subject areas:



Track 1 Breakout Session Details

Biobased Manufacturing and Applications: Renewable Chemicals, Bioplastics, Biomaterials

Monday, November 15, 2021


Session 1: 8 AM to 9:30 AM : Compostable Products and Packaging: A Systems Approach

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Moderator: Rhodes Yepsen, Executive Director, Biodegradable Products Institute       


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Brad Rodgers

Vice President Of Technology

Danimer Scientific

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Eric Klingenberg

Materials Science Lead


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Brad Laporte



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Leslie Rodgers

VP of Sales

Atlas Organics

The two main value propositions for bioplastics are beginning of life benefits (i.e., renewable inputs) and end of life benefits (i.e., recovery through composting, recycling, etc.). While recyclability is more or less straightforward for drop-in bioplastics like renewable PET, compostability is unique in that the products must fit into biological systems, co-collected with food scraps and yard trimmings, because the item cannot be composted on its own. In addition, the end product is not a raw material that can be used directly as a recycled input for new items, but rather is a soil amendment in the form of compost, which helps sequester carbon and restore soils, and to grow new crops that can be inputs to bioplastics. This session will feature a discussion with representatives from across the value chain - from raw materials, to foodservice, to consumer packaging, to collection and composting.

Session 2: 10 AM to 11:30 AM:  Renewable Chemicals and Biomaterials from Bioethanol

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Moderator: Pat Rizzuto, Senior Chemicals Reporter, Bloomberg Environment


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Joaquin Alarcon


Catalyxx Inc

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John Hannon



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Justine Li

Vice President Global Strategic Partnership


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Carl Rush


Viridis Chemical

Joaquin Alarcon, CEO, Catalyxx Inc

Catalytic conversion of ethanol into renewable chemicals and heavy duty and marine transportation fuels

Catalyxx has developed and holds worldwide exclusive rights to a technology that converts renewable ethanol into a mix of linear alcohols including n-butanol (C4), n-hexanol (C6), and n-octanol (C8) by means of chemical catalysis using a proprietary mixed oxide catalyst, which can serve as the basis for the production of value-added products from ethanol. Catalyxx has adapted and optimized its process for manufacturing renewable fuels and thus provides a technical and economically feasible solution for displacing fossil-based fuels. This approach provides a significant reduction in the overall process complexity and plant capex while producing a unique blend of C4+ alcohols called “GrenOl” that serves as an excellent blending component for diesel for light and heavy-duty and marine fuels. Starting with ethanol as feedstock, we are able to produce using the same process a combination of chemicals and fuels, making a reality the long pursue goal of a multiproduct biorefinery.

John Hannon, COO, Vertimass

Expanding ethanol markets by simple Consolidated Alcohol Deoxygenation and Oligomerization (CADO) into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel blendstocks

Vertimass is developing unique Consolidated Alcohol Deoxygenation and Oligomerization (CADO) technology to allow ethanol producers to 1) eliminate the ethanol “blend wall” by conversion into fungible hydrocarbon fuels, 2) switch among ethanol and jet, diesel, and gasoline blendstocks that are compatible with the current transportation fuel infrastructure as well as higher value BTEX chemical coproducts in response to the market and to maximize profits, and 3) possibly debottleneck processes to increase throughput with little additional costs other than for feedstock. CADO completely converts wet ethanol into hydrocarbons in a simple single reactor system at ~350C and near atmospheric pressure without adding hydrogen. Other benefits include the ability to lower plant water usage, reduce overall energy consumption, and drop GHG emissions to levels required for the RFS Advanced Biofuel category. Vertimass LLC was awarded the exclusive worldwide license to this novel catalyst technology originally invented at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and further expanded the patent portfolio. Vertimass assembled a synergistic team of business executives, engineers, scientists, and consultants and engaged TechnipFMC to rapidly scale-up CADO technology. The U.S. Department of Energy BioEnergy Technology Office (BETO) selected Vertimass for cost-shared projects to further accelerate commercialization of this groundbreaking technology. Though these relationships, Vertimass has scaled CADO up by a factor of 300, significantly increased yields of liquid hydrocarb.

Justine Li, Vice President Global Strategic Partnership, ADM

Sustainability and Value Chain Partnerships

Sustainability is driving demand for Renewable chemicals. Functionality and cost are always important part of the equation. How can value chain partnership help drive sustainable growth of the industry? Consumer product company pull is a must. Value chain partnership from feedstock to application development to final consumer products is key to this revolution for both drop-in replacement and advantaged bioproducts that have unique functionalities.

Carl Rush, CEO, Viridis Chemical

Bio-Ethanol as a Feedstock for Renewable Chemicals

The world’s population consumes billions of pounds of chemicals every year, the majority of which are produced from fossil fuels.  Viridis Chemical is seeking to address that supply chain by producing a family of renewable chemicals using bio-ethanol as a feedstock.  The first renewable chemical Viridis will produce is Ethyl Acetate, which is manufactured by reacting bio-ethanol with Viridis’ proprietary catalyst.  Additionally, a byproduct of this reaction is approximately one billion cubic feet of green hydrogen that will be available to manufacture additional products.  Viridis also has additional products in it’s intellectual property portfolio which include Butyl Acetate, N-butanol and other higher alcohols using the same feedstock.  The first Viridis facility is in Columbus, Nebraska and is currently producing USP grade Ethanol while capital additions are being made in order to start producing the bio-based Ethyl Acetate by the beginning of 2023.  Upon completion of the additions Viridis, with a capacity in excess of 55,000 KT, will be the largest producer of bio-based Ethyl Acetate in the world.  The demand to replace fossil fuel based with renewable products is growing and Viridis intends to address these markets through it’s renewable chemicals platform.

​Session 3: 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM: Biobased Manufacturing Renewable Chemicals and Partnerships

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Moderator: Craig Bettenhausen, Associate Editor, Chemical & Engineering News


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Dexter Hsu

General Manager

LCY Biosciences Inc.

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Kevin Jarrell


Modular Genetics

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Matt Lipsomb


DMC Biotechnologies, Inc.

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Alexandre Zanghellini


Arzeda Corp.

Dexter Hsu, General Manager, LCY Biosciences Inc.

Large Scale Production of Bio-Succinic Acid and its Application in Bio-degradable Plastics

LCY Biosciences is the world’s largest producer of bio-succinic acid, a key component of poly butylene succinate (PBS), which is an environmentally safe and biodegradable biopolymer. It was first used in 1993, compostable bags and catering goods are only a few of the applications. PBS is also listed as a bio plastic, raising general awareness of environmental problems caused by non-biodegradable and non-renewable plastics, as well as the rapid loss of fossil fuel supplies. Human industry produced a large amount of plastic waste to the environment. In 2010, the world plastic increased to 270 million metric tons and up to 76% became plastic waste. In 2018, plastic production was about 360 million tons and is estimated to reach 500 million tons in 2025, 60% of them is projected to enter the environment as waste. More countries have started a bio-based strategy for one-time-used plastic to minimize the waste. Earlier this year, China has announced their plan to restrict single-use plastics which increased the demand of bio-degradable plastics significantly. Bio-based succinic acid not only fulfills the commitment of renewable food packaging by brand owners, but also provides a low impurity profile and high-quality PBS compared to the petrochemical source succinic acid. With the success and stable mass production of bio-based succinic acid, LCY Biosciences is now expanding its fermentation production platform to include a variety of high value molecules such as astaxanthin and vitamin A, molecules widely used in animal and human nutrition.

Kevin Jarrell, CEO, Modular Genetics

Surfactants Produced by Fermentation of Carbohydrate without the use of oil, 100% BioPreferred and Certified Palm Oil Free

Modular Genetics, Inc. (Modular) is a synthetic biology company.  The company’s mission to enable production of chemicals without the use of petroleum or palm oil.  Modular developed an engineered microorganism that produces an acyl amino acid surfactant (AminoSurf-E) by fermentation.  The company is scaling-up production and has initiated sales.  Although surfactants are typically manufactured from oil (petroleum and/or palm oil) no oil is used to produce AminoSurf-E.  It is produced by fermentation of carbohydrate.  AminoSurf-E has a 100% BioPreferred certification and is also certified Palm Oil Free.  Production of surfactants by fermentation has many advantages.  It enables production from locally groups carbohydrate, for example corn syrup produced in the USA.  In addition, production by fermentation reduces carbon emissions by reducing deforestation associated with palm plantation expansion, and also reducing the quantity of petroleum used for chemical synthesis.

Matt Lipsomb, CEO, DMC Biotechnologies, Inc.

Using Synbio to Build Robust and Sustainable Supply Chains

One of the impacts of the pandemic has been to highlight the fragility of existing global supply chains. Sourcing from one geography is a risky strategy and one where the full costs of the approach are not recognized until it’s too late. There is an opportunity for biobased industries to contribute to rebuilding a resilient, sustainable economy. Distributed, biobased manufacturing using locally-available agricultural feedstocks boosts regional infrastructure has the potential to reduce the dependence on imports. DMC Biotechnologies’ proven technology platform is creating a new way forward for the renewable chemicals sector. Already commercial with its first product, DMC’s technology is replicable across a wide range of chemicals and market segments. The DMC approach is sustainable, is supportive of the growing policy objectives to reduce carbon emissions, and it enables a 50-fold reduction in the effort to advance products from concept to commercial.

Alexandre Zanghellini, CEO, Arzeda Corp.

Abstract Coming Soon

​Session 4: 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM: Bioplastics: Biobased Manufacturing Expansion, Applications, and End of Life

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Moderator: Doris De Guzman, Senior Consultant and Team Leader, Tecnon OrbiChem


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Rich Altice

President & CEO


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Dave Kettner

President & General Counsel

Virent, Inc.

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Michael Mang

VP Technology Commercialization

Danimer Scientific

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Brian Gordon

President & COO

Verde Bioresins, Inc.

In this session the panelists will discuss their greenfield and brownfield expansions, next generation bioplastics, and approaches in building the sector. Each speaker will present their developments in bioplastics, including new grades of bioplastics, grades for additive manufacturing, and production scale-ups. We will hear how they are working on single-use applications and as well as durable goods. The panelists will discuss opportunities and challenges for companies transitioning into renewable biobased materials such as value proposition, performance, and end of life solutions. There is a clear advantage bioplastics and biomaterials have, in that they help reduce fossil fuel dependency. But will they easily be degradable in marine environments and reduce the amount of waste in the oceans? The bioplastic producers on the panel are working with governments towards protecting the environment and ensuring that bioplastics produced are recycled.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

​Session 5: 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM: Sustainable Food and Plastics Waste Management Technologies

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Moderator: Anindya Mukherjee, Co-Founder, Global Organization Polyhydroxyalkanoates (GO!PHA)


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Nicole Richards



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Cathrine Scratch


Feed Earth Now

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David Sudolsky



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Yan Zhang

Research Director

National Corn to Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) 

Nicole Richards, CEO, Allonnia

Waste is a Failure of Imagination

At Allonnia, we believe that waste is a failure of imagination. In nature, nothing is wasted because Nature is the original innovator, recycling everything in a circular ecosystem. Our ethos at Allonnia is to work in harmony with nature, combining biology and technology to fast forward time and bring Nature’s future solutions to the present day. Through this collaboration we will unlock the potential in waste and enable a world where nothing is wasted. Our Mission is to leverage the power of biotechnology and engineered systems to create transformative solutions for a waste- and pollution-free world. Allonnia brings leading edge synthetic biology tools to a number of focused efforts in mining, contaminant elimination (including PFAS), and plastics upcycling among others. These tools allow us to either break targeted chemical bonds, or bind specific molecules, in a differentiating, low energy manner leading to the elimination of waste and the creation of circular systems. At the AFCC conference, we will discuss the potential for novel approaches in waste solutions using biotechnology and engineering to transform liability to value. The result is a set of transformative opportunities which will be important to share with the Program Committee Members and Conference Attendees. We look forward to our participation.

Cathrine Scratch, CEO, Feed Earth Now

Not Just for Agriculture- An Advanced Method of Food Waste Conversion into Terreplenish, a Biobased Product for Soil Regeneration

A fen is a unique ecosystem that nurtures bio-nutrient diversity and conserves water, as a necessary buffer between habitats that naturally siphons toxins. Feed Earth Now, LLC is an accelerated composting technology company that creates Terreplenish®, certified Biopreferred Product & OMRI - listed (Organic Materials Resource Institute/ USDA) concentrated soil regenerator and plant-growth enhancer that increases soil water holding capacity restoring microflora by absorbing/ fixing atmospheric nitrogen. My company turns cost into profit at two points of environmental intervention: • Waste/landfill management • Soil remediation/water conservation At sites of waste management, FEN supplies a microbial additive to the liquid extracted from commercial fruit and vegetable waste, reducing composting time from 6 months to 10 days. FEN’s accelerated composting technology allows waste management facilities to eliminate the cost of liquid waste disposal and generate revenue from the sale of the concentrate – Terreplenish®. FEN brings additional community and environmental benefits Often referred to as “cover crop in a bottle,” Terreplenish® promotes biodiversity via soil remediation and plant-growth enhancement when applied to any vegetation. Terreplenish® achieves these results by: • Increasing speed of plant growth • Eliminating need for pesticide, fungicide, and fertilizer • Ensuring carbon sequestration in the soil • Aiding soil in nitrogen fixation • Boosting root density • Inhibiting run-off • Preventing plant diseases.

Yan Zhang, Research Director, National Corn to Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) 

Low Cost Conversion of Hemp Biomass to Ethanol

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp, defined as the Cannabis sativa L. plant with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent by dry weight, from the list of Schedule I controlled substances and, therefore, made hemp an ordinary agricultural commodity. The products from industrial hemp are numerous: hemp may be grown for fiber, seed/grain and seed oil, and cannabidiol (CBD; a medicinal compound without psychoactive effects of THC). While fiber, seed, or CBD only accounts a small portion of hemp plant, the rest of the plant, called hemp biomass, is treated as a waste stream now. This project aims to convert this biomass waste into useful chemicals, such as ethanol through pretreatment, hydrolysis and fermentation. We plan to scale up an innovative pathway with low cost low energy, developed at lab scale at the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center (NCERC), to convert various hemp biomass into sugars utilizing first generation corn to ethanol production facilities. The pathway is chemical-based, and includes a two-stage pretreatment processing at room temperature and 90oC, followed by enzymatic hydrolysis. The sugar yield is around 60% and can reach to over 80% after we recycle the residual solids for a second round of pretreatment and cellulosic hydrolysis. In order to cut the chemical cost, we can make the enzyme onsite needed for the cellulosic hydrolysis.

​Session 6: 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM: Science of Biodegradable Plastics

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Moderator: Professor Ramani Narayan, Michigan State University


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Nouf Alhazmi



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Professor Tae Seok Moon

Washington University St. Louis

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Anindya Mukherjee


Global Organization Polyhydroxyalkanoates (GO!PHA)

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Sridevi Narayan-Sarathy,

Senior Principal Scientist


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Yan Zhang

Research Director

National Corn to Ethanol Research Center (NCERC)

Nouf Alhazmi, CEO, Plastus

Will PHA replace all plastics and boost the Saudi Arabian economy?

The writing is on the wall and the world will soon have to move away from my country's primary source of income and we need to be ready for what comes next. 96% of the Saudi’s economy is based on non-renewable resources such as oil products, chemicals, Aluminum and precious metals. So, what is Saudi Arabia's second largest export? Well, it accounts for 1% of its economy, which is construction materials. Even if the country decides to shift to the second most profitable sector, the construction materials, it won’t be possible to make up for the remaining 95%. If anything, it dropped 40%. Saudi Arabia needs to be ready to transition away from oil and non-renewable resources. This talk is about the economic survival of my country and the ecological survival of the world by shifting to producing the renewable green biodegradable bioplastic, PHA. So what would you do if you had to talk to the world’s biggest oil producer? If most oil sales are for the production of plastic? Plastic is convenient but with end of life cost, how much does it really cost? Do you feel good about yourself when you purchase compostable plastics? So if conventional plastic is terrible, and compostable plastic is just as bad, and most bioplastics don't actually biodegrade. Then what is the solution? PHA is the world's only solution moving forward. It can be the smartest renewable economic investment to re-generate up to 15% and more of the Saudi total economy.

Professor Tae Seok Moon, Washington University St. Louis

Developing a novel microbe for upcycling waste polyethylene terephthalate

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) represents 8% of global solid waste. PET chemical recycling has been an option to solve this global problem, but it suffers from its relatively high process cost and the extremely low price of virgin PET. One solution to address this issue is to upcycle waste PET rather than recycle it. PET upcycling can be achieved by depolymerizing PET into terephthalic acid (TPA) and ethylene glycol (EG) and biologically converting these monomers into value-added products. However, there are only a handful of reports demonstrating microbial strains capable of growing on both TPA and EG generated from PET as sole carbon sources. To overcome this critical limitation, we have performed strain screening to discover a Rhodococcus strain (named RPET) that can grow well on the alkaline hydrolysis products of PET as the sole carbon source without any purification step. Notably, this strain tolerates and grows on a mixture of TPA and EG at extremely high concentrations and high osmolarity resulting from alkaline hydrolysis and pH neutralization. The resultant pH neutralized media supported RPET’s growth without any purification and sterilization step except for their dilution to make up to 0.6M of the monomers. Additionally, many synthetic biology tools, developed for a related species R. opacus, are functional in RPET, facilitating its engineering. I will discuss our effort to develop this novel chassis for waste PET valorization with PET conversion into carotenoids and muconate as two demonstration products (U.S. provisional patent).

Anindya Mukherjee, Co-Founder, Global Organization Polyhydroxyalkanoates (GO!PHA)

Effects of Policy and Legislation the Proliferation of PHA - a Global View

Policy Initiatives curbing Plastics Use and their effect on PHA proliferation With over 9 million tons of plastics flowing into our oceans every year and recycling rates remaining at around 9% over the last decade worldwide, policymakers have noticed the problems of plastics pollution. As of 2018 over 128 countries/states have or are enacting plastics ban. These bans are not necessarily improving the plastics pollution problem we face. The use of sustainable and natural materials like PHA, even though they are biodegradable and compostable have also been affected by these legislation. The effect of these legislation are not even across the world, different regions have taken different routes with different consequences for PHA. This uneven approach in legislation have caused several producers to rethink their long-term strategies. This in turn has affected brand owners' and OEMs’ efforts in proliferating the use of PHA and their approach to the consumer. This presentation will introduce PHA, discuss the bans that are in place or expected to come in various regions and their underlying drivers. It will discuss the effect these bans are having on PHA and other biopolymer commercialization efforts. It will further highlight the efforts of GO!PHA and our members in favor of PHA and other biopolymers.

Sridevi Narayan-Sarathy, Senior Principal Scientist, PepsiCo

Biobased Food Packaging Development Efforts at PepsiCo

Environmental sustainability is one of the pillars for PepsiCo’s Winning with Purpose agenda and packaging is a significant component of our Carbon footprint as well as single use plastics use. Use of bio-based materials in Flexible packaging could help reduce the green-house gas emissions associated with food packaging. In addition to that, flexible packaging has also a challenge from an end of life point of view as the current multi-material structures are not recycle friendly in existing infrastructure. This leads to significant littering, marine pollution and other problems that have adverse effects on our business. We have developed a multi-pronged approach to address this problem globally by developing materials which are bio-based and can be recycled or easily composted. This is based on a deep materials science understanding of novel materials development with the right partners, solving engineering challenges of conversion and building supply chain that is committed to leaving a more sustainable world for our future generations.

Yan Zhang, Research Director, National Corn to Ethanol Research Center (NCERC)

Biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoate production from plasma oxidized non-degradable polypropylene

The proliferation of plastic wastes represents a significant global environmental threat, with no easy way to breakdown natural in danger without creating further threats such as microscopic fibers that travel up the food chain. This creates a need for a way to repurpose the current world plastic waste as well the creation of more environmentally friendly bio-degradable plastic. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are biodegradable and environmental friendly plastics natural produced by many microorganisms, and are potential replacement for petroleum based plastics. In this research, petroleum based polypropylene (PP) was first functionalized by SO3H group and then oxidized by plasma and UiO-66 catalysts at low temperature (60°C). This resulted in converting 50% of PP into organic acid mixture, mainly formic acid and acetic acid. This organic acid mixture was further used as carbon source in the fermentation process of Pseudomonas putida KT2440 to produce PHA. The simultaneous metabolism of different organic acids in P. putida and the effect acid’s ratio to PHA yield and composition were studied. Two strategies were used to further increase PHA production. First, evolutionary adaptation was performed on P. putida to build up its tolerance to the toxicity of PP-derived acid mixture; second, detoxification methods were also used to remove potential inhibitors in the acid mixture. In this research, we successfully used a non-degradable plastic waste (PP) as feedstock to produce biodegradable PHA, fulfilled the degradation and recycling of plastic waste.