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Track 5 Session Details

AFCC Conference Breakout Sessions

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


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



Track 5 Breakout Session Details

Building the Biobased Economy Supply Chain

This Track is Sponsored by:

Monday, November 13, 2023

All sessions for this Track will be held in Baltimore 5

Session 1 : 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM : Alternative Fuels – Current Status for Infrastructure and Manufacturing for New Biofuels

The panelists will present their work on alternative fuels that are produced from renewable sources other than petroleum and produce less pollution, are decarbonizing the planet, and in some instances are potentially emissions-free.  The panelists in this session will provide their current work in producing theses new biofuels and their status on infrastructure for manufacturing.

Tom Hobby, CEO, Yosemite Clean Energy

Biomass derived Biofuels: A Viable Energy Transition Strategy for Lowering Global Carbon Emissions while providing Valuable Ecosystem Services

The discourse on using biomass as a sustainable resource is contentious. While some advocate for forest conservation and minimal human interference as the epitome of "sustainability", such views have inadvertently led to a century of fire suppression and forest management practices. As a result, our forests are now more susceptible to climate change effects, including pine beetle infestations, droughts, and escalating catastrophic wildfires.

Evidence-based forest management, focusing on curtailing wildfire hazards, enables the transformation of forest biomass into valuable, carbon-negative biofuels. This not only reduces the danger of severe wildfires but also augments ecosystem services—enhancing habitat, water, air quality, soil health, and carbon dynamics. When assigned a proper valuation, the ecosystem benefits from each acre of forest managed for biofuel production can outweigh the costs of thinning and restoration.

Over the past two decades, institutions like the US Forest Service, academic researchers, and organizations such as Lawrence Livermore National Labs have analyzed both the costs and benefits (market and non-market) of treating and thinning our national forests. Much of the US Forest Service's federal timberlands are situated in hard-to-reach terrains, elevating treatment costs. Yet, policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard and IRA may provide the previously discarded biomass with enough value, especially in regions with moderate to very-high fuel hazards. This could incentivize biofuel developers to collaborate with the USFS and indigenous tribes in reducing these hazards.

Andrew Miller, Vice President of Projects, Infinium

eFuels are here - Introduction, Regulation, and What to expect

Ultra-low carbon intensity Infinium electrofuels or eFuels are made from captured carbon dioxide and renewable power. Infinium eFuels are drop-in solutions that utilize existing infrastructure to displace fossil-based fuels and chemical feedstocks by turning renewable electrons into molecules. Infinium’s Corpus Christi facility is the world’s first commercial eFuels plant. With a dozen facilities in development across four continents, Infinium is the eFuels leader. This presentation introduces Infinium’s eFuels pathway, discusses carbon dioxide utilization vs sequestration, and reviews current regulatory considerations.

Nirav Patel, CEO, Big Hill Industries

Green Hydrogen to Ammonia

Big Hill is progressing on a green hydrogen to ammonia project located in South Texas. The project focuses on harnessing renewable energy sources to produce hydrogen through electrolysis, which is subsequently used in the synthesis of ammonia. This sustainable process not only mitigates carbon emissions but also addresses the growing demand for clean energy carriers and sustainable agricultural inputs. The project capitalizes on South Texas' abundant renewable resources, such as solar and wind power, to generate electricity for the electrolysis of water, yielding high-purity hydrogen. The produced hydrogen is then combined with nitrogen extracted from the surrounding air to create ammonia, a vital component in the fertilizer industry. This green hydrogen-to-ammonia pathway offers a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional ammonia production methods reliant on fossil fuels.


Joshua Velson, Senior Consultant, NexantECA

The Opportunity in Green Ammonia Fuels

Green ammonia has emerged as one of the best available options for decarbonizing transportation in the 21st century. Although it has only begun to gain traction in transportation in the last few years, major innovations have allowed green ammonia to address thorny transportation problems that cannot be solved by battery electrics. In tandem with these applications, new low-carbon methods of producing green ammonia have begun to emerge from traditional bio-based sources as well as those taking advantage of renewable energy. An enormous opportunity now exists for green ammonia investment in the road to a net-zero carbon emissions economy – one that requires a keen understanding of production technology, applications, and competitive threats. This presentation introduces green ammonia as a major transportation fuel of the future, giving the critical context and analysis that future investors will need for this dynamic sector.

Session 2 : 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM: Building the Supply Chain: Biofuels and Biomaterials

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Moderator: Antoine Schellinger, EVP Projects, Engineering and EPC, Citroniq Chemicals


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Timothy Bauer
Vice President, Green Plains Inc.

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Matt Herman
Senior Director Renewable Products Marketing, Iowa Soybean Association

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Gurminder Minhas
Managing Director, BioFilaments Inc

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Manjusri Misra 
rofessor and Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Biocomposites, University of Guelph

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Guy Penard
Vice President, Yilkins

Timothy Bauer, Vice President, Green Plains Inc.

Clean sugars for a greener tomorrow

The drive towards next zero continues to accelerate across many industries. Driven by new technologies and global consumer pressure, the chemicals and materials market is rapidly evolving from a massively centralized and energy intensive industry into on that is smaller and more agile in its approach. A further push by the current White House administration to invest in bio-processing infrastructure has catalyzed the domestic development of deep decarbonization technology across the chemical and materials value chains. The momentum behind the bio-transition has continued to put pressure on availability and economics of suitable feedstocks. A new, albeit existing source of feedstock has emerged from the dry grind ethanol industry. The production of glucose and dextrose syrups from a bolt-on system to the traditional ethanol facility has demonstrated benefits to the food/beverage, chemical, and materials segments. These benefits include increased speed to market with significant scale all while having a lower carbon footprint than traditional glucose and dextrose sources product in a wet corn mill. Multiple life-cycle assessments have reinforced a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions providing manufactures of bio-based products with much needed help in achieving their net zero goals. This new, disruptive technology being commercially deployed by Green Plains, is now here to provide sugars which provide real sustainability benefits and quicken our transition to a circular economy.


Gurminder Minhas, Managing Director, BioFilaments Inc.

Using Nanocellulose to Improve Performance of other Materials

The interest in nano-cellulose based biomaterials has increased significantly over the past decade, and further magnified recently as this material is now commercially available. The presentation will summarize recent activities of Performance BioFilaments toward the use of nanocellulose based materials to improve the properties of other materials such as concrete and mortars, thermoplastics, glass fibre nonwovens, and industrial fluids. Several case studies will be presented where nanofibrillated cellulose has demonstrated significant improvements in performance, sustainability, and offering opportunities for de-carbonization. Furthermore, the regulatory and safety aspects of introducing a new biomaterial will also be discussed.


Manjusri Misra, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Biocomposites, University of Guelph

Sustainable Composites for Lighter and Flame Retardant Electric Vehicle (EV) Parts to Boost Climate Benefit: A Step Forward Towards a Circular Economy

The rapid phase-out of gasoline vehicles is projected to be completed by 2035 where the EV market can reach above $1 trillion. There are a few risk factors for EV because of its heavy weight in contrast to its petroleum-fed counterpart. Lightweight and flame-retardant sustainable composites are the future in engineering EV parts. In light-weight composites, engineering the sustainable and bio-fillers like biocarbon (from pyrolyzed waste biomass and plastics including waste textiles), recycled carbon fibres, recycled plastics including engineering plastics show growing trends. The thermal management, eco-friendly flame retardant and battery pack, which has polymer composites unlike its metal counterpart, are the future. The innovation on advanced composites with thermally stable biocarbon, recycled carbon fibre and polymeric resins ranging from nylon, toughened polypropylene, polycarbonate and polyurethane with reduced to zero flammability will be discussed in this presentation. Overall, biocarbon filled sustainable composites with recycled plastics and eco-friendly flame-retardant are vital to the design of EV parts. This will be effective as one of the enabling strategies that pushes towards innovative sustainable biobased materials that support the circular economy. Acknowledgement: (i) The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) – University of Guelph, the Bioeconomy Industrial Uses Research Program Theme; (ii) the Ontario Research Fund, Research Excellence Program; Round-9 (ORF-RE09) from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Canada and (iii) the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canada.

Guy Penard, Vice President, Yilkins

Enabling Biomass for Circularity and Sustainability

Yilkins provides novel, energy-efficient, and cost-effective equipment for drying, torrefying, and charring of many biomass streams. Its patented technology is applied around the world in biofuel, biochemical, biochar/coal projects by many applications and industries. Compared to traditional dryers Yilkins' equipment uses 50% of the energy, which translates into low emissions of carbon and organics. Yilkins works closely with its customers and their EPCs on energy-integration to achieve the lowest possible total costs of ownership. This unique technology has been audited by leading, global corporations, DNV-GL and New Energy Risk. The latter provides a warranty backstop insurance for Yilkins’ customers.

Session 3: 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM: SynBio & The New Normal of Low Capital Availability


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Melissa Klembara

Director, Portfolio Strategy

Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED)

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Roger Wyse, Founder & Managing Director, Spruce Capital Partners

The field of synthetic biology (SynBio) has been at the forefront of groundbreaking advancements, promising revolutionary applications across various industries. However, in recent times, the global landscape has witnessed a paradigm shift due to economic challenges, resulting in reduced capital availability not only for R&D but also for scalin technology towards commercial production. This new normal of constrained financial resources will have significant implications for the progression of SynBio and the opportunities for biomanufacturing. We will explore: • constraints imposed due to funding scarcity, including the need to seek innovative and cost-effective solutions for experimental design, laboratory infrastructure, and equipment acquisition • collaborative models, such as public-private partnerships, open-source initiatives, and crowd-funding, as potential avenues to foster SynBio advancements in resource-constrained environments • the role of government policies and investment to facilitate innovation, commercialization, safeguard public interests & encourage private investment • importance of promoting education and public awareness to garner support for SynBio research and its long-term potential to enhance public trust and garner increased support from both private and public sectors. • Challenge of balancing customers and investor needs through business model design and the cost-benefit analysis of Capital Light, Capital Efficient and Capital Heavy business models. The advent of a new normal (or a reversion to the mean depending on your time horizon) characterized by low capital availability poses a threat to the advancement of SynBio. However, it also presents an opportunity to foster creative solutions.


Brentan Alexander, Chief Investment Officer

Synonym's Solutions to Solve Challenges in Biomanufacturing Scale Up Fermentation has vast potential to reshape manufacturing and make supply chains greener across various industries, including food, materials, and chemicals. Comprehensive techno-economic modeling and identifying scale-up partners is a critical step in determining the economic viability of new bioproducts, but building models and finding capacity is a complex and costly challenge. To address these challenges, Synonym built digital tools to accelerate the bioeconomy’s growth. Last year, Synonym launched Capacitor to catalog the world’s fermentation infrastructure. It’s become the most widely-used directory in the industry with over 230 facilities and 41M liters of capacity listed. Recently, Synonym announced Scaler, a techno-economic analysis (TEA) tool for fermentation that 300+ companies have used to project their capital and operating costs at commercial scale. In this talk, Synonym will introduce these tools, share how they fit into its vision, and provide critical insights based on aggregated learnings gathered from user behavior. These learnings include trends related to demand for various bioreactor sizes, projections of capacity need, common products and pathways, and other relevant parameters. The tools align with Synonym's vision to accelerate the world's biological future. To meet growing demand for bioproducts, the economy needs the appropriate biomanufacturing infrastructure and capital sources to build these facilities. Through Capacitor and Scaler, Synonym is building the datasets that inform the underwriting framework for TEAs that will enable capital entry, laying the foundation for new investment into and creation of biomanufacturing infrastructure as an asset class.

Session 4: 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM: The Importance of End-of-Life When Establishing Targets for the Bioeconomy

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Moderator: Alex Truelove, Legislation & Advocacy Manager, Biodegradable Products Institute


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Jeff Carbeck

VP Corporate Innovation


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Keith Edwards

VP Business Development

Danimer Scientific

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Eric Klingenberg

Materials Science Lead

Mars Advanced Research Institute

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Leslie Rodgers

Expanding Composting Infrastructure & Industry Leaders

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Eugene Van Rensburg


Stellenbosch University

While the bioeconomy has received attention and support, headlined by the Biden administration’s executive order last September, the attention has been directed almost entirely upstream at production and manufacturing. As a result, their targets mostly fail to realize biomaterial circularity through composting and biodegradation downstream. In the U.S., we’ve developed systems to collect and process (mostly biobased) compostable products alongside the food and organic waste they carry. These systems ensure that the products break down safely while avoiding landfill methane emissions and creating a valuable soil amendment. Investments in compost collection and processing systems that support compostable products with biobased inputs—whether public or private—drive participation and material innovation by large companies, including those featured on the panel, and strengthen the relationship between producer and composter. Finally, promoting a more sustainable end-of-life for biobased products further distinguishes them from conventional counterparts.

Jeff Carbeck, VP Corporate Innovation, Eastmen

Eastman Aventa™ Renew Compostable Materials

The global plastic waste crisis is a complex issue that requires sustainable innovative materials, favorable regulatory policies, and supply chain environmental stewardship. Eastman Chemical Company is leading technology development for the establishment of circular economy models that mitigate the plastic waste problem. In this talk, we will present Eastman Aventa™ Renew Compostable materials, a new cellulosic-based solution for the food service and food packaging market. Aventa-Renew is the only bioplastic in the market with a differentiating composition based on raw materials sourced from sustainably managed forests and from Eastman molecular recycling technology (CRT). Eastman CRT converts hard to recycle, landfill-bound plastics back into their molecular building blocks and reintroduce them back into new products. In addition to distinctive beginning of life attributes, Aventa-Renew has a built-in molecular composition that enables natural biodegradation in a wide range of environments. Aventa compostability certification under home and industrial conditions resonates with the value chain as a sustainable solution for food contaminated and hard to recycle material that currently ends in landfills. Aventa-Renew was also developed with the converters in mind, making it a drop-in material in current extrusion, molding, and thermoforming assets. Aventa-Renew offers multiple grades that deliver on sustainability aspirations for consumer-facing companies while offering uncompromised consumer experience. In this presentation we will also address challenges facing compostable materials and illustrate examples of Eastman engagement to remove barriers and expand compostable materials acceptance.

Keith Edwards, VP Business Development, Danimer Scientific

Nodax® PHA biobased and biodegradable materials help enable new recycling pathways and circularity.                  Nodax® PHA biobased and biodegradable materials help enable new recycling pathways and circularity. The recent rise in biobased carbon products as a novelty and replacement for fossil carbon derived materials has grown substantially with focus on circularity and sustainability goals. However, using a recently fixated carbon source to make materials offers no improvement for recycling or landfill diversion. A food soiled PET or polyethylene package is no more recoverable when produced from biobased carbon, and the probability of recycling biobased traditional synthetic plastic materials in contact with food will remain low. How then shall we address landfill diversion and circularity of packaging materials? Nodax® PHA is a naturally occurring biopolymer, with 100% biobased origins and 100% biodegradability in natural environments. Transitioning to PHA based solutions, along with using other certified compostable materials, offers a better pathway to create new recovery, recycling and circularity opportunities, through the use of biochemical recycling of food residues and packaging used to deliver food in composting. We should embrace landfill diversion of all food residues and organic materials, and transition from synthetic plastic materials to PHA based and certified compostable alternatives for food packaging and similar applications.


Eugene Van Rensburg, Professor, Stellenbosch University

Waste to Ethanol Technology Using Paper Sludge as Model Substrate to Develop the Circular Economy

Alternative technologies are continually sought to convert organic waste to ethanol as platform chemical, drop-in fuel, or precursor for e.g., sustainable aviation fuel. Whereas first (1G) and second (2G) generation ethanol have been explored extensively, these technologies face several barriers, including food competition, land use change concerns and high cost. Organic industrial waste is often overlooked, specifically high moisture effluent from pulp and paper mills destined for landfill, which could produce approx. 12.5 billion L of ethanol worldwide. Ethanol from food waste could be an order of magnitude greater, given the copious quantities this waste world-wide. Mitigating risk to bring waste to ethanol to market remains a challenge, however. An IRR of at least 20% in real terms can be achieved for a pulp mill producing 50 dry tonnes per day at an ethanol selling price US$980/tonne, which is on par with Brazil 1G selling prices and below EU prices that demand a premium for waste-based ethanol. Two proof of concept approaches were followed, namely submerged and solid-state paper sludge fermentation. Lab-scale submerged fermentations resulted in 40 g ethanol/L and was demonstrated under real industry conditions using a bespoke mobile, containerised demonstration plant that houses a 1 000 L bioreactor. However, under solid state conditions at laboratory scale, concentrations greater than 100 g ethanol/L were obtained using paper sludge, which is a world-first for 2G fermentations. We consider our technology as sufficiently disruptive and trend setting to lead efforts in waste to ethanol production through reporting at AFCC.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023
All sessions for this Track will be held in Baltimore 5

​Session 5: 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM: What are Investors Looking for When Building Their Portfolio in Industrial Biotechnology Biobased Manufacturing?

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Moderator: Roger Wyse, Founder & Managing Director, Spruce Capital Partners


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John Akridge


Height Capital

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Joško Bobanović

Partner Industrial Biotechnology

Sofinnova Partners

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Joshua Kaufman


Nexus Development Capital

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Justin O’Rourke

Principal, Commercial

Triten Energy Partners

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Jim Walsh

Senior Vice President


The public financial markets are going through a difficult period as the IPO window is closed and stock prices depressed in the bioeconomy sector. These trends in the public sector cascade down through the early stage private sector making financings increasingly difficult even at depressed valuations.


The causes are many: persistent supply chain disruptions, inflation and rising interest rates, global unrest, and lack of financial success stories in the sector.


This is contrasted by the consumer demand for sustainably source products, the critical needed to address climate change, the strong political support and funding for the bioeconomy/biomanfacturing in Washington and the convergence of technologies such as synbio, AI, robotics and “precision fermentation” enabling disruptive solutions.


The panel will discuss how investors are navigating these turbulent times and resetting their investment strategies.

Session 6: 3:30 PM to 5 PM: Laboratory-Embedded Entrepreneur Programs Advancing the Bioeconomy

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Moderator: Todd Pray, Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer, U.S. DOE Lawrence Berkeley National Lab


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Diana Bauer

Deputy Director

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), EERE, Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Office

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Tommy Gibbons

Chief Innovation Officer

Hempitecture &

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Mikhail Konev



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Chris Nicholas


Låkril Technologies

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Danielle Pascoli


Verde Nanomaterials

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Sarah Richardson



DOE's Laboratory-Embedded Entrepreneur Programs (LEEP) have become a valuable resource in enabling the next generation of clean energy innovators to develop and scale their technologies and also learn best practices in building their business.  Supporting entrepreneurs by providing access to space, expertise and facilities at four of the DOE National Labs - Argonne, Berkeley, NREL and Oak Ridge - gives them a foothold and home base over the course of the fellowship's two-year duration.  Fellows also receive research funding, a living allowance and health benefits, and technical and business mentorship in growing their climate tech startups.  This panel will showcase LEEP innovators' start-ups that are focused on bio-based and nature-inspired technologies that will help remediate environmental pollution and decarbonize the industrial biotechnology, recycling, food and agriculture sectors.

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