Around the Bend

What's going on at Rivertop Renewables



Rivertop Named on Global Cleantech 100 ‘Ones to Watch’ List

We here at Rivertop are excited to announce that we have been named to the Global Cleantech 100 ‘Ones to Watch’ list. The list, produced by Cleantech Group, highlights companies that are catching the eye of leading investors and corporates in the market. The competition was fierce with 9,900 total nominations for companies from over 75 countries.

This is the colloquial icing on the cake for our year at Rivertop. Our sodium glucarate was added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Chemicals Ingredients List (SCIL) and we exceeded nameplate capacity at our first commercial production facility less than six months after starting production.

Yet this award, at its core, is forward-looking. As the CEO of Cleantech Group phrased it, “by the nature of the list, the Ones to Watch truly represent the next cadre of exciting disruptive companies.” So it is with great excitement that we march towards 2017 with our new label and big plans. Stay tuned for further developments!

Rivertop Announced as Finalist for Bio-based Innovation Awards

We here at Rivertop are pleased to announce that our new WaterlineTM corrosion inhibitor has been selected as a finalist for the 2016 Bio-Based Innovation Awards. The awards seek out the best innovations in the bio-based space; Rivertop was selected as one of only three finalists for the Bio-Based Product of the Year category.

That particular category highlights products that are derived from plants and other renewable materials and provide alternatives to conventional petroleum-derived products. Notably, in the words of Bio-based World News, “the key is how the product improves on one derived from petroleum—sustainability is not enough—our judges [look] for developments in price and quality.”

This is exactly why Waterline was selected as a contender. The innovative products at Rivertop are made with our breakthrough oxidation technology that affordably transforms plant sugars into new and sustainable chemical ingredients that offer our customers more than a green option—they can compete on price, and offer superior performance as well.

Specifically, Waterline CI, designed to be integrated with products in the water treatment industry, offers a high performance, low cost alternative to phosphate-based options in water treatment formulations. Waterline is newly available in the last year, and already Rivertop’s customer are having success incorporating it into their water treatment products.

Check out our Waterline and Headwaters ® corrosion inhibitors, and our Riose® detergent builder to see how we are making a difference with our breakthrough technology platform.

The icing on the cake was the commendation from the judges. Said Michele Jalbert of the Renewable Chemical and Materials Alliance, the nominated products promise “to deliver systemic change in the shift away from non-renewable incumbent products.”

BIO report paints bright future for renewable chemicals

Last week, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) released a new report on the renewable chemical industry, featuring key players in the space, including (we are pleased to announce) Rivertop. The report “Advancing the Biobased Economy: Renewable Chemical Biorefinery Commercialization, Progress and Market Opportunities, 2016 and Beyond,” was written in order to document the progress and illustrate the potential for biobased production of renewable chemicals—and the results are impressive.

While sales of renewable chemicals represented 9 percent of worldwide chemical sales in 2012 (an already impressive number), their share is expected to grow to 11 percent by 2020. Meanwhile, sales of biobased products are expected to reach $375-$441 billion by 2020, with renewable chemicals and new biopolymers expected to have some of the highest growth rates within that greater expansion for the industry.

BIO found that renewable chemicals and biobased materials are attractive for many reasons—they can be commercialized at a smaller scale, come with environmental benefits, offer novel properties in comparison to traditional chemicals and promise more stable costs.

These advantages are familiar to everyone at Rivertop Renewables. We are using our proprietary technology to transform sugar acids into a variety of valuable chemical ingredients that allow our customers to make products that compete on price, performance and sustainability. Check out our Waterline and Headwaters corrosion inhibitors, and our Riose detergent builder to see how we are just getting started with our breakthrough technology platform.

The report also highlights certain policies that have successfully supported the expansion of the renewable chemicals and biobased products industry, as well as policies that could have a large effect if they are passed or expanded. Most notably, BIO highlights the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which it claims initiated important discussion on renewable chemicals and biobased products in addition to biofuels.

This is of course at its essence a reaffirmation of what we have been seeing for years—the renewable chemicals industry is humming and has enormous potential. BIO’s executive vice president, Brent Erickson, put it best: “The biobased economy is alive and well and it’s not just about biofuels development.”

Building with Biology

Each month, the University of Montana’s SpectrUM Discovery Area opens up its doors free of charge to the public for some hands-on learning and an opportunity to meet role models in various fields. This month’s theme was “Building with Biology” and provided opportunities for kids (both young and old) to engage in some hands-on science work and to meet some great STEM role models.

That group of role models included Rivertop’s own Kelly Barton, Senior Scientist here in Missoula. Kelly showed different ‘modules’ or units designed to elicit discussions on synthetic biology and its societal implications. She took visitors through Synthetic Biology kit exercises—particularly the ‘Tech Tokens’ Synthetic Biology kit.

Read more about the program in the Missoulian or check out this Tech Tokens video to learn more about Building with Biology.

Rivertop’s Annual Safety BBQ

Rivertop takes pride in its commitment to safety—a commitment which we celebrate every year at a company-wide event here at Rivertop. What do you get when you take a safety event, add some good BBQ and delicious local lager? A Safety-que.

This year’s Safety-que was the third annual event, honoring the hard work of the safety committee and thanking all Rivertop employees for their commitment to safety. It took place at the beautiful home of Cindy and Ross Campbell, surrounded by horse pastures, scenic views of the Montana mountains and (most importantly) a goldfish pond.

Kelly Barton, Rivertop’s Safety Coach (and Senior Scientist) and the safety committee planned the fun night. Kids (young and old) got to play games—including Campbell’s favorite called carpet ball—enjoy delectable barbecued meats (smoked chicken, ribs and pulled pork) and partake of Bayern Brewery’s well-loved Dump Truck Summer Bock lager.

It was truly an excellent celebration; one that marked yet another year of zero safety issues at Rivertop and one that re-emphasizes the company’s dedication to safety going forward.

Brian Furey speaks at the 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference

Earlier this month, Brian Furey, Rivertop’s Technical Manager for Regulatory Affairs and Consumer Products, spoke at the American Chemical Society’s 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Portland, Oregon. As the longest running annual green chemistry conference, the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference acts as a forum for green chemistry thought leaders to learn, share and design the green innovations of tomorrow: a focus that is right up Rivertop’s alley.

Brian’s presentation was entitled “Rising to the Demand for Green Chemistry,” with a focus on how advances in green chemistry are the sustainable building blocks for the future of hundreds of products. Since Rivertop’s inception in 2008, we have certainly learned a lot (and have much to share) about the rising demand for safer, greener chemicals that are competitive on cost and performance. In fact, it is rising market demand for a line of green chemicals in consumer and industrial products has led to the production of our products, ranging from Riose® Detergent Builders to Waterline™ Scale and Corrosion Inhibitors.

During the conference, Brian took advantage of the opportunity to connect and exchange information with other researchers doing great things in the bio-chemical space, and enjoyed participating in the Green× interactive workshops. He also relished the visit to Portland—surprisingly, this was the first time the conference was held on the West Coast!

Rivertop’s First Technical Bulletin Demonstrates Performance of WaterlineTM CI in Cooling Water Systems

Rivertop has completed its first commercial production runs and deliveries of WaterlineTM CI, a sustainable high performing corrosion inhibitor for use in industrial cooling water systems. Operating and maintaining cooling water systems is a multi-billion dollar industry and the interest we’ve seen in Waterline CI has prompted Rivertop to release its first product technical bulletin.

The technical bulletin describes testing that compared Waterline CI to orthophosphate, a standard inhibitor used to prevent corrosion in cooling water systems. Phosphorous-based corrosion inhibitors are currently under scrutiny for their environmental impact as well as a number of performance challenges.

The results will be good news for those familiar with cooling water systems and the challenges posed by corrosion. Produced from renewable plant sugars and completely phosphorous-free, Waterline Cl forms a persistent, passivating film on steel surfaces and does not pose a fouling concern with calcium. It achieves a lower and more stable corrosion rate over time as compared to phosphonate treatments used in HVAC systems.

There is good news for the bottom line as well. By eliminating the need to formulate with stabilizing copolymers, Waterline CI enables water treaters to maintain a combined low total cost of formulation and in-use performance economics.

Take a look for yourself. The technical bulletin can be found on our website.

New Corrosion Lab Gets Results

Rivertop has made some compelling discoveries about the performance of Waterline™ CI since the Company ramped up its newest corrosion testing lab earlier this year. We have found that our new, phosphorous-free corrosion inhibitor ingredient protects the critical steel infrastructure in industrial and commercial cooling water systems under an array of challenging conditions. Initial performance evaluations were recently described in a press release and detailed on the product’s webpage.

As with most application development and evaluation, Rivertop is driving a lot of time, expertise and creativity into profiling the performance of Waterline CI as an ingredient in water treatment chemical formulations. What’s different with this development effort has been the speed at which the team has made discoveries. Our Industrial Applications Manager, Eric Ward, only joined the Company in November; by January, he had the lab outfitted. He assembled an array of rapid testing equipment and quickly trained a team of very capable technicians.

The lab is outfitted with electrochemical cells that provide a continuous flow of data points on the corrosiveness of the water treated with formulations containing Waterline CI versus water treated with phosphorous-based formulations. The water is continually oxygenated and circulated to mimic the turbidity of a cooling water system. A digital titrator is used to confirm water hardness as the techs “cycle up” the concentration of hard water ions and detect any calcium precipitation that may occur. The cells themselves are jacketed to enable the team to control the water temperature at the higher levels found in true cooling water systems. A pump is outfitted to feed biocides into the water, another critical component of water treatment formulations. And a colorimeter is used to measure the level of inorganics in the water, such as free- and total chlorine and ortho-phosphate.

The research flowing out of this lab enables Eric and his commercial counterparts to advise customers on the capabilities and best uses of the product. The team expects to release the next Waterline CI Technical Bulletin in June. Stay tuned for what discoveries may emerge in that publication.

The Business Case for Safer Chemistry

A new report from the American Sustainable Business Council forecasts the significant growth potential and other financial benefits of safer chemicals. For example, the market for safer chemicals is estimated to have 24 times the growth of conventional chemicals market worldwide, from 2011 to 2020. And job growth in safer goods and services is well ahead of conventional chemical industry.

The report noted the significant market opportunity: “The global market for “green chemistry”—as defined by Pike Research to include biobased chemicals, renewable feedstocks, “green” polymers and less-toxic chemical formulations—has been projected to grow from $11 billion in 2015 to nearly $100 billion by 2020. The North American market for “green chemistry” is projected to grow from $3 billion to over $20 billion during the same period.”

Of particular interest to us was one of the report’s observations: “The potential for innovation may lie specialty chemicals, relatively niche chemical formulators and small businesses, which can serve the growing demand through their nature as test beds for problem-solving and their often mission-driven approach to product and service development.”

At Rivertop, we absolutely believe that companies like ours can play a leading role not just in creating new chemicals — but safer and more sustainable options that unlock new opportunities for our customers and partners. We believe, working together, we can blend innovation with the global reach of established players and make a bigger impact.

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