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What's going on at Rivertop Renewables


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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.

Tyler Smith Profiled by Missoulian

Earlier this month, the Missoulian ran a feature on Rivertop’s own Tyler Smith, Vice President of Research and Development here in Missoula. The piece, appropriately published on Father’s Day, highlights both the fantastic work that Tyler has done for us here at Rivertop as well as his unexpected struggle with cancer last year.

Tyler has been with us since our very inception. Born and bred a southerner, Tyler happened upon Missoula while on a road trip to Oregon and has not been able to pry himself away since. He received his doctorate in organic chemistry in 2008 and promptly began helping Rivertop build competitive green chemicals. Tyler’s role and the work that he does are essential to our work here at Rivertop—R&D is of utmost importance for a green chemicals company, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of our employees are research scientists.

Tyler opens up about his cancer diagnosis and treatment in the Missoulian story, discussing how his time bonding with other cancer patients in the hospital will always stay with him and how touching it was to be asked to be the guest speaker at last year’s Relay for Life event in Missoula.

July 7th of this year will mark the one-year anniversary of Tyler being in remission. The journey has been a long and arduous one for Tyler, his wife and three kids. We here at Rivertop are grateful to have him back on his feet and in the lab. We are honored to have him on our team and are excited to see the great things he does in the green chemistry world in the years to come.

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.

Jason Kiely’s Rivertop Milestone

A lot has changed since Rivertop’s inception in 2008, but one key component has remained the same: Jason Kiely. Jason, now Business Manager of Industrial Applications, played a critical role in Rivertop’s founding and our subsequent start-up phase. His leadership helped build our early market intelligence, develop our corporate and product brands, and establish a market foothold for Rivertop’s first innovations. We are thus taking advantage of the 8thanniversary of Rivertop Renewables to highlight the 8th anniversary at Rivertop for one of our key players.

Jason’s role has certainly evolved over the years. Today his focus is on expanding sales of Rivertop’s Waterline™ CIcorrosion inhibitors into the water treatment market. He also leads the cross-functional commercial and technical team that develops, sells and manages Rivertop’s Headwaters® corrosion inhibitors for the road deicing market. Notably, he was instrumental in helping his father, Dr. Don Kiely, found the company and played a key role in raising the company’s Series A financing from friends, family, angels and smaller institutional investors.

Jason has been a part of many Rivertop milestones—we have been quite busy since 2008. When asked what his favorite celebration has been, he understandably had trouble choosing between all of them. He pointed out that commercial successes for Headwaters® and Waterline™ have certainly been fun to celebrate, but also remembered the excitement of clinking glasses with key advisors and supporters in the early days. Or perhaps the fall evening in his backyard punctuated by games of corn hole and roasting/toasting a departing colleague…

Jason certainly hasn’t been coasting off the pitch: his second child was born the same summer that Rivertop starting coming together. He has loved the challenge of raising kids, building a company and nurturing a marriage. Somehow he has also found time to strengthen his yoga practice, learn how to downhill ski and take up big game hunting. As he explains it, exercise and play have proven essential to his happiness and productivity.

Productivity is perhaps an understatement for what Jason has accomplished since he has been at Rivertop. What piece of advice would he give himself on his first day eight years ago? “It’s gonna be a long race, punctuated by frequent sprints. So look for—and enjoy—the times you get to run downhill. And run like hell when you do!”

We very much appreciate all of the running you’ve done, Jason, and are excited to reach the many milestones your leadership will bring over the next eight years!

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