Profile: Ceres Inc (CERE.O)
16 May 2013
Ceres, Inc. (Ceres), incorporated in March 1996, is an agricultural biotechnology company selling seeds to produce renewable biomass feedstocks that can enable the large-scale replacement of petroleum and other fossil fuels. The Company’s large-scale commercial products are sweet sorghum varieties that can be used as a drop-in feedstock to extend the operating season of Brazilian sugarcane-to-ethanol mills. Its products include sweet sorghum, high biomass sorghum, switchgrass, miscanthus and row crops. Its energy crops can also be used for the production of second-generation biofuels and bio-based chemicals, including cellulosic ethanol, butanol, jet fuel, diesel-like molecules and gasoline-like molecules, from non-food biomass. Baseload utility scale electric power can also be generated from the biomass feedstocks grown from its seeds. Ceres has started marketing sweet sorghum seeds in Brazil and has sold switchgrass and high biomass sorghum seeds in the United States under its brand, Blade Energy Crops (Blade). In January 2010, the Company incorporated a subsidiary, Ceres Sementes do Brasil Ltda.
The Company generates its revenues from government grants, research and development collaboration agreements and from product sales. Product sales primarily consists of sales of seeds. Collaborative research revenues consist of payments for research and development activities for specific projects. Government grant revenues consist of payments from government entities. Ceres markets its seeds and traits directly to ethanol mills, utilities, independent power producers, cellulosic biofuel companies, individual growers and grower cooperatives. It also works with technology providers and other market participants, such as equipment manufacturers and enzyme or fermentation technology companies. The Company markets its products to biorefineries and biopower facilities.
Ceres’s activities in cellulosic biofuels encompass a range of activities, including field trials, co-evolution agreements, and commercial sales. Its products have been tested in the conversion processes of EdeniQ, Inc., Choren USA LLC, Gruppo M&G, ICM, Inc., and UOP, LLC (a Honeywell company), among others. The Company has also conducted joint trials with, or sold seed to, AGCO Corporation, EdeniQ, Inc. and Hawai’i BioEnergy, LLC, among others. It has begun collaboration with Valero Services, Inc. to further evaluate feedstock supply strategies with energy crops. Ceres also works with refining technology companies to optimize feedstock for their refining processes. These collaborators include Novozymes North America, Inc. and ThermoChem Recovery International, Inc.
The Company’s products are drop-in solutions as they can be planted, harvested and processed using existing agricultural equipment with little or no modification and are being developed to be drop-in for all conversion technologies using sugarcane or biomass feedstocks, facilitating their rapid adoption. In collaboration with Boa Vista/Nova Fronteira, which is a joint venture of ethanol producers Grupo Sao Martinho, S.A. and Petrobras Biofuels, the Company has completed a commercial-scale trial on approximately 250 hectares of its sweet sorghum, which was planted and harvested using existing planting and harvesting equipment, fermented into ethanol without retrofitting or altering the existing mill and the remaining biomass combusted for electricity production, using existing boilers. It has also conducted smaller trials using its other energy crops with numerous industry participants engaged in cellulosic biofuels and biopower production. The Company’s products have been tested in the conversion processes of Amyris Biotechnologies, Inc., Choren USA LLC, EdeniQ, Inc., Gruppo M&G, ICM, Inc., Novozymes North America, Inc., ThermoChem Recovery International, Inc. and UOP, LLC (a Honeywell company), among others. DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC (DDCE) also plans to validate the Company’s products in their conversion process.
Sweet sorghum is a type of sorghum that accumulates free sugars in its stalk. It is sown by seed, and requires less water and nitrogen fertilizer to grow to harvestable maturity. Sweet sorghum plants can be harvested in 90 to 140 days after sowing. Because sweet sorghum is an annual crop, multiple harvests or crop rotations may be possible during the season.
High Biomass Sorghum
High biomass sorghum is a type of sorghum, which is primarily developed for biomass yield. As such, high biomass sorghum is suited for the generation of renewable electric power and the creation of cellulosic biofuels. High biomass types are seed propagated, and requires less water and nitrogen fertilizer. As an annual crop, sorghum is harvested the year it is planted. This provides bioenergy facilities with a growing and flexible source of biomass, and a complementary feedstock to perennials, such as sugarcane or switchgrass. The Company’s ES 5200 and ES 5201 products contains its Skyscraper trait. These hybrids, developed through its partnership with Texas A&M University, are designed for single-cut production systems.
Switchgrass is a perennial grass indigenous to North America that offers high biomass yield potential. It requires less water and nitrogen fertilizer, and can grow under semi-arid conditions. Switchgrass is seed propagated. As a perennial, switchgrass is not harvested for sale during the first year when the crop is being established. A properly managed stand of switchgrass may persist for a decade. During the year ended December 31, 2010, it introduced three products: EG 1101, EG 1102 and EG 2101. These high-yielding varieties is developed through its partnership with The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.
Miscanthus x giganteus is a tall perennial grass that grows well in cooler climates. It is vegetatively propagated. It has been used as an energy crop on a small scale across Europe. The Miscanthus genus includes several perennial species that has energy crops. The variety adopted in the United States and Europe, miscanthus x giganteus, is a sterile hybrid of M. sinensis and M. sacchariflorus. This miscanthus hybrid requires about the same water as corn, but up to two-thirds less nitrogen depending on crop management practices. As a perennial crop, miscanthus is not harvested for sale during the first year when the crop is being established. Ceres is also working on extending the region of adaptation. To these ends, the Company is collaborating with the Institute of Biological, Environmental, and Rural Sciences of Aberystwyth University in Wales, the United Kingdom.
The Company competes with Advanta India Limited, The Dow Chemical Company, Monsanto Company, Pioneer Hi-Bred (DuPont), KWS and Syngenta.
1535 Rancho Conejo Boulevard
Thousand Oaks CA 91320