Research and Development (R & D) Collaboration with External Partners
ADM regularly enters into strategic relationships with partners across the value chain, including technology providers, customers and institutions of higher learning. By combining our expertise and the breadth of our operations with strengths of our partners, we are able to efficiently turn market needs into realities.
Commercialization of DHA from Algae
ADM’s research divisions and other groups continually work toward healthful innovations. Our efforts to commercialize Omega-3 Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) from algae are a prime example. DHA is a long-chain Omega-3 fatty acid that has been studied for its role in brain, heart and eye health. While it is typically found in fish and seafood products, extracting DHA directly from algae grown in fermentation tanks yields a highly purified form of DHA, which can then be used as a dietary supplement for humans and in animal feed.
ADM has partnered with Synthetic Genomics (SGI) to develop, manufacture and commercialize DHA-rich food and feed products. Leveraging SGI’s algae-related technology and our R & D and manufacturing capabilities at our facility in Clinton, Iowa, ADM uses a renewable feedstock made onsite to facilitate the growth of heterotrophic algae that doesn’t need sunlight to grow. The result is the efficient, cost-effective and sustainable production of a non-GMO, vegetarian source of DHA. ADM’s DHA Natur™ provides the aquaculture industry with a sustainable alternative to fish oil sourced from commercially-reared and wild-captured fish. The depletion of the world’s fish stocks, coupled with increased costs and a growing demand for Omega-3 as a dietary supplement, has made the creation of an alternative Omega-3 fatty acid source a crucial need for the industry.
Developing a New Biomaterial with Better Performance
From time to time, ADM partners with its customers to find innovative solutions to shared challenges. Recently, we worked with DuPont to develop furan dicarboxylic acid dimethyl ester (FDME), a new biomaterial that potentially could replace some of the consumer plastics that draw upon the world’s oil supply for production.
Polymers from FDME are 100 percent renewable and recyclable. When used to make bottles and other packaging applications, FDME can substantially improve gas-barrier properties compared to other polyesters. The new material may lead to the production of packaging that could improve the shelf life of perishable food and beverages, allowing transportation to more remote areas.
The partnership ultimately reduced the technology and market risks for both ADM and DuPont. Throughout the process, both companies gained access to each other’s knowledge, expertise, and intellectual property to develop a new product portfolio derived from renewable materials or feedstocks. And by working closely with DuPont, we were able to factor in our customer’s needs early on in the development process, ensuring smoother conversion of FDME into their higher value products in the future.
Combined Heat and Power Plants
ADM is continually looking to improve the output at our production facilities while reducing the required energy input. Our largest facilities have combined heat and power (CHP) plants onsite to provide electricity and heat for operations. This innovation increases our Scope 1 footprint; however, because CHP is significantly more efficient than the average U.S. fossil-fueled power plants (60-80 percent efficiency compared to 33 percent efficiency), ADM’s combined Scope 1 and Scope 2 footprint is lower. You can learn more about the benefits of CHP by visiting the EPA’s website here.
In addition to utilizing a more efficient energy supply, ADM regularly upgrades equipment and processes to reduce our energy requirement. For our transportation and distribution fleet, older trucks, boats and ships either are replaced with new, state-of-the-art equipment with increased efficiency or retrofitted to take advantage of the latest technology. ADM, ADM Trucking and ADM Logistics all are members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Partnership, a sustainability program aimed at reducing transportation-related emissions and improving fuel efficiency. By owning and operating our own transportation and distribution fleet, we have moved Scope 3 emissions into our Scope 1 emissions. This increases our footprint, but also allows us to have direct oversight of our equipment’s efficiency so we can ensure trips are made at as close to full capacity as is practical, ultimately reducing overall emissions.
$350 million = Target savings to be achieved by 2019 through identifying and implementing operational excellence and process improvements.
$200 million+ = Run-rate savings achieved in 2015 by completing more than 300 energy and efficiency projects.
ADM’s strategic approach to operational excellence emphasizes enhancing the efficiency of our production plants, standardizing best practices throughout our global operations and promoting effective collaboration across business units and functions.