Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Friday, March 23, 2007

Transcript of Renewable Energy Roundtable

Go to the link above to see a transcript of remarks by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns President of Purdue University Martin Jischke, Purdue Dean of Agriculture Randy Woodson Indiana Director of Agriculture Andy Miller, USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Tom Dorr USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinnenn and Purdue Research Scientists at the Renewable Energy Roundtable in West Lafayette, Indiana - March 21, 2007

Bioplastics Can Be Converted To Ethanol

Posted by Giles Clark, London

In an effort to develop a new source of sustainable energy, researchers at Polytechnic University, the premier New York-based technology and engineering higher education institution, have bioengineered a fuel-latent plastic that can be converted into biodiesel. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded the researchers $2.34 million to advance this innovative technology and transfer it to industry. The commercialization of the technology will lead to a new source of green energy to households worldwide.

Professor Richard Gross, director of Polytechnic University's National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing of Macromolecules (CBBM) developed the new bioplastic using vegetable oils. He also partnered with DNA 2.0, a biotechnology company specializing in gene synthesis, to develop enzymes that can both synthesize and break the fuel- latent plastic down into biodiesel after its use.

"We showed DARPA that we could make a new plastic from plant oils that has remarkable properties, which includes being tougher and more durable than typical polyethylenes. Additionally, the bioplastic can be placed in a simple container where it is safely broken down to liquid fuel," said Dr. Gross.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

US ethanol financing tightens

By Caroline Humer

NEW YORK, March 21 (Reuters) - Financing for ethanol plants has tightened as rising corn prices have made it tougher for producers to turn a profit and an industry shake-out could follow, according to sector bankers and executives.

The price of corn, the main ingredient of U.S. ethanol, has risen to $4 per bushel, making it more difficult for ethanol plants to turn a profit. At the same time, oil prices have fallen since peaking at more than $78 a barrel last summer, cutting into demand for a lower priced alternative.

Both the debt and equity sides have gotten tighter, bankers say.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

It's Not All About Corn

US Looks Beyond Corn for Ethanol's Future

Source: Copyright 2007, Reuters
Date: March 14, 2007
Byline: Euan Rocha
Original URL

NEW YORK - Ethanol made from plant cellulose, which has no agricultural value, could play a key role in reducing the demand for corn and curbing the United States' appetite for foreign crude oil.

"I would be surprised if it took more than six or seven years for this technology to be commercially viable, with current subsidies and price structures," said Alex Farrell professor of Energy and Resources at UC Berkeley.

Ethanol produced from plant cellulose has the same chemical properties as ethanol made from corn or sugar cane, but it can be produced from a variety of nonedible materials like cereal straw, sawdust and switchgrass.

In the United States, corn is the dominant feedstock used to make ethanol. With a mushrooming in the number of corn-fed ethanol plants, the price of the cereal has risen sharply over the last few months.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cornell Students vote for renewable energy

Students Support New Renewable Energy Fee
By Nanditha RamachandranSun ContributorMar 12 2007
Last week, nearly 80 percent of Cornell students who voted in Student Assembly elections chose to support a $5 fee to fund renewable energy. The Student Assembly’s spring election ballot included three referendum issues students could vote on, including two questions about implementing the renewable energy fee. The $5 charge will be included in the Student Activity Fee paid through the bursar.
According to the S.A. website, 1,670 out of over 2,000 students who voted agreed that the fee should be included, with a slight majority saying it should be optional rather than mandatory.
The referendum questions were proposed by the student organization Kyoto Now!. According to former Kyoto Now! president Matt Perkins ’08, the S.A. was originally skeptical about the idea, but recently has become very receptive to the issue.

North Carolina State

Researchers at N.C. State University already know they can make ethanol from sweet potatoes and switchgrass. They don't know if they can do it day after day in quantities more meaningful than a lab beaker.

A $1.5 million grant, announced Wednesday by the Golden LEAF Foundation, could help them figure it out.NCSU will use the money to build a pilot plant capable of making ethanol from products commonly found in the state, such as loblolly pine, sweet potatoes and switchgrass -- a tall, dense grass often used as field cover.

University of Rochester

The full link is:

Genome Sequencing Reveals Key to Viable Ethanol Production

David Wu identifies genes that aid in ethanol production
As the national push for alternative energy sources heats up, researchers at the University of Rochester have for the first time identified how genes responsible for biomass breakdown are turned on in a microorganism that produces valuable ethanol from materials like grass and cornstalks.
Waste products such as grass clippings and wood chips—once thought too difficult to turn into ethanol—may soon be fodder for hungry, gene-tweaked bacteria.
The findings in today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences may empower scientists to engineer ethanol-producing super-organisms that can make clean-burning fuel from the nation's one billion unused tons of yearly biomass production.

Cal Berkeley and BioFuels

Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif., March 9) -- Robert Birgeneau, the chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, on Thursday adamantly defended the university's part in a $500 million research deal with energy giant BP that also involves the U. of I. and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

San Francisco Chronicle (March 9) -- University of California at Berkeley's $500 million energy research deal with energy giant BP took a pounding at a faculty forum Thursday, with a host of speakers critical of the unprecedented partnership - some bitingly so.