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

Friday, July 27, 2007

Vera Sun Ethanol Expands Capacity

Energy Producer VeraSun is expanding their capacity:

VeraSun Energy to Acquire 330 Million Gallons of Ethanol Production Capacity
Acquisition to Boost Company's Production Capacity to One Billion Gallons by End of Next Year
BROOKINGS, S.D., July 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- VeraSun Energy Corporation (NYSE: VSE), one of the nation's largest ethanol producers, today announced plans to acquire three ethanol plants with a combined annual production capacity of 330 million gallons per year (MMGY) from ASAlliances Biofuels, LLC for $725 million.
The three facilities are each expected to operate at 110MMGY and are located in Albion, Nebraska, Bloomingburg, Ohio, and Linden, Indiana. The acquisition should become final in 30 to 45 days and is subject to customary closing conditions.
The facilities will provide VeraSun with immediate production capacity and revenue. The Linden facility will begin startup operations this month, followed by Albion in the fourth quarter and Bloomingburg by the end of first quarter 2008. The acquisition will increase VeraSun's production capacity to approximately one billion gallons by the end of 2008.
"This is a unique opportunity to acquire immediate production and revenue at a cost similar to that of building new facilities," said Don Endres, VeraSun Chairman and CEO. "The capacity gained through this acquisition underscores a commitment to our long-term growth strategy while maintaining our focus on being an efficient, low-cost ethanol producer."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ag Secretary Predicts 5 Years Until Cellulosic Ethanol A Reality

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones) -- It will likely be five years before ethanol made from cellulose crops like switchgrass will be able to make a significant impact on the U.S. fuel market, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said Wednesday.

The technology to make cellulosic ethanol an economically viable fuel may be available as soon as three years from now, but there are other factors involved, Johanns told a gathering of students.

"Even if you have it in place in, let's say three years, and it's commercially viable, there's still a lead time to build plants, engineer and do all of those things," Johanns said. "I do think that it's probably going to be on the outer end of that three- to five-year schedule by the time you factor all of that in."

Dow Jones News Service, July 26, 2007

The Future Of Biofuels Is Not In Corn

Washington, DC - The future of biofuels is not in corn, says a new report released recently by Food & Water Watch, the Network for New Energy Choices, and the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment. The corn ethanol refinery industry, the beneficiary of new renewable fuel targets in the proposed energy legislation as well as proposed loan guarantee subsidies in the 2007 Farm Bill, will not significantly offset U.S. fossil fuel consumption without unacceptable environmental and economic consequences.

"Rural communities won't benefit from the Farm Bill becoming a fuel bill. In the long run, family farmers and the environment will be losers, while agribusiness, whose political contributions are fueling the ethanol frenzy, will become the winners,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter.

"Rising oil prices, energy security, and global warming concerns have led to today's 'go yellow' hype over corn ethanol," explained Scott Cullen, Senior Policy Advisor for the Network for New Energy Choices. "But all biofuels are not equal. Expansion of the corn ethanol industry will lead to more water and air pollution and soil erosion of America's farm belt, while failing to significantly offset fossil fuel use or combat global warming."

The report, The Rush to Ethanol: Not all BioFuels are Equal, is a comprehensive review of the literature on the environmental and economic implications of pinning our hopes on corn ethanol to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Report findings include the following:

* Not all biofuels are equal. Corn – now used to produce 95 percent of U.S. ethanol and the only commercially viable ethanol feedstock prepared to capitalize on refinery subsidies in the Farm Bill – is the least sustainable biofuel feedstock of all raw materials commonly used.
* The capacity of corn ethanol to offset U.S. fossil fuel use is extremely limited. Dedicating the entire U.S. corn crop to ethanol production would only offset 15 percent of gasoline demand. Conversely, modest increases in auto fuel efficiency standards of even one mile per gallon for all cars and light trucks, such as those passed by the Senate last month could cut petroleum consumption by more than all alternative fuels and replacement fuels combined.
* Corn ethanol is the wrong biofuel for combating global warming. The most favorable estimates show that corn ethanol could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent to 28 percent, while cellulosic ethanol is estimated to offer a reduction of 87 percent compared to gasoline.
* Ethanol is not the solution to revitalizing rural America. While higher commodity prices and cooperatively owned ethanol refineries could be a boon to independent farmers, unregulated ethanol industry growth will further concentrate agribusiness, threatening the livelihood of rural communities.

Oil and Gas Online, July 26, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

U.N. Expert: Renewable Energy Not Necessarily "Green"

"Renewable and nuclear heresies" is the name of the paper written by Jesse Ausubel, Director, Program for the Human Environment for the Rockefeller University in New York.

Ausubel was one of the main organizers of the first UN World Climate Conference (Geneva, 1979), which substantially elevated the global warming issue on scientific and political agendas. During 1979-1981 he led the Climate Task of the Resources and Environment Program of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, near Vienna, Austria, an East-West think-tank created by the U.S. and Soviet academies of sciences.

He's as green as it gets. And he says the focus on renewable energy is all wrong.

Renewable does not mean green, he states, and goes on to explain that building enough wind farms, damming enough rivers, and growing enough biomass to meet global energy demands will wreck the environment.

Ausubel has analyzed the amount of energy that each so-called renewable source can produce in terms of Watts of power output per square meter of land disturbed. He also compares the destruction of nature by renewables with the demand for space of nuclear power. "Nuclear energy is green," he claims, "Considered in Watts per square meter, nuclear has astronomical advantages over its competitors."

On this basis, he argues that technologies succeed when economies of scale form part of their evolution. No economies of scale benefit renewables. More renewable kilowatts require more land in a constant or even worsening ratio, because land good for wind, hydropower, biomass, or solar power may get used first.

Scientific Blogging, July 24, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

U.S. Governors Pursue Clean Energy Future

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan, July 23, 2007 (ENS) - Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty took over chairmanship of the National Governors' Association today, introducing his goal for the coming year - Securing a Clean Energy Future. His initiative has wide support – many governors have introduced clean or renewable energy initiatives recently or have joined in regional greenhouse gas control associations.

"America is at a tipping point," said Governor Pawlenty, a Republican. "Our country is too dependent on imported sources of energy and greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow too quickly. Governors have a tremendous opportunity to lead the country toward a cleaner, more independent, more secure energy future."

Securing a Clean Energy Future will examine ways governors and states can increase production of cleaner domestic fuels, promote advanced electricity generation, improve energy efficiency and conservation, and accelerate research and development of clean energy technologies.

In a panel on global climate change Sunday, Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., of Utah, a Republican who chairs the NGA Natural Resources Committee said, "Global climate change is one of the most pressing issues our nation is currently facing."

"Americans are concerned about global climate change and its threat to our way of life," said New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, committee vice chair and Democratic presidential hopeful.

Panelists considered the status of the Bush administration's efforts to address global warming and ways to address climate change at both the state and federal level.

Panelist U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson defended the administration's plan of developing a coordinated response to climate change among federal agencies by the end of 2008.

NGA host Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, demonstrated her government's commitment to renewable energy by announcing Thursday that a Massachusetts company will build a $100 million cellulosic ethanol production plant in Michigan.

Environment News Service, July 24, 2007

DOE Ames Lab Using New Tools To Select Energy Crops

Skyrocketing gasoline prices and growing concern over global warming has spawned massive growth of the biofuel industry, particularly ethanol production. While corn has been the major raw material for producing ethanol, producers are looking for other more cost effective and sustainable crops and researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory are looking at a novel way to help them determine what type of plant material offers the best solution.

Analytical chemist Emily Smith plans to use Raman imaging to study plant cell structure to determine which crops offer the right combination of cell wall composition and degradation to maximize the materials' conversion to ethanol. If successful, a simplified version of the test could even be used in the field to determine if plants were at the prime stage for harvest.

"Just like vintners monitor and test the sugar content of their grapes in the field, biofuel producers could potentially use this technology to determine if their crop was at optimal development for conversion to ethanol," said Smith, who is also an Iowa State University assistant professor of chemistry.

Wallace's Farmer, July 24, 2007

Farm Bill Planting Energy Seeds

NEW YORK ( -- Through a series of creative financing proposals that include guaranteed loans, grants and aggressive research, the 2007 Farm Bill now before Congress provides seed money for the growth of alternative fuel production in the United States.

The legislation, a five-year spending plan that sets agricultural priorities across a broad spectrum of issues, could gain final House approval this week. When finished, the bill will establish farms, not oil refineries, as the focal point of U.S. energy policy.

Republicans and Democrats alike agree that the nation must break its addiction to foreign oil. Less clear, though, is how it goes about achieving that goal amid the tangled web of special interests that influence energy policy.

What has resulted from many months of often acrimonious and arduous debate is a $300 billion amalgamation of programs and allocations, a fairly significant chunk of which is aimed directly at developing technologies to produce ethanol and other fuels. The farm bill addresses a slew of other agricultural issues, but has been eyed this year primarily for how it will tackle alternative energy production., July 24, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Federal Energy Bill Includes Biofuel Funds For ASU

A federal appropriations bill that funds the Department of Energy and hundreds of water projects includes one-and-a-half (m) million dollars for biofuels research at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. The House passed the appropriations bill this week.

Congressman Marion Berry says the Arkansas State appropriation would be used to develop enzymes that could improve technology used in the production of cellulosic ethanol. The Democratic congressman from Arkansas says the state could become the leader in the biofuels industry., The Associated Press, July 22, 2007

Lack Of Funds Delays Opening Of Energy-U


TARKIO, Mo. — Chad Meek hoped he could make a difference by helping to find a solution to escalating fuel prices and global warming.

His plan — opening a college focused on a curriculum that emphasizes renewable energy — is taking a bit longer than expected.

More than a year ago, Meek announced his plan to turn the former Tarkio College into the Midwestern Institute of Energy. Classes were expected to begin this fall, but because of a lack of funding, the institute may not open until at least 2008.

Meek has spent about $180,000 on renovations made by him, his wife and an employee. More than $6 million will be needed to complete the remaining projects., July 22. 2007

Michigan May Be First State To Make Wood Ethanol Commercially



A Massachusetts company wants Michigan to become the first state with a commercially viable cellulosic ethanol plant that would use woodchips as its primary feedstock.

Mascoma Corp. announced Thursday that it intends to build an ethanol facility that would use trees and wood waste products to create vehicle fuel by the end of 2009. A final site has yet to be announced, but Mascoma officials have narrowed the prospects to several cities in northern Michigan.

Detroit Free Press, July 22, 2007

Fill 'er Up... With Biodiesel

SUMMIT COUNTY - When Seth Bounds started his car service in Summit County nearly three years ago, he felt a sense of environmental responsibility. So he named the company "Green Limousines" and decided to try his luck running the fleet on biodiesel. He's used it ever since.

"It's how we lead our personal lives," Bounds said. "It's how we run our business."

Bounds' cars are often in Denver and other areas on the Front Range where biodiesel is readily available, making it easy to fill up. But up here in Summit County, public pumps don't carry biodiesel.

"It's really hard for personal drivers to make that jump," he said. "There are a few people in the area who are interested, but they have to go to pretty extreme measures to get it."

Summit Daily News, July 22, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

University of Florida Nets $66,000 in Biomass Royalties

T. PETERSBURG, Fla., July 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Verenium
Corporation (Nasdaq: VRNM), a leading developer of biofuels derived from
low-cost, abundant biomass and a developer of specialty enzyme products,
today presented the University of Florida a $66,000 royalty check for its
patented cellulosic ethanol technology.
The ceremonial presentation was made at the Florida Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services' 2007 Farm-to-Fuel Summit -- an event
aimed at helping Florida farmers and ranchers produce biofuel crops to help
reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
The royalty payment is from the first commercial production of biomass
ethanol produced using patented technology developed by Dr. Lonnie Ingram,
a Distinguished Professor in UF's Department of Microbiology and Cell
Science, and Director of the Florida Center for Renewable Chemicals and
Fuels, and licensed to Verenium. BioEthanol Japan -- a joint venture of
Marubeni Corp. and Tsukishima Kikai Co., LTD -- is using the technology
under license from Verenium in their 1.4 million liter-per-year cellulosic
ethanol plant in Osaka, Japan. It is the world's first commercial plant to
produce cellulosic ethanol from wood construction waste.
Cellulosic ethanol is an environmentally friendly and renewable
transportation fuel produced from a wide array of feedstocks, including
sugarcane bagasse, dedicated energy crops, agricultural waste, and wood

P.R. Newswire, July 20, 2007

Do-It-Yourself Ethanol Software Released

MELLEN, Wis., July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- With world oil prices reaching
$75.00 per barrel, gas prices over $3.15 per gallon and the constant
drumbeat of war in the Middle East, it is time consumers become fuel
Touch & Talk Software International announced today the release of the
H2 Power Core Software Suite that allows people to make their own hydrogen
generator, E85 ethanol or Biodiesel fuel to improve fuel economy and help
become fuel independent.
The H2 Power Core Software hydrogen generator module includes an in
depth study of the technology and safety considerations required to build a
hydrogen generator for use in cars and trucks. This module includes a
detailed listing of tools, parts list and source information as well as
photos and detailed instructions required to safely build a hydrogen

PR Newswire, July 20, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Xethanol Forms Biomass Lab at Virginia Tech

Xethanol Corporation announced the establishment of the Xethanol Advanced Biomass Characterization Laboratory at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Virginia. The company renewed its research agreement with Virginia Tech that is focused on developing efficient means of producing ethanol using cellulosic feedstocks.

The research is led by Dr. Foster A. Agblevor, Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. As part of its existing research partnership, Xethanol loaned more than $200,000 in specialized laboratory testing equipment to Virginia Tech.

Renewable Energy Access.Com, July 18, 2007

International Trade Fair, Conference Planned On Renewable Energy

[Date: 2007-07-18]

An international trade fair and conference on renewable energies and energy-efficient building and renovation will take place from 27 to 30 September in Augsburg, Germany.

Some 16 trade conferences and seminars will present the current know-how on renewable energies and energy efficiency from industry, and for industry. Innovation themes, as well as practical know-how, will also be addressed.

The exhibits will address such issues as biogas, biofuels, geothermal energy, wood energy supply, photovoltaics, solarthermal energy, building materials and home technologies.

For more information, please visit:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Biodiesel Powers Major Sporting Events

July 10, 2007: Ichiro sparks the AL to a 5-4 victory. (John Todd/

Fans who tuned in to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game last week probably didn't know that they were watching a broadcast powered by biodiesel.

The All-Star Game marks the first occasion that FOX Sports has used B20, a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel, in all of its generators, satellite trucks and other diesel equipment at its television compound in San Francisco.

What’s more, the company has committed to using B20 to power its broadcasts of the World Series, Super Bowl, the Bowl Championship Series and other major events.

“This initiative is an attempt to reduce our carbon footprint to neutral by 2010,” said Michael Davies, Director, Field Operations - FOX Sports. “The All-Star game presents the opportunity to start implementing some of these environmentally friendly practices, part of which is using B20 in our equipment.”

City of Portland, July 17, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center Fuels Growth With Siemens

Atlanta, GA - Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc. and the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) recently announced a partnership to speed the growth of alternative fuel technology. The 10-year agreement between the center and Siemens represents hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, software and on-site simulation training.

Opened in 2003 at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, the NCERC—the only research center of its kind in the world—facilitates the commercialization of new technologies for producing ethanol more effectively, resulting in improved ethanol yields and reduction in costs. The Center plays a key role in the Bio-Fuels Industry for Workforce Training to assist in the growing need for qualified personnel to operate and manage bio-fuel refineries across the country. The NCERC also contributes to investigation in agricultural science, which results in creating new jobs and further economic development initiatives in the region.

“Our clients come to this facility for best-in-class, cutting edge technology,” says John Caupert, director of the NCERC. “They are looking for the newest and most efficient ways to convert grain-based feedstock to ethanol. Through our partnership with Siemens, the center will maintain that level of technology.”

According to the NCERC, there is a growing demand for new workers in the alternative fuels industry. Center statistics show there are 110 ethanol plants in operation in the U.S. and approximately 80 new plants are under construction.

Chemical Online, July 16, 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Society Of Plant Biologists Learn About U Of I Miscanthus Research

Science Daily — At the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists in Chicago (July 7-11, 2007), scientists presented findings on how to economically and efficiently produce plant crops suitable for sustainable bioenergy. Improving the production of such biomass is important because it should significantly ease and eventually replace dependence on petroleum-based fuels. Biomass is plant material, vegetation or agricultural waste used as fuel.

Converting biomass into biofuels can be costly and slow. Two crops, both classified as C4 perennial grasses, have been studied extensively to determine how best to improve costs and production rates. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) has been trialed across the United States. Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) has been studied throughout the European Union. Both show great promise, but until now, nobody has been sure which crop is more efficacious. The study completed by Frank Dohleman of the Plant Biology Department at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his colleagues, is the first to compare the productivity of the two grasses in side-by-side field trials. Results from trials throughout Illinois show that Miscanthus is more than twice as productive as switchgrass.

Science Daily, July 15, 2007

End of Biofuels 'Money Train' In Sight?

Des Moines Register Washington Bureau

Few industries are more dependent on government subsidies and mandates than biofuels producers, and no state has benefited more than Iowa.

The industry wants billions of dollars in additional subsidies, both to build a national distribution system for ethanol and to underwrite the production of ethanol from new feedstocks such as crop residue, wood chips and other sources of plant cellulose. One of the first cellulosic ethanol plants is planned for Emmetsburg.

"We're creating a new energy infrastructure that we haven't had in over 100 years," said Brent Erickson, an executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

But the tight federal budget makes it challenging for lawmakers to continue existing subsidies, let alone enact new ones.

The 51-cent-a-gallon ethanol subsidy alone will cost taxpayers $6.4 billion a year when the distilleries now under construction around the country are completed in coming months, pushing annual production to 12.6 billion gallons. Congress is considering legislation that could triple production by 2022.

Des Moines Register, July 15, 2007

Yale Global: As Brazil Fills Up On Ethanol, It Weans Off Energy Imports

Anyone interested in understanding how Brazil managed to introduce Ethanol as a viable alternative to gasoline should read this informative Yale University report. Brazil’s path to energy independence seems often portrayed as an overnight success when in reality it has been a journey underway for well over 30 years (and at a cost of billions of U.S. dollars in subsidies).

Technology Nexus, July 15, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

U Of I Testing Switchgrass , Miscanthus For Ethanol Potential

By Myke Feinman, BioFuels Journal editor

The University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana, is researching eight test plots of switchgrass and Miscanthus to see how well the crops grow in different climates across the state.

Eventually, the research, which began in 2002 and is funded by the state of Illinois, will determine how well the crops grow and how they are harvested. The findings will determine how economical it will be for farmers to grow the crops for cellulosic ethanol production.

Frank Dohleman, biomass energy project coordinator for the U of I (217-244-6317), who coordinates the plots and works with 10 U of I researchers, said comparing switchgrass to Miscanthus in a side-by-side plots allows researchers to determine which crops would be best suited to grow in the state.

In 2002, three plots were planted with both switchgrass and Miscanthus in Urbana, Dixon Springs and DeKalb. The U of I received a grant of $70,000 from the Illinois Council for Food and Agricultural Research (ICFAR) for the initial plots.

In 2004, more plots were planted at Fairfield, Brownstown, Havana, Perry and one at the Dudley Smith Farm at Pana, with an additional grant of $1.2 million from the ICFAR which expires at the end of FY 2008, Dohleman said. They plan to seek funding after the funding period expires.

Most plots are 30 ft. by 30 ft., but some are a half-acre.

Also, this year a demonstration plot was planted at the site of the 2007 Farm Progress Show in Decatur (August 28-30).

One of the major areas of research at each plot is measuring the two crops' yields, how the crops deplete the carbon/soil content.

Grainet, July 13, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ethanol Driving Up Popcorn Prices

By Christopher Doering

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A trip to the local Cineplex may become even pricier soon thanks to surging popcorn costs.

U.S. popcorn prices have risen more than 40 percent since 2006 as soaring demand for feed corn to fuel the ethanol boom has spilled over into the favorite snack of American movie-goers.

Companies that purchase popcorn each year, as opposed to larger crops such as corn and soybeans, are confined to choosing among a relatively small number of suppliers. This makes it important for popcorn companies to offer competitive prices and forge good relationships with farmers.

"I think (ethanol is) going to have a uniform effect on all geographical areas that produce popcorn," said Dennis Kunnemann, president of AK Acres Popcorn, which buys, processes and then sells popcorn to distributors, packagers and snack-food retailers.

Reuters News Service, July 12, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Biomass Lab Established at Virginia Tech

Xethanol Corporation announced the establishment of the Xethanol Advanced Biomass Characterization Laboratory at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Virginia. The company also renewed its research agreement with Virginia Tech that is focused on developing efficient means of producing ethanol using cellulosic feedstocks. The research is led by Dr. Foster A. Agblevor, Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering.

Xethanol also announced the loan of more than $200,000 in specialized laboratory testing equipment to Virginia Tech as part of its existing research partnership. The equipment comes from the company's multiple science laboratories.

The partnership, first established in 2005, seeks to find methods of producing ethanol from cellulosic biomass by focusing on four areas: steam explosion for pre-treating the biomass; advanced enzymes for hydrolyzing steam exploded biomass; a composite predictive model coupling with economic analysis; and finally scaling up of steam explosion, hydrolysis and fermentation.

Zangani Investor Community, July 11, 2007

Xerox Funds Ethanol Co-Product Research At SUNY

Scientists at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) are getting some help from Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX) as they seek to make inexpensive biodegradable plastics from byproducts of wood-based ethanol production.

Through the Xerox Foundation, the company has awarded the college a $20,000 grant, which can be renewed for two more years, to explore "Biodegradable ‘Green Polymers’ from Renewable Resources." It’s one of 11 new fundamental research projects at universities around the world that Xerox has selected to fund as part of a 20-year-old, open innovation program that promotes university and industry interaction and enables Xerox to partner with academic luminaries.

The SUNY-ESF project, under the direction of Dr. Arthur J. Stipanovic, is particularly timely. Rising gasoline prices have spurred interest in ethanol as an alternative fuel; and woody biomass, such as fast-growing willow trees, other hardwoods and switchgrass, may be preferable to using corn to make ethanol.

SUNY Office of Communications, July 11, 2007

Indiana Economist: Ethanol Vital To Corn Market

Tom J Bechman
July 2, 2007

Participants at the 2007 Indiana Farm management Tour who visited the stop at Clunette Elevator in Clunette heard Chris Hurt talk quite a bit about the importance of ethanol to the corn market, both in the U.S., and particularly in Indiana. Hurt is a Purdue University ag economist who is following the ethanol situation closely.

There are nearly 40 plants on the list, with the state map dotted with potential plants, Hurt notes. However, he's already aware of some on his list that aren't likely to be built. But everywhere he goes, he hears of others rumored to be in some stage of formation.

Right now, there are 10 to 12 that are under construction or close to beginning construction. That could have a big impact on the Indiana corn market in '08, Hurt says. It will mean paying close attention to demand on the '08 crop as things shape up.

Weather from here on out will likely be the major factor in what happens to corn prices for the '07 crop, he notes. But the demand for ethanol as more plants open up will become more apparent in '08. New plants are also being built or planned in other Midwestern states, not just here in Indiana.

What Indiana has done is come from nearly nowhere, with one plant, New Energy at South Bend, to a leadership position in biofuels in three years, says Becky Skillman, Lt, Governor and Secretary of Agriculture, interviewed recently ion WIBC radio in Indianapolis. She notes that state government is trying to stay one step ahead, and is now shifting incentives for new plants to those that would utilize some form of cellulose to make ethanol. Cellulose products used as ingredients could include corn stalks, switchgrass, wood chips and a whole host of other possibilities.

Indiana Praire Farmer, July

Saudi Arabia Sets Up Research Center For Renewable Energy

RIYADH, 11 July 2007 — Saudi Arabia has set up a world-class multimillion-riyal research center for renewable energy that seeks to empower the country to continue playing the role of world energy leader for years to come.

The center, which is housed at the campus of the Dhahran-based King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), is currently working on resource mobilization before its premier research activities kick off in a year’s time.

News about the initiative was disclosed by S.U. Rahman, interim director of the Center of Research Excellence in Renewable Energy (CoRE-RE) at KFUPM, yesterday. Rahman said that the Ministry of Higher Education has supported the initiative with a mandate to pursue research programs in the field of renewable energy. The center has already started working with the vision statement — “Empower the Kingdom to continue as the world energy leader."

Arab News, July 11, 2007

Corn Growers Place Ethanol Facts Video On YouTube

We live in an age where consumers are frequently turning to the internet as a source of information, especially on controversial issues. Conclusions regarding these issues are drawn based upon the information that they find available at their fingertips. More and more young consumers are using sites such as YouTube as a source of both information and entertainment. Whether you agree with the trend of the line between the two becoming fuzzy, it is a reality that must be dealt with by corn growers, as well as the general public. If you click on the link below you will see a short video featuring John Kuhfuss, former president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, discussing the benefits of ethanol and explaining the real impact of corn prices and the food versus fuel issue.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

U Of I's Long Credits Miscanthus For Sudden Popularity

July 10, 2007; Page B1

Stephen Long has spent his career studying grass, in particular a sugarcane-like grass called Miscanthus X giganteus. But until this year, the University of Illinois biologist had difficulty getting research grants and could count on one hand the invitations he received annually to make presentations at academic conferences.

Then in February, Mr. Long was one of two plant biologists invited to the White House to brief President Bush on how plants like Miscanthus might begin replacing foreign oil. That same month, energy giant BP PLC announced a $500 million grant to the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop fuels made from plant materials. Mr. Long was named acting deputy director of the project, called the Energy Biosciences Institute.

Stephen Long speaks, flanked by Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, right

Now Mr. Long says he gets more academic-conference invitations than he could possibly accept -- more than 50 a year, some from as far away as Australia and Japan. He's also inundated with calls and emails from prospective students interested in studying plants. "When I tell people what I do, they don't think I'm crazy," adds the 56-year-old.

Spurred by high oil prices and concern over greenhouse gases, the push for alternative fuels like plant-based cellulosic ethanol is putting plant biologists at the forefront of energy exploration. Unlike corn-based ethanol, which is made from fermented sugars, cellulosic ethanol is made by breaking down cellulose, the fibrous carbon-based molecules that give plants structure. Plant biologists are crucial to identifying and engineering a high-yield, drought-resistant plant and an efficient, cost-effective method of breaking down plant cellulose into biofuels. Cellulosic ethanol can be made from such plant materials as rice straw, wood chips, switchgrass, poplar trees and Miscanthus.

Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2007

U Of I Study: Miscanthus Twice As Productive As Switchgrass For Bioenergy Uses

At the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists in Chicago (July 7-11, 2007), scientists will present findings on how to economically and efficiently produce plant crops suitable for sustainable bioenergy. Improving the production of such biomass is important because it should significantly ease and eventually replace dependence on petroleum-based fuels.

Converting biomass into biofuels can be costly and slow. Two crops, both classified as C4 perennial grasses, have been studied extensively to determine how best to improve costs and production rates. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), native to the North American prairies, has been trialed across the United States. Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), a tropical grass originating from Africa and South Asia, has been studied extensively throughout the European Union. Both show great promise, but until now, nobody has been sure which crop is more efficacious.

A new study completed by Frank Dohleman of the Plant Biology Department at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his colleagues, is the first to compare the productivity of the two grasses in side-by-side field trials (picture, click to enlarge). Results from field trials throughout Illinois show that Miscanthus is more than twice as productive as switchgrass.

BIOpact, July 10, 2007

Poet Uses Corn Cobs To Make Ethanol

Poet – formerly known as the Broin Companies, Sioux Falls, S.D. - has produced cellulosic ethanol from corn cobs.

The company, which is the largest dry mill ethanol producer in the U.S., recently announced their successful test. Poet intents to use corn cobs and other corn fibers the feedstock for a commercial cellulosic ethanol production plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The project will be jointly funded by Poet and the U.S. Department of Energy.

"For a host of reasons, Poet is focused on corn fiber and cobs as the first cellulosic feedstock for our production facilities," says Jeff Broin, Poet CEO. "First, the fiber that comes from our fractionation process will provide 40% of our cellulosic feedstock from the corn kernels that we are already processing in our facility. That means that nearly half of our cellulosic feedstock comes with no additional planting, harvest, storage or transportation needs."

Poet has also produced cellulosic ethanol from fiber, the husk of the kernel, which is extracted through its proprietary fractionation process.

"The rest of the cellulosic feedstock will come from corn cobs," Broin says, "which will expand the amount of ethanol that can come from a corn crop with minimal additional effort and little to no environmental impact. There is no major market for cobs, so we will be producing cellulosic ethanol from an agricultural residue and because the cob is only 18% of the above ground stover, it will not adversely impact soil quality."

Dakota Farmer, July 10, 2007

Wisconsin Ethanol Plant Faces Uphill Battle

The Associated Press
Monday, July 9, 2007; 3:51 AM

SPARTA, Wis. -- Farmer David Rundahl looks around a field of pine trees and weeds on the edge of this western Wisconsin city and sees the perfect location for an ethanol plant.

He points to nearby railroad tracks and Interstate 90 _ ideal for shipping corn and fuel, making some farmers rich and reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil.

But the $115 million project proposed by Rundahl and others might come at a high price: Sparta's largest employer, a dairy processor located less than a half-mile down the tracks, is threatening to leave along with its 350 jobs if the plant is built. That would be an economic blow to Sparta, a town of 9,000 in the heart of dairy country.

Century Foods International, a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp., says its dairy-based food products would be contaminated by the ethanol plant's pollution. Worried workers and others opposed to the location are trying to kill the project.

While many towns have faced similar fights as ethanol plants pop up across the Midwest, Mayor John Sund Jr. said nobody's seen anything quite like this.

Washington Post, June 9, 2007

Monday, July 9, 2007

Measuring The Merits Of Corn Stover-Based Ethanol

Science Daily Stover refers to stalks, leaves and cobs that remain in corn fields after the grain harvest. Farmers leave it there to revitalize the soil and prevent erosion. Now, thanks to scientific and technological advances, farmers face the prospect of harvesting stover for cellulosic sugars that can be fermented into ethanol.

However, this presents a quandary, notes Wally Wilhelm, a plant physiologist in the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Agroecosystem Management Research Unit at Lincoln, Neb.

On the one hand, harvesting stover for sugars to make ethanol may lessen dependence on crude-oil imports. On the other hand, leaving stover in place may help prevent soil erosion caused by strong winds or intense rainfall. It also replaces lost nutrients and sequesters carbon in the soil, lessening CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas and its contribution to global climate change.

This summer marks the second season of field studies under a five-year project that Wilhelm is coordinating to determine where, when and how much stover can be harvested for ethanol uses without harming the soil. His collaborators on the Renewable Energy Assessment Project (REAP), as it's called, include scientists from 12 other ARS locations, state universities and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Science Daily, July 9, 2007

Fundamentals Of Biodiesel Class Set

STURGEON BAY — Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Sturgeon Bay campus, is holding a three-day course on the fundamentals of biodiesel with an emphasis on fuel production, quality control, engine performance and vehicle emissions.

The course is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

Students will produce biodiesel by the transesterfication process and perform measurements to determine chemical and physical properties of fuel. Test engines will be operated on biodiesel to evaluate performance and emission properties. This course is designed for diesel technicians, fleet managers, chemical process operators, and others with an interest in the technical aspects of biodiesel production and use.

Call (920) 498-5444 or (920) 746-4900 for information on the class. Refer to class number 53250.

This course is made available with partial support provided by the National Science Foundation DUE/ ATE award.

Green Bay Press-Gazette, July 9, 2007

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Ford Unveils Ethanol-Powered Fleet of Three New Cars

After months of rigorous testing, Ford Motor Company's demonstration fleet of ethanol-fueled hybrids is ready to conquer the streets. The first three of Ford's E85 Escape Hybrids were delivered today to the Department of Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition (GEC).

A total of 20 Ford E85 Escape Hybrids will be delivered to select fleet customers in six states, staking Ford's claim to another important industry first. These are the world's first hybrid vehicles capable of operating on blends of fuel containing as much as 85 percent ethanol. Ethanol is a renewable fuel that can be produced from American-grown corn or sugar beets.

"As a leader in both hybrid vehicles and in vehicles capable of operating on ethanol-based fuels, Ford is the ideal company to bring both technologies together for the first time," said Sue Cischke, Ford's senior vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering.

Prius Online, July 6, 2007

Friday, July 6, 2007

International Biofuels Conference: Impacts On The Poor

The second day of the International Conference on Biofuels addressed the issue of how developing countries can participate and benefit from the biofuel revolution. There are many potential risks, from increased food insecurity and competition for land and water, to environmental impacts such as deforestation, soil depletion and biodiversity loss. But if implemented in a sustainable manner and guided by strong policies, biofuel production also offers an unprecedented opportunity for the vast rural populations of the South to get out of poverty, increase incomes and food security, and finally get access to modern energy.

Biopact, Julyh 6, 2007

ARS Scientists Research Proper Amount Of Stover For Cellulosic Ethano

Stover refers to stalks, leaves and cobs that remain in corn fields after the grain harvest.

Farmers leave it there to revitalize the soil and prevent erosion.

Now, thanks to scientific and technological advances, farmers face the prospect of harvesting stover for cellulosic sugars that can be fermented into ethanol.

However, this presents a quandary, notes Wally Wilhelm, a plant physiologist in the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Agroecosystem Management Research Unit at Lincoln, Neb.

On the one hand, harvesting stover for sugars to make ethanol may lessen dependence on crude-oil imports.

On the other hand, leaving stover in place may help prevent soil erosion caused by strong winds or intense rainfall.

It also replaces lost nutrients and sequesters carbon in the soil, lessening CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas and its contribution to global climate change.

Grainnet, July 6, 2007

Thursday, July 5, 2007

FIU Researchers Look For Way To Produce Fuel From Sugar Byproduct

By April M. Havens
Florida International University's Applied Research Center is working to develop biofuels from one of Florida's biggest crops and studying fossil fuels, environmental restoration and waste management for governmental agencies, officials say.
At the Applied Research Center, engineers, scientists and students offer practical solutions to environmental, energy, defense, waste management and water problems, said Richard Burton, director of business programs.
While providing mentoring for the university's engineering and environmental science students is the primary objective of the center, the center researches projects for numerous governmental and commercial agencies.
The center is teaming with Florida Crystals Corp., a Palm Beach County sugar company, to determine the feasibility of using a sugar-making byproduct as a feedstock for a large-scale bioenergy plant.

Miami Today, Julyh 5, 2007
A $1.15 million state grant is aiding the project, which focuses on using a fibrous byproduct of the sugar-making process called bagasse to produce ethanol, Mr. Burton said. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection awarded the grant as part of the Florida Renewable Energy Technologies Grant Program.

Cheaper Biodiesel, Thanks To U.S. Research

05 July 2007

Producing biodiesel from cheap feedstocks could become easier and more environmentally friendly thanks to scientists in the US.

Biodiesel, the biodegradable and renewable alternative to fossil fuels, is made by the alkali-catalysed transesterification of oil or fat. Readily available sources of oil or fat, such as used cooking oils, could be a cheap source of feedstock for biodiesel production. But these oils tend to contain high levels of free fatty acids, which must be removed before transesterification. This usually involves a pre-treatment step with an acid catalyst, which requires large amounts of base to neutralise the catalyst once the fatty acids have been removed.

Polymer-supported diarylammonium catalysts are highly effective in reducing the free fatty acid content in oils.

Wenbin Lin at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and colleagues have come up with a potential solution. The researchers have shown that polymer-supported diarylammonium catalysts are highly effective in reducing the free fatty acid content in oils by esterification of the free fatty acid to fatty acid methyl esters. The catalysts can easily be removed from the treated oil and re-used.

'This technology can be more environmentally friendly than existing technology using liquid acid catalysts,' said Lin.

Lin's team is now working on improving the process. 'More stable and reusable catalysts need to be identified and developed for this technology to be commercially viable,' added Lin.

Chemical Science, July 5, 2007

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Iowa State Chemist Hopes Startup Company Can Revolutionize Biodiesel Production

AMES, Iowa -- Line up 250 billion of Victor Lin's nanospheres and you've traveled a meter. But those particles -- and just the right chemistry filling the channels that run through them -- could make a big difference in biodiesel production.

They could make production cheaper, faster and less toxic. They could produce a cleaner fuel and a cleaner glycerol co-product. And they could be used in existing biodiesel plants.

"This technology could change how biodiesel is produced," said Victor Lin, an Iowa State University professor of chemistry, a program director for the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and the inventor of a nanosphere-based catalyst that reacts vegetable oils and animal fats with methanol to produce biodiesel. "This could make production more economical and more environmentally friendly."

Lin is working with Mohr Davidow Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, Calif., the Iowa State University Research Foundation and three members of his research team to establish a startup company to produce, develop and market the biodiesel technology he invented at Iowa State.

The company, Catilin Inc., is just getting started in Ames. Catilin employees are now working out of two labs and a small office in the Roy J. Carver Co-Laboratory on the Iowa State campus. The company will also build a biodiesel pilot plant at the Iowa Energy Center's Biomass Energy Conversion Facility in Nevada.

Lin said the company's goal over the next 18 months is to produce enough of the nanosphere catalysts to increase biodiesel production from a lab scale to a pilot-plant scale of 300 gallons per day.


Victor Lin, Chemistry, (515) 294-3135,

Larry Lenhart, Catilin Inc., (515) 294-5773,

Mike Krapfl, News Service, (515) 294-4917,

Iowa State University Releations, July 3, 2007

Ethanol, Farming Boost Midwest Economy

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- The new jobs created by ethanol plants and strong farm income helped the economy remain strong in a nine-state region of the Midwest, according to a monthly survey of supply managers and business leaders.

A decline in inflation pressures also helped the June business conditions index increase to 60 from May's 58.3.

The Business Conditions Index ranges between 0 and 100. An index greater than 50 indicates an expanding economy over the next three to six months.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, said it appears that growth in the region will continue to outpace the nation as a whole.

The survey includes Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The Associated Press, July 2, 2007

Monday, July 2, 2007

U.S. To Host Major Renewable Energy Event

Washington, DC []

The American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and the leading U.S. renewable energy trade associations announced that they will host The Trade Show at WIREC 2008, to be co-located with the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) which occurs March 4-6, 2008 in the Washington DC Convention Center.

WIREC 2008 is the third global ministerial level event on renewable energy, following on the Bonn Renewables 2004 and the Beijing 2005 global meetings. In an earlier on announcement in May about the event, Secretary Rice noted that, "diversifying our energy supplies is a key foreign policy objective of this Administration," and that, "renewable energy sources can go a long way toward breaking the 'addiction to oil' that President Bush cited in his 2006 State of the Union Address."

The U.S. Department of State will host the Ministerial and Legislative event, assisted by other Departments and agencies including: the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of Interior, and the U.S. Department of Commerce., July 2, 2007

Rice University: Biotech Breakthrough Could End Biodiesel Glycerin Glut

by Staff Writers

With U.S. biodiesel production at an all-time high and a record number of new biodiesel plants under construction, the industry is facing an impending crisis over waste glycerin, the major byproduct of biodiesel production. New findings from Rice University suggest a possible answer in the form of a bacterium that ferments glycerin and produces ethanol, another popular biofuel.

"We identified the metabolic processes and conditions that allow a known strain of E. coli to convert glycerin into ethanol," said chemical engineer Ramon Gonzalez. "It's also very efficient. We estimate the operational costs to be about 40 percent less that those of producing ethanol from corn."

Rice University, 6-27-07

Sunday, July 1, 2007

SIU Ethanol Center To Partner With Siemens

Edwardsville--The National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center and Siemens Energy & Automation Inc. announced Friday a 10-year agreement aimed at speed the growth of alternative fuel technology.

The $20 million National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC), which opened in 2003 in University Park at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, researches ways to improve and commercialize new technologies for producing ethanol.

Financial terms of the new agreement were not disclosed, but represents hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, software and on-site simulation training, according to a release.

The SIMATIC PCS 7 distributed control system and instrumentation from Siemens is now being used by the NCERC. Since 2000, Siemens has supplied the process automation systems for two-thirds of the fuel ethanol plants built in the U.S., according to the release.

St Louis Business Journal, June 30, 2007

Farmers Making Own Biodiesel

KXMBTV Bismarck
While the large-scale production biodiesel Dakota Skies would have offered won't be coming to the Magic City, farmers are still producing their own fuelthough in much smaller amounts.

Abby Wuellner has more on the benefitsand the drawbacksof small-scale biodiesel production.

The smell of diesel fuel so familiar to many area farms is changing in some placesnow farms like that run by Terry Kemmet smell more like french fries.

(Terry Kemmet / Chapin) "We take waste vegetable oil and turn it into biodiesel."

KXMB-TV, June 30, 2007