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

Sunday, September 30, 2007

New York Times Asks: Too Much Ethanol Too Soon?

By Clifford Krauss THE NEW YORK TIMES

NEVADA, Iowa— The ethanol boom of recent years — which spurred a frenzy of distillery construction, record corn prices, rising food prices and hopes of a new future for rural America — may be fading.

Only last year, farmers here spoke of a biofuel gold rush, and they rejoiced as prices for ethanol and the corn used to produce it set records.
the last few weeks.

But companies and farm cooperatives have built so many distilleries so quickly that the ethanol market is suddenly plagued by a glut, in part because development of the means to distribute it has not kept pace. The average national ethanol price on the spot market has plunged 30 percent since May, with the decline escalating sharply in

“The end of the ethanol boom is possibly in sight and may already be here,” said Neil E. Harl, an economics professor emeritus at Iowa State University who lectures on ethanol and is a consultant for producers. “This is a dangerous time for people who are making investments.”

The New York Times-Page 1, Sept. 30, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Reporter Unmasks Phony Xethanol Claims

It shouldn't have fallen to Chris Carey to notice that there was something suspicious about Xethanol. The company, which claimed it had a process to convert garbage into vast quantities of energy-rich ethanol, could have raised the eyebrows of any newspaper reporter. The company's original name — — didn't exactly augur a long-term commitment to energy. Xethanol's SEC filings showed that several of its major investors had previously been disciplined for fraudulent activities. The company's balance sheet was another red flag. In two years, Xethanol had spent just $239,651 on research and development, while its competitors were investing tens of millions annually.

But scan Xethanol's press coverage during the first half of 2006 and you'll find mostly glowing reports. Local newspapers and trade magazines repeated the company's claims that it would triple capacity at its plant in Blairstown, Iowa. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution plugged Xethanol's stated ability to wring ethanol from stale butterscotch candy. The Associated Press put a story out on the wires saying Xethanol planned to convert homeowners' grass clippings into auto fuel. All that press helped send Xethanol's shares soaring; its stock price grew almost fivefold in six months, despite the fact that its research scientist had never made more than a couple of liters of ethanol in the lab.

Wired, Sept. 27, 2007

El Paso Plant Using Algae To Grow Biodiesel

EL PASO, TX. - With gas in the Sun city still hovering around $3 dollars a gallon, the race is on to develop alternative fuel sources.

One leg of that race is right here in the borderland where a special project has sprouted up. The plant for the plants look like greenhouses in El Paso's Upper Valley. And in many ways, they are. But visitors won't find roses growing inside. Just bags and bags of algae.

Believe it or not, all the green slime could just be the cure for the world's so-called 'pain at the pump.' The algae is used to make bio-diesel. As the slime grows, it makes a kind of vegetable oil. "Just like you'd find sunflower seed or soybean," said one of the plant's owners and head of Valcent Products, Glen Kertz. Doug Frater is the CEO of Global Green Solutions and the two men are calling their join venture Vertigro.

Both say choosing the El Paso area for their site was a no-brainer. "El Paso has 340 plus days of sunshine," Kertz said, grinning. Most of the people who work all the gadgets and gauges are homegrown, from right here in the borderland. "They're the best crew I've ever worked with," Kertz added. Vertigro hopes to begin producing enough bio-diesel to sell commercially by mid to late 2008.

KVIA-TV, El Paso, Texas, Sept. 28. 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mascoma Corporation To Build Nation’s First Switchgrass Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mascoma Corporation, a leader in advanced low-carbon energy biotechnology, today announced that it intends to establish the country’s first operating facility producing cellulosic ethanol utilizing switchgrass as feedstock. The project represents one of the largest commitments of capital yet made in support of the cellulosic biofuels industry.

Mascoma and The University of Tennessee plan to jointly build and operate the five million gallon per year cellulosic biorefinery. Construction is expected to begin by the end of 2007 and the facility will be operational in 2009. The business partnership and plans for the facility are a result of Tennessee Governor Bredesen’s Biofuels Initiative, a research and business model designed to reduce dependence on foreign oil and provide significant economic and environmental benefits for Tennessee’s farmers and communities. It includes a $40 million investment in facility construction and $27 million for research and development activities, including incentives for farmers to grow switchgrass funded by the State and The University of Tennessee. The large-scale demonstration facility will be located in Monroe County, Tennessee.

The University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture will support the establishment of switchgrass as an energy crop. Initial research conducted by the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture indicates that Tennessee is capable of generating over one billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass alone.

The facility is complemented by research efforts at nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In June, Oak Ridge was awarded $125 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund the Bioenergy Science Center, a research collaborative to address fundamental science and technology challenges to commercially producing cellulosic ethanol., Sept. 27, 2007

SUNY Unveils Wood-To-Ethanol Project

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry unveiled a pilot project that's expected to create an economic boom in upstate New York. Seven years in the making, SUNY ESF is turning wood into ethanol. The project is so successful, an ethanol plant will break ground this spring. The wood is debarked, then chipped and cooked in a 65 cubic foot steel vessel at 180 degrees centigrade. Sugars are extracted from the wood then fermented in vats before being further condensed and diluted. The end product is a clear ethanol liquid, and much more environmentally friendly than petroleum.

Engineers from O’Brien and Gere in conjunction with Catalyst Renewables will break ground next spring on 30 million dollar wood to ethanol facility in Lyonsdale, New York, which will manufacture 130 thousand gallons of ethanol a year. Shrub willows, which take only 3 years to mature, will be the feed stock for the project.

WTVH Syracuse, Sept. 27, 2007

Click HERE to see broadcast version

POET To Unveil Commercial Cellulosic Project

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (September 27, 2007) - Dr. Mark Stowers, the Vice President of Research & Development for POET, will give a presentation on POET’s cellulosic project during an eductional event on cellulosic ethanol in Washington, D.C. The event will take place Tuesday, October 2 from 12:00-3:00 p.m. at the National Guard Building on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and North Capitol. The event is organized by the Renewable Fuels Association and includes presenters from Abengoa Bioenergy, ADM and Verenium.

The cellulosic project that POET is jointly funding with the United States Department of Energy will convert an existing 50 million gallon per year (mgpy) dry-mill ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa into a commercial cellulosic biorefinery. Once complete, the facility will produce 125 million gallons of ethanol per year, 25 percent of which will be from cellulosic feedstock. By adding cellulosic production to an existing grain ethanol plant, POET will be able to produce 11 percent more ethanol from a bushel of corn, 27 percent more from an acre of corn, while almost completely eliminating fossil fuel consumption and decreasing water usage by 24 percent.

POET news release, Sept. 27, 2007

Ceres Raises $75 M To Study Dedicated Energy Crops

Ceres raises $75 million to develop dedicated energy crops
Energy crop and biotech company Ceres, Inc. announced today that it has raised $75 million through a private offering of convertible preferred stock. The late-stage financing round was led by Warburg Pincus, a global private equity firm with a track record of investing in energy, alternative energy and renewables.

A seed and traits developer, Ceres plans to use the proceeds for research and product development activities in several dedicated energy crops, which are bred to maximize yields of plant biomass — the energy-rich source of next-generation biofuels based on biochemical and thermochemical conversion processes. The cellulosic biofuels industry shows promise of significant growth and is likely to become a material part of the transportation fuel market in the next decade.

Biopact, Sept. 27, 2007

Pioneer Gives $1 Million To Iowa State Cellulosic Project

By Gene Lucht, Iowa Farmer Today

JOHNSTON -- Iowa State University’s effort to build what it calls a “New Century Farm” to focus on cellulosic fuel got a boost last week with the announcement Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. will give $1 million to the project.

Calling the New Century Farm effort an approach to “the bioeconomy from the ground up,” ISU provost Betsy Huffman said the project will “keep the university on the cutting edge . . . of biomass research.”

Dean Oestreich, DuPont Vice President and general manager and president of Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, said in announcing the gift, “the need for renewable sources of energy requires a dynamic new way of thinking. The New Century Farm will research the practical things farmers can do in the future to grow, harvest and store biomass in a sustainable manner.”

ISU officials say the New Century Farm will be based on the existing ISU agricultural engineering and agronomy research farm west of Ames along U.S. Highway 30.

Iowa Farmer Today, Sept. 27, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

USDA Releases List Of Renewable Energy Fund Recipients

WASHINGTON, September 20, 2007 -- Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas Dorr today announced that 345 proposals in 37 states have been selected to receive a total of $18.2 million for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

"These funds will help create economic opportunity and reduce energy costs for farmers, ranchers and small businesses in rural communities," Dorr said. "Our renewable energy programs have a significant impact on creating jobs and investment opportunities and maintaining financially viable communities."

The grant and loan guarantee/grant combinations are being awarded through USDA's Section 9006 Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements program. It provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to install renewable energy generation systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Of the $18.2 million total, $13.4 million are grants and $4.8 million are guaranteed loans.

In Orangeville, Ill., for example, USDA Rural Development selected James Briggs for a $12,375 grant to help him replace a 20-year-old grain dryer with a new continuous flow dryer that is expected to reduce annual energy costs by 53 percent.

USDA, Sept. 24, 2007

Hard Rock Cafe Concert For Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance Features Willie Nelson; Sept. 26, 2007

DuPont, BP Search For Perfect Ethanol Substitute

Des Moines Register, WASHINGTON BUREAU

September 26, 2007

Wilmington, Del. - DuPont and British energy giant BP are moving forward with plans to develop biobutanol as an alternative fuel that would have advantages over ethanol.

The companies are still several years away from having a commercially viable process for producing the butanol. However, BP plans to start testing the fuel later this year in engines and in manufacturing, using butanol that will be made in a previously shuttered facility in China.

The Chinese plant can make the fuel through an inefficient process that produces other chemicals, including ethanol, along with butanol, DuPont officials said.

BP plans to use the butanol to figure out how best to blend it in gasoline and market the fuel, said John Ranieri, a DuPont vice president.

Butanol has a higher energy content than ethanol, so it provides more miles per gallon. Butanol can also be shipped more easily than ethanol. Unlike ethanol, butanol doesn't absorb water, so it can be mixed with gasoline and shipped through conventional gasoline pipelines. Because of the water absorption issue, ethanol is shipped via railroad, barges and trucks rather than through gasoline pipelines.

DuPont is working with BP to develop a microbe that will produce butanol from crops without the chemical byproducts - acetone and ethanol - Ranieri said.

To perfect the process, the companies are developing a pilot plant in Great Britain capable of producing about 5,000 gallons a year. A larger plant nearby will initially produce ethanol from wheat but will be converted to make butanol once the process is ready for commercialization. That facility will be able to produce 110 million gallons per year.

Des Moines Register, Sept. 26, 2007

E-85 Now Sold At 1.7 % Of All U.S. Gas Stations


The 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline blend E85 is available at close to 1,150 U.S. filling stations, 90 of them in Indiana, according to the E85 advocacy group the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.

That's just a fraction of the estimated 200,000 stations nationwide.

More than half of those are operated by major oil producers, who have not embraced E85 sales, National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition executive director Phillip Lampert said.

"That's a big hurdle to overcome," Lampert said.

Nothwestern Indiana News, Sept.26, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

National Geographic: The Biofuels Dream

The October issue of National Geographic focuses on biofuels. As could be expected, the author comes down hard on the dream of corn ethanol. The real promise of biofuels, Joel Bourne stresses, lies in cellulosic sources -- stalks, leaves, sawdust -- as opposed to foodstuffs like corn, sugar and soy. Cellulosic ethanol remains a big 'if' both technologically and economically (there is currently no large-scale commercial production of the stuff), but if the potential can be unlocked and cars can be made to burn fuel far more efficiently, then biofuels could one day deliver both independence from petroleum and sharply reduced carbon emissions.

National Geographic, October 2007

Wired Cover Story: One Molecule Could Cure Our Addiction to Oil

By Evan Ratliff 09.24.07 | 2:00 PM

The Chemistry

On a blackboard, it looks so simple: Take a plant and extract the cellulose. Add some enzymes and convert the cellulose molecules into sugars. Ferment the sugar into alcohol. Then distill the alcohol into fuel. One, two, three, four — and we're powering our cars with lawn cuttings, wood chips, and prairie grasses instead of Middle East oil.

Unfortunately, passing chemistry class doesn't mean acing economics. Scientists have long known how to turn trees into ethanol, but doing it profitably is another matter. We can run our cars on lawn cuttings today; we just can't do it at a price people are willing to pay.

The problem is cellulose. Found in plant cell walls, it's the most abundant naturally occurring organic molecule on the planet, a potentially limitless source of energy. But it's a tough molecule to break down. Bacteria and other microorganisms use specialized enzymes to do the job, scouring lawns, fields, and forest floors, hunting out cellulose and dining on it. Evolution has given other animals elegant ways to do the same: Cows, goats, and deer maintain a special stomach full of bugs to digest the molecule; termites harbor hundreds of unique microorganisms in their guts that help them process it. For scientists, though, figuring out how to convert cellulose into a usable form on a budget driven by gas-pump prices has been neither elegant nor easy. To tap that potential energy, they're harnessing nature's tools, tweaking them in the lab to make them work much faster than nature intended.

Wired Magazine, Sept. 24, 2007

USDA Releases Report on Ethanol Production In Ag Transportation

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Friday announced the publication of Expansion of U.S. Ethanol from the Agricultural Transportation Perspective, a report on ethanol transportation. This report provides an overview of transportation issues facing the U.S. ethanol industry in the context of the U.S. corn market and provides a frame of reference as more ethanol transportation information is developed.

"Rapid expansion of the ethanol industry has far-reaching implications for agricultural transportation," said Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Lloyd Day. "Transportation is a major cost for ethanol producers and balancing these expenses with needed infrastructure can be critical to sustained profitability."

USDA Ethanol Transportation Backgrounder, released September 19, 2007

New Fuels In Old Engines

By Bill Siuru
Progressive Farmer

Older equipment can handle new ethanol and low-sulfur diesel fuels. But you have to take precautions. E85 is only for use in the new flexible-fuel engines.

Like anything new, the next generation of fuels comes complete with question marks. Farmers love ethanol. But it can cause problems for some of the older equipment in the shed.

Ultra low sulfur diesel, or ULSD, is supposed to clear the air. But it also might damage older engines. We asked Bill Siuru, a Ph.D. mechanical engineer and automotive journalist, to answer some questions about new fuels and old engines.

Will ethanol-based fuels like E10 cause problems for older engines?

Vehicles and equipment less than 10 to 15 years old probably will not have a problem. Engines built before the mid-1980s are more likely to experience trouble.

Alcohol can cause numerous problems, including deterioration, swelling and hardening of rubber components like fuel hoses, carburetor seals and gaskets, and fuel pump seals. This may lead to fuel leaks.

Also, ethanol absorbs water more readily. This can be a problem for equipment that sits idle for extended periods of time.

Ethanol also can dissolve the lining of fiberglass fuel tanks. The resulting dark sludge can cause engine damage, and the tanks can leak fuel.

Progressive Farmer, September Issue

Monday, September 24, 2007

Is Ethanol Glut Inevitable?

A year ago, ethanol industry talk centered on shortages. Now the hot topic is a possible surplus and what needs to be done to amplify demand as the ominous E10 wall approaches. On the other hand, there's a contingent who believes demand is picking up. However, without the proper infrastructure or a dedicated pipeline, will the renewable fuel be able to penetrate new markets?

Ethanol Producer Magazine, September 2007 Issue

Volvo Presents First CO2-Free Auto Plant

STOCKHOLM, Sweden--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Regulatory News: The Volvo Group is now presenting the first vehicle plant in the world that is completely free from carbon dioxide (CO2), Volvo Trucks’ plant in Ghent, Belgium. The Volvo Group’s efforts pertaining to CO2-free plants are fully in line with EU’s goal for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by 20 percent in Europe by 2020.

“Our ambition is to make all our plants CO2-free plants and Ghent is the first,” says Volvo CEO Leif Johansson. “It is not an easy undertaking, but we are prepared to try different alternatives to achieve our goal for CO2-free production in our plants.”

Already in 2005, the Volvo Group decided to transform the Volvo Trucks plant in Tuve, Sweden into a CO2-free vehicle plant and work is currently in progress on the completion of the local planning and an application for environmental permits has been prepared. The Volvo Trucks plant in UmeƄ, Sweden is also undergoing transformation to become CO2-free.

For Ghent, this will entail investments in wind power and biofuel to provide the plant with electricity and heat that does not add any carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

The Ghent plant decided to construct three wind power plants on the site, which will cover half of the plant’s electricity requirements. The remaining electricity consists of certified green energy supplied by the Belgium energy company, Electrabel. A new pellet-fired biomass plant supplies 70% of the heating requirements for the Ghent plant and energy for the combustion process is provided by solar cells on the roof. The remaining 30% is provided by an oil-fired boiler that was converted to burn bio oil. The Ghent plant has an annual production of 35,000 trucks. The number of employees is 2,500.

Business Wire, Sept. 24, 2007

U of Minn. Offering Research Colloquia Devoted to Biofuels and Bioenergy

Recently, interest in biofuels and bioenergy research has grown at the University of Minnesota, due in part to IREE funding, the DOE Center application, the Institute on the Environment's Discovery Grants, and the Biofuels Discovery Grant competition.

This year the Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute (MPGI) is hosting research colloquia on the topic of biofuels and bioenergy to foster interdisciplinary interactions and greater integration. The informal colloquia will take place every other Wednesday at noon (12:00 – 1:00pm) in 105 Cargill Building on the St. Paul campus. Participants need not be MPGI members, nor do colloquia need to be restricted to experimental approaches involving microbial and plant genomics or molecular biology. We would like to involve a broad cross-section of participants, including those with expertise in biomass composition, production ecology, engineering and economics approaches.

There will be two 30-minute presentations per day. Each presenter will give background, present research findings, and lead discussion on their topic.

For more information, access the U of M Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute site.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Biobutanol To Debut In Great Britain This Fall

Washington -- David Anton, DuPont’s venture manager for development of biobutanol, the world’s first advanced biofuel, thinks a lot about the high-energy content of gasoline that is missing from traditional ethanol fuels. This deficiency is one reason automakers and the driving public have been slow to commit to fuels that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s becoming more obvious,” Anton says, “that ethanol doesn’t have the same energy density as gasoline. It’s about 65 percent of the energy density of gasoline, so you’re going to get lower gas mileage for every tank of fuel.” DuPont set out in 2003 to develop a biofuel that actually can match the high-energy output of gasoline. Biobutanol will be the first of those biofuels to reach global markets.

“Biobutanol has about 85 percent of the energy content of gasoline,” says Anton. Existing automobiles can run on it without modification, and when it is blended with gasoline, as ethanol is today in many regions of the globe, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and petroleum use. “You’ll see basically no difference between gasoline and biobutanol,” Anton says.

Biobutanol will make its debut this fall in the United Kingdom. It is the brainchild of a partnership between DuPont, the second-largest chemical company in the United States, and energy company BP, which will distribute and market biobutanol mixed with gasoline. In addition to its higher energy content, biobutanol can be distributed through existing pipelines, while ethanol cannot. It also can be produced from a variety of plant crops -- wheat, corn, sugar cane and others.

U.S.Info.Gov, Sept. 19, 2007

DuPont Makes $1M Gift To Iowa State For Cellulosic Ethanol Research

Des Moines, IA,--DuPont announced on Sept. 21 a pledge of $1 million to the Iowa State University (ISU) New Century Farm, the first research effort in the United States to focus on producing cellulosic ethanol on the farm.

The research efforts also will focus on enhancing the production, processing and utilization of feedstocks for biofuels and biomaterials.

"The need for renewable sources of energy requires a dynamic new way of thinking.

"The New Century Farm will research the practical things farmers can do in the future to grow, harvest and store biomass in a sustainable manner," said Dean Oestreich, DuPont vice president and general manager and president of Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business.

"We're proud to partner with Iowa State to create a demonstration farm that will be the first of its kind to integrate both the growing and processing of biomass into biofuels."

The New Century Farm will include a facility for research in biomass crop breeding, crop rotation needs and ways to efficiently store and process biomass material.

It also will feature a teaching laboratory for training future scientists and farmers, and an extension facility to demonstrate the economic, social and environmental viability of bioenergy.

The funding from DuPont, through its Pioneer Hi-Bred business, will be allocated from 2008 to 2012.

"Supporting the bioeconomy is one of our highest priorities at Iowa State University, and the New Century Farm initiative is key to these efforts," ISU President Gregory Geoffroy said.

Biofuels Journal, Sept. 21, 2007

Ethanol Blend 20 Cents Lower At Gas Pump

If you think you're paying a lot more for gasoline lately, the truth is, you are.

The price of regular unleaded is $2.93 a gallon in Sioux Falls, up 50 cents a gallon than a year ago.
You can blame it on the record rise of crude oil to more than 82 dollars a barrel, after a drop in U.S. supply.
But there is one bright spot at the pump: ethanol.

Gas with 10 percent ethanol is more than 20 cents a gallon cheaper and drivers are gobbling it up.

Driver Molly Stensaas says, "It's cheaper and we're farmers, so we've got to support the ethanol."

Mark Madeja of AAA South Dakota says, "I think especially in Midwestern area where ethanol is so prevalent, you do have more drivers switching over; regardless of what you might hear about how it affects miles per gallon and fuel economy and those sorts of things."

Driver Mariann Munk says, "I do still worry a little bit about it if it's as good for vehicles as it should be, but I have not had a problem so I'm using it."

Driver Jim Mahlen says, "I don't quite get the fuel economy I want, but the price makes up the difference."

Keloland Television, Sept. 21, 2007

UT Board OKs 5 M Gallon/Year Ehanol Plant

The University of Tennessee stepped into the thick of national competition for biofuel production with a board vote Wednesday to build a pilot refinery.

UT has $40 million to build the plant and a partner it considers a biofuels pioneer, Mascoma Corp. of Cambridge, Mass. UT and Mascoma plan to build and operate a 5 million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Niles Ferry Industrial Park in Monroe County.

State and university officials hope cellulosic ethanol can help move the country away from its dependence on oil and reduce greenhouse emissions while creating a commodity for Tennessee’s farmers.

UT’s move comes months after groundbreakings for cellulosic ethanol plants in Georgia and Louisiana.

“The bottom line is the vast majority of research-oriented universities and national labs — and a lot of private companies — are all making tremendous investment in cellulosic biofuels, and putting a lot of effort and resources toward making this commercially feasible,” said Kelly Tiller, director of external operations for the UT Office of Bioenergy Programs.

In February, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $385 million for six biorefineries in Kansas, Idaho, Florida, California, Iowa and Georgia.

Knoxville News Sentinel, Sept. 21, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chicago Mercantile Exchange to List Ethanol Options

CHICAGO (AP) - CME Group, operator of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, said Monday it will list options on ethanol futures and offer clearing services for cash-settled options and options on forward month swaps.

The options are slated to begin trading on e-cbot Oct. 5 and on the CME Globex platform in January.

Ethanol futures have been trading at the CBOT, now part of the CME Group, since March 2005.

Associated Press, Sept. 17, 2007

Switchgrass: Hay With Better P.R.?

By David A. Fahrenthold
The Washington Post

ORANGE, Va. — When it grows high and thick in midsummer, the crop that might fill Virginia's gas tanks, revitalize its farm belt and keep its mud and manure out of the Chesapeake Bay looks like ... weeds. Like the world's most overgrown lawn.

At a Virginia Tech agricultural research center here, in this small town west of Fredericksburg, the switchgrass plot is an unruly, waving thicket of 7-foot-tall green stalks. But it only looks neglected: This is one of the center's most prized plants, a formerly obscure prairie grass now projected to be a major source of farm-grown fuel.

"That'd be some energy, right there," said Dave Starner, the center's superintendent, holding a freshly cut bundle of it.

Researchers across the country think that switchgrass could help supplant corn as a source for the fast-growing ethanol industry. In Virginia, some officials are trying to make the state the Iowa of the new cash crop. They're urging farmers to grow it and envision dozens of refineries that will turn the stalks into fuel.

"It's the future of the rural community and the world as you know it," said Ken Moss, an entrepreneur in south-central Virginia who is using some state funds for a factory that turns switchgrass into a substitute for heating oil.

But such efforts have hit a snag: Scientists haven't perfected the process that turns switchgrass into ethanol. So for today, the Crop That Could Change Virginia is just hay with better publicity.

he plant behind all the hoopla, Panicum virgatum, looks a bit like a corn plant without the cob. It has a thin, rigid stalk with a feathery tassel of seeds. Scientists say switchgrass probably grew wild across the eastern two-thirds of the United States for centuries before Europeans arrived.

But, except for plant biologists and some biofuel researchers, few Americans had heard of the plant before last year's State of the Union address. President Bush listed switchgrass among potential sources for ethanol, a gasoline substitute sought as a replacement for imported oil.

Virginia has relatively little switchgrass planted — fewer than 20 farmers are thought to be growing it on less than 1,000 acres. But Virginia Tech scientists say the grass could play a major role in creating a massive biofuel economy.

In a recent white paper, they suggested that switchgrass, along with woodchips, could provide a quarter of Virginia's gas, diesel fuel and heating oil needs and support 68 small fuel refineries in the state. Researchers estimated that the new fuel sources could create 10,500 jobs, including for farmers, truck drivers and refinery workers.

The Washington Post, September 7, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

University Developing Renewable Energy Certified Education Program

Jennifer Raley
Cumberland Times-News

FROSTBURG — Frostburg State University is developing a wind-solar energy certified education program.

“This certified education program will train people for jobs in the growing energy sector,” said Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-chairwoman Anne Pope.

On Friday at FSU’s Renewable Energy Symposium and Expo, Pope announced the $45,816 ARC grant for the program.

“Frostburg State University, with its innovative solar and wind systems, is an ideal partner to help us move our initiative forward in the region,” said Pope.

University officials expect 24 local contractors and entrepreneurs to enroll in the program that consists of wind generation and photovoltaic solar installation workshops. Each workshop will consist of eight weeks of interactive online instruction and three days of conventional instruction at FSU.

“This project, which entails the training and certification of program participants in the design and installation of residential wind and solar electric generation, supports our state’s energy initiatives as it pertains to the promotion of affordable, reliable and clean energy, the conservation of our existing energy resources, as well as the development of new alternative and renewable energy sources,” said Al Feldstein of the Maryland Department of Planning.

Equity Groups.Com, Sept. 15, 2007

France's INRA Focuses On Miscanthus Agronomy, Genetics

Relatively unknown in Europe, Miscanthus giganteus is now in the European spotlight as a biofuel crop. It is high yielding, rich in lignocellulose and requires little agricultural inputs. Growing this crop on a large-scale in France will involve developing cropping systems that seek to optimise energy balances and minimise environmental impact. Several teams from the INRA - the French National Institute for Agricultural Research - have therefor joined forces with other research teams to combine the adaptation of crop management sequences with genetic improvement of the plant. INRA is Europe's largest agricultural science institute.

Miscanthus trial on an INRA test field. Credit:INRA/S.Cadoux
Miscanthus x giganteus is a perennial grass originally from Asia. It boasts two particularly interesting qualities for biofuel production: it produces a large amount of biomass and requires few inputs.

The exceptionally high yield of miscanthus is due to its "C4" carbon metabolism, which is similar to other plants of tropical origin such as sugarcane and sorghum. This type of metabolism means it can more efficiently capture carbon gas and transform it into organic material.

Biopact, Sept. 15, 2007

NREL Expert Provides Insight Into Cellulosic Research

by Chris Torres

"Biomass technology really is in its infancy," said Tom Richard, director of the Penn State Biomass Energy Center. But its future may hold a lot of promise. At least that's what scientists who attended the CrossOver 2007 conference at Penn State [earlier this month] are hoping.

The two-day conference was an event designed to highlight research into bioenergy. This year's theme, "Bioenergy: From Fields To Wheels," focused on emerging technologies that could turn a variety of things—pond scum, grasses and plant bacteria among them—into vital sources of energy for the future.

With energy consumption projected to increase dramatically over the next few years and oil prices continuing to be high, most experts believe [renewable] energy sources will be vital in the next 10 years.

Tom Foust of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Denver, Colo., a keynote speaker, believes that alternative energy sources will make big strides in the future. But they will never replace oil and gasoline for good, he believes. At least it doesn't look that way now.

According to Foust, a study commissioned in 2005 called "the billion ton study," claimed the U.S. has enough resources to sustainably produce about 1.3 billion tons of biomass per year. Foust said the 1.3 billion tons would equal about 1.9 billion barrels of oil—or about 30 percent of the 6.4 billion barrels of oil consumed in the country today. Making it economical and sustainable will be key.

Renewable Energy Access.Com /Sept. 17, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Growing Switchgrass Focus Of UT Bulletin

Educating Tennessee farmers, landowners and citizens on the production and consumption of biofuels is the focus of a new informative fact sheet campaign spearheaded by University of Tennessee Extension.

Farmers will play a vital role in the success of the state-sponsored UT Biofuels Initiative.

The initiative, which aims to construct and operate a 5-million-gallon per year cellulosic ethanol facility in East Tennessee, will rely on a constant supply of plant material in order to produce ethanol for fuel. Scientists at UT say switchgrass, a warm-season grass native to Tennessee, will be the primary feedstock for the facility.

At maximum production capacity, the facility will need to be supplied with 170 tons of switchgrass per day. Since the success of the UT Biofuels Initiative depends heavily on farmers growing and harvesting switchgrass, UT Extension is publishing fact sheets to help farmers and others interested in switchgrass production. Additional biofuels topics will be addressed in the publications, too.

You can access the factsheet here:

Download Factsheet

The Murfreesboro Post, Sept. 13, 2007

EU Releases 'Next Generation Biofuels' Policy Report

The EU has released a fairly extensive policy report regarding its position on cellulosic ethanol and biofuels in general. To access the report, link to: Report

Reaction Design Tapped For DOE FreedomCAR Biofuels Project

SAN DIEGO--Reaction Design, the clean technology chemistry leader, today announced that it has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for a two-year study of the chemical and transport phenomena that take place during biofuel combustion. Reaction Design will lead a team of researchers from Chevron and the University of Southern California (USC) to create computer simulation tools that will speed the development process for engine designers and fuel manufacturers as they strive to integrate biofuels into their products.

The development and validation of the detailed chemical mechanisms that govern biofuel combustion will focus on US domestic alternatives that show promise in reducing dependence upon foreign petroleum.

Project funding comes from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies (OFCVT) with a mission to develop more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly highway transportation technologies that enable America to use less petroleum. Specific goals of the FreedomCAR program are to identify fuel formulations optimized for use in 2007- and 2010-technology diesel engines that incorporate non-petroleum-based blending components, with the potential to achieve at least a five percent replacement of petroleum fuels. An additional five percent replacement is targeted for 2010 engine designs.

The U.S. Department of Energy is interested in advancing the characterization, understanding, and use of biodiesel fuels. There is growing evidence that fuel additives originating from biomass reduce soot formation in diesel engines during the combustion process by providing more efficient oxidation of hydrocarbon fuel fragments.

Reaction Design’s work will focus on the detailed chemical mechanisms and simulation tools that enable accurate simulation of the combustion process. Armed with these simulation tools, fuel manufacturers can fully understand how various fuel components impact combustion behavior in current and future engine designs.

The, Sept. 13, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Poplar Trees Touted As Source Of Ethanol

Richland, WA -- Poplar trees, often used as a cheap source of pulp for paper production in Washington and Oregon, may find a new use as an ethanol source. Anna King of Northwest Public Radio, spoke to Jon Johnson, a scientist at Washington State University. Johnson believes that poplars could be a promising source of ethanol in the future, and has received a federal grant to help him further his study.

"he trees have an advantage in that you don't have to harvest them annually," Johnson noted in an interview with King. He says that poplar trees would make an excellent source of ethanol because the trees are cheap and easy to grow, estimating that a 950-acre farm could produce up to one million gallons of ethanol per year. Initial studies suggest that commercial production of ethanol from poplars could cost less than $1 per gallon.

Pulp and Paper, Canada, Sept. 12, 2007

Toxic Jatropha Not Magic Biofuel Crop, Experts Warn

GUANGZHOU, China, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Oilseed plant jatropha does not offer an easy answer to biofuels problems as some countries hope, because it can be toxic and yields are unreliable, experts and industry officials warned on Wednesday.

The woody plant can grow on barren, marginal land, and so is increasingly popular in countries such as China that are keen to boost biofuels output but nervous about food security.

But its nuts and leaves are toxic, requiring careful handling by farmers and at crushing plants, said experts at an oils and fats conference.

In addition, it is a labour-intensive crop as each fruit ripens at a different time and needs to be harvested separately. Its productivity is also low and has yet to be stabilised.

M. R. Chandran, adviser to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, told Reuters it would take five years of intensive research before jatropha could achieve productivity that would make its cultivation economically viable. The oil yield of the plant, originating in Africa and still largely a wild species, is less than 2 tonnes per hectare with large swings from year to year.

Reuters News Service, Sept. 12, 2007

Watching Grass Grow Becomes Critical In Cornell Hunt For New Biofuels

By Lauren Chambliss

Watching grass grow is not normally the most exciting activity -- unless the future of New York's energy needs, rural economic development and reducing the human contribution to global climate change depend on it.

From the lab to the field, Cornell researchers are analyzing every aspect of some field grasses in a multidisciplinary, high-octane search for the next generation of biofuels from such cellulose feedstocks as grasses and willow trees, which can be converted to ethanol and other products.

Nationally, corn is the leading source of biofuel, but in the long run, researchers say, New York will be better off developing alternative renewable sources of cellulosic ethanol that will be healthier for the environment, address energy needs and potentially create new business for rural farmers and landowners.

In the past few years, Cornell researchers have planted trial plots of field grasses -- cellulosic ethanol feedstocks -- in six sites across the state. Along with dozens of other renewable-energy research projects at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, the grass trials hold an important key to the future of New York's energy strategy for the 21st century.

If all goes well, the grass trials, funded by the federal government through the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, with additional support from the New York Farm Viability Institute and the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, will provide development tools to create a viable industry. The ultimate goal of Cornell biofuels research is to discover the best sustainable bioenergy crops for diverse bioregions and provide businesses and entrepreneurs with new technologies and systems to convert grasses, wood and other biomass to usable, renewable energy with minimal environmental impact.

Cornell OnLine Chronicle, Sept. 5, 2007

Farmers Tout Alfalfa As Fuel

DTN--Alfalfa producers throughout the country are bucking the notion that hay is for horses and hoping the ethanol industry will see that hay can provide horsepower as well.

Alfalfa could be a leading feedstock to produce cellulosic ethanol, said Mark Wagoner, a Touchet alfalfa seed farmer who also serves as chairman of the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance. In August, the alliance held a daylong summit in Washington, D.C., to promote the benefits of alfalfa as a biomass crop, or agricultural waste byproducts, to produce cellulosic ethanol.

"Alfalfa is the fourth-largest crop in the U.S.," said Wagoner, whose grandfather started farming in the Touchet area in 1918. Wagoner grows about 1,200 acres of alfalfa seed, most of which is exported to Argentina. But when he harvests his alfalfa seed each fall, tons of alfalfa is left on the field where it decomposes.

Because it has been treated with chemicals, it can't be used for feed. But that waste could be turned into ethanol, he said. "If we are going to meet the goal of producing 25 percent of the nation's energy supply from renewable sources by 2025, cellulosic ethanol production must be part of the equation," Wagoner said.

DTN Ethanol Center, Sept. 12, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Diesel Exhaust Kills Throat Cells, Study Shows

Science Daily — Researchers at Deakin University have found that diesel exhaust is far more damaging to our health than exhaust from biodiesel, the plant-based fuel.

Associate Professor Leigh Ackland, Associate Head of Deakin's School of Life and Environmental Sciences, led a team of researchers who compared the effects of diesel exhaust and biodiesel exhaust on human airway cells. They found that diesel exhaust damaged and killed the cells, while biodiesel exhaust had little effect.

"Australia's escalating need for fuel is posing a major health problem," Associate Professor Ackland said.

"The fumes from burning fuels, including diesel, contributes to pollution and can cause heart disease, bronchitis and asthma. Efforts are underway to replace petrol and diesel with cleaner biofuels, such as biodiesel, but there is considerable resistance to this.

"This study provides clear evidence that diesel exhaust is more harmful to our health than biodiesel exhaust."

Science Daily.Com Sept. 11, 2007

Ethonal Fact Book Released Today

The latest edition of the Ethanol Fact Book came out today, and highlights include ethanol’s contribution of thousands of jobs over the last two and a half decades, as well as the green fuel’s environmental performance. The Clean Fuels Development Coalition publishes the book, and it is available through the Ethanol Across America campaign.

According to this story on, the book takes on issues such as tax incentives, energy security and oil import reductions, economic impacts and benefits to the income tax base, greenhouse gas reduction and environmental benefits, and advancements in cellulose conversion technologies.

You can dowload a PDF of the Fact Book by clicking here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Renewable Energy Conference Has Big Name Speakers

Over 60 speakers are scheduled to talk about various renewable energy topics at the upcoming "Renewable On Parade" conference September 20-23 at Riverside Casino Conference Center at Riverside, Iowa. The event will have big name speakers and energy experts - including former CIA chief Jim Woolsey.

"This is the conference business people should attend to get unfiltered information directly from renewable energy experts - to gain the information necessary to move your business forward with confidence," says Wendy Gady, the event's organizer. "Whether you are a farmer, or a producer of renewable energy, venture capitalist, banker, developer or just interested in what the future holds for renewable power...Renewable On Parade is where you should be."

"The U.S. faces a formidable strategic challenge, to not only move toward a greater reliance on renewable energy, but, more importantly, create market-driven sustainability that could enhance the U.S. long-term competitive position in the global marketplace," says Sano Shimoda, president of BioScience Securities. He is one of the speakers. "This wide-ranging conference will provide a forum for people to think broadly about the energy challenge ahead for this country."

All types of renewable energy represented

"Iowa Governor Chet Culver set the goal of becoming the Renewable Energy Capital of the World," adds Gady. The conference is comprised of three events: a pre-conference summit September 20, 2007, for business and organizational leaders focused on financing and developing alternative energy projects; the conference track September 21-22 - both at the Riverside Casino Conference Center, Riverside, IA. The Renewable on Parade Consumer Expo runs September 21-23 at the Washington, Iowa fairgrounds.

Exhibits at the fairgrounds will allow individuals to participate in interactive learning opportunities. The Purdue University Solar Race Car, the University of Iowa Solar Bike, the University of Northern Iowa Solar Boat, the I-Renew Energy Learning Lab, the Iowa DNR Education Vehicle and the Alliant Geo 1 Mobile Education Vehicle will be showcased throughout the event.

"Renewable On Parade boasts 60 scheduled speakers, over 50 significant sponsors and 100 exhibitors who are putting renewable energy solutions to work across the country and around the world," says Gady.

For a list and schedule of speakers, for more information about Renewable On Parade or to register online, go to:

Wallaces Farmer, Sept. 10, 2007

Jay Leno's EcoJet Concept Car Gets USDA's Attention

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and thousands of attendees at the Farm Progress Show this week got to see what millions have heard about on late night television. Tonight Show host and auto enthusiast Jay Leno has worked with GM in developing the EcoJet concept car that is propelled by a jet engine powered by B100 biodiesel.

To build on this positive recognition of biodiesel’s benefits, New Holland displayed Leno's EcoJet in its exhibit at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill. on Aug. 28 and 29.

The National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe appeared with Leno in a webisode of Leno's Garage earlier this year.

Leno uses biodiesel in the New Holland tractor that moves his cars in the garage. Leno also did a three-part series on the EcoJet. Don Scott, NBB technical and regulatory engineer, has also traveled across the nation with the EcoJet on a promotional tour.

U.S. AgNet, Sept. 10, 2007

Study: Magnets Can Boost Ethanol Production

In a finding that could reduce the cost of ethanol fuel, researchers in Brazil report success in using low frequency magnetic waves to significantly boost the amount of ethanol produced through the fermentation of sugar. Their study is scheduled for the Oct. 5 issue of ACS’ Biotechnology Progress.

While bioethanol (ethanol produced from corn and other plants) is a promising alternative to fossil fuels, it currently is expensive and inefficient to make. An intensive research effort now is underway to improve production methods for this biofuel, which is expected to be the cornerstone of the renewable fuel industry.

In a new study, Victor Perez and colleagues showed that yeast-based fermentation of sugar cane — the main source of bioethanol in Brazil — in the presence of extremely low frequency magnetic waves boosted ethanol production by 17 percent.

The scientists also showed that ethanol production was faster, taking two hours less than standard fermentation methods.

“The results presented in this report suggest that an extremely low frequency magnetic field induces alterations in ethanol production by S. cervisiae [yeast] and that the magnetic field treatment can be easily implemented at an industrial scale,” the article states.

Source: American Chemical Society, Sept. 10, 2007

Can I Use Ethanol Or Biodiesel Or Both?

By Mr Ethanol | September 10, 2007

Desmoines Register:
Question: Can my vehicle run on E85?
Answer: Only vehicles designated as flex fuel can run on E85. They have different fuel system components and sensors to adapt to the higher blend of gasoline and ethanol. Click here to find out if you have a flex-fuel vehicle and what models are available.

Question: Where can I buy alternative fuels?
Answer: Want to know where to fill up with E85 or biodiesel? Need a place to recharge your batteries - literally? Click here to find alternative fuel stations across the country.

Question: How do I know whether a biofuel is a better value?
Answer: Assuming you are comparing similar vehicles, engines and weight, you can compare fuels by measuring the price per energy content by gallon.

Sound confusing? It doesn’t need to be. Use your BlackBerry, iPhone or newer Web-enabled cell phone to plug in prices of ethanol and biofuels at the pump and decide whether a biofuel is a better bargain.

The calculators are available at: / Sept. 10, 2007

Friday, September 7, 2007

Cornell Researchers Watching Grass Grow...

By Lauren Chambliss
Watching grass grow is not normally the most exciting activity -- unless the future of New York's energy needs, rural economic development and reducing the human contribution to global climate change depend on it.

From the lab to the field, Cornell researchers are analyzing every aspect of some field grasses in a multidisciplinary, high-octane search for the next generation of biofuels from such cellulose feedstocks as grasses and willow trees, which can be converted to ethanol and other products.

Donald Viands, professor of plant breeding and genetics, in front of some big bluestem grass at the Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station research site in Big Flats, N.Y.

Nationally, corn is the leading source of biofuel, but in the long run, researchers say, New York will be better off developing alternative renewable sources of cellulosic ethanol that will be healthier for the environment, address energy needs and potentially create new business for rural farmers and landowners.

CheckBioTech, Sept. 7, 2007

U of Missouri Expert: Ethanol Success Depends On 3 Key Factors

Sep 6, 2007 4:54 PM, By Jim Langcuster
Auburn Uinversity

Ethanol will succeed, but only if three factors continue working in its favor, says one expert. Those factors include the state of the petroleum market, government policy and technological development, says Pat Westhoff, program director of the Food and Agriculture Policy Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri.

Technology is a big factor, he says. Westhoff believes ethanol’s prospects partly hinge on whether the industry successfully completes the transition to a new line of biomass feedstock, better known by some as cellulosic sources — forestry products, agricultural waste and switchgrass to name a few.

A lot of research is under way to make this happen. And if it does happen, it “could make a huge difference in what the industry will look like in the years ahead,” Westhoff says.

But that corner has yet to be turned and until it is, the industry’s fate will remain uncertain.

For now, ethanol production has spiked, totaling about 6 billion gallons and is likely to grow by another 6 billion gallons when new plants come on line.

“With that kind of return, it’s not surprising there has been a lot of investment in ethanol plants,” says Westhoff.

Southeast Farm Press, Sept. 7, 2007

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Henry Ford, 1925: Ethanol Fuel Of The Future

By K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Back in 1925, Henry Ford told a New York Times reporter that ethanol was "the fuel of the future." It's taken awhile, but ethanol may just be catching up to that future, though it looks a little different from here.

"Ethanol is a maturing industry," said C. Matthew Rendleman, an agribusiness economist from the College of Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, who has been looking at ethanol for nearly two decades.

"Thirty-four percent of this country's corn crop now goes to the category that includes the manufacture of ethanol."

Because the big technological leaps have already occurred, we're unlikely to see the kinds of innovations that led to significant cost reductions when the industry was new.

"Technological developments in the manufacturing process are likely to produce only minor cost savings, though there is always the possibility of some sort of co-product breakthrough that would let manufacturers spin gold out of straw," he said.

Earlier this year, Rendleman and Hosein Shapouri of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Energy Policy and New Uses published an agricultural economic report for the USDA on new technologies in ethanol production. It served as a sort of sequel to an earlier report on the topic done by Rendleman and another USDA researcher in 1993, shortly before Rendleman left the agency for SIUC.

"At the time, our secretary of agriculture was from Illinois and was thinking that ethanol was the wave of the future," Rendleman recalled.

"One of the points we tried to make in that first report was that with technology, we should be able to save 10 or 12 cents per gallon. While that was significant, it was really sort of small compared to the effect of fluctuations in the price of corn (the main source of ethanol in the United States) and the way it kept going up and down, up and down."

Looking back, the cost savings did materialize, but not quite in the way the pair expected. Plant automation and computer monitoring, with the resulting boost in efficiency and reduced labor costs, accounted for most of it.

"A lot of those things that we thought were on the cusp of happening are still out there, but they aren't happening in any big way," Rendleman said. "You still hear the same talk: Five to 10 years and it's going to be here,"

Researchers have made some progress in creating ethanol from corn stover (leaves, stalks and such left from the harvest of field corn), a process called cellulosic conversion.

"A company paid by the Department of Energy has found a way to break corn stover down into the simple sugars that make up ethanol by using enzymes, and a few plants are being built," Rendleman said.

"Everyone says it's the wave of the future, and I won't contradict them — it would be a nice thing. But to be successful, there must be more than a few plants, and people who loan money are very cautious."

University Communications, Southern Illinois University, Sept. 6, 2007

U of I Weekly Outlook: Bio-Diesel Production Growth

Source: Darrel Good (217) 333-4716

URBANA - U.S. energy policy is heavily influencing the rate of growth in bio-diesel production and the related consumption of soybean oil, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"Even though bio-diesel production continues to grow, profit margins are narrow and production would not be profitable at all without the current large subsidies," said Darrel Good.

Much of the strength in soybean prices since the fall of 2006 has been provided by soybean oil prices, even though U.S. soybean stocks have been record large. The strength in soybean oil prices has been associated with rising world bio-diesel production."

Good noted that the cash price of soybeans in central Illinois averaged $7.82 during August 2007. That price is 42 percent higher than the average during September 2006 when a record U.S. crop was being harvested. The average price of soybean oil and soybean meal at central Illinois processing plants increased by 48 percent and 28 percent, respectively, over that same period.

ACES News, Sept. 4, 2007

June Ethanol Production Sets All-Time Record

Washington, DC--Ethanol demand moved higher in June, to a new all-time record of 443,000 barrels per day (b/d).

For the first six months of the year, ethanol demand is averaging 420,000 b/d.

Ethanol production also edged higher in June, though continuing to trail the ethanol demand.

U.S. ethanol producers added 418,000 b/d of ethanol supply to the tight U.S. gasoline market, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

For the first six months of the year, ethanol production has averaged 393,000 b/d, producing just under three billion gallons of ethanol.

Grainnet, Sept. 6, 2007

Study: Without Government Support, Small Ethanol Plants Could Go Bust

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Ethanol producers have friendly government policies to thank for the current boom in the corn-based alternative fuel and will need more help from Washington to keep from going belly up in a few years, says a new study.

Without a federally mandated increase in ethanol consumption, small plants could stop being profitable by 2011 and be operating in the red in 2013, according to the study by David Peters, an agricultural economist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Large plants, meanwhile, could see profits cut in half in four years before losing millions of dollars in seven or eight years and being forced to rely on reserves to cover losses.

The study comes as Congress tries to craft an energy bill that addresses alternative fuels.

Associated Press, Sept. 6, 2007

Mules And Miscanthus: U Of I Team Offers Growing Tips For New Biofuel Crop

Published: Sep. 6, 2007

Source: Tom Voigt (217) 333-7847; Stephen Long (217) 333-2487

URBANA - John Caveny, a Piatt County farmer, compares Giant Miscanthus to a mule.

Giant Miscanthus, a tall, perennial grass, is the sterile cross between two plants, and a mule is the sterile result of a cross between a horse and a donkey. The $1 million question is whether Giant Miscanthus, like a mule, can take on a heavy load - in this case, the job of freeing the U.S. from its dependence on overseas petroleum. Giant Miscanthus is one of the leading candidates for cellulosic ethanol production.

University of Illinois researchers have successfully established Giant Miscanthus at northern, central and southern Illinois sites, ranging from DeKalb to Dixon Springs.

U of I ACES News, Sept. 6, 2007

Soybean Checkoff Asks Farmers to Use Soy Biodiesel This Harvest

As combines, tractors and trucks kick into high gear this harvest season, the soybean checkoff encourages farmers to increase engine performance and create demand for their own soybeans by filling their tanks with soy biodiesel.

The United Soybean Board and soybean checkoff teamed up with the National Biodiesel Board and original equipment manufacturers representing Case IH, Cummins, Inc., and New Holland to discuss the status of the biodiesel industry and overall support of renewable fuel.

Currently, soy biodiesel is used in approximately 700 commercial fleets, and more than 3,000 U.S. fuel distributors and retailers carry biodiesel. NBB estimates that 225 million gallons of biodiesel were used in the United States last year.

Projections for this year top 300 million gallons. And it's not just farmers using the product – truckers, heavy equipment operators and other general diesel users are catching on to soy biodiesel.

The Farmer, Sept. 6, 2007

Switchgrass A 'Crop of Hope'?

By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 6, 2007; Page B01

ORANGE, Va.--When it grows high and thick in midsummer, the crop that might fill Virginia's gas tanks, revitalize its farm belt and keep its mud and manure out of the Chesapeake Bay looks like . . . weeds. Like the world's most overgrown lawn.

At a Virginia Tech agricultural research center here, in this small town west of Fredericksburg, the switchgrass plot is an unruly, waving thicket of seven-foot-tall green stalks. But it only looks neglected: This is one of the center's most prized plants, a formerly obscure prairie grass now projected to be a major source of farm-grown fuel.

"That'd be some energy, right there," said Dave Starner, the center's superintendent, holding a freshly cut bundle of it.

Researchers across the country think that switchgrass could help supplant corn as a source for the fast-growing ethanol industry. In Virginia, some officials are trying to make the state the Iowa of the new cash crop. They're urging farmers to grow it and envision dozens of refineries that will turn the stalks into fuel.

Washington Post, Sept. 6, 2007

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cornell Claims To Eliminate Need For Batch Ethanol Processing

London, Sept 5 : Cornell University researchers claim to have developed a way of making bio-diesel continuously, without the need to fill and empty batch reactors.

Making biodiesel involves a reaction called transesterification in which the triglycerides and free fatty acids in oils from plants such as corn or linseed react with methanol to form methyl esters of 16-18 carbon atoms in length.

Purified methyl esters can then be used in place of diesel fuel.

However, transesterification is a slow process and currently the only way to speed it up is to cook chemicals in batch reactors at high temperatures and pressures.

But having to produce fuel in batches also limits the rate at which biodiesel can be made.

Now, Christian Fleisher and his colleagues have developed a process to produce the transesterification reaction as the necessary chemicals mix and flow through a pipe.

According to New Scientist, the result is a system - known as a "plug flow" reactor - in which plant oil and methanol is added continuously at one end, while biodiesel flows out of the other.

Fleisher says it is possible to achieve this speed increase by using a catalyst, such as sodium hydroxide. So, instead of taking hours, the transesterification reaction takes place in under three minutes.

Fleisher has now set up a company called Biodiesel Technologies to commercialise the idea.

Malaysia Sun, Sept. 5, 2007

Biodiesel Bike Sets International Record

Die Moto, a motorcycle that runs on biodiesel, set national and international records on Monday, cruising to a top speed of 130.6 miles per hour.

Built by The Crucible, a group of industrial artists in Oakland, the bike has a modified BMW car engine and a handcrafted aluminum shell. And it's a green machine, too. Running on B100, or pure bioediesel fuel, the bike emits 78 percent less CO2 than a standard diesel engine. The team eventually hopes to crank it up to 160 miles per hour.—Gregory Mone

Popular Science Blog, Sept. 5, 2007

China Lauches Large-Scale Renewable Energy Plan

Hepeng Jia
5 September 2007
Source: SciDev.Net

[BEIJING] China has released an ambitious plan to develop renewable energy to cut its surging carbon dioxide emissions.

The 'Middle and Long-term Development Plan of Renewable Energies' promises to derive ten per cent of China's energy supply from renewables by 2010 and 15 per cent by 2020.

The plan was published yesterday (4 September) by China's energy watchdog, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

"I know these big targets [for renewables] have not been made by many countries, and they are also a great challenge to us," said Chen Deming, vice-chairman of NDRC, at a news conference.

The total investment needed to meet the 2020 goal will be two trillion yuan (US$133.3 billion), according to the plan.

China plans to increase its annual hydropower generating capacity from 170 million kilowatts in 2005 to 300 million kilowatts by 2020. It also seeks to increase the production of plant-based ethanol from one million tonnes to ten million tonnes, and its wind power generating capacity from 1.3 million kilowatts to 30 million kilowatts by 2020.

Science and Development Network; Sept. 5, 2007

Washington State Approves $6,4 M In Energy Loans

By Nicholas Zeman

Through the Energy Freedom Loan Program, $6.4 million in energy loans have been approved by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire. Three biodiesel projects received a majority of that funding to pursue oilseed processing and/or biodiesel production plans.

The Spokane County Conservation District, which received $2.6 million, is working with Palouse Bio LLC to construct an oilseed crushing and biodiesel production facility in Spokane County, Wash.

Similarly, Odessa Public Development Authority in Odessa, Wash., which received $1 million, has partnered with Inland Empire Oilseeds LLC (IEO) to build an oilseed crushing and biodiesel refining facility. IEO, which was formed in 2006 in Odessa, is currently owned by Odessa Union Warehouse Cooperative, Reardan Grain Growers Inc. and Reardan Seed Company Inc.

The Port of Sunnyside, which received $750,000, is working with Natural Selection Farms (NSF) on an oilseed crushing facility to produce feedstock for biodiesel producers. A representative of NSF told Biodiesel Magazine that the crush apparatus is currently operating and the farm is marketing canola oil.

Biodiesel Magazine, Sept. 5, 2007