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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

MIT: Human-Generated Ozone Will Damage Crops

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--An MIT study concludes that increasing levels of ozone due to the growing use of fossil fuels will damage global vegetation, resulting in serious costs to the world's economy.

The analysis, reported in the November issue of Energy Policy, focused on how three environmental changes (increases in temperature, carbon dioxide and ozone) associated with human activity will affect crops, pastures, and forests.

The research shows that increases in temperature and in carbon dioxide may actually benefit vegetation, especially in northern temperate regions. However, those benefits may be more than offset by the detrimental effects of increases in ozone, notably on crops. Ozone is a form of oxygen that is an atmospheric pollutant at ground level.

The economic cost of the damage will be moderated by changes in land use and by agricultural trade, with some regions more able to adapt than others. But the overall economic consequences will be considerable. According to the analysis, if nothing is done, by 2100 the global value of crop production will fall by 10 to 12 percent.

"Even assuming that best-practice technology for controlling ozone is adopted worldwide, we see rapidly rising ozone concentrations in the coming decades," said John M. Reilly, associate director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. That result is both surprising and worrisome.

The MIT study is novel. While others have looked at how changes in climate and in carbon dioxide concentrations may affect vegetation, Reilly and colleagues added to that mix changes in tropospheric ozone. Moreover, they looked at the combined impact of all three environmental "stressors" at once. (Changes in ecosystems and human health and other impacts of potential concern are outside the scope of this study.)

They performed their analysis using the MIT Integrated Global Systems Model, which combines linked state-of-the-art economic, climate, and agricultural computer models to project emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone precursors based on human activity and natural systems.

MIT News Service, Oct. 30, 2007

Gene Work Aims To Boost Use Of Ethanol

Standing in a room full of clear plastic boxes stacked on shelves, Richard Hamilton reaches into one of the boxes and pulls out a small, clear vial of seeds with a label on the side.

Each of the seed samples has been altered slightly to see if a little tweak to a gene will make it produce a plant that does better in various conditions — perhaps make it more tolerant to a drought or better able to withstand cold.

These seeds at Ceres Inc. in Thousand Oaks are the foundation for a new generation of plants that can be used for future fuel needs.

Hamilton, president and chief executive of Ceres, said the company uses advanced technology — applied to such efforts as the Human Genome Project — to guide plant development. Ceres, which started out discovering genes and developing traits in row crops, is now nearing the release of its first "energy crop," a bioengineered switchgrass that can be processed into ethanol.

Ventura County Star, Oct. 30, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Brazil's Petrobras Aims To Produce Cellulosic Ethanol In Next Decade

By The Associated Press
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, is aiming to make cellulosic ethanol commercially viable within the next decade, a company executive said Thursday.

"There is no industrial-scale production of cellulosic ethanol anywhere in the world today, as its production cost is higher than that of ethanol from sugarcane or corn," said Carlos Tadeu Fraga, executive manager at the company's Cenpes research center in Rio de Janeiro.

"Our objective is to reach a competitive price in the coming decade," Fraga said.

In September, Petrobras inaugurated a pilot plant to produce so-called second-generation ethanol from sugarcane bagasse, a residue from ethanol or sugar production that is widely available throughout Brazil., Oct. 29. 2007

Heat Loving Bacteria Could Boost Ethanol Production

Lyndon Plantilla - AHN News Writer

Wyoming, USA (AHN) - Researchers are studying samples of light thriving bacteria that could boost production of ethanol.

The bacteria is called Chloracidobacterium termophilum. It was discovered in hot springs and a pool in Yellowstone National Park where water temperature ranges from 120 to 150 degrees.

Don Bryant, research team leader from the Penn State University, reported that the bacteria can do photosynthesis, meaning it has the ability to produce energy from sunlight.

Bryant theorized that the bacteria get carbon from the wastes of other bacteria and they grow faster on light. He said such bacteria could be useful to other researchers looking for other ways to produce ethanol.

All Headline, Oct. 29, 2007

Tennessee Competing For Leadership Role In Biofuels Industry

by Judy Frank

Within three to five years, Dr. David Millhorn told Chattanooga Rotary Club members Thursday, Tennessee could be a leader in the biofuels industry.

Dr. Millhorn, executive vice president of the University of Tennessee, said the school has entered into a partnership with cellulose biofuels pioneer Mascoma Corp. Together, they hope to build and operate a refinery in Monroe County that produces five million gallons of cellulose ethanol annually.

The facility will be located 35 miles south of Knoxville in Vonore, and construction is expected to begin by the end of this year. Hopefully, it will be operational by 2009, he said.

The collaboration with Mascoma grew out of the UT Biofuels Initiative, a research model designed to reduce American dependence on foreign oil and, at the same time, provide a boost to Tennessee’s economy.

The presentation drew an enthusiastic response from Rotary members, who – less than a week before Halloween – were in a jovial mood even before Dr. Millhorn’s presentation began.

The Chattanoogan.Com, Oct. 29, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bacteria Species May Help Ethanol Output

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Scientists say a new bacteria species discovered in Yellowstone's thermal pools could improve the use of bacteria to produce ethanol.

Researchers found the bacteria in Octopus and Mushroom springs as well as in Green Finger Pool. The bacteria thrive in hot water, growing best between 120 and 150 degrees.

The discovery is rare because the bacterium is photosynthesizing, meaning it produces energy from sunlight. Scientists have discovered just three similar bacteria species within the past century, according to Don Bryant, a professor of biotechnology, biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University and leader of the research team.

Bryant published the discovery in the July issue of Science.

"Among microbiologists, this would be considered a big deal," Bryant said.

He speculated that the bacteria could be used by researchers who are looking for new ways to use bacteria to produce ethanol, which can be burned like gasoline.

The bacteria, he said, likely obtain carbon not from the atmosphere, but by removing the waste of other bacteria. That could help other types of bacteria grow much more quickly.

The Associated Press, Oct. 28, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

K-State Looking At Social, Cultural, Economic Impacts Of Biofuels

Newswise — Scientists and economists are no strangers to discussions about alternative fuels, but a recently announced research grant means that some sociologists at Kansas State University are joining the conversation.

K-State was awarded a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to study the social, cultural and economic impacts of the "biofuels revolution" on rural communities in Kansas and Iowa. The $696,827 grant comes from the department's Ethical, Legal and Societal Implications of Research on Alternative Bioenergy Technologies, Synthetic Genomes or Nanotechnologies program. The researchers from K-State's department of sociology, anthropology and social work are: Theresa Selfa, assistant professor; Laszlo Kulcsar, assistant professor; Gerad Middendorf, associate professor; and Richard Goe, professor. They are joined by Carmen Bain, assistant professor of sociology at Iowa State University.

"There has been very little research into the social dimensions of the bioeconomy," said Selfa, who is the grant's principal investigator. "We are among a small number of social science researchers examining this topic, which is why this grant is very important."

As the United States works to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and expand the development of alternative fuels, ethanol plants are springing up in rural communities across the Midwest, including those in Kansas and Iowa. Although such plants often are touted as economic and population drivers, Selfa said that the social and economic costs and benefits haven't been assessed with in-depth case study research. The project will examine four Kansas communities and two Iowa communities to see whether claims that ethanol plants will revitalize the towns hold true.

The communities to be studied will be chosen based on several factors, including population size, location of an existing or planned ethanol plant, and availability or constraints on a plentiful water source for the ethanol plant. The researchers will use demographic analysis, population surveys, content from local newspapers and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders.

Kansas State University, Oct. 26, 2007

Brookings Institution-U of Iowa Look Beyond Corn-Based Ethanol

Commentary By Michael O'Hanlon

The Brookings Institution in conjunction with the University of Iowa held an event Oct. 17 in Iowa City on energy, ethanol, and national security. Despite what one might have expected, however, this was not a rally for any and all forms of ethanol as a substitute for petroleum-based fuels.

As most realize, Congress and the Bush administration are pushing ethanol very hard right now as a way to find domestic, environmentally friendly alternatives to oil. The president's goal is to produce 35 billion gallons of biofuel annually by 2017 (with ethanol actually only one of the possible choices, biodiesel being another). That would be a sixfold increase from today and equal, in energy content, more than 10 percent of America's petroleum imports expected at that time.

The concept of corn-based ethanol is sound — that is, up to a point. As several of the panelists, including Jerry Schnoor, Mani Subramanian, and Tonya Peeples of the University of Iowa's engineering schools, one of us, Steve Fales of Iowa State's agronomy department, and John Miranowski of Iowa State's economics department underscored, however, there are lots of downsides to pushing the corn-based ethanol concept too far. The gist of the panelists' remarks was that it should be viewed as a transitional biofuel and not the final objective in and of itself. It can help us create markets for biofuel, refineries to make it, infrastructure (like dedicated pipelines) to move it around the country, and demand for cars utilizing it. But the real breakthrough will have to be of a different type.

As Jerry Schnoor emphasizes, when you put a gallon of Iowa ethanol in your flex-fuel vehicle, you're also effectively putting several pounds of Iowa topsoil into the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. That is because plowing fields for annual crops inevitably creates substantial erosion — not to mention the usual pesticides and fertilizer runoff characteristic of intensive agriculture.

Most of Iowa's potential farmland, about 23 million acres, is already devoted to corn and beans. The popularity of ethanol may, however, lead farmers to cultivate an additional 1 million acres now in the conservation reserve program, with associated environmental consequences.

Washington Times, Oct. 26, 2007

K-State Pools Cellulosic Ethanol Expertise In New Center

Manhattan, KS--Carbon footprints.

The rising cost of gasoline. Coal, wind or solar power.

Energy issues are promoting much discussion today, including in Kansas.

And they're all researchers at Kansas State University's Center for Sustainable Energy think about.

The center, which began taking shape earlier this year, is an effort to bring together all renewable and sustainable energy related activities at K-State “ which is saying a lot.

That work spans three of K-State's colleges and several departments.

"By consolidating university-wide work on bioenergy, Kansas State University will realize its own efficiencies, which will allow us to take our research to the next level," said M. Duane Nellis, K-State provost and senior vice president.

"K-State researchers and resources are being invested in solving this pressing global problem."

The center has three primary goals: to research and develop sustainable energy systems and lower greenhouse gas emissions; to educate those on and off campus about sustainable energy; and to facilitate the adoption of new technology by industrial users.

The center was established with a $750,000 K-State Targeted Excellence grant to provide incentives for active research in sustainable energy.

Biofuels Journal, Oct. 26, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

CAST Commentary on Agricuture-Energy Available

The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology located in Ames, Iowa, is releasing a new CAST commentary. The report is titled Convergence of Agriculture and Energy: II. Producing Cellulosic Biomass for Biofuels. The release of the report coincides with two major meetings held in the United States this past week that focus on the topic. Last week in Des Moines The World Food Prize Symposium discussed Biofuels and Biofoods: The Global Challenges of Emerging Technologies and the Brookings Institute held its Opportunity 2008-- Iowa Forum on Energy and National Security.

"Current biofuel production in the United States relies primarily on conversion of corn grain to ethanol, but future systems are expected to depend more extensively on plant biomass," says Task Force Chair Dr. Steve Fales, associate director of the Office of Biorenewables Program at Iowa State University.

The full text of Convergence of Agriculture and Energy: II. Producing Cellulosic Biomass for Biofuels (CAST Commentary QTA 2007-2) is available online without charge at the CAST website (, along with many of CAST's other scientific publications.

CAST is an international consortium of 38 scientific and professional societies. It assembles, interprets, and communicates credible science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.

Wallace's Farmer, Oct. 25, 2007

Sao Paulo Launches First Ethanol-Powered Bus

First ethanol-powered bus unvieled in Sao Paulo.

By Marina Sarruf*

São Paulo – Starting in December, the city of São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, located in the southeast of the country, is going to be the first city in the Americas to have an ethanol-powered bus. The vehicle, which was released yesterday (23), is a project developed by the University of São Paulo (USP), executed by the National Centre for Reference in Biomass (Cenbio) under the Institute of Electrotechnics and Energy (IEE). "This project has a social and environmental impact. I hope that it is expanded to other cities in Brazil, becoming a project of reference to other cities in the world," stated the IEE director, José Aquiles Baesso Grimoni.

The main objective is to reduce pollution, providing incentives to the use of ethanol instead of diesel, which is currently used in urban public transportation in Brazil. The new vehicle is going to operate for a year in the city of São Paulo, between the neighbourhoods of Jabaquara and São Mateus, as a test for demonstration of viability.

According to the coordinator of the project, José Roberto Moreira, the use of ethanol in public transportation reduces carbon monoxide emissions by 92%. "Now the idea is to have the bus operating together with other buses in the fleet to make comparisons," he said.

The forecast is to have another two buses circulating next year. The mayor of the city of São Paulo, Gilberto Kassab, who participated in the event for release of the vehicle, showed great interest in the concept and said that he is going to discuss the possibility of placing at least 10 vehicles of the sort in operation in 2008. According to him, the city currently counts on 15,000 vehicles for public transportation.

Brazil-Arab News Agency, Oct. 25, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SIU Researchers Developing Biofuel Soybeans

In his lab at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, biotechnologist David A. Lightfoot (left) and graduate student Charles Yesudas discuss their discovery of soybean genes that increase the seeds' oil content and energy value. Such oil could make the use of biodiesel possible not just in cars and trucks but in ships and submarines, too.
By K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. — With a few molecular tweaks, U.S. soybeans could help reduce America's need for foreign fuel oil.

Work going on now at the Illinois Soybean Center, a research facility at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, aims to produce an oilier bean designed specifically for the biodiesel industry. Analyzing beans developed at SIUC with new, high-tech equipment, University researchers have discovered two genetic regions that, along with three others previously found, contain genes controlling as much as 10 percent of the beans' oil content.

Using technology to pinpoint the genes so breeders can include them in new breeding lines could boost seeds' total oil content from 20 percent up to 30 percent. David A. Lightfoot, a biotechnologist heading that effort, anticipates SIUC will release its first biodiesel lines to breeders sometime in 2008.

"We have all seen the upward trend in fuel prices," Lightfoot said.

"It's inevitable that we will go that way (toward increased usage of sustainable fuels). The job of science is to put technology on the shelf so it will be ready when we need it."

Breeding for higher energy oils in soybean reverses 30 years of tradition, Lightfoot noted.

"That type of oil has been 'Public Enemy No. 1' for breeders since it was determined to be the major source of 'off' flavor in cooking," he said.

"Major companies have eliminated almost all of the oil from their seed."
SIU News, Oct. 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Energreen Development To Produce Biogas From Drought-Tolerant Sorghum

Energreen Development is to produce bioenergy from a drought tolerant hybrid sorghum that yields high amounts of biomass but requires no irrigation. Energreen is a French company uniting the expertise of Sud Agro S.A., a cooperative involved in development assistance in poor countries, and of FADIA (International federation for industrial and agroalimentary development assistance). It will utilize the proceeds of its green energy sales to finance bioenergy projects in developing countries.

The company will produce energy from biomass in different forms and systems: cogeneration, anaerobic digestion and biogas, liquid biofuels and biohydrogen., Oct. 22, 2007

Sandia National Lab Focusing On Using Less Oil

Some of the same institutions that brought you the hydrogen bomb are now working on a new mission: Figuring out how to build a hydrogen car.

Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif., is part of a complex of government funded institutions where, during the Cold War, teams of scientists did heavy thinking about nuclear weaponry and other super secret military technologies. The national laboratories still do a lot of that kind of work. But at Sandia, about 20% of the lab's effort is now focused on a different security issue – how to reduce consumption of oil.

Technologists at the Sandia Lab are researching the basic science of a variety of alternative approaches to the gasoline-fueled internal-combustion engines. Some of this work is funded by auto makers and truck engine builders. Some of it is your tax dollars at work.

Wall Street Journal Online, Oct. 22, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

UI Solar House Wins Market Viability Award

(Photo by Greg Knott, CABER Staff)

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign today won the market viability contest in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon competition on the National Mall today. The team scored 114.35 out of 150 possible points in this contest which evaluates a home's market appeal, cost-effective construction and integration of solar technology into its design.

"The market viability contest demonstrates that the highly efficient houses showcased at the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon can compete in the global marketplace," Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner said. "Paired with market appeal, this competition reveals that solar-powered homes can be built efficiently at a cost-competitive price to Americans."

In today's contest the University of Maryland team placed second with 112.50 points and Pennsylvania State University placed third with 109.95 points.

Market viability is a new contest in the Solar Decathlon this year and evolved from the first two competitions held in 2002 and 2005. A jury of industry experts considered livability, buildability, and flexibility. Teams built their houses for a target market of their choosing and were asked to demonstrate the potential of their houses to keep costs affordable within that market. The ten Solar Decathlon contests measure many aspects of the homes' performance, including architecture, engineering, lighting, comfort, operating appliances, water heating, etc.

News Blaze, Oct. 19, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Texas A&M To Commercialize Bioenergy Discoveries

COLLEGE STATION, Texas(ENS) - The Texas A&M University System today announced it has formed a joint venture company with a Pennsylvania-based venture capital firm to help turn promising energy and agricultural research into marketable products.

The new venture company, AgFuture Energy LLC, is half owned by the A&M System, and the other half is owned by New Hope Partners, a business development, capitalization and advisory company based in Philadelphia.

New Hope specializes in value-added, agricultural and renewable energy based start-up ventures.

Bud Cary, a partner in New Hope Partners, will serve as managing director of AgFuture Energy.

"The sheer number and extent of the opportunities are enormous," Cary said. "The value of the research taking place at Texas A&M University and the global reach and reputation of the entire A&M System already are generating a wealth of new ideas and potential partners to commercialize existing and developing technologies."

One of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, the A&M System encompasses nine universities, seven state research agencies and a health science center. The A&M System educates more than 101,000 students and externally funded research brings in $600 million every year.

"This new venture represents another example of the A&M System’s commitment to finding new ways to meet the energy needs of our state, nation and world by developing strategic partnerships," said A&M System Chancellor Michael McKinney.

"Already we are at the forefront of helping develop clean, renewable bioenergy through our new BioEnergy Alliance. The alliance brings together the vast resources and intellectual capital of our two premier research agencies in agriculture and engineering, the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and the Texas Engineering Experiment Station."

AgFuture Energy initially will focus on technologies supporting the bioenergy industry.

Environment News Service, Oct. 18, 2007

Expired Soda +Beer = Ethanol In Denton


DENTON — Efforts to save the environment can be seen worldwide, but it's a local company that could help lead the way to cleaner air.

A North Texas town's efforts to go green have led to a sugary solution to help the environment. The City of Denton approved plans for an ethanol plant on the city's southwest side, but this one won't use corn to make its fuel.

"We're really excited about the opportunity to set the standard for cities concerned about the environment. It's just one more cog in the wheel to move that activity forward," said Mayor Perry McNeill.

The Denton ethanol plant will use sugary liquids like sodas, sports drinks, and even beer. They will be mixed together and eventually converted into ethanol.

"What these fellows are doing is using materials that would be either be dumped in a land fill or somehow disposed of. They're going to convert that to ethanol. So it's a conversion of a material that was expired or mismarked or something like that," he added.

WFAA-TV (Dallas-Ft. Worth), Oct. 18, 2007

Iowa State Hopes To Build Better Roads By Using Cellulosic Ethanol Co-Products

Ames, IA--Iowa's soil is great for growing corn.

But it's not so great for building roads.

"Soil around the Midwest is mostly soft clay and till deposited by glaciers", said Halil Ceylan, an Iowa State assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering. "It's hardly the bedrock engineers would like for a good, solid roadbed."

And so the soil under Iowa's roads often has to be mixed with chemicals that bind and stabilize soil particles.

While stabilizing soils for road construction is standard practice around the Midwest, there are limits to its effectiveness. Ceylan said costs can be high and current practices only work with certain soil types and site conditions.

So civil engineers are always looking for better, cheaper and more efficient ways to get the job done. Ceylan and Kasthurirangan Gopalakrishnan, a research scientist in civil, construction and environmental engineering, are experimenting to see whether lignin, a co-product of producing ethanol from plant fibers, could be a good soil stabilizing agent. Lignin is the glue that holds plant fibers together

Their research is partially supported by a $93,775 grant from the Grow Iowa Values Fund, a state program that promotes economic development. The Iowa Highway Research Board, Grain Processing Corp. of Muscatine and Iowa State's Office of Biorenewables Programs are also supporting the project., Oct. 18, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Daimler, VW Invest In Biofuel Maker

Posted by Giles Clark, London

Two German car manufacturers Daimler and Volkswagen have each acquired a minority equity position in biofuel producer Choren Industries, following agreements signed last week (11th October). Daimler and VW have been working with Choren since 2002 to evaluate BTL’s (Biomass to Liquid) technical, commercial and environmental impact. The participation of the two companies in Choren is, they say, a strong sign of commitment towards the use of 2nd generation biofuels and supports the project development of world scale BTL plants of 250 million litre capacity as a further step towards a wide spread market introduction.

Choren is presently completing the world’s first industrial scale BTL plant (Beta) at its facilities in Freiberg, planned to produce 18 million litre annually as of mid 2008. This would be enough to fuel 15,000 vehicles each year. In addition, Choren is actively pursuing the development of a world scale plant, so called Sigma plant, with an output of 200,000 tons per annum (250 million litre). The exact location in Germany will be announced before the end of this year. Such Sigma plants have the potential to contribute significantly towards the German governments’ environmental targets. By 2020 10 to 15 such Sigma plants could reduce CO2 emmissions by over three million tons per year.

Biofuel Review, Oct. 17, 2007

Algae Could Supply All U.S. Energy Needs

Every drop of oil on earth comes from millions of years of buildup from algae and other natural residue... buried, compressed, and eventually drilled--supplying our energy since the late 1800s.

Now, consider that we're going to deplete, in less than 300 years, what took hundreds of millions of years to form. And with the inevitable global depletion of oil, alternative forms of energy are destined to emerge.

Algae, ironically, is one of them...

Research at leading universities suggests that algae could supply enough fuel to meet all of America's transportation needs in the form of biodiesel... using a scant 0.2% of the nation's land.

In fact, enough algae can be grown to replace all transportation fuels in the U.S. on only 15,000 square miles, or 4.5 million acres of land.

That's about the size of Maryland.

How is this all possible?

Technology exists right now to cultivate algae that can be used as fuel, using human and animal waste as fertilizer.

Green Chip Review, Oct. 17, 2007

RFA President: America's Energy Future At Crossroads

Washington, DC--Serving as the chairman of the “Cellulosic Ethanol Summit” being held Oct. 16 and 17 in Washington, DC, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen issued the following statement:

“Ethanol, and America’s energy future, is at a crossroads.

"Either we will continue on a path toward greater energy diversity and security by expanding the current Renewable Fuel Standard to motivate investment in new cellulosic ethanol technologies, or we will succumb to the nattering nabobs of negativity who are seizing upon every unfounded fear to thwart the worldwide movement toward biofuels, leaving us evermore dependent upon petroleum and its environmental and economic consequences.

“Some here might think the choice is obvious.

"It is not.

"Well-funded opponents are engaged in a coordinated effort to protect the status quo.

“Some might think this is just about food vs. fuel, and the wildly exaggerated claims that grain-derived ethanol is driving up consumer food prices.

"It is not.

"There are groups amassing to slow the drive toward cellulose as well, full of misinformation and distortions about land use, deforestation, water use and infrastructure costs of cellulosic ethanol.

“The insidious campaign being waged today has very little to do with the feedstock for ethanol, and a great deal to do with the loss of petroleum market share that will occur if we are successful.

"To our opponents, there is no good ethanol or bad ethanol; there is only ethanol, and it’s all bad.

"Within the ethanol industry, we must not draw meaningless distinctions between feedstocks either; we must propagate the message that all ethanol is good; it’s all better than petroleum... .", Oct. 17, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Genencor Unveils Biorefineries Enzyme

Rochester Business Journal

Rochester -- Genencor International Inc., a division of Danisco A/S, Monday revealed the first commercially available biomass enzyme for second-generation biorefineries.

Accellerase 1000 contains a complex of enzymes that reduces lignocellulosic biomass into fermentable sugars, an indispensable step for the production of cellulosic ethanol, officials said. Examples of lignocellulosic biomass include plant matter like trees, some crops and grasses.

Genencor officials predict Accellerase 1000 will fill a large unmet need for reliable biomass enzyme supply for pilot and demonstration plant developers who are actively working on process development, scale up and integration. The enzyme is the first in what the firm expects to be a family of products tailored to different biomass feedstocks and system conditions.

Genencor is part of Danisco’s bioingredients unit. It employs 150 in Rochester.
“Every biorefinery developer needs to know how enzymes will work in their system,” said Jack Huttner, Rochester-based vice president of biorefinery business development at Genencor, in a statement. “This product aims to address that need and to start a dialogue with potential partners about customized solutions and supply at the industrial scale.”

Rochester Business Journal, Oct. 16, 2007

Poll: Americans Support Renewable Energy

Americans support renewable energy like ethanol in a new poll conducted by Harris Interactive®. The poll shows overwhelming American support for expanding renewable fuel options with nine in 10 U.S. adults (88 percent) agreeing the U.S. should pursue renewable energy sources.

Commissioned by the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, the poll concludes that 72 percent of adults believe that higher oil prices have had a substantial impact on the rising cost of food in recent months, compared to only 35 percent who believe ethanol production has had a significant impact on rising food prices.

Conducted online between Sept. 21 and Sept. 25, 2007, it asked 2,199 U.S. adults about their attitudes regarding ethanol. Other results indicate that nearly eight in 10 adults (78 percent) believe usage of ethanol would lessen the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

Energy policy is at the forefront of national debate with pending energy legislation expected to hit congressional calendars this fall. The Senate-approved version of the energy bill contains a provision mandating the use of 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022.

Food and Fuel, Oct. 16, 2007

DOE Updates 'Facilitieis For Future Of Science' Outlook Guide

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science today released a comprehensive update of its landmark 2003 publication, Facilities for the Future of Science: A Twenty-Year Outlook, that shows the agency has made “significant progress” in deploying the scientific facilities and instruments that the United States needs to capture world scientific leadership, extend the frontiers of science and support the Department’s missions.

When it was published four years ago, the Facilities Outlook was the first long-range facilities plan prioritized across disciplines ever issued by a government science funding agency anywhere in the world. It remains so today – and serves a model for other countries and regions that are developing roadmaps for research infrastructures.

The 2003 plan listed 28 new scientific facilities and upgrades of current facilities that will define scientific opportunities over the next 20 years in all fields of science supported by the Office of Science, including fusion energy, advanced scientific computation, materials science, biological and environmental science, high energy physics and nuclear physics. The facilities were ranked according to their scientific importance and readiness for construction, and they spanned scientific fields to ensure the U.S. retains its primacy in critical areas of science and technology well into this century.

“The world-leading scientific facilities we create, maintain and operate are key to continued U.S. leadership in physical and biological research,” writes Under Secretary for Science Dr. Raymond L. Orbach in the introduction of Four Years Later: An Interim Report on ‘Facilities for the Future of Science: A Twenty-Year Outlook.’ “This leadership, and the transformational scientific discoveries that flow from it, are critical to meeting the challenges our Nation faces in the twenty-first century in the areas of both global economic competitiveness and energy security.”

Department of Energy News Release, Oct. 16, 2007
To obtain the full text of the report, please click here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Nebraska Pilot Plant To Reseach 2nd Generation Biofuels From Lignocellulosic Biomass

Abengoa Bioenergy has opened a pilot plant for the conversion of biomass in the State of Nebraska, in the United States. The plant, which involves an investment of more than US$35 million, will be exclusively dedicated to the research and development of second-generation biofuel production processes from lignocellulosic biomass, the earth's most abundant organic feedstock, as part of an agreement signed with the US Department of Energy in 2003.

The pilot plant is the first of its kind; it will serve as a platform for testing new equipment, systems and catalysts necessary to break down various organic compounds and process them, such as herbaceous and woody materials, thus optimizing ethanol production. The plant will also be a research and training centre for other teams in Abengoa Bioenergy whilst the company evaluates and tests additional products, equipment and other processes being designed at present to improve organic biomass processes.

"By producing ethanol from lignocellulosic biomass, Abengoa Bioenergy reaches a key aim in its technological plan within those parameters foreseen in their research and investigation program," Javier Salgado, President and CEO of Abengoa Bioenergy.

Biopact, Oct. 15, 2007

Iowa Economist: Falling Ethanol Prices Mark 'Dangerous Time'

Des Moines Register Business Editor

Neil Harl has started letting air out of Iowa's ethanol balloon, which has sent corn and farmland prices soaring.

"The end of the ethanol boom is possibly in sight and may already be here," Iowa State University's emeritus professor of economics told the New York Times recently.

"This is a dangerous time for people who are making investments" in ethanol, Harl added, citing a drop of more than 30 percent in spot market prices since May.

Industry insiders say the volatility is the result of growing pains.

The huge decline in ethanol prices is more of a "return to reality" than a market collapse, said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

Des Moines Register, Oct. 15, 2007

ODU Scientists Create, Test Alternative Fuel From Microscopic Plants

Pain at the pump is forcing Americans to think seriously about that fuel of the future.

A solution just might come out of a lab at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

"I think it's a great new source of fuel, it's something to be excited about," said Adair Johnson, a researcher at ODU.

Excitement is building for Dr. Patrick Hatcher and his team of researchers. The algae they grew in a lab, then transformed into biodiesel, is hitting the road.

Zooming around ODU's campus, a little racecar, running on 10 percent biodiesel, 90 percent regular fuel, doesn't slow down.

The only difference according to Johnson, "It definitely has a distinct smell. Running it off the regular RC fuel, you can't really smell a whole lot from the exhaust, but when we use the biodiesel, you can tell, it has a different smell to it."

This is biodiesel put to the test on a very small scale. The bigger test, on a real full-sized biodiesel engine, is, according to researchers at ODU, really not that far away.

WAVY-TV, oct 15, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

A $25 million Partnership Brings New Biodiesel Technology To Midwest

by Ki Mae Heussner
Oct 11, 2007

For several years now, the U.S. biodiesel industry has been eyeing an alternative process for refining the renewable fuel that relies on a solid – rather than liquid – reactor. Although the potential benefits of the unconventional process were known, the execution of the technology eluded most U.S. companies.

Until this week.

On Wednesday, Chicago-based Benefuel Inc. and Indiana-based Seymour Biofuels LLC announced they will invest $25 million to build a biodiesel refinery in Seymour, Ind. that will harness the new technology. The companies said the plant will begin production toward the end of 2008 and will generate 10 million gallons of biodiesel annually.

“It is what I would call cutting-edge technology,” said Steve Howell, technical director for the National Biodiesel Board, of the new reactor.

Medill Reports (Northwestern University), Oct. 12, 2007

Ethanol Industry Losing Clout In Congress As Food Prices Rise

October 11, 2007; Page A8

The stalling ethanol industry wants Congress to mandate greater use of the biofuel. But many of the industry's former friends have turned against it amid soaring prices for corn and other grains.

Congress gave a big boost to ethanol in 2005, when it mandated that oil refiners blend 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels such as ethanol into the nation's gasoline supply by 2012. The farm lobby was united behind ethanol as a way to strengthen rural economies. Environmental groups backed it as a way to fight global warming and lessen the nation's dependence on foreign oil. Even the petroleum industry was supportive.

Since then, dozens of ethanol plants have sprouted around the country, turning corn into fuel. The rise of the industry has helped to boost grain prices and create jobs in farm states.

But ethanol production today is close to reaching the 7.5-billion-gallon level in the 2005 law. Oversupply has forced down prices and driven some ethanol producers into trouble. Producers and corn farmers are lobbying hard for Congress to boost the requirement anew to ensure that demand can soak up the rising production.

Wall Street Journal, Oct. 12, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Poet Making Cellulosic Ethanol Happen Quickly

By Peter Shinn

The nation’s largest single ethanol producer, Poet of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is bullish on cellulosic ethanol. Poet recently received an $80 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to commercialize a cellulosic process at its existing Emmetsberg, Iowa dry grind ethanol plant, an expansion Poet officials refer to as "Project Liberty."

Dr. Mark Stowers is Poet’s Vice President of Research and Development. He told Brownfield, if Project Liberty is successful, it won't take long for cellulosic ethanol production to become commonplace, at least at Poet's ethanol plants.

"Once we get it, if you will, right at Emmetsberg," Stowers said, "we should be able to replicate it across all of our current 21 plants and the plants that we also have under construction."

Of course, billions of gallons of fresh ethanol production capacity are coming on line from corn-based ethanol alone. But according to Stowers, he's not worried about overwhelming the current ethanol transportation infrastructure.

"Obviously, you'd like to have a more efficient market for these products," Stowers explained. "But the infrastructure, I think."

Brownfield Ag News, Oct. 11, 2007

Biofuels Plans May Cause Water Shortages


BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — China's and India's plans to produce more biofuels could cause shortages of water, which is needed for crops to feed their growing populations, according to study results released Thursday.

The International Water Management Institute or IWMI study said both countries are counting on maize and sugarcane, which need large amounts of water, for much of their biofuels.

"Crop production for biofuels in China and India would likely jeopardize sustainable water use and thus affect irrigated production of food crops, including cereals and vegetables, which would then need to be imported in larger quantities," Charlotte de Fraiture, the study's lead author, said in a statement.

"Are these countries, particularly India which has devoted so much effort to achieving food security, adequately considering the trade-offs involved, especially the prospect of importing food to free up sufficient water and land for production of biofuel crops?"

Neither an Indian nor a Chinese government spokesman could immediately be reached for comment on the study results.

The Associated Press, Oct. 11, 2007

New Toyota Has Double Fuel Efficiency Of Prius

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will exhibit eight concept and 13 other vehicles at the upcoming 40th Tokyo Motor Show. Among the concepts is the 1/X, (pronounced “one-Xth”), a vehicle that maintains an interior space on par with that of the Prius, with a targeted fuel efficiency that is double that of the Prius and a weight reduced to 420 kilograms (about one third the weight of the Prius).

The 1/X features a 500cc flex-fuel engine and a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Built of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) throughout the body frame to ensure superior collision safety, it sports narrower pillars for a better field of vision.

Green Car Congress, Oct. 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Study: Energy Projects Could Bring 9,500 New Jobs To Iowa

A study shows Iowa could create 9,500 new jobs making equipment for sources of alternative energy.


October 10, 2007

Iowa's ethanol boom has produced fewer jobs than expected but could join with wind farms and other energy projects to create 9,500 jobs if proper incentives are offered, environmental groups reported Tuesday in Des Moines.

Sierra Club and Worldwatch Institute reported in "Destination Iowa" that ethanol created about 35 direct jobs per 50-million-gallons-a-year plant.

Such plants were expected to add as many as 1,000 jobs throughout the communities they were built in, but the report showed that a plant that size creates 133 jobs, including spinoff positions outside the plant.

"While it's clear that Iowa has reaped some economic benefits from corn-based ethanol, the current boom has also put stress on the state's environment and other sectors of the agricultural economy," said Andrew Snow, Sierra Club regional representative in Des Moines. "As the nation's leader in biofuels today, Iowa has a unique opportunity to have a positive impact on the direction that biofuels and the bioeconomy take."

The Sierra Club, along with the United Steelworkers, released a separate study Tuesday, showing that Iowa could create 9,581 jobs from manufacturers of wind turbines, solar panels and other equipment. The report says that Iowa could add as many as 457 companies making wind, solar, geothermal and biomass equipment, if the nation added 18,500 megawatts of renewable energy annually for a decade.

That's the amount of energy needed to "stabilize carbon emissions" in the United States, the groups said. Across the nation, nearly 220,000 jobs could be created with increased use of renewable energy, according to the Sierra Club and Steelworkers report.

"Why order wind turbines from Denmark to put up in Dubuque?" Snow said. "Turbines from Tama and solar panels from Pella make sense for both the environment and Iowa's economy."

The Des Moines Register, Oct. 10, 2007

First 'Blender Pumps' Now Open In Minnesota

The Associated Press - Wednesday, October 10, 2007
ORTONVILLE, Minn.--Minnesota's first so-called ethanol blender pumps, which dispense gasoline with different amounts of ethanol, have opened in this western Minnesota town.

The pumps allow motorists to choose an ethanol blend ranging from E85, which is 85 percent ethanol, down to the legally mandated E10, which contains 10 percent ethanol. All gasoline sold in Minnesota must contain at least 10 percent ethanol.

Mel Domine, the general manager of Border States Cooperative, said the co-op installed blender pumps last year to handle E85 but couldn't fully utilize them until the state's rules changed. The pumps were already in use in South Dakota.

The cooperative will hold grand opening ceremonies Thursday.

Consumers can use the pumps to choose E85, E50, E30, E20 or the standard E10 blends. However, gas containing more than 10 percent ethanol should only be used in flex-fuel vehicles.

The Associated Press, Oct. 11, 2007

'Kernals of Truth' Campaign: Ethanol Not Raising Food Prices

By DIRK LAMMERS Associated Press Writer
© 2007 The Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The South Dakota Corn Utilization Council is embarking on a public relations campaign to defend corn and its role as an alternative fuel source.

Lisa Richardson, executive director of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council, said there's no question that food prices have gone up in recent years, but corn's growing use as an ethanol feedstock is taking a disproportionate share of the blame.

The ongoing food-versus-fuel debate has prompted the council to launch its "Kernals of Truth" campaign, which says that food inputs such as grains and oilseeds account for about 19 cents of every dollar spent at the grocery store. Energy, labor, transportation, packaging and other factors accounting for the other 81 cents, Richardson said.

The Associated Press, Oct 10, 2007

"We'll take credit for our piece of it, but a lot of people are blaming us for all of it, and that's really unfair," she said.

The corn council's campaign estimates that with corn prices at around $4 a bushel, corn accounts for about 6 cents of the cost of a liter of pop, 18.6 cents per pound of beef and 2.2 cents of each box of corn flakes.

Richardson said $80-a-barrel oil is more responsible for higher food costs than ethanol.

Those sentiments were echoed last week by Chuck Conner, the acting head of the U.S. Agriculture Department.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Fuel, Grain Prices Spur Food Price Hikes

NEW YORK (AP) -- This morning, your bowl of cereal and milk probably cost you 49 cents. Last year, it was 44 cents. By next year, it could be 56 cents. It's enough to make you cry in your cornflakes.

The forces behind the rise in food prices -- China's economic boom, a growing biofuels industry and a weak U.S. dollar -- are global and not letting up anytime soon. Grocery receipts are bulging because the raw ingredients, packaging and fuel that go into the price of foodstuffs cost more than they have in decades.

It's the worst bout of food inflation since 1990, but not yet worrisome to the economy, said John Lonski, chief economist of Moody's Investor Service. While high food prices can cut into consumers' discretionary spending, the 4 percent rate of food inflation is still far below the crippling double-digit levels of the 1970s.

Still, consumers anxious for relief in the checkout line may have to keep waiting.

The Associated Press, Oct. 9, 2007

Obama Energy Plan: Pay To Pollute

by Mike Dorning

Presidential candidate Barack Obama hopes to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and combat global warming with a national auction system that would make every company pay for the right to emit smoke and other sources of carbon.

The "cap-and-trade" auction system is based on the idea that the easiest way to reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming is to simply charge a price for pollution. The approach has long been favored by environmentally minded free-market economists who believe that a pollution "price" would reduce emissions more efficiently than complex government regulations.

Under the Obama plan to be formally announced in a speech today, the government would set a national cap on carbon emissions that by 2050 would be reduced gradually to 80 percent of 1990 carbon emissions. The national cap in turn would determine the number of individual carbon allowances available for auction to industry. So the price of a carbon allowance should reach the level necessary to limit emissions to the right level.

The Baltimore Sun, Oct. 9, 2007

BlueFire California Cellulosic Ethanol Project To Receive $40 M From DOE

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and BlueFire Ethanol Fuels, Inc. (OTCBB: BFRE) today announced a cooperative agreement, which plays a critical role in bringing cellulosic ethanol to market.

The agreement provides BlueFire with the first of two stages of the Grant funding (totaling $40 million) for its second U.S. commercial ethanol production facility located in California. This facility was designated to demonstrate the economic feasibility and environmental superiority of producing cellulosic ethanol from post-sorted green waste and other cellulosic materials.

BlueFire Ethanol's California project was selected by the U.S. DOE alongside five other U.S. companies in February of this year. The program provides joint funding for the construction of a commercial cellulosic ethanol facility. This agreement finalizes the first phase of the partnership and will govern all aspects of the project leading up to construction. With the agreement in place, BlueFire will use the funds to continue pre-construction development activities which include design, environmental engineering, permitting and other preliminary activities.

BlueFire Ethanol, Oct. 8, 2007

Monday, October 8, 2007

UPS To Add 306 New 'Green' Vehicles

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - United Parcel Service Inc. knows brown. But on Monday, it further burnished its "green" side with plans to add 306 alternative-fuel trucks to its fleet and use biodiesel at its air hub in Kentucky.

The delivery company said it ordered 167 delivery trucks fueled by compressed natural gas and will receive 139 others powered by propane. The new trucks will be the first of their type to be built from scratch for use with alternative fuel. Other UPS compressed natural gas and propane trucks now in service were converted from conventional vehicles in the 1980s.

The new natural gas trucks will be deployed in Dallas and Atlanta, and in Los Angeles and three other California cities. About 800 vehicles using the fuel are already in operation in the U.S.

The propane trucks are destined for Canada and Mexico, where 600 such vehicles are already being used.

CNN Money.Com, Oct. 8, 2007

USDA Sees Happy End To Ethanol/Food Price Skirmish

By Lorraine Heller

10/8/2007 - The link between growing ethanol demand and higher food prices has been overstated, according to the US Agriculture Secretary, who forecasts that supply and price pressures will even out as markets "do their work".

Addressing the Consumer Federation of America at the end of last month, acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner said that despite short term difficulties, farmers are responding to rising commodity demands by adding acreage and boosting yields.

"Higher corn prices are not the only or even, I would argue, perhaps the most important factor in higher prices of certain retail food items," he said.

"When we break down what is happening with food prices, we do see a complex set of factors at work. It's not quite a simple equation of rising ethanol demand equals higher food prices."

Conner was addressing rising concerns related to the impact of increased ethanol demand on ingredient and food prices, as more and more corn is being pumped into the biofuels industry.

According to USDA statistics, ethanol demand for corn will rise to 3.3bn bushels this year. Some 30 new ethanol plants have been opened since last year, and another 76 are thought to be under construction, which are expected to double current production capacity to 13bn gallons by 2009.

Food Navigator News.Com, Oct. 8, 2007

U of Iowa, Brookings Institution To Co-Host Energy Forum

Cedar Rapids Gazette: IOWA CITY - The University of Iowa's Lecture Committee and the Brookings Institution will co-host an energy and national security forum Oct. 17 on the UI campus.

The Opportunity 08 forum, "Energy & National Security: Biofuels and Alternative Energy in America's Policy Debate," will be held Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Iowa Memorial Union's main lounge.

The forum, co-sponsored by the UI Office of the Vice President for Research, will feature leading policy experts from Washington D.C. and Iowa on biofuels and energy policy, the environment and national security. It will feature two panels -- the first focusing on energy security and alternative energy sources, specifically ethanol and other biofuels, and the second discussing the role that energy plays in America's foreign policy.

Iowa Bioeconomy News, Oct. 8, 2007

POET Says Iowa Cellulosic Ethanol Plant To Be Operational By 2011

NEW YORK, Reuters - U.S. private ethanol company POET said that by 2011 an Iowa plant it is converting will produce cellulosic ethanol, a emerging fuel touted by many environmentalists as low in greenhouse gases and easy on food supplies.

Project Liberty will produce more than 31 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol made from corn fiber and corn cobs.

U.S. ethanol production has boomed this year after President George W. Bush laid out millions in incentives for the domestic source of motor fuel. POET was selected in February by the Department of Energy, along with five other companies, for jointly funded cellulosic ethanol projects. POET's award is up to $80 million and can't exceed 40 percent of the project's total cost

Iowa Bioeconomy News, Oct. 8, 2007

Interested In Cellulosic Ethanol? Take A Look at Updated Wikipedia Posting

Wikipedia has recently updated the entry for “cellulosic ethanol.” What was once a brief article now includes an extensive overview and makes for a good read.

Cellulosic Ethanol, Oct. 7, 2007

Click here to go to the Wikipedia posting.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Windmills Causing Bird Deaths

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has constructed voluntary guidelines for wind developers to follow to try and minimize the risk associated with wind power and bird deaths. Although there is no way of knowing the exact number of bird deaths caused by wind power, current estimates are between 30,000 and 60,000 deaths a year. This number may sound astonishingly high, but when compared to the amount of deaths attributed to birds due to skyscrapers or vehicles, it is relatively low.

Currently, wind power generation in the U.S. only accounts for about 1 percent of power in the U.S. or roughly 3 million homes. If renewable energy is mandated to increase to 20 percent to help curb global warming, the number of bird deaths associated with wind power could increase 20 fold, to roughly 900,000 to 1.8 million deaths a year.

The Environment Blog, Oct. 7, 2007

Friday, October 5, 2007

U Conn Biodiesel Lab Snags Donation

Pratt & Whitney has donated $10,000 US to the University of Connecticut's alternative energy biodiesel laboratory, which is used by 30 undergraduate students to generate 50 gallons of biodiesel fuel per week for use in UConn vehicles. Twelve university buses run on a blend of biodiesel/diesel fuel. Pratt & Whitney's contribution which will pay the laboratory operating expenses for the next year and is in addition to payment for the renovations recent completed at the facility .

Bioenergy & Biofuels, Oct. 5, 2007

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Madison Firm Gets $2M Biomass Conversion Grant

Madison, Wis. - Virent Energy Systems, a Madison company that is developing technologies to convert biomass into renewable fuels, has been awarded a $2 million Advanced Technology Program grant from the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

The funding will support Virent's efforts to develop cellulosic pretreatment technology that could dramatically expand the volume of feedstocks available for conversion to energy.

Wisconsin Technology Network, Oct. 4, 2007

Poet , DOE Sign Agreement On Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

Poet and the U.S. DOE announced that they have signed a cooperative agreement for a commercial cellulosic ethanol project in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The agreement finalizes the first phase of a DOE award that was announced in February and will govern all aspects of the project leading up to construction. With the agreement in place, Poet will move forward on project preliminary design and engineering, environmental engineering, biomass collection and other activities.

According to the cooperative agreement, phase one of the project will last approximately 20 months. A subsequent phase two agreement will then be negotiated to cover construction which is expected to take two years. Following construction, facility operation is expected to begin in 2011.

Along with five other companies, Poet was selected in February by the DOE to negotiate a joint funding relationship to construct a commercial cellulosic ethanol production facility. Poet’s award is up to $80 million and can’t exceed 40 percent of the project’s total cost.

Project Liberty, Poet’s cellulosic project, will convert an existing 50 MMgy dry-mill ethanol plant in Emmetsburg into an integrated corn-to-ethanol and cellulose-to-ethanol biorefinery. Once complete, the facility will produce 125 MMgy, 25 percent of which will be from corn fiber and corn cobs. 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.

Ethanol Producer magazine, Oct. 4, 2007

Debunking The Ethanol Bust...

By Steve Hargreaves, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Recent reports of an ethanol bust may be greatly exaggerated.

Sure, the fuel has seen its price tumble in the last few months. Spot prices for a gallon of the stuff in Chicago went from about $2.30 five months ago to about $1.50 today, according to numbers from the Oil Price Information Service. In 2006, ethanol briefly sold for over $4 a gallon.

Plus the price of corn - the raw material for most ethanol produced in the U.S. - has nearly doubled since the start of 2006. This one-two punch has hit shares in ethanol companies - Verasun (Charts) has lost about half its value over the last year, as has Pacific Ethanol (Charts).
Sugar cane ethanol's not-so-sweet future

The drop in ethanol's price has been attributed to too much product on the market, the result of overeager investors pouring money into the sector and new plants springing up across the Midwest. But ethanol is unlikely to remain in oversupply for long, thanks to ongoing investments in bringing the product to market, a renewable energy bill that calls for expanding ethanol's use and a base price that's now about 50 cents less than gasoline.

CNN Money.Com/Sept. 4, 2007

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Ameren Offering Consumer A 'Chance' To Support Renewable Power

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- AmerenUE is giving customers a chance to support wind power and other forms of renewable energy.

The St. Louis-based utility yesterday unveiled its Pure Power initiative. Customers who sign up agree to pay an additional 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour. Ameren says the typical household would pay an addition $15 per month.

Pure Power funds are then used to purchase power from regional wind and other renewable generators on the customer's behalf.

Customers can stop participating whenever they choose, at no penalty.

An Ameren spokeswoman says that currently, more than 80 percent of power for the company is generated by coal plants.

The Associated Press, Oct. 2, 2007

Monday, October 1, 2007

WSJ: Ethanol Boom Running Out Of Gas?

October 1, 2007; Page A2

Ethanol's frenzied growth over the past year is coming to a halt -- at least for now.

The price of ethanol has fallen by 30% over the past few months as a glut of the corn-based fuel looms, while the price of ethanol's primary component, corn, had risen. That is squeezing ethanol companies' profits and pushing some ethanol plants to the brink of bankruptcy.

Financing for new ethanol plants is drying up in many areas, and plans to build are being delayed or canceled across the Midwest, as investors increasingly decide that only the most-efficient ethanol plants are worth their money.

Some ethanol companies are "under deathwatch" now, says Chris Groobey, a partner in the project-finance practice of law firm Baker & McKenzie, which has worked with lenders and private-equity funds involved with ethanol.

That could be fine for big efficient players like Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., one of the nation's biggest ethanol producers by output. ADM and other big ethanol companies probably can ride out the storm, even though they might have to scale back on their production. Smaller players may not fare as well, and may be snapped up by bigger survivors.

Wall Street Journal, Oct. 1, 2007