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

Monday, November 26, 2007

Making Biofuels from Cheese

From: Oshkosh Northwestern

Prepare for a variety of fuels from many sources, says Wisconsin entrepreneur Joe Van Groll whose start-up renewable energy company produces both ethanol and bio-diesel without a single corn kernel or soybean in sight.

The Grand Meadow Energy LLC near Stratford trucks in waste from surrounding cheese plants and raw canola oil from a nearby farm....

Van Groll is a 13-year veteran of the state's cheese industry, and his process focuses on permeate, a by-product of cheese making. But Van Groll says the technology can be used on a variety of waste streams and he sees no end in sight to its application.

His technology now turns what he refers to as "a messy problem" into a profit center for cheese plants. He buys permeate, blends it with a customized yeast culture, and produces pure alcohol ethanol. He does so at about a quarter of the cost of producing corn-based ethanol.

Two months ago, he began blending the ethanol with raw canola oil to make biodiesel. He uses the biodiesel to power a generator that produces electricity for his plant and plans to sell excess energy back to the power company.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

2007 Saw Large Increase in BioEnergy Funding

From Ethanol Producer Magazine:

“It was an unprecedented year,” says Jacques Beaudry-Losique, DOE program manager for the EERE’s Industrial Technologies Program. “This is probably the largest amount we’ve announced in a very long time. It’s certainly far higher than what was done in previous years.” Perhaps a better metric for evaluating the significance of these investments is the annual budgets for the DOE offices, Beaudry-Losique says. “The budget is really the core sign of commitment and these have been up by at least 30 percent in ’07 and ’08 versus previous years,” he says. Take the EERE, for example. The annual budget for EERE’s Biomass Program has jumped more than 60 percent from $87 million in 2005 to $224 million in 2007. Although the office’s 2008 budget had not been resolved by press time, the U.S. House appropriations bill would increase funding for the Biomass Program to $250 million while the U.S. Senate bill would increase funding to $244 million. “Now they have to agree in conference on what the final number will be so you never know,” Beaudry-Losique says. But “the outlook is very good.”

Monday, November 19, 2007

Governors Sign Energy Security and Climate Stewardship Platform and Greenhouse Gas Accord

Washington, D.C. - Ten Midwestern leaders - Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Governor Chester J. Culver of Iowa, Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio, Governor M. Michael Rounds of South Dakota, and Premier Gary Doer of Manitoba - today signed the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. Indiana, Ohio, and South Dakota are signing the agreement as observers to participate in the formation of the regional cap-and-trade system.

The historic agreement, signed at the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) Energy Security and Climate Change Summit held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will serve as a regional strategy to achieve energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

The Accord will:
* Establish greenhouse gas reduction targets and timeframes consistent with MGA member states' targets;
* Develop a market-based and multi-sector cap-and-trade mechanism to help achieve those reduction targets;
* Establish a system to enable tracking, management, and crediting for entities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and
* Develop and implement additional steps as needed to achieve the reduction targets, such as a low-carbon fuel standards and regional incentives and funding mechanisms.

Source: Midwest Governor's Association

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Kentucky Invests in Bioenergy

From Bowling Green Daily News:

Kentucky has potentially maxed out on new investments for grain-based ethanol production, but there could be a new energy source on the horizon - cellulose from wood and native grasses.

There has been more than $9 million in Kentucky Agriculture Development funds and even more in private investment made in Commonwealth Agri-energy in Hopksinville, and now Alltech Inc. of Nicholasville has plans for a $40 million biorefinery in Springfield that would produce 10 million gallons of grain-based ethanol a year. The company, however, also plans to move into cellulose-based ethanol production.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Global Bioenergy Report Released At World Energy Conference

Posted by Giles Clark, London

Capturing the full potential of biofuels means overcoming environmental and social constraints and removing trade barriers, which are hindering the development of a worldwide market, according to a new report released by the Global Bioenergy Parnership (GBEP).

Potential conflicts between bioenergy production and the protection of the environment, sustainable development, food security of the rural poor and the economic development of countries supplying feedstock should be urgently addressed, according to the report “A Review of the Current State of Bioenergy Development in G8 +5 Countries”, issued today at the 20th World Energy Congress (WEC – Rome 2007).

“Developing bioenergy represents the most immediate and available response to at least five key challenges and opportunities: coping with record-high crude-oil prices; the need for oil-importing countries to reduce their dependence on a limited number of exporting nations by diversifying their energy sources and suppliers; the chance for emerging economies in tropical regions to supply the global energy market with competitively priced liquid biofuels; meeting growing energy demand in developing countries, in particular to support development in rural areas; and the commitments taken to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions as part of the battle against climate change,” said Corrado Clini, Chairman of the GBEP and Director General of the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, at the press conference presenting the report.

“Bioenergy” Clini added, “is already a real alternative to fossil fuels and at the same time, as demonstrated in Brazil, can become the driving force for development in some of the world’s poorest regions.”

Biofuel Review, Nov. 15, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

DuPont Expands In Biotech Arena

$2.3 billion revenue expected by 2012
By GARY HABER, The News Journal

Next-generation alternative fuels, plant-derived ingredients for silkier skin lotions, and textiles made from a corn-based polymer that helps carpets shed stains are part of DuPont Co.'s expanding push into biological materials.

Sales from such bioscience products are expected to generate annual revenue of $2.3 billion in 2012, the company's executives told financial analysts and investors Tuesday.

"These are large opportunities with the potential for solid growth," Charles O. Holliday Jr., DuPont's chairman, said at a daylong conference at DuPont's Experimental Station research and development complex.

Holliday and other top executives laid out the strategy for DuPont's Applied BioSciences business and gave a glimpse of products already on the market or soon to come.
Delaware Online, Nov. 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Corn-Based Ethanol In Illinois And the U.S.: A University of Illinois Report

November 2007

Summary: The U.S. ethanol boom – what are the causes, attendant effects on Illinois and U.S. agriculture, and alternative futures? These are some of the issues addressed in this report from the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois. The goal of this report is to provide objective information to Illinois stakeholders, cutting through the emotional, political and economic self-interests that often dominate discussions about ethanol production and use.

To access the full report and download sections, please go to:

U of I Ethanol Report

Iowa Energy Leaders Want Congress To Allow Loans To Non-Farmers

Leaders in Iowa’s renewable energy field are asking Congressional leaders to change federal law so Farm Credit would be allowed to make loans to build ethanol and biodiesel plants that do not have a majority of farmer-stockholders as owners.

harkin.jpgThis story in Wallaces Farmer says they’ve sent a letter to both of Iowa’s U.S. Senators, Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin, and to other senators asking for support of the change to Farm Credit’s lending authority because of the problems expanding the renewable fuels industry and maintaining its profitability. The new farm bill, currently under debate, has an amendment with the change:grassley.jpg

The current economic climate is challenging, to say the least,” says Sam Cogdill, president of Amaizing Energy LLC, an ethanol plant at Denison in western Iowa. He is one of eight people representing ethanol and biodiesel plants across the state who signed the letter.

“We understand the struggles of expanding the ethanol and biodiesel industry and trying to keep it profitable in changing economic times,” he adds. “Rising input costs and other factors are creating increasingly smaller margins for ethanol and biodiesel producers.”

But bankers are balking at the idea:

The Farm Credit System was created under a federal charter years ago and operates as a cooperative. “As a government-sponsored lender, they have certain advantages we don’t have,” says Jim Schipper, president of American State Bank at Osceola and current chairman of the Iowa Bankers Association.

Domestic Fuel (Alternative Fuel News), Nov. 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Clemson U Hosting Switchgrass Conference

CLEMSON — In a move to bring more crops into the biofuel mix, Clemson University is hosting a conference to explore alternative fuels, Switchgrass: Energy of the Future, on Thursday in Florence.

By assembling an inter-disciplinary team of scientists, legislators and corporate sponsors, which will be named at the conference, Clemson hopes to bring switchgrass into the biofuel mainstream.

Switchgrass is a drought-resistant perennial and native to the central prairies of the United States. It can grow in poor soils, in sun or some shade and it can be used as livestock forage. In appearance switchgrass looks like many of the ornamental grasses used in landscaping in South Carolina, often reaching heights of 6 feet or more.

Switchgrass is considered a good candidate for biofuel, especially ethanol fuel production, because of it hardiness, experts said.

It grows rapidly, needs little fertilizer or care and tolerates poor soils and stressful climate conditions, according to Clemson researchers.

The new word in biofuels technology is “cellulosic.” Cellulosic ethanol is chemically identical to ethanol from other sources, such as corn starch, but is more abundant and cheaper to grow. However, it does require higher levels of energy to extract the sugar used to make the ethanol.

Clemson Independent Mail. Com, Nov. 12, 2007

WSJ: Energy Bills 1 Step Forward, 1 Step Back

November 12, 2007; Page R14

In its efforts to set the U.S. on the road toward energy independence, Congress may be constructing a detour.

The House and Senate have passed separate energy bills and are now working on combining the two into final legislation that could come up for a vote by the end of the year.

Both bills are designed to lessen American reliance on foreign oil, in part by mandating far greater use of corn-based ethanol and so-called cellulosic ethanol, which is made from biomass like grasses and wood chips. The Senate bill also calls for higher fuel-economy standards.

Here's the catch: Anything that creates uncertainty about demand for gasoline over the long term means less incentive for refiners in the U.S. to expand their capacity. And that means greater reliance on gasoline imports in the near term, at least until ethanol becomes a mainstream fuel. And that, of course, is the opposite of energy independence.

Wall Street Journal, Nov. 12, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pro Hockey Team To Host 'Ethanol Awareness Night'

Kearney, Nebraska’s Tri-City Storm hockey team is planning to host an “Ethanol Awareness Night” in conjunction with a February home game, according to the United States Hockey League (USHL).

The Friday, Feb. 8 hockey game will be designated as Ethanol Awareness Night. Sponsors in support of the game night event will be on hand to visit with fans about the impact of ethanol on the community. The promotion is being endorsed by the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

“A Storm hockey game provides a unique platform to reach a captive audience, and many companies have found this avenue as a means to display or convey a mass marketed message,” said team vice president of operations, Greg Shea. “We have many fans and business partners that are connected in one way or another to the agricultural community, and thus we intend to use our home games from time-to-time to generate interest and enthusiasm about topics that impact our local economy.”

Domestic Fuel, Nov. 9, 2007

ARS: DDGS Can Be Pelletized Easily

One hundred percent of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), a byproduct of ethanol production, can be pelletized without adding a binding agent or anything else, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators.

ARS agricultural engineeer Kurt Rosentrater has turned DDGS from corn-based ethanol production into high-quality pellets using processing equipment at a commercial feed mill. And the heating used in pelletizing did not harm the high-protein, low-starch nutrient content. Rosentrater is at the ARS North Central Agricultural Research Labor-atory, Brookings, S.D. He does this research with colleagues at ARS and at nearby South Dakota State University.

Cattle feed is currently the primary outlet for distillers grain. But other livestock such as swine and poultry can also eat it. To date, there are no commercial DDGS pellets available for livestock, which limits the byproduct's use in rangeland settings. DDGS is the protein, fat, fiber, unconverted starch and ash left over after ethanol production.

Farm & Ranch Guide, Nov. 11, 2007

Biofuel Plants: Aggressive Weeds or Panacea?

By Timothy Gardner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New plants the biofuels industry has touted as potential sources of green domestic fuels pose risks as aggressive weeds that could damage farms and other ecosystems.

Botanists like Richard Mack at Washington State University said the new crops must be considered to help ease tightening oil supplies, but that they should be studied carefully before the nascent industry develops the new energy source.

Some could "jump the fence" and encroach on food crops or suffocate irrigation ditches and water systems in the U.S. West, where water supplies are tight, he said.

Plants like miscanthus, switchgrass and giant reed grow rapidly in dense formations and have few pests and diseases -- traits companies say would make them ideal for biofuels., Nov. 9, 2007

In Iowa, Ethanol A "Sacred Cow" For Presidential Hopefuls

By Andrew Stern
Friday, November 9, 2007; 8:56 AM

MUSCATINE, Iowa (Reuters) - For Iowans, ethanol is a home-grown success story few presidential candidates would dare sully in their search for votes as the harvest season ends and campaigns ramp up in earnest.

In stump speeches and position papers, Democratic and Republican hopefuls vying for Iowa's January 3 first-in-the-nation caucuses pay regular homage to the biofuels industry.

The industry has created tens of thousands of jobs in Iowa -- and more than 150,000 across the United States -- and is credited with lifting the prices paid to farmers for their crops, and even eased the pain at the gas pump.

"Anything that helps the farm economy gets votes here," said Kenny Strasser, 62, whose family raises grain crops in Marengo.

But all is not well in the biofuels industry.

Ethanol plants in Iowa, the leading U.S. state for both corn and ethanol production, are struggling to make a profit despite soaring oil prices. A few plants on the drawing board have halted construction as price margins have shrunk due to a doubling of corn prices to near 10-year highs. Demand from ethanol producers consumed a quarter of the U.S. crop.

The country's ever-expanding ethanol output of 7 billion gallons (32 billion liters) this year, which gets blended with gasoline usually at a 10 percent ratio, does put a dent in America's growing appetite for gasoline, which is roughly 140 billion gallons (636 billion liters).

"It's tough because of the disconnect between ethanol producers and the consumer," said Monte Shaw, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association in Des Moines. Consumers want blended fuel, but cannot always get it, he said.

Regional gluts of ethanol, pushing down prices, have been caused by purported distribution bottlenecks. But Shaw said the problems were illusory, created by oil companies resistant to a competing industry's product.

Washington, November 9, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

U Of Wisconsin Survey: 3 Of 4 Americans Favors Ethanol Use

By Tom Johnston on 11/2/2007 for

Despite agriculture’s skepticism about the feasibility of relying on renewable fuels to reduce America’s reliance on foreign fuels, the general public favors the idea of filling their gas tanks with corn-based ethanol and the like.

According to a recent survey, some 74 percent of Americans say the United States should increase domestic production of renewable fuels.

Those polled also said Washington should play a role in supporting such efforts. Eight-seven percent indicated the government should actively support the development of a renewable fuels industry, and 77 percent feel Congress should encourage oil refiners to blend more ethanol into their gasoline products.

Meantime, Americans don’t appear to believe that ethanol production is the root cause of an increase in food prices, with 84 percent saying there is something other than ethanol to blame. Higher oil prices (46 percent), increased global demand (15 percent) and poor weather conditions such as drought (14 percent) were cited over ethanol production (7 percent).

University of Wisconsin News Service, Nov. 8, 2007

U.S Renewable Energy Investment : Trends, Opportunities Report Now Available On-Line

LYON, France--(BUSINESS WIRE) announces that a new market research report related to the American energy industry is available in its catalogue.

To order "Renewable Energy Investment in the U.S.," access: Investment.html

(Due to its length, this URL may need to be copied/pasted into your Internet browser's address field. Remove the extra space if one exists.)


This report is the first research study to focus exclusively on the emerging renewable energy (RE) investment market in the United States, a vast and complex market in the process of rapid evolution. Four primary RE technology sectors are covered: solar power, wind power, biofuels, and fuel cells.

“Renewable Energy Investment in the U.S.” demystifies the financial complexities surrounding the rapidly evolving RE market and clearly explains the new investment architecture taking shape to support RE—involving a blending of venture capital and private equity firms, banks, brokers, funds, corporations, and governments.

The report explores the new financial vehicles being created to fund RE development—including power purchase agreements, renewable energy credits, and potential carbon markets.

For more information, contact Nicolas Bombourg by email at, or by phone +33 4 37 65 17 03.

Business Wire, Nov. 8, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Arizona State Launches Biofuel Initiative With BP

Posted by Giles Clark, London

Arizona State University has announced a significant research partnership with energy company BP and Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) to develop a renewable source of biofuel. The research effort, says ASU, focuses on using a specially optimized photosynthetic bacterium to produce biodiesel.

"This project illustrates the type of high impact research that is possible when state, industry and academic leaders converge on an urgent societal problem," said George Poste, director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. "We are delighted to be part of an international research effort with BP and SFAz to reduce our transportation economy's dependency on oil and develop cleaner, sustainable sources of energy."

The use of renewable, photosynthetic bacteria in the production of biofuel eliminates the need for costly and complex processing. In addition, the large-scale microbial cultivation, using only solar energy and an environmentally controlled production facility, can be set up on arid land, explains ASU.

The renewable technology holds significant promise, with an estimated high biomass-to-fuel yield. Furthermore, because the bacteria are dependent upon carbon dioxide for growth, a more environmentally friendly and potentially carbon neutral energy source is feasible. The small footprint needed for bacterial biofuel production allows the technology to be placed adjacent to power generating stations and the utilization of flue gas as a carbon source.

"The proposal from Arizona State University was funded due to the superb caliber of scientists leading the project and the great untapped potential of microorganism-driven biofuel production," said William C. Harris, president and CEO of SFAz.

Biofuel Review, Nov. 7, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

'Designer Biofuels' May Replace Gas

LS9's commercial production may begin in three to five years
By Julia Scott , STAFF WRITER

SAN CARLOS — The mysterious liquid potions that keep scientists at LS9 Inc. so busy at their crowded lab in San Carlos may be unrecognizable, but they someday might become the world's two most valuable fuels: gasoline and diesel.

The Silicon Valley startup claims to have developed a new technique to make industrial-scale "designer biofuels" in the lab from the same ingredients as ethanol, such as corn or sugar cane. The major difference is that the fuels will act as a direct replacement for gasoline or diesel, making them more valuable than a gasoline supplement like ethanol.

LS9's biofuels also are designed to flow into the same pipes and gas tanks as gasoline, whereas ethanol must be trucked in.

When the company begins production on a commercial scale — which LS9 leaders say could happen within three to five years — every gallon of fuel they produce will replace a gallon of fuel produced by the burning of fossil fuels. They also will be the first company to take their science to the market.

"People already know where to go for gas. There's a whole infrastructure that would be built around our products," said Gregory Pal, senior director of corporate development for LS9,ticking off the benefits. "From our perspective, the goal is to bring the technology to market as quickly as possible in terms of something that's already compatible."

If the technology pans out, it would come at a welcome time for a market increasingly hungry for domestic sources of fuel.

Pal says his products would start at around $50 a barrel in a market currently trading at record highs of more than $90 a barrel.

San Mateo County Times, Nov. 6, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

Large Glycerin Surplus Seen From Biodiesel Production By 2010

Biodiesel production from vegetable oils or animal fats produces a large percentage (as much as 10%) of glycerin (glycerol) as a by-product. With a view on making the best use of this ever increasing by-product, the University Rey Juan Carlos (URJC) in Madrid has undertaken a research project entitled “Transformation of glycerine in biodiesel” which focuses on its recyclability. It estimates that in the next few years there will be a surplus of cheap glycerin in Europe since a parliamentary directive stated states that by the year 2010, 5.75% of the petrol and diesel sold for transport must be a biofuel.

Biopact, Nov. 5, 2007

The New New Fuel: Cellulosic Ethanol

BURLINGAME, CALIF. - Turning wood chips into fuel isn't quite like turning water into wine, but it's still a pretty impressive feat. On Tuesday, a company backed by Vinod Khosla, one of Silicon Valley's most successful venture capitalists, will break ground on a plant that will do just that.

Range Fuels, a Colorado-based start-up funded by Khosla Ventures, is building the first commercial-scale plant in the U.S. (and very likely in the world) that will produce the next generation of ethanol--called cellulosic ethanol--in the small town of Soperton, Ga., about three hours south of Atlanta. So far ethanol in the U.S. has been produced almost exclusively from corn. In Brazil, ethanol is produced from sugar cane.

"This plant establishes the fact that the technology for next-generation ethanol is here," Vinod Khosla said, in an interview with "This is ethanol that has 75% less carbon emissions, 75% less land use and 75% less water use" than ethanol produced from corn. The carbon emissions and use of natural resources are common criticisms of the corn-ethanol industry.

These are not the best of times for ethanol producers. A supply glut has put a hold on construction of a number of ethanol plants in the U.S., including a plant in Iowa planned by VeraSun Energy (nyse: VSE - news - people ). Ethanol futures prices have fallen from slightly more than $4 a gallon in mid-2006 to below $2 a gallon currently.

But Khosla isn't at all dismayed by the current rough patch for ethanol. "I believe it's a short-term thing. There are worldwide markets for this [fuel]. We happen to be talking about a market [the U.S.] that is protected. Range intends to be a global provider," he says.

The U.S. imposes a 51-cent-per-gallon tariff on ethanol imported from other countries. Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, says the tariff on imported ethanol offsets a tax incentive given to the petroleum industry to entice those producers to blend ethanol into gasoline.

Forbes, Nov. 5, 2007

Counting On Canola: High School District Farm Hoping For Biodiesel Cash Crop

FIELD WORK: Students work a field at the Shasta Union High School District Farm late last month. The district and Shasta College have partnered with the California Community College Advanced Transportation Technology and Energy Initiative to grow canola seed as an experimental fuel crop.

Photo courtesy of Kayla Corson

By Rob Rogers (Contact)
Monday, November 5, 2007

FIELD WORK: Students work a field at the Shasta Union High School District Farm late last month. The district and Shasta College have partnered with the California Community College Advanced Transportation Technology and Energy Initiative to grow canola seed for an experimental alternative fuel project.

Ross Hamilton was just looking for a cheaper way to fuel his farm equipment.

What he ended up with is a cutting-edge biodiesel project that ultimately could become a state model for farmers to grow their own fuel.

"The state wants this to be a beta site," said Suzanne Clark, assistant project director with Shasta College's Small Business Development Center.

Hamilton is Shasta Union High School District's agriculture department chair and runs the district's 25-acre farm off Eastside Road south of downtown Redding.

Last month, he and agriculture teacher Noah Corp had their students plant 3 acres with canola, a special type of rapeseed related to mustard. Processed canola oil can be used as biodiesel.

"It's a big experiment," Hamilton said.

If the canola grows, Hamilton, Corp and their students will harvest the seeds in late May or early June and convert them into biodiesel to be used in the farm's trucks and tractors.

It's experimental for a couple of reasons, Hamilton said. The farm is the first one in the north state to grow the crop and is doing it on nonirrigated fields., Nov. 5, 2007

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Central Illinois Farmer Developing Miscanthus As Commercial Bioenergy Crop

by Myke Feinman, BioFuels Journal Editor

MONTICELLO, IL--John Caveny, a Monticello, IL, farmer, has been raising miscanthus as an energy crop since 2002.

Caveny brokered a deal this year with Speedling Incorporated, Nipomo, CA to sell miscanthus seedlings to farmers across the United States to plant as an energy crop.

“This is the first time miscanthus has been available on a commercial basis,” Caveny said.

The perennial crop is harvested between the fall and spring; it takes three years to mature and lasts at least 30 years.

It can be harvested with a standard forage implement and can be stored in dry form, chopped or pelletized for utilization as an energy crop.

A stem of eight to 12 inches is left as stubble along with leaves.

New shoots come up in the spring.

BioFuels Journal, Nov. 3, 2007

Poet Testing Corn Cobs For Fuel Feedstock

HURLEY, S.D. (AP) — The piles of corn cobs sitting on Darrin Ihnen's family farm that not too long ago would have been considered field waste represent energy potential to ethanol producer Poet.

The Sioux Falls-based company, which has been making ethanol from corn for more than 20 years, is working with Ihnen and several farm equipment manufacturers to develop ways to harvest, store and transport cobs that could one day join kernels as an alternative fuel feedstock.

``Cobs surround our facilities,'' said Jeff Broin, Poet's president and chief executive officer. ``It's a natural feedstock for us.''

Privately held Poet, formerly Broin Cos., plans to expand its 50-million-gallon-per-year dry-mill plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, to produce 125 million gallons per year — 25 percent of them from corn cobs and fiber.

Associated Press, Nov. 3, 2007

Thursday, November 1, 2007

MIT Students Have Prize-Winning Plan to Convert People 'Power' Into Electricity

(USA TODAY) -- Crowds of people the next renewable source of energy? OK, it's not likely to happen in the immediate future, but it's a feasible prospect, say two architecture students who have a prize-winning plan to turn human power into electricity.

OK, it's not likely to happen in the immediate future, but it's a feasible prospect, say two architecture students who have a prize-winning plan to turn human power into electricity.

"Almost everyone has felt a concrete floor quiver or walked down a staircase that vibrates each time their foot falls," says James Graham, 27, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "What they're feeling is the energy they're producing being absorbed by the structure. And it made us wonder: Where could we be gathering that energy from?"

In April, Graham and Thaddeus Jusczyk, also a graduate student at MIT, took home the top prize at an international sustainable-construction competition in China.

There, they presented an idea they call the Crowd Farm. It's a responsive sub-flooring system of blocks that depress slightly under the force of human steps, Graham says. If such a system were installed beneath a train station's lobby, for instance, the slippage of blocks against one another as crowds of people walked would generate electricity-producing power.

"We're simply taking small vibrations and converting them into energy," Graham says. "People all over the world are working on actual technologies like this to convert human power into energy."

USA Today, Nov. 1, 2007

Remember Gasohol? Bioeconomy May Transform Iowa’s Future

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 1:43 PM MDT

Once upon a time, Iowa farmers started making and at least attempting to sell a product they called gasohol.

Born in the late 1970s --- when oil prices were soaring and corn production was climbing as well --- the idea was to develop a new product for Midwestern crops and reduce the nation’s dependence on oil imports.

It really started with an earlier effort to coax high-fructose syrup out of corn, according to Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, a farmer and former National Corn Growers Association president.

“That started us thinking more about the components of the crop,” Northey explains. “And, one thing led to another.”

Today, gasohol has graduated to ethanol, as well as E-85, biodiesel, and various lubricants and fabrics made from starch and other plant-based items.

Over the horizon are myriad opportunities for items, such as cellulosic ethanol, as well as plant-based pharmaceuticals and other unexplored ideas.

Call it the biofuture.

“This is going to happen,” says Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture at Iowa State University.

The bigger question, Winstersteen says, is how this biofuture will unfold and whether Iowa and other Midwestern states will make the most of what she views as a unique opportunity to transform the culture, the economy and even the landscape.

Northey agrees. The key is farmers and agribusiness are looking at various components of crops and are trying to see how they can better use those components, he adds.

The Prairie Star, Nov. 1, 2007

Mike Keefe
Denver Post
Nov 1, 2007