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

Monday, March 31, 2008

Cornell to Launch New Biofuels Lab

The Cornell Daily Sun

March 25, 2008 - 12:00am
By Wendy Wang

As corn becomes an increasingly popular ethanol source, the spotlight falls on the biofuels field as its researchers study how to convert crops like switchgrass and woody plants into energy. This is evident at Riley-Robb Hall, where the east wing is being converted into a new biofuels research laboratory. Prof. Larry Walker, biological and environmental engineering, is spearheading the large-scale project, slated for completion next January.

Walker received a $10 million grant from Empire State Development Cor­poration, with $6 million going towards the east wing renovation and the other $4 million to equip the new laboratory with incubators, fermentors and other machinery necessary to allow Cornell to convert cellulosic material, like switchgrass and other perennial grasses, into ethanol,from start to finish.

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Growing Sustainable Biofuels: Common Sense on Biofuels

Part 2
WorldChanging Team
March 12, 2008 2:12 PM

The future of the Earth could well hinge on the future of earth, the soil beneath our feet.One statistic makes clear why – soils and plants growing on them contain 2.7 times more carbon than the atmosphere. Outside the oceans they represent the Earth’s largest store of biological carbon. Using soils and plants in ways that release carbon intensifies climate change. This is the second greatest source of climate-disrupting greenhouse gases after fossil-fuel burning.

On the other hand, employing the land to soak up atmospheric carbon increasingly appears central to averting global climate meltdown, quite literally.

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Scientists Determine Farm Costs of Producing Switchgrass for Ethanol

USDA, Agricultural Research Service
By Jan Suszkiw
March 6, 2008

Following up on a net-energy study published in the January Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a team of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) scientists today reports the on-farm economic costs of producing switchgrass for cellulosic ethanol.

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Kan. Gov. Vetoes Coal-Fired Power Plants

No Veto Override Expected on Bill Aimed At Building Greenhouse Gas-Emitting Power Stations

CBS News
TOPEKA, Kan., March 22, 2008

(AP) Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill Friday allowing two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas, but supporters promised to renew their efforts to make sure they get built.

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Farmers Cut Back on Corn and Add Soybeans

The New York Times Business
Published: March 31, 2008

Strong worldwide food demand, and the accompanying higher prices, are beginning to influence American farmers.

A government report released Monday indicated that farmers intended to make significant cuts in corn acreage in favor of soybeans. That could help ease shortages of cooking oil, which have hit poor countries hard.

The shift also signaled at least a temporary decline in the appeal in farm country of the renewable fuels boom, much of which is based on corn. High corn prices and low ethanol prices have turned ethanol production into a difficult business.

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Foundation to plant 1,000 acres of switchgrass in Panhandle

Tulsa World
By Associated Press
3/7/2008 11:36 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation plans to plant 1,000 acres of switchgrass in the Oklahoma Panhandle as part of a biofuels research project.The switchgrass will be planted near Guymon on land leased from agriculture producers, who will have the option to plant and cultivate the crop with the foundation's support.

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Pondscum may power future

Scientists predict algae ethanol could outperform corn, soybeans

3/21/2008 6:00:00 AM
Courtesy of Oregon State University

Elizabeth Larson
Capital Press

Say the word "biofuel" and what first pops into most peoples minds' is corn, soybeans or switchgrass for ethanol.

But the burgeoning biofuels field has another star waiting in the wings - algae.

In the Sustainable Technologies Lab at Oregon State University-Corvallis, Assistant Professor Ganti Murthy is leading a team of student researchers who are researching how to efficiently distill algae into ethanol.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Cattle: Mixing Dry Materials With Wet Ethanol Byproducts Increases Storage Life

Cattle Network
Source: University of Nebraska Ag Extension
Posted 3-27-08 2:01 p.m.

LINCOLN, Neb. — Wet byproducts from ethanol production are tricky to store for later use as cattle feed because of their high moisture content and threat of spoilage, but mixing them with drier, bulkier feeds improves storability, according to University of Nebraska-Lincoln research.

UNL animal scientists have just completed research that devised formulas for mixing several widely available dry forages with wet distillers grains. Their findings could help feedlot managers and cow-calf producers purchase wet distillers grains during the summer when their plentiful supply can mean lower prices and safely store them for use later in the season, or for winter feeding.

The relatively short shelf life of wet distillers grains has been a key obstacle to their use as feed in some situations, said Galen Erickson, a UNL beef nutritionist. Feedlots need to have the material delivered frequently and use it within a few days to avoid spoilage; for smaller operations, that's not economically feasible. Cow-calf operators, meantime, have greatest use for the feed during the winter, but that's when supplies tend to be lower than during the summer.

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PG&E and BioEnergy Solutions Turn the Valve on California's First 'Cow Power' Project

The Earth News
Posted : Tue, 04 Mar 2008 18:31:16 GMT
Author : Pacific Gas and Electric Company

FRESNO, Calif., March 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Pacific Gas and Electric Company and BioEnergy Solutions today announced that their biogas-to-pipeline injection project in Fresno County has begun production of renewable natural gas derived from animal waste. It is the first project in California that will deliver pipeline-quality, renewable natural gas to a utility.

"With nearly two million dairy cows in California, there is great potential for the state's agriculture and power sectors to work together to address the challenges of climate change," said Roy Kuga, vice president of energy supply at PG&E. "This project is yet another example of our company's commitment to add innovative forms of clean renewable energy to help meet our customers' future power needs."

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Sugar-fuel idea simmers - Madison firm seeks gas alternative

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online
Posted: March 26, 2008

Europe's largest oil company, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and Madison-based Virent Energy Systems Inc. are teaming up to find ways to produce gasoline directly from plant sugars, a move that could eventually reduce costs associated with biofuels.

Virent is using catalysts to convert plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules similar to those produced at petroleum refineries. The resulting "biogasoline" has a higher energy content than ethanol and could deliver better fuel efficiency, researchers say.

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Carbon Capture

Exchange Morning Post
Business, Economics, Education, Entrepreneurs,Environment, Science and Technology

Towards carbon-negative bioenergy: Scientists develop low-cost material for capturing carbon dioxide from smokestacks Biopact - Scientists and engineers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are reporting development of a new, low-cost material for capturing carbon dioxide from the smokestacks of electric power plants and other industrial sources before the notorious greenhouse gas enters the atmosphere.

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Small biomass is not necessarily beautiful

Sustainable Futures: EnvironmentalResearchWeb (UK)
by: Liz Kalaugher, editor of environmentalresearchweb
Mar 27, 2008

Burning biomass to produce electricity creates airborne pollutants not just as a result of the combustion but also during the growth, transport and processing of the biomass. With that in mind, UK researcher Patricia Thornley from the University of Manchester has carried out a whole-system modelling study of emissions from power generation systems based on burning willow and the perennial grass miscanthus.

"Bioenergy has huge potential to reduce carbon emissions but this can be at the expense of increasing other environmental impacts," Thornley told environmentalresearchweb. "In particular, many facilities in the UK have struggled with objections related to traffic and transport of biomass material."

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Agricultural scientist studies switchgrass as bioenergy crop

3/17/2008, 6:02 p.m. EDT
The Associated Press

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) — Farmers in the Upper Peninsula who want to play a role in alternative energy may soon be adding a new crop to their list — switchgrass.

Agricultural scientist Doo-Hong Min has been studying the grass as a potential supplemental bioenergy crop for the past four years at the Michigan State University U.P. Experiment Station in Chatham.

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Texas AgriLife Research Establishes 14 State-Sponsored Bioenergy Projects

Ag News: Texas A&M Agriculture Program
March 21, 2008
Writer: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259,

COLLEGE STATION – Texas AgriLife Research has established 14 bioenergy projects funded by $4 million from the Texas Legislature.

Research involves extensive plant science activities, investigating potential harvest and transportation methods for bioenergy production, and comprehensive economic analysis, said Dr. Mark Hussey, agency director.

“This is a multi-faceted research effort across Texas,” Hussey said. “These activities focus not just on developing feedstocks for bioenergy use, but innovation in the harvest, transportation and environmental aspects of alternative energy. We hope many of these activities can be applied not just here in the Lone Star state, but across the U.S.”

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Bioenergy Laboratory Planned at OSU

By David Page
March 10, 2008

STILLWATER – A new $1.2 million laboratory at Oklahoma State University will enhance biofuels research, including development of gasification-fermentation conversion technology.

“This new facility will enhance Oklahoma’s collective ability to make more rapid progress in solving widespread energy needs, lessening national dependence on foreign oil and strengthening the state’s energy industry,” Gov. Brad Henry said Friday at a ceremony in Stillwater kicking off construction of the bioenergy laboratory.

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