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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

OPINION: How Free Trade Can Help Solve the Energy Crisis

The Wall Street Journal
July 26, 2008; Page A9

The unprecedented escalation in oil and food prices is a clear and present danger to our economy and national security. The root cause of this crisis is our dependence on a single commodity, oil, for transportation -- we burn 145 billion gallons of gasoline a year. The only permanent solution is diversity in our fuel supply to ensure competition and choice in the marketplace.

While a number of alternatives to oil are being developed, we already have one strategic solution at our disposal: biofuels, both domestic and from Latin America.

Biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel are cheaper than fossil fuels, and will become even cheaper if we eliminate the senseless tariff on ethanol imports from Brazil. Ethanol can be used safely as a 10% blend with gasoline in all existing cars, and as an 85% blend in the increasing number of flexible-fuel cars on our roads. That means a 10% to 85% potential drop in gasoline use and, hence, freedom from the oil stranglehold.

Read the full opinion

Shaping Oklahoma’s Renewable Energy Future

7/17/2008 3:23:00 PM

STILLWATER, Okla. – Traditional economies may suggest that bigger is better, but the Oklahoma State University Biofuels Team has received widespread recognition for cautioning that is not the case with all forms of renewable energy.

“Our vision of the future intersection of energy and agriculture involves a decentralized energy production system,” said Danielle Bellmer, OSU coordinator of the team’s development efforts with sweet sorghum ethanol.

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State grant continues ethanol corn research (MI)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A new state consortium has awarded financial grants to two mid-Michigan universities in hopes of jump-starting the economy.

The Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a group of Michigan's public universities, announced its first grants Wednesday -- including ones to Saginaw Valley State University and Central Michigan University.

The organization will distribute about $1.3 million to 20 projects.

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Auto Industry Redesigns Engines While Ethanol Debate Rages


E85 engines are on their way, but some still question the value of ethanol
Charles J. Murray, Senior Technical Editor -- Design News, July 17, 2008

In essence, it’s grain alcohol. Moonshine. Hooch.

But this hooch is about to change the way we power our vehicles. Ethanol, as it’s better known, has emerged as a key part of the national energy debate.

It’s seen as a solution to a variety of ills, ranging from high gas prices to global warming to an unquenchable thirst for foreign oil. As such, farmers, politicians and auto executives are calling for accelerated production of it.

“We believe that sustainable biofuels are the right way to go,” says General Motors Spokesman Alan Adler. “That’s why we’ve committed to making half of our U.S. production E85-capable by 2012.”

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Power point supplies hybrid's charge

Mercury - The Voice of Tasmania
July 23, 2008 12:00am

AN ethanol-electric car that can plug into an ordinary power point for a recharge is being built in Sandy Bay.

The University of Tasmania's Engineering Department hopes to complete the $18,000 two-seat prototype, using a Toyota Corolla body, as soon as this year. The car follows a plug-in hybrid motor scooter the department developed last year.

Engineering professor Vishy Karri said the car was as advanced as any in the world -- and he wanted to see it manufactured locally.

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2nd UPDATE: EU Offers To Cut Tariffs On Ethanol Imports

BRUSSELS (Dow Jones)--The European Union is offering to cut its tariffs on ethanol imports as part of talks at the World Trade Organization, a plan that would subject the E.U.'s nascent ethanol industry to more competition from low-cost Brazilian imports.

The proposal made this week would cut tariffs on 1.4 million metric tons of ethanol imports annually by 2020, worth $1 billion each year, E.U. officials said Friday. Without tariffs, much of the E.U.'s ethanol industry can't compete with Brazilian ethanol, which is made from sugar, one of the cheapest production methods.

E.U. producers tend to rely on cereals, which is much less efficient.

European ethanol producers opposed the concession.

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Our view on energy: Ethanol production soars, but its allure plummets

USA Today: Opinion

Diversion of corn crop to fuel raises food costs, stokes instability abroad.

For the past quarter-century, U.S. energy policy has been generally non-existent. To the extent there has been one, it has been to keep gasoline cheap. But one element stands out as a dramatic exception to this minimalist approach. Through a series of generous tax subsidies and production mandates, the use of corn-based ethanol has soared.

Read the full opinion

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What's Driving Food Prices?

Farm Foundation Report
July 2008

Read the report

Heavyweights to Lobby for More Biofuel

The Washington Post
Local Briefing
Friday, July 25, 2008; Page D04


A group of the world's biggest agribusiness companies announced it will use lobbyists on Capitol Hill and national ads to build the case for fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, even as grain prices climb worldwide.

The biofuels industry has blossomed under federal mandates requiring the United States to increase alternative fuel usage by 2009. The mandates are under attack from groups who blame the new industry for rising food prices that have sparked riots and hoarding in several countries.

Read the full story

Harkin: Gas cheaper because of ethanol

The Hill

Leading The News
By Ian Swanson
Posted: 07/24/08 11:39 AM [ET]

Ethanol is keeping gas prices as much as 40 cents cheaper, according to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), one of the Senate’s top supporters of corn-based renewable fuels.

As a result, the Bush administration should deny Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) request that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cut in half the federal mandate requiring the oil industry to blend 9 million gallons of ethanol into the nation’s gas supply, Harkin said.

“Ethanol is keeping gas 24 to 40 cents cheaper than it otherwise would be,” Harkin said in a Thursday conference call with reporters. “So consumers are benefiting from that, and that should not be overlooked.”

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Kansas Bioscience Authority awards $4.85M in grants

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Wichita Business Journal - from the Kansas City Business Journal

The Kansas Bioscience Authority announced four grants totaling $4.85 million to help companies in the state.

MGP Ingredients Inc. (Nasdaq: MGPI) of Atchison will receive $500,000 to develop and further commercialize biobased, biodegradable resins to replace plastic. The resin can be used for products such as disposable cutlery, DVD cases and bottle caps. The project is expected to create 54 jobs, with $9.9 million in capital investment to build production capacity in Onaga, Kan.

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Cashew apple seen a viable source to produce ethanol


Kochi, July 23 The UNIDO Centre for South-South Industrial Cooperation (UCSSIC), New Delhi, has identified cashew apple as an alternative to food crops that are currently used for ethanol production. It has now entrusted the institutions in the country to develop a ‘Clean and Viable Technology for Economically Sustainable Industrial Processes utilising Cashew Apple as a Renewable Feedstock for the Production of Ethanol Fuel’.

The Cashew Research Centre and Department of Agronomy of the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) at Vellayani near Thiruvananthapuram has been asked to prepare the project and it is currently under finalisation, Dr M. Abdul Salam, an expert on cashew, Professor and Chairman Department of Agronomy, KAU College of Agriculture, told Business Line.

The objective of the project, Dr Salam, said, is to “develop a clean and viable sustainable industrial process for production of ethanol fuel from the cashew apple as the raw feedstock”.
The cashew apple is abundantly available in about 30 producing countries and it is being totally wasted. The countries targeted initially by the UNIDO are India, Brazil and Kenya.

Read the full story

Monday, July 28, 2008

Heavyweights to Lobby for More Biofuel

The Washington Post
Friday, July 25, 2008; Page D04

A group of the world's biggest agribusiness companies announced it will use lobbyists on Capitol Hill and national ads to build the case for fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, even as grain prices climb worldwide.

The biofuels industry has blossomed under federal mandates requiring the United States to increase alternative fuel usage by 2009. The mandates are under attack from groups who blame the new industry for rising food prices that have sparked riots and hoarding in several countries.

Read the full story

LA County approves commercial ethanol plant (CA)

San Francisco Chronicle
By DAISY NGUYEN, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

(07-23) 17:30 PDT LOS ANGELES, (AP) --
A proposal to build the nation's first commercial ethanol production plant using yard trimmings, paper, wheat straws and other green wastes was approved Wednesday by Los Angeles County officials.

Members of the county's regional planning commission unanimously agreed to issue a zoning permit to Irvine-based BlueFire Ethanol to build a $30 million facility in Lancaster, a desert community north of Los Angeles.

Construction of the plant, to be built next to a landfill, could start in the fall if no one opposes the project. The public has until Aug. 6 to appeal the commission's decision.

"This is a significant milestone, it's history-making in many respects," said BlueFire's president and CEO, Arnold R. Klann.

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Harkin, Lugar introduce ethanol pipeline measure

Jul 24, 2008 9:56 AM, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Richard Lugar of Indiana have introduced legislation aimed at addressing one of the valid criticisms of ethanol production – the lack of an economical way to move the renewable fuel to major markets.

The legislation authored by Harkin, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Lugar, ranking member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, would give pipeline owners the same tax benefits they receive for moving petroleum products for transferring ethanol to other parts of the country.

“While the Midwest and Plain states produce the most renewable fuels, the country is lacking the infrastructure to most efficiently transport these liquid fuels to population centers in the East and elsewhere,” the senators said in a press release. Most ethanol has to be shipped by truck or rail.

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House Agriculture Subcommittee Reviews RFS Implementation
Date Posted: July 25, 2008

Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research held a hearing to review the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) implementation and agriculture producer eligibility. Congressman Tim Holden of Pennsylvania is Chairman of the Subcommittee.
"As our economy diversifies its energy supply, it is critical we take advantage of all potential sources of renewable biomass," Holden said.

"Unfortunately, the RFS contains some restrictions that could delay and threaten meeting the aggressive targets for cellulosic ethanol in the RFS and hold us back from achieving energy independence.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Employing microbes as sources of sustainable biofuels

Date: 23/07/2008

Considering the prevalence, durability, and efficiency of microbes, the notion of utilising the microscopic organisms as a means of generating sustainable energy sounds too good to be true. In a new issue on "microbial ecology and sustainable energy" in the journal Nature Reviews Microbiology, the Bruce Rittman and his fellow Biodesign Institute researchers outline paths where bacteria are the best hope in producing renewable energy in large quantities without damaging the environment or competing with our food supply.

Dr. Rittman took time out to speak with Scientist Live about the exciting research being conducted at the institute.

By what means/mechanisms can microbes play a role in producing usable, sustainable energy?

They can do it in two ways that are complementary. In the first way, communities of anaerobic bacteria convert the energy value (contained in electrons) of biomass into socially useful bioenergy forms: methane (natural gas), hydrogen gas, or electricity. The biomass can be wastes from agriculture, animals, industry (like food), and humans (sewage). In this case, the capturing of the bioenergy also is a means to remove the pollution in the waste material. In addition, the biomass could be made especially for being a bioenergy source, which leads to the second way. In the second way, photosynthetic microorganisms capture sunlight energy through photosynthesis to make more of themselves. The microorganisms can be algae or photosynthetic bacteria, also called cyanobacteria for their blue-green colour. In our team, we use cyanobacteria. Some of the photosynthetic microbes contain a high proportion of lipids, or oils, that can be used a a feedstock for liquid fuels, such as biodiesel. The non-lipid portions constitute biomass for feeding into the first way for energy conversion.

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EPA postpones decision on ethanol requirements

Associated Press

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday put off a decision on Texas' request to temporarily lower ethanol requirements for gasoline, a change Gov. Rick Perry says is needed to rein in corn prices.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said the agency needs more time to review more than 15,000 public comments and consult with other departments. A decision had been due Thursday; the agency now says it hopes to have a decision in early August.

An energy bill passed in December required 9 billion gallons of ethanol to be blended into gasoline from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 of next year. Perry, a Republican, asked the EPA in April to drop the Renewable Fuels Standard requirement to 4.5 billion gallons because the demand for ethanol is raising corn prices for livestock producers.

Perry said in a statement that he's glad Johnson and his staff are being diligent.

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Ethanol savings extolled

Study says even E10 saves drivers 11.1 cents a gallon; stronger blends urged
Peter Harriman • • July 21, 2008

To help make the case that ethanol-blended gasoline can save drivers money, the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council points to a study it commissioned that shows even the lowest percentage ethanol blend, E10, saved South Dakota drivers 11.1 cents per gallon at the pump from March 2007 to March '08.

The corn council wants to see pumps that offer gas blended with 15 percent to 30 percent ethanol become available nationwide. Except for a handful of pumps in South Dakota and a few other states, there is no opportunity for drivers to buy fuel between E10 and E85, the blend used by flexible-fuel vehicles.

"All we're asking for is access to the market," says Lisa Richardson, executive director of the South Dakota Corn Growers and corn council. "It doesn't have to be mandated access. All we want is for (consumers) to have a choice."

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Progress seen in biodiesel fuel production locally (NM) (New Mexico)

By Stella DavisCurrent-Argus Staff Writer
Article Launched: 07/08/2008 09:25:49 PM MDT

CARLSBAD — A major milestone has been reached in local efforts to produce a high quality biodiesel fuel from algae oil.

The Center of Excellence for Hazardous Materials Management recently harvested commercial-scale quantities of algae from its test salt water ponds located at New Mexico State University Agriculture Science Center in north Eddy County, according to Wren Prather-Stroud, spokeswoman for the nonprofit organization based in Carlsbad.

She said the produced oil appears to have all the right profiles for making high quality biodiesel fuel.

The algae are harvested from the ponds and pressed into a green paste, from which the oil is extracted.

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Open Fuel Standard Act Introduced

Domestic Fuel - Alternative Fuel News
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman
July 22, 2008

U.S. Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) today introduced the Open Fuel Standard Act.

The legislation would require that half of all new automobiles starting in 2012 be flex-fuel vehicles warranted to operate on gasoline, ethanol, and methanol, or be warranted to operate on biodiesel. The requirement would be increased to 80 percent by 2015.

Read the full story

Energy Information Administration / Annual Energy Outlook 2008

Department of Energy / Energy Information Administration / Annual Energy Outlook 2008
Report #:DOE/EIA-0383(2008) Release date full report: June 2008

The Annual Energy Outlook 2008 (AEO2008) presents projections and analysis of US energy supply, demand, and prices through 2030. The projections are based on results from the Energy Information Administration's National Energy Modeling System. The AEO2008 includes the reference case, additional cases examining energy markets, and complete documentation.

Link to reports:

Link to overview:

Argonne, UChicago researchers pursue grasses as Earth-friendly biofuel

WEBWIRE – Monday, July 21, 2008

ARGONNE, Ill. (July 2008)—At a small site on the Batavia campus of Fermilab, ecologist Julie Jastrow of Argonne National Laboratory pushes the scientific frontier in a new and exciting way: She watches the grass grow.

As part of an effort to develop a new collection of alternative fuels, Jastrow and her colleagues from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago have planted seven different combinations of native Midwestern prairie grasses on the 13-acre site at Fermilab’s campus.

The experimental facility that Jastrow planted in June will examine the sustainability of different perennial bioenergy crops – plants that could be turned into energy either by being burned directly or by being converted into cellulosic ethanol.

Read the full story

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

McCain's Tough Talk to Auto Workers

CBS News: From the Road (campaign)
July 18, 2008, 11:32 AM

From CBS News' John Bentley (WARREN, MICH.)

John McCain gave an abbreviated version of his economy speech tailored to Detroit – singing the praises of General Motors development of the Chevrolet Volt, an electric-gas hybrid that GM hopes to bring on the market in 2010. But he also gave some answers that the employees here at this town hall meeting held at GM headquarters probably didn’t want to hear on the issues of ethanol and the future of automakers.

While supporting tax credits for people who buy hybrid vehicles, he also said that the current business model of American carmakers in unsustainable.

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Nevada plant to make fuel from garbage

SF Gate (San Francisco Chronicle)
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, July 19, 2008

In its search for new sources of fuel, the green-tech industry has turned to wood chips, grass, algae - even cow manure.

Now a Pleasanton company plans to make fuel out of garbage.

Fulcrum BioEnergy announced plans Friday to build a $120 million plant by 2010 that would make ethanol out of municipal waste, stuff that would otherwise go straight into a landfill.

The plant, 10 miles east of Reno, would process 90,000 tons of garbage per year and produce 10.5 million gallons of ethanol. The company eventually plans to open other plants around the country.

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Research yields pricey chemicals from biodiesel waste

Rice engineers ID 'green' methods to make valuable organic acids

HOUSTON -- June 30, 2008 -- In a move that promises to change the economics of biodiesel refining, chemical engineers at Rice University have unveiled a set of techniques for cleanly converting problematic biofuels waste into chemicals that fetch a profit.

The latest research is available online in the journal Metabolic Engineering. The new paper and others published earlier this year describe a new fermentation process that allows E. coli and other enteric bacteria to convert glycerin -- the major waste byproduct of biodiesel production -- into formate, succinate and other valuable organic acids.

"Biodiesel producers used to sell their leftover glycerin, but the rapid increase in biodiesel production has left them paying to get rid of it," said lead researcher Ramon Gonzalez, Rice's William W. Akers Assistant Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. "The new metabolic pathways we have uncovered paved the way for the development of new technologies for converting this waste product into high-value chemicals."

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bioenergy forum builds connections

Peoria Ag Lab program gives scientists, others chance to network
of the Peoria Journal Star
Posted Jul 18, 2008 @ 10:57 PM

Researchers were credited with working on bioenergy "before bioenergy was cool" by one of the speakers at the Bioenergy Research Forum at the Peoria Ag Lab on Friday.

Citing a long history of government-sponsored agricultural research, Jim Fischer, an official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research was in "the forefront of three key issues facing the nation: energy, environment and agriculture."

An audience of 150 scientists, federal administrators, business representatives and bankers attended the day-long program at the ag lab, 1815 N. University St., to learn about the latest developments in producing ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels - as well as how to access those developments.

Read the full story

ITC releases biotechnology report

BioMass Magazine July 2008
By Anna Austin
Web exclusive posted July 17, 2008 at 3:20 p.m. CST

The U.S. International Trade Commission, an independent, nonpartisan, fact-finding federal agency, released a report on July 15 which analyzed innovation and research effects on the development and future productivity of U.S. biotechnology. The 182-page research report, titled “Industrial Biotechnology: Development and Adoption by the U.S. Chemical and Biofuel Industries,” was completed in response to a November 2006 request from the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance in order to:

• Describe and compare government policies in the U.S. and key competitor countries throughout the world relating to the development of these products.
• Analyze the extent of business activity in these industries related to trends in production, financial performance, investment, research and development, as well as impediments to development and trade.
•Examine factors affecting the development of biobased products.
•Determine how the adoption of industrial biotechnology (IB) processing and products impact the productivity and competitiveness of firms in these industries.

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A copy of the report is available online at

Department of Energy to Give $850,00 in Support National Governors Association Energy Initiatives
Date Posted: July 15, 2008

Philadelphia—U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner announced on July 13 that DOE will provide $850,000 this fiscal year to support the National Governors Association's (NGA) work to enact energy policies at the state level that will help develop and deploy cleaner sources of energy to power America's vehicles, homes and workplaces more efficiently.

Assistant Secretary Karsner made the announcement alongside NGA Chair Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and incoming NGA Chair Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania.

"Today's announcement furthers the unprecedented energy cooperation between DOE and the Nation's governors as we work together to advance clean, reliable and affordable supplies of energy," DOE Assistant Secretary Alexander Karsner said.

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International Institute for Ecological Agriculture Finds Motorists Across the Country are Switching to Ethanol
Date Posted: July 16, 2008

Santa Cruz, CA—The International Institute for Ecological Agriculture, (IIEA) announced on July 15 that it is receiving continual reports from business and consumer members across the country that are successfully converting from gas to ethanol (and various blends such as E85) as a preferred alternative to paying unprecedented gas prices and for combating climate change concerns.

According to David Arkin, AIA, of Arkin Tilt Architects, a LEED accredited architect in Albany, CA, "Ethanol can be part of one's path to a carbon neutral lifestyle.

It costs less than gasoline, is readily available, and -- when grown and produced properly -- can help combat climate change through both its clean emissions and the potential to sequester carbon.

Read the full story

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ethanol Producers Face Tough Challenges From Floods and Soaring Corn Prices, but One Risk Management Expert Sees Hope in New USDA Supply and Demand re

The Wall Street Journal - MarketWatch

Newest Supply and Demand Estimates Show an Increase in Corn Available for Ethanol Production in 2009, Which Should Help Ease Corn Prices

Last update: 11:21 a.m. EDT July 15, 2008

WICHITA, KS, Jul 15, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- Prompted by massive floods in the Midwest, soaring corn prices, volatile commodities markets and on ongoing "food versus fuel" debate, the ethanol industry is on the cusp of a major restructuring period that will likely involve several plant shutdowns, mergers and acquisitions, according to one industry analyst at United Bio Energy. But a report released Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture contains signs of hope for ethanol producers.

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High Corn Prices Cast Shadow Over Ethanol Plants

NPR - Business
by Robert Siegel

All Things Considered, July 15, 2008 · A rush to cash in on ethanol has slowed as soaring corn prices squeeze profit margins for producers of the alternative fuel. At a recent high of $7 per bushel, the corn used to make ethanol has tripled in price since many plants were built two years ago, and some facilities have been shut down or put on hold.

Ethanol took off in 2006, in response to two federal policies.

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Can Microorganisms Be A Solution To The World's Energy Problems?

ScienceDaily (July 11, 2008) — Microorganisms once reigned supreme on the Earth, thriving by filling every nook and cranny of the environment billions of years before humans first arrived on the scene. Now, this ability of microorganisms to grow from an almost infinite variety of food sources may play a significant role in bailing out society from its current energy crisis, according to the Biodesign Institute's Bruce Rittmann, Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, and Rolf Halden.

In a new issue on "microbial ecology and sustainable energy" in the journal Nature Reviews Microbiology, the Biodesign researchers outline paths where bacteria are the best hope in producing renewable energy in large quantities without damaging the environment or competing with our food supply.

Read the full story

OECD Releases Report on Economic Assessment of Biofuel Support Policies


prepared by:


The OECD is a unique forum where the governments of 30 democracies work together to address the economic, social and environmental challenges of globalisation. The OECD is also at the forefront of efforts to understand and to help governments respond to new developments and concerns, such as corporate governance, the information economy and the challenges of an ageing population. The Organisation provides a setting where governments can compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and work to co-ordinate domestic and international policies.

The OECD member countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey the United Kingdom and the United States. The Commission of the European Communities takes part in the work of the OECD.

Read the report

Friday, July 18, 2008

US govt investigates duckweed DNA
15 July 2008

Scientists at the US Department of Energy's laboratories will begin sequencing duckweed DNA in an effort to tap its potential to clean up water pollution.

The humble aquatic plant has been chosen as one of 44 projects that the department's Joint Genome Institute (JGI) will take on in the next year to investigate potential bioenergy and environmental uses for common plants and microbes. Greater Duckweed, or Spirodela polyrhiza, grows to less than 10mm but can be used to test water toxicity, clean wastewater and feed animals.

Read the full story

Bad Juice II: Biofuels Maybe Not Quite So Bad, World Bank Says

The Wall Street Journal - Environmental Capital
July 7, 2008, 7:35 pm
Posted by Keith Johnson

The biofuels battle just gets hotter.

We just wrote about the Guardian story on a World Bank report allegedly blaming biofuels for 75% of the recent rise in fuel prices, and which was reportedly suppressed for political reasons. Alas, it ain’t so, Joe, the World Bank says.

Bob Davis of the WSJ spoke with Donald Mitchell, the author of the draft report—which wasn’t secret at all, but a working paper. And like all working papers, it doesn’t reflect the official position of the World Bank.

The report was meant to contribute to a World Bank position paper on rising food prices, which was released at the Bank’s spring meeting in mid-April.

Read the full story

Energy official frowns on cutting back ethanol
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON --The Energy Department frowned on relaxing federal requirements to boost the use of ethanol in gasoline.

Any reduction in the renewable fuel standard would sap investment in biofuel technology and undermine efforts to wean the nation off oil and reduce greenhouse gases, Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary Steven Chalk said Thursday.

"Keeping that in place is very important to us," Chalk told the Senate Environment clean air subcommittee.

Read the full story

Governors Talk Of Moving Beyond Corn-based Ethanol

CBS News

"Move To Phase Two:" Governors In Philadelphia Talk Of Moving Beyond Corn-based Ethanol
PHILADELPHIA, Jul. 13, 2008

(AP) Governors from the coal fields of West Virginia to the corn fields of Iowa talked Sunday at their summer meeting about moving beyond ethanol produced just from food sources.

They sometimes have different priorities in reaching this conclusion _ priorities that can be as simple as who grows corn and who feeds it to livestock.And they're also not talking about replacement so much as supplementing: using switchgrass or wood waste products, for example, along with corn.

Still, the conversation _ including an energy forum Sunday _ has big implications. The nation has 134 ethanol plants in 26 states with 77 more under construction or expanding, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, a trade group for the ethanol industry.

Read the full story

Unjust Fingerpointing

Good Fuels (Renewable Fuels Association)
by Tom Waterman on July 9, 2008

If EPA Grants Waivers, Repercussions Would be Swift and Painful

As the Environmental Protection Agency reviews congressional requests to relax rules mandating the use of ethanol, something the politicians haven’t thought about is what will happen if the rules are relaxed.

What mainstream media doesn’t get, from the Los Angeles Times to TIME magazine, is that it will guarantee that $5.00 gasoline occurs within a month of an announcement to grant Governor Perry’s request that the Federal ethanol mandate be cut in half. Crude oil prices would race toward $175 per barrel as the world’s largest petroleum consumer ramps up its appetite for oil.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fuel Reactor Built By Students Helping UCF Save Money on Biodiesel Fuel (With Video)

July 10, 2008
By Chad Binette

With the cost of diesel fuel exceeding four dollars a gallon, enterprising University of Central Florida students designed and built a system that converts used vegetable oil into biodiesel fuel – for just 80 cents a gallon.

In just two days, a water heater and a variety of tanks, tubes and valves convert restaurants’ used vegetable oil into fuel that works in any diesel vehicle. Three of the students have run their vehicles on the fuel, and it also powers several university vehicles.

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Biodiesel mandate creates worries

Manufacturers expect higher food, fuel costs
Gannett News Service • July 13, 2008

WASHINGTON - For now, it's ethanol that's under fire. Biodiesel's turn may be coming.

In 2009, the first mandate for biodiesel takes effect. Refiners will be required to use at least 500 million gallons next year and 1 billion gallons annually by 2012.

That could mean higher fuel costs for truckers and higher vegetable oil prices for food processors, and either industry could try to get the mandate rolled back, just as food makers and livestock groups are trying to do this year with the mandate for corn-based ethanol.

"If the mandate results in a significant increase in the price of blended fuel, we will consider applying for a waiver," said Richard Moskowitz, who follows federal regulatory issues for the American Trucking Associations.

Read the full story

Florida farmers grow alternative fuel source (Austin, TX)
Posted: July 7, 2008 02:58 PM CDT

HENDRY COUNTY, Florida (NBC) -- With soaring gas prices, people are searching for alternative fuels.

Some Florida farmers believe they've found the perfect eco-friendly, gas saving solution.

"We wanted to find a solution to a problem in the U.S. with the rising demand of fuel worldwide, we wanted to create our own fuel," said Mark Dalton with my Dream Fuel LLC.

The answer to that solution could be within the sun-baked fields of Hendry County.

Jatropha is considered the newest and greatest source of biofuel.

Read the full story

Ethanol Standard Important for Second Generation Fuels

Ethanol Standard Important for Second Generation Fuels
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman
July 10th, 2008
Domestic Fuel - Alternative Fuel News

A Senate panel heard testimony Thursday that a reduction in the Renewable Fuel Standard would hinder progress toward next generation biofuels.

Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary Steven Chalk told the Senate Environment and Public Works clean air subcommittee that keeping the current RFS policy in place is “critical to ensuring growth in all parts of the biofuels supply chain, from feedstocks, to biorefineries, to infrastructure, including pipelines.”

The hearing was focused on implementation of the expanded RFS, which was passed by Congress and signed by the president in December. The new standard increases the amount of renewable fuels required up to 36 billion gallons by 2022, with 16 billion of that to come from cellulosic sources.

Read the full story

America's Best Places For Alternative Energy
William Pentland 07.09.08, 1:35 PM ET

The "cubic mile of oil"--a metric roughly equivalent to the amount of oil consumed worldwide each year--is frequently used to explain the challenge facing solar, wind, geothermal and biomass power.

So what would it take to replace the amount of energy in a cubic mile of oil? Roughly 4.2 billion solar rooftops, 300 million wind turbines, 2,500 nuclear power plants or 200 Three Gorges Dams, according to Menlo Park, Calif., nonprofit research institute SRI International.
In other words, no single category of renewable energy is growing anywhere near the speed it needs to bear the full brunt of displacing carbon-emitting fossil fuels anytime soon.

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American Coalition for Ethanol Releases Line-Up for 2008 Ethanol Conference & Trade Show

August 12-14 in Omaha, NE
Date Posted: July 10, 2008

Sioux Falls, SD—The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), the nation's largest ethanol advocacy association, is pleased to announce the lineup for its 2008 Ethanol Conference & Trade Show, to be held August 12-14 at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Savannah Man Building Algae Ponds in Nevada for Biodiesel

Jul 11, 2008
posted by John W. Bebout

(SAVANNAH) Dr. John W. Bebout, a renewable energy consultant in Savannah announced today that he has partnered with Enegis LLC of Virginia and the University of Nevada at Reno to grow algae for the manufacture of biodiesel fuel.

“We are building on work done by the Department of Energy more than a decade ago to grow algae in open ponds in Nevada, “ said Bebout. “Although most researchers today are looking at bioreactors (enclosed systems which allow growing temperatures to be controlled), we believe that inexpensive, open ponds offer the only economically feasible way to grow algae in commercial quantities. Bioreactors are simply too expensive to build and maintain.”

Construction of two algae ponds at the University of Nevada, Reno will begin this summer. “The construction of these ponds represents the culmination of more than four years of research into developing a hardy variety of algae which produces more than half its weight in oil as well as developing a practical process to grow, concentrate and harvest the algae,” said Bebout.

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A do-it-yourself E85 conversion kit

By H.J. CUMMINS, Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul)
Last update: July 13, 2008 - 11:04 PM

If you're looking for relief from high gas prices -- and who isn't? -- Bart Wells wants to sell you on his invention.

Wells, owner of Hitech Motorsport in Elk River, so far this year has sold 64 of his new devices -- with that many more on order -- that convert regular gasoline-burning cars to flex-fuel vehicles, capable of running on the less-expensive alternative of ethanol.

More important though, Wells said, is that his system corrects the drop in fuel mileage that can cancel out the cash savings that lead people to switch to the biofuel found at pumps marked "E85" -- the 85 percent ethanol blend -- at many Minnesota gas stations.

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Verenium Awarded U.S. Department of Energy Grant to Fund Jennings, Louisiana Demonstration-Scale Plant

Wall Street Journal - MarketWatch
- Supports continued advancement of cellulosic ethanol technology -

Last update: 5:07 p.m. EDT July 14, 2008
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 14, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Verenium Corporation (VRNM:verenium corporation com) , a pioneer in the development of next-generation cellulosic ethanol and high-performance specialty enzymes, today announced that it has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under a $40 million program to support the development of small-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefinery plants. The Company will now begin discussions with the DOE to determine the amount of the award.

Demonstration-scale facilities are a critical development step to scaling and validating cellulosic technology as the industry advances toward the commercialization of next-generation ethanol. Verenium is one of two companies that were selected for this round of DOE grants and will utilize the funds to support ongoing activities at its 1.4 million gallon per year demonstration-scale facility in Jennings, LA. The grant was announced today by the Department of Energy.

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Shucking the Hype: St. Louis Fed Analyzes Ethanol

The Wall Street Journal: MarketWatch
Last update: 10:36 a.m. EDT July 10, 2008

ST. LOUIS, July 10, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- While increasing our use of ethanol for fuel may make a small dent in the demand for oil, the potential benefits must outweigh the potential costs if ethanol is going to be viable in the long-term.

This is one of main points emphasized by research analyst Joshua A. Byrge and economist Kevin L. Kliesen in the July issue of The Regional Economist, the quarterly journal of business and economic issues published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The publication is also available online at:

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Signs Biofuels Development and Incentives Acts to Strengthen National Security, Spur Economic Development

Wall Street Journal: MarketWatch
Last update: 12:26 p.m. EDT July 10, 2008

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., July 10, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., July 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell signed legislation today that will help spur the development of homegrown biofuels in Pennsylvania and reduce the state's dependence on foreign fuels by establishing new requirements that every gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel contain a percentage of ethanol and biodiesel.

"Pennsylvanians are struggling with higher fuels costs," said Governor Rendell, who signed House Bill 1202 and Special Session Senate Bill 22 into law at the National Armory in Montgomery County. "Record-high fuel prices are straining family budgets and pinching the bottom lines of our businesses. We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and keep our energy dollars in Pennsylvania, to invest in our economy and create jobs."

The biofuel percentage requirements established under the new law will go into effect once in-state production reaches certain levels. The requirements -- which include what is believed to be the nation's first state-specific cellulosic ethanol mandate -- will also spur new economic development in renewable biofuels by directing that more of the money spent each year by Pennsylvanians on imported fuels stay in the state.

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Energy official frowns on cutting back ethanol (Michigan)
7/10/2008, 3:13 p.m. EDT
By DINA CAPPIELLO The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Energy Department frowned on relaxing federal requirements to boost the use of ethanol in gasoline.

Any reduction in the renewable fuel standard would sap investment in biofuel technology and undermine efforts to wean the nation off oil and reduce greenhouse gases, Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary Steven Chalk said Thursday.

"Keeping that in place is very important to us," Chalk told the Senate Environment clean air subcommittee.

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Ryan Hunter-Reay Leads Team Ethanol to First Indycar Series Victory
Date Posted: July 8, 2008

Omaha, NE.—Ryan Hunter-Reay took the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol entry to his first trip to Victory Circle this weekend at the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen.

Hunter-Reay beat out other race favorites Darren Manning and Tony Kanaan for the victory at the 3.37-mile course.

"This is a dream come true for our team," said Hunter-Reay. "Ethanol has been a terrific sponsor for us and we appreciate all their support.

I'm proud to be part of such an American team."

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GM, Governors Will Work to Expand Ethanol Distribution in U.S.
By Edward Klump

July 13 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Corp., the biggest U.S. automaker, and the National Governors Association said they are working on expanding the distribution network for E85 ethanol in preparation for selling ethanol from non-grain sources.

The plan calls for GM to assist states in finding appropriate place to put ethanol pumps, according to a statement issued today. The Detroit-based company has helped bring 300 E85 pumps online in 15 states during the last three years. There are fewer than 1,700 pumps for E85, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, in the country out of about 170,000 gasoline stations, GM said.

Having more E85 pumps will provide owners of flex-fuels vehicles better access to the fuel. GM said it will make 50 percent of production flex-fuel capable by 2012, if the infrastructure is moving ahead. The company also has investments in two ethanol companies, Coskata Inc. and Mascoma Corp.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis

Internal World Bank study delivers blow to plant energy drive
Aditya Chakrabortty
The Guardian, Friday July 4, 2008

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% - far more than previously estimated - according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.

The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.

The figure emphatically contradicts the US government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises. It will add to pressure on governments in Washington and across Europe, which have turned to plant-derived fuels to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce their dependence on imported oil.

Senior development sources believe the report, completed in April, has not been published to avoid embarrassing President George Bush.

"It would put the World Bank in a political hot-spot with the White House," said one yesterday.

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Gallagher review executive summary

Renewable Fuels Agency (UK)

Biofuels have been proposed as a solution to several pressing global concerns: energy security, climate change and rural development. This has led to generous subsidies in order to stimulate supply. In 2003, against a backdrop of grain mountains and payments to farmers for set-aside land, the European Union agreed the Biofuels Directive. Under this directive, member states agreed to set indicative targets for biofuels use and promote their uptake. Many environmental groups hailed a new revolution in green motoring.

Five years later, there is growing concern about the role of biofuels in rising food prices, accelerating deforestation and doubts about the climate benefits. This has led to serious questions about their sustainability and extensive campaigns against higher targets.

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South Florida Entrepreneur Howard Melamed Offers To Lease U.S. Sugar Everglades Land

Melamed Would Use Land To Harvest Sugar Crops And Produce Ethanol
2008-07-08 20:05:36 - Delay Everglades Restoration for 30 Years

Coral Springs, FL/July 8, 2008 - South Florida entrepreneur, Howard Melamed is proposing to lease the 192,000 acres of land that the State of Florida is purchasing from U.S. Sugar and use the land for ethanol production for the next thirty years to try to ease the nation's toxic energy problems. After the expiration of the thirty-year lease, the land would then be given for the Everglades restoration project. Melamed, in his proposal to Florida Governor Charlie Crist, is offering to pay Florida $120,000,000.00 per year for the use of the land. The State of Florida is purchasing the land from U.S. Sugar for $1.7 billion. Estimates show that if Florida were to agree to Melamed's proposal, the land could produce 120,000,000 gallons of ethanol from sugar cane harvested.

'Our nation needs to reduce its dependence on foreign oil which is strangling every aspect of our economy,' said Howard Melamed. 'The impact of foreign oil is brought home daily as consumers feel the pinch at the gas pumps and leaders such as Charlie Crist are forced to change their positions on offshore oil drilling in Florida to meet this energy emergency. My solution would quickly produce alternative fuels to help end our dependency on foreign oil while assisting the State to pay the mortgage for the land that it recently purchased without raising our taxes.'

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Researchers Win R&D 100 Award for Ethanol Project

Released: Wed 09-Jul-2008, 08:30 ET

Newswise — Iowa State University and University of Hawai‘i researchers have won national recognition for their work to grow microscopic fungus in leftovers from ethanol production in an effort to improve the efficiency of the corn-to-ethanol conversion process.

The project has been named a winner of a 2008 R&D 100 Award presented by R&D Magazine. The Chicago Tribune has called the awards, presented annually since 1963, the “Oscars of Invention.” This is the 30th R&D 100 Award presented to a project affiliated with Iowa State.

An award letter said editors and a judging panel consider the project “one of the top 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year.”

The award goes to Hans van Leeuwen, an Iowa State professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering and the leader of the research project; Anthony L. Pometto III, a professor of food science and human nutrition; Mary Rasmussen, a graduate student in environmental engineering and biorenewable resources and technology; and Samir Khanal, a former Iowa State research assistant professor who’s now an assistant professor of molecular biosciences and bioengineering at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

The power of corncobs

Minneapolis Star Tribune
By H.J. CUMMINS, Star Tribune
Last update: July 6, 2008 - 10:49 PM

This fall, the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. will go in search of the humble corncob. A $150,000 state grant will help the central Minnesota farmers' cooperative test two collection systems to gather the small, scratchy harvest remnant: one that rides piggyback on a combine and one that follows behind.

It's the next step that's, well, groundbreaking. The Benson fuel cooperative intends to stoke its boilers with the cobs, after they've been transformed into a gas by a new technology that could do the same to all manner of refuse from the countryside, including wheat straw, sunflower hulls, wood chips and prairie grass.

By next year, the Chippewa Valley cooperative expects to wean itself of 90 percent of the pricey natural gas it now needs to cook corn ethanol from members' crops.

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Biofuels Industry Representatives Contact G8 Leaders Urging That They Reconsider World Energy Policy
Date Posted: July 9, 2008

Dear Group of Eight Leaders:

Unquestionably, the world is facing an unprecedented energy and economic crisis.

Oil prices are at record highs, and despite Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it is increasing production, experts warn that prices will only continue to soar reaching $150 to $170 within one or two months.

Since the beginning of the year alone, oil is up 40 percent on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Not by coincidence, world food prices are also on the rise.

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New use possible for ethanol plant wastes

UPI Science News
Published: July 8, 2008 at 8:49 AM

WASHINGTON, July 8 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say a byproduct of corn ethanol fuel production might become useful as a way of controlling weeds in potted ornamental plants.

Researchers said the potential herbicide -- dried distillers grains with solubles, or DDGS -- is a byproduct of converting corn to fuel ethanol.

DDGS is typically used as livestock feed but U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers Rick Boydston, Harold Collins and Steve Vaughn undertook a study to evaluate the use of DDGS as a weed deterrent on potted ornamentals.

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Pique Oil: Big Ethanol, Sick of Criticism, Lashes Out at Big Oil

July 8, 2008, 4:56 pm
Posted by Jeffrey Ball

Dow Jones Newswires’ Kenneth Rapoza reports from Brazil:
As the Group of Eight presidential leaders finish their meeting today in Japan, where food and fuel crises took center stage, the world’s leading ethanol trade groups joined forces to argue it’s not their fault food prices are so high. Their message: Blame oil.

The U.S. and Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, European Bioethanol Fuel Association and the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association all said in a letter to G8 presidents dated Monday that:

“…the sudden and rapid increase in food prices around the world has multiple causes, not the least of which is oil already priced at $140 per barrel. Much of the world’s agriculture and food transportation are reliant on oil, and drastically higher oil prices increase prices all along the food chain.”

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dedini launches ethanol mill that produces water

Reuters UK

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's Dedini, the leading manufacturer of biofuel equipment, launched a new technology that enables cane-based sugar and ethanol mills to produce water as a byproduct.

Mills in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest and most efficient cane producing state, consume currently about 1,800 liters of water from rivers or lakes to process each tonne of cane.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Who can afford corn? Almost no one, Purdue economist says

Noblesville Daily Times (Indiana)
Written by Press Release
Thursday, 26 June 2008

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Inexpensive and abundant corn helped move the ethanol industry onto the alternative fuels fast lane. With corn prices now at record highs, demand outpacing supply and crop losses inevitable with the Midwest floods, ethanol production could soon be stalled, a Purdue University Extension agricultural economist said.

As corn prices continue climbing, fewer ethanol producers can afford the feedstock, said Chris Hurt. In turn, domestic livestock producers and foreign buyers are finding it more difficult either to pay the high prices or obtain the grain they need, he said.

"The ethanol industry is struggling to pay for corn that has reached the $7 a bushel level," Hurt said. "So the ethanol industry may also experience losses and might not be able to bid the price. That will depend on what oil prices and, therefore, ethanol prices, are.

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RFA: Silver Lining in USDA Acreage Report
Pro Farmer Editors

This morning's USDA June Acreage Report signaled farmers planted more than 87 million acres of corn this year, exceeding the estimates of many analysts and representing the second largest area planted since 1946 (2007 saw 93.6 million acres planted). Even when assuming a possible slight reduction in average yields due to flooding, this represents enough acres to satisfy all projected demands for corn, says the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

Based on RFA analysis, it is likely that American farmers will produce in the range of 11.5 billion bushels of corn, meeting all projected demands and leaving approximately 800 million bushels of corn left over. In addition, USDA also reported that corn stocks were higher than this time last year, totaling more than 4 billion bushels.

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June 26, 2008
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal this week signed into law the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative, the most comprehensive and far-reaching state legislation in the nation enacted to develop a statewide advanced biofuel industry. Louisiana is the first state to enact alternative transportation fuel legislation that includes a variable blending pump pilot program and a hydrous ethanol pilot program.

The legislation includes the development of ethanol derived solely from Louisiana harvested crops capable of an annual yield of at least 600 gallons per acre. The law also provides for two pilot programs - an advanced biofuel variable blending pump trial and a hydrous ethanol trial.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Ethanol Backlash

A substitute for gasoline, this grain-derived fuel has generated enthusiasm and resistance in equal amounts.
By Daniel Gross Newsweek Web Exclusive
Jul 20, 2007

Ethanol, the substitute for gasoline that in the United States is largely derived from corn, is hot. Statistics from the Renewable Fuels Association show that production doubled between 2002 and 2006, from 2.1 billion to 4.9 billion gallons, allowing the United States to surpass Brazil as the Saudi Arabia of ethanol. When the 86 plants under construction today are completed, American production capacity will top 13 billion gallons per year. In his most recent State of the Union address, President Bush called for the United States to produce 35 billion gallons of renewable fuels in 2017.

Any rapidly growing, paradigm-shifting industry is bound to engender both enthusiasm and resistance in roughly equal amounts. And the prospect of using grains, which have generally been cheap in this country, as a replacement for fossil fuels, was bound to excite hope and ruffle feathers. After all, while farmers and ethanol-plant investors will profit, companies and industries that rely on cheap grains, or that produce and distribute fossil fuels, face serious disruption. And so, before it has even emerged as anything more than a marginal contributor to supply—ethanol accounted for about 1.25 percent of gasoline use last year—a full-fledged ethanol backlash is underway. The squawks of protest arise not just from oil companies. They're coming from economists, environmentalists, poverty fighters, and science nerds. Meet the ethanol-skeptics.

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Aston hosts bioenergy research European Bioenergy Research Institute launched

by Claudia Flavell-While

ASTON UNIVERSITY, BIRMINGHAM, has opened the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI), which aims to carry out world class research in all aspects of bioenergy.
Andreas Hornung, professor of chemical engineering at Aston and former head of the pyrolysis and gas treatment department at Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe Research Institute in Germany, will lead EBRI’s work.

EBRI’s remit ranges from fundamental research to collaborations with industry on specific bioenergy technologies. The centre will carry out consultancy work on behalf of companies and governments, including analyses and testing, assessing biomass conversion opportunities, and hosting training. Additionally, it will develop and operate a demonstration-scale combined heat and power (CHP) plant, both for training purposes and to evaluate the properties of different types of biomass.

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$100,000 gift led the attack on ethanol

Poultry titan gave Perry group funds, then work for waiver began, records show

July 1, 2008, 11:45PM
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry's request for a waiver of federal corn-based ethanol production mandates was prompted by a March meeting he had with East Texas poultry producer Lonnie "Bo" Pilgrim, who six days later gave $100,000 to the Republican Governors Association chaired by Perry.

In the three weeks following that donation, Perry's staff began preparing to submit the renewable fuel standards waiver request to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, according to 596 pages of records obtained from the governor's office by the Houston Chronicle under the Texas Public Information Act.

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RENEWED ENERGY: Flooded Rail Lines Drown Ethanol Routes
7/1/2008 1:33:00 PM

HOUSTON (Dow Jones)--Recent floods have washed out major rail routes in the Midwest, leading ethanol companies to play the role of the "The Little Engine that Could."

But getting ethanol to key markets on the east and west coasts will take more than the "I think I can" mantra.

Ethanol producers must contend with flooding that has washed out rail lines and closed locks along the flooded Mississippi River. Producers who are west of the Mississippi River and south of Iowa's border with Illinois have been particularly hard hit by these transportation problems.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Aloe Vera has biodiesel potential, reveals MSU study (India)

Shubhlakshmi Shukla
Posted online: Thursday , June 19, 2008 at 03:14:53
Updated: Thursday , June 19, 2008 at 03:14:53

Vadodara, June 18 A two-year research by M S University botanists has concluded that Aloe Vera can also be used as a biofuel. So far the plant was known for its medicinal and cosmetic properties. An international patent has now been sought to establish the use of Aloe Vera seeds in making biodiesel, soaps and edible oils. The plant grows in only a few areas of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Prof. Mammen Daniel and Padamnabh Nagar from MSU Botany department had come across Aloe Vera seeds in Kutch and Saurashtra areas two years ago. They also found that the plant germinates from the seeds. “The fact that Aloe Vera actually has seeds is known to very few,” said Prof Daniel.

“Even though Aloe Vera farming is done in the North Gujarat belt, this discovery will make it more economical, since the number of Aloe Vera seeds per Kilogram is 2,67,500. The seeds could be collected upon maturity and used for germination,” added Nagar.

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Japanese scientists create diesel-producing algae

Leo Lewis, Asia Business Correspondent

From The Times
June 14, 2008

Under the gleam of blinding lamps, engulfed by banks of angrily frothing flasks, Makoto Watanabe is plotting a slimy, lurid-green revolution. He has spent his life in search of a species of algae that efficiently “sweats” crude oil, and has finally found it.

Now, exploiting the previously unrecognised power of pondlife, Professor Watanabe dreams of transforming Japan from a voracious energy importer into an oil-exporting nation to rival any member of Opec.

The professor has given himself a decade to effect this seemingly implausible conversion: Japan’s export-led economics have always been shaped by their near 100 per cent dependence on foreign energy. In the present world economic climate, those economics are looking especially fragile.

“I believe I can change Japan within five years,” the Professor told The Times from his laboratory in Tsukuba University. “A couple of years after that, we start changing the world.”

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Lignin expert chooses to pursue biofuels research at UW-Madison

University of Wisconsin
July 1, 2008
by Nicole Miller

Most scientists can't help but daydream about their research projects, which is why you'll often find John Ralph doodling on restaurant napkins. The University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of biochemistry often interrupts his meals with a quick sketch, usually depicting some piece of the structure of lignin, the subject of his research for the past 36 years.

But amid deepening concern over the world's dependency on oil, Ralph's napkin art might turn out to be as valuable as a rare Rembrandt. Lignin — a tough, glue-like substance that keeps plant cell walls from falling apart — presently stands as one of the chief barriers to making fuel from grasses and woody plants, which most experts see as a preferable alternative to ethanol made from corn kernels or other food sources. And few people in the world know more about lignin than Ralph, who until earlier this year was a scientist with the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center at UW-Madison.

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Opinion: Biofuels help meet U.S. energy goals

San Francisco Chronicle - opinion
Open Forum
Bob Dinneen
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Since 1998, just 10 years ago, world oil prices have increased 10-fold, recently hitting an all-time high of more than $140 per barrel. The impacts of this unabated rise are now coming home to roost.

Everything from Q-tips to cornflakes is costing more. It takes petroleum to produce, process, package, transport and market the items that appear on store shelves. This is especially true of food products. Record oil prices make it more expensive for the farmer to grow the grains that are fed to livestock. And those prices also make it more expensive for big food companies to process, wrap the food in plastic, and ship it to the store in energy-intensive refrigerated containers.

While demand for energy increases globally, so too does the demand for food. With energy and food prices at record levels, industries heavily reliant on oil or grain are looking for some one to blame for the rising prices consumers confront. Thus began a spate of news stories suggesting that the rise in the development of renewable alternatives to gasoline and diesel - biofuels - is forcing us to compete with our cars for food. Not so. Biofuels are part of the solution to keeping food and energy price rises under control.

Read the full opinion

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

from the staff of the Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research (CABER) at the University of Illinois' College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hawaii scientists see algae's 'green' potential

Friday, June 13, 2008
Pacific Business News (Honolulu) - by Nanea Kalani Pacific Business News

The search for "green" alternatives to fossil fuels has turned some Hawaii entrepreneurs into farmers.

Their crop is algae, an abundant and renewable source for biofuel with a rapid growth rate and high oil yield.

Helping them is Hawaii's climate, where sun and water offer an ideal environment for algae farming.

At least two Hawaii biotech firms are focused on researching and developing algae strains for biofuel production. And a third is looking to set up on the Big Island later this year.
Biofuel, which refers to clean-burning fuels made from vegetable oils or animal fats, can be used to run cars, planes and power plants.

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General Motors to Offer 18 New Flex Fuel Vehicles in Model Year 2009
Date Posted: Jun. 27, 2008

General Motors will offer 18 flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) in model year 2009.

The number of E85 compatible vehicle models available in 2009 is a sharp increase from the past following the group's commitment to making their line at least half E85 compatible by 2012.
“We continue to believe that biofuels, specifically E85, is the most significant thing we can do in the near-term to offset future energy demands,” said Beth Lowery, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety Policy.

“We are on target to make 50 percent of our vehicles flex-fuel capable by 2012 providing the infrastructure is in place.”

The models cover the gamut from the four-cylinder Chevrolet HHR small crossover to the full-size Cadillac Escalade ESV luxury utility.

Infrastructure includes both the availability of the E85 fuel and stations where it is sold.

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New Nebraska Corn Board Publication to Highlight Long-Term Storage Options for Wet Distillers Grains
Date Posted: Jun. 27, 2008

Lincoln, NE—Wet distillers grains and other corn co-products are a tremendous feed option for cattle producers, but storing the nutritious co-products for a long period of time has proved to be a challenge because they can begin to spoil within a few days or a couple of weeks.

“That doesn’t mean wet distillers grains and similar co-products can’t be stored. It just means care needs to be taken to make sure feed quality is maintained,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, ag program manager for the Nebraska Corn Board.

That’s why the Nebraska Corn Board partnered with the University of Nebraska to develop the new Storage of Wet Corn Co-Products publication.

“This 20-page publication will help producers take advantage of wet distillers grains by showing them a variety of cost-effective storage options,” Brunkhorst said.

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Mississippi State University Researchers Earn $200,000 RARE Grant From EPA
Date Posted: Jun. 24, 2008

Three Mississippi State chemical engineering researchers formally will accept a $200,000 grant from the regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency during an 11 a.m. Friday [June 13] campus ceremony in 250 McCain Hall, home of the Bagley College of Engineering.

Jimmie Palmer of EPA's Regional Applied Research Effort Program will present the research award dealing with the conversion of sewage into biodiesel to assistant professors Rafael Hernandez and Todd French, and associate professor Mark Bricka.

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Biofuels research advanced by WSU

The Seattle Times
Sunday, June 29, 2008 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

Washington State University has taken another step to help place its Tri-Cities-based Center for Bioproducts and Bioenergy on the world stage.
By Pratik Joshi
Tri-City Herald

Washington State University has taken another step to help place its Tri-Cities-based Center for Bioproducts and Bioenergy on the world stage.

Months after hiring Denmark native Birgitte Ahring to head the Tri-Cities center, WSU agreed to work with Aalborg University in Denmark to develop biofuels and bioproducts to reduce the world's dependence on oil.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

No-till Tilts Ethanol Energy Balance

Ohio Farmer
Compiled By Staff
June 19, 2008

Ethanol-based corn may be getting a bum rap, in light of the growing global food crisis, but the biofuel does have value, especially when produced using the right agricultural technique.

Growing corn for ethanol could be argued as environmentally justifiable, especially when farmers use no-till - a type of production technique that calls for minimally disturbing the soil and leaving residue behind to maintain soil quality and structure, according to Randall Reeder, an Ohio State University Extension agricultural engineer.

"Ethanol has value as it's getting us started on bio-based fuels. Ethanol from corn is just a small part of much bigger factors that are adding up to have an impact on the world food shortage," says Reeder. "But the amount of our corn going into ethanol is so small that, by itself, it couldn't possibly have any substantial impact."

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Ethanol co-products eyed as fillers in plastics

By Dairy Herd news source (Thursday, June 19, 2008)

A coproduct of ethanol production could be used as a non-petroleum-based filler in plastics. USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their cooperators base this theory on recent preliminary studies.

The ethanol co-product, distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS), has a high fiber content and a molecular structure suitable for binding. These are two attributes that make it a candidate as a filler in plastics, according to Kurt Rosentrater, ARS agricultural engineer.

Rosentrater is based at the ARS North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Brookings, S.D.

He conducted the research with Robert A. Tatara, a professor at the Northern Illinois University Department of Technology.

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1-day-old SC law already faces legal challenge

Thursday, June 26, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C.— South Carolina fuel distributors must be allowed to make their own gasoline-ethanol blends under a first-in-the-nation law that supporters say will keep the state's gas prices among the nation's lowest.

Industry experts say the law could be adopted by other states. But it already faces a legal challenge here, one day after legislators overrode the governor's veto.

The law requires oil companies to offer raw gasoline to South Carolina distributors so they can blend the gasoline with ethanol to sell at the pump.

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Food agency chief warns food prices will remain high, calls for more production

The International Herald Tribune (New York Times affiliated)
The Associated Press
Published: June 25, 2008

INNSBRUCK, Austria: The head of the U.N.'s food agency on Wednesday warned that food prices will remain high and called for a boost in production.

Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jacques Diouf said prices are expected to remain high due to climate change, continued demand for bioenergy, low food stocks and greater demand in emerging countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Brazil that make up a large share of the global population.

Diouf said the problem will not be solved without increasing food production, and he called on world leaders meeting in Japan next month to address this issue.

"Our message is we should increase investment in agriculture," Diouf said, adding that other matters in need of attention include those related to water control, storage and rural roads.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

SC passes ethanol law challenged by oil companies

Associated Press

By SEANNA ADCOX – June 26, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina fuel distributors must have access to pure gasoline needed to make their own ethanol blends under a law that supporters say is first in the nation and will save customers at the pump.

Industry experts say other states could enact similar laws. More than a dozen states, largely in the South, will likely consider such legislation next year, said Daniel Gilligan, spokesman for Virginia-based Petroleum Marketers Association of America.

But oil companies moved quickly to stop it here and vow to do so elsewhere: They filed a lawsuit in the state's Supreme Court on Thursday — one day after the measure became law — claiming it violates the state constitution.

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Food agency: Prices to remain high, more production needed

USA Today

INNSBRUCK, Austria (AP) — The head of the U.N.'s food agency on Wednesday (June 25) warned that food prices will remain high and has called for a boost in production.

Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jacques Diouf said prices are expected to remain high due climate change, continued demand for bioenergy, low food stocks and greater demand in emerging countries such as China and India.

Diouf said the problem will not be solved without increasing food production and called on world leaders meeting in Japan next month to address this issue.

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Illinois Crop Improvement Association Confirms DuPont's Ethanol Yield Potential System
Date Posted: Jun. 17, 2008

DES MOINES, IA and CHAMPAIGN, IL, —DuPont (NYSE: DD)announced June 17 that it has received an external independent validation from the Illinois Crop Improvement Association (ICIA) which shows that its Ethanol Yield Potential (EYP) near infrared (NIR) calibration reliably predicts the ethanol output of whole corn grain.

The calibration, developed by DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred, allows ethanol plants to rapidly and consistently evaluate incoming grain, helping both plant managers and growers determine which corn hybrids and management practices can improve ethanol production.

The calibration has been incorporated into the QualiTrak(SM) system from Pioneer, a measurement and reporting program that facilitates the flow of ethanol yield information to both plant personnel and corn growers.

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Biofuels not just about corn

Southeast Farm Press
Jun 25, 2008 9:50 AM, By Jim Langcuster
Auburn University

Experts are confident a new generation of biofuel technologies under development at Auburn University no longer will require a tradeoff between U.S. energy self-sufficiency and the steep food prices currently associated with corn-based ethanol.

Currently, the rising cost of food and the growing inability to pay for it have left many consumers not only angry but also eager to pin the blame on ethanol — namely the growing demand for corn as an ethanol feedstock as well as federal fuel mandates that promote ethanol use.

But as two Auburn University experts stress, this doesn’t have to be a balancing act between more biofuels and higher food prices — a fact that will become more apparent to Americans when a new generation of biofuel technologies under development at Auburn becomes commercially available in the next few years.

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Canada plant to make ethanol from garbage
Fri Jun 27, 2008 5:17pm EDT

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - A garbage sorting plant in Edmonton, Alberta will be home to an ethanol facility that will turn 100,000 tonnes of plastic, cardboard and paper into the fuel additive starting in 2010, an official involved in the project said on Friday.

The C$70-million ($69.3-million) plant will produce 36 million liters of ethanol per year, making it the world's first industrial scale ethanol plant using waste as a feedstock, said Don Pierce of Greenfield Ethanol.

"Clearly in any new area, you've got to walk before you run," Pierce said, noting the plant's production will be small compared with grain-based ethanol facilities.

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Ethanol mixes finding way into traditional tanks

Associated Press
By ELIZABETH DUNBAR – June 26, 2008

GRANITE FALLS, Minn. (AP) — To save money and support neighboring farms, Scott Dubbelde began mixing gasoline and cheaper, ethanol-based fuel in his cars years ago, driving first to the gasoline pump, and then to the ethanol pump.

It has worked so well that Dubbelde, who manages a local grain elevator, mixes fuels for all three of his family cars, though only one was designed to handle ethanol-heavy blends.

The practice has caught the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency as a handful of filling stations install pumps that allow drivers to select different ethanol blends with the push of a button.

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