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

Friday, August 29, 2008

Study analyzes biomass industry’s impact on wood prices

Biomass Magazine
September 2008

By Ron Kotrba
Web exclusive posted August 21, 2008 at 10:44 a.m. CST

A new multi-client study conducted by RISI Inc. analyzes the impact of the emerging biomass industry on each sector of the forest products markets. The study “Emerging Biomass Industry: Impact on Wood Fiber Markets” investigates how the demand for wood fiber from the biomass industry will affect woody feedstock prices over the next 15 years.

The report investigated the growing trend of wood-product producers utilizing their waste stream to offset rising energy prices and the affects on wood fiber supplies and pricing. It also peers into how panel producers will become smaller players in the market for residual fiber with the growing demand from bioenergy plants, and whether or not they will lose the ability to influence pricing for their raw materials.

One of the hottest new uses for wood in the U.S. bioenergy sector is industrial-scale wood pellet production to meet Europe’s fast-growing demand. RISI’s comprehensive study looks into future demand for wood pellets – not only from European markets but also Japan and the United States.

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K-State Researchers Awarded Nearly $1 Million To Test Remedies, Investigate Link Between E. Coli and Distillers’ Grains
8/22/2008 9:51:00 AM

MANHATTAN -- A research team headed by Kansas State University E. coli O157:H7 expert T.G. Nagaraja has been tapped by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study both the connection between feeding distillers' grains and E. coli 0157:H7 in cattle and several strategies to reduce the presence of the naturally occurring pathogen in the animals.

The group has received a $939,220 National Research Initiative in Food Safety grant. Nagaraja, a university distinguished professor of microbiology, said the issue of meat safety is receiving full attention from both researchers and the meat industry and is being addressed.

"This research project will greatly enhance our understanding of the exact relationship between dietary distillers' grains and E. coli 0157:H7 in cattle, as well as provide us with an opportunity to look at novel ways to mitigate the potential risks of feeding this valuable co-product," Nagaraja said.

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Early findings of study show biodiesel produces significantly less CO2 emissions


By: James Menzies

DALLAS, Texas -- The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) shared early results of a study on the impact biodiesel has on CO2 emissions at the Great American Trucking Show this week.

Two months into a six-month pilot with California-based States Logistics, the NBB says trucks using B100 biodiesel produce 78% less CO2 emissions than those running traditional diesel. The results are being collected and analyzed by Indigenous Energy, developers of an emissions-tracking system.

As part of the study, States Logistics is running seven trucks using either B5 or B99 biodiesel. In May and June, those seven trucks reduced their CO2 output by 16.5 tonnes, according to Indigenous Energy. Full results of the study will be released at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March, 2009.The current study uses soy-based biodiesel and measures the total CO2 involved from the time the crop is planted until it's burned as fuel.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cellulosic Ethanol Close to Commercial

Domestic Fuel - Alternative Fuel News
August 25, 2008
Posted by Laura McNamara

Doubts about commercial opportunities for cellulosic ethanol are evaporating:

“It is no longer a question of if we are able to produce cellulosic ethanol, but when,” POET CEO Jeff Broin said.

Jeff announced POET’s commitment to develop a commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in Elmersville, Iowa at the Ethanol Conference and Trade Show in Omaha, Nebraska earlier this month. Construction on what POET is calling “Project Liberty” will begin in 2009 and the company expects the facility to be online by 2011. But, POET promises to have a smaller pilot-scale facility up and running by the end of this year.

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Biodiesel OTR test nearing end

By Sean Kilcarr, senior editor
Aug 22, 2008 2:41 PM

DALLAS, TX – A two million-mile over-the-road field test of biodiesel-blended fuel has passed the 1.6 million mile mark and should be wrapped up by November of this year, with detailed data analysis on fuel performance available by spring 2009.

“What this test is designed to do is provide a roadmap for the successful use of B20,” said Dr. Don Heck, coordinator of biotechnology and biofuels program at Iowa Central Community College, as well as the director of the two million-mile haul field test. “We want to define the fuel economy expectations of B20, proper handling procedures, and its cold weather performance.”
B20 is a blended fuel made up of 20% biodiesel – in this case made largely from soybean oil – with 80% regular No. 2 diesel fuel. Refrigerated and flatbed carrier Decker Truck Lines of Ft. Dodge, Iowa, agreed in August 2006 to participate in the study with 20 trucks in its 600 truck fleet – 10 operating on diesel and 10 using B20 biodiesel.

To date, Heck noted that the fuel economy difference between B20 and regular diesel is around 2% for the entire study, narrowing to 1% in the summer months. On average, Decker’s Peterbilt 378s and 386s equipped with 475 hp Caterpillar engines are achieving 6.25 mpg with diesel and 6.12 mpg with B20. Those 20 trucks are all in flatbed operation, hauling full 80,000-lb. loads of construction materials on set, round-trip routes between Ft. Dodge to Chicago and Ft. Dodge to Minneapolis.

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Southwestern Biofuels Assn. To Promote Renewable Fuels From Low-Water, High-Yield Crops Like Camelina and Algae
Date Posted: August 21, 2008

Santa Fe, NM—Experts from Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, government and U.S. industry gathered August 15 at the State Capitol to announce formation of the Southwestern Biofuels Association (SWBA) to promote renewable fuels created from low-water, high-yield and sustainable crops.

"With the establishment of the SWBA, New Mexico is taking a leadership role to develop clean, sustainable and environmentally superior transportation fuels for the nation and the world," said New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

"We are in a unique position because of our enchanted landscape and abundant sunshine to develop new fuels that create substantial economic and environmental benefit that solve our energy crisis."

Biofuels convert plants directly into liquid fuels to meet transportation fuel needs.

The two most common types of biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel.

The SWBA will focus primarily on biodiesel and fuels made from algae and camelina because they are particularly well suited to be grown in the Southwest.

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Weed Could Feed Biodiesel

Morrisville State, Albany company study pennycress as source of oil for alternative fuel

Sunday, August 24, 2008
By Tim Knauss Staff writer

For generations, farmers have done everything they could to get rid of pennycress, a fast-growing weed no more welcome than a plague of locusts.

But makers of biodiesel may ask farmers to give the weed a second look.

Researchers from Morrisville State College have teamed up with a private biodiesel company to study whether pennycress, which produces seeds rich in oil, could be grown in Central New York as a feedstock for biodiesel.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Global Climate Change May Possibly Destabilize Populations and Governments

MedIndia - Networking for health

Environmental Health
Subscribe Posted online: Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 4:07:08 PM

International-security experts have suggested that climate-change-related damage to global ecosystems and the resulting competition for natural resources may increasingly serve as triggers for wars and other conflicts in the future.

According to Jurgen Scheffran, a research scientist in the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security and the Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research at the University of Illinois, "The impact of climate change on human and global security could extend far beyond the limited scope the world has seen thus far." In a survey of recent research published earlier this summer in the 'Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists', Scheffran did critical analysis of four trends identified in a report by the German Advisory Council on Global Change as among those most possibly destabilizing populations and governments. They were: degradation of freshwater resources, food insecurity, natural disasters and environmental migration.

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Researcher converts biodiesel-waste glycerol into omega-3 fatty acids

The typical American diet often lacks omega-3 fatty acids despite clinical research that shows their potential human health benefits. Zhiyou Wen, assistant professor of biological systems engineering in Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, found a way to grow these compounds using a byproduct of the emerging biodiesel industry.

"High energy prices have led to an increase in biodiesel production, which in turn has led to an increase in the amount of crude glycerol in the market," said Wen, who explained that biodiesel plants leave behind approximately 10 percent crude glycerol during the production process.

This has led the price of glycerol, a chemical compound widely used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, to drop in recent years. The rise in biodiesel production over the last decade means that the market can no longer absorb all the extra glycerol. Biodiesel producers must find alternative means for disposing of crude glycerol, which is prohibitively expensive to purify for industry use. Wen and his colleagues have developed a novel fermentation process using microalgae to produce omega-3 fatty acids from crude glycerol.

"We have shown that it is possible to use the crude glycerol byproduct from the biodiesel industry as a carbon source for microalgae that produce omega-3 fatty acids," said Wen, who added that the impurities in crude glycerol may actually be beneficial to algal growth. "After thorough chemical analysis, we have also shown that the algae biomass composition has the same quality as the commercial algae product."

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Alternative fuels' promise energized UGA researchers

Online Athens: Athens Banner-Herald
By Lee Shearer Story updated at 12:41 am on 8/24/2008

University of Georgia research that some considered interesting but marginal a few years ago has matured into cutting-edge science - and has landed UGA in the middle of a national quest to find alternative energy sources to power America's cars and homes.

About 90 UGA scientists now are working in research related to bioenergy - energy derived from plant or animal products rather than petroleum, said UGA engineering professor Ryan Adolphson.

Lately, some of those researchers have been pulling in millions of dollars in federal grants.

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USDA, China sign biofuels agreement

Southeast Farm Press
Aug 21, 2008 10:28 AM

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of the People’s Republic of China have signed an important agreement to collaborate on biofuels research.
The signing came during a meeting of over 200 scientists, industry leaders and government officials in Houston, Texas during the International Conference on Sorghum for Biofuel.
“We have an existing cooperation between USDA and the Chinese Ministry for Science and Technology,” said Eileen Herrera, Acting Deputy Director for the Office of International Research Programs at USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS).
“We cooperate on several initiatives. Signing this protocol represents formal cooperation in the area of biofuels research.”

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EPA talks tough on use of illegal ethanol blends


By PHILIP BRASHER • Gannett News Service • August 23, 2008

WASHINGTON - At $3.35 a gallon, a blend of gasoline being sold at some stations around Watertown, S.D., looks like a bargain.

Legally, most motorists can't buy it. It contains 30 percent ethanol. And under federal law, that kind of fuel can't be put in a car or truck that was not made to run on more than 10 percent ethanol, the legal limit for conventional cars.

Some motorists are filling up with the E30 blend anyway.

"Yes, there is some of that going on," said Gary French, general manager of the Sioux Valley Cooperative, which sells the fuel at four locations. "There really is no way we can police that."

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UNL plans to build research facility on state fair land

Published Monday August 18, 2008

LINCOLN - University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman says there are plans to build a $50 million federal research facility on the 251-acre State Fair Park land once the fair moves to Grand Island.

Perlman said today that plans call for a dozen or so federal researchers to be housed in the facility along with eight to 10 UNL faculty researchers who would focus on exploring alternative fuel sources such as corn, switchgrass and other plants.

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Ethanol researchers win grants

Capital Press
8/22/2008 6:00:00 AM

Federal cash funds genetic studies of grasses, trees
Elizabeth Larson Capital Press

Two Oregon State University researchers have received large federal grants to fund research into developing cellulosic biofuels.

Oregon State University forest science professor Steven Strauss and Todd Mockler, an assistance professor in botany and plant pathology, each won $1.2 million grants from a program formed in 2006 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy.

The program seeks to accelerate fundamental research in biomass genomics to further the use of cellulosic plant material for bioenergy and biofuels.

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Cheap Catalyst Turns Ethanol Into Hydrogen

PC Magazine

A new inexpensive catalyst developed by Ohio State University can turn ethanol into hydrogen with a 90 percent yield. Such a process would have required the use of expensive metals. such as platinum or rhodium. The researchers' aim from the very start was to find a catalyst that could be much cheaper. A catalyst using rhodium, for example, could cost as much as $9,000 an ounce--whereas this new catalyst costs only $9 per kilogram.

Hydrogen storage and transportation are only a couple of issues hoping to be addressed in the future. According to the researchers, they could make hydrogen directly from ethanol inside gas reactors in gas stations because the process won't need an infrastructure or a centralized facility. So what is the catalyst exactly? The catalyst, which takes the form of a dark gray powder, is made of a common ceramics ingredient called cerium oxide, calcium, and small pieces of cobalt.

The catalyst works at 350 degrees Celsius, which is considered low temperature in the industry. The low temperature means there are savings in costs and precious energy. The process involves a reactor where heated ethanol is pumped. The catalyst then processes the ethanol inside the reactor until hydrogen-rich gas is produced.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

U.S. Senate Ag Committee discusses ethanol

Ethanol Producer Magazine
September 2008 issue

By Kris Bevill
Web exclusive posted August 20, 2008 at 4:24 p.m. CST

The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee held a field hearing Aug. 18 in Omaha, Neb., to discuss ethanol and some of the issues surrounding its production. The hearing was led by Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb. Testimony was given by livestock producers, economists and corn growers.

Nelson told Ethanol Producer Magazine the purpose of the hearing was to address criticisms of the ethanol industry by food manufacturers and to discuss ethanol’s role in the energy supply and how that relates to gas prices. “I believe that the hearing was successful in presenting the facts without the hype and giving us a good basis on which to continue our efforts for energy security,” Nelson said. “The hearing was balanced and gave all interested parties the opportunity to present their specific role in the food versus fuel debate.”

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Garbage + Nanotech + Gasification = Ethanol

Environment News Service
AMES, Iowa, August 20, 2008 (ENS) -

A method of making potentially cheap ethanol fuel out of garbage and other waste materials by deploying a combination of modern and old technologies is under development by government and university researchers.

The process involves the use of nanotechnology and gasification to convert carbon-based materials into a product called synthesis gas, or syngas, which in turn can be made into ethanol.

Developing new ways of producing biofuels such as ethanol is urgent business as the country and world scout for alternatives to fossil fuels.

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U.S. Rep. Boswell: Pushes For Ethanol Pipeline


For Immediate Release
August 20th 2008

Boswell joined by Magellan Pipeline Company, Iowa Corn Growers and Iowa Renewable Fuel AssociationPleasant Hill, IA—Today, Congressman Leonard Boswell, along with representatives from the Magellan Pipeline Company, Iowa Corn Growers and the Iowa Renewable Fuel Association held a press conference highlighting the need to improve the infrastructure for moving ethanol from the Midwest to the rest of the country. In July, Boswell, along with Congressman Lee Terry (R-NE), introduced the Renewable Fuel Pipeline Act, which would qualify a renewable fuel pipeline as an eligible project under the federal loan guarantee program within the U.S. Department of Energy. Specifically, H.R. 6692, amends the loan guarantee program under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to qualify a renewable fuel pipeline as an eligible project, along with increasing the loan guarantee rate to 90 percent.

“Biofuels are a win-win for the American farmer and the American consumer,” said Boswell. “However, we are in dire need of a safe and cost effective way to transport it to the rest of the country. This legislation will help give companies the security they need to move forward on a renewable fuel pipeline. This is a first big step in helping bring renewable fuels in large volumes to consumers on the East and West coasts.”

“Passage of this legislation would help promote innovative transportation options which would assist in meeting the nation’s growing need for renewable fuels,” said Don Wellendorf, Magellan’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Pipelines have consistently been chosen over the years as the safest, most reliable and cost effective method for moving liquid fuels. A renewable fuel pipeline project from the Midwest to the east coast would be a major step in bringing ethanol into the traditional petroleum infrastructure system.”

Read the full press release

Ag secretary: Biofuels good for farmers, security
Associated Press
By CARSON WALKER 08.21.08, 3:49 PM ET

MITCHELL, S.D. - Expanded production of renewable biofuels promises newfound riches for farmers but also improved national security, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said Thursday at the Dakotafest farm show.

"They are here to stay. They are part of our energy solutions," he said at a forum with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

"If we're going to cut our dependence on foreign suppliers, we must be committed to building this new energy portfolio."

The Farm Bill that Congress passed in June calls for production of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022, including 21 billion gallons from sources other than corn and soybeans.

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Golden image of corn-based ethanol shows some erosion

USA Today
Aug. 22, 2008
By Sue Kirchhoff, USA TODAY

CLAREMONT, Minn. — From his office window at the Al-Corn Clean Fuel ethanol plant, manager Randy Doyal watches a steady stream of trucks roll in, weighed down with grain. A decade ago, many of the delivery trucks were beat-up, all-purpose workhorses. Today, a growing number are gleaming semis, reflecting the improved fortunes of this farmer-owned facility as well as the nearby countryside.

"All the folks that invested in the first place took a gamble. It's been big for them," says Doyal. The firms' huge fermenters, grain elevators and cooling towers loom over the flat cornfields, physically underscoring the economic reality that ethanol is the most important thing around.

Market changes and a growing chorus of concerns about ethanol make Doyal and other ethanol supporters question how long the good times will last. Corn prices, though down lately, remain high at $5.98 a bushel, making it harder for ethanol producers to profit. Livestock producers blame the ethanol industry for driving up feed prices and fueling food inflation for consumers.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Nanoscale catalyst converts syngas to ethanol

Ethanol Producer Magazine - September 2008
By Ryan C. Christiansen
Web exclusive posted August 15, 2008 at 10:42 a.m. CST

Researchers from the U.S. DOE’s Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University are using nanoscale porous catalysts to ferment gasified waste into ethanol. The scientists hope to be able to use the technology to create ethanol from a wide range of biomass, including distillers grains, corn stover, grass, wood pulp, as well as animal and municipal waste.

Using an oxygen-controlled, high-temperature and high-pressure gasification process developed by the university’s Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies, researchers are converting carbon-based feedstocks into synthesis gas, which is made up primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen with smaller quantities of carbon dioxide and methane.

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Report Claims Every New Car Will Be a Hybrid By 2020

Report Claims Every New Car Will Be a Hybrid By 2020
gas2.0 - biofuels, oil, a revolution

Written by Andrew Williams
Published on August 18th, 2008

A major new report has claimed that by 2020 all new cars sold will be hybrids of one form or another, and that battery technology will be commonplace in most cars.

The report, ‘Automotive 2020: Clarity Beyond the Chaos,’ (.pdf), written by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, is based on interviews with 125 anonymous car industry executives across 15 different countries.

The findings make it clear that the car industry is currently undergoing a period of radical and fundamental change. According to one respondent, an executive with a European car company, “In the next ten years, we will experience more change than in the 50 years before.”

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ARS Research Shows Sweet Potatoes and Cassava Yield 2-3 Times More Carbohydrate Content Than Corn for Ethanol Production
Date Posted: August 20, 2008

In experiments, sweet potatoes grown in Maryland and Alabama yielded two to three times as much carbohydrate for fuel ethanol production as field corn grown in those states, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists report.

The same was true of tropical cassava in Alabama.

The sweet potato carbohydrate yields approached the lower limits of those produced by sugarcane, the highest-yielding ethanol crop.

Another advantage for sweet potatoes and cassava is that they require much less fertilizer and pesticide than corn.

Lew Ziska, a plant physiologist at the ARS Crop Systems and Global Change Laboratory in Beltsville, MD, and colleagues at Beltsville and at the ARS National Soil Dynamics Laboratory in Auburn, AL, performed the study.

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Rabobank in Food vs. Fuel Debate Podcast Says Biofuels Production is Just One of Many Factors in Rising Food Costs
Date Posted: August 20, 2008

New York—The search for alternative fuels is often blamed for the high cost of food but, according to a new Rabobank podcast, it is just one of many factors.

In the podcast, analysts with Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) department discuss the food vs. fuel debate.

"First, food versus fuel is a handy sound bite," said FAR Executive Director Karol Aure-Flynn.

"But, the fallacy of the headline is that there is a direct competition between the two; that it's either or.

"The reality is that strong global economic growth has changed the demand equation for U.S. commodities.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Charge an iPod With Vodka? Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies Launches 1st Direct Ethanol Product (The Wall Street Journal)
Last update: 2:05 p.m. EDT Aug. 19, 2008

SHANGHAI, China, Aug 19, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies today launched the fuel cell industry's first direct ethanol product, the Bio Energy Diversity Kit, which uses tiny amounts of alcohol and water as its fuel. The product marks another step in Horizon's commercialization of fuel cells in portable electronics.

The Bio Energy Discovery Kit is a simple educational product used to introduce fuel cell technology to students, aspiring scientists, teachers and engineers. The kit features a fuel cell powered desktop fan that uses a 90-percent water, 10-percent ethanol mix as the source fuel for transforming an electrochemical reaction into electrical energy.

"Many new ideas will come from the market once this technology can be experimented with," said Taras Wankewycz, co-founder and vice president, Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies. "The development and commercialization of the world's first direct ethanol fuel cell is an exciting milestone for us but is also just a single step in our continuing goal to bring ever more powerful fuel cell energy solutions to the masses."

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Ethanol's redemption?

Distillers grain may ease food fears
Faith Bremner • Argus Leader Washington Bureau • August 16, 2008

WASHINGTON - When VeraSun Energy this week reported a 50 percent increase in second-quarter earnings, part of that boost in profits had nothing to do with selling ethanol.

Distillers grain, a byproduct of the process of making ethanol, is becoming an ever-larger part of those companies' revenue, and some say it can play a key role in limiting the effects of ethanol on food prices.

One-third of all the corn used to make ethanol ends up as an ingredient in feed that farmers in the upper Midwest - where most of the ethanol plants are - give their cattle, poultry and pigs. This year, farmers will feed 18 million metric tons of distillers grain to their animals, up from 2.3 million tons nine years ago. About 1 million tons will be exported to places such as Canada, Mexico, Taiwan and Japan.

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MSU biofuel research rooted in rutabagas (Lansing State Journal)
Matthew Miller • • August 19, 2008 • From Lansing State Journal

EAST LANSING - If everything goes according to plan, the genetically modified rutabagas growing in a greenhouse across the street from Christoph Benning's Michigan State University laboratory could have a consistency something like avocados. Squishy. Oily. Just a little more purple.

Benning and his fellow researchers have inserted a gene called wrinkled1 into the rutabagas that regulates the conversion of carbohydrates into oil.

The hope is that the gene will make the rutabagas produce oil rather than starch inside their bulbous roots, turning these cold-resistant root vegetables into a viable biofuel crop for Michigan. It will be at least six months before Benning, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, knows for sure.

Plant oils are among the best potential sources of biofuel. They're rich in energy, easy to extract and convert.

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Turning Waste Material Into Ethanol

Pollution Online - The Web Site for Prevention and Contol Professionals
August 18, 2008

Ames, IA – Say the word "biofuels" and most people think of grain ethanol and biodiesel. But there's another, older technology called gasification that's getting a new look from researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University. By combining gasification with high-tech nanoscale porous catalysts, they hope to create ethanol from a wide range of biomass, including distiller's grain left over from ethanol production, corn stover from the field, grass, wood pulp, animal waste, and garbage.

Gasification is a process that turns carbon-based feedstocks under high temperature and pressure in an oxygen-controlled atmosphere into synthesis gas, or syngas. Syngas is made up primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen (more than 85 percent by volume) and smaller quantities of carbon dioxide and methane.

It's basically the same technique that was used to extract the gas from coal that fueled gas light fixtures prior to the advent of the electric light bulb. The advantage of gasification compared to fermentation technologies is that it can be used in a variety of applications, including process heat, electric power generation, and synthesis of commodity chemicals and fuels.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

More Energy-Efficient Ethanol

Technology Review
Monday, August 18, 2008
By Jennifer Chu

A process used in wastewater treatment may increase efficiency in ethanol plants.

Making corn ethanol is an energy-intensive process, requiring fossil fuels to grow and harvest corn and to power the production plant. To make the process more energy efficient, researchers at Washington University are proposing to borrow a process used in breweries and wastewater treatment facilities: oxygen-less vats of bacteria that naturally feed on organic waste produced from the fermentation process.

As bacteria break down waste, it releases methane, which can be funneled back through the system to help power a plant. The process requires little additional energy to run, and can further cut down on energy costs by producing its own power. Largus Angenent, a professor of chemical engineering, and his team at Washington University have tested anaerobic digestion on waste from ethanol plants and found that the process could cut down an ethanol facility's use of natural gas by 50 percent. The team has published the results in the recent issue of the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

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Ethanol byproduct makes cows happy

Some farmers say distillers grains make up for corn
By FAITH BREMNER • Gannett News Service • August 16, 2008

WASHINGTON — Ethanol producers will use about a quarter of the U.S. corn crop this year, an amount that alarms ranchers and poultry producers who depend on corn to feed their animals.

As the demand for corn and energy costs climb, so do prices at the grocery store.

But the ethanol industry's impact on the nation's supply of corn for feed isn't as dramatic as it may seem.

One-third of all the corn used to make ethanol ends up as an ingredient in feed that farmers in the upper Midwest — where most of the ethanol plants are located — give their cattle, poultry and pigs.

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Big Corn takes on Big Oil over ethanol

Growers group mounts PR campaign pointing to energy as culprit for high food costs

By Steve Tarter
of the Journal Star
Posted Aug 18, 2008 @ 08:47 PM
After corn was singled out earlier this year for contributing to rapid price increases in food and fuel, the Bloomington-based Illinois Corn Growers Association decided to fight back.

Corn and corn-based ethanol came under attack earlier this year in a public-relations campaign spearheaded by the Washington, D.C.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association.

The GMA questioned federal policy that diverted food crops for fuel while forming Food Before Fuel, a coalition of food, consumer and environmental groups, said association spokesman Scott Openshaw.

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Japan's Suzuki Motor to launch 100 pct ethanol cars in U.S., Brazil - report
Sunday, August 17, 2008; Posted: 06:25 PM

TOKYO, Aug 18, 2008 (Thomson Financial via COMTEX) -- SZKMF Quote Chart News PowerRating -- Japanese car maker Suzuki Motor Corp plans to develop cars that run completely on bioethanol fuel and release them in South America and the United States in around 2010, the Nikkei reported at the weekend, without citing sources.

As a first step, the company plans to begin selling in Brazil and elsewhere a passenger car fuelled by a gasoline-bioethanol mixture that is 25 percent bioethanol by the end of March, the business daily said.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Brazil invests in research for bio-fuels from micro-algae

MercoPress (South America)
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Direct Link:

Brazil will allocate 4.5 million Reais (approx. 2.8 million US dollars) in non-refundable credits to research projects exploring the use of aquaculture or micro-algae products in biodiesel production.

According to a decree signed by the Ministries of Environment, and Science and Technology, research centres interested in the field of study have until September 25th to present their proposals to the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development. The Brazilian government is willing to finance projects based on the following:
• The development of low-cost micro-algae farming techniques that may be used in oil production as a raw material for biodiesel production;
• Studies assessing the potential of different micro-algae types;
• Studies on the economic feasibility of farmed micro algae processes for biodiesel production;
• Research of cost-effective and efficient micro-algae collection and subsequent oil extraction processes.

The selected projects will be announced in October and financing will be released for the projects in December.

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US senators optimistic about ethanol, ag futures

US senators confident about ethanol's direction, but livestock producers find fault in hearing
August 18, 2008: 05:14 PM EST

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - A U.S. Senate committee hearing organized to address the ongoing food-versus-fuel debate over ethanol offered confidence to its organizers but left livestock producers troubled that their concerns weren't fully recognized.

Ethanol has drawn criticism in studies linking corn-based fuel to rising food prices. The argument has centered on ethanol making a run on corn and leaving shorter supplies for food and feed production, both of which drive up costs.

Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., took a largely defensive stand against those criticisms Monday during a special Senate Agriculture Committee hearing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, saying they are optimistic about where ethanol production and renewable fuels are headed.

"I'll admit, corn-based ethanol's not perfect, but it's been blamed for practically every problem under the sun," Nelson said. "What's next? Summer colds? Computer viruses? Bad hair days?"

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USDA Conference Spotlights Sorghum's Biofuel Potential

USDA Press Release
By Ann Perry
August 18, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 18, 2008—Sorghum's potential as a biofuel crop will be explored at the International Workshop on Sorghum for Biofuels which begins in Houston, Texas, tomorrow. More than 100 international experts from government, academia, the private sector and the agricultural community are expected to participate in the conference.

U.S. co-sponsors of the event include the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Research, Education and Economics (REE) mission area, Texas A&M University (TAMU), and the National Sorghum Producers (NSP). Other co-sponsors include Brazil’s Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuaria (EMBRAPA), the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), and Tsinghua University, which is located in the Peoples’ Republic of China.

“U.S. consumers know that we need to develop new sources of energy to meet our transportation needs,” said REE Under Secretary Gale A. Buchanan. “Growing sorghum for bioenergy production can give us a source of renewable—and profitable—energy right here at home.”

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

RFA: Despite Drop in Grain Prices, Inflation Continues to Rise Due to the Cost of Petroleum
Date Posted: August 15, 2008

With release of the July Consumer Price Index, it is painfully clear that as grain prices are falling, the major reason consumer budgets are being squeezed is because of the fact that energy prices have climbed more than 29% from a year ago while food prices have climbed 6% from a year ago.

But because farmers are buying higher priced fuel and fertilizer, and the average distance traveled by the food Americans eat is 1,500 miles, higher fuel prices are also contributing significantly to food inflation.

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Hurdles to blending more ethanol remain

Agriculture Online

Dan Looker
Successful Farming magazine Business Editor
8/15/2008, 8:51 AM CDT

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will require the nation's oil industry to blend 36 billion gallons of ethanol into the fuel supply by 2022. If federal incentives bring the necessary research breakthroughs, more than half of that will come from cellulosic ethanol made from wood, corn cobs, switchgrass and other plant materials. Some 15 billion gallons will be from corn ethanol.

There's just one problem.

If most of the cars on the road can burn only E-10 (gasoline with 10% ethanol), there won't be anyplace to go with all that ethanol. The Department of Energy estimates that by 2013, or even earlier, the market for E-10 in the U.S. will be saturated.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Ethanol demand could spark new bull market for corn

Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:36pm EDT
By Sam Nelson - Analysis

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The worst may be over for U.S. corn, the price of which has tumbled 36 percent from a record high six weeks ago, with some analysts expecting a bounce later this year as ethanol production continues to climb.

There are some expectations this year's crop could fall short of the forecast issued on Tuesday by the U.S. Agriculture Department, which said farmers could produce their second largest crop in history despite the worst floods in 15 years in the Midwest in June.

"The people I've spoken with, their views of the crop are certainly dramatically different than what these yields today say and what the conditions say ... they're much more cautious and much more conservative," Rich Feltes, director of research for MF Global, told a panel discussion on the USDA report.

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Turning Waste Material into Ethanol
15:46 EST, August 13, 2008

( -- Say the word “biofuels” and most people think of grain ethanol and biodiesel. But there’s another, older technology called gasification that’s getting a new look from researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University. By combining gasification with high-tech nanoscale porous catalysts, they hope to create ethanol from a wide range of biomass, including distiller’s grain left over from ethanol production, corn stover from the field, grass, wood pulp, animal waste, and garbage.

Gasification is a process that turns carbon-based feedstocks under high temperature and pressure in an oxygen-controlled atmosphere into synthesis gas, or syngas. Syngas is made up primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen (more than 85 percent by volume) and smaller quantities of carbon dioxide and methane.

It’s basically the same technique that was used to extract the gas from coal that fueled gas light fixtures prior to the advent of the electric light bulb. The advantage of gasification compared to fermentation technologies is that it can be used in a variety of applications, including process heat, electric power generation, and synthesis of commodity chemicals and fuels.

“There was some interest in converting syngas into ethanol during the first oil crisis back in the 70s,” said Ames Lab chemist and Chemical and Biological Science Program Director Victor Lin. “The problem was that catalysis technology at that time didn’t allow selectivity in the byproducts. They could produce ethanol, but you’d also get methane, aldehydes and a number of other undesirable products.”

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Michigan State to Create Genomic Clearinghouse for Biofuel Crops
Date Posted: August 13, 2008

East Lansing, MI— Michigan State University scientists, armed with a half-million-dollar federal grant, are creating an easily accessible, Web-based genomic database of information on crops that can be used to make ethanol.

"Ultimately this will allow us to create better biofuel crops," said C. Robin Buell, associate professor of plant biology and project leader.

"Right now, about half of the biofuel crops don't have genomic databases, and the ones that do are in many different places and are annotated differently, which makes it difficult to compare and use the information."

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RFA: Despite Drop in Grain Prices, Inflation Continues to Rise Due to the Cost of Petroleum

TN scientists branch out to building robot trees (India)

14 Aug 2008, 0617 hrs IST, Padmini Sivarajah,TNN

MADURAI: Driving down a tree-lined road in 2020 might not have quite the meaning it does today, if a Madurai Kamaraj University experiment is successful. Its department of bioenergy and centre for biodiversity and forest studies is working to build 'robot' trees that will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The trees look nothing like the leafy, green ones we know and carelessly destroy, though they have structures that represent the stem, roots and leaves.

Each robot tree looks more like a giant fly swatter, but a single 'tree' can equal the carbon absorption of 1,000 natural trees. One 'tree' is said to have the capacity to absorb 90,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

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Strategy needed to get wave energy rolling, experts say

Published: Thursday, August 14, 2008
Gillian Riddell, Westerly News (Canada)

Ucluelet has the potential to be the wave energy capital of Canada but even getting the first test sites operating is a struggle according to a Vancouver Island based ocean energy expert.

Chris Campbell, executive director of the Ocean Renewable Energy Group, a national organization that serves to coordinate groups researching and investing in ocean energy, is calling on the provincial government to develop a strategy to make wave and tidal energy a reality.

"The problem is, power is too cheap and there are too many choices in B.C.," said Campbell.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Unexpected bumper crops unlikely to give much relief

Chicago Tribune

Aug 12, 2008 (Chicago Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) -- As recently as 10 years ago, a bumper crop of corn was welcome news for farmers and consumers alike. The farmers would have more bushels to sell, which would drop prices for those buying eggs, steak and turkey at the grocery store.

But in the era of ethanol, even the extraordinary harvest predicted Tuesday by the government will likely provide little relief from the pressure of high prices, which hang over growers, food producers and consumers like a scarecrow.

The Agriculture Department projected this year's corn crop has withstood rains and flooding to deliver a harvest of 12.3 billion bushels _ 573 million more than it expected last month and second in size only to last year's harvest.

With ethanol expected to consume more than 30 percent of that harvest, the economy has embarked on a new cycle in which bumper yields instantly find new buyers, the prices stay higher and farmers face greater expenses for land and fertilizer, causing them to respond by continuing to plant more corn.

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American Coalition for Ethanol Expands its Board of Directors
Date Posted: August 13, 2008

Sioux Falls, SD— At its Annual Business Meeting yesterday, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) voted to expand its board of directors to add representation from key ethanol companies and grassroots organizations.

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Poet to make some U.S. cellulosic ethanol this year

Reuters UK
By Timothy Gardner
Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:34pm BST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private U.S. ethanol company Poet on Wednesday said it will begin making a small amount of next generation ethanol later this year using crop waste, a feedstock that could yield the alternative motor fuel without inflating food prices.

Poet, the country's top ethanol producer, has started building a cellulosic ethanol pilot plant in Scotland, South Dakota, that will be added to an existing plant that makes traditional ethanol from corn, CEO Jeff Broin told an ethanol conference on Wednesday.

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Ethanol industry improves product and PR efforts

CNN Money

Ethanol producers work to improve the way they brew and defend the alternative fuel
August 13, 2008: 07:13 PM EST

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - Ethanol producers on Wednesday railed against what they described as a smear campaign by opponents who have branded the industry responsible for rising food prices.

"Today, we face strong opposition, and their weapon primarily is the press," Bob Scott, president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, told hundreds of producers gathered in Omaha for the group's trade show.

It comes less than a week after the Environmental Protection Agency gave the industry some good news by refusing to cut the federal ethanol mandate.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Metabolix grows bioplastics in switchgrass

CNet News
August 11, 2008 2:50 PM PDT

Bioplastics company Metabolix has devised what it hopes is an efficient way to manufacture its product: growing grass.

The company on Monday said that it has has created "significant amounts" of its bioplastic by growing it in the leaves of switchgrass. The details of the greenhouse trial are published in Plant Biotechnology Journal.

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Opinion: Texas Is Fed Up With Corn Ethanol

The Wall Street Journal
August 12, 2008; Page A21

At what price will corn be so expensive that the federal government will decide that it is time to stop driving up the price of food?

Three years ago, Congress imposed a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandate that has forced the gasoline industry to mix massive amounts of corn-based ethanol into the nation's fuel supply. In 2007, Congress nearly doubled that mandate to require nine billion gallons of ethanol be blended into gas in 2008 and even more in 2009.

But, as a safety valve, Congress gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the power to waive the new mandates if they turn out to have unforeseen, negative consequences.

Read the full opinion

Biodiesel mission set to pull down shutters

Economic Times (India)
4 Aug, 2008, 0439 hrs IST,Sushmi Dey & Rajeev Jayaswal, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The national mission on biodiesel appears to have been given a quiet burial with a group of ministers (GoM) shelving the programme even before it took off. The decision comes even as countries across the world debate whether diversion of farm land for biofuel led to the rally and shortage in food grains.

Finance minister P Chidambaram had raised the issue of how farm land was being increasingly used to produce biofuel in the developed world leading to a shortfall in grain production.

Biodiesel is a variant of the regular petroleum based diesel where the fuel is doped with a vegetable oil like oil extracted from jathropa.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tequila Fruit Looks Ideal for Producing Ethanol
08/10/2008 02:08 AM ID: 72636

Agave, a fruit used in tequila and commonly grown in Mexico, has been shown to be able to produce 2,000 gallons of ethanol for each acre versus corn which only produces 300-400 gals. While sugar cane produces 600-800 gallons, it drives deforestation.

Agave thrives in dry and arid areas which are common in poor rural regions in Mexico which produces 95% of the world's agave. Agave adds nitrogen to the soil and does not need a lot of water to grow. Cellulose is not needed to spur production.

Producing agave for ethanol could reduce poverty in Mexico. Agave production in Mexico decreased in 2007 by 25-35% as farmers focused more on corn for the growing ethanol market. The price of tequila rose sharply then. Now it may rise even more.

Story posted at:

Engineers seek to help biodiesel production

Saturday, August 2, 2008
Argen Duncan, El Defensor Chieftain Reporter

A New Mexico Tech researcher is working to make biodiesel production from algae more financially viable by finding a way to turn a byproduct into marketable substances.

Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Corey Leclerc and his group are using thermochemical, as opposed to biological, conversions to turn glycerol into hydrogen, carbon monoxide and other chemicals useful in industry.

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University of Virginia Researches Test Algae as Biofuel and Digester of Greenhouse Gases
Date Posted: August 8, 2008

In the world of alternative fuels, there may be nothing greener than pond scum.
Algae are tiny biological factories that use photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy so efficiently that they can double their weight several times a day.

As part of the photosynthesis process algae produce oil and can generate 15 times more oil per acre than other plants used for biofuels, such as corn and switchgrass.

Algae can grow in salt water, freshwater or even contaminated water, at sea or in ponds, and on land not suitable for food production.

On top of those advantages, algae — at least in theory — should grow even better when fed extra carbon dioxide ( the main greenhouse gas ) and organic material like sewage.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In corn country, McCain admits to ethanol disdain

Associated Press
By MIKE GLOVER – 2 days ago (August 9, 2008)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain didn't mince words Friday at the Iowa State Fair, telling corn producers he didn't want to subsidize their ethanol but was eager to help market farm products around the world.

"My friends, we will disagree on a specific issue and that's healthy," McCain said as he stood near bales of straw at one of the nation's premiere farming showcases. "I believe in renewable fuels. I don't believe in ethanol subsidies, but I believe in renewable fuels."

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Ethanol battle unlikely to fade

Houston Chronicle

Livestock, food industries discuss intensifying push to change law
By BRETT CLANTON Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Aug. 8, 2008, 10:08PM

Efforts to cut or freeze U.S. corn ethanol requirements are unlikely to end with the federal government's denial Thursday of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's plea to waive half of this year's mandate.

Livestock and food industry groups that backed the request already are talking about increased lobbying efforts in Washington to change the law.

Legislation under discussion in the Senate could freeze ethanol quotas at current levels, and at least one governor who supported Perry's request is considering a request of his own.

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Obama aide wooed by ethanol lobby

Financial Times

By Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington
Published: August 8 2008 03:00 Last updated: August 8 2008 03:00

One of Barack Obama's most important backers in Washington is in talks to become an adviser to the Renewable Fuels Association, the most powerful pro-ethanol lobby in the US capital.

Tom Daschle, the former Democratic majority leader of the Senate who has long been an influential champion of the ethanol industry, said in an interview with the Financial Times that he was in talks to become an adviser to the RFA.

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Local researchers turn algae into fuel

KFSM Channel 5 - Fayetteville
Posted: Aug 6, 2008 10:21 PM CDT
Updated: Aug 6, 2008 11:29 PM CDT

FAYETTEVILLE - A few local researchers are hoping their creativity and hard work soon come together, with a new method of making fuel, from algae.

Ecological engineers at the U of A say they're already turning algae into fuel in the lab, and although they say they're five years away from mass producing algae as biodiesel fuel, they say the end result, will be well worth the wait.

Ecological engineers say this ordinary algae, growing in streams and rivers across the United States, could soon be the key to replacing gasoline.

Read the full story

Monday, August 11, 2008

Editorial: Bioenergy Takes Emphasis over Biofuel

Ethanol Producer Magazine
September 2008

By Mike Bryan, Publisher

There are marvelous options opening up to the renewable energy industry. Ethanol has helped carve a path forward to a future based in bioenergy. It’s an industry that expands far beyond the borders of ethanol and biodiesel. Bioenergy covers such a vast array of new opportunities—anaerobic digestion, gasification, pyrolysis, algae, and combined heat and power, to mention a few. What is so exciting about these technologies is that many of them can be incorporated into the present ethanol industry to improve operating efficiencies, reduce production costs and improve our carbon footprint.

Read the full editorial

Pellets 'a no brainer' for New Brunswick

Bioenergy Waste wood presents better opportunity than farm crops, says researcher
Published Tuesday August 5th, 2008

The future of New Brunswick bioenergy lies in the forest, not the field, argues researcher Roger Sampson.

This province will never play in the biofuels big leagues, turning farm crops into ethanol and biodiesel, said Sampson in an interview.

However, New Brunswick could cut its output of carbon dioxide and develop the rural economy by turning waste wood into pellets to burn to heat homes and domestic hot water, even make electricity, he said.

Sampson works for R.E.A.P.-Canada (Resource Efficient Agricultural Production), a research, consulting and development organization in Montreal. His family owns woodlots in northern New Brunswick between Bathurst and Dalhousie, where he spent summers as a youngster.

At one stage in his life he believed in liquid biofuels - ethanol and biodiesel. He eventually came to the view that solid pellets made from grass on the Prairies, wood on the East Coast, make more sense.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

General Motors Invests in Alternative Fuel Startup that Makes Ethanol from Waste Products

Sunday, August 03, 2008 by: David Gutierrez

(NaturalNews) General Motors (GM) has invested in a startup company dedicated to the production of ethanol from waste products, chief executive officer (CEO) Rick Wagoner announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Wagoner said that GM has purchased an equity stake in Coskata, a company that aims to synthesize ethanol from crop waste, scrap plastic, rubber, wood chips and even regular garbage. He did not say how big a stake the company had purchased.

GM has already invested in the production of so-called "flex-fuel" vehicles, which are capable of running either on standard gasoline, gasoline with 10 percent ethanol, or an 85-15 ethanol-gasoline mix.

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A look at McCain, Obama farm policies

By The Associated Press – 1 day ago (August 6, 2008)

Major farm policies advanced by presidential rivals John McCain and Barack Obama:

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Pulp and Paper Industry Poised to Take Center Stage in Global Bioenergy Arena

August 5, 2008
International bioenergy conference explores new and emerging pathways, technologies, financial, legal, and operation issues.
by Ken Patrick
Georgia, United States []

The pulp and paper industry is uniquely positioned to immediately produce significant amounts of biofuels, bioenergy and bioproducts. With a mature, operating infrastructure capable of delivering double-digit billions of gallons of biofuels annually, generally without adding any new fiber processing capacity, many pulp and paper mills around the world are only a one-step investment away from becoming major renewable energy producers. Especially important, paper industry capacity that can be re-aligned and re-purposed toward bioenergy co-production would be 100% cellulosic feedstock based, with no agricultural attachments at all.

Pulp Mills as Biorefineries
Pulp mills are ideal sites for integrated biorefinery operations for four basic reasons. First, they are already set up to receive and process massive amounts of delivered roundwood and woods chips, served in this capacity by rail, truck and some also by barge operations. In the U.S. alone, pulp mills use more than 120 million dry tons of wood per year, and they have access to at least an equal amount of forest residuals and even a greater amount of agricultural wastes and energy crops if needed.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Retired Lakeland Minister Thinks Grass Can Be Used for Ethanol

The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida)

Gass-to-Grass Drream
By Kevin BouffardTHE LEDGER
Published: Sunday, August 3, 2008 at 11:40 p.m. Last Modified: Sunday, August 3, 2008 at 11:56 p.m.

LAKELAND Thanks to $4-a-gallon gas, Americans are scrambling for alternative fuels, and a retired Lakeland minister may just have a solution growing in his own back yard.

"I didn't think about ethanol until I read a lot about it. Then I thought, 'My God, my grass is a possible solution,' " said the Rev. Giok Se Tjiong, 86, of north Lakeland.

There's nothing new about ethanol, of course, but anyone who's gone grocery shopping recently knows why it's fallen out of favor as an alternative fuel.

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BP and Verenium Announce Significant Partnership to Accelerate the Commercialization of Cellulosic Ethanol

MarketWatch - Wall Street Journal

Collaboration assembles core capabilities across biofuels value chain to accelerate commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production using non-food feedstocks - - Initial phase includes $90 million in total funding by BP to Verenium over 18 months -
Last update: 12:01 a.m. EDT Aug. 6, 2008

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug 06, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- BP and Verenium Corporation (VRNM: verenium corporation com) today announced the creation of a strategic partnership to accelerate the development and commercialization of cellulosic ethanol. The partnership combines a broad technology platform and operational capabilities in an effort to advance the development of a portfolio of low-cost, environmentally sound cellulosic ethanol production facilities in the United States, and potentially throughout the world. Under the initial phase of the strategic alliance, Verenium is to receive $90 million in total funding from BP over the next 18 months for rights to current and future technology held within the partnership.

"We are very excited and proud to be partnering with BP, a world leader in both the traditional and alternative energy industries that shares our commitment and vision to rapidly evolve next-generation ethanol into a commercial-scale solution for our energy needs," said Carlos A. Riva, President and Chief Executive Officer at Verenium. "In addition to BP's world-class capabilities in traditional energy production, logistics and distribution, their commitment to accelerate the development of the global biofuels market was a significant factor in our decision to partner with BP. In addition, both organizations are aligned on the significant market opportunity and operational imperatives for achieving rapid, commercial-scale success."

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BP to hold on to its renewables
July 30, 2008

The oil giant decides against spinning off its cleantech investments.

Cleantech is getting another chance at London-based BP (NYSE: BP). The world's third largest oil company has decided not to spin off its investments in renewable energy, which includes interests in solar, wind and biofuel.

Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, said in the company's second quarter conference call that "we are creating value in Alternative Energy. These businesses are increasingly economic without subsidy and we will continue to provide visibility on our investments and the value that's being created."

In February, Hayward hinted that he might be considering a sale of the company's alternative energy business in a strategy update he gave to analysts (see BP may sell renewables business).

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McCain opposes farm policies popular in Midwest

Associated Press
By MIKE GLOVER – 7 hours ago (August 6, 2008)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain opposes the $300 billion farm bill and subsidies for ethanol, positions that both supporters and opponents say might cost him votes he needs in the upper Midwest this November.

His Democratic rival, Barack Obama, is making a more traditional regional pitch: He favors the farm bill approved by Congress this year and subsidies for the Midwest-based ethanol industry.

McCain instead has promised to open new markets abroad for farmers to export their commodities.

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PU working on developing bio-diesel

The Nation (Pakistan)
July 27, 2008

LAHORE - Punjab University Institute of Chemistry is experimenting in its laboratory on ethyl alcohol, which is obtained from molasses, to get bio-diesel. This fuel is cheaper and cause 70 percent less pollution than other fuels. Over 80 percent vehicles in Brazil use this fuel.

PU Faculty of Science Dean Prof Dr Jamil Anwar Chaudhry expressed these views while briefing about the performance of the institute in a ceremony here on Saturday.

Molasses, a waste material of sugar industries, can be converted into bio-diesel and used as fuel in vehicles.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Canola flexes muscle outside biofuel arena

Capital Press

Oilseed tops researcher's list for nitrogen fixing, protein content
Jamie Henneman For the Capital Press

PULLMAN, Wash. - Canola may be one of the most beneficial crops in the oilseed family, due to its ability to fix nitrogen into the ground and the protein content of crushed canola meal, WSU researcher Dennis Roe said at the recent Bioenergy Cropping Systems Research Field Day.

This yellow-flowered plant from the brassica family can be a beneficial crop to rotate into a wheat cycle, both for the nitrogen-rich biomass it can leave behind for the next wheat crop (at least 5 percent) and for its varied marketability. Roe credited the nitrogen benefit to the fact that canola stubble breaks down faster than stubble from a cereal crop, making the nitrogen more available to the next cycle of wheat.

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Florida Governor Promotes Alternative Fuels

Domestic Fuel - Alternative Fuel
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman
July 31, 2008

Florida Governor Charlie Crist spoke to a group of over 450 gathered for the third annual Florida Farm to Fuel summit in Orlando Thursday, following an address by US Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer.

“You know that Florida is a top agricultural state already,” Crist told the group. “The development of ethanol and other biofuels is incredibly important to Florida’s future and America’s future. I truly believe that investing in renewable and alternative energies in the Sunshine State can propel us as a leader, no question about it.”

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Jatropha, the 'bioenergy tree,' may one day fuel your car with biodiesel

By Yvonne Swanson, Special to the Times In print: Saturday, August 2, 2008
St. Petersburg Times (Florida)

When the Beijing Olympic Games begin Friday, China will have planted more than 2-million trees in urban parks, including the new Olympic Forest Park. The primary goal isn't to create beautiful parks or provide shade for visitors. In this year of the "Green Olympics" initiative, Chinese officials hope the trees will reduce high levels of air pollution in the capital city. • But while the world focuses on Beijing this month, something much bigger is taking root in millions of acres of farmland in Southwest China that could reduce pollution on an Olympic scale. Jatropha (Jatropha curcas), known to environmental groups as the "bioenergy tree," is being planted in massive fields by farmers who have received subsidies and seedlings from the Chinese government. • Jatropha curcas is one of many species of jatropha, which are planted as a flowering landscape specimen throughout the Tampa Bay area. Jatropha is a hardy, Florida-friendly evergreen that produces pretty red flowers. But that's not this Cuban native's real claim to fame.

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Algae farm someday could produce biodiesel of choice

Orlando Sentinal (Florida)
Ludmilla Lelis Sentinel Staff Writer
July 29, 2008

Algae are not something most people want to grow, especially not in their ponds or lakes.But a Brevard-based company wants its algae to grow. And flourish. And get so fat that the tiny green cells can be harvested for fuel.

PetroAlgae of Melbourne thinks that algae can provide the fuel of tomorrow.

"We are farming oil, and we are very proud of our American oil farm," said Fred Tennant, PetroAlgae vice president of business development.

Read the full story

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution

massachusetts institute of technology press release

Scientists mimic essence of plants' energy storage system
Anne Trafton, News Office
July 31, 2008

In a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine.

Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today's announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.

Requiring nothing but abundant, non-toxic natural materials, this discovery could unlock the most potent, carbon-free energy source of all: the sun. "This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," said MIT's Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science. "Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon."

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Harvard Sustainability Science Program Issues "Biofuels and Sustainable Development" Report

Harvard Sustainability Science Program Issues "Biofuels and Sustainable Development" Report

Read the report

Man uses canola seeds to produce biodiesel fuel

Danville News (Virginia)

By Sarah Arkin
Published: July 26, 2008

Dean Price smiled Tuesday as he eagerly dug his hands into what he thinks will be the next black gold: six acres’ worth of tiny, round, black canola seeds.

In those seeds, cascading into the pronounced 100-foot tall grain bin on U.S. 220 in Bassett, Price sees the next wave of non-petroleum options and the future of America’s energy industry.

In just a few days and with some chemical conversions, that canola — grown at the Upper Piedmont Research Center at the Chinqua Penn plantation in Rockingham County, N.C. — will be ready as fuel for trucks and tractors.

It also can be used for home heating.

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Ford Offers New Flex-Fuel Vehicles in 2009
Date Posted: August 1, 2008

Ford Motor Company, a member of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, has recently announced that it will add four new flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) models to their line in 2009.

These actions will assist in meeting the company’s commitment to doubling FFV production by 2010 and producing 50% of their total production as FFVs by 2012.

Read the full story

Monday, August 4, 2008

New Technology Promises Huge Increase in Ethanol Yield from Grass

Daily Tech - Chicago
Shane McGlaun (Blog) - July 30, 2008 5:02 PM

Process promises 10 fold increase in simple sugar production from non-food crops
As scientists all around the world look for alternatives to oil for fuel, several options have materialized. Electricity has a significant amount of support behind it, but for many drivers an electric vehicle isn't a real option due to the extremely limited range current battery technology can provide.

One of the few fuel alternatives not based on oil that is currently in use in relatively large quantities is ethanol. Many of the fueling stations around the U.S. now have stickers on pumps that say the gasoline is mixed with 10% ethanol. Large portions of General Motor's vehicles are already capable of running on 85% ethanol.

The problem with the mass production of ethanol is that the crops most suited to making ethanol -- corn, potatoes, and sugar cane -- are also food crops that are needed to feed people in many developing parts of the world. Another problem is that production costs for ethanol using these food crops vary with the price of the food crops. Another fear is that in areas where the amount of land for growing food crops is limited, the amount of crops grown that need to go to human consumption could be greatly reduced leading to increased food shortages around the world.

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DOE and USDA Announce More than $10 Million in Bioenergy Plant Feedstock Research

Release No. 0202.08
Contact: Jennifer Martin, USDA, (202) 720-8188
Jeff Sherwood, DOE, (202) 586-5806

WASHINGTON, DC -July 31, 2008-- Agriculture Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Gale Buchanan and Energy Department (DOE) Under Secretary for Science Raymond Orbach and today announced plans to award 10 grants totaling more than $10 million to accelerate fundamental research in the development of cellulosic biofuels.

"USDA is committed to fostering a sustainable domestic biofuels industry at home in rural America," Buchanan said. "These grants will broaden the sources of energy from many crops as well as improve the efficiency and options among renewable fuels."

Read the full release

U.S. ethanol production rises 10 pct in May - EIA

Reuters India
Tue Jul 29, 2008 10:01pm IST

NEW YORK, July 29 (Reuters) - U.S. ethanol production in May jumped 10 percent from April as the growing fleet of distilleries boosted output, a government report said.

U.S. ethanol output rose 1,675,000 barrels to 18,543,000 barrels in May, the latest month for which data was available, the Energy Information Administration said on Monday.

"Ethanol is cheaper than gasoline and new distillers keep opening so it makes sense that production is going to rise," said Mark Mayo, an ethanol expert at the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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Sorghum taking root as a source for ethanol

By Rick Neale, USA TODAY

FELLSMERE, Fla. — The race is on to build Florida's first sweet sorghum ethanol plant.
And Ray Coniglio hopes a 10-acre test patch of waving plants here will cultivate construction of such a facility in central Florida's Brevard County.

"You can see how they're growing. They're shooting right up," says Coniglio, president of Global Renewable Energy's ethanol division, walking with hands outstretched between rows of waving sweet sorghum. "You come out here every three days, and you can see the difference."

GRE planted this test crop April 5, and scientific testing is underway. If sugar content and tonnage per acre prove sufficient, the company hopes to grow 10,000 acres of sweet sorghum and build an ethanol distillery.

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Grant Awarded for Sludge-to-Biodiesel Research

Water &
By Robbie Ward
Jul 23, 2008

Starkville, MS -- Three Mississippi State chemical engineering researchers formally will accept a $200,000 grant from the regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency during a ceremony at 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. The three faculty members are colleagues in the university's chemical engineering department.

The grant supports their work to chemically transform sludge and wastewater collected from a Tuscaloosa, Ala., treatment facility into a feedstock for producing biodiesel.

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In Gas-Powered World, Ethanol Stirs Complaints

New York Times Business
Published: July 26, 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY — “Why Do You Put Alcohol in Your Tank?” demands a large sign outside one gas station here, which reassures drivers that it sells only “100% Gas.”

“No Corn in Our Gas,” advertises another station nearby.

Along the highways of this sprawling prairie city, and in other pockets of the country, a mutiny is growing against energy policies that heavily support and subsidize the blending of ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, into gasoline.

Many consumers complain that ethanol, which constitutes as much as 10 percent of the fuel they buy in most states, hurts gas mileage and chokes the engines of their boats and motorcycles.

As ethanol has spread around the country, gas station owners and wholesalers are catering to concerns about ethanol that are often exaggerated but not entirely unfounded. High gas prices seem to be helping them plant seeds of doubt in customers’ minds.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

DOE, USDA Granting More Than $10M to Ten Biofuel Genomics Studies

[July 31, 2008]

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter
NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The US Departments of Energy and Agriculture today said that they will provide nearly $11 million over three years to fund 10 genomics research programs that can help develop bioenergy feedstocks for use in cellulosic biofuels.

Under the joint Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program, the DOE will contribute $8.8 million from its Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and the USDA will provide $2 million through its Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

“Developing cost-effective means of producing cellulosic biofuels on a national scale poses major scientific challenges — these grants will help in developing the type of transformational breakthroughs needed in basic science to make this happen,” DOE Under Secretary for Science Raymond Orbach said in a statement.

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Brazil weights ethanol case

The International Herald Tribune (New York Times)
The Associated Press
Published: July 30, 2008

GENEVA: Brazil is likely to ask the World Trade Organization to open a blockbuster case into U.S. ethanol tariffs, a senior official said Wednesday, outlining the first possible dispute to arise as a result of this week's global trade talks collapse.

Roberto Azevedo, Brazil's WTO ambassador, said there was a "strong possibility" that the Latin American country would make a formal complaint in September. Brazil would then be able to ask for the establishment of a WTO panel if a two-month consultation period with the United States fails to produce an agreement.

The case would concern a U.S. ethanol tariff of 54 cents per gallon, which critics say is designed to protect American corn farmers who cannot produce the fuel as cheaply as sugarcane growers in Brazil.

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In the tall grass, researchers find energy alternative
July 30, 2008 2:23 PM PDT

A perennial grass that grows as tall as 13 feet, requires little to no fertilizer, and can be stored away in bales almost indefinitely could be the next hope for efficient ethanol production.

At least that's the thinking of researchers from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who have been field testing a sterile grass known as Miscanthus giganteus, a distant cousin of switchgrass. In a report released Wednesday, the researchers said that the biofuel crop proved in field tests to be significantly more productive than other crops like corn in producing biomass for ethanol--an alternative to gas.

"By using Miscanthus...we can produce ethanol using a lot less land than we're using at present doing this with corn," crop sciences professor Steven Long, who led the study, said during in a presentation of the research. His work will also appear in this month's journal Global Change Biology.

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Senate Ag Committee on Ethanol to Be Held in Omaha

By: iStockAnalyst
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 9:52 PM
By Joseph Morton, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.

Jul. 30--WASHINGTON -- The role of ethanol in rising food costs will be at the heart of a Senate Agriculture Committee field hearing in Omaha next month.

In announcing the Aug. 18 hearing, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said Wednesday that the committee chairman, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, agreed to hold it in the face of what Nelson called an ongoing "smear campaign" against ethanol. Harkin plans to attend, an aide said.

Ethanol plants have been consuming more of the country's corn crop, driving up prices for corn and other grains. That, in turn, affects the price of other agricultural commodities such as meat, dairy products and eggs, because farmers use corn to feed livestock.

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Deleting ethanol from U.S. fuel production systems would hard consumers

Times-Republican (Iowa)
POSTED: July 28, 2008

With so much public focus being put on oil and gasoline prices, it's difficult to imagine EPA doing anything that would send pump prices higher, potentially sharply higher. While many impacted by corn prices are "whining" as Phil Gramm puts it, the ethanol industry has become a large enough part of the U.S. fuel production system that deleting it now would have an unequivocally worse impact on consumers from raising pump prices than it has had in raising food costs.

No matter how much oil there is, there is a finite capacity in the U.S. to refine petroleum. The failure to build new petroleum refineries in the U.S. limits the U.S. ability to grow gasoline or distillate production to meet demand. While it's little talked about, ethanol made a significant contribution to U.S. refinery capacity. Albeit, ethanol plants refine corn into ethanol, the concept and result is the same.

Ethanol plants are refineries. They were a welcome expansion to U.S. refinery capacity. They are strategically located away from the Gulf where U.S. petroleum refineries are concentrated. That makes them less vulnerable to Gulf hurricanes, a strategic benefit. Ethanol production has added enough to U.S. motor fuel supply to have a significant impact on prices from boosting aggregate motor fuel production.

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USDA Report: Global Agricultural Supply and Demand

Global Agricultural Supply and Demand: Factors Contributing to the Recent Increase in Food Commodity Prices


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Debate over food vs. fuel could shift to farmland conservation

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 12:40 AM CDT
By CHRIS LUSVARDI - Herald &Review (Decatur, IL) Staff Writer

DECATUR - One of the state's leading agricultural economists predicted Tuesday that the debate over the cause of rising food prices soon could shift significantly.

The debate catching many consumers' attention recently has pitted food against fuel, but University of Illinois Extension expert Darrel Good expects that could change to a food and fuel vs. conservation debate.

"You haven't seen anything yet," Good told attendees at the Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce's quarterly Ag Cafe luncheon.Good said that farmers could decide to shift unused acres back into production in an effort to alleviate rising crop prices, he said.

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