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

Friday, October 31, 2008

Kansas agency announces $10 million in grants

The Hays Daily News

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) -- The Kansas Bioscience Authority has awarded $10 million to programs aimed at expanding life sciences in the state.

Among the recipients announced Tuesday is the Wichita Center for Graduate Medical Education. It will receive nearly $6 million for a program leading to the creation of three new research centers.

Other recipients include Prairie Village-based NOW Technology, which gets $1.5 million to help commercialize technology that extracts products like fuel oil and mineral salts from municipal wastewater.

Colwich-based ICM gets $1 million for a bioenergy research project to bring cellulosic ethanol to the marketplace. And the University of Kansas Cancer Center was awarded $750,000 to hire three researchers.

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In Brazil, Biofuels Dream Is Already Reality

The Washington Post
By Luciana Pereira Franco
Post-Wilson Fellow
Wednesday, October 29, 2008; 12:00 AM

The Iowa farm Chuck Grassley calls home sits on 800 acres bursting with corn and soybeans. Though he bought it in the 1960s, his rural roots stretch back to his childhood, when his father set up a family agribusiness after World War II. But it would not be as a farmer that Grassley would leave his biggest mark on American agriculture. That would come after Grassley -- now a U.S. senator from Iowa -- turned to politics, becoming one of the nation's leading advocates of biofuels.

He championed ethanol as early as the 1980s, before most Americans even knew what it was. In the 1990s, he worked hard to increase ethanol production and consumption in the United States. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, he created tax credits for ethanol, which years later were extended to other biofuels. His stated goal: for Americans to derive 25 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025.

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Schafer: No Special Bailout for Struggling Ethanol Makers

Wisconsin Ag Connection
USAgNet - 10/29/2008

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer assured meat, dairy and poultry groups on Monday that a loan guarantee program for rural businesses was not being used as a special bailout for struggling ethanol makers. Schafer met industry representatives in response to a letter last week in which the groups said it would be unfair to provide federal loan guarantees to ethanol makers because they agreed to pay high prices for corn, the feedstock used by ethanol plants, before recent market declines.

The letter was signed by the American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Chicken Council and five others.

"We assured them that this was a long-standing program they could use to help finance rural America. Some of those may be ethanol facilities," Schafer told reporters.

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Ethanol's Short-Term Bottom

Seeking Alpha
by: Hard Assets Investor
October 29, 2008
By Brad Zigler

The plunge in corn and natural gas prices has firmed up domestic ethanol refining spreads to levels not seen since March. Plainly, we weren't scraping the deck back in May when we limned the corn-ethanol spread in "Are We At The Bottom Of The Ethanol Barrel?".

No, the bottom (if, indeed, it turns out that way), came at the commodity markets' summer zenith when corn prices shot up to the $6- and $7-a-bushel range, crushing the spread to a mere 23 cents before ancillary costs and returns.

Corn prices have since been nearly halved and the crush has widened to 89 cents a bushel. Not great, but certainly better than before. Lower commodity prices, though, have been both boon and bane for ethanol refiners. While lower input prices make ethanol manufacturing less costly, output prices have also cheapened, dragged down by the weakness in fossil fuel prices.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Seaweed as biomass energy alternative

The Tech Herald
by Rich Bowden - Oct 26 2008, 21:59

Current arguments over the use of valuable agricultural land to grow food for biofuels could be resolved by the potential of seaweed farms say Scottish scientists.

A study by the Scottish Association for Marine Science for The Crown Estate recommended trial seaweed and algae farms be set up to investigate the potential use of marine biomass as an alternative energy source. Such an approach would resolve the problem of a dwindling supply of food crops being grown on land, a situation which has contributed to food shortages and rising food prices say experts.

Prof Mike Cowling, science and research manager at The Crown Estate, said harnessing seaweed as an alternative form of energy was "...particularly efficient and reliable".

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S.D. senators urge more research on ethanol blends

Argus Leader
Staff reports • October 28, 2008

Fifteen U.S. Senators, including South Dakota's Sen. John Thune and Sen. Tim Johnson, have urged U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman to do more research on using ethanol blends higher than E10 (10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline) in conventional vehicle engines.

“Ethanol production will soon outpace consumption if we do not expedite the approval of blends higher than E10,” Thune said. “Initial studies regarding intermediate blends such as E15 and E20 are very encouraging, however more research needs to be done. The Department of Energy must continue to work with the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the auto industry, to ensure that the market for homegrown renewable fuels does not become saturated.”

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Cellulosic Sugar, Not Cellulosic Ethanol

Written by Yoni Levinson
Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Anyone who’s taken microeconomics remembers one of its first lessons: things are more efficient when people specialize their tasks. A recent article by Greentech Media points out that this idea could be utilized to give the biomass energy industry a little jolt. What specialization am I talking about? Sugar.

The two types of biomass energy that involve sugar chemistry are cellulosic ethanol and algae/bacteria derived fuel. The latter consume simple sugars and turn them into more useful chemicals; usually ethanol, but increasingly other compounds which might make even better fuels – such as butanol and kerosene (jet fuel).

The scientific challenge has always been to convert cellulose to sugar, but – according to the article – no one (other than academics) has been focusing on commercializing this step alone. Rather, the cellulosic ethanol plants incorporate the cellulose-to-sugar step as part of their overall process rather than focus on it exclusively. The people growing algae and bacteria, meanwhile, are more focused on genetically engineering their bugs to build sugar into exciting new molecules than they are on developing better ways to make that sugar.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Modern Ethanol Industry Has Superior Environmental and Economic Profile Versus Gasoline

MarketWatch - The Wall Street Journal

Ethanol production creates smaller carbon footprint than gasoline - Increase in corn supply will meet food demand and stimulate renewable fuel growth
Last update: 10:23 a.m. EDT Oct. 28, 2008

CHICAGO, Oct 28, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The Illinois Corn Growers Association announced at a press conference Tuesday that the state has become a technological and commercial leader in corn-based ethanol while unveiling two landmark studies that concluded that production of the biofuel leaves a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline and has substantial room for growth without affecting corn supply to the food and feed sectors.

"The conclusions of these two scientific studies are historic," said Rob Elliott, vice president of the ICGA. "Amid the long and sometimes heated debate between ethanol proponents and detractors, these studies indicate that modern ethanol plants have a superior carbon footprint and net energy benefit when compared to gasoline refineries. And, the Korves study provides compelling data that ethanol production can grow substantially at no risk to food supplies."

The ICGA said that the state's total ethanol output has surpassed 1.5 billion gallons annually which is about one third of total gasoline use in Illinois thereby playing a significant role in helping the country wean itself from imported/non-renewable carbon-based fuels. The growing ethanol industry is creating new jobs in rural communities.

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Generating power from throwaway food

The Vancouver Sun

Environmentally efficient but costly biogas needs government subsidies to encourage more use
Roman Zakaluzny, For Canwest News Service
Published: Saturday, October 25, 2008

The search for alternative energy supplies has led researchers and investors to place new emphasis on the potential of a half-century-old yet largely undeveloped source of energy derived from all manner of biological waste.

It is already fuelling buses in some municipalities in Sweden, and the technology is beginning to be used in Canada. But it's expensive, and advocates acknowledge either electricity prices have to rise or taxpayers must be willing to subsidize this costly but environmentally efficient energy industry if it is to succeed

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NCGA Research Provides Insight into Biofuels and Land Use Patterns

National Corn Growers Association
October 16, 2008

How much impact does growing U.S. ethanol production have on decisions about land use around the world? To help answer this question, the National Corn Growers Association recently held an Internet-based webinar on land use patterns in the United States and other major crop-producing countries.

“Changes in land use have occurred and will continue to occur with or without biofuels,” said Mary Holmes, NCGA director of biofuels programs and business development. “The expansion of the global ethanol industry is only a minor factor in global land use change decisions.”

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USDA study confirms link between ethanol by-product and E. coli

Minnesota Public Radio
by Mark Steil
October 17, 2008

A U.S. Agriculture Department study shows a significant increase of potentially harmful E. coli bacteria in cattle that are fed an ethanol by-product known as distiller's grain. Distillers grain is a common ingredient in cattle feed. But researchers say it's too soon to know whether cattle producers should change the amount of distiller's grain they feed to their herds.

St. Paul, Minn. — The study was conducted at the USDA's meat research center at Clay Center, Nebraska. USDA researcher Jim Wells said his team studied 600 steers. Half the group was fed corn; the other half ate feed that contained 40 percent distiller's grain. The scientists tested the animal's fecal matter.

They were on the lookout for one of the most dangerous forms of the bacteria; E. coli 0157:H7. It can cause a wide range of illness in humans, even death. Wells said the steers fed the distiller's grain ration had more of the harmful E. coli in their digestive tracts. And he attributes that increase to the heavy ration of the ethanol by-product.

"I do believe that for the most part the difference is probably due to diet," said Wells. "But whether or not all of the difference is due to diet we cannot say."

Wells said the study found E. coli in almost 15 percent of the samples from the distiller's grain group. That compares to 1.5 percent in the corn-fed group.

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Plant power on the rise at Sequim Bay lab

Penisula Daily News (Washington)
By Diane Urbani de la Paz

SEQUIM - Look out to the open ocean and envision an energy powerhouse, a field of riches beyond measure.

No, this isn't about offshore oil drilling.

Amid those marine currents are the waves of the future: lowly, soggy plants as the next coveted commodity. Algae and seaweed, scientists and engineers in Sequim believe, can be cultivated and harvested to make jet fuel.

At the Marine Sciences Laboratory on Sequim Bay, Michael Huesemann, a biochemical engineer who grew up near Hamburg, Germany, is at the front of the quest for this next big thing called algal biofuel.

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Increase in percentage of ethanol promoted

Omaha World Herald (Nebraska)
Published Thursday October 23, 2008

LINCOLN - Drivers stopping at gas pumps across the nation could someday find E-13 gas, instead of the E-10 blend they are accustomed to seeing.

The change - which would increase the standard amount of ethanol blended with gas from 10 percent to 13 percent - would expand the market for the corn-based fuel by 30 percent, almost overnight.

The U.S. Energy Department has said American-made automobiles could run on fuels containing as much as 15 percent alcohol without requiring engine modifications.

Several ethanol promotion groups are considering a petition that would ask the Environmental Protection Agency to allow retailers to sell the 13 percent blend. It would take about nine months for the agency to decide once a petition was filed, said Todd Sneller, executive director of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

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Adding Value to Biofuel Waste

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188
By Stacy Kish, CSREES StaffOctober 20, 2008

What do you get when you cross E. coli with biofuel waste products? A new process that may revolutionize the economic development of the growing biofuel industry.

Biofuels represent the best sustainable, secure, and renewable alternative to fossil fuels.

Unfortunately, biofuel production is beset by the same problem as traditional petroleum refining – excess waste. In traditional refining, only about 60 percent of the crude oil becomes gasoline, the rest is used to make other products. Similarly, as biofuel production increases, the market is being flooded with its waste byproducts, specifically glycerin, also known as glycerol.

Glycerin is cheap and abundant in the current marketplace. Although there are many potential uses for the substance, it is difficult to break it down into products with greater economic value.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

USDA says Schafer is not favoring ethanol companies

Jerry Hagstrom, Grand Forks Agweek
Published: 10/27/2008

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer’s statement on Oct. 17 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture could provide ethanol companies that got into trouble by speculating on corn with up to $25 million per company in refinancing has caused a firestorm of criticism among ethanol critics who say he is favoring one segment of agriculture and might waste taxpayer money.

A USDA spokesman said Oct. 22 that Schafer was referring only to the potential use of a long-existing USDA business and industry development loan program that is available to many types of companies, but skeptics including meat producers remained unconvinced.

According to a report on, Schafer said at the World Food Prize symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, “There’s going to have to be some credit applied to companies to buy some lower-priced corn to blend with their higher-priced corn. This is important public policy for the country because corn-based ethanol is a stepping stone to energy independence through cellulosic ethanol. We’re going to continue to support it as much as we can. We have the responsibility to make sure we cement in the infrastructure of rural America and ethanol production has increased the economic opportunities, the jobs and the building of rural America.”

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Biofuel Makers Push to Boost the Amount of Ethanol Allowed in Gasoline to 20 Percent

U.S. News & World Report
By Kent Garber
Posted October 17, 2008

As presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain continue to push their plans to boost alternative energy, there is a growing but controversial effort by some biofuel advocates to increase the amount of ethanol that can be blended into a gallon of gasoline.

At the moment, regular automotive fuel can contain no more than 10 percent ethanol, according to federal law. But with tight energy supplies promising to be a long-term issue, ethanol producers are making a strong push to consider letting Americans fill their cars with fuel that contains up to 20 percent ethanol.

Many lawmakers and government officials are interested, in part because they believe that boosting ethanol levels could help lower American dependence on foreign oil.

But the idea has many critics, including automakers and government regulators who are concerned about potential structural damage to car parts and emissions control systems. Ethanol blends already have been accused of damaging boat motors and lawn equipment, which are more vulnerable to such problems because of their designs. And corn-based ethanol continues to be attacked as being energy inefficient and a factor in rising food prices.

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Cattle fed distiller’s grains maintain flavor and tenderness of beef

AgNews - Texas A&M
October 21, 2008
Writer(s): Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5600,
Contact(s): Dr. Jim MacDonald, 806-677-5600,
Dr. Stephen B. Smith, 979-845-3935,

AMARILLO – The availability and use of wet distiller’s grains in beef finishing diets continues to increase as the ethanol industry expands, and some Texas AgriLife Research scientists are trying to determine if that will affect consumers’ meat purchases.

While much of the research focus has been on the energy value of the distiller’s grains relative to the corn it replaces, recent questions have been posed on how they may affect beef quality, said Dr. Jim MacDonald, AgriLife Research ruminant nutritionist.

The concern is based on the premise that replacing corn, which is primarily starch, with distiller’s grains, which has essentially no starch, will reduce blood glucose and negatively impact the marbling of beef cuts, MacDonald said.

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CMU Grads Grow Sunflowers For Biodiesel

KDKA-TV (Pittsburgh)
Oct 14, 2008 8:44 pm US/Eastern

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) ― Where you once saw vacant lots -- strewn with garbage and broken glass -- you may find something new in the neighborhood -- sunflowers. Acres of sunflowers growing in Lawrenceville, Hazelwood, East Liberty and Larimer.

Why all the sunflowers? It's the seeds.

"An acre of sunflowers can produce close to 100 gallons of straight vegetable oil per year and so the hope is that these seeds can be crushed into vegetable oil and processed into bio-deisel," says Andrew Butcher, one of the founders a company called G-Tech.

G-Tech was started by some recent Carnegie Mellon grads, who want to turn the problem of abandoned urban properties into part of the solution to the nation's energy crisis -- by crushing the sunflower seeds into sunflower oil and converting that into clean burning bio-fuel.

"Definitely cleaner than gas," says Butcher. "Emissions from bio-deisel are know to have an 80 percent better impact on carbon emissions."

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NSF funds research at Illinois on sustainable biofuels infrastructure

University of Illinois
Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor217-333-5802;

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The National Science Foundation announced this month that it is funding a new research effort at the University of Illinois aimed at understanding how – and whether it is possible – to build sustainable infrastructure to support the emerging biofuels industry.

The $2 million grant is one of six NSF awards this year to institutions engaged in engineering infrastructure research. The Illinois team will tackle the engineering, social, environmental and economic constraints of developing and maintaining critical engineering infrastructure so as to sustainably support the emerging bio-economy.

The interdisciplinary nature of the effort is reflected in the breadth of expertise of its researchers: civil and environmental engineering professors Ximing Cai (project leader), Yanfeng Ouyang, Imad Al-Qadi and Murugesu Sivapalan (also in geography); agricultural and biological engineering professor Steven Eckhoff; atmospheric sciences professor Atul Jain; agricultural and consumer economics professor Madhu Khanna; natural resources and environmental science professor Gregory McIsaac; and sociology professor Stephen Gasteyer (formerly at Illinois and now at Michigan State University).

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Canada in 2020 – Ethanol: The new alchemists

Canadian Business
Joe Castaldo
From the October 27, 2008 issue of Canadian Business magazine

Ethanol industry executives must be feeling a bit like punching bags these days. They’ve been accused of inflating food prices, oil prices and carbon emissions — instead of reducing them. An increasing body of research is showing ethanol made from food crops such as corn and wheat is not quite the eco-friendly technology it was thought to be. But the industry believes it has a saviour in second-generation or cellulosic biofuels, made from agricultural waste (the leaves and stalks of corn, for example) or non-food crops such as switchgrass. Both government and industry in North America are investing heavily. The federal Conservatives have allocated $500 million to foster cellulosic technology, and the U.S. Department of Energy is investing up to US$385 million over the next four years to build six cellulosic ethanol production plants.

Certainly, the technology has the potential to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and to lower greenhouse-gas emissions. But no cellulosic ethanol is produced on a commercial scale today. In fact, it makes up just 0.2% of ethanol production in Canada, despite decades of research. The big problem is cost. It is technically challenging and expensive to produce fuel this way.

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Scientists test new feedstocks for making biodiesel

Capital Press
10/16/2008 12:38:00 PM

From jatropha to algae, new sources of biodiesel sought
Matthew Weaver Capital Press

The United States currently trails Europe in biodiesel production, a researcher says.

"We are way behind," said University of Idaho associate professor and chemical engineer Bingjun "Brian" He.

The major feedstock in Europe is rapeseed, and 2,000 pounds can be produced per acre, whereas the U.S. can only produce half that amount, due to weather or soil conditions, He said.

In the United States, soybean oil is still the dominant feedstock for biodiesel.

"The land is limited in the U.S.," He said. "We could not expand more acreage into either the soybean or other oil crops."

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Ethanol Politics: The Election and the Heartland

The New York Times
October 23, 2008, 7:10 am — Updated: 2:25 pm
By Tom Zeller Jr.

Following up on our post Wednesday regarding ethanol subsidies and the presidential campaigns, we point readers to an interesting pair of interviews conducted by Mike Adams, the host of AgriTalk Radio, which covers rural issues and is carried by several affiliates, mostly in the Midwest.

In cooperation with the Renewable Fuels Association, the national trade association for the ethanol industry, AgriTalk invited representatives from both the McCain and Obama campaigns to sit down and chat about renewable fuel policy.

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Americans Increasingly Concerned about Food Prices, U.S. Ethanol Policy, According to The 2008 Hormel Hunger Survey

MarketWatch - The Wall Street Journal
Last update: 8:25 a.m. EDT Oct. 23, 2008

Nearly six of 10 say they have had to cut back quantity or quality of food

AUSTIN, Minn., Oct 23, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Nearly six out of 10 Americans say they have had to cut back on the quantity or quality of food they buy because of increasing prices, according to The 2008 Hormel Hunger Survey, conducted by Hormel Foods Corporation (HRL:
Hormel Foods Corporation.

Most Americans (67 percent) say that food prices have increased a lot since last year, and six out of 10 Americans (61 percent) say that corn-based ethanol is at least partly responsible for higher food prices.

In the survey, which is Hormel Foods' third annual study on Americans' experiences with and views on hunger, two-thirds of Americans say they are losing economic ground as inflation outstrips any increase in income. In addition, almost half (47 percent) of Americans are having more trouble paying their bills this year than last year, and more than four out of five Americans (84 percent) are concerned about rising food prices. Four out of 10 are very concerned.

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Growers rush to fill biofuel niche

By Rick Stouffer
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The conference is co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Penn State University, the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund and the Harrisburg-based engineering/environmental services firm Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc.

A handful of farmers in Northwest Pennsylvania are helping to prove that camelina -- a knee-high plant often called a weed -- can help lower diesel fuel costs.

The plant is being recognized as a low-maintenance, inexpensive source for oil to make biodiesel. One study found using camelina reduces the cost by one-third compared to soybeans.

Pennsylvania and other states have enacted biofuel usage mandates. Pennsylvania requires that every gallon of fuel contain a percentage of ethanol, 10 percent per gallon of gasoline, and biodiesel, from 2 percent to 20 percent, based on how much of each product is made in-state.

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Kinder Morgan Evaluates New Ethanol Pipeline Projects and Begins Testing Biodiesel Transport Via Collins, MS-Spartanburg, SC Pipeline
Date Posted: October 15, 2008

Houston—Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P. (NYSE: KMP) announced October 15 that in addition to successfully performing tests to determine the commercial viability of moving ethanol in its Central Florida pipeline system, it is now undertaking tests to assess transporting biodiesel through its pipelines on a commercial basis.

The company is currently conducting a test movement of blended B-5 biodiesel in a segment of the Plantation Pipe Line system that transports gasoline and diesel from Collins, MS, to Spartanburg, SC.

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Increase in Percentage of Ethanol Promoted

Thursday, October 23, 2008 5:52 AM
(Source: Omaha World-Herald)By Leslie Reed, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.

Oct. 23--LINCOLN -- Drivers stopping at gas pumps across the nation could someday find E-13 gas, instead of the E-10 blend they are accustomed to seeing.

The change -- which would increase the standard amount of ethanol blended with gas from 10 percent to 13 percent -- would expand the market for the corn-based fuel by 30 percent, almost overnight.

The U.S. Energy Department has said American-made automobiles could run on fuels containing as much as 15 percent alcohol without requiring engine modifications.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

ASTM Issues Four New Biodiesel Quality Assurance Standards
Date Posted: October 13, 2008

W. Conshohocken, PA—Higher costs at the pump, renewable energy and alternate sources continue to headline today’s news, and a group of newly published ASTM International specifications sets the standard for one type of these fuels: biodiesel.

Four standards now available from ASTM International provide quality assurance for biodiesel - a fuel used in freight trucks, buses, boats, ships and more.

“The specifications define properties and controls critical to the viable use of biodiesel blends in the marketplace.

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Ethanol production increasing supply of livestock feed

Delta Farm Press
Oct 23, 2008 9:43 AM

The U.S. ethanol industry will continue to grow in 2009, creating a substantial increase in the supply of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), a co-product of ethanol, according to Ken Hobbie, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council.

Ethanol production increased in 2008 by approximately 3 billion gallons to 9.3 billion gallons compared to last year, Hobbie told more than 500 attendees at the USGC’s International Distillers Grains Conference in Indianapolis, Ind. Even more critically, production is projected by Informa Economics to reach 11.9 billion gallons in 2009.

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Ability Of Ethanol Producers To Pay For Corn

10/23/2008 11:28:00 AM

The maximum price of corn for ethanol producers is the price above which they begin to lose money. For a time, ethanol plants will buy corn so long as they cover all their operating costs. In the longer run, though, they must also cover their capital costs. Ethanol plants sell ethanol and distillers grains and buy corn, natural gas, electricity, and labor. Given representative operating cost estimates and the relationship between the price of distillers grains and the price of corn, it is straightforward to calculate the price of corn that just covers operating costs. Table 1 shows the maximum price of corn that an efficient ethanol producer can pay at various ethanol prices. As shown, a 50¢ change in the price of ethanol changes the operator's ability to pay for corn by $1.73 per bushel.

In the corn marketing year that just ended on August 31, domestic livestock feeders, food users, and importers used about 10 billion bushels of corn. Corn production was about 13 billion bushels. Ethanol producers used the difference, about 3 billion bushels. If non-ethanol users last year had high maximum prices for corn, then the ethanol industry was the marginal user of corn. If ethanol was the marginal user, then the market price of corn should be determined by ethanol producers' ability to pay for corn.

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Plant researcher named top Oklahoma scientist
Published: October 21, 2008

For years, Richard Dixon has directed a corps of scientists at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation working to improve plants for use as animal forage or energy sources.

As director of the Noble Foundation’s plant biology division, Dixon’s work in lignin attracted little attention outside the community of researchers until the nation discovered a thirst for alternative energy sources.

"The ironic thing is that nobody has been hugely interested in plant natural products for many years,” Dixon said. "But as soon as the bioenergy business caught on, all of a sudden lots of people want to give us money.”

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Royal DSM Announces Cooperative Funding Agreement With US Department of Energy

10/21/2008 6:11 AM ET

(RTTNews) - Tuesday, life sciences and materials sciences company Royal DSM N.V. said it executed multimillion-dollar cooperative funding agreement with the US Department of Energy to underwrite a portion of research and development costs aimed at enabling second generation Biofuels from non-food feedstocks.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ethanol Subsidies: Are They A Plus Or A Minus?
10/21/2008 7:43:00 AM

Despite many years of supply management farm policies that included target prices, loan rates, and deficiency payments, many farmers indicated they would rather get their income from the marketplace. For the past two years, that has happened. Or has it?

Early years of government farm subsidies were designed to not only keep farmers on the land, but to provide low cost food to the urban public. Compared to most other countries the US has maintained the lowest cost for foods, despite the run-up in food prices earlier this year. But agricultural economist Dermot Hayes and his colleagues at Iowa State University say farm income is still subsidized, it is just disguised a bit.

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ADM, Monsanto to research corn stover

Biomass Magazine - November 2008

Focusing on the identification of environmentally and economically sustainable methods of harvesting, storing and transporting corn stover, Illinois-based Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Missouri-based Monsanto Co., along with Illinois-based Deere & Co., are collaborating to explore technologies and processes that may turn crop residues into feed and bioenergy products. Stover can make up half of a corn crop’s yield, and can be used as animal feed, biomass for steam generation or electricity, or as a cellulosic ethanol feedstock. The USDA has forecasted a 2008 corn harvest of 12.3 billion bushels, potentially generating 290 million tons of corn stover.

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Clemson Gets Ethanol Research Grant

Domestic Fuel - Alternative Fuel News
October 20th, 2008
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $1.2 million grant to Clemson University in South Carolina to assess the potential of switchgrass and sweet sorghum as feedstocks to produce ethanol in the southeast. The grant also will fund development of a small-scale biofuel processing plant at Clemson University’s Restoration Institute in North Charleston.

The South Carolina Bioenergy Research Collaborative has been formed to demonstrate the economic feasibility of using plants, such as switchgrass, trees and sorghum, to make ethanol. The collaborative includes scientists at Clemson, the Savannah River National Laboratory, South Carolina State University and industry incubator SC Bio, as well as industrial partners who are committed to building a pilot plant in the state.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Volatile economics hurt ethanol producers

Ethanol Producer Magazine
November 2008
By Bryan Sims
Web exclusive posted Oct. 20, 2008 at 10:56 a.m. CST

The economic crisis in the United States has resonated in virtually every market, including the ethanol industry. As a result of volatile economics, several plant operations have been interrupted, others have been forced to restructure their balance sheets, and a few have been forced to shut down. Midwest ethanol plants in particular seem to have been hit hard the most by the turbulent macroeconomics at work.

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Farmers, ethanol industry experiment with biomass

Grand Forks Herald
The Associated Press - Sunday, October 19, 2008

Corn cobs have long been used as a fuel, helping Minnesotans warm their houses or heat up an oven to bake bread.

But during this year's harvest in western Minnesota, those corn cobs are being collected to fuel a local ethanol plant.

Last week, brothers Lonnie and Ryan Fosso watched two combines simultaneously harvest their corn and collect the corn cobs.

"I wish (my grandparents) could see this," said Lonnie Fosso.

Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company has been feeding biomass to a gasifier that can turn the biomass - normally wood chips - into a synthetic gas that can replace natural gas.
During four months of trial use, the gasifier has show it can displace about 25 percent of the natural gas the plant uses, officials said.

Gene Fynboh, a member of the company's board of directors and coordinator of the biomass harvest project, said plant officials hope to someday have biomass replace up to 90 percent of the natural gas used at the plant.

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U.S. might pay ethanol plants for corn losses

Des Moines Register
By DAN PILLER • • October 18, 2008

The U.S. Department of Agriculture may use its rural development money to assist ethanol plants that have suffered losses in the volatile corn futures markets, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said Friday in Des Moines.

"Some plants are under pressure because they've been speculating on corn," Schafer told reporters after speaking at the World Food Prize symposium breakfast.

The secretary said the department wouldn't buy or sell grain or cover trading losses. Rather, he said, money could come from the USDA's Rural Development office, which can provide up to $25 million to keep rural businesses operating.

USDA Rural Development money has been used in the past to promote ethanol and biodiesel plants.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Community college would benefit from OK of Education Research Triangle

Kansas City Star

Right in the middle of the proposed Education Research Triangle is Johnson County Community College.

In Fairway, the University of Kansas would establish a Cancer Clinical Research Center, providing a Phase I clinical trials unit. The new center would help KU obtain a National Cancer Institute designation.

In Olathe, Kansas State University would build a National Food and Animal Health Institute, a research, education, outreach and innovation facility.

In addition to conducting research in biomass, bioenergy and other new technologies, the institute would offer master’s degrees in bioscience and biotechnology and new certification programs for biotechnology professionals.

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Could Manure Heat & Power Farms?
10/17/2008 9:27:00 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Manure from confined livestock could someday be used as a value-added bioenergy fuel for on-farm heating and power, according to a news release from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

Scientists studying this approach say this could benefit U.S. livestock producers, who need environmentally friendly ways to manage the manure from about 96.7 million cattle and 67.7 million hogs and pigs.

ARS engineers at the ARS Coastal Plains Soil, Water and Plant Research Center in South Carolina are studying how to use a technique called wet gasification to turn wet manure slurry into energy-rich gases and produce water.

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Ethanol's role in economy seen locally as a balancing act

The Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL)
By Michelle

HENNEPIN -- Consumer Scott Kroll assumes production of ethanol means higher prices for eggs, milk and bread. “Gas prices will go down, but food prices will go up,” said Kroll, of Oglesby. “One way or another, we’re going to get slammed.”

Those perceptions are something Mark Marquis wants to combat.

Marquis, president of Marquis Energy, an ethanol plant in the Central Illinois community of Hennepin, understands why consumers blame ethanol for higher grocery bills. He doesn’t deny ethanol has raised corn’s price, but said it’s the fourth reason down the list. Marquis even argues consumers would pay more for groceries without ethanol.

The biggest factor in rising corn prices is the devaluation of the American dollar that actually makes corn prices attractive to foreign buyers, Marquis said. Investors who have switched to putting money into commodities and more demand from emerging markets like Asia also have contributed more to higher corn prices, Marquis said.

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John Glass fuels local research

Washington Business Journal
Friday, October 17, 2008
by Mara Lee Staff Reporter

John Glass is a senior scientist at the J. Craig Venter Institute’s Synthetic Biology and Bioenergy division in Rockville, where researchers are working to create synthetic bacteria that could be engineered to make cheap, abundant fuel. Glass looks the part of a scientist and sounds it too. When asked how long he has been at JCVI, Glass thinks for a moment and answers: 5.25 years.

Why did you become a scientist?

I have wanted to be a scientist since I was a little kid. I have been in biological research now since I graduated from college in 1977. This is the most fun I’ve had in science. I used to work at a pharmaceutical company — we were trying to make better antibiotics or antivirals. But I think that this is fundamentally more important and scientifically more interesting. The world desperately needs new sources of energy.

How could bacteria make fuel?

Water is oxygen and hydrogen. Some photosynthetic organisms can take water and break down hydrogen and oxygen from it, using the energy in sunlight. .... Hydrogen is a fuel. If I can build [an organism] that makes hydrogen by breaking down water, that would be great. Hydrogen, you can compress it like natural gas, you can use it in fuel cells by mixing it with oxygen to produce electricity — there are a lot of options there. But hydrogen is expensive to produce. Efficient biological production, we just aren’t there yet. There are a lot of people working on it. It’s a difficult problem.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Tennessee Breaks Ground on Cellulosic Ethanol Pilot Plant
Charles Johnson, Farm Journal National Editor

With a crowd of dignitaries, farmers, media and university representatives on hand, Tennessee broke ground on its long-awaited pilot cellulosic ethanol plant Oct. 14.

Located in an industrial park at Vonore, Tenn., 35 miles south of Knoxville, the plant begins with $40.7 million in state money for its construction. The project, using switchgrass as a feedstock, will produce just 250,000 gallons of ethanol a year beginning in fall 2009 but will be the key research facility in the state’s efforts to birth its biofuels industry.

Called Genera Energy, the project is a partnership between the University of Tennessee and DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC, a joint venture formed this year by DuPont and Genencor to commercialize cellulosic ethanol.

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Biofuels offer opportunity for rural development: UN

October 15th, 2008 - 8:19 pm ICT by IANS -

New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) At a time of controversy around the use of biofuels in view of the global food crisis, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN Wednesday said biofuels offered “opportunity for agricultural and rural development”.“The environmental impacts of biofuels are also coming under closer scrutiny. But biofuels also offer the opportunity for agricultural and rural development - if appropriate policies and investments are put in place,” said FAO’s latest report, ‘The State of Food and Agriculture-2008 - Biofuels: Prospects, Risks and Opportunities’.

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RFA Report


OCTOBER 15, 2008

By all accounts, the 2008 corn, wheat, and soybean crops are well on their way to being among the largest ever in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s October 10 Crop Production Report, farmers are expected to produce the second-largest corn crop ever, the largest wheat crop in over 10 years, and the fourth-largest soybean crop on record.1 USDA’s most recent report estimated the 2008 corn crop at 12.2 billion bushels with an average yield per acre of 154 bushels. This marks a significant turnaround from July, when USDA projected a crop of 11.7 billion bushels with a yield of 148.4 bushels per acre.

The expectation of increased production, coupled with a decrease in speculative investment in the commodities markets and recent fall in oil prices, has led to sharply lower grain prices in recent weeks. While there was much media attention surrounding the run-up in agricultural commodities prices, coverage of the precipitous plunge has been virtually non-existent.

Read the full report here

Rose alumnus helps broker ‘Next Generation Ethanol’ deal (Terre Haute, IN)
Published: October 14, 2008 07:18 pm
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The biggest news coming out of this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit wasn’t the latest vehicle model being developed by automakers but the announcement of General Motors Corp.’s partnership with Coskata Inc., a relatively unknown cellulosic ethanol company, which could enable the production of ethanol for less than $1 a gallon.

This groundbreaking development was brokered and massaged for nearly a year by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 2000 electrical engineering alumnus Wes Bolsen, part owner, chief marketing officer and vice president of business development for Coskata, a two-year-old company with 35 employees based in the Chicago suburb of Warrenville, Ill.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

U.S. ethanol profits stay weak on poor fuel demand

Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:41pm EDT

NEW YORK, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Average U.S. ethanol distillers profits rose a few pennies this week on softer corn prices but remained weak overall on poor motor fuel demand, analysts said on Friday.

"Those companies that are able to keep costs under control continue to do okay. Those that can't are in a world of hurt," said Rick Kment, analyst at DTN in Nebraska.

Average U.S. distillers were making about 10 to 20 cents per gallon for the week ending Thursday, analysts said.

That was up about five to 10 cents from the previous week, but was no relief from the range seen in recent months.

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IRFA: RFA "Feeding the Future" Report Shows DDGS Extends Corn Supplies Enough to Feed Cows in Four States
Date Posted: October 14, 2008

Johnston, IA—A new analysis found that the U.S. ethanol industry produces enough ethanol feed co-products to feed all the cattle raised in Texas, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado, the nation’s top four livestock feeding states.

The analysis, prepared by Washington-based Renewable Fuels Association, examined the role ethanol production plays in supplying feed to livestock producers worldwide, thereby extending corn supplies for domestic and export markets.

“Ethanol plants are a major source of livestock feed – enough to feed all the cattle in the four largest livestock states,” said Lucy Norton, Managing Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA).

“Too often people overlook the fact that one-third of every bushel of corn processed into ethanol results in a high-protein livestock feed.

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Ethanol passes key transportation test

Kinder Morgan reports successfully routing fuel through gasoline pipeline
By BRETT CLANTON Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Oct. 15, 2008, 10:26PM

Houston pipeline operator Kinder Morgan Energy Partners signaled progress Wednesday in addressing a key hurdle to widespread distribution of renewable fuels in the U.S.

The company said it completed a test in Florida that moved ethanol safely through an existing gasoline pipeline and is performing similar tests with biodiesel fuel blends.

The tests could be important for a U.S. biofuels industry that now transports fuel only by truck, rail car and barge, and will require more efficient transportation options as it grows.

Kinder Morgan and other pipeline companies are still in the early stages of testing. Huge investments will be needed if the companies decide to ready more assets to handle biofuels, and upgrades could take years.

Yet Kinder Morgan's moves suggest a willingness to explore the idea further.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

McCain says would eliminate ethanol tariff

Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:47pm EDT

HEMPSTEAD, New York (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Wednesday that if elected he would eliminate the tariff on sugar cane-based ethanol and cut a number of subsidies for ethanol.

"I would eliminate the tariff on imported sugar cane-based ethanol from Brazil," McCain said in a televised debate with Democratic rival Barack Obama.

McCain also said, that unlike Obama, he opposed subsidies for ethanol because they distort the market and could lead to inflation.

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Scientists Try to Domesticate Mother Nature, 'Super Bugs' for Fuel

Wall Street Journal

EMERYVILLE, Calif. -- Nature is stubborn. It doesn't like to be tampered with. Train it to give up an ancient habit, and soon it reverts to its old ways.

For instance, how do you make prairie grass more amenable to being turned into sugar? How do you mutate E. coli microbes so that they gleefully turn that sugar into fuel? How, in short, do you liquefy shredded plants into jet fuel to power a flight to Paris?

Dozens of private firms and government-funded labs are now trying to answer those questions. This year's oil-price shock and fears over global warming have reinvigorated the quest for the ultimate liquid fuel -- one that is clean, cheap, easy to make and doesn't compete with food stocks. Nature took millions of years to turn dead microorganisms into oil and gas. Scientists now want to trick nature into reducing that to a day or so.

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UM-M celebrates bioenergy revolution at plant dedication

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
By Carol Stender
Agri News staff writer

MORRIS, Minn. -- Planners of University of Minnesota-Morris' Biomass Gasification plant knew the system, that will provide 80 percent of UM-M's steam needs, is a winner. But they didn't know it would receive an award.

At recent dedication ceremonies for the plant, Cheri Olf from American Council On Renewable Energy presented UM-M physical plant, planning and finance vice chancellor Lowell Rasmussen with the organization's first-ever Campus Excellence Award.

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S&T Pushes Limits

The Rolla Daily News
Mon Oct 06, 2008, 11:48 PM CDT

Rolla, Mo. -
Several glass containers filled with algae-stained water sit on a table in Dr. Paul Nam’s laboratory at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Next to the big green bottles are two much smaller vials. One of the vials, labeled “biodiesel,” contains a mostly clear solution. Nam picks up the other vial, labeled “algae oil,” and gives it a shake. A small amount of dark liquid swishes around.

At first, the amount of potential fuel in these little vials doesn’t seem too impressive. But Nam says algae could play a big role in the unfolding dramas associated with finding alternative sources of energy and reducing greenhouse gasses.

Nam, who has spent much of his career studying the versatile uses for soybeans, says algae could be the next big thing. He points to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory as evidence. The study showed that algae, if we think of it as a crop, is capable of yielding up to 10,000 gallons of oil per acre on an annual basis. By way of contrast, corn yields 18 gallons per acre and soybeans yield 48 gallons per acre.

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Innovation Fuels to Conduct Pilot Pennycress Cultivation Program in New York State for Biodiesel Production
Date Posted: October 8, 2008

Albany, NY—Innovation Fuels, the rapidly emerging, New York-based renewable fuel company that manufactures, markets, and distributes biodiesel fuel to customers around the world, has announced that it is conducting a pilot program across New York State to plant the oilseed crop pennycress with the intent of producing biodiesel.

The initial planting will take place on four acres in Hampton, NY, located in northern New York State's Washington County.

This marks the first effort in United States history where non-edible pennycress has been planted to produce an alternative energy fuel such as sustainable biodiesel.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ARS Scientists Produce Oil From Multiple Crops for Potential Biofuel Production at Pilot Plant in Peoria, IL
Date Posted: October 10, 2008

Scientists also Study Rotation Plans to Include Grasses for Cellulosic Ethanol Production

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Peoria, IL, have produced oils of camelina, canola, Cuphea, lesquerella, milkweed and pennycress by the barrelful in their commercial-scale pilot plant.

These alternative crops may be able to provide alternative domestic sources of industrial products ranging from soap to biofuels for cars, trucks and--in the case of Cuphea--even jet fuel.

Plant physiologist Russ Gesch and colleagues at the ARS North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory in Morris, MN, have studied Cuphea since 1999.

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On Target for 2012

Ethanol Producer Magazine
November 2008

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory must help the United States to develop the technology necessary for making cheap fuels from cellulosic biomass by 2012. It’s a goal that’s not negotiable.

By Ryan C. Christiansen

By 2012, cellulosic ethanol production in the United States must be cost-competitive with ethanol produced from corn—such is the goal of the U.S. DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Biomass Program. A key player in the program’s mission is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., and its Alternative Fuels User Facility, which houses the lab’s Bioethanol Pilot Plant, an 8,000-square-foot facility designed to test technologies used to produce ethanol and other fuels from cellulosic biomass.

In 2005, NREL co-endorsed a federal report, commonly known as the “Billion Ton” study, which in 2006 prompted the DOE’s “30x’30” initiative to annually produce enough ethanol from biomass to replace 30 percent of the petroleum used for transportation fuel in the United States by 2030.

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Energy Seminar Thinking Ahead

WEEK TV (Peoria, IL)

By WEEK Producer
Story Updated: Oct 13, 2008 at 10:53 PM CDT

Can the Midwest play a big role in deciding what kinds of energy a future United States will use? The planners of an upcoming energy seminar in Peoria believe that could be the case.

Watch The Video

Sponsored by Peoria Next, the Dirksen Congressional Center and Bradley University, the seminar will bring together private and government energy experts. The focus will be on both energy strategy and energy sources.

"Coal. Two thirds of the state of Illinois has coal underneath it," Said Brad McMillian of the Institution for Principled Leadership. "How can we use clean coal technology to increase that energy sources as a part of our future national energy strategy."

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In bloom: growing algae for biofuel

BBC News
Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 17:56 UK
By Paul Henley BBC News, Roosendaal

"It's exciting because it's achievable," says Peter van den Dorpel, as he looks over the big plastic tubes full of various shades of green algae.

His company has designed, produced and marketed the crop in its bid to be the first to provide the aviation industry with a feasible alternative to fossil fuel.

We are standing in an enormous greenhouse near Roosendaal in the south of The Netherlands.
Most of the greenhouse is growing tomatoes with impressive efficiency. One corner is dedicated to the cultivation of algae - in a similarly efficient way, according to Mr van den Dorpel.

"It's actually like growing tomatoes; the algae need similar things," he says.

This crop uses the warmth, light and a steady feed of carbon dioxide and nutrients to reproduce faster than any other plant on earth.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not So Corny: Live From Platts Cellulosic Ethanol Conference 2008, Part I

Daily Tech
Jason Mick (Blog) - October 13, 2008 8:49 AM

The GM-sponsored Platts Cellulosic Ethanol and Biofuels conference in Chicago discussed the imprending commercial scale production of cellulosic ethanol as well as offering a sneak peek at upcoming efforts such as butanol fuel production.

GM showcased its HHR, an E85 Flex-Fuel Vehicle. GM is leading the automakers in FFVs, with over half the current population on the road. It plans to have 18 FFV models by 2009, and 50 percent of its line supporting E85 by 2012.

The third annual Platts Cellulosic Ethanol and Biofuels Conference (formerly just Cellulosic Ethanol Conference) provided an intriguing firsthand look into a developing industry, one which DailyTech was on hand to cover. The conference highlighted how far these technologies have come, and also how far they have yet to go before hoping to supplant the oil industry. The conference also highlighted the sheer diversity of approaches among biofuel startups, something which underscores the creativity and passion that exists in the field.

The conference kicked off last Thursday with John McKenna, Managing Director of Hamilton Clark & Co., taking the stage. Mr. McKenna, whose firm is a biofuel investment group, underscored the promising state of the industry. He said that despite a rough economic atmosphere, cellulosic ethanol company stocks are holding value far better than traditional ethanol companies. Mr. McKenna said that within a year or two ethanol production costs would drop from $2.20/gallon to $1.25/gallon, thanks to cellulosic technology. He discussed the critical next step -- the transition of cellulosic ethanol out of the lab and into demo plants and scaling up to small commercial plants, a reoccurring theme at the conference. He also praised the new biofuel tax credits, part of the "sweetner" which aided the passing of the $700B USD bailout bill. He lauded, "The credit again goes to people in government who are focused on this industry."

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Oil price unlikely to derail biofuels boom: Bodman

Tue Oct 7, 2008 3:40pm EDT
By Christopher Doering

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A nearly 40 percent drop in crude oil prices since July will not discourage U.S. research and demand for renewable fuels, Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said on Tuesday.

"I don't think we've seen anything that would suggest that oil prices are going to be so low that they are going to diminish interest in renewable energy," Bodman told reporters during a visit to the U.S. Agriculture Department to unveil a plan to better meet future demand for biofuels.

"Whoever would have thought that we would look at oil as being inexpensive at $87 a barrel?" he added.

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Biophysical Models Help ARS Researchers Study Biofuel Feedstock Production Sustainability
Date Posted: October 9, 2008

Many agricultural products can be converted into feedstocks for alternative fuel.

Now analysis from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) suggests that they can be used this way without reducing the nation's food supply, soil production capacity or environmental quality.
ARS scientists are collaborating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service to assess the economic impact of feedstock production.

At locations around the United States, ARS scientists are evaluating how individual and combined management decisions influence different farming systems.

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ALL Fuels & Energy Enters Agreements to Facilitate Construction of Multipurpose Pipelines to Carry Ethanol, Biodiesel, and Other Products
Date Posted: October 9, 2008

Des Moines, IA—ALL Fuels & Energy (AFSE) announced that it has entered into agreements with two privately-held infrastructure technology firms, whereby AFSE and its business partners would apply proprietary, patent-pending technologies to facilitate its vision of constructing multi-purpose pipelines capable of transporting all forms of alternative fuels, including ethanol.

The technology embodied in this alliance allows the pipeline to be kept "clean" and capable of moving various fuel types: ethanol, biodiesel, liquid nitrogen, and other industrial/agricultural liquids.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

University of Florida officials dedicate ethanol plant

The Gainesville Sun

By Nathan CrabbeSun staff write
Published: Friday, October 10, 2008 at 11:39 p.m. Last Modified: Friday, October 10, 2008 at 11:39 p.m.

An ethanol plant at the University of Florida could help the nation kick its oil habit, as well as help the U.S. move away from using corn to make the alternative fuel.

UF officials this week dedicated the pilot plant, which will research using genetically modified E. coli bacteria to convert plant waste into ethanol.

UF microbiologist Lonnie Ingram, who developed the method, said Florida’s climate makes it well-suited to grow plants for fuel production.

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World Food Day stresses climate change, bioenergy effects on poor 2008-10-10 18:25:15

ROME, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Climate change and bioenergy are the focus of this year's World Food Day activities, expected to involve over 150 countries, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Friday.

FAO celebrates World Food Day each year on Oct. 16, the day on which the Organization was founded in 1945.

"Global warming is already underway and adaptation strategies are now a matter of urgency, especially for the most vulnerable poor countries. Hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers, fishers and forest-dependent people will be worst hit by climate change," said Alexander Mueller, FAO Assistant Director-General for Natural Resources Management and Environment Department.

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Shipworm enzyme could produce cellulosic ethanol

Ethanol Producer Magazine
November 2008
By Ryan C. Christiansen
Web exclusive posted Oct. 10, 2008 at 9:29 a.m. CST

Scientists have received $4 million from the National Institutes of Health to study an enzyme in clams – and to determine if that enzyme could be used to produce cellulosic ethanol.

A group of Philippine and American scientists led by Oregon Health and Science University will examine, among other things, whether the bacteria inside the gills of a worm-like marine clam in the Philippine archipelago include an enzyme that can be used in the production of cellulosic ethanol.

The National Science Foundation and the U.S. DOE also sponsored of the grant.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Biomass Energy Outlook

Posted on: Wednesday, 8 October 2008, 03:00 CDT
By Jenner, Mark


IN MAY of this year, the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a preliminary report that includes energy use in 2007. EIA data showed that the U.S. consumed 101.6 Quadrillion BTUs (Quads) of energy. For comparative purposes, one million is a 1 followed by six zeros. A quadrillion is a one followed by 15 zeros, so 101.6 Quad is the same thing as 101,600,000,000,000,000 BTUs.

Biomass energy consumption in 2007 was 3.615 Quad, i.e., only 3.6 percent of the energy consumed was produced from biomass. Biofuels consumption was 1.018 Quad (1 percent of the nation's energy consumption). Renewable fuel consumption, a broader category than the biomass sources, was at 6.83 Quad, nearly 7 percent.

The EIA report also includes energy use data from previous years. For example, in the last five years biofuels increased 25 percent each year - not too shabby! Biofuel consumption is doubling every four years. The broader category of all "biomass" energy sources (biofuels, wood and other wastes) increased at an average of six percent a year. And all "renewable" fuels (biomass, hydro, wind and solar) increased almost 2.7 percent per year.

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USDA and DOE Release National Biofuels Action Plan Detailing Collaborative Efforts to Develop Sustainable Biofuels Industry
Date Posted: October 7, 2008

Washington—Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Ed Schafer and Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman released October 7 the National Biofuels Action Plan (NBAP), an interagency plan detailing the collaborative efforts of Federal agencies to accelerate the development of a sustainable biofuels industry.

"Federal leadership can provide the vision for research, industry and citizens to understand how the nation will become less dependent on foreign oil and create strong rural economies," Secretary Schafer said.

"This National Biofuels Action Plan supports the drive for biofuels growth to supply energy that is clean and affordable, and always renewable."

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DEALTALK-Ethanol firms cheap, but not cheap enough

Reuters Business & Finance
Wed Oct 8, 2008 5:23pm EDT
(For more Reuters DEALTALKS, click DEALTALK/)
By Michael Erman

NEW YORK, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Ethanol companies may have lost most of their value over the last two years, but that doesn't necessarily make them cheap for possible suitors, who may be looking for share prices to fall even further.

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DOE reports no difference between ethanol and gasoline

Canadian Driver
October 8, 2008

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released preliminary results from a test program initiated in August 2007 to assess the potential effects of higher intermediate ethanol blends on conventional vehicles and other engines that rely on gasoline. The program focuses specifically on E15 and E20 (gasoline blended with 15 and 20 per cent ethanol, respectively) on emissions, catalyst and engine durability, driveability and operability.

The tests were performed on 13 popular late-model vehicles and 28 small non-road engines, including lawn equipment and generators.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Darrel Good Report: Credit Crisis and Possible Economic Slowdown Could Move Major Grain Markets to Much Lower Price Levels
Date Posted: October 6, 2008

Urbana—There is substantial concern about the implications of the current meltdown in U.S. credit markets on the potential for economic growth in the United States and the rest of the world, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"That concern is reinforced by the sharp decline in stock prices and underlying economic indicators such as unemployment rates and housing starts," said Darrel Good.

"Prospects of an economic slowdown threaten the robust domestic and export demand for U.S. agricultural commodities enjoyed over the past two years.

"A widespread economic slowdown could result in weaker demand for meat and for livestock feed.

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Novozymes wins $12.3M ethanol contract from feds

Triangle Business Journal (Raleigh-Durham)
Wednesday, October 8, 2008 - 10:21 AM EDT

The U.S. Department of Energy has given a $12.3 million contract to Novozymes in an effort to cut the cost of making ethanol from materials such as wood and the inedible parts of plants.
Novozymes, a Danish chemicals company with U.S. headquarters in Franklinton, said it will match the 2.5-year grant with its own money. That will bring the total investment on the project to $25 million.

The work will be done on “cellulosic ethanol.” Unlike traditional ethanol, which is made from the edible parts of crops such as corn and sugar cane, cellulosic ethanol is made from materials such as grasses, wood and leaves. Novozymes’ efforts are currently centered on making ethanol from corn “stover,” or the leaves and stalks of the plant.

In a statement, Novozymes says the project is the largest R&D effort in its history. Some 100 workers are on the job, with the U.S. portion of the work being done at a lab in Davis, Calif.

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U.N. Report: Ethanol creating corn and oil price link

MEDILL Reports Chicago
by Nicholas Allen
Oct 07, 2008

The price of corn has become tied more and more to the ups and downs of oil prices and oil companies' increasing appetite for ethanol, according to a report released Tuesday by the United Nations.

“The historic linkages between agriculture and the energy sector are becoming stronger and are changing in character,” according to the report, by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization. “Biofuel demand will continue to exercise upward pressure on agricultural prices for considerable time to come.”

The relationship between corn and oil has been slowly tightening for the last decade according to Vic Lespinasse, an analyst with Chicago-based “It’s only been in the last several years that crude oil prices have exploded, and that really increased the demand for biofuel.”

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USDA NASS Crop Progress Report

Released October 6, 2008

USDA Studies Ethanol From Farm Waste

Domestic Fuel-Alternative Fuel News
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman

Leftovers from fields, orchards, and vineyards could be combined with other household garbage to make ethanol and other kinds of bioenergy.

USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists are investigating the possibilities at the agency’s Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif.

Agricultural wastes like rice straw, almond hulls, and the oversize outer leaves of iceberg lettuce - as well as municipal solid waste - would have to be pretreated before being used as a bioenergy resource. The pretreated agricultural waste could then be transferred to a biofermenter where yeasts and enzymes would be added to make ethanol.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Secret for efficient ethanol in cows' stomachs?
updated 5:24 p.m. CT, Mon., Oct. 6, 2008

Professor: Enzyme that helps digestion could be the key

NEW YORK - Researchers attempting to make the production of corn-based ethanol more efficient may not have needed to leave the farm.

During photosynthesis, corn stores nearly half of its potential energy in places other than the corn kernel, such as stalks and leaves.

An enzyme found in a cow's stomach may hold the key to using all of the plant, rather than just the kernel.

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Ethanol Tariff to Be Discussed in Trade Talks


Commerce secretary to meet with Brazilian officials.

This week Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez travels to Brazil to chair the U.S.-Brazil Commercial Dialogue Ministerial Meeting and co-chair the third meeting of the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum with Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs Dan Price in Sao Paulo.
The main goal of the trip is to strengthen the U.S.-Brazil economic relationship between senior government officials and business leaders from both nations. On Monday, Gutierrez said that during the bilateral trade talks this week, the tariff of 54 cents per gallon on ethanol will be a topic that gets attention.

"We have had very candid discussions and the administration has been very clear about our desire to revisit those tariffs," Gutierrez said.

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DuPont to Research Truly Alternative Fuels at $140 Million Switchgrass Ethanol Plant, an Industrial Info News Alert
October 07, 2008: 07:00 AM EST

Researched by Industrial Info Resources (Sugar Land, Texas) -- While corn-fed fuel-ethanol plants seem to be springing up right and left in the U.S., DuPont (NYSE:DD) (Wilmington, Delaware) has a unique research-driven perspective on both the upstream and downstream sectors of the alternative fuels market. In order to avoid the fuel-food competition, DuPont is focusing on nongrain energy crops, such as switchgrass, for fuel production. In downstream research, DuPont is currently teamed up with BP (NYSE:BP) (London) to research the microbial manufacturing of butanol in preference to ethanol.

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State approves biodiesel crop for livestock News Channel 21 - Central Oregon

Associated Press - October 5, 2008 1:05 PM ET

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon Department of Agriculture has approved a biodiesel crop for livestock feed.

The state issued registrations for camelina meal to Willamette Biomass Processors of Rickreall and Great Plains Oil and Exploration of Havre, Montana.

The meal can only be fed to feedlot beef cattle or growing swine, and must make up no more than 2% of the diet.

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Ethanol waste: Good for Rover?

Posted by Tom Philpott at 4:19 PM on 06 Oct 2008

The pet-food industry takes a serious look at distillers grains

Should the mush left over after the ethanol process -- known as distillers grains -- be fed to farm animals?

There's been little real debate around that question, even though a) heavy use of distillers grains as cow feed has been linked to deadly E. Coli 0157H7 outbreaks; and b), the mush has been shown to contain all manner of residues from the ethanol process, including industrial chemicals and antibiotics.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Swedish solution for biofuels

Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul)

Clean-tech opportunities from Sweden? You betcha. And the state hopes to spur local adoption and commercialization of biofuels -- energy made from animal waste, crops and straw -- by emulating the Swedes.

By THOMAS LEE, Star Tribune
Last update: October 5, 2008 - 8:25 PM

MANKATO - Amid the throngs of iPod-toting, hoodie-wearing college students scurrying across the campus last week at Minnesota State University, Mankato, something was burning.

Several things actually: grain, chips and wood pellets. Inside a large white tent outside the student center, men with names like Per and Christofer were demonstrating the pride and joy of Swedish ingenuity: energy-efficient biofuel furnaces that emit far less pollution than their traditional counterparts. Nearby, Swedes and Americans furiously scribbled notes, exchanged business cards, shook hands and passed out literature.

The scenes belonged to an ambitious commercial and diplomatic effort to lure Swedish clean-energy firms -- and their technology -- to Minnesota. Led by the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, the state hopes to spur local adoption and commercialization of biofuels -- energy made from animal waste, crops and straw -- by emulating the Swedes, who consume renewable energy sources the same way Americans guzzle gasoline.

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How Washington Cripples The Energy Industry
Energy Outlook 2009
Joshua Zumbrun 10.01.08, 6:00 PM ET

From big oil companies to solar panel entrepreneurs to chemists creating the biomass fuels of the future, there's one thing that everyone in the energy industry has in common: They hate Washington's energy policy.

Policies, actually. In just the Bush years alone, Washington enacted two major pieces of omnibus energy legislation, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. In 2008 another piece of major legislation was introduced: the Lieberman-Warner bill, which would implement a nationwide cap-and-trade program on carbon emissions. That would instantly change the landscape for any energy producer.

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ARS Scientists Help Develop New High-Sucrose and High-Fiber Sugarcane Varieties for More Efficient Ethanol Production
Date Posted: October 2, 2008

New varieties of sugarcane and other crops adapted to the U.S. Gulf Coast region are being developed for use in making ethanol as a cleaner-burning alternative to gasoline.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, in cooperation with the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station (LAES) and the American Sugar Cane League, USA (ASCL), have already released three new varieties of "energy sugarcane."

They're called that because of their high stalk contents of sugar and fiber, which could eventually serve as complementary ethanol feedstocks.

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Which grass is greener to power the bioenergy era?
By Lauren Chambliss

( -- Talk about a field of dreams. Cornell bioenergy plant experts are learning which field grasses are the best candidates for "dedicated energy" crops in the Northeast, considering the region's climate and soil conditions.

The experts hosted their first field day Sept. 10 to give farmers, government officials, extension educators and researchers the opportunity to view stands of tall grasses that represent the future of bioenergy in the Northeast.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' (CALS) Bioenergy Feedstock Project, now in its second year, is the only project of its kind devoted to exploring the many species of field grass that grow in the Northeast and their potential as sources for biofuels.

The project has roughly 80 acres of different warm- and cool-season perennial grass varieties, otherwise known as "feedstocks," growing in 11 counties across New York. "Our ultimate goal is to maximize the economic benefit of bioenergy production as an alternative energy source," said Donald Viands, professor of plant breeding and genetics, who heads the project, speaking against a colorful backdrop of a field of blue, green, lavender and beige hues, where some plants were withering, but some were some thriving.

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Farmers change focus from shrimp to algae fuel

The Arizona Republic
by Ryan Randazzo - Oct. 5, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

When Gary Wood's family began experimenting with shrimp farming near Gila Bend in the mid-1990s, he said they kept things low-key because people would think they were "crazy."

But the tasty crustaceans eventually produced by Desert Sweet Shrimp turned into a sort of culinary sensation, garnering lots of attention and selling across the region despite their premium price.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

EERC Creates First 100% Renewable Jet Fuel

North Dakota State University
Energy & Environmental Research Center
September 29, 2008

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota has achieved a major technical milestone in creating a 100% renewable domestic fuel that meets the JP-8 aviation fuel screening criteria, proving a pathway to providing energy security to the U.S. military and the entire nation.

EERC fuel samples created from multiple renewable feedstocks were tested at a U.S. government facility to evaluate key specification parameters for JP-8, a petroleum-based fuel widely used by the U.S. military. JP-8 specifications include parameters such as freeze point, density, flash point, energy content, and others; all of which were met by the EERC fuel samples.
The EERC fuel was produced under a $4.7 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The Department of Defense is the largest consumer of petroleum in America, and securing a domestic fuel source is a key operational challenge for the military. Production is now under way to produce a large fuel sample for engine testing this fall.

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Biomass conference focuses on cellulosic ethanol

Biomass Magazine
October 2008
By Ryan C. Christiansen
Web exclusive posted Oct. 1, 2008 at 1:47 p.m. CST

Approximately 120 agricultural researchers, economists, and industry professionals attended the Northern Plains Biomass Economy conference in Fargo, N.D., on Sept. 29 to discuss the incentives that are in place for developing a cellulosic ethanol industry in the United States and how biomass-producing states can take advantage of those incentives.

Cellulosic ethanol is “the most promising opportunity” for biomass-producing states in the Upper Midwest and the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, also known as the farm bill, along with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) provide a framework of incentives for developing the cellulosic ethanol industry in the United States, said Scott Stofferahn, a staff member for U.S. Senator Kent Conrad, D-N.D. The legislation was driven by concern over increased food and animal feed costs as they relate to increased production of corn-based ethanol, he said, and also concerns about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Biofuels debated at U of I conference (Illinois)
The Register-Mail
Posted Oct 01, 2008 @ 04:44 PM

Urbana — Experts will discuss and debate biofuels Oct. 21-22 during panel sessions at the Biofuels and Sustainability Conference at the University of Illinois.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability, which includes the Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. The Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research, part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, also is a co-sponsor.

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Colonial Pipeline Utilizes ESRI Geographic Information Systems Technology to Conduct Feasability Study for Potential Ethanol Pipelines
Date Posted: October 2, 2008

Redlands, CA—Amid the clamor of national debate over how best to reduce reliance on oil, the call to replace petroleum with ethanol made enough noise recently to attract government and industry attention.

In response, a major U.S. pipeline company, Colonial, began its study of the feasibility of introducing alternative fuels such as ethanol to pipeline shipments.

To manage the study, Colonial Pipeline uses geographic information systems (GIS) technology. GIS software by ESRI provides a framework for understanding every element of a particular situation based on geographic location and relationships.

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Mayors' report sees 4.2 million new 'green' jobs

updated 12:58 p.m. CT, Thurs., Oct. 2, 2008

'Very compelling economic argument for investing,' Miami mayor says

WASHINGTON - A major shift to renewable energy and efficiency is expected to produce 4.2 million new environmentally friendly "green" jobs over the next three decades, according to a study commissioned by the nation's mayors.

The study, released Thursday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, says that about 750,000 people work today in what can be considered green jobs from scientists and engineers researching alternative fuels to makers of wind turbines and more energy-efficient products.

But that's less than one half of 1 percent of total employment. By 2038, another 4.2 million green jobs are expected to be added, accounting for 10 percent of new job growth over the next 30 years, according to the report by Global Insight, Inc.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Italians To Lead Biodiesel Shift From Food Crops to Seaweed

Written by Sam Aola Ooko
Published on October 2nd, 2008

Italian biodiesel producers have announced a $14 million plan to shift from food crops to seaweed in an effort to lessen competition with crop cultivation.

In so doing, they will be working with the best scientific minds to grow the seaweed in plastic tubes of seawater that will be fed with carbon dioxide captured from thermal power stations in a project called Mambo spearheaded by Italy’s Union of Biodiesel Producers.

A plant will be built at a coastal location in southern Italy in as little as two years and should be producing biodiesel from seaweed five years from now.

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Renewable Change: NRELL presents new management team

The change comes before the presidential change occurs: A new management team takes charge at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today. The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC was awarded a five-year contract to manage and operate the Laboratory on July 29. The new equally-owned management entity pairs two non-profit organizations—Midwest Research Institute (MRI) and Battelle—in a partnership that will enhance NREL’s leadership and provide greater, more innovative impact on accelerating achievement of national energy goals. Dan Arvizu will continue to lead NREL as the Laboratory’s director and Alliance president. (Foto: Fraunhofer ISE/Germany)

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Making the Most of Manure

By Ann Perry
October 1, 2008

Manure from livestock could someday be used as a value-added bioenergy fuel for on-farm heating and power, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists studying this approach.

This will be good news to U.S. livestock producers, who need environmentally friendly ways to manage the manure generated by about 96.7 million cattle and 67.7 million hogs and pigs.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

On-Farm Biodiesel

Domestic Fuel - Alternative Fuel News
September 30, 2008
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman

Farmers on the panhandle of Florida can now make their own biodiesel on the farm with the help of the Three Rivers Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) in Milton through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The council recently invested in a portable biodiesel extruder that can be taken out to local farms to make biodiesel from plants and used cooking oil, according to Coordinator John Harper.

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