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

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Art of Biomass Pelletizing

Biomass Magazine March 2009
By Ryan C. Christiansen

Pelletizing biomass can be challenging. The lack of a one-size-fits-all process means that it can be more art than science.

The cost to harvest, handle, transport and store low-density agricultural residue and other biomass materials often places biomass at a competitive disadvantage to fossil fuels.

The variable and often high moisture content in biomass and its natural decay can lower its value. Fortunately, biomass can be condensed to produce a uniform, competitive fuel product.

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Walden bill would create a new source of biofuels

Mail Tribune (Southern Oregon)
February 26, 2009
By Paul Fattig
Mail Tribune

Woody biomass from thinning on federal forests could be used to create fuel under Walden's Renewable Biofuels Facilitation Act

Woody biomass from federal forestlands could be used to develop cellulosic ethanol under legislation reintroduced Wednesday by U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, and a Democratic colleague.

The Renewable Biofuels Facilitation Act, also reintroduced by U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., would broaden the definition of cellulosic ethanol within the renewable fuels standard to include biomass gathered from federal lands as well as private forests.

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States ratchet up RPS requirements, incentivize biomass utilization

Biomass Magazine March 2009
By Bryan Sims

Renewable portfolio standards (RPS) are being developed and proposed in Massachusetts and California, and Michigan passed a law that encourages biomass harvest, a possible step in meeting RPS goals.

In January, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources released regulations that expanded support for renewable energy and alternative energy technologies mandated by the Green Communities Act, energy reform legislation enacted in July. The act called for changes to the state’s RPS that would double the rate of increase in the use of new renewable energy and create a new Class 2 RPS to support the continued operation of older (pre-1998) renewable-energy-generating facilities.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Midwest govs want to bolster alternative energy
By The Associated Press - Washington
updated 8:47 p.m. CT, Tues., Feb. 24, 2009

Governor Hoeven and other Midwestern governors want the Obama administration to promote alternative fuels and wind energy.

Hoeven joined South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Iowa Governor Chet Culver at a news conference between meetings of the National Governors Association in Washington yesterday.

Hoeven said the country will pay a price down the road unless it has a vision and a sustained effort to develop renewable energy.

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Biomass: A Federal Perspective

Biomass Magazine March 2009
By Ron Kotrba

For those familiar with the “Billion Ton” study, the Biomass Program under the U.S. DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program should ring a bell. The Biomass Program has been responsible for many important research and development breakthroughs in the area of biomass conversion to fuels. The U.S. DOE grant funding for commercial-scale biorefineries and the 10 percent validation plants; a series of grants for cellulase and hemicellulase development; funding for advancements in thermochemical processing; and the report titled “Effects of Intermediate Ethanol Blends on Legacy Vehicles and Small Engines,” are all products of the Biomass Program. Valri Lightner, formerly the strategic planning designated federal officer for the program and now acting director, spoke with Biomass Magazine shortly after President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

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Shredding Corn Silage Could Produce More Ethanol At Less Cost


ScienceDaily (Feb. 23, 2009) — A Purdue University researcher has found a way to get more bang for fewer bucks when it comes to processing cellulosic material to make ethanol.

By shredding corn stover instead of chopping, as is commonly done, about 40 percent less energy is needed to gain access to more of the material stored in the plant. Dennis Buckmaster, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said that by shredding corn stover there is better access to cellulose, which is the main part of plant cell walls necessary to make ethanol.

"You can't just use a big chunk of cellulosic material. You need small particles," Buckmaster said. "What we want is access to what's in there."

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Study: No Land Change Impact from Future Ethanol Expansion
Pro Farmer Editors

Expansion of corn ethanol production to 15 billion gallons per year in 2015 is unlikely to result in the conversion of non-agricultural lands in the U.S. or abroad, according to a new study released today by Air Improvement Resource, Inc. (AIR). Increasing crop yields and growing supplies of nutrient-dense feed co-products are likely to nullify the need to expand global cropland to meet the corn ethanol requirements of the Renewable Fuels Standard, the study found.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Prepared text of Obama's address to Congress

By The Associated Press
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Read the full text

Genomatica: Microbe-Made-Chemicals Could Save Empty Ethanol Plants
by: Jeff St. John
February 25, 2009

Genetic engineering startup Genomatica says it's devised a way to get microbes to make methyl ethyl ketone, a solvent with a $2 billion market – and the company says it can use shuttered ethanol plants to make the stuff.

Genomatica has come up with a new microbe that can turn sugar into an industrial solvent with a $2 billion worldwide market – and it believes idled ethanol plants will be perfect places to do it.

The San Diego-based company announced Wednesday that it has genetically engineered microbes to digest sugar and excrete methyl ethyl ketone, or MEK, a solvent with uses including plastics and textiles manufacturing and as an ingredient in paint remover, lacquer and varnishes.

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Biomass-coal Fuels Show Promise

University of Kentucky News

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 24, 2009) – University of Kentucky researchers have found that fuels engineered from biomass and coal fines can be burned to produce energy and fewer emissions without requiring modifications to conventional coal-fired stoker furnaces.

The researchers, led by Darrell Taulbee at UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), developed briquettes of biomass and coal fines – small coal particles that often are discarded as waste. The biomass consisted of sawdust, processed sorghum and weeds taken from reclaimed surface mines and fallow fields in Eastern Kentucky.

They test-burned different types of biomass with coals of differing quality and found the engineered fuels reduced nitrogen oxide emissions by as much as 42 percent compared to regular stoker coal fuels, while emissions of sulfur dioxide were reduced by as much as 39 percent. Even fuels made of lower quality coal fines showed emission reductions of 14 percent for nitrogen oxides and 11 percent for sulfur dioxide.

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Mapping the country's changing biomass

Government Computer News
By Patrick Marshall
Feb 23, 2009

There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about how much biomass the country has. For starters, land cover — whether it’s grass or old-growth forest — consumes carbon dioxide, one of the biggest contributors to the greenhouse effect.

Unfortunately, we haven’t had a good idea of how much biomass the country has, and we have even less insight into how much it is changing.

Researchers at the Woods Hole Research Center — an environmental science, education and policy institute with a Cape Cod, Mass., location — are rectifying that situation. Through the National Biomass and Carbon Dataset project, they are using data gathered on space shuttle missions and satellites to produce a map of the country’s biomass.

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National Ethanol Conference Live
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – February 20th, 2009

Thanks to new media and social networking technology, proceedings at the 14th Annual National Ethanol Conference will be made available worldwide as they happen next week, live from San Antonio, Texas.
For the first time, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen’s State of the Industry Address will be webcast live on the official NEC blog, the Ethanol Report. In addition, video highlights of keynote speeches and other important sessions will be available, both on the official blog and here on Domestic Fuel.

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Stimulus bill includes renewable energy provisions

Biomass Magazine February 2009
By Erin Voegele
Web exclusive posted Feb. 20, 2009, at 11:10 a.m. CST

U.S. President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law on Feb. 17.

“Today does not mark the end of our troubles,” President Obama said during the signing ceremony on Denver. “Nor does it constitute all of what we must do to turn our economy around. But it does mark the beginning of the end – the beginning of what we need to do to create jobs for Americans scrambling in the wake of layoffs, to provide relief for families worried they won’t be able to pay next month’s bill and to set our economy on a firmer foundation, paving the way for long-term growth and prosperity.”

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Company to turn wood waste into fuel

Leader-Telegram (Wisconsin)
Updated: 2/20/2009 11:57:02 PM
By Pamela Powers
Menomonie News Bureau

MENOMONIE - A Menomonie company plans to begin manufacturing a biomass product this fall that uses scrap wood to create fuel to replace coal.

Bioensertech, which is located in the same building as Specialty Pallet and Crate, 902 Stokke Parkway, will use scrap pallets, slab wood, tree tops or slashings from lumber businesses and other wood scraps to create biomass fuel that is larger than wood pellets now on the market.

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Middlebury College unveils biomass energy plant

Fox 44 News - Burlington, Vermont
Associated Press - February 20, 2009 7:25 AM ET

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (AP) - Middlebury College is touting its new wood-chip fired biomass steam heating plant that is helping the college meet its goal of becoming carbon neutral.

The college feels the $12 million biomass gasification plant can be a showplace for the college and a model others can use in the campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Biomass project of Czech, South Korean researchers patented

Prague Daily Monitor
ČTK / 24 February 2009

Brno, Feb 23 (CTK) - Czech scientists from Brno's Masaryk University have obtained a patent on a new method supporting the production of plant biomass in which they have cooperated with colleagues from South Korea, the research team told reporters on Monday.

The new method enables to cultivate plants with an increased production of mass.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Distillers grains from ethanol snare place in export markets

Des Moines Register

by PHILIP BRASHER & DAN PILLER • • February 22, 2009

Distillers grains, the byproduct of ethanol production, are becoming a factor in agriculture exports.

Exports of distillers grains in 2008 nearly doubled, from 2.36 million metric tons the previous year to 4.51 million tons, according to the Foreign Agriculture Service.

Distillers grains are commonly sold as livestock feed. The typical ethanol plant now counts distillers grains, a livestock feed, for 15 to 20 percent of its revenues and profits. In the current tight market for ethanol, distillers grains are credited with helping keep the ethanol industry afloat.

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At Penn State, seeking energy locked in wood

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Posted on Mon, Feb. 23, 2009
By Tom Avril
Inquirer Staff Writer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Deftly using a pair of tweezers, Scott Geib pulls apart the insides of a yellowish, wormlike critter - the larva of a tree-devouring pest called the Asian long-horned beetle. Something in the insect's gut allows it to make short work of wood, but what?
In a greenhouse several hundred yards away, some of Geib's Pennsylvania State University colleagues are growing rows and rows of designer poplar trees. The slender plants have been genetically tweaked so that their woody fabric has a weak link, allowing better access to the energy-rich sugars inside.

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Brazilian Ethanol Policy: Lessons for the United States

Journal of Energy Security
Feb. 2009 Issue
Thursday, 19 February 2009 00:00 Vanessa Cordonnier

On March 9, 2007 President Bush, in conjunction with Brazil’s President, Lula da Silva, announced the formation of a new partnership between the two countries. Capitalizing on the strength of the ethanol industry in both countries, the partnership was aimed at the broad goals of developing new ethanol production technologies, sharing resources and promoting the use of ethanol as an alternative to fossil fuel. Brazil is currently the world’s leading producer and exporter of ethanol and the United States follows close behind.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

BP & Verenium Form Cellulosic Ethanol Venture

Renewable Energy
February 20, 2009
Massachusetts, United States []

BP and Verenium Corporation have announced the formation of a 50-50 joint venture to develop and commercialize cellulosic ethanol from non-food feedstocks. The joint venture company will act as the commercial entity for the deployment of cellulosic ethanol technology being developed and proven under the first phase of the BP-Verenium partnership, announced last August.

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UL supports 15 percent ethanol in legacy pumps

Ethanol Producer Magazine March 2009
By Kris Bevill
Web exclusive posted Feb. 19, 2009, at 3:45 p.m. CST

After months of extensive testing, Underwriters Laboratories Inc., a non-profit product safety organization, announced Feb. 19 it supports the use of fuel blended with up to 15 percent ethanol in existing fuel dispensers. Previously, UL approved blends that were no greater than E10, the legal limit for non-flex fuel vehicles, in legacy dispensers. Newly installed pumps have been approved for blends of up to E85 since 2007 when the UL released its 87A rating.

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Algae a "credible source" for biofuel, professor says

Brownfield Ag Network
Thursday, February 19, 2009, 4:47 PM
by Julie Harker

Algae is a credible source for biofuel, according to a professor in the University of Illinois, with many benefits. Professor Lance Schideman in U of I’s Agriculture and Biological Engineering department says among the various biomass feedstocks being researched for alternative fuel, algae has important advantages. Schideman says its fast rate of growth, its ability to clean up water resources and grow on lands not useful for agricultural purposes make it a front runner among other biomass sources. And, he says the latest research suggests algae could produce far more gallons per acre than soy biodiesel or corn ethanol.

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Can The Ethanol Industry Be Sustained At Current Corn & Oil Prices?
2/19/2009 7:39:00 AM

The US ethanol industry is in a financial pinch. Some plants and some multi-plant companies have had some fits, and starts, and burps in the past year. Some are history and others are living on their past financial laurels. Economic factors have changed since the go-go days of 2007 and 2008 when oil prices were rocketing upward, carrying ethanol and corn on its back. With oil prices playing on both sides of the $40 mark, can ethanol remain financially viable?

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ADM begins carbon capture work

Herald & (Decatur, IL)
Friday, February 20, 2009 7:08 AM CST
By CHRIS LUSVARDI - H&R Staff Writer

DECATUR - Drilling began this week for a carbon dioxide injection well as part of an $84.3 million project beneath Archer Daniels Midland Co. property.Workers have started constructing a well that will reach more than 6,500 feet underground. The drilling of the injection well is expected to be completed in late March or early April.

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Stimulus Includes Billions for Renewables

Domestic Fuel - Alternative Fuel News
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman

Renewable energy and biofuels are among the big winners in the $787 billion economic stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama today.

“Because we know we can’t power America’s future on energy that’s controlled by foreign dictators, we are taking big steps down the road to energy independence, laying the groundwork for new green energy economies that can create countless well-paying jobs,” said President Obama during the signing ceremony. “It’s an investment that will double the amount of renewable energy produced over the next three years. Think about that — double the amount of renewable energy in three years.”

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New catalyst paves path for ethanol-powered fuel cells

A team of scientists from Brookhaven National Laboratory, University of Delaware and Yeshiva University, have developed a new catalyst that could make ethanol-powered fuel cells feasible. The highly efficient catalyst performs two crucial and previously unreachable steps needed to oxidise ethanol and produce clean energy in fuel cell reactions.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Sorghum prices attractive to ethanol plants

Southeast Farm Press
Feb 17, 2009 10:27 AM, By Elton RobinsonFarm Press Editorial Staff

USDA projected a 40-million bushel increase in sorghum use in February based on indications of increased sorghum use by ethanol plants in the Southern and Central Plains.

Sorghum prices are well below those for corn in these areas and supplies are plentiful with this year’s slower export pace.

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RFA: DDGS Exports Nearly Double in 2008
Date Posted: February 17, 2009

Washington DC—U.S. distillers grains exports nearly doubled last year, rising 91% from 2.36 million metric tons (mmt) in 2007 to 4.51 mmt in 2008, according to data recently released by the Foreign Agriculture Service.

Exports in 2008 nearly quadrupled over 2006 export levels.

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The impact of distillers grains on cattle diets

Farm & Ranch Guide
Monday, February 16, 2009 9:42 AM CST

A positive effect of the ethanol boom has been the increased availability of distillers grains.

Corn demand and corn price have both increased due to the large volumes of corn utilized in the ethanol industry. Distillers grains offer feedlots an alternative to traditional diets and in most markets an opportunity to lower feed ingredient costs. Producers are currently increasing the amounts of distillers grains they feed and are also looking at coproduct combinations.

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Growing Crops for Biofuels Has Spillover Effects

USDA ERS - Amber Waves March 2009

Growing demand for corn as biofuel feedstock will transform the agricultural landscape as regional cropping patterns adjust and production practices adapt.

Volatile petroleum prices, along with Federal policies aimed at reducing U.S. dependency on oil imports and mitigating climate change, have sparked rapid growth in biofuel demand. In response, production of agricultural commodities that serve as feedstock for biofuels has increased. Federal policy initiatives and private-sector investment point to continued growth in biofuel production and, consequently, increased demand for agricultural products.

The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 includes provisions for a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to increase the supply of alternative fuel sources by requiring fuel producers to use at least 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022. The RFS provision establishes a level of 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol by 2015 and at least 21 billion gallons of cellulosic (noncornstarch) ethanol and advanced biofuels (including ethanol from sugarcane and biodiesel) by 2022.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Soy turns ethanol byproduct into food fit for a pig
BY K.C. JAEHNIG, SIUC University Communications
Monday, February 16, 2009 5:19 AM CST

CARBONDALE -- A relatively cheap ethanol byproduct mixed with an old nutritional standby might help pork producers cut feed costs.

Gary A. Apgar, an animal scientist at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has been testing a blend of distillers’ grains — the fat, minerals, vitamins and fiber remaining after corn’s starch becomes fuel — and soybeans, a traditional protein source for swine. The combination turns out to be every bit as nutritious as soybean meal and, because grains cost less than beans, it’s cheaper, too.

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Ethanol plants no panacea for local economies, study finds

University of Illinois
Jan Dennis, Business & Law Editor

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Just over a year ago, the U.S. ethanol industry was still in overdrive, fueling a wave of new factories to keep pace with surging demand for the corn-based gasoline additive.

But the boom has since stalled amid a deep economic downturn that has stifled demand, one of many threats to the fledgling industry that were forecast in a 2007 study by two University of Illinois researchers.

“Our research found lots of storm clouds that posed risks for ethanol plants, even though the industry was go-go-go at the time,” said Andrew Isserman, a professor of agriculture economics and of urban and regional planning. “The last 15 months have proven just how risky it is.”

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Darrel Good Report: Biofuels Market to Be Important Factor in Planting Intentions This Season
Date Posted: February 16, 2009

Urbana, IL—The size of the biofuels market will be an important factor in determining how many acres of corn and soybeans are needed this year, said a University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

"This is particularly true for corn," said Darrel Good.

"The majority of biofuels production continues to be corn-based ethanol production.

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RINs As Commodity: Biofuels Plants Could Market Fuel, RINs Separately
Date Posted: February 16, 2009
by Myke Feinman, BioFuels Journal editor

Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs)—which are assigned by biofuels producers when their ethanol or biodiesel is sold—can also be sold as a commodity in addition to the fuel.

Most producers sell the fuel and the RINs without charging extra for them, according to Clayton McMartin, president of Clean Fuels Clearinghouse, Taos, NM.

Clean Fuels Clearinghouse started the RINSTAR Renewable Fuel Registry last fall, providing a centralized database for the RINs. RINs ultimately are separated from the renewable fuel after it reaches its final point downstream at the retail level.

Those RINs sold as high as 15 cents apiece as of late January. McMartin pointed out "that this value is higher than the margin most ethanol plants are currently experiencing."

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Energy Grains Biomass Agrees to Supply NextStep Biofuels With Corn Stover

Enhanced Online News

EGB Pioneers Bringing Cellulosic Feedstocks to Market With a Sophisticated Farmer-to-Bio-Refinery Supply Chain

KEARNEY, Neb.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Energy Grains Biomass, LLC., a Nebraska-based supplier of corn stover and other cellulosic feedstocks used to make biofuels, announced today the signing of a multi-year agreement to supply biomass to NextStep Biofuels, Inc., a cellulosic ethanol development company.

"When you invest hundreds of millions of dollars into building a state-of-the-art, cellulosic ethanol plant, it’s vitally important to know where you’re going to secure the feedstocks needed to keep it running,” explains NextStep Biofuels COO Russ Zeeck. “NextStep’s partnership with Energy Grains Biomass gives us great comfort that our feedstock needs will be met for years to come.”

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Seeing The Forest And The Trees Helps Cut Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Science Daily
ScienceDaily (Feb. 13, 2009) — Putting a price tag on carbon dioxide emitted by different land use practices could dramatically change the way that land is used – forests become increasingly valuable for storing carbon and overall carbon emissions reductions become cheaper, according to research presented today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ethanol production will have to increase to meet government mandates

High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal

Ethanol plant construction has come to a halt, but the mandates by government are not declining, which could mean prices could jump again. Producers should prepare for round two, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service specialist said.

"Expanded ethanol production is probably a given; however, the pace is expected to slow due to capacity limits and policy," said Dr. Steve Amosson, AgriLife Extension economist.
The president-elect and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture are both big supporters of renewable fuels, Amosson said. President-elect Barack Obama has stated, "I have established a goal to have 60 billion gallons of our fuel come from sustainable, affordable biofuels in 2022."

The reality right now is that nationwide 213 ethanol plants were in production or under construction in September 2007, with many more on the drawing table, he said.

Nine months later, some of the plants that were under construction have come into operation, but no new plants have started construction.

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Spotty Times for Ethanol: Not All Plants at Full Capacity
Sunday, February 15, 2009 2:55 PM

(Source: American News (Aberdeen, S.D.))By Russ Keen, American News, Aberdeen, S.D.
Feb. 15--About 20 percent of the ethanol industry that helps keep vehicles zipping along the nation's highways has shifted to low gear, including some plants in South Dakota, a local ethanol leader said.

Everyone in the industry is feeling the squeeze of the economy, said Bill Paulsen of Aberdeen; chairman of the board of South Dakota Ethanol Producers Association and vice president of operations for Advanced Bioenergy, which owns Heartland Grain Fuels, an ethanol plant in Aberdeen.

Some plants are faring better than others, however.

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EPA Grants Ethanol Testing Exemption to Renergie

Renewable Energy World
February 17, 2009
Washington, D.C., United States []

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted a testing exemption to Renergie Inc. Under the test program, the first of its kind in the U.S., Renergie will use variable blending pumps, not splash blending, to dispense hydrous ethanol blends of E10, E20, E30 and E85 to test vehicles.

The testing could help determine blend optimization with respect to fuel economy, engine emissions and vehicle drivability. Sixty vehicles will be involved in the test program which will last for a period of 15 months.

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Is the ethanol industry in recovery mode?

Brownfield Ag News for America
Friday, February 13, 2009, 3:48 PM
by Ken Anderson

It’s been a rough few months for the ethanol industry, but signs of recovery may be starting to emerge.

Valero’s proposed purchase of several VeraSun plants is seen by some as a positive sign. And Todd Sneller of the Nebraska Ethanol Board says he’s seeing renewed interest in locating sites for possible new plants.

“We are seeing at the community level, a number of communities making contact and expressing some interest in the fact that there are parties currently evaluating sites that at one time had been permitted or identified as prospective sites for construction,” explains Sneller.

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An Unlikely Mix Of Oil And Ethanol

KELOLand TV (Sioux Falls, S.D.)

It's been touted as the alternative to oil, but after the country's largest ethanol producer went bankrupt America's biggest oil refiner is looking to invest in the renewable fuel.

VeraSun announced this week that Valero Energy of San Antonio Texas is interested in buying five of the company's ethanol plants.

"I know everyone would be nervous about big oil showing up in South Dakota and owning a plant over at Aurora," University of South Dakota Professor Emeritus of Economics Dennis Johnson said.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ethanol Industry Seeks Bailout Funds

The Heartland Institute
Written By: Drew Thornley
Published In: Environment & Climate News > March 2009
Publication date: 03/01/2009
Publisher: The Heartland Institute

The beleaguered ethanol industry, which is experiencing plant closures and disappearing profit margins despite being propped up by protective tariffs, federal subsidies, and renewable fuel mandates, is seeking federal bailout funds from the Obama administration.

Long History of Subsidies
The Renewable Fuels Association, which lobbies for the ethanol industry, is seeking $1 billion in short-term credit to prevent further plant closures, $50 billion in loan guarantees to fund additional production plants, and the abolishment of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that places a 10 percent limit on the amount of ethanol allowed to be blended with gasoline for conventional automobile engines.

The industry currently benefits from a federal subsidy of 45 cents per gallon sold, an import tariff charging foreign producers 54 cents per gallon, and a federal mandate requiring 10.5 billion gallons of ethanol be blended into the nation’s transportation-fuel mix.

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Development of Biomass Charcoal Combustion Heater for Household Utilization

Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research

Development of Biomass Charcoal Combustion Heater for Household Utilization
Abstract Full Text HTML: Hi-Res PDF[1467 KB] PDF w/ Links[442 KB]
Figures References

In the present work a prototype powdered biomass charcoal fired heater with a heat output of 6 kW is designed and developed so that a new powdered charcoal market can be initiated to enhance greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction through massive biomass utilization. The combustion heater was designed based on the concept of charcoal combustion in a thin bed cross-flow (TBCF) mode, where a very thin uniform bed of charcoal is fixed by air flow on the wall of a cylindrical chamber with an air-penetrable wall. The distinct advantage of using such a thin bed cross-flow is low fuel inventory and good air−fuel contact, resulting in fast startup/shutdown and low CO emissions in the exhaust gases. Fundamental data for realizing such a combustion heater are presented, and the performance characterization of the thus manufactured heater is investigated. The combustion heater was characterized for charcoal prepared from Japanese oak (Quercus serrata) and from several waste biomass sources, such as a pruned apple branch and charcoal formed from spent coffee waste and soybean fiber. For wood charcoal the heater’s thermal efficiency was about 65−86%, and for waste biomass charcoal species it was found to be in the range of 60−81%. When the combustion heater was operated at the stable combustion mode, the CO concentration in the exhaust after the flue gas passed through catalyst was less than 5 ppm.

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Biofuels Digest publishes Bioenergy Alliance Report; 77 alliances detailed in excel-based summary for free download

Biofuels Digest
February 17, 2009 Jim Lane

Biofuels Digest has published its first Bioenergy Strategic Alliance and Partnerships Report.

The Excel-based summary, available for free download here, describes 77 bioenergy alliances and strategic partnerships announced in the past 18 months.

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Improved test can screen fungal pests for biofuel sources
February 12th, 2009 By Sarah Perdue in General Science / Biology

A report about their method is available online and will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering.

To make ethanol from plants, complex cellulose molecules in plant cell walls need to be broken down into simple sugars that are then fermented into ethanol. Plant pathogenic fungi have evolved to quickly and efficiently break down cell walls as they infect plants, making them an untapped resource in the search for cheap bioethanol, said Marie Donnelly, a graduate student in biological and environmental engineering and a co-lead author of the study.

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Feedlot manure reborn as 'renewable' natural gas

Calgary Herald
Sheila Pratt, Canwest News Service
Published: Sunday, February 15, 2009

Brothers turn cattle waste into biogas, electricity

Two huge tanks with rounded, mushroom lids loom above the snowdrifts, the first glimpse of Alberta's oddest-looking electricity plant and also its greenest.

About one megawatt of power flows out on the wires -- enough power to run the next-door feedlot and turn on the lights in 700 homes in Vegreville and Two Hills.

Two more gigantic tanks are under construction, and beside them, the site is cleared for the final installation, an ethanol plant, the greenest in Canada, thanks to homegrown, Alberta inventions.

In the land of big oil, a fledgling alternative energy economy is taking shape down on the farm and it's based on that most plentiful of Alberta resources--a smelly, endless supply of cattle poop. That and the inventiveness of two sets of farmer brothers and a scientist from China who made Edmonton her home.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Agricultural Baseline Projections: Summary of Projections, 2009-2018

USDA - Economic Research Service

This report provides longrun projections for the agricultural sector through 2018. Major forces and uncertainties affecting future agricultural markets are discussed, such as prospects for long term global economic growth and population trends. Projections cover production and consumption for agricultural commodities, global agricultural trade and U.S. exports, commodity prices, and aggregate indicators of the sector, such as farm income and food prices.

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Ethanol profitability calculator developed by Iowa State University researcher

January 14th, 2009

( -- A researcher at Iowa State University has developed a tool to determine what market conditions are needed for ethanol producers to make a profit.

David Peters, an assistant professor of sociology in Iowa State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has been getting questions about the profitability of ethanol plants under current market conditions and decided to create a spreadsheet that would allow anyone to figure it out for themselves.

"I've developed a model that inputs all the costs," he said. "Then it indexes it to corn prices and ethanol prices to determine profitability."

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U.S. corn for ethanol to rise, growth to slow: USDA

Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:04pm GMT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. corn used to produce ethanol will increase in 2009/10, but beyond that, growth is forecast to slow with demand mirroring changes in gasoline consumption, the Agriculture Department said on Thursday.

USDA projected 4.2 billion bushels of corn will be used to produce ethanol in 2009/10, an increase from 3.6 billion bushels forecasted for the current year.

Overall, ethanol is forecast to command about 33 percent of the corn crop compared to 30 percent in 2008/09.

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The ‘holy grail’ of biofuels now in sight

The Christian Science Monitor
By Mark Clayton Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor/ February 13, 2009 edition
Scotland, S.D.

Long-promised cellulosic ethanol is in modest production, but hurdles remain.

With one foot planted in a pile of corn cobs, Mark Stowers explains how agricultural waste, transformed into ethanol, will turbocharge the US economy, boost its energy security, and help save the planet, too.

This holy grail of biofuels, called cellulosic ethanol, has been “five years from commercialization” for so long that even Dr. Stowers admits it’s become a joke.

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Stabilizing ethanol industry high on new USDA boss' to-do list

Agriculture Online
Dan Looker
Successful Farming magazine Business Editor
2/11/2009, 4:26 PM CST

Many tasks ahead
It's hard to think of a member of President Barack Obama's cabinet whose job is more political than the secretary of agriculture. The USDA is one of the nation's largest bureaucracies. Its agencies manage vast federal forests in the West, provide food assistance to the poor, and crop subsidies to large cotton and rice farms in the South.

On top of all this, the latest holder of the job -- former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack -- is reviewing rules for payment limits while working with his boss, Obama, to get increased food aid and biofuels support included in the final economic stimulus bill that House and Senate negotiators approved today.

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Senator: Ailing Ethanol Industry Needs Help

The New York Times
February 12, 2009, 7:30 am — Updated: 12:37 pm
By Clifford Krauss

When Congress passed the 2007 energy bill a little more than a year ago, it was supposed to herald a new golden age for ethanol production.

But like all alternative energy, the ethanol industry finds itself in a rough patch, as I report in Thursday’s New York Times.

Senator Jeff Bingaman, the powerful chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a New Mexico Democrat, says Congress may need to help more.

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Nations That Sow Food Crops For Biofuels May Reap Less Than Previously Thought

Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Jan. 15, 2009) — Global yields of most biofuels crops, including corn, rapeseed and wheat, have been overestimated by 100 to 150 percent or more, suggesting many countries need to reset their expectations of agricultural biofuels to a more realistic level.

That's according to a study led by Matt Johnston and Tracey Holloway of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and Jon Foley of University of Minnesota, which drew on actual agricultural data from nearly 240 countries to calculate the potential yields of 20 different biofuels worldwide.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Residents can recycle used cooking oil

Statesman Journal
By Stefanie Knowlton • Statesman Journal
February 11, 2009

Marion County will start picking up oil for use in biodisesel

Marion County is starting possibly the nation's first regular curbside pickup of used cooking oil for biodiesel.

Starting this month residents can recycle used cooking oil, secured in a clear container with a tight lid, in their red bins. A biodiesel plant in Salem will process the oil and within weeks use it to fill fuel tanks around Oregon.

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execs: More fuel-efficient cars should be first priority - Dallas Morning News
04:50 PM CST on Tuesday, February 10, 2009
By ELIZABETH SOUDER / The Dallas Morning News

HOUSTON -- To cut dependence on oil and pollution, the first thing to do isn’t to invest in fancy biofuels or subsidize nifty electric cars, according to oil industry officials.

Tony Hayward, chief executive of BP PLC, said Tuesday the first step is to improve the efficiency of the plain, old gasoline car. After that, people should invest in biofuels, and only then should people focus on developing electric vehicles.

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Researchers looking to turn fruit into fuel

Early County News (Blakely, Georgia)
By April Sorrow University of Georgia

Half of all the fruit grown in Georgia is never eaten by people or animals. It rots in the fields. A University of Georgia researcher says that spoiled fruit could fuel cars.

That wasted fruit can be converted into bioethanol through a fermentation process, said Elliot Altman, program coordinator for the UGA Center for Molecular Bioengineering.

"All fruits are 10 percent sugar, or potentially 5 percent ethanol," said Altman, an engineer with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "It's a real opportunity."

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DOE Awards $30 Million to Develop Technologies to Enable Industrial Use of Alternative Fuels

U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Industrial Technologies Program
January 23, 2009

The U.S. Department of Energy Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) recently awarded a total of $30 million over 4 years for cost-shared research and development of industrial systems capable of using alternative fuels. The goal of this solicitation is to support innovative technologies that provide fuel flexibility options for manufacturers, thereby reducing natural gas requirements and emissions.

The U.S. industrial sector is the largest user of energy domestically, and is chiefly dependent on natural gas as a single major source of fuel. Volatile natural gas prices and environmental concerns are motivating end-users to explore the feasibility of using alternative fuels for industrial processes. Through this solicitation, ITP is promoting technologies based on alternatives to natural gas, such as gasified fuels, landfill and digester gas, and other opportunity fuels.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Two-step chemical process turns raw biomass into biofuel
Published on 10 February 2009, 13:36 by Insciences

Taking a chemical approach, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a two-step method to convert the cellulose in raw biomass into a promising biofuel. The process, which is described in the Wednesday, Feb. 11 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, is unprecedented in its use of untreated, inedible biomass as the starting material.

The key to the new process is the first step, in which cellulose is converted into the "platform" chemical 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), from which a variety of valuable commodity chemicals can be made. "Other groups have demonstrated some of the individual steps involved in converting biomass to HMF, starting with glucose or fructose," says Ronald Raines, a professor with appointments in the Department of Biochemistry and the Department of Chemistry. "What we did was show how to do the whole process in one step, starting with biomass itself."

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Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Feb. 9, 2009) — An international team led by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) have translated the genetic code that explains the complex biochemical machinery making brown-rot fungi uniquely destructive to wood. The same processes that provide easier access to the energy-rich sugar molecules bound up in the plant's tenacious architecture are leading to innovations for the biofuels industry.

The research, conducted by more than 50 authors, is reported in the February 4 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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General Wesley Clark set to help Grow Ethanol Industry

Hoosier Ag Today
Andy Eubank

Thursday the ethanol industry welcomed a fighter to their ranks when Poet CEO Jeff Broin introduced the new Growth Energy Co-Chairman. “I can’t think of a more authoritative voice on national security, the need to be energy independent, and the importance of creating new, green collar jobs. I am so proud today to introduce General Wesley Clark as Growth Energy’s co-chairman.”

And with that introduction a new fight begins for the retired four-star general. This time the fight is for further acceptance and expansion of ethanol on the American landscape.

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Hopes for repealing ethanol standard are dashed

The Daily News - Richmond, Missouri
Dennis Sharkey, News Editor

JEFFERSON CITY-Any hopes of repealing an ethanol standard that went into effect last year were swatted down yesterday at a Missouri Senate Agriculture Committee hearing.The standard requires gas stations in the state to blend gasoline with a 10 percent mixture of ethanol. The standard was passed in 2006 and went into effect Jan. 1, 2008.

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VeraSun To Auction Assets In Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Wisconsin Ag Connection
USAgNet - 02/10/2009

VeraSun Energy Corp. will put all its ethanol plants on the bankruptcy auction block in March, a lawyer for the company said at a court hearing last week. Attorney Patrick Nash said there are prospective bidders for some of VeraSun's assets but others will be subject to a "naked auction," where no floor bid has been established.

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Biofuels to the Rescue — if the Recipe Is Found

The New York Times
February 10, 2009, 2:23 pm — Updated: 9:26 am
By Matthew L. Wald

The United States has enough land, water and transport capability to make cellulosic ethanol that could displace one-third of its gasoline needs in 2030, according to a study by a government laboratory, in partnership with General Motors.

But the study does not say how to actually make the fuel.

Sandia National Laboratories, part of the Energy Department, and G.M.’s research and development center conducted a seven-month study that concluded that production of 90 billion gallons – equivalent to 60 billion gallons of gasoline – was possible by 2030, and that the investment requirement was about the same as for producing that much gasoline.

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A Shocking Ethanol Enhancer

Ethanol Producer Magazine March 2009
By Anna Austin

Squeezing more ethanol from a bushel of corn is one way for an ethanol producer to stay on top of his game. California-based OptiSwitch Technology has developed a process that could increase ethanol production by 5 percent or more, using high-power silicon switches to apply voltage to the cell walls of the corn kernel.

How does a company that makes high-performance semiconductor switches make an ethanol plant more efficient? OptiSwitch Technology Corp. developed a reliable, solid-state switch (a component that can break an electrical circuit) for critical military applications with the help of some internal funding and a $10 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense. OptiSwitch’s specialty is producing high-power, short-duration electrical systems, or “pulsed power,” which use high voltages—10,000 to more than 100,000 volts—and high currents—10,000 to more than 100,000 amperes—for durations of hundreds of microseconds or less.

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BIO: Michigan State University and Phillips Academy Andover Study Finds Biofuels Carbon Footprint Can Be Reduced
Date Posted: January 15, 2009
BIO: Michigan State University and Phillips Academy Andover Study Finds Biofuels Carbon Footprint Can Be Reduced Nearly to Zero Through Best Ag Prcatices Like No-Till

Washington—A newly published study shows that effective land management practices can reduce the so called carbon debt attributed to biofuels to near zero.

Greenhouse gas emissions associated with growing agricultural feedstocks for biofuels can be greatly reduced using available crop management techniques, such as no-till agriculture, according to the new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology by Bruce Dale and Seungdo Kim of Michigan State University and Hyungtae Kim of Phillips Academy Andover.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Ethanol, Corn Relationship: A Silver Lining

Ethanol Producer Magazine March 2009
By Hunt Stookey

The ethanol industry was hit hard in 2008 with a steep rise in corn prices. However, the episode should provide a risk management advantage in 2009.

It’s been a wild, unexpected ride for ethanol producers over the past two years. While the ethanol business may be less profitable now than it was in 2006, it is also a lot less risky. The reason: the price of corn has been pegged to the price of ethanol, eliminating a big source of commodity risk in the business.

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VeraSun proposes to sell some assets to Valero

The Wall Street Journal - MarketWatch
By Robert Daniel, MarketWatch
Last update: 5:27 a.m. EST Feb. 8, 2009

Deal valued at $280 million is part of plan to sell all assets in bankruptcy court

TEL AVIV (MarketWatch) -- VeraSun Energy Corp. filed a proposal in bankruptcy court to sell a number of its assets to Valero Energy Corp. for $280 million.

The proposal, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, also asks the court to enable the company to sell substantially all the assets of parent VeraSun and 24 of its affiliates.
VeraSun, the Sioux Falls, S.D., producer of ethanol, late in October filed to reorganize under Chapter 11 of U.S. bankruptcy law.

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Biofuels study sees 90 billion gallons by 2030

Associated Press
By DIRK LAMMERS – 3 hours ago

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The U.S. could produce enough ethanol to displace nearly a third of all gasoline use by 2030, but gas would have to cost more than it does today for the plan to work, according to a study released Tuesday by Sandia National Laboratories and General Motors Corp.

The researchers found that annual ethanol production from plant waste and energy crops could reach 90 billion gallons by that date, with 75 billion gallons coming from cellulosic feedstocks such as switchgrass, corn stover, wheat straw and woody crops.

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3 questions for Eric Bowen, Tellurian Biodiesel - San Francisco Chronicle
David R. Baker
Sunday, February 8, 2009

Title: President and CEO
Company: Tellurian Biodiesel, San Francisco

Q: Most of the attention on biofuels lately has focused on ethanol, specifically cellulosic ethanol made from grass or crop stubble or wood chips. What advantages does biodiesel, which can run in ordinary diesel engines, have over that?

A: The reason there's so much ink written on ethanol is if you look at the ethanol business, specifically the corn ethanol industry, it's 10 times larger than the biodiesel industry. Generally speaking, we're a newer, younger industry.

We're moving away from soybean biodiesel, which is analogous to corn ethanol, and moving into waste biodiesel, which is analogous to cellulosic. We're taking things like grease and turning it into fuel. I would argue that biodiesel today, especially waste biodiesel, is a great fuel for the environment, and it deserves more ink.

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New biofuels degree program opens at Central Carolina Community College

Chatham Journal Weekly
Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pittsboro, NC - P.J. Bordelon, fuel distribution manager for Piedmont Biofuels, in Pittsboro, and Will Mitchell, of Chapel Hill, who's thinking of becoming a farmer, don't seem to have much in common.

But get them talking about Central Carolina Community Colleges new Alternative Energy Technology: Biofuels associate degree program and they're equally enthusiastic.

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D1 Oils Plant Science Develops Method to Extract Jatropha Oil for Biodiesel Production and Purify Meal for Animal Feed
Date Posted: February 6, 2009

The research arm of D1 Oils plc (D1), D1 Oils Plant Science, announces Feb. 4 that it has developed and is patenting a process that expels crude biodiesel oil from Jatropha seeds and at the same time purifies the seedcake (meal) left after oil extraction to produce high protein animal feed.

Jatropha is a tropical oilseed tree that produces grain that can be crushed to produce high yields of inedible vegetable oil suitable for refining into biodiesel.

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Wisconsin program to fund biomass studies

Biomass Magazine February 2009
By Ryan C. Christiansen
Web exclusive posted Feb. 6, 2009, at 9:27 a.m. CST

Wisconsin's Focus on Energy Environmental and Economic Research and Development (EERD) Program has awarded $988,810 in grants to nine researchers for biomass energy-related studies.

One of the studies is being led by Anna Haines, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and the director of the university’s Center for Land Use Education. Haines was awarded $54,491 for an 18-month feasibility study concerning the availability of feedstock for a proposed wood gasification plant at the Stevens Point campus.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

As a bonus, biomass burning stoves save you money (New Hampshire)
Kristin Arrigo
Published: Friday, February 6, 2009

The search is continually on for finding the cheapest way to get heat throughout the winter.

The benefits of choosing alternative sources are more than just savings; you are also improving the value of your home. The choices for alternative heating are increasing, and one of those choices is biomass burning stoves.

Biomass options burn cleaner and are renewable resources. Biomass is usually plant matter, but can be animal matter, used to produce energy. Biodegradable waste is also among this list. This is as opposed to fossil fuels, which originate from biomass, but the carbon it contains has a negative effect on the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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NCGA Calls Minnesota Ethanol Study Faulty

Wisconsin Ag Connection
USAgNet - 02/09/2009

A recent study by the University of Minnesota that compares lifecycle emissions of gasoline, corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol is faulty because it does not use realistic, comparable data sets, according to the National Corn Growers Association.

The report prematurely praises cellulosic ethanol as the best fuel alternative when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas and particulate-matter emissions despite the fact that it is years from production and use--while corn ethanol is available and being used today.

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ISU to study biomass gasification for ethanol, process heat

Ethanol Producer Magazine March 2009
By Susanne Retka Schill

Iowa State University’s research on gasification technologies for the ethanol industry got a boost this winter in the form of a $2.37 million grant from the Iowa Power Fund. The research aims to create systems that produce process heat from clean biomass-derived synthesis gas. Ethanol plants could use these sytems to replace natural gas usage. Another dimension of the research aims to improve the process of making ethanol from the syngas produced by biomass gasification.

Song-Charng Kong and Robert Brown, professors in mechanical engineering at ISU, are leading the project with Frontline BioEnergy LLC and Hawkeye Renewables LLC as partners. “This is a commercially driven project,” Brown said. It seeks to refine gasification technologies in order for ethanol plants to reduce energy costs and improve their carbon footprints. A rule of thumb is that replacing natural gas with syngas for process heat in ethanol plants will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 90 percent, he said.

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State drive to 20% ethanol may stall
Posted: 02/07/2009 12:01:00 AM CST

UL says gas pumps only certified for 10% blend

Gov. Tim Pawlenty's dream of raising Minnesota's ethanol mandate to 20 percent from 10 percent has hit an unexpected pothole.

Turns out, most gas pumps in Minnesota aren't certified to handle more than a 10 percent ethanol blend. Without that certification, it's virtually impossible for the state to increase Minnesota's ethanol mandate, which became law in 2005.

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New Study Weighs Impacts of Corn Ethanol
By GreenBiz Staff
Published February 6, 2009

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A new study from the University of Minnesota finds that biofuel made from corn can be as harmful to the environment as gasoline, and that the combined costs to climate-change and health exceed that of gas.

The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences also finds that the benefits of second-generation cellulosic ethanol, made from grasses and crops like jatropha, are markedly greater than corn ethanol or gasoline.

The research is the latest in the debate of the merits of first generation biofuel made from corn.

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Agriculture Secretary in Talks to Raise Ethanol Blend
By Tina Seeley

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The Agriculture Department is in discussions with the Environmental Protection Agency about raising the amount of ethanol blended into the U.S. gasoline supply, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

About 21 percent of the U.S. capacity for ethanol production is idle, according to ethanol-maker Archer Daniels Midland Co. VeraSun Energy Corp., the second-largest U.S. ethanol maker, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October as an industrywide expansion of production facilities outpaced demand.

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Charter heating plant to burn biomass, discontinue coal use

University of Wisconsin-Madison - The Daily Cardinal
By: Britney Tripp /The Daily Cardinal - February 9, 2009

The Charter Street coal plant, notorious for its high emissions, will burn biomass instead of coal by 2012, Gov. Jim Doyle announced Friday. This decision will significantly reduce pollutant emissions in Wisconsin.

Gov. Jim Doyle announced Friday the Charter Street Heating Plant will switch from burning coal to biomass, a significant step toward reducing emissions in Dane County and the state. UW-Madison operates the Charter Street plant, which was found in 2007 to have violated the Clean Air Act limits on emissions.

A new boiler will burn up to 100 percent biomass, including wood chips and switchgrass pellets, and will be backed up by natural gas. The boiler is expected to be ready in 2012 and will provide heating and cooling for the UW-Madison campus, according to a statement from Doyle.

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Survey: Shifts in Iowa corn movement, ethanol growth

Ethanol Producer Magazine March 2009
By Susanne Retka Schill
Web exclusive posted Feb. 5, 2009, at 11:04 a.m. CST

County elevators in Iowa are loosing market share as more corn moves directly to ethanol plants in the state. Two researchers collaborated to find out just how great those changes have been. Chad Hart, Department of Agricultural Economics at Iowa State University, and Tun-Hsiang Yu, Department of Agricultural Economics at University of Tennessee, reported their findings in the paper, titled “Impact of Biofuel Industry Expansion on Grain Utilization and Distribution: Preliminary Results of Iowa Grain and Biofuel Survey.” Hart and Yu presented their research at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting in Atlanta on Jan. 31 to Feb. 3.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Making On-farm Waste Digestion Work

By Stacy Kish, CSREES Staff February 4, 2009

Animal waste has always been a great potential source of bioenergy and a natural fertilizer, but finding a green waste management process has been problematic.

Not any more.

With funding from USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) National Research Initiative (NRI), scientists in Missouri have optimized an environmentally effective process to reduce the amount of animal waste on the farm.

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Recycling Breath to Biomass Fuel?
Published on February 5th, 2009
by Lori Brown

The Liverpool John Lennon Airport, in Liverpool, U.K., will soon become the world’s first to try a revolutionary piece of technology that will recycle the breath of passengers into biofuel. The Eco-box, developed by Origo Industries, will capture the CO2 exhaled by airport travelers and convert it to fuel to be used in the airport’s diesel vehicles and heating system.

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DOE releases mobile device version of Alternative Fueling Station Locator

Biofuels Digest
February 05, 2009 Jim Lane Comments 0

Find 5 nearest alt fuel stations, adds Google maps

In Washington, the U.S. Department of Energy’s announced the release of the mobile version of the Alternative Fueling Station Locator, which works with cell phones and BlackBerrys, and will access the five closest biodiesel, electricity, E85 (ethanol), hydrogen, natural gas, and propane fueling sites, using Google Maps and listing contact information for each location. The Locator was developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and sponsored by the Clean Cities initiative.

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Scientists Announce Declaration on Biodiesel

PR Newswire

Urge Peers to Join Commitment on Continued Progress for Food, Feed & Energy

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As founder and a director of the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute, Dr. Rob Myers is well aware of Jefferson's historic commitment to exploring new frontiers as well as agricultural progress. With an eye on continuing advancements in biodiesel that would have appealed to Jefferson's interests, Myers announced today the "Scientists for Biodiesel" declaration at the opening session of the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in San Francisco.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center President Roger Beachy and Myers are co-chairs of the "Scientists for Biodiesel" campaign and are inviting their peers from around the world to add their support by cosigning the declaration.

"Scientists sometimes have differences of opinion, but this declaration is intended to show the broad consensus among scientists about the benefits of biodiesel," Myers said. "Our goal is to increase awareness and information sharing about the depth and breadth of the scientific research behind biodiesel that contributes to its sustainability."

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Friday, February 6, 2009

ARS Scientists Find DDGS Support Piglet Immune Systems
Date Posted: February 4, 2009

As feed costs rise and the production of ethanol from corn grain increases, swine producers have ramped up their search for new feed supplements for younger swine.

According to studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, feeding dried distiller's grains (DDGS) to piglets can give their immune systems an extra boost.

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Climate bill possible "in weeks": Sen. Boxer

Yahoo! News
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent – Tue Feb 3, 3:20 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate's top environmental lawmaker offered a preview on Wednesday of major component of climate change legislation she said could be introduced "in weeks, not months."

"We are not sitting back and waiting for some magic moment," Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, told reporters. "We're ready to go."

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Biomass board takes in-depth look at feedstocks

Biomass Magazine February 2009
By Susanne Retka Schill

The Biomass Research and Development Board has taken an in-depth look at agricultural and forestry feedstocks for both conventional and advanced biofuels, with the goal of informing investors of the research and development needed to expand biofuel production. The economic analysis looked at several scenarios for different conventional biofuel production levels in 2016 and 2022, as well as several cellulosic ethanol production scenarios, forecasting a range of prices for bioenergy crops and residues from $40 to $60 per dry ton for biomass, depending on the scenarios.

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Vilsack: Ethanol sustainability crucial to industry survival

Farmweek - Illinois Farm Bureau
Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Greater “sustainability” in the field and the “factory” are crucial to sustaining ethanol production and profits, new Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack maintained last week.

Vilsack, a former chairman of the Governors Ethanol Coalition, recognized the biofuels industry currently is under “a particular strain.”

Efficient resource management will reduce the environmental footprint of ethanol production and help progressive biofuels producers survive difficult times, he said.

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AMI & Other Food and Ag Groups Send Letter to EPA
Date Posted: February 4, 2009

American Meat Institute and Other Food and Ag Groups Urge EPA Not to Increase Ethanol Blend Percentage Until Cellulosic Ethanol Is More Developed and More Studies Are Completed

The American Meat Institute joined a number of food and agriculture groups in signing a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voicing opposition to proposals to increase the levels at which ethanol can be blended into motor gasoline and urging the EPA to subject these proposals to careful analysis.

“We strongly support the development of cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels, as well as policies that will help commercialize biofuels that will reduce our reliance on food and feed to produce fuel,” the letter states.

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A driving force for fuels

Mighigan State University
By Pat Evans The State News Published: February 4, 2009

Biofuels as alternative energy promise to help environment, economy, prof's research shows

The field of biofuel research would have little in the tank without MSU professor Bruce Dale. The professor of chemical engineering and material science finished two studies last month that could foster positive attitudes about alternative fuels and decrease the cost of creating them. Dale’s first study presented evidence against the notion that benefits of biofuels are offset by the land required to produce the corn for ethanol and the gas emissions of the vehicles using the fuel.

“The issue with the arguments were that there was not data to support the claims,” he said. “Our analysis shows that crop management is a key factor in estimating greenhouse gas emissions associated with land use change and associated with biofuels.”

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Paper industry executive to lead Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Feb. 3, 2009
Troy Runge, research director at Kimberly-Clark Corp., has been named director of the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative (WBI), a public-private partnership in bioenergy research, outreach, training and economic development based in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Producers want more ethanol in gas

The Washington Times
Tom LoBianco and Edward Felker, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Despite being pinched by the economic downturn, ethanol producers are expanding so rapidly that they are pressing the government to overturn its 25-year-old rule that limits to 10 percent the amount of the corn-based additive that can be put into a tank of gasoline.

The effort comes as the industry finds itself well ahead of its federally mandated schedule to produce, by 2015, 15 billion gallons of ethanol each year for use in U.S. vehicles.

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U.S. House stimulus package includes biomass, biofuels provisions

Biomass Magazine February 2009
By Erin Voegele
Web exclusive posted Feb. 3, 2009, at 2:47 p.m. CST

By a vote of 244 to 199, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on Jan. 28. The stimulus package makes supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and state and local fiscal stabilization. While 244 democrats voted to pass the bill, 11 democrats and 177 republicans opposed it.

Also known as H.R. 1, the legislation is designed to stimulate the economy in a number of ways, and includes several provisions relating to the renewable energy and biofuels industries. For example, the bill would extend the production tax credit for biomass energy until 2013.

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Colombia: A New Ethanol Producer on the Rise?

By José Toasa
Outlook Report No. (WRS-0901) 15 pp, January 2009

Colombia’s sugarcane-based ethanol industry, after operating for only 3 years, is the second most developed in the Western Hemisphere. Most Colombian ethanol plants are energy self-sufficient and even generate surplus power that is sold to the national electric grid. Colombia’s sugarcane-based ethanol production is increasing: proposed expansion projects have the potential to more than triple daily production from 277,000 gallons in 2007 to almost 1 million gallons in 2010. Most of the expansion is intended for exports, principally to the United States. However, it is unlikely that Colombia could export ethanol anytime soon because domestic production is insufficient to meet nationwide requirements that gasoline contain a 10-percent ethanol blend.

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Utilization of woody biomass
By Hanson Young (Created: Saturday, January 31, 2009 7:57 AM EST)

Many case studies that show that industries have reaped substantial economic benefits from using heat and energy from woody biomass, according to the following information from Daniel Cassidy with the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

Laurel Lumber Co., in Mississippi, estimates an annual savings of $200,000 since it switched from natural gas-fired kilns and began using wood waste commonly found on site. Public schools in Wisconsin, Vermont and Montana have also seen increased savings by heating with wood.

Darby Public Schools, in Montana, were able to divert almost $91,000 annually from the cost to heat the school with fuel oil back into the school’s general budget. The pulp and paper industry is almost self-sustaining with regards to heat and energy by electing to use sawdust, wood waste, and black liquor from pulping to produce heat.

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UVA Takes On Algae-Based Biofuel


Updated: Jan 29, 2009 4:29 PM EST
Posted: Jan 29, 2009 2:54 PM EST

Three professors at University of Virginia are taking going green literally. They are in the process of growing and studying the use and benefits of pond algae as a way to power cars and planes.

They say it's cheap and a ready resource to use at any time.

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Introducing the New Energy Economy
By Garry Golden
Monday, February 2 2009

All this week, The Takeaway is on a Power Trip, taking an in-depth look at the future of energy: technologies, ideas, innovators, and your stories about saving energy.

Political and industrial leaders are now in near consensus: The world must change how it produces and consumes energy to address the geopolitical and environmental challenges of our current energy systems. The transition will take decades, but the vision is starting to come into focus.

Read the full story

Introducing the New Energy Economy
By Garry Golden
Monday, February 2 2009

All this week, The Takeaway is on a Power Trip, taking an in-depth look at the future of energy: technologies, ideas, innovators, and your stories about saving energy.

Political and industrial leaders are now in near consensus: The world must change how it produces and consumes energy to address the geopolitical and environmental challenges of our current energy systems. The transition will take decades, but the vision is starting to come into focus.

Read the full story

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

North Dakota: $1 Million Grant to Develop Sythetic Fuels From Crambe and Other Oilseed Crops
Date Posted: January 30, 2009

Department of Defense and ND Industrial Commission Grant UND Energy & Environmental Research Center $1 Million to Develop Sythetic Fuels From Crambe and Other Oilseed Crops

Grand Forks, ND—The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota announces a $1 million project to evaluate renewable oil refining technologies for commercial production of diesel, jet, and other fuels and chemicals from North Dakota oilseed crops, such as crambe, at Tesoro’s Mandan, North Dakota, oil refinery.

Crambe is a drought-tolerant oilseed crop with demonstrated viability throughout western North Dakota and the surrounding region.

Unlike soybeans, canola, and other oil seeds, crambe produces an industrial (non-food-grade) oil, and costs less to plant, fertilize, and grow.

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Missouri governor pledges biofuels support in state of state

Brownfield Ag News Network
Thursday, January 29, 2009, 3:54 PM
by Julie Harker

Among the budget priorities of Missouri’s new governor is full funding for the renewable fuels industry. In his State of the State address Tuesday, Governor Jay Nixon said that “within Missouri’s own agricultural capacity lies a possible solution to our nation’s energy crisis.” While other areas of Missouri state government are facing cutbacks, Nixon says the state must remain on the leading edge of renewable energy development.

Nixon pledged to fully fund the Missouri Qualified Biodiesel Producer Incentive Fund. Missouri Soybean Association CEO Dale Ludwig says the fund is “crucial to the continued success of the state’s biodiesel industry.” Missouri has 10 biodiesel plants and two under construction.

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Economic Contribution of the Biofuels Industry - IA, MN, Midwest

Prepared for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

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Brownfield Ag News Network
SDSU reports examines dependency on ethanol industry
Thursday, January 29, 2009, 3:24 PM
by Ken Anderson

A new report from South Dakota State University documents the growing dependence of South Dakota and other Midwestern states on the ethanol industry.

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Latest 2008 Ethanol Production Estimates

Domestic Fuel - Alternative Fuel News
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman

Ethanol production for 2008 is still expected to have exceeded the goal of nine billion gallons for the year, but not by as much as anticipated. While the industry was on track to produce about ten billion gallons for the year, the latest figures for November indicate it will be more like 9.1 billion.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), American ethanol facilities averaged 668,000 barrels (about 28 million gallons) per day. That’s about 8 million gallons per day more than November of 2007. Through November, the ethanol industry was averaging 596,000 b/d of production - which would mean about 9.1 billion for the year if December holds up to the average.

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Opinion - Renewable energy: Governor's goal is a tough one (Florida)
Story updated at 11:15 AM on Monday, Feb. 2, 2009

Recently, the Florida Public Service Commission backed a plan that would require Florida utilities to generate 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. Does it stand a chance of being reached?

Florida electric utilities can generate about 54,000 megawatts. Of that total a little more than 1,000 megawatts comes from renewable sources, almost all from biomass, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

To reach the 20 percent goal will require installing about 9,000 megawatts of new power plants and retiring a similar amount of existing generating capacity. Or, assuming the need for additional generation capacity, installing a larger amount of renewable capacity to meet the 20 percent goal.

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Researcher exploring energy potential of algae

Southern Illinois University
BY TIM CROSBY, SIUC University Communications
Sunday, January 25, 2009 2:08 PM CST

CARBONDALE -- You might think of algae as the plants that provide the greenish tint and murky smell in pond water. A researcher at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, however, sees a possible alternative energy source in the ubiquitous organism.

Yanna Liang, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering, is working on ways to improve and extract naturally occurring substances in certain algae strains that can be used to create biodiesel fuel. The substances in the algae -- lipids -- are similar to those occurring in corn or other plants used to make vegetable oil, which currently is a major ingredient in the biodiesel manufacturing process.

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Looking for common ground in alternative fuels
Monday, January 26, 2009
By Aimée Turner

One US research effort that is set to provide the basis for much of the future policy framework for alternative fuel in commercial air transport is Project 17 of the Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emission Reduction.

Partner is a multi-university aviation research organisation headquartered at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Project 17 was set the task of examining the potential near-term alternative jet fuels.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Underwriters Laboratories Launches Green Verification Service
By GreenBiz Staff Published January 26, 2009

NORTHBROOK, Ill. -- Underwriters Laboratories, the venerable product safety testing service, today is launching an environmental claims verification service, UL Environment Inc. The new unit was created to help companies and the public make sense of green claims and provide manufacturers with transparency and credibility in the marketplace.

UL Environment Inc.’s services include two new offerings, beginning this month with a claims verification service. In late 2009, the organization plans to expand with additional services.

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Japan Airlines biofuels flight test a success; camelina, algae, jatropha used in B50 biofuel mix; fuel economy higher than Jet-A

Biofuels Digest
January 30, 2009 Jim Lane

In Japan, Japan Airlines became the fourth airline to successfully flight test biofuels in the past year, and the first to successfully demonstrate camelina as a biofuel feedstock.

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ISU economist doubts '09 ethanol profits will show significant rise

Des Moines Register
by PHILIP BRASHER • & DAN PILLER • February 1, 2009

Ethanol's profitability in 2008 hit a low for at least the last four years, according to Iowa State University Extension economist Don Hofstrand.

In his monthly tally of ethanol profitability, Hofstrand reports the average ethanol plant made zero profit in December after taking a profit of 9 cents per gallon in November.

For all of 2008, ethanol plants averaged a profit of 17 cents per gallon, down from 37 cents in 2007 in what will go down as the industry's banner year of 2006. Hofstrand calculated profitability by factoring in costs of corn, distillers' grain, natural gas and typical fixed and variable costs to operate an ethanol plant.

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Air Force drops plan to make fuel from coal in Montana

Miami Herald
Posted on Thursday, 01.29.09
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON -- The Air Force on Thursday dropped plans to build a coal-to-liquid plant to produce fuel for its aircraft, a plan that would've reduced dependence on oil but increased the emissions of the heat-trapping gases that cause global warming.

The Air Force has a goal to certify that all aircraft could fly on a 50-50 blend of fuel by 2011. It's been purchasing fuel made from coal from Sasol of South Africa, most recently 300,000 gallons, said Air Force spokesman Gary Strasburg.

The B-1, B-52 and C-17 already have been certified to run on the coal-mix blend, and the F-15, F-22, C-5 and KC-135 all have also used the blend, Strasburg said.

The Air Force is looking for alternatives to oil to make sure that it can continue to operate its aircraft when supplies are tight. The coal-to-liquid conversion process, however, is expensive to set up and there are no full-scale plants in the U.S.

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Stimulus Package Sends Wrong Message to Agriculture

Illinois Corn Growers Association
January 27, 2009

The Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA) will not support the Economic Stimulus package currently before the U.S. House because it fails to address needed improvements to transportation infrastructure and steps needed to assist the struggling domestic ethanol industry.

Specifically, the bill precludes the use of stimulus dollars to renovate and construct locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi or Illinois Rivers under the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program. ICGA had requested $2 billion for the previously authorized U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works programs. Likewise, the legislation fails to address the credit crunch that currently threatens to shutter more ethanol plants which have become such a critical contributor to the rural economic landscape.

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Chicken parts as jet fuel? Pond scum? It's possible

USA Today
January 27, 2009

By Dan Reed, USA TODAY
Chickens can't fly very far. But chickens — or the fatty parts left after processing —could be powering jet flights across the country and around the world in the next few years.
Or maybe it'll be algae, essentially pond scum, fueling them. Or jatropha, a smelly and poisonous subtropical plant with nicknames such as "black vomit nut" or "bellyache bush." Or liquid fuel converted from coal or natural gas, using a technology pioneered by Adolph Hitler's Nazi war machine.

Airlines, airplane and engine makers, the fledgling synthetic and biofuels industry, the U.S. government, environmentalists and even the big oil companies are working together to develop alternative fuels from these and other sources. Their goal: to replace a significant portion of the 19 billion gallons of kerosene that U.S. carriers burn in their planes each year and to do it by the end of the next decade. If they succeed, airlines will reduce their carbon footprint — and save big money that could possibly help hold down fares.

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