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

Friday, July 31, 2009

Can Methanol Really Make a Dent in US Oil Demand?

Energy Tribune - Opinion
Posted on Jul. 29, 2009

Ed note: A few days ago, we ran a piece by Geoffrey Styles which was extremely skeptical about the ability of methanol to displace traditional motor fuels. We were contacted by the methanol industry which, understandably, wants to give their side of the story. To be clear, we at Energy Tribune remain skeptical about methanol. But in the interest of equal time, we agreed to publish this piece by John Lynn of the Methanol Institute.

For an alternative transportation fuel system to succeed, you need to have several ingredients. Since the world’s fleet of cars, trucks and buses require a lot of fuel, you need a large feedstock resource base for the alternative fuel to make any kind of a meaningful dent in oil consumption. The extraction, refining and distribution of gasoline and diesel fuel is highly efficient and cost-effective, so for alternative fuels to compete at the pump you have to find a way to do so economically (preferably without the need for expensive and long-term government incentives). Alternative fuels will also have to do better than the petroleum-based products on the “well-to-wheel” analysis, showing significant reductions of greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions. Finally, you can’t forget the consumer. The transition to any alternative fuel has to be smooth and simple for the customer at the pump (or plug). It has been more than a decade since a US automaker sold a methanol flexible fuel vehicle, but no other alternative fuel has really taken off in the intervening years. Methanol is now re-emerging as the clear alternative transportation fuel precisely because it has all the necessary ingredients for success.

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Verenium and BP name their partnership Vercipia, aim for DOE loan guarantee on Florida project

Biofuels Digest
July 30, 2009

In Massachusetts, BP and Verenium announced that its 50-50 joint venture company will operate under the name Vercipia Biofuels, and plan to relocate its corporate headquarters to Florida. Vercipia continues to focus on the development of one of the nation’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities, located in Highlands County, Florida.

The company is also developing a second commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol site in the Gulf Coast region.

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Obama Administration Announces Billions in Lending Authority for Renewable Energy Projects and to Modernize the Grid

U.S. Department of Energy

July 29, 2009

Loan Guarantees Will Help Create New Jobs while Fostering Clean Energy Innovation

Washington, DC – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that the Department of Energy will provide up to $30 billion in loan guarantees, depending on the applications and market conditions, for renewable energy projects. Another $750 million will support several billion dollars more in loan guarantees for projects that increase the reliability, efficiency and security of the nation’s transmission system. The two new loan guarantee solicitations announced today are being funded partly through the Recovery Act and partly through 2009 appropriations.

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USDA's Farm Service Agency to Begin Accepting Applications for New Biomass Crop Assistance Program


Sustainable Program Will Help Meet Country's Energy Needs

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2009 – USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Jonathan Coppess today announced that biomass conversion facilities can begin signing up to participate in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which will help increase production of renewable energy. The program, authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to producers who deliver eligible material to biomass conversion facilities and FSA will provide financial assistance to collect, harvest, store and transport eligible materials.

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New Energy Economics: How Soon Will Cellulosic Ethanol Arrive?
7/29/2009 2:45:00 PM

The arrival of ethanol produced from cellulosic feedstock sources has almost been a standing joke within the ethanol industry. Each year it has always been "four to five years down the road" before commercial production would become viable. That has changed because the "four to five years" is now.

At the recent Fuel Ethanol Workshop, several companies, including Coskata, Dupont/Danisco, Iogen, Lignol, Poet and PureVision, announced that they already have production from their demonstration plants or will within the year. Most are processing about 1 ton of material into ethanol daily. From that ton of biomass, they are producing between 70 and 85 gallons of biofuels. Commercial production is expected to follow in a year or two.

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Cellulosic Ethanol: What to Do with the Lignin

Biomass Magazine August 2009
By Bruce Folkedahl

Lignocellulosic ethanol production has been a goal of the U.S. DOE for some time, and yet it remains at least a few years off as a demonstrated viable technology. Lignocellulosic biomass can be converted to ethanol through either a biochemical or thermocatalytic process. The biochemical process utilizes several pretreatment and hydrolysis steps to rupture the lignin walls surrounding the cellulose and hemicellulose fibers. This makes these fibers available for fermentation to ethanol. This process always leaves about 15 percent to 30 percent of the input biomass mass as unconverted lignin, a complex polymer found in most plant material. Lignin poses either a potential disposal liability or a byproduct opportunity.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

USDA biomass program could double farmers’ income

Charleston Regional Business Journal
Staff Report
Published July 28, 2009

Farmers who provide biomass material to energy conversion facilities could double their income through a new program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

The Biomass Crop Assistance Program provides financial assistance to producers or entities that deliver eligible material to designated biomass conversion facilities for use as heat, power, bio-based products or biofuels.

Assistance will be for the collection, harvesting, storage and transportation costs associated with the delivery of materials, according to the agency.

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New Yeasts Could Help Fast-Track Biofuel Production

By Ann Perry
July 28, 2009

A new yeast that makes ethanol from both five-carbon and six-carbon sugars without needing oxygen has been developed by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist.

This could be an important breakthrough in industrial ethanol production, because it’s difficult to control oxygen levels as yeasts ferment sugars into ethanol. The new yeast strain would help alleviate this problem.

Producers already make grain ethanol by using yeast to ferment six-carbon plant sugars like glucose. But cost-effective production of cellulosic ethanol will require using both six-carbon and five-carbon sugars in the process.

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Researchers' drive: Make biofuels thrive

Chicago Tribune
By Janis Mara | McClatchy/Tribune News
July 29, 2009

BERKELEY, Calif. - -- Within the next decade, drivers around the country may get around powered by fuel made from pecan shells, switch grass or poplar trees, thanks to research at universities funded by more than $700 million in grants.

"The problem with cellulosic ethanol made from plants is that it's made of sugar, but it's not accessible. Finding the technologies to do it has been expensive," said Todd Taylor, biofuels group leader at the law firm Fredrikson & Byron in Minneapolis.

Huge grants, mostly from major oil companies, may well do the trick.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Method Uses Electrolyzed Water For More Efficient Fuel Production

ScienceDaily (July 27, 2009) — Using electrolyzed water rather than harsh chemicals could be a more effective and environmentally friendly method in the pretreatment of ethanol waste products to produce an acetone-butanol-ethanol fuel mix, according to research conducted at the University of Illinois.

When ethanol is produced, distiller's dried grain with solubles (DDGS) is a waste product. The DDGS is primarily used as animal feed, but researchers are searching for ways to extract the sugar and ferment it to produce an acetone-butanol-ethanol fuel mix. One obstacle has been in the production phase called pretreatment.

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Biodiesel to boost construction vehicles

Could biodiesel be the key fuel going forward for construction vehicles? Certainly a strong case has been made by researchers at North Carolina State University.

They found that using biodiesel in construction vehicles delivers promising environmental benefits both in terms of reduced exhaust emissions and in terms of the reductions in fuel cycle emissions.

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Fuel vs. food: Could pennycress be the answer? (The Register-Mail)
GateHouse News Service
Posted Jul 21, 2009 @ 04:02 PM

Weed becomes a crop at WIU

Macomb — Always in search of ways to make land more productive, the Alternative Crops Research Program at Western Illinois University has been hard at work developing a breed of field pennycress in hopes of establishing it as an off-season, biodiesel-producing crop.

During Western’s Alternative Crops Field Day, program director Dr. Win Phippen said he had 32 different lines collected from around the world planted on the WIU Agricultural Field Laboratory — currently, he is the only breeder of pennycress in the country.

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Targeted Growth Develops Method to Increase Lipid Content in Algae

BioFuels Journal
Date Posted: July 27, 2009

Seattle—Bioscience firm Targeted Growth (TGI) announced July 27 it has developed a way to increase the lipid content of cyanobacteria by approximately 400 percent.

This discovery will dramatically increase the oil yield per acre, decreasing the cost of algae production and helping algae-based biofuels become price-competitive with petroleum.

During the past four years the entire genome of cyanobacteria has been sequenced by researchers.

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OriginOil says it has “milking” technology for algae oil extraction; substantial decrease in algal fuel cost in sight

Biofuels Digest
July 28, 2009 | Jim Lane

In California, OriginOil announced that it has developed a technology for the continuous extraction of algae oil without cell sacrifice. The company said that its new “live extraction” or “milking” process does not employ expensive consumables such as reverse osmosis membranes; furthermore, it is not limited to oil-bearing algae strains, such as Botryococcus braunii, that are known to excrete algae oil naturally.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

30% tax credit available for new bio-mass heating stoves (Chicago)
July 24, 1:56 PM

H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has provisions for a 30% tax credit for 75% + efficient EPA approved bio-mass heating appliances purchased in 2009 or 2010. The maximum allowable credit is $1500, and applies to all materials and labor needed for the installation.. In order to claim the credit, homeowners should keep the recept from their installer, and the certificate from the manufacturer.

Homeowners should consider an alternative method of heating in case the power goes out. Gas furnaces require electricity to run fans, or the heat is not distributed, wheras wood-fired stoves work via radiant and convective heat and do not need electricity to work. Some homeowners use these types of appliances as a primary heating source.

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Ethanol Easier Than Biodiesel, Says BP Scientist
Michael Kanellos | July 24, 2009 at 3:17 PM

Ethanol or biodiesel? The debate has raged for years over which one has the greater potential for weaning the world away from fossil fuels.

Oil giant BP, or at least one of its scientists, leans toward ethanol.

"Biodiesel is much more problematic," said Paul Willems, technogy vice president in the energy biosciences department at BP, during a talk at the Synthetic Biology Workshop sponsored by UC Berkeley and Innovation Center Denmark. "The world does not have viable solutoins to biodiesel... It is pretty hard justifying dedicating acres to this kind of land use with the current yields."

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Total 'Corn for Ethanol' Usage Now at Record Levels

Wisconsin Ag Connection
USAgNet - 07/24/2009

Due to the large number of ethanol plants that either closed or scaled back operations earlier this year, USDA trimmed 100 million bushels for its corn-for-ethanol usage projection in the July supply/demand update. According to The Brock Report, the new projection is 3.65 billion bushels, a 600-million-bushel increase from the previous marketing year.

"We have seen positive margins come back for the ethanol industry, particularly with the lower prices for corn and higher prices for gasoline, those margins have come back very strong," commented USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber. "But, if we look at ethanol production and gasoline consumption in the U.S. both will be off a bit (from earlier predictions)."

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Joule Biotechnologies Unveils Liquid Fuel From Solar Power

Wall Street Journal Blogs
Venture Capital Dispatch
July 27, 2009, 12:17 PM ET
By Mara Lemos-Stein

First came corn and cane as biomass for renewable fuel, then cellulosic materials and algae. Now Joule Biotechnologies Inc. has emerged from stealth mode with a recipe for making transportation fuel without biomass by simply harnessing solar power and carbon-dioxide emissions.

Getty ImagesThe Cambridge, Mass.-based start-up, which is backed by its founders and venture-capital firm Flagship Ventures, has developed a technology using microorganisms that make fuels and chemicals from the photosynthetic conversion of sunlight and CO2. Joule’s scientists incorporated solar converters into the technology to optimize the process that makes what the company calls “solar fuel.”

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UF team finds ‘alligator tree’ bacteria might improve cellulosic ethanol production

University of Florida News
Filed under Agriculture, Environment, Florida, Research on Monday, July 27, 2009.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Most would identify the tree by its often troublesome, spiky “gumballs,” but what many call the sweetgum tree also goes by another name, thanks to its distinctive, reptilian bark: the alligator tree.

So it may be fitting that researchers from the University of Florida, home of the Gators, have found that bacteria growing in its wood may improve the process of making the fuel that might help solve the nation’s energy crisis.

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Anti-ethanol groups contest delay in rules shielding climate

Des Moines Register
by PHILIP BRASHER & DAN PILLER • • July 26, 2009

A who's who collection of interests with objections to corn ethanol are urging the Senate to leave in place the emissions rules for biofuels that Congress enacted in 2007.

The rules required that biofuels meet targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and required the Environmental Protection Agency to consider the impact on global land use.

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Incoming freshmen get head start on biofuels

Kansas State Collegian Online
Hannah Blick

Published: Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More than 20 incoming freshmen now have an inside look into the future of biofuels on the K-State campus, thanks to a new summer multicultural program.

The Multicultural Academic Program Success invited six professionals in the industry to sit in on a panel titled “MAPS Biofuels Industry Panel: Production and Processes” last week. Three presented July 13 in the K-State Student Union; the other three participated on July 15.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Alliance Formed to Commercialize New Technologies for Converting Biomass to Clean, Diesel Fuel

SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Renewable Energy Institute International (REII), a non-profit organization, announced the formation of an alliance of industry, academic and government organizations to build a pilot demonstration plant in Toledo, Ohio for the efficient and economical conversion of waste biomass to clean, diesel fuel. This new alliance includes organizations from around the United States including Red Lion Bio-Energy, Pacific Renewable Fuels, Grace Davison, PACCAR, SolarTurbines/Caterpillar, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Desert Research Institute, Quanta Services, Worley Parsons, University of Toledo, Midwest Terminals/Port of Toledo, and other leading partners.

"REII's ultimate goal is to ensure that these technologies are reliable, efficient, economical and environmentally friendly," said Dr. Dennis Schuetzle, President of REII. "The project team assembled for this effort includes the best and brightest in their fields."

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DOE, USDA Grant $6.3M for Biofuel Studies

GenomeWeb Daily News
July 23, 2009
By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Seven research teams at institutions around the country will use $6.3 million from the US Government to run genomics studies of plant feedstocks for biofuel production using switchgrass, sorghum, alfalfa, and others.

The Department of Energy and Department of Agriculture have granted the awards aimed at developing new feedstocks and biofuel-related plant technologies that could be used to "further the Obama Administration's efforts to broaden the nation's energy portfolio while decreasing our dependence on foreign oil," DOE said on Wednesday.

Under the Biomass Genomics Research program, DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research has granted $4 million for four projects, while USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service's National Research Initiative granted $2.2 million for three projects. The initial funding will last up to three years.

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British Petroleum, Alternative Energy and Lessons from China

Seeking Alpha
by: Dennis U. Atuanya
July 23, 2009

Oil major British Petroleum (BP), following a leadership succession reportedly cancelled its renewable energy program and withdrew from its joint venture with the company D1 on biodiesel production. The joint venture was set to utilize the oil crop jatropha (Jatropha curcas) as feedstock.
Coincidentally, a research report concluded that jatropha utilized a rather large 20,000 liters of water to produce a liter of biodiesel compared with 14,000 for the other biodiesel crops soybean and rapeseed. The report questioned jatropha's much-celebrated capacity to thrive on marginal soils, one of two planks (the other being its high oil yield) on which its allure for biodiesel production rests. Investment interest in jatropha, not surprisingly then, dipped slightly in the immediate aftermath of BP's actions.

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Ethanol company claims breakthrough in making fuel from plant waste

USA Today
July 23, 2009

Ethanol hasn't exactly taken off as a fuel. The E85 movement, pushed by General Motors and other Detroit automakers, still has its critics because its production is heavily subsidized. Also, most ethanol is made out of corn, thus fuel competes with food.

But one ethanol company says it thinks it has achieved a research breakthrough. Using its own combination of microbes to break down plant material, Qteros, formerly SunEthanol, says it can make 100 gallons of ethanol out of a ton of corn stalks and other waste biomass. A year ago, the best the company could manage was about a fifth of that.

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North American DuPont Bio Fuels Presents View of Energy Future
Attendees of the International Farm Management Association 17 Congress were witness to a very optimistic view of the future of renewable energy.

Dennis Magyar, a renewable energy industry leader with North American DuPont Biofuels, gave an insightful presentation on the future of bio fuels and bio fuel technologies. The presentation began discussing the desire for energy independence, establishing the importance of the future on renewable energy.

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Fill 'er up with biomass

CNN Money

The CEO of a Wisconsin startup claims to have a better formula for converting crops to gasoline.

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- One of the many jobs that Lee Edwards took on during his 25-year career at BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, was leading the energy giant's effort to re-brand itself. Today as the CEO of Virent Energy Systems, a seven-year-old biofuel startup in Madison, Wis., he is truly trying to move beyond petroleum. With a proprietary process it calls "BioForming," Virent says it can turn plant sugars from corn, switchgrass, and other crops into gasoline that has a higher energy density than ethanol.

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SCORE! New Biomass Cookstove Also Doubles As Electrical Generator
by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY on 07.23.09
Science & Technology

The vast majority of TreeHugger readers undoubtedly take for granted cooking on a stove that doesn't produce prodigious amounts of smoke every time you use it -- that smoke's produced elsewhere a lot of the time, at the power plant, but let's leave that aside. But in many places in the developing world biomass-fired cookstoves are the norm, and the health problems they cause are not insignificant. Now, researchers from the University of Nottingham are working on a high-efficiency biomass cookstove that also functions as an electrical generator

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A systems approach to biofuels sustainability

Biomass Magazine | July 2009
By Lisa Gibson
Posted July 23, 2009, at 2:31 p.m. CST

Biofuels sustainability can be addressed by considering the agricultural, energy and environmental sectors as one large system, according to ‘Biofuels, Land and Water: A Systems Approach to Sustainability,’ a recent study by researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory. A problem for one sector could be a resource for another.

“We could find solutions to pressing problems of each [sector] that are not addressed while we keep the sectors compartmentalized,” said M. Cristina Negri, agronomist and environmental engineer at the lab. For example, nutrients in impaired water from agricultural runoff could be reused on biofuel crops, providing a potential solution to the inefficiency in the use of agricultural fertilizers near the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone, she said. This would be a substitute for costly fertilizers. Hypoxia or “dead zones” occur when the concentration of oxygen in water is decreased to the point where it can no longer support living aquatic organisms. The hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico is said to be caused by fertilizer runoff from the Mississippi River, which flows through the U.S. Corn Belt.

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Challenges, Opportunities Abound for Biomass (Pennsylvania)
Submitted by Editor on Fri, 07/24/2009 - 9:20am.
Chris Torres, Staff Writer

Penn State Forum Includes Tour of Switchgrass Trials

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Call it biomass, cellulose or whatever you want, Pennsylvania has plenty of potential sources for it. But turning it into a usable fuel that can power a car or heat a home still poses challenges, from growing the stuff to opening actual markets for it.

Dozens of people showed up to the Central Pennsylvania Biomass Energy Production Workshop here Tuesday for a chance to share their ideas on the emerging biomass market in the state.

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Drive to make biofuels thrive

Silicon Valley
By Janis Mara, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/23/2009 07:20:32 AM PDT
Updated: 07/23/2009 07:21:28 AM PDT

BERKELEY — Within the next decade, drivers in the Bay Area and around the country may get around powered by fuel made from pecan shells, switch grass or even poplar trees, thanks to research at Bay Area universities funded by more than $700 million in grants.

And researchers say the plant-based fuels nurtured by these efforts could be widely available at the pump at a cost comparable to gasoline, but better for the environment.

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University receives $14.4 million for research, building

The Auburn Plainsman
by Courtney Johnson / Staff Writers
July 23, 2009

Auburn University will be the recipient of a $14.4 million grant from the federal government that will go toward Auburn research and a 68,000 square foot building.

The building will house 21 research laboratories for five major multidisciplinary research groups, explained Brian Keeter, Director of Public Affairs, for the office of the president.

The grant was provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding Available For Bioenergy Development And Production

Last Modified: 07/21/2009

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is accepting applications for up to $50 million in projects to promote the continued production and use of biofuels.

"Using homegrown energy to end our dependence on foreign oil is a key component of President Obama's vision for rebuilding and revitalizing rural America, and this funding will help advance that goal," said Vilsack. "USDA continues to work aggressively to provide our nation's rural communities, farmers, ranchers, and producers of biofuels with the financial tools they can use to help bring greater energy independence to America."

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Biofuels Digest
July 22, 2009

Charles O. Holliday, chairman of Dupont: “Industrial biotechnology is a technology whose time has come. For sixty years we have focused on long chain polymers - mylar, nylon, to name a few, and with biobased chemistry and fuels that’s what we’re looking at: a vein of technology so deep, it will spawn a host of innovations. We believe it has much more breadth than polymer chemistry. This climate change issue is that big. One of our challenges is to continue our lines of business, to keep the company together, while we develop these new projects.”

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Valero says all 7 ethanol plants at capacity

Reuters UK
Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:27pm BST

WASHINGTON, July 21 (Reuters) - Top U.S. oil refiner Valero Energy Corp (VLO.N) said all seven of the ethanol plants it bought in March from a bankrupt producer were now running at capacity and making money.

"Ethanol is kind of a bright spot for us right now. They are generating cash flow," Valero spokesman Bill Day said of the plants, which have the combined capacity of about 780 million gallons a year, or about 7.5 percent of the total U.S. operating capacity to make the fuel.

Valero began production at the 110-million-gallon-per-year ethanol plant in Welcome, Minnesota, during the first week of July, Day said by telephone.

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Can Botanical Tweaking Turn Jatropha Into a Biofuel Wonder Plant?

Discover | Environment | Alternative Energy
by Eliza Strickland
published online July 21, 2009

One company sets out to domesticate the wild, oil-producing weed.

Jatropha, however, has a much shorter generation time. "From the time you plant a seed to the time it grows, matures, blossoms, flowers and produces a seed, it’s about nine months," Schmidt says. With such a quick turn-around, SG Biofuels says they expect to increase the oil yields of the scrubby jatropha trees by 50 to 100 percent in the next few years. Genetic engineering is also expected to augment traits, but that work is only beginning; another startup company, Synthetic Genomics, just announced in May that it had sequenced the jatropha genome.

But domestication won't just bring jatropha plants bedecked with plump, oil-rich seeds, according to some environmental groups—it will also bring new economic pressures that could trump the plant's environmental benefits. Currently, jatropha operations are "better than palm oil plantations in Malaysia where apes are going extinct," says Kate McMahon, an energy policy expert with Friends of the Earth, because virgin forests needn't be chopped down to establish jatropha farms.. "But just because it's better in the small-scale way in which it's being grown now doesn't mean it will always be grown that way. Every time you domesticate and industrialize crop production, there will be other impacts," she says.

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Energy Secretary Chu Announce $6.3 million for Biofuels Research


WASHINGTON, July 22, 2009 - U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the joint selection of awards of up to $6.3 million towards fundamental genomics-enabled research leading to the improved use of plant feedstocks for biofuel production. The seven projects announced today follow the green jobs and renewable energy Rural Tour event hosted last weekend by the two cabinet Secretaries in Virginia. These investments will further the Obama Administration's efforts to broaden the nation's energy portfolio while decreasing our dependence on foreign oil.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Biofuel Future: Scientists seek ways to make green energy pay off

By Rachel Ehrenberg August 1st, 2009; Vol.176 #3 (p. 24)

Biofuels are liquid energy Version 2.0. Unlike their fossil fuel counterparts — the cadaverous remains of plants that died hundreds of millions of years ago — biofuels come from vegetation grown in the here and now. So they should offer a carbon-neutral energy source: Plants that become biofuels ideally consume more carbon dioxide during photosynthesis than they emit when processed and burned for power. Biofuels make fossil fuels seem so last century, so quaintly carboniferous.

And these new liquid fuels promise more than just carbon correctness. They offer a renewable, home-grown energy source, reducing the need for foreign oil. They present ways to heal an agricultural landscape hobbled by intensive fertilizer use. Biofuels could even help clean waterways, reduce air pollution, enhance wildlife habitats and increase biodiversity.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Web tool highlights importance of managing biofuel moisture

A free tool which calculates how much bioenergy companies could save by managing biofuel moisture levels more effectively has been launched by Finnish software company, MHG Systems.

The Forest Chipping Calculator asks companies for details such as overall fuel requirement and volume of trucks and uses this to determine the number of truck loads of chips needed, emissions created and transport costs.

The results are then compared to the outcome if the fuel had an optimal moisture content of 30% - to highlight the difference in profitability. In general terms, the less moisture there is in biofuel, the cheaper it is to transport and combust.

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K-State Scientists Searching for Best Plants to Fuel Cars of the Future (Kansas City)
Monday, July 20, 2009 :: Staff infoZine

In a field tucked into the northern side of this college town, just across from the Kansas State University football complex, some unusually tall plants are growing. They are part of the university’s research into promising biofuel feedstocks that may ultimately power vehicles of the future.

Manhattan, KS - infoZine - “We are studying sorghums and perennial grasses because we think these will be used in the non-irrigated acres in Kansas to produce biomass,” said K-State professor of agronomy, Scott Staggenborg. “On our irrigated acres, corn will remain the crop of choice (as a biofuel feedstock), but on our dryland acres – especially in extremely dry environments, perennial grasses may be the crop of choice. Plus, since sorghum has the ability to perform better than corn when it is hot and dry, it gives us options.”

State Research and Extension, is working with a team of graduate students and other scientists in studying two types of forage sorghum and other potential feedstocks. They include a dual-purpose forage sorghum and photoperiod sensitive forage sorghum.

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Company on mission to fuel the future with biofuels
BY DAVID YOUNG • • July 19, 2009

Solix, partners research algae growth and its use as biodiesel

It may sound like something out of a science fiction film, but the fields of algae growing in plastic bags submerged in water in Southern Colorado are a reality and could be the future of biofuels.

Solix Biofuels Inc. launched its first full-scale biofuels demonstration facility, the first of its kind in the world, last week by inoculating its photobioreactor system to start growing algae.

The 2-acre facility, named Coyote Gulch, is southwest of Durango on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. The inception of the new plant is a monumental step for the CSU startup company in its quest to deliver biofuels to the masses at an affordable price.

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New ethanol plant a shot in the arm to county's economy (Bloomington, IL)
By Bob Holliday | | Posted: Friday, July 17, 2009 12:00 am

GIBSON CITY -- One Earth Energy, the ethanol plant that went online here late last month, is huge in several ways.

The $166 million facility on 84 acres includes 20,000 yards of concrete; 1.2 million feet of electrical wiring and 1,144 tons of steel.

The plant's economic impact is large because it employs 47 people and is a shot in the arm to the Ford County economy, still reeling from recent job losses, including those caused by this summer's shut down of the Baltimore Air Coil plant in nearby Paxton.

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DOE Earmarks $85M for 'Advanced' Biofuels

The New York Times
Published: July 17, 2009

The Energy Department will provide up to $85 million to accelerate commercial production of "advanced" biofuels that can be derived from algae and other feedstocks.

The money, which is aimed at spurring collaboration between public- and private-sector researchers, comes as part of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which President Obama signed in February.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Harkin wants ethanol measures in climate bill

Des Moines Register
By PHILIP BRASHER • • July 17, 2009

Washington, D.C. - Sen. Tom Harkin said he wants Congress to use a climate bill to force auto companies to make new cars and trucks capable of running on 85 percent ethanol as well as conventional gasoline.

"We own the automobile companies. Why not? I think that will be an easy one," Harkin said Thursday, referring to the government interests in Chrysler and General Motors.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said recently that all new vehicles should be equipped to run on E85. GM, Chrysler and Ford have been voluntarily making some E85-capable cars and trucks for years but have resisted being required to fit all cars for the fuel.

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BP exits jatropha biofuel project to focus on ethanol (Houston Chronicle) | Business
Bloomberg News
July 17, 2009, 6:37AM

BP Plc, Europe's second-largest oil company, will exit its jatropha biofuel project with D1 Oils Plc to focus on production of ethanol in Brazil and the U.S. and advance biobutanol development.

“To ensure the success of these investments, BP is concentrating new business development in these areas and will no longer be directly involved in the jatropha as a biofuel feedstock,” Sheila Williams, a London-based company spokeswoman, said today in an e-mail.

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Proposed ethanol pipeline to extend into SD

Chicago Tribune
By DIRK LAMMERS | AP Energy Writer
2:53 PM CDT, July 17, 2009

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The nation's largest biofuels producer and a Tulsa-Okla.-based pipeline company are expanding the route of a proposed $3.5 billion dedicated ethanol pipeline into South Dakota, the companies said Friday.

Poet LLC and Magellan Midstream Partners LP are studying the feasibility of the 1,800-mile pipeline, which is dependent upon studies addressing technical issues and Congress revising the U.S. Department of Energy's loan guarantee program, the companies say.

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Dow to Test Algae Ethanol (MIT)
By Tyler Hamilton
Thursday, July 16, 2009

Startup Algenol partners with Dow Chemical on a demonstration ethanol plant.

Florida startup Algenol Biofuels says that it can efficiently produce commercial quantities of ethanol directly from algae without the need for fresh water or agricultural lands--a novel approach that has captured the interest and backing of Dow Chemical, the chemical giant based in Midland, MI.

The companies recently announced plans to build and operate a demonstration plant on 24 acres of property at Dow's sprawling Freeport, TX, manufacturing site. The plant will consist of 3,100 horizontal bioreactors, each about 5 feet wide and 50 feet long and capable of holding 4,000 liters.

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Iowa plants to offer farmers cash for corn cobs

Associated Press
By LUKE MEREDITH (AP) – July 16, 2009

DES MOINES, Iowa — Two new technologies offer the promise that corn growers could turn their cobs into cash.

Cobs, the refuse left behind after harvest, are now plowed back into fields. But companies from California and South Dakota plan to start changing that by building two plants in Iowa, one to turn the material into ethanol and another to produce fertilizer.

"We're excited about it," corn farmer Jim Boyer said, "that there's an opportunity for another profit stream off our farm."

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Industry loses Katzen, a cellulosic ethanol visionary

Ethanol Producer Magazine | August 2009
By Hope Deutscher
Report posted July 16, 2009, at 1:13 p.m. CST

On July 12, Dr. Raphael “Ray” Katzen passed away at the age of 93. Katzen was an ethanol pioneer who dedicated his life to competitively producing cellulosic ethanol from a variety of feedstock sources.

While working at a defense plant under federal government contract during World War II, Katzen saw the potential for cellulosic ethanol technologies. In 1955, he founded Raphael Katzen Associates International, a U.S.-based technology company with projects all across the globe. In the 1970s, when the U.S. DOE was interested in helping to develop a U.S. fuel ethanol industry based on corn, the department turned to Katzen and his company.

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Wisconsin Study Reviews Wood Waste Biomass Potential

Alternative Energy Retailer
by AER Staff on Thursday 16 July 2009

Xcel Energy and the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence are providing a $50,000 grant to fund a study that will determine the commercial viability of harvesting and processing wood waste as a biomass fuel.

The study will be conducted by the Energy Center of Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization, and it is expected to be completed in November. The study will examine the wood waste biomass availability within about 50 miles of West Salem, Wis., and look at the possible benefits and costs to have agricultural cooperatives provide the biomass.

SOURCE: Xcel Energy

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New technologies essential to make conversion of biomass to biofuels more cost-effective
July 17th, 2009

WASHINGTON - A new study has determined that new technologies are essential to make the conversion of biomass to biofuels more cost-effective.

The study was conducted by Dr. Richard Hess from the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls in the US and his team.

The United States is increasing the use of lignocellulosic biomass, of which corn stover is a substantial source, as part of its portfolio of solutions to address climate change issues and improve energy security.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Biomass ’09: Developing a biomass feedstock business

Biomass Magazine | July 2009
By Lisa Gibson
Posted July 15, 2009, at 12:21 p.m. CST

A biomass feedstock supply business faces all the same issues and hurdles as any other firm. The venture, however, must develop relationships, metrics and approaches to delivering a product that has unique characteristics and challenges, rapidly expanding demand and an increasing amount of scrutiny and skepticism from many stakeholder groups.

Timothy Baye, a professor of business development at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a bioenergy and bio-economy specialist, discussed the steps, hurdles and challenges of developing a biomass feedstock supply business at EERC’s Biomass ’09: Power, Fuels and Chemicals Workshop in Grand Forks, N.D. Like other businesses, feedstock suppliers will have competition and credit-worthy customers and will deal with regulations and technology, have adequate financial, technical and human resources, and develop a business model that enables long-term, sustainable profitability.

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Biomass ’09: Transgenic algae pose environmental risks

Biomass Magazine | July 2009
By Anna Austin
Posted July 15, 2009, at 2:04 p.m. CST

While algae have become an attractive candidate for biomass-based fuels and carbon recycling, the risks of genetically modifying algae for such purposes are tremendous, according to David Haberman, president of Florida-based IF LLC.

Current efforts to genetically mutate algae are impetuous, mad rushes, Haberman told attendees of the feedstock session at the Biomass ’09: Power, Fuels and Chemicals Workshop in Grand Forks, N.D.,

“Exxon made a recent announcement that they would spend $600 million on the genetic modification of algae in pursuit of biomass-derived biofuels,” he said. “Of that, $300 million is for in-house work, and the other $300 million is intended to go to an industrial team led by a team called Synthetic Genomics. For those who know this, this is run by the gentleman who was credited with decoding the human genome approximately 10 years ago.”

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Biomass ’09: Agricultural anaerobic digestion trends on the rise; more potential exists

Biomass Magazine | July 2009
By Lisa Gibson
Posted July 15, 2009, at 5:15 p.m. CST

National trends in anaerobic digestion of agricultural manure have increased between 2000 and 2007 from fewer than 50 million kilowatt hours per year to more than 200 million kilowatt hours per year, according to Dan Stepan, senior resource manager with the Energy & Environmental Resource Center in Grand Forks, N.D., and a presenter at the organization’s Biomass ‘09: Power, Fuels, and Chemicals Workshop Wednesday.

A key niche for the process is converting biomass materials to methane gas. In the U.S. this year, 98 anaerobic digesters are using dairy farm manure, 19 use hog manure, three use manure from caged layers, two from ducks and one each from boilers, beef and mixed manure, Stepan told the crowd.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Biomass ’09: Biomass composition can differ greatly

Biomass Magazine | July 2009
By Anna Austin
Posted July 15, 2009, at 4:42 p.m. CST

If the bioenergy industry is to be successful, diverse technologies are needed to make use of various biomass sources, according to Reyhaneh Shenassa, research and development manager at Metso Power Corp.

Before a technology is selected, identification and characterization of biomass resources by specific region are also needed to understand chemical and physical properties, production rates, yields and availability of the feedstock, she said.

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Don’t Miss the Corn Ethanol Land Use Conference
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – July 15th, 2009

It’s not too late to get your early bird discount when you register by August 4th for the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Ethanol Land Use Conference. This two-day event will be held in St. Louis on August 25-26 and will discuss the land use and climate impacts of corn ethanol.

Registrants can participate in a myriad of topical sessions including land use change, nitrous oxide, new technologies and their effect on greenhouse gas emissions, domestic and international yields, satellite data and land conversion greenhouse gas emission factors, defining renewable biomass, and distillers grains.

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House introduces bill to end ethanol tariffs


Legislation that would gradually phase out government support for corn-based ethanol over five years and encourage the commercial development of second generation biofuels has been introduced in the House of Representatives The bipartisan bill, H.R. 3187, “The Affordable Food and Fuels for America Act,” was introduced by Rep. Joseph Crowley, (D., N.Y.), and Rep. Mary Bono Mack, (R., Calif.)

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A Lasting Legacy

Biodiesel Magazine | July 2009
By BBI Editorial Staff

Friends and colleagues of Kathy Bryan share stirring memories of her inspirational life and career.

Kathy Bryan, president and co-founder of BBI International, died on July 11 in her Salida, Colo., home after a courageous 14-month battle with cancer. Kathy was the co-owner and principal visionary behind the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, the long-time editor-in-chief of Ethanol Producer Magazine and the co-founder of the Energy Independent Newsletter that preceded it. She contributed to the quality and integrity of BBI International’s publications and conferences in innumerable ways. Her leadership, guidance, and her vast industry connections were invaluable to the success of the company and the development of the industries she served.

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ExxonMobil tunes in to drop-in biofuels, turns on to algae

Biofuels Digest
July 16, 2009 | Jim Lane

In California, more details have emerged on the $600 million ExxonMobil / Synthetic Genomics partnership, and an astonished group of writers at newspapers around the world have added reaction to the largest investment in biofuels history by its most prominent skeptic, ExxonMobil. The effort appears to be aimed at producing a drop-in fuel that utilizes continual harvesting of oil.

According to the Economist, “Other firms are working on ways to break up the cells of oil-rich algae to get at the oil. Dr Venter, however, has succeeded in engineering a secretion pathway from another organism into experimental algae. These algae now release their oil, which floats to the surface of the culture vessel. That is why he refers to the process as biomanufacturing. It is not farming, he reckons, because the algae themselves are never harvested.”

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Retiring Tate & Lyle exec says corn will remain key ingredient in nation's energy future

Decatur (IL) Herald & Review
Friday, June 26, 2009 12:00 AM CDT
By CHRIS LUSVARDI - H&R Staff Writer

DECATUR - After 30 years in the agriculture business, Pat Mohan says what he has learned boils down to something that is fairly simple.

"Corn is good," the retiring Tate & Lyle executive said.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Biomass ’09 Technical Workshop addresses the road ahead for biomass

Biomass Magazine | July 2009
By Lisa Gibson
Posted July 14, 2009, at 3:55 p.m. CST

The pieces are all in place to make cellulose biomass a viable part of the U.S. energy security puzzle, according to Chris Zygarlicke, deputy associate director for research at the Energy & Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks, N.D. He spoke about the current state of biomass and where it’s headed at EERC’s Biomass ’09 Technical Workshop Tuesday afternoon.

Cellulosic biomass meets the carbon dioxide emission life-cycle targets, it’s sustainable, has growing incentives and support, has an established window for demonstration of viable technologies for production and conversion and is gathering significant business investment, he wrote in a presentation abstract. Success will depend on government policies, incentives, the development of sustainable biomass feedstocks and the proving of new conversion technologies in near-commercial-scale biorefineries and bioenergy systems, he added.

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Will Obama make the U.S. another Brazil: part I

Chicago Examiner
July 13, 6:36 PM

Brazil has demonstrated a serious commitment to building a Green economy through its investment in alternative energy. Several recent statistics on Brazil’s renewable energy industry in comparison to the U.S. have been published by the Iowa State University Extension office. Renewable energy constitutes 46 percent of Brazil’s total annual energy supply versus only seven percent for the U.S. The largest source of renewable energy in Brazil is ethanol, comprising one-third of Brazil’s Green energy supply.

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Exxon makes first big investment in biofuels (San Francisco, CA)
By JOHN PORRETTO, AP Energy Writer
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

(07-14) 07:37 PDT HOUSTON, (AP) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. said Tuesday it will make its first major investment in greenhouse-gas reducing biofuels in a $600 million partnership with biotech company Synthetic Genomics Inc. to develop transportation fuels from algae.

Despite record-breaking profits in recent years, the oil and gas giant has been criticized by environmental groups, members of Congress and even shareholders for not spending enough to explore alternative energy options.

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Midwestern Governors Want Increased Use of Ethanol

WIBC - Indianapolis, IN
By Eric Berman

Governor Daniels and nine other Midwestern governors are asking the White House to allow more ethanol in unleaded gas.

Congress has set a goal of filling more than 20 billion gallons of the nation's fuel needs with renewable fuels in six years, and 36 billion gallons within 13 years.

The Midwestern Governors Association argues it'll be a lot harder to reach those goals without increased use of ethanol as a bridge to more advanced biofuels.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Grant guidelines for renewable energy released

San Francisco Business Times
Monday, July 13, 2009, 11:25am PDT | Modified: Monday, July 13, 2009, 12:01pm

The US. Departments of Energy and the Treasury and have released highly anticipated guidelines for a renewable energy grant program designed to keep new projects rolling even as crucial tax equity investment into those projects has dried up.

The grant in-lieu of tax credit provision is part of the federal economic stimulus. The grants provide up to 30 percent of a solar, wind, biomass or other renewable energy project’s cost in cash within 60 days of when the project is placed into service or when the government receives the final application . Before the stimulus, project owners could collect a tax credit of up to 30 percent, but many sold those credits to tax equity investors for cash. With the credit crisis and recession, plus the implosion of many investment banks that were the primary tax equity investors, many renewable projects have stalled.

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Biomass-based Gasoline, Clean Diesel and Jet Fuel for Cars and Planes
By Jim Motavalli | July 13th, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

Until now, most biofuel discussions have focused on ethanol and biodiesel. Both those technologies show promise in freeing North America from foreign oil dependence, but both have hit some heavy obstacles—mostly arising from a lack of places to fill up.

But what if we could make utterly conventional motor fuels—gasoline, diesel and jet fuel—from wood chips, grass clippings or fast-growing cellulosic crops? That’s the premise behind Los Angeles-based Rentech (Renewable Energy Technologies), which has been trying to do just that for nearly 30 years. The field is now becoming more crowded, as a variety of companies vie for effective processes that could achieve commercialization.

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Bioenergy crops likely to be more invasive
Source: European Commission, Environment DG
Jul. 10, 2009

Whilst there is interest in bioenergy as a renewable alternative to fossil fuels, there is also concern about its environmental impact. A recent study demonstrates that potential bioenergy crops in Hawaii are 2 to 4 times more likely to be invasive than other plants.

The EU climate action and renewable energy package has set a target of increasing the share of renewables in energy use to 20 per cent by 2020 which includes a minimum 10 per cent share for renewable energy in transport by 20201. The package sets out sustainability criteria for biofuels to ensure they deliver real environmental benefits. It is therefore important to establish methods to assess the environmental profile of a bioenergy crop before it is introduced to an area or planted extensively.
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2009 Waste to Fuels conference highlights available

Biofuels Digest
July 14, 2009 | Jim Lane

In Florida, the Waste to Fuels conference published highlights from its 2009 conference, including “Building the Bioeconomy” a presentation by Mark Jenner with Biomass Rules, “An overview of waste conversion technologies” by Chip Clements of Clements Enviromental Services, and “Biomass Feedstock & Cradle-to-Cradle sustainability” by Scott Miller of Price BIOStock.

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BP, DuPont butanol JV is named Butamax, heads for commercialization; BP stands for “butanol play”? How will Gevo, Cobalt counter?

Biofuels Digest
July 14, 2009 | Jim Lane

In Delaware, BP and Dupont announced the commencement of commercialization of their butanol venture, which will be named Butamax Advanced Biofuels. According to the joint venture partners, Butamax Advanced Biofuels was formed to develop biobutanol – an advanced biofuel that will provide improved options for expanding energy supplies and accelerate the move to renewable transportation fuels which lower overall greenhouse gas emissions.”

Butamax combines BP’s expertise in fuels technology, development and infrastructure with DuPont’s leading capabilities in biotechnology, and is located in Wilmington, Delaware.

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UMass researchers aim to turn plant matter into less costly fuel that’s more environmentally friendly
By Dave Copeland
Boston Globe Correspondent / July 13, 2009

The greening of gasoline
In a laboratory at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, graduate students hover around a complex setup that involves tubes, chambers, and dials. The students load sawdust into one side of the machine and, within moments, a brown liquid begins to drip into a catch basin on the other side.

The liquid - known as green gasoline - is the chemical equivalent of traditional gasoline, but cleaner and less expensive. According to its inventor, that means the green gas, also referred to as grassoline, has the potential to transform the economy.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Opinion: Brazil: Another emerging economy to watch

East Oregonian - Opinion
7/12/2009 5:22:00 AM

In previous articles I have talked about the top two emerging economies in the world, China and India. I want to focus today on Brazil, Latin America's largest economy and population, and the world's 11th largest economy. What we see is a country that newly aspires to be the power broker of its region since the United States has been preoccupied with the Middle East and South Asia. Brazil is also included in "BRIC," the new shorthand designation coined by a Goldman Sachs analyst for the four emerging world economies who have been meeting independently - Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Brazil believes its new economic clout warrants a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. And it most certainly desires a dialogue more among equals when it talks to the United States and the European Union about trade, international finances, development, energy and security.

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Nevada studies feather meal for waste-based biodiesel
Thursday, July 9, 2009
By Susanne Retka Schill

Feather biodiesel is the latest work of the researchers at the University of Nevada-Reno—the same team whose work with coffee biodiesel gave them a moment of fame—who recently published a paper on extract useable oils from another waste material—feather meal.

Currently, feather meal left after poultry processing is used as an animal feed, given its high protein content, and also as a fertilizer because of its high nitrogen content. The fat content varies from 2 percent to 12 percent depending on the type of feathers, with chicken feathers containing approximately 11 percent oil content while turkey and duck features contain about 7 percent oil. Removing the fat from the meal would provide a new coproduct and boost the value of the feed and fertilizer coproducts.

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Opinion: Biofuels are a long-term renewable solution
By SEN. JOHN THUNE | 7/13/09 4:31 AM EDT

As Congress, the administration and the private sector look for ways to reduce our consumption of imported oil, we should not overlook the most readily available domestic alternative to imported oil: biofuels. The development of the biofuels industry has created jobs across the nation and given agricultural producers new, reliable crop markets, while decreasing our demand for fossil fuels.

Biofuels can be an even more significant part of our long-term energy strategy if Congress and the Obama administration embrace some common-sense proposals.

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Sunflowers bring hope – and possible eco-benefits – to New Orleans

The Christian Science Monitor
By Judy Lowe

Talk about multitasking — sunflowers planted on previously blighted vacant lots are providing not just beauty, but it’s hoped that they will also be able to remove contaminants from the soil and provide green jobs, plus – as a bonus – the seeds can be harvested and turned into environmentally friendly biofuel.

That’s a pretty big order even for such a large plant. But projects planting sunflowers in vacant lots are already under way in New Orleans and Pittsburgh. And expansion to Cleveland may be next.

So far, the nonprofit group that’s behind all this, GTECH, has partnered with a number of organizations – including Carnegie Mellon University. Their goals: reclaim vacant land, empower communities, and translate ideas into action.

Will Bradshaw of Green Coast Enterprise, a partner with GTECH in New Orleans’ Project Sprout, told Living on Earth that sunflowers were chosen specifically for the project becauset they “create hope. People have a direction connection to them,” he said. They remember their grandmothers or other relatives growing sunflowers. And they signal a brighter future.

Scientists aren’t necessarily agreed on whether sunflowers can remove lead or other contaminants from soil, so turning sunflower seeds into biofuel seems the most promising green possibility.

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Minnesota greenhouse using own biomass for energy savings

Minnesota Public Radio
by Sea Stachura, Minnesota Public Radio
July 9, 2009

Altura, Minn. — Pork & Plants, a farm and greenhouse business in southeastern Minnesota, is using its agricultural waste to heat its facilities. The farm won an innovation award for creating renewable biomass pellets that heat the greenhouses.

Pork & Plants is mainly a plant business today. The greenhouses rise up out of the Whitewater River Valley and cover a little over an acre of land. Eric Kreidermacher and his family own the business.

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USDA Reduces Forecast for Corn Ethanol Use
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – July 11th, 2009

The U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered the forecast for corn expected to be used for ethanol this marketing year in the latest report out on Friday.

Corn for ethanol use in 2008-2009 was lowered by 100 million bushels in USDA’s July World Agricultural Supply and Demand report, to 3.65 billion - which is still up more than 600 million bushels from last year and about 500 million less than they are forecasting for next year.

USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber says the financial situation for ethanol producers is better than it was earlier this year. “We have seen positive margins come back for the ethanol industry, particularly with the lower prices for corn and higher prices for gasoline, those margins have come back very strong,” he said. “But, if we look at ethanol production and gasoline consumption in the U.S., both those have been off a bit.” Which means reduced production of gasoline blends with ethanol in May and June, based on the most recent weekly data.

The prediction for next marketing year is that ethanol production will use 4.1 million bushels of corn - up almost 12 percent from this year.

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Switchgrass holds potential and risk
State, farmers put money on energy crop
By Clay Carey • THE TENNESSEAN • July 12, 2009

The thick clumps of switchgrass have grown chest-high on Randall Peters' Monroe County farm.

It's a new venture for the longtime farmer, and one that state officials say could help give Tennessee a leadership role in an emerging alternative energy industry.

Peters' farm is one of about 40 in the state growing switchgrass, which will be converted to ethanol at a small plant in East Tennessee partially funded by the state.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Opion: Walton: U.S. has many good reasons to pursue ethanol research
July 9, 2009 • From Lansing State Journal

MSU scientists are working on biofuel options

In response to Lou Kitchenmaster's op ed against corn ethanol (LSJ, July 3), there are several factors he overlooks.

First, every dollar spent on corn ethanol is one dollar more in the pockets of U.S. farmers and ethanol producers and one less dollar sent overseas to petroleum-pumping countries.

Second, corn ethanol should be seen not as an end in itself, but instead as a first step toward the development of biomass ethanol, which Kitchenmaster himself supports.

Many ethanol plants in the U.S. are already making the transition from 100 percent grain ethanol to ethanol made from corn cobs, stalks and other agricultural residues ("biomass").

Grain ethanol allows them to stay in business during the transition.

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Carbon Storage Beats Biomass For Fighting Climate Change

Oregon Public Broadcasting
Portland, OR July 9, 2009 8:58 a.m.

Oregon’s Republican representative Greg Walden has joined Oregon’s rookie Democrat, Kurt Schrader, to create a national caucus on forestry issues. Walden issued an audio statement, outlining policies he’d like to see the caucus work on.

Greg Walden: “We don’t have to have these catastrophic fires that destroy our watersheds. We ought to be able to use the biomass and the burned trees for a productive purpose.”

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Fuels from Biomass: New Technique Can Fast-Track Better Ionic Liquids for Biomass Pre-Treatments
Published on 8 July 2009, 16:14 Last Update: 2 day(s) ago by Insciences
They’ve been dubbed “grassoline” - second generation biofuels made from inedible plant material, including fast-growing weeds, agricultural waste, sawdust, etc. - and numerous scientific studies have shown them to be prime candidates for replacing gasoline to meet our transportation needs. However, before we can begin to roll down the highways on sustainable, carbon-neutral grassoline, numerous barriers must be overcome, starting with finding ways to break lignocellulosic biomass down into fermentable sugars.
The use of ionic liquids - salts that are liquids rather than crystals at room temperature - to dissolve lignocellulose and later help hydrolyze the resulting liquor into sugars, shows promise as a way of pre-treating biomass for a more efficient conversion into fuels. However, the best ionic liquids in terms of effectiveness are also prohibitively expensive for use on a mass scale. Furthermore, scientists know little beyond the fact that ionic liquids do work. Understanding how ionic liquids are able to dissolve lignocellulosic biomass should pave the way for finding new and better varieties for use in biofuels.
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Washington State University on track for $2 million algae research appropriation

Biofuels Digest
July 10, 2009

In Washington state, Senator Patty Murray of Washington announced a $2 million appropriation for the WSU Algae Biofuels project, a partnership between WSU and Targeted Growth.

The appropriation was included in the Energy and Water Development fiscal year 2010 spending bill by the Energy and Water Subcommittee today, and is heading to the full Appropriations Committee for approval. WSU’s Bioprocessing and Bioproducts Laboratory research focuses on second generation biofuel system using algae as the main feedstock, with a target product of jet fuel. WSU is one of the few programs in the US specializing in heterotrophic processes as well as phototrophic and autotrophic processes.

WSU partners include Boeing, Bioalgene, Bionavitas, Inventure, Blue Marble Energy, General Biodiesel R3 Biofuels, Element Strategic, Ruby Renewables and Targeted Growth.

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MHG launches free Web-based biomass moisture calculator

Biomass Magazine | July 2009
Posted July 9, 2009, at 1:03 p.m. CST

Finland-based MHG Systems has launched a free calculator service on its Web site. This calculator reveals how the moisture level of biomass affects the profitability of the biofuel business. The service has been designed during several different projects and in cooperation with the Joensuu Research Unit of the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla), the University of Joensuu and several forest biofuel suppliers. This tool will explicitly reveal the importance of acknowledging the effects of biofuel moisture levels on the profitability of the biofuel business and rapidly increasing environmental impacts, especially when the biofuel supply chains are not working properly. Biofuel moisture management and detailed documentation constitute an integral part of the MHG Bioenergy ERP service.
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DuPont, BP receive OK for biofuel venture
From staff and wire reports • July 10, 2009

DuPont and BP said Thursday that European Union officials have approved a joint venture to develop and produce what they termed a new generation of biofuels to help meet demand for renewable fuels with reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The two corporate giants have been working together since 2003 to develop advanced biofuels with properties that can help overcome the limitations of current biofuels, in part their reliance on corn-based additives. They formed a partnership in 2006 to focus on the work.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Remarks by President Obama on Major Economies Forum Declaration

eNews Park Forest
July 9, 2009
Thursday, 09 July 2009 19:20
L'Aquila, Italy--(ENEWSPF)--July 9, 2009 - 6:41 P.M. CEST

THE PRESIDENT: Buona sera, good afternoon. We have just finished a productive meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate Change, and I'd like to begin by recognizing Prime Minister Berlusconi for co-chairing this forum, as well as the extraordinary hospitality that he, his team, and the people of L'Aquila and the people of Italy have shown us during this stay. We are very grateful to all of you. I also want to thank the 17 other leaders who participated.

We had a candid and open discussion about the growing threat of climate change and what our nations must do -- both individually and collectively -- to address it. And while we don't expect to solve this problem in one meeting or one summit, I believe we've made some important strides forward as we move towards Copenhagen.

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Ethanol will play a lead role in a cleaner, greener California

Californial Weekly
By Mark Stowers | 07/09/09 12:00 AM PST

At the end of April, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted the nation’s first Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The state’s energy policy now calls for replacing 20 percent of the state’s petroleum with alternative fuels, including ethanol, and a 10 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

We believe ethanol is America’s best renewable fuel. It is reliable and affordable now. It’s high-tech, homegrown and on the verge of innovative breakthroughs that will make it even cleaner and greener for the long-term. California has continued to embrace the use of ethanol, and those of us involved in the ethanol industry, including members of Growth Energy, stand ready to do our part in creating a cleaner, greener California.

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The Cellulosic Ceiling

Ethanol Producer Magazine | August 2009

The renewable fuel standard calls for 100 MMgy of cellulosic biofuel to be blended into the nation’s fuel in 2010, ramping up to 16 billion gallons per year in 2022. Will the U.S. produce enough to satisfy the mandate?
By Ryan C. Christiansen

By 2022, the U.S. EPA expects the domestic biofuels industry to produce more than 32 billion gallons per year of renewable fuel. However, less than half of that fuel is expected to be corn-based ethanol. The majority, 16 billion gallons, will be cellulosic biofuel. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 defines cellulosic biofuel as renewable fuel produced from any cellulose, hemicelluloses, or lignin that is derived from renewable biomass and has life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are at least 60 percent less than the baseline life-cycle GHG emissions. The EPA predicts that, in the long run, those 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuel will be cellulosic ethanol. However, EISA’s definition for cellulosic biofuel leaves open the possibility that the mandate can be met by other fuels.
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Pickens to scrap wind farm plan, report says; is ‘Pickens Plan’ for major expansion of CNG/rCNG vehicles in peril?

Biofuels Digest

In Texas, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens has scrapped plans to build a gigantic wind farm in the Texas Panhandle. Pickens told the Journal that there were not adequate transmission lines to move the power from rural Texas to cities where the demand for power is located, and that he was unable to secure financing for the transmission line upgrade.

The Pickens Plan called for an increase in wind-based power, resulting in additional natural gas capacity that could be converted from power production to compressed natural gas vehicles.Meanwhile, Pickens has called for support of the NAT GAS Act, now introduced in the US House and Senate, that would provide incentives to switch consumers, trucks and government vehicles to CNG.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sugarcane research aims to harvest green energy

The University of Queensland, Australia

Scientists based at UQ are working towards one of sustainable energy's holy grails – harvesting the untapped potential of sugar cane.

Aided by new technologies and an international research network, the Australian team aim to have the first sugarcane genome sequence ready by the middle of next year.

The Australian arm of the research project, “Understanding the Sugarcane Genome”, is expected to bolster research into sought-after energy sources and provide future business opportunities for the local sugarcane industry.

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Ag Secretary Vilsack Discusses Climate Legislation Before Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Date Posted: July 7, 2009

Washington, DC—U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack testified July 7 to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the role that rural America can play in addressing climate change.

Secretary Vilsack discussed the importance of engaging farmers and ranchers in crafting the solution to this critical issue, and highlighted many potential economic benefits to rural communities in a cap and trade program.

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New lab-produced corn can easily convert into ethanol

The Kansas City Star

For more than a decade, the breakthroughs in genetically engineered crops have been a boon mostly to farmers.

Soybeans resistant to herbicides. Corn that fends off insects. Grains that tolerate drought.

They came with the fear that they would foster indestructible weeds or super-resilient bugs. Despite the isolated realization of the fears, farmers adopted the lab-tailored crops quickly. Today the altered grains dominate fields across the Midwest and virtually every aisle of the grocery store.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Algae Tech’s Latest Goal: Make Ethanol for Bioplastics

Discover Magazine

At a Texas industrial site, the vats of chemicals may soon stand adjacent to long tubes filled with algae. Industrial giant Dow Chemical today announced a new partnership with startup company Algenol Biofuels to build a pilot plant, which will use algae to convert carbon dioxide emissions into ethanol. That ethanol could be used either as a biofuel or, eventually, as an ingredient for Dow’s plastics.

Pond scum is one of the hottest trends in green technology, and a few dozen companies are racing to bring algae-based biofuels to the market. But one prominent algae company, GreenFuel, went out of business just a few months ago, leading some commentators to believe that we are a longer way off from commercialization than claimed by breathless algae start-up press releases [Greentech Media]. If Dow and Algenol can bring their plans to fruition, it will be the most compelling argument yet that the renewable energy source does have the potential that its supporters say.

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EPA extend RFS2 comment period to September

Biofuels Digest
July 03, 2009 | Jim Lane

In Washington, the EPA announced that it is extending the comment period on the its proposed rule revising the national Renewable Fuel Standard program, commonly referred to as RFS2. The original comment period was to end on July 27, 2009 and will now end on September 25, 2009.

With the 60-day comment period extension, EPA said that it “seeks to provide the public adequate time to provide meaningful comment while finalizing and implementing the standards in a timely manner. “

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The Green Car Website

A spoonful of sugar already helps the medicine go down, and now it seems that enough sugarcane juice will support the growth of the alga Chlorella protothecoides by heterotrophic fermentation. Hmm, not quite got the same ring to it has it?

Still the impact is just as impressive as researchers at Tsinghua University in China reveal that sugarcane juice is a good feedstock for biodiesel production. In their paper on the study, published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, they find that heterotrophic fermentation allows algae to accumulate at much higher proportions of oil within less time. This allows for much easier scale-up.

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Future of wood-based biomass surveyed

Biofuels Digest

July 03, 2009 | Jim Lane

In North Carolina, Dan Richter, professor of soils and forest ecology at Duke University has authored an article of interest on the past and future of wood-based biomass.

According to Digest correspondent Scott Miller, “One of the largest sources of renewable energy available today is one of the oldest, that is direct combustion of wood. Recent European developments in advanced wood combustion (AWC, defined as automated, high-efficiency wood-fired energy systems with strict air pollution control) have wood supplying thermal and electrical energy cleanly and reliably to thousands of communities in Europe and increasingly in North America. AWC minimizes air pollutants including fossil greenhouse gases. See blog articles about wood, wildfires, greenhouse gases, and biomass conversion technologies here .”

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Big Oil on biofuels prowl?

Biofuels Digest
July 03, 2009

Greenchipstocks neatly summarized a presentation by Don Paul, Executive Director of the University of Southern California Energy Institute, giving five reasons why Big Oil is “coming to cleantech,” and five more as to why Big Oil is headed for a major role in the renewable energy business. Notably, Paul was CTO of Chevron before joining the Institute.

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Community Genome Could Produce Biofuels

Discovery News
Eric Bland, Discovery News

Leaf Cutter Ants | Discovery News Video July 6, 2009 -- The genomes of 17 different ants, fungi and bacteria that eat through hundreds of pounds of leaf matter a year could ultimately lead to new techniques for making biofuels.

Scientists from the University of Wisconsin, the Joint Genome Institute and Emory University are sequencing the first-ever community genome, searching for clues to how what's essentially a 50 million-year-old bioreactor operates.

"These leaf cutter ants, fungi and bacteria can plow through over (880 lbs.) of dry leaves each year," said Garret Suen, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison working on the project.

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The Biomass Thermal Energy movement is picking up steam

National Hydrogen Association
July 6, 2009

Founding Membership Deadline Extended to July 8
Washington D.C.
A new energy future is fast approaching. In the U.S., comprehensive climate legislation that will greatly increase the demand for renewable biomass energy is moving through Congress. The Biomass Thermal Energy Council was founded to ensure that the most energy-efficient use of biomass, thermal energy, had a voice in these discussions in Washington. Organizations can join BTEC as Founding Members until July 8.

Members of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council are on the front line of creating a powerful and influential biomass thermal industry.

In the months since forming in January, BTEC has grown into a community of biomass fuel producers, appliance manufacturers, nonprofits, universities, and many other members who are committed to advancing the use of biomass for thermal energy. BTEC has demonstrated success and grown membership, thereby creating an important foundation for an aggressive portfolio of activities.

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Not all Green Jobs were Created Equal

The stimulus package and the climate bill recently passed by the US House and now being considered in the Senate will create jobs while delivering a boost to our economy. A "green" stimulus swill create approximately three times as many jobs as the same amount of spending in traditional energy industries. But clean energy is too diverse to consider a single industry. What are the differential jobs creation effects of different types of clean energy and are the most effective sectors getting the most money?

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA

In my next Greener Money column for Smart Energy Living Magazine, I look into the economic behind Presidential and green claims that the stimulus package and the Climate bill just passed by the House can both create economic growth while cleaning up the economy. I found most of the rhetoric coming from the greens to be disappointing. For the most part, it touts the numbers of "Green Jobs" which will be created, without looking at the cost. For instance, while the report from the American Solar Energy Society does a good job defining "green job" and counting them, it does not look at what would have happened if we put our resources elsewhere.

Probably the most incredible claim I heard from on the green side came from Jigar Shah, who told me via email that spending on solar photovoltaics produces "more jobs per federal dollar invested" than other green technologies. He did not respond to two requests for his source. I found this claim hard to believe, because solar manufacturing is very capital intensive, and manufacturing jobs are likely to be high-skill and highly paid. The labor-intensive installation is unlikely to completely make up for capital intensive (and often overseas) manufacturing. Clean energy investments which are not capital intensive, such as weatherizing homes, are likely to produce more jobs because 1) less money is spent on equipment and more on labor, and 2) the workers are typically paid less.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

'09 corn acreage is second-largest in U.S. since '46

Des Moines Register
By PHILIP BRASHER and DAN PILLER • • July 1, 2009

Farmers planted a surprisingly large crop of corn this spring, most likely easing pressure on food prices and ethanol producers while trimming corn growers' profits.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday that farmers nationwide planted 87 million acres of corn, the second-largest amount since 1946, and an increase of a million acres from last year.

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Obama Comments on Ethanol During Rural Tour Kickoff
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – July 1st, 2009

The Obama administration embarked on a National Rural Tour this week that will include discussions about green jobs, a new energy economy, climate change and renewable energies.

During an interview for the National Association of Farm Broadcasting with Michelle Rook of WNAX, Yankton, SD, Obama was asked about the role renewable fuels will play in the future for rural America. “Obviously, I come from a farm state - Illinois - and ethanol has been a big boon for a lot of rural communities,” the president said. “But we also are recognizing the key for us is to move into the next generation of biofuels, how can we use wood chips and refuse and switchgrass and how can we improve the efficiency of first generation biofuels. Farmers are going to be critical to that entire process.”

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Competing Technologies Push to Commercialize Renewable Petroleum

The New York Times
By JESSICA LEBER of ClimateWire
Published: July 2, 2009

Here's the Earth's recipe for petroleum: Take plants. Add pressure and heat. Bake for hundreds of millions of years.

Today, companies are racing to cook the same products, but they want to do it in hours or days.

Converting crops, plant residue and even trash to fuels avoids unleashing the fossil carbon buried millennia ago. More importantly, experts say, "biogasoline," renewable diesel and clean jet fuel would not face the major infrastructure barriers that have limited the expansion of ethanol use, or, for that matter, electric cars.

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Uncle Sam to pond scum: I want you!

Billings Gazette
Jul 3, 12:12 PM EDT
Associated Press Writer

LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- Somewhere among the beakers and the bubbling green-tinged tanks in this Utah State University lab, Jeff Muhs is searching for champion pond scum for Uncle Sam.

If he and others like him around the country are successful, algae-based biofuel could one day power one of the world's biggest gas guzzlers: the U.S. military.

Heady stuff for a simple sun-sucking organism. But algae's ability to grow fast and churn out fatty oils makes it an alluring prospect for a military looking to lessen its dependence on foreign oil.

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Oat hulls yield cheaper, cleaner power at U of I

Des Moines Register
By PHILIP BRASHER • • July 3, 2009

Washington, D.C. - Ethanol and wind turbines aren't the only ways Iowans are reducing the use of fossil fuels. Oat hulls are another.

Several times every day, oat hulls from a Quaker Oats cereal plant in Cedar Rapids are dumped at the University of Iowa's power plant, where they are burned to generate electricity and produce steam for heat.

Using the cereal byproduct means the power plant can burn 25 percent less coal. That lowers the plant's greenhouse gas emissions and earns credits that could someday be a source of revenue for the university. The oat hulls have another benefit: They cost half as much as coal.

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Ethanol tax changed in South Dakota
Jul 5 2009 5:15AM
Associated Press

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) With the new fiscal year in South Dakota comes a new tax rate for ethanol.

Ethanol now is being taxed at 8 cents a gallon at the wholesale level. Previous state law included more than one tax rate for ethanol, depending on how much of the grain-based fuel was blended with regular gasoline.

Ethanol industry officials say the new law should encourage more blender pumps, which let motorists select among various blends of ethanol and gasoline.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

71 projects fill DOE Joint Genome Institute 2010 pipeline

June 29, 2009

WALNUT CREEK, CA - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) has selected 71 new genomic sequencing projects for its 2010 Community Sequencing Program (CSP)—a targeted sampling of the planet's biodiversity—to be characterized for bioenergy, climate, and environmental applications.

JGI's Community Sequencing Program is the largest genomic sequencing effort in the world focused on nonmedical organisms, enabling scientists from universities and national laboratories to probe the hidden world of microbes and plants to tap nature's ingenuity for innovative solutions to the nation's major challenges in energy, climate, and environment. The program is supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the DOE Office of Science.

"The information we generate from these projects promises to improve the clean, renewable energy pathways being developed now as well as lend researchers more insight into the global carbon cycle, options for bioremediation, and biogeochemical processes," said DOE JGI Director Eddy Rubin. "In translating DNA sequence data into biology, we generate valuable science that improves our understanding of the complex processes that support life on the planet, or imperil it."

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Legacy Act may fund wastewater piping to ethanol plant
By Mark Fischenich
The Free Press

WINNEBAGO — A groundbreaking, and groundwater-saving, plan to use municipal wastewater at the Corn Plus ethanol plant in Winnebago is in line for $1 million in state funds.

The funding, provided through revenue generated by the Legacy Act constitutional amendment for the outdoors and the arts, would help cover the cost of piping treated wastewater from Winnebago’s homes and businesses to the ethanol plant east of town. The project would address one of the major criticisms of ethanol production — that it consumes large amounts of groundwater to generate alternative fuels.

“It was just a no-brainer as far as how we should use water at ethanol plants,” said Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, who represents Winnebago and ushered the funding through the legislative process.

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USDA to support cellulosic ethanol

Biofuels International
29 June 2009

The US Department of Agriculture could offer US farmers greater financial incentives for developing cellulosic ethanol projects.

The USDA announced it would guarantee $80 million (€57 million) in loans for the production of cellulosic ethanol.

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Congress eyes market impact of speculators: Vilsack

Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:54pm EDT

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Congress is eyeing ways to make sure speculative trading helps commodity markets rather than distorting pricing signals, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a Reuters Television interview Monday.

"There are concerns," Vilsack said, noting he has spoken about the issue with Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

"I suspect that there will probably be an effort to make sure when there is trading that takes place on the market, that it's trading that actually assists the market, doesn't hurt the market, creates a robust trading scheme so that we get a good pricing signal," Vilsack said.

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