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

Monday, August 31, 2009

HTI installs world’s first biomass-powered turbine at Michigan feed mill

Biomass Magazine September 2009
By Anna Austin
Posted August 27, 2009, at 2:37 p.m. CST

Heat Transfer International has nearly completed the installation of a biomass energy plant at a feed mill in Howard City, Mich., which will become the state’s first gasification plant and the world’s first hot air turbine powered by biomass, according to Pat Dickinson, HTI business developer. The plant will convert turkey litter at Sietsema Farm Feeds into a syngas that will be used to provide the heat and electricity needed to produce turkey feed.

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Lessons to be learnt: Bioenergy developments in Scandinavia and China
EcoGeneration — September / October 2009

World Bioenergy Association board member Andrew Lang’s recent travels through Scandinavia and China provided him with some clear insights into the potential for bioenergy in the growing energy market. Examples, he argues, that should be taken on board in forming Australian energy policy.

At the world’s biggest forestry equipment fair, Sweden’s Elmia Wood Expo held in June this year, it was clear that growing demand for bioenergy machinery is providing work for many forestry machinery manufacturers in northern Europe.

Most manufacturers are developing new machinery to more cost-effectively harvest thinnings, forward thinnings or harvest residues including stumps, convert these to chipped or ground material, and truck this material to be turned into energy.

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DOE awards $300 million to 25 Clean Cities projects for alternative energy vehicle infrastructure

Biofuels Digest August 28, 2009

In Washington, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced $300 million in stimulus funds will go to 25 cost-share projects in the Clean Cities Coalition program, — programs designed to establish transportation infrastructure for alternative energy vehicles. The grant in this case will, according to DOE, place 9000 alternative fuel vehicles in service and establish 542 fueling locations, including biodiesel, E85, as well as hybrid and CNG-powered cars.

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Anellotech launches; latest fast pyrolysis venture expands growing field of biocrude companies

Biofuels Digest August 28, 2009

In Massachusetts, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst recently granted a biofuels startup company, Anellotech, exclusive global rights to the university’s catalytic fast pyrolysis technology developed by chemical engineer and UMass Amherst faculty member George Huber for producing clean, green “grassoline.” Huber will serve as chairman of Anellotech’s scientific advisory board.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Watermelon Juice - Next Source of Renewable Energy

Thu Aug 27, 2009 10:38am EDT
By Cleantechnica - Cleantechnica
By Zachary Shahan

Hundreds of thousands of tons of watermelons are tossed every year because they aren't good enough for market. A new study finds that the juice from these watermelons could easily be used to create the biofuel ethanol and other helpful products.

According to a new study to be published in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels, 20% of the watermelon crop doesn't go to market every year due to imperfections, bad spots, or weird shapes. These watermelons are left in the field and then ploughed right back into the ground. According to the authors of the study (Benny Bruton and Vincent Russo from the USDA-ARS, South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, and Wayne Fish), these watermelons could be used to produce the biofuel ethanol.

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In Pursuit of Loot

Biomass Magazine September 2009
By Anna Austin and Lisa Gibson

Biomass projects encounter many of the same challenges as other businesses, including obtaining adequate capital. Biomass Magazine talks with industry experts about the current financial situation, and funding opportunities for biomass projects.

Money is the determining factor in achieving project success no matter what industry is involved. Although a lack of liquidity in the equity and debt markets is currently keeping a lid on project development activity, there are some encouraging signs on the horizon for biomass projects, according to Rob Kurtz, BBI International Engineering and Consulting Group project manager. “Positive signs include the recent USDA issuance of feasibility study grant guidelines for both combined heat and power at biofuels plants and anaerobic digestion systems, and a slight thawing in venture capital/risk investment as evidenced by the Tendril and Gevo investments recently announced, and several other announcements by companies developing combined-heat-and-power systems,” Kurtz says. The Tendril Networks and Gevo investments totaling $70 million were among the top five reported venture-capital deals nationwide for clean energy and environmental technology companies in the second quarter, according to Ernst & Young LLP. Gevo, an Englewood, Colo.-based alternative fuels producer received $40 million and Tendril, a Boulder, Colo.-based smart grid software company received $30 million.

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Short documentary film on biochar and carbon capture

Biofuels Digest

In Australia, filmmaker Mark Bluett has completed a 10 min documentary about geo-sequestration and bio-char. Biochar is a by-product of several bioprocessing technologies, including pyrolysis, and creates a carbon-rich soil that improves crop productivity as well as sequestering carbon. More about the documentary and bio-char here and the film can be viewed here.

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Release No. 0403.09
Contact:Rebecca Wallace: 608-231-9275

Federal grants help reduce the risk of wildfire and create jobs in rural communities

WASHINGTON, August 26, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced more than $4.2 million in grants to 17 small businesses and community groups to develop innovative uses for woody biomass from hazardous fuel reduction projects on the national forests. Uses of this woody biomass include renewable energy and new products that could be developed, which is consistent with the vision Vilsack outlined two weeks ago about the future of our nation's forests. The investments announced today will help further the goal of conservation, management, and restoration of these natural treasures, which will reduce catastrophic fires, disease and pests that have all led to declining forest health in recent decades.

"By harnessing the full potential of woody biomass, America's forests can produce renewable energy and new products and we can create new, green job opportunities for local workers," Vilsack said. "These grants will help restore our forests by reducing hazardous fuels, handling insect and disease conditions, and treating forests impacted by catastrophic weather while creating markets for small-diameter material and low-valued trees removed from these areas."

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

“It’s no accident that POET is growing and profitable...

Biofuels Digest

POET demonstrates all seven of the PROFITS Principles,” says new Biofuels Digest columnist

A new column debuts in Biofuels Digest today from Dr. Rosalie Lober, MBA, PhD, author of “Run Your Business Like a Fortune 100: 7 Principles for Boosting PROFITS.”. The column will focus on analyzing the performance of well-known and not-so-well known bioenergy companies, utilizing the PROFITS principles as explained in Lober’s widely-praised book, published by John Wiley.

Today’s first column focuses on POET, which has in 2008-09 managed the remarkable feat of becoming one of the two largest ethanol producers in the country while landing in the top 10 of the Hottest 50 Companies in Bioenergy.

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Bioenergy and biofuel - watching what governments subsidize (Chicago)
August 25, 6:39 PM
SF Foreign Policy Examiner Maria Lewytzkyj

Don’t go ballistic, but Michael Grunwald, award-winning environmental journalist and author of “The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise,” says that alternative energy sources like biofuels, solar and nuclear are not the magic ticket. “It's nice that someone managed to run his car on liposuction leftovers, but that doesn't mean he needs to be subsidized,” he said. In the rush to promote alternative fuel sources he believes that governments might be picking energy losers rather than energy winners that might cripple efforts to stop global warming. In other words, let’s not hurry and do it right.

According to Grunwald, in fact in a rush to grow palm oil for the European biodiesel market, Indonesia destroyed many lush forests and peat lands. The result? A displacement of vegetation that soaked up even more carbon. Since deforestation is a huge contributor to global carbon emissions, local efforts to destroy forests for the sake of improving the climate in order to meet rising demand for biofuel have created another awkward situation that results from reckless expediency as a priority rather than responsible land use. The short term gain is that there is a monetization of an environmental trend, but in the long term it’s false advertisement overall. Indonesia now ranks 3rd rather than 21st among the world’s top carbon emitters as a result of its poor forest management.

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Securing Outside Financing for Biomass Power Projects

Biomass Magazine September 2009
By Trotter Hunt

The key to raising money for biomass power projects is developing a good solid business plan that lets investors and lenders know that the projects’ fundamentals are secure enough to ensure that financial returns are met.

Incentives included in the recently passed stimulus bill combined with pending renewable portfolio standards (RPS) at the federal level, have created a mass of new project developers hoping to bring biomass power projects to market. All of these developers face the same challenge: securing outside financing. To do this, developers must convince investors and lenders that the projects’ fundamentals are secure enough to ensure that financial returns are met. Having a good plan and knowing the requirements are key in today’s challenging economic environment.

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Study Warns of ‘Energy Sprawl’

The New York Times
August 26, 2009, 8:22 am — Updated: 1:41 pm
By Kate Galbraith

A paper published on Tuesday by the Nature Conservancy predicts that by 2030, energy production in the United States will occupy a land area larger than Minnesota — in large part owing to the pursuit of domestic clean energy.

The authors call it “energy sprawl” — a term meant to draw attention to habitat destruction, and to warn that biofuels in particular will take up substantial amounts of land.

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Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food

By Bryan Walsh Friday, Aug. 21, 2009
Correction Appended: Aug. 20, 2009

Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won't bite one another. To prevent him from getting sick in such close quarters, he is dosed with antibiotics. The waste produced by the pig and his thousands of pen mates on the factory farm where they live goes into manure lagoons that blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench. He's fed on American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. When the pig is slaughtered, at about 5 months of age, he'll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheap, feeding an American addiction to meat that has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of the population. And when the rains come, the excess fertilizer that coaxed so much corn from the ground will be washed into the Mississippi River and down into the Gulf of Mexico, where it will help kill fish for miles and miles around. That's the state of your bacon — circa 2009.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

USDA Highlights Missouri Biomass Plant
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – August 24th, 2009

The Obama administration’s Rural Tour last week highlighted the Show Me Energy Cooperative in Missouri as an example of how crop residue can be used to create energy.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the biomass facility is taking wood, corn stalks and other crop residue and converting it into pellets that can be used to produce energy or a substitute for propane on the farm.

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Farmers Encouraged to Apply for Farm Storage Facility Loans

Wallaces Farmer
By: Rod Swoboda Published: Aug 25, 2009

USDA program to make loans available for farmers for grain bins and other storage facilities has been improved.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, is encouraging farmers to apply for the improved USDA Farm Storage Facility Loan Program. New rules were recently implemented, which make the program even more beneficial and accessible to agricultural producers. Harkin worked to include these changes to the program in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 - commonly called the 2008 Farm Bill.

"Whether farmers are growing typical field crops, biomass for biofuels or vegetables for the dinner table, they need storage facilities to help protect their crops," says Harkin. "The problem is that storage facilities can be quite expensive, and many producers, particularly those who are just getting into the business of farming, don't have access to the capital they need in order to purchase the facilities that will enable them to more efficiently and profitably run their farms."

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Biomass ’09 Workshop Highlights the State of Biomass in the US

Biomass Magazine September 2009
By Chris Zygarlicke

The recent Biomass ’09: Power, Fuels, and Chemicals Workshop, held July 14-15 in Grand Forks, N.D., highlighted the state of biomass in the U.S. Although the two-day event wasn’t intended to give concrete answers for every pathway out there for marketable biomass technologies, it put a spotlight on the future of biomass. (see “Biomass’ Role in the Energy Future” on page 42 for more conference coverage)

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Ethanol Co-Product Could Make Fertilizer
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – August 25th, 2009

The leftovers from an ethanol co-product could be used as a fertilizer, according to research being done at South Dakota State University.

When the ethanol by-product known as dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) is heated at high temperatures under limited oxygen to make synthesis gas, or syngas, the remains are a fine, dust-like ash. SDSU Soil Testing Laboratory manager Ron Gelderman set out to learn whether that residue could be applied to fields as a soil nutrient, since the ash likely would be discarded in a landfill otherwise.

An SDSU greenhouse study found that dried distillers grain ash resulted in about the same increase in corn growth as fertilizer phosphorus. Use of dried distillers grain ash as a source of potassium in that study was inconclusive, since the selected soil supplied adequate plant potassium.

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Managing Technology Convergence and Protecting Innovation: IP for Cleantech Ventures—Biomass and Be

Biomass Magazine September 2009
By Joseph Teja Jr. and Michael J. Pomianek

Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to protecting biomass/cleantech intellectual property, there are some general attributes of many cleantech efforts that should be considered when assessing possible strategies.

While intellectual property (IP) is always an important component to the success of any technology-based company, arguably it is especially important for “cleantech” ventures directed to energy and/or environmentally-related technologies. Cleantech is a broad field with several narrow subsectors—the technologies embraced range from older technologies already in the public domain and now being recycled, to cutting-edge research coming out of academic and industry labs. Some of the innovations involve fundamental technology breakthroughs that may warrant broad protection. In other cases, however, an incremental and seemingly narrow improvement in an already crowded area of development may provide an important enabling solution having significant commercial value.

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Expiring Tax Credits Imperil America’s Booming Biomass Industry
by Stacy Feldman - Aug 25th, 2009

Power plants that burn wood and plant materials for electricity account for more than 50 percent of America's renewable energy. But that could change.

Federal tax credits that are keeping 100-plus "biomass" facilities afloat are set to expire at the end of 2009.

If the tax credits are not renewed, it will have "catastrophic consequences to our industry," said Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of the Biomass Power Association (BPS), during a news conference.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Steven Chu, A Political Scientist

Yahoo! News
By MICHAEL GRUNWALD / BEIJING Michael Grunwald / Beijing – Sat Aug 22, 3:20 am ET

"What the U.S. and China do over the next decade," declared Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize – winning physicist who is leading President Obama's push for a clean-energy economy, "will determine the fate of the world."

Chu had gone to Beijing's Tsinghua University, the "MIT of China," to make his half-apocalyptic, half-optimistic pitch about climate change. In his nerdy professor style and referring to "Milankovitch cycles" and the "albedo effect" as well as melting glaciers and rising seas, Chu methodically explained that the science is clear, that we're boiling the planet - but also that science can save us, that we can innovate our way to sustainability. He acknowledged that the developed nations that made the mess can't tell the developing world not to develop, but he also warned that China is on track to emit more carbon in the next three decades than the U.S. has emitted in its history; that business as usual would intensify floods, droughts and heat waves in both countries; that greenhouse gases respect no borders. This earth, he concluded, is the only one we've got; it would be illogical and immoral to fry it. "Science has unambiguously shown that we're altering the destiny of our planet," he said. "Is this the legacy we want to leave our children and grandchildren?" (Read "The Global Warming Survival Guide.")

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'Green goo' biofuel gets a boost

August 24, 2009 -- Updated 0228 GMT (1028 HKT)
By Steve Mollman For CNN

(CNN) -- Three years ago many would have dismissed the notion that a significant supply of the world's automotive fuel could come from algae. But today the idea, while still an adventurous one, is getting much harder to ignore.

Making green from green: Biofuel from algae has been given a boost in investment in recent years.

Back then there were only a handful of companies seriously focused on producing algae fuel. Now there are well over 50, according to Samhitha Udupa, a research associate with Lux Research.
The number should double within the next year or two, she adds, and private investment in algae fuel ventures has at least doubled every year since 2006, a trend likely to continue.

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Biomass’ Role in the Energy Future

Biomass Magazine September 2009
By Anna Austin and Lisa Gibson

The current state and future challenges of the biomass industry were addressed at the Energy & Environmental Research Center’s Biomass ’09: Power, Fuels, and Chemicals Workshop.

Although the future of the global and U.S. renewable energy industry is hazy, one thing is clear—biomass power will play a significant role. What exactly that role will be, however, is unknown and depends on several factors. Presenters and attendees at the Energy & Environmental Research Center’s Biomass ’09: Power, Fuels, and Chemicals Workshop discussed the current state of the biomass power industry, as well as future challenges and possibilities. More than 300 people from 25 states and three Canadian provinces attended the two-day event, which was held July 14-15 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. During four main sessions, 30 different speakers focused on trends and opportunities in power utilization, biofuels, feedstocks and the use of biomass to generate heat and power.

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Estimates of Wood Use by Bioenergy Projects Overstated; New Product Indicates 32% Success Rate

ATHENS, Ga., Aug. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- All wood-consuming bioenergy projects are not created equal. For example, wood pellet-producing and wood-to-electricity projects rely on off-the-shelf, proven technologies while cellulosic ethanol projects depend on evolving and currently economically unviable technology. However, assuming all 100 wood bioenergy projects publicly announced in the US South succeeded, they would consume 40.9 million tons annually by 2020, a 20% increase of current total wood raw material use in the region. As a result, tracking and screening bioenergy projects remains increasingly difficult for those interested in renewable energy investments, regional economic development, and timber and timberland markets. Wood Bioenergy South, a new subscription product from Forisk Consulting, solves this challenge for those focused on bioenergy in the US South.

In addition to securing financing and identifying a suitable location, wood-dependent bioenergy projects are subject to technological limitations, permitting timelines, and raw material constraints. Together, these elements provide a means for evaluating and assessing the true viability of announced projects. Based on currently available information applied to technology and operational status screens, Wood Bioenergy South estimates actual expected new wood demand from bioenergy in the US South at 13.1 million tons annually by 2020. This implies 68% of currently announced projects will fail to become fully operational.
Timberland owners can use Wood Bioenergy South to track new

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Biomass Trade Group Announces PR/Advocacy Campaign

Alternative Energy Retailer (
by The Biomass Power Association (BPA) is launching a $250,000 public relations, advocacy and advertising campaign to demonstrate the role that biomass power can play in reducing greenhouse gases and creating new jobs, especially in rural communities.

According to BPA, the campaign will highlight the economic and environmental benefits of biomass power, as well as the importance of extending tax incentives essential to maintaining existing biomass power facilities and creating jobs. BPA plans to host a biomass industry conference in Washington, D.C., to highlight the environmental and economic benefits of biomass power, and it will also conduct tours of biomass power facilities. Advertisements sponsored by BPA will run in the Washington, D.C.-area media, and the BPA plans to overhaul its Web site to serve media and public information requests.

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Biomass is No Longer the ‘Unknown Renewable’

Biomass Magazine September 2009
By Bob Cleaves

Formerly considered the unknown renewable, biomass became the central focus of the clean energy debate when policymakers recognized that it was essential to meeting a strong renewable electricity standard. Congress now has the opportunity to take meaningful action on climate change and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Biomass is the keystone to a national energy policy that can achieve both goals.

As the organization dedicated to expanding and advancing the use of clean, renewable biomass power, Biomass Power Association recently launched a full-scale education campaign to promote the economic and environmental benefits of biomass power. The organization is playing an active role in helping to shape energy and climate legislation. This legislation moving through Congress presents a tremendous opportunity to expand and advance the use of clean, renewable biomass power.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Food-for-fuel controversy angers ethanol producer
Aug 18, 2009 04:30 AM
Tyler Hamilton Energy Reporter

Wrong to link sugar price to expensive fuel, Greenfield founder says

Ken Field says he's tired of the "campaign against corn ethanol" that has created a damaging public misperception of the renewable fuel.

The founder and chairman of Toronto-based Greenfield Ethanol, the largest independent ethanol producer in Canada, is lashing out at reports last week that record-high sugar prices will lead to more expensive ethanol, and as a result push up prices at the gas pumps.

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Michigan researchers look at rutabagas for biofuel

Associated Press
By DAVID RUNK (AP) – August 19, 2009

DETROIT — Researchers at Michigan State University are working to turn the rutabaga into an oil-producing powerhouse that could make the turnip-like vegetable a better source of biofuel than other food crops.

The idea is that the rutabaga, which stores oil in its seeds like some other biofuel crops, could be genetically modified to churn out more oil and store it throughout the plant.

"If we could make it in the green tissues, like the leaves, stems or even underground tissues like storage roots, then we think we can make a lot more," professor Christoph Benning said.

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Biobutanol breakthrough: researchers develop bacterial strain that doubles production

Biofuels Digest
August 21, 2009 Jim Lane

In Ohio, research engineers at Ohio State University, reporting at the American Chemical Society meeting this week, said that they have developed a new strain of the bacterium Clostridium beijerinckii in a bioreactor containing bundles of polyester fibers, that produced up to 30 grams of butanol per liter.

Previously, at north of 15 grams per liter concentrations of alcohol, the tank fermentation tank would become too toxic for the bacteria to survive.

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Ethanol Producers Warily Eye Algae's Bloom

The New York Times
By KATIE HOWELL of Greenwire
Published: August 21, 2009

It's been the summer of algae-based fuels, with new technical advances, investments and legislative proposals appearing at regular intervals.

After years of quietly building steam, the algae industry has recently received major, attention-grabbing investments from Exxon Mobil Corp. and Dow Chemical Co. And the industry is starting to find support in Congress with proposals that would provide it tax credits and other incentives gaining bipartisan support.

So you can't blame ethanol producers for being a little defensive.

"The thing to bear in mind is that ethanol is here today, it's a proven fuel," said Mark Stowers, vice president of research and development at Poet LLC, the nation's largest corn ethanol producer, which recently opened a cellulosic division. "It's been used in cars for going on 29-plus, 30-plus years. And it's proven to improve the fuel quality in terms of tailpipe emissions."

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Banned in Boston: Massachusetts moves to strike algae, miscanthus, switchgrass, oil from microorganisms, from qualifying under Clean Energy Biofuels A

Biofuels Digest
August 19, 2009 Jim Lane

In Massachusetts, the state Department of Energy Resources, in coordination with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, announced that it would ban all biofuels not made using waste feedstocks from qualifying under the state’s Clean Energy Biofuels Act of 2008.

The state announced that the Biofuels Mandate will begin July 1, 2010, and that mandated volumes would be waived in the first year but that “Early Action Credit” will be provided for all gallons of qualified advanced biofuels, which will be applied to 2nd- year mandate obligations.

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Company planting camelina crops for biodiesel
By Nathan Phelps • • August 19, 2009

An upstart seed and biodiesel plant is harvesting the first seed crop of camelina — the plant that makes up the basis of the biofuel of the same name — in eastern Wisconsin today.

JR Camelina Seed Co. will start harvesting the seeds in a plot near Marytown in Calumet County with the intention to plant thousands of acres in the state next year.

Ultimately, camelina is expected to feed a not-yet-built biodiesel plant in the town of Holland near Greenleaf, said George Ecker, the seed company and biodiesel plant's business manager.

"There are companies out there that are already very eager to buy this biodiesel from us; trucking companies and bus lines, for instance," he said. "It gets blended with diesel."

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Why Do Shippers Ask Carriers to Use Biodiesel?

Biodiesel Magazine September 2009
By By Sharon Bell

Shippers find that biodiesel can help improve their environmental image, but this may be fleeting depending on the outcome of RFS2 implementation.

Shippers of goods, from paper to food, are asking their carriers to use biodiesel. This grassroots effort to achieve sustainable shipping does not rely on legislative enforcement. As a matter of fact, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454), which sets emissions standards for some industries, is still caught up in the Senate. Even when the bill passes, it will be a long time before the effects trickle down to the majority of manufacturers and distributors. Rather, the resolve of consumers drives companies to search for sustainable shipping methods.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Expert Analysis of Indirect Land Use Effects Finds Science Lacking

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: August 19, 2009

Washington—A scholarly analysis of the keystone of indirect land use study - Searchinger et al. - found the science fell far short of acceptable scientific standards.

Professor John Mathews and Dr. Hao Tan, researchers from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, undertook an exhaustive analysis of Searchinger et al. which revealed that the framework used was inappropriate in that it started with assumptions as to diversion of grain to ethanol production in the U.S. but then extrapolated these to parts of the world, such as sugarcane growing in Brazil, which are actually (much) more bio-efficient.

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Ethanol: production, demand and changing land use
John Maday Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We’re using more ethanol, and using more corn in the process. Future growth of ethanol production, however, will depend on new technology to allow a shift away from corn, and other changes to affect demand, according to an article from the USDA’s Economic Research Service.

The article, in the agency’s new issue of Amber Waves, notes that the role of ethanol in the U.S. gasoline supply has grown from just over 1 percent in 2000 to 7 percent in 2008. The increased use of ethanol was fueled by a combination of market conditions and policy factors, including rising oil prices, Federal tax credits, the first Renewable Fuel Standard established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the elimination of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) as an oxygenating gasoline additive.

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Grant to Develop Microbial Fuel Cell Array for Bioenergy Research
August 17, 2009

Dr. Arum Han, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A+M University, and Dr. Paul de Figueiredo (PI) from the plant pathology and microbiology department have received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a microbial fuel cell (MFC) array for bioenergy research.

Han will develop a microfabricated MFC array, a compact and user-friendly platform for the identification and characterization of microbes capable of direct electricity generation.

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are remarkable “green energy” devices that exploit microbes to generate electricity from organic compounds. MFCs have generated significant excitement in the bioenergy community because of their potential for powering diverse technologies, including wastewater treatment and bioremediation devices, autonomous sensors for long-term operations in low accessibility regions, mobile robot/sensor platforms, microscopic drug-delivery systems and renewable energy systems.

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Clean energy safer for workers

Journal-Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI)
By Baldur Hedinsson, Special to the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Aug. 18, 2009

Solar, wind power pose fewer work risks, research finds

To keep the gears of America's economy turning, energy workers need to drill deep into the Earth for explosive gas and flammable oil, a dangerous occupation.
New research finds that switching to a renewable energy system based on sun and wind would provide safer working conditions and prevent more than 130 job-related deaths in the United States each year by significantly reducing the need for mining. The study is published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the paper, Peter Layde, a professor in the department of population health and co-director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Steven Sumner of the Medical Center at Duke University, compare the occupational hazards energy workers are exposed to in fossil fuel with that of renewable energy production. Three renewable energy sources with potential for growth - solar, wind and biomass - were included in the study.

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Solar Power: A Gift from Space

Renewable Energy
August 18, 2009
by Thomas Blakeslee, Clearlight Foundation

At noon on the equator our sun gives us one kilowatt of free energy per square meter! This gift from space is ultimately the basis of all of our power sources except nuclear and geothermal. Wind, hydro, biomass and all fossil fuels ultimately derive from solar energy. All of these economical sources of energy benefit from concentration and storage of the sun's energy.

But the dream of capturing the sun's energy directly has been elusive. The problem is that energy needs are unevenly distributed and usually peak at night. Fuels and reservoirs provide inexpensive storage of the sun's energy making it available when and where we need it.

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Expert: Hydrocarbon Biofuels' Promise Tops That of Ethanol and Gasoline
Posted by Scott Doggett August 14, 2009, 10:53 AM

Recent technological advances might put fuel from forest waste, cornstalks, algae and other biomass into commercial production within just a few years, a National Science Foundation program director said in a paper published today.

John Regalbuto, a chemical engineer at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and director of the NSF catalysis and biocatalysis program, wrote in Science (subscription required) that biomass-derived fuels are not far from being part of the energy mix as a replacement for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

"If recent technological innovations result in competitive production costs, hydrocarbons rather than ethanol will likely be the dominant biofuel," Regalbuto wrote.

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Scientist warns against global rush into biofuel cultivation
Last Updated- Aug 18, 2009 12:30

A US scientist, Thomas R. Sinclair has warned countries that are rushing into cultivating biofuels in their efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels to take into consideration the multiple limits to plant production on earth.

In an article titled “Taking Measure of Biofuel Limits” published in the “American Scientist,” the magazine of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, he said, “before nations pin big hopes on biofuels, they must face some stark realities, however. Crop physiology research has documented multiple limits to plant production on Earth. To ramp up biofuel crop production, growers must adapt to those limits or find ways around them.”

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Advanced Gasification Test Facility now in operation

Biomass Magazine August 2009
Posted August 17, 2009, at 11:10 a.m. CST

Gas Technology Institute recently commissioned an Advanced Gasification Test Facility, a five-level process research building which houses pilot-scale gasification and gas processing systems. This new lab, supported in part by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, bolsters capabilities in advanced energy development.

The AGTF is an expansion of GTI’s Flex-Fuel Test Facility, designed to evaluate gasification processes for fossil and biomass solid fuels. The combination of these facilities allows integrated piloting of advanced gasification and downstream technologies that enable commercialization of better processes to produce power, chemicals, and gaseous and liquid fuels.

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Ethanol ash eyed as possible fertilizer (Nebraska)
Associated Press - August 17, 2009 6:35 AM ET

BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) - Researchers at South Dakota State University are trying to find out if they can squeeze one more product out of the ethanol process.

Dried distiller's grains is a byproduct of turning corn into ethanol. It can be fed to livestock or it can be heated to produce a gas that is useful in making bioplastics and lubricants.

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Brazil ethanol prices seen low despite sugar spike

Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:31pm EDT
By Inae Riveras - Analysis

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The recent surge in sugar prices to their highest level in 28 years and growing demand for ethanol in Brazil are insufficient to support prices of the biofuel, which remain below production costs.

Ethanol and sugar prices are usually linked as they have to compete for the same cane. But as many mills face cash constraints they see ethanol sales as the only way of raising cash to pay debts, pressing down prices.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A New Test for Business and Biofuel

The New York Times
Published: August 16, 2009

IGNACIO, Colo. — An unusual experiment featuring equal parts science, environmental optimism and Native American capitalist ambition is unfolding here on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in southwest Colorado.

“It’s a marriage of an older way of thinking into a modern time,” said Matthew J. Box, the chairman of the Southern Utes.

With the twin goals of making fuel from algae and reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases, a start-up company co-founded by a Colorado State University professor recently introduced a strain of algae that loves carbon dioxide into a water tank next to a natural gas processing plant. The water is already green-tinged with life.

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Fight for Ethanol Gets a New Weapon

Ohio Farmer
Posted on August 15, 2009 at 2:16 PM

It is good to see the ethanol industry fighting back.

First came Growth Energy, a spirited effort to refute the smear campaign that falsely blamed the industry for food shortages, higher food prices and most recently, destruction of the rain forests. If you haven't been to Growth Energy's website, go check out the clock that challenges Big Food to lower prices. While you're there, look around. It's worth your time.

Now comes a new coalition of old friends. The Renewable Fuels Association, the American Coalition for Ethanol, the National Corn Growers and a growing number of state producer organizations are partnering in BYOethanol, whose goal is to see 5,000 blender pumps installed at retail gas stations across the country within the next three years.

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Biochar – Clean Energy, Soil Restoration, and Economic Viability
By Sarah Harper August 15th, 2009

When I first heard the word “biochar,” it didn’t exactly conjure notions of sustainability, clean energy, or economic viability. The word’s syllables, strung together, sounded more like a reference to some sort of eco-firewood. Close, but no cigar: turns out biochar is a relatively carbon neutral technology that could hold its own in the biofuel market. Is this a concept too good to be true?

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Will 'Energy Crops' Become the Next Kudzu?

The New York Times
By JESSICA LEBER of ClimateWire
Published: August 12, 2009

U.S. policies are subsidizing new energy crops that are likely to spread off the farm and wreak economic and ecological havoc, a federal advisory board cautioned yesterday.

For years, researchers have worked to develop "advanced" biofuel feeds from unconventional crops such as grasses and algae.

The goal is to enable a switch away from corn- and soy-based biofuel to cellulosic energy crops that don't compete on the food or feed market and have a smaller carbon footprint. A 2007 energy law, in fact, requires a total of 160 billion gallons of the plant-based cellulosic fuels by 2022 that these crops would produce.

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NASA looks at plant biomass as new source of biofuel in space
August 14, 2009 - by Lisa Sibley, Cleantech Group

Moffett Field, Calif.-based scientists plan to apply a new bionanotech approach, which breaks down inedible plant material into usable sugars.

NASA research scientist Chad Paavola has a problem to solve: When astronauts leave the earth for long periods of time, they’re going to need to produce plants for food and the air they breathe.

Some of the crops will be edible and some won’t, such as the leaves and stems of the plants. But what happens to the inedible biomass while they are in orbit?

Paavola told the Cleantech Group today that he and a team of scientists at Moffett Field, Calif.-based NASA Ames Research Center are researching a way to transform those inedible parts into useful resources such as biofuels, chemicals and even recovering some of it for food.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

EPA Posts Peer Review of Renewable Fuel Standard Lifecycle Analysis

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: August 7, 2009

Washington—The peer review of the renewable fuel standards lifecycle analysis is now available online.

In May, Administrator Jackson announced the lifecycle analysis would be peer reviewed when the agency proposed its overall strategy for increasing the supply of renewable fuels.

Read the full story and see links to the Peer Reviews

Legislation Would Make Ethanol Available at More Pumping Stations

Hoosier Ag Today

Legislation introduced by Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Richard Lugar of Indiana has received the endorsement of Growth Energy. The Consumer Fuels and Vehicles Choice Act is designed to give American drivers the choice of filling up on low-carbon fuel, like ethanol, by increasing the number of flex fuel vehicles and pumping stations available to consumers.

The act calls for: 50 percent of all automobiles manufactured for sale in the United States to be flex fuel capable by 2011; 90 percent of all automobiles manufactured for U.S. sale to be flex fuel capable by 2013; More blender pumps at retail fueling stations capable of dispensing blends of fuel that contain anywhere from 0 percent ethanol to 85 percent ethanol, and; Authorizing grants of up to 50 percent of the cost for installing blender pumps and tanks and other infrastructure needed for selling these fuel blends.

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DA to tap US technology for biofuel feedstocks
Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter
Sunday, 09 August 2009 18:50

THE Philippines is planning to make use of the available agricultural technologies developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for improving yields of local crops, particularly those used as feedstock for biofuel.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) have agreed to collaborate on the development of three biofuel feedstocks: sugar, sweet sorghum and cellulosic materials.

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The 2007/08 Iowa Grain and Biofuel Flow Study: A Survey Report

Center for Agricultural and Rural Development Iowa State University
Tun-Hsiang (Edward) Yu, Chad E. HartAugust 2009 [09-SR 103]

Driven by the expanding production of biofuels, the linkage between the agricultural and energy markets is evolving, and that has changed the market for agricultural commodities dramatically. These developments in agricultural markets consequently shifted the distribution of domestic grains and feeds and the utilization of shipping modes for these agricultural products. As the leading producer of corn, soybeans, and biofuels, Iowa is at the forefront of this shift. Because of the importance of maintaining an adequate state transportation system to accommodate the evolving patterns of grain and biofuel flows, it is important to have current information about grain flows from farms and country elevators to destination markets, along with the information about transportation modes utilized for the shipments. Information about biofuel distribution is also crucial for agricultural and transportation policymakers so that they can provide relevant assistance for this growing industry. This study is designed to meet these needs and to provide updated information on grain and biofuel flows in Iowa during the 2006 and 2007 marketing years.

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Read the report

ACE Conference Speakers Say More Research Needs to Be Done on Indirect Land Use

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: August 14, 2009
by Jerry Perkins, BioFuels Journal Editor

Speakers at the 2009 American Coalition for Ethanol Conference and Trade Show in Milwaukee, WI, Aug. 11-13, said more research needs to be done before the impact of Indirect Land Use (ILU) can be accurately measured.

Prof. Wally Tyner of the Agricultural Economics Department at Purdue University said the concept of Indirect Land Use argues that corn used to make ethanol means more crops will have to be grown in other parts of world and that will lead to deforestation of the rain forest and more greenhouse gas emissions.

Before such sweeping conclusions can be made, Tyner said, more study needs to be done on ILU.

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Cob Collection Trials for Cellulosic Biomass Are Successful

Wallaces Farmer
By: Compiled by staff
Published: Aug 13, 2009

Ethanol firm Poet continues working with ag machinery manufacturers and a group of farmers in Texas and in northwest Iowa to find efficient, affordable ways to harvest cellulosic feedstock.

The first cob collection of 2009 is complete as Poet continues to work with agricultural equipment manufacturers and farmers to find the most efficient and affordable means for harvesting cellulosic feedstock. Equipment for harvesting corncobs was tested in fields near Harlingen, Texas from July 6 to July 22. The trials were a precursor to larger harvesting efforts this fall. In all, the effort will see as many as 25,000 acres harvested in Texas, South Dakota and Iowa.

Corncobs are already used by Poet at its pilot cellulosic plant in Scotland, S.D. and will be used at the company's first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant, known as Project Liberty, at Emmetsburg, Iowa in 2011. Project Liberty is the plant at that northwest Iowa location which is in the process of being built for production of cellulosic ethanol from cobs. It will produce 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

Next door is Poet's existing "corn grain ethanol" plant, a 50-million-gallon-per- year facility which the company will remodel and update to produce 100 million gallons per year. Thus, from both sources - cellulosic ethanol at 25 million gallons per year and corn grain ethanol at 100 million gallons per year - Poet's Emmetsburg location will produce a total of 125 million gallons of ethanol per year.

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Basketball Champ Loves Ethanol Maker
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – August 12th, 2009

After four NBA Championships, Shaquille O’Neal is pretty much a household word. Now he wants a new moniker to represent his investment in what could become the next big household appliance – the E‐Fuel MicroFueler™ that makes ethanol from organic waste or leftover alcoholic beverages.

Sometimes known as the “Big Diesel,” Shaq said during a demonstration of the microfueler in California last week that he now wants to be called “Big Ethanol.”

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Brazil Enters B4 Era: 4% of Biodiesel Is Added to All Diesel
Written by Sabrina Craide
Monday, 03 August 2009

Brazil will be soon holding an auction to meet the need for increasing the rate of biodiesel mixed with mineral diesel to 4%. For that a total of 460,000 cubic meters of biodiesel should be sold in the 15th Biodiesel Auction, with delivery due from October 1st to December 31st 2009 or earlier.

The auction will be promoted in August by the National Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuel Agency (ANP), which is going to set the date and maximum reference price in an edict.

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Ethanol research site gets $360,000 federal grant

Chicago Tribune
Associated Press
8:02 a.m. CDT, August 13, 2009

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - An ethanol research center at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville is getting $360,000 in federal help.

The National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center got the grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through this year's omnibus bill.

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UMC Tests Feasibility of Running Equipment on Canola Biodiesel:
Tuesday, August 04, 2009 5:52 AM

The Challenge: Get Canola Biodiesel From a Local Crush Plant, Fill a Farm Machine and Go to Work.

Source: Grand Forks Herald (Grand Forks, N.D.))By Matt Bewley, Grand Forks Herald, N.D.

Aug. 4--CROOKSTON -- The challenge: Get canola biodiesel from a local crush plant, fill a farm machine and go to work.

This scenario is getting closer every day to becoming a reality, and a lot of people are waiting for it. Barry Coleman, executive director of the Northern Canola Growers Association, is one of them.

"I know plenty of people who would like to get the canola biodiesel from a crush plant and use the biodiesel themselves," he said.

Paul Aakre, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, is heading an effort to test the feasibility of the concept.

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Ethanol to exceed corn's role as livestock feed

Queensland Country Life
8/08/2009 4:00:00 AM

IOWA State University, US, energy economist Robert Wisner predicts that within three years demand for corn for ethanol may well exceed the traditional largest source of demand for corn – livestock feeding.

Wisner, however, says the current US ethanol blend wall (10pc) limits the market for ethanol, thus tending to depress its price relative to gasoline.

He forecasts that unless the US Environmental Protection Agency decides to authorise the higher E12 or E15 - blends that ethanol boosters seek - ethanol prices may continue dropping relative to gasoline, slowing ethanol industry expansion and putting downward pressure on US corn prices.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Brazil’s Ethanol-Enhanced History

Ethanol Producer Magazine September 2009
By Pedro G. Seraphim

Together, with the appearance of the flexible fuel vehicles in 2003, the infrastructure and culture that forms the inheritance of Brazil’s 1970s “Pró-Álcool” program is the key for the development of its local ethanol industry, with no strings attached to tax incentives or protective policies.

Energy security comes from energy diversity. This phrase sounds very fashionable, but it was the motto that, in the mid-1970s, led Brazil to create its National Alcohol Program, better known as the “Pró-Álcool” program. At that time, the world had been hit by two oil price bombs, caused by production restraints in OPEC countries, and oil prices soared from a few cents per gallon to a couple of dollars per gallon. It is almost funny to compare those prices to the ones we have become accustomed to seeing today, but many people remember how all oil importing countries were affected by that sudden change, spreading an economic and financial crisis that drove the world into recession (by the way, that also seems to be nothing now).

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ISU report is favorable to ethanol production.

Farm Futures
Ethanol Will Get Cleaner and Greener

In a report released by Don Hofstrand, the Iowa State University professor says that ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 54% compared to conventional gasoline. Hofstrand believes continued innovation in the ethanol industry will only make ethanol cleaner and greener, further reducing emissions. Looking ahead, Hofstrand says breakthrough technologies in both farming and ethanol production promise higher corn yields with less use of fertilizer, and more energy efficient biorefineries with lower emissions.

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U.S. biofuel makers want CO2 credits in climate bill

Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:34pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Makers of biofuels and plastics and chemicals made from crops want U.S. senators to change the climate bill to give them free pollution permits that would be needed to emit greenhouse gases under the legislation.

Companies that make the alternative motor fuel ethanol and plastics from renewable biomass, rather than fossil fuels, have visited Senate offices to urge that 1 percent to 5 percent of the emissions permits in a cap and trade program outlined in the bill be given to the businesses from 2012 to 2050.

Such credits were not included for those industries in the House of Representatives version of the bill passed in June. Democratic leaders hope the full Senate will vote on the legislation in October.

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The Dong-A ILBO (Korea)

The government seeks to develop bio gas, or gas generated from waste, as an energy source similar to natural gas. Bio gas is produced when organic materials in garbage, animal waste and sewage dregs decompose.

Bio gas is created by gathering and refining gas given off by waste. Some 60 percent of the ingredients of gas from waste is methane, an energy source for city and natural gas. A refining process eliminates impurities such as ammonia and sulfur compounds that cause foul smells, and results in the production of bio gas 95 percent pure.

Bio gas generates 8,500 calories per square meter, slightly lower than that of natural gas (10,400 calories per square meter).

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Ethanol producers hopeful for rebound in E85 sales

Des Moines Register
By DAN PILLER • • August 12, 2009

Ethanol producers who endured a hard winter and spring of low prices and high corn costs hope that more favorable prices for the 85 percent blend will boost fuel sales."We know sales of E85 were down anywhere from 15 to 30 percent in the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year, but the second quarter should be gangbusters," said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

"E85 is not going to be a game-changer."Only about 2 to 3 percent of the 270 million vehicles on U.S. roads have "flex-fuel" capability to use the 85 percent ethanol blend.

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U.S. corn for ethanol 4.2 bln bu in 2009/10-USDA

Reuters India
Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:12pm IST

WASHINGTON, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Ethanol makers will use 4.2 billion bushels of corn to make the renewable motor fuel during 2009/10, up from 3.65 billion bushels this marketing year, the U.S. Agriculture Department estimated on Wednesday.

USDA raised its estimate by 100 million bushels from a month ago, saying it expected higher ethanol use "supported by favorable ethanol producer returns and strong incentives for ethanol blending."

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The good news: Oil doesn't have to rise that much more for cellulosic ethanol to become economically viable.

The bad news: You people in the labs have a lot of work ahead of you.

Sandia National Labs will soon release a report on cellulosic ethanol and what sort of barriers need to be knocked down so that cellulosic can become at least a 75 billion gallon a year business, according to the Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog. The study states that cellulosic can't become competitive with oil unless oil stays above $90 a barrel.

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Monsanto exec: Ethanol still important energy source

The News-Gazette (Champaign, IL)
By Don Dodson
Wednesday, August 12, 2009 2:20 PM CDT

CHAMPAIGN – The economics of corn-based ethanol aren't as bright as they were a few years ago, but the fuel still needs to be part of America's energy portfolio, a Monsanto Co. executive says.

"We were living in a pretty sweet spot a couple years ago," Martha Schlicher told about 70 people attending an "Agri-Energy" conference at Parkland College on Tuesday.

At the time, favorable margins and free-flowing capital spurred rapid development of ethanol plants.

In 2000, the nation had 56 such plants with a total capacity of 1.8 billion gallons a year. By 2006, the number had grown to 110 plants with a capacity of 4.8 billion gallons a year. By last year, more than 180 plants had been built, able to produce 10 billion gallons a year.

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US Government Continues To Fund Renewable Energy R&D

Renewable Energy
August 12, 2009
by Ernie Tucker, NREL
Washington, DC, United States []

Last month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) made yet another round of funding announcements for renewable energy projects and initiatives again showing its ongoing commitment to the greening of the American economy.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009


MADISON - The Department of Energy (DOE) Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) has received $8.099 million in new funding from the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to provide crucial support for plant cell wall imaging and sustainability research.

( - MADISON - The Department of Energy ( DOE ) Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center ( GLBRC ) has received $8.099 million in new funding from the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to provide crucial support for plant cell wall imaging and sustainability research.

The Office of Biological and Environmental Research ( BER ) of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science has allocated $4.099 million in Recovery Act funds for GLBRC plant cell wall imaging technology and DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy ( EERE ) is providing $4 million in funding to enhance and accelerate GLBRC sustainability research.

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MSU receives $1.7 million in stimulus funding for sustainability research

Michigan State University
Published: Aug. 10, 2009 E-mail Editor

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University scientists working with the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center will use $1.7 million in federal stimulus funding to study the environmental benefits and consequences of cellulosic biofuel crops.

The Department of Energy awarded a total of $8.1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to the center, which includes partners University of Wisconsin-Madison and MSU. About half of that money will be used to enhance and accelerate sustainability research, and the other half will research plant cell wall imaging technology.

The money allocated to biofuel sustainability research will be used to study carbon cycling, water quality and greenhouse gas emissions associated with biofuel cropping systems, as well as develop more complex modeling technology, said Phil Robertson, MSU professor of crop and soil sciences who leads GLBRC sustainability research.

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MarketsandMarkets: Global Renewable Chemicals Market Worth US$59.1 Billion by 2014


WILMINGTON, Delaware, August 11 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a new market research report, 'Renewable Chemicals Market (2009-2014)', published by MarketsandMarkets (, the global renewable chemicals is expected to be worth US$ 59.1 billion by 2014, with the U.S. and Europe accounting for nearly 30% and 35% of the total revenues respectively. The global market is expected to record a CAGR of 5.3% from 2009 to 2014.

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Cellulosic Ethanol Getting Closer

Dakota Farmer
By: Compiled by staff
Published: Aug 10, 2009

Developer claims fuel won't need federal tax credit.

Cole Gustafson, NDSU's biofuels economist, says cellulosic ethanol isn't four or five years away. It's here now.

At the recent Fuel Ethanol Workshop, several companies, including Coskata, Dupont/Danisco, Logen, Lignol, Poet and PureVision, announced that they already have production from their demonstration plants or will within the year, he says.

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Jatropha Feedstock Developments

Seeking Alpha
by: James Rickman August 10, 2009

The Jatropha plant or shrub like tree can grow in a wide variety of climates. Its seeds contain about 40% oil that can be extracted for energy as feedstock for renewable biodiesel production. Currently, the early stage Jatropha emerging market is growing at 18% annually. This promising biofuel feedstock receives about $600 million invested annually in targeted Jatropha developments.

Today, there are 242 Jatropha cultivation projects worldwide totaling roughly 930,000 hectares. The plantation production capacity is rapidly growing and should reach 13 million hectares exceeding well over $1 billion invested annually by 2015.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Underwriters Laboratories Announces New Certification Path for Ethanol Fuel Dispensers


New certification path addresses mid-level fuel blends

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Aug. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a world leader in product safety testing services, announced today a new certification path for fuel dispensers for mid-level ethanol blends up to E25. With the new certification path, manufacturers of dispensers, assemblies and components now have three certification options to choose from to balance market needs and provide maximum flexibility as advances are made in the fuel industry.

"The development of renewable energies continues to evolve at a rapid pace and we understand the need for future innovation, cost effectiveness and getting product to market quickly; however, public safety must remain paramount," said Jeff Smidt, General Manager Global Energy Business for UL. "We now have multiple certification paths available for fuel dispensers that will provide not only for public safety, but also future blend flexibility for dispenser manufacturers. We feel with this additional certification path, we have addressed current and future industry needs."

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Ethanol industry wants U.S. cars alt-fuel ready

Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:15pm EDT

* Trade group urges all new U.S. cars to be "flex-fuel"
* Would more than double the number of biofuels jobs
* Cellulosic ethanol better for environment vs gasoline
* EPA has until Dec. 1 to decide on E15 fuel (Adds source of emissions study, paragraph 6)

LAS VEGAS, Aug 10 (Reuters) - The ethanol industry called for requirements that all vehicles sold in the United States accept high blends of the alternative motor fuel as part of a push to lower greenhouse gas emissions and provide jobs at home.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Microbes provide solutions to energy issues

Michigan State University
Published: Aug. 06, 2009 E-mail Editor

After three years of research, Gemma Reguera, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and of crop and soil sciences at Michigan State University, has developed a process that can be harnessed to produce clean, cheap electricity and fuel from plant biomass.

Microbial fuel cells are attracting interest as they are inexpensive to manufacture and produce no harmful by-products.

Using a specific selection of metal-reducing microorganisms in the Geobacter species – bacteria that are natural inhabitants of environments abundant in metals – Reguera was able to design a microbial fuel cell that acts as a natural battery to convert plant biomass into electrical power and produces a high yield, low-cost cellulosic ethanol product.

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Purdue, Notre Dame get $38.5M for energy research

Chicago Tribune
Associated Press
10:00 AM CDT, August 9, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame are getting $38.5 million in federal stimulus funds to study and develop new energy technologies.

Purdue will get $20 million to design improved ways of converting biomass to energy, fuels or chemicals. Notre Dame will get $18.5 million to create advanced nuclear energy systems.

The five-year funding comes through the U.S. Department of Energy and is aimed at boosting scientific breakthroughs needed to create a new energy economy for the nation.

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CEO envisions a Gulf Coast algae boom

Houston Chronicle
By BRETT CLANTON Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
Aug. 8, 2009, 1:35AM

When Paul Woods looks at the Texas Gulf Coast, with its heavy industry, large tracts of flat land and muddy salt water, he thinks two words: algae farms.

In his vision, these farms would span hundreds of acres each, heading south from Freeport. On them would be long, clear plastic tubes filled with salt water and algae. And when pumped with carbon dioxide from nearby oil refineries and chemical plants, they would yield a valuable crop: ethanol.

“I really see Texas as just an ideal location,” said Woods, the CEO of Algenol Biofuels, a company in Bonita Springs, Fla.

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Phibro sets record straight on antibiotic use in ethanol industry

Ethanol Producer Magazine August 2009
By Hope Deutscher
Report posted Aug. 7, 2009, at 2:48 p.m. CST

For years antimicrobials have been used by the ethanol industry to control bacteria breakouts during the process and, according to Tom Slunecka, vice president of marketing for PhibroChem Ethanol Performance Group, antimicrobials – both antibiotics and chemicals – are used by many facilities and are vital for good strong economic production of ethanol.

Recently, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy released a report that called for the ethanol industry to stop using necessary antibiotics in the production process. (Read “Report: Ethanol industry moving away from antibiotic use.”)

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Experts say electric cars are on the way

The Detroit News
Saturday, August 8, 2009
David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Traverse City -- Automakers, biofuel companies and battery makers are rushing to bring two new technologies to the nation's auto fleet: plug-in electric hybrids and cellulosic ethanol.

At the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars here Friday, automakers and start-up officials said the future is bright for both technologies though they face hurdles to widespread adoption.

"The next five years is the engineering (research and development) and the next five years is the rapid scale-up for both plug-ins and cellulosic ethanol," said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Study Suggests Ethanol May Tap Too Much Of Nation's Water Supply

All Headline News
David Goodhue - AHN Reporter
August 6, 2009 6:03 a.m. EST

St. Paul, MN (AHN) - A new report suggests ethanol mandates are having a negative impact on the nation's water supplies, and that regional considerations should be factored when creating ethanol policy.

Ethanol production from corn and sugarcane is about 9 billion gallons a year, and is expected to increase with more federal and state mandates. Previous studies estimated that a gallon of corn-based ethanol requires the use of between 263 to 784 gallons of water from the farm to the fuel pump.

But researchers from the University of Minnesota say that number may be much higher. They say it may be more along the lines of 2,100 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol, depending on regional irrigation practices of growing corn.

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Reality Pricks Corn Ethanol's Bubble
By: Doug Struck August 06, 2009 05:00 AM (PDT)

Cost and carbon have chopped down the high hopes America's Midwest had for growing the nation off climate-changing foreign oil.

While corn may not be the answer, biologically derived fuels remain the holy grail for many researchers. In Part II ("Surely There's Some Flora Out There to Fuel My Car"), Doug Struck looks at efforts ranging from other cellulosic ethanol options to pond scum.

The vision of vast golden fields of corn supplying the fuel for our cars, once the dream of environmentalists and farmers, is disappearing, its allure dimmed by science and reality.

Corn-based ethanol was seen as such an ideal solution for our transportation fuel that Congress leaped to write it into law. In a swoon over ethanol in 2007, Congress mandated a fivefold increase in biofuels — 42 percent of it from corn — in 15 years.

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Tires to match your cellulosic ethanol?

CNet News: GreenTech
August 6, 2009 7:00 AM PDT
by Candace Lombardi

I'm sure you've heard of a rubber tree plant, but have you also heard about the new rubber tree tire?

Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) have developed a tire made from plant materials combined with rubber that offers several benefits over conventionally manufactured tires.

The rubber composite contains microcrystalline cellulose as an additive, a material that can be made from a wide variety of plant materials, instead of the usual carbon black or silica typically used.

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Of Corn Ethanol Production
8/6/2009 10:07:00 AM

In last month’s article we discussed recent University of Nebraska research showing the Net Energy Balance, Ethanol to Petroleum ratio and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from the corn ethanol industry. Variations in these coefficients under alternative ethanol production systems were described. In addition, emerging technologies for producing corn and ethanol were discussed and their potential impact on these factors.

In this article we will continue to focus on GHG emissions including a detailed analysis of the sources of these emissions from corn and ethanol production. We will also show how GHG emissions from corn production vary based on region of the country. The sale value of GHG credits will be discussed briefly. We will conclude with a summary of the research focus areas for improving corn ethanol production technologies.

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DOE to fund higher ethanol blend projects

Ethanol Producer Magazine August 2009
By Kris Bevill
Report posted Aug. 6, 2009, at 12:18 p.m. CST

The U.S. DOE announced Aug. 4 that it will be providing up to $5.5 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds to multiple projects aimed at increasing the use of ethanol blends up to E85. Areas of focus include infrastructure modifications at retail fueling locations and increasing public awareness on the benefits of ethanol use.

The DOE anticipates awarding between 15 and 30 recipients grants ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 — $3.5 million total — for projects focused on infrastructure expansion. Acceptable projects include: upgrades to existing dispensers; addition of new dispensing infrastructure; and replacement, modifications or addition of ethanol storage tanks. The agency will give higher consideration to projects that include electronic card readers with updated product codes to track the amount of ethanol dispensed. Projects must result in the addition of a minimum of five pumps capable of dispensing E85. The DOE strongly encourages applications which encompass fueling corridors that are no more than 100 miles apart and projects which concentrate higher ethanol blend availability to a targeted geographic area.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Algae Oil Lipid Trigger Breakthrough Sustainable Green Technologies Inc. Announces Innovative Way to Increase Algae Oil Production

Sustainable Green Technologies (SGT) a start-up company in Escondido, California announced today that it has discovered a highly effective and low cost way to massively increase algal oil production. Metabolic engineering research conducted at SGT over the past two years paid off when SGT scientists uncovered the elusive and long sought after “lipid trigger” in green algae.

Escondido, CA, August 04, 2009 --( Sustainable Green Technologies (SGT) a start-up company in Escondido, California announced today that it has discovered a highly effective and low cost way to massively increase algal oil production. Metabolic engineering research conducted at SGT over the past two years paid off when SGT scientists uncovered the elusive and long sought after “lipid trigger” in green algae. Usually algae store excess harvested solar energy in the form of starch and in smaller amounts as lipid droplets within their cells. But under certain ideal conditions, many microalgae appear to flip a switch to turn on massive production and storage of oils instead of starch. The true nature of this metabolic switch as well as the conditions which activate (or trigger) the switch remained elusive. Now SGT is able to activate the switch at will and to create “obese algae.” This breakthrough technology supports the U.S. Advanced Energy Initiative - which seeks to diversify the U.S. energy portfolio and to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

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Obama Administration Announces More Than $327 Million in Recovery Act Funding for Science Research

eNewspf (Park Forest)
Tuesday, 04 August 2009 19:56 Press Release Science and Environmental

Washington, D.C.--(ENEWSPF)--August 4, 2009. U.S Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that more than $327 million in new funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will go toward scientific research, instrumentation, and laboratory infrastructure projects. Ten of DOE’s national laboratories in six states will be receiving funds, along with researchers at institutions of higher learning across the nation.

“These new initiatives will help to create new jobs while allowing the U.S. to maintain its scientific leadership and economic competitiveness ,” said Secretary Steven Chu. “The projects provide vital funding and new tools for research aimed at strengthening America’s energy security and tackling some of science’s toughest challenges.”

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Bay Area national labs get new Recovery Act funding

By Suzanne Bohan Contra Costa Times
Posted: 08/04/2009 03:21:17 PM PDT
Updated: 08/04/2009 09:19:05 PM PDT

A $327 million initiative to bolster research and infrastructure programs at national laboratories is funneling more than $61 million to Bay Area facilities, the Department of Energy announced on Tuesday.

Under the initiative, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory will get $37.8 million in federal Recovery Act funding, with $11 million designated for fusion energy research, $13.1 million for new equipment at the Joint Genome Institute, and $4 million for new instrumentation at the Berkeley lab's Joint BioEnergy Institute. Another $8.8 million will go toward improvements at the lab's Advanced Light Source facility, which generates intense light for scientific research, and $875,000 will support development of "smart grid" technology, which uses computing and communications technologies to improve the efficiency of the electricity grid.

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Oregon Biomass Trade Group Created

Alternative Energy Retailer
in Thermal News > Industry Watch
by AER Staff on Tuesday 04 August 2009

A new trade group has been created to promote the biomass industry in Oregon.

The Oregon BioHeat Association has defined its mission on educating the public and promoting the use of densified wood fuel such as pellets, fire logs and fuel bricks manufactured by Oregon companies from the state's renewable and sustainable biomass sources. Association members consist of Oregon’s densified fuel manufacturers, state agencies, conservation and economic development nonprofits, energy consultants, and energy systems suppliers.

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Dow Jones: Ethanol Outlook Improves, But Seems Tenuous

Agriculture Online
3:12 PM, August 4, 2009
By Ian Berry

CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--An uptick in ethanol production in recent months is
supportive to Chicago Board of Trade corn futures, but the improved prospects
could be short-lived.

Analysts said ethanol margins are currently the strongest they've been in
about a year. Last week, the federal Energy Information Administration reported
ethanol production climbed almost 8% in May to a record high of 20.752 million

The report was a surprise and "confirms our suspicions that (U.S. Department
of Agriculture) 2008-09 corn demand forecasts have room for upward revision,"
JPMorgan analyst Lewis Hagedorn said in a report.

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Corn Power - Sen. Grassley snuffs out dissent on ethanol subsidies.

The Washington Post - Editorial
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

PRESIDENT Obama's nominee as ambassador to Brazil, Thomas A. Shannon Jr., is a longtime diplomat trained to speak honestly without giving unnecessary offense. So when Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) asked Mr. Shannon during his July 8 confirmation hearing about lifting the 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol, most of which comes from Brazil, the State Department veteran responded carefully. "I personally believe that it would be beneficial, sir," Mr. Shannon remarked, "but I recognize that, especially in the U.S. Congress, there are different views at this point in time." In other words: It might be a good idea, but Congress sets policy, not ambassadors.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

NASA researchers assemble “Rosettazyme” synthetic cellusome, potentially increasing cellulosic conversion efficiency

Biofuels Digest
August 04, 2009 Jim Lane

In California, researchers at the NASA Ames Research Center are reporting progress in the development of a synthetic cellusome, a self-assembling enzyme complex that is highly efficient in conversion of cellulose to sugars. The research team published “The Rosettazyme: A Synthetic Cellulosome” appearing in the July 30 issue of the Journal of Biotechnology, and said that have used using protein parts from different microbe to produce multi-enzyme arrays on a protein scaffold of their own design.

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Is Corn Ethanol Cleaner than Crude Oil?

Wall Street Journal Blogs
Environmental Capital: Daily analysis of the business of the environment by The Wall Street Journal.
August 4, 2009, 11:42 AM ET
By Ana Campoy

How green, really, is corn ethanol? It depends how you count.

It’s anything but an academic question—it could determine, in part, how America fuels its cars in the future.

The Environmental Protection Agency dealt a big blow to the ethanol industry earlier this year when it decreed that the corn-based fuel doesn’t have a much better carbon footprint than gasoline made with crude oil.

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Clean Energy: U.S. Lags in Research and Development
By Bryan Walsh Saturday, Aug. 01, 2009

When Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon 40 years ago, it was a triumph of American scientific skill. It was also the result of the government's willingness to spend more than $125 billion, in today's dollars, to take the country to the moon.

The need to remake our energy economy and replace fossil fuels with renewables like wind and solar is often referred to as the new Apollo project, a challenge to our scientists — and to the federal checkbook — that will be even greater than the moon race. We're moving ahead on installing new clean energy — the U.S. was the fastest growing wind-power market in the world in 2008 — and Congress, with the support of President Barack Obama, is on the road to establishing caps on carbon dioxide.

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What's Holding Us Back
Jonathan Fahey, 08.03.09, 06:00 PM EDT

Just 4% of the nation's energy comes from renewable sources. What's the problem?

Sometimes it seems like there's nothing renewable energy can't do. It can create jobs! It can jump-start the economy! It can protect us from terrorists! It can revive the heartland! And, of course, it can save us from climate calamity.

But so far it's not doing much of any of this. Wind, solar, geothermal and biomass satisfied just 4% of our overall energy consumption in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration. By far the biggest chunk of that sliver is thanks to ethanol from corn, which is of dubious environmental and economic benefit.

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Bipartisan House Bill Would Include Algae in RFS

The New York Times
By KATIE HOWELL of Greenwire
Published: August 3, 2009

A bipartisan group of Western lawmakers has introduced legislation that would grant incentives to algae-based biofuels producers.

The bill, H.R. 3460 (pdf), sponsored by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), would add algae-based fuels to cellulosic biofuels requirements in the national renewable fuel standard, or RFS.

Algae-based fuel producers have been lobbying for RFS recognition as they work to scale up their industry (Greenwire, April 28). It is possible that U.S. EPA could include the feedstock in its final rule for implementing the RFS this fall.

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