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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

OriginOil debuts new algae production modeling system

Biofuels Digest

In Texas, OriginOil debuted a comprehensive algae production model developed with the Idaho National Laboratory at the quarterly National Algae Association meeting. The model includes mass and energy balances, modeling for capital costs and materials pricing, and analysis of opportunities for value-add co-products.

The company plans to share this first-ever interactive model for algae production via calculators published on the company’s website, and making the detailed model available to researchers.

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Volvo to Test Biomass Fuel in Europe Next Year for Powering Heavy Trucks
Updated: 9/28/2009 12:00:00 PM
This story appears in the Sept. 28 print edition of Transport Topics.

Volvo Trucks will begin field tests in Europe next year of heavy trucks powered by bioDME, a biomass fuel the company said has long-term potential to replace 50% of diesel now used in European trucking.

Volvo’s Sept. 18 announcement said the tests, which will use a 13-liter engine, are a joint effort that includes the European Union and transport companies that want to gauge the potential of DME — di-methyl ether — to power vehicles.

Volvo said bioDME as a fuel could reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 95% for a combination of high energy efficiency and reduced emissions. Black liquor, a by-product of the pulp and paper industry, is the material that is used to create bioDME.

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UW-L rally: Burning coal isn’t cool (Wisconsin)
KJ LANG Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 12:15 am

Some University of Wisconsin-La Crosse students want to kick coal off campus.

Students plan to rally at 3 p.m. today to show their opposition to UW-L burning coal for heating. Similar rallies will happen across the nation as part of the Sierra Club's "National Day of Action."

UW-L is among nine UW campuses still using coal, according to the state Department of Administration. Yet of the 1,925 facilities that report air emissions in Wisconsin, only 50 burned coal in 2008, said Ralph Patterson, emission inventory team leader for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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A Smarter Way To Kick Start A Clean Energy Industry

The Business Insider Green Sheet
Chris NelderSep. 28, 2009, 3:16 PM 589 7

With the Copenhagen summit on climate change less than three months away, and governments the world over engaged in intensive discussions and preparations, it feels like we are finally standing at a true crossroads.

One direction leads to a vision of a sustainable future, with adequate energy, food, and water for all without compromising the welfare of future generations.

The other direction is a continuation of the path we’re currently on, which the vast preponderance of empirical evidence says is not sustainable, but which continues to be vigorously defended by vested interests.

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Bioenergy PROFITS Principles: “Success = Integrating Your Supply Chain”

Biofuels Digest
September 29, 2009 Jim Lane
by Biofuels Digest columnist Dr. Rosalie Lober

Every element of your business must be interconnected. You spend a great deal of time and effort improving your company’s internal processes, yet how much do you invest in making sure that all your systems and processes work well together? Do you notice any parts that do not belong with the rest?

Integration creates the whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts. It adds cohesiveness and consistency to your business. Work flows from one function to the next seamlessly. Your goals make sense vis a vis every other goal. Your business tells a wonderful story for your customers and employees.

We continue to apply the Bioenergy PROFITS Principles to Amyris Biotechnologies. The focus for this column is the bioenergy principle of INTEGRATION (based on the newly released book, Run Your Business Like a Fortune 100: 7 Principles for Boosting PROFITS, by Rosalie Lober, Ph.D.)

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Poet getting more money for cellulosic ethanol

Chicago Tribune
Associated Press
9:40 a.m. CDT, September 28, 2009

SIOUX FALL, S.D. - Sioux Falls-based Poet is getting more federal money for its effort to turn corn cobs into cellulosic ethanol.

Poet plans a $250 million plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, that is expected to produce about 25 million gallons of ethanol per year when it opens in 2011.

The U.S. Department of Energy says it is giving Poet two funding increases -- about $6.9 million this year and $13.2 million next year -- to bring the department's total commitment to $100 million. Poet says the money will speed up the effort to get cob-harvesting technology into fields.

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Ethanol Co-Product Demand in China
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – September 28th, 2009

The U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC) Annual China Corn Tour currently underway is finding big demand for the ethanol co-product distillers dried grains for livestock feed in that country.

According to Cary Sifferath, USGC Senior Director in China, drought conditions in China this year have led to high corn prices. “Those high prices have led to some opportunities for US feed grains products, specifically distillers dried grains (DDGS) products from the US ethanol industry,” Cary said. “We had roughly 8,000 metric tons of DDGS that was exported from the US into China and right now for 2009 we can easily predict 250,000 to 300,000 tons of distillers dried grains being imported by China’s feed and livestock industry, especially in the southern and coastal areas of China where DDGS has become a very competitive feed ingredient.”

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Senators scrap proposal to shield biofuels industry from EPA rules

Des Moines Register
by PHILIP BRASHER & DAN PILLER • • September 27, 2009

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., and six other senators won't go forward with legislation that would have protected the biofuel industry from some proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules.

The senators proposed an amendment to an agency spending bill that would have barred the agency from considering impacts on international land use in evaluating the carbon footprint of U.S.-produced ethanol and biodiesel.

Harkin received assurances that the agency would "carefully quantify and consider" the uncertainties around analyzing biofuels, spokesman Grant Gustafson said, citing a recent letter from agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.

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WARF, GLBRC join forces on homegrown clean technologies

University of Wisconsin - Madison
Sept. 25, 2009

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) have joined forces to promote "clean" technologies invented at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

As part of the effort, WARF has developed a new "Cleantech" technology section for its Web site at that currently features more than 40 summaries of UW-Madison technologies, including several developed through the GLBRC.

"By making these technologies more visible, we will be better able to support the efforts of the GLBRC and UW-Madison to develop innovative and sustainable sources of energy" said Michael Falk, WARF's general counsel.

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Schools meet demand by offering an increasing number of majors and degrees focused on the environment. (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN)
By JENNA ROSS, Star Tribune
Last update: September 25, 2009 - 11:43 PM

Students at the University of Minnesota-Morris could ride buses fueled by corn, sleep in dorms heated by a biomass furnace and eat food grown on nearby farms. But for years, they couldn't major in the environment.

"It was getting to be embarrassing," said Peter Wyckoff, a biology professor. "We had amazing green facilities out here but didn't have a fully developed green curriculum."

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Study finds RFS2 will result high compliance costs for producers

Ethanol Producer Magazine October 2009
By Erin Voegele
Report posted Sept. 24, 2009, at 5:55 p.m. CST

A new study recently commissioned by the National Corn Growers Association found that the U.S. EPA’s proposed rule for the second stage of the renewable fuel standard (RFS2) is likely to result in high-up front and recurring compliance costs for ethanol producers. The study, titled “Compliance Costs Associated with the Proposed Rulemaking for the Renewable Fuels Standard,” was completed by Informa Economics.

In May the EPA released its proposed rule for the RFS2, which lays out the agency’s strategy for achieving the renewable fuel mandates and compliance standards established by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). EISA ultimately requires the use of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022.

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Ethanol group pushing for country-of-origin labels

Kansas City
The Associated Press

HUTCHINSON, Kan. Ethanol producers are pushing a proposal to mandate country-of-origin labeling on gasoline pumps so consumers know exactly where their fuel comes from. But the nation's refiners say the plan is unworkable.

Growth Energy, an industry group representing about 50 ethanol companies across the nation, launched an effort to increase ethanol consumption in the country.

"We want the industry to be as transparent as possible," said Steve McNinch, CEO of Western Plains Energy in Oakley and a Growth Energy board member. "We want people to be aware when they fuel up where the oil is coming from."

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EPA leaves ethanol out of final GHG reporting program

Ethanol Producer Magazine October 2009
By Kris Bevill
Report posted Sept. 25, 2009, at 11:57 a.m. CST

The U.S. EPA has finalized its rule which will require greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters to collect data and report emissions levels on an annual basis, but has decided not to include ethanol producers on its initial list of emitters.

In its proposal, released in March, the EPA included the ethanol industry as one of the main categories of GHG emitters. (See “EPA proposes GHG reporting program.”) However, in response to comments submitted after the agency’s released proposal, the EPA has decided to remove ethanol from its list of source categories while it further evaluates comments and options.

According to the EPA’s final rule, many commenters agreed with the original list of source categories, but some expressed concern that the EPA would not have sufficient time to consider and address public comments for particular categories.

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Investors Embrace A123, But Is Lithium the New Ethanol?
Published September 25, 2009

The smash hit IPO of lithium ion battery maker A123 Systems is sending waves of euphoria through the clean tech and plug-in car market. Mass.-based A123 Systems is now worth nearly $2 billion—indicating huge investor confidence in the future of electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and the batteries that make them go. Yet, A123 has yet to make a profit and faces significant hurdles to mass commercial success.

In the first day of trading yesterday, A123 Systems rose more than 50 percent to as high as $21.14 before closing at $20.29. The company raised about $380 million, well above its original estimate of a minimum of $250 million.

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Sorghum technical conference brings researchers to Amarillo

The High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal

Researchers from around the country gathered in Amarillo in mid-August to discuss innovations in the sorghum industry.

The Great Plains Sorghum Conference, in conjunction with the Sorghum Improvement Conference of North America, brings some of the country's leading researchers together to discuss genomics, biotechnology, and other projects over two days of presentations and field trips.

One such researcher was Lloyd Rooney, professor at Texas A&M University, who was presenting some of his research into sweet sorghum advancements. He explained that sorghum can be used as a dedicated bioenergy crop either as fuel for electrical plants, or in a thermochemical conversion such as to create biofuels. While it may not be practical, as yet, to grow sweet sorghums strictly for the bioenergy industry in the Texas Panhandle, Rooney explained that researching the genetics of sweet sorghums may allow for advancements in other sorghum varieties.

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Grant focuses on training scientists to turn crops into sustainable energy

The Abilene Reflector-Chronicle
Special to Reflector-Chronicle

Thursday, Sep 24, 2009 MANHATTAN -- A multimillion-dollar grant from the National Science Foundation will help Kansas State University train new Ph.D. students in developing the technology and policies needed for sustainable biorefining.

K-State has received a five-year grant of nearly $3.2 million from the foundation's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program, known as IGERT, for the project "From Crops to Commuting: Integrating the Social, Technological and Agricultural Aspects of Renewable and Sustainable Biorefining," or ISTAR.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Agco seeks to use gov't grant for biomass project

Google News
(AP) – September 24, 2009

DULUTH, Ga. — Farm equipment manufacturer Agco Corp. said Wednesday it wants to use an Energy Department grant of up to $5 million for a project focused on the efficient collection and transportation of biomass to production plants for processing.

Agco will be working with renewable fuel producers and industrial experts who focus on bio-fuels and energy crops.

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EPA Rule Will Reflect 'Uncertainty' on Indirect Biofuels Emissions, Fending Off Amendment

New York Times - Energy & Environment
By BEN GEMAN of Greenwire
Published: September 24, 2009
This story was updated at 11:15 a.m. EDT.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) yesterday backed off efforts to block EPA from weighing contested ethanol emissions after Administrator Lisa Jackson pledged that biofuels rules will reflect uncertainty around international indirect land-use change emissions.

Harkin and several other farm-state members had crafted an amendment to the agency's fiscal 2010 spending bill that would have barred use of funds to consider these greenhouse gas emissions when implementing the national biofuels mandate. The bill is currently on the Senate floor (see related story).

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Ethanol regulations would bring higher costs


A study commissioned by the National Corn Growers Association tallies the high cost of proposed regulations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard. The study found that the up-front cost to the ethanol industry for compliance with the new regulations could reach $30 million, with annually recurring compliance costs reaching up to $420 million.

Higher costs for ethanol producers mean increased costs for corn growers, said Steve Ruh, chairman of NCGA's Ethanol Committee.

"Paperwork has a price," Ruh said. "At a time of economic recession, the last thing any industry needs are new regulations – especially unneeded recurring reporting requirements – that can cost up to a half-billion dollars a year."

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Biomass Innovation Centre launched in Ontario

Biomass Magazine October 2009
By Lisa Gibson
Posted September 23, 2009, at 4:03 p.m. CST

Nipissing University’s Biomass Innovation Centre on its campus in North Bay, Ontario, Canada, will provide resources and education about biomass heating and energy to building professionals, engineers and researchers in an effort help develop an infrastructure for the industry.

The organization focuses on biomass for space heating, particularly wood pellets, according to Bob Carpenter, director of the School of Business and Economics, which developed the center. The campus is in a heavily forested region, making woody biomass its most logical renewable resource, Carpenter said, adding that the region has been called the “Saudi Arabia of biomass.” “There’s a lot of wood that is harvested that is waste,” he said. It’s estimated that 100 million metric tons of wood is available in forests now, he cites. “It’s good for forests to have some of that slash removed.” Not only does extraction of biomass improve forest health, he said, but it would allow the replacement of imported oil with locally produced products. In addition, wood-pellet production could create at least 600 jobs in the region under the right circumstances, according to the University.

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ADM Says Crop-Yield Gains Enough to Meet Food, Ethanol Demand
By Alan Bjerga and Peter Cook

Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Archer Daniels Midland Co., the world’s largest grain processor, expects improved yields will deliver enough crops during the next 40 years to supply rising demand for ethanol without hurting the food supply.

Archer Daniels, based in Decatur, Illinois, plans to boost output and storage capacity as global food needs rise, Chief Executive Officer Patricia Woertz said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Washington. Rising use of biofuels in the U.S. hasn’t cut available food supplies because of greater crop yields, she said.

“The ability to match the ethanol needs for corn is way outstripped by the additional yields,” said Woertz, who runs the second-biggest U.S. ethanol producer. Increased yields have provided for greater exports in recent years even as ethanol production consumes almost a third of the U.S. corn crop, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.

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Bio-fuel research stimulate economy

Collegiate Times (Virginia Tech University)
by Allison Sanders, news staff writer
Tuesday, September 22, 2009; 10:56 PM

Virginia Tech is once again shooting for environmental friendliness by creating a sustainable source of bio-fuel in Danville, Va.

The construction of the Sustainable Energy Technology Center will be breaking ground in Cyber Park in early 2010 as a part of the expansion of the Virginia Tech-sponsored Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

The $10.5 million project has been funded by grants awarded to IALR by the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, an organization that promotes economic growth and development in tobacco-dependent areas.

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Precision Ag Testing Of Biomass Crops

Posted by Kurt – September 23rd, 2009

Biomass crops slated for ethanol production are gaining research dollars as scientists use precision agriculture remote sensing to study the issues and logistics of getting crops from field production to the biorefinery gate.

"A lot has to happen to a plant from the time it first captures sunlight in a field to being dispensed as fuel at the pump. For corn-to-ethanol, that path is fairly predictable, but for energy crops such as Miscanthus or switchgrass the journey is still through somewhat uncharted territory," said KC Ting.

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Chevron invests in renewable diesel pioneer LS9, as early-stage company completes $25 million funding round

Biofuels Digest
September 24, 2009 Jim Lane

In California, LS9 announced it successfully completed a $25 million round of funding. Participating investors included CTTV Investments LLC, the venture capital arm of Chevron Technology Ventures LLC; Flagship Ventures; Khosla Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

LS9 is currently producing UltraClean Diesel at its pilot facility. UltraClean Diesel has achieved U.S. and Brazilian performance standards for on-road use, and achieves an 85% reduction in green house gas emissions. LS9 has demonstrated its ability to modify the genetic makeup of its microorganisms and precisely tailor LS9 end products to have improved fuel properties such as cetane, volatility, oxidative stability and cold-flow. LS9 will demonstrate commercial scale production of UltraClean Diesel in 2010.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Montana Awards Grants For Woody Biomass Studies

Alternative Energy Retailer
by AER Staff on Tuesday 22 September 2009

The Montana Department of Commerce has awarded $425,000 in grants to a pair of Montana energy companies for biomass energy feasibility studies.The Big Sky Business Journal reports that $300,000 has been awarded to Porter Bench Energy LLC and $125,000 has been awarded to NorthWestern Energy. Both companies will study the commercial viability of developing woody biomass generation plants in the state, which could be used to rejuvenate the state's struggling timber industry.

SOURCE: Big Sky Business Journal

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Byproduct of ethanol may help feed world

Sioux Falls Argus Leader
STEVE YOUNG • • September 22, 2009

SDSU team sees hope in dried distillers grain

BROOKINGS - In places where children go hungry, where crops aren't plentiful and meat is scarce, Padu Krishnan, Sowmya Arra and Kurt Rosentrater think they might have an answer.
In a fourth-floor laboratory on the South Dakota State University campus, they're working to turn dried distillers grain - a byproduct of ethanol production - into a flour rich in fiber and protein.

In perfecting the process - washing the grain, grinding it into powder, sterilizing it, heating it in a vacuum and removing its color, taste and smell - the trio is convinced it can put money into the pockets of farmers while feeding the world.

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“Benjamins for Biofuels”: Part I: Who’s getting money now, and how

Biofuels Digest
September 22, 2009 Jim Lane

Today, Biofuels Digest debuts the first article in a series on where the industry is obtaining financing this year — one year after the seizure of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and the collapse of Lehman Brothers, triggered the global financial meltdown.

In part I of the series, we will look at creative financing sources being used today.

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Biobutanol May Help Reduce Cloud Point of Biodiesel: Australian Research
09/17/2009 04:15:53 PM

New data from University of Adelaide illuminate research in science Science [Energy Weekly News]

Publication Date: September 25, 2009 12:01:00 AM EDT"

A property of biodiesel that Currently restricts its use to blends of 20% or less is its relatively poor low-temperature properties (Cloud point). Alkoxylation of the unsaturated fraction of biodiesel offers the potential benefit of reduced cloud point without compromising ignition quality or oxidation stability," scientists in Adelaide, Australia report.

"In addition, the butoxylation of butyl biodiesel improves the renewable nature of biodiesel by substituting fossil-derived methanol with biobutanol.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Alternative Energy Machine May Double World Food Production

Foods Online
September 18, 2009

San Diego, /PRNewswire/ -- The single largest year over year potential increase in the industrial age of food production may occur with the use of a San Diego based alternative energy company's machinery. Circle Biodiesel & Ethanol Corporation has announced that their latest patent-pending machinery design enables previously inedible foods such as toxic strains of algae and Jatropha to be edible with an operation that can occur in less than four hours.

CEO Peter Schuh has calculated, using figures based on landmass and ocean acreage, the potential for the huge increase in production. "Many algae and other plants that were inedible should now be edible. We believe we are in a great situation to help on the growing concern for world food production," says Peter Schuh.

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Studying Sorghum for Ethanol in Maryland
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – September 19th, 2009

Researchers at Salisbury University in Maryland are studying the potential for growing sweet sorghum for cellulosic ethanol in the state.

Since May, eight sweet sorghum varieties have been growing on a Wicomico County farm for evaluation as potential stock for ethanol production on the Delmarva peninsula. Dr. Samuel Geleta of Salisbury Univerisity’s Biological Sciences Department says about half of the varieties have already been harvested, with the rest to be finished by mid-October. Some of the plants grew to a height of 12 feet. He said sweet sorghum is attractive because it is drought resistant, fast-growing and has low nutrient and fertilization requirements. “Sweet sorghum can be grown on marginal land with less fertilizer and water as compared to corn,” Geleta said. “Since sweet sorghum juice contains simple sugar, producing ethanol from it simply requires extracting the juice and fermenting.”

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Cash is King in Renewable Energy Development

CleanTech Blog
Friday, September 18, 2009

It is a buyer’s market for those developing large wind, solar, bioenergy, biofuel, and other renewable energy projects. In 2009, land is less expensive , equipment cost less, deliveries are faster, and warranties longer. It is a buyer’s market if you have cash, yet it continues to be a difficult time to secure debt financing. This message was consistent from the majority attending the FRA Renewable Energy Finance and Investment Summit this week. I chaired the renewable fuels track and had a chance to talk with a number of developers and financers of renewable energy and fuels.

Demand for renewable energy is at a record high as U.S. utilities in about 30 states struggle to meet RPS (renewable Portfolio Standards). These utilities want to sign PPA (Power Purchase Agreements) for 5 to 20 years of wind power, solar, bioenergy, geothermal, and other renewable production. In the future, to meet targets these utilities may need to directly develop, own, and operate these RE plants. Many would need PUC (public utility commission) approval to make this part of their business model.

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Unlocking algae's potential for biofuel
By TIFFANY HSU • Los Angeles Times • September 20, 2009

Scientists see promise in 'nature's solar panels' despite challenges

To many, algae is little more than pond scum, a nuisance to swimmers and boaters.

But to a growing community of scientists and investors, there is oil locked in all that slimy stuff, and companies are racing to try to figure how best to unleash it and produce an affordable biofuel.

The companies have set up shop in the San Diego area -- around 200 biotech companies are clustered on a mesa above Torrey Pines State Beach.

Together, the companies and organizations conducting algae research employ nearly 300 people with more than $16 million in payroll and bring $33 million annually into the local economy, according to the San Diego Association of Governments.

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URI students build microbial fuel cell to generate electricity, reuse waste from biodiesel process

University of Rhode Island
Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-2116

KINGSTON, R.I. – September 14, 2009 – Two University of Rhode Island students spent the summer building a unique fuel cell that uses bacteria and the waste stream from the production of biodiesel to generate renewable energy.

Chemical engineering students Sarah Hanselman of Bangor, Maine, and Patricia Coutts of Hyde Park, N.Y., collaborated with Professor Stanley Barnett to develop this new form of green energy.

According to the students, there is a growing need to convert the waste stream from the process of making biodiesel – 90 percent of which is glycerol – into other valuable products. So they built a small fuel cell using the biodiesel waste products as the fuel. When they added bacteria to the biodiesel waste, the microorganism oxidized the fuel through an electrode to generate electricity.

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NREL Team Tests Higher Ethanol Fuel Mix
September 19th, 2009 by Heather Lammers

( -- Going on a diet can be good for you. And maybe a gasoline "diet" of traditional fuel blended with increased levels of ethanol will be good for the environment and economy without hurting cars and small engines. Researchers are trying to find out because new ethanol blends could play a starring role in reducing petroleum use.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (PDF 821 KB) (EISA) is one force behind the quest for higher blends. The 2007 law requires that the U.S. use 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. But, a leaner benchmark is just around the corner, with 15 billion gallons required by 2012. "We're pushed right now to find ways to get more ethanol into the fuel stream," said Keith Knoll, senior project leader for National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Fuels Performance Group.

Currently, ethanol is the most widely used and readily available renewable fuel. As a result, it is a likely candidate to make up a significant chunk of the 36 billion gallons required under EISA. Ethanol as a motor fuel is commonly found in E85, a fuel intended for use only in Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs). Ethanol also is widely used as a 10 percent blend in standard gasoline (E10) to reduce carbon monoxide emissions and smog. But, increasing ethanol from the current 10 percent blend to a proposed blend of E15 or even E20, brings up a whole host of questions and issues.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

U.S. Fossil-Fuel Subsidies Twice That of Renewables
By Tina Seeley

Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Fossil fuels including oil, natural gas and coal received more than twice the level of subsidies that renewable energy sources got from the U.S. government in fiscal 2002 through 2008, the Environmental Law Institute said.

Government spending and tax breaks amounted to $72.5 billion for fossil fuels and $29 billion for renewable energy, according to a report by the institute today.

“With climate change and energy legislation pending on Capitol Hill, our research suggests that more attention needs to be given to the existing perverse incentives for ‘dirty’ fuels in the U.S. tax code,” said John Pendergrass, a lawyer for the institute.

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Utah’s Freeway-to-Fuel uses idle roadsides, airport, military lands for biofuels production

Biofuels Digest
September 18, 2009 Jim Lane

In Utah, the “Freeways-to-Fuel” project, sponsored by the Utah Department of Transportation, US Department of Transportation, New Holland Agriculture and the National Biodiesel Board, has identified 200 acres of vacant lands near the Salt Lake City Airport that will be used for an expansion of safflower cultivation using idle lands along roadsides, and near military bases, airports and local municipalities.

The project currently being trialed at the Utah Botanical Center, advocated the use of idle lands to reduce up to $300 per mile in roadside maintenance costs, and cultivating safflower, canola and soybeans to produce protein for humans and livestock, and vegetable oil for biodiesel.

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RFA, Renewable Fuels Foundation, and FFA Partner to Provide Biofuels Education to High School Students

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: September 17, 2009

Washington—Education is a critical aspect of all successful innovations and fundamental to efforts to change the way things have always been done. Our nation’s current energy crisis is no exception.

That is why the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Renewable Fuels Foundation (RFF) are partnering with teachers and the National FFA Organization to provide tens of thousands of high school students information about the opportunities available to them in the field of renewable fuels.

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MSU Researchers Lead The Way In Green Energy

Great Lakes IT Report
Posted: Thursday, 17 September 2009 4:29PM

Michigan State University’s College of Engineering is working to improve the world’s alternative energy future thanks to three grants totaling $141.5 million.

“We think that no single solution is going to be able to address the energy problem we’re confronting today,” said Satish Udpa, dean of the College of Engineering. “So we feel we need to be working in several areas simultaneously. We have strong programs in thermoelectrics, biofuels and battery storage technology.”

MSU is the lead institution in a new $12.5 million U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored Energy Frontier Research Center focusing on the study of thermoelectric energy conversion. Led by Donald Morelli, professor of chemical engineering and materials science, the team is developing methods to convert heat to electricity. Applications range from waste heat recovery from automobiles to solar thermal energy conversion.

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Job openings expected in the bioenergy industry: industry needs HR support

CNW Group

OTTAWA, Sept. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's growing bioenergy industry represents job opportunities for Canadians, but the relatively small size of companies in the sector means they need support to recruit, retain and develop that talent according to the report Generating opportunity: Human resources needs in the bioenergy, biofuels and industrial biotechnology subsector released by BioTalent Canada today.

Increasing public demand for cost-efficient alternative energy sources and the federal government's mandate to include at least five per cent ethanol in gasoline by 2010, means that bioenergy companies are central to a resurgent Canadian economy. The report confirms that success is dependent, in part, on having the necessary skilled and job-ready talent.

"Canadians who've lost their manufacturing jobs can look to the biofuels and bioenergy sector as a real option," said Colette Rivet, executive director of BioTalent Canada. "The biofuels industry will be looking for job-ready talent with transferable skills."

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Students, Sierra Club protest coal use on MU campus

TheManeater (student newspaper for the University of Missouri)
By Trevor Eischen
Published Sept. 18, 2009

The protest is one of 60 taking place around the country.

About 25 students, organized by the Sierra Club, gathered Wednesday at Speakers Circle to voice their plea to the university to abandon coal energy and enact cleaner alternatives.
The rally is one of 60 being held at college campuses nationwide.

Students formed a curved line behind student speakers in the circle. They carried large signs reading "Coal=Past, Clean=Future" and "Get Mizzou Clean Energy." Some even had dark lines under their face to represent soot produced by power plant smokestacks.

"No more coal," the students shouted.

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Hungarian monks turn abbey green with biomass plant

Fri Sep 18, 2009 8:34am EDT
By Marton Dunai

PANNONHALMA, Hungary (Reuters) - The Abbey of Pannonhalma celebrated its millennium in 1996. The monks never looked back, and already have the next 1,000 years in mind.

Before winter sets in, the picturesque hilltop Abbey will get its own heating plant that runs on wood refuse from a nearby forestry and plant debris from local farms. It will nearly halve energy costs while cutting fossil fuel usage.

"We will eliminate the need to burn natural gas in all but the coldest days of the year," said chief architect Sandor Beck, pointing at the concrete skeleton of the plant. "We will put solar panels on the roof, and even collect and use rainwater."

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Bioenergy PROFITS Principles: Reality — Does the Emperor have clothes?

Biofuels Digest
September 17, 2009
By Biofuels Digest columnist Dr. Rosalie Lober

New entrepreneurs are exciting and full of energy. Passion, intensity, focus -- bordering on obsession is what most entrepreneurs include in stories of their road to success.

What distinguishes a successful entrepreneur from a rat running a maze? The answer is the ability to identify and face reality!

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$70.5 million awarded to Arizona Public Service to upgrade, expand algae biofuels project as Obama expands the war on carbon

Biofuels Digest
September 17, 2009 Jim Lane

In Arizona, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that Arizona Public Service has been awarded $70.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to expand its ongoing algae-based carbon mitigation project.

The project will now be tested with a coal-based gasification system that aims to minimize production of carbon dioxide when gasifying coal.

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Fulcrum Bioenergy announces next generation ethanol breakthrough

The Nipawin Journal
Updated 9/16/09

Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., a leader in the next generation of advanced biofules, announced Sept. 1 that it has successfully demonstrated the ability to economically produce renewable ethanol. This milestone - achieved at the company's Turning Point Ethanol Demonstration Plant - confirms the second of the two new technologies that Fulcrum will use for the large-scale production of transportation fuel from garbage that would otherwise be landfill.

"The operating results from our Turning Point Ethanol Plant represents a watershed event for Fulcrum and t his new industry. It opens the door to our large development program that will reduce our country's dependence on foreign oil, lower greenhouse gas emissions and create new green jobs," said E. James Macias, Fulcrum President and CEO. "By demonstrating first the clean and efficient conversion of garbage to syngas, and now syngas to ethanol, we have demonstrated that the technology is ready for deployment at our first large-scale project, the Sierra BioFuels Plant."

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King's College London signs agreement to strengthen Brazilian research links

King's College London has signed a unique agreement with the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP), the State of São Paulo Research Foundation, Brazil. With this agreement King's has become FAPESP's first and only university partner in the UK.

The two institutions have agreed to encourage and support more scientific cooperation between King's and researchers working at institutions in the State of São Paulo. The cooperation agreement spans all areas of knowledge, covering Biological Sciences, Health Sciences, Exact Sciences and Earth Sciences, Engineering, Agrarian Sciences, Applied Social Sciences, Human Sciences, Linguistics and Literature & Arts.

It aims to encourage the development of joint research projects, which may include the exchange of researchers and post-graduate students. The two institutions will jointly select projects from proposals submitted by researchers from either King's or researchers in the State of São Paulo.

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Green energy on a roll but experts warn of bubbles

Thu Sep 17, 2009 12:33pm EDT
By Martin de Sa'Pinto

GENEVA (Reuters) - Investors betting on renewable or clean energy and related green themes are looking for healthy and sustainable returns, but the road is full of pitfalls for the unwary, investment managers warned on Thursday.

Attendees at the Jetfin Green 2009 alternative investment conference in Geneva heard that some alternative energy sources are now in a position to compete with more established sources, even in the absence of government subsidies.

"Renewable energy technologies are at a point where they are cost competitive with the grid, Copenhagen aside," said Walther Lovato, a portfolio manager at California-based asset manager Passport Capital.

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Ceres now harvesting switchgrass and sorghum seeds for marketing under Blade Bioenergy Crops brand

Biofuels Digest
September 08, 2009 Jim Lane

In California, Ceres announced that it has commenced its first harvests of switchgrass and sorghum seeds and expects to harvest 10 tons of switchgrass seed per acre, according to a Greentech report. The seeds will be marketed under the Blade Bioenergy Crops brand and are drawn from varietals in Texas and the Midwest that were cross bred for high yield and drought resistance.

The company has been working withTexas A&M University, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, South Dakota State University and the USDA in developing the varietals. The company, which is also launching two sorghum varietals this fall, has not named the customers for its seeds.

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Chicago Tribune
Associated Press
3:02 a.m. CDT, September 17, 2009

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University scientist has found a way to make a byproduct of ethanol production more marketable as a livestock feed.

Purdue researcher Klein Ileleji (EE-lil-uh-jee) discovered a method to predict the nutrient content in distillers' dried grains with solubles.

Because that ethanol byproduct often has varying levels of fiber, protein and other components, many livestock producers are wary of buying it for their animals.

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State of the Argentine Biodiesel Industry report published

Biofuels Digest
September 15, 2009 Jim Lane

In Argentina, the latest quarterly State of the Argentine Biodiesel Industry report has appeared, downloadable here. Monthly production figures indicate that Argentina is on track to produce 1.2 million tons in 2009, equivalent to 10% of world production, but has slipped to fifth place among all countries, now behind Brazil. The trade conflict with the EU is highlighted in the report.

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Inter-American Development Bank releases updates Biofuels Sustainability Scorecard

Biofuels Digest
September 17, 2009 Jim Lane

In Brazil, the Inter-American Development Bank has released a new version of its Biofuels Sustainability Scorecard, which will enable users to better anticipate the impacts of potential biofuel projects on sensitive issues such as indigenous rights, carbon emissions from land use change, and food security.

The Scorecard, an interactive, web-based tool that was released in 2008, addressed 23 key variables including greenhouse gas emissions, water management, biodiversity and poverty reduction.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Biomass Facts

Peoria Journal Star
Posted Sep 14, 2009 @ 09:32 PM

- Biomass: Plant material, vegetation, or agricultural waste used as a fuel or energy source.

- Biomass furnace: A furnace developed by Chip Energy in Goodfield turns biomass into heat by separating the material into combustible gases and then burning the gas to make heat. The process is considered carbon neutral since it doesn't produce any greenhouse gases. More information is available at

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Research and Markets: Investing in Renewable Technologies: Wind, Solar, Geotherm, Hydro, Biomass Will Dominate the World's Energy Supply System

Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:13am EDT

DUBLIN--(Business Wire)--
Research and Markets
( has
announced the addition of the "Investing in Renewable Technologies: Wind, Solar,
Geotherm, Hydro, Biomass" report to their offering.

Eventually renewable energies will dominate the world's energy supply system.
There is no real alternative. Mankind cannot indefinitely continue to base its
life on the consumption of finite energy resources.

Today, the world's energy supply is largely based on fossil fuels and nuclear
power. These sources of energy will not last forever and have proven to be
contributors to our environmental problems. The environmental impacts of energy
use are not new but they are increasingly well known; they range from
deforestation to local and global pollution. In less than three centuries since
the industrial revolution, mankind has already burned roughly half of the fossil
fuels that accumulated under the earth's surface over hundreds of millions of
years. Nuclear power is also based on a limited resource (uranium) and the use
of nuclear power creates such incalculable risks that nuclear power plants
cannot be insured.

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Ethanol plants using hops to eliminate bacteria

Minnesota Public Radio News
by Mark Steil, Minnesota Public Radio
September 14, 2009

Lucan, Minn. — Ethanol companies are looking back to the monasteries of ancient Europe for one possible solution to a troublesome production issue.

They have to control bacteria to make good ethanol. The most common weapon, antibiotics, works well enough, but it's becoming a public relations headache.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration said it was finding antibiotic residue in an ethanol byproduct. That byproduct is sold as feed for cattle and other livestock, which is a problem. For the ethanol industry, the findings raised the threat of both bad publicity and government regulation.

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Big Oil Predicts Big Growth for Ethanol, Biodiesel
Posted by John Davis – September 14th, 2009

The largest oil and gas producer in the country is predicting that in 20 years, there will be more ethanol and biodiesel than gasoline and diesel produced in the U.S. reports that Katrina Landis, head of BP’s alternative-energy unit, made the claim that biofuels will replace about 25 percent of gasoline and 8 percent of diesel in 2030, raising American biofuel production by more than four times what it was per day in 2007:

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UK technology could turn U.S. ethanol industry green

Tue Sep 15, 2009 1:47pm EDT
By Nigel Hunt

DUNSFOLD PARK, England (Reuters) - A compost bacteria bred by a British company could be set to transform both the profitability and environmental credentials of the U.S. ethanol industry.

"The application of our technology results in the greening of corn ethanol," Hamish Curran, chief executive officer of TMO Renewables Ltd said in an interview on Tuesday.

The company provides an industrial unit, or plug-in, which can be attached to a biofuel plant to boost output by recycling a by-product of the initial fuel run.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Opinion/Editorial: Can Texas become an ethanol powerhouse?

Star Telegram (Fort Worth, TX)
Posted Sunday, Sep. 13, 2009

Texas has a long history of sugar production, dating to 1820, using sugar cane. This was mostly in coastal areas and river valleys. By 1850, some 11 million pounds of refined sugar were being produced.

By 1950, the crops had shifted from cane to milo/sorghum and sugar beets. West Texas became a large producer of these beets, especially after the embargo against Cuban sugar in the early 1960s. The first refinery opened in 1964 in Hereford, and some 500,000 tons of sugar beets were produced that year.

Read the full opinion/editorial

Mascoma Lands Deal With Chevron to Produce Lignin, Ethanol
Michael Kanellos September 14, 2009 at 11:25 AM

Mascoma, which wants to develop microbes that can convert woody biomass into ethanol, has signed a pretty important deal with Chevron Technology Ventures.

Under the deal, Chevron will supply feedstocks to Mascoma, and then Mascoma's microbes will convert the material into ethanol and lignin, the tough protein that protects plants. Chevron will then evaluate the results.

To survive and thrive, biofuel startups will invariably have to partner with the major fuel companies. Chevron already has an R&D alliance with Solazyme, which makes algal biodiesel. Shell has deals with 70 or so different alternative fuel companies, according to sources. Mascoma recently underwent some management changes. CEO Bruce Jamerson became chairman and also chairman of Frontier Renewable Resources, which is trying to raise money to build a plant in Michigan based around Mascoma's microbes. Mascoma is currently looking for a CEO.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Microbe Metabolism Harnessed To Produce Fuel
Posted on: Friday, 11 September 2009, 09:34 CDT

NSF-supported researchers use synthetic biology technology to engineer the next generation of biofuels

Microbes such as the yeast we commonly use in baking bread and fermenting beer are now being engineered to produce the next generation of biofuels. Jay Keasling, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, is leading a team of scientists in an effort to manipulate the chemistry within bacteria so they will produce fuel from sugar.

At the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), one of three research centers set up by the Department of Energy for the research and development of biofuels, Keasling is utilizing synthetic biology techniques involving chemistry, genetic engineering and molecular biology. Foundational work being done at the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), where Keasling is director, will underpin the research at JBEI. SynBERC is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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Kentucky sets biomass, biofuel production goals

Ethanol Producer Magazine September 2009
By Kris Bevill
Report posted Sept. 11, 2009, at 12:01 p.m. CST

Kentucky has developed a 21-member executive task force to facilitate the development of a statewide sustainable biomass and biofuels industry and to educate state legislators on the ability to utilize local biomass to achieve this goal. The task force held its first meeting Sept. 2, and determined the state needs to produce 25 million tons of biomass annually by 2025 in order for Kentucky to adequately contribute to the federal renewable fuel standard and a state renewable portfolio standard. The state should also produce enough biofuels by 2025 to meet 12 percent, or 775 million gallons per year, of its transportation fuel demand.

“Kentucky’s had a good history in biofuels, yet sometimes we forget where we have been,” said Frank Moore, director of biofuels at the state’s department of energy development and independence. “There’s been a lot of biomass work done, but we are not sure that Kentucky has laid the proper foundation to develop an industry.” Moore is one of the organizers of the task force and said its purpose is to ensure that an appropriate policy is put in place to build the foundation for a biomass-based energy and fuel industry.

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US ethanol potential may now exceed US gasoline consumption

Biofuels Digest
September 14, 2009 Jim Lane

Complete conversion: can it become real?
For a number of years, biofuels studies have suggested that, even under the most optimistic scenarios, biofuel production in the United States could only replace a fraction of overall US fuel consumption.

The most optimistic scenarios — produced by the Sandia National Laboratory — previously suggested a limit of 90 billion gallons of biofuel. However, a combination of slowing US gasoline demand, and rising yields from cellulosic and first-generation fuel technologies, suggest that, at least on the gasoline side, US resources may in fact exceed total demand.

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New bucks for biomass materials

High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal

A new USDA program might not provide as many dollars as the widely popular "cash for clunkers" program, but it's still a huge new potential revenue stream for thousands of biomass producers. Many industry sources see this program as another important incentive to develop more homegrown renewable energy across the U.S.

The USDA Farm Service Agency is now offering payments through the new Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), matching payments made by biorefineries. The Show Me Energy Cooperative in Centerview, Mo., was the first biomass conversion facility in the U.S. to become qualified and is paying about $40 to $50 per ton, depending on the net energy value of the biomass. Now, several more facilities, from California to New York, have signed on. FSA officials expect more entities to quickly join the program, encouraging producers of everything from woody biomass to switchgrass to enroll at county offices for the matching payments.

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More Corn for Ethanol
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – September 11th, 2009

The U.S. Department of Agriculture increased the forecast for the nation’s corn crop by two percent in the September crop production report out Friday morning. The forecast is now an even 13 billion bushels, just 100 million bushels short of the 2007 record crop. The soybean crop, already expected to be the biggest ever, was boosted another one percent in the forecast to 3.25 billion bushels.

USDA is now saying yields are expected to average 161.9 bushels per acre, up 2.4 bushels from August and 8.0 bushels above last year. Yield forecasts increased from last month across the western Corn Belt and the northern half of the Great Plains as mild temperatures and adequate soil moisture supplies provided favorable growing conditions.

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Low Crop Costs To Boost Ethanol Producers
Melinda Peer, 09.11.09, 02:00 PM EDT

With huge harvests expected, meat and ethanol producers should get a break on input costs.

Flush harvest estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture were slightly higher than expected, weighing on crop prices Friday. However, analysts suspect increased ethanol production and frost fears could keep prices from falling too far.

Favorable late-summer weather throughout the U.S.' key growing regions will result in a record soybean crop and the second-largest corn crop, according to the USDA's latest global supply and demand estimates. The agency boosted its estimate for the year's corn crop by 2%, to nearly 13 billion bushels and just below the largest corn crop of 13.038 billion bushels in 2006. Soybean crop estimates were 1% higher at 3.3 billion bushels, surpassing 2006's record crop of 3.2 billion bushels.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

UD researcher on team that wins NSF grant to convert biomass to fuel

University of Delaware
Friday, September 11, 2009

10:31 a.m., Sept. 10, 2009----The University of Delaware will receive $400,000 over the next four years to conduct research on the conversion of biomass to fuels through the National Science Foundation's Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program.

EFRI offers interdisciplinary teams of researchers the opportunity to embark on rapidly advancing frontiers of fundamental engineering research. This year's program funded 43 projects in two areas: BioSensing and BioActuation (BSBA) and Hydrocarbons from Biomass (HyBi).

Dion Vlachos, Elisabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering at UD, is co-principal investigator on an EFRI-HyBi project led by the University of Minnesota that will investigate the conversion of biomass to fuels using molecular sieve catalysts and millisecond contact time reactors. Only eight HyBi proposals were funded.

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Biofuels Digest launches biofuels job portal

Biofuels Digest
September 11, 2009 Jim Lane

Producer, academic, research, policy, construction jobs now online

Biofuels Digest has launched its Biofuels Jobs portal, in partnership with Simply Hired, at

Through the portal, Digest readers will be able to access jobs posted directly with Biofuels Digest, as well as a database of 6 million jobs which have been filtered down to present biofuels-related career opportunities for analysts, engineers, finance, marketing, management, technicians and staff scientists.

Opportunities available include jobs for plant managers, supervising engineers, post doc research associates, O&M Managers, cost controllers, fuel calibration technicians, DDGs sales reps, research scientists, supply chain management, and operations management.

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Discovery to launch 60-part, five-year “Curiosity” program-

Jim Lane September 11, 2009

Addressing the future of artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and genomics among others

In Maryland. the Discovery Channel announced the launch of “Curiosity,” a five-year, 60-part television series that will address underlying mysteries in fields such as space, biology, geology, medicine, physics, technology, nature, archaeology, history and the human mind. The five-year, multi-million dollar project will address 12 questions over 12 one-hour episodes each year, and will begin airing on the Discovery Channel beginning in January 2011.

The project will feature lifelong learning programming for adults, including multiple hours of “deep-dive” online content to accompany each episode and related learning retreats with experts featured in the series.

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Manitoba readies for November B2 mandate; offers biodiesel production incentive

Jim Lane September 11, 2009

In Canada, Manitoba will become the first Canadian province to mandate biodiesel use when a B2 requirement comes into effect as of November 1st.

The provincial government is also replacing the biodiesel fuel tax exemption with a 3.7 cent (Canadian) per gallon, five-year production grant for biodiesel produced in Manitoba, commencing in spring 2010. The province presently has one biodiesel plant and two others are currently in construction in Arborg and Beausejour.

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Where the Cleantech jobs are

Jim Lane September 11, 2009

Earth2Tech has published a map that locates more than 101 cleantech startups representing 12 different industries, and Triple Pundit has authored an article to accompany that maps, entitled “Maps Are Worth Ten Thousand Words: Where Cleantech Jobs are in the U.S.”

The article is by Carol McClelland, author of Green Careers for Dummies. The Earth2Tech map was last updated in 2008, and highlights the concentration of cleantech in the Northeast and California.

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BRAIN-y Idea Helps Wisconsin Biodiesel & Ethanol
Posted by John Davis – September 9th, 2009

Wisconsin will be getting $1 million to help put in E85 ethanol and biodiesel stations and infrastructure across the state.

This article from the Milwaukee Business Journal says that the new Biofuels Retail Availability Improvement Network (BRAIN) will fund the installation of 27 E85 and biodiesel retail locations around the state, as well as support the installation of biodiesel blending equipment at three terminals in Wisconsin:

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Idaho researchers pioneer new superyield process for cellulosic ethanol

In Idaho, researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory have developed a new technology to produce cellulosic ethanol. The researchers describe the process as bio-syntrolysis; it uses multiple technical steps, including the use of electrolysis to split water into oxygen and hydrogen, and combining this with a carbon-free electric source to convert up to 90 percent of carbon from biomass into liquid biofuel. Existing processes convert only up to 35 percent of carbon.

The researchers said that the process requires 1000 MW of power to produce 1 million gallons of fuel per day – the amount of power from a full-scale nuclear reactor, but far more than a conventional solar or wind power source can provide. In their process, oxygen is introduced with biomass to produce a syngas, while the remaining hydrogen is combined with the syngas is converted into liquid fuel.

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Study finds that biodiesel adds 25 cents per bushel to soy price and $2.5 billion in net returns to soy industry

In Missouri, the United Soybean Board released a study by Centrec Consulting Group, which concluded that US farmers received an additional $2.5 billion in net returns over the last four years due to the biodiesel industry’s demand for soybean oil. The demand added up to 25 cents in support for the per-bushel price of soybeans, the study found.

Additionally, the study found that higher demand for soybean oil led to an increased supply of soybean meal, resulting in meal prices dropping by $19 to $45 per ton.

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Sustainable Oils wins Navy camelina jet fuel contract; 40K gallons, option for 150K more

In Montana, Sustainable Oils, a producer of camelina-based fuels, announced that it has been awarded a contract by the Defense Energy Support Center for 40,000 gallons of camelina-based jet fuel.

The fuel will be delivered to the Naval Air Systems Command fuels team in 2009 and will support the Navy’s certification testing program of alternative fuels. The contract includes an option to supply up to an additional 150,000 gallons of camelina-based jet fuel.

Camelina was selected by the DESC because it does not compete with food crops, has been proven to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80 percent, and has already been successfully tested in a commercial airline test flight. In addition, camelina has naturally high oil content, is drought tolerant and requires less fertilizer and herbicides.

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Okla. researchers hope 1,000-acre switchgrass experiment turns up a cash-making biofuel

Los Angeles Times
MURRAY EVANS Associated Press Writer
September 9, 2009 12:44 a.m.

ARDMORE, Okla. (AP) — Watching grass grow is tedious, but researchers in the Oklahoma Panhandle say they'll stare at their switchgrass — all 1,000 acres of it — until they know whether they've found a commercially viable source of biofuel.

The site is billed as the largest such project in the world as scientists try to determine if making ethanol from switchgrass is cost effective. The goal is to determine whether small-scale experiments of using the tall, thin plant native to the Great Plains to make ethanol can be duplicated on a large scale.

And if so, whether farmers and others involved in its production could make a profit.

Read the full story

NY energy crop project to develop regional bioenergy model

Biomass Magazine September 2009
By Anna Austin
Posted Sept. 9, 2009

A project in central New York aims to provide necessary data to those interested in growing energy crops or embracing them as fuel source, which includes estimates of total suitable land available by biomass type as well as the estimated cost and volume of shrub willow and various grasses that could be available to energy users in a specific region.

The project was launched in June and is funded by the New York Farm Viability Institute, a farmer-led nonprofit organization based in Syracuse, N,Y., that supports like projects to help farmers improve profitability. The NYFVI receives funds from state legislature and the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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Biomass Research
Sep 9 2009 1:48PM
KXMBTV Bismarck

Farmers are always trying to generate as many dollars as possible from their acres., but when does taking too much from the soil turn negative? At the Northern Great Plains Research Lab south of Mandan one expert is trying to find out if you can harvest your crop and all the plant that comes with it...without hurting your long-term production.

It's about give and take.

You can only expect so much from your soil before you better start looking at giving a little back. (Dave Archer / Ag. Economist) "How do you maintain the soil resource at what point is it worth economically is it worth removing that material versus returning it to the soil and having it enhance productivity of subsquent crops." Ag Economist Dave Archer is breaking down the dollars and cents of harvesting biomass. (Dave Archer / Ag. Economist) "So we can look at some of those trade offs on getting paid for it right now versus what you are going to lose in terms of crop yields." Archer says if cellulosic materiallike strawbecomes a standard staple in creating bio-energy we need to know how much material we can harvest off our fields without hurting the soil.

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Biofuels: The next generation

The Stanly News and Press
Published: September 09, 2009 09:47 am
By Jennifer Woodford

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 — Boldly going where no state has gone before, North Carolina is moving its biofuels industry from first generation to second generation technologies and a more affordable and available source of fuel for the nation.

First generation biofuels are dependent on sugars, starches, vegetable oil and animal fats as feedstock to produce biodiesel and ethanol.

Second generation technologies are based on biomass such as agricultural waste. This is important because second-generation feedstocks, the raw materials that biofuels are produced from, are expected, as manufacturing processes advance, to provide a renewable source for fuel, at more competitive prices and in a more environmentally friendly manner.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

To make better biofuels, researchers add hydrogen
September 8, 2009 4:00 AM PDT
by Martin LaMonica

Research on nuclear energy and hydrogen has yielded what backers say is a technology that could replace U.S. oil imports with biofuels made from agricultural by-products.

Scientists at Idaho National Laboratory have been working for the past year and a half on a process to convert biomass, such straw or crop residue, into liquid fuels at a far higher efficiency than existing cellulosic ethanol technologies.

Rather than one single development, the technology--named bio-syntrolysis--ties together multiple processes, but it has electrolysis, or splitting water to make hydrogen, at is starting point. When combined with a carbon-free electricity source, the approach could deliver a carbon-neutral biofuel, according to models done at INL which has done research for decades in nuclear energy.

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Power Plays: Biofuel's New Crop

The Wall Street Journal

There has been a resurgence of investment interest in the U.S. biofuel industry focused on technologies that use algae to make fuel.

The appeal of algae is that it can potentially produce fuel without diverting food crops or large swathes of land. Ethanol derived from corn has been blamed by some for driving up food prices, while large-scale production of cellulosic ethanol would require cultivation of plants such as switchgrass that are grown only in small amounts now.

When exposed to light and carbon-dioxide, pools of algae produce lipids that can be refined into oil. The algae consumes the carbon-dioxide during the process, scoring a double hit for protecting the environment.

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Brazil's 2009 Ethanol Production Volume Set to Break Records

Renewable Energy
September 8, 2009
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil []

The Brazilian sugar and alcohol sector will grind a record-breaking volume of sugarcane this year according to results of a second national crop survey, released last week by Conab. The results show that the total harvest is expected to reach 629.02 million tons, a 10% increase over 2008. The growth is a result of better distribution of rainfall and expanded planted area, which reached 7.74 million hectares.

For the survey, Conab sent 50 technicians into to the field. In the period August 2-15, 2009 they interviewed representatives from 389 mills in all Brazilian states.

While the current productivity index of about 81 tons per hectare will be maintained, a larger volume will be used for sugar production, representing approximately 45% of the total crop, almost 2% more than in the previous year.

Read the full story

Okla. researchers look for cash in the switchgrass

Associated Press
By MURRAY EVANS (AP) – 9-9-09

ARDMORE, Okla. — Watching grass grow is tedious, but researchers in the Oklahoma Panhandle say they'll stare at their switchgrass — all 1,000 acres of it — until they know whether they've found a commercially viable source of biofuel.
The site is billed as the largest such project in the world as scientists try to determine if making ethanol from switchgrass is cost effective. The goal is to determine whether small-scale experiments of using the tall, thin plant native to the Great Plains to make ethanol can be duplicated on a large scale.
And if so, whether farmers and others involved in its production could make a profit.

Read the full story

Groups call on Michigan to adopt low carbon fuel standard

Crain's Detroit Business
2:12 p.m., Sep. 8, 2009
By Amy Lane

Environmental groups and other interests on Tuesday called for the state to require oil refineries and fuel blenders to reduce the overall carbon content of vehicle fuels sold in the state.The “low carbon fuel standard” would require fuel providers to meet a declining standard for greenhouse gas emissions – a move that backers said would encourage the development of the most promising fuel sources, such as cellulosic ethanol and electricity for electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fungal Map Of Mutations Key To Increasing Enzyme Production For Bioenergy Use

ScienceDaily (Sep. 3, 2009) — In half a century, one fungus has gone from being the bane of the Army quartermasters' existence in the Pacific to industry staple and someday, as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's mission to promote national energy security through clean, renewable energy development, a biofuel producers' best friend.

Trichoderma reesei's makeover is due in part to scientific explorations that led to the development of mutant fungal strains that produce large quantities of biomass-degrading enzymes.

Read the full story

New Process Uses Algae to Produce Alternative Fuel
By Greg Flakus Houston, Texas
02 September 2009

Researchers around the world are trying to find alternative fuels to replace fossil fuels, which are finite and might not be available in sufficient quantities in coming decades to meet the growing world demand for energy. In addition, burning fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide, which is linked to climate change. One U.S. company may have found a partial solution to both problems by using carbon dioxide to grow algae, which can be used to produce fuel.

On a 9.6-hectare tract of land on the Texas coast south of Houston, a start-up company from Florida called Algenol, in partnership with the Dow Chemical company, plans to build more than 3,000 bioreactors, starting next year. The bioreactors will grow algae that can produce ethanol fuel through a special process that involves using carbon dioxide from nearby coal-burning power plants to promote faster growth of the algae.

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Fulcrum BioEnergy Announces Next Generation Ethanol Breakthrough

Opens the Door to the Large-Scale Production of Ethanol Derived from GarbageFulcrum's Process Integrates New, Innovative Technologies with Existing Systems in Novel Ways with Significant Results

PLEASANTON, Calif., Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., a leader in the next generation of advanced biofuels, announced today that it has successfully demonstrated the ability to economically produce renewable ethanol. This milestone - achieved at the company's TurningPoint Ethanol Demonstration Plant - confirms the second of the two new technologies that Fulcrum will use for the large-scale production of transportation fuel from garbage that would otherwise be landfilled.

"The operating results from our TurningPoint Ethanol Plant represent a watershed event for Fulcrum and this new industry. It opens the door to our large development program that will reduce our country's dependence on foreign oil, lower greenhouse gas emissions and create new green jobs," stated E. James Macias, Fulcrum President and CEO. "By demonstrating first the clean and efficient conversion of garbage to syngas, and now syngas to ethanol, we have demonstrated that the technology is ready for deployment at our first large-scale project, the Sierra BioFuels Plant."

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Idled lumber plants may get second life in bioenergy business

Minnesota Public Radio
by Tom Robertson, Minnesota Public Radio
September 3, 2009

Bemidji, Minn. — Canadian-owned Ainsworth Lumber Company permanently shuttered its plants in Bemidji, Grand Rapids and Cook earlier this year, and now those communities are wondering what's next for the huge, idle plants.

Things are tough right now for northern Minnesota's wood products industry. Demand for lumber is near an all-time low. Some entrepreneurs are betting the answers will be found in biofuels and the emerging green economy.

The former Ainsworth plant in Bemidji once churned out a plywood-like product called oriented strand board. Now the factory is eerily quite, except for the high-pitched hum of the overhead lights. But that will soon change.

A Bemidji company called The Idea Circle has purchased the plant and plans to turn it into a bio-energy park for emerging green businesses.

Read the full story

How much water is needed to grow bioenergy crops?
Source: European Commission, Environment DG
Sep. 3, 2009

A Dutch study has assessed the water requirements of 13 bioenergy crops across the world. The findings could help select the best crops and locations to produce bioenergy.

The EU climate action and renewable energy package has set a target of increasing the share of renewable energy to 20 per cent of energy used by 20201. This includes a minimum 10 per cent share for transport, which could include biofuels. This study used the concept of a water footprint in order to compare the water needs of various crops.

A water footprint is the total annual volume of fresh water used to produce goods and services at the place of production and in this case is measured in m3 of water per Gigajoule of energy produced (m3/GJ). In this study it consists of two components: rainwater used during crop growth and surface and groundwater for irrigation.

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EPA officials show interest in refining indirect land use

Agriculture Online
Dan Looker Business Editor
9/04/2009, 9:00 AM CDT

At the request of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) two high-ranking EPA officials came to Iowa Thursday to learn first-hand how their agency’s rules could affect farmers and the biofuels industry.

They got a tour of Iowa State University’s brand new BioCentury Research Farm near Boone, where round bales of last year’s switchgrass are waiting to be turned into cellulosic ethanol. They climbed into a combine and tractor at Rick and Martha Kimberley’s farm near Farrar. And they saw the Renewable Energy Group’s 30-million gallon biodiesel plant at Newton.

“I think we learned a lot,” EPA’s Gina McCarthy told Agriculture Online after stepping outside the spotlessly clean biodiesel plant. “It helps us put a face on the agricultural issues and the challenges we face together.”

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Ethanol in Focus at Farm Progress Show
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – September 2nd, 2009

Everywhere you go at the 2009 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois this week, people are talking about ethanol.

Over at the corn grower tent marked by 30+ foot high corn stalks and an E85 blimp hovering overhead, they have information about how the carbon footprint of corn production has declined substantially in recent years and they are encouraging farmers to submit comments to Environmental Protection Agency about the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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Biomass Crop Assistance Program Makes First Payments

American Agriculturist
By: Compiled by staff
Published: Sep 1, 2009

FSA is matching funds with Missouri conversion facility.

USDA's Farm Service Agency has made the first matching payments under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program to Show Me Energy Cooperative of Missouri. Producers are being paid by the cooperative for biomass materials and FSA is matching those payments with BCAP collection, harvest, storage and transportation program funds.

"As the Obama Administration continues laying the foundation for a stronger, revitalized economy, biomass has great potential to create new, green jobs for American workers," said Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Biomass also has important environmental benefits to produce cleaner energy and reduce greenhouse gases."

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

DOE Selects Biofuels Projects to Receive up to $21 Million in Funding

U.S. Department of Energy
August 31, 2009

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that up to $21 million will be made available for the selection of five projects that will develop supply systems to handle and deliver high tonnage biomass feedstocks for cellulosic biofuels production. The awards announced today are part of the department’s ongoing efforts to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry and provide new jobs in many rural areas of the country.

“Biofuels will play an important role in America’s clean energy portfolio,” Secretary Chu said. “These projects will allow us to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, support the growth of the biofuels industry and create jobs here at home.”

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Construction to Start on Southern California Ethanol Hub
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – August 30th, 2009

A Houston-based company is starting work on a new ethanol transport hub in southern California.

U.S. Development Group (USDG) will begin construction on the West Colton Rail Terminal, a new ethanol hub located in the Inland Empire area of southern California.

Construction of the facility will occur in two phases. The first phase, located in Rialto, Calif., will consist of a manifold transfer system that will begin receiving and offloading ethanol railcars in the fall of 2009. The second phase includes full unit train capability and ethanol storage. It will be located on an adjacent site in Colton, Calif., and is scheduled for completion in mid 2010. The Phase 1 facility will have the capacity to handle the current Colton area demand for ethanol plus that required to meet the 2010 mandated increase to a 10% blend.

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Oil refiner says CO2 bill to cost it $7 billion a year
Fri Aug 28, 2009 3:34pm EDT

By Timothy Gardner and Janet McGurty
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. climate bill would cost Valero, the country's largest oil refiner, more annually than it has ever made in a year, forcing it to warn consumers at filling stations that fuel prices will rise, the company's top government affairs official said.

"How would we be able to operate?" Jim Greenwood, a vice president for governmental affairs at San Antonio based-Valero Energy Corp, said about the legislation the House of Representatives narrowly passed in June. "I don't know."

He said the bill, which would require refiners to hold or purchase permits for the amount of carbon dioxide their plants and fuels produce, would cost Valero some $6 billion to $7 billion per year.

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Cellulosic ethanol moving closer to reality

Prairie Business
Published August 31 2009
By: Cole Gustafson, Prairie Business Magazine

The future is now for cellulosic ethanol. Roughly 300 million gallons of planned commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants are in various stages of planning and development across the country.

For years the stock answer to when cellulosic ethanol produced from plant materials or wood will arrive has been the same. When asked, industry officials and insiders have consistently said it will be four to five years before commercial production becomes viable.

Not anymore. The future is now for cellulosic ethanol.

Roughly 300 million gallons of planned commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants are in various stages of planning and development across the country, according to Nathan Schock, a spokesperson with Sioux Falls-based POET, although financing hurdles may slow or derail some of those projects.

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IRS Changes Rule That Will Benefit Ethanol Producers
08/28/2009 08:31AM

Following over a year of intense work by the Renewable Fuels Association with the Internal Revenue Service, the agency on Aug. 24 issued a Notice of Proposed Revenue Ruling clarifying that it will not seek to impose a change in the cost recovery periods used by most ethanol producers.

Historically, most ethanol producers have used cost recovery (or depreciation) periods of five years. About 18 months ago, IRS advised the industry that the cost recovery period should be seven years instead of five years, and that had to be retroactive, and would apply to all tax returns of ethanol producers that were still open for examination by the IRS. The RFA succeeded in persuading the IRS not to make their decision retroactive.

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