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

Friday, November 27, 2009

No blog today

We had too much turkey! Look for more articles about bioenergy and bioenergy research on Monday, November 30.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

from the staff at the Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is biomass the fuel of the future? (Indianapolis, IN)
By Erika D. Smith and Tom Spalding
Posted: November 23, 2009

Advocates say that burning plant materials to generate power is green and can save big bucks

You could call it the alternate alternative fuel.

Not wind.

Not ethanol.


Burning wood and other plant material to generate heat and electricity is the latest green energy method to sweep into Indiana. It's often cleaner than coal. Some say it's greener than windmills. And this energy supply really does grow on trees.

Though some people oppose the construction of huge biomass plants, claiming they have a distinctly brown downside, excitement about biomass is high in Indiana and elsewhere.

Read the full story

Ethanol production from winter barley generates useful byproducts

Biomass Magazine November 2009
By Lisa Gibson
Posted November 24, 2009, at 12:43 p.m. CST

In the process of developing winter barley as an ethanol feedstock, the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pa., and its partners realized that biomass byproducts generated in the process can be used to manufacture biomass-derived fuels and coproducts.

The resulting barley straw, hulls and the ethanol coproduct distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) can be used to make bio-oil and biochar through pyrolysis, according to Kevin Hicks, research leader at the Crop Conversion Science & Engineering Research Unit at the ERRC. The bio-oil can be used as boiler fuel today, and with some improvements, could someday be used by petroleum refineries to make drop-in transportation fuels such as green gasoline and diesel, according to Akwasi Boateng, ERRC pyrolysis team leader. Biochar is a carbon-rich product that can be used to improve soil fertility and to sequester carbon in the soil.

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The Ethanol Mandate to Nowhere (The Weekly Standard)
by Dave Juday
11/24/2009 12:00:00 AM

Cellulosic ethanol continues to be a failure.

Under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), the EPA is required to make a determination by November 30 of each year about the projected volume of cellulosic ethanol that will be available in the next calendar year. If the projected volume is less than volume mandated by the 2007 EISA, the EPA is required to lower the mandated volume in that year to the projected volume.

Therefore, in the coming days, the EPA has to assess the situation. The legal mandate for cellulosic fuel use in 2010 is 100 million gallons. The Biotechnology Industry Organization, however, is privately projecting that there are 12 million gallons of actual cellulosic ethanol production.

While the task for the EPA sounds straightforward, the situation is more complex than waiving a few million gallons of mandated fuel use out of a total of 138 billion gallons of motor fuel supply. This shortfall actually undermines the entire rationale behind the 2007 EISA and U.S. policy on biofuels.

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GPS App Finds 85 Percent Ethanol Stations
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – November 23rd, 2009

Want to know where you can buy E85? There’s an app for that now.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) today launched a new application for Garmin GPS units that that maps out the location of E85 (85% ethanol/15% gasoline) for users with flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs).

“The most frustrating thing for many FFV owners is not knowing where they can fill up with higher level ethanol blends, like E85,” said RFA Director of Market Development Robert White. “With this new feature, drivers going to the grocery store or to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving will know the exact location of the nearest E85 pump.”

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Biodiesel companies fret about expiring tax break (The Houston Chronicle)
By BRETT CLANTON Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
Nov. 23, 2009, 9:55PM

The U.S. biodiesel fuel industry, already reeling from a string of recent setbacks, is facing what could be a knock-out punch unless a critical federal subsidy is renewed in the coming weeks.

Domestic producers of the alternative fuel in Texas and elsewhere likely will have to halt operations and cut jobs if Congress fails to extend a $1 per gallon tax credit, set to expire Dec. 31, industry leaders said.

Legislation introduced last week in the House would extend the incentive for five years and change the way it is administered. But the bill, authored by Reps. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and John Shimkus, R-Ill., probably must be attached to a broader legislative package to have a shot at passing. Efforts in the Senate to renew the credit are also under way.

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Half of US states generate at least 1 GW from non-hydro renewable energy
24 November 2009

Development of renewable energy is spreading rapidly across the United States, often in conjunction with public policies that are designed to spur such growth, according to a state-by-state analysis by the Department of Energy's (DoE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

By 2007, 24 of the 50 US states were generating at least 1 GW of green power from non-hydro sources, notes the 2009 NREL State of the States report. Wind energy accounted for the largest percentage of nation-wide growth in generation from renewable energy sources between 2001 and 2007, including a 30% increase in 2006 and 2007.

Biomass continued to expand its power output across most regions, with states such as Delaware, Utah, Minnesota and Alaska showing the most recent growth. Biomass continued to be strong in southeastern states, including Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

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Ceres and CHOREN Assess Energy Crops for Thermochemical Production of Biofuels

PR Newswire

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Nov. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Energy crop company Ceres, Inc. announced today that it is working with CHOREN, an international leader in Biomass to Liquids technology, to optimize energy crops for thermochemical conversion to advanced low-carbon biofuels. The two-year bioenergy project is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The thermochemical process does not require enzymes or microorganisms; instead, the biomass is gasified under certain heat and pressure conditions producing synthesis gas, a carbon monoxide and hydrogen-rich gas that can be converted into high quality synthetic fuels, intermediate chemicals or electricity.

In its role, Ceres will evaluate the composition of a broad range of switchgrass and willow plants, and provide biomass samples to CHOREN for thermochemical processing. The results will be used to identify the most relevant compositional traits, and later, to select the plants and traits that improve conversion and maximize fuel yields.

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Switchgrass could be used to produce biomass efficiently
Tuesday, November 24, 2009 15:21 IST Email

Washington: A new study has determined that 50 million US acres of cropland, idle cropland, and cropland pasture could be converted from current uses to the production of perennial grasses, such as switchgrass, from which biomass could be harvested for use as a biofuel feedstock quite efficiently.

An agronomist at Oklahoma State University, Regents professor Emeritus Charles Taliaferro, designed and conducted an experiment to determine biomass yield from alternative levels of nitrogen fertilizer for a single and double harvest per year system for four perennial grass species.

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Energy Secretary Chu coming to SRS
Monday, November 23, 2009 7:51 AM
(Source: Aiken Standard)By April Bailey, Aiken Standard, S.C.

Nov. 23--U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will visit the Savannah River Site for the first time next week for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Department of Energy's new Biomass Cogeneration Facility.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) are also scheduled to attend the event, along with other local and state elected officials from South Carolina and Georgia. The groundbreaking will be held Nov. 30.

The renewable energy-fueled facility to be constructed at SRS is a $795 million contract for the construction, operations and maintenance of the facility as well as fuel supply costs, over the 19-year length of the contract.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Corn-based ethanol producer says it will soon compete with gasoline

The Washington Post
By Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 18, 2009; 12:16 PM

The nation's largest producer of corn-based ethanol said it has slashed the cost of producing cellulosic ethanol from corn cobs and that it will be able to compete with gasoline in two years.

POET, which currently produces 1.5 billion gallons a year of ethanol from corn, said its one-year old pilot plant has reduced the cost of making ethanol from corn cobs from $4.13 a gallon to $2.35 a gallon by cutting capital costs and using an improved "cocktail" of enzymes.

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POET CEO Bullish on Cellulosic Ethanol
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – November 17th, 2009

Cellulosic ethanol pioneers like Jeff Broin of POET are confident about the future of next generation fuels, even if the country fails to reach the Renewable Fuel Standard mandate of 100 million gallons of production next year.

“To be honest with you, that number was picked out of thin air, so the chance that we do or don’t make it is certainly a risk,” Broin said during an interview at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual meeting last week. “The industry is moving ahead as quickly as it can. But I think we will gain on that number in the future and I am very, very bullish about the future of cellulosic ethanol.”

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Biomass breakthrough (St. Louis, MO)
By Jeffrey Tomich

The workhorse of renewable fuels in Missouri may be found in its forests, farms and pastures.

Across the state, the idea of using plant waste such as wood scraps, wheat straw or tree trimmings as fuel for electricity generation is gaining steam.

In Perryville, a private developer is planning a $100 million plant that will burn wood waste from nearby forests to generate enough electricity to light 23,000 homes. The University of Missouri-Columbia is spending more than $60 million to replace a boiler at its power plant that will burn exclusively wood waste. Even the state's largest utility is looking at how to use biomass at its power plants to displace some of its coal usage.

A combination of new and proposed state and federal policies is driving interest in renewable energy.

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Eastern Illinois University breaks ground on biomass-fueled energy plant

Charleston (IL)
By HERB MEEKER - H&R Staff Writer Posted: Saturday, November 21, 2009 12:00 am

CHARLESTON - Turning the dirt Friday for the new biomass-fueled energy plant at Eastern Illinois University was easy.

In less than two years, the facility will be operating on a 320-acre site on the southeast corner of the college campus, on Illinois 130 and Edgar Drive.

"It took a village to make this project possible. And what a village!" Eastern President Bill Perry said during the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the plant that will burn wood chips for gasification to create steam for the campus.

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Bio-fuel growth raises concerns about forests

Chicago Tribune
AP Environmental Writer
3:55 p.m. CST, November 21, 2009

PARK FALLS, Wis. - Forests are a treasure trove of limbs and bark that can be made into alternative fuels and some worry the increasing trend of using that logging debris will make those materials too scarce, harming the woodlands.

For centuries, forests have provided lumber to build cities, pulp for paper mills and a refuge for hunters, fishers and hikers. A flurry of new, green ventures is fueling demand for trees and the debris leftover when they are harvested, which is called waste wood or woody biomass.

"There simply is nowhere near enough waste wood for all of these biomass projects that are popping up all over the place," said Marvin Roberson, a forest policy specialist with the Sierra Club in Michigan.

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Op-Ed: Crunching the numbers on bioenergy rules (The Boston Globe)
By Vinod Khosla and Tim Searchinger
November 23, 2009

ALTHOUGH THE very term “accounting rules" may cause most people to turn the page, the financial crisis has shown that when rules allow businesses to claim profits from what are actually losses, they distort economic incentives at our peril. The importance of sound accounting rules applies equally to how we count emissions of carbon dioxide as part of any law to reduce global warming. Governments should fix a worrisome error in these carbon accounting rules and thereby provide proper incentives for a vibrant bioenergy industry that helps reduce global warming.

The problem: treaties and laws now treat all forms of bioenergy as carbon neutral and therefore completely non-polluting. In reality, how much bioenergy reduces greenhouse gases depends on the source of the plant material. The right rules will encourage the development of fast-growing grasses and trees that can greatly increase the amount of carbon absorbed by plants on marginal land and thereby reduce global warming. The wrong rules will encourage clearing of forests, which releases carbon dioxide and may even increase greenhouse gases while also threatening biodiversity.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

US says ethanol output can eventually meet target

Reuters UK
By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON, Nov 18 (Reuters) - U.S. ethanol production could eventually top 14.5 billion gallons a year, up 16 percent from output capacity at the beginning of 2009 and enough to blend 10 percent of the fuel into every gallon of the nation's gasoline, the U.S. government said on Wednesday.

U.S. ethanol output capacity stood at almost 12.5 billion gallon a year at the start of 2009, the Energy Information Administration said in its weekly petroleum report. But with capacity outstripping demand, only about 10.6 billion gallons of capacity was in operation at the start of the year.

Ethanol output capacity tripled between 2006 and 2009, but the industry has hit some growing pains as rising corn prices and falling gasoline costs hurt profits.

"Today's surplus capacity is likely to be brought into operation in the future," the EIA said.

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Companies Call Government Incentives the Key to Green

The New York Times
Published: November 18, 2009

IN less than three weeks, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to begin hammering out an agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and combat global warming.

But many clean-energy companies, which make and use the technologies that in theory will help wean the world off polluting fossil fuels, are reacting with a shrug — and not merely because expectations for Copenhagen have plunged.

What matters far more in the near term, the companies say, are national governments’ efforts to provide incentives for developing technologies like wind and solar power or cellulosic ethanol.

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Wastewater algae turned to fuel
Friday, 20 November 2009
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research-Australia

This week will see the Minister of Energy Hon Gerry Brownlee open the largest wastewater algae to bio-crude oil demonstration project in the world.

The bio-crude from wastewater algae system is a technology for the future – it enables renewable fuel production while achieving low cost, energy efficient wastewater treatment, nutrient recovery, and greenhouse gas abatement.

The project combines NIWA’s scientific expertise on advanced wastewater treatment and algal production pond technology with Solray’s bio-crude oil conversion technology and is hosted by Christchurch City Council at the Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant.

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Poet reduces cost of cellulosic ethanol production

Ethanol Producer Magazine December 2009
By Erin Voegele
Report posted Nov. 20, 2009, at 11:54 a.m. CST

Poet LLC recently announced it has reduced the per-gallon cost of cellulosic ethanol production by $1.78 during the first year of operation at its Scotland, S.D.-based pilot-scale production facility. According to the company, the cost reductions achieved during their first year of operating the pilot plant have exceeded expectations. Reductions in energy usage, enzyme costs, raw material requirements and capital expenses reduced the per-gallon cost of cellulosic ethanol from $4.13 to $2.35 during this time. Poet’s goal is to achieve a per-gallon cost below $2 before start-up of their planned commercial-scale facility.

The pilot facility in Scotland first began producing ethanol on Nov. 18, 2008. To date, the facility has produced approximately 20,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol. According to information provided by Mark Stowers, Poet’s senior vice president of science and technology, the pilot facility was able to demonstrate lab-scale performance in its first 30 days of operation. “I think our pilot demonstration has been hugely successful and we are at the stage where we are passing our technology package over to our design and construction colleagues to begin the process of looking at a commercial-scale operation in Emmetsburg,” he said.

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Autopia Planes, Trains, Automobiles and the Future of Transportation Sugar Cane-Fueled Airliner On the Way
By Jason Paur November 19, 2009 5:09 pm

Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer and General Electric are working with renewable fuel company Amyris to develop sugar cane-based jet fuel for airliners. They say a test flight by Brazilian airline Azul Linhas Aereas could come in early 2012.

It’s no surprise such an experiment would come in Brazil, which leads the world in the use of ethanol. The country’s sugar cane crop has led to widespread use of ethanol-powered vehicles, and Embraer produces an ethanol-powered crop duster. Sugar-based ethanol provides a better energy return than the much-debated corn ethanol common in the United States. This is the first effort to produce a sugar cane-based jet fuel for widespread use by the airlines.

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ADM says vomitoxin in US corn "not a big deal"

Thu Nov 19, 2009 5:04pm EST
By Karl Plume

CHICAGO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - U.S. food processor and ethanol producer Archer Daniels Midland (ADM.N) said on Thursday it is aware of some isolated cases of vomitoxin in this year's corn crop but the toxin posed no problems at its facilities.

Vomitoxin, caused by a fungal disease that sprouts up in overly wet conditions, has been found this year in parts of the eastern U.S. Corn Belt. The toxin can sicken livestock if consumed in high concentrations.

"It showed up in only a small part of crop at this point," Dwight Grimestad, ADM's vice president of investor relations, said at the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer and Retail Conference in New York that was also webcast to reporters.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Voltree Power Wins Popular Science's 2009 "Best of What's New" Award in Green Tech Category

CANTON, Mass. --(Business Wire)-- Voltree Power ( today announced that its "Javelin" product family has won the coveted 2009 "Best of What's New" award from Popular Science magazine in the Green Tech category. Javelin was chosen from among thousands of entrants.

Voltree Power's Javelin products enable the collection and transmission of sensor data from hard-to-reach areas. For example, the US Forest Service (USFS) has ordered Voltree's Javelin "Rapid Deploy" to be used to monitor prescribed as well as "live" fires. This is the first ever system capable of collecting microclimate data from under the canopy of forested land and transmitting it via the existent Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) network. The data collected will be used to model the behavior of forest fires and help in strategically pre-deploying firefighting resources. Voltree's Javelin technology integrates seamlessly with existent government-owned Remote Automated Weather Stations, extending their usefulness.

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Building Better Biofuels

November 17th, 2009 ( -- Making biofuels from plants brings opportunities and challenges, according to Dr. Tim Donohue, Director of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, one of three U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Centers. The opportunity lies in the availability. Donohue gave a talk at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Frontiers in Biological Sciences Seminar Series. The series features academic government and industrial leaders who discuss novel ideas and scientific advances in biological sciences.

"We're trying to replace fossil fuels in the liquid transportation fuels sector, so we have to use a readily available feedstock. Cellulose is the most abundant organic material on the planet," said Donohue. It consists largely of sugar polymers (glucose plus others) that can be converted to other fuels by catalytic or microbial chemistries. And these sugars come from the non-edible parts of the plants, rather than from food sources.

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ZeaChem Begins Construction of Cellulosic Biorefinery
Wed. November 18, 2009; Posted: 08:01 AM

LAKEWOOD, Colo., Nov 18, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- ZeaChem Inc., a developer of biorefineries for the conversion of renewable biomass into fuels and chemicals, today announced it has begun construction of its semi-works scale facility. The company is working with Hazen Research, Inc. of Golden, Colorado to construct the critical first step of the biorefinery fermentation process.

"ZeaChem is meeting its deployment milestones and moving forward to advanced biofuels and bio-based chemicals production," said Jim Imbler, president and chief executive officer of ZeaChem. "We have a dedicated energy feedstock supplier, we have raised necessary capital, we have completed the initial design package and are finalizing the detailed engineering and design package. Initiating construction of this front-end fermentation unit operation demonstrates that ZeaChem is accelerating deployment of its unique hybrid biorefining technology."

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Green energy vs food security: Biofuels in Mozambique

Nov 13, 2009 10:13 AM By AFP

Nico Strydom probably knows as much as anyone about jatropha, the poisonous tree whose oily black seeds just might sprout a green energy revolution. But, as the soft-spoken forester admits during a tour of his jatropha fields in central Mozambique, that's not saying much.

"There's a lot of research that needs to be done. Jatropha is a relatively new plant," says Strydom.

He looks out over the 10-month-old, 1,000-hectare farm he runs for Sun Biofuels, a British-based company that hopes jatropha will turn African farmland into a fuel source for the 21st century.

"If anybody tells you he's an expert on jatropha, he's a liar," he adds.

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2 UNH faculty receive $1.4M in CAREER grants from NSF

November 17th, 2009

Two University of New Hampshire assistant professors have received prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grants. Vaughn Cooper of the department of molecular, cellular and biomedical sciences received $1 million to better understand beneficial mutations in bacteria by engaging high school students in data collection. Christopher White of the mechanical engineering department received $400,000 to research flow dynamics of liquefied biomass.

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UPDATE: Yet another concern about biofuels: Invasive plants

The Dallas Morning News - Energy and Environment Blog
6:36 PM Sat, Nov 14, 2009
Elizabeth Souder/Reporter

Another issue with biofuels: Most of the grass species biofuels companies are considering using to make into gasoline feedstock are invasive.

Add it to the list of concerns scientists, politicians, energy officials and consumers often have about biofuels. Fuels such as ethanol can be costly, they can consume food (such as corn), and they sometimes require special infrastructure to get to the pump.

Researchers are finding ways to use grasses to make biofuel. Some say grasses can solve each of those common concerns: They are cheaper than other biofuel crops, they aren't food, and, in some cases, the resulting feedstock can be added to fuel at the refinery, requiring no extra infrastructure. However, the companies planning to plant grasses for biofuels haven't addressed the concern that they could be planting predatory weeds.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

IEA Energy Report Calls for Low Carbon Energy; Biofuels to Play Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: November 13, 2009

Toronto, ON—The International Energy Agency (IEA) released Nov. 10 its 2009 World Energy Outlook, which confirms the growing need for low carbon biofuels to increase global energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) relative to petroleum.

The extensive annual report was unequivocal with respect to the need for a rapid transition to low carbon forms of energy to play an increasing role in the global transportation sector.

"Energy needs to be used more efficiently and the carbon content of the energy we consume must be reduced, by switching to low- or zero-carbon sources," according to the IEA.

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25x'25: University of Tennessee Study Analyzes Impact of Climate Change Legislation on U.S. Agriculture and Bioenergy Feedstock Production
Date Posted: November 11, 2009

Kansas City, MO—Net returns for virtually all major crops are positive under a properly constructed cap-and-trade program, according to a University of Tennessee study released today by 25x'25.

However, the study goes on to show that if carbon emissions are regulated by EPA as prescribed under a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, net farm income is projected to fall below baseline projections.

The Analysis of the Implications of Climate Change and Energy Legislation to the Agricultural Sector, the long-awaited and comprehensive assessment by the University of Tennessee's Bio-Based Energy Analysis Group, says that an operationally efficient cap-and-trade program that allows multiple offsets, including those for bioenergy crop production, while restricting the removal of crop residues to acceptable, environmentally beneficial levels, offers positive net returns for eight of the nine major crops analyzed.

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Gevo wins grant for biomass to butanol development

Biomass Magazine November 2009
Posted November 17, 2009, at 7:30 a.m. CST

Gevo recently announced that it has been awarded $1.8 million from the U.S. DOE and USDA’s Biomass R&D Initiative to help fund ongoing development of its yeast strain to produce biobutanol from cellulosic biomass. Biobutanol is an advanced biofuel that can be blended directly into gasoline and be used to make renewable hydrocarbons (green gasoline), jet and diesel fuel, chemical intermediates and biobased plastics. Gevo is collaborating with Cargill on the project.

“Cellulosic conversion technology is expected to be commercialized in the next few years,” said David Glassner, executive vice president of technology at Gevo. “Gevo wants to be ready when this happens with a yeast strain we can deploy to make biobutanol.”

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Brass: Center focuses study on biofuels
By Larisa Brass
Posted November 17, 2009 at midnight

Two years after landing $25 million in federal and $70 million in state funding, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee are steadily marching toward the goal of turning plants into fuel - or "grass to gas," as cheerfully touted by the partners' Bioenergy Science Center Web site.

With 16 invention disclosures and 113 publications, work on the problem of freeing sugars that largely constitute trees and grass to make what's known as cellulosic ethanol is picking up pace, said Brian Davison, chief scientist for systems biology and biotechnology at ORNL and coordinator for biomass characterization and modeling for the Bioenergy Science Center.

The center is made up of national labs, universities, including the University of Tennessee, and private corporations working to develop ways of rendering cellulosic biofuels as cost effective to produce as gasoline.

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Ethanol and a changing agricultural landscape

Drovers news source Monday, November 16, 2009

Meeting renewable-fuel targets will require more corn acreage, use more fertilizer, create more runoff and reduce returns to livestock producers, according to a new USDA report. The report, titled “Ethanol and a Changing Agricultural Landscape outlines how the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 established specific targets for the production of biofuel in the United States.

Until advanced technologies become commercially viable, meeting these targets will increase demand for traditional agricultural commodities used to produce ethanol, resulting in land-use, production, and price changes throughout the farm sector. This report summarizes the estimated effects of meeting the EISA targets for 2015 on regional agricultural production and the environment. Meeting EISA targets for ethanol production is estimated to expand U.S. cropped acreage by nearly 5 million acres by 2015, an increase of 1.6 percent over what would otherwise be expected. Much of the growth comes from corn acreage, which increases by 3.5 percent over baseline projections. Water quality and soil carbon will also be affected, in some cases by greater percentages than suggested by changes in the amount of cropped land. The economic and environmental implications of displacing a portion of corn ethanol production with ethanol produced from crop residues are also estimated.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Research team produces steady supply of hydrogen from algae coupled with platinum catalyst

Biofuels Digest
November 13, 2009 Jim Lane

In Tennessee, a team of researchers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have found that photosynthesis – the process by which plants regenerate using energy from the sun – may function as that clean, sustainable source of hydrogen.

The team, led by Barry Bruce, a professor of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology at UT Knoxville, found that the inner machinery of photosynthesis can be isolated from certain blue-green algae and, when coupled with a platinum catalyst, is able to produce a steady supply of hydrogen when exposed to light.

The findings are outlined in a recent issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Bruce and his colleagues found that by starting with a thermophilic blue-green algae, which favors warmer temperatures, they could sustain the reaction at temperatures as high as 55 degrees C, or 131 degrees F. That is roughly the temperature in arid deserts with high solar irradiation, where the process would be most productive. They also found the process was more than 10 times more efficient as the temperature increased.

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Research partners receive $4.2 million grant

Southwest Farm Press
Nov 13, 2009 11:17 AM, By Donald Stotts, Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State University and its partner institutions in industry are receiving $4.2 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue groundbreaking work in the development of biofuels.

The OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources’ Ray Huhnke said the funding received through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture represents great news for the public and diverse stakeholders within Oklahoma’s bioenergy industry.

“These funds will enhance key work being done by our cooperating scientists and engineers to develop advances in practices and technologies necessary to ensure efficient and sustainable production of cellulosic ethanol feedstocks,” he said.

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DOE Official: Algae and Biomass Future of Biofuels
Posted by John Davis – November 13th, 2009

Oil from algae and the biomass from the green microbes could be the future for advanced biofuels… that word from a top U.S. Department of Energy official.

Biomass Magazine reports that Valerie Reed of the U.S. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy said at the Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy held this week in Honolulu, Hawaii the her agency will develop advanced biofuels faster than cellulosic ethanol:

“We learned a lot over the past 20 years, and we believe we can apply that to a faster deployment phase,” Reed said, adding that biomass-based liquid transportation fuels are going to be the only adequate displacements for jet fuel. “This is now becoming a priority fuel we need to consider, and that’s why we’re moving into the advanced biofuels arena,” she said.

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DOE, USDA Hand Out $24M in Biomass Grants
Jeff St. John November 13, 2009 at 6:53 PM

The Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture gave out $24 million in biomass research grants on Friday to boost research ranging from more efficient ways to turn biomass into fuel, chemicals and energy to better breeds of switchgrass and other feedstocks.

Friday's grants ranged in size from $1 million to $4.2 million, and most of it -$19.5 million - comes from USDA. The idea is to promote technologies to make bioenergy, as well as bio-based chemicals and products, cheaper and easier to adopt.

Several grants are going to find new ways to make biochemicals as well as biofuels. Biochemicals represent smaller, but often more lucrative, markets for the wide range of technologies - genetically modified microbes, oxygen-free superheating, chemical processes - that seek to turn food and non-food biomass alike into useful products.

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Corn mold creates farm, biofuel snag (Ft. Wayne, IN)
Published: November 15, 2009 3:00 a.m.
Associated Press

JASPER – Cool, wet fall weather that’s caused mold to appear in some of Indiana’s corn crop is now creating problems for livestock and ethanol producers.

Mold, which is present in much of the Midwest this year, can produce toxins that can reduce livestock weight and value because some animals won’t eat poor-quality grains.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Farmers show keen interest in harvesting cobs

By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 11/12/2009 8:49 AM

EMMETSBURG, Iowa -- Cellulosic ethanol is a reality and POET will produce it at its Project LIBERTY plant at Emmetsburg by 2011.

"We're making cellulosic ethanol today, and we're making it in a manner that is going to be profitable," said POET CEO Jeff Broin, as he showed slides of POET's pilot-cellulosic plant in Scotland, S.D., at last week's Project LIBERTY field day at Emmetsburg. "Two years ago, I would have told you that making cellulosic ethanol was a long shot, but today we've made enough progress that this process is a reality."

Broin urged Emmetsburg farmers to sign contracts to deliver cobs to the plant.

"We need you to deliver the biomass," Broin said. "You are an integral part of the process. The sooner we get everyone in Emmetsburg collecting cobs, the sooner we'll have this plant operating."

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Report: venture capitalists not interested in ethanol

Ethanol Producer Magazine December 2009
By Erin Voegele

According to a report recently completed by Lux Research, venture capitalists’ (VCs) interest in funding cellulosic ethanol projects has already passed its peak. Furthermore, the results of the report, titled “Funding Exits for Biofuels and Biomaterials Investors,” show that VC investment in corn ethanol is essentially over.

To complete the research, Samhitha Udupa, the report’s lead author, said her team built a database of institutional VC funding rounds in non-medical biotech startups from 1998 through 2008. The team identified 286 transactions conducted by 170 companies in 27 countries. In addition, Udupa said the team gleaned information from publically announced VC transactions from the PricewaterhouseCoopers MoneyTree survey, Capital IQ, various trade publications, press releases and other secondary sources. “We completed the resulting data set with unannounced transactions sourced from our network,” she continued. “In addition, we drew on 49 primary interviews with developers and investors in the space.” Udupa said her team believes the resulting database represents between 90 percent and 95 percent of the VC investments in the non-medical biotech space during the period evaluated.

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NY company’s technology grinds biomass into powder for heat

Biomass Magazine November 2009
By Lisa Gibson
Posted November 12, 2009, at 3:22 p.m. CST

Summerhill Biomass Systems, a new company based in New York, has developed a system that can grind up almost any type of plant waste into a fine powder for conversion to heat, according to the company.

Summerhill has patents pending on its proprietary process and combustion physics, according to James McKnight, president and chairman of the board, and his son Lee McKnight, member of the board of directors. Combustion is up to 99.5 percent complete, they said, with no smoke or odor. The user can control the temperature with a thermostat, a feature not readily found on wood pellet or other biomass systems, they added. Feedstocks can include corn stalks, timber and manure. “We can produce energy from the waste products that other biomass producers and green energy companies leave behind,” Lee McKnight said.

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DOE and USDA Select Projects for More Than $24 Million in Biomass Research and Development Grants


WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2009 - The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy today announced projects selected for more than $24 million in grants to research and develop technologies to produce biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products. Of the $24.4 million announced today, DOE plans to invest up to $4.9 million with USDA contributing up to $19.5 million. Advanced biofuels produced through this funding are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent.

"The selected projects will help make bioenergy production from renewable resources more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "These advancements will benefit rural economies through creation of new processing plants and profitable crops for U.S. farmers and foresters."

"Innovation is crucial to the advancement of alternative, renewable energy sources, and these awards will spur the research needed to make significant progress in bioenergy development," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Researchers Discover Use for Carbon Dioxide in Conversion of Biomass Into Biofuel
November 11, 2009

( -- Researchers at Columbia University have successfully discovered a beneficial use for carbon dioxide in the conversion of organic materials, such as grass and bark, into fuel. Their findings show that if utilized on a broad scale, their technique could help significantly reduce overall carbon emissions, both from the use of carbon dioxide in biofuel production and the creation of a more energy-efficient production process. The study appears this week on the website of the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology.

Increasing global energy use coupled with the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide has resulted in the exploration of viable alternative fuel sources that are carbon neutral. Biomass fuels -- consisting of organic, biological materials—hold promise as renewable sources for energy, but present a double-edged sword: Current approaches for turning biomass into fuel involve a considerable amount of energy and water to form the steam needed to convert the raw, organic materials. In addition, the conventional conversion of such fuels typically leads to the emission of additional atmospheric carbon dioxide.

To solve this challenge, Marco Castaldi, assistant professor, and Heidi Butterman, postdoctoral researcher, in the department of earth and environmental engineering at Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, have found that by using carbon dioxide in the actual conversion of biomass, the process becomes more energy efficient and reduces carbon dioxide emissions.

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Biomass thermal energy policy briefing a success

Biomass Magazine November 2009
Posted November 11, 2009, at 2:07 p.m. CST

The Biomass Thermal Energy Council, the Pellet Fuels Institute, and the Alliance for Green Heat briefed a combined audience of Democrat and Republican congressional staffers about the benefits and viability of biomass thermal energy.

The briefing, held Nov. 6, addressed a standing room only audience of individuals interested in biomass energy, including representatives from 16 congressional offices, two Senate committees and the U.S. EPA.

“The goal of the briefing was to help policymakers understand biomass heating as a cost-effective way to meet our goals of energy independence and addressing issues of climate change,” said Jon Strimling, president of and BTEC Government Affairs Committee chairman. “We are excited about the level of interest we’re seeing in utilizing clean, renewable resources for heating, and we look forward to continued progress in Washington.”

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Research Sprouts in Richmond

The Lane Report
November 2009
By Debra Gibson

EKU enters biomass-to-biofuel exploration with California tech firm

Eastern Kentucky University’s Dr. Bruce Pratt is director of EKU’s Center for Renewable and alternative Fuel Technology, which is participating in research into replacing foreign petroleum with biofuels based on oil produced by algae.

It won’t singlehandedly solve the complex energy problems plaguing the United States, but new research at Eastern Kentucky University has the potential to make a significant dent in the need for imported oil. That according to Dr. Bruce R. Pratt, chair of the EKU Department of Agriculture and director of the university’s Center for Renewable and Alternative Fuel Technology (CRAFT).

Boosting a research relationship with a California high-tech defense corporation, EKU recently received $220,000 through the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund and $10,000 each in Clark and Madison County Agricultural Development Funds to evaluate biofuel production potential in Kentucky. The goal is to establish algae feedstocks that could grow the raw material to produce diesel and jet fuel. The project also will evaluate the on-farm economics of transitioning from traditional ag production to biofuel feedstock production in Kentucky.

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DOE to accelerate algae-based biofuel development

Biomass Magazine November 2009
By Anna Austin
Posted November 11, 2009, at 12:56 p.m. CST

Valerie Reed of the U.S. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy talked about the direction the DOE is taking to accelerate the development of algae-based biofuels at the Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy held this week in Honolulu, Hawaii. She said the agency intends to develop advanced biofuels—hydrocarbons and other high-density fuels that can be drop in replacements for diesel and gasoline—in a more accelerated fashion than cellulosic ethanol.

“We learned a lot over the past 20 years, and we believe we can apply that to a faster deployment phase,” Reed said, adding that biomass-based liquid transportation fuels are going to be the only adequate displacements for jet fuel. “This is now becoming a priority fuel we need to consider, and that’s why we’re moving into the advanced biofuels arena,” she said.

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Climate change on agenda at ORNL
By Larisa Brass
Posted November 11, 2009 at midnight

China, U.S. scientists to discuss innovations to fight growing threat

When talk turns to climate change, two world economic heavyweights are inevitably in the discussion — the U.S. and China.

Today, scientists from leading research institutions in both countries gather at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to talk climate change and budding innovations being funded on both sides of the world to combat what the international community recognizes as a growing environmental threat as well as an economic one.

This is the third such meeting, stemming from a collaboration set up in 2006 of the University of Tennessee, ORNL and two institutes of the Chinese Academy of Science to explore opportunities for research, academic exchange and technology transfer related to environmental research. In addition to presentation topics including climate modeling, ecosystem management and the impact of bioenergy production on hydrology, the conference also includes sessions about China’s energy efficiency industry, the impact of biofuel production on rural economies and the carbon market.

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25X'25 shows ag could benefit from cap-and-trade, but …

By Drovers news source Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Net returns for virtually all major crops are positive under a properly constructed cap-and-trade program, according to a University of Tennessee study released today by 25x”25. However, the study goes on to show that if carbon emissions are regulated by EPA as prescribed under a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, net farm income is projected to fall below baseline projections.

The Analysis of the Implications of Climate Change and Energy Legislation to the Agricultural Sector, the long-awaited and comprehensive assessment by the University of Tennessee’s Bio-Based Energy Analysis Group, says that an operationally efficient cap-and-trade program that allows multiple offsets, including those for bioenergy crop production, while restricting the removal of crop residues to acceptable, environmentally beneficial levels, offers positive net returns for eight of the nine major crops analyzed.

Furthermore, at a meaningful but moderate carbon price of up to $27 per metric ton of carbon dioxide (MtCO2e) – a price level projected by EPA – no cropland is expected to be converted to forests. In fact, no major shifts in commodity cropland use are expected under a properly constructed cap-and-trade system.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ceres wins $5 million to develop high-yielding, low-input energy grasses

Biomass Magazine November 2009
Posted November 10, 2009, at 8:30 a.m. CST

Energy crop company Ceres Inc. announced Nov. 10 that it plans to expand an advanced trait development project to increase biomass yields of several energy grasses by as much as 40 percent in coming years, while simultaneously decreasing the use of inputs such as nitrogen fertilizers. The project, which was selected by the U.S. DOE from among 3,700 renewable energy proposals, will be funded in part by a $5 million advanced research grant.

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Wood chips, grasses to be burned in coal plant test (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
By Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel
Nov. 10, 2009

A Madison electric utility last week launched tests to burn wood chips, native grasses and other forms of biomass in coal boilers at its 50-year-old power plant in Cassville on the Mississippi River.
The tests by Wisconsin Power & Light Co. are designed to help the company explore cost-effective strategies to reduce its carbon footprint and prepare for a national system to reduce emissions linked to global warming, utility spokesman Steve Schultz said Tuesday. Coal-fired power plants are a leading contributor of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The tests are taking place in southwestern Wisconsin, at a site where the utility had proposed to build a $1.3 billion new power plant fueled by coal and biomass. State regulators rejected that proposal a year ago.

The state Department of Natural Resources granted a one-year research and testing exemption to the utility to conduct test burns of a variety of biomass fuels over the next 12 months. Testing began Thursday and Friday with burning of wood chips.

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States with Renewable Portfolio Standards

U.S. Department of Energy

Select a state on the map below for a link to an explanation of the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for that state published by the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE).

A renewable portfolio standard is a state policy that requires electricity providers to obtain a minimum percentage of their power from renewable energy resources by a certain date. Currently there are 24 states plus the District of Columbia that have RPS policies in place. Together these states account for more than half of the electricity sales in the United States.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

BP explores options, remains committed to cellulosic ethanol

Biomass Magazine November 2009
By Kris Bevill
Posted November 9, 2009, at 12:43 p.m. CST

BP plc’s alternative fuels sector may have expanded this year to include biobutanol, but the company’s primary focus continues to be cellulosic ethanol, according to BP Biofuels communications advisor Thea Sherer. When asked if BP might be shifting its efforts to drop-in replacements or other advanced biofuels, Sherer stated the petroleum giant does not favor any one of its alternative fuels projects over the other. In fact, she said the company’s U.S. cellulosic ethanol joint venture with Verenium Corp., Vercipia Biofuels, will serve as a flagship of sorts to commercialize various technologies which can later be deployed at international locations.

“Our biofuels strategy has three strands: growing a material sugarcane ethanol business in Brazil, building a cellulosic biofuel business in the U.S. and developing advanced molecules like biobutanol,” Sherer said. “For cellulosic ethanol, the first step is through our joint venture with Verenium. When the technology is proven and introduced in the U.S., and given the right commercial opportunities, we would look to introduce it in other markets.” Sherer said the Vercipia plant in Florida is expected to begin production in 2012.

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EU Energy: The Role And Goals Of The EU - US Energy Councils - Q&A
By European Commission
Published Monday, 9 November, 2009 - 15:05

This Q&A explores the EU-US Energy Council and the role it would play in helping foster productive transatlantic dialogue on energy issues of mutual interest. This piece also highlights the European expectations.

What is the EU-US Energy Council?

The EU-US Energy Council will be a formal framework for deepening the transatlantic dialogue on strategic energy issues of mutual interest. It will also be the platform for cooperation on energy policies and research collaboration on sustainable and clean energy technologies. Given that the EU and the US are two of the world's consumers of energy it is in the interests of both to deepen their bilateral energy cooperation to address the growing challenges of global energy security, sustainability and climate change.

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Biomass Baler From AGCO
Posted by Chuck Zimmerman – November 9th, 2009

AGCO is one of the companies working on a prototype biomass harvest/transport system. At POET’s Project LIBERTY Field Day they demonstrated a pulled behind baler system to harvest corn cobs and stover.

Dean Morrell, Product Marketing Manager for Hay and Forage Harvesting, was on site and talked with me about their system. He says it’s a one pass system which utilizes combine technology and durable large square baler technology. He says the material doesn’t touch the ground and makes for a very clean bale product. They had to do some major customization on the equipment and they have two units out working in the field as part of the development process.

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Green Is Cool, But U.S. Land Changes Generally Are Not
Released: 11/2/2009 9:00 PM EST
Source: University of Maryland, College Park

Newswise — Most land-use changes occurring in the continental United States reduce vegetative cover and raise regional surface temperatures, says a new study by scientists at the University of Maryland, Purdue University, and the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The study, which will appear in the Royal Meteorological Society’s International Journal of Climatology, found that almost any change that makes land cover less "green" contributes to warming. However, a less intuitive finding is that conversion of any land to agricultural use results in cooling, even land that was previously forested.

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Link to the article in the International Journal of Climatology

Michigan universities obtain $ 2 million to advance ethanol plant
Tuesday, 10 November 2009 05:01

Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University have partnered to encourage the development of the state’s forest bio-economy. Frontier Renewable Resources has allotted a $2 million grant to two Michigan universities to fund critical research that will accelerate the construction of the state’s first cellulosic ethanol plant in the Upper Peninsula.

Researchers from Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University will help Frontier improve its sustainable wood fiber supplies and develop more cost-efficient methods of harvest and transportation to further reduce project expenses.

Frontier will be building a cellulosic ethanol plant in Chippewa County that has the capacity to produce up to 40 million gallons of low-cost, low-carbon cellulosic ethanol annually. The facility is expected to be fully operational in 2013.

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EPA may miss regulatory deadline on increasing ethanol blends

Jacqui Fatka

At the beginning of March, Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers requested that the Environmental Protection Agency increase ethanol blend levels in gasoline up to 15% (E15). EPA's public comment period on the requested change closed July 20.

The statute requires EPA to make a decision no more than 270 days from when the waiver was filed in this instance, by Dec. 1. However, Reuters reported that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stated the agency may not have a final decision made by Dec. 1, confirming what many in the industry already suspected.

Jackson said more time is needed because EPA is still reviewing the test results on how the higher blend rate would affect engines "across the board" including not only cars and trucks but also smaller engines including snowmobiles, motor boats and lawnmowers. To date, there have been some concerns about the effect of higher blends on the smaller engines, although corn industry groups deny the claims.

Raising the blend levels increases the potential market for ethanol by approximately 20 to 50% from current levels.

Although the waiver request is up to 15%, EPA may take a more cautious approach to the blend level and approve a 12% level. Currently ethanol can be blended up to only 10%.

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Fuel from Thin Air? Joule reports direct microbial conversion of CO2 into hydrocarbons; no biomass, no extraction, no refinement

Biofuels Digest
November 10, 2009 Jim Lane

In Hawaii, at the BIO Pacific Rim Summit, Joule Biotechnologies announced that it has achieved direct microbial conversion of CO2 into hydrocarbons via engineered organisms, powered by solar energy.

Joule’s Helioculture process mixes sunlight and CO2 with highly engineered photo synthetic organisms, which are designed to secrete ethanol, diesel or other products.

However, unlike algae and other current biomass-derived fuels, the Helioculture process does not produce biomass, requires no agricultural feedstock and minimizes land and water use. It is also direct-to-product, so there is no lengthy extraction and/or refinement process.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wet ethanol production process yields more ethanol and more co-products
Public release date: 9-Nov-2009
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

URBANA – Using a wet ethanol production method that begins by soaking corn kernels rather than grinding them, results in more gallons of ethanol and more usable co-products, giving ethanol producers a bigger bang for their buck – by about 20 percent.

"The conventional ethanol production method has fewer steps, but other than distillers dried grains with soluble, it doesn't have any other co-products," said University of Illinois Agricultural Engineer Esha Khullar. "Whereas in both wet and dry fractionation processes, the result is ethanol, distillers dried grains with soluble, as well as germ and fiber. Corn fiber oil for example can be extracted from the fiber and used as heart-healthy additives in buttery spreads that can lower cholesterol."

In comparing the wet and dry fractionation methods, Khullar's research team found that when using the wet fractionation method, the result is even higher ethanol concentrations coming out of the fermenter and better quality co-products than the dry method.

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Ethanol makers shift effort to demand side of ledger

Des Moines Register
By DAN PILLER • • November 5, 2009

Emmetsburg, Ia. — Now that its losses have ended, the ethanol industry needs the federal government to increase the amount of the corn additive in gasoline, industry leaders say.

A Dec. 1 deadline looms for the Environmental Protection Agency to allow the blend of ethanol with regular gasoline to increase from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Ethanol makers need that increase in the blend to continue the growth in demand for their product, some of which will be produced at Poet's $200 million corncob-fed plant, expected to open in 2011 in Emmetsburg. It would be Iowa's first plant to produce ethanol from biomass, or cellulose.

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Modular plant offers new direction for ethanol production

Farm and Ranch Guide
By ANDREA JOHNSON, Assistant Editor
Friday, November 6, 2009 3:28 PM CST

WELCOME, Minn. - “What if” you had a self-contained, automatic modular plant that could make ethanol from several types of feedstock?

That's the question that entrepreneur, developer and business owner Mark Gaalswyk asked.

Gaalswyk is now president of Easy Energy Systems, makers of the Modular Ethanol Production System (MEPS). Easy Energy Systems is a spin-off of Easy Automation, Inc., a leader in feed automation equipment and software in North America.

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An elixir for health reform? Lawmakers offer 'black liquor.'

The Washington Post
By Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 8, 2009

With an amendment to the health-care legislation, lawmakers would close a loophole that allows paper companies to exploit a tax subsidy on "black liquor," a pulp byproduct. International Paper has received $1.5 billion in credits this year from a similar subsidy.

House Democrats might use a swig of "black liquor" to help health-care reform go down.

Democratic leaders, who have been searching high and low for ways to pay for health-care reform, have fixed their sights on a cellulosic biofuel tax subsidy that could benefit the paper industry, which has been burning a pulp byproduct known as black liquor as fuel since the 1930s.

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Brasher: Algae as a fuel could skew corn's role

Des Moines Register
PHILIP BRASHER • • November 8, 2009

Washington, D.C. — The corncob could be losing its special place in the nation's energy future.

The 2007 energy bill required that refiners start using biofuels made from cobs, wheat straw, grasses and other sources of plant cellulose by 2010, with the mandate growing annually to reach 16 billion gallons by 2022.

But now there is an effort in Congress to expand that mandate to include fuels made from algae and microorganisms. A climate bill the Senate is considering would replace the requirement for use of cellulosic biofuels with a broader mandate for "advanced green biofuels."

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Biofuel technology gets new focus at SIC (IL)
By Adam Testa, the southern Posted: Sunday, November 8, 2009 3:00 am

HARRISBURG - Southeastern Illinois College officials hope to launch a new program focused on biofuels in the fall.

Interim President Jonah Rice said the decision to pursue the coursework, which would focus on ethanol and biodiesel fuels, came from an internal survey of local industry potential and national energy issues.

"We saw it locally; we saw it nationally," he said. "Really the stars just aligned for us, and we hope it becomes fruitful."

Rice said the proposed curriculum, which presently emphasizes history, scientific processes, political and legislative realities, marketing and financing considerations and plant construction and engineering, has passed through the proper channels at the campus level and now awaits state approval.

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Hydrogen milestone moves energy independence one step forward

DOE - Idaho National Laboratory
by Brett Stone, INL Nuclear Science & Technology communications intern

Big things often come in small packages. That's certainly the case with the potential created by recent successes in hydrogen research at Idaho National Laboratory.

Steve Herring, technical director of the High Temperature Electrolysis Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative, holds in his hand a solid-oxide electrolysis cell no larger than a standard CD. However, the two electrodes and electrolyte that make up the cell are almost eight times thinner than a CD at a mere 150 microns.

"That's where we get into the physics and chemistry of what's going on here," said Herring. In that tiny arena, he and his team have been laboring for six years to create options for the U.S. and world to defend against looming problems in world energy supplies.

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Genencor Wins The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Sustainable Energy Award For Accellerase(R) Cellulosic Ethanol Enzymes

SOA World Magazine
By: PR Newswire
Nov. 9, 2009 12:25 PM

PALO ALTO, Calif., Nov. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Genencor, a division of Danisco, has won the national "Sustainable Energy Award" from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) for its Accellerase® family of enzymes for cellulosic ethanol. Yesterday, Robert Davis, Chair of the AIChE Awards committee, presented the award to Landon Steele, who is Marketing Director, Biomass Enzymes and Accellerase® Product Manager, and Aaron Kelley, who is Senior Engineer, Biomass Applications and Accellerase® 1500 Project Leader, at the Honors Ceremony of the AIChE Annual Meeting at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.

The AIChE Sustainable Energy Award recognizes the critical impact of chemistry and biochemistry innovations in developing sustainable energy solutions. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) is the world's leading organization for chemical engineering professionals with more than 40,000 members from 93 countries. This is the first year AIChE presented a Sustainable Energy Award at its Honors Ceremony. "It's an honor for Aaron and me to accept this award from our peers on behalf of the entire Accellerase® team," said Landon Steele, who is a chemical engineer. "We're proud to be part of a company that works tirelessly to improve outcomes in carbon impact and natural resource consumption."

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Monday, November 9, 2009

DF Cast: Turning Garbage into Ethanol
Posted by John Davis – November 6th, 2009

It’s like the scene in Back to the Future II, where the crazy old professor stuffs garbage into his flux capacitor in the back of the DeLorean and flies off to the future (or is that the past?).

California-based BlueFire Ethanol Fuels has developed a process called Concentrated Acid Hydrolysis Technology that expands the amount of feedstocks that can be easily converted into ethanol, opening the door to cellulosic sources, such as garbage.

Read the full story and listen to the podcast

Fact Sheet: Energy and Climate Policy Action in China (Update)

World Resources Institute
By Deborah Seligsohn, Rob Bradley, and Jonathan Adams on November 5, 2009.

China’s recent statements and policy initiatives demonstrate growing concerns about energy security, pollution and the ability to sustain long-term economic strategies for reducing poverty.


Download PDF (PDF, 4 pages, 242 Kb)
(includes footnotes & references)

China’s per-capita GDP is less than one-tenth of U.S. levels, and about half of its 1.3 billion people earn less than $2 per day. Indeed, China confronts a challenge no other large, emerging economy has ever faced: fostering rapid economic growth while at the same time limiting harmful emissions.

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UNBC lands grant to study bioenergy emissions (Canada)
Written by Gordon Hoekstra
Citizen staff
Wednesday, 04 November 2009

UNBC researchers have been awarded nearly $250,000 in federal and provincial funding to apply technology already being developed at the university to study air pollution emissions from bioenergy equipment.

The funding will be used to develop a terahertz spectrometer, which will be used initially to analyze gases and particles emitted by a small bioenergy plant that heats UNBC's I.K. Barber Enhanced Forest Laboratory. Later, the technology will be used to study emissions from a much larger $14.8-million bioenergy plant that is currently under construction at the university.

"Rapid advances are driving the development of new applications at an astonishing rate," said UNBC physicist Matt Reid. "We are particularly excited to be developing cutting edge terahertz research to solve problems of significance to the local community."

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BC Bioenergy Network and BC Agricultural Research & Development Corporation
Nov 05, 2009 09:00 ET

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 5, 2009) - The BC Bioenergy Network ("BCBN"), a provincially-funded leader supporting the growing bioenergy sector in British Columbia, announced today a $100,000 investment with the BC Agricultural Research and Development Corporation ("ARDCorp"). The funding will enable ARDCorp to develop a comprehensive strategy and business plan for a Renewable Agri-Energy Initiative.

The Renewable Agri-energy Initiative will increase awareness of renewable agri-energy opportunities for BC farmers, assist in removing barriers to implementing renewable energy projects, and support the development and promotion of renewable agri-energy projects.

Renewable agri-energy will involve adoption of on and off farm technologies that utilize waste agricultural feedstocks such as crop by-products, livestock waste, and food processing waste to produce energy. Developing these processes will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce dependency on fossil fuel and allow for better use of residual nutrients.

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Ants may provide cellulosic solution

Ethanol Producer Magazine November 2009
By Craig A. Johnson
Report posted on Nov. 5, 2009, at 4:25 p.m. CST

At the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center in Madison, Wis., researchers are looking to leafcutter ants for new enzymatic processes that will further progress efforts to commercialize cellulosic ethanol. Leafcutter ants, which are found in tropical climates and live in enormous colonies that can number in the millions, have evolved several features over time that make their particular cocktail of enzymes attractive to researchers.

“Our lab is an evolution and ecology lab, and we’re very interested in natural systems that take advantage of lignocellulolytic biomass and use microbes to break down [cellulosic] feedstocks,” said Garret Suen, a post doctoral research fellow at the GLBRC. “If we go to a system that is specialized to produce exactly what it is we’re looking for, we may find something of use.”

Converting plant cell walls into simple sugars, the basic premise for cellulosic ethanol, is a major challenge for scientists. Leafcutter ants, which tend massive fungal gardens of their decaying byproducts, may present a worthwhile solution.

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Big Oil has good chance at making ethanol profitable - analyst
05 November 2009 16:41 [Source: ICIS news]

PARIS (ICIS news)--Oil companies could have an easier time turning a profit in biofuels by acquiring failed ethanol plants and running the operations at significantly lower costs, an analyst said on Thursday.

Oil companies can succeed where others failed because they can get the plants at a much lower cost, said Standard & Poor's associate Mark Habib during a presentation at the World Ethanol 2009 conference in Paris, France.

Big Oil interest in biofuels made headlines earlier this year after Sunoco and Valero snapped up ethanol plants that had gone bankrupt.

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Genomes Of Biofuel Yeasts Reveal Clues That Could Boost Fuel Ethanol Production Worldwide


Daily (Nov. 6, 2009) — As global temperatures and energy costs continue to soar, renewable sources of energy will be key to a sustainable future. An attractive replacement for gasoline is biofuel, and in two studies published online in Genome Research, scientists have analyzed the genome structures of bioethanol-producing microorganisms, uncovering genetic clues that will be critical in developing new technologies needed to implement production on a global scale.

Bioethanol is produced from the fermentation of plant material, such as sugar cane and corn, by the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, just as in the production of alcoholic beverages. However, yeast strains thriving in the harsh conditions of industrial fuel ethanol production are much more hardy than their beer brewing counterparts, and surprisingly little is known about how these yeast adapted to the industrial environment. If researchers can identify the genetic changes that underlie this adaptation, new yeast strains could be engineered to help shift bioethanol production into high gear across the globe.

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RFA: VP Gore Exchange With Jon Stewart Highlights Disturbing Trend in Ethanol Misinformation

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: November 5, 2009

Washington—During a taping of Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart on November 4, host Jon Stewart mistakenly stated that ethanol is “worse for the environment” than gasoline.

Stewart’s guest, former Vice President Al Gore corrected him in part, pointing to next generation ethanol technologies that have even greater potential as part of the environmental solution.

This exchange would not have been particularly noteworthy, had it not been for the fact that viewers were left with a sense that current ethanol technologies are environmentally more dangerous than oil.

That is simply untrue.

“All ethanol, regardless of its source, is more sustainable and environmentally-friendly than gasoline,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

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Highlights from World Ethanol 2009
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – November 5th, 2009

World ethanol supplies may hit a surplus next year, Brazil’s ethanol production and exports will be off due to wet weather, and biobutanol may be in the pipeline by 2013.

That’s just a few of the highlights from F.O. Licht’s World Ethanol 2009 12th annual conference held this week in Paris, France.

F.O. Licht managing director Christoph Berg told attendees at the conference that they are forecasting that global ethanol consumption next year will total 76.4 billion litres, compared to an estimated supply of 77.1 billion. “This would result in a surplus of around 700 million litres which is urgently needed to maintain the supply chain,” he said. However, Berg says global ethanol manufacturing capacity will only increase four percent this year, compared to last year’s increase over 2007 of 33 percent.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Aussie researchers achieve sustained 50 tonnes/ha/year algae yields in open, saline ponds: new pilot will do even better, team says

Biofuels Digest
November 05, 2009 Jim Lane

In Australia, scientists in a algal fuel project which includes Murdoch University and the Universiy of South Australia said that they are have proven that it is possible to grow large amounts of algal biomass in open saline ponds, and have done so consistently and without contamination. The group said that they have achieved production rates of 50 tonnes of algal biomass per hectare per year, or 13 grams per square meter per day, and said that they were achieving a 50 percent of higher oil content, and expected to do better at a new pilot scale facility. The project is supported by $1.89 million Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.

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KLM to test biofuels with passengers on flight, on November 23

Biofuels Digest
November 05, 2009 Jim Lane

In the Netherlands, KLM announced that it would become the first airline to test biofuels on a passenger flight. The company said that it would utilize a 50/50 mixture of camelina and standard jet fuel in a one-hour Boeing 747 flight on November 23 that would include, for the first time, a limited number of passengers.

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Research and Markets: Algae for Fuel, Algal Oil, Biofuels, Ethanol, Biodiesel and the Future of Petroleum and Green Energy

Thu Nov 5, 2009 7:00am EST

DUBLIN--(Business Wire)--
( has
announced the addition of the "Algae For Fuel, Algal Oil, Biofuels, Ethanol,
Biodiesel And The Future Of Petroleum And Green Energy: Global Markets,
Technologies, And Opportunities: 2009-2020 Analysis and Forecasts" report to
their offering.

This research provides an overview on what could become one of the most
significant technological and economic events of the early 21st century: turning
algae into fuel, i.e. algal oil, on a commercial scale. If this feat is
accomplished, and it's not certain it will be, it will have dramatic, disruptive
consequences to oil producers, oil refiners, ethanol, biodiesel and other
biofuels producers, biotechnology companies, agricultural producers, consumers,
motor vehicle makers, regulators, R&D activities and investors, among others.

However, from this change will come enormous opportunities, including less
dependence on petroleum oil, more geopolitical independence, reductions in CO2
and global warming, technological advancements, very large, new industries and
markets, and huge profits.

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Lawmakers Feel Duped By Ethanol Plant Deal

WSMV - TV - Tennessee
Reported By Cara Kumari
POSTED: 3:59 pm CST November 4, 2009
UPDATED: 11:35 pm CST November 4, 2009

$70M In Taxpayer Money Spent On Unsuccessful Plant, Say Lawmakers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Lawmakers said they feel they were duped into spending $70 million of taxpayer money on a plant that isn't living up to its promises.

Video: Lawmakers Feel Duped By DuPont Promises

In 2007, the state Legislature approved spending $70 million to build a cellulosic ethanol plant in east Tennessee. In partnership with DuPont, the plant was supposed to produce 5 million gallons of ethanol a year made from switchgrass.

Lawmakers Wednesday heard what they approved isn't occurring, and they're mad.

"It looks like we've been sold a bill of goods down here in the General Assembly on this plant," said state Rep. Curry Todd.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Earth Times
Posted : Tue, 03 Nov 2009 10:00:35 GMT
Author : OriginOil, Inc.
Category : Press Release

LOS ANGELES - (Business Wire) OriginOil, Inc. (OOIL), the developer of a breakthrough technology to transform algae, the most promising source of renewable oil, into a true competitor to petroleum, announced that the company's Chief Scientist, Dr. Vikram Pattarkine, will address an investor-oriented audience with a presentation on algal biofuels during the BioEnergy Day 2009 Conference in Toronto, on November 24, 2009.

Dr. Pattarkine will be a panel presenter at a session entitled, "North American Advanced Bioenergy," where he will discuss alternative energy sources and algal biofuels as a promising and much-needed technology solution.

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Distiller's grain set to ride ethanol coattails

Tue Nov 3, 2009 4:48pm EST
By Michael Hirtzer - Analysis

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Demand for distiller's grain, a byproduct of distilling corn into ethanol, will continue to grow domestically and abroad as livestock producers turn to the feed as a cheaper alternative to corn, analysts said.

And with the ethanol industry gearing up for a better year in 2010 after the financial crisis of 2008 triggered by corn prices hitting record highs, more distiller's grain should be making its way into the U.S. livestock sector.

"If we are going to ramp up (ethanol production), we have to find a home for DDGS (dried distiller's grain with soluables)," said Darrel Good, extension economist at the University of Illinois.

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Farmers get look at equipment for cellulosic ethanol

Radio Iowa
by Radio Iowa Contributor on November 3, 2009

Farmers near Emmetsburg are getting a look today at equipment used to harvest corn cobs for use in the next generation of ethanol production. Mike Roth is the program director for the biomass program for the company called POET. He says they’ll have harvest demonstrations and also equipment that farmers can look at and ask questions about.

It’s called “Project Liberty,” and will use 276,000 tons of corn cobs each year. Roth says they hope to get 450 farmers on board by 2012. Roth says they have about 12 individual farmers right now, but hope farmers will see the benefit in this from converting corn cobs into an alternative energy source, and also through added revenue for their farm.

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BP eyes output of new biofuels from next year

Tue Nov 3, 2009 1:41pm EST

PARIS, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Oil major BP (BP.L) may start commercial production of new types of biofuels from next year, the head of the group's biofuels division said on Tuesday.
BP could launch commercial production of grass-based ethanol in the United States in 2010 with partner Verenium, which already has a demonstration cellulosic ethanol facility, Philip New, Chief Executive of BP Biofuels, said.

BP is also planning to launch in 2012/13 commercial output of biobutanol at future biofuel plant in the UK, he said.

The oil company is building a wheat-based ethanol plant near Hull in eastern England in partnership with British Sugar and chemicals group Dupont (DD.N) that is due to come online next year, and plans subsequently to retrofit the facility to convert it to biobutanol output.

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Climate bill faces hurdles in Senate

The Washington Post
By Juliet Eilperin
Monday, November 2, 2009

Deal on nuclear plants offered to court Republicans

The climate-change bill that has been moving slowly through the Senate will face a stark political reality when it emerges for committee debate on Tuesday: With Democrats deeply divided on the issue, unless some Republican lawmakers risk the backlash for signing on to the legislation, there is almost no hope for passage.

Like the measure adopted by the House, the legislation favors a cap-and-trade system that would issue permits for greenhouse gas emissions, gradually lower the amount of emissions allowed, and let companies buy and sell permits to meet their needs -- all without adding to the federal deficit, according to projections. But key Republicans are making their opposition clear, even as Sen. John F. Kerry

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Synthetic Cellulosome May Improve Fermentation
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – November 2nd, 2009

A team of researchers led by UC Riverside Professor of Chemical Engineering Wilfred Chen has constructed for the first time a synthetic cellulosome in yeast, which has the potential to improve the production of renewable fuel.

A team of University of California, Riverside (UCR) researchers, led by Wilfred Chen, Professor of Chemical Engineering, has for the first time, constructed a synthetic cellulosome in yeast. According to Chen, this synthetic cellulosome is much more ethanol-tolerant than the bacteria in which these structures are commonly found.

Cellulosomes are self-assembled structures found on the the exterior of certain bacteria that allow the organisms to efficiently break down cellulose. The artificial cellulosome developed at UCR is highly modular and can be engineered to display ten or more different cellulases, the composition of which can be tuned to optimize hydrolysis of any feedstock.

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Michigan And MSU Extension To Grow States Green Economy
Source: Governor of Michigan
Posted on: 2nd November 2009

In her weekly radio address, governor says MSU Extension will spur innovation, economic development

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm applauded Michigan State University’s restructuring of MSU Extension to help support, develop and expand the state’s green economy.

“For almost a century, the services provided by MSU Extension have concentrated on assisting farmers and our state’s agricultural community,” Granholm said. “Now MSU Extension is transforming itself into a 21st century organization, one that will broaden its scope and help grow Michigan’s green economy.”

“While agriculture and its role in the green economy will continue to be important for MSU Extension, there will also be new areas of emphasis,” Granholm continued. “MSU Extension will assist local communities across Michigan in working together for regional prosperity. And it will focus on specific areas such as energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

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2 grants to ASU will help change the way the US generates and consumes energy

Arizona State University
November 2, 2009

TEMPE, Ariz. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Arizona State University two grants for alternative energy research that are part of a special DOE program to pursue high-risk, high-reward advances with the potential to change the way the nation generates and consumes energy.

ASU's grants, totaling more than $10 million, are among 37 new DOE grants totaling $151 million to support the program.

ASU's grants are for work on a new class of high-performance metal-air batteries and the use of photosynthetic bacteria to produce automotive fuel from a combination of sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.

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Recovery Act Announcement: DOE Awards up to $5.5 Million for X PRIZE to Promote Clean, Energy Efficient Vehicles

U.S. Department of Energy
November 02, 2009

Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that the Department of Energy is providing up to $5.5 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support the X PRIZE Foundation's work to inspire a new generation of energy efficient vehicles. As part of the Automotive X PRIZE competition, teams design innovative, commercially-viable, high-efficiency vehicles that will help break our dependence on oil and stem the effects of climate change. The funding announced today, which builds on a partnership with the X PRIZE Foundation that began in 2008, will provide technical assistance and expand national education and outreach efforts for the competition. The award also supports President Obama's Strategy for American Innovation, which calls on federal agencies to increase their use of prizes as a tool for promoting technological advances.

"Our clean energy future depends on our ability to design and commercialize new highly-efficient vehicles that are cost-effective for consumers and use significantly less energy," said Secretary Chu. "This funding will support cutting-edge, American innovation that can help us fundamentally transform personal transportation and address the global climate crisis."

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Applying science to chicken feed

BBC News
Page last updated at 16:19 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009
By Martin Cassidy Rural affairs correspondent

The scientists say chickens find the feed appetising

Northern Ireland scientists have developed a new type of "high energy" chicken feed which uses the principal by-product of biodiesel production.

Biodiesel is diesel fuel made using vegetable oil or animal fat.

Its main by-product is glycerol - a thick oily substance rich in carbohydrates which is already used as a solvent and sweetener in several foods and drinks.

After carrying out a series of trials, scientists at Northern Ireland's Agri Food Biosciences Institute conclude that glycerol from biodiesel production has proved itself a more than useful chicken feed.
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Innovator of the Year: Dr. Hans van Leeuwen

R&D Magazine
By Lindsay Hock
Monday, November 2, 2009

It all began with a boy and his interest in microorganisms and fungi. Dr. Hans van Leeuwen, president of MycoInnovations and Professor of Environmental and Biological Engineering at Iowa State Univ., was infatuated with these small intricate organisms at a young age, brewing beer and wine, and making cheese and yogurt during his school years. He still eats his homemade yogurt every morning for breakfast. Soon this hobby turned into major innovations that can be used around the world, with the hopes of making the world a cleaner and healthier place.

Over the years, van Leeuwen has invented many different processes that help benefit humanity and the environment. From water purification, to creating food and animal feed from waste, to making the purest alcohol ever, van Leeuwen’s mark has been left on society and throughout the world.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

BP, DuPont pursuing ethanol substitute
by PHILIP BRASHER & DAN PILLER • • November 1, 2009

An official with oil company BP says the company is moving forward with the development of butanol as an alternative fuel to ethanol. Butanol costs more to produce but has some key advantages to ethanol, including a higher energy content. Cars can get more miles per gallon on butanol.

DuPont and BP have formed a joint venture called Butamax to develop the fuel. Susan Ellerbusch, president of BP Biofuels North America, told the House Agriculture Committee last week the companies plan to have the production technology commercially available in the United States by 2012 or 2013.

A demonstration plant is being built in Britain.

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U.S. advanced biofuel sector finds lenders wary

Thu Oct 29, 2009 5:54pm EDT

WASHINGTON, Oct 29 (Reuters) - U.S. lenders are leery of putting money into cellulosic ethanol and other new-generation biofuels due to the recession and an industry shakeout, Agriculture Department and biofuel leaders said on Thursday.

That is one reason near-term production of advanced biofuels is unlikely to meet targets set by a 2007 energy law, said William Roe of Coskata Inc, which has a demonstration-size biomass plant in Pennsylvania.

Several witnesses at a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on the future of new-generation biofuels pointed to difficulties in securing credit.

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Farm bill biofuel subsidy could balloon in cost

By PHILIP BRASHER • Gannett Washington Bureau • November 1, 2009

Program originally expected to pay out $70M over 5 years

WASHINGTON — A new farm subsidy program created to spur the development of next-generation biofuels could turn out to be a cash cow for a decidedly old business — paper mills and their suppliers.

The 2008 farm bill created the program to subsidize the harvesting, storing and shipping of biomass, including corn cobs, grasses and wood waste, that could be used to make fuel or generate electricity.

The program was originally estimated to cost taxpayers $70 million over five years, but is now expected to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars just over the next year because of demand from paper companies and wood-burning power plants.

It's "bad policy and it's taking the money from what we desperately need, which is to help farmers get going with biomass crops," said Loni Kemp, a consultant who advises agricultural and environmental groups on bioenergy programs.

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Congress, Don’t Forget About Algae Biodiesel
Posted by John Davis – October 29th, 2009

As the folks who are making the next generation of ethanol made their pitch to Congress (see Cindy’s post from earlier), the people who are producing biodiesel from what could be the next great feedstock, algae, reminded members of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research not to forget about their truly green fuel.

Mary Rosenthal with the Algal Biomass Association told the representatives that despite some good progress for the algae biodiesel industry in recent years (not to mention the potential it holds), many of today’s federal biofuel policies simply ignore the role algae could play, limiting opportunities for funding and regulatory acceptance.

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US, Philippines to partner in biofuel research
October 27th, 2009 - 5:50 am ICT by IANS -

Manila, Oct 27 (IANS) Visiting US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said his government is seeking partnership with the Philippines in biofuel research.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, Vilsack said both countries recognise the need to cooperate more intensively in energy security, especially in the development of renewable energy resources and alternative fuels, Xinhua reported Monday.

“We are looking at a relationship and partnership with the Philippines in terms of research on biofuels. We recognise and appreciate that you’re faced with the same challenges we’re faced with. You don’t want to be reliant on one form of energy,” Vilsack said.

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