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

Friday, January 29, 2010

LS9, Inc., U.C Berkeley, and JBEI Make Major Breakthrough in Cellulosic Fuels Production

Posted : Wed, 27 Jan 2010 18:01:49 GMT

Researchers Develop Microbes that Produce Fuels Directly from Cellulosic Biomass

South San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) January 27, 2010 -- LS9, Inc, the Renewable Petroleum Company™, today announced a major breakthrough in the ability to make cellulosic-derived advanced biofuels. A collaborative team of researchers from LS9, Inc, the University of California at Berkeley, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a microbe that can produce an advanced biofuel directly from cellulosic biomass in a one-step process.

Using the power of synthetic biology, the team of researchers engineered a microbe that consolidates advanced biofuels production and cellulosic bioprocessing for the first time. This breakthrough enables the production of advanced hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals in a single fermentation process that does not require additional chemical transformations.

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Biofuel can save the rainforests
26 January 2010

London – Refining EU wheat to produce bioethanol and high protein animal feed can reduce pressures on the world’s threatened rainforests by reducing Europe’s growing demand for soy meal imports. This is one of the conclusions of a new Ensus study, published in the scientific journal ‘Global Change Biology - Bioenergy’. The study highlights the potential of using idle EU agricultural land to reduce the demand for cropland outside Europe.

Currently the EU meat and dairy industries use over 35 million tonnes of soy meal as a high protein ingredient in animal feeds each year. This requires nearly 20 million hectares of land, more than the total area of UK farmland. The soy meal is mostly imported from South America where it is often grown on carbon rich or deforested land.

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Bacteria rebuilt to make oil

Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 7:30 PM by Alan Boyle

Researchers have engineered a common type of bacteria to produce biodiesel and other goodies from plain old plants. The microbial trickery, detailed today in the journal Nature, promises to add "nature's petroleum" to America's energy supply within the next few years.

"We've got a billion tons of biomass every year that goes unused," said Jay Keasling, a co-author of research study and chief executive officer for the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute, or JBEI. "We'd like to turn that into fuel."

"Biomass" is shorthand for any plant material that's suitable for converting into energy, ranging from grain to the stuff that's left behind in the field after harvesting, from wood product waste to plants and seeds. Corn, for instance, is the primary source of biomass for making ethanol in the United States.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Biofuel Companies Attack Algae Study

The New York Times
January 26, 2010, 10:50 am

In a face-off between academia and industry, algae biofuel companies have made a joint statement decrying recent research that highlights algae’s drawbacks.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, found that algae production can be energy intensive and can end up emitting more greenhouse gases than it sequesters.

In response, the Algal Biomass Assocation, a trade organization of companies involved with developing algae biofuels, said the researchers used old and outdated data.

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Iowa approves final grant award for cellulosic project
January 26, 2010
Board approves final $5.25 million to POET's Project LIBERTY

SIOUX FALLS, SD --The Iowa Department of Economic Development on Thursday approved an agreement for the final $5.25 million in financial assistance to POET's Project LIBERTY, a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant that will produce ethanol from corn cobs.

"The state has shown vision and leadership in helping our nation continue down this important path to eliminate the need for dirty and imported oil." - Project LIBERTY Director Jim Sturdevant The final approval brings Iowa’s total contribution to the project to $20 million. The initial $14.75 million, from the Iowa Power Fund, was approved in February 2009. In 2008, POET and the Iowa Department of Economic Development agreed to terms surrounding the project. Approval Thursday finalized those terms.

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Industry: Make all gas in Iowa contain ethanol

Des Moines Register
By DAN PILLER • • January 26, 2010

Thirty-one states use a higher percentage of ethanol than Iowa, and producers of the fuel plan to ask the Legislature to pass a bill requiring that all motor gasoline sold carry at least 10 percent ethanol.

Despite being the largest ethanol producer in the United States, Iowa has never required ethanol use in gasoline sold within the state. Motorists can buy non-ethanol-blended gasoline at most retail stations.

Gov. Chet Culver said Monday that an E10 blend mandate is a "step in the right direction." But the legislative outlook for an Iowa mandate is unclear, and opponents are lined up to fight the proposal.

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Company says its ethanol engine is more fuel-efficient


Updated January 27,
By Sharon Silke Carty, USA TODAY

VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Ricardo Inc. says it has done what many thought impossible: design an ethanol-burning engine with better fuel economy than a traditional gas engine.

Ricardo — a large auto supplier that makes engines and other parts for everything from motorcycles to cars to military vehicles — says it created the engine using technology designed for diesel engines.

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PNNL to receive $14M in ARRA funds for biofuels research

By Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Monday, January 25, 2010

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will receive about $14.2 million for its role in two biofuels research consortia announced today by Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The consortia will advance the science and technology needed to remove hurdles and accelerate the ability to convert plants and other biological material into biofuels that can be used in existing infrastructure.

Chu funded the consortia with nearly $80 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds with the goal of bringing new biofuels to the market and developing a cleaner and more sustainable transportation sector, as well as reducing dependence on foreign oil sources, according to the announcement.

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Ks. economy gets $4.4 M injection

The Topeka Capital-Journal Online
By Tim Carpenter
Updated January 27, 2010 at 12:07am

The Kansas Bioscience Authority moved Tuesday to invest $4.4 million in animal health, human health and bioenergy to accelerate economic growth in the state.

Former Gov. John Carlin, president of the authority's board, said the expenditure of $1.8 million to support cancer research at The University of Kansas and four other initiatives indicate the type of commitment the agency has made to economic expansion since created in 2004 by the Legislature.

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New crops to boost biofuel

The State News
By Emily Wilkins

Corn is about to get some competition in the biofuel industry.

A team of professors from MSU’s Department of Entomology examined several biofuel crops to see how many beneficial insects were attracted to the plants and found several other potential biofuel crop candidates.

Corn is a common biofuel source and makes up 30 percent to 40 percent of the cropping landscape in the Great Lakes region, said Douglas Landis, an entomology professor who worked on the project.

Research from the team’s report, which was published Saturday in an online edition of the journal BioEnergy Research, shows farmers could benefit from diversifying biofuel crops.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

World's Largest Pellet Factory Planned in U.S.
January 21, 2010

Essen, Germany []
RWE Innogy is to build a factory to produce biomass pellets in the southern part of the U.S. state of Georgia. The plant will have an annual production capacity of 750,000 tonnes, making it the biggest and most modern of its type in the world, the company says.

"Through this new plant, RWE will be able to secure a supply of biomass at stable and competitive prices. Due to the large surplus available, wood is much cheaper in the US than in Europe with its restricted wood land availability. Furthermore, Georgia is a region where forest management is being carried out in a sustainable manner – this fully meets our strict criteria for the production of biomass."

Carried out in collaboration with BMC Management AB, which specialises in the development of biomass manufacturing solutions and is based in Sweden, the total investment in the project is some €120 million.

Pellets manufactured in the facility will initially be burnt in the existing power plants of Amer in the Netherlands, where currently already up to 30% of the hard coal has been replaced by solid biomass, mainly wood pellets. There are plans to expand the proportion of co-firing to up to 50%. The two power plant units belong to Essent, which RWE took on as a result of the partnership both companies entered in September 2009.

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$11 Million More For Fuel Cells and Biomass Gets a Boost
by Michael Kanellos 01 25 10

ClearEdge Power now has $26 million to promote methane fuel cells.

The momentum for stationary fuel cells continues to grow.

ClearEdge Power, which makes a fuel cell that can convert natural gas into heat and electricity, has raised $26 million, according to SEC filings. It raised $15 million last year and this year added another $11 million. (the extra $11 million was reported by Earth2Tech first, I think).

Like electric cars, methane fuel cells have been discussed for years but now are coming to market. Panasonic, in conjunction with Osaka Gas, started selling a 1 kilowatt methane fuel cell to consumers in Japan earlier this year. In England, Ceres Power says it will start to market its fuel cell through utilities in England and Ireland to consumers next year. Some of the components Ceres integrates into its fuel cells come from the auto industry.

And of course, everyone is waiting for Bloom Energy to release its 25 kilowatt fuel cell. Although rumors swirl that it has been delayed again, Bloom has installed and tested a fuel cell at the University of Tennessee. Early buyers of Bloom fuel cells are San Francisco Airport, Google, Ebay, according to various sources. Adobe may also install a large fuel cell system soon.

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US Renewable Energy Industry Needs the Heat in Biomass
January 25, 2010
by Charlie Niebling and Jon Strimling, BTEC

Energy from biomass heating fuel can be generated in a renewable, carbon-neutral system that leverages our natural resources to reduce our use of and dependence on imported fossil fuels.

The U.S. biomass thermal industry is poised to offer significant carbon and financial savings for consumers. Biomass for thermal energy is up to 90% efficient; in contrast, using biomass for the production of electricity is up to 40% efficient, and producing transportation fuels from biomass resources uses only 15% of the energy potential in this precious resource. It is vital to our economy – and our planet – to promote energy resources that are efficient and renewable. As part of the broader renewable energy solution, biomass thermal can uniquely address the need for low-cost, locally supported energy sources.

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Midwest Biogas plant to use ethanol byproducts, animal waste

Biomass Magazine February 2010

Minnesota-based Midwest Biogas LLC plans to construct a biogas plant in northern Iowa, a project that will mark the company’s renewable energy debut.

Plans are to break ground at the Albert City, Iowa, location in early 2010, said Midwest Biogas President Nick Nelson. Buena Vista BioEnergy will be located near and utilize byproducts from an ethanol plant, as well as waste materials from a nearby egg producer, to produce biomethane, electricity and fertilizer. “In essence we will be getting three types of renewable energy—ethanol, biomethane and electricity—from one crop of corn, and we are able to return most of the nutrients back to the farm for the next crop,” Nelson said.

Nelson told Biomass Magazine that because of the size of the project, which is currently estimated to be about $120 million, it will be completed in phases. The first phase is anticipated to begin operations in early 2011 and the entire project will be on line some time in 2012. According to Nelson, when complete these plants will produce about three times as much biomethane as the largest plant in the world in Gustrow, Germany, which Nelson said he toured in November during a due diligence study of the company’s biogas upgrading technology.

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Sunflower DNA Map: Fuel And Food Source Of The Future?

The Huffington Post
DIRK LAMMERS 01/22/10 03:32 AM

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A $10.5 million research project aimed at mapping the DNA sequence of sunflowers could one day yield a towering new variety for both food and fuel.

Researchers envision crossbreeding a standard sunflower with the Silverleaf species out of Texas to produce a hybrid with bright yellow flowers bursting with tasty seeds and thick stalks filled with complex sugars that can be turned into ethanol.

The wild, drought-resistant Silverleaf is known for its woody stalks, which can grow up 15 feet tall and 4 inches in diameter.

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Landfill gas a win-win for city, ethanol producer

Business Week
The Associated Press
January 25, 2010, 9:43AM ET


The tall flame bursting from the flare at the Sioux Falls landfill used to prompt concerned 911 calls from passing drivers.

The flare now sits cold and dark, relegated to a backup role for a system that pipes the landfill gas 11 miles south to help power a biorefinery owned by Poet LLC, the nation's top ethanol producer.

"Poet's a good customer because they're open 24-7," said landfill superintendent Dave McElroy. "They can take all the gas we have. As a matter of fact, if we could produce more, they could take more."

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Open-Source Lab Promises Free DNA Parts for Bioengineers

Popular Science (
By Jeremy Hsu
Posted 01.25.2010 at 10:15 am

Dr. Frankenstein wept (in envy)

Poor Dr. Frankenstein had to steal corpses for his mad experiments, but modern-day bioengineers need not resort to such dubious methods for raw materials. The new Biofab laboratory plans to churn out thousands of free standard DNA parts that academic and private biotech labs can use to create new designer microbes that can make everything from new drugs to fuel.

This could give a significant boost for research efforts, considering that a single designer microbe may cost years and tens of millions of dollars. One University of California-Berkeley effort to engineer microbes that could synthesize an anti-malarial drug took a decade and $25 million to reach small-scale production.

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Sweet Success for Sustainable Biofuel Research

ScienceDaily (Jan. 25, 2010) — Scientists have found a way to increase fermentable sugar stores in plants which could lead to plant biomass being easier to convert into eco-friendly sustainable biofuels.

Their research is highlighted in the latest issue of Business, the quarterly highlights magazine of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Energy is released in a usable form from biomass when biodegradable matter such as wood or straw is burnt or fermented. Fuel for use in cars is produced by fermentation. To make the fermentation process more efficient and to maximise energy conversion a better understanding of the release of sugars from plant cell walls is crucial and researchers from the University of Cambridge are doing just that.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Researchers, economic development experts excited about potential for plant (Knoxville, TN)
By Larisa Brass
Posted January 23, 2010 at 10:48 p.m.

At the University of Tennessee, Joe Bozell is seeking ways to make high-value chemicals used in everything from auto parts to nanotechnology from a humble blade of grass.

Switchgrass, which has received lots of attention as a source of biofuel, will become the ultimate feedstock for a biorefinery built by the state in partnership with Dupont Danisco. The demonstration plant, which initially will produce ethanol from corn cobs, started production late last year and will hold its grand opening on Friday.

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Understanding Hydrogen Fuel Generators with Help from The Hydrogen Fuel Guide Online
Click here to view related Website:
Publish Date: 2010-01-23

(January 23, 2010) Are you wondering about alternative fuels and the different fuel alternatives available to you? Are you curious about alternative fuel cars and their benefits? Do you want to know how you can help fight global warming or how to bring down costs with an auto hydrogen generator? Go to the Hydrogen Fuel Guide to discover the benefits of water generators for the home, diy green projects, the pros and cons of hydrogen fuel cells or how to make homemade solar hydrogen power generation systems now!

The Hydrogen Fuel Guide will introduce you to free information related to using a hydrogen generator to increase gas mileage in a car. You can read articles on hydrogen fuels, hydrogen fuel cell cars, hydrogen powered vehicles, and alternative fuel cars, an auto hydrogen generator, and you can become instantly informed about the pros and cons of hydrogen fuel cells

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Biofuel crop diversity adds value, Michigan State researchers say

Michigan State University
Published: Jan. 22, 2010

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Diverse biofuel plantings such as native prairie attract more beneficial insects than do single crops such as corn, Michigan State University scientists find. Therefore, biofuel policies should take such added value into account, they urge, based on their pioneering studies of beneficial insects in biofuel crops.

Lady beetles, bees and other beneficial insects provide numerous ecosystem services, including controlling pests and pollinating crops. Earlier research by MSU scientists estimated that such insects in soybeans provide about $240 million worth of biological pest control per year in the U.S.
"We found that the diversity of the plants has a direct effect on the number and diversity of beneficial insects," said Doug Landis, MSU professor of entomology and co-author of the study, to be published in a special issue of the journal BioEnergy Research. "As policymakers consider which biofuel crops to support with incentives, we want to make sure they know about all the benefits provided by a range of crops. Some of these benefits, such as greenhouse gas benefits, pest suppression and pollination, are not currently being counted."

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Feds project ethanol growth this year

Des Moines Register
Blog post by Dan Piller • • January 22, 2010

After a bumpy year in 2009, ethanol demand and the industry as a whole may have a smoother ride this year, so says the U.S. Energy Information Aministration (EIA).

The EIA says that declines in gasoline consumption in 2009 and 2008 will likely be reversed this year as the economy improves, boosting demand for biofuels.

The rising requirements of the federal Renewable Fuel Standards will assist, too, says the EIA.

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Volvo C30 electric vehicle uses ... ethanol for heat

by Sebastian Blanco (RSS feed) on Jan 21st 2010 at 7:56PM

During a presentation on the Volvo electric C30 today at the EnerDel facility in Fishers, IN, we heard a word we really didn't expect to hear: ethanol. We asked Lennart Stegland, Volvo's director of special vehicles, to explain what the biofuel has to do with the all-electric commuter car, and here's how it works: instead of using the battery to heat the batteries or the cabin, a small liquid-fuel heater is built into the car. See, it gets cold in Scandanavia, and using ethanol makes sure the driver does not have to accept any compromises to go electric, Stegland said, adding:

At zero degrees Centidrade or slightly colder, you lose about 35-40 percent of the range if you use electricty [to heat the battery and or the cabin]. What we decided is we can have the opportunity to have this fuel-operated heater, which has a capacity of about six kilowatts, so that will reduce the temperature [where the range loss starts] by about 20 degrees Centigrade. Then we use the battery only for mobility. All the heat is taken from the ethanol.

The system is a gasoline heater that was adapted to burn E85. The ethanol fuel tank is filled using the same fuel door as is used on a standard C30 to gas up and holds around 14 liters of fuel, enough to get you through about two weeks' worth of very cold weather if you keep the car plugged in whenever possible.

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How to Create Effective Biofuels Public Policy
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – January 21st, 2010

One of the biggest challenges for our country lies in the issue of how to create effective public policies that will grow the biofuels industry and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Dr. Antonio Bento, associate professor in the Applied Economics and Management Program at Cornell University, has been researching exactly how to do this and he shared his results during the AG CONNECT Expo last week.

First we must take a step back to take two steps forward. There are several policies in place that mandate the production of biofuels with the Energy Independence & Security Act having one of the greatest impacts. This act requires 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022 with 15 billion coming from corn-ethanol. Bento noted that the country is well on its way to meeting this goal yet surprisingly, “While a lot of public press has blamed the increasing food prices due to these mandates, we find very little effect. Indeed, we find the bulk of the increase in food prices comes from the fluctuation in crude oil prices and our dependence on foreign oil, and less on the land we are devoting for the production of biofuels.”

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"Certification Strategies, Industrial Development and a Global Market for Biofuels" Discussion Paper

Belfer Center Harvard
January 13, 2010
Authors: Ricardo Hausmann, Rodrigo Wagner

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Environment and Natural Resources

A disproportionately large amount of the world's agronomic potential for the production of bio-ethanol is concentrated in a subset of developing countries. This phenomenon represents a rare opportunity to help countries that rank among the poorest in the world to make progress towards industrialization and export-led growth. The list of potential biofuel competitors includes small, tropical economies where the current denominator of total exports is low, so the development of even a small biofuel industry could represent a large proportion of exports. By creating demand for relatively complex inputs and capabilities, the industry's development may also make it easier for these countries to develop other more sophisticated industries in its wake. The emergence of a biofuels industry, therefore, may not only be meaningful for global energy supply, but may also promote the competitiveness of some of the world's most vulnerable communities.

This opportunity is being threatened, however, by the complexity of the coordination challenges, like standardization and the building of an integrated supply chain, as well as by the large number of policy priorities that are shaping the industry's emerging structure. This paper will discusses all these tensions in the context of the international policy debate.

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USDA and U.S. Navy Sign Agreement to Encourage Development and Use of Renewable Fuel and Energy

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: January 21, 2010

Washington—The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Navy (DoN) today announced that leadership from the two departments have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to encourage the development of advanced biofuels and other renewable energy systems.

"This agreement is part of President Obama's vision of a coordinated federal effort to build a clean energy economy, create new jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Genome Sequencing Shows Past Genetic Events Made Soybeans Rich in Versatile Gene Families

Released: 1/14/2010 12:00 PM EST
Source: University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Newswise — Among the many plants that humans have found useful enough to domesticate, soybean (Glycine max) is a wonder. Like other legumes, it has the important ability to make some of its own essential nutrients by hosting nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Soybean is also a virtual chemical factory, so rich in proteins that it is a major source of protein for animal feed, and so rich in oils that it is used to produce much of the world’s cooking oil; it is also a major source for biodiesel.

If it seems as if nature could hardly have made agriculture a more useful plant, at last we may now be able to understand why. The first complete sequencing of the soybean genome has now made available the fine details of the soybean’s unusually productive genetic code and is revealing an unusual evolutionary history that led to its chemical versatility.

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Corn ethanol curse strikes again? Algae fuels have large footprint
By Greenbang on Jan 21, 2010 in Energy and Fuel

Could algae-based biofuels suffer the same fate as the now much-discredited corn-based ethanol? They might, if we don’t find ways to reduce algal fuel’s environmental impact, according to a new study.

After the race to turn corn into fuel helped spark a global spike in food prices, clean-energy proponents turned their sights to so-called “second-generation” biofuel stocks. These include non-food crops like switchgrass and algae, as well crop waste and lumber waste. Algae have been widely considered to have especially great potential, since they can be grown in marginal areas that don’t compete with prime food-growing farmlands.

But there’s a problem — or, rather, several problems — with that idea, according to a team of researchers from the University of Virginia. Their new study finds that growing algae for fuel is more energy- and water-intensive than other biofuel crops, including switchgrass, canola and corn. Oh, and it also produces more greenhouse gas emissions than those other sources.

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Big pipeline player comes into ethanol

Des Moines Register
Blog post by Dan Piller • • January 21, 2010

The news of a joint venture between pipeline operator Kinder Morgan of Houston and U.S. Development Group probably didn’t crack the ice in the corn belt this week but the long-term ramifications could be significant.

Kinder Morgan is one of the nation’s largest natural gas and petroleum pipeline n. U.S. Development owns and operates ethanol loading terminals.

The guts of the deal involves Kinder Morgan taking over U.S. Development ethanol rail unloading terminals at Linden, N.J., Baltimore and Dallas.

Managements of the two companies didn’t give details of how they planned to work together, beyond the usual bows to each other’s competence and history.

But the joint venture has at least the possibility of smoothing what has been one of ethanol’s biggest logistical difficulties; getting the ethanol from the Midwest where it is made to the major gasoline markets on east and west coasts and in Texas.

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Despite Hurdles, UW Converting Coal Plant to Biomass
January 20, 2010

Proponents of a $250 million project to convert a coal-fired power plant to biomass at the University of Wisconsin-Madison say the project is moving ahead, damn the torpedoes.

Those torpedoes include the fact that the project represents nearly a fifth of the state’s capital budget from 2009-11, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.

Other factors going against the plant are that upfront construction costs are higher than other alternatives, and that there is not an existing infrastructure nearby to process the biomass.

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Vehicle testing facility for jatropha fuel up

Manilla Bulletin
January 16, 2010, 2:31pm

A P100-million Vehicle Testing Research Laboratory (VTRL) has been put up to test the technical viability of the jatropha methyl ester (JME) which has so far gone through successful pilot testing at the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI).

The VTRL testing is part of the plan to finally commercialize JME that will boost the country's supply of biofuel in light of the plan to raise the biofuel mix with diesel to five percent from the present two percent, according to Department of Science And Technology (DoST) Undersecretary Graciano P. Yumul Jr.

The VTRL will test the JME on buses and other vehicles and will determine fuel consumption, vehicle speed, and other parameters of technical viability as how CME has gone through more than five years ago. The VTRL is operated by the University of the Philippines-College of Engineering in partnership with the ITDI-DoST and Department of Energy (DoE).

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Jim Jordan & Associates Analysis: Fundamentals of a Sustainable U.S. Biofuels Policy

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: January 19, 2010
by Robert R. Starkey, VP, Fuels, Jim Jordan & Associates

A report titled “Fundamentals of a Sustainable US Biofuels Policy” was released last week by the Baker Institute Energy Forum and Rice University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The report’s purpose was to examine the efficacy and impact of current US biofuels policy in order to provide corporate leaders with complete data to assess expanded industry participation in the biofuels area.

The report was the result of a two-year study assessing the value of US biofuels programs and mandates.

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Wisconsin Global Warming Legislation

Superior Journal
Jan 14th, 2010 By Andy Lisak

Last week, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle introduced his 174 page global warming legislation, which includes policy recommendations from the Global Warming Task Force he convened in 2008. The legislation was introduced in the Wisconsin Assembly as Assembly Bill 649 and in the Wisconsin Senate as Senate Bill 450.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brazil opens world's first ethanol-fired power plant

Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:32pm EST
By Denise Luna

JUIZ DE FORA, Brazil, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Brazil on Tuesday opened the world's first ethanol-fueled power plant in an effort by the South American biofuels giant to increase the global use of ethanol and boost its clean power generation.

State-run oil giant Petrobras (PETR4.SA)(PBR.N) and General Electric Co (GE.N), which helped design the plant, are betting that increased use of ethanol generation by green-conscious countries will boost demand for the product.

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Poet Sues California Over Standard on U.S. Ethanol

The Truth About Trade & Technology
Wednesday, 20 January 2010 00:27
Bloomberg News
By Mario Parker
January 14, 2010

Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Poet LLC, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, wants a judge to stop California’s plan to ban the use of corn-based ethanol in the biggest U.S. gasoline market.

The company sued the California Air Resources Board on Dec. 23, over its low-carbon fuel standard, which aims to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. The regulations count the emissions created when corn is planted, harvested and distilled into fuel as part of ethanol’s carbon output.

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Canadians Backing Biofuels

Biodiesel Magazine February 2010
By Susanne Retka Schill

Solid Canadian support for renewable fuels, along with new mandates and positive results from biofuels development, undergird a positive outlook at the Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit.

The Canadian renewable fuels industry enjoys exceptionally high public support. At the Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit, the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Gordon Quaiattini said this is because the industry delivers on its promises. “We’re delivering the jobs and growth that Canadians so badly need,” Quaiattini said. “We’re delivering greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions that Canada requires. We’re delivering for farm families looking to diversify. We’re delivering for the forestry sector that sees renewable fuels as a new source of growth and vitality. And we’re delivering for all those who worry about the security and abundance of clean and affordable transportation fuels.” Quaiattini cited three recent reports supporting his claim in his state-of-the-industry address at the early December summit held in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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Miscanthus Rhizome Root Harvester & Planter Unveiled
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – January 19th, 2010

While researchers continue work on miscanthus’s viability to produce cellulosic ethanol, and growers now have a way to plant and harvest the feedstock more efficiently. After years of collaboration and research, a miscanthus rhizome regeneration harvester and planter system has been developed. The unveiling took place during the Bioenergy Feedstocks Symposium held at the University of Illinois (U of I). Typically, miscanthus is a labor-intensive crop requiring multiple machines, and costly manual selection and grading – but not any longer.

The new machine is the result of a three-year collaboration between U of I, Tomax Ltd and Bermuda King USA. According to a news release from U of I, this machinery can lower the cost of miscanthus rhizome production by up to 40 percent and create opportunities for miscanthus to be used more widely as a high-yield bioenergy crop.

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UAE's Masdar Inks Carbon Trading, Cleantech Deals

The New York Times
Published: January 19, 2010

The United Arab Emirates' ambitious Masdar "eco-city" is positioning itself to profit from a carbon-constrained global economy.

The desert city, slated for completion over the next decade, would generate electricity on site from the wind and sun and produce zero net greenhouse gas emissions. And in a new twist, Masdar also would generate cash by buying and selling carbon dioxide emissions globally.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Green jobs' growth potential is limited, economist cautions
By PHILIP BRASHER • • January 16, 2010

Ethanol production and wind-turbine manufacturing have been two of the biggest sources of new green jobs in Iowa, but the state's biggest growth opportunity may be in research and development, an economist said.

David Swenson, an economic development specialist at Iowa State University, said that ethanol production is leveling off and that there is stiff competition among states for manufacturing of wind turbine parts. Meanwhile, wind farms make little dent in employment because they require relatively few people for maintenance.

Iowa had 1,308 jobs in ethanol production in 2008, up from 141 in 2003, according to a study coordinated by Iowa Workforce Development. The turbine manufacturing sector grew from 136 in 2003 to 1,101 in 2008. By comparison, 82 people were listed as working in alternative power generation, including wind, in 2008. That's even though the state ranked No. 2 in its wind-generation capacity, which grew nearly six-fold from 2003 to 2008.

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Increasing flexibility of DDGS is focus of ISU research
By Dan Kuester, ISU Thursday, January 14, 2010

Iowa State University researchers are working to safely increase feed use by cattle and poultry producers of a co-product made during ethanol production.

The co-product, dry distiller's grains with solubles (DDGS), is rich in protein, oil and fiber.

Because of the comparatively large number of ethanol plants in Iowa, DDGS are a relatively inexpensive feed source for livestock and are already used as a feed supplement in some livestock diets.

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Masdar-Boeing Bioenergy research project set up
By Himendra Mohan Kumar, Staff Reporter, Gulf News
Published: 00:00 January 18, 2010

The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Project (SBRP) will use integrated saltwater agriculture systems to support the development and commercialisation of biofuel sources for aviation and co-products.

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi's Masdar Institute, Boeing, Etihad Airways and Honeywell on Sunday announced at a news conference an agreement to establish the first sustainable bioenergy research project dedicated to sustainable energy solutions.

The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Project (SBRP) will use integrated saltwater agriculture systems to support the development and commercialisation of biofuel sources for aviation and co-products.

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DOE Selects NREL as a New Biofuels R&D Program Leader

National Renewable Energy Laboratory
News Release NR-0210
January 13, 2010

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will co-lead a new national program to develop advanced biofuels that are compatible with the nation's existing hydrocarbon fuels infrastructure.

The $33.8 million in funding for this research effort comes as part of a larger package of biofuels investments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act announced today by Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

“Advanced biofuels are crucial to building a clean energy economy,” said Secretary Chu. “By harnessing the power of science and technology, we can bring new biofuels to the market and develop a cleaner and more sustainable transportation sector. This investment will help spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry, while creating jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

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Funding for Biofuels Research

The New York Times
January 18, 2010, 9:44 am By SINDYA N. BHANOO

The United States Department of Energy announced last week more than $80 million in financing from the economic stimulus package for a new national program dedicated to biofuels research.

The goal is not only to develop high energy, dense fuels, but also to figure out how to use existing infrastructure as much as possible to save costs, said John Holladay, head of biomass research at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, one of the groups leading the program.

“The way to really do this is to use the infrastructure that’s in place as as much as you can,” he said. “That includes the infrastructure for fuel distribution and the infrastructure to produce fuels. I’m talking about pipelines, but also petroleum refineries.”

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Renewable Energy Map launches —

January 18, 2010 Jim Lane Comments 0 .

policies, expansion targets, current shares, installed capacity, current production

The Renewable Energy Policy Network (REN21), a global policy network that provides a forum for international leadership on renewable energy, has launched its Renewables Interactive Map.

The Map contains a wealth of information on renewable energy, including support policies, expansion targets, current shares, installed capacity, current production, future scenarios, and policy pledges.

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China completes cassava genome sequencing for energy use research
Monday, January 18, 2010 12:51 AM

HAIKOU, Jan. 18, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- China has completed the genome sequencing of three varieties of cassava, the roots of which are used to produce ethanol, scientists said Monday.

The genome sequencing can shed light on the cassava plant as a source of biomass energy. It also lays the foundation for enhancing cassava's ability to grow on barren soil and resistance against drought, said Peng Ming, head of the Biology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences.

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Conference: Biomass needs regulatory, government support

Biomass Magazine January 2010
By Anna Austin
Posted January 15, 2010, at 11:58 a.m. CST

Jim Stewart of the California Bioenergy Producers Association relayed a simple message to the 400-plus attendees of Biomass Magazine’s Pacific Northwest Biomass Conference & Expo: it’s time to begin confronting the real issues involved in developing a constructive statutory and regulatory environment for bioenergy production.

Stewart referred to biomass as the “holy grail of sustainability,” touting production of ethanol from organic wastes as the only pathway available that can meet or exceed the goals for greenhouse gas reduction established in California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. “Many of us here have attended conferences before where we have a chance to network, say nice things about innovative technologies we’re working on, listen to a few speeches proclaiming the need for a better environment, and go home perhaps feeling a little better about ourselves without confronting the real issues,” he said. “But the time has come for a frank discussion and coordinated action. We will never achieve our goals for renewable energy and a better environment for this nation without a cooperative effort between business, labor, government and the environmental community.”

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2010: The Year of The Pest

Biofuels Digest
January 18, 2010 Jim Lane

In South Dakota, news that researchers have discovered that an obscure but fast-growing moth species has a potentially destructive appetite for switchgrass, raises a question. Is the appearance of this destructive pest good news or bad news?

Generally, pests and invasive species are considered very, very bad news. We are conditioned to think this way. The ISSG defines the 100 World’s worst invasive alien Species, as species that are a major threat to biodiversity (the collected wealth of the world’s species of plants, animals and other organisms) as well as to agriculture and other human interests.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

EPA lauds Sioux Falls, Poet
Staff Reports • Argus Leader • January 15, 2010

The Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Sioux Falls and Poet, which partnered on a landfill gas project, as one of the top renewable energy projects nationwide.

The 11-mile pipeline connects the landfill with Poet's Chancellor ethanol plant. It displaces 10 percent of the plant's previous natural gas consumption.

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Ethanol Groups React to California LCFS Approval
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – January 13th, 2010

Ethanol advocacy organizations challenging California’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) are disappointed with approval for implementation this week by the state’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL).

“Pursuing this strategy runs counter to the stated goals of Governor Schwarzenegger and the State Assembly to reduce carbon emissions from motor vehicles,” said Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen. “As crafted, the LCFS would virtually eliminate domestic ethanol,the only viable low-carbon alternative to gasoline, from the California marketplace in favor of imported ethanol and futuristic fuel technologies such as hydrogen and the electric car.”
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Study Claims Ethanol is Crowding Out Wildlife

Prairie Farmer
Jason Vance
Published: Jan 14, 2010

RFA points to recent record crop on fewer acres in refuting report findings.

On Wednesday, a study conducted for the National Wildlife Federation by a team of graduate students from the University of Michigan was released. The report analyzes the current and potential impacts of increased corn ethanol production on wildlife and habitat in the Prairie Pothole states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

According to the study, populations of sensitive wildlife species are declining significantly in areas with high increases in corn plantings. The updated Renewable Fuel Standard, passed in 2007, requires corn ethanol production to increase from 10.57 billion gallons in 2009 to 15 billion in 2015, which means corn ethanol production will continue to increase.

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Western Corn Rootworm Will Survive on Miscanthus

Prairie Farmer
Compiled by staff
Published: Jan 14, 2010

Though populations were 70% lower than on corn, this could be a concern.

The western corn rootworm beetle, a pest that costs growers more than $1 billion annually in the U.S., can also survive on the perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus, a potential biofuels crop that would likely be grown alongside corn, researchers report.

Rootworm beetle larvae can survive to adulthood on Miscanthus rhizomes, and adult beetles will lay their eggs at the base of Miscanthus plants grown near cornfields, the researchers found. Their study, in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, is the first to identify Miscanthus as a host of the corn rootworm.

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DOE Awards Funds for Ethanol Infrastructure
Posted by Michelle Kautz – January 14th, 2010

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Chu announced today nearly $80 million awarded for advanced biofuels research and fueling infrastructure.

“Advanced biofuels are crucial to building a clean energy economy,” said Secretary Chu. “By harnessing the power of science and technology, we can bring new biofuels to the market and develop a cleaner and more sustainable transportation sector. This investment will help spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry, while creating jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

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Algae Emerges as DOE Feedstock of Choice for Biofuel 2.0
by Amy Westervelt - Jan 15th, 2010

Chu Pledges $80 Million for Algae R&D

There was sense of deja vu in the biofuels sector this week when U.S. Energy Secretary Chu announced nearly $80 million in funding for research and development of algae-based fuels.

The dream of turning pond scum into diesel began with a similar flood of government investments by the Carter administration during the oil crisis of the 1970s. In fact, many of the buzzed-about algae-to-fuel startups today are basing their technology on seminal research from that era.

The government spending dried up after Carter left office, and research efforts suffered. Despite 30-plus years of work on a smaller scale since then and the fact that a wide range of backers, from the Silicon Valley venture community to major oil companies such as Chevron and Exxon, have begun investing heavily in the algae-based fuel business again over the last couple of years, a lot remains to be done before the potential of algae as a feedstock is realized.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

No posts to the bioenergy blog in observation of the MLK Holiday.

Friday, January 15, 2010

POET has Indiana biorefineries in North Manchester, Alexandria and Portland.

SIOUX FALLS, SD and TULSA, OKLA (January 13, 2010) – A proposed ethanol pipeline would be an economic boost for the U.S., a new report demonstrates, creating almost 80,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs across the country.

POET and Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P. have formed a joint venture to assess the feasibility of a 1,800-mile ethanol pipeline from ethanol production facilities in the Midwest, starting at Davison County, S.D., to distribution outlets in the northeast U.S., ending in Linden, N.J. Once the feasibility study is complete, the pipeline would be operational as early as 2014.

A recent report from the consulting firm LECG shows that the majority of the jobs created will be in the construction and transportation industries. More than 50,000 jobs will come from construction alone.

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Brazil cuts ethanol blend to 20% as stocks hit lows
January 13, 2010

The world’s largest sugar-cane ethanol producer and consumer has lowered its mandated ethanol-gasoline blend as stocks of the biofuel hit lows and prices rise.

Brazil has a minimum blend of 25%, which will be lowered to 20% in February for three months, until the sugar-cane harvest begins.

Flex-fuel cars that can run on any mix of gasoline and ethanol are increasingly common on the roads of the South American nation, and at the pump consumers can choose between gasoline with the ethanol blend or pure ethanol.

Until recently, ethanol prices had been lower than oil prices here, the latter of which are determined by the state-owned, semi-private oil company, Petrobras, and are generally higher than international prices.

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Biobutanol Firm Aims to Compete With Ethanol in 4 Years

The New York Times Energy & Environment
By JESSICA LEBER of ClimateWire
Published: January 13, 2010

Having launched its first pilot facility yesterday with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger looking on, California startup Cobalt Technologies is the latest in a growing number of biofuel ventures banking on biobutanol as an attractive ethanol alternative.

Like ethanol, biobutanol can be fermented from plant sugars, either food grains or cellulosic plant parts. But because its structure is heavier than ethanol and more similar to gasoline, the advanced biofuel has a wider range of end uses -- it can be burned as a stand-alone transportation fuel; blended with diesel, ethanol or gasoline; converted into jet fuel or plastics; or sold in existing industrial chemical markets.

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Danforth-led algae biofuel research wins $44M in stimulus

January 13, 2010 1:14 PM ET

Research efforts led by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to turn algae into renewable energy got a $44 million boost Wednesday.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced Wednesday the investment of $78 million in federal stimulus money for advanced biofuels research and fueling infrastructure that will help support the development of a clean sustainable transportation sector.

The National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts, led by the Danforth Center, is getting $44 million of that to commercialize algae into a biofuel.

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Genencor Receives 2009 New Product Innovation Award for Biomass Enzymes


Frost & Sullivan Recognizes Accellerase(R) Products For Critical Role in Biofuels Development

PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Genencor, a division of Danisco A/S, is the recipient of the Frost & Sullivan 2009 New Product Innovation Award for Biomass Enzymes. The award was granted for Genencor's Accellerase® product line, enzymes used to convert biomass into sugar, a critical step in the production of cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels and biochemicals.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the Accellerase® product line provides feedstock and pre-treatment flexibility, better process economics, accessory products and versatility, which are all significant advantages that make it stand out from the competition.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

For Berkeley alternative-energy project, big changes on the horizon

By Barry Bergman, NewsCenter 11 January 2010

New research facility aims to save the planet, but thinks locally, too

BERKELEY — The Helios Energy Research Facility, originally proposed as a hillside headquarters for Berkeley-based alternative-energy research, appears close to finding a new home west of the Berkeley campus — and to replacing a shuttered neighborhood eyesore with an eco-friendly building and public open space designed to spur downtown revitalization as it seeks solutions to global climate change.

The brainchild of former Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory director Steven Chu — now head of the U.S. Department of Energy — the Helios project was initially slated to be housed in a large structure, to be built in Strawberry Canyon, for LBNL and UC Berkeley scientists working on solar energy, biofuels, and other ways to curb global climate change.

Now, under revised plans set to go to the UC Board of Regents next week, alternative-energy research will be more dispersed. If approved by the regents, a new five-story, 112,800-square-foot structure will rise on a university-owned lot just west of the central campus. Research there would focus on carbon-neutral biofuels, and would be conducted chiefly under the auspices of the BP-funded Energy Biosciences Institute and Berkeley's bioengineering program.

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RFA: USDA Report - Farmers Shatter Corn Production Records On Fewer Acres
01/12/2010 08:40AM Average rating:

The final report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the 2009 corn harvest is one for the record books. Despite poor planting conditions, a cool, wet growing season, and an abysmal harvest that still sees corn standing in fields, American farmers shattered records for both yield per acre and total production.

In the January Crop Production report, USDA estimates farmers averaged 165.2 bushels of corn per acres, up from its previous estimate of 162.9 and shattering the previous record of 160.4 in 2004. Notably, average yields are more than 11 bushels per acre higher (7 percent) than last year’s average yield. In addition, this record yield helped produce the largest corn crop ever – 13.2 billion bushels. All of this occurred despite one of the slowest and most challenging harvests on record.

“The unparalleled productivity of America's farmers continues to amaze even the most skeptical of critics,” said Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen. “Despite unfavorable weather conditions from start to finish, farmers produced considerably more corn than the food, feed, and fuel markets are demanding. Such gains in productivity undermine any claims that U.S. biofuel production will require new lands in other nations to come into production. There can be no question that American farmers have both the capability and the can-do attitude to feed the world while simultaneously helping reduce our nation’s reliance on imported oil.”

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Posted on Mon, Jan. 11, 2010 10:15 PM
The Kansas City Star

The year is shaping up as pivotal for the ethanol industry, and a Kansas company has a major role in how things will turn out.

ICM Inc., based in Colwich, Kan., has been involved in designing and building more ethanol plants in North America than any other company. But those plants, including several in the region built over the last decade, have relied on turning corn into fuel.

The industry’s future growth will depend on turning cellulose from a solid material — such as prairie grasses, wood and corn stalks — into liquid ethanol. Missouri and Kansas could be big sources of cellulose, with farmers growing switchgrass.

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The Most Popular Alternative Energy No One's Talking About
By: The Growth Stock Wire Monday, January 11, 2010 12:03 PM
By Tom Dyson

Solar power doesn't work at night. Wind power needs wind. Hydro runs into droughts. Geothermal works great, but it's scarce.

Alternative energies are a pain in the neck. They're expensive and inconvenient. "Biomass" is America's newest alternative power source. It doesn't have any of these problems...

With a market cap of $26 billion, Southern Company is one of the largest electric utilities in the world. In November, Southern Company broke ground on a new biomass power plant in Texas. This biomass plant, when complete, will be the largest biomass plant in America. Southern Company is considering building five more plants like it.

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ISO Standard To Make Bioenergy Sustainable
January 11, 2010

ISO will develop an International Standard to address sustainability issues linked to bioenergy. The standard will be produced by a new ISO project committee, ISO/PC 248, Sustainability criteria for bioenergy.

ISO/PC 248 will bring together international expertise and state-of-the-art best practice to discuss the social, economic and environmental aspects of the production, supply chain, and use of bioenergy, and identify criteria that could prevent it from being environmentally destructive or socially aggressive.

The decision to develop the standard responds to the growing international interest in bioenergy, and the current lack of globally harmonized sustainability criteria.

Already some 29 countries are involved as participants or observers, including large markets such as China and the USA. Brazil (ISO member ABNT) and Germany (ISO member DIN) will provide the secretariat and leadership of the committee under a twinned arrangement.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cellulosic Ethanol Demo Plant to Open in TN
Friday, January 8, 2010
By Cindy Zimmerman

DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE) and University of Tennessee/Genera Energy will hold a grand opening celebration later this month for one of the nation’s first cellulosic ethanol demo plants, located in Vonore, Tenn.

Among the featured speakers at the grand opening on January 29 will be Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, who helped with the groundbreaking for the plant in October 2008.

The facility is expected to begin producing fuel ethanol from both agricultural residue and bioenergy crops prior to the grand opening. The 74,000-square-foot facility has the capacity to produce 250,000 gallons of ethanol from corncobs and switchgrass and is preparing for commercial production by 2012.

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NMMA, others send letter to White House asking for more ethanol testing

Sportfishing Magazine
By BoatU.S. News
Fri, Jan 08, 2010

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) in partnership with the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) and twelve other trade groups representing 90% of retail gasoline providers, almost all automobile manufacturers and a large majority of motorcycle and non-road equipment manufacturers sent a letter Wednesday to the EPA, Department of Energy (DOE) and The White House concerning the EPA's pending decision on the use of E15 and DOE's Ethanol Research Program.

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Ethanol Group Critical of Biofuels Policy Paper
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – January 8th, 2010

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is calling the new policy paper by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy released this week a continuation of “the orchestrated campaign to limit, and ultimately eliminate, the use of biofuels to displace foreign oil.”

The report, which was funded by Chevron Technology Ventures, concludes that “the current U.S. biofuels program that promotes corn-based ethanol is far from environmental sustainability and should be dramatically revamped.” Policy recommendations made by the institute are to revise the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to make it “more achievable,” eliminate the tariff on imported ethanol, get rid of the blender’s tax credit and “avoid defining corn-based ethanol as a ‘low-carbon fuel,’ a move that would be based only on political expediency and not on scientific analysis.”

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Valley dairies go green, harness methane for energy -- and cash (Fresno, California)
Posted at 08:26 PM on Saturday, Jan. 09, 2010
By Robert Rodriguez / The Fresno Bee

The battle against global warming may turn out to be a boon for a California industry long targeted by environmentalists -- dairies.

Some dairy farmers have been so successful in reducing air pollution from animal waste that they are earning revenue from other industries that need help meeting their own emission goals.

Those transactions are tied to a controversial idea called "cap-and-trade," a system that lets companies meet air-pollution requirements by getting credit for reductions that other companies achieve.

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The unintended ripples from the biomass subsidy program

The Washington Post
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 10, 2010

It sounded like a good idea: Provide a little government money to convert wood shavings and plant waste into renewable energy.

But as laudable as that goal sounds, it could end up causing more economic damage than good -- driving up the price of raw timber, undermining an industry that has long used sawdust and wood shavings to make affordable cabinetry, and highlighting the many challenges involved in decreasing the nation's dependence on oil by using organic materials to create biofuels.

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Novozymes plant gets clean energy tax credit (Roanoke, Virginia)
January 11, 2010

Novozymes, a Denmark-based biological technology company whose worldwide operations include a presence in the Roanoke Valley, has received a $28.4 million tax credit for a new company in Blair, Neb.

The credit is part of the federal stimulus package, which provided a total of $2.3 billion to 183 manufacturing facilities in 40 states. It amounts to a 30 percent tax credit rewarding "clean energy technologies."

The new Nebraska facility produces enzymes to help create renewable biofuels, such as ethanol. According to the company, it is creating products that can be used to produce what are known as first- and second-generation bioethanols.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Brazil to cut ethanol blend ratio in response to weak sugarcane harvests: report

Biofuels Digest
January 08, 2010 Jim Lane

In Brazil, Bloomberg and other news sources are reporting that the national government is considering a cut in the mandatory ethanol blend ratio, in response to heavy rains and reduced sugarcane harvests. Currently, gasoline in Brazil has a 20-25 percent minimum ethanol content, as set by the government, while higher ethanol blends are utilized by flex-fuel cars which can utilize any blend of gasoline and ethanol.

Ethanol production has fallen 8.3 percent to for the 2009-10 harvest season to date to 5.86 billion gallons, after heavy rains reduced harvest time and yields.

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Upgrading biomass to gasoline

RSC - Advancing the Chemical Sciences Chemical World
07 January 2010

Making cheap gasoline from biomass is a step closer, thanks to a new catalyst developed in the US. The catalyst - which is made from metal nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes - straddles the boundary between water and oil and could greatly help in 'upgrading' crude biomass into useful fuel.

Large quantities of biomass are produced each year, such as waste plant material from farming and the paper industry, and biodegradable home waste. These mixtures can be heated to produce a sticky liquid known as 'bio-oil', which needs further refinement before it can be put to use.

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Syntec and EERC to Develop Novel Technology to Produce Bio-Butanol From Biomass and Waste
January 07, 2010: 09:00 AM ET

Syntec Biofuel Inc. (Syntec) (OTCBB: SYBF) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a joint development program with the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks for converting a wide variety of biomass and waste into bio-butanol. The core process utilizes Syntec's high-performance catalyst technology in conjunction with an upgrading process exclusively licensed from the EERC Foundation.

Butanol has a high purity and energy level and can be used in a variety of ways, including as a fuel in internal combustion engines. Because its hydrocarbon chain is twice that of ethanol, it is more similar to gasoline than it is to ethanol and thus constitutes a superior fuel. Bio-butanol is also used as a solvent for a wide variety of chemical and textile processes, as a chemical intermediate for organic synthesis, as a base for perfumes and paint thinners, and as a solvent in other coating applications.

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‘Biomass reaction’ combusts fuel from within

Biomass Magazine January 2010
By Lisa Gibson
Posted January 7, 2010, at 4:07 p.m. CST

Biomass reaction, a patented technology by Iowa-based Kimberlin, Inc., combusts biowaste for heating or cooling in commercial spaces, and is being further developed to produce electricity.

The process combusts biomass, typically animal and poultry wastes, wood fuels and agricultural materials, from within the fuel mass, with what the company calls a tornado of fire. Instead of external energy collection, the process uses the energy created from the inside of the burn. “Nobody’s ever done this before,” says owner John Kimberlin. “It burns within itself.”

Heat output varies with the size of the furnace, but can range from 175,000 Btu per hour to 750,000. “Our piece of equipment will be your basic heat source for your building,” Kimberlin said. The technology is used in two Kimberlin products currently: Nature’s Furnace, which is a hot air combustor that can produce up to 500,000 Btu; and the Bio-Power boiler, which is a fluid unit that can produce up to 750,000 Btu, according to Kimberlin. Four Nature’s Furnaces have been sold in Europe, with 20 to 30 pending, according to the company. Prices range from $150,000 to $500,000, depending on energy output and selected options.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Using waste-derived biofuel can cuts emissions, claims report

Wednesday 06 January 2010

A DECC report said producing biofuels from waste, residues and by-products can cut greenhouse gas emissions

Producing biofuels from waste, residues and by-products can cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). However, the study claims that if the material has other end markets such as in animal feedstock - is likely to have negative indirect effects associated with it and could see a rise in emissions.

DECC and the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) - the UK's independent sustainable fuel generator reporting to the UK Government - commissioned Edinburgh-based analysis firm Ecometrica to produce a methodology quantifying the indirect greenhouse gas effects of using wastes, residues and by-products for biofuels or bioenergy.

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Coal power plant tests biomass

Biofuels International
7 January 2010

A 200MW power plant in Wisconsin, US, has started testing the introduction of burning biomass.

Alliant Energy has been working with the Nelson Dewey Power Plant in Cassville on providing a range of biomass tests.

‘We'll be burning fuels that have been densified and pelleted, Bill Johnson, Alliant Energy's biofuel development manager, comments. ‘That would include wood that is mixed with other materials, as well as agricultural residue materials such as corn stover, switchgrass and reed canary grass.’

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Grand opening set for Tenn. cellulosic ethanol plant

Ethanol Producer Magazine January 2010
Press release posted Jan. 7, 2010

Vonore, Tenn. – On Friday, Jan. 29, DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC (DDCE) and University of Tennessee/Genera Energy LLC will hold a grand opening celebration for one of the nation’s first cellulosic ethanol demonstration plants, and the only one dedicated to converting both agricultural residue and bioenergy crops to fuel ethanol. The facility, located in Vonore, Tenn., has initiated start-up and commissioning and will begin producing ethanol in mid-January.

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen will be an honored speaker at the event, along with other state, local, and business dignitaries. The 74,000-square-foot facility has the capacity to produce 250,000 gallons of ethanol from corncobs and switchgrass and is preparing DDCE’s innovative integrated technology for commercial production by 2012.

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Groups want more tests on higher-ethanol U.S. fuel

Reuters UK
Thu Jan 7, 2010 6:09pm GMT
By Tom Doggett

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - A coalition of oil companies, car and engine manufacturers and fuel sellers told the Obama administration on Thursday not to increase the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline based on inadequate test data.

The Environmental Protection Agency said last month it needs more time to decide on a industry request to boost the level of ethanol in gasoline to 15 percent from 10 percent, but indicated it would likely approve the higher fuel blend for new American cars.

Gasoline approved to have a higher volume of ethanol would help absorb the annual increase in ethanol supplies required by Congress in its attempt to reduce U.S. petroleum imports. The higher blend would help the U.S. ethanol industry, which was hard hit in 2008 by the economic downturn and a drop in crude oil prices to nearly $30 a barrel. Many companies were forced into bankruptcy and some production capacity was also idled.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

China Chases The Mirage of Biomass-To-Electricity

Energy Tribune
Posted on Jan. 05, 2010
By Xina Xie and Robert Bryce

China’s biomass-to-electricity industry is booming. Thanks to favorable government tax policies, subsidized energy prices and fat giveaways from the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the Chinese government has approved more than 70 biomass-to-electricity plants. More than 30 of the plants are now operating, with a total capacity of about 3,000 megawatts, or 0.37% of China’s total power capacity.

China produces about 700 million tons of crop waste per year, equivalent to about 350 million tons of standard coal. At present, most of that crop waste is burned in the fields. However, if all of that waste were utilized as fuel, China could but its carbon dioxide emissions by about 850 million tons, according to a recent government estimate.

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Ethanol Giant Shifts Focus

Minneapolis Star Tribune
By LIZ FEDOR, Star Tribune
Last update: January 3, 2010 - 5:08 PM

A Granite Falls contractor will adapt his business model to emphasize wind and biomass.

GRANITE FALLS, MINN. - Welders at Fagen Inc. will kick off the new year by using their torches to fabricate parts destined for an ethanol plant in Hungary.

Ron Fagen, the CEO of Fagen Inc., put this western Minnesota town on the national map by building 47 ethanol projects across the United States between 2006 and 2008. His family-owned company generated $2.2 billion in revenue in 2007.

"Corn ethanol has been the best thing that has happened to the farmers since the invention of the combine," said the 61-year-old Fagen, who grew up in the tiny community of Maynard near Granite Falls. "It gives them another market for their corn."

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How Algal Biofuels Lost a Decade in the Race to Replace Oil

Wired Science
By Alexis Madrigal December 29, 2009 8:00 pm

For nearly 20 years, a government laboratory built a living, respiring library of carefully collected organisms in search of something that could grow quickly while producing something precious: oil.

But now that collection has largely been lost.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientists found and isolated around 3,000 species algae from construction ditches, seasonal desert ponds and briny mashes across the country in a major bioprospecting effort to find the best organisms to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into fuel for cars.

Despite meager funding, the Aquatic Species Program (.pdf), initiated under President Jimmy Carter, laid the scientific foundation for making diesel-like fuel from the fat that microscopic algae accumulate in their cells. Fifty-one varieties were carefully characterized as potential high-value strains, but fewer than half of those remain.

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Storing corn may be best bet for securing better price later

Des Moines Register
by PHILIP BRASHER & DAN PILLER • • January 3, 2010

Corn prices have been generally depressed in the last 12 months due primarily to slack export demand and big supplies in the United States.

But Purdue University economist Chris Hurt thinks that while corn might not return to the heady $6 to $7 range it saw in 2008, rising demand may give it the same kick in 2010 that soybeans enjoyed last year when China made heavy purchases.

"We know that from two aspects, one of them being biofuels. Ethanol production will continue to grow in 2010 and 2011. And, secondly, as the world economy recovers, we're going to see more demand for U.S. corn exports," Hurt said.

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Building on its Biomass Base

Biomass Magazine January 2010
By Lisa Gibson

The biomass industry is flourishing in and around Sacramento, Calif., where new biomass-based technologies are nurtured and innovative proven processes are embraced.

It might be hard to fathom four separate companies developing and testing their biomass systems in the same laboratory without a certain level of competition, but that’s part of daily operations at Technikon LLC’s 60,000-square-foot Renewable Energy Testing Center in Sacramento, Calif.

The center, operated in conjunction with Renewable Energy Institute International, provides a site for evaluating the performance of renewable energy and fuels technologies with respect to robustness, safety, energy efficiency, environmental effectiveness and other key performance specifications. “If you don’t have the answers to those questions, you’re not going to get anybody to give you money,” says Jodie Crandell, senior project manager for Technikon. The four companies—Davis, Calif.-based Sierra Energy; PEAT International, which operates in locations such as Florida, India and Taiwan; Ternion Bio Industries, headquartered in San Jose, Calif.; and a fourth company that declined to disclose any information for this article—are working together on complementary and sometimes competitive technologies, even sharing expertise.

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Top 10 cleantech universities in the U.S. for 2010
January 4, 2010 by Shawn Lesser

Shawn Lesser of Sustainable World Capital goes inside the labs to find the best examples of collaboration between academics, businesses and investors.

Where will the cutting edge companies that transform the industries of cleantech going to come from? Odds are that it will be from one of the top cleantech universities.

While many dotcom companies were started by students out of their dorm rooms or basements, don’t look for a similar trend in the cleantech world. You need a lot more than a desktop and a good Internet-based idea. You need specialized resources that you usually can find at a university.

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Water scarcity = Energy crisis
by Mike Hammond
Posted on January 2nd 2010

Water shortages can have many undesirable effects on the economy. What is less accepted globally is the fact that water and energy are very much interlinked and it sooner or later will pile up leading towards economic threat as there is mass migration, defense warfare and scarcity of food and this threat is being faced in most of the countries.

As water being the basic element needed for the process of energy production, it needs proper utilization ensuring zero wastage as most of the energy productions make heavy use of water. In Saudi Arabia, oil sites pump more water to increase the base reservoir pressure than the oil it generates. As per the U.S Department of Energy, an oil shale needs more than 6 gallons of water to produce about 1 gallon gasoline, whereas a conventional crude needs just about 2 to 2.5 gallons water to produce a gallon of gasoline.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

SDSU Scientists ‘Re-discover’ Switchgrass Moth

Biomass Magazine January 2010
By Lance Nixon

The rediscovery of the switchgrass moth indicates that native prairie plants are just as vulnerable to insects as other crops are, and that pest management programs will be needed if these prairie grasses are going to be produced commercially.

South Dakota State University scientists have “re-discovered” an insect that was first described by a scientist in 1910, but hasn’t been studied since.

What they are learning about its diet and life cycle suggests it could be one of the first major pests of a new biobased economy that grows native grasses for energy.

SDSU professor Paul Johnson, a research entomologist, said SDSU scientists found larvae of an unidentified insect that were responsible for losses on a private farm specializing in seed production of native grasses in 2006. At an SDSU research farm in 2007, professor Arvid Boe, a forage breeder, calculated that 40 percent or more of new tiller growth was lost to the caterpillar.

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The Smoldering Wood Pellet Business

The New York Times
December 31, 2009, 9:15 am

With millions of families preparing to pitch their Christmas trees, the North American wood pellet industry is thinking optimistically about environmentally minded uses for waste timber.

This month, a start-up in Arkansas, NexGen Biomass, announced plans to build 150-employee plant capable of producing 440,000 tons of pellets a year on the site of a former saw mill in El Dorado. It is the second such investment in the state this year, according to The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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Scientists Show How Bacteria Move Electrons Across a Membrane
December 29, 2009 -- Scientists at the University of East Anglia, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Pennsylvania State University have demonstrated for the first time the mechanism by which some bacteria can transfer electrons across a membrane to the cell exterior, allowing them to "breathe" metals. These iron-respiring bacteria link the cycling of iron and carbon in subsurface and surface sediments and can catalyze the immobilization of subsurface contaminants such as uranium.

In an article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers described the protein complex -- and its electrochemical properties -- from Shewanella oneidensis, a bacterium renowned for its diverse metabolism and ability to immobilize certain radioactive contaminants. This research demonstrated a novel outer membrane-spanning electron transfer system that enables the proteins MtrA (inward facing) and MtrC (outward facing) to embed sufficiently within a third transmembrane protein, MtrB, to allow electron transfer to take place between them.

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Bad year for biofuel ends on a dour note


An alternative fuel for diesel engines is off to a shaky start this year though it emits fewer pollutants and cuts down on petroleum use because it's made from environmentally friendly waste and vegetable oil.

A federal tax credit that provided makers of biodiesel $1 for every gallon expired Friday. As a result, some U.S. producers say they will shut down without the government subsidy.

Biodiesel's woes come on top of a year of problems for the fledgling biofuel industry -- an irony given the push to cut down on greenhouse gases and ease the nation's need for foreign oil. A key driver for the alternative fuel -- the high cost of oil -- disappeared as diesel prices dropped 18 percent since the beginning of the recession. Then in March the European Union placed import-killing tariffs on biodiesel and other biofuels.

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Parity in the Production Tax Credit

Biomass Magazine January 2010
By Bob Cleaves

The Biomass Power Association recently addressed government officials and other renewable energy industry representatives at a Biopower Workshop in Denver, sponsored by the U.S. DOE. The focus of the workshop was to understand the developing trends in the bioenergy field in order to help the DOE focus its efforts on the research and development that would produce the best results.

Former BPA Chairman Bill Carlson made a compelling case for the importance of analyzing the optimal cost/benefit relationship between the location and size of traditional wood waste biomass power plants. His complete study “Bigger Not Necessarily Better or Cheaper,” can be found at

My presentation focused on steps that Congress could take now, irrespective of research and development, to expand the role of biomass power in America and allow all renewable energy sources to operate on a level playing field.

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Solid Nanoparticles that Catalyze Biofuel Upgrade Reactions at the Water/Oil Interface

1 January 2010: Vol. 327. no. 5961, pp. 68 - 72
DOI: 10.1126/science.1180769

Steven Crossley, Jimmy Faria, Min Shen, Daniel E. Resasco*

A recoverable catalyst that simultaneously stabilizes emulsions would be highly advantageous in streamlining processes such as biomass refining, in which the immiscibility and thermal instability of crude products greatly complicates purification procedures. Here, we report a family of solid catalysts that can stabilize water-oil emulsions and catalyze reactions at the liquid/liquid interface. By depositing palladium onto carbon nanotube–inorganic oxide hybrid nanoparticles, we demonstrate biphasic hydrodeoxygenation and condensation catalysis in three substrate classes of interest in biomass refining. Microscopic characterization of the emulsions supports localization of the hybrid particles at the interface.

School of Chemical, Biological, and Materials Engineering, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA.

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Link to the report:

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ethanol Groups Sue California Over Low-Carbon Rule

The Wall Street Journal
DECEMBER 24, 2009, 5:17 P.M. ET

WASHINGTON --Two groups representing ethanol producers asked a federal court on Thursday to strike down a California rule that calls for a reduction in the carbon content of fuels sold in that state, saying the measure violates the Constitution and jeopardizes the nationwide market for ethanol.

The suit, filed in federal district court in Fresno, Calif., by Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association, takes aim at California's so-called low-carbon fuel standard. The rule, adopted by California's Air Resources Board last spring but not due to take effect until early next year, calls for a 10% reduction in the carbon content of fuels sold in California by 2020.

In a written statement, the two ethanol trade groups said the measure would erect "new regulatory obstacles" to ethanol and frustrate a 2007 federal law that set targets for the U.S. to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels a year into the U.S. fuel supply in 2022, up from 11.1 billion gallons in 2009. By frustrating the goals of the 2007 law, the groups said, the California measure violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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Chilly Climate for Oil Refiners

The New York Times Energy & Environment
Published: December 23, 2009

Only a few years ago, a cry went up that the United States needed more oil refineries. The perceived shortage was so acute that George W. Bush, president at the time, even offered disused military bases as sites for building them.

Not only did that never come to pass, but the reverse is now happening. The business of oil refining is mired in a deep crisis, with five refineries having shut down this year, including plants in Delaware, New Jersey, California and New Mexico.

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Ethanol Plant to Provide Feedstock for Biodiesel

KFGO Ag News
2009-12-24 09:28:58

A North Dakota ethanol plant is truly exploring the concept of value-added products. The Blue Flint Ethanol refinery in Underwood, ND, will extract oil from the corn it turns into ethanol to turn that oil into biodiesel.

KXMB-TV is Bismarck reports the oil extracting equipment will be right there at the refinery and is the first of its kind in the state:

General Manager Jeff Zueger says there is about half-pound of oil in a bushel of corn.

“We see it as a postive we are able to move oil into a higher value markets, produce another renewable fuel. When you remove corn oil from the process a gallon of corn oil estentially converts to a gallon of biodiesel. So we are able to get about another 5 percent out of this plant as opposed to just producing ethanol and distillers grain. Now we are producing a product that ultimately ends up as biodiesel.”

The plant is expected to produce 1.5 million gallons of biodiesel annually … enough to pay for the $2 million project within a year.

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Embattled ethanol industry could go to war in 2010

Agriculture Online
Dan Looker
Successful Farming magazine Business Editor
12/23/2009, 11:22 AM CST

As 2009 wound down operating margins at ethanol plants were improving. And the industry could claim at least a partial victory when the EPA in December indicated that it's likely to approve a higher blend of 15% ethanol in gasoline sold to cars made in 2001 or later. That is if further testing confirms early results that showed no damage to cars from a higher blend.

But those signs of hope came after a year of tough losses in politics. California, long the biggest domestic market for ethanol, took steps earlier in 2009 to restrict the use of corn-based ethanol made in the U.S. Last April the California Air Resources Board adopted a low carbon fuel standard that attempts to measure the greenhouse gas emissions of different fuels. The result was that it gave gasoline a smaller carbon footprint than corn-based ethanol.

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Bio-Based Fuel Industry Faces Cost and Scale Challenges

December 23, 2009

Bio-based fuels are not serious threats to the $250-billion petroleum industry until they can compete in terms of cost, properties and scale, according to a new report from Lux Research. In order to replace the 30 billion barrels of oil consumed annually, today’s bio-based technologies would need to cultivate an area the size of Russia, according to the report.

The report, “Biofuels’ and Biomaterials’ Path to Petroleum Parity,” indicates that cost and scale are major roadblocks to advancing biofuels as viable alternatives to petroleum.

In this research report, Lux Research created a quantitative model of the value chains for petroleum products and their bio-based alternatives. The model begins with feedstock costs and capacity, then follows with technologies and processes and examines end uses.

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Researchers: Ag producers have more to gain than lose in climate legislation

The Iowa Independent
By Lynda Waddington 12/23/09 3:51 PM

Researchers at Kansas State University have scrutinized recently released studies on the impact of climate change legislation for agriculture producers and came to the conclusion that most, but not all, producers will benefit from the package passed earlier this year by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The seven-member KSU team was lead by Bill Golden, an agriculture economist, and provided an analysis and comparison of earlier studies completed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Iowa State University, Duke University, Texas A&M, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Missouri.

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Opening New Frontiers: First Volume of Microbial Encyclopedia Published

ScienceDaily (Dec. 24, 2009) — The Earth is estimated to have about a nonillion (1030) microbes in, on, around, and under it, comprised of an unknown but very large number of distinct species. Despite the widespread availability of microbial genome data -- close to 2,000 microbes have been and are being decoded to date -- a vast unknown realm awaits scientists intent on exploring microorganisms that inhabit this "undiscovered country."

Two thousand years after Pliny the Elder compiled one of the earliest surviving encyclopedic works, and in the spirit of his goal of providing "light to the obscure," the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) has published the initial "volume" of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea (GEBA). Presenting a provocative glimpse into this uncharted territory, an analysis of the first 56 genomes representing two of the three domains of the tree of life appears in the December 24 edition of the journal Nature.

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