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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Uganda scientists find ways to get ethanol from stems, leaves

The East African
Posted Monday, March 29 2010 at 00:00

Uganda scientists have made a breakthrough in extracting bio-ethanol from non-food parts of plants — cassava stems, cassava leaves, pineapple leaves, elephant grass stems and wood — opening the way for commercial production of ethanol from new source materials.

The announcement follows more than a year of research into the potential of non-food parts of plants and cellulosic materials in producing bio-ethanol.

Cellulosic ethanol is difficult and expensive to break down into simple sugars required for ethanol production, but is eventually cheaper say the researchers who argue that the initial investment for biofuels is much lower than for fossil fuels.

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Fueled by a Virus
March 29, 2010
By Erin Schneider

An E. coli virus strain that can turn raw plant matter into diesel without any refinement or additional steps has been developed by a group of researchers including members from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), employees from next-gen biofuel company LS9 and scientists from UC Berkeley.

After about a dozen genetic adjustments, the E. coli microbe was successfully modified to have the ability to covert the fatty-acid molecules in the plants directly into fuels and other chemicals. This process produces diesel molecules, alcohols and waxes directly from hemicellulose – a main component in plants. The researchers anticipate that their diesel-making E. coli will also be able to produce environmentally friendly surfactants, solvents and lubricants, and experimentation demonstrates that the process can also be appropriately adjusted to produce substances suitable for the substitute of gasoline.

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Palm Oil is the Most Sustainable Crop: Wageningen University Report
Monday, 29 March 2010 13:41

Wageningen University in the Netherlands publishes research which shows that “palm oil is the most efficient energy crop.”

The report which was published in Biomass and Bioenergy, found that palm oil, sugar cane from Brazil and sweet sorghum from China are currently the most sustainable energy crops.

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From Biomass to Chemicals in One Step
By Katherine Bourzac
Monday, March 29, 2010

A startup's catalytic process converts biomass directly into components of gasoline.

An early-stage company spun out of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, plans to commercialize a catalytic process for converting cellulosic biomass into five of the chemicals found in gasoline. These chemicals are also used to make industrial polymers and solvents. Anellotech, which is seeking venture funding, plans to build a pilot plant next year.

Anellotech's reactors perform a process called "catalytic pyrolysis," which converts three of the structural molecules found in plants--two forms of cellulose and the woody molecule lignin--into fuels. Ground-up biomass is fed into a high-temperature reactor and blended with a catalyst. The heat causes the cellulose, lignin, and other molecules in the biomass to chemically decompose through a process called pyrolysis; a catalyst helps control the chemical reactions, turning cellulose and lignin into a mix of carbon-ring-based molecules: benzene, toluene, and xylenes.

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Engineered Yeast Produces Ethanol and Butanol from C5 and C6 Sugars from Biomass Feedstocks
By Green Car Congress on 03/29/2010 – 2:21 am

Researchers from Frankfurt University have engineered the common industrial yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to ferment pentose (C5) as well as hexose (C6) sugars derived from biomass feedstock to produce bioethanol and biobutanol.

A talk on the work—“Genetic engineering of industrial yeast strains for the production of bioethanol and biobutanol from C5 and C6 sugars,”—by Dr. Christian Weber, Prof. Eckhard Boles and Dr. Gunter Festel took place on Monday at the Society for General Microbiology’s spring meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Plant waste is available in large amounts and contains a mixture of complex sugars including hexoses and pentoses that can be fermented to alcohol.

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Bill To Extend Ethanol Tax Credit Reignites Fuel vs. Food Debate
03/29/2010 09:48 AM

A bill introduced in the US House last week would extend ethanol tax credits for another five years, to 2015. This tax credit is set to expire on December 31, 2010. If extended, the tax credits will provide the conventional ethanol industry with $30 billion over five years.

The Renewable Fuels Reinvestment Act (RFRA), introduced by Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and and John Shimkus (R-IL), has reignited the fuel versus food debate and intesified scrutiny on the EPA's regulations on the environmental impact of corn-based ethanol.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Air Force jet flies on plant oil fuel blend
By Katherine McIntire Peters
March 26, 2010

On Thursday, Air Force Maj. Chris Seager broke a flight barrier of sorts when he piloted an A-10 Thunderbolt jet fueled by a 50-50 blend of camelina plant oil and regular JP-8 jet fuel.

"I couldn't tell the difference between [the blended fuel] and regular JP-8," Seager said during a teleconference with reporters following a 50-minute test flight at Florida's Elgin Air Force Base.

Service officials will spend the next few weeks pouring over data collected from the test flight to ensure the fuel blend poses no safety or operational problems. If the blend holds up, then they will begin testing it this summer in other aircraft, including F-15 and F-22 jets and the C-17 transport plane.

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CSI Says New Pretreatment Technology for Cellulosic Biomass Could Reduce Enzyme Dosage By Up To a Factor of 10
By Green Car Congress on 03/26/2010 – 10:25 am

Researchers at Cellulose Sciences International (CSI) have developed a pretreatment technology of cellulosic biomass to reduce its recalcitrance (resistance to breakdown into sugars), enabling possible significant increases in rates of conversion of celluloses to sugar by cellulase enzymes, with an accompanying decrease in the required dosage of the enzymes. This, in turn, could lower the production cost of cellulosic biofuels and chemicals.

In a presentation of the work at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Dr. Rajai Atalla, founder of the company, said that CSI has achieved conversions on the order of 80% in approximately 20 hours for bleached kraft pulps; conversion of a control was 45%. For corn stover, they have achieved conversion rates that are twice those of controls, Atalla said.

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Biomass crop grows in popularity

Friday, March 26, 2010 10:06 AM PDT

ONTARIO — A strong turnout of area farmers and other interested parties Thursday showed there is interest in a proposal to build a cooperative to grow a biomass crop which would be used as fuel in a plant to generate electricity.

In the latest of a series of growers meetings, officials of Agri Energy Producers Association asked farmers to start signing up Thursday night or within the next few days, saying there would not be a requirement to grow a crop this year, given the lateness of the season.

“The biggest change from earlier (presentations) is that when you sign up, you will not be requested to grow in 2010,” attorney Randon Wilson said while reviewing the disclosure information about the new company.

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New boreal forest biomass maps produced from radar satellite data

DNA India
Saturday, March 27, 2010 16:28 IST

Paris: A new processing algorithm has been developed using stacks of images from the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) on ESA's (European Space Agency's) Envisat satellite that allows for the retrieval of boreal forest biomass well beyond the levels that have been previously reported.

Forests play a crucial role in Earth's carbon cycle by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in biomass.

Undisturbed forests are carbon sinks as they absorb carbon, while forests that are logged or burnt down become carbon sources as they release carbon into the atmosphere.

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Obama's 2011 Budget Seeks $69.3M for JGI
March 26, 2010
By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Under the White House's proposed budget for 2011, the US Department of Energy expects to receive a total of $322 million next fiscal year for its Biological Systems Science Research (BSSR) efforts, including $69.3 million for the Joint Genome Institute (JGI), an increase of less than one percent over the $69 million JGI received for this year.

Under President Barack Obama's proposed budget for fiscal 2011, the DOE's Office of Science would receive an increase in funding to $5.1 billion from $4.9 billion in 2010, including $220 million for biofuels and biomass research.

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FUEL: Brazil seen supplying 10% of global ethanol by 2025
Friday, March 26, 2010 3:51 AM
(Source: Investnews; Sao Paulo)

SAO PAULO, 3/26/10 - Brazil's sugar cane ethanol might replace between 5% to 10% of the gasoline consumed worldwide by 2025, said Luis Cortez, a professor at the Agricultural Engineering Faculty of Unicamp university. According to Cortez, renewable sources already supply 46% of Brazil's energy demand (3.5 times more than the global percentage of 13%) and sugar cane accounts for 15% of it. Ethanol production, which has risen from the need to find alternative energy sources after the 1970's oil crisis, is about to enter a growth cycle, the expert added.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Shell joins the energy majors in building up its green energy profile

Biofuels International
25 March 2010

The Netherlands-based energy major Shell has started up its biopetrol demonstration facility in Madison, Wisconsin, US.

The plant is the outcome of a joint biopetrol research and development effort between Shell and Wisconsin’s Virent Energy Systems.

The plant is billed as the world’s first demonstration plant converting plant sugars into petrol and petrol blend components as an alternative to ethanol.

The plant has the capacity to produce up to 10,000 gallons of the fuel each year, which will be used for engine and fleet testing.

The new biofuel can be blended with petrol in high concentrations for use in standard petrol engines. The new product has the potential to eliminate the need for specialised infrastructure, engine modifications, and blending equipment necessary for the use of petrol containing more than 10% ethanol.

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Ethanol Producer Margins are Waning

The chart of the week estimated ethanol producer spot profitability. Why is this important to the commodity markets? Well, the ethanol industry and protein/dairy farming industries all share a major input cost- corn. And it’s been the rise in feed costs (including corn) which have challenged protein and dairy farmer profitability during the last two years or so. As of late, ethanol producer margins have been waning despite the fact that crude oil prices have been on the rise and corn prices have mostly declined. This is due to declining ethanol prices which we believe holds a clue. You see typically crude oil, gasoline and ethanol prices will all trend together. Currently in the US, the EPA states that gasoline can be blended with ethanol up to 10% and still be utilized in a customary vehicle. There are states that have further restrictions from there. Because of these limitations, it’s quite possible that we are currently hitting or getting very close to the blending wall for ethanol with gasoline. In other words, we may be using all the ethanol we can right now. And if this is the case, corn use growth for ethanol could be stunted unless demand for ethanol expands by either exports or the EPA ruling to increase the limitation on the blend percentage this coming summer.

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Air Force completes A-10 Thunderbolt biofuels flight: first four-engine RJ50 test

Biofuels Digest
March 26, 2010

In Florida, the Air Force successfully tested RJ50 (50 percent renewable jet fuel) in an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft during a 90 minute flight test at Eglin Air Force Base. The aircraft flew on a blend of 50 percent conventional jet fuel and camellia-based biofuels. The Air Force has set a goal of certifying all its aircraft for RJ50 by 2012 and to be able to deploy biofuels systemwide by 2016, although the 2016 target blend percentage is not set for certain at this stage. The A10 test was the first time that biofuels have been used in all four jet engines.

A team from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is overseeing the test program with assistance from the University of Dayton Research Institute.

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Biofuel mandates would make corn shortfall costly, experts say

University of Illinois News Bureau

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Grocery shoppers face hefty price increases if bad weather withers a U.S. corn crop that is now tethered to grain-intensive renewable fuel mandates, a new University of Illinois study warns.

Economists Darrel Good and Scott Irwin say federal policymakers need to forge solutions now to cushion the blow of a shortfall that history shows is a matter of when and how severe, not if.

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Great Plains, Accellergy partner to produce renewable jet fuel from coal, biomass

Biofuels Digest
March 26, 2010
By Biofuels Digest special correspondent Chet Geschickter

In Ohio, Great Plains Oil & Exploration announced a partnership with Accelergy to team up on the production of biojet fuel using a process that converts coal and biomass to drop-in aviation fuel using a gasification process. The next day, in a separate announcement, Accelergy revealed that it has begun producing fuel from coal and biomass for evaluation by the US Air Force, which has a stated goal of sourcing 50 percent of its JP-8 aviation fuel from cleaner and domestic sources. For its part, Great Plains is focusing on establishing and expanding camelina production. Two different business models, one common aim: large scale production of synthetic jet fuel. Three different considerations are important for evaluating the significance of these announcements: 1. Sustainable large scale production, 2. Environmental benefits and 3. Economics. Here, we’ll look at each in a little more detail (drumroll please).

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Ethanol advocates: Tax credits and mandate essential (Lincoln, NE)
By ART HOVEY / Lincoln Journal Star
Posted: Thursday, March 25, 2010 10:00 pm

It might have been a good day for Iowa State University agricultural economist Bruce Babcock to be away from his office, as he was Thursday.

As ethanol advocates in the U.S. House of Representatives advanced a bill to extend a 45-cent federal production credit for five more years, Babcock, a prominent ethanol policy analyst in the nation's leading ethanol state, was questioning the need.

Import tariffs and a separate requirement mandating use of as much as 15 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2015 should be enough to keep ethanol plants in prime production mode in Iowa, Nebraska and other states, Babcock said.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Lux Research Report Says...

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: March 24, 2010

...Biofuels and Biochemicals Developers Need Corporate Partners to Compete at Scale With Petroleum Industry

Boston, MA—Biofuels have narrowed their cost and performance gap to petroleum with help from academic labs and venture partners.

But a final and significantly more daunting hurdle now confronts biofuel developers: Competing on scale with the multi-trillion dollar petroleum industry.

Clearing that hurdle will take enormous injections of cash, engineering support, and help in developing distribution channels -- all resources that corporate partners are better equipped to provide.

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Cleaner, Greener Synthetic Rubber Tires Start to Roll
By Adam Fisher Mar 25, 2010

Tires are made from oil. Nearly seven gallons of oil per tire, which adds up: 290 million tires are thrown away every year, meaning that tires account for about 50 million barrels of oil per year in the US alone. But what if rubber could be made from grass, or corn, or cane, or whatever biomass that happens to be lying around? If so tires would then be a carbon sink, and thus more tires would mean… drum roll… less global warming!

It’s not such a crazy idea, as it turns out. It was not so long ago ago that tires were made from from the sap of rubber trees, after all. (And actually, they still are, in part.) World War II and the Japanese conquest of the rubber plantations of Asia prompted the Allies to figure out how to make synthetic rubber. The key molecule in rubber, both the synthetic and natural varieties, is called isoprene. The Allies, under pressure, figured out how to make it by “cracking” oil and tar in a refinery. So, faced with rising carbon in our atmosphere and dwindling supplies of oil in the ground, why not go the other direction? Why not extract isoprene from biomass instead of relying on a couple eons of geologic time turns it into crude? That way we could make a natural synthetic rubber.

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First all-engine flight using biomass and conventional jet fuel blend set

U.S. Air Force
Posted 3/24/2010

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- An Air Force test pilot is scheduled to fly an A-10 Thunderbolt II jet aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base March 25 on a blend of biomass-derived and conventional JP-8 jet fuel. This will be the first flight of an aircraft powered solely on a biomass-derived jet fuel blend.

The biomass-derived fuel used for this event is referred to as hydrotreated renewable jet, or HRJ, and is part of a class of fuels derived from either plant oil or animal fat feedstocks. The feedstock source of the biomass powering the A-10 demonstration is camelina oil, a flowering plant in the same family as mustard, cabbage and broccoli, but not used as a food-source.

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1 billion gallons of camelina biofuels, $5.5 billion in new revenue, 25,000 jobs by 2025: new report

Biofuels Digest
March 23, 2010

Biomass Advisors, the research division of Biofuels Digest, projected that one billion gallons of Camelina biofuel would be produced for the aviation and biodiesel sectors by 2025, creating 25,000 new jobs; producing over $5.5 billion in new revenues and $3.5 billion in new agricultural income for U.S. and Canadian farmers.

The projections are contained in “Camelina Aviation Biofuels Market Opportunity and Renewable Energy Strategy Report,” released today by the research group.

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China’s Feed Mills May Double Distiller Grain Imports

Bloomberg Business Week
March 22, 2010, 8:11 AM EDT

March 22 (Bloomberg) -- China’s feed mills may double imports this year of so-called dried distillers grains with solubles, a by-product from turning corn into ethanol, according to participants at a conference in Xiamen.

Purchases of the feed additive, known as DDGS, may increase to 1.5 million metric tons from 650,000 tons last year, said Xu Lihuan, vice president of Dacheng Food Ltd., at a conference organized by Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. Imports will exceed 1 million tons, said Li Qiang, managing director of Shanghai JC.

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Soybean, corn plantings to surge, survey shows (The Wichita Eagle)
Posted on Fri, Mar. 19, 2010
Bloomberg News

CHICAGO — Farmers will plant more soybeans than ever this year and the second-biggest area with corn since World War II, according to a survey of growers by Allendale Inc. Wheat acreage is expected to plummet.

Soybean plantings will rise 2.1 percent to 79.111 million acres from a record 77.451 million last year, Allendale said today in its 21st annual survey of farmers. Production will total 3.338 billion bushels, down from 3.359 billion last year, the biggest crop ever, based on a projected national yield of 42.7 bushels an acre.

The area sown with corn will total 90.152 million acres, up 4.2 percent from 86.482 million last year, Allendale said. The crop will be a record 13.243 billion bushels, based on a national yield of 160.4 bushels an acre, according to the McHenry, Ill.-based farm-market adviser and brokerage, which didn't disclose the number of farmers surveyed.

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Pomeroy, Shimkus seek colleagues’ support for ethanol tax credit extension
By Ben Geman - 03/23/10 10:28 AM ET

Two farm state House members are seeking cosponsors for an upcoming bill to extend a major ethanol industry tax break for five years and boost other incentives as well.

Reps. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.) are circulating a “dear colleague” letter for a bill that would extend the 45 cents-per-gallon credit until the end of 2015.

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Nevada researchers turn chicken feather meal into fuel and better food

Biofuels Digest
March 24, 2010

In Nevada, researchers at the Renewable Energy Center at the University of Nevada, Reno have developed a technique to convert the 12 percent fat content in chicken feather meal to biodiesel. Typically, chicken feather meal is used as a fertilizer or as a low-grade animal feed.

After fat extraction and biodiesel conversion, the remaining meal has been upgraded in nutrient or fertilizer value, as well as recovering the value of the biodiesel. The research team determined that 153 Mgy of biodiesel could be made in the US from this source, and up to 593 Mgy globally.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Is There An "Oooops" In US Ethanol Policy?
03/24/2010 08:25AM Average rating:

Brazil will be one of the beneficiaries of the EPA finding that greenhouse gases will be reduced by ethanol, soy-diesel, and ethanol made from sugarcane. While the decision is good for US corn and soybean producers, questions are being raised why US biofuels want both a mandate for use as well as tax credits and import tariffs. US biofuels policy is being taken to the woodshed.

Corn will be supplying the first 15 billion gallons of ethanol per year through the year 2015, with little displacement by either cellulosic ethanol or ethanol from foreign sources. Beyond that level, ethanol from biomass and related sources is responsible for meeting federal mandates. If Brazilian sugarcane can supply some of the cellulosic ethanol now, Iowa State University economist Bruce Babcock suggests that would mean increased demand for biofuels and that would increase the demand for corn and soybeans. In a recent newsletter Babcock questions why the biofuels industry wants both the mandate to use ethanol, as well as a tax credit that lessens its cost and an import tariff on foreign sources of ethanol. Calling them “difficult to defend policies,” Babcock says the biofuels industry is spending political capital to maintain the policies.

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MSU Extension to research different biofuel croplands

The State News (Lansing, MI)
By Brittany Shammas

A grant awarded to the MSU Extension will allow researchers to look into the feasibility of planting crops that could be used for biofuels on nontraditional croplands such as Michigan roadways, vacant lots and state-owned pieces of land.

Provided by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth, or DELEG, the $24,950 grant was announced Friday. The funding will enable researchers to identify the potential of processing the plants into usable fuel, said Dennis Pennington, an external educator for MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station.

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The Business of Growing Eucalyptus for Biomass

Biomass Magazine
April 2010
By Ronalds Gonzalez, Jeff Wright and Daniel Saloni

Supplying biomass is a growing business, and rapid-growth eucalyptus in the Southern U.S. could be a source of low-cost delivered biomass.

The world is actively looking for ways to speed up the synergy in bioenergy from biomass. Research is being developed throughout the entire supply chain: growing, harvesting, delivery (freight and storage), and conversion of biomass into energy and delivery of the bioenergy produced to consumers.

Growing biomass and producing energy from it is a business. There are several well-known advantages in using locally produced bioenergy in terms of the environment, local economic growth and reduced dependence from less than reliable foreign oil suppliers. However, bioenergy from biomass will speed up only when the business becomes more profitable.

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Thousands tagged for green energy research in Kentucky

Posted: 5:49 AM Mar 24, 2010

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The state is investing $200,000 for research toward using switchgrass as an energy source.

Gov. Steve Beshear says in a news release that half of the money is from federal stimulus funds and half from tobacco settlement funds.

The money will go to the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board.

Funds will be used to show Kentucky farmers can produce biomass crops on a large scale and show the benefits of sustainable energy production.

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Washington State enacts public biomass supply program
Tuesday March 23, 2010 By James Cartledge

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has signed a state bill to establish a program to source biomass fuels from public forestry land.

The Forest Biomass Supply Agreements Bill received almost unanimous support from the state Legislature.

It will allow the state’s Department of Natural Resources to draw up long-term contracts with the emerging biomass industry to supply fuel from state forestry lands.

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Price volatility seen falling as Brazil ethanol matures
Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:10pm EDT
By Roberto Samora and Peter Murphy

SAO PAULO, March 23 (Reuters) - Wild price volatility in Brazilian ethanol in 2009, which caused prices to double after a panic-driven plunge, should ease as the sector consolidates with wealthy multinationals moving in, an industry leader said on Tuesday.

Marcos Jank, head of the Brazilian sugarcane industry association Unica, said the year brought two exceptional misfortunes to the sector - inability to repay large debts taken on to fund expansion and unusually wet weather that prevented much cane being harvested.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Great Green Hope: The Corporate Love Affair With Algae

Biomass Magazine
April 2010
By Todd Taylor

Algae may not be ready for commercialization yet, but the federal government and several large companies are investing in its potential as a drop-in fuel and for its use in the chemicals, feed, nutraceuticals and food industries.

The summer of 2009 was dubbed the “summer of algae” as industry, venture capital and the federal government committed more than a billion dollars to algae-related projects. Some may wonder why all this attention and whether it is deserved?

If the interest of large oil, chemical and food companies is any indicator, the answer is yes. According to Mary Rosenthal, executive director of the Algal Biomass Organization, the leading algae industry advocacy group, major companies are interested in algae as a long-term feedstock that is 100 percent renewable, feeding off of readily available nutrients, using nonarable land and nonpotable water. Algae provide companies a way to beneficially reduce their carbon footprint. Add to that the opportunity to grow green technology jobs and even a skeptic can see why the algae industry is important. The algae industry is focused on three areas: innovation, entrepreneurship and growth, and major companies want to tap those traits.

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Cutting VEETC would mean lost jobs

Ethanol Producer Magazine
April 2010
By Holly Jessen
Posted March 23, 2010

If the ethanol tax incentive isn’t extended at the end of the year it will have serious consequences to jobs, ethanol production and more, according to a report that came out late last week.

The report, prepared for the Renewable Fuels Association by John M. Urbanchuk of Entrix Inc., says that more than 112,000 jobs would be lost, including jobs created directly by ethanol production, and jobs supported by economic activity generated by the industry. This would mean a reduction in household income by $4.2 billion dollars. “It is important to note that this economic loss will be disproportionately felt by largely rural communities where ethanol plants are located and supply the grain, utilities, labor and other services needed to produce ethanol,” wrote Urbanchuk, a technical director for Entrix, an environmental and natural resource management firm.

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Marlboro’s Qteros wins patent for plant-to-ethanol process (Business)
By Christine McConville
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Qteros Inc. of Marlboro has just received approval from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its Q Microbe process for turning plant waste into biofuel.

The Q Microbe was discovered by UMass-Amherst professor Susan Leschine and research associate Thomas Warnick during a walk near the Quabbin Reservoir.

In discovering the natural bacteria, the scientists realized that cellulose can be converted to ethanol more quickly and more cheaply that previously thought.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

UK Carbon Trust awards $12.19 million to university consortium to drive algal biofuels to commercial reality

Biofuels Digest
March 19, 2010

In the UK, the Carbon Trust awarded $12.19 million to a consortium of 11 universities for a three-year project to establish the UK as a center for algal biofuels research and development. The goal of the group is to develop a process for manufacturing up to 18 billion gallons of algal fuel by 2030.

Carbon Trust CEO Tom said: “We have pulled together a dream team of over 70 UK algae scientists who have the expert knowledge to turn algae into a British biofuel success story, with a scheme that would require as much land as the principality of Wales, spread across key growth locations around the world. Key challenges set by the Carbon Trust are: Isolation and screening of algae strains; Maximising solar conversion efficiency; Achieving both high oil content and high productivity; Sustained algae cultivation in open ponds, and Design & engineering of cost effective production systems. The cost goal of the team is $3.78 per gallon or lower.

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How ‘green’ are industrial carbon emissions?
17 March 2010
University of Groningen

There are various kinds of CO2. Emissions of fossil CO2 that result from the burning of fossil fuel affect the environment. Biogenic CO2 resulting from the burning of wood or biofuels, however, is 'climate neutral'. Scientists at the University of Groningen have developed a method of accurately determining the ratio of these two types of CO2 in industrial emissions, using carbon-14 analysis. The method has proven to be so successful that the University will conduct a follow-up project, financed by RWE.

Because of ‘pay for your pollution’ policies, it is becoming increasingly important for industrial companies and power plants, as well as the government, to be able to determine how much fossil CO2 and how much biogenic CO2 is being emitted into the atmosphere. In accordance with European guidelines, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels must be paid for to an increasing extent. Emissions from biofuels, however, are exempt.

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Swedish researcher Wins Nordic Bioenergy Prize

Associate Professor Göran Berndes from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden has been awarded the Nordic Council of Ministers' Bioenergy prize. The Bioenergy prize consists of DKK 50,000 and a diploma. He was awarded the prize by the Swedish Minister of the Environment, Andreas Carlgren, at the Swedish Energy Convention in Stockholm on Tuesday 16 March.

The prize goes to an individual or organization for an outstanding contribution to the promotion, use or production of bioenergy.

Göran Berndes does research into development of energy systems and of land use, and of interactions between these respective developments. His focus is on how biomass can be used to reduce the energy system's carbon footprint and the impact of large-scale use of biomass for energy. He is the third recipient of the Nordic Council of Ministers' Bioenergy prize

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Sorghum Poised for Bigger Role in Ethanol Production
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – March 16th, 2010

Today, about 1/3 of the sorghum crop goes into ethanol production. An interesting little piece of information I picked up when I spoke with Gerald Simonsen, the Chairman of the National Sorghum Producers during Commodity Classic. Sorghum is a good feedstock for ethanol production for several reasons. First, it uses half the amount of water used in corn production and second, the sugar-based sorghums, like sweet sorghum and energy sorghums produce more ethanol per acre than other starch-based feedstocks.

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Scientists exploring cup plant as potential new biomass and carbon storing crop
2010-03-20 15:50:00

A new research by scientists at South Dakota State University (SDSU) is exploring a native perennial called cup plant as a potential new biomass crop that could also store carbon in its extensive root system and add biodiversity to biomass plantings.

Researchers are exploring whether cup plant could be grown in low, moist prairies generally unfit for cropland.

It would be grown and processed along with native grasses grown for biomass.

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Ethanol and Diplomacy

The Huffington Post (blog)
André Amado, Brazilian Under-Secretary General for Energy and High Technology
Posted: March 19, 2010 03:33 PM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently granted sugarcane ethanol the status of "advanced biofuel" after recognizing -- based on scientific studies -- that it reduces the emission of greenhouse gases by 61% when compared to gasoline.

The world's top economy is justifiably concerned about climate change, which increasingly threatens the quality of life on our planet. We all know that without energy, there can be no development, but the production and use of energy and industrial activity are large carbon emitters. The greatest challenge of our times is precisely to try to reverse the current trend of environmental degradation without disrupting economic growth in its role of generating employment, particularly in developing countries where the most shameful pollution is poverty.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Estimating Ethanol Yields from CRP Croplands

By Ann Perry
March 19, 2010

The scramble to find sufficient land for biofuel production has experts eyeing marginal croplands that have been placed in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Now a study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists indicates that plant species diversity and composition are key factors in potential energy yield per acre from biomass harvested from CRP land.

Agronomist Paul Adler, who works at the ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit in University Park, Pa., led this research. Collaborators included University Park agronomist Matt Sanderson; microbiologist Paul Weimer, who works at the ARS U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wis.; and plant geneticist Kenneth Vogel, who works at the ARS Grain, Forage and Bioenergy Research Unit in Lincoln, Neb.

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Ethanol industry warns of 112,000 jobs at risk
Friday March 19, 2010 By James Cartledge

The renewable fuels industry has claimed that unless federal tax incentives for ethanol are extended, 112,000 jobs could be lost.

The Renewable Fuels Association said yesterday that nearly 30% of the industry’s workers could be out of a job if the 45-cents-per-gallon Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit is not continued.

US ethanol production capacity would be cut by 38%, with the difficulties especially hard for the nation’s rural communities, which are “already haemorrhaging employment opportunities”, the RFA said.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Biomass Incentives Intended to Lure Farmers
Gary Kass, Farm Journal Proofreader

Demand for biomass is increasing. The U.S. Renewable Fuels Standard mandates that 100 million gallons of cellulosic fuel be used as transport fuel in 2010 and 16 billion gallons by 2022. But producers are reluctant to enter the market, says Jody Endres of the University of Illinois’ Energy Biosciences Institute. “Perennials require long-term commitment, novel agronomic practices, unique harvesting equipment and offer little carbon price incentive,” she explains. But, she adds, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) can help reduce the risk.

BCAP, authorized in the 2008 farm bill, has two parts. The Collection, Harvest, Storage and Transportation (CHST) program makes matching payments upon delivery of biomass crops to a qualified conversion facility. The material can come from federal, private or Indian lands, with some exclusions, including Title I crops. The Farm Service Agency began issuing payments this past fall, paying farmers $1 per dry ton paid by the facility, up to $45 per ton.

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First Parasitic Nematodes Reported in Biofuel Crops

Wisconsin Ag Connection
USAgNet - 03/18/2010

Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of Illinois have discovered widespread occurrence of plant-parasitic nematodes in the first reported nematode survey of Miscanthus and switchgrass plants used for biofuels. Lead researcher Tesfamariam Mekete, a U of I post-doctoral research associate, said the team's first step was to identify potential pathogenic nematodes of these top two energy-yielding cellulosic-ethanol feedstock plants.

"Nematodes are a part of our soil systems," Mekete said. "However, when it comes to potential crops for biofuel production, we simply don't know which nematodes are present in these crops and at what levels."

The 2008-09 nematode survey included samples from 37 Miscanthus and 48 switchgrass plots in Illinois, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, South Dakota and Tennessee.

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DOE Joint Genome Institute 5th Annual Meeting
March 18th, 2010

Planned for March 24-26, 2010
Researchers from all over the world will be at the Marriott in Walnut Creek for the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute 5th Annual Genomics of Energy and Environment Meeting, which will feature genomics research in the fields of clean energy generation and the environment. Keynote speeches will be delivered by Jay Keasling, CEO of the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute, Steve Pennell of Ceres Inc. on genomics-based gene selection for energy crop improvement and former National Science Foundation director Rita Colwell of the University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins University on "solving problems with sequences."

Also presenting at the Meeting are several researchers from the Energy Biosciences Institute, a research and development collaboration between the University of California, Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of Illinois, and BP.

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The Details of the Energy & Climate Legislation in D.C.

The Huffington Post
Posted: March 18, 2010 03:38 PM

"The cap-and-trade bills in the House and Senate are dead." Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) reflected the reality that Congress now faces as it negotiates a comprehensive climate and energy package that might get voted on before this November's congressional elections. One alternative to cap-and-trade has been a cap-and-dividend bill sponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). The leading solution, though, appears to be coming from a bipartisan group of senators led by John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), and Graham that would put a price on carbon emissions that targets only the electric utility, transportation, and industrial sectors of the economy.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

DDG Futures Contract could be promising for ethanol, livestock industries

Written by Wauneta Breeze (Nebraska)
Wednesday, 17 March 2010 17:07

The creation of a futures contract for distillers dried grain offers a new risk management tool that livestock feeders and ethanol producers should evaluate for future use, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension livestock marketing specialist says.

The contracts announced in February by CME Group will provide the opportunity for both ethanol and livestock feeding industries to hedge against adverse price moves in distillers grains markets, Darrell Mark said.

“The creation of the futures contract is exciting for the industry,” Mark said. “Now, both ethanol producers and livestock feeders can more effectively hedge their gross profit margins.”

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U of IL Biofuels Law & Regulation Conference

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: March 16, 2010

University of Illinois Biofuels Law and Regulation Conference ... April 9 ... Champaign, IL

The second-annual University of Illinois Biofuels Law and Regulation Conference, “The Renewable Energy Legislation Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together,” will take place April 9 at the I-Hotel in Champaign.

The conference will focus on legal and regulatory challenges to establishing viable renewable energy systems in the United States such as regulation of a carbon economy and incorporating agriculture’s role in combating climate change into national legislation.

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A Different Route to Corn-Based Fuel

The New York Times Energy & Environment
March 11, 2010, 8:41 am

Jack Huttner, the executive vice president of Gevo, a five-year old company in Englewood, Colo., would like to take over an ethanol plant and, using the same base ingredients that go into corn-based ethanol – corn and natural gas for fuel – manufacture a different molecule: isobutanol.

The company is arguing that current ethanol plants are like old cellphones or laptops, in that they may still work, but newer equipment can do a better job. Ethanol works, by that logic, but most cars can only take gasoline/ethanol blends up to 10 percent, and some places in the corn belt are producing so much ethanol that the motor fuel market is glutted.

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Expanding Ethanol Dehydration

Ethanol Producer Magazine April 2010
By Felipe Tavares, Jansley Pascoal and Bruno Maia

A number of alternative methods are available for debottlenecking cooling water systems and the molecular sieves that are used for ethanol dehydration.

Ethanol is gaining wide popularity as an alternative fuel as the value of diminishing crude oil reserves increases and research is directed toward the possibilities of employing biomass materials for fuel. Current U.S. policies are motivating ethanol dehydration companies in Central American and Caribbean countries to increase production capacity either by starting new plants or expanding existing ones. Expansion is often preferable as it usually involves a better ratio between throughput expansion and capital costs than new construction. Besides that, a plant upgrade will take less time than building an entirely new unit.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

‘Frog foam’ could enable carbon capture, easier biofuels
By Greenbang on Tuesday, 16th March 2010

What can frogs teach us about solar power, biofuel production and carbon capture? More than you might think, say researchers at the University of Cincinnati.

Carlo Montemagno, dean of the college of engineering and applied science, has authored a study with research assistant professor David Wendell and student Jacob Todd describing how the foam nest of a semi-tropical frog provided the inspiration for a new material that could eventually help produce biofuels or pull carbon dioxide from the exhaust of coal-fired power plants.

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The effect of landscape position on biomass crop yield
Public release date: 16-Mar-2010

Creating a multifunctional agricultural system
MADISON, WI, March 15, 2010-The emergence of biofuels into agricultural systems presents new opportunities for farmers to improve economic return while providing critical ecosystem services. Integrating perennial crops can help meet food, fuel and fiber needs, but will require an understanding of biomass productivity on specific landscape positions and environments. To diversify their farms, farmers will need to know where their crops will give them the best yield.

Landscape processes, such as hill slope length and gradient, water retention and flow patterns, and soil properties have been shown to influence crop yield. In recent years, the process of describing and analyzing landscape terrain features has become more accurate and precise due to advances in Geographic Information Systems technology, allowing farmers and landowners to explore new cropping systems design strategies, such as directed placement of annual and perennial crops.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota led by Gregg Johnson investigated differences in woody and herbaceous crop productivity and biomass yield as a function of landscape position at the field scale. Results from this study were published in the 2010 March-April issue of the Agronomy Journal. The journal is published by the American Society of Agronomy. The study was supported by the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment at the University of Minnesota.

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Biofuels Digest
March 16, 2010

Renewable Energy Group becomes largest biodiesel producer/marketer in US
In Iowa, Renewable Energy Group announced that, with the successful completion of asset purchase and consolidation agreements with commercial-scale biodiesel plants in Newton, Iowa and Danville, Illinois, the company has now officially become the largest biodiesel manufacturing and marketing source in North America.

With the completion of the acquisition of Central Iowa Energy (30 Mgy facility, Newton, Iowa) and Blackhawk Biofuels (45 Mgy, Danville, Illinois), the company overall production capacity has increased to 122 Mgy. Renewable Energy Group investors include Bunge North America, ED&F Man, Natural Gas Partners, NGP Energy Technology Partners, US Renewables Group (USRG) and West Central Cooperative, as well as shareholders in the two newly-acquired facilities.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cutting-edge machine makes big bales of energy:

Saturday, March 13, 2010 5:51 PM

The new biomass machine cuts brush to burn while opening habitat for sharp-tailed grouse and deer.

(Source: Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minn.))By John Myers, Duluth News Tribune, Minn.

FLOODWOOD -- Steve Traeger drove the 200-horsepower, all-wheel-drive tractor into a wall of willow and alder and never flinched.

Brush and small trees bent and snapped, and the BioBaler towed behind the tractor was chewing it up and packing it tightly into half-ton bales as if it were hay.

"When you turn on your lights next week you'll be burning these bundles,'' said Paul Sandstrom of the Laurentian Resource Conservation and Development office, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Duluth.

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Higher Ethanol Blends Score a Victory
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – March 15th, 2010

It’s been a long road, but according to a company statement released by Dresser Wayne, Underwriters Laboratory (UL) has approved the use of the company’s Ovation Eco Fuel dispenser for the use ethanol blends up to 25 percent (E25). This is great news as the ethanol industry waits to hear if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will rule in favor of the E15 waiver, which would allow up to 15 percent ethanol blends to be used in conventional vehicles.

“Motorists continue to call for greener fueling solutions and retailers are demanding technologies that will help them stay in front of the market opportunity while managing regulatory changes,” noted Scott Negley, Director of Alternative Energy Products at Dresser Wayne. “Our Eco Fuel dispenser is in use across North America and is designed to handle the higher blends without modifications.”

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Wisconsin Researchers Unlock Biomass Sugars for Fuel
Posted by John Davis – March 12th, 2010

A team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have figured out how to get the the sugar molecules trapped inside inedible plant biomass, a key step in the creation of cellulosic biofuels.

This press release from the school says the process, featured in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, converts up to three-quarters of the sugars locked up in raw corn stover into simple, fermentable sugars … an attractive alternative to the enzyme-based approaches currently favored by biofuels researchers:

“Our chemical process is extremely efficient,” says Ron Raines, a UW-Madison professor of biochemistry and chemistry. “It also has marked advantages over the existing processes-both chemical or enzymatic-for producing sugars from biomass.”

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USDA Offers Biomass and Bioenergy Funding
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – March 12th, 2010

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that Fiscal Year 2009 funding is once again available again for three USDA Farm Bill programs to promote increased production of biomass and bioenergy.

Applications for the Biorefinery Assistance Program, which uses loan guarantees to develop, construct, and retrofit commercial-scale biorefineries, must be received by June 1, 2010. Applications are also being accepted for remaining FY 2009 funding under the Repowering Assistance Program, which provides for payments to biorefineries in existence when the Farm Bill was passed to replace the use of fossil fuels in their operations with renewable energy from biomass. Biorefineries interested in obtaining funding must apply by June 15, 2010.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Poet launches Ingreenuity initiative

Ethanol Producer Magazine March 2010
Posted March 11, 2010

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Poet Inc. plans to decrease water use in the production of ethanol by 22 percent over the next five years in the first goal of its sustainability iniative, Ingreenuity. If successful, it will cut the company’s water used per gallon of ethanol from an average of 3 gallons to 2.33, an annual water savings of one billion gallons.

In a presentation to employees March 11, Poet CEO Jeff Broin said the company is committed to producing ethanol as sustainably as possible and minimizing its impact on natural resources. “Fresh water is a precious natural resource that we do our utmost to conserve,” Broin said. “We have seen tremendous efficiency gains in the 22 years I’ve been in this business, but we can and will continue to do better.”

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Proposed Ethanol Mandate Dies in Iowa Legislature

Wallaces Farmer

A bill that would have required the use of at least a 10% ethanol blend in all gasoline sold for highway use in Iowa died in the Iowa Legislature last week. The Senate Democratic leadership decided there wouldn't be enough time to move the proposed legislation through the process the previous week for it to stay alive and make it through the second "legislative funnel" which was March 5.

State Sen. Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg, is president of the Iowa Senate and was the sponsor of the bill that would have required ethanol to be blended in all gasoline sold for highway use in Iowa. The state has no mandate for ethanol use, despite being the nation's largest ethanol producer.

"There was concern that some people don't like mandates, and of course the petroleum marketers didn't like this bill and lobbied very hard against it," says Kibbie. "We couldn't get the biodiesel bill through both the Iowa Senate and the Iowa House last year, so there was fear that the same thing would happen this year with the ethanol bill." He says it can be reintroduced for debate next year.

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NCERC – Corn Ethanol Still Has Room to Grow
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – March 11th, 2010

“Some people believe that corn ethanol is an old technology. We believe just the opposite,” said John Caupert, the Director for the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) during an interview with me at Commodity Classic. “We feel the corn ethanol industry is still in its infancy and through technological advancements, there’s much more to learn and prove in corn ethanol production.”

In the last two-to-three years, Caupert noted that there has been a major emphasis on technological improvements such as corn fractionation, and aneorbic digestion, things that would incorporate capital upgrades or capital investments in the ethanol plant. In terms of corn ethanol production, a lot of focus has been dedicated to advancements in fermentation ingredients such as enzymes and various strains of yeast.

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More ethanol usage may be bad for Earth
Published: March. 11, 2010 at 4:33 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., March 11 (UPI) -- A Purdue University study suggests the increased use of corn ethanol might boost the Earth's greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor Thomas Hertel and his five co-authors said their new economic analysis of the effects of increasing use of corn-derived ethanol on greenhouse gas emissions confirms the corn-based biofuel is unlikely to reduce global production of carbon dioxide.

The study focused on how mandated increases in production of the biofuel in the United States will trigger land-use changes domestically and elsewhere. In response to increased demand for corn, the scientists said farmers convert additional land to crops. And that conversion can boost carbon dioxide emissions, the scientists said.

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Ethanol Takes A Bite out of Crude
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – March 11th, 2010

Ethanol is taking a bite out of crude oil, this according to a recent OPEC report. An article published in The National, says that rising ethanol use in the United States is dampening demand for petroleum based fuels and this will be felt even more during the next few months.

Next week, OPEC ministers are getting ready to meet in Vienna, and last month OPEC participated in a preliminary report that estimates that $500 billion a year could be spent yer year on fossil-fuel based subsidies. In its latest monthly oil market report issued two days ago, the organization’s secretariat drew attention to an eight-fold increase in U.S. ethanol consumption since 2000. This use should grow as the E15 waiver, which allows consumers the choice to use up to 15 percent ethanol in conventional cars is expected to pass by late summer.

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Building the world's longest ethanol pipeline - Fortune
By David Whitford, editor at large
March 12, 2010: 9:55 AM ET

(Fortune Magazine) -- John D. Rockefeller figured out a long time ago that the most efficient way to transport liquid fuels long distances wasn't on wheels but in pipelines. Today POET, the privately held Sioux Falls, S.D., company that is the country's largest producer of ethanol, and Tulsa pipeline-builder Magellan Midstream Partners are poised to make the same leap.

They want to build a $4 billion ethanol pipeline -- the first in the U.S. and the longest in the world -- linking cornfields and refineries in the upper Midwest to fuel-hungry markets on the East Coast, while boosting transport efficiency (equivalent to reducing the carbon footprint) 30% compared with rail and nearly 90% compared with trucks.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Biofuels and Conservation Achievable with Biomass
Posted by John Davis – March 9th, 2010

Getting energy from the land and practicing good conservation are not mutually exclusive. A federal ag deartment researcher says we can have both through using biomass.

USDA researcher Doug Karlen, who works at the Agricultural Research Service’s National Soil Tilth Lab in Ames, Iowa, told attendees of the recent USDA Outlook Forum that conservation and energy from biomass can be compatible if three things are considered.

“If we utilize multiple feedstock options, multiple conversion platforms and recognize that’s there’s no single solution.”

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High-Speed Pipeline Revs Up Biomass Analysis
March 9, 2010 by Bill Scanlon Enlarge

( -- High throughput system can analyze enzymes, poplars, switch grass, thousands at a time to help determine which plants are best suited for biofuels.

A new pipeline at the National Renewable Energy Lab is analyzing 1,000 samples of biomass at a time, finding which one, combined with the right enzyme, most eagerly gives up its sugars to be converted into biofuel.

The deadline is just 12 years away to turn switch grass, poplar trees or other renewable biomass into 36 billion gallons of fuel for cars and trucks.

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More Efficient Biomass Gasification Through Solar Concentrating Mirrors
by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY on 03.10.10

Here's a new twist on biomass gasification, one which more or less merges it with solar thermal. Technology Review is highlighting the efforts of Colorado-based Sundrop Fuels to develop a system which uses the heat of the sun to vaporize biomass and turn it into syngas:

The system consists of a gasifying unit mounted on top of tower surrounded by solar concentrating mirrors which reflect sunlight back to the gasifier and heats its ceramic tubes to 1,200-1,300°C. Any biomass passing through the tubes gets vaporized, at higher temperatures than other units (meaning less residue build up), and more efficiently (no biomass is needed to power the unit).

Currently an R&D facility is operating in Colorado, with a first commercial facility expected to begin construction later in 2010. This will be coupled with a biofuel refinery with the capacity to produce 8 million gallons of fuel annually.

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US biofuels hurt if 2010 tax break expires-report

Tue Mar 9, 2010 2:24pm ESTStocks
By Charles Abbott

WASHINGTON, March 9 (Reuters) - U.S. fuel ethanol and biodiesel production would be cut by 10 percent if Congress allows biofuel tax credits to expire this year, a University of Missouri think tank said on Tuesday.

Corn and soybean prices would fall by 15 cents a bushel, estimated the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI). One-third of the corn crop is used to make fuel ethanol and about 11 percent of U.S. soybean oil is used for biodiesel.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Global biofuels enzyme market estimated at $500 million for 2010, poised for rapid growth

Biofuels Digest
March 08, 2010

In Florida, enzyme cocktails are the subject of a review by Green Energy News, focusing on the 10+ enzymes which University of Central Florida researcher Henry Daniell has conconted to maximize the extraction of sugars from waste biomass, and Daniell has predicted that up to 200 Mgy of ethanol can be produced annually from Florida’s citrus waste. The research team’s nature-based enzymes, created by bacteria and fungi, are just a few of the new enzymes that have been shaking up the economics of cellulosic ethanol this year. Genencor has released its Accellerase group of enzymes, while Novozymes released its Cellic line of enzymes with a focus on driving celluloisic ethanol production costs to $2 per gallon. Verenium meanwhile, released Xylathin to improve the economics of producing enzymes from cereal grains.

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ASABE Revises Biodiesel Fuel Testing Standard

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: March 3, 2010

St. Joseph, MI—The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has revised its standard for testing biodiesel fuel.

ASAE EP552.1, Reporting of Fuel Properties when Testing Diesel Engines with Alternative Fuels Derived from Plant Oils and Animal Fats, covers the reporting of testing of any alternative fuels derived from plant oils and their blends with petroleum diesel for use in diesel engines.

The original document was developed in the 1990s. Since that time, with the rapid growth of the biodiesel industry, the procedures and practices in reporting the testing of such alternative fuels have evolved considerably.

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Senators Reid, Baucus Propose Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension

Bloomberg Business Week
March 01, 2010, 5:49 PM EST
By Simon Lomax and Mario Parker

March 1 (Bloomberg) -- An extension of the $1-a-gallon tax credit for biodiesel, which expired Dec. 31, is part of legislation introduced today in the U.S. Senate to aid small businesses and unemployed workers.

Legislation from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, and Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, would extend the biodiesel credit for one year. The biodiesel industry has said the tax credit is needed to revive production.

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Woody Biomass Economic Study published by Florida

Biofuels Digest
March 09, 2010

In Florida, the state government released its long-awaited “Woody Biomass Economic Study,” an economic impact analysis on the effects of granting financial incentives to energy producers who use woody biomass as fuel, including an analysis of effects on wood supply and prices and impacts on current markets and forest sustainability.

The study primarily looked at the impact of a Renewable Power Standard on the sustainability of the forest products industry and the forests themselves.

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‘Gribble’ marine pest may be key to biofuel breakthrough, say scientists

TIMES Online
March 9, 2010

A marine pest could be the key to a biofuel breakthrough, say scientists. Gribble, which resemble pink woodlice, plagued seafarers for centuries by boring through the planks of ships and destroying wooden piers.

But now environmental scientists are taking a keen interest in the crustaceans.

A team of British researchers has learnt that gribble have a gift for digesting wood not seen in any other animal.

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University of Florida Ethanol Plant Breaks Ground
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – March 9th, 2010

Representatives from the University of Florida, Buckeye Technologies Inc. and the Florida Legislature broke ground for a new pilot plant to produce ethanol from cellulosic biomass.

Funded by a $20 million appropriation from the Florida Legislature, the plant will be built at the Perry, Fla. facility of Buckeye Technologies Inc., a manufacturer and worldwide distributor of cellulose-based specialty products made from wood and cotton. It is scheduled to be operational by spring 2011.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Researchers developing plastics that can be composted (Silicon Valley)
By Sandy Bauers

Philadelphia Inquirer
Posted: 03/05/2010 03:07:44 PM PST
Updated: 03/05/2010 03:40:02 PM PST

London researchers have come up with a new sugar-based polymer that they say could make food packaging and other disposable plastic items suitable for being composted at home along with the usual veggie peelings and other organic waste.

Right now, most "compostable" plastics have to be sent to industrial-size facilities. And they're often made from food crops such as corn, sugar beets and potatoes, creating ethical concerns in a world where many poor people go hungry.

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Solar power option still a costly choice

The Republican
Monday, March 08, 2010

Biomass, coal, oil, fuel cells, natural gas, nuclear - they all have their critics. If it's not greenhouse gases, it's air pollution or radioactive waste.

Even wind power, as green as it is, comes under attack from those who worry about the impact on the natural scenery of 250-foot steel towers.

So what's left?

Solar power. Unfortunately.

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U.S. and Brazil sign deforestation agreement
March 07, 2010

Brazil and the United States have signed an agreement to worth together to reduce deforestation as part of an effort to slow climate change.

The memorandum of understanding signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Brasilia last Wednesday comes as talks on REDD, a proposed climate change mitigation mechanism that would pay tropical countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, move forward despite the lack of a formal climate treaty.

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Federal loan programs ill-suited for cellulosic ethanol

Prairie Business
By: Cole Gustafson, Prairie Business Magazine

Cellulosic ethanol has been viewed as the future of the ethanol industry. But producers have encountered challenges obtaining capital to finance the commercialization of new technologies.

Cellulosic ethanol has been viewed as the future of the ethanol industry. But producers have encountered challenges obtaining capital to finance the commercialization of new technologies.

In addition to problems on Wall Street following the collapse of the financial markets, cellulosic biofuel producers have lacked standard benchmarks of performance like those used in grain corn ethanol plants (1 bushel of corn yields an industry average of 2.81 gallons of ethanol). Federal loan programs have also not been tailored to the size and scope of next-generation biofuel plants.
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Monday, March 8, 2010

Algae biofuel industry seeks tax incentive
Published: March. 4, 2010 at 3:06 PM

WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. Congress is coming under increased lobbying pressure from the Algal Biomass Organization, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting the development of viable commercial markets for renewable and sustainable commodities derived from algae.

In a statement Thursday, ABO called on Congress to provide tax parity to algae biofuels and make incentives available to the industry at parity with other biofuel industry sectors.

Modest changes in federal tax policy would address significant barriers to commercialization of algae fuels and help create new jobs, said the organization, the leading trade association for the industry.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

EPA to state (GA): Yard-waste-in-landfills bill is bad idea

Creative Loafing Blog
March 4, 2010 at 11:27 am by Thomas Wheatley in News

A bill that could send 1.5 million tons of perfectly good yard waste into landfills every year — and generate a nice amount of cash for a few landfill companies — has generated ample criticism from environmentalists, composting buffs and businessmen who rely on the discarded yard trimmings.

You can now add the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the list of critics.

In a Feb. 25 letter to state Environmental Protection Director Allen Barnes, EPA Region IV Director Alan Farmer says the federal agency “shares your concern” about the bill, which would repeal the ban on yard waste in certain landfills.

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U of M speaker says global land use must be considered in biofuel debate
By Heather Thorstensen
Date Modified: 03/04/2010 9:55 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- John Sheehan of the University of Minnesota says the debate on biofuels should shift from food versus fuel to how land is used globally for biofuel production and other purposes.

"We need to not look at land use as a biofuels problem, we need to look at biofuels as (being part of) a mix of solving our land use problem," he said.

Sheehan is a biofuels coordinator at the university's Institute on the Environment. He's spent about two decades working on biofuels issues. He spoke about the topic Feb. 10 during a public lecture hosted by the university.

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Electric cars will get more popular -Shell CEO

Thu Mar 4, 2010 1:25pm EST

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., March 4 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) expects electricity-powered vehicles to account for as much as 40 percent of the worldwide car market by 2050, Chief Executive Peter Voser said on Thursday.

Voser, speaking at The Wall Street Journal's ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara, said technological improvements and increases in the cost of producing gasoline will give a boost to vehicles that run on alternative power.

"We think between now and 2050, we will go from 1 billion cars to 2 billion cars worldwide," he said. "We think by 2050, roughly 40 percent of those 2 billion cars will be electric."

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$4.7 million allows Ethanol Center upgrade (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville)
Rosie Githinji
Issue date: 3/4/10

The Board of Trustees for Southern Illinois University approved a request for a $4.7 million contribution to upgrade the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center located near SIUE.

According to Frank Romano, business manager for the center, $4.7 million was the estimate given by the engineer working on the project.

The money will be used for a corn fractionation system. The fractionation system would be used to research methods for ways to produce ethanol from the whole corn plant, not just the kernel, according to Romano. Of the money, 25 percent will be saved for any unforeseen problems that may come up.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Can We Rely On Ethanol And Biodiesel To Drive Market Demand?
03/01/2010 09:49AM

The biofuels market has some significant challenges. If you are making farm management decisions, farm marketing decisions, farm land purchases, or anything that depends on premium commodity prices stemming from ethanol and soy-diesel, should you carry out those plans? After all, the tax credit for biodiesel has expired, and ethanol is being challenged by California policy and the EPA climate change policy. Do you bet on ethanol and biodiesel at this point?

Yes, you do, say USDA’s economists, who assembled a long term projection for corn and soybean oil use in biofuels. The projection was released recently at USDA’s Outlook Forum and estimated world and US energy prices, biofuels production, and the quantity of feed grains and oilseeds being processed for biofuels. Kansas State University ag economist Dan O’Brien analyzed the USDA projects in his report on the Outlook Forum in mid-February. While USDA economists assumed that policies in effect last fall would continue in place, they projected that demand for biofuels would continue and the value of agricultural commodities and cash receipts for farmers would continue to grow through 2019.

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RFA Calls for Full Funding of Ethanol Fuel Research Programs

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: March 2, 2010

Washington—Congress must ensure fuels research programs are fully funded to provide the necessary scientific basis for increasing ethanol blending, according to a letter to congressional leaders from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

Writing to the Chairs and Ranking Members of both the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Energy and Water Development, RFA President Bob Dinneen outlined concerns with the budget submitted by President Obama with respect to higher level ethanol testing.

Specifically, Dinneen called on Congress to support full funding of the Biomass and Biorefinery Systems program’s Utilization of Platform Outputs R&D subprogram as well as funding for the Vehicle Technologies program’s Fuels Technology subprogram.

The President’s budget zeroed out and cut funding by $13 million, respectively.

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RTI International and Texas A&M University Study...

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: March 2, 2010

... Says RFS2 Mandates Could Lead to $13 Billion in Additional Farm Income and Small Food Price Increases

Research Triangle Park, NC—New renewable fuel standards could lead to more than $13 billion increase in net farm income, according to a new study by researchers at RTI International and Texas A&M University.

The study (titled RFS2 Final Rule Life Cycle Analysis Supplemental Materials), funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, analyzed the economic impacts of new EPA renewable fuels standards designed to lessen the United States' dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (referred to as RFS2).

The new standards require that, by 2022, transportation fuel sold in the United States must contain at least 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel.

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E15 ruling due late summer

Des Moines Register
Blog post by Philip Brasher • • March 3, 2010

The Environmental Protection Agency is on track to say by late this summer whether high rates of ethanol can be blended into gasoline, according to Administrator Lisa Jackson. The current ethanol limit for conventional cars is 10 percent. The ethanol industry asked the EPA to raise that to 15 percent. The agency has been considering allowing the higher limit for newer cars and trucks.

Jackson told a Senate subcommittee today that the Energy Department was expected to wrap up in April or May its testing of the impact of higher ethanol blends on engines. The EPA will then use those results in making its decision on the blend level.

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Sugarcane Ethanol: Sweet Solution or Bitter Issue?

The Cornell Daily Sun
March 3, 2010 - 2:00am
By Daina Ringus

Some hail ethanol as the methadone needed to wean Western countries off fossil fuels. Others deplore it as environmental sabotage.

The effects of Brazil’s growing sugarcane industry have prompted scientists to ask the question: are biofuels sustainable?

Prof. Luiz Martinelli, ecology, University of São Paulo in Brazil, presented his assessment of Brazilian biofuels on Friday.

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S.D. passes ethanol blender pump bill

Ethanol Producer Magazine March 2010
News release posted March 3, 2010

Sioux Falls, SD – A bill that will establish an incentive grant program for the installation of ethanol blender pumps was unanimously passed by the South Dakota Senate. House Bill 1192 uses $1 million in federal funds received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The legislation awaits a signature from Republican Gov. Mike Rounds, which is expected.

Under the legislation, grants must be issued between April 1 and May 28 and each grant may not exceed $10,000. Rep. Mitch Fargen, D-S.D., introduced the bill.

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FTC Seeks Public Comments on Ethanol Labeling Rule

NACS Online
Posted: Mar 3, 2010

The proposal would make mid-level fuel blends be certified, labeled and rated.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed several changes to its Fuel Rating Rule, including adding “gasoline-ethanol blends containing between 10 percent and 70 percent ethanol to the list of fuels that must be rated, certified and labeled,” Oil Price Information Service reports.

When established in 1979, the Fuel Ratings Rule only required gasoline to be labeled and certified. The FTC added liquid alternative fuels in 1993, and amended the rule again in 2008 to require biodiesel labeling.

The rule’s current definition of alternative fuels does not list biodiesel fuels at 5 percent or less concentrations nor does it include mid-level ethanol blends. Last March, the FTC solicited comments on the Fuel Rating Rule.

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RFA Wants More Funding for Development

Hoosier Ag Today
NAFB News Service

The President's budget zeroes out funding for the Biomass and Biorefinery Systems Program‘s Utilization of Platform Outputs R&D sub program. And it only provided 13-million dollars for the Vehicle Technologies program‘s Fuels Technology subprogram. The Renewable Fuels Association says Congress must ensure fuels research programs are fully funded to provide the necessary scientific basis for increasing ethanol blending. The RFA is calling for the full 24-million dollars funding for the Vehicle Technologies program’s Fuels Technology subprogram and for an additional 5-million for the Biomass and Biorefinery Systems R&D subprograms.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

WI: Bioenergy research center featured in special magazine issue

University of Wisconsin - Madison
March 1, 2010

The March issue of BioEnergy Research exclusively focuses on the U.S. Department of Energy-funded Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) and bioenergy research topics ranging from arthropods to cell walls to hydrogen and enzyme improvement.

This is the second of three special issues featuring work from the energy department's Bioenergy Research Centers.

"This issue provides a snapshot of the diverse range of cutting-edge research within Great Lakes Bioenergy," says Tim Donohue, GLBRC director and University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of bacteriology. "Readers curious about the latest advances in cellulosic biofuels research will certainly find something that piques their interest."

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Federal Government Issues New BCAP Proposed Rules, Suspends Biomass Payments
By DeAnna Stephens
Date Posted: 3/1/2010

After a number of delays, the Obama administration has issued proposed rules for the full implementation of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), a biomass subsidy designed to spur the development of biofuel and alternative energy markets. Upon issuing new guidelines, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) immediately suspended payments under the temporary program developed last year. This means that local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices will no longer accept new applications for matching payments under BCAP until the full program is adopted.

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Ethanol Pipeline No Longer Pipe Dream
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – March 1st, 2010

Kinder Morgan is getting ethanol moving through the pipeline.

Those attending the Renewable Fuels Association 15th annual National Ethanol Conference in Orlando last month had the opportunity to see the Kinder Morgan terminal in Orlando and hear about the first pipeline in the country to provide commercial ethanol deliveries. “We now have the capability of handling 100 percent of the greater Orlando demand for ethanol by pipeline,” said Jim Lelio, Director of Business Development for Kinder Morgan Energy Partners.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Scientists see biochar as promising fuel source

The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
By Kevin McCullen, Herald staff writer
Published: 02/28/10 1:39 am Updated: 03/01/1010:15 am

Scientists in Eastern Washington are at the forefront of research into an ancient practice that shows promise as a clean fuel source, a way to improve soil condition and to capture carbon that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere.

Researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the federal Department of Agriculture's research station in Prosser and Washington State University have been integral figures in studies of biochar and its potential uses.

Biochar, a charcoal-like material, is produced when biomass -- including wood, plant and animal waste -- is burned in the absence of or under low oxygen conditions so the material doesn't combust.

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On Campus: UW-Oshkosh to power campus by turning food into fuel

The State Journal (Madison, WI)
By DEBORAH ZIFF 608-252-6234
Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 2:06 pm

On the UW-Oshkosh campus, cafeteria leftovers could soon be used to power the college's heat and electricity.

The university says its planned dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester will be the first of its kind in the nation, converting campus and community yard and food waste into fuel.

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RENEWED ENERGY: Cellulosic Ethanol Support Lags Ambitions

March 1, 2010

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Makers of cellulosic ethanol warn that ambitious U.S. government goals to significantly boost production of the technologically advanced fuel over the next 12 years won't be met without stronger backing from Washington.

On Feb. 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule that will require 36 billion gallons of biofuels production in 2022. Half of this is to come from cellulosic ethanol, which is derived from nonfood plant material such as farm waste instead of corn or sugar cane. The same day, the Obama administration announced a program to help set up a supply chain to collect feedstock such as corn stover or forest wastes.

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BioMass Harvester Seeks To Turn Fire Hazards into Gold
Updated: February 26th, 2010 12:14 PM EDT

Lebanon, OH - As various states, and the country as a whole, seek to increase the percentage of electricity generated from renewable resources, biomass power generation is poised to provide more power to the grid. Up to now a stumbling block has been the short supply of clean green waste to burn.

One reason for the shortage is that operators using multi-person crews are effectively tethered to a leash a short distance from the co-gen facilities. But new technology aims to significantly increase that range, and allow a single operator to profitably process materials for co-generation or wood waste power plants.

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U.K. and Its Major Power Producer Brawl Over Biomass Subsidies

The New York Times Energy & Environment
By JEREMY LOVELL of ClimateWire
Published: February 26, 2010

LONDON -- Britain's biggest coal-burning power station has gone to war against the government over its lack of support for the use of biomass. The move by the 4,000-megawatt power complex -- the size of four large nuclear power plants -- could undermine the nation's legally binding goal of getting 15 percent of primary energy from renewable sources by 2020.

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Fly the Poplar Skies: Research teams developing processes for carbon-negative renewable jet fuel, higher poplar yields

Biofuels Digest
March 01, 2010

In Wisconsin and Maryland, a pair of teams are working independently on processes that, when paired, may lead to the direct conversion of poplar trees into jet fuel as well as other high-density biofuels. One project is just getting underway in Maryland — a project to radically improve the nitrogen efficiency of poplar by discovering, defining and enhancing the switching mechanisms in the poplar genome nitrogen cycle thereby improving the plant’s already considerable reputation for fast growth.

A second project in Wisconsin is now reporting results in Science magazine, the direct conversion (in two steps) of cellulose to jet fuel via an old fuel pathway — GVLs — that have now been made radically more efficient at Jim Dumesic’s lab at the University of Wisconsin.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Corn harvest kicks off massive cob storage project

Idaho National Lab
By Nicole Stricker, INL Communications & Governmental Affairs

The 2009 corn harvest may be over, but for biomass researchers at Idaho National Laboratory, the interesting part is just beginning. Corn cobs that once had limited uses are becoming a valuable precursor to renewable fuels, and INL researchers are helping develop the logistical know-how to get cobs from fields to the biorefinery.

In partnership with the Department of Energy’s Office of the Biomass Program (DOE-OBP), a consortium that includes several equipment manufacturers, farmers, ethanol producer POET and INL have worked together to establish the largest corn cob storage study of its kind. Cobs collected during this season's harvest are being stored on Iowa and South Dakota farms and studied by INL researchers to develop recommended best practices for loose cob storage, cob baling and baled cob storage.

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New efficient, environmentally friendly process turns biomass into jet fuel
February 26, 2010

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a highly efficient, environmentally friendly process for converting biomass into jet fuel.

Conventional techniques for converting biomass into fuel reply on plant-based sugars. However, these have the tendency to degrade into less useful levulinic and formic acids.

“Instead of trying to fight the degradation, we started with levulinic acid and formic acid and tried to see what we could do using that as a platform,” says lead researcher James Dumesic.

The new process, described in the prestigious journal Science this week, uses metal catalysts to react the two acids to form gamma-valerolactone, or GVL, which can in turn be transformed into jet fuel using inexpensive equipment and catalysts.

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Ethanol and the Looming Blend Wall: The EPA’s Catch-22

Research & Analysis Biofuels
Joshua Kagan 02 26 10

The forthcoming “blend wall” is forcing the EPA to show its hand.

The first-generation ethanol industry has enjoyed a rare spate of good news lately (see A Comeback for Corn Ethanol?). Low corn prices have resulted in improved margins. Companies like The Andersons and Green Plains Renewable Energy have announced blowout earnings in recent weeks. The EPA recently re-affirmed corn ethanol mandates via the Renewable Fuel Standards (see EPA Issues Renewable Fuel Standards) of 12 billion gallons in 2010 from 10.5 billion in 2009.

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Groups debate MU's future without coal

The Maneater
By Megan Donohue
Published Feb. 26, 2010

Alternative energy is cleaner but less cost effective.

The MU power plant burns 130,000 tons of coal annually to provide utility for more than 14 million square feet of facilities on the university's main campus.

Student groups such as Coal Free Mizzou and Sustain Mizzou are concerned with coal's effect on the environment, Coal Free Mizzou spokeswoman Melissa Vatterott said.

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Ethanol pipeline bill reintroduced


Rep. Leonard Boswell, (D., Iowa), reintroduced legislation Thursday to provide loan guarantees for a dedicated renewable fuel pipeline from the Midwest to the rest of the country.

H.R. 4674 amends the loan guarantee program under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to specifically qualify a renewable fuel pipeline as an eligible project, along with increasing the loan guarantee rate to 80%. The reintroduced legislation has been streamlined to help it more easily pass through committee and reach consideration on the House floor.

Boswell estimates construction of a pipeline would create 80,000 jobs and contribute $6.6 billion to the U.S. economy.

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Gustafson: Was EPA's recent ruling that great for corn ethanol?
Published: Feb 25, 2010 1:13 pm
By Cole Gustafson, Biofuels Economist, NDSU Extension Service

On Feb. 2, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its regulations for the national Renewable Fuel Standard. The bottom line is that the EPA determined that corn grain ethanol reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 20 percent and qualifies it as a conventional biofuel. The ethanol industry hailed this finding as a significant victory and a new market opportunity, while the livestock sectors stated that not much was new. Turns out both are partially correct.

One has to go back to 2007 to fully understand the market impact of the EPA's decision. In December 2007, Congress passed the Energy and Independence Security Act, which is viewed as the nation's guidepost for biofuel development. This legislation defined three specific types of biofuel: conventional, advanced and cellulosic. The difference among them is the extent to which they reduce GHG at 20 percent, 50 percent and 60 percent.

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Ethanol is not a water hog
Feb 25, 2010 4:23 PM

“There’s too much attention on water usage by ethanol plants,” says Sangwon Suh, assistant professor, Bioproducts/Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota. “The bigger elephant is irrigation.” As production technology has advanced and ethanol plants have improved water recycling efforts, it takes an average of less than four gallons of water to produce a gallon of ethanol. This is down from about 10 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol produced a decade ago. Depending on where conventional oil is sourced and the type of recovery method used, it can take from three to five gallons of water to produce a gallon of gasoline. Each gallon of gasoline recovered from oil sands can consume up to eight gallons of water.

The water issue takes on greater significance in areas where crops are irrigated. Suh calculates that when both ethanol process water and irrigation are taken into account, its takes 142 gallons of water to produce a gallon of ethanol. A study conducted by Suh and colleagues at the University of Minnesota highlights the need to promote ethanol development in states with lower irrigation rates. The study, “Water Embodied in Bioethanol in the United States,” was published in the March 10 issue of Environmental Science & Technology (

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