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

Friday, April 30, 2010

State biofuel subsidies costly but effective, MSU research shows
Public release date: 26-Apr-2010
Michigan State University

EAST LANSING, Mich. —States aiming to lead the emerging biofuel industry may need to ante up substantial subsidies and tax incentives to ethanol producers just to get in the game, Michigan State University researchers say.

"State subsidies have played an important role in ethanol plant location decisions," explained Mark Skidmore, MSU professor of agricultural, food and resource economics. "The size of the incentives is important, too –– the larger the subsidy or tax credit, the more likely it is that an ethanol plant will locate in that state."

Skidmore and Chad Cotti, assistant professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, examine the influence of federal and state incentives for corn-grain ethanol production in the April 2010 issue of the Southern Economic Journal.

Experts agree that federal subsidies –– currently 51 cents per gallon for ethanol/gasoline blends ––have helped expand national ethanol production capacity. Skidmore and Cotti's paper is one of the first to analyze the effect of state incentives on the corn-grain ethanol industry. No commercial cellulosic ethanol plant, using wood and field waste instead of corn, has yet opened in the United States.

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Biofuels Digest
April 28, 2010 Jim Lane

BP Biofuels chief calls biofuels “the new oil” as Advanced Biofuels Leadreship Conference opens
In the Opening Address at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference in Washington, BP Biofuels CEO Philip New said that advanced biofuels “will require partnerships if it is to succeed,” but described biofuels as “the new oil, created from unlimited sources of frees biomass rather than the limited fossil resources of biomass.” He said “I am not here as the representative of an oil company, but of an energy company that embraces advanced biofuels as…a major part of our upstream [exploration] business.”

New said that BP’s research into biofuels concluded that, over a 30-year period, its biofuels business could have the potential to replace 17 billion barrels of oil equivalent, compared to its 18.3 billion barrels of proved oil reserves.”

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ASABE to revise biomass standard

Biomass Magazine
April 2010
Posted April 28, 2010, at 12:49 p.m. CST

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers has initiated a project to revise its standard on biomass terminology and definitions to include additional terms and definitions.

ANSI/ASABE S593, Terminology and Definitions for Biomass Production, Harvesting and Collection, Storage, Processing, Conversion and Utilization was originally developed five years ago to provide uniform terminology and definitions in the general area of biomass production and utilization. Positive feedback from the standard users, along with intensified interest in and government mandates regarding the production of bioenergy, biopower and bioproducts from biomass, has resulted in the need to revise the standard to incorporate the additions.

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Evaluating clover to boost biomass yields

Biomass Magazine
April 2010
Posted April 28, 2010, at 2:17 p.m. CST

A species of clover that doesn’t typically perform well in the dry uplands of the Northern Plains could find its niche by helping producers grow biomass crops for energy in prairie lowlands.

South Dakota State University professor Vance Owens said that’s the point of a grant of just over $800,000 approved through the SDSU-based North Central Sun Grant Center to help scientists carry out research on kura clover. Owens is the principal investigator for the three-year project, which uses U.S. DOE funds.

Owens said he and his colleagues will explore whether growing kura clover along with a high-yielding native grass called prairie cordgrass will supply some or all of the nitrogen needed to get high biomass yields.

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Siemens to deliver biomass turbine

The Engineer
29 April 2010

Siemens has been awarded a contract to design, manufacture and install a SST 800 steam turbine for the largest biomass-fired combined heat and power plant ever to be developed in the UK.

The 50MW biomass plant at the Tullis Russell Papermakers plant near Fife in Scotland will replace an existing coal-fired facility and reduce the company’s annual carbon emissions by 250,000 tonnes.

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Biofuels not to blame for high sugar prices, Brazil avers

Engineering News
By: Jacqueline Holman
23rd April 2010

The biofuels industry cannot be blamed for the increase in the international sugar prices, states Brazilian Ambassador to South Africa José Vicente de Sá Pimentel.

He says that the current increase of the sugar price on the commodity market has mainly been caused by a reduction of international supply, especially in India. Indian sugar production, which is the second largest in the world, suffered a strong decline in 2009, owing to the reduction in planted areas and irregular rainfall.

Measures taken in recent years have resulted in farmers changing their cultivation. The Indian government also exerts control over the entire sugar production chain, including cultivated areas, plantation, harvest, relations between suppliers and sugar producers and the trading of the product.

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RFA: Purdue University Research Undercuts CA Low Carbon Fuel Standard

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: April 28, 2010

Washington—A recently completed state-of-the-art analysis from Purdue University concludes that the California Air Resources Board (ARB) overestimated the indirect land use change (ILUC) impact of grain-based ethanol by a factor of two in developing its Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS) one year ago.

In a letter sent April 28 to ARB Chair Mary Nichols, the Renewable Fuels Association pointed out this dramatic conclusion and reminded ARB of its promise to review and incorporate new science as it becomes available.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cambridge firm scores big backing to produce mystery ethanol-maker
By Erin Ailworth
Globe Staff / April 28, 2010

$30m is feeding a quest for nonfossil fuels

Alternative fuel maker Joule Unlimited Inc. has raised $30 million in venture funding, the largest such deal this year for a clean technology company in New England, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

The company, which is based in Cambridge, declined to name the investors, but said the money will be used to help produce its fossil fuel substitutes in larger quantities. Formerly known as Joule Biotechnologies, the firm said it will also begin making what chief executive Bill Sims described as a “high quality’’ diesel fuel.

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President praises ethanol in Missouri visit
By Steve Everly, The Star's energy reporter

President Obama visited Macon, Mo., today and told 200 people that green energy was a key to the country's future.

Speaking at Missouri's first ethanol plant, which produces 46 million gallons a year, he said that the biofuel was important to the country's move to green energy.

"There shouldn't be any doubt that renewable, home-grown fuels are a key part of our strategy," he said.

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Audio: President’s Speech from Ethanol Plant in Missouri

Link to audio of President Obama’s speech at the POET ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri.

Obama’s Ethanol Tour Prompts Biodiesel Board Plea
Posted by John Davis – April 26th, 2010

As President Obama prepares to visit an ethanol plant in Northern Missouri (see Cindy’s post), the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) … headquartered less than 100 miles to the south … is making the plea for the White House to get behind the $1-a-gallon federal biodiesel tax incentive that expired at the end of 2009 and put thousands of industry employees out of work:

“We are pleased the President continues to demonstrate his support for the biofuels industry,” said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board CEO, from the group’s headquarters in Jefferson City. “But we also need him to remind Congress that their inaction to reinstate the biodiesel tax incentive could cost the country tens of thousands of jobs. They must act now before America loses its only commercially available Advanced Biofuel.”

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Ethanol Leaders Take to the Hill
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – April 27th, 2010

America’s ethanol industry is taking its message to Capitol Hill this week with a variety of key issues to discuss. Extending key tax incentives for all forms of ethanol, expanding the market through higher ethanol blends, and increasing the production of flexible fuel vehicles are all topics of discussion during the visit. Members of the Renewable Fuels Association are scheduled to meet with Congressional office members from a dozen states including Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska, and Iowa.

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Biomass '10 Workshop Program Released

Upper Midwest's most informative international biomass workshop set for July 20–21, 2010, in Grand Forks, North Dakota

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota announces today the release of the preliminary program for the upcoming Biomass ’10: Renewable Power, Fuels, and Chemicals Workshop, beginning Tuesday, July 20, 2010, at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

More than 30 speakers from across the nation are scheduled to present at this year’s workshop. Governor John Hoeven (R-ND) has been invited to give the keynote address at the event.

“This is probably the most balanced agenda for top-notch speakers and topics that this event has assembled since its inception 10 years ago,” said Chris Zygarlicke, EERC Deputy Associate Director for Research and Technical Director of this workshop. “We will have talks on utilizing currently available North Dakota agricultural biomass resources and future algae production systems. We will be briefed on traditional corn ethanol and updated on two high-profile midwestern cellulose ethanol projects. New methods and the associated economics for using biomass to produce heat, electricity, green gasoline, and jet fuel will also be discussed and debated,” he said.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Carbon mitigation, carbon market opportunities for biofuels

Biofuels Digest
April 27, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference, Rick Gilmore, President/CEO of The GIC Group discussed possible carbon mitigation strategies which the biofuel industry could pursue as U.S. regulations and mandates come online. Of key interest to industry players, Gilmore highlighted the potential revenue gains which biofuels stand to receive through carbon markets. “All of these new biofuel production technologies, improved feedstocks, yield increases- these are efficiency gains; and our GIC-ACI (Ag Carbon Index) measures that increased value and maximizes that value over time,” said Gilmore. The GIC-ACI is a first mover product that responds to a missing link in the low-carbon economy and will facilitate the biofuel industry in meeting marketplace challenges. According to Gilmore, GIC’s index provides all players in the biofuel and agribusiness sector a benchmark and a hedging vehicle for carbon offset opportunities worldwide.

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Butamax: Portrait of a Biobutanol Strategic Investment by BP and Dupont

Biofuels Digest
April 27, 2010 Jim Lane

As with our portrait yesterday of strategic investor Waste Management, BP and Dupont have been repeatedly the news with a series of investments in renewable energy technologies in the past 5 years.

Both companies have seemingly mastered the joint venture - reportedly so difficult that “nobody knows what doing a second one is like, because once you’ve done one you never want to do another,” according to one Digest-subscribing wag. Yet BP has JVs with Verenium for cellulosic ethanol and Dupont for the biobutanol venture known as Butamax, while Dupont has the additional JV with Danisco in Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol.

“Alliances are in our DNA,” former Dupont chairman Chad Holiday once told the Digest — so how exactly do they work? How does a joint venture deliver value across the value chain.

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Obama to Visit Ethanol Plant
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – April 25th, 2010

The White House has confirmed that President Obama will be visiting a Missouri ethanol plant this week. It will mark the first time Obama has visited a working ethanol biorefinery, although he was the guest speaker at the ribbon cutting of the now-bankrupt VeraSun plant in Charles City, Iowa when he was a presidential candidate.

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Sculpting the landscape with energy crops

Bloomberg Business Week
The Associated Press April 26, 2010, 11:02AM ET

The energy crop fields of the future could render an aesthetic similar to the old Midwestern prairie, with a variety of grasses dotting the lowlands, hills and ridges.

The concept of "sculpting the landscape" was envisioned decades ago by North Dakota plant materials specialist Erling Jacobson, who was looking to revegetate fields in the northern Great Plains as a conservation tool.

South Dakota State University plant researchers are reinvigorating the phrase by applying it to crops that can produce cellulosic ethanol.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Website aims to forge ethanol partnerships (Louisiana)
By Kathrine Schmidt, Staff Writer
Published: Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 12:55 a.m.

HOUMA — A businessman from New Iberia is starting a national website that aims to match renewable-energy investors with local landowners and farmers.

Kevin Caffery believes the state of the ethanol industry, which makes fuels from plant matter, is not unlike the infancy of the oil-and-gas industry a century ago.

Caffery has worked in a wide range of occupations. He's an abstractor, handling and negotiating land leases for the oil-and-gas industry, but he's also worked as a newspaper reporter and runs a company that sells coffee tables made of petrified wood. But he, along with business partners Ted and Kent Himel, of Luling's Himel Auto Parts, started the $7,000 website as a low-cost way to bolster what they see as an important new area of commerce.

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Green Mountain College Opens $5.8 Million Biomass Project on Earth Day

Green Mountain College formally opened a new $5.8 million combined heat and power (CHP) biomass plant this morning. In his remarks to about 300 students, faculty, staff, and community members, president Paul Fonteyn declared that by next year GMC would become the first college in the country to reach carbon neutrality after reducing carbon emissions by more than 50%. Special guests at a 10:30 a.m. ceremony included Vermont Governor James Douglas.

"This new structure -- our new biomass plant -- is more than just a facility to provide heat and electricity. It's a demonstration of how we are remaining faithful to our principles of sustainability, and maintaining our position as one of the leading environmental liberal arts colleges in the country," Fonteyn said.

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Rumors fly on Presidential visit to ethanol plant

Ethanol Producer Magazine - May 2010
By Holly Jessen
Posted April 23, 2010

Although nothing’s been confirmed yet, there have been media reports that President Barack Obama will visit the Poet Biorefining ethanol plant in Macon, Mo. So far, the White House is only saying the President will stop in Macon on April 28. “More details will be announced for these events as they become available,” according to a White House office of Media Affairs press release.

The President will visit locations in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois next week as part of the White House to Main Street Tour. It kicked off in December 2009 as a way for Obama to get out of Washington and spend time with American families. Since that time he’s made stops in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Georgia.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

ECA launches Ecotech Institute to offer certificates, associate degrees in renewable energy

Biofuels Digest
April 23, 2010 Jim Lane

In Colorado, Education Corporation of America has launched Ecotech Institute, the first college focused on training in renewable energy and sustainable design. The Institute is offering seven associate’s degrees and a certificate program for people seeking careers in the emerging cleantech economy, including Energy and Environmental Paralegal, and Renewable Energy Technology associate degrees. The Pew Charitable Trusts reported that clean energy jobs grew by 9.1 percent between 1998 and 2007, versus total job growth of 3.7 percent.

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Be Here Now – Focusing on Today’s Reality — Bioenergy PROFITS Principle, Reality

Biofuels Digest
April 23, 2010
By Biofuels Digest columnist Dr. Rosalie Lober

Many times we have vision. In our excitement and enthusiasm, we race ahead and attempt to create and then accomplish our strategy, only to meet with frustration along the way. Obstacles arise and disappointment sets in. Though most people face temporary discouragement, others may give up and believe the task is too difficult.

Though most of us have the ability to influence our current reality, oftentimes, political and financial realities impede our progress, even if this impediment is transitory. Great leaders find the balance. They adapt to ‘what is’ and at the same time, they work diligently to influence and change future outcomes.

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Shock wave: Camelina biofuels break sound barrier in Navy F-18 trial

Biofuels Digest
April 23, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington, the Navy celebrated Earth Day April 22 by showcasing a flight test of the “Green Hornet,” an F/A-18 Super Hornet multirole fighter jet powered by a a 50/50 blend of conventional jet fuel and camelina aviation biofuel. The test, conducted at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland drew hundreds of onlookers, including Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who has made the exploration and adoption of alternative fuels a priority for the Navy and Marine Corps.

Among the onlookers, Scott Johnson, general manager of Sustainable Oils, which produced the camelina. “It was awesome to watch camelina biofuel break the sound barrier,” after watching the takeoff at the airbase and seeing the remainder of the flight via the Navy’s in-flight video feed.

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Seeing a market through the trees
Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch
Posted Apr 22, 2010 @ 11:56 AM

Hanska, Minn. — Curt Kreklau isn’t out of the woods yet. And if things go right, he’ll only get deeper into them. Kreklau is growing thousands of trees on his farm near Sebeka with an eye toward the biofuel market. He is growing hybrid poplars, red oak, several types of pine, and even some native prairie grasses for bioenergy and more traditional uses.

In the late 1990s it was getting harder to rent out land. Kreklau wanted to keep drawing income from the property even when the time came when he would have no renters.

“I thought this would be a better choice — to put it in trees,” he explained. Though at first Kreklau admits having reservations. There are a number of benefits to putting land into trees. For example, trees are low-maintenance and after the first couple of years inputs are small if there’s no insect problem. The trees also come back from the stump, “so the second crop is already seeded, so labor is saved,” Kreklau added. “It’s good for an absentee land owner.”

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Using Ionic Liquids Without Acids for Biomass Conversion into Biofuel Saves Time, Energy, Colorado State University Professors Discover

Colorado State University
Thursday, April 22, 2010

FORT COLLINS - Dissolving plant biomass in “green” solvent ionic liquids - salts that melt at low temperatures - converts more sugars needed for biofuel more quickly than traditional methods, according to a new study by Colorado State University professors.

The discovery is an important step in the move toward the use of nonedible plant biomass as an alternative source for fuel. The study, by Professor Eugene Chen in chemistry and Xianghong Qian, an assistant professor in mechanical engineering, was recently published in the April 15 issue of American Chemical Society’s journal, Energy & Fuels.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

A Future of Innovation and Growth: Advancing Massachusetts' Clean-Energy Leadership

The following is an excerpt from A Future of Innovation and Growth: Advancing Massachusetts' Clean-Energy Leadership.

By a range of different measures, Massachusetts stands out as a clean-energy leader among states in the U.S. It has made the growth of clean energy a clear legislative and economic development priority in the state, with strong results to date in leading-edge policies, industry expansion, job creation, and increased investment and deployment.

Read more and to report's link

North Dakota establishes ethanol promotion group

Published April 21 2010

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. John Hoeven, the North Dakota Ethanol Council and ethanol industry leaders today announced the establishment of a new program that will fund the newly-established North Dakota Ethanol Council’s marketing activities by dedicating a share of the industry’s production profits to promotion of ethanol.

Also known as a check-off, the program dedicates three one-hundredths of one cent per gallon of ethanol produced and sold in the state to develop research, education programs, promotion, and market development efforts to help build the state’s ethanol industry. The Council’s projected annual budget is $100,000.

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Calculating Crop and Ethanol Yields and Irrigation Needs in Four Easy Steps

By Don Comis
April 22, 2010

Estimating crop yields based on available water in semi-arid regions has been made easier for several hundred farmers who are using a special calculator computer program developed by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist.

Several hundred farmers in the Central Great Plains have picked up a copy of the device, called the MultiCalculator CD, at field days and other outreach meetings, according to David Nielsen, the agronomist who developed it at the ARS Central Great Plains Research Station in Akron, Colo.

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Cap And Trade: Controversy With Potential Revenue
04/21/2010 10:13AM

For all practical purposes, every Cornbelt farmer is in the middle of the great debate about energy. If you are growing corn and/or soybeans, your commodities are priced depending on ethanol and biodiesel demand. If you are using fertilizer, pesticides, and other chemicals made from petrochemicals, you are a consumer. If you are just fueling up to head to the field, the parts store, or sending your family to school, you are participating in the bioenergy market. You really can’t escape. And that is why familiarity with the biofuels market, cap and trade, and US energy policy is important to your economic welfare.

You probably are aware that the controversial Cap and Trade legislation passed the US House with a slim margin, but consideration was delayed in the Senate until after healthcare issues were resolved. Every economist and policy specialist will tell you that Cap and Trade will cause energy prices to rise, which includes your diesel fuel bill, but that farmers who want to participate will be able to financially benefit. That is the basis for a new report from 9 economists featured in the April Edition of Policy Issues published by the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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ZeaChem a step closer to its ethanol goal

Biomass Magazine
April 2010
By Holly Jessen
Posted April 21, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. CST

ZeaChem Inc. has reached another milestone on the way to producing cellulosic ethanol. The Lakewood, Colo., based business announced that it has successfully produced commercial-grade ethyl acetate—the final step necessary in proving its biorefining technology.

Ethyl acetate can be sold to chemical manufacturers or, through hydrogenation, converted into ethanol. Process expert Sulzer Chemtech validated ZeaChem’s esterification reaction process of converting glacial acetic acid into ethyl acetate. “These results demonstrate ZeaChem’s ability to produce another valuable biobased intermediate chemical on the road toward cellulosic ethanol production,” said Jim Imbler, president and CEO of ZeaChem.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

POET announces plans for 3.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2022

Renewable Energy
April 21, 2010

Technology ready, CEO says, but loan guarantee, policy stability and market access still needed to achieve vision

POET plans to have a hand in producing 3.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year by 2022, POET CEO Jeff Broin said today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

"In order for this vision to become a reality, policy makers must provide access to the market and the stability needed to attract the large amount of capital that will be required to finance its construction." - POET CEO Jeff Broin POET, the largest producer of ethanol in the world, has made enough progress on technology and feedstock development to break ground on its first plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa later this year, Broin said. He is confident it will be the first of many.

According to POET’s plans, the 3.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol will come from three primary sources:

1.One billion gallons of production capacity will come from adding the technology to POET’s existing network of 26 corn-based ethanol plants.
2.Licensing that technology to other corn-based ethanol producers will lead to another 1.4 billion gallons of production capacity.
3.Another 1.1 billion gallons of production capacity will come from a wide variety of other feedstocks from across the U.S. These gallons will be produced by POET or through joint ventures and opportunities where POET Biomass provides logistics support to other producers.

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The walk-walkers: 10 who make it happen for renewables, bioenergy in DC

Biofuels Digest
April 21, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington, a group of Midwestern senators, headlined by Charles Grassley of Iowa and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, have just introduced a Senate bill supporting the extension of the ethanol blender tax credit, as well as the ethanol tariff.

It raises the question, who are walk-walkers in the US government – who “walk the walk, not just talk the talk” on renewables and bioenergy.

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Blending Diesel with Biomass-Based Nylon Precursor Cuts Soot by 50%
by Michael Graham Richard, Ottawa, Canada on 04.20.10

A doctoral student and researcher at the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven has created a new type of diesel fuel that produces significantly less soot than conventional diesel. This was accomplished by mixing 10% of cyclohexanone ((CH2)5CO, a precursor of nylon) with 90% regular diesel. The new blend, called Cyclox, ignites more slowly than diesel, allowing oxygen and the fuel to mix better and burn cleaner. Even better, cyclohexanone can be made from lignin, a part of the cell walls of plants and trees. The paper industry produces a lot of waste lignin.

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New biofuel process may change chemical industry

A new method of converting biomass feedstock into sustainable fuel developed by researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and University of Minnesota has the potential to have a profound effect on the chemical industry. The “gasification” process developed by this team of researchers not only greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but doubles the amount of fuel that can be made from an acre of biomass feedstock, says Paul J. Dauenhauer of the UMass-Amherst chemical engineering department.

Dauenhauer explained the new process in a recent story in Technology Review, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He says using the new approach, researchers gasify biomass in the presence of precisely controlled amounts of carbon dioxide and methane in a special catalytic reactor they have developed. The result is that all the carbon in both the biomass and the methane is converted to carbon monoxide.

He says applying this new technique allows the researchers to use 100 percent of the carbon in that biomass for making biofuels. That doubles the proportion of fuel-producing carbon produced by a conventional gasification process done in one reactor while converting biomass to biofuels.

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Senate introduces ethanol tax extenders bill


Senators Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) and Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) have introduced the Grow Renewable Energy from Ethanol Naturally Jobs Act of 2010, or GREEN Jobs Act of 2010, that would extend key tax incentives for the use and production of all forms of ethanol.

Specifically, the bill extends through 2015 the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), the offsetting tariff on foreign ethanol. Besides extending VEETC, the bill extends the Small Producers Tax Credit and the Cellulosic Ethanol Producer Tax Credit until Jan. 1, 2016.

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Peterson Predicts E-15 by August

Hoosier Ag Today
by Matt Kaye

House Ag Chair Collin Peterson predicts EPA will approve by August an increase in the ethanol gasoline blend wall from ten percent to fifteen percent. EPA has said it won't be finished with all E-15 vehicle testing until next August, but could have enough data by mid-June to act on 15-percent ethanol blends for 2001 and newer vehicles.

Ag Chair Peterson was asked about the pending decision. He told HAT, “Now, we’re thinking we might get a decision in August. I think we’re going to get a positive decision, everything I can tell.”

EPA signaled late last year, after successful testing then, it was leaning in favor of the move to E-15 though the Renewable Fuels Association charged a delay until June or August would chill advanced biofuels investment.

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Rules on ethanol blends postponed for a year (THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER (Springfield, IL)
Posted Apr 20, 2010 @ 11:30 PM
Last update Apr 21, 2010 @ 06:47 AM

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has postponed for a year updated blending rules for ethanol-based fuels sold in the state.

Petroleum shippers and refiners had asked for more time because of concern that some out-of-state shippers would not be able to comply with the quality and performance standards that were scheduled to take effect May 1.

The rules now are scheduled to take effect May 1, 2011.

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UM Pressure-Cooking Algae Into Better Biofuel

Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report
Posted: Tuesday, 20 April 2010 6:14PM

Heating and squishing microalgae in a pressure-cooker can fast-forward the crude-oil-making process from millennia to minutes.

University of Michigan professors are working to understand and improve this procedure in an effort to speed up development of affordable biofuels that could replace fossil fuels and power today's engines.

They are also examining the possibility of other new fuel sources such as E. coli bacteria that would feed on waste products from previous bio-oil batches.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SG Biofuels, Brookhaven National Lab, NYSERDA partner for jatropha testing

Biofuels Digest
April 20, 2010 Jim Lane

In California, SG Biofuels announced a strategic partnership with Brookhaven National Laboratory to accelerate the analysis and testing of oil produced by its Latin American Jatropha plantations.

In the project, jatropha will be blended with residual oil combusted in a commercial boiler that has been used by Brookhaven National Laboratory to test other biofuel blends over the past few years. During the tests, measurements of gases and particulates in the stack will be made to evaluate the differences made by the blending.

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VIDEO: Low-biomass OSR proves popular

Farmers Weekly Interactive (UK)
James Andrews
Tuesday 20 April 2010 11:06

The trend for breeding low biomass hybrid oilseed rape varieties appears to be gathering speed, as James Andrews discovered on a recent trip to Monsanto's Boissay breeding station in France.

Excellent disease resistance is the latest farmer-friendly trait to be added as low biomass oilseed rape varieties continue to improve. Growers have found the reduced bulk of low biomass conventional varieties such as Castille and ES Astrid are much quicker and more efficient to harvest, and their shorter, stiffer straw reduces lodging risk.

These characteristics have been transferred to low biomass hybrid varieties, sometimes known as semi-dwarfs, by breeders including Monsanto, which markets it's oilseed rape varieties under the Dekalb brand.

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Scientists Plan Algae ‘Alchemy’ to Turn Paddies Into Oil Fields

Bloomberg Business Week
April 19, 2010, 5:15 PM EDT
By Shigeru Sato and Yuji Okada

April 20 (Bloomberg) -- As Japan’s rice fields turn fallow and its farming communities decline, a new army of workers is preparing to make the countryside fertile again. This time the crop is motor fuel and the laborers are microscopic algae.

At least 75 developers globally are studying algae, which has the potential to generate more energy per hectare than any other crop used for making fuel, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The technology has attracted the U.S. Department of Energy and big oil including Exxon Mobil Corp., which plans to spend as much as $600 million on research over five years.

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Food vs. fuel: MSU scientists say growing grain for food is more energy efficient

Public release date: 19-Apr-2010
Michigan State University

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Using productive farmland to grow crops for food instead of fuel is more energy efficient, Michigan State University scientists concluded, after analyzing 17 years' worth of data to help settle the food versus fuel debate.

"It's 36 percent more efficient to grow grain for food than for fuel," said Ilya Gelfand, an MSU postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the study. "The ideal is to grow corn for food, then leave half the leftover stalks and leaves on the field for soil conservation and produce cellulosic ethanol with the other half."

Other studies have looked at energy efficiencies for crops over shorter time periods, but this MSU study is the first to consider energy balances of an entire cropping system over many years. The results are published in the April 19 online issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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USDA seeks comment on biofuels rule


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack invited public comment on several proposed rules designed to increase the production of advanced biofuels and the development of biorefineries. The programs are authorized under the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (The Farm Bill).

The proposed rules affect the Biorefinery Assistance Program, Repowering Assistance Payments and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

House goal: Pass biodiesel bill by Memorial Day

Des Moines Register
Blog post by Philip Brasher • • April 14, 2010

The biodiesel subsidy could be back by this summer. The $1-a-gallon tax credit expired at the end of 2009 and remains lapsed while House and Senate negotiators try to agree on the final version of a tax bill that would include an extension of the provision.

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Michigan Democrat Sander Levin, told reporters today that the goal is to have the final bill done by Memorial Day.

The House and Senate have been at odds over how to pay for the various tax credit extensions that the legislation contains. Levin said the main obstacle is the need to get a filibuster-proof 60-vote margin in the Senate.

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Europe Finds Clean Energy in Trash, but U.S. Lags

The New York Times
Published: April 12, 2010

HORSHOLM, Denmark — The lawyers and engineers who dwell in an elegant enclave here are at peace with the hulking neighbor just over the back fence: a vast energy plant that burns thousands of tons of household garbage and industrial waste, round the clock.

Far cleaner than conventional incinerators, this new type of plant converts local trash into heat and electricity. Dozens of filters catch pollutants, from mercury to dioxin, that would have emerged from its smokestack only a decade ago.

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New Korea-China research program focuses on nanomaterials for flexible solar cells
Posted: April 19, 2010

(Nanowerk News) The 2010 Korea-China joint research program, “New Photovoltaic Polymers and Advanced Flexible Plastic Solar Cells”, was officially initiated on April 15-16, 2010 at the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT), Chinese Academy of Sciences.

This Project will be co-directed by Dr. YANG Renqiang, group leader of the Advanced Organic Functional Materials of the QIBEBT, and Dr. Woo Han Young, associate professor of Department of Nanomaterials Engineering at Pusan National University, Korea.
The Korean and Chinese scientists discussed detailed cooperative plan, and clarified the scientific focal that will be worked out in the very near future for the project. They also reached consensus on the academic exchange, joint training of postgraduate and young scientists, and sustainable collaboration.

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Researchers Turn Swine Manure into Oil

Pork Magazine
By Pork news source Friday, April 16, 2010

Research at the University of Illinois is one step closer to opening up a billion-dollar market to the hog industry and reducing U.S. dependence on crude oil imports. University of Illinois scientists have teamed with industry partners to design a pilot plant for a large commercial livestock farm that will convert swine manure to crude oil.

The pilot plant is based on research led by Yuanhui Zhang, an agricultural and biological engineer at the University of Illinois. Zhang and colleagues developed a system using thermochemical conversion, or TCC, to transform organic compounds, like swine manure, in a heated and pressurized enclosure to produce oil and gas.

"The process we developed is different from most conventional TCC processes," said Zhang. "There is no need for the addition of a catalyst, and our process does not require pre-drying of the manure."

The initial stage of Zhang's research led to the development of a batch TCC reactor.

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Ethanol makers fear 'blend wall' is near

Des Moines Register
By DAN PILLER • • April 18, 2010

Just when Iowa's 39 ethanol plants had settled into regular profitability, demand for the fuel is waning and red ink is returning.

Motorists aren't turning away from the fuel. In fact, about 80 percent of U.S. gasoline is blended with ethanol.

The industry is running into the "blend wall" - the theoretical limit of the amount of ethanol that can be mixed with gasoline. Most gasoline can contain a blend of no more than 10 percent ethanol.

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Energy Ministers of the Americas Come Together in D.C
Posted on: April 16, 2010 11:43 AM, by Evan Lerner

In the Western Hemisphere Affairs bureau at the U.S. Department of State, we have been working to advance policies and programs to help create a cleaner, greener space for people throughout the Americas. On April 15 and 16, energy ministers from across the Western Hemisphere, including U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, gathered in Washington D.C. for the Energy and Climate Ministerial of the Americas. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also participated, remarking that "the fundamental purpose of this partnership is to promote sustainable growth that benefits all of our citizens." I had the honor of being part of the team that organized this important meeting - and was afforded a front row seat on this unique gathering of senior policy makers focused on energy and climate from throughout the hemisphere.

The Ministerial took place just one year after President Obama invited countries to join the U.S. in forming an Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad & Tobago. ECPA brings countries across the Western Hemisphere together to facilitate clean energy development and deployment, advance energy security, and reduce energy poverty. At the Ministerial, Secretary Clinton announced plans to expand ECPA beyond the scope of these energy-based solutions. Now, ECPA will also include efforts on forestry and land use, to address some of the major emission sources in our hemisphere, and adaptation, to assist countries in the region that stand to be hit hardest by climate change.

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Tapping into BCAP

Ethanol Producer Magazine
May 2010
By Anna Austin

Traditional and cellulosic ethanol plants can qualify as biomass conversion facilities under the USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

The Biomass Crop Assistance Program final rule will soon be out, and many are anxious to see program adjustments, further clarification on vague components, and an end to the current freeze on program sign ups.

The main impetus in BCAP, which was first introduced to the public in the 2008 Farm Bill, is to assist nonfood biomass crop development. The first part of the program, initiated in June 2009, provides matching payments for collection, harvest, storage and transport (CHST) to eligible material owners who are selling and delivering materials to a qualified biomass conversion facility using the biomass for the production of heat, power, biobased products or biofuels.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Idled plants restart, new plants on the way

Ethanol Producer Magazine
May 2010
By Luke Geiver

Add another term to the list describing the ethanol industry: emergence. This spring several plants have emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and reorganization proceedings. After a year in the reorganization process, Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings Inc. announced in March the company had successfully completed the process. Like many plants, Aventine cited unfavorable market conditions stemming from high corn prices and low petroleum costs as the main factor pushing the company into Chapter 11. Although the Pekin, Ill., Aventine facility was able to secure debtor-in-possession financing to remain operational, work on two other Aventine plants nearing completion was halted. Now, the Aurora, Neb., and Mt. Vernon, Ind., facilities will resume construction with a completion date set for fall.

“I am very optimistic about the ethanol industry and our success going forward,” said Thomas Manuel, the company’s new CEO and chief operating officer. “The ethanol industry has sound, long-term prospects, and we anticipate a strong rebound as the biofuels mandate continues to increase.”

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Leveraging SBIR to Advance Cellulosic Ethanol Innovation

Ethanol Producer Magazine
May 2010
By Phyl Speser

The U.S. DOE Small Business Innovation Research Program seeks to reduce the time to market for cellulosic ethanol by supporting innovative technologies.

Cellulosic ethanol is at best a long-term niche player in a post internal combustion world. In the long run, fuel cells and electric power will provide power for most transportation and small scale power applications. Ethanol pencils out, but it is likely other technologies will pencil better—especially where population concentration allows for economies of scale in production and network economies in delivery of clean electric power. Ethanol combustion still emits pollutants, although in lower amounts. Further, growing and harvesting feedstocks and producing ethanol is not energy neutral.

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Legislation calls for tax incentive extensions

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen

March was a busy month for ethanol industry leaders pushing for an extension to three tax incentives and the secondary tariff on imported ethanol.

The biggest news was the Renewable Fuels Reinvestment Act, proposed in the House by Reps. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and John Shimkus, R-Ill. If passed, this bill would add five years each to the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, the Small Ethanol Producers Tax Credit and the tariff on imported ethanol. The bill would also tack three years on to the Cellulosic Ethanol Production Tax Credit. The bipartisan bill has 27 co-sponsors. “At a time when our economy is struggling, we cannot afford to let these tax incentives expire and stymie the growth we have seen in our ethanol industry,” Pomeroy said.

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DOE announces Colombia, Argentina, IADB research initiatives

Biofuels Digest
April 16, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington, the U.S. Department of Energy today announced a series of partnerships and other initiatives to address clean energy and energy security in the Western Hemisphere as part of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas. Among the new initiatives and partnerships announced:

· Launching an IDB Innovation Center: The Department of Energy and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) signed an agreement creating an Energy Innovation Center that will allow DOE and IDB to coordinate resources to facilitate regional projects and activities.

· Developing Biomass Resources in Colombia: The project will partner DOE and National Laboratory experts with scientists and technology experts in Colombia that are involved in on-going research on sugarcane, palm oil and petroleum to help identify, evaluate and promote technologies for sustainable biomass use in Colombia.

· Affirming Commitment to Clean Energy Cooperation: The Department of Energy and Argentina’s Ministry for Federal Planning, Public Investment, and Services signed a Memorandum of Understanding that promotes cooperation between the Department of Energy and the Argentine Energy Secretariat on clean energy technologies.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Landlord-tenant rights become biomass contract issue

Illinois Farm Bureau
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Good landlord-tenant relations, or laws that clarify landlord-tenant rights, could prove key in biomass contract development.

According to University of Illinois law professor Jay Kesan, no standard biomass production/marketing contract has yet emerged largely because USDA is shaping final details of the fledgling Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).

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US House tax czar says biodiesel tax credit expected by Memorial Day

Biofuels Digest
April 15, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington, US House Ways and Means chairman Sandor Levin said that the House tax writing committee expects to have a final biodiesel tax credit bill finalized by Memorial Day. At issue: the House and Senate agree on the tax credits, but disagree on the means of paying for them, raising the potential of a Senate filibuster. Industry sources say that “the bill can’t come soon enough,” citing the crushing economic pressures of four months without the tax credit, which has prompted widespread layoffs and production halts in the biodiesel business.

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BP to invest $8 billion in alternative energy through 2015

Biofuels Digest
April 15, 2010 Jim Lane

In the UK, BP Alternative Energy Chief Executive Katrina Landis told Reuters that the company expects to invest $1.3 billion in alternative energy in 2010, and will invest a total of $8.0 billion through 2015. Specific investments within wind power, solar power, carbon capture and storage and biofuels were not disclosed.

However, BP had previously said that it will commence production of cellulosic ethanol from biomass in Brazil in 2013. According to Valor Online “the first plant for producing second generation ethanol will be constructed in the United States in 2010 via its cellulosic ethanol joint venture, Vercipia, with Verenium, with the technology being transferred to BP’s plants in Brazil after operations commence at the U.S. facility.”

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“Does She or Doesn’t She?” US, Brazilian readers, UNICA say Brazil does not subsidize ethanol, slam Growth Energy

Biofuels Digest
April 15, 2010 Jim Lane

Today, April 15th represents “Tax Day” in the United States and appropriately, a war of words over the ethanol tariff and ethanol subsidies has erupted between Growth Energy, UNICA and a number of Digest readers in Brazil and the US.

The controversy, which was featured yesterday in “Circling the wagons, the firing squads and the arguments: ethanol wars explode in print, TV” highlighted the ad campaigns that debuted this week from UNICA and Growth Energy, focusing on ethanol tariff issues as well as ethanol tax credits in the US, which are up for renewal this year.

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UNICA says Brazilian sugar harvest off to slow start

Biofuels Digest
April 14, 2010 Jim Lane

In Brazil, the Brazilian Sugar Growers Association (UNICA) reports that 6.81 million tons of cane crushed since the commencement of the official harvest season on April 1st, with ethanol production reaching 71 million gallons (272.10 million liters); overall, a slow start to the year, but UNICA is reporting that ethanol sales for 2009-10 reached 6.64 billion gallons 25.10 billion liters), of which 730 million gallons (2.76 billion liters were exported).

Sales for March were down 13.53 percent compared to the corresponding period in 2009.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

ARS Researching Camelina as a New Biofuel Crop

By Stephanie Yao
April 13, 2010

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have long-term studies underway to examine growing camelina as a bioenergy crop for producing jet fuel for the military and the aviation industry. This research supports the recently signed memorandum of understanding between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Navy (DoN) and interests of the Commercial Airlines Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI).

Native to Europe, camelina (Camelina sativa) is a member of the plant family Brassicaceae and has been grown since ancient times for use as lamp fuel, among other things. The seed's high oil content has made it a promising candidate as a new source for biofuels.

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USDA Experts Say Ethanol Blend Wall is Close
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – April 11th, 2010

Ethanol is getting very close to hitting the blend wall, according to economists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With four months in a row of record ethanol production and stagnant gasoline demand, ethanol stocks are increasing. “Margins have weakened a lot over the last few weeks,” says USDA chief economist Joe Glauber, and indicators are that the blend wall is closing in.

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Wisconsin Assembly approves tax credits for farmers, food processors, biomass equipment

CB Online
From The Associated Press, April 14, 2010 - 09:09 AM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Democrats in the Wisconsin Assembly have passed a package of tax credits they say will boost the state's economic recovery.

The bills come as Democrats fight to blunt Republican accusations they've done little to fight unemployment ahead of the November elections.

The package extends tax credits for dairy farmers who modernize or expand. It creates new credits for food processors and for the cost of equipment used to turn woody biomass products into fuel.

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New ethanol rules could add to summer gas price hikes THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER (Springfield, IL)
Posted Apr 07, 2010 @ 11:30 PM
Last update Apr 08, 2010 @ 05:46 AM

Even as gasoline returns to nearly $3 a gallon, a dispute has risen over the effect of ethanol blends on price and supply in Illinois.

Petroleum industry representatives and distributors say new state ethanol standards scheduled to take effect May 1 could tighten refining and storage capacity, adding to cost pressures. Ethanol supporters say the industry was aware of the rules months ago and might be using the issue as an excuse to raise pump prices.

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Purdue researchers aim to genetically modify algae to produce more lipids; mapping metabolic pathways

Biofuels Digest
April 14, 2010

In Indiana, the DOE has awarded $4 million to a project at Purdue University that is attempting to genetically engineer algae to generate more lipids. The three year project calls for the Purdue researchers to maximize the amount of CO2 that is routed towards lipid production, as opposed to other activities within the cell. The group will also create “flux maps” that focus on the speed of reactions within metabolic pathways, information that the research team says will be useful for future genetic engineering efforts.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Corn growers lobby for ethanol expansion (Decatur, IL)
By DAVE FOPAY - H&R Staff Writer Posted: Monday, April 12, 2010 6:00 am

MATTOON — The nation’s corn farmers continue to see increased yields, so that should translate into an increased market with ethanol production.

An area farmer said he and others tried to deliver that message last month during a trip to Washington, D.C. Mark Degler of rural Mattoon is a director with the Illinois Corn Growers Association and was one of about 20 members who made the trip to the nation’s capital last month.

“Our No. 1 goal was to try to make the folks who make our laws understand that we’re getting better at growing corn,” Degler said.

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Naperville part of plan to turn brush into energy sources

Chicago Tribune
By Bob Goldsborough
April 12, 2010

Brush collected by Naperville could be converted into electricity, ethanol and hydrogen under a federally funded pilot program that Naperville's City Council has unanimously signed off on.

Known as a "green fuels depot demonstration project," the program, which U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., is sponsoring, would place brush that the city picks up each spring into a reactor that would create energy sources. The reactor would be located at a depot at a city site just south of the Springbrook Water Reclamation Facility on Plainfield-Naperville Road.

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Rival Ethanol Trade Groups Campaigning to Woo Senators, Clobber Each Other Sign in to Recommend

The New York Times
By ANNE C. MULKERN of Greenwire
Published: April 13, 2010

Two rival trade groups seeking congressional help for the ethanol industry launched advertising yesterday to promote themselves and bash one another.

Growth Energy Inc., which represents corn and other domestic ethanol producers, seeks to maintain supremacy at home, while the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, or UNICA, wants to tear down corn ethanol's benefits in order to grab a larger share of the U.S. market.

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Driver's Seat

The Wall Street Journal Blogs
April 12, 2010, 12:38 PM ET
By Jeff Bennett

Ethanol Gets Boost from New Ad Campaign

The ethanol debate is heating up again. Growth Energy, a coalition of U.S. ethanol supporters, threw down $2.5 million to air commercials over the next six months supporting the use of ethanol.

The spots began airing Monday with each pushing ethanol as a clean, economical, renewable fuel that could reduce U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources. The group even has the backing of a former Democratic presidential candidate, retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark.

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Ag carbon benefit may be indirect

Southwest Farm Press
Apr 12, 2010 10:01 AM, By Ron Smith, Farm Press Editorial Staff

Carbon trading is not likely to help farmers’ bottom lines significantly, according to Michael Farmer, Texas Tech associate professor, but agriculture may benefit indirectly from carbon regulation through value added from biofuels.

Farmer, speaking at a Texas Alliance for Water Conservation field day in Muncy, Texas, said large corporations such as Wal-Mart and General Electric could take advantage of cap and trade policies “to improve their carbon footprints.”

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bunge To Invest $750M In Brazil Ethanol Operation
Posted on: Fri, 09 Apr 2010 14:09:12 EDT

SAO PAULO, Apr 09, 2010 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) --

Bunge Ltd. plans to invest $750 million in its existing sugar and ethanol operations in Brazil, the company said Friday.

Bunge intends to raise its cane-crushing capacity at three existing mills to 13.4 million metric tons in three years from 7.4 million tons currently, a company spokeswoman said.

In total, Bunge's eight Brazilian mills should crush 21 million tons of cane in the new 2010-11 crop season.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Biodiesel Testing Lab Hopes to Bring Biofuels Industry to Connecticut

University of Connecticut
By: Christine Buckley

The UConn Biodiesel Testing Laboratory, housed within the University’s Center for Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE), doesn’t make alternative fuels. But it does make them better.

“Fuels that are off specifications can wreak havoc in cars and heating oil systems, increasing corrosion and reducing the life of the engine,” says Richard Parnas, associate professor of chemical engineering. “Fuel quality has been a critical issue in the biodiesel industry.”

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Cellulosic Ethanol: Expanding Options, Identifying Obstacles

By Ann Perry
April 9, 2010

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are figuring out how to turn wheat straw into ethanol “gold,” and learning more about the bacteria that can “infect” ethanol plants and interfere with fuel production.

At the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, Ill., ARS chemist Badal Saha conducted a 5-year study that examined whether wheat straw—a crop residue left over after the grain has been harvested—could have commercial potential for cellulosic ethanol production.

Saha found he could access and ferment almost all the plant sugars in the biofeedstock when it was pretreated with alkaline peroxide and then broken down by enzymes. This process released even hard-to-reach sugars in plant cell walls, which significantly boosted the overall ethanol output to around 93 gallons per ton of wheat straw.

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Brazil Temporarily Removes Ethanol Tariffs

Wisconsin Ag Connection
USAgNet - 04/09/2010

In an effort to put pressure on the U.S. amidst international trade negotiations, the Brazilian government announced a temporary suspension of tariffs on ethanol imports. The move, which would eliminate the nation's 20 percent tariff on imported ethanol through the end of 2011, comes in chorus with an announced settlement between the U.S. and Brazil over their ongoing cotton dispute. The U.S. currently has an ethanol tariff of 54 cents per gallon and a 2.5 percent ad valorem tax.

Over recent years, the Brazilian ethanol industry, in particular, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), has been extremely vocal against the U.S. tariffs on the imported biofuel.

Joel Valasco, UNICA's Chief Representative for North America, challenges the US to make similar concessions.

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New Energy Economics: Challenges To Biomass Processing
04/08/2010 03:57PM

The demand continues to grow for cellulosic biofuel production, as well as blending biofuel with coal in electrical power and heating plants. New biomass harvesting projects being conducted by University of Wisconsin agricultural and biosystems engineers Kevin Shinners and Tom Hoffman and a Mississippi State University team lead by Jeremiah Davis highlight some of the challenges that farmers are going to face in processing and delivering biomass materials that will replace coal.

The goal of the Wisconsin project is to develop a one-pass biomass field machine that will both harvest a crop and produce a biomass cube. At the moment, most biomass is harvested by farmers and then transported to regional centers for further processing and densification. These centers may pellet or cube the material. The advantage of a one-pass, in-field machine is that biomass doesn't have to baled, which saves both energy and time. Also, a regional processing center won't have to de-twine the bales before processing.

The machine that both the Wisconsin and Mississippi research teams are using is a 1970s-era John Deere 425 hay cuber. These machines originally were produced for commercial alfalfa growers. John Deere only built 400 of these specialized machines and less than 100 are known to exist today.

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World’s largest biomass plant planned for Poland
9 April 2010

A French energy company has claimed it will begin construction on the world’s largest biomass plant in Poland.

GDF Suez will build the plant with a capacity of 190 megawatts (MW) at a cost of €240 million.

GDF Suez intends to double its overall renewable capacity by 2013 to 25,000MW. Currently the company derives 20% of its production capacity from renewable energies.

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DOE launches – open source platform for clean energy data access

Biofuels Digest
April 08, 2010

In Washington, the US Department of Energy released its Open Government Plan highlighting DOE initiatives to maintain and increase transparency, increase participation between the Department, its program offices, sites and the American public, and increase collaborative efforts between the Department and its stakeholders.

The Three Amigos: OpenEI, and VIBE

The plan highlights flagship initiatives spearheaded by DOE including the launch of Open Energy Information (, a new open-source web platform that opens DOE resources and data to the public. The free, editable, and evolving wiki-platform will help to deploy clean energy technologies across the country and the world. also will provide technical resources, including U.S. lab tools, which can be used by developing countries as they move toward clean energy deployment.

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NBB Launches Biodiesel Industry Guide

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: April 2, 2010

This article is reprinted from the April 20 NBB Biodiesel Bulletin

The National Biodiesel Board is pleased to announce that we have recently launched the NBB Biodiesel Industry Guide.

The guide is an online vendor search designed specifically for the biodiesel industry.

NBB partnered with MultiView, Inc., an Irving, Texas, publisher of Digital Buyer's Guides and E-News Briefs to launch the online vendor search site that allows biodiesel industry professionals to conveniently perform targeted searches for industry-related products and services.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

General Motors reaches full B20 biodiesel capacity for its heavy-duty trucks

Biofuels Digest
April 08, 2010

In Michigan, General Motors joined Chrysler and Ford among major US automakers in announcing compatibility with B20 biodiesel for its full line of heavy-duty vehicles. The automaker announced that the Duramax 6.6L turbo diesel engines will be B20 compatible commencing with the 2011 model year, joining the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Express, and GMC Savana. Ford, GM and Chrysler hold 80 percent of US market share in the heavy-duty category. The National Biodiesel Board and NREL spent $10 million+ testing B20 biodiesel since 2005 to ensure compatibility.

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General Mills to power Fridley plant with oat leftovers (Pioneer Press)
By Leslie Brooks Suzukamo
Updated: 04/07/2010 10:02:40 PM CDT

General Mills has used oats for its high-energy cereal Cheerios for nearly 70 years, but the food giant is now preparing to put the grain to work as a source of energy for itself.

Construction is under way this spring on a biomass steam boiler at the Golden Valley-based company's milling plant in Fridley, where it produces oat flour for Cheerios, Lucky Charms and other cereals.

The boiler, scheduled to go online early next year, will burn oat hulls left over from the milling process. It replaces natural-gas boilers, making the mill partially self-sustaining, said John Hellwig, the project's manager.

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AURI receives $99,000 grant for biomass projects

By Carol Stender
Date Modified: 04/08/2010 9:20 AM

CROOKSTON, Minn. —A $99,000 grant arrived just in time for several rural biomass projects in Minnesota.

The grant was officially awarded to the Agricultural Research Utilization Institute last week by USDA Rural Development Minnesota director Colleen Landkamer.

AURI executive director Teresa Spaeth said the grant will hep support AURI's efforts to provide hands-on assistance to rural businesses seeking to generate new sources of energy, process efficiencies and new job creation.

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Drought year could double corn prices, ethanol the villain: report

Biofuels Digest
April 08, 2010 has published a detailed report from the University of Illinois, which found that a 1-in-10 drought year event could push US corn prices to $7.00 from $3.50. The report cites the impact of increased ethanol production (rising from 1.6 billion bushels of corn in 2005-06 to 3.7 billion bushels in 2008-09) in concluding that “the prices of corn and other foods sit on the edge of a knife.”

The article describes the EPA waiver mechanism as too slow, citing tat McMahon at Friends of the Earth, who said “if there is an immediate issue, like we saw in 2008, we weren’t able to deal with it immediately. By the time EPA got around to looking at it, the problem wasn’t that bad, so they said, well, we don’t have to do anything.”

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Colombia’s oil palm industry faces devastation from bud rot

Biofuels Digest
April 08, 2010

In Colombia, the Los Angeles Times has filed an extensive report on the PC disease which has killed or infested up to 60 percent of some African oil palm plantations in the Magdalena River valley, north of Bogota, and elsewhere in the country. According to the report, the Bucarelia plantation has lost oil palms throughout its 12,000 acre palm potation, while nearby farmer Miguel Angel Marquez has also lost 60 percent of his 2000 oil palms on a 35-acre grove.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

U.S. Ethanol Growth to Feed China’s Hogs, Dorr Says

Bloomberg Business Week
April 07, 2010, 12:47 AM EDT
By Aya Takada

April 7 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S., the world’s largest corn exporter, plans to double overseas sales of a by-product from ethanol distillation in the next five years as demand from animal feed makers in China expands, an industry group said.

Total U.S. exports of dried distillers’ grains with solubles, or DDGS, a high-nutrient feed used in the livestock industry, may jump to as much as 11 million metric tons a year, from 5 million tons now, U.S. Grains Council President Thomas Dorr said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday.

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USDA reports $165 million to crop producers via BCAP

Biofuels Digest
April 06, 2010

4.18 million tons of biomass supported in program to date
In Washington, the USDA reports that, through last Friday, the Department has approved 4,605 agreements for the delivery of more than 4.18 million tons of biomass and paid eligible biomass owners $165,274,695 in matching payments under the first phase of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. FSA service centers across the country have issued payments of up to $45 per dry ton for eligible biomass deliveries.

By all accounts, the BCAP program originally conceived as a support for biofuels as much as the burning of biomass for power generation, has been generally converted into a support for burning biomass for power generation, especially welcome in states with Renewable Power Standards that call for aggressive renewable energy targets and a lack of solar or wind capacity.

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Here I Am to Save the Day: Microalgae gains momentum with a mighty March

Biofuels Digest
April 06, 2010

It has been nearly a year now since a $600 million investment by ExxonMobil in a project with Synthetic Genomics jolted the biofuels community and sparked what became known as the “summer of algae”.

Though summer has long faded, the astonishing pace of algal fuel development has not lost pace, and in fact March was a mighty month for microcrops. Of the 100 or so announcements that poured into the marketplace, here are the Mighty Dozen that defined a mighty memorable 30 days.

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Federal Policies Needed for Sustainable Biomass Energy
04/06/2010 11:24

The vast potential of plant-based energy sources to create renewable energy jobs, curb global warming and protect wildlife could be a reality in the United States--but not without changes in federal policies that have created an unsustainable first generation of biofuels, according to a new report released by the National Wildlife Federation.

Harvesting plant-based crops to produce energy to power cars, homes, businesses and communities--so-called bioenergy--has long been recognized as an important strategy for helping the nation transition away from fossil fuels and toward an economy based on clean, renewable sources of energy.

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FlameDisk Introduces Solid Ethanol Charcoal Alternative

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: April 6, 2010

Madison, WI—Thousands of grilling enthusiasts now have more free time following the invention of the FlameDisk, a revolutionary alternative to charcoal.

This convenient grilling option, which employs solid ethanol as its fuel source, lights instantaneously with the touch of a match and is ready to cook on in less than one minute, eliminating the time needed to arrange and light coals.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Brazil Eliminates Tariff on Ethanol Imports
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – April 6th, 2010

In a bid to get the United States to eliminate tariffs on imported ethanol, the Brazilian government has announced it will reduce their tax on ethanol imports to zero from the current 20 percent through the end of next year. The Brazilian Chamber of Foreign Trade (CAMEX) announced the temporary reduction Monday and it is expected to go into effect before the end of the week.

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Energy crops impact environmental quality
American Society of Agronomy

What happens to the soil when you remove the plants?
MADISON, WI, April 5, 2010 -- Crop residues, perennial warm season grasses, and short-rotation woody crops are potential biomass sources for cellulosic ethanol production. While most research is focused on the conversion of cellulosic feeedstocks into ethanol and increasing production of biomass, the impacts of growing energy crops and the removal of crop residue on soil and environmental quality have received less attention. Moreover, effects of crop residue removal on soil and environmental quality have not been compared against those of dedicated energy crops.

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A Membrane Strategy for Increasing Hydrocarbon Yield in Biomass-to-Liquids Processes
By Green Car Congress on 04/04/2010 – 7:30 am PDT

Researchers from the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) in Germany have shown that hydrocarbon yield and energy efficiency can be increased in a Fischer-Tropsch (FT) biomass-to-liquids (BTL) process through the use of a hydrophilic membrane enabling the in situ removal of water from the catalyst bed. The work, described in a paper published 30 March in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, provides a foundation for further optimization of such membranes for use in BTL processes.

FT synthesis uses syngas (primarily H2 and CO) generated from coal, natural gas, or biomass. For biomass, synthesis gas production occurs via oxygen/steam gasification or partial oxidation reactions. The resulting synthesis gas is then cleaned and adjusted to synthesis requirements.

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Green Building Products and Polymers and Fuels Derived from Biomass Win Clean Technology Awards

The top awards in the third annual Clean Technology Business Forum and Competition went to Avantium, the developer of a technology for creating polymers and fuels from biomass, and VAST Enterprises LLC, creator of a new type of masonry based on post-consumer plastics, it was announced today by the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE).

Organized by SPE’s Environmental Division, the Clean Technology event took place as part of the recent Global Plastics Environmental Conference (GPEC) in Orlando, FL. More than twenty companies had entered the competition, from which six finalists were chosen to make presentations at GPEC.

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Is Switchgrass In Your Future, And If So, Will It Be Profitable?
04/05/2010 09:15AM

The movement toward “advanced biofuels” means that ethanol plants will be able to digest cellulosic biomass and that some of your neighbors may be selling some of that cellulosic biomass to those plants. But even though switchgrass ought to be easy to grow across the Cornbelt, will yields be high enough and will costs be low enough for any chance at profitability? We’re glad you asked!

With corn approaching the upper limits of its permitted use for ethanol production under current federal policy, the push is on for biomass products to pick up the baton and run the next leg of the biofuels race. One of the first products that may be digested in a cellulosic ethanol plant is switchgrass, which is a warm-season grass native to this part of the world. Agronomically it can be produced, but will it be economically successful? Iowa State University economist Mike Duffy explores that question in a recent newsletter. Duffy looks at estimated production costs, and then changes some of the assumptions which may be more or less applicable to your operation.

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Department of Natural Resources Offers Energize Missouri Renewable Energy Biogas Grants (Kansas City)
Monday, April 05, 2010 :: Staff infoZine

Eligible applicants include Missouri businesses, corporations, not-for-profit organizations, institutions, local governments, and individuals.

Jefferson City, Mo - infoZine - The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is offering Energize Missouri Renewable Energy Biogas Grants for shovel-ready anaerobic digester or landfill gas-to-energy projects.

These grant funds will support agricultural and industrial projects that use anaerobic digestion-to-energy systems and landfill biogas-to-energy projects to produce biopower, bioheat or other forms of bioenergy.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

When Sewage Is Not a Dirty Word
By: Melinda Burns April 3, 2010 15:00 PM (PDT)

Algae can purify wastewater and provide electricity.

Venture capitalists can chase the holy grail all they want, trying to convert algae into bio-diesel. The City of Santa Rosa, Calif., has hit on a more practical way to turn green slime into green power.

On May 10, the city’s Laguna Wastewater Treatment Plant will inaugurate a small pilot project that relies on native algae and marsh plants to purify sewage and produce methane. The gas will run a generator that charges a fleet of four electric maintenance vehicles.

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Why Obama's Energy Plan Will Push Oil Prices Much Higher
Apr 03, 2010
By Andrew Mickey, Q1 Publishing

It has been described as a “stunning” reversal.

In reality though, the “reversal” is actually cementing one of the greatest investment opportunities of the next decade.

Last Wednesday the government announced it was opening up offshore waters to oil drilling and exploration.

It was hailed as great news by most of the media. The move to open new areas to oil exploration when oil’s at $80 a barrel appeared to be a great economic move and a greater political move.

But not all is what it seems. And a great investment opportunity was just turned into a greater one.

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Gasoline Still Has Some Advantages as Fuel

The New York Times
Green Inc. Column
Published: April 4, 2010

LONDON — Electric cars are riding high, as incentives and new models make them a realistic option, but the fresh attention may highlight flaws of this fuel source in comparison with gasoline and other alternatives like biofuels.

The attention being paid to the electric vehicle industry rankles some in the biofuel industry, whose own hype was abruptly halted by a glut of production in 2007, subsequent bankruptcies and a fall from grace after a link was drawn — which they dispute — between biofuels and higher food prices.

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Ionic Liquids for Conversion of Biomass to Sugars or HMF Without Additional Catalysts
By Green Car Congress on 04/05/2010 – 3:15 am PDT

Researchers at Colorado State University have shown that under relatively mild conditions (≤140 °C, 1 atm) and in the absence of added acid catalysts typically employed in biomass conversion, cellulose dissolved in certain ionic liquids (ILs) can convert into water-soluble reducing sugars in high total reducing sugar yield (up to 97%), or directly into the biomass platform chemical 5-hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF) in high conversion (up to 89%) when CrCl2 is added.

The results, they say, are broadly relevant to reactions involving the use of IL-H2O mixtures (as solvents, reactants, or catalysts), including, but not limited to, organic catalysis, electrochemistry, and biomass processing or conversion. A paper describing the work was published 10 March in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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2010/2011: Brazil's Sugarcane Harvest That Would Have Been in 2009/2010
Posted by marin2008
Saturday, 03 April 2010

Estimates compiled by the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) project a 10% increase in sugarcane production in the 2010/11 harvest, which officially begins tomorrow (April 1) in the country's South-Central region. UNICA's projected total sugarcane harvest should reach 595.89 million tons, compared with 541.50 million tons estimated for the 2009/10 harvest, which officially ends today.

According to UNICA's Technical Director, Antonio de Padua Rodrigues, the increased harvest forecast has to be carefully evaluated. "The cane available for ethanol and sugar production in the 2010/11 harvest is virtually the same as in the 2009/10 harvest, which was severely hampered by unfavorable weather conditions. In other words, in terms of crushing, the new harvest should be what the industry was simply unable to complete in the previous harvest."

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Nation's farmers expect to plant slightly more corn

Des Moines Register
By PHILIP BRASHER • • April 1, 2010

Washington, D.C. — Growers nationwide plan to plant nearly 3 percent more corn this year, the government says, and that's good news for livestock farms and ethanol plants, as well as consumers.

The projected increase in plantings, plus a rise in U.S. grain stocks, should provide adequate supplies of corn for feed, ethanol, food ingredients and exports, experts said.

The higher acreage forecast by the Agriculture Department also could prevent a repeat of the political problems that struck corn growers and the biofuel industry when grain and food prices spiked two years ago.

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Elimination of tariff would weaken economy

Ethanol Producer Magazine - April 2010
News release posted April 1

WASHINGTON, DC – Growth Energy, the coalition of U.S. ethanol supporters, released a study in late March which showed that if the tariff on foreign ethanol is allowed to lapse at the end of the year, extreme job losses and the loss of billions of dollars in economic activity would follow – with 28 states being the hardest hit across the manufacturing, finance and real estate sectors, as well as agriculture.

The study found year-to-year job losses go from 39,506 in the first year after the tariff lapses, to 115,642 in the second year, and 161,384 in the third year. Job losses continue year-after-year and most of these jobs are never regained, according to the 10-year projection performed by the University of Missouri’s Community Policy Analysis Center.

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Commercial Jet Biofuel: Sooner Than We Think?
Research & Analysis Biofuels
Joshua Kagan 04 01 10

Who will win the race between Fischer-Tropsch and hydroprocessed aviation fuels?
This week's announcement that the Air Force successfully tested a A-10C Thunderbolt "Warthog" plane on a 50:50 blend of petroleum jet fuel and camelina-based biofuel has brought the two disparate ways of producing aviation biofuels into the spotlight.

Though both produce essentially the same end fuel, the differences between biomass and oil-seed based aviation fuels are stark.

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Ethanol's Discount To Gasoline Could Pressure Refiners

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Corn-ethanol futures are trading at their biggest discount to gasoline futures since the summer of 2008, which could encourage more biofuel blending and pressure the margins of oil refiners.

Over the past several weeks, gasoline prices have surged during the usual seasonal rally ahead of the peak summer driving season. Meanwhile, ethanol prices have been dragged lower by rising output of the biofuel and a drop in corn prices amid ample supplies and a drop in demand for animal feed.

Attractive ethanol prices could push fuel retailers, the middlemen who deliver fuel and even some refiners to blend more of the biofuel, which would damp the recovery in gasoline demand that is crawling back from depressed levels. Refiners are required to blend a certain amount of ethanol into their gasoline or buy credits to meet the mandate.

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New Fuel Economy Standards May Benefit Ethanol
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – April 1st, 2010

Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) signed a joint final rule that establishes greenhouse gas emission standards and corporate fuel economy standards for light duty vehicles for model years 2012-2016. This National Fuel Efficiency Policy requires passenger cars and light trucks to get an overall average of 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2016 while cars are expected to average 39 mpg and trucks will be required to get 30 mpg. According to the current administration, this measure is expected to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program.

However, we could actually reduce oil imports and emissions even more under this program by using ethanol.

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Verenium extends ethanol project with BP

Bloomberg Business Week
The Associated Press
April 1, 2010, 4:29PM ET

Ethanol developer and maker Verenium Corp. said on Thursday that it extended a joint development project with energy company BP for an additional four months.

The two companies will continue collaborating on technologies related to making ethanol from nonfood sources such as grasses. That type is called cellulosic ethanol.

As part of the deal, Verenium will receive $2.5 million per month from BP to continue to fund the program.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Congressional Desk
April 01, 2010

Crapo co-sponsors measure aiding forest products industry

Washington, D.C. – Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has joined three of his Senate colleagues to introduce the American Renewable Biomass Heating Act, bipartisan legislation that could aid Idaho´s forest products industry while promoting renewable heating fuels. The legislation puts the use of woody renewable biomass on par with other renewable energy sources by offering substantial tax credits for the use of biomass from forests and private lands. It provides an investment tax credit (ITC) of 30 percent of the cost of installing high-efficiency biomass systems for heating in commercial and industrial buildings.

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DECC launches biomass grandfathering consultation
Thursday 01 April 2010

DECC's consultation considers grandfathering the captial costs of biomass plants

A consultation on the grandfathering policy of support for dedicated biomass, anaerobic digestion and energy from waste projects under the Renewables Obligation (RO) has been launched today by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Currently, biomass projects are not grandfathered under the RO, which means that once accredited, a generator would not receive a set level of support over its period of eligibility. Other technologies which are grandfathered are guaranteed to receive the same level of support throughout their lifetime, regardless of changes to the support levels after banding reviews.

DECC's consultation document, published late yesterday (March 31), explains how the biomass industry has brought to its attention that up to 5GW of dedicated biomass, energy from waste, gasification and anaerobic digestion projects have been stalled due to uncertainty over RO support.

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Lab to build advanced biofuels user facility
31/03/2010 16:00:00
University of California

BERKELEY — The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been awarded nearly $18 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build an advanced biofuels process development facility. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), this new facility will help expedite the commercialization of next-generation biofuels by providing industry-scale test beds for innovative technologies. Called the Advanced Biofuels Process Development Unit (PDU), it will be the only facility of its kind available for public use.

"The Advanced Biofuels Process Development Unit will serve the efforts of major biofuels research across the nation, including the Bioenergy Research Centers in the DOE Office of Science," said Berkeley Lab director Paul Alivisatos. "The establishment by EERE of this facility at Berkeley Lab, a DOE Office of Science national laboratory, reflects a renewed spirit of cooperation between the DOE technology and science programs. Berkeley Lab is proud to play its part."

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Higher long-term prices seen for wood biomass
Tom Stundza -- Purchasing, 3/31/2010 2:14:48 PM

Forest Economic Advisors sees strong demand ahead
Production and prices of wood-based energy products will be on an upward trajectory from 2010 through 2024, forecasts Forest Economic Advisors of Westford, Mass. "A developed and diversified wood-based energy sector will have a profound impact on the economics of the entire forest products industry," says the research firms' senior economist, Erik Kankainen.

He says long-term demand will be strong for bioenergy from wood pellets, biomass-based electricity and other biofuels. Interestingly, he sees increased use ahead for logging residues in the years to come so that all biomass grades will experience price increases after 2012. His forecast predicts that a post-recession surge in housing starts in an improving economy over the next several years will boost residue production, returning almost 90% of the supply that was lost from 2005 to 2009 by the end of 2012.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Forget Switchgrass – Microbes Could Be New Biofuel Source
By News Staff March 30th 2010 12:00 AM

Arizona State University researchers have reengineered the genetics of cyanobacteria, producing mutant strains that continuously secrete fatty acids through their cell walls. The reprogramming has essentially turned the microbes into tiny biofuel production facilities.

By Introducing an enzyme called thioesterase into cyanobacteria researchers were able to coax them into overproducing fatty acids. Accumulation within the cells eventually caused these fatty acids to leak out through the cell membrane, through the process of diffusion.

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Boswell to introduce ethanol pipeline

Journal Express (Knoxville, Iowa)
March 29, 2010

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-IA) and Congressman Lee Terry (R-NE) held a news conference to highlight a bipartisan effort to boost our country’s homegrown energy industry by improving infrastructure for moving ethanol from the Midwest to the rest of the country. The Renewable Fuel Pipeline Act of 2010, H.R. 4674 will also create jobs and strengthen the agriculture industries in Iowa and Nebraska.

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Study Finds Benefits of 20 Percent Ethanol Blends
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – March 30th, 2010

A new study from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) finds benefits to the gasoline blended with 20 percent ethanol (E20).

The study by RIT’s Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies indicates that E20 reduces emissions of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide compared with traditional gasoline or E10 blends. In addition, the research team found no measurable impact to vehicle drivability or maintenance in conventional internal combustion engines.

Using a 10-vehicle fleet owned and operated by Monroe County, N.Y., researchers fueled the vehicles – all with older gasoline engines not specifically designed to burn ethanol blends – over the accumulation of at least 100,000 miles per vehicle. Researchers found that the fleet showed an average reduction of 23 percent for carbon monoxide and a 13 percent reduction for hydrocarbon emissions, with no measurable stress on vehicle operation or mechanics.

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