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

Friday, May 28, 2010

Capturing Carbon

Ethanol Producer Magazine
June 2010
By Luke Geiver

The real issue with CO2 exists in policy debate, but that hasn’t stopped some ethanol plants from capturing and selling the greenhouse gas.

Talk of CO2 in the ethanol industry garners mainly just that, talk. From the reporting requirements, cap and trade, and tailoring issues addressed in never-ending reports issued about the gas, the answer on CO2 policy always seems to be just around the corner, another month or two away. Some ethanol producers, however, don’t seem to be waiting, and have already taken CO2 action.

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Nitrogen Fixation Does Not Happen Uniformly in Texas Lakes

Released: 5/20/2010 11:20 AM EDT
Source: Baylor University

Newswise — While there is significant variability in water temperature, nutrient availability and plankton production in reservoirs, these bodies of water are nonetheless “hot spots” for plankton nitrogen fixation. These hot spots allow some algae to have significant blooms, which may contribute to taste and odor problems if the reservoir is a source for drinking water. Understanding what causes these hot spots could help municipalities better understand how to control algae outbreaks and potentially improve the water quality for their citizens.

However, exactly what physical factors cause these nitrogen fixation “hot spots” has not been well understood until now, with the completion of a nearly two-year study by Baylor University biologists.

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Behind the Cellulosic Scenes

Ethanol Producer Magazine
June 2010
By Anna Austin

Researchers in Wisconsin and the UK are developing new techniques to augment various aspects of cellulosic ethanol production.

Whether evaluating the metamorphosis of the Model-T to a Mustang or a rotary dial landline to a Blackberry Pearl, it’s clear that the evolution of technology is inevitable. While hype surrounds the latest innovation, there is always someone behind the scenes, working quietly to further advance it, even when something more efficient or inventive cannot be imagined. Without fail, what is advanced today will be considered a stepping stone tomorrow.

Many companies that have successfully demonstrated cellulosic ethanol production processes at bench, pilot and semi-commercial scales are now embarked upon commercial-scale operations, some determined to accelerate progress in order to help meet the renewable fuel standard, which has a cellulosic biofuel requirement of 6.5 million gallons in 2010. Meanwhile, researchers behind the scenes continue to tweak, refine and optimize key processes, from sugar extraction to beefing up feedstocks.

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Clean Air Task Force Files Legal Challenge to EPA RFS2 Implementation

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: May 26, 2010

Washington—Citing EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard as “flawed,” Clean Air Task Force has today filed both a legal challenge to EPA’s rule in the US Court of Appeals and petitioned EPA to reconsider two elements of its rule.

When Congress expanded the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) biofuel mandate in 2007, it required US EPA to ensure that the biofuels provided a reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions s compared to gasoline and diesel.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Economic Drivers of Low-Carbon Energy Solutions for Ethanol Producers

Ethanol Producer Magazine
June 2010
By Scott McDermott

A forward-looking approach is needed to understand the current and potential macroeconomic drivers for the utilization of biomass as a feedstock for coal-fired boilers, biomass gasification and cellulosic ethanol.

There are many intelligent researchers focused on the technology of converting biomass to energy in all of its forms. What seems to be less understood are the economics and business challenges of biomass origination, logistics, storage and handling. We are in the early stages of the evolution of the biomass-to-energy supply chain. While woody biomass residues, crop biomass residues and energy crops will be distributed across the country, their economics vary greatly.

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Dresser Wayne Continues Warranty for E15
Posted by Michelle Kautz – May 19th, 2010

Dresser Wayne has announced that all of their standard dispensers have always, and will continue to, cover the use of ethanol blends up to 15 percent ethanol. Warranties on higher blends of ethanol are increasingly important as blender pumps and ethanol dispensers are installed across the country to give consumers more choice at the filling station.

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UMM biomass plant running according to plan
Published May 21 2010
By Tom Larson
Sun Tribune

Experiments with fuel densities, which had occupied plant researchers' efforts for months, apparently have paid dividends

The day appears near when the University of Minnesota, Morris will have its biomass gasification system ready to heat and cool a large portion of its campus buildings.

Experiments with fuel densities, which had occupied plant researchers efforts for months, apparently have paid dividends: wisps of smoke were coming from the plant’s stack.

Lowell Rasmussen, UMM’s Vice Chancellor for Finance and Facilities, said that test burns last week using wood chips and corn stover have proved successful.

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Symposium seeks ag answers to fuel equation (Journal & Courrier - Lafayette, IN)
By ERIC WEDDLE • • May 25, 2010

Rethinking the use of agricultural land will increase the amount of biomass that can be grown and be available as alternative energy sources.

That was the message from Bruce Dale, a renewable energy expert and Michigan State University professor, during his keynote address Monday at the Frontiers in Bioenergy Symposium held at Purdue University.

Dale said that as the demand for energy grows, a more efficient way to produce and capture energy will be needed.

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Nalco debuts enhanced yeast activity monitor to speed up reaction time analysis

Biofuels Digest
May 26, 2010 Jim Lane

In Illinois, Nalco debuted its yeast activity monitor equipment and software. The Monitor delivers quick and precise measurements of yeast metabolic activity rates compared to the industry standard method of counting viable cells using light microscopy and a viability stain.

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Bioenergy boost for Aston University
May 25 2010

Aston University has strengthened its world-leading research into bioenergy with the opening of its new £650,000 state-of-the-art chemical engineering laboratories.

The Royal Society-Wolfson Advanced Biofuels and Bioenergy Laboratory will accommodate the university’s European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) and build on Aston’s 40 years of tradition into research into low-carbon, renewable technologies.

The new suite, funded by The Royal Society and Wolfson Foundation and opened by Aston Vice Chancellor Professor Julia King, will focus on biomass conversion technologies - the process of transforming plant materials, oils and municipal and agricultural waste into useful and valuable forms of renewable energy.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sneak peek at electrofuels: Geobacter team aims for bio-based solution to solar energy storage

Biofuels Digest
May 25, 2010 Jim Lane

In Massachusetts, more information about the new category of electrofuels has become available fro a research team at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The “Geobacter” team led by microbiologist Derek Lovley said that a combination of solar power, bacteria and carbon dioxide could provide a hybrid of solar and bio-power and also solve the most perplexing problem facing solar energy: energy storage.

Lovley’s microbial electrosynthesis converts solar power directly into chemicals, which are then readily stored with existing infrastructure and distributed on demand, and are 90 percent efficient at turning electrons into fuel without further processing.

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S**t hits the fan(belt): manure, sewage as biofuel materials
By John Timmer Last updated: 5/24/10

If you look at any single source of biofuels, the numbers can seem depressing, as it's very difficult to obtain enough raw material to account for more than a small percentage of the United States' liquid fuel use. The good news is that it's possible to feed a variety of raw materials into a limited number of outputs, such as bioethanol and biodiesel, meaning that a portfolio approach that combines multiple sources of biofuels may actually be able to put a dent in our fossil fuel consumption. A couple of recent articles have taken a look at one very promising source of raw materials: waste that we have a tough time disposing of in the first place.

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90 US scientists demand revision of biofuels carbon accounting

Biofuels Digest
May 25, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington, 90 US scientists wrote to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid to fix accounting standards for greenhouse gas emissions associated with bioenergy projects.

The scientists said they wanted to correct a perception that “that all biofuels and bioenergy are equally good for the environment and are all lower in carbon emissions than fossil fuels.”

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Algal Biomass Organization issues call for abstracts for September 2010 summit

Biofuels Digest
May 25, 2010 Jim Lane

In Arizona, the Algal Biomass Organization is inviting submission of abstracts for the program of the 4th Annual Algae Biomass Summit which will take place September 28-30 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix.

Abstracts should fit into one of the following topics: New developments in technology; Waste water remediation; Journey to commercialization; Green jobs and economic development; Policy and legislation; Intellectual property; Issues management – defining barriers to market success; Development of co-products; Non-fuel-based opportunities; Aviation biofuels; Life Cycle Analysis; Partnerships with DARPA, DOE, USDA, EPA and critical state agencies; or International developments: Europe, Asia, South America.

Abstracts are due to ABO no later than July 1, 2010 to

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Biodiesel tax credit expected to pass US House today

Biofuels Digest
May 25, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington, the biodiesel tax credit is expected to reach the floor of the US House of Representatives for a vote today, having been introduced by the chairman of the House ways and means committee chair Sandor Levin, as well as the chairman of the Senate Finance committee Max Baucus.

The bill extends the biodiesel tax credit through the end of the year, and if, as expected, it passes, it will reach President Obama for signature prior to Memorial Day.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Study of Vapor Pressures of Gasoline-Alcohol Blends Finds That Dual-Alcohol Blends Can Result in RVPs Identical to That of Gasoline
By Green Car Congress on 05/23/2010 – 8:00 am PDT

A research team from Ford Motor Company and the University of Copenhagen has performed a systematic study of the vapor pressures of single and dual-blends of different alcohols with potential to be used as biofuels, including methanol; ethanol; 1- and 2-propanol; and 1-, 2-, i-, and t-butanol.

As part of the study, they demonstrated a simple method to prepare dual-alcohol-gasoline blends with Reid vapor pressures (RVPs) “indistinguishable” from that of the base gasoline. Their paper was published online 21 May in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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Lion Science: The Secrets of Cellulose
May 23, 2010 at 5:04 AM by Gant Team

UNIVERSITY PARK – Stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) is meant to advance scientific research that will make a meaningful difference in the nation’s future, particularly in the area of renewable energy. A perfect example is the Department of Energy’s award of $21 million over five years to Penn State to fund the new Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation.

One of 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers established nationwide, Penn State’s center (which will also sponsor collaboration with researchers at North Carolina State and Virginia Tech) is part of a major effort to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs required to create a new 21st century energy economy.

According to co-director Daniel J. Cosgrove, the Penn State Center will use cutting edge approaches and an interdisciplinary team—including physicists, material scientists, computational modelers and engineers—to study the molecular biology of cellulose.

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Ethanol exports rise, even to Mideast

Des Moines Register
By PHILIP BRASHER • • May 23, 2010

Washington, D.C. — The United States has a growing new export — ethanol fuel — and a lot is going to, of all places, the Middle East.

New government data show that nearly 46 million gallons of U.S. corn ethanol was exported in March, up from 4 million in March 2009. For the first three months of this year, ethanol exports totaled 72 million gallons.

Twelve billion gallons of ethanol must be used domestically this year under the government's biofuel mandates.

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ILUC – One Consideration Too Many in Biofuel Regulation
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – May 20th, 2010

In a recent article, “Indirect Land Use: One Consideration Too Many in Biofuel Regulation,” authors David Zilberman, a professor in UC Berkeley’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and assistant researcher Gal Hochman, along with Deepak Rajagopal, argue that indirect land use effects (ILUEs) should not be considered in current California and federal biofuels polices. The authors write, “…we will argue here against an indirect land use in biofuel regulations for the basic reason that its inclusion in LCAs (life cycle analysis) contradicts a basic principle of regulation – namely that individuals are responsible only for actions that they control. The indirect land uses are difficult to compute and vary over time.”

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Monday, May 24, 2010

God loses monopoly: Synthetic Genomics creates first synthetic bacterial cell

Biofuels Digest
May 21, 2010
Jim Lane

In California, a long-term monopoly on the creation of bacterial cell life — held, reportedly, by God (or the open-source community known as evolution) — was broken yesterday when a scientific team headed by Drs. Craig Venter, Hamilton Smith and Clyde Hutchison announced completion of the final step in their quest to create the first synthetic bacterial cell.

Say ‘Hey’ to Syndi
Her formal name is M. mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 – you can call her Syndi.

In a publication in Science, Daniel Gibson, Ph.D. and a team of 23 additional researchers outline the steps to synthesize a 1.08 million base pair Mycoplasma mycoides genome, constructed from four bottles of chemicals that make up DNA. This synthetic genome has been “booted up” in a cell to create the first cell controlled completely by a synthetic genome.

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Ceres and Novozymes team up on cellulosic biofuel crops
Published: May 20, 2010
By James Cartledge

Energy crop developer Ceres, Inc., has teamed up with enzyme specialists Novozymes to pursue customized plant varieties and enzymes for cellulosic biofuel production.

California firm Ceres and Danish firm Novozymes said they expected the partnership to help improve the process of converting biomass into fuel.

The firms will work together to seek more effective enzymes to boost the conversion process, along with higher quality energy crops, to help boost fuel yields and lower costs for fuel producers.
Initial work will focus on the best enzyme cocktails to use for the biorefining of existing Ceres switchgrass varieties.

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Converting carbs to lactic acid with catalysts

Biomass Magazine
May 2010
By Lisa Gibson
Posted May 19, 2010, at 3:29 p.m. CST

A team of researchers from Haldor Topsøe A/S, a Danish catalyst research and development company, and the Technical University of Denmark’s Department of Chemistry have developed a process to convert carbohydrates from biomass into lactic acid using only catalysis.

Traditionally, fermentation is used in the conversion process, but the researchers modified the acidity of a zeolite material catalyst, which is made of silicone oxide and aluminum oxide, to carry out their process, according to Esben Taarning, researcher with Haldor Topsøe. “It is the aluminum oxide that makes the zeolites acidic and by changing the composition of the zeolite to one that is composed of silicon oxide and e.g. tin oxide (no aluminum oxide), the acidic properties change as well,” he said. “In fact, the acidic properties change so dramatically that the modified zeolites are able to catalyze the conversion of carbohydrates to lactic acid derivatives. In comparison, a conventional zeolite is too acidic to afford any useful products at a high selectivity and primarily catalyze dehydration reactions.” Lactic acid products can be used in manufacturing biodegradable plastics and solvents.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Carbon Corner: American Power Act, The Opportunity for US Agriculture

Biofuels Digest
May 20, 2010
By Biofuels Digest correspondent Rick Gilmore

US carbon regulation, as proposed in the American Power Act , offers an opportunity for producers as well as other operators in the American agricultural value chain, to appreciate a significant net revenue gain.

• Reduce GHGs by 17 % below 2005 levels by 2020, 80 % by 2050
• US farmers are exempt from carbon caps and will be able to participate in a domestic carbon offset market, which would create a “multi-billion dollar revenue stream”.
• Allows for 2 billion offsets; 1.5 billion credits from domestically sourced projects
• Domestic agricultural and forestry carbon credits are expected to make up the bulk of the US offset program

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MU researchers turn coffee to biodiesel fuel (University of Missouri)
By Samantha Sunne
Published April 27, 2010

Researchers at the biofuel lab have found a way to skip the drying step.

Coffee isn't just a fuel for people anymore.

MU researchers have found a way to convert the coffee grounds commonly found in beverages into biodiesel fuel.

Most biodiesel fuel in the U.S. is made from soybean oil, but the researchers developed an efficient process for extracting oil from used coffee, biological engineering assistant professor Bulent Koc said.

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US ethanol exports double, Iowan ethanol now cheaper than Brazilian: RFA

Biofuels Digest
May 20, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington, the RFA has released a report, “The paradox of rising US ethanol exports: increased market opportunities at the expense of enhanced national energy security,” which explores the increase in the global ethanol export trade, particularly in the Middle East. Overall, the RFA is reporting that the US exported 83 million gallons of ethanol in Q1 2010, or around 3 percent of US production, with exports rising to 45 million gallons in March.

The RFA notes “As long as domestic ethanol usage is restricted by the regulatory limitation on 10 percent blends, the U.S. ethanol industry will be forced to look to the global marketplace for new demand source.”

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Gonzalez Gets Award For Finding Way To Turn E. Coli Into Biofuel
By American Business Journal 05/19/10 - 01:48 PM EDT

Escherichia coli, E. coli for short, is best known as the bacterium that can cause foodborne illnesses, but to researcher Ramon Gonzalez, E. coli can also be an alternative energy source.

Gonzalez, the William W. Akers Assistant Professor in the chemical and biomolecular engineering and bioengineering departments of Rice University, received the 2010 Glycerine Innovation Award for identifying a way to use a safe form of E. coli to convert glycerine into ethanol.

Glycerine is the major byproduct of biodiesel production.

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Mendel reports promising results for Miscanthus energy crops
Published: May 19, 2010
By James Cartledge

Biotech firm Mendel Biotechnology, Inc., has developed varieties of Miscanthus it says meets its commercial targets for dedicated biomass energy crops.

The company based in Hayward, California, said average two-year yields were most promising for its varieties of Miscanthus giganteus, a “sterile, non-invasive” species of perennial grass.

Its division Mendel BioEnergy Seeds is leading the work through field trials in the southeastern and midwestern US.

The results suggest the Miscanthus giganteus outperforms average yields for switchgrass varieties.

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Gene Discovery Potential Key to Cost-competitive Cellulosic Ethanol

Oak Ridge National Laboratory via
Released: 5/20/2010 11:00 AM EDT

Newswise — Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are improving strains of microorganisms used to convert cellulosic biomass into ethanol, including a recent modification that could improve the efficiency of the conversion process.

Biofuels researchers and industrials have generated improved mutant microorganisms previously, but authors of a paper in the on-line Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences identify a key Z. mobilis gene for the first time and show the strain's improved efficiency and its potential use for more cost-effective biofuel production.

“Microbes have been breaking down plant material to access sugars for millennia, so plants have evolved to have very sophisticated cell structures that make accessing these sugars difficult,” said Steven Brown, staff microbiologist in the Biosciences Division and one of the inventors of the improved Z. mobilis strain.

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Ethanol Testimony at Farm Bill Hearing
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – May 20th, 2010

A House Agriculture Committee field hearing in South Dakota on the 2012 Farm Bill featured a lot of testimony about ethanol.

POET Vice President for Commercial Development Scott Weishaar testified that the ethanol industry has become a legitimate threat to Big Oil and Washington deserves credit for envisioning that future when it created positive policies such as the Renewable Fuels Standard.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Co-firing Biomass with Coal
by Kevin Sullivan & Ronald Meijer, KEMA
Published: May 19, 2010

Co-firing makes use of existing power generation assets and infrastructure with the lowest cost of generation for renewable energy.

Oklahoma, United States -- As nations focus on controlling carbon, global demand for and production of coal-based electricity continues to increase. According to the International Energy Agency, the world's power demands are expected to rise 60 percent by 2030, with fossil fuels, including coal, accounting for 85 percent of the energy market. Ultimately, building towards a sustainable generation future, means balancing carbon objectives, energy demand and affordability. Biomass co-firing technology can provide a path to addressing climate change while mitigating costs to the world's coal-generation base and the customers served.

About half of the electricity in the United States is generated from coal. At the same time, the increasing focus on energy and climate change policy in the U.S. has introduced significant regulatory uncertainty in generation planning and operations. This uncertainty around where U.S. carbon policy is headed and when-along with the nature of modern utilities' complex planning-requires a long-term, forward-looking strategy, one that fully integrates generation portfolio management with changes in demand behavior.

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Bunge seeks investors for Brazil land fund

Wed May 19, 2010 11:21am EDT
By Carey Gillam

* Investment fund would be weighted to sugar properties
* Still gauging investor interest
* Sees fund topping $100 million

NEW YORK, May 19 (Reuters) - Global agribusiness and food company Bunge Ltd (BG.N) is gauging investor interest for the launch of an investment fund that would buy land in Brazil to
take advantage of demand for sugar and sugar-based ethanol, the company's chief financial officer said on Wednesday. The offering would build on Bunge's expanding presence in the sugar industry in Brazil and is one of many new investment vehicles by a range of companies and investment groups that are funneling capital into global agriculture.

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U.S. ethanol exports: New markets mean missed opportunities for domestic market

Ethanol Producer Magazine
May 2010
News release posted May 19, 2010

Washington – Ethanol exports have boomed in recent months, with shipments destined for dozens of energy-thirsty nations around the globe, including some in the Middle East. The United States has been a net importer of ethanol for the last decade, but the nation is quickly evolving into a net exporter. While this is welcomed news to an industry looking for new markets, it serves to undermine the fundamental value of America’s ethanol industry as a domestic replacement for imported oil. A new analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) seeks to put this recent trend into context.

“The fact that U.S. ethanol exports are surging as domestic markets become saturated demonstrates that America’s ethanol industry can and will compete globally. The question becomes: Do we want to export our biofuels and the benefits they provide, or do we want to use them here at home to help secure our energy future? Given the opportunity, today’s industry can do both,” said RFA Vice President of Research Geoff Cooper. “Unfortunately, current regulations restrict the amount of ethanol that can be used domestically. Therefore, the industry is being forced to look to the export market for additional growth opportunities.”

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USDA provides comprehensive overview of advanced biofuels ’state of play’

Biofuels Digest
May 19, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington, the most recent issue of the USDA-ERS “Amber Waves” gives an excellent overview of the state of play in cellulosic ethanol and commercial-scale advanced biofuels.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in early 2010 that the cellulosic biofuel mandate for 2010 would be reduced from 100 million gallons to 6.5 million gallons,” the report says. “There were no changes to mandated levels for subsequent years. ERS estimates that production capacity may be somewhat higher for cellulosic biofuel, about 10 million gallons, with capacity expanding to over 200 million gallons by 2012.

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Direct link to "Amber Waves"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

International Biomass Conference & Expo: Power utilities discuss biomass stategies

Biomass Magazine
May 2010
By Anna Austin
Posted May 6, 2010, at 9:45 a.m. CST

The future cost of CO2 is looming over power utilities. In order to avoid penalities and keep customer costs to a minimum, it’s imperative that power utilities begin preparing for a carbon-constrained regulatory environment, according to Great River Energy Manager of Business Development Sandra Broekema.

Broekema and several other representatives of the Midwest’s largest power providers presented during the general session panel at Biomass Magazine’s International Biomass Conference & Expo in Minneapolis, May 4-6. Presenters shared each respective power utility’s perspectives and strategies surrounding the use of biomass as a fuel source, as well as anticipated challenges and benefits.

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International Biomass Conference & Expo: Using waste streams

Biomass Magazine
May 2010
By Lisa Gibson
Posted May 5, 2010, at 3:45 p.m. CST

The two challenges to effective and widespread use of waste streams from the livestock and biofuels industries are controlling air-deposited nutrients and greenhouse gas emissions, according to David Bracht, attorney with Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP and speaker at the International Biomass Conference & Expo.

Livestock operations are growing in size and that means growing waste streams, while biofuels operations are facing increased regulations and an emphasis on carbon footprint reduction, he said. Both problems can be addressed by biomass energy technologies. “Use nature as a solution,” Bracht said.

Most existing animal waste stream systems use anaerobic digestion, as it is the easiest, he said, but there’s room for improvement. “The next generation of these systems will go beyond just methane,” he said, adding that advanced systems can increase energy capture up to three times the Btu value. “You really have to have an end user in mind,” he cautioned prospective developers, emphasizing that the user needs to be close to the operation.

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Biomass Industry Sees 'Chilling Message' in EPA's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rule

The New York Times
Published: May 17, 2010

U.S. EPA's final rule determining which sources will be subject to greenhouse gas permitting requirements does not exempt biomass power, a decision that has raised concern in the biomass industry.

Issued yesterday, EPA's final "tailoring" rule determines which polluters will be required to account for their greenhouse gas emissions in Clean Air Act permits when the agency begins to formally regulate the heat-trapping gases next January (Greenwire, May 13).

Emissions from biomass or biogenic sources are treated the same as other sources of greenhouse gases in the final rule, EPA spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn said. "We have not finalized any exemptions from applicability or different applicability thresholds for such sources at this time."

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Kudzu Invasion Doubles Q:1 Emissions of Nitric Oxide and Increases Ozone Pollution

Stoney Brook University via
Released: 5/13/2010 4:00 PM EDT
Embargo expired: 5/17/2010 3:00 PM EDT

Newswise — Kudzu, “the vine that ate the South,” is not just swallowing landscapes and altering ecosystems in the southeastern U.S., it is also increasing ozone pollution according to a new report published in the May 17, 2010 on line edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Planted in the early 20th century to help control erosion, this Asian native is a fast growing legume that can fix atmospheric nitrogen at a high rate, potentially altering the nitrogen cycle where it invades.

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What are – and who’s making – 2G, 3G and 4G biofuels?

Biofuels Digest
May 18, 2010 Jim Lane

In the past month, Naturally Scientific came out of stealth mode with an announcement that it will open its pilot plant this summer, and has inked deals for $250 million — its first five commercial installations — which , will be erected in China over the next five years.

The company’s technology produces low-cost sugars and pure vegetable oil for biofuels and other uses — from waste CO2, water & light in a photosynthetic reaction.

Like Joule Unlimited, the “bio” in its biofuel is the biotechnology, rather than a biomass intermediate. As such, it is another step forward in the development of biofuels which do not require the use of prime cropland — the goal of second-generation fuels.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Researchers discover benefits of ionic liquid

Biomass Magazine
By Lisa Gibson
Posted May 11, 2010, at 3:25 p.m. CST

Dissolving cellulosic biomass in nonvolatile and recyclable solvent ionic liquids results in more sugars needed for biofuel production than using traditional acid catalyst extraction, as discovered by two Colorado State University researchers. Not only that, but the reaction is carried out more quickly.

Eugene Chen, professor of chemistry, and Xianghong Qian, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, discovered that ionic liquids—salts that melt at low temperatures—mixed with a suitable amount of water convert biomass directly to sugars. They made the discovery unexpectedly while examining the effects of ionic liquids as solvents when used together with acid catalysts, according to Chen. “We discovered that [ionic liquid]-water mixtures are actually trifunctional, serving as solvent (IL), reagent (water), and catalyst (intrinsic, suitable acidity of the IL-water mixture),” he said.

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University of Missouri Ag Systems Professor: Maintain Biodiesel Storage Equipment Well to Prevent Profit Loss

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: May 11, 2010

Columbia, MO—With the high cost of biodiesel fuel, every gallon counts. Improper storage of biodiesel could mean thousands of dollars disappearing into thin air, warns a University of Missouri professor of agricultural systems management.

“Biodiesel blends, like petroleum diesel fuels, should be kept in a clean, dry, dark environment,” said Leon Schumacher.

“As with any fuel, water must be prevented from entering the tank.

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Biofuel Combustion Chemistry More Complex than Petroleum-based Fuels

Sandia National Laboratories via
Released: 5/12/2010 6:00 AM EDT

Newswise — Understanding the key elements of biofuel combustion is an important step toward insightful selection of next-generation alternative fuels.

And that’s exactly what researchers at Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories are doing.

The journal Angewandte Chemie devotes its May 10 cover to a paper co-authored by Sandia’s Nils Hansen and Lawrence Livermore’s Charles Westbrook, which examines the essential elements of biofuel combustion.

The paper, “Biofuel combustion chemistry: from ethanol to biodiesel,” examines the combustion chemistry of compounds that constitute typical biofuels, including alcohols, ethers and esters.

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Electronic Waste Produces Algae for Biofuel
Wed May 12, 2010 04:53 AM ET
Content provided by Aniqa Hasan

A different way to recycle old computers

The Gist

  • Old computer parts serve as a reservoir to cultivate algae.
  • The algae can be used to make biodiesel.
  • If just 6.5 percent of Americans had one, we could replace petroleum with biodiesel.

When you think of recycling electronics, no doubt you imagine the old PC or mobile phone being disassembled, and it’s metal and plastic parts melted down to be repurposed. But for some people, it means reusing the parts to grow algae.

Students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created Bio-Grow, a device made from various computer parts that serves as a reservoir to cultivate algae.

The algae can then be used in biodiesel production, which could potentially replace petroleum in the future.

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Scientists ID bacterial genes that improve plant growth

DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory via
Public release date: 13-May-2010

Findings could lead to new strategies for sustainable agriculture and biofuel production

UPTON, NY — You might think bacteria that "invade" trees are there to cause certain destruction. But like the helpful bacteria that live within our guts, some microbes help plants thrive. To find out what makes these microbe-plant interactions "tick," scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory decoded the genome of a plant-dwelling microbe they'd previously shown could increase plant growth by 40 percent. Their studies, described online in PLoS Genetics, identified a wide range of genes that help explain this symbiotic success story. The work could move the approach of using bacteria as growth-promoting agents one step closer to implementation for improved agriculture and biofuel production.

"To fuel and feed the planet for the future, we need new approaches," said Brookhaven scientist Safiyh Taghavi, the study's lead author. "Biofuels derived from plants are an attractive alternative energy source, but many biofuel feedstock crops are in direct competition with food crops for agricultural resources such as land, water, and fertilizers. Our research is looking for ways to improve the growth of biofuel feedstock plants on land that cannot be economically used for food production. What we learn might also be put to use to increase the productivity of food crops," she added.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

EPA Sets Thresholds for Greenhouse Gas Permitting Requirements/Small businesses and farms will be shielded

Release date: 05/13/2010

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a final rule to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the largest stationary sources, while shielding millions of small sources of GHGs from Clean Air Act permitting requirements. The phased-in, common-sense approach will address facilities like power plants and oil refineries that are responsible for 70 percent of the greenhouse gases from stationary sources that threaten American’s health and welfare.

“After extensive study, debate and hundreds of thousands of public comments, EPA has set common-sense thresholds for greenhouse gases that will spark clean technology innovation and protect small businesses and farms,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “There is no denying our responsibility to protect the planet for our children and grandchildren. It’s long past time we unleashed our American ingenuity and started building the efficient, prosperous clean energy economy of the future.”

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Sens. Kerry and Lieberman introduce compromise climate bill

The Washington Post
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced a compromise climate bill Wednesday, hoping public concern about the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will boost the measure's long-shot chances for passage.

While the legislation is different from the House-passed climate bill in several respects -- it seeks carbon reductions from separate sectors of the economy rather than imposing a nationwide limit, and it provides more incentives for new nuclear power and offshore oil drilling -- it still faces a steep hill in attracting the 60 votes needed for passage.

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Firms eye profits in leftover corn plant products

Des Moines Register
By PHILIP BRASHER • • May 16, 2010

Washington, D.C. — There was a time when farmers used every bit of a corn plant:
• Grain would feed the hogs.
• Cobs could fuel the kitchen stoves.
• Stalks could feed cattle or provide bedding.
That time may come again.

Ethanol producers are increasingly using corn stover to power their plants, and they're working on using the stover itself to make the fuel.

Read more

Tweaking model improves ethanol's footprint

Stock & Land (Australia)
12 May, 2010 11:53 AM

CALIFORNIA has led the charge in enforcing stricter air emissions requirements.

For ethanol, an initial analysis from Purdue University made ethanol seem less attractive at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to other alternatives. Now, a revision to the Purdue economic analysis is showing that ethanol could be a somewhat better option than previously thought.

Wally Tyner, a Purdue agricultural economist and the report's lead author, said revisions to the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) model better reflect market conditions and land productivity than a 2009 report showing that corn-based ethanol wouldn't significantly lower GHG emissions over gasoline.

"The difference between this report and previous reports is advances in science," Tyner said. "With any issue, your first cut may not be the best, but when you get new data and new methods, you improve."

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USDA Approves Field Testing of ArborGen Freeze-Tolerant Eucalyptus as Biomass Crop
By Green Car Congress on 05/12/2010 – 11:10 am PDT

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved a permit to allow ArborGen to move forward with field testing of its freeze-tolerant Eucalyptus hybrid in seven southeastern states. The permit was granted following the completion of an environmental assessment which found no significant impact for a controlled release of the hybrid.

USDA’s Biotechnology Regulatory Service (BRS) had opened a public comment period for the
“Availability of an Environmental Assessment for Controlled Release of a Genetically Engineered
Eucalyptus Hybrid,” on 3 June 2009. The public comment period closed on 6 July 2009.

Read more

Ethanol byproduct grows in popularity with Chinese

Des Moines Register
By DAN PILLER • • May 13, 2010

China made news this month by buying U.S. corn for the first time in almost a decade.

But for more than a year, China has slipped into the back side of the American corn market by buying dried distillers grains, a byproduct of ethanol, to feed its livestock.

Distillers grains are the shell and some of the inside matter of the kernel after the starch is removed to make ethanol. U.S. ethanol plants annually produce the equivalent of about 1.2 billion bushels of distillers grains. Total corn production exceeds 13 billion bushels.

Read more

USDA's Vilsack Weighs in on EPA GHG Tailoring Rule

Hoosier Ag Today
NAFB News Service

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has weighed in on the Environmental Protection Agency's final Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule, a policy seeking shelter for small polluters from the Clean Air Act permitting requirements. The EPA's rule alters the permitting requirements to limit the facilities that would need to obtain certain operating permits based on their greenhouse gas emissions. This would cover large industrial plants - but excuse smaller sources like farms.

The EPA is reportedly seeking comment on whether or not sources like farms can be permanently exempt from permitting requirements. Vilsack says the energy obtained from certain sources - like woody biomass and switch-grass - can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, develop clean energy and provide economic opportunities for rural America.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Novozymes, Royal Nedalco develop yeast

Ethanol Producer Magazine
May 2010
By Luke Geiver
Posted May 11, 2010

Royal Nedalco, a yeast developer and ethanol producer based in Europe, and Noyozymes, have partnered to develop a new process to ferment C5 and C6 sugars. The fermentation process of the C6 (glucose) sugar is considered more easily accomplished than the C5 (xlylose and arabinose) sugars, but producing cellulosic ethanol requires the fermentation of both. “Nedalco has successfully addressed the challenges of C5 sugar fermentation,” said Ger Bemer, CEO of Royal Nedalco. “This partnership will aim to widen and speed up the commercial availability of C5 fermentation technology to cellulosic biofuel producers all over the world.”

The joint effort started after the parties tested Nedalco’s C5 and C6 yeast in a biomass-to-ethanol process based on Novozymes’ enzymes, said Claus Fuglsang, senior director for Bioenergy R&D at Novozymes. “Novozymes is first and foremost an enzyme provider, but we wish to be a valuable partner for the biofuel industry,” said Fuglsang. “By contributing our fermentation insight to this partnership we help producers of cellulosic biofuel increase their yields. This will benefit the entire industry.”

Read more

State to Give Tax Breaks to Firms who make Biomass for Electricity (WI)
Posted Tuesday May 11, 2010

MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - Wisconsin will give tax breaks to companies that create biomass – things like wood chips and forestry waste that can be turned into electricity. Governor Jim Doyle has signed a bill that would give up to $100,000 in tax credits to firms that invest in harvesting equipment for biomass.

Assembly Democrat Fred Clark of Baraboo sponsored the measure. He says it will help a forest products industry that’s been hurting from the recession and a falling housing market that’s now on the rebound. Clark says he hopes the new tax breaks will create jobs, while encouraging alternatives to fossil fuels.

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Connecticut Assembly passes Bioheat bill

Biodiesel Magazine
May 2010
By Ron Kotrba
Posted May 11, 2010

The Connecticut General Assembly recently passed legislation to incorporate biodiesel and lower the sulfur content in the state’s heating oil supply. Bill No. 382 requires that all heating oil sold in the state must contain 2 percent biodiesel beginning July 1, 2011.

In 2012, the mandate increases to B5; in 2015, B10; in 2017, B15; and finally, in 2020, Connecticut will require 20 percent biodiesel in all heating oil.

The bill also requires the sulfur content to be reduced to 15 parts per million by 2014.

Read more

US Department of Energy
Video on corn cob harvest

USdepartmentofenergy — May 04, 2010 — Cellulosic biofuels made from agricultural waste have caught the attention of many farmers and could be the next revolution in renewable biofuels production. This video shows how an innovative technology that converts waste products from the corn harvest into renewable biofuels will help the U.S. produce billions of gallons of cellulosic biofuels over the coming decade. It will also stimulate local economies and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Watch video

Thursday, May 13, 2010

North Carolina State University Researchers Develop Computer Models...

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: May 11, 2010 Maximize Biofuels Energy Efficiency and Cut Health Risks

Biofuels hold promise as environmentally friendly sources of renewable energy, but which ones should industry and policy leaders focus their efforts on developing?

A new study involving researchers from North Carolina State University offers detailed insights into how biofuel chemicals react when burned.

Their data and new computer models pave the way for development of new biofuels and technologies to maximize energy efficiency while minimizing environmental and human health risks.

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Finishing cattle on ethanol co-products gives you more bang for your buck
Jeff Caldwell Multimedia Editor
5/11/2010, 10:56 AM CDT

Start on corn, finish on co-products, study shows

A new study shows you may be able to finish cattle on lower-cost ethanol co-products without losing the carcass traits that ultimately fetch top market dollar.

Researchers at the University of Illinois (UIUC) say starting cattle on corn and moving to co-products later on can help better sustain profits while achieving similar high-end results.

"If you can initiate marbling at a young age with corn, calves are smaller and they eat much less, so feeding them corn for 100 days early saves on feed costs," says UIUC animal science specialist Dan Shike. "This system will use considerably less corn and achieve the same effect."

Read more

USDA’s Vilsack says Biofuels plant is future of U.S. energy (PA)
by Debra Schell Press And Journal Staff : 5/12/2010

The Obama Administration’s quest to wean the nation off foreign oil by turning to renewable energy sources brought U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to Middletown Friday.

Vilsack, along with Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Reading, and U.S. Rep. Tim Holden, D-Pa., toured the Middletown BioFuels plant on Emaus Street.

Middletown BioFuels uses oil from soybeans to produce 1.8 million gallons of bio-diesel fuel for transportation and home heating.

Read more

Growing Demand for DuPont Renewable Products Drives Global Commercialization


DuPont Updates Investors on its Applied BioSciences Business
VONORE and LOUDON, Tenn., May 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- DuPont (NYSE: DD) is executing a rapid commercialization strategy in its Applied BioSciences business for a diverse portfolio of high-performance, renewable products that address the needs of large markets, DuPont leaders told security analysts and investors. As a result, the company has set goals for the Applied BioSciences business of $1 billion in revenue and $250 million in pretax earnings by 2015.

"DuPont is uniquely positioned to lead in industrial biotechnology. We are connecting our core technology capabilities to markets that can be transformed by our science and this strategy is beginning to pay off," said Thomas M. Connelly, DuPont executive vice president and chief innovation officer. "The Applied BioSciences portfolio is developing solutions to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and continues to be one of the most significant growth opportunities in the company's history."

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Shell Says Share of Renewables in Transport Fuel Set to Double

Bloomberg Businessweek
May 11, 2010, 5:16 AM EDT

May 11 (Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, expects the share of renewable energy in transport fuels worldwide to double over the next 10 years.

The portion of renewables is already approaching 10 percent because of increased ethanol use, Jose Bravo, a scientist at The Hague-based Shell, said today in a website presentation.

“We are, in my opinion, 10 years away from algae-to-fuels’ commercial implementation,” Bravo said. “These technologies will have to be competitive to flourish.”

Read more

Corn biofuel: Where’s the love?

The Cap Times (Madison, WI)
MIKE IVEY The Capital Times
Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 5:45 am

For the Wisconsin ethanol industry, the photos of dead sea turtles washing ashore from the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico couldn’t come at a better time.

With a federal tariff on imported ethanol expiring this year and congressional budget hawks like Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, targeting government subsidies in general, biofuels boosters are working overtime to pitch the benefits of homegrown energy.

Read more

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

With seeds in ground, what prices will emerge?

Des Moines Register
By DAN PILLER • • May 9, 2010

From their tractor seats, Iowa farmers have enjoyed what they describe as the smoothest, easiest planting spring in decades.

But the ride in corn and soybean markets that annually return about $15 billion to Iowa's economy is described as choppy.

Farmers normally like to empty what corn and beans are left in their bins during commodity rallies in May or June. At the same time, they plot strategy for using the futures market to sell the crop they'll harvest in October and November.

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Biofuels industry eyes growth
Thom Gabrukiewicz • • May 9, 2010

EPA action on E15 blend awaited

A year ago, President Obama told the nation he wants rural America to take the lead in creating a robust biofuels industry that would wean the country off foreign oil.

Tom Vilsack, the president's agriculture secretary, said Thursday that much progress has been made - but more must be done.

"We're conducting the first national on-energy production survey to find out among 20,000 farms and ranches precisely what they're doing in renewable energy and biofuels area, which will help shape future policy," he said. "We're also focusing on trying to get business and industry rural development programs in line to provide assistance and help for companies that are either producing or distributing these fuels."

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Supercharge grasses for a greener future

FarmWeekly (Australia)
10 May, 2010 03:01 PM

NEW technology developed by Australian scientists has supercharged photosynthesis - the natural process of plants converting sunlight and carbon dioxide into biomass and usable energy increasing its potential for bioengery generation.

Read more

To fix carbon, food, energy: fix RuBisCO (the mother of all biofuels challenges)

Biofuels Digest
May 11, 2010 Jim Lane

If Rubisco sounds like a mash-up of “renewable energy” and “Nabisco”, the international food marketer, it is a coincidence but a happy one. For nothing is more key to the future of both than the RuBisCO enzyme.

It was the biochemist Dr. Ganesh Kishore, now the CEO of the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund and formerly Chief Biotechnology Officer of Dupont, who raised the issue at a recent Burrill & Company Limited Partners meeting, when he said that biofuels research, while impressive and laudable, is overly focused on midstream processing technologies and not on the key factor: the appallingly low rate at which plants convert sunlight to energy.

Read more

Miscanthus plan welcomed by IFA (Irish Independent)
Tuesday May 11 2010
By Declan O'Brien

The introduction of the Miscanthus Pilot Demonstration Programme has been welcomed by the IFA.

The programmer will provide grants for the installation of boilers fuelled by miscanthus.

Since the introduction of the BioEnergy Scheme in 2007, miscanthus has proven popular among farmers with nearly 3,000ha established, compared with less than 900ha of willow.

"The Miscanthus Pilot Dem-onstration Programme will create a much-needed market for the miscanthus crop," said the IFA's alternative land use chairman, JJ Kavanagh.

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More Bioenergy Than Oil in Sweden

10 May 2010 - Newly published energy statistics for 2009 show that bioenergy today makes up a larger share of Sweden's energy use than oil: 31.7 percent bioenergy compared to 30.8 oil. These numbers confirm that Sweden is a world leader in the field of bioenergy. Biomass is used for heat and electricity, for biofuels for transport, and as energy source in industry. Almost all Swedish cities and towns have district heating using biomass as fuel. All of these applications can be seen on study tours and excursions at World Bioenergy 2010 at the end of this month.

The numbers are based on preliminary statistics from the Swedish Energy Agency and were presented by Svebio -- the Swedish Bioenergy Association. The final energy use includes all sectors of the Swedish society: industry, transport, residential, services, etc.

Read more

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

International Biomass Conference & Expo: Waste management is energy management

Biomass Magazine
May 2010
By Lisa Gibson
Posted May 5, 2010, at 1:45 p.m. CST

The Midwest lags behind the rest of the U.S. in production and use of biogas for energy, but Wisconsin is the shining star of the industry in that region, according to Amanda Bilek, energy policy specialist for the Great Plains Institute. “Biogas is a tremendous economic opportunity,” she said.

Bilek was a presenter at the International Biomass Conference & Expo in Minneapolis. “We believe there is a lot of room to grow and we’re only just getting started,” she said.

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Students line fields, plant miscanthus crop by hand

Des Moines Register
By DAN PILLER • • May 8, 2010

Creston, Ia. - Every birth is hard labor, and the arrival of miscanthus grass on a 14-acre plot just north of Creston this week was no exception.

Miscanthus has been touted as an eventual Iowa-grown successor to corn as feedstock for ethanol plants. Failing that, the grass can be made into pellets that can fuel not only ethanol or biodiesel plants but also electricity generators.

But first the grass must be planted by hand. While an Iowa corn farmer can plant dozens, if not hundreds, of acres in a single day, a dozen students from Southwestern Community College and Iowa State University put the miscanthus crop on a 14-acre plot by hand on Thursday.

Read more

Symposium to Spotlight Biofuels
May 6, 2010
updated: 5/6/2010 12:44:49 PM

Purdue University researchers and industry leaders will examine the advancement and development of next generation of biofuels at this year's Frontiers in Bioenergy Symposium. The May 24-25 event will feature sessions on the biofuels landscape, biomass biology and fuels from microorganisms. Participants will also learn about a gasoline equivalent made from biomass that's not ethanol.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University researchers will join Midwest colleagues and industry leaders on campus May 24 and 25 to discuss advancements and development of the next generation of biofuels, including a sustainable liquid fuel made of biomass.

The fifth annual Frontiers in Bioenergy Symposium will feature sessions on the biofuels landscape, biomass biology and sustainable agriculture, fuels from microorganisms, and chemical and thermal conversion routes.

Read more

Monday, May 10, 2010

Algae Biomass Could be Central to New Plastics Compounds
Doug Smock, Contributing Editor, Materials and Assembly -- Design News, May 7, 2010

Cereplast plans to introduce commercial-grade plastic compounds that incorporate algae materials by the end of this year.

Cereplast, a supplier of bioplastics, expects to offer its first commercial compound made with algae by the end of this year.

"Algae-based resins represent the latest advancement in bioplastics technology and our product development efforts over the last several months have yielded very encouraging results," says Frederic Scheer, CEO of Cereplast, which is based in El Segundo, CA.

Read more

Student group wants to see a coal-free UI
B.A. Morelli • Iowa City Press-Citizen • May 7, 2010

50% of energy use on campus comes from coal

A group of environmentally minded students will meet with University of Iowa officials today to seek a commitment to immediately stop burning coal at the campus power plant.

UI has reduced its coal use and carbon emissions over the past several years as it grows a Biomass Fuel Project, which relies on recycled oat hulls. But coal still accounts for more than 50 percent of the energy use on the main campus, according to UI data.

Read more

Iowa Gets Grant to Develop Biomass Crops
Pork news staff Thursday, May 06, 2010

Iowa has received a $200,000 grant to develop perennial biofuel cash crops for the state's southern region.

Iowa State University was awarded the grant by the Sun Grant Initiative to fund biomass crop production research, and forms a partnership with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Agricultural Research Service. The funds will be used for research at Iowa State, Southwestern Community College as well as on-farm research.

Iowa State will focus on crop selection and improvement. Southwestern Community College participants will identify methods to grow and use biomass crops as an energy source.

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Federal government offers $33m for biofuels research
Published: May 7, 2010 By James Cartledge

The federal government is making $33 million in grants available for bioenergy research and development projects.

The US Department of Energy and the US Department of Agriculture are offering funding for projects that would increase the supply of biofuel feedstocks, renewable fuels, and biobased products.

Through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, funding will be available to various types of project that would help “create a diverse group of economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass”.

Read more

Friday, May 7, 2010

Partners aim to turn algae to ethanol
Author: Paul Lucas, May 6, 2010

Two companies have decided to combine their efforts in a bid to produce commercial scale algae-based facilities and off-take arrangements with a global reach.

Algenol Biofuels Inc and Valero Services Inc have entered into the joint development agreement – Algenol is an algae-to-ethanol company, while Valero Energy Corporation of which Valero Services is a subsidiary, is North America’s largest independent petrol refiner and marketer.

Currently, Algenol makes low cost ethanol using carbon dioxide (CO2) and seawater that uses hybrid algae in sealed, clear plastic photobioreactors through direct to ethanol technology. The process links sugar production to photosynthesis with naturally occurring enzymes from algae cells. The company can produce ethanol at a rate of approximately 6,000 gallons per acre-year, which compares to corn at 400.

Read more

Genetically Engineered Cells Will Sweat Ethanol and Diesel Fuel in Texas Pilot Plant
By Jeremy Hsu
Posted 05.05.2010 at 2:00 pm

The tiny single-cell plants eat, reproduce, and then sweat fuel

Tiny organisms such as algae offer great promise for a clean energy future by creating biofuels or even hydrogen, if only scientists can figure out how to use them in a cost-efficient way. A startup named Joule Unlimited has hit upon a possible solution, with a genetically tailored organism that sweats out its fuel and lives on to continue making more, New York Times reports. The company broke ground recently on a Texas pilot plant that will house the single-cell plant organisms in flat structures resembling solar panels facing the sun.

Water flowing through the panels will carry off the hydrocarbon fuel for separation. Hydrocarbon oils such as diesel produced by the organisms separate from water and make the gathering easy, while distilling technology already exists for separating out the ethanol from water. Workers will regularly flush the system every eight weeks and start with fresh batches.

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Turning Biomass into Crude Oil
Written by Brian Westenhaus

University of Michigan professors are heating and squishing algae in a pressure-cooker that fast-forwards the crude oil making process from millennia to just minutes. It doesn’t have to be algae it could be any wet biomass.

Phillip Savage, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the U-M Department of Chemical Engineering is principal investigator on the $2-million National Science Foundation grant that supports the project. The grant is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

This method is the raw and brutal way to take biomass to oil products. Savage says, “We’re trying to do what nature does when it creates oil, but we don’t want to wait millions of years. The hard part is taking the tar that comes out of the pressure cooker and turning it into something you could put in your car, changing the properties so it can flow more easily, and doing it in a way that’s affordable.”

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International Biomass Conference & Expo: Panelists talk policy priorities

Biomass Magazine
May 2010
By Lisa Gibson
Posted May 6, 2010, at 2:45 p.m. CST

Biomass Magazine’s International Biomass Conference & Expo drew about 1,700 people and nearly 300 exhibitors to the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis May 4-6.

On May 5, BBI International Vice President Tom Bryan welcomed everyone to the conference and introduced the keynote speaker Jack Oswald, founder and CEO of Syngest Inc , who told the audience about his companies’ project to turn biomass into anhydrous ammonia.

Following the keynote was a panel discussion about biomass policy objectives and how all the different biomass organizations can work together to educate and influence lawmakers in Washington.

Most representatives on Capitol Hill don’t care about biomass, focusing instead on energy independence in general, according to Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of the Biomass Power Association. But without biomass, the country will not reach its renewable goals.

Read more

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ford to Meet Goal to Double Flex-Fuel Vehicle Production By Year End

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: May 5, 2010

Chicago—Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) will deliver on its 2006 pledge to double the number of 2010 model year flexible-fuel vehicles it produces in the U.S.

Flexible-fuel vehicles are capable of running on E-85 (a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline), gasoline or any mixture of the two fuels.

The announcement was made today by Sue Cischke, Ford's group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, at the 2010 BIO International Convention in Chicago.

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Fired Up: Bioheat Gains Momentum as Recovery Takes Hold
by Graham Jesmer, Staff Writer
Published: May 4, 2010

New Hampshire, United States -- The renewable energy industry has grown substantially in recent years, despite the down economy. But while solar, wind and to a lesser extent, geothermal energy put up solid growth numbers, the bioheating market has lagged behind.

The reasons are simple enough. Low rates of new construction, a declining housing market and lower oil prices have made capital intensive investments in wood pellet, chip and gasifying systems a tough sell.

But the signs of recovery are now being seen in this space. Consumer demand is improving and policymakers are placing renewable heating higher up on their energy agendas. In the last six months, the American Renewable Biomass Heating Act of 2010 (S.3188) was introduced in Washington, D.C. The bill would add renewable heating systems to the list of technologies that qualify for federal renewable energy tax credits. New state- and utility-level incentives were also created in New Hampshire, with more expected in other Northeast states.

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Projecting Cropped Biomass Supplies: The Landowner Factor

Biomass Magazine
May 2010
By Dan Conable and Tim Volk

New York biomass study focuses on landowner choices and preferences in determining how much biomass can be grown and at what cost.

A reliable and affordable biomass supply is the starting point for any biofuel or bioenergy project. Although the level of detail in biomass supply shed assessments has increased in recent years, all the standard approaches ignore an essential element—the opinions and preferences of the people who own and make decisions about the land.

Understanding a Local Biomass Supply Shed
When Ray Cross, president of Morrisville State College, undertook a comprehensive review of energy use by his school’s central New York campus, a biomass-fueled heat and power plant was an obvious option. “It fits our tradition as an agricultural college, and also our educational strategy of exposing students to the challenges of implementing new technologies in real-world settings,” Cross says.

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Mass professor aids in biofuel breakthrough

The Republican (
Wednesday, May 05, 2010

AMHERST - A potential breakthrough in converting plants to biofuels has been made by researchers at University of Massachusetts in Amherst and University of Minnesota.

The technique could double the amount of fuel produced from an acre of feedstock while dramatically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, the researchers say.

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Grassland Root Biomass Response to Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment

What it means
The six scientists say "these data suggest that root biomass in grasslands may have changed markedly as atmospheric CO2 increased since the last glacial period, but that more substantial changes are ahead if the air's CO2 content doubles by the end of this century as predicted." And, of course, these anticipated "changes" should all be positive, implying ever greater grassland root biomass -- and all that that phenomenon implies -- as the air's CO2 content continues to climb ever higher.

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Project LIBERTY to use 770 Tons of Biomass Daily for Cellulosic Ethanol

Hoosier Ag Today

POET will outline its progress in establishing biomass supply and logistics for projects such as commercial cellulosic ethanol production this week at the 2010 International BIOMASS Conference & Expo in Minneapolis, Minn.

POET Director of Biomass Mike Roth will speak on the topic Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the main auditorium at the Minneapolis Convention Center. His speech is the first of the session under the topic "Feedstocks: Determining Economic and Logistical Availability."

Establishing the feedstock supply chain is one of the biggest challenges in commercializing cellulosic ethanol. POET is currently securing contracts from local farmers in the Emmetsburg, Iowa-area for the first commercial harvest for Project LIBERTY.

Read more

Automakers Seek to Delay Ethanol Blending Raise

The New York Times
Published: May 4, 2010

WASHINGTON — Citing new test data, the auto industry says the federal government’s plan to raise the amount of ethanol mixed into gasoline will damage cars and increase the amount of pollution they emit.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to issue a rule in the next few weeks that would permit oil companies to increase the percentage of ethanol in automotive fuel to 15 percent, up from the current level of 10 percent, so they can meet E.P.A. quotas for renewable fuels.

Read more

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Maryland researchers turn poplar trees into biofuel

By Meredith Cohn, The Baltimore Sun
May 3, 2010

In response to a national call for homegrown, Earth-friendly fuels to fill Americans' gas tanks, a couple of University of Maryland researchers are planting trees.

Fuel derived from the hardy, fast-growing common poplar could eventually replace some of the billions of gallons of petroleum-based fuel now pumped a year, say biologist Gary Coleman and engineer Ganesh Sriram, who have partnered to help turn the woody plant into a widely used biofuel.

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Future Buick Regals to all run E85 (Chicago)
May 4, 12:56 PM

Autoblog is reporting that when the next wave of 2011 Buick Regals arrive in the US, all of the new Regal models will run on either gasoline of E85 Ethanol. The first production run of 2011 Regals will run only on gasoline with the 2.4L 4-cylinder but when the turbocharged models from the German plant get here in August, it will offer E85 compatibility. Once the turbocharged model is available here, the naturally aspirated engines will then also run on E85 ethanol.

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A One-Step Process for Converting Biomass and Biomass-Derived Carbohydrates into DMTHF for Liquid Fuels
By Green Car Congress on 05/04/2010 – 2:10 am PDT

A team at the University of Pennsylvania has developed a one-step process for converting hexose from a wide range of biomass-derived carbohydrates, cellulose and even raw lignocellulose (e.g., corn stover) into 2,5-dimethyltetrahydrofuran (DMTHF) in good yields and under mild conditions in water. A paper on the work by Weiran Yang and Ayusman Sen was published online 30 April in the journal ChemSusChem.

DMTHF is similar to DMF (2,5-dimethylfuran, earlier post) in terms of energy density (31.8 MJ L-1), volatility (bp 90–92 °C), and solubility (immiscible in water). However, because DMTHF is a saturated molecule it has good storage and transportation stability and is a better candidate for liquid fuel, Yang and Sen note.

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Summerhill unveils biomass powder technology

Biomass Magazine
May 2010
By Lisa Gibson

New York-based Summerhill Biomass Systems publicly unveiled its technology for converting plant waste into biomass powder in March.

Summerhill has patents pending on its system, which produces a burnable fine powder fuel, similar in texture to baking powder. The fuel can be used to produce heat and burns as intensely as gas, according to the company.

The powder would cost less than heating oil, including delivery, and is more efficient than ethanol and other types of biofuels produced around the world, according to James McKnight, president and co-founder of Summerhill. The system can consume timber, brush, corn stalks and other plant waste, emitting no smoke or odor. “With our system, everything can be used,” he said. “Nothing is wasted.” The system is controlled by a thermostat and can be used in grain-drying operations as well as commercial and small industrial applications.

Read more

Biomass is Having a (Political) Moment

Biomass Magazine
May 2010
By Rob Goldberg

Biomass project developers can benefit by taking a closer look at the opportunities offered by the federal government in the cash grant program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

This year is shaping up to be interesting for developing and financing power projects that use biomass as feedstock. On the one hand, raising private capital for biomass projects continues to be challenging, creating further pressure on biomass developers to structure “clean” projects with strong fuel supply and other contracts that favorably allocate risk to experienced and creditworthy project counterparties. On the other hand, a number of government incentives hold great promise for financing all kinds of bioenergy projects. Current developments relating to two of these government programs, the cash grant program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 or the stimulus bill, and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, are worth a further look.

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NDSU professor, partners haul in $780,000 from biomass, energy beet R&D grants

Biofuels Digest
May 04, 2010 Jim Lane

A partnership between NDSU, Green Vision Group and Heartland Renewable has received $330,000 of grant funding from North Dakota’s Renewable Energy Council and several private supporters to develop an energy beet to biofuel industry in the state. Cole Gustafson was lead author of the proposal. Tasks envisioned by the funding include a commercial test of HRE’s patented process of drying the plant’s fermentation stillage and utilizing the material to heat 70 percent of the plant, and energy beet yield trials at five regional locations across North Dakota.

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Electrofuels in detail: $2.7M North Carolina State University extremophile project

Biofuels Digest
May 04, 2010 Jim Lane

In North Carolina, ARPA-E awarded $2.7M to North Carolina State University to support research into the creation of biofuels using extremophiles — specifically, Metallosphaera sedula and Pyrococcus furiosus — primitive organisms found in fresh water or saltwater that evolved before photosynthetic organisms, and which are found in hydrothermal environments with temperatures ranging from 75 to 100 degrees Celsius (167 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit).

“Most biofuels, such as ethanol and butanol, are created by fermenting sugars produced by plants through photosynthesis. Our project would cut out the middle man by using organisms that utilize carbon dioxide and hydrogen to produce biofuels directly,” says Dr. Robert Kelly, the principal investigator under the grant and Alcoa Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and director of the Biotechnology Program at NC State.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Biobaler connects land management, biomass supply

Biomass Magazine
May 2010
By Lisa Gibson

Brush lands in the upper Midwest are a great biomass resource, but can be hard to harvest because the vegetation is thicker than most agricultural machinery allow, but not thick enough to warrant forestry equipment. Stempower Resources’ Biobaler is designed to aggregate vegetation 1 to 8 inches in diameter and can link land management with the biomass supply chain.

The cutting and baling equipment simultaneously harvests and bales brush with minimal soil disturbance. It’s been on the market for about four months and Stempower, based in St. Joseph, Minn., has focused on linking its capabilities with the land management industry, according to Peter Gillitzer, Stempower president and co-founder. The coupling can offer lower management costs, and therefore a savings to wildlife management agencies that clear land to create habitats. The Biobaler can also bring in extra revenue if buyers for the bales can be secured, which Gillitzer said has been the biggest challenge.

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Understanding the Economic Drivers of Originating Biomass for Power Projects

Biomass Magazine
May 2010
By Scott McDermott

Participation in the emerging biomass-to-energy industry requires knowledge of the origination, logistic, storage and handling challenges involved with the various biomass resources.

AAscendant Partners Inc. has been working with a number of power, combined-heat-and-power and densification projects to better understand and implement options for lowering energy cost, for energy diversification and for lower carbon energy. What makes this analysis different today from past economic and business energy assessments is that many of the fuel sources being considered today were rarely considered fuel sources even three years ago. It takes a forward-looking approach to understand the current and potential macroeconomic drivers of a structurally higher energy price environment and growing body of greenhouse gas legislation such as the patchwork of state renewable fuels standards and the prospect of legislation for greenhouse gas emissions.

This article focuses on the economic drivers for the utilization of biomass as a feedstock for coal-fired boilers, biomass boilers and biomass gasification. There are many intelligent researchers focused on the technology of converting biomass to energy in all of its forms. What seems to be less understood are the economics and business challenges of biomass origination, logistics, storage and handling. The fact is, we are in the early stages of the evolution of the biomass-to-energy supply chain. While woody biomass residues, crop biomass residues and energy crops will be distributed across the country, their economics vary greatly.

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Biomass Testing Lab established

North Dakota State University
April 28, 2010 at 3:08 PM

Cole Gustafson, NDSU biofuels economist, and Igathi Cannayen, Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory assistant professor, have received $450,000 from the North Dakota Renewable Energy Council and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Mandan to establish the first dedicated biomass-testing laboratory in North Dakota.

The lab will be designed to test dimensional, thermal and physical properties of biomass.
Creation of the lab aligns with the NDSU Bio Energy and Product Innovation Center's (BioEPIC) goal of fostering development of a biomass industry in North Dakota. BioEPIC already has created a searchable biomass inventory so prospective investors can evaluate potential biomass supplies in different geographic locations across the state. In addition, a decision aide, Biomass Compare, has been developed to help farmers and ranchers compare the profitability of biomass production with traditional farm enterprises.

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Climate bill delivered in partial form to EIA; modeling ready in eight weeks

Biofuels Digest
May 03, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington, Reuters is reporting that the Energy Information Administration has received enough data regarding the proposed climate and energy bill to commence modeling and impact analysis, and said that it expected to have its work completed within eight weeks. The news revived hopes that a climate bill could be brought to the Senate floor as soon as late June for a vote.

However, lobbyists noted that the legislation was delivered in partial, uncompleted form, and told Reuters that they are concerned that the means of delivery suggested that the bill is still not complete, raising fresh concerns about passage before the Congressional elections due in November.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

New York biofuel roadmap released

Biomass Magazine
April 2010
By Anna Austin
Posted April 29, 2010, at 12:39 p.m. CST

The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority has released a renewable fuel roadmap for New York that indicates there is potentially 1 million to 1.68 million acres of nonforest land that can used for bioenergy feedstock production in New York.

The 140-page document assesses the prospects for the expansion of biofuel production within the state while focusing on biomass resource availability and economic and environmental impacts. The roadmap considers 11 key issues, including stakeholder input, analysis of sustainable feedstock production in New York, feedstock transportation and logistics, life cycle analysis and public health and biofuel industry economic impacts and analysis.

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Researchers report fermentation breakthrough that unlocks winter barley potential

Biofuels Digest
April 30, 2010 Jim Lane

In Pennsylvania, researchers led by ARS chemical engineer John Nghiem identified a new fermentation process for ethanol using Thoroughbred, a high-yielding winter barley variant – solving a problem with beta-glucan conversion that had been hampering efforts to utilize barkley for fuel and dried distillers grains.

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Brazil to Raise Ethanol Mixed With Gasoline to 25%

Bloomberg Businessweek
April 29, 2010, 3:07 PM EDT
By Katia Cortes

April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil plans to boost the amount of ethanol mixed into gasoline at the pump ahead of a record sugar- cane crop this year.

The measure to boost the ethanol mix to 25 percent from 20 percent will take effect on May 2, said Manoel Bertone, the Agriculture Ministry’s production and bio-energy secretary. In February, the government reduced the mix after inventories fell near the end of the sugar-cane harvest.

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DOE juices biofuels industry with 13 “Electrofuels” grants

Biofuels Digest
April 30, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it will award $106 million in ARPA-E funding for 37 research projects that produce advanced biofuels more efficiently from renewable electricity instead of sunlight; design completely new types of batteries to make electric vehicles more affordable; and remove the carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants in a more cost-effective way.

13 of the grants are for “Electrofuels” – Biofuels from Electricity.

According to the DOE, “today’s technologies for making biofuels all rely on photosynthesis – either indirectly by converting plants to fuels or directly by harnessing photosynthetic organisms such as algae. This process is less than 1% efficient at converting sunlight to stored chemical energy. Instead, Electrofuels approaches will use organisms able to extract energy from other sources, such as solar-derived electricity or hydrogen or earth-abundant metal ions. Theoretically, such an approach could be more than 10 times more efficient than current biomass approaches.”

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DOE develops biomass in Colombia

Biomass Magazine
April 2010
By Lisa Gibson
Posted April 29, 2010, at 3:40 p.m. CST

As part of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, the U.S. DOE and some of its national laboratory experts will team up with scientists and technology experts in Colombia to optimize the production of biochar from palm residues and sugarcane for power generation.

The project, titled “Forming a Research, Development and Innovation Hub with Expertise in the Sustainable Energy Use of the Biomass in Colombia,” is still in the early stages and the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Colombian consortium are currently in the process of developing a technical plan.

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