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

Friday, July 30, 2010

One potato, two potato

Biomass Digest
July 29, 2010 Jim Lane

Following the all-but-certain defeat of a renewal of the ethanol tax credit, left-wing environmental activists, confederated into the National Anti-Biomass Incineration and Forest Protection Campaign, are making a move to destabilize support for biomass-based power generation.

At issue: is burning biomass carbon-neutral, and are there other emissions associated with it that make biomass an unappealing alternative to the burning of fossil fuels.

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A New Tool for Improving Switchgrass

Wisconsin Ag Connection
USAgNet - 07/28/2010

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have developed a new tool for deciphering the genetics of a native prairie grass being widely studied for its potential as a biofuel. The genetic map of switchgrass, published by Christian Tobias, a molecular biologist at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., and his colleagues, is expected to speed up the search for genes that will make the perennial plant a more viable source of bioenergy.

Switchgrass is now grown as a cattle feed and to restore depleted soils. But interest in using it as a biofuel has intensified in recent years because it can be burned to produce electricity and, like corn stalks, can be converted to ethanol. It also grows on marginal lands, is adaptable to different regions, and--as a perennial--does not need to be replanted each year, which means lower energy costs and less runoff.

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Editorial: Energy Subsidies — Good and Bad

The New York Times
Published: July 28, 2010

Congress must soon decide whether to extend federal tax subsidies for renewable energy that expire at the end of the year. The subsidies for wind, solar and geothermal energy are necessary to give these energy sources the help they need to compete with oil, coal and natural gas. While it renews those subsidies, Congress should end tax breaks for corn ethanol, which can stand on its own and is of dubious environmental benefit.

Tax credits for wind, solar and geothermal power have been around for decades. When the economy tanked and tax credits became less desirable to investors, the Obama administration converted them to a direct federal grant as part of the 2009 stimulus program. About $4.5 billion has since helped jump-start hundreds of projects — mostly wind and solar — and created thousands of new jobs.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

The economics of U.S. ethanol policy: A rebuttal

The Hill (blog)
By John M. Urbanchuk, technical director, ENTRIX - 07/27/10 04:23 PM ET

In his July 27 blog posting “The economics of U.S. ethanol policy” Professor Bruce Babcock of Iowa State University reports the results of new research suggesting that allowing the current 45-cent-per-gallon ethanol blender’s tax credit (Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, or VEETC) and 54-cent-per-gallon ethanol tariff to expire on Dec. 31, 2010 would have little or no adverse impact on the domestic ethanol industry.

That’s true only if you take a “Field of Dreams” view of the ethanol industry: If we mandate that Americans use more ethanol, then someone, somewhere will produce that ethanol.

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Market Value of Biomass Electricity to Reach $53B by 2020 News
07/27/2010 12:15 PM

The market value of electricity generated from biomass in the United States will increase steadily to $53 billion by 2020, up from approximately $45 billion in 2010, according to a new report.

Biomass, already a large percentage of total renewable energy sources, is poised for continued growth in the years to come within three key sectors: biopower, biofuels, and bioproducts. Significant investments continue to be made in biomass research and development, and the pace of commercializing new technologies will increase during the next decade, according to analysts at Pike Research.

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U.S. Farmers and Ethanol Industry Reps. Call on EPA to Approve E12 in Gas

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: July 26, 2010

Washington—Three major farmer and ethanol groups called July 26 on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson to formally approve the use of E12 (12% ethanol) in the nation’s gasoline supply.

The groups – American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) – in a formal letter to the EPA Administrator wrote, “based on the EPA’s delay in acting upon the full E15 waiver and on our concerns that the Agency will restrict the use of E15 to cars made in 2001 and thereafter, we encourage the EPA to formally approve the use of E12 for all motor vehicles as an immediate interim step pending any ongoing additional testing on E15.”

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New DOD Report Finds U.S. Ill-Equipped to Deal With Dependance on Foreign Oil

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: July 27, 2010

Washington, DC—America’s current energy posture undermines our economic security and constitutes a serious and urgent threat to our national security.

However, the Department of Defense (DoD) could help turn this potential threat into the next great American opportunity, according to a board of 15 top-ranking admirals and generals.

Released today, “Powering America’s Economy: Energy Innovation at the Crossroads of National Security, issued by the Military Advisory Board (MAB) of CNA, a not-for-profit research organization, stresses that economic security is integral to American national security.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The economics of U.S. ethanol policy

The Hill (blog)
By Bruce A. Babcock, Iowa State University - 07/27/10 08:42 AM ET

With the economy still not creating nearly enough jobs, U.S. ethanol producers are warning that ending the government subsidies and import restrictions that benefit their industry could eliminate some 112,000 to 160,000 jobs.

An unlikely collection of environmentalists, taxpayer groups and meat producers, meanwhile, argue that America no longer needs and can’t afford the current policies.

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A New Twist on Gasification

Biomass Magazine
August 2010
By Lisa Gibson

When Douglas Goodale, bioenergy project manager and principal investigator for the State University of New York at Cobleskill (SUNY Cobleskill) discusses his upcoming research project, he beams proudly, clearly illustrating that he believes it will represent a breakthrough in gasification systems and waste-to-energy technology. His enthusiasm is directed toward a rotary kiln gasifier developed and owned by Chicago-based W2E and en route to a new lab facility established for such research at SUNY Cobleskill.

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Back to School With Biomass

Biomass Magazine
August 2010
By Bruce Folkedahl

Returning from a business trip on a flight from Memphis to Minneapolis, my boss sat next to a young man who was traveling to be in a friend’s wedding. He was using a “diamond traveler” ticket earned with air miles accumulated mostly from his job as a turbine repair technician. Gas turbines for electrical power have been installed around the clock for several years because of cheap gas, lower capital costs, rapid construction and the goal of greater efficiency and lower carbon dioxide emissions. This young traveler was living the American dream. He attended a technical college in Minnesota for one year, was snatched up early by an energy business, and has been flying to strange lands experiencing cultures and people he had only read about on Wikipedia.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

‘Woody’ Biomass Breakthrough: Fungus is the Key
Written by Michael Ricciardi
Published on July 25th, 2010

The resurgent interest in alternative fuels has propelled interest in using biomass “feedstocks” as an energy source for liquid fuel and bio-electricity generation. But bio-fuel (and other ‘commodity chemicals’) derived from ‘woody’ biomass faces one big technical challenge: how to separate the useful constituents of cellulose-based biomass (i.e., its its six-carbon, building block sugars) from the not so useful ones (such as lignin and hemicellulose)?

In the past, attempts have been made to do this separation by applying acid/base compounds to the biomass, or even adding microbes to digest the tough proteins–with less than satisfying results. Now, however, research by Ray et al, has shown promising results, and the key is a well-known variety of fungus.

Before woody (or cellulose) biomass can be ‘depolymerized’ and converted into fuel, constituents like lignin (a tough protein) have to be separated from the cellulose. Recent research has shown that two types of brown rot fungus are able to do this with significant efficiency.

The two types of brown-rot fungi used by Ray et al are the Coniophora puteana and Postia placenta varieties, and their research showed that a 3 to 4 week treatment of the biomass (sapwood from pine trees in this case) “significant;y enhances the release of sugars (the actual fuel source) by cellulose enzymes.” *

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Alfalfa joins feedstock choices for ethanol

Des Moines Register
By PHILIP BRASHER • • July 25, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Some day, hay could be fuel for more than horses and cattle. Some Agriculture Department scientists say alfalfa could be a feedstock for ethanol fuel and offset some of the environmental problems associated with corn.

The idea is to have Midwest farmers who now grow corn all the time or corn and soybeans in rotation to start growing corn and alfalfa. Critics question whether alfalfa could ever be an economical fuel crop for many farmers.

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Biodiesel from algae may not be as green as it seems
21 July 2010 by Helen Knight
Magazine issue 2770.

BUBBLING green tubes filled with algae gobbling up carbon dioxide and producing biodiesel may sound like the perfect way to make clean fuel, but it could generate nearly four times the greenhouse emissions from regular diesel.

How we farm algae is crucial to making algal biodiesel environmentally viable, says Anna Stephenson at the University of Cambridge. She has developed a computer model that calculates the carbon footprint of producing, refining and burning algal biodiesel.

"Making algal biodiesel in clear tubes has a carbon footprint nearly four times that of producing diesel."

When algae are farmed in perspex tubes, she says, the energy needed to pump the algae around to ensure adequate exposure to sunlight results in a carbon footprint of 320 grams per megajoule equivalent of fuel. This compares with 86 g/MJ to extract, refine and burn regular diesel (Energy and Fuels, DOI: 10.1021/ef1003123).

"If you use tubular bioreactors, frictional losses mean the energy required to pump the culture around is so high that the biodiesel would have a much greater greenhouse gas emission than fossil diesel," she says.

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Can Carbon Be Cut Without Climate Legislation?

Time (EcoCentric Blog)
Posted by Bryan Walsh Friday, July 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Carbon cap-and-trade is dead—at least for this political lifetime. And while the circular firing squad among Democrats and greens has already begun, it's worth taking a deep breath and remembering that there are other tools that can be used to deal with climate change. As TIME's Joe Klein points out, the Supreme Court ruled more than three years ago that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. The EPA has already begun to effectively regulate carbon emissions from automobiles with its tougher fuel efficiency standards, but it's not yet clear how the agency might work to regulate emissions from electric utilities or other sectors.

As a new report from the World Resources Institute (WRI) shows, regulations could have a widely varying effect on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions over the coming two decades, depending on how aggressive the government wants to be—but even the tightest rules would be unlikely to reduce emissions enough to avoid dangerous climate change. The WRI authors divide potential regulatory approaches into three self-explanatory categories—"Lackluster," "Middle-of-the-Road," and "Go-Getter"—and looked at the potential for both state and federal action. (The reports notes that 25 states have already taken action on greenhouse gas emissions on their own.)

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Ethanol subsidy renewal in doubt

Des Moines Register
By PHILIP BRASHER • • July 24, 2010

Washington, D.C. — The sultry days of July in the nation's capital haven't been kind to Iowa's biofuels industry.

The ethanol industry is fracturing and under attack inside and outside the Capitol. The industry's 45-cent-a-gallon subsidy is due to end at the end of the year, but energy bills that could provide a means of extending the tax credit have been delayed, throwing the legislation's future in doubt.

"My sense all along was that it would get extended at least for a year, but I'm not so sure anymore," said David DeGennaro, a policy analyst for the Environmental Working Group, a leading critic of the subsidy.

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Editorial: It's time to end the excessive subsidies for corn ethanol

The Washington Post
Saturday, July 24, 2010

WHEN WASHINGTON starts handing out cash, it can be hard to stop. See, for example, the decades of subsidies the government has showered on the corn ethanol industry. The fuel was supposed to free America from its dependence on foreign oil and produce fewer carbon emissions in the process. It's doing some of the former and little of the latter. But corn ethanol certainly doesn't need the level of taxpayer support it's been getting. Lawmakers are considering whether to renew these expensive subsidies; they shouldn't.

The feds give companies that combine corn ethanol with gasoline a 45-cent tax subsidy for every gallon of corn ethanol added to gasoline. That's on top of a tariff on imported sugar cane ethanol from Brazil and federal mandates requiring that steadily increasing amounts of these biofuels be produced. The Congressional Budget Office this month estimated that, all told, the costs to taxpayers of replacing a gallon of gasoline with one of corn ethanol add up to $1.78. The tax incentives alone cost the Treasury $6 billion in 2009.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Researchers Exploring Methods for Immobilizing Enzymes for Re-Use in Cellulosic Ethanol Processes
By Green Car Congress on 07/19/2010 – 3:20 am PDT

A South Dakota State University professor is exploring ways to re-use enzymes in processes such as making cellulosic ethanol. Working with enzyme company Novozymes, Dr. Basil Dalaly and his graduate student, Pavani Mandali, have evaluated several chemical methods to attach enzymes to beads. They then evaluated the enzyme activity, how well the enzymes attached to the beads, and other variables.

The ability to reuse enzymes would be a financial advantage in industrial processes that rely on enzymes.

Mandali, who is working toward her Ph.D. in biological sciences, said the SDSU research shows enzymes attached to the beads have 95% of their original activity when used a second time; 75% of their original activity when used for a third cycle; 50% of their activity when used a fourth time; and about 35 to 40% of their original activity when used for a fifth processing cycle.

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ISU Testing Biomass/Coal Blend to Reduce Emissions
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – July 22nd, 2010

In a recent article published in Inside Iowa State (ISU), researchers are looking into the replacement of some coal with wood pellets. The biomass is being studied as an additive to coal, to reduce it’s carbon footprint. Beginning on July 15, 2010, two coal-fired boilers located on the ISU campus, began to burn wood pellets as part of a series of tests that utilities staff are conducting over several weeks. The tests will help officials assess the feasibility of replacing some coal with biomass, which is considered a cleaner fuel source, according to Jeff Witt, assistant director of utilities.

“We’re doing this to see what other alternative energy sources are feasible,” he said. “We’ll be assessing both the environmental and economic impacts of using these sources.”

The first test will involve a mix of 10 percent wood pellets with 90 percent coal. In a recent test the mix was 5 percent wood pellets to 95 percent coal. The researchers have approval from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to test up to a 20 percent wood pellet blend. The study is estimated to take three months with air emissions one of the major components of the project.

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Coalition opposes boosting ethanol mix in gas to 15%

USA Today
Jul 22, 2010

An odd coalition of environmental and business groups is banding together to head off a move to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline to 15%, up from 10% in most places now.

A spokeswoman, Abbey Franke, says that the government may decide whether to allow the higher blend by September, if not sooner.

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DOE Awards $122M for Fuel From Sunlight
Katherine Tweed: July 22, 2010

The Department of Energy launched a new blog this week, the aptly named (yet uninspiring) Energy Blog. Among other announcements and musings (OK, really more statements than deep thoughts) is a call to develop three Energy Innovation Hubs, one of which will drive research to turn sunlight into fuels.

This is not the first time the Obama Administration has shelled out for sunlight fuels. Last October, ARPA-E, the advanced projects research group at the Department of Energy, gave out $23.7 million in grants to startups and universities experimenting in the relatively new field of direct solar fuels. The current award will give out up to $122 million over the next five years to one Hub for developing this one technology.

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No-Till focuses on cutting edge
• July 23, 2010

New farming techniques showcased at No-Till Crop Production Field Day

MILAN—As the biomass revolution moves forward a new University of Tennessee research center is working to develop agricultural production of fuel for vehicles.

The recently started Center for Renewable Carbon at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture will involve scientists from different higher institutions and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory working on bio based fuels and chemicals.

The center's efforts are part of the next generation of farming showcased Thursday as several thousand people took part in the Milan No-Till Crop Production Field Day. The event showcases the latest techniques in agriculture for increasing production, efficiency and improving marketing skills.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

2010 Algal Biomass Summit releases meeting agenda

Biofuels Digest
July 22, 2010 Jim Lane

In Arizona, the 2010 Algae Biomass Summit, the official conference of the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO) and the algae industry’s premier global conference, released the event’s newly-expanded agenda featuring more than 70 speakers and seven new sessions. The 4th annual event will be held September 28-30 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Arizona.

The full agenda, including a list of current speakers, is available here.

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INL recognized for waste-to-biodiesel process

Biodiesel Magazine
August 2010
By Erin Voegele
Posted July 20, 2010

An advanced biodiesel project developed by researchers at Idaho National Laboratory has been selected by R&D Magazine to receive a 2010 R&D 100 award. The annual competition, which recognizes outstanding technology developments with promising commercial potential, has been held by R&D Magazine since 1962.

INL was recognized for its Supercritical Solid Catalyst (SSC) process, which converts waste feedstocks with up to 100 percent free fatty acid content into ASTM-quality biodiesel. According to Chemical Engineer Daniel Ginosar and Chemist Robert Fox, INL researchers leading the project, the SSC process has been specifically designed to take advantage of low-value waste feedstock, such as brown and black grease, waste fats, oil and greases (FOG), municipal waste water, and similar waste streams. “We can use up to 100 percent free fatty acid feedstock without any additional pretreatment,” Ginosar said.

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Securing Foreign Oil: A Case for Including Military Operations in the Climate Change Impact of Fuels

Biofuels Digest
July 22, 2010
By Brooke Coleman, New Fuels Alliance

Securing Foreign Oil is the title of Adam Liska’s and Richard Perrin’s recent article in Environment Magazine detailing why military emissions should be included in the carbon intensity (CI) values of petroleum fuels. The article was discussed on the New York Times Green blog and will no doubt spark debate about whether we are taking things too far by considering military emissions.

The case for including military emissions in the CI value of petroleum is pretty simple: it is well within the new system boundary recently established by U.S. EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for carbon scoring fuels.

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New switchgrass varieties on 1000 acres in Tennessee

Biofuels Digest
July 22, 2010 Jim Lane

In Tennessee, researchers at the University of Tennessee, working with UT Extension biofuels specialists and partners at Ceres and Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol, have planted 1000 acres of improved varieties of switchgrass across nine counties, and will compare results with 1000 acres planted with standard “Alamo” switchgrass for comparative purposes.

The improved switchgrass varieties were developed by the biotechnology company Ceres. They are sold under the company’s Blade Energy Crops brand as EG 1101 (an improved Alamo variety) and EG 1102 (an improved Kanlow variety). The Genera Energy/DDCE demonstration-scale biorefinery in Vonore, Tenn., will process the dedicated energy crop into cellulosic ethanol.

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Biofuels Digest announces Advanced Biofuels Markets, November 9-10 in San Francisco

Biofuels Digest
July 22, 2010 Jim Lane

Biofuels Digest will host Advanced Biofuels Markets on November 9-10, 2010 in San Francisco, which will feature the largest assemblage of CEOs of the “50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy” since the Washington DC conference in April.

The goal in San Francisco: to address the near-term, immediate steps towards commercialization of bioenergy, including a special series of presentations and dialogue on renewable chemicals, plastics, organic acids and other bio-based materials.

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Sewage-eating robot generates its own energy

The San Francisco Chronicle (

The premise of any science fiction movie worth its salt is robots operating in the back of beyond without human supervision for long stretches of time. (Those pesky robots do get into trouble, don't they?) Researchers at the UK's Bristol Robotics Laboratory have brought us a step closer to that prospect with the Ecobot III, the first robot capable of powering itself by consuming and excreting biomass and can run unsupervised for a full week. (H/T PhysOrg)

The bot uses microbial fuel cells to break down its food, extracting electrons from the metabolic process to run ultra low-power circuitry.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Center for Agricultural and Rural Development Study Shows...

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: July 20, 2010

... U.S. Ethanol Production and Corn Demand Will Grow With or Without Subsidy and Tariff

Ames, Iowa—America's growing interest in renewable fuels has spurred a robust discussion about the pros and cons of continuing or changing current U.S. federal government ethanol policies, specifically, (1) mandates to increase the use of renewable fuels like ethanol from approximately 13 billion gallons today to 36 billion gallons by 2022, (2) a 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit for "blenders" who add ethanol to gasoline, and (3) a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff, which increases the price of foreign imports.

A new staff report by Bruce A. Babcock, director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) and a professor of economics at Iowa State University, projects that allowing the blender credit and tariff to expire would have neither the dramatic, adverse effect U.S. ethanol producers claim nor create the export bonanza foreign producers hope for.

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First Map of Global Forest Heights Created From NASA Data


WASHINGTON, July 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Scientists have produced a first-of-its kind map of the height of the world's forests by combining data from three NASA satellites. The map will help scientists build an inventory of how much carbon the world's forests store and how fast that carbon cycles through ecosystems and back into the atmosphere.

Maps of local and regional forest canopy have been produced before, but the new map is the first that spans the entire globe using one uniform method. The map was based on data collected by NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, along with the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite, or ICESat. Michael Lefsky, a remote-sensing specialist from Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, produced the final product. Lefsky describes his results in a journal paper to be published next month in Geophysical Research Letters.

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EPA releases data on canola biodiesel pathway

Biodiesel Magazine
August 2010
By Luke Geiver
Posted July 20, 2010

The U.S. EPA has released a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) for its recent modeling of the canola oil biodiesel pathway. As of March 26, when the EPA officially announced the final rule for the revised renewable fuel standard (RFS2), the canola pathway had not been analyzed as a biofuel feedstock capable of meeting the required greenhouse gas reduction standards set by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Using the same RFS2 lifecycle analysis modeling approach for other biofuels already approved, the EPA stated that the canola oil biodiesel pathway creates a 50 percent reduction in GHG emissions compared to the diesel fuel baseline.

“These results, if finalized, would justify authorizing the generation of biomass-based diesel RINs for fuel produced by the canola oil biodiesel pathway modeled, assuming that the fuel meets the other definitional criteria for renewable fuel (e.g., produced from renewable biomass, and used to reduce or replace transportation fuel) specified in EISA,” EPA said in the NODA memo.

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Bioenergy Insight launch

Bioenergy Insight
20 July 2010

A new quarterly magazine will launch in September, targeted at companies producing biomass, biopower and biogas.

BIOENERGY INSIGHT magazine is a brand new international publication borne out of extensive research and a market demand for information. Using a totally up to date circulation list, the magazine will provide the inside track on issues surrounding pellet/briquette biomass production technologies, biogas and biopower production, anaerobic digestion, biorefineries, gasification technology, dedicated energy crops, biological conversion processes, sustainability, biomass harvesting, storage and transport.

Initially published on a quarterly basis, BIOENERGY INSIGHT’s readers will include pellet plants, electricity utilities, biogas producers, plant constructors, feedstock suppliers and growers, food/beverage processors, animal processing facilities, pulp and paper manufacturers, landfill sites, waste collection companies, technology providers, saw milling companies investors and bioethanol and biodiesel producers.

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DOE warns of ethanol blend wall

Des Moines Register
Blog post by Philip Brasher • • July 13, 2010

Unless more ethanol is allowed to be added to conventional gasoline, prices for the corn product are likely to fall because of the saturated market, the Energy Department says.

The department says that ethanol was blended into 9.2 percent of the total gasoline supply during April and that number could reach 10 percent in the first quarter of next year.

Under the EPA’s current regulations, gasoline used in conventional cars and trucks cannot contain more than 10 percent ethanol. That means that unless the EPA raises the limit, and service stations sell higher blends than 10 percent, the extra ethanol has to be sold for somewhere else. It could be sold for flexible-fuel cars as E85, 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, or shipped overseas. E85 will have to be priced significantly lower than conventional gasoline because of its poorer mileage, the department said.

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Report: Using Biofuel Tax Credits to Achieve Energy and Environmental Policy Goals

Congressional Budget Office

CBO Issues 'Using Biofuel Tax Credits to Achieve Energy and Environmental Policy Goals' Report

Read report (pdf)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Mad Scramble over the Ethanol Tax Credit

Biofuels Digest
July 20, 2010 Jim Lane

Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, the Environmental Working Group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Meat Institute, and several members of congress are among the main players in a drama unfolding this week on Capitol Hill, in a battle over the ethanol subsidy.

It’s one of several battles over the next fortnight (as we reported on last week in “The Conclave“) relating to the Congress as it approaches its August recess.

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Department of Energy study finds ethanol pipeline could be profitable under certain conditions

CB Online (
By Dirk Lammers, July 20, 2010 - 3:18 PM

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A dedicated ethanol pipeline could be profitable if the biofuel expands beyond its use as a 10-percent additive in standard cars, a new government study suggests.

A U.S. Department of Energy study released Monday said the nation would first have to boost its use of the alternative fuel either through greatly expanded use of E85, an 85-percent blend that runs in flexible fuel vehicles, or a transition to 15- and 20-percent blends in standard cars.

Assuming ethanol demand volume of 2.8 billion gallons a year and a project construction cost of $4.25 billion, a pipeline would need to charge an average tariff of 11 cents more per gallon than if the fuel was moved by rail, barge or truck.

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US automakers on track for more ethanol vehicles

Bloomberg Business Week
The Associated Press July 19, 2010, 12:54PM ET

DETROIT - U.S. automakers say they're on track to increase the number of vehicles that can run on fuel-saving ethanol, even as the ethanol industry falters and other technologies like electric vehicles capture the public's attention.

Most gasoline in the U.S. contains a low percentage of ethanol, which is a kind of alcohol made from corn, sugar and other substances. But only some vehicles can run on either gasoline or E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent fuel. There are around 8 million flex-fuel vehicles on the road right now. Regular gasoline vehicles can't run on E85.

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Vilsack Tours Advanced Bioenergy Facility in Ohio

USDA Press Release

State/Federal Partnership Increases Production of Renewable Energy from Cellulosic Biomass

WOOSTER, Ohio, July 19, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today toured Quasar Energy Group, in Wooster, Ohio, to see firsthand new technologies being utilized to generate larger supplies of biogas derived from cellulosic biomass, such as yard trimmings and crop residue. USDA, along with the State of Ohio, provided funding to support the development of the new facility.

"I commend the leadership in Ohio for developing a prototype to reduce greenhouse gases and landfill disposal while offering the promise of significant increases in the production of renewable energy from this effort," said Vilsack. "USDA's partner financing to support this facility goes to the heart of the Obama Administration's commitment to reduce America's dependence on foreign sources of energy."

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Export Exchange to Focus on Ethanol Co-Product
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – July 19th, 2010

A partnership between the Renewable Fuels Association and the U.S. Grains Council will help bring producers of the ethanol co-product distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) together with interested international buyers to get answers, make connections, and build business.

Export Exchange 2010 will bring together more than 150 international buyers of U.S. DDGS and coarse grains with more than 300 U.S. producers and agribusinesses. The conference will be held on Oct. 6-8, 2010, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel in Chicago, Ill.

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Answers to Your Questions about Biofuels

Biofuels Digest
July 19, 2010 Jim Lane

“Dinosaurs were biological creatures. So how come oil isn’t a biofuel? I’ll take my answer off the air.”

Although the above question comes from a good friend, the comedy writer Greg Thompson, its provides an opportunity to open up the vault of reader questions, collected at industry events, and provide answers to real questions posed by enthusiasts, policymakers, producers and researchers in the field.

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Nation Turns to ND For Biomass Insight This Week

Public News Service - ND
July 19, 2010

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - What we used to call trash or waste is now being explored as a substantial energy source in this country. Biomass is anything from yard waste to egg shells, and this week experts from the U.S. and Canada are convening in North Dakota to talk about it. Biomass '10 will look at the latest ways biomass is being turned into power, transportation fuels and chemicals.

Chris Zygarlicke, technical director of the Biomass '10 workshop, says the process could replace a third of our fossil fuel demand one day.

"We're not going to eliminate all of our fossil fuel diet, but within five or 10 years we definitely could eliminate the need for oil from a couple of countries in the Middle East - if we just got our act together."

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Novozymes to Develop Cellulosic Ethanol in Brazil
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – July 19th, 2010

Novozymes has signed an agreement with a world leader in the sugarcane ethanol market to work on cellulosic ethanol production in Brazil.

The agreement between Dedini and Novozymes is based on developing the commercial potential of cellulosic ethanol in Brazil due to the large availability of bagasse. Brazil is the world’s largest producer of sugarcane, crushing more than 600 million tons per year, from which 27 billion liters (7.1 billion gallons) of ethanol is currently produced.

“Considering the demand for ethanol in Brazil and the amount of bagasse available, there is considerable opportunity for further growth in this market. The partnership with Dedini, the largest engineering player in the sugarcane industry in Brazil, will help us to unlock this potential,” says Novozymes CEO Steen Riisgaard.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

The Ethanol Question I Did Ask

Consumer Energy Report (blog)
Posted by Robert Rapier on Thursday, July 15, 2010

Last December, I received an intriguing request from the Public Relations Director at the world’s largest ethanol producer. Nathan Schock asked if I would be interested in posing a video question that would be answered by POET CEO Jeff Broin. He said that any topic was fair game, except for questions dealing with proprietary information.

I considered a number of questions, and wrote an essay detailing my thought process as I ran through a list of potential questions: The Questions I Didn’t Ask. But I had one question that had been weighing on my mind more than any other, and I posed that one in the video I sent in.

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The busy person’s guide to a 20 percent Renewable Power Standard

Biomass Digest
July 16, 2010 Jim Lane

For a long time there has been discussion of 20 percent renewable power standards in a wide assortment of countries. There’s squabbling about the exact percentages, and the merits of solar, wind, biomass, geo and hydro — but it’s a conversation that hasn’t gone away, and won’t.

Why? To meet the 2050 global carbon goals and provide power for a world population growing in numbers and affluence, a 20 percent RPS is a minimal standard, no more or less than a material first step.

With carbon legislation under consideration this month in the United States Senate, its worth looking at the impact of such a transition on the economics of power generation. These have been studied in depth many times, and industry conferences and the halls of academia and government could be effectively wallpapered with all the pages of impact analysis that have been generated.

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Ethanol industry scrambles to keep incentives

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The once-popular ethanol industry is scrambling to hold onto billions of dollars in government subsidies, fighting an increasing public skepticism of the corn-based fuel and wariness from lawmakers who may divert the money to other priorities.

The industry itself can't agree on how to persuade Congress to keep the subsidies, which now come in the form of tax credits worth about $6 billion annually.

One industry group, Growth Energy, made the bold move Thursday of calling for the tax credits to be phased out completely in favor of spending the money on more flex-fuel cars and gasoline pumps that support ethanol. A rival group, the Renewable Fuels Association, said it's too late in the year to make such proposals — the tax credits expire at the end of the year, and legislative days are numbered.

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Biomass-based diesel an RFS2 option

Biomass Magazine
July 2010
By Luke Geiver
Posted July 15, 2010, at 10:42 a.m. CST

The U.S. EPA has issued the proposed production volumes for the 2011 RFS2, calculating biomass-based diesel for 2011 at 800 million gallons. To formulate the production number, EPA examined both industry capacity and recent production rates. “As of April 2010, the aggregate production capacity of biodiesel plants in the U.S. was estimated at 2.2 billion gallons per year across approximately 137 facilities,” EPA said.

“The biodiesel industry stands ready, willing and able to produce the wet gallons required to comply with the program,” said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “By 2011, much of the uncertainty that has accompanied the start up and transition of the program in 2009 and 2010 will have been eliminated.”

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Biomass Thermal Energy Council Posts Comments for EPA

Biomass Thermal Energy Council

On June 4, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a Proposed Rule for Area Source Boilers that threatens to severely curtail the future growth of the biomass thermal industry and place prohibitively expensive emissions requirements on existing equipment. EPA is inviting public comments on the proposed rule until August 3, 2010.

A working group of BTEC members has spent a considerable amount of effort in developing BTEC's public comments to the EPA. Those comments are now finalized and can be downloaded here:

BTEC Comments to the EPA on the Proposed Rule for Area Source Boilers

Friday, July 16, 2010

EPA Proposes 2011 Renewable Fuel Standards

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: July 12, 2010

Washington—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed July 12 the 2011 percentage standards for the four fuels categories under the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program, known as RFS2.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established the annual renewable fuel volume targets, reaching an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022.

To achieve these volumes, EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year.

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BP to acquire Verenium’s cellulosic biofuels business for $98.3 million

Biofuels Digest
July 15, 2010 Jim Lane

BP and Verenium (VRNM) announced an agreement for BP Biofuels North America to acquire Verenium’s cellulosic biofuels business, including the Verenium’s facilities in Jennings, LA and San Diego, CA for $98.3 million.

Verenium will retain its commercial enzyme business, including its biofuels enzymes products and have the right to develop its own lignocellulosic enzyme program. Verenium will also retain select R&D capabilities, as well as rights to access select biofuels technology developed by BP using the technology it is acquiring from Verenium through the agreement.

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Farmers must be part of renewable energy plans

AgriNews (Minnesota and Northern Iowa)
By Carol Stender
Date Modified: 07/15/2010 6:02 AM

WILLMAR, Minn. — The resounding message at the recent Minnesota Ag, Climate and Energy Forum in Willmar was clear: Agriculture must come to the table when energy, especially alternative energy, policy is discussed to capture revenue opportunities.

Ag organizations and alternative energy supporters were among those attending the forum spearheaded by the Ag Carbon Market Working Group. The group is made up of several ag organizations looking at energy policy.

Minnesota has a strong history of support and involvement in renewable energywith its mandates involving ethanol and bio-diesel blends, said State Rep. Al Juhnke.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

RFA Ethanol Exports Update: Exports Down 58% In May
07/13/2010 10:46AM

Total ethanol exports (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) fell back to earth in May, plunging 58% from April's totals. U.S. producers exported just 17.1 million gallons in May, compared to 40.8 million gallons in April and 48.3 million in March. Still, May exports were well above the five-year monthly average. Further, through the first five months of 2010, the U.S. has exported 25% more product than in the entire 2009 calendar year.

Additionally, at 141.4 million gallons, 2010 U.S. exports are still on track for a record year. Exports totaled 157.8 million gallons in 2008 and 150.2 million gallons in 2007. The record year is believed to have been 1995, when 197.5 million gallons of denatured and undenatured ethanol were exported. Since January 2005, the monthly average for total ethanol exports has been 10.2 million gallons.

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GAO releases report criticizing failure of DOE cellulosic ethanol loan guarantee program

Biofuels Digest
July 14, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington, the Government Accountability Office issued a report documenting a series of shortcomings in the Department of Energy’s administration of the federal loan guarantee program for energy projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy commented, “The Energy Department’s loan guarantee program is not working properly and that is especially true for cellulosic ethanol. Since the Department of Energy began administering this program six years ago, there is yet to be a single loan guarantee issued to a producer of cellulosic ethanol…just yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency revised the nation’s cellulosic ethanol production target for next year from 250 million gallons to less than 20 million gallons. The single biggest reason for that revision is a lack of financing available to cellulosic ethanol producers, many of which are ready to build plants if funding can be secured.”

Read article

U.S. GAO Report

Ethanol facing trouble in Congress

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

The ethanol subsidy is running into trouble in Congress.

Citing a congressional study of the cost of the 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit, the chairman of the Senate energy committee issued a statement today saying that the subsidy should not be “reflexively” extended when it expires at the end of the year.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. “thinks Congress needs to take a careful look” at the cost of the subsidy “as it decides whether or not to renew it,” said spokesman Bill Wicker.

The study by the Congressional Budget Office evaluated biofuel subsidies by the energy content of the products and found that costs taxpayers $1.78 to reduce gasoline consumption by one gallon using corn ethanol. The cost rises to $3 with ethanol made from crop residue and other forms of plant cellulose, for which there is a $1.01 per gallon tax credit.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

US Production Of Ethanol-Blended Gasoline Hits Record
By Louise Roys
Washington : DC : USA Jul 12, 2010

The volume of conventional gasoline blended with ethanol in the US hit a record 5.017 million b/d last week, according to data released Thursday by the Energy Information Administration. The production of ethanol-blended conventional gasoline for the week ended July 2 was up from 4.816 million b/d the previous week, EIA‘s data showed.The previous record was 4.918 million b/d for the week ended May 28.

Increased ethanol volumes were blended in preparation for the July 4 Independence Day holiday weekend, one US ethanol trader said. For suppliers of conventional gasoline, the decision on whether to blend ethanol into gasoline is driven by the economics of ethanol compared with gasoline and the need for suppliers to meet US renewable fuels standards. Looking at the spot market as a basis, profit margins have decreased greatly.

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EPA Proposes Cellulosic Ethanol Requirement Short of U.S. Goals

Bloomberg Businessweek
July 12, 2010, 3:14 PM EDT
By Kim Chipman and Mario Parker

July 12 (Bloomberg) -- The Environmental Protection Agency proposed requiring less cellulosic ethanol to be blended into gasoline next year than sought under U.S. law because production of the alternative fuel hasn’t reached commercial scale.

The decision is part of the EPA’s proposed standard for renewable fuels of about 14 billion gallons, or 7.95 percent of transportation fuels used in the U.S., the agency said today in a news release. The goal for cellulosic biofuels, based on an analysis of market availability, is 5 million to 17.1 million gallons, or as much as 0.015 percent, according to the agency.

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All Systems Go at World's Largest Cellulosic Ethanol Plant


Inbicon Biomass Refinery now producing The New Ethanol and other biofuel at Kalundborg, Denmark

KALUNDBORG, Denmark, July 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Inbicon is declaring Energy Independence Day for Planet Earth as the first Inbicon Biomass Refinery swings into operation. It turns wheat straw into 1.4 million gallons a year of cellulosic ethanol, making it the largest producer of cellulosic ethanol in the world.

"We're producing not only The New Ethanol to replace gasoline but also a clean lignin biofuel to replace coal," says Inbicon CEO Niels Henriksen. "But our renewable energy process is as important as our renewable energy products. The Inbicon Biomass Refinery can demonstrate dramatically improved efficiencies when integrated with a coal-fired power station, grain-ethanol plant, or any CHP operation. Symbiotic energy exchange helps our customers build sustainable, carbon-neutral businesses."

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MU research farm, local business testing biomass compressor

Monday, July 5, 2010 7:30 p.m. CDT; updated 9:32 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 5, 2010

COLUMBIA — MU's Bradford Research and Extension Center farm and a local business have built a machine that can compact corncobs, switchgrass and other biomass so four times as much material can fit in the same amount of space.

Instead of needing an 18-wheeler truck to move biomass to burn as fuel for electricity and ethanol, the same amount could be transported in a dump truck.

"We're able to repackage it into a size that's usable rather than bulk material," said Jesse VanEngelenhoven, research director of the Columbia firm Ecologic Tech.

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Indian-origin scientist unveils new, efficient technique of biofuel production
2010-07-01 17:20:00

An Indian-origin researcher and her colleagues at North Carolina State University have unveiled a more efficient technique for producing biofuels from woody plants. The procedure significantly reduces the waste that results from conventional biofuel production techniques.

Study co-author Dr. Ratna Sharma-Shivappa, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering at NC State, said: "This technique makes the process more efficient and less expensive. The technique could open the door to making lignin-rich plant matter a commercially viable feedstock for biofuels, curtailing biofuel's reliance on staple food crops.

"Our eventual goal is to use this technique for any type of feedstock, to produce any biofuel or biochemical that can use these sugars."

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Two companies isolate pyrolysis oil fractions, hydrogen from algae, in path towards scalable biofuels

Biofuels Digest
July 09, 2010 Jim Lane

Two of the most promising feedstocks used to produce aviation, transportation and industrial biofuels – algal and pyrolysis oils (bio-oil), have taken some key steps forward. One of the Digest’s “Hot 50″ companies, OriginOil (#42) has announced a hydrogen harvesting system, while an early-stage company based in Iowa, Avello Bioenergy, has developed a technology for fast pyrolysis oils that “improves, collects and separates bio-oil into various liquid fractions,” making it far easier to refine.

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U.S. farmers can't meet booming corn demands

WASHINGTON Fri Jul 9, 2010 10:46pm BST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Exporters, livestock feeders and ethanol makers are going through the U.S. corn stockpile faster than farmers can grow the crops, the government said on Friday.

Despite record crops in two of the past three years and another record within reach this year, the Agriculture Department estimated the corn carryover will shrink to the lowest level since 2006/07.

In a monthly look at crop supply and usage, USDA estimated 1.478 billion bushels of corn will be in U.S. bins on August 31, when this marketing year ends, and 1.373 billion bushels will be on hand at the end of 2010/11.

The carryover figures are sharply lower from USDA's previous estimates -- down 8 percent for this year and down 12 percent for next year -- but slightly larger than traders expected.

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Ethanol industry changing its strategy
Saturday, July 10, 2010 6:53 AM
(Source: The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.))By Dan Voorhis, The Wichita Eagle, Kan.

July 10--Ethanol makers say they are ready to go head to head against gasoline in the marketplace -- without federal tax subsidies.

But, while they can sell the fuel for less than gasoline, demand is limited in part because the public can't buy it directly.

That's why trade group Growth Energy and two Wichita-area companies, ICM and Poet Ethanol Products, said now is the time to launch the industry's next phase.

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United Kingdom: zero emission target by 2030
12 July 2010

Offshore wind energy, the most significant electricity generation source, is expected to meet 73% 73% of the demand.

A report compiled by a number of British research centres illustrated a possible strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 90%. Offshore wind power, the most significant electricity generation source, is expected to meet 73% of the demand.

The United Kingdom could reach zero final total net emissions by 2030. The strategy to be followed in order to achieve this target (which would be the most ambitious target proposed hitherto in any developed countries) is illustrated in the ZeroCarbonBritain2030 report, compiled by the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) together with 13 universities, 12 research centres and 8 private companies.

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Yield projections for switchgrass as a biofuel crop
July 12, 2010

While scientists have conducted numerous studies on production of biomass from biofuel crops, such as switchgrass, no one has yet compiled this information to evaluate the response of biomass yield to soils, climate, and crop management across the United States.

A team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Dartmouth College published just such a study in the July-August 2010 Agronomy Journal, published by the American Society of Agronomy. The researchers used peer-reviewed publications to evaluate switchgrass yield as it relates to site location, plot size, stand age, harvest frequency, fertilizer application, climate, and land quality. Switchgrass is one type of crop under consideration for use as a feedstock for advanced biofuels.

The scientists compiled a total of 1,190 biomass yield observations for both lowland and upland types of switchgrass grown from 39 field sites across the United States. Observations were pulled from 18 publications that reported results from field trials in 17 states, from Beeville, TX in the south, to Munich, ND in the Midwest, and Rock Springs, PA in the northeast.

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Transportation and Aviation Leaders Launch Sustainable Biofuels Initiative

PR Newswire

Regional assessment to outline biomass sources for creating renewable jet fuel

SEATTLE, July 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Alaska Airlines (NYSE: ALK), Boeing (NYSE: BA), Portland International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Spokane International Airport and Washington State University today announced a strategic initiative to promote aviation biofuel development in the Pacific Northwest. The first regional assessment of its kind in the United States, the "Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest" project will look at biomass options within a four-state area as possible sources for creating renewable jet fuel.

The comprehensive assessment will examine all phases of developing a sustainable biofuel industry, including biomass production and harvest, refining, transport infrastructure and actual use by airlines. It will include an analysis of potential biomass sources that are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, including algae, agriculturally based oilseeds such as camelina, wood byproducts and others. The project is jointly funded by the participating parties and is expected to be completed in approximately six months.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Mobile Biofuel Processor Can Rove the Midwest In Search of Quality Biofuel

Fast Company
BY Ariel Schwartz
Thu Jul 8, 2010

Almost any kind of raw biomass can be turned into biofuel, but it's not always cheap--transporting raw biomass to a processing facility is significantly more expensive than transporting liquid fuel derived from that biomass. So while it sounds great in theory to turn wood chips from some remote Midwestern farm into biofuel, it doesn't make much sense if the farm is far away from a processing plant. Enter Purdue University's mobile biofuel processing technology, which can turn nearly any available biomass (wood chips, switch grass, corn stover, rice husks, wheat straw, etc.) into biofuel on the spot.

Purdue's processor uses a technique called fast-hydropyrolysis-hydrodeoxygenation that works by feeding biomass and hydrogen into a high-pressure reactor that heats up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit in a single second. The hydrogen can be derived from natural gas, biomass, or even on-site solar power--making the process completely sustainable. According to Purdue researchers, the technique generates twice as much biofuel as current technologies when the hydrogen comes from natural gas, and creates 1.5 times the amount of liquid fuel when hydrogen is derived from biomass.

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U.S. Corn Reserves May Fall 7.1% on Reduced Output, USDA Says

Bloomberg Businessweek
July 09, 2010, 8:54 AM EDT

July 9 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. corn inventories may slide 7.1 percent next year, the government said, as demand grows and after excess rain prompted farmers to plant less and trimmed yield potential.

“The reduction in the corn carryover has drastically changed the supply dynamics,” Roy Huckabay, the executive vice president of Chicago-based Linn Group, said before the report. “Too much rain in the Midwest and hot, dry weather in the southern and eastern U.S. are causing crops to walk backwards.”

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Ethanol-fueled racecars outrun conventional speedsters
July 7, 2010

( -- A group of automotive researchers from the Argonne National Laboratory and industry have shown that a fuel-injected racing car engine fueled by E-85, an ethanol-based fuel, outperforms the same engine with a carburetor and leaded racing fuel.

Specifically, the group, dubbed Project Green, demonstrated during benchmark testing a seven percent improvement in the torque and speed of a General Motors' CT525 LS3 fuel-injected engine with a catalytic convertor attached to the exhaust system and renewable E-85 in the fuel tank, said Forrest Jehlik, principal mechanical engineer at Argonne's Center for Transportation Technology. The General Motors engine is a popular choice among circle track racers.

"The testing disproves two widely and firmly held beliefs in the circle track racing community - that carbureted engines are inherently more powerful than engines equipped with a fuel injection system; and that E-85, which is less expensive than leaded racing fuel, is not well-suited as a fuel for race cars," said Jehlik, who leads the benchmark testing for Project Green.

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Indiana releases ethanol impact study

Ethanol Producer Magazine
July 2010
By Luke Geiver
Posted July 7, 2010

With 980 MMgy of ethanol production capacity making up 7 percent of the U.S. ethanol industry, the role of ethanol in Indiana seems pretty important. A new study by Informa Economics Inc., an agricultural and commodity/product market research firm, shows that for economic growth in the Hoosier state, the ethanol industry is actually second to none. “The overall ethanol industry is the single most important factor supporting the growth of agricultural production in Indiana,” the report said.

Intended for business leaders and government officials, the report presented at the “Fuel Freedom, the Indiana Ethanol Forum,” was sponsored by the Indiana Corn Marketing Council (ICMC) and Growth Energy. During the forum, held at an Indianapolis Colts complex, Dallas Clark of the Colts also presented a scholarship to an Indiana student who had created a video displaying the impact of ethanol on the state. “Dallas has been a great face for our program and really believes in the importance of biofuels for our economy, environment and energy independence,” said Megan Kuhn, communications director for ICMC.

The report measured the industry’s contribution to Indiana’s gross state product (GSP), household incomes, mostly rural residents and farmers, permanent employment and finally, local and state taxes.

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Petrobras, Mitsui Get License to Build $1.1 Billion Ethanol Pipeline

By Lucia Kassai - Jul 7, 2010

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Mitsui & Co. and Camargo Correa SA got a preliminary environmental license to build a $1.1 billion ethanol pipeline in Brazil.

The 542-kilometer (337-mile) pipeline, set to start up in the second half of 2011, will link mills in the states of Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo to the Atlantic coast, according to a regulatory filing today.

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Research on Cyanobacteria--Source of Biofuels, Biomaterials

A to Z of Materials

Cyanobacteria are among the oldest living forms in nature, responsible for generating the atmospheric oxygen we breathe today.

Now Hyun Woo Kim and Raveender Vannela, researchers at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University are perfecting the means to culture these microbes—a potentially rich source of biofuels and biomaterials—in significantly greater abundance.

The work provides a vital foundation for optimizing a device known as a photobioreactor (PBR), in which these energy-packed photosynthetic organisms proliferate.

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Pharma Chameleon: The New Biorefinery Model brings era of change, bright new colors for ag, petrochems, pharma

Biofuels Digest
July 07, 2010 Jim Lane
By Will Thurmond, market trends columnist, Biofuels Digest

The week of July 4th 2010, a bio-industrial revolution came to Washington, DC.

The wizards and warriors of the big pharmaceutical, petrochemical, defense and agricultural industries converged to bring a new alchemy to the biotechnology space: the new, improved, and profitable Biorefinery model. For 2010, the BioTechnology Industry Association’s (BIO) annual conference was a showcase of the new wave of biorefinery technologies. BIO 2010 was a massive, immersive experience with more than six concurrent sessions to choose from.

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How ‘green’ is your biomass?

The Chronicle Herald (Canada)
Thu. Jul 8 - 4:53 AM

I am a forester in Sherwood Forest, England. I also spend time on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. Our sweet chestnut woodland in England has been "coppiced" for hundreds of years. We grow timber for fencing, furniture, pole-lathe turning and for firewood.

To "coppice" means to regularly cut a hardwood tree to promote growth so it can be cut again. Trees can be cut in cycles from every two to three years, right up to every 21 to 30 years, depending on the tree and what the timber is needed for.

Coppicing is "cut and come again" — it does not kill the tree and can considerably lengthen a tree’s life.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bringing biofuels’ benefits back home
Posted on Tue, Jul. 06, 2010 10:15 PM

It’s not your father’s ethanol industry anymore.

Founded three decades ago in order to enhance the nation’s energy security, the U.S. ethanol industry is searching overseas for new opportunities to expand its markets. And the industry is succeeding well beyond what most observers would have believed possible only a few years ago.

According to recent reports by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Census Bureau, the industry exported 83 million gallons of ethanol during the first three months of 2010 and is on track to sell a record total of at least 330 million gallons by the end of this year.

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Castor oil tested as bio jet fuel feedstock

Biodiesel Magazine
July 2010
Posted July 7, 2010

Evogene Ltd. announced July 7 that bio synthetic paraffinic kerosene (bio jet fuel) produced from the company’s castor varieties meets the key international standards for alternative aviation fuels. The analysis was conducted by Evogene Inc., a fully owned U.S. subsidiary of Evogene Ltd., in collaboration with NASA, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and Honeywell’s UOP.

In April 2009, Evogene entered into a feasibility agreement with NASA, to evaluate the potential use of castor oil as a viable and sustainable feedstock for production of bio jet fuel. Under this agreement, biojet fuel produced from Evogene castor oil through UOP's technology is expected to undergo additional advanced testing by NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.

The results being announced today demonstrate that such biojet fuel meets the major ASTM D7566 fuel specifications requirements for alternative aviation fuels containing synthesized hydrocarbons.

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Iowa State Students Take Their Professor’s Advice and Start an Ames Bioenergy Company

Released: 7/6/2010 4:00 PM EDT
Source: Iowa State University

Newswise — Iowa State University’s Robert C. Brown pulled a few of his graduate students aside a couple years back and offered up an extracurricular challenge.

“You are all experts on pyrolysis,” he remembers telling them. “Why don’t you start a company specifically to commercialize bio-oil recovery?”

The result is Avello Bioenergy Inc. based at Iowa State University’s BioCentury Research Farm just west of Ames.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cell signalling classification system gives researchers new tool

Science Centric 3 July 2010 09:00 GMT

Using ever-growing genome data, scientists with the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee are tracing the evolution of the bacterial regulatory system that controls cellular motility, potentially giving researchers a method for predicting important cellular functions that will impact both medical and biotechnology research.

A new study from the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences, a research venture between ORNL and UT, has demonstrated how knowledge of biological systems can be derived by computational interrogation of genomic sequences. The results have implications for areas ranging from medicine to bioenergy.

'We now have hundreds of millions of DNA sequences from all sorts of organisms deposited in databases. However, our abilities to translate raw genomic data into useful knowledge are still very limited,' said Igor Zhulin, joint faculty professor and principal investigator.

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Believers hope region catches Freedom Field fever

Rockford Register Star (
Posted Jul 03, 2010 @ 09:06 PM
Last update Jul 06, 2010 @ 08:06 AM

ROCKFORD — With little fanfare, 56 solar panels were fired up for the first time Monday morning at Freedom Field, marking another milestone for the renewable-energy lab that officials believe will help revitalize manufacturing in the Rock River Valley and protect the environment.

Chet Kolodziej is a true believer. Ask him a question about the new solar panels, and the Freedom Field board member launches into a rapturous discussion of BTUs, optimal angles, Los Angeles, hydrophobic coverings, rooftops and manufacturing.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

UK: Rapid growth reported in waste wood sent to biomass
Friday 02 July 2010
By Caelia Quinault

The amount of waste wood sent to biomass plants continued to see "rapid growth" in 2009 despite the impact of the recession, new figures have shown.

The Wood Recyclers' Association (WRA) - which represents 65 companies in the wood recycling sector - has released its annual ‘Waste Wood to Market Statistics' for 2009 which show that 495,000 tonnes of waste wood was used for biomass/energy, up 33% from 370,000 tonnes the year before.

This follows a 48% increase between 2007 and 2008 (see story) and means that biomass now accounts for almost a quarter (23.4%) of the 2,111,000 tonnes of wood recovered in the UK.

In addition, 71,000 tonnes of the 83,000 tonnes of waste wood exported for the year was destined for biomass, the figures show.

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Converting Boiler to Use Biomass Fuel: Drax
Submitted by Satish Verma on Thu, 07/01/2010 - 15:10

Drax, which is the UK’s largest power station, is prepared to convert one of its coal-fired boilers to make use of biomass, as the start of a move towards something that could finally see it move completely to ‘green’ fuel.

Even though Drax has burnt biomass for seven years, it has done so only by ‘co-firing’ and mixing it with huge quantities of coal.

This would be the foremost time that any chief power station had taken up an existing coal-fired turbine and changed it to be biomass-only.

Dorothy Thompson, Chief Executive of Drax, said the potential of biomass was being unnoticed.

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USDA produces short video on ethanol, E85

Ethanol Producer Magazine
July 2010
By Holly Jessen
Posted July 1, 2010

Just two weeks after USDA released its “Regional Roadmap to Meeting the Biofuels Goals of the Renewable Fuels Standard,” it now has a short video, touting the importance of ethanol and other biofuels in reducing U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.

The ethanol industry needs to go national, said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, in the video. To build the 527 biorefineries the USDA estimates will be needed to meet the goal of 36 billion gallons by 2022, a variety of feedstocks will need to be used, depending on the strengths of that region. “It’s an opportunity for us to make sure that … ethanol is more readily available to folks in all parts of the country and all four corners of the country,” he said in the video.

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New Study Predicts Yield for Biofuel Jatropha


Champaign, IL- An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy predicts the yield of the biofuel crop, Jatropha curcas L., for present and future climates.

Researchers related reproductive potential with the natural occurrence of Jatropha, with biogeographic modeling and ecological principles. This model allowed them to estimate yield response to climate factors and map worldwide productivity for present and future climates.

They used a novel fitness-based modeling approach because agroclimatic and physiological data on Jatropha is limited.

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Gene manipulation could aid biofuel development

Tampa Bay Online
The Tampa Tribune
Published: July 2, 2010

Moving a three-gene cluster from one tiny bacterium to another may make a big contribution to the quest to make commercially viable biofuels.

Working at the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute, researchers have found that the trio of genes may play a role in turning sugar molecules from plants into green biofuels.

Harry Beller, an environmental microbiologist who directs the Emeryville, Calif.-based institute's Biofuels Pathways Department, and his colleagues implanted the three-gene cluster from the bacterium Micrococcus luteus was into the well-known intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli.

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Report links policy with sustainability

Biomass Magazine
July 2010
By Lisa Gibson
Posted July 1, 2010, at 2:24 p.m. CST

Policy goals for renewable biofuels and bioenergy could be achieved, but policymakers must take steps to protect the sustainability of the nation’s forests in the face of increasing demands for woody biomass, according to “Forest Sustainability in the Development of Wood Bioenergy in the U.S.,” a recently released report by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation and the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment.

National goals of achieving greater energy security and mitigating climate change together have created rapidly expanding demands on U.S. forests for wood-based bioenergy, according to the two-year study.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

2008 Energy Balance for the Corn-Ethanol Industry


The Agricultural Resource Management Survey of corn growers for the year 2005 and
the 2008 survey of dry mill ethanol plants are used to estimate the net energy balance of
corn ethanol. This report measures all conventional fossil fuel energy used in the
production of 1 gallon of corn ethanol. The ratio is about 2.3 BTU of ethanol for 1 BTU
of energy inputs, when a portion of total energy input is allocated to byproduct and fossil
fuel is used for processing energy. The ratio is somewhat higher for some firms that are
partially substituting biomass energy in processing energy.

Read report

Genera Energy joins freeway-to-fuels movement with test plots for switchgrass along highways

Biofuels Digest
July 01, 2010 Jim Lane

In Tennessee, Genera Energy has planted several plots of switchgrass along interstate corridors in Tennessee in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). The test plots are designed to see if switchgrass can help reduce maintenance costs by reducing the need for mowing and may also have the added benefit of producing biomass for energy and reducing erosion at highway interchanges.

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Lux Research Report Shows Venture Capitalists Changing Focus in Biofuels Investment

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: June 25, 2010

Boston—Although 2009 saw venture capitalists (VCs) invest $877 million across 51 deals for bio-based fuel and materials production, that level of funding represents a 26% drop from 2008.

However, the drop may signal a regrouping rather than a retreat from the industry as many VCs rethink their investment strategies after the 2008 economic collapse.

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Ceres develops salt-tolerant trait: may open 15M US acres to energy crop cultivation

Biomass Digest
July 01, 2010 Jim Lane

In California, Ceres announced that it has developed a plant trait that could bring new life to millions of acres of abandoned or marginal cropland damaged by salts. Results in several crops, including switchgrass, have shown levels of salt tolerance not seen before. Ceres reported that its researchers tested the effects of very high salt concentrations and also seawater from the Pacific Ocean, which contains mixtures of salts in high-concentration, on improved energy grass varieties growing in its California greenhouses.

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U.S. Distillers Grains Supply-Use Under E-10, E-12 and E-15

Kansas State University
Daniel O’Brien, Extension Agricultural Economist, K-State Research and Extension
June 22, 2010

This article examines how U.S. corn supply-demand balances are likely to be effected by expanding the proportion of ethanol allowed to be mixed in U.S. fuels from 10% (i.e., E-10), to 12% (E-11) and 15% (E-15) over the next decade. June 2010 USDA World Agricultural Supply-Demand Estimates (WASDE) and 2010 USDA Agricultural Projections of grain and livestock supply, use and agricultural commodity prices for the 2010 through 2019 period are used as a basis for this analysis. United States corn and livestock supply-use projections were taken “as is” from this source with only minor adjustments. Information on 2010 USDA Agricultural Baseline Projections are available online

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Energy lab chief says tax on carbon must be part of policy shift

The Kansas City Star

The gulf oil spill has brought new attention to the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, but the U.S. will need to act boldly to get to an alternative-fuel future, the head of a federal energy laboratory said Wednesday in Kansas City.

Dan Arvizu, chief executive of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., called for a radical change in how the country thinks about energy. A multipronged and sustained approach will be necessary, he said, including a tax on carbon.

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Progress report from 25x’25 alliance released

Ethanol Producer Magazine
July 2010
By Luke Geiver
Posted June 30, 2010

The bold vision created by a renewable energy advocacy coalition calling for 25x’25 is becoming a reality. Formed in 2004, the alliance initially aimed at meeting 25 percent of the nation’s energy needs with renewable energy by 2025. A new report titled, “Meeting the 25x’25 Goal: A Progress Report,” shows that between 2004 and 2009, renewable energy produced in the U.S. increased by 23 percent. In May of 2009, 11.5 of all energy produced in the U.S. came from renewable sources, a record for the clean energy sector. Those numbers and the influence of the vision don’t appear to be shrinking. “Our vision was written into the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 by the 109th Congress,” the report stated. “Since then, our coalition has grown to include more than 900 organizations and dozens of governors.”

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Bioethanol research has increased 600 percent in last ten years

Biofuels Digest
June 28, 2010 - Jim Lane

In Washington, a report released by Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) indicates second-generation bioethanol research increased nearly 600 percent during the previous 10 years.
The report also shows that China is now leading the world in bioethanol patent activity, either an early indicator that the country will lead the world in the commercialization of new bioethanols or that the country is quick to protect its intellectual property. Conversely, the U.S. led in the publication of scientific journal literature regarding bioethanol.

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DSM predicted to launch new family of cellulosic ethanol

Biofuels Digest
June 27, 2010 Jim Lane

In Washington, a report in the Financial Times predicted that DSM will launch a new family of cellulosic ethanol enzymes at the 2010 BIO convention in DC. According to the FT report, the enzymes will be able to ferment C5 as well as C6 sugars and will be able to tolerate temperatures of up to 65 degrees Celsius, providing for much higher conversion efficiencies as well as lower energy inputs. The company developed the enzymes from a fungus discovered in decomposing compost, which has developed a degree of heat tolerance. Both Novozymes and Genencor have released new enzyme families this year as competition continues to “heat up” in ethanol fermentation. DSM is projecting a multi-billion dollar market for enzymes for advanced biofuels.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

DOE Sees Long Road Ahead for Algae Fuels

The New York Times
By JENNY MANDEL of Greenwire
Published: June 29, 2010

Biofuels squeezed from the cells of purpose-grown algae hold promise to help meet the country's need for non-petroleum fuels, but the technology is at an early stage and will require years of development to reach commercialization, the Energy Department said in a report finalized yesterday.

DOE's "National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap" was released in final form yesterday after a year of public comment and revisions on a draft.

The document (pdf), which aims to summarize the state of technology today and point to directions for future work, dives into great detail on the biology of various kinds of algae, means of cultivating and harvesting them, and how they can be processed into fuel.

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Feds back OFA, OSCIA for ag biomass research

Eastern Edition Country Guide
Staff 6/29/2010 10:22:00 PM

An Ontario farmers' research partnership to study all aspects of growing, storing and gathering farmed biomass and how best to profit from it has picked up $2.4 million in federal funding.

The funding for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association was pledged Tuesday from the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP), delivered in Ontario by the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC).

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