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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

NREL releases BioEnergy Atlas – a comprehensive biomass mapping application
Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Sep. 28, 2010

BioEnergy Atlas, a Web portal that provides access to two bioenergy analysis and mapping tools, was released today by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The visualization screening tools, BioPower and BioFuels Atlas, allow users to layer related bioenergy data onto a single map to gather information on biomass feedstocks, biopower and biofuels potential, production and distribution. BioEnergy Atlas is an improvement over current tools in that it enables more timely and accurate analysis of the potential of given sites to be successful biomass producers.

BioEnergy Atlas users will include government and state agencies, universities, the petroleum and pipeline industries, research institutions, vehicle manufacturers, investment firms, GIS companies, private citizens, and media. Technology providers and biofuels project developers can easily view areas with the highest concentration of available feedstocks and target those areas for project development. The tool also highlights geographical areas where more infrastructure is needed, which helps federal and state policymakers identify areas for focus. The tool combines the geographic visualization of regional resources and energy usage with high-level yield calculations to provide first-level screening of project feasibility and state bioenergy potential.

The BioEnergy Atlas is accessible at

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Cunning Capitalists Go Blazing Into Biofuels
Sep. 24 2010 - 1:04 pm
Posted by Hilary Kramer

There’s a new wave of capitalists with a conscience at the helm of tomorrow’s green energy revolution. These entrepreneurs are trailblazing into areas of clean technology that will ultimately be integral and fundamental aspects of the plastics, chemicals and fuel industries. These promising, clean and cost-efficient new areas of growth are known as the bioproduct and biofuel markets.

Companies are using proprietary technology that takes inputs as diverse as algae, willow trees and sugar cane to produce oils and biomaterials in standard fermentation facilities quickly, cleanly, inexpensively and on a large scale.

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US on track to finish test on higher ethanol blend

Reuters Africa
Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:39pm GMT
By Russell Blinch

* DOE to complete data for '07 and newer cars this month
* Data for 2001 to 2006 cars expected end November
* EPA will make decision within 2 weeks after gets data
* Trade group says bit-by-bit decisions could harm market

WASHINGTON, Sept 23 (Reuters) - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Thursday his department was on schedule to deliver testing data on a higher blend of ethanol for motor
vehicle gasoline. "We're going to have all the information ready for the EPA by the end of the month," Chu told reporters at a conference. The Department of Energy is studying whether fuel
containing 15 percent ethanol, known as E15, can be burned safely in traditional car engines. The current blend level is 10 percent.

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University of Illinois and USDA Scientists Study International Ethanol Production Methods to Improve Wet-Milling Process

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: September 27, 2010

Researchers at the University of Illinois have teamed with two USDA laboratories to fine tune their research in the corn wet-milling process, using small, single-owner plants in other countries.

Vijay Singh, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, has led the field in the development of a process called enzymatic corn wet milling.

"This process reduces steep time and produces starch yields comparable to conventional corn wet milling," said Singh.

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‘Blend Your Own’ webinar set for Oct. 20

Ethanol Producer Magazine
October 2010
By Holly Jessen
Posted Sept. 28, 2010

Now’s the time to register for a webinar titled “Ethanol 2011: New Fuels, New Rules.” The event is being held Oct. 20 by the Blend Your Own Ethanol Campaign, a joint effort of the American Coalition for Ethanol and the Renewable Fuels Association. “This webinar is available for anyone interested in learning more about ethanol blender pumps,” said Robert White, director of market development for RFA, “but we believe it is critical that petroleum marketers and station owners participate.”

Ethanol producers may want to listen in, too, said Ron Lamberty, vice president and director of market development for ACE. It’s an opportunity for an ethanol plant board member or employee to learn more about blender pumps and pass that information on to a gas station located nearby—or at least direct them where to get the information.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What to do with crop residue?

Carmi Times
By Jennifer Shike
University of Illinois
Posted Sep 26, 2010 @ 05:41 PM

Urbana Ill. — The buzz about crop residue is increasing after the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Biomass Program's announcement to increase the use of crop residue as a source of biomass for renewable fuel production.

"Crop residue can be fermented, burned, charred or gasified to produce energy," said Fabián Fernández, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition. "However the residue is used, one thing is certain - it needs to be taken out of the field."

Fernández said it's difficult to determine the amount of corn stover (all above-ground corn plant material except grain) that can be removed without adverse consequences to the soil's level of organic matter, or physical and chemical properties, and to successive crop yields. Because the effect of residue removal is not apparent in the short term, multiple variables can impact results. Tillage, crop rotation and yield level are factors that will dictate how much crop residue can be harvested and still ensure sustainability of the system.

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EPA ponders biogenic emissions reporting

Ethanol Producer Magazine
September 2010
By Kris Bevill
Posted Sept. 20, 2010

The U.S. EPA is in the process of evaluating comments it received in response to a call for information regarding the inclusion of biogenic emissions when accounting for a facility’s total amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Earlier this year, the EPA finalized its Tailoring Rule, which set in motion the process of holding facilities accountable for GHG emissions in addition to pollutants already regulated by the agency. When the Tailoring Rule was initially proposed, the EPA exempted biogenic emissions—emissions that occur as a result of the combustion or decomposition of biological materials—from GHG accounting approaches. But when the final rule was announced, the EPA had reversed its stance and included those emissions in its accounting framework.

Hundreds of comments were submitted to the EPA offering opinion and technical information regarding this decision. Many comments were from concerned citizens, some who support exempting biogenic emissions and others who believe there is no such thing as a carbon-neutral emission. Representatives from affected sources, including landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, livestock management facilities and ethanol production facilities, also filed comments to argue that biogenic emissions have been historically excluded from GHG emission calculations and deviating from that standard would disrupt an internationally acceptable protocol.

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US sees biomass prices increase

BioEnergy Insight
27 September 2010

During the recession, as the cost of fossil fuels went down, so did the prices of woody biomass used for energy. However in the third quarter of 2010 biomass prices have risen in the south, the northwest and the southwest of the US, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review.

Compared to the previous quarter prices for woody biomass, including sawmill by-products, forest residues and urban wood waste were higher in Q3 2010 in most regions throughout the US.

The North America Wood Fiber Review reported that the northwest saw the biggest increase, where forest biomass prices have increased 19% from the second quarter.

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Camelina: Potential biofuels crop in western Nebraska

North Platte Bulletin
by IANR News Service - 9/22/2010

Camelina just might fill a niche in the western part of the state as an oilseed crop that is suited for bio-based oil applications.

Camelina is a yellow-flowering oilseed crop that grows one to three feet tall. It has some advantages as an industrial oil crop, said University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientist Ed Cahoon. For example, it's not widely used for food, so there's little risk of mixing food and non-food traits. It also requires little irrigation.

"It's well suited for western Nebraska," Cahoon said.

Cahoon, a lipid biochemist and molecular biologist, and his colleague Tom Clemente recently received a $500,000, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to research the crop's potential for development of industrial lubricants.

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New EU report on indirect land use change

Biofuels Digest
September 28, 2010 Jim Lane

In Italy, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) published a new report on Indirect Land-Use Change (ILUC), which has become a hot debate topic surrounding the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, that establishes a 10% target for renewable energy in transport fuels by 2020, and its Sustainability Criteria. The report was published the same day as the European Commission held a public consultation on ILUC in Brussels.

The report, Biofuels: a New Methodology to Estimate GHG Emissions from Global Land Use Change, is another in a series of reports published by the European Commission and others that strives to further understand the phenomena surrounding ILUC and how to calculate its impact in relating to biofuels, using modeling.

Read report

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Biorefinery Project of the Future – Part 3 of 10 – adding renewable chemicals production

Biofuels Digest
September 24, 2010 Jim Lane

If we have learned anything from the stories of hot companies like Amyris, LS9, Gevo, Solazyme, ZeaChem, Algenol, or Cobalt Technologies, as well as exciting pure-plays like Segetis, Elevance, GlycosBio or Rivertop Renewables, it is the importance of producing chemicals or other bio-based materials first to generate revenues, before taking the company further down the cost curve and up in scale in order to make competitively-priced renewable fuels.

Not every company is going down this route. Among the most prominent of the pure-play fuel companies are groups like Sapphire Energy and Butamax, while companies such as POET have developed strong markets in bio-based products such as their Dakota Gold distillers grains without yet venturing into exotic plastics or chemicals.

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Densification conference panel has torrefaction emphasis

Biomass Magazine
September 2010
By Lisa Gibson
Posted September 24, 2010, at 11:21 a.m. CST

Torrefaction is the hot topic and reoccurring theme for the biomass densification panel at the Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show Nov. 2-4 in Atlanta, with three of four speakers focusing on it in their presentations.

Densification Strategies to Increase the Viability of Biomass as a Power Feedstock will explore densification, transportation and pretreatments among other pertinent topics to the biomass arena in the Southeast U.S. As most biomass harvesters and developers know, densification can alleviate issues related to high transportation costs and low energy density.

In his presentation titled Torrefaction: Producing a Coal Replacement for Electric Generation and Industrial Heat and Power, Joseph James, president of South Carolina-based Agri-Tech Producers LLC, will discuss how the torrefaction of wood and plant biomass creates a renewable solid fuel with increased energy and physical density. Untreated wood has a Btu value of about 4,500, James cited, while torrefied wood can range from 10,000 to 12,000 Btu.

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Vilsack expects E15 decision by next month

Truth About Trade & Technology
Friday, 24 September 2010 23:40
Brownfield Ag Network
By Tom Steever
September 21, 2010

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is confident that the Environmental Protection Agency will raise the current 10-percent ethanol blend cap to 15 percent, and that the new blend will be selling by next spring. But instead of expecting the decision by late summer, Vilsack now expects the EPA announcement by early to mid-October.

According to a DTN report, the EPA is holding off a final decision until the Department of Energy completes testing of higher ethanol blends on 2007 and newer vehicles, which is expected to be done by the end of September. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says Department of Energy testing of 2001 to 2006 vehicles should be wrapped up by the end of November, with a decision about whether to grant a waiver on those shortly thereafter.

Vilsack says that even if EPA approves E15 for some, but not all vehicles, it will still help expand the market.

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Brazil Opens Pioneering Factory Producing Eco-friendly Plastic

Manila Bulletin Publishing Company
September 26, 2010, 12:30am

TRIUNFO, Brazil (Xinhua) - President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says a pioneering factory in southern Brazil that produces "green" plastic clearly shows the value of sugarcane-based ethanol.

"It demonstrates to the world that ethanol can find an important place even in sectors that once depended solely on oil," the president said Friday during the opening of the factory.

"I am sure this does not happen by chance, but because Brazil has learned how to reconcile natural soil wealth and climate with heavy investment in research and technology," he said.

The factory has a capacity to produce 200,000 tons of "green" polyethylene a year and will consume about 462 million liters of ethanol per year.

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Ohio Offers $8M Boost to Ethanol, Biodiesel Plants
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – September 24th, 2010

The U.S. federal government may be dragging its heels on its support for biofuels, but many states, including Ohio, are stepping up to plate. The Dayton Business Journal has reported that Ohio has designated an $8 million fund to boost biofuel production by subsidizing ethanol and biodiesel refining equipment purchases. The program is designed to give ethanol and biodiesel equipment manufactures based in Ohio a market boost.

The money is actually coming from the state’s $96 million energy project allocation as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Ohio Department of Development’s Energy Resources Division is currently accepting applications for funding under the Advancing Biofuels Beyond the Basics program. Awards will be given for projects not to exceed $1 million for any one project, and are designated for the purchase of equipment that will increase second generation ethanol refining capacity or biodiesel production facilities.

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Nelson, Farm Bureau say EPA actions endanger state's ag industry

Grand Island Independent
Published: Saturday, September 25, 2010 9:47 PM CDT

Both U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Nebraska Farm Bureau have recently expressed concern over a series of actions and proposals by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concerning agriculture.

Nelson recently brought up his concerns at a Senate hearing with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Nebraska Farm Bureau is asking the state’s congressional delegation to work with their colleagues to halt EPA’s “non-stop regulatory assault on the state’s farmers and ranchers and their counterparts nationwide.”

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Study Shows Higher Compression Ratios Boost the Performance of Both Hydrous Ethanol and E22 Blend
By Green Car Congress on 09/26/2010 – 8:40 am PDT

A study by a team at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (Brazil) found that higher compression ratios in a spark-ignition engine improved performance of both an E22 blend (78% gasoline, 22% ethanol) as well as neat hydrous ethanol. The paper was published online 15 September in the journal Applied Thermal Engineering.

In ethanol production, the beer resulting from the fermentation is processed in distillation columns where an azeotropic mixture of ethanol and water is separated out from the rest of the stillage. This product is referred to as hydrous ethanol—approximately 93% ethanol and 7% water. To be used as a supplementary blend in low levels with gasoline, this hydrous ethanol needs to be dehydrated, resulting in anhydrous ethanol.

The process of dehydration is costly and energy-consuming. A study on the use of E10-E26 hydrous ethanol blends by HE Blends BV in the Netherlands noted that hydrous ethanol is 10%-20% less expensive than anhydrous ethanol, is easier to produce and to handle, and offers a better life cycle emissions profile than anhydrous ethanol. (Earlier post.)

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Auburn - College of Agriculture receives $6 million in grants

The Auburn Plainsman
by Charles Martin / WRITER The Auburn Plainsman

The National Science Foundation has awarded Auburn University a $4.6 million grant to renovate research laboratories that will enhance the University’s biological engineering programs.

The College of Agriculture’s Department of Biosystems Engineering will use the funding to upgrade the Tom Corley Building Annex, which was constructed in 1948.

The renovated 23,000-square-foot facility will allow Auburn to increase its research into bioenergy and bioproducts engineering, ecological engineering, food safety engineering, biosystems automation and best management technologies.

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Opportunites for Biorefineries Symposium Just Around the Corner
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – September 23rd, 2010

The Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research (CABER), part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, is hosting a symposium on Near-term Opportunities for Biorefineries on October 11-12, 2010

Among the topics discussed will be the impact of technology improvements and utilization of value-added co-products of corn ethanol production. Attendees will also learn about the political and economic considerations that affect the development of improved technology as well as the proposed Renewable Fuels Standards (RFS2) requirements and implications.

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Link to the Symposium

U of Nevada tests sludge-to-power process

Biomass Magazine
September 2010
By Lisa Gibson
Posted September 20, 2010, at 1:43 p.m. CST

If a University of Nevada, Reno, research project works as planned, municipal wastewater treatment facilities could turn their sludge into power for their own operations.

Researchers are demonstrating their sludge-drying equipment at the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility and ultimately hope to gasify the dry sludge product to power the plant. The system currently takes 20 pounds of sludge per hour and produces about 3 pounds of dried powder, but would need to be about 100 hundreds times that size to be commercially attractive to the industry, according to Chuck Coronella, principle investigator for the project and associate professor of chemical engineering at the school.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

The Biorefinery Project of the Future – Part II of 10 – Add Cellulosic biomass

Biofuels Digest
September 23, 2010
Jim Lane

The Backstory.

In part I of our series, we outlined the beginnings of the Bioenergy Project of the Future, based on dozens of interviews on the future of technology, policy, rural communities, finance, and the demand for bio-based products and renewable fuels.

We outlined three principles for development: First do no harm. Less is more. Add ingredients slowly and stir.

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Ethanol subsidies in doubt as politicians quiet on renewal

Minnesota Public Radio
by Mark Steil, Minnesota Public Radio
September 17, 2010

Worthington, Minn. — The next few months are likely to be critical for the ethanol industry as two key subsidies for the alternative fuel expire in December -- and it's unclear if Congress will renew them.

One subsidy, called the blenders credit, pays refiners to mix ethanol into their gasoline. The other limits competition from ethanol imports. Together the two cost taxpayers about $6 billion a year.

So far Congress hasn't shown much interest in renewing the subsidies, which date back decades. That's a big change from just a few years ago, when ethanol was Washington's alternative fuel of choice. In 2006, the fuel rated a mention in President George W. Bush's State of the Union speech.

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International Maritime Organization Approves Proposal to Classify DDGS as Non-Hazardous Cargo
Date Posted: September 17, 2010

This week in London the key subcommittee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) approved a U.S. proposal that distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) be classified as a non-hazardous cargo.

“This is a major step toward resolving confusion that has emerged about shipping requirements for DDGS,” said Erick Erickson, U.S. Grains Council special assistant for planning, evaluation and projects.

The subcommittee decision is expected to be ratified by the Maritime Safety Committee when it meets in December.

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Not Just Fishing for a New Uses for DDGS

National Corn Growers Association

Sept. 20, 2010: In Japan, a recent distiller’s dried grains with solubles fish feeding trial proved that DDGS offer a viable alternative to high priced fishmeal rations in trout diets. The fish produced using U.S. DDGS were found to have equal or greater quality meat while produced with lower input costs. The U.S. Grains Council conducted the trial at a rainbow trout commercial aquaculture farm in the Aichi Prefecture in response to the rising cost of fishmeal, a high demand ingredient throughout Asia with limited supply.

Mr. Akio Yonehana of the Aichi Trout Farmers Cooperative Association presented the results at a DDGS seminar conducted in Tokyo and Sizuoka. The trial showed that trout farmers can lower feed cost per weight gain by at least 10 percent by replacing 15 percent of the fishmeal inclusion with the high protein U.S. DDGS. There was also no yellow-coloring in the muscles of the trout, showing whiter fish meat in the DDGS fed group.

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University set to host biorefinery symposium

Daily Illini (University of Illinois)
Colleen Vest
New Posted: September 22nd, 2010 - 1:07 PM

The Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research, within ACES, is hosting a symposium to discuss opportunities and new technology for biorefineries.

Representatives from the ethanol industry, people within academia, national research scientists and grad students from the University are expected to attend, said Natalie Bosecker, coordinator of communications and external relations for the Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research.

"There are new renewable fuel standards and policies being talked about in Washington, D.C.," Bosecker said. "People at the symposium will talk about new technology to meet those new fuel standards."

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Vaporizing biodiesel for natural gas turbines

Biodiesel Magazine
October 2010
Posted Sept. 22, 2010

LPP Combustion LLC has successfully demonstrated the clean generation of green, dispatchable, renewable electric power from a 30kW Capstone C30 gas turbine using biodiesel. The LPP Combustion skid-based technology vaporizes liquid fuels into an inert gas, creating a substitute natural gas trademarked LPP Gas, which is then used to power combustion devices. The company behind the technology, LPP Combustion, has installed a demonstration unit in Columbia, Md., to obtain operational experience regarding the clean combustion of a wide array of liquid fuels, including biodiesel.

Initial demonstrations have used an LPP Combustion fuel preparation skid together with a Capstone C30 gas turbine. The Capstone turbine, designed for operation on natural gas, is connected to the local utility grid. The LPP Combustion hardware allows operation on a range of liquid fuels without modification of the combustion device, delivering LPP Gas in the same manner as natural gas.

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California bioenergy bill killed

Biomass Magazine
September 2010
By Anna Austin
Posted September 22, 2010, at 3:30 p.m. CST

A bill (AB 222) that would have expedited the introduction of new conversion technologies to produce green power and advanced biofuels from solid waste materials in California is officially dead, due to lack of key support needed from five democrats on the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.

Bioenergy Producers Association Chairman Jim Stewart said the dismissal of AB 222 was a major blow to a key element in California’s Bioenergy Action Plan, which the bill was consistent with. “The five democrats on the Senate Environmental Quality Committee ignored and literally swept aside more than 100 statewide endorsements of AB 222, including those of the California Energy Commission, the Air Resources Board and CalRecycle, the former Integrated Waste Management Board,” Stewart said.

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The Root Impact of Climate Change (Kansas City)
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

MU researchers go underground to study how plant roots respond to climate change
Columbia, MO - infoZine - When people discuss climate change, they usually think of impacts above ground, such as atmospheric changes, rising ocean levels, or melting glaciers. Less attention is paid to the effects right under their feet. Now, with the help of a $1.2 million grant from the federal Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program, University of Missouri researchers are peering underground to see how climate change affects plant roots.

“Water availability and soil temperature can influence root growth, root length and extension, and initiation of new lateral roots and root hairs, which ultimately impact the productivity of the entire plant,” said Gary Stacey, professor of plant sciences and member of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group in the MU Bond Life Sciences Center. “When we include the effects of plant genetic diversity in these responses, the full complexity of the impacts of climate change on the plant root environment becomes clear.”

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The Biorefinery Project of the Future: Part I of a 10-part series

Biofuels Digest
September 22, 2010
Jim Lane

In Iowa, the Digest today commences a 10-part series on the Bioenergy Project of the Future, based on dozens of interviews on the future of technology, policy, rural communities, finance, and the demand for bio-based products and renewable fuels.

We have spoken to farmers, local business owners, environmentalists, community development officials, engine developers, scientists, policy makers, producers, investors, lenders, blenders, wholesalers, retailers, and end users. We have visited development projects on four continents. We have given it our all.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Progress for Abengoa’s Kansas cellulosic ethanol project
Published: September 20, 2010 By James Cartledge

Abengoa Bioenergy has secured 60% of the feedstocks it needs for its hybrid ethanol facility being developed in Hugoton, Kansas.

The company, part of Spanish multinational Abengoa, revealed last week that progress made this year suggests the plant should be operational in 2013.

As well as continuing to build biomass supply commitments for the plant with local farmers, Abengoa said it is in the process of finalizing the process design, based on data from its pilot plant in York and demonstration plant in Salamanca, Spain.

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UN releases “Engaging Stakeholders on Bioenergy Development.”

Biofuels Digest
September 21, 2010 Jim Lane

The United Nations Environment Programme has released its Bioenergy Issue Paper Series No. 4, “Engaging Stakeholders on Bioenergy Development.” UNEP officials said that the paper “gives decision-makers, on both a policy level and project level, an outline of the key processes that are needed for stakeholder engagement in bioenergy planning.

It illustrates the importance of stakeholder engagement as a tool for sustainable project implementation, and addresses the difference between the engagement process and tokenism in practice.”

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The paper is downloadable here.

Who Owns Biomass - Tenant or Landowner?

Dakota Farmer

Who owns the biomass? NDSU economists are asking that question as they study the feasibility of producing wheat straw and other crop residues for the proposed Spiritwood, N.D., biofuels plant.

Farmers who rent land argue that biomass is theirs, like the grain they produce on cash-rented land, says Cole Gustafson, NDSU Extension biofuels economist.

But landowners can argue they own the biomass. Stalks and straw are usually left on the land after the grain is removed. They protect the soil from wind erosion and, as they decompose, build organic matter and soil health

"North Dakota law states that tenants own production that accrues over the rental period, which broadly includes crop residues," says David Saxowsky, an NDSU agricultural attorney. "This line of reasoning is consistent with past practices which allow tenants to remove straw for feed and bedding. A specific law supporting this view is North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) 47-16-04. It says that in the absence of any agreement to the contrary between the lessor and the lessee, the products received from real property during the term of a lease belong to the lessee."

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Second Look at USDA Ethanol Energy Balance Report
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – September 22nd, 2010

A report released by USDA in June on the energy balance of ethanol plants is getting a second look this week, thanks to a post on the USDA blog.

The second look is well deserved, since the report, titled “2008 Energy Balance for the Corn Ethanol Industry,” got less coverage than it deserves when it was first released. The findings of the report are significant because they specifically tackle the much-publicized claims of David Pimental that ethanol production results in a net energy loss. The USDA report updates the energy balance numbers by taking into account current practices used by both corn producers and ethanol processors that have led to increased efficiencies and concludes that “A dry grind ethanol plant that produces and sells dry distiller’s grains and uses conventional fossil fuel power for thermal energy and electricity produces nearly two times more energy in the form of ethanol delivered to customers than it uses for corn, processing, and transportation.”

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Miscanthus Biomass Pilot Project in Ohio


Oxford Resource Partners, LP and Mendel Biotechnology, Inc. Announce a Miscanthus Biomass Pilot Project in Ohio

Opportunity to Convert Reclaimed Mine Lands for Renewable Energy
COLUMBUS, Ohio and HAYWARD, Calif., Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Oxford Resource Partners, LP (NYSE: OXF) ("Oxford") and Mendel Biotechnology, Inc. ("Mendel") today announced their collaborative agreement to develop a pilot project to produce Mendel's proprietary Miscanthus varieties on land previously reclaimed from mining operations by Oxford. The goal of the project is to demonstrate the feasibility and economic viability of biomass production from dedicated energy crops in eastern Ohio.

Miscanthus is a genus of high-yielding perennial grass that has shown great promise as a sustainable source of renewable energy. Its deep rhizome structure and broad adaptation make it a potentially attractive crop for converting reclaimed mine land to a source of biomass for electricity or liquid transportation fuel.

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Brazil's Ethanol Fuel Production to Reach 64 Billion Liters in 10 Years

Manilla Bulletin
September 21, 2010, 1:21pm

RIO DE JANEIRO (Xinhua) - Brazil's ethanol fuel production will reach 64 billion liters in 2019, more than twice the amount currently produced, Mines and energy Minister Marcio Zimmerman said Monday.

"Brazil produces 26 billion liters today and will reach 64 billion liters in 2019. With that, we will even have a surplus to export," said Zimmerman in Sao Paulo.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Challenges, opportunities lie ahead for biomass energy production

High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal

Opportunities and challenges are evident as the biomass industry develops new and innovative methods of producing renewable energy across the U.S., according to Texas AgriLife experts.

Scientists from Texas AgriLife Research and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service recently discussed ongoing biomass production and logistical efforts in producing renewable energy from biomass at a conference in College Station.

Members of the Rural Alliance for Renewable Energy, which includes AgriLife Research, co-sponsored the event held at the Clayton Williams Jr. Alumni Center at Texas A&M University.

From a logistics standpoint, biomass crops such as sorghum and miscanthus can produce high yields, but removing moisture during harvesting and processing is a big challenge, the experts said.

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Improved Labs Energize Biomass Research (Nanotechnology Now)
By Heather Lammers
Boulder, CO Posted on September 18th, 2010

Technologies to convert plants into fuels are on the cutting edge when it comes to helping the U.S. wean itself from foreign oil. But the old laboratory designs were not helping NREL researchers in their efforts to be as efficient as possible.

"The way that labs are designed today is much different than 20 years ago and the old labs were inadequate to support the capabilities we've developed in research and analysis," said National Bioenergy Center Director Mike Cleary. "The reconfigured labs make much better use of the space and will make us much more efficient in achieving our milestones."

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EPA emissions rules could hinder ethanol

Des Moines Register
By PHILIP BRASHER • • September 19, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Biofuels producers don't like to think of themselves as a cause of global warming, but that's how they could be regulated under the Obama administration's regulations on greenhouse gases.

The regulations, due to take effect in January, would count as greenhouse gases the carbon dioxide that's released when corn is fermented into motor fuel or when corn stalks, straw and other sources of biomass are burned to make electricity.

That means a paperwork and financial burden for most of the state's 39 ethanol plants. The regulations won't require polluters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but could in the future.

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EU study points to U.S. RFS2 for success

Ethanol Producer Magazine
September 2010
By Holly Jessen
Posted Sept. 16, 2010

A study of the future of next-generation biofuels in Europe determined that a first priority for policy makers is to introduce a European Union-wide mandate—similar to the U.S. Renewable Fuels Standard.

“Next-generation Ethanol and Biochemicals: What’s in it for Europe” was released Sept. 14 by Bloomberg New Energy Finance with the support of Novozymes A/S and Royal DSM NV. The study concluded that, using agricultural residues to create biofuels and biochemicals, the 27 EU member countries could create up to one million jobs and replace between 52 and 62 percent of its annual gasoline consumption over the next decade. Beyond that, next-generation biofuels, if implemented on a large scale, will spur economic growth and reduce CO2 emissions, it said.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Lawrence Berkeley Lab seeks second campus

Sep 16th, 2010 by Lance Knobel.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory seems to Berkeleyans to sprawl over the hills above the university. But with only 200 acres, the lab finds itself pressed for space. Most of the 4,200 employees are on the site in the Berkeley hills, but about 20% are at the Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville, the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in Oakland or the Life Sciences Division in West Berkeley.

LBL plans to issue a Request for Proposals for a full second campus for the lab, which would consolidate the minor sites and provide room for expansion. The new site will be within 20 minutes of the main campus in the hills, which means it could be anywhere from Richmond in the north to Alameda in the south. The only certain site to be evaluated is the Richmond Field Station, which is owned by the University of California, which operates the lab under contract from the Department of Energy.

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BBI International Launches Biorefining Magazine and Conference

16 September 2010 - BBI International, a leader in globally recognized bioenergy events and trade magazines, has launched a new magazine and international conference. Biorefining magazine and the aligned International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show will provide a new communications avenue for the emergent global industry of advanced biofuel and biobased chemical production.

"With this dedicated biorefining publication and corresponding event, we're producing highly focused, vertically integrated editorial content and conference programming," says Ron Kotrba, editor of Biorefining. "Starting in October, Biomass Magazine will be rebranded as Biomass Power & Thermal to illustrate the three-year-old publication's exclusive editorial focus on the biobased electricity and heat generation sectors. At the same time, the editors of Biorefining will focus on advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals. This strategy will allow us to serve our readers even more effectively."

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Link to new magazine

Senate unable to pass biodiesel extension

Jacqui Fatka

Thursday the Senate voted 41-58 against a motion to suspend the rules and accept an amendment offered by Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R., Iowa), to enact a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax credit. The motion needed 67 votes to pass and was needed because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D., Nev.), had filed an amendment tree preventing additional amendments from being filed.

The American Soybean Assn., expressed disappointment over the once again failed attempt. ASA will continue to press its case in the weeks remaining before Congress adjourns to campaign for the upcoming elections, the association said. Although hopes of anything significant passing during a lame duck session are unlikely, there has been some discussion of a light energy bill coming up during a lame duck. When questioned whether the biodiesel tax extension has a chance of seeing approval doing lame duck, a spokeswoman for Grassley's office noted, "I don’t think anybody can speculate with any sort of certainty as to what will happen in the lame duck."

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Brazil ethanol exports to stay weak in 2011 -trade

Reuters Africa
Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:55pm GMT
By Inae Riveras

* Strong currency makes Brazilian ethanol less competitive
* More flex cars to raise local demand for ethanol
* Supply uncertain as dry weather could dent 2011 harvest

SAO PAULO, Sept 15 (Reuters) - A strong Brazilian currency and high global sugar prices will keep foreign demand for its cane-derived ethanol subdued in 2011, traders said on Wednesday, but domestic demand should absorb much of the supply.

Traders, speaking on the sidelines of a biofuel seminar in Sao Paulo, said they expected shipments during next season, the 2011/12 crop year, to remain unchanged from this year's 1.3 billion liters. Brazil should produce about 28.4 billion liters during the current season, the government forecasts.

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Hatcher Team Creates New Process to Boost Biofuel Production from Algae

News@OldDominion (Old Dominion University, Virginia)

Just when you're sure that algae are a good source of biodiesel fuel, along comes a new scheme to wring even more alternative energy from the green scum.

During the past five years, researchers at Old Dominion University have devised ways to cultivate and harvest microscopic algae, and then to convert them into a biodiesel fuel by a proprietary one-step process. Now they have discovered another process - which they also hope to patent - that produces a versatile, algae-based liquid similar to crude oil.

Patrick Hatcher, the ODU Batten Endowed Chair in Physical Sciences and the executive director of the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium (VCERC), said in an interview Friday, Aug. 20, that this new oil he and collaborators are producing can be refined into gasoline and jet fuel, as well as diesel fuel.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Neutrons helping ORNL researchers unlock secrets to cheaper ethanol
9/15/2010 4:28:50 PM

New insight into the structure of switchgrass and poplars is fueling discussions that could result in more efficient methods to turn biomass into biofuel.

Researchers from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Georgia Tech used small-angle neutron scattering to probe the structural impact of an acid pretreatment of lignocellulose from switchgrass. Pretreatment is an essential step to extract cellulose, which can through a series of enzymatic procedures be converted into sugars and then ethanol. The findings, published in Biomacromolecules, could help scientists identify the most effective pretreatment strategy and lower the cost of the biomass conversion process.

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British researchers unlock sugar secret

Ethanol Producer Magazine
September 2010
By Kris Bevill
Posted Sept. 15, 2010

A long-term research project being funded by Britain’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council achieved a significant breakthrough recently when researchers successfully modified plant genes to more easily access the sugars locked inside lignocellulose. The finding could result in more cost-effective cellulosic ethanol conversion from plant matter such as corn stover and miscanthus, as well as woody biomass.

The research team’s discovery centered around the modification of enzymes that control xylan, one of the main components of lignocellulose. Approximately one-third of a plant’s sugars that could be used for ethanol production are locked away inside the xylan, according to lead researcher and University of Cambridge professor Paul Dupree. Until the discovery, it has been problematic for researchers to determine how to access those sugars. “We don’t understand how that sugar is locked away and why it’s difficult to release sugar that can be fermented,” Dupree said. “What we have discovered is one of the ways that the plant makes it difficult for us and how to overcome that. The consequences are that when this is deployed it should be cheaper and use less energy to release the sugars from maize stover, wheat straw, wood, and that makes [ethanol production] more economically viable.”

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Study Finds 15 Percent Ethanol Safe for Older Vehicles
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – September 15th, 2010

Landmark research by an internationally recognized engineering firm finds that E15 should be safe for older vehicles.
According to the study, carried out by Ricardo, Inc. on behalf of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), moving from 10 percent ethanol in gasoline to 15 percent will mean little, if any, change on the performance of older cars and light trucks, those manufactured between 1994 and 2000. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently considering a fuel waiver request to allow ethanol to be blended up to 15 percent, but the agency has indicated it may only approve the waiver for 2001 and newer vehicles only.

The study analyzed the vehicles manufactured by six companies and which represent 25% (62.8 million vehicles) of light duty vehicles on the road today, concluded “that the adoption and use of E15 in the motor vehicle fleet from the studied model years should not adversely affect these vehicles or cause them to perform in a sub-optimal manner when compared with their performance using the E10 blend that is currently available.”

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Researchers: Develop Biofuels and Advanced Engines
Posted by John Davis – September 15th, 2010

The next generation of biofuels must be developed in conjunction with advanced combustion engines, if there is to be long-term success of those biofuels. That word comes from researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories.

The recommendations were made following a Sandia-hosted workshop held in November, Next Generation Biofuels and Advanced Engines for Tomorrow’s Transportation Needs. Participants included researchers at the Department of Energy’s Combustion Research Facility (CRF) and Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), as well as representatives from oil companies, biofuel developers, engine manufacturers, suppliers and experts from the university, regulatory, finance and national laboratory communities.

The full report is now available online at

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SD flex-fuel vehicles test lower ethanol blend

Associated Press - September 9, 2010 10:55 AM ET

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The state of South Dakota's flexible fuel vehicles have switched to a lower ethanol blend after preliminary tests indicated that E-85 wasn't saving any money.

State pumps in Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Pierre that were carrying the 85% gas-ethanol blend are now dispensing E-30. Tests on the 30% blend will run through the end of the year.

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We are moving toward a carbon economy

Individual sectors of the economy have long recognized the importance of carbon and carbon-based materials to their activities, competitiveness and profitability. However, it wasn't until recently that it became clear that carbon will be a major consideration, and perhaps one of a select few key considerations, for industry and the economy in general, both in the United States and abroad.

The importance of carbon can be broken down into three main areas:

•Carbon as a raw material/feedstock basic commodity
•Carbon as a material for emerging technologies and applications
•Carbon as a measure of cost, a medium for exchange, and a key environmental metric.

This article seeks to explore and explain the growing importance carbon has in each of these areas, and how this growth indicates that carbon will be a primary consideration in the economy of the future.

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University of Buffalo Scientists Study Development of More Robust Yeast Strains for Biofuels Production

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: September 10, 2010

Buffalo, NY—A University at Buffalo chemist is applying a common mathematical concept to synthetic biology research aimed at finding ways to boost biofuels production.

Synthetic biology is a rapidly growing field in which microorganisms are engineered to produce novel chemicals, such as pharmaceuticals or fuels.

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Study: Europe Could Replace Half Of Gasoline With Biofuels By 2020
September 15th, 2010
By Bengt Halvorson

By 2020, a new report says, biofuels could replace 50 percent of EU gasoline, but that would require 100 new refineries per year. And in this scenario, it estimates, the biofuels industry could be worth about $40 billion.

The Bloomberg New Energy Finance study says that just using the waste biomass that's currently being generated, could go toward replacing 60 percent of liquid fuels.

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Biomass Report

Convergence of Agriculture and Energy:
IV. Infrastructure Considerations for Biomass Harvest, Transportation, and Storage

Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). 2010. Convergence of Agriculture and Energy: IV. Infrastructure Considerations for Biomass Harvest, Transportation, and Storage. CAST Commentary QTA2010-1. CAST, Ames, Iowa.

Read the report (pdf)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Synthetic Fuels Research Aims to Reduce Oil Dependence
Written by Green Liver
Tuesday, 14 September 2010

West Lafayette, Indiana - Researchers at Purdue University have developed a facility aimed at learning precisely how coal and biomass are broken down in reactors called gasifiers as part of a project to strengthen the scientific foundations of the synthetic fuel economy.

"A major focus is to be able to produce a significant quantity of synthetic fuel for the U.S. air transportation system and to reduce our dependence on petroleum oil for transportation," said Jay Gore, the Reilly University Chair Professor of Combustion Engineering at Purdue.

The research is part of work to develop a system for generating large quantities of synthetic fuel from agricultural wastes, other biomass or coal that would be turned into a gas using steam and then converted into a liquid fuel.

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E-Fuel Introduces "Microfusion Reactor" to Process All Organic Biomass into Ethanol

Breakthrough technology showcased today at Silicon Valley DEMO conference
LOS GATOS, CA - September 14, 2010: In 2009 E-Fuel unveiled the production MicroFueler on the steps of the California State Capitol in Sacramento, California. On hand was Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to usher in the organic fuel era. Today, E-Fuel is pleased to announce its latest innovation, the E-Fuel MicroFusion Reactor, a disruptive technology which empowers users to process all forms of cellulosic waste into sugar water, the key ingredient for ethanol fuel.

The E-Fuel MicroFusion Reactor makes available the virtually limitless supply of cellulosic waste materials as a suitable, renewable candidate for ethanol fuel production. Annually in the United States alone almost 1 billion tons of organic waste material is available for processing by the MicroFusion Reactor into 100 billion gallons of fuel at little or no cost. Converting this waste into fuel reduces the burden on landfills where most waste is currently destined and the detrimental effects on the environment.

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Yeast Breakthrough Made for Cellulosic Ethanol
Posted by John Davis – September 13th, 2010

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have made a breakthrough that has some awfully big implications for cellulosic ethanol.

They’ve been able to put genes from grass-eating fungi into yeast and created strains that produce alcohol from tough plant material:

“By adding these genes to yeast, we have created strains that grow better on plant material than does wild yeast, which eats only glucose or sucrose,” said Jamie Cate, UC Berkeley associate professor of molecular and cell biology and faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). “This improvement over the wild organism is a proof-of-principle that allows us to take the technology to the next level, with the goal of engineering yeast that can digest and ferment plant material in one pot.”

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Inedible Plant Enzymes Discovered, May Lead to Biofuel Production
Tiffany Kaiser - September 14, 2010 12:09 PM

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, who are funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and are now part of the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre, have found plant enzymes that usually make energy hard to extract when it is stored in straw, wood and many other non-edible plant parts. This discovery can improve the "viability" of sustainable biofuels without negatively affecting the food chain.

The research team, led by Professor Paul Dupree, studied and identified genes for two different types of enzymes that make straw, stalks and wood tough, and also make sugars hard to extract in order to make bioethanol. Knowing which enzymes make extraction difficult can help crop-breeding programs produce non-edible plant parts that require less chemicals, energy and processing when being converted into renewable products like biofuels.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Introducing Bioenergy for a Possibly More Sustainable Agriculture
Posted On: September 11

To make agriculture truly sustainable, the United States would need to overhaul several factors in energy consumption, but probably any effort at all is good effort. According to the ERS (Economic Research Service) a department under the USDA, ethanol is the leading bioenergy fuel used in commercial agriculture. Derived from corn, ethonol is produced through industrial fermentation, chemical processing and distillation. While that doesn't sound very sustainable, neither is processing crude oil, so it's a step in the right direction.

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Biotech Company to Patent Fuel-Secreting Bacterium

The New York Times
Published: September 13, 2010

A biotech company plans to announce Tuesday that it has won a patent on a genetically altered bacterium that converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into ingredients of diesel fuel, a step that could provide a new pathway for making ethanol or a diesel replacement that skips several cumbersome and expensive steps in existing methods.

The organism from Joule Unlimited produces the fuel using photosynthesis, which is seen as a promising field in biofuels.

The bacterium’s product, which it secretes like sweat, is a class of hydrocarbon molecules called alkanes that are chemically indistinguishable from the ones made in oil refineries. The organism can grow in bodies of water unfit for drinking or on land that is useless for farming, according to the company, Joule Unlimited of Cambridge, Mass.

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Biofuel from inedible plant material easier to produce following enzyme discovery


Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have discovered key plant enzymes that normally make the energy stored in wood, straw, and other non-edible parts of plants difficult to extract. The findings, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, can be used to improve the viability of sustainable biofuels that do not adversely affect the food chain.

The team based at the University of Cambridge, and now part of the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC), has identified and studied the genes for two enzymes that toughen wood, straw and stalks and so make it difficult to extract sugars to make bioethanol or other plant-derived products. This knowledge can now be used in crop breeding programs to make non-edible plant material that requires less processing, less energy and fewer chemicals for conversion to biofuels or other renewable products and therefore have an even lower overall impact on atmospheric carbon.

The research also increases the economic viability of producing sustainable biofuels from the inedible by-products of crops through increasing our understanding of plant structures.

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New biochemical process halves water purification cost
Published: Sept. 13, 2010 at 6:42 PM

CHICAGO, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- A new biochemical carbon dioxide water purification process from Krebs & Sisler energy firm halves the cost of turning effluent and salt water into a potable drinking resource in a move with potential for use worldwide.

U.S. government, military and corporate agencies spend billions on purifying water while prohibitive costs and lack of affordable means keeps safe water out of the reach of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

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POET, farmers prepare for first commercial biomass harvest
Monday, 13 September 2010 22:33
Brownfield Ag Network
By Ken Anderson
September 4, 2010

The first commercial harvest of biomass for Project Liberty, POET’s cellulosic ethanol initiative, will take place this fall in northwest Iowa.

The biomass will consist of corn cobs and light stover being collected by 85 farmers in the area around Emmetsburg, Iowa. POET will use the biomass to produce cellulosic ethanol at its Emmetsburg plant, starting in early 2012.

Project Liberty director Jim Sturdevant says after experimenting with several different cob-collection methods, the farmers have settled on corn cob bales rather than loose cobs as the primary feedstock.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Petrobras signs $251M deal for river-barge transport of ethanol

Biofuels Digest
September 13, 2010 Jim Lane

In Brazil, Petrobras has signed a $251 million deal with Estaleiro Rio Tiete to build 20 river-barge trains to cut the cost of shipping ethanol from producers to ports. The 20 pusher-tugs and 80 ethanol barges will be built by Estaleiro Rio Tiete for use on the on the country’s Parana-Tiete river system which runs through the center of the sugarcane-growing region and will move 4 billion liters of ethanol per year.

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Record Corn Crop and More Ethanol Production
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – September 13th, 2010

Some weather issues over the past month caused USDA to slightly lower the forecast for this year’s corn crop, but it is still expected to be a record at 13.16 billion bushels.

The average yield was lowered due to average 162.5 bushels per acre, down 2.5 bushels from the previous month and 2.2 bushels below last year’s record of 164.7 bushels. Forecasted yields decreased from last month throughout much of the Corn Belt, Tennessee Valley, and Delta. Yields were up from August in the lower portions of the Southeast.

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Researchers fuse yeast, fungus DNA for new cellulosic ethanol super-process

Biofuels Digest
September 13, 2010 Jim Lane

In California, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has taken genes from Neospora crassa, a fungus that grows on grass and transplanted them into yeast that is already used to turn sugar into ethanol into what may be a more efficient process for cellulosic ethanol.

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Can gut microbiota hold key for fermenation process development for ethanol formation from cellulose.
By Ashwani Kumar September 12th 2010 01:29 AM

The relative presence of microbiota may determine the use of partly digested food and regulate the food uptake and utilization in fatty and lean person ? Doctors know it better.

Distal gut microbiota which constitutes the Firmicutes ( the largest bacterial phylum) containing more than 250 genera, including Lactobacillus, Mycoplasma, Bacillus and Clostridium and Bacteroidetes which include about 20 genera and Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron is one of the most abundant organisms.

The process of mutalism allows digestion of polysaccharides ( fiber) . Fermentation of dietary fiber in accomplished by syntropic interactions linked in a metabolic food web and is a major energy producing pathway for microbiota. These primary bacterial fermentors generate short chain fatty acids , principally acetate, propionate and butyrate as well as other organic acids and gases and carbon dioxide.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

DOE awards $16.5 million for biomass initiatives

Biomass Magazine
September 2010
Posted September 9, 2010, at 8:50 a.m. CST

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today the investment of up to $16.5 million for two major research and development (R&D) initiatives that will support the expansion of renewable transportation fuels production. The first initiative will invest up to $12 million over three years for four projects to advance technologies for the thermochemical conversion of biomass into advanced biofuels that are compatible with existing fueling infrastructure. The second initiative provides up to $4.5 million for three projects that support research focused on designing landscapes that produce bioenergy feedstock while protecting air, soil, water, and wildlife resources and enhancing ecosystem services. These biomass R&D initiatives continue to strengthen the Department’s efforts to accelerate development and deployment of sustainable, renewable biofuels in order to significantly reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

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Professor develops water-saving AD process

Biomass Magazine
September 2010
By Lisa Gibson
Posted September 8, 2010 at 9:40 a.m. CST

A Colorado State University professor is developing an anaerobic digester that uses less water than conventional systems, making it ideal and economically feasible for use at feedlots and dairies in the western states.

Sybil Sharvelle, assistant professor of engineering, said her process is separated into stages, beginning with water trickling over the solids and converting the organic material into liquid organic acids. Then the acids are converted to methane in a separate high-rate digestion reactor. Sharvelle has experimented mainly with animal waste, but said the process is appropriate for any waste with solids content of more than 40 percent. “Aside from manure, we are also testing the reactor for conversion of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste to methane,” she said. The amount of water saved varies depending on the quality of the feedstock, she added.

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New equipment can help researchers brew biofuel

Clemson University
Published: September 7, 2010

CLEMSON — A new piece of equipment for the Clemson University biosystems engineering program will help researchers conduct novel research on new biomass sources, such as algae and fungi, that may supply biofuels of the future.

“The new $125,000 mobile biofuels processing plant delivered from Piedmont Biofuels in North Carolina is a state-of-the-art pilot facility that will not only give us a valuable research tool for working with plants, microbes and waste oils, but also will be useful to demonstrate biofuels production for local producers, bioenergy industrial partners and to the public,” said biosystems engineer Terry Walker. “We had our initial successful run last week using waste algal and sunflower oils from Martek Biosciences in Kingstree and then used the biofuel to cycle back to a generator to achieve net-zero production.”

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A lot of hot air - EERC project advances biomass research

By: Tu-Uyen Tran, Grand Forks Herald

Nikhil Patel is giddy with boyish enthusiasm as he describes the functioning of what is, essentially, a series of tubes at UND's Energy and Environmental Research Center.

In one end goes wood chips, garbage, tar-soaked railroad ties, lignite, grass, twigs, the meaty yuckiness that's left over from a poultry processing plant, and out the other end comes a substance not unlike natural gas.

The tricky thing is all that biomass varies in moisture, and moisture really messes up the even heating required in the gasification process, he said. The machine, which he helped design, would not only continually adjust the heat level to match the moisture level, but also make use of the moisture to create a cleaner burning gas, he said.

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Ethanol Mandates Cast Cloud Over Gasoline Retailing (Convenient Store News)
Sep 07, 2010
By Barbara Grondin Francella

WASHINGTON -- Gasoline marketers are looking ahead to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorizing intermediate ethanol blends - - and wondering just how much the decision is going to cost them.

Nearly three years after President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act, requiring at least 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel be used by 2022, the convenience store/gas industry is waiting for the EPA to announce how that ambitious goal will be realized -- and hoping it won't mean huge investments in new compatible pumps, tanks and lines.

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University Of Illinois Receives $1.2 Million Grant To Accelerate Feedstocks Research
By EurekAlert Thursday, September 9, 2010

URBANA - A $1.2 million U.S. Department of Energy grant will help University of Illinois researchers accelerate genetic breeding programs to create plants better suited for bioenergy production.

"Our ultimate goal is to develop better, cheaper biofuels," said Matthew Hudson, U of I associate professor in crop sciences and member of the Energy Biosciences Institute in the Institute for Genomic Biology. "In this project, we will be looking at the possibility that small RNAs are involved in controlling the deposition and quality of lignocellulosic biomass in grasses, especially Miscanthus."

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Ethanol, DDGS exports surge
By Drovers news source
Thursday, September 09, 2010

After sliding in three consecutive months, U.S. ethanol exports climbed substantially in July, according to government data released today. Denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol exports totaled 25.2 million gallons, up 57% from June. In particular, denatured ethanol exports surged, with large volumes being imported once again by Brazil and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). After importing U.S. ethanol early in the spring of 2010, Brazil and UAE did not import any U.S. product in May or June.

A total of 22.4 million gallons of denatured ethanol was exported in July, more than double the total from June. Canada continued to serve as the top U.S. export destination for denatured ethanol, importing 9.5 million gallons of product. Finland imported its first shipment of U.S. denatured ethanol this year, totaling 4.5 million gallons. Brazil, the Netherlands, and UAE rounded out the top five denatured ethanol importers for July.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

U of I receives $1 million USDA grant to study Glossy15 in sorghum
Public release date: 8-Sep-2010

URBANA – A $1 million USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) grant will help University of Illinois researchers determine if changes in the Glossy15 gene system of sorghum will lead to enhanced bioenergy production in the future.

"Understanding how to modify crops we already know about and tailoring them to bioenergy uses is becoming increasingly important," said Stephen Moose, U of I professor of crop sciences and member of the Energy Biosciences Institute in the Institute for Genomic Biology. "If we really want to make this happen, we need to tailor our crops to local environments and develop crops that are economically and environmentally sustainable."

In order to improve biomass yields and conversion to bioenergy, plant traits such as growth habit, sensitivity to day length, flowering time, carbon partitioning, and nutrient use efficiency must be improved, Moose said.

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Novozymes banks on bioenergy

People's Daily Online English (China)
09:26, September 09, 2010

Danish biotech company Novozymes said on Wednesday that it is banking on the rapid growth of China's bioenergy industry to boost its portfolio in the country, the company's second-largest overseas market.

The company has teamed up with the country's leading agricultural products manufacturers, Cofco Group and China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), to build a second-generation bioethanol demonstration project, in which Novozymes will supply with enzymes.

The cellulosic biofuel project, which develops ethanol from corn stover, is different from first-generation projects, which turn crops like corn and sugarcane into fuel.

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Ethanol plant gets federal aid to switch from coal

Des Moines Register
Blog post by Philip Brasher • • September 8, 2010

The Lincolnway Energy ethanol plant at Nevada is getting nearly $2 million in federal funds to fit the facility to run on tree trimmings, corn stalks or other sources of biomass instead of coal.

It’s the first grant to be handed out under an Agriculture Department program that was created through the 2008 farm bill to help biofuel producers reduce their emissions of greenhouse gas emissions. Coal is a major source of carbon dioxide.

The $1.9 million grant, to be announced by the department tomorrow, will pay half the cost of overhauling the Nevada facility to switch from coal to biomass.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

USDA seeks applicants for bioenergy feasibility study grants

Biomass Magazine
September 2010
By Anna Austin
Posted September 7, 2010, at 3:02 p.m.

The USDA has announced an availability of $3 million in funding under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems for agriculture producers and rural small businesses.

The REAP/feasibility grant program provides grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance and funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems. Eligible applicants include farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses who gain 50 percent or more of their gross income from the agricultural operations.

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Challenges, opportunities lie ahead for biomass energy production

PressZoom) - COLLEGE STATION - Opportunities, yet challenges, are evident as the biomass industry develops new and innovative methods of producing renewable energy across the U.S., according to Texas AgriLife experts.

Scientists from Texas AgriLife Research and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service recently discussed ongoing biomass production and logistical efforts in producing renewable energy from biomass at a conference in College Station.

Members of the Rural Alliance for Renewable Energy, which includes AgriLife Research, co-sponsored the event held at the Clayton Williams Jr. Alumni Center at Texas A&M University.

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Breaking the Chains: 6 Solutions for Ending Dependence on Foreign Oil
Lewis Reynolds

America doesn't have to depend on overseas sources for one of its most vital national needs. A move toward energy independence, aside from creating as many as 14 million new jobs, can help rebuild our nation's industrial base and provide one of the most stable and secure energy supplies in the world. Best of all, this new domestically produced energy can be both renewable and sustainable. Here are a half-dozen ideas on how to start:

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U.S and China Zoom In on Clean Energy Vehicles
September 7, 2010

A partnership to advance technologies for clean energy vehicles led by the Univ. of Michigan will receive $12.5 million over the next five years under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC), U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced.

The consortium members will match this funding to provide at least $25 million in total funding over the next five years. The money will facilitate joint research and development on clean-energy technologies by the U.S. and China.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

EERC: Project to generate heat and power from biomass

Energy Digital
Andrea Marino Sun Sep 5, 2010

The Energy & Environmental Research Center and Cummins Power Generation develop a demo project for heat and power from biomass
The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) of the University of North Dakota, together with Cummins Power Generation, Inc., has started developing a demonstration project for the production of heat and power from high-moisture biomass.

Cummins Power Generation is a Minnesota-based world-leading designer and manufacturer of power generation equipment. The company has supplied the electrical generator for the project, which is a major component in producing 35 to 40 kilowatts of power each day, enough for a single home.

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New Method Swaps Pressurized Biomass For Petroleum in Plastics, Cosmetics

Popular Science
By Rebecca Boyle
Posted 09.03.2010 at 1:00 pm

An accidental chemistry discovery could lead to a new method for making antifreeze, moisturizer and plastic bottles out of biomass rather than petroleum, according to researchers at Iowa State University.

Professor Walter Trahanovsky was using a high-temperature chemistry process to see if he could obtain sugar derivatives from cellulose. It’s based on supercritical fluids, which are heated under pressure until their fluid and gas states merge. It is not quite as exotic as it sounds — supercritical carbon dioxide is used to decaffeinate coffee.

Trahanovsky and his colleagues put cellulosic materials in alcohols and subjected them to high temperatures and pressures. They got the sugars they were looking for, but they also found something else: significant amounts of propylene glycol and ethylene glycol. This was totally unexpected, Trahanovsky said.

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Dutch researchers convert forestry, agricultural waste into oil 2010-09-05 09:08:10

THE HAGUE, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Dutch researchers developed a new method to convert biomass from forestry and agricultural waste into oil as efficiently and cheaply as possible, the University of Twente said Sunday.

Some biofuels are already in production, but the method used now produces pyrolysis oil, which is not yet suitable for processing in existing refineries, said Dr. Sascha Kersten, who is from the university's IMPACT institute.

Pyrolysis oil will only react with hydrogen at high pressure, high temperature, and in the presence of a catalyst.

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Ethanol Co-Product Hitting “Feed Wall”
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – September 3rd, 2010

We hear a lot about the blend wall for ethanol in the United States market, but there’s also a wall that the ethanol co-product Dried Distillers Grains (DDGS) in hitting with the livestock industry.

“We’ve already run into a feed wall,” says Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “While domestic markets for DDGS continue to expand, quite frankly we’ve grown that market pretty rapidly over the last several years and the opportunity for continued expansion domestically are fewer and farther between.”

So expanding export markets for DDGS is important for the U.S. ethanol industry, and that opportunity is substantial. “We are exporting more and more DDGS these days,” Dinneen says. “But more needs to be done to get suppliers and buyers together.”

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Ethanol Co-Product Helps Increase Ag Exports
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – September 1st, 2010

The U.S. agricultural exports picture continues to be a bright one thanks in part to more exports of the ethanol by-product dried distillers grains (DDGs).

In the latest USDA report on exports, the forecast for 2010 exports was increased to $107.5 billion, up $3 billion compared to the May estimate. Almost half of that gain was in the revised estimate for grain and feed exports – up $1.2 billion to $27.2 billion from the May forecast. Corn shipments are increased 1 million tons and $100 million, reflecting stronger shipments in recent months as demand for feed grains and feed products (especially DDGS) has been stronger than expected. “Agriculture is one of the few major sectors of the economy today that has a trade surplus, which we are now forecasting to be a little over $30 billion,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

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Ethanol's mid-life crisis

The Economist
Sep 2nd 2010 Piracicaba, SÃO PAULO STATE

The sugar industry produces food, fuel and environmental benefits. How fast it grows may depend on an argument about how it should be regulated

IT IS what passes for a winter’s day in upstate São Paulo. The sun is blazing from a blue sky feathered lightly with cirrus cloud. In a large, sloping field overlooking the city of Piracicaba, a mechanical harvester chomps through a stand of three-metre-high sugar cane, fat and juicy from months of sunshine. The harvester slices the cane into 20cm chunks and regurgitates them into a 30-tonne trailer moving alongside that will lug them a few kilometres to the Costa Pinto mill (pictured). There the cane is weighed, washed, tipped onto a conveyor belt, crushed and then, depending on market conditions, crystallised into sugar or distilled into ethanol. The woody residue—the bagaço—is burned in two high-pressure boilers that, according to the flickering needle in the control room, are supplying around 50 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the local grid—enough to power half of Piracicaba.

Sugar has been grown in Brazil for 500 years, and the country is by far the world’s biggest exporter of it. But sugar now also forms the nucleus of a new agro-industrial and renewable-energy complex. Biofuels, mainly derived from sugar, are Brazil’s most important source of energy after oil. For a unit of energy, the production and use of sugar-based ethanol generates only two-fifths of the carbon emissions of petrol, and half those of corn-based ethanol, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. And bioplastics made from sugar cane are poised to move from the laboratory to the corner store, with the launch of soft-drink bottles.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Beyond the Hype

Biomass Magazine
September 2010
By Anna Austin

The hype surrounding biochar as a climate change mitigation tool, soil amendment or power source is mesmerizing with promises of miraculous results. Too much talk and not much action, however, has raised doubts about its potential.

Market development has been inching along for years, but with no price on carbon there are no incentives for regions with decent-quality soil to use biochar as a soil amendment or for carbon sequestration. In addition, the capital costs of building production facilities are high and often unattainable.

However, new research is confirming biochar's climate mitigation potential and discovering additional applications. A recently published research paper authored by some of the world’s leading soil scientists shows that biochar has the potential to mitigate up to one-tenth of current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The study takes into account the utilization of biomass resources untapped today and does not propose converting any additional acreage into cropland.

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USDA and DOE Partnership Seeks to Develop Better Plants for Bioenergy

USDA News Release

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced research awards under a joint DOE-USDA program aimed at improving and accelerating genetic breeding programs to create plants better suited for bioenergy production. The $8.9 million investment is part of the Obama Administration's broader effort to diversify the nation's energy portfolio and to accelerate the development of new energy technologies designed to decrease the nation's dependence on foreign oil.

"Cost-effective, sustainable biofuels are crucial to building a clean energy economy," said Secretary Chu. "By harnessing the power of science and technology, this joint effort between DOE and USDA will help accelerate research in the critical area of plant feedstocks, spurring the creation of the domestic bio-industry while creating jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil."

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Iowa State chemists discover method to create high-value chemicals from biomass

by bjs on 02. Sep, 2010 in Blog Entry

AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University researchers have found a way to produce high-value chemicals such as ethylene glycol and propylene glycol from biomass rather than petroleum sources.

Walter Trahanovsky, an Iowa State professor of chemistry who likes to write out the chemical structures of compounds when he talks about his science, was looking to produce sugar derivatives from cellulose and other forms of biomass using high-temperature chemistry. And so he and members of his research group studied the reactions of cellulosic materials in alcohols at high temperatures and pressures.

They analyzed the products of the reactions using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Early experiments produced the expected sugar derivatives. Additional work, however, clearly revealed significant yields of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol.

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Process rids sugar-based ethanol of vinasse

Ethanol Producer Magazine
September 2010
By Kris Bevill
Posted Aug. 31, 2010

Cincinnati-based engineering and consulting firm AdvanceBio LLC has developed a process that it says will eliminate the vinasse typically produced as a byproduct of sugar-based ethanol production.

Unlike corn-ethanol plants, which produce marketable distillers grains during the ethanol process, sugar-based plants produce vinasse, which consists mostly of water with a small amount of organic material and has little market value. Advance Bio principal Dale Monceaux said Brazilian plants typically truck vinasse to fields where it is used for irrigation and a nutrient boost. That application is acceptable at smaller plants and in rural areas, but for large plants located in populated areas, such as would likely be the case in the southern U.S., dumping vinasse in area fields poses serious environmental concerns. “Historically, that’s the big problem with sugar-based alcohol,” Monceaux said. “It’s not that it’s a hazardous pollutant. It’s a highly digestible organic that creates a BOD [biochemical oxygen demand] if it ever hits a waterway.” If rainfall were to occur shortly after vinasse was emptied into fields, the runoff could pollute waterways and cause a reduction in oxygen levels, which would inevitably result in fish kills, he said.

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Mascoma acquires SunOpta BioProcess; SunOpta CEO joins Mascoma board

Biofuels Digest
September 01, 2010 Jim Lane

Mascoma announced the acquisition of SunOpta BioProcess, a division of SunOpta Inc. (STKL) This combination brings together the world-leading fiber preparation and pretreatment technologies of SBI and the world-leading consolidated bioprocessing technology of Mascoma, to create a company with comprehensive capabilities for converting non-food cellulose (wood chips, energy crops and organic solid waste) into ethanol and high value co-products.

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MSU Professor: Corn Ethanol Results in Energy Gain

Author: Frankie Berti
Published: September 03, 2010 at 8:40 am

Agricultural economist Jake Ferris of Michigan State University sparked further interest in the ongoing debate about the net energy gains vs. net losses of corn ethanol production in his op-ed piece for the Lansing Journal.

Ferris sided firmly with the net energy gain faction, despite the energy content (BTUs) of pure ethanol (E-100) being only two thirds that of gasoline. He cited the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) June 2010 report, where their research found that every BTU of petroleum energy used to create ethanol resulted in 2.3 BTUs of corn ethanol being produced. Not bad, and that is just from corn grain.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

From Stomach Bug to Biofuel
By Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press on September 1, 2010 - 5:02 p.m. PDT

Berkeley scientists use E. coli to produce green energy alternative
A team of local biotech researchers may have found a way to avoid using essential food crops for fuel, by genetically modifying harmless strains of a bacteria most people associate with human food poisoning.

The result is an extremely expensive fuel — hardly competitive with fossil fuels at $25 per gallon — but it marks the beginning of a new look at green energy.

Scientists led by University of California, Berkeley professor Jay Keasling created an alternative for biodiesel production harnessing E. coli, the bacteria responsible for some foodborne illnesses.

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Staples takes the lead on locally generated biomass research

AgriNews (MN & Iowa)
By Carol Stender
Date Modified: 09/02/2010 9:52 AM

STAPLES, Minn —If there was an award for traveling the longest distance to Staples' Agriculture and Energy Center field day, Loren Forrest of Luverne would be a strong contender.

Forrest made the five hour trip recently to learn more about miscanthus. The plant is one of several energy crops in trial plots at the Central Lakes College's ag center grounds.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Termite saliva may hold key to biofuels
Posted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 12:30 am Updated: 12:54 am, Wed Sep 1, 2010.
Meredith Rutland, Alligator Contributing Writer

A tiny bug could help solve one of the world’s biggest problems.

UF researchers have found two enzymes in termite saliva that help break down wood into sugars that the bioenergy industry can use to produce fuel for cars.

The paper was published on the Internet in “Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology” in August.

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Energy to innovate: The University’s efforts will only succeed if everyone plays their role
By EDITORIAL BOARD The Daily Tar Heel (NC)
Updated: 8:46 AM

Through its efforts for energy reform, UNC can prove that it is an engine of innovation for the whole of North Carolina.

At Thursday’s energy task force meeting, administrators announced this week’s arrival of the first shipment of wood pellets for UNC’s cogeneration plant.

This is a small step, and both technical and logistical challenges remain ahead: how to source and store biomass fuels and whether such fuels can become cost-effective.

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Biomass Credit Update: A Look at BCAP’s Past and Future Impact
By DeAnna Stephens Baker
Date Posted: 9/1/2010

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has still not issued the final rules for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), yet preparations for the reinstatement of the subsidy are already well on their way. The following is a look at the affect BCAP has already had on the pallet industry as well as a glimpse at technology development and business plans being put in place with the imminent release of the final BCAP rules in mind.

According to the USDA, more than $224 million in BCAP payments have been made through August of this year. The original Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) was published by the USDA in June 2009, but payments were suspended in February 2010, followed by the release of the proposed revisions to the BCAP rules. Seven months later, the waiting game continues. FSA is currently reviewing comments and drafting the final rule, which is expected to be published in the Federal Register in fall 2010. For now, the freeze put on the program in February will remain in place, as the FSA wades through the more than 24,000 comments received on the proposed rule.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Georgia’s first wood-to-ethanol plant opens
Monday, August 30, 2010, 10:50am PDT

The nation’s first commercial plant producing ethanol from wood wastes is open for business in the timber country of southeastern Georgia.

More than a year and a half behind its original schedule, Colorado-based Range Fuels Inc. began operations in early August near Soperton, Ga.

At first, the plant will operate with an annual capacity of 4 million gallons, down from an original goal of 10 million gallons.

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Ethanol ghost seeks corn paybacks
by Jeff Caldwell
08/30/2010 @ 4:04pm

A letter sent from the ghost of an ethanol industry giant is sending shockwaves around part of the Corn Belt.

VeraSun Energy Corporation filed for bankruptcy protection in October 2008, then liquidated assets last year. Now, the "reorganized debtors" of the dissolved once ethanol giant are trying to get their money back from farmers who sold corn to VeraSun during the 90-day period preceding the company's bankruptcy filing.

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Ethanol Production & Demand Numbers Soar For June 2010
08/31/2010 12:52PM

Ethanol production reached an all-time high in June 2010, according to data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Additionally, ethanol demand for June also hit a record level.

According to data released today, ethanol production in June was just over 854,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 1.08 billion gallons for the month. That is up from 846,000 b/d from May and more than 160,000 b/d higher than June 2009. Based on data from the first six months of 2010, US ethanol production is running at 12.87 billion gallons on an annualized basis.

As calculated by the RFA, ethanol demand also reached an all-time high of 857,000 b/d, up from 721,000 b/d one year ago.

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Zero Discharge Sweet Sorghum Ethanol Process Development

CINCINNATI, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- AdvanceBio LLC, a Cincinnati-based advanced biofuel technology company, today announced the development of its next generation, sugar-based fuel ethanol process.

The process is capable of utilizing sugars derived from sugar cane, sweet sorghum, sugar beet and other similar crops as feedstock for the production of fuel ethanol and green power while generating zero liquid waste.

When built in conjunction with the sugar milling operation, plants employing AdvanceBio's sugar-based ethanol process will have the same, low-greenhouse gas footprint found in Brazil's existing cane-based fuel ethanol industry. "The facilities will be extremely self-sufficient. In addition to eliminating costs associated with outside sources of fossil fuels, power and process water, our technology eliminates the need for extensive waste treatment processes and the cost of transporting large volumes of liquid vinasse back to the cane fields. These ethanol production facilities will also meet stringent U.S. pollution and occupational safety regulations," said Dale Monceaux, Principal.

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