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

Friday, October 29, 2010

The next carbon capture tool could be new, improved grass
October 26, 2010 by Dan Krotz

( -- A blade of grass destined to be converted into biofuel may join energy efficiency and other big-ticket strategies in the effort to reduce atmospheric carbon -- but not in the way that you might think.

In addition to offsetting fossil-fuel emissions, a potential bioenergy plant such as the grass Miscanthus could also snare carbon from the atmosphere and trap it in the soil for millennia.

Sounds promising. But should scientists genetically engineer bioenergy crops to be better at ridding the atmosphere of the greenhouse gas? And can this strategy take place on the scale needed to mitigate climate change?

These questions are framed in a new analysis by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist Christer Jansson and researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Their research, published in the October issue of Bioscience, explores ways in which bioenergy crops can become a big player in the drive to rein in rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

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iDiverse Develops Stress Resistant Yeast for Producing Fuel Ethanol


DEL MAR, Calif., Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- iDiverse announced that it has successfully modified yeast to be highly resistant to a number of lethal stresses normally encountered in the bioproduction of fuel ethanol. In doing so, iDiverse has enabled the yeast to generate significantly more ethanol.

"We are very pleased with our 1st generation, proof-of-concept technology and are rapidly developing a 2nd generation with yet better commercial performance characteristics," said Richard Schneeberger, Director of Business Development at iDiverse. "Our technology is applicable to current fuel ethanol manufacturing processes using corn and sugar cane as starting materials and also to those being developed to use cellulosic biomass. Our technology keeps cells alive in extreme conditions including those found in biomass processes."

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USDA Scientists Advance Biofuel Production
Posted Sep 23, 2010

With the help of genetic materials from a cow's rumen, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are developing new ways to break down plant fibers for conversion into biofuel.

To convert corn stover and switchgrass into biofuel, the plant fibers must first be broken down into sugars. But cell wall polymers are cross-linked in various ways that make them very resistant to breaking down, according to Dominic Wong, a chemist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Western Regional Research Center, in Albany, Calif. ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of USDA.

Previous studies have shown that a special group of enzymes known as feruloyl esterases (FAEs) are capable of breaking apart key links between the polymers, and that the enzymes are produced by certain types of microbes that degrade plant materials. Wong collected the microbial population from a cow's rumen, and screened their genetic compositions to find genes that produce FAE enzymes.

Working with scientific partners at Cargill, Wong has isolated, sequenced and cloned 12 genes capable of being introduced into Escherichia coli for production of the enzymes, which can then be used to break loose the polymeric network in the plant cell wall. Wong and the Cargill team have filed a provisional patent application on the FAE genes and enzymes.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

US Energy Information Administration Indicates Growth in Renewable Energy

A recent data released by the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) indicates the growing role of renewable energy sources in the national growth.

The data indicates that in the first six months of 2010 the share of renewable energy power usage increased by 4.7% when compared to the increase in the power consumption from the primary energy which witnessed an increase of 2.7%. The hydropower production witnessed a reverse growth due to vagaries of weather conditions. During the period hydropower which used to lead the power production sources by 33% came down to 8%.

The power produced from renewable energy sources such as solar power and wind energy meets approximately 8.4% of the basic energy intake in the U.S. The consumption from renewable energy sources witnessed more than 4.7% growth when compared to the same period in 2009. Similarly energy consumption is also witnessing a steady growth comparable with the unstable period and increased by 2.7% though it lags behind the growth of 3.9% witnessed during the same period in the year 2008.

Wind energy has increased its percentage of growth by 21.4% and currently constitutes nearly 11% of the total renewable energy. The percentage of biomass power production increased by 4.9% and it accounts for 50% of the total renewable energy. Within the biomass industry bio-ethanol grew by 23.4% and bio-diesel witnessed a growth of 18.9% from their negative growth in the year 2008.

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Oregon farmers begin first biomass sorghum harvest

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin October 21, 2010

Members of the Agri Energy Producers Association, a grower owned co-op in Oregon, are harvesting their first high-biomass sorghum crop this year.

Currently operating in Ontario and Hermiston, Ore., Agri Energy Producers Association will harvest about 1,500 acres of a hybrid sorghum developed by energy grass seed company Ceres Inc., with which the co-op is working closely. “We have a lot more members who weren’t required to grow this year because we were late getting things going, but next year we’ll have all of our members planting their entire allotment,” said Lance Wells, AEPA co-founder. “Our first full year of production will be 2011, and we will need additional co-op members and acreage to meet the demand for these energy crops.”

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RFA: DOE Researchers Find Indirect Land Use Change Impact Minimal to Zero

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: October 20, 2010

Washington—The unproven notion that expanded U.S. ethanol production means new acres around the world must be brought into cultivation is taking another blow.

In a soon-to-be published paper, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory conclude that indirect land use change (ILUC) resulting from expanded corn ethanol production over the past decade has likely been “minimal to zero.”

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Syracuse University Partners with Arden-Fox to Support the Advancement of Department of Defense's Net Zero Energy Initiative


Syracuse partnership substitutes petroleum diesel with biodiesel
NEW YORK, Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Syracuse University today announced a partnership to advance the use of biofuels by the U.S. armed forces as an alternative energy source. The effort involves entrepreneurs John Fox '92 and Wayne Arden, who have proposed producing biodiesel in Afghanistan as a means to achieve multiple benefits, including reducing risks to American troops and building a new, sustainable economy in the country.

With energy demands growing at home bases along with many global deployments creating logistical challenges, the Department of Defense (DOD) is working to increase the use of renewable energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuel resources and to achieve 'net zero energy' (NZE) throughout the military. The Arden-Fox report "Producing and Using Biodiesel in Afghanistan" analyzed latest off-the-shelf solutions that could be implemented to produce biodiesel in Afghanistan that will reduce casualties as well as create new industry for building a stable nation.

The creation of this new partnership will allow for piloting of the recommendations included in the report and documentation of the economical viability of the proposal.

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Marshall, Gerstein & Borun Analysis:

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: October 22, 2010

...What Does U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Green Technology Program Extension Mean for Companies?

Intellectual property attorney Paul Craane, partner at Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP, makes the following points regarding the recent announcement that the United States Patent and Trademark Office would like to extend their Green Technology Pilot Program to speed up the green tech patent process.

"In a notice on related data collection issues, the United States Patent and Trademark Office suggested that an extension of the Green Technology Pilot Program will be forthcoming.

"Foreshadowing a formal announcement, the October 20 notice suggested two major changes for the program.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

USDA Report Finds Ethanol Has Economic Benefits for American Families
October 26, 2010
By Growth Energy

WASHINGTON, DC -- A newly-published report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that, under every scenario, American families would benefit economically if the United States were to meet the goals of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

"The economics of ethanol are sound. Raising the amount of ethanol we consume in this country not only creates U.S. jobs tied directly to ethanol production, but would create jobs in other industries as American families spend on other goods and services the money they would have been sending overseas," Buis said.

The study, “Effects of Increased Biofuels on the U.S. Economy in 2022,” concluded that ethanol helps our economy by reducing spending on expensive petroleum-based motor fuels, putting more money back into the budgets of everyday American families.

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NREL releases BioEnergy Atlas

Biodiesel Magazine
November 2010

The U.S. DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory released its BioEnergy Atlas, a Web portal that allows users to layer related bioenergy data onto a single map to gather information on biomass feedstocks, biopower and biofuels potential, production and distribution and more. User-friendly and easy to use, the tool also combines 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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Algenol's Algae-to-Ethanol Delivers 67% to 87% Reduction in CO2
by Michael Graham Richard, Ottawa, Canada on 10.25.10

Compared to Gasoline
Algenol is working on making ethanol from algae in photobioreactors connected to power plants. Like with all types of biofuels, the most important question with algae-ethanol has always been: Is it really greener than fossil fuels? And if so, how much? A team from Algenol and Georgia Tech tried to answer that question by doing a life cycle analysis (LCA) on the whole process of making Algenol's ethanol, and the results were published as an open access paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Germany to raise bioethanol blending in gasoline

HAMBURG Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:50pm EDT

HAMBURG (Reuters) - The German cabinet will vote on Wednesday on a proposal to raise the maximum level of bioethanol allowed in blended gasoline to 10 percent in January 2011 from 5 percent now, the country's environment ministry said on Monday.

The move is part of Germany's efforts to meet European Union plans to raise biofuel use to protect the environment, it said.

Analysts said the increase would help boost demand for grain next year, but there also would be tough competition from sugar and imported bioethanol.

"Currently sugar is looking most competitive for bioethanol output after the sharp rise in grain prices this year," one analyst said. "But overall there is likely to be increased demand for both grains and sugar, so more blending will be positive news for producers."

Introduction of fuels with higher bioethanol content has in the past been controversial because of fears of engine damage to older cars.

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How and why did energy-producing states skirt the US recession?

Biofuels Digest
October 25, 2010 Jim Lane

A new Biofuels Digest report found that states that produced enough energy to meet their internal demand for gasoline maintained growth rates 2.5 times above the national average, and either completely avoided the 2007-09 recession or experienced a lighter version of it. These states maintained a GDP growth in 2007-08 at five times the rate of states that were less than 20 percent energy independent.

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Letter to the Editor: Ethanol Is a Step to More Biofuels

Wall Street Journal - Letters to the Editor
By Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
OCTOBER 26, 2010

Your editorial "The Ethanol Bailout" (Oct. 18) challenging the ethanol industry and the Environmental Protection Agency sidesteps the critical role the "blend wall" decision will play in building a sustainable green economy in America.

The EPA's decision to allow the increased use of ethanol in some automobiles is scientifically sound and follows a comprehensive review of extensive testing and other available data on E15's impact on engine durability and emissions. What's more, it will help ensure that the existing corn ethanol market acts as a successful stepping stone to a national biofuels industry that is creating jobs in every corner of the country using regionally appropriate feedstocks grown by American producers.

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Petrobras Signs $1.23 Billon Ethanol Supply Deal
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – October 25th, 2010

Brazil’s largest state-owned energy company made another play today to become a world leader in biofuels. Petrobras announced a $1.23 billion deal with Tereos International’s Brazilian Branch, Acucar Guarani, to supply up to 2.2 billion litres of sugarcane ethanol to Petrobras’ fuel distribution subsidiary, BR, over the next four years.

Petrobras said in a statement today, “The contract ensures commitment in the supply to BR, access for Guarani to BR’s distribution system for part of its hydrated and anhydrous ethanol production, besides greater synergy between production, marketability and logistics.”

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Oil reports breakthrough in processing algae for fuel without dewatering

Biofuels Digest
October 22, 2010 Jim Lane

In Louisiana, New Oil Resources announced that it has developed a process that uses hot, pressurized water to treat the biomass in a process commonly referred to as hydrothermal liquifaction or thermal depolymerization.

According to the research team, “algae can be processed without dewatering and all the carbon is converted to fuels, not just the fatty oils.” The group said that immediate applications include processing municipal sewage sludge, processing waste streams from the ethanol industry and converting algae to fuel.

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Is corn stover the next big biofuel?

Des Moines Register
By DAN PILLER • • October 24, 2010

West Amana, Ia. - If the cobs, stalks and leaves left behind after corn harvest become the next big source for ethanol, the technology to pick up the stover is decidedly old-school.

"A farmer who bales hay can do this," Steve Petersen, end-use market manager for Monsanto, said as he guided a tractor pulling a baler over an Amana Society cornfield that had been harvested two days earlier.

Behind Petersen's tractor, a baler collected the corn stover that had already been mechanically raked, formed the stover into square bales, then tied them and dumped them out the back.

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Iowa Could Land Another Cellulosic Ethanol Refinery

Missouri Ruralist

Two companies, DuPont and Danisco, have formed a joint venture to explore the possibility of building a facility to manufacture cellulosic ethanol. They are considering central Iowa as one of the places to locate the biorefinery, according to information from the Iowa Economic Development Board.

DuPont and Danisco's Genencor division are considering several locations in Iowa and the Midwest for the new commercial cellulosic fuel ethanol refinery. A company spokeswoman declined to say which towns and states are being considered, as DuPont and Danisco are still in the site investigation phase.

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Ethanol industry sees red over E15 warning label

Des Moines Register
BY PHILIP BRASHER & DAN PILLER • • October 24, 2010

The bright orange warning label that the government is proposing for E15 pumps has angered some in the ethanol industry.

Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, says the label is going to scare motorists from putting the fuel even in cars where it's permitted.

"I don't think anyone with a straight face would say this label would do anything except reduce the amount of E15 sold, even in applications where it's allowed," he said.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Effort to Shift Biofuel Industry Incentives Gains Foothold in Washington

New York Times
By ALLISON WINTER of Greenwire
Published: October 22, 2010

The Obama administration and biofuel-industry advocates are slowly backing off traditional tax incentives for corn-based fuels in favor of financing infrastructure aimed at increasing the distribution of renewable fuels.

The administration's biggest ethanol booster, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, acknowledged in a National Press Club presentation yesterday that changes to the current subsidy system may soon be in store. And the tariff on imported ethanol, he added, would "over time be phased out."

While he expressed support for extending ethanol tax subsidies, Vilsack urged industry to prepare for change. "We need," he said, "to begin to think about reforms to the ethanol credit program to make it more efficient and effective at addressing the full range of challenges we face in meeting our goals for traditional and next-generation biofuels."

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Vilsack offers gas stations grants for ethanol pumps

Des Moines Register
By PHILIP BRASHER • • October 22, 2010

Washington, D.C. — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is offering new financial incentives for the biofuel industry, including grants for new gas-station pumps, while urging Congress to pass a short-term extension of the existing subsidy for corn ethanol.

Vilsack used a National Press Club speech Thursday to call for accelerating development of next-generation biofuels that would be made from crop residue, switchgrass and other feedstocks besides corn. "This industry needs more time to mature and more investments to grow," he said.

The new service-station pumps dispense varying mixtures of ethanol and gasoline and are intended to ensure that there is a market for the biofuel as production increases.

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Biofuels research center coming to UNL

Journal Star
By KEVIN ABOUREZK / Lincoln Journal Star Posted: Friday, October 22, 2010 7:55 pm

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is poised to get a full tank from the federal government to use in its drive to become a leader in alternative fuels research.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking to make UNL home to one of five federal biofuels research centers that it wants to create across the country.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced plans Thursday to include $10 million for the five research centers in the agriculture appropriations bill.


The USDA says five regional biofuels research centers would be created. The centers, a collaboration between the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the U.S. Forest Service (FS), would be established at:

* Northeast Center -- Madison, Wis., led by the Forest Service
* Central East Center -- UNL, led by ARS
* Southeast Center - Boonesville, Ark., and Tifton, Ga., (both ARS) and in Auburn, Ala. (FS)
* Western Center -- Maricopa, Ariz.
* Northwestern Center -- Pullman, Wash., (ARS) and Corvallis, Ore. (FS)

Funds are also to be made available to assist in the construction of new biorefineries, starting in 2011. One refinery would be built in each of the regions serviced by the new biomass research centers, but no locations were announced.

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USDA Secretary Vilsack announces bio-jet fuel research, Biomass Crop Assistance Programs

by Sebastian Blanco (RSS feed) on Oct 21st 2010 at 7:06PM

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today at the National Press Club in downtown Washington that his agency would give a boost to biofuel producers through a Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Vilsack said the USDA will soon publish the BCAP's final rule, and that means eligible biomass producers will be able to get money from the USDA. The BCAP operated as a trial program last year. Here's how it works:

BCAP uses a dual approach to support the production of renewable energy. First, BCAP provides assistance for the establishment and production of eligible renewable biomass crops within specified project areas. Producers who enter into BCAP contracts may receive payments of up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing eligible perennial crops. Further, they can receive payments for up to five years for annual or non-woody perennial crops and up to 15 years for woody perennial crops. ... In addition, BCAP also assists agricultural and forest landowners and operators by providing matching payments for the transportation of certain eligible materials that are sold to qualified biomass conversion facilities. The facilities convert the materials into heat, power, biobased products or advanced biofuels.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Vilsack announces biomass subsidies

Des Moines Register
Blog post by Philip Brasher • • October 21, 2010

The Agriculture Department is releasing rules today for a program that will compensate farmers for producing energy crops such as switchgrass that can be turned into biofuels. The USDA issued the regulations in conjunction with a speech in biofuels that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was set to make at the National Press Club this morning.

Under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, farmers can get payments of up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing eligible perennial crops and payments for up to five years for annual or non-woody perennial crops. Subsidies for woody perennial crops can go up to 15 years. The USDA started making payments under the program last year but then put it on hold.

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USDA Speaks, Ethanol Industry Reacts
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – October 21st, 2010

The ethanol industry praised USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack today and expressed gratitude for his department’s commitment to fulfill the administration’s goal of transitioning to renewable energy. This morning at the Press Club in DC, Vilsack announced a series of measures aimed at supporting the rural economy and reducing dependence on foreign oil that include support for corn-based ethanol.

“The Obama Administration has shown strong leadership on the issue of domestic biofuels, putting forward a vision that recognizes the importance of the existing industry and the potential of new technologies. Domestic ethanol production is one of the few bright spots in a gloomy economic forecast, providing tens of thousands of jobs in hundreds of rural communities all across the country,” said Renewable Fuels President and CEO, Bob Dinneen. “By expanding the scope of American ethanol production to include new feedstocks from grasses to wood waste to algae, the industry can extend the benefits seen in rural America to every corner of the country.

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ILUC From Corn Ethanol “Minimal to Zero”
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – October 20th, 2010

In a report that will be published soon,”Decomposition Analysis of U.S. Corn Use for Ethanol Production from 2001-2008,”the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory concludes that the indirect land use change (ILUC) as a result from the expansion of corn ethanol production over the past decade has likely been “minimal to zero.” The study was requested by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which has appointed several teams of expert working groups to assess the methodology and data that went into California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

In response to the news, Geoff Cooper, the Vice President for Research and Analysis for the Renewable Fuels Association remarked, “The most recent work on ILUC is showing that ethanol expansion in the U.S. simply isn’t incurring the type of land use changes that were originally hypothesized. The initial results recently presented by the Department of Energy are further proof that America can continue to meet its global responsibilities to provide food and feed, while simultaneously providing a cleaner, domestic alternative to petroleum—all without needing to bring new lands into agriculture.”

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

EPA's Indecision on Ethanol Blends: Retreating From a Clean Energy Future

Huffington Report
by Bob Dinneen
Posted: October 19, 2010 05:03 PM

In his first televised address from the Oval Office, President Obama summoned Americans to "a national mission" to end our dependence on oil.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just responded to President Obama's clarion call with a wavering warble.

Given the opportunity to allow blends of up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) in gasoline sold for cars and light trucks, EPA equivocated yet again. In a decision seemingly calculated to confuse gasoline marketers, retailers and consumers, EPA authorized E15 for model year (MY) 2007 and newer vehicles, while announcing that it will continue to study E15's suitability for vehicles from MY 2001 through 2006 and apparently ruling out E15 for vehicles from MY 2000 and earlier.

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Microbubbles to make biofuel plants more economic

The Engineer - Process Engineering (UK)
15 October 2010

Sheffield, UK – A University of Sheffield researcher has won national recognition for the development of a ’microbubble device’ that promises to make the production of biofuels much more energy efficient.

Professor William Zimmerman, from the department of chemical and process engineering at the University has been awarded the Royal Society Brian Mercer Award for Innovation for the work in adapting a unique bioreactor for use in the production of alternative renewable fuels.

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New Math: will E15 rules, biomass supply barriers frustrate biofuels’ best intentions

Biofuels Digest
October 20, 2010
Jim Lane

Tomorrow, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will give a major address at the National Press Club, and is expected to outline a positive, broad outline of progress towards, and confidence in, the laudable RFS with its promise of green jobs, energy independence and rural economic development.

There’s reason for Vilsack’s optimism. Over the next week, we’ll be profiling communities in Florida and Iowa where that promise is turning into local reality. We’ll also profiling several Caribbean communities where that promise might well be duplicated and provide tourism-driven developing communities with some of the same stability that renewable energy has brought to economies that were overly dependent on real estate and agriculture in Florida and Iowa.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Biofuels Digest
October 19, 2010 Jim Lane

Here are some biographical and voting notes on those who are holding down positions #81 – #100 in our Top 100 People in Bioenergy rankings for 2010, and links to the complete rankings and notes for other honorees.

The Top 100 People in Bioenergy, the complete list

The Top 100 People in Bioenergy: bios, voting notes on #1 – #20

The Top 100 People in Bioenergy: bios, voting notes on #21 – #40
The Top 100 People in Bioenergy: bios, voting notes on #41 – #60
The Top 100 People in Bioenergy: bios, voting notes on #61 – #80

The Top 100 People in Bioenergy: bios, voting notes on #81 – #100

(Bio)Mass Confusion

Wall Street Journal
OCTOBER 18, 2010

High costs and environmental concerns have pushed biomass power to the sidelines in the U.S
CARSON CITY, Nev.—With all the plants and trees in the world, biomass energy would appear to have boundless potential.

Yet in the U.S., biomass power—generated mainly by burning wood and other plant debris—has run into roadblocks that have stymied its growth.

Here at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center, officials in 2007 built a $7.7 million biomass plant to meet all the power needs of the medium-security prison. But last month, two years after the plant opened, prison officials closed it, citing excessive costs.

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Flower Power: Genetic Modification Could Amply Boost Plants' Carbon-Capture and Bioenergy Capacity

Scientific American
By Mike Orcutt October 18, 2010

A new review sums up options for increasing global carbon sequestration by flora and speculates that genetically engineering crops and trees could enhance the process, trapping gigatons of the greenhouse gas as well as increasing bioenergy production

The International Energy Agency predicts that fossil fuels will continue to meet the bulk of rising energy demand for decades to come, but they are currently responsible for 60% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. So, managing CO2 emissions from coal, oil and natural gas is crucial in tackling climate change.

Human activities currently add about nine gigatons of carbon to the atmosphere yearly. Photosynthetic organisms on land and in the ocean absorb about five of those gigatons through the natural uptake of CO2, leaving to humans the task of dealing with the rest. But no matter how much carbon there is, capturing it and preventing it from reentering the atmosphere is an immense engineering challenge; even today's best technology is orders of magnitude less effective than photosynthesis at trapping atmospheric carbon.

A new analysis published in the October issue of Bioscience suggests that by 2050 humans could offset between five and eight gigatons of the carbon emitted annually by growing plants and trees optimized via genetic engineering both for fuel production and carbon sequestration.

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Ethanol producers more efficient on many fronts

Illinois Farm Bureau
Monday, October 18, 2010

Ethanol production is becoming more efficient when calculated by various measurements, several experts said at last week’s forum at the University of Illinois’ Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research (CABER) in Champaign.

Kishore Rajagopalan with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center noted ethanol manufacturers continue to reduce the amount water used per gallon of ethanol produced and may be able to make further reductions.

Over the years, ethanol plants have reduced water used per gallon of ethanol from 6.5 gallons down to 3 fewer gallons, according to Rajagopalan.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

From biomass to ethanol and methane: New enzyme may lead to cheaper biofuel
By Science Daily Sunday, October 17, 2010

Norwegian scientists reported the promising findings recently in the journal Science.

Simple in theory, but...

Ethanol and methane are alternative energy sources that can be produced through the decomposition of carbohydrate-rich biomass of both marine and terrestrial origins. Potential sources include shellfish, which are full of the carbohydrate chitin, and wood and waste wood, since they contain cellulose.

Finding a quick, efficient means of converting biomass that is rich in chitin or cellulose into biofuel, however, has been difficult. This means that much of today's biofuel is derived from food plants such as sugar cane, corn and rapeseed -- crops that could be used to feed people.

"In theory it's easy to convert the carbohydrates in cellulose, for instance, to small sugar molecules that nourish microorganisms which in turn produce methane and ethanol. But in practice, it has proven to be quite challenging," explains Dr Gustav Vaaje-Kolstad, Researcher at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB). He is among the seven co-authors of the article in the journal Science.

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Notebook: NASCAR to convert to ethanol blend next year
PUBLISHED Saturday, Oct 16, 2010 at 7:33 pm EDT
Reid Spencer

CONCORD, N.C.—Green, green, green!

All three of NASCAR’s national touring series will race with engines powered with Sunoco Green E15 fuel next year, NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France announced Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Sunoco developed the fuel, which will be produced in the United States from corn grown domestically. France said NASCAR plans to have the ethanol fuel fully integrated into all three series in time for the season-opening races at Daytona in February.

“We have been testing for a while, for several months, with different teams,” France said. “And we’re liking the performance aspect of what we’re finding, too—not to mention, obviously, all the environmental benefits.”

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Green Fields: Brazilians suggest end to U.S. ethanol subsidy

Des Moines
by PHILIP BRASHER & DAN PILLER • • October 17, 2010

A spokesman for Brazilian ethanol maker Unica responded to the Environmental Protection Agency's decision on Wednesday approving a 15 percent blend for ethanol with regular unleaded gasoline by suggesting that such approval should trigger an end to the 45-cent-per-gallon subsidy for blenders of ethanol in the United States.

Joel Velasco of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association said "many U.S. ethanol groups have argued recently that after 30 years of tax credits and trade protection they are ready to compete without subsidies provided the government grants them greater access to America's fuel pumps. With the EPA's decision to increase ethanol limits by 50 percent for newer vehicles, that day has arrived."

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The Top 100 People in Bioenergy – #61 – #80

Biofuels Digest
October 15, 2010 Jim Lane

ShareHere are some biographical and voting notes on those who are holding down positions #61 – #80 in our Top 100 People in Bioenergy rankings for 2010, and links to the complete rankings and notes for other honorees.

The Top 100 People in Bioenergy, the complete list

The Top 100 People in Bioenergy: bios, voting notes on #1 – #20

The Top 100 People in Bioenergy: bios, voting notes on #21 – #40
The Top 100 People in Bioenergy: bios, voting notes on #41 – #60

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BTEC Presents New Webinar on Residential Biomass Heating
Oct. 15, 2010
Source: Biomass Thermal Energy Council

Second in the free webinar series will be held November 4 at 3PM ET
WASHINGTON, October 14 - The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) today announced the second webinar in its series of free educational webinars on topics important to the biomass thermal industry. “Green Heat for Homes: Benefits and Challenges of Residential Biomass Energy,” will be held November 4, 2010 at 3PM ET. This event is made possible with funding from the USDA Forest Service’s Wood Education and Resource Center (WERC). Advance registration is required and is available online at

This webinar will address residential heating with biomass, focusing on the market overview, available fuels and technologies, emissions considerations, and policy and regulatory outlook for 2010 and 2011. Featured presenters include John Ackerly, Executive Director of the Alliance for Green Heat, and Scott Nichols, President of Tarm Biomass. Kyle Gibeault, Deputy Director of BTEC, will moderate the event.

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Will E-15 ethanol fuel become the norm, or fears of damaged engines keep status quo?
Published: Saturday, October 16, 2010, 5:38 AM Updated: Saturday, October 16, 2010, 2:44 PM
Matt Vande Bunte, The Grand Rapids Press

Food manufacturers claim more corn ethanol in the nation's fuel supply will raise grocery prices, while corn growers and ethanol producers tout this week's change in federal policy as a step toward energy independence.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it increased the current 10-percent maximum blend of ethanol for non-flex fuel automobiles to 15 percent for vehicle models 2007 and newer. The agency later this year could approve E-15 for vehicles dating back to 2001.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Conference panel addresses supply chain aspects

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Lisa Gibson October 15, 2010

Feedstock supply agreements are absolutely crucial to the operation of a biomass plant, but constructing a reliable, economical and sustainable supply chain is no easy task. Getting it Right: Designing a Sustainable Biomass Supply Chain, a discussion panel at the Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show November 2-4 in Atlanta, promises to delve into supply chain issues and logistics, using existing projects as reference points.

Panelist Matt Holland, chief operating officer for biomass fuel manufacturer Enviva LP, will discuss vital aspects of a successful supply chain during his presentation Cost vs. Efficiency and the Future of Biomass. He will touch on forest structures such as ownership of forest lands and its implications for harvesting, according to Enviva. He will also address the kinds of products that can come out of the forest, their specifications and how those specifications affect the supply. For developers looking to establish supply chains and agreements, Holland will also dip into the basics of contracts and how they function, according to Enviva.

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Cellulosic producers advance projects

Ethanol Producer Magazine
November 2010
By Kris Bevill

Recent activities in the cellulosic ethanol industry have shown that while financing continues to be a major hurdle, technological advancements continue to be made and companies are beginning to construct their first commercial-scale facilities.

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Buy or Sell: Will ethanol rise on corn shortage, E15 push?

By Joshua Schneyer
NEW YORK Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:50pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The price of corn ethanol, the main renewable fuel mixed into gasoline in the United States, has surged 10 percent since last week, reaching a two-year high near $2.22 a gallon on Friday.

Corn futures also rose to two-year highs in the week since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecast a smaller-than-expected corn harvest and the tightest supplies in 15 years.

Also boosting share prices for U.S. ethanol makers, the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday approved lifting maximum ethanol content in gasoline to 15 percent from 10 percent, a measure known in the industry as E-15.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Biomass Magazine unveils new name, website

Posted October 12, 2010

BBI International announced today that it has officially changed the name of Biomass Magazine--the world’s leading biomass industry trade publication--to Biomass Power & Thermal, a move that characterizes the magazine’s heightened focus on biobased electricity and heat.

BBI International announced last month that it would split its flagship biomass publication into two distinct titles, one focused on power and heat, the other focused on fuels and chemicals. The new magazine, Biorefining, was launched in September, and today’s unveiling of Biomass Power & Thermal--the new name, logo and website--completes the second phase of the transition.

“By dividing Biomass Magazine into two separate publications we are serving our readers and advertisers in both sectors more effectively,” said Joe Bryan, CEO of BBI International. “Extensive market research, industry consultation and long-term planning went into this decision. Splitting a successful, growing magazine into two separate titles is not an easy thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do for our readers. They’ll be better served by two publications with niche editorial scopes.”

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Biomass more efficient than ethanol

Stock & Land (Australia)
13 Oct, 2010 12:39 PM

BIOMASS converted to electricity could achieve 80 per cent more “miles per acre” than the same material converted to ethanol, a group of United States researchers announced last year.

As an example, the study by researchers from several US universities found that a small SUV powered by bioelectricity could travel nearly 14,000 highway miles on the net energy produced from an acre of switchgrass, while a comparable internal combustion vehicle could only travel about 9000 miles on the highway.

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What will ethanol rule change mean to you?

USA Today
Updated 10-14-

The Environmental Protection Agency's waiver on Wednesday allowing gasoline to contain up to 15% ethanol is sure to both confuse and worry motorists. What can be expected from adding more of the corn-based alcohol? USA TODAY's Chris Woodyard tries to answer some basic questions:
•How soon will the change take place?

The EPA waiver clears the way for gas stations to start selling fuel with 15% ethanol, or E15, for cars and trucks built since 2007. Producers must go through a registration process, which could add a few months before it goes on sale. Currently, gasoline has up to a 10% ethanol blend.

The EPA may extend permitted use to 2001-06 vehicles in November, depending on how testing turns out.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

EU May Increase Imports of Brazilian Ethanol Through 2020, Adviser Says

By Gelu Sulugiuc - Oct 13, 2010 10:18 AM CT

The European Union may increase imports of Brazilian ethanol from sugarcane to meet its 2020 environmental targets because supplies of biofuels from plant waste and municipal trash are insufficient, a consultant said.

The 27-nation bloc lacks a subsidy system to promote enough production of fuels from waste, said Maelle Soares Pinto, director of the Europe and Africa unit at Hart Energy Consulting, a fuels adviser that has counted BP Plc and U.S. government agencies among its clients. Supplies will lag demand by 2015, she said today at a conference in Copenhagen.

“The EU will have to import more Brazilian ethanol,” Pinto said at the International Conference on Lignocellulosic Ethanol. The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive “doesn’t provide subsidies or tell members how to promote these biofuels.”

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Anti-ethanol groups continue to fight tax credit

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill
Posted Oct. 13, 2010

A group consisting of industries historically opposed to corn ethanol production held a press conference Oct. 12 to reiterate its stance against ethanol subsidies, and corn ethanol in general. Representatives from food manufacturing groups, beef, pork and poultry producers and environmental activists took turns flinging accusations at the ethanol industry, blaming ethanol producers for everything from inflated grocery prices to global warming in an attempt to thwart rumored federal support to maintain ethanol subsidies.

“Whether it’s a blenders’ tax credit or an ethanol producers’ credit, it still will cost American tax payers billions of dollars each year,” said J. Patrick Boyle, president and CEO of the American Meat Institute, adding that extending the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit would prolong the “unfair support and protection” that ethanol has received for more than 30 years.

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More corn (fuel) allowed in gasoline tanks staff and news service reports
updated 10/13/2010 1:27:27 PM ET 2010-10-13T17:27:27

Up to 15 percent ethanol now OK; carmakers, gas stations opposed
WASHINGTON — Angering environmentalists but pleasing corn farmers, the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday approved blending higher concentrations of ethanol into gasoline for newer vehicles.

Mixtures with up to 15 percent of the corn-based fuel at the pump are now allowed, up from the previous maximum of 10 percent for vehicles manufactured since 2007.

"Thorough testing has now shown that E15 does not harm emissions control equipment in newer cars and light trucks," EPA chief Lisa Jackson said in a statement. "Wherever sound science and the law support steps to allow more home-grown fuels in America’s vehicles, this administration takes those steps."

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Biomass harvester destined for overseas

Stock & Land (Australia)
12 Oct, 2010 10:56 AM

AUSTRALIANS have developed the world’s first high-efficiency harvester to chip mid-sized trees, but the investment’s first destination may be offshore.

The harvester, developed by Biosystems Engineering in Toowoomba, Qld, will in its final form be capable of chipping 50-70 tonnes of trees up to eight metres high in an hour.

Biosystems managing director and principal engineer, Richard Sulman, said the harvester’s unique attribute is that it grabs and chips the trees vertically, leveraging gravity to make the process very energy-efficient. The concept was dreamed up by Future Farm Industries CRC researcher Rick Giles, and made real by Biosystems.

The design will mean that for the first time, trees with a trunk size of 70-250 millimetres can be cost-effectively chipped. The inability to do this has been a major blockage to the development of a biomass energy industry.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Top 100 People in Bioenergy:

October 11, 2010 Jim Lane

Biofuels Digest announces the list of the Top 100 People in Bioenergy.

Profiles of #1 through #20

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Researchers test sweet sorghums for best ethanol production

Media Newswire

( - AMARILLO - The continued demand for cleaner-burning fuels has Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Texas AgriLife Research specialists working to determine which varieties of sweet sorghum will produce the most ethanol.

Dr. Brent Bean, an agronomist with AgriLife Extension and AgriLife Research, recently harvested sweet sorghum plots grown at the AgriLife Research farm near Bushland. Bean's plots are a part of a federal Sun Grant project examining the production of biofuels.

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Export Exchange conference zeros in on supply

Ethanol Producer Magazine
October 2010
By Holly Jessen
Posted Oct. 11, 2010

CHICAGO – U.S. farmers will continue to produce an abundance of food and feed for both the domestic and international markets. This was an often repeated message at the Export Exchange, a conference focused on connecting international buyers of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and coarse grains. “This year the U.S. exported 54 million tons of corn, sorghum and barley, valued at about $8.6 billion,” said Daniel Keefe, manager of international DDGS operations for the U.S. Grains Council. “And, about 9 million tons of corn products mostly from ethanol production valued at over $1.5 billion.”

The conference, held Oct. 6 through Oct. 8 in Chicago, attracted nearly 500 attendees, including 170 buyers from 33 foreign countries. The U.S. Grains Council and the Renewable Fuels Association teamed up to host the conference.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

First corn-powered train closer to reality
October 10, 2010

Corn-Powered Locomotive on Track in 2010
LANSING, MICH. – The Corn Marketing Program of Michigan (CMPM) strives to create partnerships with companies and other organizations for the betterment of Michigan’s corn industry. The CMPM has been working with AHL-TECH as they develop the world’s first cost-effective, ethanol-electric hybrid locomotive. “AHL-TECH has developed an ethanol-hybrid locomotive to capitalize on the growing ethanol market in the United States and to replace the railroad industry’s aging diesel-electric locomotive fleet,” said Tom Mack, president and CEO of AHL-TECH. The current diesel-electric locomotives that form the backbone of the railroad fleet range from 1,000 to 4,400 horsepower (hp). The diesel engines are connected to large generators that drive electric motors that are directly attached to the locomotive’s axles.

Much like diesel-electric locomotives, an ethanol-fueled engine powers a generator connected to the locomotive’s axles. However, unlike the diesel-electrics, AHL-TECH’s ethanol-hybrid also has a battery component. Instead of a direct correlation between the speed of the engine and the power transmitted by the generator, AHL-TECH’s design features the capacity to store electricity when the generator produces more power than is being used. This gives the locomotive the ability to power the axles by running the engine or using power stored in the main battery. It also allows for regenerative braking – capturing the energy lost when a locomotive is brought to a halt.

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New ethanol-gasoline blend raises questions for retailers

USA Today
Updated 10-9-10
By Dan Piller, The Des Moines Register

DES MOINES, Iowa — Federal regulators are expected to approve a new blend of ethanol gasoline this month, but motorists may see little difference at the pumps.
That's because approval of the 15% ethanol blend, known as E15, may be limited to 2007 model-year cars or newer. The majority of the nation's 270 million cars would still be restricted to the current 10% ethanol blend.

Retailers would face difficult decisions about buying new dispensers and tanks for E15, especially when they would still need their current E10 pumps.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Biorefining U: University-led programs answer a growing demand for biobased education

Biorefining Magazine
Posted October 07, 2010

Student A (as in, anybody from anywhere) is interested in all things bio, everything from biobased chemicals to biorefining. Student A is not alone. A growing number of high school, undergraduate and graduate level individuals are pursuing an education in bioenergy and biomaterials just like Student A, and the evidence is in the classroom. Look at the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels (C2B2), a cooperative research and education center devoted to biomass conversion into fuels and other products. “During the past three years of the C2B2-Research Experience for Undergraduates program, the number of undergraduate student applicants has more than quadrupled from 60 to more than 260,” said C2B2 center coordinator Frannie Ray-Earle. “Student interest in renewable biofuel and biorefining technologies is growing exponentially.”

Companies are looking to build a new energy economy by producing biofuel products with energy efficient technologies and sustainable practices, said Ray-Earle, and to do so, she pointed out, “They will need our students as their future employees in order to stay on the cutting edge.” For the C2B2 program, the “they” interested in the students is virtually a who’s who in energy and transportation. Along with funding from the state and other universities, the program is already sponsored by Chevron Corp., Conoco Phillips, General Motors and Shell Global Solutions. Gevo and ZeaChem, two leading biorefinery developers, have also sponsored the program. Throughout the nation no other bioenergy program can boast more sponsor names than the C2B2 program, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t other university programs providing a quality bioenergy education.

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Researchers: bioenergy market depends on state, federal policy

South Carolina Now
By Carlton Purvis
Published: October 07, 2010

Until federal or state policy mandates that portions of energy be obtained from renewable resources, the market for bioenergy is likely to stay nonexistent, researchers at the S.C. BioEnergy Summit at the Clemson University Pee Dee Research and Education Center said Thursday.

The summit brought together researchers from across the region along with representa-tives from energy companies and U.S. agencies to share the latest news and trends in bioenergy.

Many energy companies already are using renewable resources for portions of their en-ergy production, but large-scale use of bioenergy from crops like switchgrass and corn may not happen without a push from lawmakers.

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GE to convert turbine in Brazil to burn ethanol

Bloomberg BusinessWeek
The Associated Press October 7, 2010, 2:54PM ET

General Electric said on Thursday that it has received a contract from Brazil state-owned energy company Petrobras to convert a second gas turbine to burn sugarcane-based ethanol.

The turbine is at a power plant serving the city of Juiz de Fora, northwest of Rio de Janeiro. The value of the contract wasn't disclosed.

GE said it is the first power plant in the world to generate electricity from ethanol. The power plant has two turbines. The conversions allow them to burn ethanol as well as natural gas.

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Ethanol Futures Surge Most in Five Years on Lower Corn Yields

By Mario Parker - Oct 8, 2010 3:28 PM CT

Ethanol futures surged the most in more than five years in Chicago after a government report forecast corn supplies will be lower than an earlier estimate, signaling higher costs for plants that make the biofuel.

Futures climbed after the U.S. Agriculture Department estimated the domestic corn crop will fall 3.4 percent from a year earlier, the second reduction to its forecast in as many months. The grain is the primary ingredient used to make ethanol in the U.S.

“The big story is a very bullish grain report,” said Dan Flynn, a trader at PFG Best in Chicago. “The profit margin to make ethanol is going to go up because it costs more to make it.”

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Ceres Publishes Best Practices on Energy Crop Production
October 05, 2010 09:45 AM Eastern Daylight Time

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Energy crop company Ceres, Inc. has published two new crop management guides that include the most current recommendations on the establishment, management and harvest of switchgrass and high-biomass sorghum.

Energy grasses, which provide high yields of biomass that can be converted into low-carbon fuels or co-fired for electricity generation, are still relatively new to many growers. Moreover, production and harvest practices continue to evolve as the bioenergy industry takes shape.

Ceres sales director Frank Hardimon says the recommendations in the guides are based on results from the company’s extensive trialing network as well as its involvement in bioenergy projects. “Given our research with both producers and their customers, we often play a project development role in bringing parties together. This is where we learn the most — out in the field under real-world conditions,” he said.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Biorefinery Project of the Future

Biofuels Digest
October 05, 2010 Jim Lane

– Part X of 10 – Bringing it all Together
T’aint What You Do – It’s the Way That You Do it

In Part X of our series, we look at “Bringing it all Together: How do I get it done, make it happen?” by outlining the practical steps with which the developers of a Bioenergy Project of the Future assemble the coalition of supporters that make projects feasible. Developers, financiers, policymakers, and the community itself that the projects serve. All are important, and relationships are, in fact, all-important.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cut and dried
JOE FERGUSON Sun Staff Reporter .
Posted: Sunday, October 3, 2010 5:05 am

In a small garage in east Flagstaff, Ward Davis and Lar Reibold are perfecting a technology they believe could revolutionize the biofuels industry.

The pair has a working prototype of a portable, biomass dryer designed to suck the water out of the chipped wood in slash piles created by thinning projects.

For years, attempts to turn slash piles into a "green" fuel source have been delayed by the inability to secure long-term agreements with agencies and municipalities to turn over the wood rather than burn them on site. And hauling the heavy, wet wood limits the effective operational range for biomass plants and wood fuel pellet manufacturers.

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Ford joins in researching algae for vehicle fuel

USA Today
Oct 02, 2010
04:03 PM

For some time, we've been hearing about a lot of interest among scientists in the prospect of harvest algae to run vehicles. The big attraction: it's green, literally, and it grows fast. Now Ford is getting on board.

Ford says it wants to better understand the use of biomass to produce future biofuels as part of an overall strategy to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil and address climate change.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

The Biorefinery Project of the Future

Biofuels Digest
September 29, 2010 Jim Lane

Part 6 of 10 – Adding Bioammonia

In our Bioenergy Project of the Future, our goals continue to be not only to increase income, but the sustainability of the project and the carbon impact of our community. Within our slipstream of corn or sugarcane feedstocks, one of the quick wins in terms of producing income while reducing carbon intensity is to add a bioammonia production capability.

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Report: Ethanol demand to outpace production

Ethanol Producer Magazine
October 2010
By Kris Bevill
Posted Oct. 1, 2010

A recent analysis of global biofuels in the next decade predicts a shortage in ethanol supply beginning in 2015 due to increased demand for biofuels to meet regulatory requirements. Hart Energy Consulting’s study of global biofuels concluded that worldwide demand for biofuels will increase by more than 100 percent over current demand levels by 2020. As a result, by 2020 global ethanol supply may be short by 5 billion gallons.

“We view this as good news for the industry,” said Tammy Klein, global study leader and assistant vice president of Hart Energy Consulting. “We are projecting increasing demand for the product in the market and high utilization rates. However, we don’t expect a rush of new facilities or additional build-out in the industry. Rather, we think it’s more likely the producers will debottleneck, possibly expand facilities and run over nameplate capacity. We expect facilities will improve efficiency and this is meaningful for future potential low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) and renewable fuel standard (RFS) compliance. This is the challenge for producers - to make their process more ‘sustainable’ and ‘GHG [greenhouse gas] friendly’ - and we think they will rise to that challenge.”

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New Regs Needed for Cellulosic Fuels to See Fruition
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – October 1st, 2010

According to a new study published today in the October issue of BioScience, “Far-reaching Deleterious Impacts of Regulations on Research and Environmental Studies of Recombinant DNA-modified Perennial Biofuel Crops in the United States,” researchers argue that the current regulatory system will need a monumental overhaul in order for cellulosic bioenergy to reach its true potential. The authors write that cellulosic biofuels are hampered by a “deep and thorny regulatory thicket” that has made it near impossible to use advanced gene modification methods to advance cellulosic biofuels production.

“It’s extraordinary that gene modification technology, which has been adapted more rapidly than any other technology in the history of agriculture, and had some profound environmental and economic benefits, has been regulated virtually out of existence for perennial cellulosic biofuels crops,” said Steve Strauss, a distinguished professor of forest biotechnology at Oregon State University, and lead author of the paper.

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Researchers Fight Global Warming with Genetically Altered Trees
Tiffany Kaiser - October 1, 2010 3:08 PM

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers claim that global warming can be fought through the use of genetically altered trees and plants.

The leaders of the study – Christer Jansson, Stan D. Wullschleger, Udaya C. Kalluri, and Gerald A. Tuskan – believe that creating forests of genetically altered trees and plants will remove "several billion tons of carbon" annually from the atmosphere, ultimately helping in the battle against global warming.

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Regulatory Reforms Needed to Allow Cellulosic Bioenergy to Reach its True Potential

Environmental Protection (
•Oct 01, 2010

Faster development of the promising field of cellulosic biofuels -- the renewable energy produced from grasses and trees -- is being significantly hampered by a "deep and thorny regulatory thicket" that makes almost impossible the use of advanced gene modification methods, researchers say.

In a new study published today in the journal BioScience, scientists argue that major regulatory reforms and possibly new laws are needed to allow cellulosic bioenergy to reach its true potential as a form of renewable energy, and in some cases help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

"It's extraordinary that gene modification technology, which has been adapted more rapidly than any other technology in the history of agriculture, and had some profound environmental and economic benefits, has been regulated virtually out of existence for perennial cellulosic biofuels crops," said Steve Strauss, a distinguished professor of forest biotechnology at Oregon State University, and lead author of the paper.

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Friday, October 1, 2010 Podcast With Hans Blaschek, CABER Director, on U of I Symposium...

...on Near-Term Opportunities for Biorefineries

BioFuels Journal spoke with Dr. Hans Blaschek, director of the Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research (CABER) at the University of Illinois, Champaign.

CABER is hosting the Near-term Opportunities for Biorefineries Symposium, Oct. 11-12 at the I-Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign, Oct. 11-12.

Read more and link to listen to the podcast

ARS researchers use ruminant enzyme to break down biomass

Biorefining Magazine

Researchers at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service are developing an effective way to break down plant fiber using feruloyl esterases (FAEs), a special group of enzymes found in cow rumen.

Previous studies showed that FAEs are capable of breaking down key links between polymers, and that they are produced by certain types of microbes that degrade plant materials, according to Dominic Wong, lead chemist on the project at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif. Wong collected the microbial population from cow’s rumen and screened their genetic compositions to find the genes that produce FAE enzymes.

“There are very few gene sequences available for this particular group of enzymes, mainly because there’s no efficient way of screening the genes for microorganisms,” Wong said.

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