Reuters - Africa
Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:00pm GMT
* Programs backs family farming for biofuels
* Seeks to diversify crops for biofuels production
* Critics say program inefficient and politically driven
By Brian Ellsworth GETULIO VARGAS, Brazil, Aug 25 (Reuters) - With its biofuels business increasingly dominated by giant corporations, Brazil is seeking to extend its biofuels sector to include farmers like Lucas Scariot, who makes around $10,000 per year from selling grain.
For the past three years, Scariot has sold soy beans at a premium over market prices to a biofuels company under a government program aimed at supporting small farms and creating jobs in the countryside while cutting fuel imports.
This year Scariot planted canola for the first time in a field he usually leaves fallow during the winter, diversifying the region's soy-dependent agricultural base and providing a new raw material for local biodiesel production.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Reuters - Africa
By Green Car Congress on 08/29/2010 – 8:15 am PDT
American Process Incorporated (API) recently launched a waste-to-cellulosic ethanol biorefinery project in Alpena, Michigan. API is one of Michigan’s bioenergy Centers of Energy Excellence (COEE).
In November 2008, API, in partnership with San Antonio’s Valero Energy Corporation, received $4 million from the COEE program to establish a pilot scale biorefinery at the Decorative Panels International hardwood plant in Alpena. The biorefinery will convert the process waste effluent from the plant into cellulosic ethanol, sodium acetate and clean, warm water. The project has potential to be replicated across the state in other biorefineries, pulp and paper mills, and food and agricultural processing plants.
Date Posted: August 30, 2010
Jefferson City, MO—Move over, Thomas Friedman.
The next generation of thought leaders is gearing up to lead America’s energy efforts.
And biodiesel, our nation’s only commercially available advanced biofuel, is front and center.
Student scientists from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire to Oregon State University in Corvallis are leading a new Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel initiative.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Tech & Industry Analysis from Asia
Aug 26, 2010 11:18
Atsushi Takano, Nikkei Monozukuri
NEC Corp developed a biomass plastic whose mass ratio of plant-derived materials (plant ratio) is as high as 70%.
The properties of the new biomass plastic, such as ductility, impact resistance and heat resistance, will be equivalent to those of polylactic acid (PLA), NEC said. The company plans to continue the development of the plastic as a material for electronic devices, aiming to commercialize it in fiscal 2013.
By Tribune Staff • August 26, 2010
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has awarded $1 million in federal stimulus grants to four entities for projects that will further the development and marketability of renewable energy technologies:
Opportunity Link, a Hi-Line-area local economic development agency, was awarded $125,000 to develop railroad markets for bio-diesel. The agency, based in Havre, has organized a partnership between BNSF and the Montana State University-Northern Bioenergy Center to demonstrate the use of a 20-percent biodiesel blend in a locomotive switch engine. BNSF has agreed to use the blend in a switch engine for one year. Part of the grant will be used by Opportunity Link to coordinate emissions testing, and analyze filters and engine components at the end of the operating period.
Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill
After evaluating the market availability of cellulosic biofuels, the U.S. EPA said in July that only five producers are expected to contribute cellulosic ethanol to the overall volume next year and that it might reduce the cellulosic target by as much as 240 million gallons from its original goal. The renewable fuel standard established in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 called for 250 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels to be produced in 2011, but the EPA is predicting a much lower actual achievable volume of between 5 million and 17.1 million gallons.
The EPA said it evaluated both domestic and foreign sources of cellulosic biofuel before issuing its proposed volume standard. The agency found only five U.S. cellulosic ethanol producers with the potential to contribute next year, including: AE Biofuels, Agresti Biofuels, DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol, Fiberight LLC and KL Energy Corp. Ontario-based Iogen Corp. was the sole Canadian producer with the potential to export cellulosic biofuel into the U.S. in 2011. A handful of producers questioned the EPA’s method of reaching those determinations, but the agency stood by its analysis. EPA senior press officer Cathy Milbourn said producers were encouraged to submit any production changes to the EPA during the proposed volume standard comment period. The EPA would then re-evaluate before issuing its final standard in November.
By Leon Kaye August 27th, 2010
Brazil has built a respectable renewable energy policy over the past 35 years. Spooked by the oil crises of the early 1970s, Brazil’s government promoted ethanol from sugarcane as fuel. Flex-fuel vehicles that run on gasoline or ethanol caught on, and now account for over 90% of Brazil’s automobile sales. Since 1976, pure gasoline has no longer been sold in Brazil; a mix of anywhere from 10% to 25% of cane-based ethanol must be blended with gasoline before going from the pump to the gas tank. And a huge deal announced yesterday will further extend the reach of Brazilian ethanol.
IBJ.com (Indianapolis Business Journal)
August 28, 2010
Indianapolis-based bioengineering firm Xylogenics Inc. has licensed its proprietary yeast strain to a Milwaukee firm that is a supplier to the fuel-ethanol industry. It is the first such licensing agreement for Xylogenics.
Lallemand Ethanol Technology will use Xylogenics’ yeast strain, which is notable in its potential to produce ethanol from cheap, abundant plant matter, such as grasses and the leftover portion of a corn stalk. Most ethanol is made from corn kernels, a food crop whose price has risen with the demand for ethanol.
Friday, August 27, 2010
By Lucia Kassai - Aug 26, 2010 9:00 AM CT
Sugar output in Brazil’s Center South, the world’s largest producing region, will rise less than previously forecast this year after dry weather hurt the crop, industry association Unica said.
Sugar production will rise to 33.7 million metric tons from the current crop, less than a March 31 forecast of 34.1 million tons, Unica said today in a report distributed in Sao Paulo. Production will rise from 28.6 million tons a year earlier.
Unica also cut its forecast for ethanol output to 26.4 billion liters from a previous estimate of 27.4 billion liters.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Barring any changes after a 30-day comment period, the U.S. EPA has set 2011 RFS2 production volumes at 800 million gallons for biomass-based diesel. The EPA also noted that due to an advanced biofuels shortfall, additional biomass-based diesel could be used to fulfill the 1.35 billion gallon advanced biofuels requirement. The EPA estimates that 125 million to 144 million ethanol-equivalent gallons of advanced biofuel will be needed to make up for the shortfall. “We believe that Congress wanted to encourage the development of advanced renewable fuels and allow in appropriate circumstances for the use of additional volumes of those fuels,” EPA said.
The National Biodiesel Board pointed out that in the next 18 months, a minimum of 1.145 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel will enter the marketplace due to 345 million gallons still required to meet 2010 requirements. The biodiesel industry remains ready, willing and able to meet the requirements of the program, said Joe Jobe, NBB CEO, adding, “By 2011, much of the uncertainty that has accompanied the start-up and transition of the program in 2009 and 2010 will have been eliminated.”
Read the article
By BOB MOEN
CHEYENNE, Wyo. --Wyoming is a long way from places where sugar cane is grown, but a test plant in the northeast part of the state will soon be turning sugar cane waste into biofuel.
KL Energy Corp., based in Rapid City, S.D., and Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras announced an agreement Tuesday to produce cellulosic ethanol from sugar cane bagasse, the waste created when sugar cane is processed into sugar.
Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's largest oil company, has signed a $12 billion joint venture agreement with Cosan SA, Brazil's biggest ethanol manufacturer, to produce and distribute ethanol from sugar cane, the two companies announced Wednesday.
The binding agreement represents the largest investment by a major oil company in Brazil's ethanol industry. The deal, first unveiled in February, still requires regulatory approval.
Cosan will contribute its existing capacity to crush 60 million tons of sugar a year at its 23 mills, producing 2 billion liters (528 million gallons) of ethanol, said a joint statement.
Sequence Combined with Largest Germplasm Library Accelerates Development of Promising Energy Crop
CARLSBAD, Calif., Aug. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Life Technologies Corporation (Nasdaq: LIFE), a provider of innovative life science solutions and SG Biofuels, Inc., a bioenergy crop company, today announced they have completed sequencing the Jatropha curcas genome to 100x coverage, using the SOLiD™ 4.0 System by Life Technologies. The sequence significantly accelerates the identification of key traits for the oilseed-producing crop and advances its development as a high yielding, low-cost source for next generation biofuel.
Working in strategic alliance with Life Technologies, SG Biofuels will use the sequence to generate a high quality Jatropha reference genome. The genome will be compared to sequences generated from SG Biofuels' germplasm library of more than 6,000 unique Jatropha genotypes – the largest and most diverse collection of Jatropha germplasm in the world – to identify molecular markers and trait genes to accelerate development of elite cultivars with vastly superior yields and profitability. This work will also advance the introduction of transgenic plants with further improved traits.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Hoosier Ag Today
Purdue Ag Communications
A variable subsidy for ethanol producers could cost the government less and provide more security for producers than current fixed rates, according to a Purdue University study. A variable subsidy rate would insulate producers from risk because as oil and ethanol prices drop, the subsidy for producers would increase, said Wally Tyner, a Purdue agricultural economist and an author of the study. The government would save money because it would not have to pay any subsidy when oil prices are high.
"There will be times when oil prices are high and the subsidy will be low or nothing at all," Tyner said.
The current government subsidy for ethanol producers - a fixed rate of 45 cents per gallon of ethanol - will expire at the end of the year. Congress will have to decide whether to create a new fixed rate, implement a variable rate or go with no subsidy at all.
23 August 2010
A process that uses anaerobic microorganisms and mimics the digestive processes of cattle could change the way organic waste and biomass crops are converted into bioenergy.
Biosource Ltd was set up to exploit the bioenergy anaerobic fermentation process which was developed at the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) in collaboration with Professor Mike Theodorou, formerly of Aberystwyth University, a microbiology expert on cow and sheep gut function.
As Professor Theodorou explains: “The UK creates around 40 million tonnes of organic waste each year much of which ends up in landfills. But with a more sustainable way of life and climate-change high on political and social agendas, the global thrust for new ways of creating fuels from biomass is gathering pace.”
Monday, August 23, 2010
University Park, Pa. -- Ramping up biofuels production to replace fossil fuels and provide a significant portion of the nation's energy will require nothing short of a transformation of the U.S. agricultural, transportation and energy sectors in the next few decades, according to a bioenergy expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
Major changes will be needed to grow, handle, transport and store the immense quantities of biomass -- mostly lignocellulosic feedstocks such as switchgrass, crop residues and forest wastes -- necessary to continually feed electric power generation stations and produce biofuels for transportation, noted Tom Richard, professor of agricultural and biological engineering, who is director of the University's Institutes of Energy and the Environment.
August 24, 2010 Jim Lane
In China, agricultural experts from Shenyang Agricultural University are saying that it’s too early for reliance on corn-based ethanol because of high production costs and the country’s growing population. With the country’s corn-growing regions prone to extreme weather disasters, like those this year that parched southwest China early this year, along with the devastating floods that hit most parts of China this summer.
Earlier this month, China’s largest membership association of private petroleum enterprises made a proposal to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country’s top economic planner, to halt the corn-to-ethanol project.
Michael Kanellos: August 23, 2010
General Motors makes the Volt, but ethanol will be a big part of the strategy, too.
Electric cars and biofuels seem to inhabit different universes these days. Nissan, General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen, Honda, Ford, BMW, Tesla Motors, Fisker Automotive and Daimler, among others, have unfurled plans to release affordable electric cars over the next few years. Thousands of consumers have plunked down deposits on upcoming models and states have sought grants to pay for charging networks.
Meanwhile, biofuel startups, struggling for cash, have branched into jet fuel, chemicals and food additives as a way to get revenue to come in the door.
University of Florida
Monday, August 23, 2010
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Termite spit may soon help fill our gas tanks. University of Florida researchers have isolated two enzymes termites use to break up lignin, a tough plant material that is major problem during the production of cellulosic ethanol.
Cellulosic ethanol is a fuel produced from the inedible portions of plants, material often discarded as trash. The process often involves genetically engineered microbes such as bacteria or fungi to break down sugars found in the cell walls of the plants.
Before the microbes can do their work, however, they must first get past lignin, the compound largely responsible for making wood “woody” instead of soft.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
by Andrew Haden, A3 Energy Partners
Published: August 23, 2010
Recent rules for proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce emissions from boilers could have the unfortunate effect of killing the sustainable and rapidly growing industry of biomass heat.
Don’t get this wrong: it’s important to support reducing greenhouse gas emissions, particulates and mercury pollution from burning fossil fuels. But by lumping biomass heating boilers—which do not emit mercury—together with large, coal-burning plants, the EPA has failed to distinguish the vast difference between electricity generation from coal and heat generation from waste wood via biomass boilers.
Widely used and promoted in Europe as a way to reduce reliance on coal and oil, biomass heating systems for commercial and institutional buildings are spawning a brand new and fast-growing industry in the US, one that we can ill afford to see regulated out of existence, especially in the Pacific Northwest.
A newly efficient method of producing biodiesel fuel, developed by Monroe-based Down to Earth Energy in a partnership with the University of Georgia, could eventually revolutionize the biodiesel industry, according to the project’s researchers.
The under-development production method is more environmentally friendly than current ones, reusing the catalysts necessary for production rather than consuming them and producing waste, according to Dan Geller, a professor in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
The collaboration on the project, which is coordinated by the University of Georgia Research Foundation, involves both Geller, whose research focuses on biodiesel fuel, and Dr. James Kastner, whose specialty is biochemical catalysts and serves as the university’s principal investigator for the project.
By Green Car Congress on 08/22/2010 – 4:35 am PDT
Ceres, Inc. earlier this month established a subsidiary in Brasil focused on developing sweet sorghum as a feedstock for the ethanol industry. The company’s goal is to be the first supplier of new hybrids with high levels of sugar.
Ceres Chief Financial Officer Paul Kuc has been appointed as the interim leader of the subsidiary, which will be based in São Paulo under the name Ceres Sementes do Brasil Ltda. Earlier in his career, Kuc spent several years leading the Brazilian financial unit of a large multinational seed company.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Stock and Land
BY JACQUI FATKA
21 Aug, 2010 04:00 AM
IN THE past year in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency has been evaluating a waiver request to increase ethanol levels blended into the gasoline supply to 15 per cent (E15).
For the ethanol industry, E15 is the only way to remain competitive as production capacity nears maximum use levels. However, there is growing concern from the livestock and food industries about the effect on prices if too much corn is used for ethanol.
As the ethanol industry has expanded over the past five years, many predicted that corn exports would suffer.
In a full analysis of supply and demand outlooks under higher ethanol blends, Dan O'Brien, extension grain economist at Kansas State University, plugged in the US Department of Agriculture's 10-year baseline outlook for yields, acres and usage and found that if corn is allocated away from traditional uses and more toward ethanol use, the export market will drop.
By Lisa Gibson
Posted August 17, 2010, at 2:51 p.m. CST
Several utilities are in discussions with Nebraska-based Next Step Biofuels Inc., interested in cofiring the company’s corn stover PowerPellets with coal. The corn stover pellets are attractive because they pulverize and process like coal, and ship and store like grain, according to Will Gardenswartz, Next Step Biofuels spokesman.
Nebraska utility Omaha Public Power District will test burn 2,200 tons of the PowerPellets, which will replace 5 percent of the coal usage in one of five boilers, and is the furthest along in supply negotiations with Next Step, Gardenswartz said. If all goes well, a contract could be in place by mid-October.
August 20, 2010 Jim Lane
In the lexicon of renewables, solar and biomass-based energy are usually separated out into two distinct categories: there are different researchers, different grants, different media, different supporters. Generally, people think of solar as a source for electric power, and biofuels as a source for liquid transportation fuels.
But it isn’t always so. Aside from the general observation that nearly all energy systems ultimately are based on today’s or yesterday’s solar energy (only geothermal and nuclear power are distinct exceptions), a new generation of technologies is bringing solar and biofuel technologies closer together.
Published: Aug. 19, 2010 at 7:31 PM
CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Aug. 19 (UPI) -- A genetically modified strain of yeast with a higher tolerance for alcohol could lead to more efficient and economical biofuel production, researchers say.
A University of Illinois professor of microbial genomics says the modified yeast could improve microbial fermentation of biomass crops, a process that yields the alcohol-based fuels ethanol and iso-butanol as it converts sugars from biomass into biofuels, a university release said Thursday.
"At a certain concentration, the biofuels that are being created become toxic to the yeast used in making them. Our goal was to find a gene or genes that reduce this toxic effect," said Yong-Su Jin, an assistant professor in the university's Department of Food Science said.
August 20, 2010 Thomas Saidak
In Utah, in another use of biofuels as a tool for problem solving, Logan officials have been given a seven year deadline to reduce phosphorus levels by half in the sewage lagoons. The water from these lagoons discharges into the Cutler Reservoir where the phosphorous causes algae blooms that asphyxiates fish and other animals.
Logan city officials are working with Utah State University to research and develop a project to grow algae in the offending lagoons, consuming phosphorous, which would then be run through digesters to produce biofuels.
Friday, August 20, 2010
19 August 2010
New bioenergy production platform 'Photosynthetic Foam' has been shortlisted in the Today The Earth Awards 2010 for sustainable design.
University of Cincinnati Professors David Wendell's and Carlo Monteemagno's “manufactured system of photosynthesis“ means that all captured energy is converted to sugars, unlike natural plant photosynthesis where a large amount of energy is used to maintain the life of the organism.
The foam is a far more efficient of carbon capture and versatile energy production platform, such as bioenergy, presenting new opportunities for developments in the field of renewable energy.
Professor Wendall explains: “Plants typically convert solar energy into sugars at a rate of 1-5% but the foam does this at a minimum rate of 16% - and even more in some circumstances.”
The Press Enterprise
10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, August 17, 2010
By LESLIE BERKMAN
On sun-baked land north of the Salton Sea where striped bass once were farmed in pools, entrepreneurs today are cultivating algae, another aquatic crop that might someday replace petroleum and combat greenhouse gases.
Jack Van Olst and business partner Jim Carlberg, both marine biologists, in 1979 founded Kent SeaTech fish farm, which gained prominence as the first to cultivate striped bass for food, selling 3 million pounds of bass a year in the mid-1990s.
Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:34pm EDT
Range Fuels, one of the more successful biofuel startups backed by Khosla Ventures, announced today that it has opened up its first commercial plant to make cellulosic methanol out of non-food feedstocks. Located in Georgia, the facility is expected to pump out 20 million gallons of ethanol and biodiesel every year.
The company’s plan is to use wood waste generated by timber plants located around the Soperton, Ga. site (pictured above). It will convert that waste into synthetic gas using heat and pressure, which is fed into a proprietary catalytic process to produce alcohol-based compounds. The end product can be used for vehicles and jets with existing gas tanks.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Emmetsburg Reporter Democrat
POSTED: August 17, 2010
The first-ever commercial biomass harvest will be the subject of a special event today by officials of POET and Project Liberty in an event at POET’s Emmetsburg facility. Project Liberty is POET’s planned 25 million gallon cellulosic ethanol plant that will be constructed in Emmetsburg which will use corn cobs and light stover as the feedstock for the process.
Today’s event in Emmetsburg will feature remarks from several guests, including Iowa Governor Chet Culver and POET Chief Executive Officer Jeff Broin. Additional information will be presented by officials from the Idaho National Laboratories on biomass storage, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on biomass harvest incentives and ISU on soil sustainability.
August 18, 2010 Jim Lane
In Japan, scientists from Tohoku University and Tohoku Electric Power Co. have developed a more efficient way to produce ethanol from seaweed using natural yeast discovered by the group as well as a new fermentation method.
The technology will also help seaside power plants get rid of seaweed that is regarded as a nuisance, as it obstructs power generation operations by clogging intakes for power plant cooling water.
August 18, 2010 Jim Lane
Range Fuels commences production of cellulosic methanol in Georgia; ethanol by Q3
ShareIn Georgia, Range Fuels announced that it has commenced production of cellulosic methanol from the initial phase of its first commercial cellulosic biofuels plant near Soperton.
The first phase of the Soperton Plant operations employs Range Fuels’, two-step thermo-chemical process to convert cellulosic feedstocks into a synthesis gas composed of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The syngas is then passed over a proprietary catalyst to produce mixed alcohols that are separated and processed to yield a variety of low-carbon biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol and methanol.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
By Stuart Biggs - Aug 17, 2010 1:28 AM CT
Marubeni Corp., Japan’s fourth- largest trading company, signed an agreement with Cargill Inc. to develop projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the company said in a statement today on its website.
Marubeni and Minneapolis-based Cargill, a food and agriculture company, will develop renewable energy, forestry, and biomass projects in developing countries to generate carbon offset credits, Marubeni said.
Published August 17, 2010
A new whiskey biofuel that can be used to power cars has been developed by scientists in Edinburgh.
Researchers found a formula to make the fuel from whiskey by-products.
Volume 13, Number 33: 18 August 2010
In an article recently published in Ecological Applications, Bouwman et al. (2010) assessed the global consequences of implementing first- and second-generation bioenergy production in the coming five decades, focusing on the nitrogen cycle and utilizing "a climate mitigation scenario from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD's) Environmental Outlook, in which a carbon tax is introduced to stimulate production of biofuels from energy crops." In doing so, they calculated that "the area of energy crops will increase from 8 Mha in the year 2000 to 270 Mha (14% of total cropland), producing 5.6 Pg dry matter per year (12% of energy use) in 2050." They also found that "this production requires an additional annual 19 Tg of N fertilizer in 2050 (15% of total), and this causes a global emission of 0.7 Tg of N2O-N (8% of agricultural emissions), 0.2 Tg NO-N (6%), and 2.2 Tg of NH3--N (5%)." In addition, they say that "2.6 Tg of NO3--N will leach from fields under energy crops."
Herald-Review (Decatur, IL)
By CHRIS LUSVARDI - H&R Staff Writer Herald-Review.com Posted: Friday, August 13, 2010 4:01 am
DECATUR - The biofuels program at Richland Community College is expanding with the support of federal funding.
Richland officials greeted U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, D-Rock Island, in making the announcement Thursday in the college's biofuels laboratory. Hare helped to secure $200,000 for the program, which is one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the state.
"We're adding all the renewable technologies into the mix," said Doug Brauer, Richland's vice president for economic development. "We'll be developing the curriculum around the technology."
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
By Anna Austin
Posted August 12, 2010, at 12:18 p.m. CST
Although it will not solve climate change entirely, biochar has the potential to mitigate up to a tenth of current greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study.
The extensive research paper, which has been in the works for several years, centered on the carbon sequestration capabilities of biochar was published this week in Nature Communication, and co-author James Amonette hopes it will have great influence on those in the scientific community who doubt biochar’s climate mitigation potential.
Amonette, a soil scientist at the U.S. DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said he has wanted to conduct a solid biochar study for the past several years and finally got started in 2009 after discussions with study co-author Dominic Woolf of Swansea University in Wales. “We are extremely concerned about climate change and ways to mitigate it, and independently arrived at the conclusion that biochar is something that nobody has done a real thorough study on,” he said. “We’d done some quick calculations, but nobody knew whether the numbers would be at 90 gigatons or 1 gigaton of carbon per year.”
August 16, 2010 Jim Lane
In California, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab scientist David Fridley released “Nine Challenges of Alternative Energy” as a chapter in the October 2010 Watershed Media/UC Press publication, The Post Carbon Reader.
The report looks at Scalability and Timing, Commercialization, Substitutability, Material Requirements, Intermittency, Energy Density, Water, The Law of Receding Horizons, and Energy Returned on Energy Invested.
Sunday, August 15, 2010 9:56 AM
(Source: The Gazette - Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
By Dave DeWitte, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Aug. 15--CEDAR RAPIDS The Union of Concerned Scientists is floating a proposal to revamp the nation's biofuels incentives that is sure to upset some corn growers.
Senior Scientist Jeremy Martin of the Union of Concerned Scientists was in Cedar Rapids this past week to explain the group's 'Billion Gallon Challenge.' The policy would shift tax credits from regular corn-based ethanol to biofuels that provide an even greater reduction in global warming emissions.
It would provide investment tax credits and loan guarantees to support the first 1 billion gallons of annual production capacity of cellulosic biofuels.
As existing tax credits for biofuels expire, it would replace them with a new 'Biofuels Performance Tax Credit.' The new tax credit would amount to $10 per million btu (British thermal units -- a measure of energy content). It would support all biofuels based on their performance in replacing oil and reducing global warming emissions.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Ethanol Producer Magazine
News release posted August 12, 2010
The debate continues as scrutiny increases over the sustainability of ethanol derived from crops developed for food production. Concerns about net energy and greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to its effect on food and feed pricing are driving researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) at the University of Illinois and at the University of California Berkeley to find cropping options that will produce ethanol sustainably and without taking more of the land currently used for food and feed production.
Sugarcane and Miscanthus top the list of bioenergy crops that could produce enough ethanol to replace the United States’ use of petroleum and escape U.S. dependence on fossil fuels, said Stephen P. Long, Deputy Director of the EBI at the U of I and Gutsgell Professor of Crop Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
Business Journal - Central New York
8/11/2010 3:14:00 PM by Kevin Tampone
VOLNEY - A new carbon dioxide production plant is now running at the Sunoco ethanol facility in Volney.
Linde North America's carbon dioxide plant can produce 600 tons of the gas per day. The gas is captured from ethanol-production emissions, purified, and liquefied for sale to
customers throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New England.
by Jasmin Malik Chua, 08/13/10
When it comes to solving our climate-change pickle, it might be time for deus ex machina-type proposals to take a back seat to something a little more homegrown: biochar. While the charcoal-like substance has often been pooh-poohed as a crackpot hippy idea — burning organic matter to capture carbon dioxide, really? — a new study in the August issue of Nature Communications concludes that the black stuff could sustainably offset as much as 1.8 billion metric tons of carbon emissions annually, or up to 12 percent of global greenhouse-gas production.
When left to its own devices, biomass (such as plants, wood, and livestock manure) breaks down and releases its carbon into the atmosphere within a decade or so. Subjecting that same biomass to high temperatures and creating biochar, however, locks the carbon in a stable state for hundreds, even thousands of years.
Biochar’s amazing properties don’t stop there. It’s also great for soil fertility and agricultural productivity, as ancient civilizations have long known. About 2,500 years ago, farmers in the Amazon improved their soil’s ability to retain water and nutrients by tilling it with charcoal. (Portuguese settlers later dubbed this terra preta, or “black earth.”) Plus, the addition of biochar can also reduce the amount of methane and nitrous oxide released by decaying plant matter in the soil.
Read more & see photos
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Southeast Farm Press
Aug 10, 2010 10:17 AM, By Brad Haire, University of Georgia
“Right now, there are 1 billion people living America-style lives, or lives demanding high energy needs. By 2040, that number will be 3 billion. That’s three times as many people demanding the kind of energy, the kind of stuff, the kind of lives we have and standing with us at the world’s energy spigot.”
Bioenergy scientists, policymakers, industry leaders and enthusiasts met in Tifton, Ga., Aug. 3-5 to discuss how Georgia and surrounding states could soon establish and grow a vibrant renewable energy market to help the world find alternative ways to power itself.
The three-day 2010 Southeast Bioenergy Conference was held at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center. Keynote speaker Christopher Steiner told more than 500 participants that costly gas isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It could be the catalyst to spark a sincere, long-term U.S. energy strategy to break its addiction to foreign oil.
Great Plains Institute
Biogas is a renewable energy resource that holds tremendous potential to help meet our future energy needs. As a versatile energy resource, it can be utilized as a feedstock for electricity and/or heat, a source of renewable natural gas, or as a vehicle fuel. Materials that can be used to produce biogas are abundant, especially in the Midwest - an area rich with livestock production, food processing byproducts, and crop residues. Agricultural production is not the only source of biogas production in the Midwest; wastewater treatment facilities, urban wood and yard wastes, and landfills also provide a feedstock source.
The Midwest is behind other parts of the world in deploying biogas technology. Other countries are gaining value from producing natural gas substitutes for transportation, heat, and other purposes. Based on operational experience abroad, the Midwest could produce more biogas from combining multiple organic feedstocks in the same system and developing centralized biogas plants. Such new production models would be instrumental in expanding biogas production beyond the large livestock facilities, where the technology has previously been associated.
Read the report (pdf)
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
August 10, 2010 Jim Lane
In Washington, the US Senate once again took up the biodiesel tax extenders package when Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts introduced a new energy bill that would extend the tax credit retroactively for 2010 and through 2012. The limited energy bill package would also incentivize natural gas-based heavy trucks, energy efficient appliances, energy-efficient homes and business, extend R&D credits through 2012, and also add $3.5 billion for renewable energy bonds.
The scaled-back package follows the failure of a more extensive energy bill, and the climate bill that failed to pass this year. The bill does not include a Rnewable Electricity Standard. The legislation may come to the floor in September, or may be attached to an oil spill response bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged to bring to a floor vote in September.
By Luke Geiver
Posted July 9, 2010
OriginOil, an algae-to-oil developer, has discovered a process to extract hydrogen from algae. The new technology, called the Hydrogen Harvester, works by capturing hydrogen that is readily available in the algae growth matrix, as opposed to breaking the carbon-hydrogen bonds in the algae itself, according to Brian Goodall, OriginOil’s chief technology officer. The new technology presents a critical development for a fully integrated algal biorefinery, said Goodall. “All routes from algae to ‘drop-in’ fuels such as renewable diesel and jet fuel require hydrogen and hydrogen treating. The Hydrogen Harvester technology would eliminate the need for hydrogen pipelines and dependence on existing refineries, which are typically far removed from ideal sites for algae growth,” Goodall added.
The process also involves targeting the more weakly bound hydrogen, which Goodall said helps to avoid “the use of energy or stressing, genetic modification or other invasive activities.” By minimizing energy inputs and stress levels, “we are tapping the algae system for hydrogen and allowing all other growth and harvesting processes to go on undisturbed,” Goodall said. “External energy inputs are truly minimal, but it takes energy to move water/algae, for example. In terms of stress—other approaches have focused on depriving the algae of sulfur, and/or investigating genetically modified species. Our technology requires neither of these approaches, generating biomass, oil and hydrogen.”
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
August 09, 2010 Jim Lane
In the UK, Aston University’s Bio Energy Research Group is developing bio-oil from biomass, by fast pyrolysis.
BERG – the BioEnergy Research Group at Aston University is one of the largest university based research groups in thermal biomass conversion in the world. It was formed in 1986 as a focus for a range of inter-related activities in biomass conversion and environmental studies related to global warming and has grown into a substantial multi-disciplinary research effort.
Two North Dakota State University professors have received $309,357 from the National Science Foundation...
aom.com (A to Z Materials)
...for research to improve conversion and reduce costs of making ethanol from cellulosic biomass.
Andriy Voronov, assistant professor in the Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials, and Scott Pryor, assistant professor in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at NDSU, will conduct the research in collaboration with Sergiy Minko, chaired professor of chemistry at Clarkson University, Potsdam, N.Y., who has been awarded $200,978 from the National Science Foundation.
The objective of the group’s research is to enhance the conversion of cellulosic biomass into fermentable glucose to convert into ethanol or other chemicals or fuels. Their work is aimed at improving efficacy and reducing costs of cellulase enzymes needed for converting biomass to soluble sugars. Their research proposal is titled "pH-Responsive Capsules for Enhanced Delivery and Recovery of Cellulases for Biomass Hydrolysis."
Technology Review (MIT)
By Nidhi Subbaraman
Monday, August 09, 2010
A way to get a high-energy fuel out of an abundant and renewable resource.
Researchers at a startup in Colorado have turned plant scraps into jet fuel, an important demonstration that high-energy fuels can be made efficiently from renewable and abundant biomass.
The company, Gevo, has engineered a yeast that helps transform the cellulose found in wood chips and plant stalks into butanol, an ingredient of gasoline. The researchers can then modify the butanol into jet fuel.
Butanol has 30 percent more energy than an equal amount of a conventional biofuel such as ethanol. Because of that appeal, such companies as Cobalt Biofuels, Gevo, and DuPont have been developing ways to cheaply and efficiently produce butanol from renewable sources. One method starts with the sugars in the starch of corn and sugarcane. Another way to do it is with the cellulose found in plant stalks and wood chips. It has been easier to design yeasts and bacteria to ferment starch-based sugars into butanol, but the abundance of natural cellulose makes it a better raw material for biofuel production, says Mike Cleary, director of the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – August 6th, 2010
There are several barriers to the success of converting biomass to biofuels including harvesting, transportation and storage. But of these three challenges, one of utmost importance is not only how to store the biomass but how long can it be stored without compromising the feedstock?
The most advanced commercial scale corn stover to ethanol project in the U.S. is Project Liberty, a biomass project funding by POET. Ultimately, the plant will produce 25 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol, but how much biomass will that take? According to POET, the plant will need 770 dry tons of biomass (corn cobs, some leaves and husks) for each day of operation. Yet how do you store that much material?
This is the very question that the Project Liberty team is working on with researchers at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). They are studying factors at POET plants in Hurley, SD and Emmestburg, IA, like the heat and moisture content of the biomass bale to determine how different types of piles and configurations will affect the quality of the bale. The answer to this question will aid farmers in storing the biomass in their fields until it is needed at the plant.
Monday, August 9, 2010
US ethanol demand reached an all-time high in May, with 847,000 barrels per day consumed, up from 713,000 during the same month in 2009.
According to Energy Information Administration data, production rose from 832,000 barrels per day in April 2010 to 846,000 barrels per day in May.
August 05, 2010 Jim Lane
In Washington, Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen told The Ethanol Report that he remains a believer on the chances for an extension of the ethanol tax credit, but was “very frustrated” by delays at EPA over the approval of E12 or E15 ethanol blends, and described the EPA as “one of the most dysfunctional agencies in the federal government.”
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators, led by Tom Harkin of Iowa, met with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman to discuss delays in the approval of E15 ethanol blend for vehicles. Harkin said, ““I was very clear at the meeting that I am frustrated that the testing is not complete on E15 and that the timeline has been extended twice. This process seems so much more difficult that it was when E10 was approved. While I had hoped that E15 would be available by now to consumers, Secretary Jackson and Deputy Secretary Poneman were very helpful in fully explaining the rationale for the protracted timeline, and I am looking forward to hearing EPA’s decision on E15 soon.”
Nature Geoscience 3, 542 - 545 (2010)
Published online: 25 July 2010
Warming influenced by the ratio of black carbon to sulphate and the black-carbon source
M. V. Ramana1, V. Ramanathan1, Y. Feng1, S-C. Yoon2, S-W. Kim2, G. R. Carmichael3 & J. J. Schauer4
Black carbon is generated by fossil-fuel combustion and biomass burning. Black-carbon aerosols absorb solar radiation, and are probably a major source of global warming1, 2. However, the extent of black-carbon-induced warming is dependent on the concentration of sulphate and organic aerosols—which reflect solar radiation and cool the surface—and the origin of the black carbon3, 4. Here we examined the impact of black-carbon-to-sulphate ratios on net warming in China, using surface and aircraft measurements of aerosol plumes from Beijing, Shanghai and the Yellow Sea. The Beijing plumes had the highest ratio of black carbon to sulphate, and exerted a strong positive influence on the net warming. Compiling all the data, we show that solar-absorption efficiency was positively correlated with the ratio of black carbon to sulphate. Furthermore, we show that fossil-fuel-dominated black-carbon plumes were approximately 100% more efficient warming agents than biomass-burning-dominated plumes. We suggest that climate-change-mitigation policies should aim at reducing fossil-fuel black-carbon emissions, together with the atmospheric ratio of black carbon to sulphate.
August 04, 2010 Jim Lane
In Brazil, accumulated sugarcane crushing from the beginning of the harvest to July 15 totaled 255.19 million tons, up 20.26% over the same period in the 2009/2010 harvest.
However, UNICA is warning that the drier climate during the current harvest season, with rainfall below historical averages, led to a significant advance in the rate of harvesting, and should reduce agricultural productivity of the cane yet to be harvested.
It can also lead to an early end of the harvest in most cane producing areas of the South-Central Region. UNICA said that the early end to the harvest may prompt growers to harvest “early cane” – additional tonnage that has not fully grown over a 12-month cycle. Up to 27 million tons of early cane could be harvested, which would potentially have significant impact on next year’s harvests and put further pressure on global sugar prices.
The New York Times
By DINA FINE MARON of ClimateWire
Published: July 22, 2010
One day, Big Algae may be competitive with Big Oil, but as researchers search for the ideal oil-producing algae strain to grow in commercial quantities, there are still a host of uncertainties standing in the way.
The first is simply supply. A central question dominating algal biofuel conferences is whether the best oil-producing algae crop will come from strains occurring in nature, or if they will need to be genetically modified to enhance their fuel-producing potential.
August 06, 2010
In Colorado, the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels has been awarded $336,534 over a three-year period from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for undergraduates to conduct research related to the conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals. The grant, awarded to the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels (C2B2), will allow students to pursue research investigations on feedstock science and engineering, biochemical conversions, thermo-chemical conversions, engineering reactions or separations, and solids-handling processes needed for biorefining applications.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill
Posted Aug. 4, 2010
Agriculture and food manufacturing giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. reported Aug. 3 it had netted $246 million more in earnings for fiscal year 2010 than the previous year. Total net earnings for fiscal year 2010 were $1.9 billion. Segment operating profits were $3.2 billion, up $786 million from last year.
ADM’s ethanol operations contributed to the earnings increase, due largely to better ethanol margins, according to the company. The corn processing sector’s operating profit increased by $537 million in the last 12 months. Profits from the sweeteners and starches segment of ADM’s corn processing operations decreased to $119 million, but the bioproducts segment was up “significantly,” according to the company. ADM processed 19.6 million metric tons of corn in fiscal year 2010, an increase of 2 million metric tons over the previous year.
By Green Car Congress on 08/04/2010 – 6:00 am PDT
SG Biofuels, Inc., a bioenergy crop company focused on the development and production of elite seeds of Jatropha, plans to establish an advanced Jatropha research and development center located in San Diego, Calif.
Through advanced breeding and biotechnology tools, SG Biofuels is improving Jatropha that significantly enhance yields while reducing production costs. Earlier this year the company introduced its first elite Jatropha cultivar—JMax 100—with projected yields 100 percent greater than existing commercial varieties of the crop, increasing profits for growers by more than 300 percent. Production costs for JMax 100 are approximately $1.40 per gallon.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Posted July 28, 2010
National leaders in science and technology will gather in Chattanooga to attend workshops at Creative Discovery Museum, the only institution in the United States that has implemented a model biofuels curriculum for elementary age students. From Aug. 10–13, representatives from five nationally recognized museums, as well as six regional organizations in Tennessee and Georgia will participate in workshops to learn best practices for teaching alternative forms of energy to young children.
In 2008, Creative Discovery Museum was selected to receive a grant from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and University of Georgia’s Education Department to develop and pilot science lessons on biofuels and alternative energy for transportation. The Museum accepted this honor and worked with top scientists, engineers, and science educators to create a classroom lesson that is presented through the Museum’s school outreach program, Museum-A-Go-Go. The lesson which is appropriate for Grades 4-7 communicates the scientific processes for creating biofuels from switchgrass rather than from corn.
By Luke Geiver
Posted Aug. 3, 2010
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has joined the supporters of jatropha as a possible feedstock for biodiesel production. In conjunction with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the FAO has published a report that outlines the benefits and uses of the crop, titled, “Jatropha: A Smallholder Bioenergy Crop.” The report states, “Jatropha is an underutilized, oil-bearing crop. It produces a seed that can be processed into non-polluting biodiesel that, if well exploited, can provide opportunities for good returns and rural development.”
Although most jatropha currently available remains toxic, the report said that jatropha could eventually, “evolve into a high yielding crop and may well be productive on degraded and saline soils in low rainfall areas,” adding, “Its by-products may possibly be valuable as fertilizer, livestock feed, or as a biogas feedstock, its oil can have other markets such as for soap, pesticides and medicines, and jatropha can help reverse land degradation.”
Posted: Aug. 4, 2010
TRAVERSE CITY NOTEBOOK
GM favors ethanol; others back diesel
TRAVERSE CITY -- During the 2010 Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars on Tuesday, auto executives debated which technologies to boost fuel efficiency will catch on in the short term.
Barb Samardzich, Ford's vice president of powertrain engineering, said internal-combustion engines will dominate for the foreseeable future.
Diesel still debatable
Johannes-Joerg Rueger, senior vice president of mega-supplier Robert Bosch, said the adoption rate of diesel engines offered by Volkswagen and Audi in the U.S. shows that there is an opportunity for more diesel sales in the U.S.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Farm & Ranch Guide
By DALE HILDEBRANT, Farm & Ranch Guide
Sunday, August 1, 2010 2:53 PM CDT
CARRINGTON, N.D. - We may soon see sugarbeets being planted outside of the traditional production area as a new ethanol industry develops from processing what proponents call energy beets.
Studies currently underway at the North Dakota State University Carrington Research Extension Center are looking at the cultural practices and varieties of beets that would be a fit for ethanol production, rather than resulting in high quality sugar.
The Carrington station is coordinating five sites spread across the state: irrigated and dry land plots at Carrington; an irrigated plot at Oakes; a dryland and irrigated trials near Hannaford; an irrigated site north of Turtle Lake; and an irrigated site at the Williston Research Extension Center.
Last year at Carrington, the dryland trials yielded 17 to 27 tons per acre, while the irrigated plots yielded 22 to 29 tons per acre, according to Blaine Schatz, the Carrington station's director. They are expecting higher yields this year, however, because the crop was planted much earlier.
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – August 3rd, 2010
The sugarcane harvest in Brazil is running ahead of schedule and the U.S. corn crop is progressing well, according to the latest reports.
The cane crush in Brazil so far this year is running about 20 percent ahead of last year, which is not necessarily good news according to the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association’s (UNICA). Technical Director Antonio de Padua Rodrigues says the additional crushing observed so far can be attributed to the early start of the current harvest. Drier weather this year compare to last year has increased the harvesting pace, but it also may reduce the biomass potential of the cane yet to be harvested.
About half of the Brazil harvest is going to ethanol and half to sugar. UNICA reports that sugar production totaled 2.50 million tons in the first half of July, 25.75% higher than in 2009 during the same two-week period. Ethanol production also increased by 25.28% over the same period, reaching 1.86 billion liters.
August 03, 2010, 6:18 PM EDT
By Simon Lomax and Mario Parker
Aug. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Plans to reduce the carbon content of U.S. transportation fuels are likely to boost oil imports from the Middle East and lead to more pollution from diesel-fueled tankers, according to a report commissioned by the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.
A low-carbon standard is “even worse” than the “terrible” cap-and-trade legislation for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that recently collapsed in the U.S. Senate, said Charles Drevna, president of the refining industry group. The association estimated that plan would have cost the industry more than $20 billion a year.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
By Alex Morales - Jul 29, 2010 6:01 PM CDT Thu Jul 29 23:01:00 UTC 2010
Europe is lagging the U.S., China and Brazil in developing biofuels for transportation because of a lack of political direction, Novozymes A/S Chief Executive Officer Steen Riisgaard said.
Brazil aims to displace 10 percent of global gasoline use with ethanol by 2020; China is testing corn-based ethanol in nine provinces; and the U.S. has set fuel standards requiring ethanol use, said Riisgaard, whose companies is the world’s biggest maker of enzymes used to refine biofuels.
“Brazil knows what it wants to do,” Riisgaard said in an interview at Bloomberg’s office in London. “In the United States, similarly, they have a renewable fuels standard -- they know what they want to do. You go to China: the government knows what it wants to do. They have a plan. You come to Europe and there’s not this kind of political direction. We don’t know what we want to do.”
New York (Platts)--30Jul2010/340 pm EDT/1940 GMT
US congressional leaders have asked the Environmental Protection Agency
to answer a litany of questions regarding a possible increase in the amount of
ethanol used in conventional vehicles.
Their bipartisan concerns over a possible ethanol-gasoline blend hike
were voiced in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, sent Thursday, that
one marketer group said could put a "wrench" in plans to boost ethanol demand.
"We are writing to request information about what plans, if any, the
Environmental Protection Agency has developed to ensure that increasing the
permissible level of ethanol in gasoline is accomplished in a way that does
not present any potential harm to air quality, consumers' investments in cars,
trucks, and other engines and equipment, or small business owners' investment
in gas stations," the lawmakers wrote.
August 02, 2010 Jim Lane
In Tennessee, Genera broke ground on the Biomass Innovation Park in Vonore, a 21-acre facility that will provide harvesting, handling, storage, densification, pre-processing and transportation for up to 50,000 tons of switchgrass and other energy crops and feedstocks.
The Park will initially serve more than 6,000 acres of switchgrass growing in nine counties within 50 miles of the Vonore biorefinery, under contract to Genera for cellulosic ethanol feedstocks. The Park will also be the site for a $5 million DOE-funded high-tonnage switchgrass bulk handling system.
Monday, August 2, 2010
July 29, 2010 Jim Lane
ShareIn France, IEA Bioenergy, part of the International Energy Agency, has published its report “Status of 2nd Generation Biofuels Demonstration Facilities in June 2010”, as a report to IEA Bioenergy Task 39.
The 126-page report includes extensive data on thermo-chemical processing technologies, biochemical (enzymatic) biofuels systems and hybrid technologies, and is a near-definitive report on advanced biofuels production at this time.
By Luke Geiver
Posted July 28, 2010
The latest chance for a biodiesel tax credit extension, H.R. 4213 or the Unemployment Extension Act of 2010, passed without the biodiesel tax credit extension included. For months, the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit, which expired on Dec. 31, was included in H.R. 4213, but now the extension, led again by the support of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, must seek a new avenue to give the industry much needed relief. Grassley, who first introduced the extension legislation nearly a year ago with Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and has since tried multiple times to pass it, has now introduced an amendment to the Small Business Bill currently under debate in the senate.
July 30, 2010 Jim Lane
In California, LS9 announced a major scientific breakthrough that will significantly lower the cost of producing “drop‐in” hydrocarbon fuels that are low‐carbon, sustainable and compatible with the existing fuel distribution infrastructure. This breakthrough has allowed LS9 to accelerate its technology and demonstrate alkane production at pilot scale.
In the article “Microbial Biosynthesis of Alkanes” published in Science magazine, a team of LS9 scientists announce the discovery of novel genes that, when expressed in E.coli, produce alkanes, the primary hydrocarbon components of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. This discovery is the first description of the genes responsible for alkane biosynthesis and the first example of a single step conversion of sugar to fuel‐grade alkanes by an engineered microorganism.