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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Is BCAP on the chopping block?

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane January 28, 2011

In Washington, sources indicate that “the interim final rule is at the printer for the federal register” with respect to Section 9003 (Farm Bill) loan guarantees from the USDA, indicating that the new round should be out imminently. The Section 9003 is expected to have funds covering up to $1 billion in new bioenergy loans.

At the same time, it appears that in the talks over budget-deficit programs that the Biomass Crop Assistance program is at risk – being looked at as a “$500 million quick grab”. Supporters of the program are saying that an immediate effort will be required by the friends of BCAP to communicate its benefits in job creation, rural economic development, and the extent to which, by solving potential start-u “chicken and egg” problems in generating affordable feedstock for biorefineries, unlocks investment for biorefineries. “Just as BCAP hits its stride…” mused one of the Digesterati.

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Bugs Might Convert Biodiesel Waste Into New Fuel

Released: 1/24/2011 7:00 AM EST
Source: University of Alabama Huntsville

Newswise — A strain of bacteria found in soil is being studied for its ability to convert waste from a promising alternative fuel into several useful materials, including another alternative fuel.

A graduate student at The University of Alabama in Huntsville is developing biological tools to make products from crude glycerol -- a waste material from the production of biodiesel. The research is being funded by the National Science Foundation.

Disposing of glycerol has been a problem for the biodiesel industry, according to Keerthi Venkataramanan, a student in UAHuntsville's biotechnology Ph.D. program. "Many companies have had problems disposing of it. The glycerol you get as a byproduct isn't pure, so it can't be used in cosmetics or animal feeds. And purifying it costs three times as much as the glycerol is worth."

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Credit wraps could de-risk biomass feedstock supply

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin January 26, 2011

Some biomass projects are not investment-grade quality in today’s finance market for a few reasons, the main one being the lack of long-term feedstock supply contracts.

A new financial instrument being offered by feedstock supply specialist Ecostrat could change that, according to CEO Jordan Soloman. During a biomass finance webinar on Jan. 26 held by ACORE and the Biomass Coordinating Council, Soloman discussed the biomass supply credit wrap system and how it could change the way lenders look at feedstock supply risks.

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New Wisconsin governor ends UW-Madison biomass project

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin January 24, 2011

A biomass power project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been nixed by new Republican Gov. Scott Walker, on account of the project’s high cost.

Projected to top out at a price tag about $251 million, the plan was to replace the university’s coal-burning boilers with natural gas furnaces initially, and then in a second phase to occur by late 2013, annually combust about 250,000 tons of wood chips, ag residue and switchgrass pellets.

The project was heavily endorsed by Wisconsin’s former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, who had a goal of drastically decreasing the amount of coal burned in the state. While the facility will no longer use coal, it will still remain reliant on a sole fossil fuel—natural gas.

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EPA Ethanol Expansion Hardens a Divide

By Elizabeth McGowan at SolveClimate
Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:27am EST

The chasm between pro- and anti-ethanol forces is widening now that EPA has approved E15 gas for 2001-06 cars, and it's spilling over to Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON—A fracture between pro- and anti-ethanol forces seems to be widening into a gorge now that the EPA has expanded the fuel's reach in the transportation sector.

On one side, business, environmental, budget watchdog and public interest organizations are castigating the Environmental Protection Agency's recent decision to allow vehicles manufactured between 2001 and 2006 to use gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol. On the other side, the Renewable Fuels Association won't be content until even older-model cars, trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles are included in the E15 mix.

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The Big Build-out: Paying for Biofuels at Scale

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane January 27, 2011

The USDA tells us that more than 500 biorefineries will be need to be built between now and 2022 in the United States to meet the added requirements for advanced biofuels. With those refineries costing somewhere around $8 per gallon of capacity, or north of $300 million each, the total price tag for bioenergy expansion will be in the region of $150 billion.

Globally, the price tag could easily double that, to $300 billion, as other nations fulfill mandates and explore opportunities in energy security, job creation and climate control over the next 11 years.

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Draft EPA report: Biofuels threaten habitat, water quality

The Hill
By Ben Geman - 01/28/11 11:25 AM ET

A draft Environmental Protection Agency report concludes that expanded production of renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel carries an array of ecological risks in the U.S. and other nations, and calls for improved policies to mitigate these harms.

The report is required under a 2007 energy law that vastly increased the national biofuels mandate but also called for new analysis of the ecological effects of expanded development.

The draft finds, for instance, that growing biofuels crops can affect water quality through erosion and fertilizer runoff, among other factors.

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Brazil's Cosan says quarterly revenues up 24 percent

SAO PAULO Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:27am EST

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's largest sugar and ethanol group, Cosan, said in a preliminary earnings report that quarterly net operating revenue rose 24 percent from a year earlier, boosted by strong sugar and ethanol prices and sales.

The company's preliminary third-quarter results for the months of October through December showed sales of sugar from its milling division CAA rose nearly 26 percent to 931.9 million reais against the same three months a year earlier.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Growing demand for glycerin to keep up with supply increases

Biodiesel Magazine
By Bryan Sims January 25, 2011

Biodiesel production is expected to pick up in 2011 and, with the implementation of the U.S. EPA’s RFS2 requiring petroleum refiners to blend at least 800 million gallons of biomass-based diesel this year, a steady climb in glycerin volume is anticipated to flood into the marketplace. While glycerin has long been used in a variety of pharmaceutical and industrial applications, multiple research efforts are underway aimed at exploring other cost-effective uses of the biodiesel coproduct.

One of those areas being considered in particular is glycerin’s use as a potentially feasible feedstuff for swine. According to a study led by University of Illinois graduate research assistant Omarh Mendoza, diets for growing-finishing pigs may include up to 15 percent glycerin and achieve similar performance compared to conventional corn/soybean meal diets. The research was published in the Journal of Animal Science.

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Obama sets 80 percent by 2035 clean energy goal

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Rona Johnson January 25, 2011

In his State of the Union address Jan. 25, President Obama challenged the nation to join him in setting a new goal that 80 percent of America’s electricity be produced from clean energy sources by 2035.

“Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling,” Obama said prior to announcing his energy goal. “Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all—and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.”

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

USDA Secretary Vilsack Outlines Progress on Effort to Advance Renewable Energy Production

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: January 20, 2011

Washington—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Jan. 20 that biofuels and biomass energy projects across America have been selected for funding to continue the Administration's support for the development of renewable fuels.

Vilsack highlighted the various investments USDA made since he laid out a broad vision to spur rural revitalization through renewable energy production in a speech at the National Press Club in October 2010.

"Building an active biofuels and biomass industry in every region of the country will help to create jobs and provide economic opportunity for people who live in rural communities," said Vilsack.

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EPA Grants E15 Fuel Waiver for Model Years 2001-2006 Cars and Light Trucks
Date Posted: January 21, 2011

Washington—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waived Jan. 21 a limitation on selling gasoline that contains more than 10 percent ethanol for model year (MY) 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks.

The waiver applies to fuel that contains up to 15 percent ethanol – known as E15.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made the decision after a review of the Department of Energy’s thorough testing and other available data on E15’s effect on emissions from MY 2001 through 2006 cars and light trucks.

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Eucalyptus Utopia

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Lisa Gibson January 25, 2011

Dow will begin to use eucalyptus in Brazil, as the country continues to make meaningful use of the tree in its bioenergy sector.

Dow has signed an 18-year supply agreement with Energias Renovaveis do Brazil, which will invest, install and operate a 13-megawatt plant next to Dow’s Aratu Complex in the Bahia State in northeast Brazil. The plant, which will replace natural gas-fired boilers, will supply 100 percent of steam requirements for the Aratu site’s propylene oxide and propylene glycol operations and 30 percent of the requirements for the chlor-alkali and hydrochloric acid production units.

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BCAP Relaunch Should Bring New Biomass Producers into the Supply Chain

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Daniel Simon and Tom Kimmerer January 25, 2011

The redesigned Biomass Crop Assistance Program may have some shortcomings when it comes to funding and longevity, but it still provides significant opportunities for making new biomass materials economically viable for energy production.

The wait is finally over. The USDA has relaunched the Biomass Crop Assistance Program and is once again accepting applications from biomass conversion facilities (BCFs), including biomass power and thermal plants.

The redesigned program substantially reduces the list of eligible fuels, imposes new and complex rules, and may have limited funding and longevity. Despite these changes, the updated BCAP presents strong opportunities for conversion facilities to gain access to new fuel sources and to build more robust supply chains. A solid understanding of the new rules and administrative procedures is essential for conversion facilities and producers to benefit fully.

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Legislation introduced to stop EPA from moving forward with E15

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen January 26, 2011

Two legislators introduced the “Leave Ethanol Volumes at Existing Levels Act” on Jan. 25, saying it will “allow for a pause before EPA hastily approves any further ethanol in fuel.” Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, said there’s a need for more studies and assurances that the increase from E10 to E15 will be safe. “The security of the public’s well-being should be paramount in this case,” Burgess said. “This is serious business. Car engines, lawn mowers, generators—any engine that uses gasoline, could be potentially at risk for catching fire or having mechanical failure. Moreover, businesses tasked with selling this new gasoline with increased ethanol could face potential lawsuits from consumers who fail to follow posted signs warning them that E-15 should only be used in newer engines.”

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New DOE Bioenergy Web Site Has ORNL Roots
Released: 1/24/2011 10:40 AM EST
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Newswise — Policy makers, industry, researchers and the public have a new way to gain and share information about biofuels with the Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework, or KDF, developed by a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and sponsored by the Department of Energy.

The new site ( provides a wealth of information ranging from reports, technical data and a list of experts to the nearest refinery or ethanol fueling station, said Budhendra Bhaduri of ORNL’s Geographic Information Science and Technology group and the principal investigator of the project.

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Ethanol Tax Credit Extended in Illinois

CBS St. Louis
January 25, 2011 11:30 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) – An one-year extension of a tax credit for ethanol blenders is good news for some and not-so-good news for others, according to a University of Illinois commodities expert.

Scott Irwin, a professor of agricultural economics, says the continued promotion of ethanol keeps corn and soybean prices up – as well as, in general, Illinois farmland values. But livestock producers who have to buy such commodities are less enthused.

Irwin says the extension can be considered a first look at the continued debate over governmental support of the biofuel industry. As for whether this is all good for America, Irwin says as an economist, he shouldn’t weigh in; he says that is a question for the political types to address.

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Ethanol producers seek gas pump tax credit change

Des Moines Register
12:15 PM, Jan 25, 2011
by Dan Piller

Iowa’s ethanol producers will ask the Legislature this session to shift the one-half cent per gallon state income tax credit from the ten percent blend of ethanol now most commonly sold to the 15 percent blend that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved last week for use in autos of the 2001 model year and later.

Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, told the group’s annual summit meeting in Des Moines Tuesday that “most gasoline retailers have just two tanks, one filled with unblended unleaded gasoline and the other with E10. We want them to shift that second tank to E15.”

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad appeared at the summit, held at the Polk County Convention Center, and told about 700 attendees “I want to work with the Legislature to change the credit from 10 percent to 15 percent.”

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Exclusive: Brazil steps up WTO measures in currency war

By Raymond Colitt
BRASILIA Fri Jan 21, 2011 1:38pm EST

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Prompted by an escalating global currency war, Brazil is preparing to challenge U.S. ethanol aid and EU beef import barriers in the World Trade Organization, industry and government sources said on Friday.

"The government is preparing those cases together with industry groups," a senior government official familiar with the cases told Reuters.

The Brazilian government is also set to expand anti-dumping barriers to several Asian countries allegedly being used by China as a front for exports to Brazil, another official said.

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Regents Back Plans for New LBNL Solar Energy Center

The Daily Californian
By Kate Lyons
Daily Cal Staff Writer
Friday, January 21, 2011

Development of a new solar research center located at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory advanced Tuesday, as the UC Board of Regents' Committee on Grounds and Buildings approved financial and design proposals at the regents' meeting at UC San Diego.

According to its proposal, the Solar Energy Research Center will consist of a three-story laboratory and office building with 21,471 assignable square feet to support solar energy research, such as using synthetic materials to produce transportation fuel. The project is consistent with the revised plan approved by the regents in September 2009. Original plans for the project were submitted to the regents in November 2006.

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University of Alabama Huntsville Graduate Student Studies Bacterium...

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: January 24, 2011

...for Potential to Convert Biodiesel Byproduct Glycerol to Fuels and Chemicals

Huntsville, AL—A strain of bacteria found in soil is being studied for its ability to convert waste from a promising alternative fuel into several useful materials, including another alternative fuel.

A graduate student at The University of Alabama in Huntsville is developing biological tools to make products from crude glycerol -- a waste material from the production of biodiesel.

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University of Illinois Study Finds Swine Diets Can Include Up to 15% Glycerin...

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: January 24, 2011

... and Achieve Performance Similar to Conventional Diet

An increased interest in biofuel production and a growing need to find cost-effective livestock feedstuff alternatives has led University of Illinois researchers to further evaluate the use of glycerin in swine diets.

This study, led by U of I graduate research assistant Omarh Mendoza, was published in the Journal of Animal Science and reports that swine diets may include up to 15 percent glycerin and achieve similar performance to a conventional corn:soybean diet.

"Glycerin is not a new product, but little is known about its role as a feed ingredient for swine," said Michael Ellis, U of I professor in the Department of Animal Sciences.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

E15 Fuel: What It Means To You

The Wall Street Journal
By Jonathan Welsh

Drivers may soon have more choices of fuel blends, including gasoline with 15% ethanol.E15 is coming. The fuel made from a blend of 15% ethanol and gasoline could begin flowing soon at your neighborhood gas station. There are still a few things federal officials need to sort out, including proper labeling on pumps and other possible ways to keep people from using the wrong fuel.

But E15 just cleared a big hurdle. The Environmental Protection Agency waived a previous rule that limited the sale of gasoline containing more than 10% ethanol for passenger cars, pickup trucks and SUVs from the 2001 through 2006 model years. Critics including auto- and oil-industry officials, consumers and others had said increasing the amount of ethanol in fuel could damage vehicles, especially older models.

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Sandia Researchers Tailoring Fungi-Based Biofuels To Meet The Needs Of Current, Advanced Combustion Engines

Power Online
January 20, 2011

Engine experts and biofuels researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are working on a project that aims to modify an endophytic fungus so that it will produce fuel-type hydrocarbons for transportation purposes.

The biofuels being investigated for the project are produced by a class of fungi — endophytes — that live between plant cell walls. The cellular material in plant walls can be converted into hydrocarbon compounds that work well as fuels for internal combustion engines. Sandia is collaborating with Professor Gary Strobel from Montana State University, a known expert in Ascocoryne sarcoides and other similar fungi.

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EPA approves higher-ethanol gas blend for more cars

USA Today
Jan 21, 2011
12:34 PM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday approved higher levels of corn-based ethanol in gasoline for cars and light-duty trucks made in the past decade.

The agency has decided that 15% ethanol in gasoline, known as E15, is safe for such vehicles made between 2001 and 2006. In October, it approved this blend -- higher than the 10% it previously allowed -- for cars and light-duty trucks manufactured since 2007, but it postponed its use in older cars pending additional tests by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Colorado funds renewable energy project development research

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Lisa Gibson January 20, 2011

A wide gap in Btu value exists between a biomass feedstock of say 30 percent moisture and one of 50 percent moisture. With that in mind, Golden, Colo.-based GeoSynFuels Inc. will conduct research into a biomass press to simultaneously densify and dewater biomass.

The company, an advanced biofuel technology developer, is one of 15 grant recipients of the Advancing Colorado’s Renewable Energy program. A total of $600,000 was awarded in the areas of feasibility studies, project participation and research. Projects awarded grants must in some way benefit or be tied to agricultural production or utilization of agricultural land or water, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture. GeoSynFuels received a grant equal to the cap in the research category: $50,000.

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Biodegradable polymers to reach 1,845 million pounds by 2015

Renewable Chemicals Digest
January 21, 2011

In California, Global Industry Analysts has a new report, stating that the global market of biodegradable polymers will reach 1,845 million pounds by 2015. Principal factors driving growth include fast depletion of traditional sources of fossil fuel leading to the shift towards renewable sources, backlash arising out of rising environmental pollution, increased need to inhibit greenhouse gas emission, escalating costs of petroleum feedstock and wide scale availability of naturally occurring cheap feedstock, and increasing preference for environmental friendly products.

GIA notes that applications of biodegradable polymers, which were hitherto mostly confined to compostable waste bags/carrier bags, agriculture mulching film, and catering sectors, is rapidly widening to other sectors, including automotive, electronics, toy making, and healthcare.

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USDA expands BioPreferred program with voluntary “bio-based content” labeling

Renewable Chemicals Digest
January 21, 2011

In Washington, the USDA announced a voluntary product certification and labeling program for qualifying biobased products will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow. This new label will clearly identify biobased products made from renewable resources, and will promote the increased sale and use of these products in the commercial market and for consumers.

The new label indicates that the product has been certified to meet USDA standards for a prescribed amount of biobased content. The final rule applies to product manufacturers and distributors who wish to label products with USDA’s distinctive product mark.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

DOE offers $241 million Loan Guarantee to Valero-Darling renewable diesel project in Louisiana

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane January 20, 2011

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the offer of a conditional commitment to Diamond Green Diesel, LLC, the proposed joint venture between Valero Energy Corporation and Darling International Inc., for a $241 million loan guarantee. The loan guarantee will support the construction of a 137-million gallon per year renewable diesel facility in Norco, Louisiana, about 20 miles west of New Orleans. Valero Energy Corporation plans to direct the design, construction and operation of the project and market all of its output, while Darling International Inc. will supply feedstock to the project.

“Today’s announcement reflects this Administration’s commitment to promoting the development of advanced biofuels,” said Secretary Chu. “Strong biofuels projects like Diamond Green Diesel can help to diversify our transportation fuel supply while creating jobs and strengthening our economy.”

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Iowa farmers await USDA payments for their corn stover

Des Moines Register
11:26 PM, Jan. 19, 2011
Written by DAN PILLER

Cylinder, Ia. — Jeff Berkland and more than 80 other northwest Iowa farmers have learned that it's easier and faster to bale corncobs, leaves and stalks after harvest for ethanol production than it is to get the government to pay for it.

"They told me I'd have my money by Nov. 1 and I still don't have it," said Berkland, 53, last week as he stood by one of several groups of corn stover bales on his 1,800-acre farm west of Algona.

Berkland was supposed to get $40.24 per ton from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its Biomass Conversion Facility program, or BCAP.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

CARB to review ethanol carbon intensity amendments

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill January 19, 2011

The California Air Resources Board will hold a public hearing Feb. 24 to consider 25 amendments proposed by various ethanol producers, representing 1.6 billion gallons of annual domestic production, to reduce the carbon intensity of their fuel. Fuel pathways are used to determine a fuel’s carbon intensity (CI). The CI of the fuel is then recorded in the state’s CI look-up tables, the reference point used by providers of transportation fuels to demonstrate compliance with California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Biomass Energy - A Policy Outlook: Programs, Legislation and the new Congress Webinar

Posted 1/18/11
Thursday, January 27, 2011 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM EST

Webinar Registration

This free webinar will cover recent legislative developments in biomass thermal energy, explore existing policies and programs, and discuss legislative scenarios for biomass energy policies in the 112th U.S. Congress.

Topics include:
--A brief biomass energy overview;
--Review of recently proposed biomass energy legislation;
--Exploration of existing biomass programs like BCAP, the Community Wood Energy Program, Rural Energy for America Program, and others;
--Discussion on potential biomass thermal tax provisions, grant programs, and other incentives in 2011

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Penn State Research on Biofuel Feedstocks to Help Support New Center For Sustainable Energy Farming

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: January 14, 2011

University Park, PA—Penn State plant scientists will conduct research to explore the development of cropping systems for the production of renewable biofuels, as part of a newly announced center.

The nonprofit Center for Sustainable Energy Farming was founded by Global Clean Energy Holdings Inc. of Los Angeles, Calif., a company that specializes in eco-friendly biofuel feedstock research and sustainable agriculture cultivation, production and distribution.

The center will use the latest techniques to perform plant-science research aimed at developing sustainable energy-farming systems of the future.

Organizers said the center will strive to increase agricultural production, create a sustainable feedstock supply, reduce the use of pesticides, water and fertilizer, and develop new and sustainable biofuels.

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DuPont buys Danisco, no changes expected for cellulosic project

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill January 10, 2011

Global science-based products and services company DuPont says it will pay nearly $6 billion to acquire enzyme and specialty food ingredient manufacturer Danisco. The purchase agreement, announced by DuPont Jan. 9, is expected to close in the second quarter. DuPont has agreed to pay Danisco $5.8 billion in cash and assume $500 million of its net debt. DuPont will provide approximately $3 billion of the acquisition with existing cash. The company will finance the remainder of the purchase, it said.

DuPont said the acquisition of Danisco will establish it as a leader in industrial biotechnology, particularly in the areas of food production and alternative fuels. “Biotechnology and specialty food ingredients have the potential to change the landscape of industries, such as substituting renewable materials for fossil fuel processes and addressing food needs in developing economies, that will generate more sustainable solutions and create growth for the company,” DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman said.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ethanol Declines on Speculation Supply Outpacing Consumption

By Mario Parker - Jan 14, 2011 4:50 PM CT

Ethanol futures declined in Chicago on concern that supply of the fuel is outstripping consumption.

The grain-based additive slipped two days after an Energy Department report showed stockpiles of ethanol swelled 1.4 percent to 17.1 million barrels last week, the highest level since Nov. 26, and output slipped 1.8 percent to 888,000 barrels a day. The biofuel is blended with gasoline to augment supply and meet government mandates.

"Ethanol’s a little bit weak," said Ronnie Virissimo, a trader at SCB & Associates LLC in Chicago. "Guys aren’t in a hurry to bid. There’s not a lot of places to take it and just about everybody that has it is looking for somewhere to put it."

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Is Biomass Clean or Dirty Energy? We Won't Know for 3 Years

By Stacy Feldman at SolveClimate
Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:34pm EST

Should turning tree parts into electricity qualify as renewable power or is the practice dirtier than burning coal?

The Obama administration put off for another three years a decision on whether to regulate planet-warming gases from biomass power. The surprise delay dealt a blow to green groups' hopes for pollution controls on wood-burning incinerators anytime soon, while industry breathed sighs of relief.

"It was a total shock," said Margaret Sheehan, a lawyer with the Cambridge, Mass.-based Biomass Accountability Project, who said that she believes Big Timber was behind the U.S. EPA's decision.

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Newest BTEC Webinar Explores Federal Biomass Energy Legislation, Policy
By Biomass Thermal Energy Council January 14, 2011
Third in the free webinar series will be held January 27 at 1PM ET

January 13, 2010 - WASHINGTON, D.C. The Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC) today announced the third webinar in its series of free educational webinars on key topics for the biomass thermal community. "Biomass Energy - A Policy Outlook: Programs, Legislation and the new Congress," will be held January 27, 2011 at 1PM ET. This event is made possible with funding from the USDA Forest Service's Wood Education and Resource Center (WERC).

Renewable energy policies in our nation have consistently fallen short of addressing thermal energy, especially with biomass...

This webinar will explore recent biomass thermal legislation, investigate existing policies and programs, and discuss legislative scenarios for biomass energy in the 112th Congress. Featured presenters include Steve Marshall, US Forest Service Assistant Director of Cooperative Forestry, Jesse Dickerman, Director of Industry and Government Relations for Zilkha Biomass Energy, and a U.S. congressional staff member to be announced. Joseph Seymour, BTEC Program Coordinator for Policy and Government Affairs, will moderate the event.

Registration for this free event is required. See

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University of Illinois Researchers Find Biofuel Crops Cultivated on Available Land ...

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: January 11, 2011

Could Supply Half of World's Fuel Consumption Without Affecting Food Crops or Pastureland

Champaign, IL--Using detailed land analysis, Illinois researchers have found that biofuel crops cultivated on available land could produce up to half of the world’s current fuel consumption – without affecting food crops or pastureland.

Published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the study led by civil and environmental engineering professor Ximing Cai identified land around the globe available to produce grass crops for biofuels, with minimal impact on agriculture or the environment.

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Global biofuel land area estimated
Published: Jan. 10, 2011 at 7:51 PM

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say biofuel crops grown on available land could meet half of the world's current fuel consumption without affecting food crops or pastureland.

University of Illinois researchers, using detailed land analysis, identified land around the globe available to produce grass crops for biofuels with minimal impact on agriculture or the environment, a UI release said Monday.

"The questions we're trying to address are, what kind of land could be used for biofuel crops?" environmental engineering Professor Ximing Cai said.

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Butamax sues Gevo over patent infringment claim

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane
January 17, 2011

In Delaware, Butamax Advanced Biofuels filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Gevo relating to use of Butamax’s biobutanol technology, which was covered by a foundational patent granted by the USPTO last month. The patent encompasses biocatalysts developed to produce isobutanol.

A number of patent applications by Butamax have been successfully accepted into the United States Patent and Trademark Office Green Technology Pilot Program for accelerated review. Butamax was formed as a BP/DuPont joint venture to develop and commercialize biobutanol as a next generation renewable biofuel for the transport market, and is poised for commercial launch from 2012/2013.

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EPA delays pollution rules for ethanol plants

Des Moines Register
Blog post by Philip Brasher • • January 14, 2011

The Environmental Protection Agency has put off regulations that could have required most ethanol plants in Iowa and elsewhere to have pollution permits because of the carbon dioxide they emit. The EPA, which is starting to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, had planned to include the emissions that come from fermenting corn and burning biomass in power plants. However, the EPA is delaying regulations on those biogenic emissions for at least three years, effectively putting off the issue until after the 2012 election.

Many large ethanol plants already have to get EPA permits because of other types of pollution they emit. But industry officials said that nearly every plant would have to get the permits as well if their carbon dioxide emissions are counted. Along with getting the permits, polluters have to report emissions and pay annual fees.

Officials in the ethanol industry say the biogenic emissions shouldn’t be counted against them since growing the corn that is used to make the biofuel takes carbon dioxide out of the air. The issue also is a problem for the biomass power industry.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Senators doubt WTO would uphold U.S. ethanol tariff

BRASILIA Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:53am EST

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Senators John McCain and John Barrasso said on Monday (January 10) the extension of U.S. ethanol subsidies and a tariff on imports is likely illegal under international trade rules, lending some support to Brazil's opposition to U.S. ethanol policy.

"I believe the WTO would rule against the United States because it's clearly a subsidy that is neither warranted nor in keeping with WTO regulations," Senator McCain of Arizona told reporters after a meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia.

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USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program Informational Webinar Jan. 20

Media Newswire

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), an incentive program for biomass feedstock production, will provide financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forestland who wish to establish, produce and deliver biomass feedstocks, according to Fred Iutzi of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University

( - The United States Department of Agriculture ( USDA ) Biomass Crop Assistance Program ( BCAP ), an incentive program for biomass feedstock production, will provide financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forestland who wish to establish, produce and deliver biomass feedstocks, according to Fred Iutzi of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs ( IIRA ) at Western Illinois University. The application period for this program is now open, and a free webinar for producers and other interested parties is scheduled for multiple sites throughout the state from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20.

The webinar -- organized by the IIRA, the Illinois Biomass Working Group ( IBWG ) and University of Illinois Extension -- will feature Don King, chief program specialist for the USDA Farm Service Agency in Illinois, and Tim Slating from the University of Illinois' Energy Biosciences Institute. Iutzi noted that King and Slating will discuss the program and the application process. An overall strategy for organizing applications to target the critical project areas of BCAP will also be discussed.

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UC Davis granted $40M to develop climate-change tolerant plants, bioenergy

The Sacramento Bee
By Rick Daysog
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 - 12:00 pm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today awarded $40 million in research grants to the University of California, Davis to develop bioenergy sources and climate-change tolerant plants.

The grants will fund two, five-year projects headed by UC Davis scientists and will include researchers from more than 50 universities in more than 20 states.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

A new war on weeds: UT and R&D partners work to bolster switchgrass as biofuel crop
By Larisa Brass
Knoxville News Sentinel
Posted January 10, 2011 at 9:11 p.m.

Switchgrass is pretty good at growing anywhere — on poor soil, in drought conditions, and even in seawater.

But the native grass turned bioenergy crop has a nemesis: weeds. Without exception, the farmers, researchers and businesses working to grow the plant say alien competitors, most notably crab grass, give newborn switchgrass fields a run for their money.

It's one of several issues researchers at the University of Tennessee — in collaboration with Genera Energy and other private companies — are tackling as part of domesticating the native switchgrass plant into a new source of energy and Tennessee cash crop.

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Miscanthus has a fighting chance against weeds
January 10, 2011

University of Illinois research reports that several herbicides used on corn also have good selectivity to Miscanthus x giganteus (Giant Miscanthus), a potential bioenergy feedstock.

"No herbicides are currently labeled for use in Giant Miscanthus grown for biomass," said Eric Anderson, an instructor of bioenergy for the Center of Advanced BioEnergy Research at the University of Illinois. "Our research shows that several herbicides used on corn are also safe on this rhizomatous grass."

M. x giganteus is sterile and predominantly grown by vegetative propagation, or planting rhizomes instead of seed. This can be a very costly investment and requires a 1- to 2-year establishment period. Anderson's research showed that Giant Miscanthus does not compete well with weeds during establishment, especially early emerging weeds.

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Iowa University Considers Permanent Biomass Cofiring

Iowa State University has recently concluded a four month long test burn of biomass. This development will help the university consider the possibility of installing a biomass plant at the university. It will soon discuss this issue with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Working closely with NextGen Biofuels, the university has been burning biomass at its coal-fired combined-heat-and-power plant in the summer of 2010. Both wood pellets and chips were burnt during the test burns that began at 5% biomass and rose to 10 and 15%. This information was revealed by Rob Ravlin, NextGen president. Wood pellets were test burnt at a 20% blend, raising hopes that wood waste could effectively replace coal. The changeover would not need any further capital investment.

The tests used biomass having a Btu value of 7,800 per pound with a blend of western Kentucky and southern Illinois coal at 11,800 Btu per pound. They revealed sulfur dioxide reduction of about 11.5%. Carbon dioxide revealed a reduction of .5%; while reduction in particulate matter stood at 24.2%m and in carbon monoxide parts per million at 6/5%. Since biomass is more volatile than coal, nitrogen oxide increased by 3%.

The plant will use about15% biomass, a 2-inch minus wood chips instead of pellets because chips are cheaper than pellets. But the chips will have to be precisely sized. The college hopes to be able to either replace some of the biomass currently being imported, or eventually to eliminate imports completely.

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Genetic mutation helps plants use less water without biomass loss

sify news
2011-01-12 17:10:00

Purdue University researchers have made a discovery that could reduce the amount of water required for growing plants and help plants survive and thrive in adverse conditions.

They have found a genetic mutation that allows a plant to better endure drought without losing biomass.

Plants can naturally control the opening and closing of stomata, pores that take in carbon dioxide and release water. During drought conditions, a plant might close its stomata to conserve water. By doing so, however, the plant also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide it can take in, which limits photosynthesis and growth.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Much-Touted Cellulosic Ethanol Is Late in Making Mandated Appearance

The New York Times
By DINA FINE MARON of ClimateWire
Published: January 11, 2011

A projected shortfall in the production of an important green energy alternative could hurt U.S. efforts to move away from fossil fuels, a ClimateWire analysis has found.

U.S. EPA figures indicate that in the second half of 2010, not a drop of cellulosic ethanol -- a much-touted fuel that taps the sugars from farm wastes and other non-food sources of biomass -- was commercially blended with gasoline.

William Brown, an analyst with the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Office of Oil, Gas and Biofuels Analysis, said that the "curious string of zeros" sends up red flags for that year's total production. Overall, he said, the outlook appears grim.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Switchgrass — growing a new cash crop
By Larisa Brass
Knoxville News Sentinel
Posted January 9, 2011 at midnight

East Tennessee farmers' first switchgrass harvest ready to turn into biofuel
When Blount County farmer John Davis decided to enter the switchgrass business, he did so with some trepidation.

"I'm a cautious individual," said Davis, who last year planted the native grass on less than an eighth of his family farm through a contract with Genera Energy, which is working with more than 60 East Tennessee farmers to grow the up-and-coming bioenergy crop. He also wasn't sure he could part ways with the beef cattle business he'd been in all his life, even though, with today's production costs, the farm was barely breaking even.

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Biofuel Grasslands Better For Birds Than Ethanol Staple Corn
Posted on: Friday, 7 January 2011, 18:35 CST

Developing biofuel from native perennials instead of corn in the Midwest’s rolling grasslands would better protect threatened bird populations, Michigan State University research suggests.

Federal mandates and market forces both are expected to promote rising biofuel production, MSU biologist Bruce Robertson says, but the environmental consequences of turning more acreage over to row crops for fuel are a serious concern.

Ethanol in America is chiefly made from corn, but research is focusing on how to cost-effectively process cellulosic sources such as wood, corn stalks and grasses. Perennial grasses promise low cost and energy inputs – planting, fertilizing, watering – and the new study quantifies substantial environmental benefits.

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Qteros and Praj Partner to Accelerate Commercialization of Cellulosic Ethanol

Environmental Protection
Jan 10, 2011

The partnership hopes to deliver create integrated engineering design packages for low-cost production of ethanol from non-food-based feedstocks.

Qteros Inc., the developer of an efficient consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) platform for low-cost production of cellulosic ethanol, and Praj Industries Ltd., a developer of technology and engineering solutions for producing biofuels and biochemicals, have announced a strategic partnership to accelerate commercialization efforts for industrial-scale cellulosic ethanol production. The agreement will leverage Qteros' CBP platform with Praj's research capabilities and its technology, process design, engineering, and construction expertise to deliver fully integrated engineering design packages for the low-cost production of ethanol from a broad variety of non-food-based feedstocks.

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Four Clear Lake-area inventors among team patenting new process to make ethanol

Ultimate Clear Lake
by Andrew Benedict-Nelson, published January 7, 2011 4:17 pm

Four inventors in the Clear Lake area are among a team receiving a U.S. patent for a new way of producing ethanol on an industrial scale.

According to the patent, the inventors unexpectedly discovered that ethanol can be produced from acetic acid through a process using a catalyst made of platinum and tin. Acetic acid is the compound that gives vinegar its taste; it is also used in a wide variety of industrial processes.

Ethanol, often produced from sugar or corn, is an increasingly common alternative to oil gasoline that is also added to gas at many stations.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Improving biobutanol fermentation from barley straw

By USDA-ARS January 04, 2011

Chemical engineer Nasib Qureshi at the Agricultural Research Service’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill., has been leading a research team that says barley straw could be a viable feedstock for biobutanol.

Butanol burns cleaner than ethanol, can be transported in existing pipelines, is less corrosive and less prone to water contamination, and packs more energy per gallon than ethanol, according to Qureshi and his research teammates, Badak Saha, Bruce Dien, Ronald Hector and Michael Cotta.

Like other biomass feedstocks, barley straw must be physically broken down and then hydrolyzed with enzymes to release both its five-carbon and six-carbon plant sugars for fermentation into fuel.

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China’s Biofuels Market Grows, Remains on Subsidy Life-Support

China’s pricing controls, subsidies and cultivation policies have played a critical role in shaping this USD 2.3 Bn market, but over-regulation has made it unattractive for profit making ventures and the much needed innovation they bring.

Beijing, China, January 06, 2011 --( GCiS China Strategic Research has published a study of the China market for biofuels, an emerging alternative energy. Covering both ethanol and biodiesel, this study provides an in-depth look at the trends, participants and forecasts for the industry from 2009 to 2015.

The study finds a growing, multi billion dollar market, centered around government mandated "ethanol-only" areas of northeast and central China that accounts for 20 percent of China’s automotive fuel consumption. But the biofuel supply to each of these areas is a tightly run monopoly, conferred upon three of China’s largest State-owned enterprises: Sinopec, CNPC and the Cofco group. Further, the grain used as a fuel stock in nearly two-thirds of biofuels has been banned in new projects amid concerns of domestic food price inflation.

In some ways, the biodiesel and ethanol markets sharply contrast each other. Biodiesel suppliers are mostly privately owned, whereas all but one ethanol supplier is state-owned. The ethanol fuel industry is the result of careful state planning and control, while the biodiesel industry's growth is organic, its typical supplier a chemicals producer acting on an opportunity.

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Effort under way to restore BCAP funding in 2011 appropriations bill
Thursday, January 06, 2011 5:53 PM
(Source: The Daily Star-Journal)By Sue Sterling, The Daily Star-Journal, Warrensburg, Mo.

Jan. 06--WARRENSBURG -- Agricultural and environmental groups hope to convince legislators to restore funding for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program in the Senate Omnibus Appropriations Bill that will be considered in March.

The BCAP program, enacted as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, would provide payments to producers for five years to establish eligible perennial crops and to transport crops to biomass conversion facilities.

The proposed fiscal 2011 bill, which failed to gain Senate approval in December, contains wording that would end funding for the program and effectively kill the biomass energy industry, according to Steve Flick, president of Show-Me Energy Cooperative in Centerview.

The bill also would cut funding for the Biorefinery Assistance Program, the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels and the Rural Energy for American Program.

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Go south, young scientist

The Economist

Science in Brazil: An emerging power in research

POPULAR with foreigners looking for sun, sea and samba, Brazil wants to turn itself into a hot destination for seekers of science. Though its own bright graduates still head to Europe or the United States for PhDs or post-doctoral fellowships, nowadays that is more because science is an international affair than because they cannot study at home. The country wants more of them to return afterwards, and for the traffic to become two-way.

Brazil is no longer a scientific also-ran. It produces half a million graduates and 10,000 PhDs a year, ten times more than two decades ago. Between 2002 and 2008 its share of the world’s scientific papers rose from 1.7% to 2.7%. It is a world leader in research on tropical medicine, bioenergy and plant biology. It spends 1% of its fast-growing GDP on research, half the rich-world share but almost double the average in the rest of Latin America. Its scientists are increasingly collaborating with those abroad: 30% of scientific papers by Brazilians now have a foreign co-author.

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Zurich professor develops organometallic fuel cell that generates electrical energy, fine chemicals without waste

Renewable Chemicals Digest
December 24, 2010

In Zurich, ETH Zurich Professor Hansjörg Grützmacher and his group have developed a novel organometallic fuel cell. In addition to generating electrical energy, it also produces fine chemicals from renewable raw materials – with no waste. Grützmacher is the first to state that this will not solve the worlds energy problems, but that its importance lies in the fact that fuel cell can produce fine chemicals.

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Cereplast to Launch Nationwide Competition for New Bioplastics Symbol

December 15, 2010

Winner to Receive $25,000
Creator of the Recycling Symbol, Gary Anderson to Judge Contest

EL SEGUNDO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Cereplast, Inc. (NASDAQ: CERP), a leading manufacturer of proprietary bio-based, compostable and sustainable plastics, announced today that it will launch a nationwide design competition for a symbol that represents "bioplastics" on January 3, 2011. The symbol will indicate that a product is made from "green," bio-based material, not petroleum-based material.

"Cereplast's competition represents our commitment to educating and helping consumers make smarter purchasing decisions that help preserve and protect our environment," said Frederic Scheer, Chairman and CEO of Cereplast. "Companies are increasingly looking at bio-based plastics made from renewable resources like corn, wheat, and algae as an alternative to petroleum-sourced plastics in order to meet soaring consumer demand for economically and ecologically sound, 'green' products. The bioplastics symbol will enable consumers to easily identify products made from bioplastics, similar to the globally recognized recycling symbol we see on thousands of plastic products."

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(IA) ISU ponders permanent biomass cofiring after test burn

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Lisa Gibson January 04, 2011

Iowa State University is considering cofiring with biomass in its coal-fired combined-heat-and-power plant after conducting a series of successful test burns over the summer.

Together with NextGen Biofuels Inc., the university cofired biomass in its coal-fired combined-heat-and-power plant over the summer. Working with both wood pellets and wood chips, the test burns started at 5 percent biomass and jumped up to 10 percent and 15 percent, according to Rob Ravlin, NextGen president. Pellets were also tested at a 20 percent blend. “[The tests were] very successful,” he said. “If the will is there, we can immediately displace a large percentage of coal in existing boilers without any capital investment required.”

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Friday, January 7, 2011

U.S. lacks infrastructure to consume more ethanol

Western Farm Press
Brian Wallheimer, Purdue University
Jan. 4, 2011 10:56am

The United States doesn't have the infrastructure to meet the federal mandate for renewable fuel use with ethanol, but could meet the standard with significant increases in cellulosic and next-generation biofuels, according to a Purdue University study.

Wally Tyner, the James and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics, and co-authors Frank Dooley, a Purdue professor of agricultural economics, and Daniela Viteri, a former Purdue graduate student, used U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency data to determine that the United States is at the "blending wall," the saturation point for ethanol use. Without new technology or a significant increase in infrastructure, Tyner predicts that the country will not be able to consume more ethanol than is being currently produced.

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Addressing Obstacles in the Biomass Feedstock Supply Chain

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Kate L. Bechen January 04, 2011

Biomass is one of the oldest energy sources, and there are compelling arguments for its use to generate electricity. First, unlike fossil fuels, the regenerative capacity of biomass provides for a renewable fuel source. Second, a significant amount of viable feedstock is considered waste, the use of which serves the dual purposes of energy production and waste management. Third, the use of sustainable biomass displaces the use of fossil fuels. Though both fuel sources emit CO2, the CO2 emitted by biomass would occur anyway through the process of decomposition, so there is a net reduction in CO2 emissions. Finally, the combustion of biomass also reduces methane emissions associated with the naturally occurring process of decomposition.

Despite the significance and potential of biomass as an energy source, development of a reliable feedstock supply chain has not occurred. Developers understand that a stable, long-term feedstock agreement is essential to procuring financing for any biomass project. Demonstrating to a landowner or farmer that the economic and other benefits of producing biomass (the production of which is often a multi-year commitment) outweigh the current land use can be a challenge without an established demand for the feedstock. Current land use, such as row crops, hunting habitat or Conservation Reserve Program acres, competes with biomass crops. Creating demand for feedstock also requires construction of conversion facilities, which require financing in addition to the financing of the generation facilities. And, in the true spirit of the chicken and the egg conundrum, lenders and investors require a reliable, long-term feedstock source before financing a project.

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Donation Drives New Direction of Bioenergy Research at University of Idaho

MOSCOW, Idaho, Jan. 4, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A $25,000 donation from Texas entrepreneur Randy Hill and his company, APT Advanced Trailer and Equipment LP, to the University of Idaho has funded research focused on converting woody biomass to energy.

The gift has allowed the university to install a pilot-scale pyrolysis unit at its steam plant. Pyrolysis is a type of incineration that uses almost no oxygen. When applied to an organic material like wood, pyrolysis yields biofuel plus a small amount of charcoal.

Armando McDonald, professor of wood chemistry and wood composites, researches pyrolysis of woody biomass to create bio-oil.

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Lawrence Berkeley Lab reveals what it wants in its second campus

San Francisco Business Times - by Lindsay Riddell
Date: Tuesday, January 4, 2011, 12:41pm PST -

Lawrence Berkeley Lab late Monday laid out the details for a new second campus. It is looking to consolidate facilities like the Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville, the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in Oakland and the Life Sciences Division in West Berkeley.

The Lab estimates that by 2015, it will spend $15 million annually to lease space at those facilities. The lease at the Joint Bioenergy Institute expires in 2013. The idea is to put all of them in one large site that will initially house 800 employees.

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EPA faces another ethanol suit

Omaha World-Herald
Published Wednesday January 5, 2011
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A ruling by the Obama administration allowing the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol is running into legal hurdles from trade groups opposing the plan.

The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday over the decision to allow the sale of gasoline containing higher blends of corn-based ethanol, the second major group to protest the ruling.

The Obama administration said in October that gas stations could start selling the ethanol blend for vehicles built since the 2007 model year, increasing it from the current blend of 10 percent ethanol. The decision has been criticized by boosters of ethanol who say it doesn’t go far enough and by engine manufacturers who contend it could damage engines in vehicles, boats, snowmobiles and outdoor power equipment such as lawn mowers and chainsaws.

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German study shows rapeseed GHG potential

Biodiesel Magazine
January 2011
By Luke Geiver
Posted Jan. 5, 2011

The German Biomass Research Center has conducted a study on optimizing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from rapeseed-based biodiesel. The goal of the study was to analyze the current default values for GHGs from rapeseed-based biodiesel, and to outline areas that would improve current GHG levels. Authored by Stefan Majer and Katja Oehmicen from the center, the study was conducted partially in response to the German Biofuel Sustainability Ordinance that calls for biofuels used by 2017 to reach a GHG reduction target of 50 percent when compared to fossil fuels, and 60 percent by 2018.

According to the study, most biofuels at their current default levels for GHG reductions will not be sufficient in meeting the goals set for 2017. “However,” the study points out, “this raises the question of the data basis on which the default values were calculated and what reduction in GHG emissions could theoretically be achieved with a process chain optimized in terms of its GHG account.”

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Growing willows as biofuel
Jane Milliman • January 1, 2011

Normally the word "willow" brings to mind those huge weepers that hug stream banks or the sticks with big fuzzy buds you can harvest in the early spring. But here in upstate New York we have something called the Willow Biomass Project, which takes shrub willows out of the ornamentals (or weeds) realm and instead treats them as a renewable raw material for heat, biofuels and biodegradable polymers. The project, headed up at the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry, has been operating quietly for almost 20 years.

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LPP Combustion Fuel Preparation Technology Allows Clean Electricity Generation Using 14 Different Liquid Fuels

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: December 28, 2010

Columbia, MD—LPP Combustion, LLC's revolutionary liquid fuel technology has successfully demonstrated the clean generation of electrical power using fourteen different liquid fuels in a commercial gas turbine.

The fuels, all processed through the same LPP Combustion fuel skid prior to injection into the gas turbine as LPP Gas™, included conventional petroleum-based liquids, bio-fuels, and waste product solvents.

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MSU nets grant to study fuel from fungi
Bozeman Daily Chronicle Posted: Sunday, December 26, 2010 10:15 pm

BOZEMAN - Last December, Angie Tomsheck walked into her professor's office and told him she didn't want to go home for the holidays, she didn't want to take her exams - heck, she didn't even want to eat lunch.

"At last," Gary Strobel, her research professor, told her, "you know what it's like to discover."

Tomsheck, who at the time was a Montana State University junior studying microbiology, had just discovered a fungus that produced eucalyptol - a rare compound only previously known to be found in eucalyptus bark.

Eucalyptol has the potential to be a biodiesel, and with Tomsheck's discovery, would be much easier to produce, making it a stronger contender to become a gasoline alternative for the mass public.

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BP's engineered yeast brews up cellulosic ethanol breakthrough
By Danny Bradbury
30 Dec 2010

BP-backed research project promises to commercialise new biofuel production technique "very soon"

A BP-backed research project has produced a variety of yeast designed to process cellulosic material into ethanol more effectively than before.

Researchers at the University of Illinois, in conjunction with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Seoul National University, and the University of California, have engineered a yeast strain that can process two types of sugar at once.

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Texas AgriLife Research Scientist Develops Sensor to Measure Algae Growth and Manage Oil Production For Biofuels

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: December 29, 2010

College Station—Algae grown for biofuel could be a sweet deal, but without constant monitoring, its growth process can be inefficient and economically untenable, according to a Texas AgriLife Research expert.

Dr. Alex Thomasson, AgriLife Research engineer, has developed an optical-electronic sensor that will automatically measure algae growth stages and allow micro-management of its production of oils for biofuels.

One of the main advantages of using algae for biofuel is its rapid growth potential, Thomasson explained.

The other advantage is that algae can be induced to produce large quantities of lipids – fatty molecules that can be used to produce a wide range of hydrocarbon fuels.

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Can GM Plants Combat Climate Change?
By Jessica Marshall
Wed Dec 29, 2010 01:25 PM ET

Genetically modified plants could sequester more carbon and make better biofuels. So what's standing in their way?

Plants pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and biofuel crops could reduce our demand for fossil fuels. But how much more could these plants do to combat climate change, especially if we used the tools of genetic engineering to tackle the problem?

That's the question posed by Christer Jansson of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and colleagues, who consider all the possible ways that land plants counteract climate change and where genetic modification could play a role in enhancing these processes. They published their work in BioScience.

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Gene discovery could boost energy crop production
December 30, 2010
By James Cartledge

Researchers at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore said the discovery could mean farmers and ranchers producing a greater amount of feedstock for biofuels and electricity generation without taking up more land.

Postdoctoral fellow Huanzhong Wang found a gene that controls the production of lignin in the central portions of the stems of Arabidopsis and Medicago truncatula, species commonly used as models for the study of plant genetic processes.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Feed ops could help commercialize algae

Biodiesel Magazine
January 2011
By Luke Geiver
Posted Dec. 28, 2010

Confined Animal Feeding Operations and algal biomass may have a unique link that could help move algae-to-energy developments closer to commercialization. Why? According to Thomas Byrne, president and CEO of Byrne & Company LLP, a renewable energy project developer, CAFOs offer a rich source of nutrients that can be used as a feedstock to grow algae. Most operations located in the northern climates are equipped with anaerobic digesters that use microbes to break down the organic forms of nitrogen and phosphorous into inorganic forms, Byrne said, all of which can be assimilated by various algal species.

“The methane produced by the anaerobic microbes is burned in a generator to produce an export of electricity and also waste heat that can be utilized to raise algae year-round,” Byrne says. “Bioreactors to grow algal species are well suited to take both the inorganic forms of nitrogen and phosphorous from the digester, as well as the waste heat and carbon dioxide (CO2) from the generator, to produce ideal inputs for algal growth.”

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Top 10 Biofuels Predictions for 2011

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane December 31, 2010

As the sunset of 2010 gives way to the dawn of 2011, here at the Digest we resist the holiday temptation to look back over the challenges and highlights of the year gone by, and instead once again roll out our crystal ball as we list the Digest’s 10 Biofuels Predictions for 2011.

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USDA expected to issue up to four loan guarantees for bioenergy projects

Biofuels Digest
January 03, 2011 Jim Lane

In Washington, Digest sources continue to point toward a release of USDA loan guarantees this week – Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is pressing his team to finalize conditional offers prior to the new Congress convening on Capitol Hill. USDA loan guarantee funds were previously zeroed out in an omnibus spending bill which died right before year end.

The hold up? Office of Management & Budget scoring on the loan guarantee program is said to be too low to fund, at first glace, all four loan guarantees, so USDA officials are scrambling for OMB adjustments or fresh funding sources to be able to announce all four guarantees together. An agreed agreed ratio for prospective defaults that would be covered by loan guarantee funds determines the extent to which loan guarantee funds are available- for example, a 10:1 ratio would allow USDA to issue $10 in loan guarantees for every $1 in actual funding.

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Cellulosic Biofuel Production, Fermenting Xylose
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Jeannine Chatterton-Papineau

Researchers at Illinois, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California at Berkeley, Seoul National University and the oil company BP have engineered a yeast that outperforms the industry standard in the production of ethanol from cellulosic biomass.

Champaign, IL - infoZine - A newly engineered yeast strain can simultaneously consume two types of sugar from plants to produce ethanol, researchers report. The sugars are glucose, a six-carbon sugar that is relatively easy to ferment; and xylose, a five-carbon sugar that has been much more difficult to utilize in ethanol production. The new strain, made by combining, optimizing and adding to earlier advances, reduces or eliminates several major inefficiencies associated with current biofuel production methods.

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Future Shock and the war over biofuels

Biofuels Digest
December 28, 2010 Jim Lane

The old joke in cellulosic ethanol is that it is five years away from commercialization…forever.

So when a company in the know, like Novozymes, pushes back its cellulosic ethanol commercialization timelines to 2014 or 2015, it sounds like Deja Vu all over again.

The supporters of cellulosic ethanol say that unlucky timing is the root cause, and not their fault. For sure, the global financial crisis wasn’t modeled in any business plans we saw, biofuels or otherwise, and a capital-intensive investment in first-of-kind technology is at risk in years of tight credit. delays in the E15 decision timeframes, delays in loan guarantees, and uncertainty over the ethanol tax credit haven’t helped, according to Novozymes’ Poul Ruben Anderson.

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Bioenergy expert: torrefaction may be biggest biomass market

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin December 22, 2010

University of Minnesota Professor Doug Tiffany has been researching biofuels and biomass electricity for the last 15 years, and believes that blending torrefied biomass with coal represents the biggest potential market for biomass in the U.S.

A production economist in U of M’s extension service, Tiffany has immersed himself in renewable energy process economics, particularly those of running ethanol plants, producing biodiesel and wind energy, and using biomass to generate power.

Throughout his studies, one technology has continued to find its way into the economic equation—torrefaction. “I had an opportunity to look at torrefaction for some subcontract work that we did at the U of M to determine whether a torrefaction plant set up right next to an existing ethanol plant would be a good fit in terms of a business model,” Tiffany explained. “What happens in torrefaction is that a certain amount of volatile gases are driven off as the biomass is roasted, and those gases can be combusted to make steam. We determined that there would be sufficient steam from a good-sized torrefaction unit to supply about 69 percent of the thermal energy an ethanol plant would need.”

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Enzyme cocktail could eliminate a step in biofuel process

December 27, 2010

Conversion of biomass to fuel requires several steps: chemical pretreatment to break up the biomass – often dilute (sulfuric) acid, detoxification to remove the toxic chemicals required in pretreatment, and microbial fermentation to convert the soluble sugars to fuels. Virginia Tech researchers have discovered an enzyme mixture that works in the presence of the toxic infused liquid biomass (hydrolysate), meaning that the detoxification step is unnecessary, reducing the cost of producing biofuels as well as increasing biofuel yields by avoiding the production of by-products and synthesis of cell mass.

The research will be published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Chemistry & Biology.

"Enzymes self-assemble a cell-free synthetic pathway; that is, we can put the desired biological reactions to work without the other complex interactions that take place within a cell," said Y.H. Percival Zhang, associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech.

"In microbial fermentations, glucose serves as both a growth substrate and a source of energy for generating a reduced power -- NADPH. In fact, only a small fraction of glucose is allocated to NADPH generation," he says. "The cell-free synthetic pathway process increases efficiency and reaction rate."

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Yeast is rising as a biofuel booster

Cosmic Log by MSNBC

Alan Boyle writes:Researchers say they've used genetic engineering to create a strain of yeast that can cut the time needed to make ethanol from cellulosic sources in half. It's the latest twist in efforts to fine-tune microbes for "frankenfuel" production.

Like Frankenstein's monster, these ethanol-producing organisms draw upon genetic combinations not found in nature. The scientists reporting their results today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences started out with common brewer's yeast, then adapted a few tricks used by a different strain of yeast as well as a cellulose-loving fungus.

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2010 Year in Review of Biofuels

By Katie Fehrenbacher at Earth2Tech
Wed Dec 29, 2010 3:03pm EST

Biofuels took a step away from the limelight in 2010, replaced by the buzz surrounding electric vehicles. But there were still a variety of policy decisions, and economic milestones that made the sector interesting in 2010.

It’s no secret that the corn ethanol industry is an unsustainable business — economically and environmentally — but yet the industry’s tax credits and import tariffs were once again extended. At the same time cellulosic ethanol, yet again, didn’t meet the EPA’s projections for the biofuel mandate. At the same time, next-gen biofuel firm Amyris debuted on the public markets, and didn’t fare too shabbily. Here’s 2010 in biofuels:

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What Was Really Important in 2010

Hoosier Ag Today
By Gary Truitt

As the year comes to a close, news organizations large and small start posting The Most Important Stories of 2010. Being a student of history, I prefer to take a bit of a long view. Often what seems to be the biggest issue now may have very little importance a decade from now. So I would like to look back over 2010 and pick out a few events that are likely to have a significant impact down the road.

This year will be remembered as the year the government finally started getting serious about increasing ethanol use. After talking about alternative fuels for decades the EPA, rather reluctantly it seemed, approved an increase in the amount of ethanol in gasoline to 15%. While this move was more PR and practical because of the exceptions and limitations, nevertheless it was the beginning of real progress in moving our fuel tanks away from fossil fuels. While it will take many more years, at least the first steps have been taken down the road that will lead to the breaking of the monopoly that oil companies have on our fuel supply. In a decade from now, our vehicles will be able to run on a variety of energy sources; and, when we pull up to the pump, we as consumers will be able to chose what type and blend of fuel we want to put in our tanks.

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Biomass capital investment to reach $33.7 billion by 2015
By Staff Writer
Monday, 27 December 2010

Worldwide capital investment in biomass infrastructure will maintain steady growth during the next five years, rising from $28.2 billion annually in 2010 to $33.7 billion by 2016, forecasts Pike Research.

Biomass, which is currently the leading source of renewable energy worldwide, is conducive to producing a wide variety of energy products including transportation fuels, bio-derived products such as plastics and chemicals, and electricity generation.

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Ethanol costs rise: What's in the price pipeline?

Chicago Tribune
By Bob Caylor, McClatchy/Tribune news
5:38 p.m. CST, December 30, 2010

Ethanol, the alternative fuel made from corn, may be a victim of its own success. Or rather, motorists who buy ethanol may be the victims.

For the first time since the push to use more ethanol in American vehicles began five or six years ago, ethanol costs more than gasoline. E-85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, has recently been priced higher than regular gasoline at some area stations.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

American Council On Renewable Energy Leading Biomass Definition Effort
Michael Brower, Senior Federal Policy Director, Mosaic Federal Affairs LLC

As one who has manned-up for woody biomass definition fights in Congress since the Farm Bill of 2002 through EPACT 2005, EISA 2007, FCE 2008 and once again to ensure parity for biomass and to achieve equal treatment for biomass energy facilities in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, it is clear to me that people need to appreciate and understand how critical a well-balanced, unified definition of biomass is to our elected leadership in the Congress. As an American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE)/Biomass Coordinating Council (BCC) member and Capitol Hill advocate for commercial biomass clients investing millions of real, private dollars for real projects and who are risking their time, well-being and fortune if we don't proactively and properly help the Congress craft a well-balanced biomass definition, biomass will find itself excluded from a pivotal renewable energy role; the time to act is now and we need to give them a draft to work from.

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New app helps consumers find E85 stations

Western Farm Press
Dec. 23, 2010 12:28pm

Just in time for holiday travel, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is proud to announce the Flex-Fuel Station Locator application for Android phones.

This application is free and easy to download. Now, flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) drivers will always know where they can fuel up next.

The Flex-Fuel Station Locator for the Android phone series is the first smart phone application developed by the RFA. This new program provides the customer with location, fuel price, directions and a phone number to all E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) stations in their area.

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Vilsack's emphasis: Make ethanol more available
Friday, December 24, 2010 10:51 AM
(Source: The Gazette - Cedar Rapids, Iowa)By Dave DeWitte, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Dec. 24--U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack thinks soon-to-be announced federal grants for cellulosic ethanol plants are helping boost flagging ethanol support in Congress.

Vilsack said the government plans to announce measures in early 2011 to provide support for advanced biofuels and cellosic ethanol plants 'in all areas of the country.' We need to do more than just rely on cornbased ethanol,' Vilsack told The Gazette Editorial Board Thursday. 'There's a lot of resistance to that.' Vilsack said part of the opposition is based on a misunderstanding of how efficient corn-based ethanol production has become, but he added that 'part of it's real.' The funding assistance to be announced early next year will help launch 'proof of concept' plants that will convert woody biomass into ethanol. Because of bark beetle infestations in the mountain west, Vilsack said disposing of waste would could supply a large amount of cellulosic material.

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Bioenergy Business Outlook Survey results

Biofuels Digest
December 24, 2010 Jim Lane

Biofuels executives increasingly bullish for industry growth in 2011; loan guarantees, renewable diesel gain popularity in Business Outlook survey

In Florida, Biofuels Digest reports that 80 percent of bioenergy executives are more optimistic both about their organization’s prospects for growth and industry growth, than 12 months ago, and that confidence about industry growth prospects has jumped 11 percentage points in the past quarter.

The findings were among the highlights of the Winter 2010 Bioenergy Business Outlook Survey conducted by the publication in December, which drew response from companies representing an estimated 4,200 green jobs and more than $3 billion in annual sales.

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