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

Monday, February 28, 2011

First of Kind: Financing Advanced Biorefineries, Part II

Biofuels Digest
February 24, 2011
By Biofuels Digest special correspondent Tim Sklar

Part 2-On Quantifying Risks
In Part I of this three part article titled “On Identifying Risks”, discussions were included that focused upon the high risk nature of advanced bio-refinery projects, why financing is hard to obtain what can be done to improve the odds.

In Part 2 titled “On Quantifying Risks” a summary of due diligence inquiries that project developers can expect to be subjected to is presented along with a a list of typical concerns potential financial backers have with respect to perceived risks. In addition, a set of bio-refinery specific “what if” questions are included, because many of them will be asked. It was hoped that the material included in Part 2 will ultimately be used as a useful guide in assembling information and in conducting analyses that will be needed when preparing loan requests, applications for loan guarantees, investment memoranda and prospectuses.

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U.S. has "foot on the gas" on ethanol: Vilsack

By Charles Abbott
WASHINGTON Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:52am EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States "can do it all" -- turn more corn into ethanol without running short of food, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Thursday, as oil prices soared and the government raised its forecast of food price increases this year.

"There is no reason for us to take the foot off the gas," said Vilsack, referring to biofuels at a two-day Agriculture Department conference on the outlook for this year's crops. "We can do it all."

A record 5 billion bushels of corn will be used to make ethanol in the marketing year opening on Sept 1, up slightly from this year, said USDA. It also forecast food prices will rise 3.5 percent this year -- double the U.S. inflation rate.

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Clinton urges caution against increased biofuels production

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill February 25, 2011

Former President Bill Clinton drew quick criticism from the ethanol and corn industries following remarks he made regarding biofuels during a speech delivered to attendees of the USDA’s Agricultural Forum on Feb. 23. While his comments concentrated largely on the potential effects of climate change to agricultural production, Clinton added that biofuels production could also affect food production.

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Editorial: Burning Dinner

Chicago Tribune
6:33 p.m. CST, February 24, 2011

It's stretching the point to blame ethanol for unrest in the Middle East. But high food prices have played a role in touching off the protests, and ethanol has indeed pushed food prices higher.

Unless America wises up, our policy of turning ever more corn into motor fuel could send prices much higher still — with severe consequences.

Food prices already stand at record levels, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Unfavorable weather has hurt grain production, and some countries have started building their strategic reserves through hoarding. At the same time, rising incomes in China and other fast-developing countries have boosted demand for livestock feed.

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New enzyme ‘cocktail’ could improve biomass processing efficiency

Conveying News

Discovery of a new 'enzyme cocktail' could simplify the biomass process, by eliminating the detoxification stage.

Researchers at Virginia Tech believe that a combination of enzymes could be used to break up biomass in place of sulphuric acid – or an equivalent.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

USDA Looks at How Rising Commodity Prices May Affect CRP

Corn & Soybean Digest
Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Feb. 23, 2011 12:31pm

In a period of higher crop prices, if CRP maintains its acreage and the environmental benefits it provides, CRP program payments will need to increase, according to a report released Friday from USDA's Economic Research Service.

This assessment was based on a study that looked at two models and several program scenarios focusing on higher crop prices and the resulting economic effects and including the effects of bioenergy production and possible carbon credits and marketing.

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Amyris confirms yields at 200K liter fermenter scale

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane February 24, 2011

In California, Amyris announced today that it has completed multiple runs of its fermentation process using its engineered yeast to produce renewable farnesene, in 100,000 and 200,000 liter capacity fermentors. These runs were completed through contract manufacturing operations in North America and Europe.

The results of these fermentation runs, including yields, were consistent with previous runs at smaller scale. Amyris expects to commence commercial production of Biofene in the second quarter of 2011 and ramp production through manufacturing arrangements with entities including Biomin and Tate & Lyle.

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“First of Kind” – the Financing of Advanced Bio-Refineries, Part I

Biofuels Digest
February 24, 2011
By Tim Sklar

Today, we inaugurate a three-part, in-depth series – “First of Kind” – the Financing of Advanced Bio-Refineries, from our trusty correspondent Tim Sklar, whose last series on torrefaction was so well received. In Part I, today, we look at “Identifying Risks”.

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MFA Oil plans to use miscanthus for bioenergy

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin February 22, 2011

MFA Oil Biomass and Aloterra Energy are teaming up with local farmers in Missouri and Arkansas to produce miscanthus, an energy crop that will be converted into heat, power and eventually liquid fuels.

MFA Oil Biomass will organize local farmers in central and southwest Missouri and northeast Arkansas to establish and grow a target of 50,000 acres of miscanthus. “Our role [in the project] is to work with the farmers to produce the crop, aggregate the biomass and work with the end user, or convert it ourselves,” said Jared Wilmes, MFA Oil Biomass project coordinator. “We work with farmers on an individual basis, and that’s what we bring to the table.”

Some of the cooperative’s 40,000 members will be growing the miscanthus, Wilmes said. Interest among them is strong, as already 250 farmers have signed letters of intent to grow the energy crop on more than 21,000 acres.

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National Ethanol Scholarship Winners
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – February 23rd, 2011

For the second year, the Renewable Fuels Association and the Renewable Fuels Foundation sponsored the National Ethanol Conference Scholarship program to help students pursuing advanced education in ethanol related careers to attend the conference.

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Ethanol lobby pushes for E15

The Detroit News
Last Updated: February 24. 2011 1:00AM
David Shepardson / The Detroit News

It wants senators to allow higher blend in gasoline, citing prices

Washington — Ethanol advocates are bolstering their lobbying efforts in the wake of higher oil prices and a defeat in Congress.

Growth Energy, a major ethanol trade association, is sending letters this week to all 100 U.S. senators urging them to reject a House vote that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from allowing a higher blend of ethanol in the nation's gas tanks.

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Supply Chain Champs

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin February 22, 2011

When it comes to harvesting, collecting, storing and transporting agricultural biomass, PowerStock has decades of experience.

PowerStock founders and affiliates, who were instrumental in helping to build Oregon’s straw export market and the Western U.S. hay industry, formed the company to address a growing demand for agricultural biomass as an energy source.

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Crop Residues: Issues Relating to Collection, Transportation and Storage

Biomass Power & Heat
By Kate Bechen February 22, 2011

Bioenergy producers looking to purchase crop residues must understand and be willing to work with farmers to determine the most viable options for harvesting the feedstock.

Crop residues, such as corn stover (leaves and stalks of corn plants left in the field after harvest), are poised to be a significant source as a feedstock for biofuel production and as biomass for creation of electricity, but prohibitively high collection and transportation costs are often cited as major impediments to completion of projects. Despite these issues, crop residues offer significant benefits as a feedstock. First, crop residues are, as the name suggests, waste that is left over after harvesting the primary crop. This waste can be significant. Corn stover, for example, makes up about half of the yield of a corn crop. Second, use of the crop residue, rather than the primary crop, avoids the food vs. fuel debate. Third, the feedstock can come from a variety of crops (including corn, wheat or sorghum, just to name a few).

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ADM Research Finds Corn Stover Effective in Cattle Feed in Combination With Wet Distillers Grains
Date Posted: February 16, 2011

New research has shown that a substantial portion of the grain in cattle feed can be effectively replaced with corn stover—the plant’s stalks, cobs and leaves—when these harvest residues are treated with a common food ingredient known as hydrated lime, or pickling lime.

The alternative feeding strategy, which could improve feeders’ financial returns by lowering input costs without impacting the animals’ physical development, has been validated through recent studies conducted at Iowa State University and the University of Nebraska.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jatropha oil burns well for power gen: Brookhaven study

Biofuels Digest

Jim Lane February 23, 2011

In California, SG Biofuels and Brookhaven National Laboratory released results of a study revealing that crude Jatropha oil can be blended with residual oil without any problems in separation or modifications to existing burners.

Testing also reveals that crude Jatropha oil has less than 3 percent of the sulfur content of typical heating oil resulting in significant reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions.

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Microwave-Burnt Biomass Could Help “Black” Energy Industry Become Cleaner

The Green Optimist
Posted by Ovidiu Sandru on February 19, 2011

James Clark, the director of the University of York’s Green Center of Excellence, will present some of the newest chemical technologies that could help producing clean biofuels and at the same time eliminate waste, at the Annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

“We have shown that wax products with numerous applications, can be extracted from crop and other by-products including wheat and barley straws, timber residues and grasses, using supercritical carbon dioxide – a green chemical technology that allows the production of products with no solvent residues,” he says.

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Feb. 22, 2011
Source: Renewable Fuels Association news release

While the rest of the economy slowly recovers, American ethanol production has been an economic success story. With ethanol plants operating and being built in 29 states, the economic benefits of domestic ethanol production are having an impact for hundreds of thousands of Americans.

According to an economic analysis from Cardno ENTRIX economist John Urbanchuk, released at the National Ethanol Conference, 70,600 Americans are employed directly in the production of ethanol and in industries providing goods and services to ethanol producers. As a result of the economic activity generated by ethanol production, more than 400,000 Americans have been able to keep their jobs or find new ones.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fierce competition pushes prices down at Brazilian biodiesel auction
Friday February 18 2011

Biodiesel prices achieved at the National Petroleum Agency's (ANP) latest biodiesel auction on February 16, 2011 were sharply below the maximum reference price, showing once again the rising competition on the Brazilian biodiesel market.

The 21st ANP auction comprised a 528 mln litre lot reserved for authorised biodiesel producer taking part in the Combustivel Social initiative, which means that they purchase at least part of their oilseed requirement from small-family farms. The second, 132 mln litre lot was reserved for authorised biodiesel producers necessarily not taking part in Combustivel Social. The reference price was set at BRL2.43 ($1=BRL1.67) per litre, up from BRL2.32 in the last two auctions reflecting developments on the soy markets. In the first lot, where a mere 90% of the lot was sold, an average BRL2.01 per litre was achieved, equivalent to a disagio of 17% over the reference price. The average price in the second lot was BRL2.03 per litre (-13%). The biodiesel will be used for B-5 blends according to the current blending obligation by Petrobras' and Refap's refineries in Q2 2011.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Next wave of recycling? Check your dinner plate

cnet news
February 21, 2011 4:00 AM PST
by Martin LaMonica

Where most people see a pile of leftovers or yard waste, Paul Sewell sees a revenue stream, delivering energy and valuable nutrients.

Sewell is the CEO of 3-year-old Harvest Power, a company formed to take recycling to the next level. Paper, metals, and plastics account for about 60 percent of municipal solid waste. The next hill to climb is waste that originally came from the ground: wood, yard trimmings, and now food scraps, which altogether are more than 30 percent of that waste stream.

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APSU Professor and Students Author Paper on Biofuel Research

Austin Peay State University

As the demand for biodiesel fuel increases across the globe - it is predicted to reach 12 billion liters this year – a previously unforeseen complication has arisen in the production process. Glycerol, a colorless, odorless liquid, is generated as a byproduct of biodiesel production, and the sheer quantity that is created affects the economic viability of this industry. What should producers do with those billions of unneeded liters of glycerol?

Dr. Sergi Markov, associate professor of biology at Austin Peay State University, has an idea that could help push the alternative fuel race to new levels of possibility. For the last several years, Markov and two of his APSU students – Jared Averitt and Barbara Waldron – have studied the effects of the bacterium Enterobacter aerogenes on glycerol. Turns out, the bacteria converts the liquid into another biofuel, molecular hydrogen.

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House votes to block E15 from gas pumps

The Detroit News
Last Updated: February 19. 2011 4:27PM
David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington— The U.S. House voted overwhelmingly to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from moving ahead with allowing a higher blend of ethanol in the nation's gas tanks.

Just before 2 a.m. today, the House voted 286-135 to block the EPA from spending any money to carry out a waiver to allow E15 to be sold at the nation's fueling stations. Currently, most gas stations sell E10 — which is 10 percent ethanol.

The EPA has granted a waiver to allow a blend of 15 percent of ethanol to be sold for vehicles from the 2001 model year and newer.

Rep. John Sullivan, R-Oklahoma, introduced an amendment to the bill to fund government operations through Sept. 30, to block EPA from moving ahead.

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New Solid Oxide Fuel Cell System Provides Cheap Grid Energy From CNG and Biogas

Green Investing (IBTimes - UK)
By Mihai Sandru 17 February 2011, 14:32 BST

VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland began testing a large-scale prototype of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that, according to the organization, will provide cheap and efficient grid power from biogas and natural gas.

Using a single 10 kW planar SOFC stack, the system is capable of generating clean energy for a typical apartment block throughout an entire year.

Unlike the "Bloom Box" (Bloom Energy Server), developed in 2010, the VTT fuel cell system is much larger. Besides this, the Bloom system is designed to provide electricity for office buildings and similar applications, while the VTT produces energy for the commercial electrical grid.

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Green Fields: Corn growers blast critics of ethanol

Des Moines Register
10:43 PM, Feb. 19, 2011

Rick Tolman, chief executive of the National Corn Growers Association, fired back at critics of corn and ethanol, describing them as "vicious enemies who are out there trying to change the way we produce food."

Tolman, speaking to the North Dakota corn growers "CornVention" in Fargo last week, noted that the use of more than a third of the U.S. corn crop for ethanol has been blamed for high food prices, which in turn has been fingered by analysts as a reason for unrest and revolution in Tunisia and Egypt.

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Ethanol Makes Big Splash at Daytona

Hoosier Ag Today

Ethanol took center stage at the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Daytona is the kickoff of the NASCAR season, a season in which corn-based ethanol will play a vital role. Tom Buis with Growth Energy said the partnership between ethanol and NASCAR is one that makes sense, “Daytona is a great American Race, and Ethanol is a great American fuel.” He admitted that ethanol still has a lot of work to do to educate consumers and that the partnership with NASCAR will help with that education. NASCAR is famous for showcasing its sponsors, and Buis said NASCAR is giving ethanol a great promotional boost. Growth Energy Co-Chair Ret. General Wesley K. Clark seconded Buis’ comments and added that the fact that NASCAR is using E-15 is a huge testament to the skill of farmers, to the agricultural community, to ethanol pioneers, and to America’s Midwest. “It’s an All-American fuel,” he said.

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“E15 is the most tested fuel blend in our nation’s history.”

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane February 21, 2011

In Washington, reaction from the passage of the Sullivan and Flake Amendments to the US House budget resolution, which blocks the U.S. EPA from implementing its approved waiver for E15 ethanol blends in America’s fuel supply and prohibiting construction of blender pumps and ethanol storage facilities.

“The Sullivan provision picks politics over science. EPA’s consideration of E15 was based on a more exhaustive study and collection of data than any of the 11 previously-approved petitions. No other fuel mix has been tested more,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, which filed the Green Jobs Waiver for E15 in March 2009. “With all the turmoil going on in the Middle East and elsewhere, the House of Representatives just voted to stop the only viable alternative to foreign oil: ethanol. It is the wrong move at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.”

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Report: Few states ready to tap wood heat potential

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin February 17, 2011

The Alliance for Green Heat has released a report that finds that while the use of wood for heat in many states is rapidly increasing, most states do little or nothing to promote and manage it.

In the report, the alliance grades all states on categories which include policies that help reduce wood smoke, promote the cleanest appliances and restrict the most polluting ones, and provide educational information on best wood heat practices.

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BCAP on the chopping block again

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin February 17, 2011

Just a few months after the Biomass Crop Assistance Program narrowly escaped defunding with the failure of the proposed federal omnibus spending bill, the biomass industry is gearing up for another battle, as Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., has introduced an amendment to the new spending bill that once again proposes elimination of BCAP funding.

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Wastewater and algal biofuels

Biofuels Digest
Thomas Saidak February 18, 2011

In New York, Rochester Institute of Technology researchers are working on using wastewater to grow algae for biodiesel. The process cleans wastewater by consuming nitrates and phosphates while reducing both bacteria and toxins in the water. The algae can then be used to produce biodiesel. The researchers are Jeff Lodge, associate professor of biological sciences at RIT, Eric Lannan, a grad student working on his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at RIT, and Emily Young, a chemistry major.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Microwave-induced plasma gasification technology makes headway

Biorefining Magazine
By Bryan Sims February 17, 2011

As rapid accumulation of MSW continues to stress landfills, many municipalities across the U.S. are in search of cost-effective, energy efficient technologies capable of converting millions of tons of this waste into saleable products. Plasma arc gasification is one technology that has gained a lot of attention in recent years as a solution.

Edinburg, Texas-based plasma gasification technology developer Plasma2Energy, along with its holding company Plasma Gasification Corp., intends to be part of the solution by deploying its patented version of plasma gasification units across the U.S.

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A Billion Tons Of Biomass A Viable Goal, But At High Price, New Research Shows
February 17, 2011

A new study from the University of Illinois concludes that very high biomass prices would be needed in order to meet the ambitious goal of replacing 30 percent of petroleum consumption in the U.S. with biofuels by 2030.

A team of researchers led by Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois, shows that between 600 and 900 million metric tons of biomass could be produced in 2030 at a price of $140 per metric ton (in 2007 dollars) while still meeting demand for food with current assumptions about yields, production costs and land availability.

The paper, published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, is the first to study the technical potential and costs associated with producing a billion tons of biomass from different agricultural feedstocks – including corn stover, wheat straw, switchgrass and miscanthus – at a national level.

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Think Biomass, Not Natural Gas

February 17, 2011
By Joan Melcher

The framework of energy supply and use by any country is confoundingly complex. Now try to speculate what it might be 40 years from now, assuming a drastic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Not so easy, eh?

But there are people doing it: going to work each day, considering myriad energy sources, conjuring up possible configurations for the future. It’s an undertaking many might find intriguing, but … understanding all the technologies, constantly crunching the numbers, seeing a big picture that is as complex and immutable as a monotone jigsaw puzzle, butting up against obstacles and being ready to accept new information that may topple the apple cart — that’s another thing.

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Brazilian ethanol is the best hope for replacing oil, says BP's Bob Dudley

The Telegraph
By Robin Yapp, in Sao Paulo 7:03PM GMT 13 Feb 2011

Ethanol derived from Brazilian sugar-cane offers the best hope of replacing oil as the world's main source of fuel when it runs out, according to Bob Dudley, BP's chief executive.

He said Brazilian ethanol is the "best type of renewable energy" and offers the possibility of an "ultrapotent fuel that could revolutionise the market".

BP is channelling its research into renewable fuels accordingly, with 40pc of its $1bn (£625m) annual spend in this area targeted at Brazilian ethanol, Mr Dudley told the weekly Brazilian news magazine Veja.

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2 Studies Target Sticking Points, Gaps in Life-Cycle Calculations of Biofuels

The New York Times
By JENNY MANDEL of Greenwire
Published: February 10, 2011

Conducting in-depth life-cycle assessments of the environmental impacts of biofuels is complicated, and new research suggests some questions in comparing biofuels to alternatives like petroleum-based fuels will never be answered.

Furthermore, one study argues, consumer choices driven by price differences between bio-based and petroleum-based fuels will play into how biofuels affect the environment, adding another layer of complication that must considered.

The two papers were recently published by the Energy Biosciences Institute, a partnership among oil giant BP PLC; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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NREL releases latest B20 biodiesel fuel quality results

Biodiesel Magazine
By Ron Kotrba February 11, 2011

Teresa Alleman, a senior chemist at National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., presented the latest biodiesel quality survey results at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo this week—and the results are very positive, not only for biodiesel producers who make the fuel, but also for blenders and end-users.

This was the first B20 quality survey conducted by NREL in which the samples were held against ASTM D7467, the B6 to B20 blend spec.

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Details of biofuel appropriations in DOE FY2012 budget request

Biorefining Magazine
By Erin Voegele February 16, 2011

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu detailed President Obama’s $29.5 billion Fiscal Year 2012 budget request for the U.S. DOE this week. The request is part of an administration-wide plan to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world. “This budget is about winning the future,” Chu said, noting that the energy sector is going to play a key role in the future economic prosperity of countries around the world, including the U.S. “The Department of Energy’s FY2012 budget request is really about making those strategic investments to unleash American innovation and promote economic competitiveness,” Chu continued.

The total $29.5 billion request represents a $3.1 billion increase over the FY2010 budget of $26.4 million. However, tough funding choices have been made by the DOE, with cuts in several program areas. “While we are investing in areas that are critical to our future, we are also rooting out programs that aren’t needed, and making hard choices to tighten our belt,” Chu said. “Additionally, we are improving our management and operations so we function more efficiently and effectively.”

The budget specifically calls for increased spending in the areas of clean energy and efficiency, while drastically reducing spending on many fossil energy programs. For example, the total budget for the Fossil Energy Office has been reduced by 45 percent—or $418 million. According to the DOE, this includes zeroing out several programs, including the Oil and Gas Research and Development Program and the Unconventional Fossil Technology Program. The budget also proposes to reel in subsidies and tax preferences for fossil fuels, saving taxpayers approximately $2.6 billion.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chromatin’s Sorghum Hybrids Top in Biomass Yield, Energy and Sugar Content

Business Wire
February 15, 2011 11:17 AM Eastern Time

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today Chromatin, Inc., announced that its sorghum hybrids showed top performance in its 2010 biomass and sugar testing programs when compared to other materials from public, private, and commercial sorghum collections.

In the first trial, 50 biomass sorghum entries were planted in 4 replicate plots and tested for total yield, moisture, energy, and ash content. In a similar, second trial, Chromatin tested 50 types of sweet sorghum, measuring total biomass yield and fermentable carbohydrate in harvested juice.

The results from these studies indicate that Chromatin’s entries provided the 3 top-yielding biomass sorghum hybrids, and among this group are hybrids with very high BTU (British Thermal Units, or energy) content, low ash content and low moisture retention. In addition, a number of Chromatin’s sorghum materials generated more fermentable sugar per acre than most of the competitors.

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Ethanol Report on New Advanced Ethanol Council
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – February 16th, 2011

In this edition of “The Ethanol Report” podcast, we hear from the executive director of the newly formed Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC), Brooke Coleman.

Coleman has been involved with the ethanol industry for over a decade, most recently as Executive Director of the New Fuels Alliance. He says that the new organization came together around a common theme. “The common theme is that both existing corn ethanol producers and tomorrow’s cellulose and advanced ethanol producers have a common interest – opening up U.S. fuel markets to the use of ethanol.”

“Advanced ethanol is truly on the cusp of commercialization,” he continued. “It’s a fuel that is not 15 years down the road, it’s a realistic option and there are plants in the ground already today producing advanced ethanol at demonstration and commercial scale.”

Read more & listen to the report

Hot Destinations for DDGS Exports: China, Mexico, Canada

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen February 15, 2011

The landscape of U.S. distillers grains exports changed dramatically in 2010 and—depending on the outcome of the Chinese dumping accusation—could change radically in 2011, as well.

In 2010, China sped past Turkey, Canada and Mexico, becoming the No. 1 destination for exported U.S. distillers grains, gobbling up 28 percent of the total DDGS exported worldwide. The odds that the upward trend would continue in 2011 came to a screeching halt in early January, however, with the announcement of China’s anti-dumping investigation.

In just four years, China’s importing of DDGS went from zero to millions of metric tons in 2010, according to information from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. It started out modestly with 1,150 million metric tons (mmt) in 2007 and grew to more than 542,000 mmt in 2009. But that’s nothing compared to what happened in 2010. “They just skyrocketed,” says Mike Callahan, director of international operations for the U.S. Grains Council. “There are lots of numbers running around out there but I think the final tally, once it’s all in, China will have imported close to 3 million tons during 2010.” Others have estimated it could reach as high as 5 mmt.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

U.S. Leads Ranking of Top 25 Countries for Global Biofuels Production Capacity


HOUSTON, Feb. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. concluded 2010 as the top renewable ethanol producing country, according to the Global Biofuels Outlook to 2020, recently released from Hart Energy Consulting's Global Biofuels Center (GBC). With more than 51 billion liters (13.47 billion gallons) of ethanol production capacity in operation, the U.S. is by far the leader, with South America's largest nation, Brazil, following with nearly 27 billion liters (7.1 billion gallons). When combined, these two countries represent 82% of ethanol production capacity in operation worldwide. China ranks a distant third at more than 2.7 billion liters (713 million gallons). The ranking continues with France in fourth place. Canada rounds out the top five.

"In 2009, the U.S. ethanol industry had a total of 170 operating plants. We at GBC track all plants - existing, planned, and proposed - not only in the U.S. but in 75 countries around the world. Our analysis concludes that by the close of 2010, that number rose to a total of 187 operating plants. Many producers rushed to complete projects that had been under construction in advance of EPA's deadline to 'grandfather' plants under RFS2," explains Michael Marshall, lead research analyst for GBC, and primary author of the report.

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House Republican amendment would block use of higher ethanol blends in vehicles

The Hill
By Andrew Restuccia - 02/15/11 01:20 PM ET

A Republican lawmaker has offered an amendment to a House Republican spending bill that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing a program to allow newer vehicles to fuel with higher blends of ethanol in their gasoline.

Rep. John Sullivan’s (R-Okla.) amendment would block the agency from using funds under the spending bill, which would fund the government through the end of September, on its regulations allowing model year 2001 and newer vehicles to use gasoline containing up to 15 percent ethanol (E15).

EPA signed a waiver in January allowing the use of E15 in model year 2001-2006 vehicles. It has previously signed a waiver allowing for the use of E15 in 2007 and newer vehicles. Sullivan’s bill blocks funding for both of those regulations.

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Algae keep on rockin’ in the free world

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane February 15, 2011

In Mexico, the Mexican government has announced its “Manhattan Project” with an initial goal of producing 1 percent of its jet fuel from algae by 2015, and OriginOil has agreed to participate in a pilot scale algae project funded by the Mexican government.

“By the end of this decade, the project must produce nearly twenty times that amount, propelling Mexico to the front rank of bio-fuel producing nations,” said Riggs Eckelberry, OriginOil CEO.

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Brazil's Cosan, Shell To Boost Output At Raizen Ethanol Venture

Fox Business
By Rogerio Jelmayer and Jeff Fick
Published February 14, 2011
Dow Jones Newswires

SAO PAULO -(Dow Jones)- Brazilian sugar and ethanol group Cosan Industria e Comercio SA (CSAN3.BR) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA.LN) disclosed more details Monday about the $12 billion ethanol joint venture the companies formed last year, which will be called Raizen.

"We are one of the most-competitive sustainable energy companies in the world," said Raizen Chairman Rubens Ometto during a news conference in Sao Paulo. "The organization was born big."

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Race To The Pump

Chemical & Engineering News
February 14, 2011 Volume 89, Number 7pp. 11-12, 14-17DOI: 10.1021/CEN020911090424
Stephen K. Ritter

Biofuel technologies vie to provide a sustainable supply of transportation fuels
Chemists, chemical engineers, and synthetic biologists have largely met the technical challenge of developing biofuels to supplement and then replace petroleum-derived transportation fuels in the coming decades. For biofuels to reach the U.S. market, however, these technologies have to fit into the existing transportation fuel infrastructure. Every major chemical and petrochemical firm has claimed a stake in the race to biofuel commercialization, as have dozens of start-up companies.

Biofuels have multiple starting points, including sugars, starches, vegetable oil, recycled paper and cardboard, and raw biomass, which can be processed by biological or chemical methods, or both. Whichever ones win, the competing technologies’ versatility ensures that companies will make money, and the country will gain energy security by eliminating dependence on imported oil, as well as climate security by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“We all know how to get from the beginning to the end and make biofuels—we’ve all done it,” says James A. Dumesic, a chemical engineer at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “What you would like to do is put raw biomass in one end and get a ready-to-use fuel out the other end, using as few steps and engineering unit operations as possible. Now, we are to try to get the costs down so it can be affordable. The winning processes, whatever they will be, will need to be as light as possible on the capital investment in order to be practical. Everyone is looking to develop processes that can compete without subsidies.”

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New lignin ‘lite’ switchgrass boosts biofuel yield by more than one-third

February 14, 2011

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 14, 2011 — Bioethanol from new lines of native perennial prairie grass could become less costly because of plant engineering by The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and fermentation research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers describe their transgenic version of switchgrass as one that produces about one-third more ethanol by fermentation than conventional switchgrass. This improved plant feedstock will be able to generate more biofuel per acre, benefiting not only the transportation sector but also the growers and farming community.

“Recalcitrance, or a plant’s natural defenses against insects, fungus and the weather, is widely acknowledged as being the single biggest barrier to the production of biofuel and biochemicals from switchgrass and other lignocellulosic materials,” said Jonathan Mielenz, a co-author and member of the Department of Energy lab’s BioEnergy Science Center.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

U.S. Approves Corn Modified for Ethanol

The New York Times
Published: February 11, 2011

A type of corn that is genetically engineered to make it easier to convert into ethanol was approved for commercial growing by the Department of Agriculture.

The decision, announced Friday, came in the face of objections from corn millers and others in the food industry, who warned that if the industrial corn cross-pollinated with or were mixed with corn used for food, it could lead to crumbly corn chips, soggy cereal, loaves of bread with soupy centers and corn dogs with inadequate coatings.

“If this corn is comingled with other corn, it will have significant adverse impacts on food product quality and performance,” the North American Millers’ Association said in a statement on Friday.

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ARS Scientists Study Long-Term Impacts of Biofuels on Land

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: February 8, 2011

Madison WI—The growing development and implementation of renewable biofuel energy has considerable advantages over using declining supplies of fossil fuels.

However, meeting the demands of a fuel-driven society may require utilizing all biofuel sources including agricultural crop residues.

While a useful biofuel source, crop residues also play a crucial role in maintaining soil organic carbon stock.

This stock of organic carbon preserves soil functions and our global environment as well ensures the sustainable long-term production of biofuel feedstock.

In a study funded by the USDA Agriculture Research Service, scientists analyzed five classical long term experiments.

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ADM to Invest in Sustainable Palm Production in Brazil
Date Posted: February 10, 2011

Decatur, IL—Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE: ADM) announced Feb. 9 plans to invest in sustainable palm production in Brazil.

Spanning five years, the ADM investment will encompass approximately 12,000 hectares of palm production in the state of Pará and include the construction of a palm processing plant.

Construction of the processing plant near São Domingos do Capim—approximately 100 miles east of Belém, the state capital of Pará—is expected to begin in 2013, with operations commencing in 2016.

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Editorial Gets Attention of Growth Energy

Hoosier Ag Today
NAFB News Service

An editorial published in the Washington Post has brought reaction from Growth Energy, the coalition of U.S. ethanol supporters. In his editorial, Tim Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton University and a fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, pointed to a multitude of reasons why food prices could go higher. He pointed to the weather, feeding a world population including rising meat consumption in China, long-term underinvestment in agricultural research and increasing demand for ethanol.

Searchinger proclaimed, - the market is out of equilibrium. Biofuels have grown rapidly now consuming more than 6.5 percent of grain and 8 percent of vegetable oil last year. But he says, - relief is possible if we can just limit biofuel growth. At the same time Europe must rethink its mandates and the Obama administration needs to focus on fuel sources that do not compete with food, such as garbage and crop residues, and not grasses grown on good cropland.

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, says - ethanol is both a food and a fuel business. What is ignored in this piece is that every ethanol plant in the country turns out animal feed as well as fuel – we only take the starch out of the corn kernel but put all the protein, fiber and oils right back into the food supply as ‘dried distillers grains.’ Even then, ethanol’s use of the global grain supply is a fraction.

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Climate change policy & the adoption of methane digesters on livestock operations

Drovers CattleNetwork
Nigel Key and Stacy Sneeringer, ERS Updated: February 8, 2011

What Is the Issue?
Methane digester systems capture methane from lagoon or pit manure storage facilities and use it as a fuel to generate electricity or heat. In addition to providing a renewable source of energy, digesters can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, odors from manure, and potential contamination of surface water. Methane digesters have not been widely adopted in the United States mainly because the costs of constructing and maintaining these systems have exceeded the value of the benefits provided to the operator. Policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could create new opportunities for livestock producers to earn revenue from burning methane from manure, making such biogas recovery facilities profi table for many livestock producers. However, there is likely to be wide variation in the scale, location, and characteristics of livestock operations that would benefit, so these policies could have longrun structural implications for the U.S. livestock sector. In this report we estimate the number and type of hog and dairy operations that would find it profitable to adopt a digester at any given carbon price. We also estimate the relationship between the price of carbon (CO2) and the amount of emissions reduced by digesters on these operations.

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Danisco vs. Novozymes patent infringement case will go to court

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen February 11, 2011

A U.S. District judge ruled that Danisco A/S didn’t prove that a Novozymes patent is invalid, meaning the case will go to trial in October.

Judge Barbara Crabb of the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin denied Danisco’s motion for a summary judgment Feb. 4. “The defendants have not met their burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the ‘723 patent is invalid as a matter of law,” she said. She adds that it’s not without hesitation that she is denying the motion, still doubting if the patent adequately describes Novozymes product.

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Petrobras confirms plans to double biofuels production by 2015

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane February 14, 2011

In Brazil, state oil giant Petrobras confirmed in a Wall Street Journal interview that it will spend $3.5 billion over the next four years to double its biofuels output. Petrobras launched its biofuels unit, Petrobras Biocombustivel, in 2008.

Last October, the group agreed to a $1.2 billion deal to buy as much as 580 million gallons of ethanol from Açucar Guarani during the next four years. Petrobras already agreed at the end of April to buy 45.7% of the company from its French parent Tereos over the next five years.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

The evolution of ethanol: Promising new research goes beyond corn
February 11, 2011

Fueling up your car with ethanol produced from blue-green algae may sound far-fetched. But Bill Gibbons, a professor and researcher in SDSU’s Department of Biology and Microbiology, says it is close to reality – with commercial availability of this new generation of ethanol just four or five years away.

Gibbons and his colleagues at SDSU are among the nation’s leaders in this innovative algae-to-biofuel concept, which aims to expand the ethanol resource in the U.S. and lessen reliance on foreign petroleum.

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Run your car on compost
By Eilene Zimmerman, contributing writer
February 11, 2011: 5:33 AM ET

What if you could fill up your car's gas tank with fuel you made at home from food scraps, old newspaper and the remains of last night's Cabernet?

That's the idea behind E-Fuel, a 25-employee Silicon Valley startup that recently started selling a small-scale ethanol production system for turning household compost into high-octane homebrew. Such compost is abundant: Americans throw away some 30 million tons of food scraps each year.

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Growth Energy Responds to Ethanol Attacks
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – February 11th, 2011

Once again, ethanol is being attacked by the national media for causing food shortages.

In a Washington Post editorial today, long-time ethanol opponent Tim Searchinger writes about “How biofuels contribute to the food crisis.” While admitting the “2008 food crisis” resulted from a number of causes, Searchinger said, “We should recognize the ways in which biofuels are driving it.”

In response, Growth Energy released a chart showing ethanol’s small slice of total global grain supplies and CEO Tom Buis said Searchinger used the op-ed to defend his “indirect land use scheme.”

“Ethanol is both a food and a fuel business. What is ignored in this piece is that every ethanol plant in the country turns out animal feed as well as fuel – we only take the starch out of the corn kernel but put all the protein, fiber and oils right back into the food supply as ‘dried distillers grains.’ Even then, ethanol’s use of the global grain supply is a fraction,” said Buis. “The notion that ethanol is causing today’s food crisis ignores reality: the reality of the market, the reality of global trade agreements, the reality that other countries have their own domestic farm policies, and the reality that Wall Street’s rampant speculation is driving up food prices.”

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Rise in sugar costs hits Cosan profits

By Inae Riveras
SAO PAULO Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:35pm EST

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Cosan, the world's largest sugar and ethanol group, said on Thursday that net income fell 83 percent in the quarter ended December 31, mainly due to rising costs at its sugar operations.

The Brazil-based company reported a profit of 27.9 million reais ($17 million) in the quarter, from 167.1 million reais in the same period of 2009, according to a securities filing.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Biofuel debate unlikely to end
Journal Star
Posted Feb 07, 2011 @ 10:31 PM

With ethanol taking 40 percent of corn crop, critics fuel controversy

PEORIA — The rise in corn prices - and the continued increase in how much corn is used in the production of ethanol - fuels an ongoing debate pitting biofuels against food production.

"I hope there's some middle ground on the ethanol debate but I think it will be polarized for a long time to come," said Julia Olmstead of the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

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Going "All The Way" With Renewable Energy?

National Geographic
By Mason Inman
For National Geographic News
Published January 17, 2011

Political will seen as main green power obstacle, but practical issues remain

This story is part of a special series that explores energy issues. For more, visit The Great Energy Challenge.

In a world where fossil fuel provides more than 80 percent of energy, what would it take to go completely green? Could the world switch over to power from only the wind, sun, waves, and heat from the Earth in only a few decades?

The question seems a fanciful one, when world leaders are stymied over proposals for far less dramatic cuts in the carbon dioxide emissions from global burning of coal, oil, and natural gas. But two U.S. researchers, a transportation expert and an atmospheric scientist, decided the time had come to apply blue-sky thinking to one of the world's greatest challenges.

"We wanted to show that wind, water, and solar power are available to meet demand, indefinitely," says study co-author Mark Delucchi, of the Institute for Transportation Studies at the University of California Davis. He and Mark Jacobson of the civil and environmental engineering department at Stanford University began to tally the build-out that would be needed to supply renewable energy for all the world's factories, homes, and offices, as well as all transport—cars, planes, and ships.

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RFA Announces Scholarships For 2011 National Ethanol Conference

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: February 4, 2011

Washington—The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Renewable Fuels Foundation (RFF) are proud to announce the six recipients of a scholarship to attend the 16th Annual National Ethanol Conference: Building Bridges to a More Sustainable Future.

These students will receive a complimentary registration to the conference, providing them the opportunity to meet and connect with ethanol industry leaders, top policymakers and preeminent experts in the field of renewable fuels.

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On the Move in Biofuels: 25×25 appoints new steering committee members

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane
February 10, 2011

In Washington, 25×25 appointed a slew of new members to its steering committee. New members include Len Bull, past chairman of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture; Brian Dubie, former Lt. Governor of Vermont; Retired Vice Admiral Denny McGinn, a former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Requirements and Programs at the Pentagon and commander of the U.S. Third Fleet; Bobby Moser, vice president and Dean of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, at The Ohio State University; Bill Northey, Secretary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture; Adam Putnam, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and a former member of the House of Representatives from Florida’s 12th Congressional District; Lola Spradley, former Colorado House Speaker who co-chaired the Colorado Renewable Energy Amendment 37 initiative, the first state renewable portfolio standard in the country adopted by voters; and former U.S. Rep. Charlie Stenholm, who represented the 32-county, 17th Congressional District of Texas on the House Agriculture Committee for 26 years.

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Wind, Hydro, Biomass May Cover 36% of EU Energy Needs by 2020

By Kari Lundgren - Feb 10, 2011 6:15 AM CT

Power from wind farms, hydro-power and biomass plants may account for as much as 36 percent of energy consumption in the European Union by 2020, according to a report released by the region’s transmission system operators.

The use of non-fossil fuel generation across the EU could trim carbon dioxide released in 2020 by as much as 57 percent or as little as 26 percent compared with 2009, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity said today.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

China trade case could challenge ethanol

Des Moines Register
5:20 PM, Feb 7, 2011 by Philip Brasher

An anti-dumping case that China initiated late last year could wind up being a challenge to the bottom line of U.S. ethanol plants, according to congressional analysts. China is pursuing an investigation against dried distillers grains, a feed product that is the major byproduct of making fuel ethanol. The charges are thought to be in retaliation for U.S. charges against Chinese wind power subsidies, according to news reports.

China is the third largest importer of U.S. distillers grains and a loss of that market would cut the profit margins of ethanol producers, according to a report on biofuel policy issues by the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan agency. The ethanol industry could face yet another trade issue, if Brazil challenges the legality of the U.S. import tariff.

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The Faces of Biofuels

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane February 8, 2011

A few weeks ago, Propel Fuels and Biofuels Digest undertook to discover, and publish, the stories of people that use renewable fuels. Too often, in our view, stories about renewable energy focus on oil companies, or the environmental establishment, or renewable energy producers, or financiers of fuel.

What do the actual customers believe? Why do they use renewable fuels - motivated by green concerns, price, location, the cool factor, or something else. We want to know why, and know them. We’ll continue to publish this as an occasional series, and we are deeply appreciative to the team at Propel Fuels, who have helped to bring the stories of their customers to national media for the first time.

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Optimized catalyst for biomass gasification for production of synthetic fuels
By Green Car Congress on 02/09/2011 – 2:47 am PST

A team from the Key Laboratory of Renewable Energy and Gas Hydrate, Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences reports on a pilot-scale biomass-gasification-reforming system with optimized catalyst to produce synthesis gas for liquid fuel synthesis in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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DOE's ORNL launches one-stop shop biofuels website

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill February 08, 2011

The U.S. DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has launched a new interactive website meant to integrate a wide variety of data and resources related to bioenergy in an attempt to provide a holistic view of bioenergy and inspire collaboration among industry experts. According to ORNL representatives, the DOE's incentive to create the site stemmed from the realization that while a significant amount of money is being spent on generating data related to bioenergy, a relatively insignificant amount of funding has been allocated toward sharing that data. The new website is an effort to begin sharing data and answering questions related to the future of bioenergy.

The Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework allows users to access everything from reports and technical data to lists of experts and locations of biorefineries and ethanol fueling stations, said Budhendra Bhaduri, ORNL’s principal investigator of the project. “This new tool connects data, knowledge and people in what we expect will become a catalyst that allows interested parties to come together and accelerate the process of developing homegrown, sustainable and plentiful biofuels,” he said.

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Khosla-backed Gevo raises $107 million in biofuels IPO
February 9, 2011 Iris Kuo

Biofuels company Gevo raised $107 million in an initial public offering yesterday, pricing 7.1 million shares at $15 each.

The company, backed by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and Virgin’s Richard Branson, sold the shares at the high end of its range of $13 to $15. Biofuels companies Amyris and Codexis IPO’d last year, but at the low ends of their ranges. Gevo originally filed last summer for a $150 million IPO but scaled down its intentions in a filing last month to $100 million.

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The future of the oilheat industry is biodiesel

Biodiesel Magazine
By Erin Voegele February 08, 2011

Bioheat is becoming big business in the Northeast, and the market seems primed for even faster growth. Attendees at a panel titled The Business of Bioheat at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Phoenix had the opportunity to learn about both the technical and market development aspects of the product.

While state mandates are obviously creating a market for low blends of biodiesel-blended heating oil, such as B2, oilheat dealers themselves seem to be driving a significant expansion of the market. The oilheat industry has been in need of a new opportunity to help rebrand the fuel its sells, said NBB Petroleum Liaison Paul Nazzaro. “What’s in it for them is a new lease on life—to save their businesses, frankly,” he said.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Comparing the enterprise values of Biofuels Ventures

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane February 7, 2011

In Florida, Biofuels Digest released an alpha version (that is to say, released for testing and comment) of its Biofuels Venture Valuation tool.

Using the tool, biofuels venture developers can, by inputting a few keystrokes, calculate a value for the proposed venture, and return rate on invested capital, as well as compare the value of the venture to basic business cases for corn ethanol, sugarcane ethanol, cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels projects.

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German microbiologists aim to optimize bio-ethanol production
February 3, 2011

Food versus fuel -- this rivalry is gaining significance against a backdrop of increasingly scarce farmland and a concurrent trend towards the use of bio-fuels. Researchers at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) are helping to resolve this rivalry: They are working to effectively utilize residual field crop material – which has been difficult to use thus far – for the industrial production of bio-ethanol. They took a closer look at bacteria that transform cellulose into sugar, thereby increasing the energy yield from plants utilized. If this approach works, both bread and bio-fuel could come from the same harvest in the future.

The age of diesel and gasoline is approaching its inevitable end. However, one of the alternatives, bio-ethanol made from plant material by way of microorganism fermentation, is under attack. Until now, bio-ethanol has been produced from crops such as wheat, sugar cane or corn, or more accurately, from the sugar these crops contain in the form of starch. However, when field crops are used for the production of bio-ethanol, they are no longer available as food. Researchers at the TUM Department of Microbiology are working on a solution to this dilemma. The idea: Make the sugar stored in the stems and leaves of plants in the form of cellulose available for bio-ethanol production. "It is our goal to take the cellulose, which has so far hardly been used, and turn it into sugar on an industrial scale, which can then be processed to bio-ethanol," says microbiologist Dr. Wolfgang Schwarz.

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SDSU studies cordgrass as potential biofuel feedstock

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill February 03, 2011

A team of researchers led by South Dakota State University plant geneticist Jose Gonzalez recently concluded research partially funded by the USDA and the U.S. DOE aimed at sequencing genes in a previously un-researched potential biofuel feedstock— prairie cordgrass. This information can be used to better inform future genetic alterations of the feedstock, producing better quality plants for biofuel production.

Gonzalez said gene sequencing is the first step toward improving crop genetics. “It is a beginning, an initial basic information gathering,” he said. “If we want to look at genes that control certain traits and use them for crop improvement, the first thing we need to know is the sequence of those genes.” Prairie cordgrass was selected for research because of its adaptability to various climates and tolerance to marginal and poor soil conditions. Like switchgrass and corn, prairie cordgrass begins growing as soon as snow melts in the spring and continues to grow until the very end of the growing season, Gonzalez said. However, unlike switchgrass, which prefers higher-quality land conditions, cordgrass grows very well on marginal lands and in soils that contain high amounts of salts. These qualities make cordgrass a very attractive feedstock for growers in a variety of North American climates who own marginal land that is otherwise not usable, he said.

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Plant-based fuel is aim of Center for Renewable Carbon
By Larisa Brass
Knoxville News Sentinel
Posted February 8, 2011 at midnight

New University of Tennessee labs are to bring together research projects that work toward replacing petroleum products with renewable counterparts.

The Center for Renewable Carbon was unveiled Friday and will focus on the potential of plants to replace energy sources such as petroleum fuel, chemicals and materials made from oil-based sources, said Tim Rials, director of the center. The center will allow university researchers such as plant geneticists, microbiologists, chemists and transportation economists working with bioenergy crops and biomass-based products to collectively tackle problems, Rials said.

'The Center for Renewable Carbon was established really to help us get a handle on coordinating the broader bioenergy, biofuels and biomass program … where we've had a lot of isolated work' going on across campus, Rials said. 'We're very interested in seeing that become increasingly integrated.'

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Citing protests in Egypt, Wesley Clark calls for expanded reliance on ethanol

The Hill
By Andrew Restuccia - 02/04/11 02:24 PM ET

Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, the former NATO supreme allied commander and a 2004 presidential candidate, said Friday that the unrest in the Middle East shows that the United States must limit its reliance on foreign oil.

Clark — the chairman of Growth Energy, a major ethanol trade association — called for increasing the country’s reliance on ethanol.

“We need to move ourselves away from dependence on oil from outside and we need to build domestic fuel capacity,” he said Friday in a video message on Growth Energy’s website. “We can do that right now with a fuel that’s here, it’s clean, it’s green and it’s all-American. And that’s ethanol.”

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Biodiesel roars back with mandate, tax credits, B20 OKs

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane February 7, 2011

Turns out that predictions of biodiesel’s demise were a tad premature. The fuel’s boosters are gathering this week at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, touting a stream of good news. Highlights:

“The EPA has said that they are going to enforce the 800 million gallon volume RFS2 requirement” said National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe to Biodiesel magazine, “and we will have the tax credit in place. Last year we had neither in place.” He described the combination as a “powerful policy framework” and predicted that 2011 would be the biggest year yet for US biodiesel sales.

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New York alliance pushes for more biomass use

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin February 04, 2011

The New York Biomass Energy Alliance has launched a campaign to increase the role of biomass energy in the state, calling on state leaders to adjust New York’s renewable energy policies.

According to the alliance, which is made up of individuals, businesses and organizations, New York currently depends on out-of-state resources for 92 percent of its energy needs, creating an annual bill of about $1,000 dollar per state resident. "New York's bill for fuel oil purchases comes to more than $5 billion, and some $3.5 billion of this leaves the state to benefit foreign oil suppliers,” said NYBEA President Charlie Niebling. “If the same money were spent on local fuel, those dollars would circulate in the local economy, providing local income, jobs, tax revenues and support for New York farmers and forest landowners."

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Update on DDCE Cellulosic Ethanol Projects
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – February 4th, 2011

Two and a half years ago DuPont partnered with Danisco (whom DuPont is now acquiring) to create DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE). In just a short amount of time, the venture has come a long way in bringing cellulosic fuels closer to commercial scale. During the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association’s (IRFA) annual conference, Kyle Althoff, DDCE’s Director of feedstock development gave an update on where the company was in the process of pilot to commercial scale fuels.

The company is currently focusing on two feedstocks: stover in the Midwest and switchgrass in a partnership with University of Tennessee. Today, DDCE is looking for cost-effective biochemical solutions to convert those feedstocks into fuels, chemicals and biofuel products. They currently have a 250,000 gallon demonstration plant near Vonore, TN up and operating and they plan on having a commercial scale plant in operation by 2013. It looks like the future site of that plant may be in Emmetsburg, Iowa.

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Ethanol emergency response training introduced at 9 locations

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Renewable Fuels Association February 04, 2011

(February 3, 2011) Washington - Safety is the top priority for America’s ethanol industry and those who transport and bring ethanol to the marketplace. It is with this commitment in mind that the Renewable Fuels Association and numerous Clean Cities Coalitions are hosting a series of Ethanol Safety Seminars at several locations throughout the United States. These seminars are free. While primarily targeting first responders, hazmat teams, safety managers and local emergency planning committees, they are also open to the general public.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Government Backs $1 Billion Plan to Make Gasoline from Wood

The New York Times
February 3, 2011, 6:18 pm By MATTHEW L. WALD

The Energy Department has offered a Texas company a loan guarantee for a $1 billion project to build four small factories that would turn wood chips into an oil substitute.

The loan guarantee, if finalized, would be about four times larger than any previous guarantee for biofuels. Its aim is to spur industrial-scale production of substitutes for gasoline and diesel from renewable sources beyond food crops like corn and sugar, a goal that many companies are chasing but none has yet achieved.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

UMass Scientist Receives NSF Grant to Study Pyrolysis of Wood

Media Newswire

( - AMHERST, Mass. - A chemical engineer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been awarded a one-year, $80,000 grant from the National Science Foundation ( NSF ) to conduct basic research on the chemical process pyrolysis - breaking down woody biomass by heating it.

The research, to be done by Paul J. Dauenhauer, an assistant professor, seeks to unlock the complex chemistry that takes place when wood is heated. He says heating woody biomass to high temperatures actually creates a brief liquid state before it turns to gas and that liquid state is of particular interest to scientists trying to produce the basic chemicals needed for biofuels. Dauenhauer says this liquification stage has been observed, but scientists don’t understand all of the chemical reactions they are seeing.

"It’s a very complex process and we’d like to have a much better understanding of what is taking place," Dauenhauer says. He is particularly focused on that transition from a solid to a liquid state. "This is basic research on a process we don’t fully understand."

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Ethanol, the Next Generation: Why Corn Is Out and Cellulose Is In

AOL Daily Finance
Posted 1:30 PM 02/02/11

Since the 1970s, the U.S. has subsidized ethanol produced from food crops, especially from corn, thus providing a homegrown, alternative fuel source for our automobiles. But for multiple reasons, from its environmental impacts to its effect on world food prices, the "first-generation" process of using corn to make fuel has drawn a lot of opposition in recent years.

So, entrepreneurs have focused on new, "second-generation" methods for making ethanol from such sources as wood chips, grasses, weeds or algae.

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E85 sales more than double in North Dakota

Feb 2, 2011 10:19 AM CT By The Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Sales of E85 fuel in North Dakota last year more than doubled. State officials credit a grant program for retailers who install so-called blender pumps.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple says that between January and November last year, about 582,000 gallons of the fuel mix that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline were sold. That was up from about 250,000 gallons in the same period the previous year.

Dalrymple says nearly 120 blender pumps have been installed in 27 communities through the program set up by the Legislature two years ago. The communities range from Fargo, the state's largest city, to Fairmount, a town of just a few hundred people.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Jan. 28, 2011
Source: POET news release

Farmers are now delivering biomass bales to POET's 22-acre storage site in Emmetsburg, Iowa, the future home of the 25 million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol plant dubbed "Project LIBERTY."

Area farmers harvested 56,000 tons of corn cobs, leaves, husks and some stalk this fall but had been waiting to deliver the biomass to POET while guidelines for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) were finalized. Farmers on Monday began completing the application process, and they started delivering bales soon after.

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Scientists Find Potential Enzymes for Biofuel Production in Cow Rumen

Korea IT Times
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Cows may hold the key to advancing production of second generation biofuels as scientists from the University of Illinois and Washington State University discover new enzymes in the bovine rumen that effectively breakdown switchgrass, a prime feedstock for bioenergy.

The bovine rumen is the cow's primary grass digestion chamber. This chamber holds a range of organisms such as fungi, bacteria, archaea, protista and viruses which process all food matter that pass through the rumen.

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Small-scale enzyme research could have big biomass implications

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill January 28, 2011
Biofuels goals are more often than not measured by the millions of gallons, but some of the biggest accomplishments are first achieved on a much smaller scale. Researchers at the U.S. DOE’s Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, based at the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University, are three years into a research project focused on identifying new enzymes for cellulosic ethanol production and creating enzyme cocktails that will produce more ethanol at lower costs than what is currently possible.

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Biofuels Market Expansion Act calls for more FFVs, blender pumps

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen January 27, 2011

The Biofuels Market Expansion Act of 2011 has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, with a goal of increasing the number of flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs), blender pumps and renewable fuel pipelines. “Biofuels displace close to 10 percent of our gasoline supplies, and they have the potential to make significantly larger contributions,” said Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who rolled out the bill Jan. 25. “[This] is an important step in our overall energy policy and a job generator for Iowa and our nation as a whole.”

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Oilgae Issues 'Algae Status Report' White Paper

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: January 26, 2011

Madrid, Spain—Riding on the success of CMT’s highly-acclaimed Algae World series, the third Europe conference is scheduled to take place on the 4-5 May 2011, in Madrid, Spain.

As a lead-up to the conference, Oilgae has published a report on “Algae: How Far Are We from Commercialization?” that serves as valuable backgrounder and explores real world status of the industry.

In the past decade, algae’s importance as a biofuel feedstock has slowly risen.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Shell exits algae as it commences “Year of Choices”

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane January 31, 2011

Last year , Shell’s chief technology officer, Gerald Schotman, told Reuters that Shell will narrow its research paths in advanced biofuels from 10 advanced technologies to five in 2011, and described 2011 as “the year of choices”.

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Small-scale enzyme research could have big biomass implications

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill January 28, 2011
Biofuels goals are more often than not measured by the millions of gallons, but some of the biggest accomplishments are first achieved on a much smaller scale. Researchers at the U.S. DOE’s Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, based at the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University, are three years into a research project focused on identifying new enzymes for cellulosic ethanol production and creating enzyme cocktails that will produce more ethanol at lower costs than what is currently possible.

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Agave Fuels Interest as a Bioenergy Crop

Renewable Energy World
By GCB Bioenergy Press Office January 28, 2011

Urbana, IL, USA -- Agave, currently known for its use in the production of alcoholic beverages and fibers, thrives in semi-arid regions where it is less likely to conflict with food and feed production. Agave is a unique feedstock because of its high water use efficiency and ability to survive without water between rainfalls. An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy evaluates the potential of Agave as a sustainable biofuel feedstock.

Scientists found that in 14 independent studies, the yields of two Agave species greatly exceeded the yields of other biofuel feedstocks, such as corn, soybean, sorghum, and wheat. Additionally, even more productive Agave species that have not yet been evaluated exist.

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USDA Accomplishments in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Posted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, on January 25, 2011 at 5:40 PM
Cross posted from the White House blog:

At President Obama’s direction, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working hard to unleash the power of America’s innovators and entrepreneurs to build a green energy economy. By producing renewable energy – especially biofuels – America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities have incredible potential to help ensure our nation’s energy security, environmental security, and economic security. Here are just some of the ways USDA is involved in helping create green energy jobs for the 21st century:

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Vinod Khosla Does the Biomass Math

Renewable Energy World
By Dana Blankenhorn January 28, 2011

The same processes that agriculture reformers have long pushed on farmers for improving their land – polycultures, cover crops, perennials like switchgrass that replenish the soil – could be the key to the future of biofuels, according to venture capitalist Vinod Khosla.

In a wide-ranging talk on biofuels economics released over the last few weeks at Greentech Media, Khosla compares both the financial and environmental costs of various biomass processes, and their possible feedstock.

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