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

Friday, April 29, 2011

2011 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW) Announces Preliminary Agenda

By: Marketwire

Apr. 27, 2011 03:08 PM


Agenda for 27th Annual Ethanol Industry Conference Includes More Than 140 Speakers and Four Highly Informative Track Sessions

The 2011 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, the ethanol's industry's largest conference, released its highly-anticipated agenda featuring more than 140 speakers and four content-packed tracks. The 27th annual event will be held June 27-30 in Indianapolis, IN at the Indiana Convention Center. The full agenda, including a list of current speakers, is available at:

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Growing pressure to change EU biofuel policy

By Jennifer Rankin

28.04.2011 / 05:20 CET

Hopes that plants could help Europe wean itself off its dependency on oil have been given a serious dent as the consequences of using land for biofuel become clearer.
Powering cars with plants once seemed like an unstoppable idea. Biofuel was sold as a way to reduce Europe's oil dependency on autocratic regimes, meet climate-change targets and help Europe's struggling farmers. But since the European Union agreed laws to promote biofuel, doubts have sprouted like weeds. Now it looks increasingly likely that the EU will have to rewrite bioenergy laws to guard against their unintended consequences.

The problem that early biofuel enthusiasts did not anticipate was that every change in the natural world has a ripple effect somewhere else. A farmer may decide to sell 100 hectares of corn to a biorefinery instead of to a miller. With no change in land use, the greenhouse-gas emissions caused by the farming activity appear to be the same. The problem arises because the demand for that 100 hectares of food corn has not gone away.

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Grassley calls for united front on tax credits for wind energy

Des Moines Register

11:36 PM, Apr. 27, 2011


U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley on Wednesday told wind-energy advocates in Des Moines that they should make a united push for continued tax credits in Congress to avoid political problems that face the ethanol industry.

"Ethanol is partly in trouble ... because the ethanol industry is divided," Grassley, R-Ia., told the Iowa Wind Energy Association conference. "We don't want that in wind."

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Brazil May Reduce Ethanol Blending Rate for Gasoline to 18%, Valor Says


By Stephan Nielsen - Apr 28, 2011 8:48 AM CT

Brazil may reduce the amount of ethanol that must be mixed with gasoline from 25 percent to as low as 18 percent, following a surge this year in the renewable fuel’s price, according to Valor Economico.

The measure may be announced in the next few days, the Sao Paulo-based newspaper said in an article today without saying where it got the information.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

China to restrict fuel projects using grain, edible oil, NDRC

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 9:20 PM

BEIJING, Apr. 27, 2011 (Xinhua News Agency) -- China will limit alcohol and biofuel projects that use grain and edible oil as raw materials in a bid to ensure grain supply, the National Development and Reform Commission said Tuesday.

The NDRC revealed in a catalogue of industry guidelines published on its website that the country will also restrict corn starch projects with annual corn processing capacity below 300,000 tonnes as well as soybean crushing projects outside major producing areas.

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Glyndwr University (Wales) and Partners Study New Ryegrass For Potential Biofuels Production

Biofuels Journal

Date Posted: April 27, 2011

Experts from Glyndŵr University will investigate how sugars from new forms of ryegrass can be chemically modified to produce additives which could be used as a thickening or gelling agent in a range of products in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

They will work with scientists from Aberystwyth University and Bangor University in a pan-Wales research project which has been awarded more than £450,000 in funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s Integrated Bio-refining Research and Technology Club (IBTI).

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Iowa State Energy Program Awards $933,000 to Help Increase Use of Ethanol and Biodiesel

Biofuels Journal

Date Posted: April 26, 2011

Des Moines, Iowa—Three grants, totaling $933,000, have been awarded for renewable fuels education, marketing and outreach efforts to help boost increased use of both ethanol blended gasoline and biodiesel.

The grants were awarded under the Iowa State Energy Program (SEP) and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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The Golden Landfill State: California Democrats continue to block use of waste for biofuels

Biofuels Digest

Jim Lane April 26, 2011

In California, Jim Stewart, Chairman of the Board, BioEnergy Producers Association reports: “Democrats on California’s environmental committees, for more than six years, have blocked corrective legislation that would enable the state to make constructive use of its organic wastes as a feedstock for the sustainable production of advanced non-food derived biofuels and electricity.

During this time, the state has placed in landfills approximately 200 million tons of post-recycled solid waste, materials that theoretically contained enough recyclable carbon to have produced 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol and 1250 MW of green power each year.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BCAP project area proposal deadline nearing

Biomass Power & Thermal

By Anna Austin April 25, 2011

The USDA Farm Service Agency has issued a notice to remind applicants that the deadline for Biomass Crop Assistance Program project area proposals is in one month.

To be considered, proposals must be submitted to the applicable state office by close of business on May 27.

If selected as a BCAP project area, biomass crop producers will be eligible for reimbursements of up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing a bioenergy perennial crop, as well as up to 5 years of annual payments for grassy crops (annual or perennial), and up to 15 years of annual payments for woody crops (annual or perennial).

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China's 'miracle' bio-fuel project

Radio Australia News

Created: Tue, 26 Apr 12:53:45 CDT 2011

by Huey Fern Tay, China

The nuclear disaster in Japan has persuaded some countries to look towards green alternatives such as bio-energy.

A current project in China involves deriving oil from the poisonous jatropa tree.

The shrubby tree hailed a 'miracle bio-fuel', was traditionally used to prevent soil erosion.

Overseas companies in India and Brazil are starting to cash in on what they feel may be the next big thing, because the ja-tropa won't have the problems that plagued the first generation of bio fuels like corn and soybean.

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University of Illinois offering professional science master’s program in bioenergy

Biofuels Digest

Jim Lane April 25, 2011

In Illinois, the Center for Advanced Bioenergy Research at the University of Illinois is in the third year of offering a bioenergy curriculum via the professional science master’s program. In addition to receiving training in the general field of bioenergy, students gain relevant professional experience in business and related topics through coursework and an internship.

Students may choose from four specialty areas: Plants, Soils and Feedstocks; Production, Processing and Use; Environment, Economics and Policy & Law; Tools and Methods. Applicants should have a baccalaureate degree in a recognized field of biological, physical, agricultural, socio-economic or engineering science.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Starting a New Metabolic Path: New Technique Will Help Metabolic Engineering (Apr. 23, 2011)

Efforts to engineer new metabolic pathways into microbes for the inexpensive production of valuable chemical products, such as biofuels or therapeutic drugs, should get a significant boost in a new development from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). Researchers there have successfully demonstrated a technique they call "targeted proteomics" that speeds up and improves the ability to identify and quantify specific proteins within a cell or microorganism.

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Despite E85 push, Midwest is slow to embrace it

Des Moines Register

11:22 PM, Apr. 23, 2011 Written by PHILIP BRASHER

Washington, D.C. - Ethanol producers are lobbying Congress for incentives to get consumers to fill up on higher blends of the biofuel. But the relatively slow sales of E85 even in the Midwest show motorists whose vehicles can use ethanol often don't buy it, critics say.

E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, was seen as a promising way for the industry to boost its market share.

But the fuel is supposed to be burned only in cars or trucks especially equipped to run on ethanol, and most of those vehicles on average use just a few tankfuls a year in states such as Iowa and Minnesota where the fuel is the most available.

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IEA finds biofuels contribute to sustainable energy future-

Ethanol Producer Magazine

By Kris Bevill April 22, 2011

A long-term roadmap for biofuels recently released by the International Energy Agency shows that biofuels have the potential to comprise 27 percent of the global transport fuels market by 2050, an impressive increase over the industry’s current 2 percent share. The report, “Technology Roadmap: Biofuels for Transport,” is one of a series of roadmaps being prepared by the IEA aimed at advancing global development and uptake of key technologies to reach a 50 percent CO2 equivalent emissions reduction by 2050 over 2005 levels. The roadmaps will be made available for governments, industries and their financial partners to identify steps needed to advance and implement technologies, such as those developed currently for advanced biofuels.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

World’s First Cellulosic Biobutanol Refinery to Be Built in Alpena, Michigan

By Sustainable Plant Staff April 21, 2011 02:36:39 pm

Cobalt Technologies, a leader in commercializing biobutanol as a renewable chemical and fuel, and American Process Inc., a leader in development and commercialization of lignocellulosic sugar production and bioenergy process technologies, have announced an agreement to build the world’s first industrial-scale cellulosic biorefinery to produce biobutanol. Additionally, the companies agreed to jointly market a “GreenPower+ Biobutanol” solution to biomass power facilities and other industrial facilities worldwide.

GreenPower+ Biobutanol technology selectively converts part of a boiler cellulosic biomass feedstock into renewable biobutanol, a valuable industrial chemical, widely used in paints and other coatings and a platform for production of renewable jet fuel and other valuable compounds.

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Brazil backs down from sugar tax plan -report

Reuters Africa

Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:20pm GMT

  • Brazil shelves plan to tax sugar exports -report

  • Decided move would risk its share of global market

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 22 (Reuters) - Brazil has backed down from plans to tax sugar exports as a way to boost the supply of ethanol fuel on the domestic market, a newspaper reported on Friday.

The Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, quoting an unidentified government source, said the government of President Dilma Rousseff has "practically buried" proposals on taxing the key export in the face of criticism from the sugar industry and doubts over its effectiveness.

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USDA Secretary Vilsack Supports Scaling Back Ethanol Subsidies

NACS Online

Posted: Apr 22, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS – U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack backs reducing the federal ethanol subsidy but does not support eliminating it entirely, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Vilsack would like to use some of those funds to assist gasoline stations in offering more ethanol blend options at the pump. He also wants to send part of those funds to research renewable energy.

During an interview with the newspaper’s staff, Vilsack said that Congress should not just take away the 45-cent-per-gallon federal ethanol credit. “When the biodiesel tax credit was allowed to expire, we lost 50 percent of production capacity immediately — 12,000 jobs were lost,” said Vilsack.

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New association to address U.S. industrial pellet export issues

Biomass Power & Thermal

By Anna Austin April 22, 2011

A new trade group has formed to address specific industry issues faced by U.S. manufacturers of industrial grade wood pellets that are being exported to Europe.

According to Executive Director Seth Ginther, the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association will focus on three main issues: certification standards for industrial wood pellets, sustainability and uniformity of contracts. There are other pellet trade groups in the U.S., he said, but none that address those specific issues.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Five biofuels groups unite behind RFS2 as “critical foundation for advanced biofuels”

Biofuels Digest

Jim Lane April 20, 2011

In Washington, the Renewable Fuels Association, the Advanced Biofuels Association, the Algal Biomass Organization, the Advanced Ethanol Council, and BIO pledged to work cooperatively to preserve the status quo on the Renewable Fuel Standard through at least 2013, agreeing that only the RFS provides the stable market support and pricing system necessary to attract private investment to the development of advanced biofuels.

The groups agreed at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference that they would write an unprecedented joint letter supporting RFS2 as a “foundational platform”, for the first time bringing together organizations supporting advanced drop-in biofuels, advanced ethanol, and first-generation ethanol in a joint agreement on broad biofuels policy.

The groups agreed that the discussion on energy on Capitol Hill had to be broadened considerably beyond a debate over the cost of biofuels incentives, but must follow President Obama’s formula at looking also at the cost of incentives for the traditional oil & gas industry.

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Starting a New Metabolic Path: JBEI and Berkeley Lab Researchers Develop Technique to Help Metabolic Engineering

By Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Efforts to engineer new metabolic pathways into microbes for the inexpensive production of valuable chemical products, such as biofuels or therapeutic drugs, should get a significant boost in a new development from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). Researchers there have successfully demonstrated a technique they call “targeted proteomics” that speeds up and improves the ability to identify and quantify specific proteins within a cell or microorganism.

“Metabolic engineers and synthetic biologists can use our directed proteomic technique to get useful information about protein levels in their organisms, which in turn can be used to direct valuable followup experiments,” says Christopher Petzold, chemist and deputy director for proteomics at JBEI, who led this research. “We believe that targeted proteomics is a useful tool that fills a much needed gap in efforts to engineer new metabolic pathways for microbes.”

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Ethanol Output in U.S. Plunges 4.7%, Energy Department Says


By Mario Parker - Apr 20, 2011 9:42 AM CT

U.S. ethanol production tumbled 4.7 percent to a six-month low of 856,000 barrels a day last week, according to the Energy Department. The decline was the steepest since December.

Stockpiles dipped 2.1 percent to 20.1 million barrels from a record 20.5 million last week, the department said in a report released in Washington.

Production of conventional gasoline blended with ethanol rose 1.7 percent to 4.98 million barrels a day. Refiners receive a 45-cent tax credit for every gallon of ethanol blended into the motor fuel.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Iowa State University Engineer and Partners Develop Interactive Biorefinery Operations Simulator

Biofuels Journal

Date Posted: April 19, 2011

Ames, IA—David Grewell flipped on the augers that carry corn from a truck to a biorefinery.

Then, with a few more clicks of his computer mouse, he turned on the pumps that send grain all the way through an ethanol plant, from storage to hammer mill to slurry tanks to jet cooker to liquefaction, fermentation, distillation, water separation and ultimately to ethanol storage.

Don't forget the centrifuges, evaporators and driers that recover distillers grains for livestock feed.

All of this happened in a small office on the north side of the Food Sciences Building and the Center for Crops Utilization Research at Iowa State University.

Grewell, an associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, calls his virtual control room "Nintendo for biofuel nerds."

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Carnegie Institution Research Finds Switching to Sugarcane From Other Crops Cools Local Climate in Brazil

Biofuels Journal

Date Posted: April 18, 2011

Palo Alto, CA—Brazilians are world leaders in using biofuels for gasoline.

About A quarter of their automobile fuel consumption comes from sugarcane, which significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions that otherwise would be emitted from using gasoline.

Now scientists from the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology have found that sugarcane has a double benefit.

Expansion of the crop in areas previously occupied by other Brazilian crops cools the local climate.

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Poet's Jeff Broin to meet with heads of USDA, EPA to talk renewable energy

The Republic - Columbus, IN


April 19, 2011 - 5:15 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The chief executive of a Sioux Falls ethanol company will meet with the federal officials Tuesday to discuss the renewable energy industry.

Poet's Jeff Broin will meet with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and other industry officials late Tuesday morning at the REG Newton Biorefinery in Newton, Iowa.

Poet says the group will discuss how the ethanol and biodiesel industries will grow to meet additional U.S. goals for renewable fuel use and create more green jobs in rural America.

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Brazil ethanol prices soar, fuel shortage looms

Reuters Africa

Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:06pm GMT

By Inae Riveras

  • Switch to gasoline boosts anhydrous ethanol demand

  • Shortages may cause lack of gasoline at service stations

  • Gov't may be forced to reduce ethanol mix in gasoline

SAO PAULO, April 19 (Reuters) - Brazilian ethanol prices
are soaring in lockstep with surging consumer demand, putting
upward pressure on inflation and sparking fears of a shortage
of the biofuel in some parts of the country.

Brazil, home to the world's most vibrant biofuels market,
produces two types of ethanol from sugar cane -- hydrous and
anhydrous. Hydrous ethanol is used for automobiles that can run
on ethanol, whereas anhydrous ethanol is blended with all
gasoline in Brazil as a way of keeping a lid on fuel prices and
reducing consumption of fossil fuels.

But anhydrous ethanol prices have surged to record levels,
in part because supplies dwindled in between cane crops and the
new harvest is just getting underway. That may soon leave some
parts of Brazil in the unusual position of not having enough
ethanol to meet the government-mandated blend in gasoline.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ABO Goes to Washington

Posted by Joanna Schroeder – April 18th, 2011

The Algal Biomass Organization (ABO) may be relatively young, having been formed in March of 2006, but they have made some significant strides in Washington, D.C. in lobbying for advanced biofuels such as algae, to play on the same field as cellulosic biofuels. I caught up with Mary Rosenthal, ABO’s executive director after her multi-day trip to D.C. to learn more about their efforts. While in DC, the 26 members met with 51 Congressional leaders from both houses. Compared to last year, Rosenthal said they doubled the amount of meetings and of those they met with, nearly 60 percent had a good base of knowledge about advanced biofuels and specifically algae. However, she noted that there was still some Algae 101 that needed to take place.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Algae as biofuel source contemplated Published: April 13, 2011 at 8:24 PM

RICHLAND, Wash., April 13 (UPI) -- Algae is being promoted as a biofuel source to replace fossil fuels but growing algae or any biofuel feedstock can require a lot of water, U.S. researchers say.

A study by scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that carefully selecting locations for growing algae can drastically reduce how much water is needed for algal biofuel. Algae grown in a water-wise manner could help meet congressionally mandated renewable fuel targets by replacing 17 percent of the nation's imported oil for transportation, a paper published in the journal Water Resources Research said.

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Making bioenergy crops pay

Southeast Farm Press By Dennis Pennington, Michigan State University Extension Apr. 15, 2011 3:09pm

Budgeting for bioenergy crop production and analyzing your cost of production will be critical to determining if bioenergy crops pay on your farm.

This article contains production budgets for corn, switchgrass, miscanthus, mixed grass, native prairie, energy beets and hybrid poplar trees.

These budgets should be used as a place to start, not as the actual cost of production for any particular farm. The soil, climate and management differences will be different across the country. Make sure you plug in accurate numbers for your farm.

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U.S. Expands Seeding of Biomass

The New York Times April 15, 2011, 2:32 pm By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL Associated Press

A few months ago we wrote about Kristianstad, Sweden, an area that now uses biomass to generate all of its heat and some of its electricity. That city pioneered use of this renewable technology, and gradually biomass evolved from a niche component of its fuel mix to the backbone of its fuel supply.

A number of rural areas in Germany and the Netherlands have undertaken similar projects. As the article noted, while biomass could be deployed in similar agricultural regions in the United States, adoption has been slow in this country.

That looks as if it might be changing.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Industry issues joint defense of ethanol before critics' forum

Ethanol Producer Magazine By National Corn Growers Association April 14, 2011

The following statement was released today by the National Corn Growers Association, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the American Coalition for Ethanol in response to Thursday’s Policy Forum on Corn Ethanol Policy in the 112th Congress.

“Any energy policy forum must include comprehensive and adult conversations about America’s entire energy agenda, including subsidies and other supportive policies for mature and aging technologies like petroleum. Unfortunately, it is unlikely this ‘forum’ will include any of those discussions. Rather, this is yet another example of defenders of the status quo wasting the time of Congress focusing on bogus claims against the ethanol industry instead of finding solutions to the real problems.

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Abengoa secures biomass supply for Kansas cellulosic ethanol project

Biofuels Digest Thomas Saidak April 15, 2011

In Kansas, Abengoa is reporting that they are on schedule to secure 100 percent of the biomass raw material for its Hugoton, Kansas, cellulosic ethanol plant. The company has signed contracts with several local biomass producers, and is currently in talks with others, to obtain the required annual supply of 315,000 tons of cellulosic biomass by the end of 2011.

Upon start-up, the facility, scheduled to be commissioned in 2013, will convert about 315,000 dry tons per year of crop residue and cellulosic energy crops to 25 million gallons of ethanol, while also generating 25 megawatts (MW) of electrical power, enough to power the ethanol conversion process.

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Making green wood work in existing coal plants

Biomass Power & Thermal By Anna Austin April 14, 2011

One of the challenges of cofiring biomass with coal at existing plants is effectively dealing with high moisture content in wood.

If a biomass power plant is built from scratch, wood with 50 percent moisture content can be used with no problems, said Tom Kimmerer, senior scientist at Moore Ventures LLC. “However, if you’re cofiring in an existing plant, high moisture in wood causes all kinds of problems,” he said.

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BP Plans To Invest $2 Billion In Alternative Energy In 2011-Executive

Fox News By Naureen Malik Published April 05, 2011 Dow Jones Newswires

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- BP PLC (BP, BP.LN) plans to invest about $2 billion on renewable energy in 2011, although some potential investments in Europe have been stalled because of uncertain policies, the head of the company's alternative energy division said Tuesday.

The integrated oil giant is forging ahead with renewable-energy investments as it continues to repair its image after the Deepwater Horizon disaster nearly one year ago. The explosion at the drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. waters. When the accident happened, BP had been branding itself as clean-energy innovator through development of solar, wind and other projects.

BP has invested $5 billion in renewable energy as of the end of 2010 and Katrina Landis, chief executive of the alternative energy unit, said the company would invest close to $2 billion this year. Last year BP generated more than $20 billion in gross profit.

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Algae protein feedstock developed at UCLA

Biorefining Magazine By Luke Geiver March 08, 2011

James Liao, professor of chemical and bimolecular engineering at UCLA, has developed an algae process for biorefining that, when compared to current process methods focused on lipid extraction, is just the opposite. Liao, and his team from UCLA published their findings after three years of work, and he explained to Biorefining Magazine what they found during their research. “Basically,” he said, “we’ve developed a technology that can use protein as a raw material for a biorefinery, and for making biofuels.”

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Friday, April 15, 2011

New Reports Highlight Midwest Biogas Opportunity

Great Plains Institute Energy News 4/11/2011

The strong Midwestern agriculture and agribusiness processing industries offer great potential to develop renewable energy from organic waste material. Two new biogas resources published last month speak to the enormous biogas resource potential in the region and profile progress already underway.

The Energy Center of Wisconsin published the Great Lakes Region Food Industry Biogas Casebook profiling operational biogas projects at food processing facilities. The casebook introduces readers to the anaerobic digestion process and how it can work at processing facilities. The casebook provides detailed case studies of 12 operational anaerobic digestion projects at food and beverage processing facilities located in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and New York. This report demonstrates that anaerobic digestion treatment systems can help existing industry facilities reduce costs and produce a reliable source of renewable energy.

Given the significant opportunity for Midwest biogas development, it is important to develop a strategy to efficiently capitalize on the opportunity over time. A strategic plan for biogas development in Wisconsin - The Biogas Opportunity in Wisconsin - was recently released by the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative (WBI). GPI was a stakeholder participant in the plan development process and assisted WBI in developing the plan's policy section. Although the plan is limited to discussing development and research opportunities in Wisconsin, it serves as a useful model for other Midwestern states to strategically address biogas opportunities.

For more information on biogas development, please contact Amanda Bilek at 612-278-7118 or

Chinese group heads to WVU for coal/biomass research

Biorefining Magazine By Luke Geiver April 04, 2011

West Virginia University may now be the unofficial leader in liquid coal and biomass research, but not without a little help from China. In early April a team of WVU researchers will begin a project to test a liquid coal and biomass combination created through pyrolysis and a Fischer Tropsch process, and it will be accomplished with equipment donated from one of China’s largest coal companies, the Lu’ an Group. With a small $304,000 grant from the U.S. DOE, the team will continue a collaborative work effort between the U.S. and China that started in 1999. “This is part of an ongoing support project with the DOE that supports work between China and the U.S. on something called the fossil energy protocol,” said Jerald Fletcher, director at WVU’s U.S.-China Energy Center.

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Gevo responds to patent infringement complaint

Renewable Chemicals Digest March 31, 2011

In Delaware, Gevo, a renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, filed a response to Butamax Advanced Biofuels patent infringement complaint. The filing was done at the Delaware District Court, where on January 14, 2011, Butamax alleged that Gevo is infringing one patent that has been assigned to Butamax relating to the production of isobutanol. Gevo denied all claims, stating that their Gevo’s Integrated Fermentation Technology® (GIFT®) is covered by over 150 patents, using a different approach. Brett Lund, Gevo Executive Vice President and General Counsel stated, “We will vigorously defend against the claims asserted in the complaint.”

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Paraguay Plans $1 Billion Pipeline To Boost Trade With Brazil

NASDAQ April 13, 2011

BUENOS AIRES -(Dow Jones)- Paraguay plans to move forward with a $1 billion pipeline project to bring in petroleum products from Brazil and send back soyoil and ethanol, Paraguay's Industry and Commerce Ministry announced Thursday.

The pipeline network will run from Villa Elisa to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay and then connect to Brazilian pipes which will run from Foz de Iguazu to Paranagua, the ministry said in a press release.

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Report: North American wood pellet exports double

Biomass Power & Thermal By Anna Austin March 08, 2011

Wood pellet exports from the U.S. and Canada to Europe have doubled in the past two years, with 1.6 million tons of wood pellets shipped from the two countries to the Netherlands, U.K. and Belgium in 2010, according to a report by Wood Resources International LLC.

The report points out that, while Canada has been the major overseas wood pellet provider to Europe for the past 10 years, reaching about 1 million tons in shipments in 2010, exports from the U.S. have taken off since they began in 2008, reaching 600,000 tons in 2010.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vilsack: Ending ethanol subsidy would kill jobs

Des Moines Register 1:23 PM, Apr 13, 2011 by Philip Brasher

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told a Senate committee that abruptly ending the 45-cent-per-gallon subsidy for ethanol would kill jobs in rural America. Economists have said the impact on the industry would be relatively small since refiners are mandated to use the biofuel. Vilsack did not provide an estimate of the impact himself, but he instead expressed support for shifting fundiing into infrastructure needs of the ethanol industry.

“If you create a cliff you’re going to create a significant job loss in rural America,” he told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, citing the precipitous drop in biodiesel production that occurred when that industry’s $1-a-gallon subsidy lapsed last year.

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A New Era for U.S. Energy Security

Bipartisan Policy Center April 12, 2011 By Byron L. Dorgan , Trent Lott, James L. Jones and William K. Reilly

An Open Letter to the American People and America’s Leaders: A New Era for U.S. Energy Security

While our new challenges are daunting, we believe our nation’s new energy opportunities are even greater. America’s ability to increase traditional domestic oil and gas supplies and use emerging technologies to create new energy sources can grow dramatically if we make increased domestic production a sustained national priority. In particular, recent advancements in shale gas production and the prospect of cleaner electricity generation, coupled with plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, could allow us to once again dramatically decrease oil intensity.

From wind and solar to advanced biofuels, modular nuclear power, geothermal energy and energy efficiency, we are only beginning to tap the power of technology to unlock our domestic resources, not to mention funding long-term breakthrough technology creation. We hope to be of assistance to President Obama, the Congress and the nation by offering a framework of the energy goals, metrics and accountability we believe are mission critical to success in this new era for U.S. energy security.

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Kansas State University Scientist and Partners Finds Economics and Physics

Biofuels Journal Date Posted: April 6, 2011

Roadblocks For Algael Biodiesel Production

Manhattan, KS—Companies looking to engineer an eco-friendly diesel fuel have more red lights in their path.

According to Kansas State University researchers, making petroleum diesel completely green would not only bend the laws of physics, it would cost too much green.

"Fossil fuels are limited, and since we can't use more than what Earth offers, a lot of people are looking for alternative fuel sources like algae," said Peter Pfromm, professor of chemical engineering and member of a K-State interdisciplinary team that analyzed oil produced by algae as a source of biodiesel.

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Rush to Use Crops as Fuel Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears

The New York Times Agnes Dherbeys for The New York Times Published: April 6, 2011

The starchy cassava root has long been an important ingredient in everything from tapioca pudding and ice cream to paper and animal feed.

But last year, 98 percent of cassava chips exported from Thailand, the world’s largest cassava exporter, went to just one place and almost all for one purpose: to China to make biofuel. Driven by new demand, Thai exports of cassava chips have increased nearly fourfold since 2008, and the price of cassava has roughly doubled.

Each year, an ever larger portion of the world’s crops — cassava and corn, sugar and palm oil — is being diverted for biofuels as developed countries pass laws mandating greater use of nonfossil fuels and as emerging powerhouses like China seek new sources of energy to keep their cars and industries running. Cassava is a relatively new entrant in the biofuel stream.

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USDA Grants Support Sustainable Bioenergy Production


WASHINGTON, April 12, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced research grants awarded to spur production of bioenergy and biobased products that will lead to the development of sustainable regional systems and help create jobs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Director Roger Beachy made the announcement today on behalf of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during the 16th 1890 Biennial Research Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia.

“USDA and President Obama are committed to producing clean energy right here at home, to not only break our dependence on foreign oil, but also boost rural economies,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “These projects will give us the scientific information needed to support biofuel production and create co-products that will enhance the overall value of a biobased economy. This will propel us to out-educate, out-innovate and out-build in the field of renewable energy and help America win the future.”

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Transformers: 8 Technologies To Rock the Bio World

Biofuels Digest Jim Lane April 12, 2011

Game changer, breakthrough, revolution, quantum leap. A lot of technologies arrive on the Digest’s doorstep wrapped in one of those descriptors, or another. Sometimes wrapped in all of them.

But what are technologies that would really rock the Bio World?

A number of discoveries are notable, however, by their absence. We see so much innovation in the fuel processing technologies, and in the genetics of crops. But what about the platform improvements in feedstock production and harvest?

There are a handful that would have catalytic impact, not only for their investors, but for a host of technologies and companies downstream that would see their fortunes irrevocably improved.

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Scientists aim to improve photosynthesis to increase food and fuel production

Cambridge University Date: 04/12/11

Two new initiatives at the University of Cambridge aim to address the growing demand on the Earth’s resources for food and fuel by improving the process of photosynthesis.

As part of a new collaboration, the scientists have been awarded the major component of a $4M initiative to improve the process of photosynthesis, which allows biological systems to convert sunlight into food and is also the source of fossil fuels.

Four transatlantic research teams – two of which include academics from Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences – will explore ways to overcome limitations in photosynthesis which could then lead to ways of significantly increasing the yield of important crops for food production or sustainable bioenergy.

Professor Howard Griffiths from the Department of Plant Sciences said: “Plants really matter, and for the next generation, plant and microbial productivity will become the focus of key global issues: the basis for feeding an additional 2-3 billion mouths, to drive forward an economy currently trading on past sunlight, and maintain biodiversity in the face of climate change.”

The funding has been awarded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) in a pioneering undertaking for the best minds from the USA and UK to join forces to explore this important research.

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Novozymes Partner to Open World’s Largest Cellulosic Ethanol Plant in 2012 Date:12 Apr 2011 Source:Food Ingredients First

Novozymes partner M&G begins construction of the world’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. The plant will produce 13 million gallons of ethanol per year from biomass. The price of the ethanol will be competitive with gasoline.

Today, another significant step was taken towards the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol when Novozymes partner Mossi & Ghisolfi Group (M&G) conducted the groundbreaking ceremony for a 13 million gallons/year (50 million liters) production facility in Crescentino in northwestern Italy. The plant will be 10 times larger than the largest demonstration facilities in operation today and is designed to operate on a multitude of cellulosic feedstocks. It is scheduled to start production in 2012.

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Market doubts Brazil can sacrifice sugar for ethanol

Reuters By Inae Riveras SAO PAULO Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:28am EDT

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Local cane mills, world sugar markets and analysts were unmoved by the Brazilian government's threats to boost ethanol output by any means, saying ideas of a sugar export tax or credit limits would be hard to implement or ineffectual.

Brazilian ministers last week began floating early proposals for an industrial policy shift aimed at stimulating local ethanol supplies to bring down local fuel prices. Such measures, if successful, would likely redirect cane away from sugar production in a country that controls half of global trade in the sweetener.

But local cane mills doubt the effectiveness of such measures and question the political will to go to such an extreme in a country that relies on sugar shipments for billions of dollars in annual export revenue.

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Utah State University approves bioenergy center

Biodiesel Magazine By Erin Voegele April 11, 2011

Utah State University is home to a new bioenergy center. The University’s Board of Trustees recently approved the USU Extension Center for Agronomic and Woody Biofuels. The center will provide the organizational structure to support current research and extensive activities related to using plants for food, feed, fiber and reclamation, known as agronomic science and technology. Research at the center will support crops and their conversion into biofuels, both within Utah and around the nation.

According to USU Extension bioenergy agronomist and the center’s director Dallas Hanks, the center will serve as the umbrella for four ongoing bioenergy research projects, including the FreeWays-to-Fuel project, the Utah Biomass Resources Group, the Urban Farming and Fuel project, and a Department of Defense-funded feedstock project. Additional research projects are expected to be developed under the center in the future.

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Petrobras Urged to Boost Ethanol Output as Prices Jump, Minister Says

Bloomberg By Katia Cortes - Apr 8, 2011 1:48 PM CT

Brazilian Mining and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said he ordered state-run oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA to boost ethanol output and stockpiles to ensure supplies after the biofuel’s priced soared.

Petrobras will raise production and build up enough stockpiles in two years to help the government keep prices and supply in check, Lobao said in a program broadcast live on TV and radio today. The government increased financing to ethanol and may propose the fuel, which is made from sugar cane in Brazil, be regulated by the National Petroleum Agency, he said.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Biomass power map shows increased project development activity

Biomass Power & Thermal By Anna Austin April 06, 2011

Biomass Power & Thermal’s Spring 2011 U.S. Biomass Power Map contains more projects under development and in construction than the previous map released in the fall of 2010.

As always, the map includes the name and location of confirmed operating and proposed biomass power plants 1 megawatt or larger that are supplying a portion of their power to the grid. The map also indicates plant feedstocks, coal-to-biomass conversions, coal plants cofiring or planning to cofire with biomass and combined-heat-and-power utilization.

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Head of DOE loan programs asks Congress not to cut funds

Ethanol Producer Magazine By Kris Bevill April 04, 2011

Congress has until April 8 to reach a decision regarding the nation’s budget for fiscal year 2011, or face a government shutdown. Various ethanol-related programs are on the chopping block as legislators seek ways to reduce federal spending.

The head of the U.S. DOE’s loan programs office took the witness stand at a March 31 House Appropriations subcommittee hearing to make his agency’s case for continued funds to provide loan guarantees to renewable energy projects. The DOE’s proposed 2012 budget includes $200,000 in appropriations for its loan program offices and $36 billion for nuclear power loan guarantees. Congress is considering eliminating those funds as part of an effort to reduce federal spending. During his testimony, Jonathan Silver, executive director of the loan programs, told subcommittee members that the programs are critical to expanding clean energy production.

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A fiber of hope: Missouri plant wants to make ethanol in a new way Posted on Sat, Apr. 09, 2011 10:15 PM By STEVE EVERLY and SCOTT CANON The Kansas City Star

ST. JOSEPH This country’s battle to curb oil imports is being plotted in high-tech laboratories and elite universities hunting for breakthroughs in alternative fuels.

But the frontlines in the effort to bring such fuels to market can be found in places like a working-class neighborhood in this river town, not far from where Pony Express riders saddled up to journey west.

Here in a brick and cinder-block building sit two rows of giant stainless steel kettles and equipment that are part of a $31 million experiment. The goal: Instead of using corn to make ethanol, see if it’s feasible to use cellulosic fiber, particularly six-foot tall stalks of switchgrass.

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Ethanol infrastructure or drop-in biofuels? Congress debates

Biofuels Digest Jim Lane April 11, 2011

In Washington, the USDA says it expects ethanol refineries to be co-located near feedstock sources as new non-corn based technologies become commercially available, helping to break the concentration of ethanol production and availability in the corn belt.

At the same time, the Des Moines Register is reporting that Sen. Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is expressing concerns that blender pump and flex-fuel car mandates wouild discourage the development of drop-in biofuels.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring ethanol plant map shows 14.31 billion gallons of capacity

Ethanol Producer Magazine By Susanne Retka Schill April 08, 2011

The Spring 2011 Fuel Ethanol Plant Map is Ethanol Producer Magazine’s twice-yearly look at the industry, being distributed with the May issue, soon to be out. This spring, the printed wall map includes enhancements from a new partnership with the University of North Dakota’s Department of Earth System Science and policy to add new contextual features to the map and improved plant location accuracy.

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UNL researchers optimize sweet sorghum for bioenergy feedstock

Biomass Power & Thermal By Erin Voegele April 08, 2011

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have made impressive strides in their work to optimize sweet sorghum for use as a bioenergy feedstock. According to UNL associate professor Ismail Dweikat, at least two hybrid strains of the crop developed by his team will be entering the market next year. In addition, work is continuing to develop cold-tolerant and nitrogen-efficient strains of sweet sorghum.

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program seeks to increase use of E-85 fuel

Bloomberg BusinessWeek The Associated Press April 8, 2011, 1:21PM ET US By MICHAEL J. CRUMB

DES MOINES, Iowa -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced an effort to increase the production and use of a higher blend of ethanol fuel.

Under the plan announced Friday, the federal government will offer financial incentives for gas stations to install more pumps that provide gas blended with 85 percent ethanol.

Vilsack says the goal is to add 10,000 flex-fuel pumps across the country over the next five years.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Brazilian demand for U.S. ethanol expected to increase

Ethanol Producer Magazine By Kris Bevill April 06, 2011

U.S. ethanol exports to Brazil are expected to increase during the month of April in order to fill supply gaps brought on by economic difficulties experienced within the country. Small shipments of U.S. ethanol have been received by ports in the northeast portion of Brazil over the past few months, but activity is expected to ramp up in the coming weeks as demand increases in the industrial regions near Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero, prior to the area’s sugarcane harvest. Read more

Ethanol industry faces key vote in Senate on ending tax credit

Des Moines Register 11:36 PM, Apr. 6, 2011 Written by: PHILIP BRASHER

Washington, D.C. — The ethanol industry faces a critical test vote in the Senate.

A measure being pushed by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to eliminate a 45 cent-per-gallon tax credit for ethanol is given little chance of getting the 67 votes required to add it to a pending small business bill.

But the bill will be a test of support for ethanol in the Senate, and a strong majority could signal that the subsidy can't survive a future vote when a smaller margin would be needed. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., says it is important to keep support for Coburn's measure under 60 votes.

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Brazil's hydrous ethanol prices tumble on major switchover to gasoline

Platts 7Apr2011/829 am EDT/1229 GMT

A major shift to gasoline at pumps in Brazil has caused prices for hydrous ethanol to tumble at mills in the country's center-south production region, sources said this week.

Hydrous ethanol, which can be used directly in flex-fuel cars in Brazil, is currently being sold at around Reais 1,600/cubic meter ($995/cu m) ex-mill Ribeirao Preto, in the state of Sao Paulo.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Poet corn oil to supply up to 60 MMgy of biodiesel production

Biodiesel Magazine By Poet LLC April 06, 2011

Planned expansion of corn oil production at all of Poet’s ethanol plants will produce enough raw material for up to 60 million gallons of biodiesel.

Poet, which owns a total of 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol refining capacity, is now selling trademarked Voilà corn oil from Poet Biorefining-Hudson in South Dakota into biodiesel and feed markets, and its success has prompted Poet to start plans for rolling out its patent-pending production to its other plants. The rollout schedule is still being set, but the company will begin installation this year on the first plants.

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Boeing, Yale University conduct jatropha sustainability study

Biodiesel Magazine By Bryan Sims April 06, 2011

Boeing issued research conducted by Yale University’s School of Environmental Studies that showed significant potential for jatropha-based aviation fuel. The study showed that, if cultivated properly, jatropha could deliver strong environmental and socioeconomic benefits in Latin America while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 60 percent compared to petroleum jet fuel.

The Yale study, conducted from 2008-‘10 and funded by Boeing, used sustainability criteria developed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels to determine actual farming conditions in Latin America. Specifically, the study focused on the comparison of life cycle GHG emissions from synthetic paraffinic kerosene produced as a jet fuel substitute from jatropha cultivated in Brazil against a reference scenario of conventional jet fuel. Additionally, the Yale team conducted extensive interviews with jatropha farmers and used field measurements to develop comprehensive sustainability analysis of actual projects. The peer-reviewed data is applicable to similar conditions in Mexico and provides guidance to Brazilian efforts to develop a commercial aviation biofuels market. Read more

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Poplar trees useful in biofuel development

University of California, Riverside By Vy Nguyen Published: Monday, April 4, 2011

Researchers from the Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center have uncovered a surprising discovery concerning poplar trees that will help researchers decide the candidates for the second generation biofuels.

The Bourns College of Engineering's Center for Environmental Research and Technology at the University of California Riverside, a research team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and UC Riverside calls into question the assumption that high amounts of lignin in plants is the reason why it is so difficult to convert some plants into biofuels.

As stated in a UCR Newsroom article, "lignin serves as a major roadblock for biofuel production because it forms strong bonds with sugars and interferes with access to extract the plant's sugars contained in [the] cellulose and hemicelluloses for conversion to transport fuels."

However, researchers discovered that this was not always the case. High amounts of lignin only affected plants with low contents of syringyl and guaiacyl, which are two major building blocks of lignin. Researchers were also excited to discover some hidden secrets of poplar trees.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New Plan Details Wisconsin’s Potential to Turn Millions of Exported Energy Dollars into Revenues

Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative Posted March 28, 2011 MADISON – A collaboration of researchers, business leaders, policymakers and industry experts has identified a plan for capitalizing on the biogas energy opportunity in Wisconsin. The strategic plan, titled “The Biogas Opportunity in Wisconsin,” was released today is available for download. Biogas is a product of anaerobic digestion, a process that decomposes organic matter like manure, crops or food waste to produce biogas and other byproducts. The gas can be combusted to produce electricity or combined heat and power, cleaned and upgraded to pipeline quality gas for injection into existing natural gas systems or cleaned to create compressed natural gas for vehicle fuels. Read more

Genotype to phenotype: Carrington takes charge at Danforth Plant Center

Biofuels Digest Jim Lane April 4, 2011 Recently, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center announced that Dr. James C. Carrington, will become the next President Center. Carrington is the Director of the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing (CGRB), the Stewart Professor for Gene Research, and Distinguished Professor of Botany and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Jim Carrington took some time out to talk with the Digest about his goals. “There are so few centers of this scale focused on plant science,” says Jim Carrington, the new head of the Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center in St. Louis, “where you have the opportunity to help humanity by providing more and better food, and improving the environment.” Read more

Monday, April 4, 2011

Obama comes out swinging for advanced biofuels

Biofuels Digest Jim Lane March 31, 2011 Obama sets US goal of cutting US oil imports one-third by 2025; outlines vision, targets, support for advanced biofuels, renewables, fossil fuel production in Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future. In Washington, President Obama gave an address at Georgetown University in which he called for a goal of reducing US oil imports by one-third by 2025, with increased support for technologies that can assist in that transition, including advanced biofuels. Read more

UNICA Expects Decline in Brazil Ethanol Exports Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – April 1st, 2011 Ethanol exports from Brazil could drop by as much as 18% this season compared to last year, according to the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA). UNICA is expecting a slight increase in ethanol production this year, however. “Ethanol production should reach 25.51 billion liters in the 2011/2012 season, a 0.52% increase compared to the last harvest, when the total reached 25.37 billion liters,” the organization reports. According to UNICA’s Technical Director, Antonio de Padua Rodrigues, increased ethanol production combined with a drop in exports will result in an increase of almost 500 million liters of the biofuel in the domestic supply. “However, this increase in ethanol supply for domestic use is lower than the expected growth in demand, given accelerated sales of flex vehicles,” he said. Read more

Research Finds Key Plant Traits Lead to Cheaper Biofuels Production Researchers from the University of California, Riverside (UCR), Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have found that the amount and composition of lignin in a plant’s cell wall interact in an unanticipated way to influence the release of sugar from the plant. This clue is helping researchers from the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) narrow down a large collection of poplar tree candidates and identify winners for future use in biofuel production. Read more