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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Venture capital funding reduced as industry matures

Biorefining Magazine
By Erin Voegele October 24, 2011

A new analysis completed by Lux Research shows venture funding is slowing in the biochemical and biomaterials market. However, the reduced level of venture capital investments is not bad for the industry. Rather, it shows that the sector is maturing.

According to Lux, startups and investors need to retool their strategies to tap newer opportunities as multibillion-dollar acquisitions and a wave of IPOs indicate an impending end to a boom in the nascent biobased chemicals industry. The report, titled “Seeding Investments in the Next Crop of Bio-Based Materials and Chemicals,” states that the biochemical sector received $3.1 billion in venture funding over the past seven years.

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Illinois contemplates permanent R&D tax credit for ethanol, biodiesel

Biofuels Digest
Thomas Saidak October 24, 2011

In Illinois, General Assembly Bill HB 3811, which is being cosponsored by Representatives Paul Evans and Dwight Kay, is calling for: reinstating the net Operating Loss deduction by extending the carry forward to 20 years, extending the life of enterprise zones by as much as 20 years, reducing the costs of establishing limited liability corporations in the state, increasing the estate tax exemption to $5 million, and adding both ethanol and biodiesel research and development to a permanently re-enacted Illinois Research & Development tax credit. It is reported that if enacted, the state could expect $492 million in increased revenues.

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Researchers study trees for biofuel clues
October 27, 2011

Oak Ridge, Tennessee – Researchers are looking at a specific type of wood that occurs naturally in trees in an attempt to improve crops used for biofuel production.

A project at the U.S. Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center is looking at tension wood, which forms naturally in hardwood trees in response to bending stress, and which is known to possess unique features that make it desirable as a bioenergy feedstock. Although individual elements of tension wood have been studied previously, the new project is the first to systematically characterize the wood and link its properties to sugar release. These plant sugars, known as cellulose, are fermented into alcohol for use as biofuel.

“There has been no integrated study of tension stress response that relates the molecular and biochemical properties of the wood to the amount of sugar that is released,” said Udaya Kalluri, a co-author on the study. “Tension wood in poplar trees has a special type of cell wall that is of interest because it is composed of more than 90 per cent cellulose, whereas wood is normally composed of 40 to 55 per cent cellulose. If you increase the cellulose in your feedstock material, then you can potentially extract more sugars as the quality of the wood has changed. Our study confirms this phenomenon.”

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New public education project for FlexFuel Vehicles debuts

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane October 28, 2011

In Washington, a new public education project to reach drivers of FlexFuel Vehicles (FFV) by working with state Motor Vehicle Administrations (MVA) was announced today that supporters say could dramatically increase sales of high-level ethanol blends. As a part of the national FFV Awareness Campaign, the “FlexFuel Vehicle/Motor Vehicle Administration” project will collaborate with MVAs in six states to define opportunities to leverage their existing outreach capabilities to all drivers, and specifically owners of FFVs. Outreach opportunities can be in the form of developing the FFV owner database, vehicle registration and license renewals, safety inspection and emissions notices, and including information with the energy/emergency preparedness program, state websites, and at point of service.

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Novozymes Wins $18.3 Million in Danisco Trial Over Enzymes

By Susan Decker and Gelu Sulugiuc - Oct 27, 2011 9:14 AM CT .

Novozymes A/S, the world’s largest maker of industrial enzymes, said it won a U.S. trial in which a jury ordered DuPont Co.’s Danisco unit to pay $18.3 million for infringing a patent related to biofuel production.

Danisco, the biggest maker of food additives and second- largest industrial enzyme producer, was found to have willfully infringed the patent, a finding that may raise the damages award, Bagsvaerd, Denmark-based Novozymes said in a statement. DuPont, which bought Danisco in June, said it plans to appeal.

Novozymes sued Copenhagen-based Danisco last year in federal court in Madison, Wisconsin, accusing the company of taking its technology on an alpha amylase enzyme that remains active in high temperatures. The companies make substances that break down organic materials such as grain and corn to form an alternative to fossil fuels. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in July that some Danisco products infringed the patent.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

St. Anthony Falls Laboratory makes algae cell swimming discovery

Biorefining Magazine
By Luke Geiver October 25, 2011

The St. Anthony Falls Laboratory on the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis originally formed to study hydroelectric energy, but today the research team at St. Anthony is working on projects that range from wind energy to the swimming patterns of algae. Miki Hondzo, civil engineering professor and team leader at the facility, explained the research projects currently happening there to the participants of the 2011 Algae Biomass Summit preconference workshop. Hondzo had a clear message on the challenges of scaling up from the lab to the commercial level: “You have to understand mechanics, you have to understand processes at mechanistic levels,” he said. For Hondzo and his team, that means understanding the swimming signatures of algae.

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Biofuel investments keep on coming
By Ucilia Wang Oct. 25, 2011, 11:01am PT

Developing biofuels continues to be a bright spot in the cleantech world. Two startups, plant genetic engineering company Chromatin and biofuel producer ZeaChem, announced separately on Tuesday that they have raised new rounds of funding.

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Feed value of ethanol by-products long underestimated

Southeast Farm Press
From the Renewable Fuels Association
Oct. 26, 2011 10:10am

A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that the animal feed produced by U.S. ethanol plants (known as distillers grains or DDGS) is replacing even more corn and soybean meal in livestock and poultry feed rations than previously thought.

The report’s findings have important implications for discussions regarding ethanol’s impact on feed grains availability, feed prices, land use effects, and the greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts of producing corn ethanol.

According to the report by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), “Findings demonstrate that, in aggregate (including major types of livestock/poultry), a metric ton of DDGS can replace, on average, 1.22 metric tons of feed consisting of corn and soybean meal in the United States.”

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Improved ethanol production eyed
Published: Oct. 24, 2011 at 8:44 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Treating separate parts of corn stalks differently during ethanol conversion would make the production process more efficient, agricultural scientists say.

Purdue University researchers say not all parts of corn stover, the leaves and stalks left in a field after the harvest of cereal grain, are equal and shouldn't be treated alike when processing them to yield ethanol, a university release said Monday.

Normally everything is ground together and blended in the ethanol process, but Purdue research scientist Eduardo Ximenes and his research team found that three distinct parts of the stover -- the rind, pith and leaves -- break down in different ways.

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Researchers map the reaction chain for plant growth hormone

Biofuels Digest
Thomas Saidak October 27, 2011

In California, UC San Diego researchers have unraveled the complete biochemical reaction chain for the synthesis of auxin, the plant growth hormone, which regulates almost all plant growth and development.

Using genetic approaches and analytical biochemistry, the researchers identified the two step chain of tryptophan to indole-3-acetic acid in Arabidopsis, a genetic model plant. The researchers expect that this will provide new opportunities to improve crops for farmers.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

NAFO refutes OSU biomass study conclusions

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin October 26, 2011

The authors of a study recently published by Oregon State University’s College of Forestry says that the production of bioenergy from U.S. West Coast forests would increase carbon dioxide emissions by at least 14 percent over the next 20 years, with the exception of forests in high-risk zones weakened due to insect outbreaks or drought.

“Regional Carbon Dioxide Implications of Forest Bioenergy Production,” which was published on Oct. 24 in Nature Climate Change, examined 80 forest types in 19 regions in Oregon, Washington and California, ranging from temperate rainforests to semiarid woodlands. Four basic scenarios were used, which were business as usual, forest management primarily for fire prevention purposes, additional levels of harvest to prevent fires but also make such operations economically feasible, and significant bioenergy production while contributing to fire reduction.

David Tenny, president of the National Alliance of Forest Owners, said the study’s findings are based on wild assumptions. “One of the common threads of studies like this one is that the outcome all depends on these up-front assumptions,” he said. “In this case, they look at the potential of treating 5 percent of the forests in the region, for a 20-year rotation of treatments, adding that on top of what they call ‘business as usual’ forest management practices.”

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ACORE develops unified biomass definition

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Lisa Gibson October 20, 2011

The 16 different biomass definitions written in current federal legislation, rules and regulations make policy progress difficult for the biomass industry. The American Council on Renewable Energy assembled a Biomass Definition Subcommittee that has crafted a unified biomass definition, which its members will pitch to senators and representatives during the first week of November.

The subcommittee took the 2008 Farm Bill and pulled in as much as possible that it thought was feasible to get through Congress, according to Charles Brettell, subcommittee member and principal of Energy Asset Advisors. Brettell presented the definition at the RETECH conference in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 20.

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Visit and Conversation With Executives at Solazyme

Consumer Energy Report
Posted by Robert Rapier on Sunday, October 23, 2011

On October 13, 2011 I paid a visit to Solazyme’s headquarters in San Francisco. For those who are unfamiliar with Solazyme, they produce oil from genetically modified algae. The company was founded in 2003 by two college friends, Jonathan Wolfson and Harrison Dillon. I had previously visited with Dr. Dillon at the 2009 Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy in Honolulu. Harrison is Solazyme’s Chief Technology Officer, and he filled me in on some of what the company was doing at that time.

This time I was going to have a chance to interview Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson. A lot has happened since that meeting with Harrison in 2009. Solazyme has delivered hundreds of thousands of gallons of algae-based fuel for testing to the U.S. military (which I wrote about here and here). I don’t believe any other algal oil company can make that claim. They also took their company public earlier this year, and raised nearly $227 million with the IPO. Solazyme had also announced that they were diversifying away from a primary focus on fuels and into chemicals, nutritional products, and into skin care products.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Ethanol cuts dependence, pollution

The Washington Times
Friday, October 21, 2011

As Secretary of Agriculture during the Reagan administration, I helped the American ethanol industry take off. Imagine my surprise to read an editorial in The Washington Times (“Corn-fueled politics,” Oct. 17) contending that American ethanol’s growth results from “allowing liberal zealots to set public policy” by “fulfilling their environmental fantasies.”

As President Reagan used to say, “Facts are stubborn things.” In fact, federal ethanol incentives were established to advance a goal that conservatives embrace: energy independence in a dangerous world. The program began after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries‘ oil embargoes of the 1970s, which exposed our dangerous dependence on imported oil. It has been supported by Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush - and they were right in their support. By 2010, the United States produced 13 billion gallons of ethanol, which displaced the need for 445 million barrels of oil imported largely from unstable or unfriendly regimes, from Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lignin biojet project wins DARPA funding

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Erin Voegele September 30, 2011

A researcher at Washington State University has been selected to receive a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award to support the development of a technology to produce biobased jet fuel. Bin Yang, an assistant professor at WSU Tri-Cities’ Department of Biological Systems Engineering and the Center for Bioproducts & Bioenergy, has been awarded a two-year $300,000 grant to support his project, titled “Jet Fuel Production from Biomass-Derived Lignin in Remote Locations.”

According to Yang, the production technology he is developing will efficiently convert lignin into biobased jet fuel. Feedstock for the process could be accessed from several different sources, including the lignin byproduct that comes out of either cellulosic ethanol production or pulp and paper mills. "Co-production of ethanol and jet fuel from biomass sources would significantly improve the total carbon use in biomass and make biomass conversion more economically viable,” Yang said. In other words, the co-location of cellulosic biofuel production and lignin jet fuel production would create efficiencies that could drive down the cost of production.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Los Alamos National Laboratory Scientists Engineer Magnetic Algae to Streamline Oil Extraction

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: October 24, 2011

LANL scientists have genetically engineered "magnetic" algae to investigate alternative, more efficient harvesting and lipid extraction methods for biofuels.

The researchers seek to reduce the cost of algae-based biofuel production.

Currently, used algae-harvesting and lipid-extraction technology accounts for almost 30 percent of the total cost of algae-based biofuel production.

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Ag and Energy Groups Urge Congress to Include Energy Title in New Farm Bill
Date Posted: October 24, 2011

Washington—A coalition of nearly 50 trade groups and organizations representing renewable energy, energy efficiency, farm, and forest interests wrote leaders of the House Agriculture and Senate Agriculture Committees Oct. 21 to urge inclusion of a robust energy title in any new Farm Bill legislation.

The Congressional committees earlier this week proposed a reduction of $23 billion in funding for programs under USDA jurisdiction to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, but they did not provide details on how these cuts would impact individual programs under their jurisdiction.

"The innovative programs authorized in the Energy Title of the 2008 Farm Bill...have helped finance thousands of diverse renewable energy projects and improved energy efficiency at farms, ranches and businesses across rural America," the letter stated.

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OSU study shows downside of biomass power generation

The Register-Guard
By Eric Mortenson
The Oregonian
Published: (Monday, Oct 24, 2011 05:02AM) Today

PORTLAND — Oregon’s blue-sky thinking on alternative energy envisions the state’s forests as a terrific source of biomass. Woody debris from thinning, brush clearing and removing dead trees could generate electricity, heat manufacturing plants and be turned into biofuels.

Better yet, the thinking goes, such work could restore forest health and provide jobs in rural communities in addition to helping the state meet its renewable energy goals. The Oregon Forest Resources Institute calls it the “woody biomass triple win.”

Researchers at Oregon State University rain on that notion.

In a four-year study OSU describes as the largest and most comprehensive to date, researchers say managing the forests for biofuel production will increase carbon dioxide emissions from the forests by at least 14 percent.

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Algenol Biofuels Inc. Announces Ground Breaking of Its Pilot-Scale Integrated Bio-Refinery in Lee County, Florida

PR Newswire

FORT MYERS, Fla., Oct. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Algenol Biofuels Inc. announces today that it has broken ground on the construction of its pilot-scale integrated bio-refinery. This production facility will be the first large-scale deployment of Algenol's patented Direct To Ethanol® technology, which produces ethanol directly from carbon dioxide, sunlight and salt water using blue-green algae in patented photobioreactors (or PBRs). With support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Lee County, Florida and Algenol's strategic partners, the 36-acre facility will contain 3,000 of Algenol's patented photobioreactors in a commercial module, Algenol's advanced Vapor Compression Steam Stripper ethanol concentration technology and new membrane-based ethanol dehydration technology. The plant will have a target capacity of approximately 100,000 gallons of fuel-grade ethanol per year.

In addition, Algenol's joint development program with The Dow Chemical Company has come to an end, and the focus of the relationship will shift to purchasing specialty plastics and films developed during the program for use in Algenol's patented photobioreactors for the pilot-scale bio-refinery. The efforts of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Membrane Technology & Research will continue.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

USDA Plans to Cancel Ethanol Co-Product Report
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – October 19th, 2011

In a cost-cutting measure, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is planning to cancel the Distiller Co-Products for Feed Survey announced in March slated to be done in January 2012. The report, which was designed to better calculate the use of the ethanol co-product known as DDGS in livestock feed, is one of several that USDA plans to eliminate or reduce in light of funding reductions for the current fiscal year and expected reductions in FY 2012.

“We were very disappointed to hear the survey is being cancelled,” said Geoff Cooper with the Renewable Fuels Association. “NASS staff had prepared an excellent survey that was set to go out to thousands of livestock and poultry feeders in January 2012. Pulling the plug on this survey means many of the questions about how co-products are actually being used in the real world will remain unanswered. The feed industry, ethanol producers, and regulators alike desperately need the type of information this survey would have provided.”

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Brazilian ethanol to compete with US biodiesel in 'advanced' pool Brazilian ethanol to compete with US biodiesel in 'advanced' pool

Biodiesel Magazine
By Luke Geiver October 20, 2011

All U.S. biodiesel classifies as an advanced biofuel under U.S. EPA’s RFS2 program, and the 2012 advanced biofuel pool of 2 billion gallons is considered an opportunity to grow the biodiesel industry beyond the confines of the 1 billion gallon biomass-based diesel volume required under the program.

The EPA has already recognized sugarcane-based ethanol as an advanced biofuel, and it appears the Brazilian sugarcane association is making plans to take advantage of that classification. According to a release issued by UNICA, as of the beginning of October, 107 Brazilian sugarcane processing facilities have been registered. In February, that number was only 55. Although volume requirements for the conventional biofuel portion of the RFS2 in 2012 can easily be met by corn ethanol producers in the U.S., the same cannot be said for the required advanced biofuel volumes.

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McCain attempts to shut down USDA funding for ethanol blender pumps

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane October 21, 2011

In Washington, Senator John McCain this week tried to revive a failed attempt to prohibit U.S. Department of Agriculture funding for construction, installation or operation of ethanol blender pumps or storage facilities. McCain proposed similar legislation earlier this year which was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 59 to 41.

Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol released the following statement after Senator McCain decided to withdraw the amendment from consideration late yesterday.

“Thanks in part to grassroots phone calls, emails and other outreach from ACE members Senator McCain withdrew his amendment to prohibit federal funding for blender pumps. Now we can continue to encourage Congress to focus on forward-thinking energy policy such as promoting more blender pumps, Flexible Fuel Vehicles, and consumer fuel choice,” Jennings said.

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Amyris & ETH Bioenergia Sign Agreement to Produce Biofene® in Brazil

Amyris press release

Two Million Ton Sugarcane Crush Capacity to be added in Brazil for High-Performance Renewable Chemicals and Fuels

EMERYVILLE, Calif. & SÃO PAULO, Brazil — (October 20, 2011) – Amyris, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMRS) and ETH Bioenergia, a leading producer of ethanol, electric energy and sugar controlled by Odebrecht S.A., have signed a memorandum of understanding for the formation of a joint venture to produce Biofene®, Amyris’s renewable farnesene

Under the agreement, the joint venture would be able to access up to two million tons of sugarcane crush capacity per year at one of ETH’s greenfield mills in Brazil. The joint venture will be controlled by ETH, and Amyris will have exclusive marketing rights for the Biofene produced at the facility. By leveraging ETH’s renowned skills on biomass production and industrial performance and Amyris’s technology, the parties expect to be able to begin production by 2014.

“ETH has been at the leading edge of sugarcane ethanol production in Brazil and now, with our technology, Amyris will be able to market renewable products made from Biofene produced at one of ETH’s new mills,” said John Melo, CEO of Amyris. “Through this joint venture with ETH, and other agreements already announced in Brazil, Amyris now has access to 15 million tons of sugarcane crush capacity for our production.”

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The Biomass Carbon Debate: When To Start Counting?
October 20, 2011
By John S. Gunn, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences

Manomet says the goal of its study was to assess the immediate carbon impact of switching from fossil fuels to woody biomass.

New Hampshire, U.S.A. -- In June 2010, the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences released the results of a study on burning woody biomass for energy in Massachusetts.

Since then, several critiques have appeared, including one recently published in the July/August 2011 issue of Renewable Energy World North America by William Strauss.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts asked Manomet and our partners to quantify the impacts — positive and negative — on greenhouse gas emissions and forest health if Massachusetts switched some proportion of energy production from fossil fuels to wood. For greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the policy-relevant question was: What will the atmosphere "see" if Massachusetts switched from fossil fuels to biomass energy? The timing of the emissions mattered because Massachusetts had set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10-20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050. The state wanted to promote renewable energy technologies that could help meet that time-specific goal.

The study found that, initially, switching to the combustion of forest biomass to generate electricity or heat would produce more GHG emissions than burning fossil fuels to generate the same amount of energy. This is due to the low embedded energy of wood relative to fossil fuels - for the energy technologies we evaluated, wood releases more GHGs per unit of usable energy. However, as forests grow back, this carbon "debt" is reduced and eventually replaced with a carbon "dividend" (relative to fossil fuels). The length of time to pay off the debt can vary from a decade to a century, depending on an array of factors outlined in our study.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Biofuels, biomaterials growing at 3X the global GDP rate

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane October 19, 2011 11

Survey says: Biofuels and biomaterials growing rapidly, seeking new friends, markets
In Florida, Biofuels Digest reports that 79 percent of bioenergy executives are more optimistic both about their organization’s prospects for growth and industry growth, than 12 months ago, and that 72 percent are more optimistic about the industry’s prospects than at this time in 2010.

The findings were among the highlights of the Q2 2011 Bioenergy Business Outlook Survey conducted by Biofuels Digest and co-presented by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

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Goodbye To Coal, Hello To Biomass

by Kristy Hessman, October 20th, 2011

Eastern Illinois University just opened one of the largest biomass installations in the country on its campus. The Renewable Energy Center (REC) is a 19,000 square-foot steam plant that is expected to cut campus energy use in half and carbon emissions by 80 percent.

The plant includes two biomass gasifiers that use wood chips from forest residue that are broken down in a heated, oxygen-deprived chamber into a synthetic gas that burns like natural gas. High-efficiency boilers create the steam used to heat classrooms and buildings across campus. The university said the setup will reduce its annual carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 20,000 metric tons by eliminating coal from its heating-fuel repertoire. The old steam plant, which had burned 10,000 tons of coal every year, will be decommissioned and repurposed for other university needs.

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Biofuels are behind food price hikes, report claims

Tuesday October 18 2011

EU, US and Brazilian biofuel support policies have contributed significantly to the rise in global food prices, according to a new report commissioned by the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

Biofuel targets - such as the EU's goal to source 10% of its transport needs from biofuels by 2020 - should be scrapped as it creates extra demand for agricultural commodities, driving up prices, it argues.

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Renewable chemicals: US$76.8 billion by the year 2017, says reportRenewable chemicals: US$76.8 billion by the year 2017, says report

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane October 19, 2011

In California, Global Intelligence Analysts announced the release of their global report on Renewable Chemicals market, forecasting it to reach US$76.8 billion by the year 2017. GIA sites sustained increase in crude oil prices and the need for new energy sources from eco-friendly feedstocks will rekindle investors’ interest and lead to improvements in capital spending and commercial deployment of bio-based technologies in worldwide markets. Also, proposed amendments to certain government programs and loan guarantees will support commercial scale projects and advance renewable chemicals sector.

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Futurol launches micanthus cellulosic biofuels demonstration in France

Biofuels Digest
Meghan Sapp October 19, 2011

In France, Futurol has inaugurated its second-generation ethanol demonstration facility in Pomacle and Bazancourt using miscanthus as a feedstock. The $104.5 million project, begun in 2008 and funded with a 40% grant from the national innovation agency as well as public and private partnerships including the national agricultural research institute, is expected to produce 180,000 liters annually.

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Our troops deserve the support that flows from domestic biofuels, says Gen. Clark

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane October 19, 2011 9

Consider this: Every time the price of a barrel of imported oil rises one dollar, it costs the Navy $31 million in increased fuel costs. The result is that the military must run fewer operations and complete fewer training exercises.

Our nation imagines itself the most free and secure in the world, yet this statistic clearly identifies America’s reliance on foreign oil as a significant threat to our economy and national security.

We can no longer afford to allow a handful of countries—many controlled by dictators and strongmen—to exert this kind of influence over our military or our economy.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Illini Biodiesel Initiative recycles used vegetable oil for sustainability

The Daily Illini
Catherine Bennett The Daily Illini
Posted: October 13, 2011 - 9:37 PM
Updated: October 17, 2011 - 8:19 PM

A regular at mealtime in the Ikenberry Dining Hall, fried food has become a staple in the college diet. Though not at the forefront of anyone’s mind during dinner, by eating fried chicken, in a small way, students are helping the University toward a sustainable future. Behind the scenes, a tank that collects all the waste vegetable oil used to prepare some of students’ favorite foods is directly piped into the kitchen system.

Once a week, the Illini Biodiesel Initiative, a registered student organization, collects around 100 gallons of oil from Ikenberry, loads it onto the back of a truck and drives it to Research Park. Here, the oil is put into a 400-gallon thermal reactor, heated and turned into biodiesel — an environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline.

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New fuels proposed, from deepwater bacteria

Biofuels Digest
Thomas Saidak October 18, 2011

In Massachusetts, researchers at Harvard Medical School are working to use a deepwater bacteria to create octanol, which can be refined into a number of transportation fuels.

The bacteria, Shewanella oneidensis, which produces electricity when feeding on carbon poor foods. The researchers hope to reengineer the bacteria so that with electricity and carbon dioxide, the bacteria would produce octanol. The work is funded under one of thirteen ARPA-E as an “electrofuel”. At this stage of the research, the researchers are working to produce a proof of concept.

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Great Lakes ports prepare for biomass exports

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Matt Soberg October 12, 2011

John Elliot, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corp. of Erie County, kicked off BBI International’s Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show Oct. 12 with in-depth discussion about the opportunities for worldwide export of biomass through the Great Lakes.

“With Pennsylvania having over 14 million acres of forestlands and studies showing 6 million tons of biomass could be harvested sustainably each year, biomass caught our attention in a special way,” Elliot said. To realize those biomass export possibilities, the EDCEC is redeveloping two ports on Lake Erie in addition to inland railways to provide full transportation services for export purposes.

With relatively the same travel time to Europe from the Port of Baltimore, “the St. Lawrence Seaway provides a tremendous inland water way for export purposes,” Elliot said.

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How Waste Management Treats Waste as Resource
By Tilde Herrera
Published October 10, 2011

If you're at all familiar with Waste Management, you're aware that it's not just a garbage company anymore.

In this era of zero waste frenzy, Waste Management is doing just that -- helping its customers get to zero. But the Houston-based firm also has a presence in the renewable energy, biofuels and chemical sectors, and you can count it as a major investor in next generation of technologies designed to maximize the value of the materials it collects.

That's because for Waste Management, garbage isn't just garbage anymore.

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Algae from ethanol plant shows promise as poultry feed

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill October 18, 2011

An algae strain grown by BioProcess Algae LLC at Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc.’s 65 MMgy ethanol plant in Shenandoah, Iowa, is one step closer to entering the poultry feed market. First-round feed trials recently conducted in conjunction with the University of Illinois, led by poultry science expert Carl Parsons, concluded that the algae feed has high energy and protein contents relative to comparable poultry feed products. The original goal of the trial was to determine the actual digestibility of the energy and protein from the algae compared to the soybean meal commonly used as poultry feed, said BioProcess Algae CEO Tim Burns. The trials showed that the algae not only tested well compared to soy meal, but also proved to have higher energy content than corn, distillers grains and 70 other common feed products, he said.

In addition to the high protein content, BioProcess Algae’s strain was also shown to be comparable to soy meal in amino acid profiles. Also, the high energy content of the algae could also be used as a more cost-effective source of Omega-3 fatty acids in poultry diets, he said. “We believe this may be one of the first times that carbon dioxide absorbed from an industrial source was used to grow and harvest algae that performed well in feed trials,” Burns said.

Approximately 160 million metric tons of poultry feed are used every year, according to Burns.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pike Research Says Global Biofuels Market to Double to $185 Billion by 2021

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: October 12, 2011

Motivated by growing concerns related to energy security, climate change, and economic stagnation, at least 38 national governments throughout the world have enacted blending mandates or targets to accelerate the expansion of biofuels production and consumption in the transportation sector.

Biofuels hold significant potential to displace a portion of the demand for fossil fuels, especially in the transportation sector. According to a new report from Pike Research, the increased production and consumption of biofuels will more than double the industry’s market value in the next decade.

The cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that the global market for biofuels will increase from $82.7 billion in 2011 to $185.3 billion by 2021.

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Speculation identified as gas, food price driver

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane October 18, 2011

In Washington, the RFA reports:

“Two new reports independently concluded that speculation in the commodities market is having an unduly large effect in driving prices for goods like gasoline and food higher for all Americans. These reports come in advance of the October 18 meeting of the Commodities Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC) to discuss commodity index funds, a chief mechanism for speculative trading in the market, and in the midst of increasing angst with Wall Street business as usual as demonstrated by the Occupy movement.

“The first report from the non-profit organization Better Markets concludes, “Research analyzing commodity markets for the last 27 years shows that Wall Street’s speculative trading through commodity index funds is causing market disruptions, interfering with price discovery, increasing the costs for businesses to hedge, and needlessly pushing prices higher for all Americans. It shows how the biggest banks, all bailed out by the taxpayers in 2008, are lining their pockets at the expense of America’s families and farmers.”

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Danforth Plant Science Center Receives $5.5 Million DOE Grant ...

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: October 12, 2011 Study Camelina as Sustainable Biofuel Source

St. Louis, MO—The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $5.5 million to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to develop the oilseed plant camelina (Camelina sativa) as a sustainable source of biofuel.

Sixty grants, totaling $156 million, were awarded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), an agency within the DOE, for cutting-edge energy technology projects aimed at dramatically improving how the U.S. produces biofuels.

Camelina has great potential to serve as a replacement for petroleum-based fuels, and for other industrial applications.

Specifically, the $5.5 million grant will support research led by investigators associated with the Danforth Center’s Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels team to develop an enhanced variety of camelina that produces more oil per acre.

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Proposed Farm Bill Includes Advanced Biofuels
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – October 10th, 2011

Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R, IN-3rd) have introduced a farm bill that they say would save $40 billion and includes provisions that support the development of advanced biofuels.

“We offer our bill as a thoughtful option for consideration by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, as well as the Congressional Deficit Reduction ‘Super’ Committee charged with making real federal spending cuts by the end of the year,” Lugar said of the bill they have entitled “The Rural Economic Farm and Ranch Sustainability and Hunger Act” or REFRESH.

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Fungi enzyme yields more ethanol: UK report

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane October 17, 2011

In the UK, researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and York have found that the enzyme TaGH61 found in fungi can overcome the chemical intractability of cellulose allowing for the better conversion into ethanol. The work was also done by scientists at Novozymes laboratories in California, and Bagsvaerd in Denmark and researchers from the University of Copenhagen.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eastern Illinois University fires up biomass gasification system

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin October 10, 2011

Eastern Illinois University has commissioned a biomass gasification energy system that will annually consume about 27,000 tons of wood chips to provide heat and electricity to the campus.

The gasification plant is the main component of EIU’s Renewable Energy Center, which includes two gasifiers, a back-pressure turbine and two ground-mounted solar arrays. It replaces the university’s existing 10,000-ton-per-year coal system that EIU plans to decommission and repurpose.

Besides its energy savings benefits, the REC has an educational component—it has dedicated classroom space and advanced technology displays that will eventually be part of a center for clean energy research and education. Currently, EIU offers a new academic minor in sustainability, and is in the process of adding a master's degree in renewable energy.

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Ethanol Exports Drop While DDGS Rise

Domestic Fuel
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – October 14th, 2011

Ethanol exports took a dive in August, but exports of the ethanol co-product distillers grains (DDGS) set a new record, according to a post on the Renewable Fuels Association E-xchange Blog.

RFA’s Geoff Cooper quotes new government figures that show exports of denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol totaled 52.1 million gallons (mg) in August, down from 127.4 mg in July and the lowest monthly total of the year. Still, year-to-date (Jan.-Aug.) ethanol exports stand at 640.7 mg, nearly triple the amount exported during the same period last year. The United States remains on pace to export more than 900 mg in 2011.

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Monsanto Sorghum Seeds to Yield Brazil Ethanol During Cane Break

Bloomberg BusinessWeek
October 14, 2011, 4:25 PM EDT
By Stephan Nielsen

Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed company, will sell enough sweet sorghum for 20,000 hectares (49,400 acres) of plantations in Brazil this year as sugar cane mills struggle to meet demand for ethanol and are seeking an alternative source of the renewable fuel.

The plantations may generate enough sorghum to produce 80 million liters (21.1 million gallons) of ethanol, said Jose Carramate, St. Louis-based Monsanto’s sugar cane leader.

Sweet sorghum, an 8-foot (2.4-meter) plant that resembles sugar cane and may yield 80 percent as much fuel, may become an alternative feedstock for Brazilian mills after a poor cane harvest forced some plants to close this month, more than a month early, for the annual inter-harvest break during the rainy season.

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Cellulosic Ethanol ‘Floodgates’ May Open in 2013, Poet LLC Says

Bloomberg BusinessWeek
October 17, 2011, 1:13 PM EDT
By Alex Morales

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Cellulosic ethanol output may surge starting in 2013, when the first commercial-scale plants “open the floodgates” for the fuel, according to the largest U.S. corn-based biofuel producer.

Poet LLC plans to start production in 2013 at a 25 million- gallon-a-year plant in Iowa and secured a $105 million conditional loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department this year, said Greg Hartgraves, the company’s director of research. Competitors BP Plc and Abengoa SA also plan facilities by that year for the fuel, made from inedible grasses and crop waste.

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Coskata passes 15,000 hours of cellulosic ethanol demonstration

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane October 17, 2011

In Pennsylvania, Coskata this week marked 15,000 run hours of operation, using wood biomass and municipal solid waste, at their cellulosic ethanol semi-commercial facility in Madison, Pennsylvania this month.

“The data and operating experience cultivated at this pre-commercial scale facility has conclusively demonstrated that the Coskata technology is ready for commercial production today,” said Coskata President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Roe. “With an industry leading yield of more than 100 gallons of ethanol coming from a dry ton of wood biomass, we look forward to working with industry partners to rapidly deploy this leading conversion technology and help the country meet the Renewable Fuels Standard.”

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Monday, October 17, 2011

EU to establish full carbon emissions

iol scitech
October 13 2011 at 10:20pm
By Gerard Wynn

In a world of limited land and a growing population decisions taken in Europe can cause farmers to wield chainsaws in a tropical rainforest.

London - The European Union's efforts to establish the full carbon emissions from burning bio-energy is an all but impossible task which illustrates the difficulty of trying to cut humankind's environmental impact, which first has to be measured.

The complexity of trying to link energy crops including corn for ethanol on one side of the planet with carbon emissions on the other is a tangled web of cause and effects which might recall an equation in atmospheric physics.

But a fuller measure of carbon emissions is important, even an inaccurate number beats ignoring the issue, especially given the lessons from a related food versus fuel battle which sparked a global backlash against liquid biofuels three years ago.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Experts explain feedstock supply chain intricacies

Biorefining Magazine
By Luke Geiver October 13, 2011

Ask J.D. Lindberg, principal and CFO for Resource Recycling Systems Inc., about the intricacies of feedstock supply contracting, and he would most likely tell you that “glass time is money.” Lindberg spoke during a feedstock supply discussion during the 2011 Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show, and to illustrate why some contracts work and others don’t, he explained the story of two biomass power facilities in Michigan that are only miles apart, “practically co-located,” he said, yet one has signed a much more favorable contract compared to the other. Why? Because, Lindberg said, the feedstock truckers for one company were more efficient at loading their woody biomass and could get in and out much quicker than the other facility’s transport team. Because of the ability of the quicker drivers, that particular plant was considered a preferred customer, or more favorable contractor, and earned a better price for its feedstock and supply agreement.

Add to all of that that an individual for the “preferred” facility was constantly in the field and in the surrounding communities working to promote it and educate others about it, and Lindberg was able to illustrate the intricacies of feedstock supply contracting to a level beyond just insinuating that long-term contracts and quality feedstock matter.

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Tree breeding technique identified for better bioenergy use

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen October 12, 2011

Researchers from the University of Florida have found a way for tree breeders to create a new pine variety in about six years—less than half than the more than 13 years it takes without the genetic technique. The model allows researchers to accurately predict tree traits without growing it in an eight-year field test.

The plus for potential wood-to-ethanol producers is that the new method could enable faster development of trees for bioenergy. “If we can modify traits much faster, we can create more specialized trees that can be grown for different products than just pulp and paper and solid wood,” said Gary Peter, a professor in UF’s school of forest resources and conservation. “We can tailor them for energy conversion.”

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chu: DOE remains committed to loan guarantee program

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill October 11, 2011

Despite being caught up “in the most disappointing kind of politics,” Energy Sec. Steven Chu said recently that the U.S. DOE and the Obama administration remain firmly committed to the department’s loan guarantee program.

“We want to make very clear to everyone, in the building and across the country that we will not back down from our commitment to this program and the crucial work it does,” Chu wrote in an email to loan program staff on Sept. 30.

The DOE’s Loan Program has come under intense scrutiny from Congress following solar panel manufacturer Solyndra LLC’s Sept. bankruptcy filing. The company received a $535 million loan guarantee from the DOE in 2009. Some members of Congress are now claiming that the agency did not fully vet the company and rushed its application. The DOE has staunchly disputed those claims and has released an infographic detailing Solyndra’s application process, which dates back to 2007.

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Mutant Maize Genes May Help Harness Switch Grass for Biofuels

Bloomberg BusinessWeek
October 10, 2011, 11:03 PM EDT
By Alex Morales

Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Mutant maize genes can be inserted into switch grasses to increase their viability as a biofuel crop, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Transferring the so-called CG1 corn gene into switch grass can more than triple the amount of starch stored in the plant stems and make it easier to convert into the sugars needed for biofuels, researchers led by George Chuck at the University of California, Berkeley, said yesterday in the study.

The discovery may help make cellulosic ethanol output on a commercial scale cheaper and easier. Poet LLC, the largest U.S. corn-based-ethanol producer, BP Plc and Abengoa SA all plan U.S. factories by 2013. Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi began building a plant in Italy in April to make the fuel, a second-generation, or 2-G, biofuel, meaning it’s derived from non-food crops.

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National Research Council issues 'discouraging' RFS2 report

Biodiesel Magazine
By Erin Voegele October 05, 2011

A report produced by the National Research Council at the request of Congress claims the U.S. is likely to be unable to meet some specific biofuel mandates under RFS2, the federal renewable fuel standard, unless polices are changed or new innovative technologies are developed. The report, titled “Renewable Fuel Standard: Potential Economic and Environmental Effects of U.S. Biofuel Policy,” further states that the program may be ineffective at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and that achieving the standards established by RFS2 would likely increase federal budget outlays and have mixed economic and environmental effects. Those in the biofuels industry have spoken out questioning various aspects of the analysis.

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Coalition for E85 forms

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane October 11, 2011

A coalition of retailers, producers, equipment manufacturers, and others today announced the formation of the Coalition for E85. Currently other alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas, propane and hydrogen receive a $0.50 per gallon tax credit as part of the Alternative Fuel Credit. The Coalition believes E85 should be included in this group.

The Coalition for E85 includes Propel Fuels, Protec, Pearson Fuels, Clean Fuels Development Coalition, multiple ethanol industry associations, pump and tank companies, and individual E85 retailers.

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RFS: It’s Not Perfect, But It’s Working

Biofuels Digest
October 11, 2011
By Brent Erickson, Digest columnist and Executive Vice-President, BIO Industrial and Environment Section

The Renewable Fuel Standard is the key foundation policy supporting the commercial development of advanced biofuels. It is not working as fast as some would like, but given the current economic situation it is indeed working. A handful of advanced biofuel companies have moved projects from the drawing board to demonstration scale since passage of the RFS in 2007, and a few recently have put steel in the ground for commercial-scale projects. This progress would have been significantly slower absent the RFS.

Nevertheless, there is some impatience and disappointment that cellulosic biofuel production has not grown fast enough to meet the aggressive RFS goals. A new report from the National Academies on the RFS is stoking this sentiment. The report is a nuanced examination of the current state of advanced biofuel development; unfortunately, it is marred by some significant errors of fact. It shouldn’t convince anyone to discount advanced biofuels just yet. If we look closely, the range of projects across the nation that combine local feedstocks with innovative technology are a robust affirmative response to the challenges of commercializing advanced biofuels.

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U.S. and Brazil Launch Strategic Energy Dialogue

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: August 23, 2011

Brasilia, Brazil—U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman joined with Dr. Márcio Zimmermann, Executive Secretary of Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy, August 17 to launch the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Brazil Strategic Energy Dialogue, a presidential-level partnership that provides an overarching framework to deepen energy cooperation between the two nations’ energy sectors.

Through a series of concrete initiatives led by agencies from across both governments, the Strategic Energy Dialogue will help the United States and Brazil strengthen their mutual energy security, create new jobs and new industries, and reduce carbon pollution.

The Dialogue was announced by Presidents Obama and Rousseff during President Obama’s visit to Brazil in March 2011 as a way for the United States and Brazil to work together to develop safe, sustainable, affordable, and secure energy resources for both countries.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Raising 'Sugar-Cane': Investigative Report

Public News Service
October 3, 2011

BELLE GLADE, Fla. - A battle being waged in the ethanol industry pits sugar against corn, and it reaches from Florida to the Midwest to Latin America. Florida is at the center of this "energy war," and this investigative report by Les Coleman examines the history, business and political links between sugarcane-based ethanol and ethanol distilled from corn.

The long arm of Florida "big sugar" reaches far outside the state and across international frontiers. Flo-Sun, through subsidiaries such as Florida Crystals and Domino Foods, has milling and refining operations around the world. The rulers of Flo-Sun are brothers Pepe and Alfonso Fanjul, based in Palm Beach, whose father came to the U.S. on the heels of the Cuban Revolution more than a half-century ago.

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Biological Complexity Under Attack

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News
Feature Articles: Oct 1, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 17)
Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D. A Personal View of Systems Biology and the Coming of "Big" Science

This is a truly remarkable time in the biological sciences. Biology now has the opportunity to effectively attack some of the most fundamental problems of society, including healthcare, agriculture, bio-energy, a sustainable environment, and nutrition.

These opportunities are a result of system strategies for probing biological complexity, emerging technologies that are allowing us to explore new dimensions of data space, and the provision of novel analytical tools for analyzing, integrating, and modeling large datasets.

Over the past 40 years, I have done a lot of thinking about biological complexity and these thoughts have directly and/or indirectly led to me to participate in a series of paradigm changes that have transformed how we think about and decipher the complexities of biology and medicine.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Will there be enough corn for 2011/2012 feed and biofuel needs?

Drover's CattleNetwork
Dr. Robert Wisner, Biofuels Economist, Iowa State University Updated: October 7, 2011

This year’s combination of weather events has taken a serious toll on U.S. grain and oilseed crops. That picture was reinforced by the National Agriculture Statistics Service of the USDA in its September 12 crop production forecasts. The U.S. average corn yield was forecast at 148.1 bushels per acre, down from a disappointing 152.8 bushels last year, 153 bushels per acre in the August forecast, and a long-term trend yield of about 162 bushels per acre. Early in the spring planting season, some analysts had talked of possible yields in the upper 160 to mid-170s bushels per acre. The latest crop forecast indicates production will be about 770 million bushels or 5.8% below corn utilization in the year ended August 31, 2011. Adding to uncertainty for corn users, this number is still quite tentative.

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Biomass power plant begins operations at university

Power Engineering
Oct 7, 2011

Eastern Illinois University (EIU) and Honeywell (NYSE: HON) started the school's Renewable Energy Center (REC), one of the largest university biomass installations in the country.

The REC is a 19,000-square-foot steam plant that will provide heat for buildings and classrooms across the university grounds. It is driven by two large biomass gasifiers that use wood chips from forest residue for fuel. By switching to a renewable energy source, EIU said it will reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent, an estimated 20,000 metric tons.

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BTEC, RPG Receive Grant to Promote Biomass Heating and Cooling

The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch
press release
Oct. 7, 2011, 11:23 a.m. EDT

One of the Many Exciting Topics at this Year's Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show, Produced by BBI International

ATLANTA, GA, Oct 07, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- The BTEC and the Resource Professional Group were awarded a $70,000 grant to promote energy cost savings and environmental improvement of commercial buildings by teaching architects and biomass appliance manufacturers about wood energy.

The Biomass Thermal Energy Council and the Resource Professional Group were awarded a $70,000 grant to promote energy cost savings and environmental improvement of commercial buildings by teaching architects and biomass appliance manufacturers about wood energy.

"Project partners BTEC and RPG will facilitate several meetings to bring together heating and cooling (HVAC) design experts with biomass energy equipment manufacturers to address concerns that have long-delayed broader market penetration of biomass energy in the United Sates," according to a press release from the BTEC.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Bioenergy carbon calculator unveiled

Renewable Energy Magazine
Thursday, 06 October 2011

The UK government has launched its Biomass and Biogas Carbon Calculator, which will enable UK bioenergy producers to “fairly and consistently” report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to Government. The application was developed in conjunction with the National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials (NNFCC).

The UK Biomass and Biogas Carbon Calculator was developed for calculating the GHG savings from solid biomass and biogas used to generate heat and electricity, and covers every step from feedstock production through to energy generation. This will enable bioenergy generators and other interested stakeholders to analyse the life cycle emissions from bioenergy using different feedstocks, production processes and transport methods.

Lucy Hopwood, Head of Biomass and Biogas at the NNFCC, who helped develop the tool said, "This new tool will help bioenergy generators to report their emissions consistently and fairly to Ofgem, as required by the Renewables Obligation."

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JBEI researchers discover bisabolane-to-diesel pathway

Biodiesel Magazine
By Luke Geiver October 05, 2011

Bisabolane is part of the terpene class of chemical compounds found in plants, and although traditionally used in fragrances and flavorings, a team of researchers at the U.S. DOE’s Joint BioEnergy Institute has discovered how to utilize bisabolane as an alternative to No. 2 diesel.

The research team, led in part by Taek Soon Lee, director of JBEI’s metabolic engineering program, genetically engineered two different microbes, E. coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, creating a new mevalonate pathway to overproduce a chemical compound called farnesyl diphosphate (FFP), which, when treated with enzymes can then be synthesized into terpene. Using the same microbes and the same pathway, the team created bisabolane as well, based on the mevalonate pathway that increased the biosynthesis ability in the microbes.

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UF technique to help pine forests adapt to climate change, bioenergy use

University of Florida News
Thursday, October 6, 2011

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A breakthrough in pine tree breeding will lead to forests better adapted to climate change and bioenergy use, University of Florida researchers report.

The improved forests will stem from a genetic technique the researchers have developed that can create new tree varieties in half the time it takes current breeding methods.

The technique, detailed in a study published online Wednesday by the journal New Phytologist, is expected to increase the security and competitiveness of the U.S. forestry industry.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Toyota reveals breakthrough in cellulosic ethanol production

Torque News
Submitted by Don Bain on Mon, 10/03/2011 - 15:56

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) today held an event at its Toyota Biotechnology and Afforestation Laboratory in Aichi revealing a newly developed yeast that increases the production yield of cellulosic ethanol bio-fuel, new technologies for the greening of parking lots and walls, and a new “cool-spot creation methodology” for simulating and analyzing the effects of greening.

TMC, using gene recombination technology, has developed a new strain of yeast promising to play an important role in the fermentation process for producing cellulosic ethanol.

Fermentation of xylose, a sugar produced when plant fibers are broken down in the enzymatic saccharification process, is difficult to achieve with naturally occurring yeasts. TMC’s newly developed yeast not only efficiently ferments xylose but is also resistant to fermentation-inhibiting substances such as acetic acid. Consequently this newly developed strain of yeast achieves one of the highest ethanol fermentation density levels in the world at roughly 47 grams per liter and is expected to improve bio-fuel yields while significantly reducing production costs.

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Novozymes Enzymes to Make Cheap Cane Ethanol in Brazil

Bloomberg BusinessWeek
October 04, 2011, 12:21 PM EDT
By Stephan Nielsen

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Novozymes A/S, the world’s biggest maker of industrial enzymes, said its biotechnology will be able to produce ethanol from sugar-cane waste in Brazil cheaper than fuel made from the plant’s juice.

Novozymes’s enzymes will be used to produce ethanol for 1.20 reais (64 cents) a liter in 2013, about 12 percent less than current prices, said the Bagsvaerd, Denmark-based enzyme company’s global marketing director Poul Ruben Andersen.

Bagasse, as the pulpy waste material is called, is often burned to produce power, and may also become a significant source of renewable fuel, said Salim Morsy, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s New York office.

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Bill would adjust U.S. ethanol mandate

2:33pm EDT
WASHINGTON Wed Oct 5, 2011 2:33pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A House bill would require a reduction in the federal mandate to use ethanol whenever corn stocks begin to tighten.

The Environmental Protection Agency would be required to reduce the Renewable Fuels Standard if the projected corn stocks-to-use ratio is below 10 percent. EPA would forecast the ratio twice a year; on Aug 1, just before harvest begins, and by Nov 30, when the size of the harvest is clear.

If the August 1 estimate is below 10 percent, a reduction would take effect 30 days after an EPA announcement and be in effect for the rest of the calendar year.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Changing cheap sugars into biofuels a sweet proposition

Western Farm Press
Iowa State University
Sep. 30, 2011 2:58pm

Pyrolysis of lignocelluslosic biomass has the potential to be the cheapest way to produce biofuels or biorenewable chemicals.

Iowa State University's Robert C. Brown keeps a small vial of brown, sweet-smelling liquid on his office table.

"It looks like something you could pour on your pancakes," he said. "In many respects, it is similar to molasses."

Brown, in fact, calls it "pyrolytic molasses."

That's because it was produced by the fast pyrolysis of biomass such as corn stalks or wood chips. Fast pyrolysis involves quickly heating the biomass without oxygen to produce liquid or gas products.

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Gevo receives grant for bio-jet fuel

Biofuels International
30 September 2011

Gevo plans to use woody biomass cellulosic feedstock to create petroleum substitutes
Biofuels company Gevo has been given a $5 million (€3.7 million) grant by the United States Department of Agriculture to develop bio-jet fuel from woody biomass and forest product residues.
The grant is part of the $40 million that has been given to the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, a consortium led by Washington State University.

With the funding, Gevo plans to use woody biomass cellulosic feedstock to create petroleum substitutes such as isobutanol which can be used to fuel aeroplanes.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Research to improve photosynthesis for increased food and fuel production

Public release date: 27-Sep-2011

Five new research projects announced today (27 September) by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) aim to overcome some of the fundamental limitations of photosynthesis – the process by which plants harvest energy from the sun. This research could lead to major increases in crop yields for food, bioenergy and the production of renewable chemicals.

Just over £2M has been provided for these projects which complement four funded last year via an 'Ideas Lab' in collaboration with the National Science Foundation in the USA.

Together, the nine research projects span the whole photosynthetic pathway, from the shape of the crop canopy and the structure of individual leaves through to light capture at the molecular level and the production and storage of sugars.

The world faces significant challenges in the coming decades, and chief among these are producing enough sustainable and affordable food for a growing population and replacing diminishing fossil fuels. Even a small change to the efficiency of photosynthesis – the process by which plants, algae and some bacteria use the sun's energy to make sugars – could allow for considerably increased yields for food and bioenergy crops and so could make a huge impact on these problems.

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ISU Energy Economist Moving From CARD

Wallaces Farmer
Compiled by staff
Published: Sep 29, 2011

Bruce Babcock is ready to focus on the bioeconomy as Iowa State University's next Cargill Endowed Chair in Energy Economics and director of the university's Biobased Industry Center in Ames.

Babcock, an ISU professor of economics and current director of the university's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, assumes his new position Oct. 1. He succeeds James Bushnell, who is now an associate professor of economics at the University of California Davis. An interim director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development is expected to be named soon.

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Biofuel breakthrough made from microbes

cnet news
By: Candace Lombardi September 29, 2011 5:46 AM PDT

Two microbes, a bacteria, and a yeast" may sound like a recipe for a bad science joke, but it's actually the formula that's led researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Energy to produce a new source for biodiesel.

Working together under the umbrella of the DOE's Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a team of researchers have successfully engineered bisabolane into a biosynthetic alternative for making diesel.

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Energy Department Finalizes $132 Million Loan Guarantee to Support the Abengoa Bioenergy Project
September 29, 2011 - 4:39pm

Washington D.C. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that the Department finalized a $132.4 million loan guarantee to Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas, LLC (ABBK) to support the development of a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. ABBK’s parent company and project sponsor, Abengoa Bioenergy US Holding, Inc., estimates the project will fund approximately 300 construction jobs and 65 permanent jobs. The project will be located in Hugoton, Kansas, about 90 miles southwest of Dodge City, Kansas.

“Investing in a domestic advanced biofuels industry will help us compete in a growing, global clean energy economy while creating jobs in rural communities across the country,” said Secretary Chu. “At the same time, these investments will help us reduce carbon emissions and decrease our dependence on oil."

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Europe's first biomass exchange to open in November

AMSTERDAM Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:12am EDT

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Europe's first exchange for trading wood pellets, used to replace coal in electricity generation, will be launched on November 3 in the port of Rotterdam, Anglo-Dutch exchange APX Endex said in a statement.

The global market of wood pellets is growing as a result of world-wide policies to cut CO2 emissions and replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy.

The biomass exchange is joint project of Anglo-Dutch power and gas exchange APX-Endex and Europe's biggest port, agreed in 2010.

Currently, the global wood pellet market is estimated at 10 million tonnes and it could grow sixfold by 2020.

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Logum Logistica Wins $924 Million Loan for Ethanol Pipeline

By Stephan Nielsen - Sep 29, 2011 4:39 PM CT .

Logum Logistica SA, a joint venture backed by Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4), won a 1.7 billion real ($924 million) loan from development bank Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social for a project to transport Brazilian ethanol by pipeline.

The bridge loan will cover a first phase of the project that includes three sections of pipeline in the states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo-based Logum Logistica said in a statement today.

Trucks currently move almost all Brazilian ethanol, transportation that costs an average of 8 centavos a liter, according to Joao Chierighini, logistics manager at Sao Paulo- based ethanol trader Bioagencia. Logum will be able to charge mills a significant fee to use the pipeline, which can reduce freight costs by as much as 30 percent, he said.

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