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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Brazil State's Sugar-Cane Crush to Be Delayed, Cepea Says

By Isis Almeida - Mar 27, 2012 5:49 AM CT

Sugar-cane crushing in Brazil’s Sao Paulo state will start later this season due to limited availability of the raw material, according to Cepea.

Harvesting probably will begin in the second half of April, the University of Sao Paulo research group said in a report e- mailed yesterday, citing its own survey. Farmers usually start gathering the crop at the end of March or beginning of April, according to Cepea analyst Heloisa Lee Burnquist. Brazil is the world’s largest sugar producer and Sao Paulo state is located in the Center-South region, the country’s main growing area.

Sugar-cane output in the Center South fell for the first time in a decade in the 2011-12 season after dry weather, frost, flowering and advanced age of the cane fields cut yields, according to industry group Unica.

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Cellulosic Ethanol: The Fuel of the Future?

Mar 29, 2012, 11:08 am EDT By Aaron Levitt, InvestorPlace Contributor

Second-gen biofuel companies could be on a rising tide

As oil prices continue to rise, so has the cost to fill up our tanks. According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas hit $3.90 on Wednesday — the 19th consecutive day it has risen. While there are myriad factors that go into what we pay at the pump, the underlying point is that it still hurts our wallets.

However, some pricing relief might be on the horizon. Escalating petroleum prices have once again led to renewed interest in biofuels. While traditional corn and sugarcane ethanol have provoked an intense backlash from both policymakers and the public, second-generation biofuels made from plant wastes or non-food crops, known as cellulosic ethanol, are beginning to gain acceptance. While it will be some time before we fill our tanks with wood chips, recent activity in the sector is certainly indicative of bullish news.

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Scientist of the Week: Tom Welton

Laboratory Equipment

Every Thursday, Laboratory Equipment features a Scientist of the Week, chosen from the science industry’s latest headlines. This week’s scientist is Tom Welton from Imperial College. He and his team found that lubricating wood prior to grinding it saves energy in the production of biofuel.

Q: What made you interested in studying how lubricating wood could play a role in biofuel production?
A: We have a longstanding interest in the processing of biomass for chemicals and fuels production. We have had particular success with a delignification approach, which can withstand the somewhat messier conditions found when processing real wood than typically found with using model materials. This method is tolerant of water, which is ubiquitous in biomass. This in turn means that there is no need for expensive and energy wasteful predrying of the biomass before treating it with the ionic liquids.

Of course trees are pretty big objects and they need to be ground down to small particles for processing. The first step in this is likely to be the production of wood chips where the tree is harvested. These woodchips can then be transported. They then need to be ground to powder for the most effective subsequent processing. The question that we asked was is it best to grind the chips to powder and then add the ionic liquid, or to add the ionic liquid and then do the grinding. As it turned out, it is much better to add the ionic liquid first.

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Pennycress closer to commercialization

By: Carrie Muehling 3-15-2012

Most Central Illinois farmers are getting ready to plant this year’s crop, but a few are monitoring one that is already in the ground.

Lexington farmer Bruce Klein hosted a field day Tuesday to give others a chance to see his 80-acre field of pennycress, which he will double crop with soybeans this year.

Klein said he has been interested in any kind of crop that can be used for biofuels.

“I saw it as a way to begin growing a biofuel that wasn’t going to cause us to short the food supply, so that’s what really sparked my interest,” said Klein.

Klein is working with Pennycress Partners, a group dedicated to seeing the crop commercialized for biodiesel production.

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Montana State University Researchers Develop Protein to Increase Oil Yield in Oilsseds

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: March 26, 2012

Researchers at Montana State University have developed a protein that can be expressed in oilseed crops to increase the oil yield by as much as 40 percent, a development that could have an impact on the biodiesel industry.

Patents on this technology have been issued and research is ongoing.

Biodiesel is produced from a wide variety of oilseed crops: In Europe, canola is the major biodiesel crop, while in the U.S. soybeans dominate.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Biodiesel production down from record peaks late last year

Biodiesel Magazine
By The National Biodiesel Board March 21, 2012

The U.S. biodiesel industry produced 135 million gallons of fuel in the first two months of 2012, according to new numbers released by the EPA Wednesday.

The volume is an increase over the same period last year, when production totaled less than 80 million gallons. But it is down from the record production late last year when the industry exceeded 100 million gallons per month for five consecutive months and reached a peak of 160 million gallons in December.

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Argonne Nat'l Lab researchers publish paper on algae GHG analysis

Biodiesel Magazine
By Erin Voegele March 27, 2012

A group of researchers from Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Transportation Research recently published a scientific paper that identifies key parameters for algal biofuel production using the GREET model, which models greenhouse gas emissions, regulated emissions and energy use for transportation fuels. The paper, titled “Methane and nitrous oxide emissions affect the life-cycle analysis of algal biofuels,” was published in a recent edition of Environmental Research Letters.

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Brazil wholesale ethanol rises for seventh straight week: research institute

London (Platts)--27Mar2012/1120 am EDT/1520 GMT

Wholesale ethanol prices in Sao Paulo state, Brazil's largest fuel market, rose for the seventh consecutive time to Reais 1.2099/liter ($2.51/gal) on the week ended March 23, research institute CEPEA/ESALQ said Tuesday.

Prices rose over 12% since the week ended February 3, figures from the Piracicaba-based research group show.

Ethanol prices in Sao Paulo typically jump in the period from December through April, when production mills shut down completely for the sugarcane interharvest period.

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2012 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW) Announces Agenda and Keynote Speaker

The Wall Street Journal MarketWatch
March 28, 2012, 10:21 a.m. EDT

Agenda for 28th Annual Ethanol Industry Conference Includes More Than 140 Speakers and Four Highly Informative Track Sessions

MINNEAPOLIS, MN, Mar 28, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- The 2012 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, the ethanol industry's largest and longest-running conference, released its highly-anticipated agenda featuring more than 140 speakers and four content-packed tracks. The 28th annual event will be held June 4-7, 2012 in Minneapolis, MN. The full agenda, including a list of current speakers, is available at:

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Biomass Evaluation Has To Include Market Forces

Duke University Research Blog
By Ashley Mooney

As researchers look for alternative fuel sources, researcher Christopher Galik of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions finds that any discussion of biomass has to include market forces.

Galik and fellow scientist Robert Abt wanted to eliminate the differences between studies on the feasibility of biomass to compare them evenly. Theyidentified which variables caused both positive and negative conclusions in earlier studies and found that accounting for market forces changes the estimated greenhouse gas emissions of biomass.

“One of the things that is often mentioned with regard to biomass—specifically when you’re talking about greenhouse gas emissions—is whether or not it’s better or worse than a fossil fuel alternative,” Galik said. “Does using biomass help bring down greenhouse gas emissions or bring it up? There have been a number of studies that said both.”

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Illinois Bill Would Boost Ethanol Producers

Convenience Store News
Mar 21, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Illinois biofuel companies who have faced a market glut since the end of a federal tax credit led energy companies to rush pre-expiration production may have hope in the form of a newly proposed bill that would create new tax credits. House Bill 4700, currently awaiting debate in the House Rules Committee, would encourage Illinois gas stations to install more flex-fuel pumps, according to an Illinois Statehouse News report.

Referred to as the Consumer Fuel Choice Act, the bill "sends a message to consumers," said co-sponsor Rep. Donald Moffitt (R-Galesburg). "If you buy a flex-fuel car, there’ll be fuel available. And it supports our rural industry," stated Moffitt. "Profits from ethanol stay in our country."

If passed, the bill would create a new 10-percent sales tax credit for E20 gasoline, which contains 20 percent ethanol. It would also provide $20 million in annual grants, with ethanol companies receiving $15 million for research and gas stations receiving $5 million to install more flex-fuel pumps. It would also provide some profit to the state by ending a 20-year-old 20-percent tax credit for E10 fuel. This would result in $150 million per year added to Illinois' general fund, said Senate co-sponsor Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville).

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FSA Announces Application Period for Biomass Crop Assistance Program Project Areas
Publish Date: 2012-03-27

(FSA) Administrator Bruce Nelson announced the application period for the next round of Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Areas. Proposals will be accepted until April 23, 2012.
Click here to view related Website:
USDA - Mar 27,2012 - FSA Announces Application Period for Biomass Crop Assistance Program Project Areas

WASHINGTON, – USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Bruce Nelson announced the application period for the next round of Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Areas. Proposals will be accepted until April 23, 2012.

“BCAP provides incentives to farmers and forest landowners to grow non-food crops to be processed into biofuels – a critical element of our national energy strategy to address high fuel prices and reduce reliance on foreign oil,” said Nelson. “Because most energy crops are perennial and take time to mature before harvest, BCAP is designed so that sufficient quantities of feedstock will be available to meet future demand. And because these crops can grow where other crops cannot, it provides farmers with new opportunities to diversify into more markets.”

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New Synthetic Biology Technique Boosts Microbial Production of Diesel Fuel

Berekely Lab
March 26, 2012

Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers Develop Dynamic System for Regulating Metabolic Pathways

Significant boosts in the microbial production of clean, green and renewable biodiesel fuel has been achieved with the development of a new technique in synthetic biology by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). This new technique – dubbed a dynamic sensor-regulator system (DSRS) – can detect metabolic changes in microbes during the production of fatty acid-based fuels or chemicals and control the expression of genes affecting that production. The result in one demonstration was a threefold increase in the microbial production of biodiesel from glucose.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ethanol Snaps Losing Streak on Expectation for Production Cuts

By Mario Parker - Mar 23, 2012 4:08 PM CT

Ethanol snapped its longest streak of losses since December on speculation that producers will temper output for spring maintenance.

Output last week at 893,000 barrels was near the lowest level since October, an Energy Department said March 21. Production (DOETFETH) last year from the period between March 18 and April 15 tumbled 6.2 percent.

“There’s the concern that spring maintenance will bring down production a little bit more,” said Jerrod Kitt, an analyst at Linn Group in Chicago. “People actually data-mine that type of stuff. On the other side you have this gigantic, burdensome inventory that prevents the market from rallying.”

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Give corn checkoff a boost?

Author: LORI POTTER Hub Staff Writer
Posted: March 24, 2012 at 10:00 am

KEARNEY — St. Paul farmer and Nebraska Corn Board Director Tim Scheer figures the state checkoff he pays on his corn amounts to about 50 cents per acre.

“As a farmer, I can’t add 50 cents per acre to make an appreciable difference,” he said, particularly in the areas of research and development that are required for any industry to remain competitive.

However, combining all checkoff payments made by Nebraska corn growers yields millions of dollars for corn promotion, education, research and market development projects initiated or supported by the Corn Board.

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RFA anticipates E15 roll-out to begin soon

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill March 20, 2012

After receiving the U.S. EPA’s approval for a model Misfueling Mitigation Plan for E15 on March 15, the Renewable Fuels Association is moving ahead with an aggressive effort to educate fuel retailers on compliance requirements and assist them in completing the necessary steps to provide E15 to their customers. RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen said in a March 19 conference call that the EPA’s role in approving E15 for consumer use is now largely completed and he expects the fuel to be available for sale in certain areas very soon. “The job now is largely the industry’s to make E15 a commercial reality,” he said, adding that more than 20 companies have submitted E15 registrations to the EPA, signaling their intent to sell E15. The EPA has approved those registrations and is expected to announce the approvals soon, according to Dinneen.

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Cenusa lands $25M USDA grant to develop big bluestem, Indian grass and switchgrass for biofuels

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane March 26, 2012

In Iowa, Cenusa Bioenergy has received a five-year, $25 million grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to grow native perennial grasses such as big bluestem, Indian grass and switchgrass on marginal lands as feedstock for bio-oil via.

The project is based on a holistic approach that will lead to the development of a regional advanced biofuels industry, with research focused on feedstock development, sustainable production, feedstock logistics, system performance, feedstock conversion, markets and distribution, health and safety, education, extension and outreach.

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Mendel Biotechnology, BP Biofuels to conduct miscanthus trials

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Bryan Sims March 22, 2012

Hayward, Calif.-based dedicated energy crop developer Mendel Biotechnology Inc., together with its wholly owned subsidiary Mendel Bioenergy Seeds, and BP Biofuels have signed a four-year agreement to conduct a demonstration field trial of Mendel’s trademarked PowerCane Miscanthus and evaluate its performance as feedstock for cellulosic ethanol production at BP Biofuels’ 1.4 MMgy demonstration-scale production plant in Jennings, La.

A total of 100 acres of PowerCane Miscanthus is expected to be planted early this year near the Jennings cellulosic ethanol demo facility, and the first biomass harvest from these fields is expected to occur next year.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

What’s your biofuels venture worth?

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane March 23, 2012

Which technologies perform better than others with today’s feedstock costs, financing terms and fuel prices? Is your technology better, or miles better?

The Digest’s updated Biofuels Venture Valuation Calculator provides a quick comparison tool.
In Florida, Biofuels Digest released an updated version of its Biofuels Venture Value Calculator, downloadable here.. The purpose of the calculator is to assist project developers to quickly compare their basic system economics to other existing technologies for processing biomass into transport fuel and other co-products.

The free, downloadable Calculator offers 12 basic “business cases” for technologies such as “cellulosic ethanol,” “Cellulosic ethanol with loan guarantee”, “renewable diesel with 15 cent sugar” – based on estimates from projects whose costs have reached the public domain.

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Dow and Mitsui to start bio-PE production in 2015
Wednesday March 21 2012

US chemicals major Dow Chemical Co. and Japanese industrial conglomerate Mitsui & Co. expect to finalise negotiations around a 50:50 joint venture (JV) on renewable polyethylene (PE) in Brazil by the end of 2012, said Luis Cirihal, Dow business director for renewable alternatives and business development in Latin America.

The JV was initially announced in mid-August 2011 and under it, Mitsui will hold a 50% equity interest in Dow's operation in Santa Vitoria, Minas Gerais. The project is vertically integrated, initially aiming at ethanol production, then ethanol-to-ethylene and finally ethylene-to-PE production.

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Growth in grass pellet industry highlighted at heating seminar

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Luke Geiver March 22, 2012

When Enviro Energy LLC’s founder, Bob Miller, first started making pellets in upstate New York, he was just a farmer. The same can be said about Kevin Sumner and John Brown, both with Hudson Valley Grass Energy out of New York. All three individuals presented a history of their paths from farmer to fuel pellet developers during the Northeast Agricultural Biomass Heating Seminar, a one-day event held in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., that preceded the Northeast Biomass Heating Expo.

The presentations by Miller, Sumner, Brown and even Dan Arnett of Ernst Biomass, a pellet manufacturing startup that is tied to a Pennsylvania seed developer, all highlighted the growth of the perennial grass and agricultural-based pellet sector.

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Cooking better biochar: Study improves recipe for soil additive

Science Codex
Posted On: March 22, 2012 - 4:30pm

HOUSTON -- (March 22, 2012) -- Backyard gardeners who make their own charcoal soil additives, or biochar, should take care to heat their charcoal to at least 450 degrees Celsius to ensure that water and nutrients get to their plants, according to a new study by Rice University scientists.
The study, published this week in the Journal of Biomass and Bioenergy, is timely because biochar is attracting thousands of amateur and professional gardeners, and some companies are also scaling up industrial biochar production.

"When it's done right, adding biochar to soil can improve hydrology and make more nutrients available to plants," said Rice biogeochemist Caroline Masiello, the lead researcher on the new study.

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Fungi: Weapons Of Biomass Destruction

Scientific Blogging - Science 2.0
By News Staff March 22nd 2012 05:30 PM

Where would we be without fungi and microbes to break down dead trees and leaf litter in nature? Up to our eyeballs in arborial garbage, that's where.

But such biomass destruction goes on every day - understanding this process of selective ligninolysis is of longstanding interest to the pulp and paper industry. According to the American Forest&Paper Association, approximately $175 billion worth of forest products such as pulp and paper are produced annually, and account for five percent of the nation's GDP. Studying fungi is pulp nonfiction, according to the researchers doing massive-scale genome sequencing projects to learn how the cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin that serve as a plant's infrastructure can be broken down by these forest organisms to extract needed nutrients.

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White House announces $35M in new advanced biofuels R&D funding

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane March 23, 2012

In Washington, the White House announced up to $35 million over three years to support research and development in advanced biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products. The projects funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) – a joint program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Energy Department – will help develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products that can help replace the need for gasoline and diesel in vehicles and diversify our energy portfolio.

For fiscal year 2012, applicants seeking BRDI funding must propose projects that integrate science and engineering research in Feedstock Development, Biofuels and Biobased Products Development, or Biofuels Development Analysis.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Biodiesel production down; ethanol still at record surplus

Des Moines Register
4:40 PM, Mar 21, 2012 by Dan Piller

Biodiesel production has dropped from its record levels of late-2011 after the renewable fuel’s $1 per gallon tax credit expired on Jan. 1. But ethanol production continues at record levels.

The U.S. biodiesel industry produced 135 million gallons of fuel in the first two months of 2012, according to new numbers released by the EPA Wednesday.

The recent volume is ahead of the 80 million gallons produced in the same two months of 2011, but down from the record production late last year when the industry exceeded 100 million gallons per month for five consecutive months and reached a peak of 160 million gallons in December.

In 2011 biodiesel enjoyed a resurgence after congress not only reinstated the tax credit but also began a mandate of 800 million gallons to be used last year, expanded to 1 billion gallons in 2012.

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Bioenergy stakeholders take case to Capitol Hill

By Agri-Pulse staff
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2012 - Leaders from more than 20 bioenergy stakeholder groups are briefing congressional leaders and staff today on the critical role that bio-based products for fuels and power must play in a diversity national energy strategy.

The group held a briefing on Capitol Hill this morning, then breaking up into small groups to make offices visits with congressional leaders and staff. The group of leaders from the biofuels, biopower and bioproducts industries, as well as agriculture and other related industry interests, are highlighting a “wide range of issues facing bioenergy, while detailing the opportunities that bio-based energy solutions provide,” according to a release.

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Shell, BP Score Highest in New Pike Research Assessment of Oil Majors’ Commercialization of Biofuels

IBT Times (UK) Green Economy
20 March 2012, 10:53 BST

Today’s biofuels industry accounts for nearly 30 billion gallons of production. Still in its infancy, advanced biofuels production represents just a trickle today, but biofuels are expected to play an increasingly important role over the next decade due in part to mandates imposed in at least 31 countries worldwide. Contrary to popular perception, the growth of the biofuels industry is not adverse to the interests of Big Oil. In fact, with “easy oil” increasingly difficult to source and with an obvious stake in the future of the $2 trillion transportation fuel market, the world’s largest oil companies have begun charting strategies to bring biofuels to market at scale. At the same time, with the cost of meeting emerging mandates over the next decade estimated at $336 billion, access to the oil industry’s capital and expertise will be critical to scaling up biofuels production. According to a new Pike Pulse report published by Pike Research, the oil majors best positioned to drive and profit from the growth of biofuels are Shell and BP.

“While Pike Research does not perceive any of the oil majors to be outright industry leaders at this stage, several companies have demonstrated a solid foundation for growth and long-term success,” says senior analyst Mackinnon Lawrence. “Shell and BP both have advantageous near-term positions for ethanol production from sugarcane and strong commitments to commercializing advanced biofuel pathways.”

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Brazil ethanol demand could double in 10 years – agency
16 March 2012 19:08 [Source: ICIS news]

PRAIA DO FORTE, Brazil (ICIS)--Brazil’s ethanol demand could double to 40bn litres/year over the next 10 years, as long as sufficient investments are made in the sector, an official with a government agency said on Friday.

Substantial investments are required in sugarcane plantations to ensure the supply of feedstocks to the country’s ethanol industry, said Rubens Freitas, deputy superintendant for supply at the Agencia Nacional de Petroleo, Gas Natural e Biocombustiveis (ANP), the Brazilian petroleum agency.

“If producers plant enough sugarcane and build enough ethanol plants we expect in the next 10 years that demand for ethanol will be about 40bn litres,” he said.

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Stockpiled RINs hold potential to reduce corn demand

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill March 21, 2012

A recent analysis published by the University of Illinois agricultural and consumer economics department suggests that while the U.S. renewable fuel standard (RFS) mandate for corn ethanol implies greater demand for corn in 2012 compared to the previous year, actual demand could be up to 20 percent less than the mandate requires due to a banking provision in the renewable identification number (RIN) trading systems.

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Sorghum for Ethanol Increases
Posted by Joanna Schroeder – March 16th, 2012

Early March is an important time for the agricultural industry when they come together for Commodity Classic. With the challenges facing both the ag and energy industries, which go hand-in-hand, Terry Swanson, Chairman of the National Sorghum Producers said, “We have to be unified.”

When compared to other commodities used to produce biofuels, sorghum growers are a relatively small group. Today, about one third of the sorghum crop is used to make ethanol. However, the industry is hoping to see that number grow. For this to happen, Swanson said they need to speak with one voice.

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Algal Biomass Organization Announces Denver, Colorado as Location for 6th Annual Algae Biomass Summit

The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch
March 21, 2012, 12:33 p.m. EDT

Now Accepting Abstracts for Speaking Opportunities and Poster Presentations

DENVER, CO, Mar 21, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- The Algal Biomass Organization (ABO), the trade association for the U.S. algae industry, today announced that the 6th annual Algae Biomass Summit will be held September 24 - 27, 2012 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel in Denver, Colorado.

The ABO is currently seeking proposals for speakers, abstracts and poster presentations in biology, engineering and analysis, commercialization, and policy and finance. Abstracts for program sessions, oral or poster presentations are due by April 6th, 2012. More information on presentations and potential topics, and how to submit a proposal, is available at

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Des Moines Register

5 renewable energy trends to watch in 2012

GreenTech Pastures
By Heather Clancy March 13, 2012, 8:40am PDT

Summary: Advances in energy efficiency and grid-connected storage projects shape investments over the next 12 months, according to a new report from cleantech research firm Clean Edge.

Green technology and renewable energy research firm Clean Edge reports that the solar photovoltaic, wind power and biofuels markets grew 31 percent last year to reach $246.1 billion, despite the bad rap that renewable energy has been suffering since the Solyndra bankruptcy.

That’s one of the key findings in the firm’s “Clean Energy Trends 2012″ report. All three technology areas had a record year, according to Clean Edge. For example, solar installations grew by more than 69 percent from 15.6 gigawatts in 2010 to more than 26 gigawatts in 2011, largely due to rapidly decreasing solar technology costs. Last year was the largest year for wind power installations ever, reaching 41.6 gigawatts. (China alone has installed more than 40 percent of the global wind power capacity.)

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Study eliminates factors in low amino acid digestibility in DDGS

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen March 14, 2012

Compared to corn, dried distillers grains with solubles has a low and variable digestibility of amino acids, nutrients which swine and poultry need. Although that has generally been pinned on syrup balls or heat used in the drying process, researchers from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and the University of Minnesota did a study of growing pigs that eliminated syrup balls as a suspect for low amino acid digestibility.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of Animal Science. In order to determine if amino acid digestibility issues were associated with the solubles or syrup balls formed in DDGS, five ingredients were evaluated, including DDGS, intact syrup balls, ground syrup balls, liquid condensed solubles and pulse-dried thin stillage, all produced at the same ethanol plant.

Researchers noted that batches of DDGS can contain variable amounts and sizes of syrup balls, said Juliana Soares-Almeida, who worked on this study as part of her master’s study in animal science at University of Illinois. “Our concern was that the presence of syrup balls could contribute to the low and variable amino acid digestibility in DDGS,” she told EPM.

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GAO report addresses federal renewable energy initiatives

Biodiesel Magazine
By Erin Voegele March 20, 2012

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has published a report outlining hundreds of initiatives that federal agencies have implemented regarding renewable energy. According to information released by the GAO, 23 agencies government wide, through 130 subagencies, implemented nearly 700 renewable energy initiatives in 2010. The U.S. Department of Defense, USDA, U.S. DOE, and the U.S. Department of the Interior were collectively responsible for nearly 60 percent of these initiatives.

Bioenergy, solar and wind topped the list of the most commonly supported sources of renewable energy. The GAO’s analysis also revealed that while the initiatives supported both public and private sectors, the majority of support was provided to the private sector. Across the federal agencies, more than 80 percent of initiatives were found to span four key federal roles. These include supporting research and development activities, the use of renewable energy in vehicle fleets and facilities, incentives for commercialization and deployment, and regulation, permitting and ensuring compliance. The GAO also noted that certain agencies were found to lead each of these four efforts. Specifically, DOE, DOD and USDA led research and development activities while the DOD, General Services Administration and DOE led efforts regarding energy use in fleets and facilities. Regarding commercialization and deployment, the GAO said efforts were led by the Treasury and USDA. Finally, regulation, permitting and compliance initiatives were led by the Interior and the EPA.

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A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the GAO website.

Researchers find algae strain that tolerates, uses nitric oxide

Biofuels Digest
March 21, 2012

In Delaware, researchers at the University of Delaware are studying a tiny micro-algae as a potential feedstock for biofuel. The Heterosigma akashiwo can potentially neutralize nitric oxide often found smokestack emissions, feeding on the carbon dioxide and then can later be processed into biofuel. Typically, nitric oxide kills algae, but not this one, while its ability to absorb the nitrous oxide eliminates the need to add nitrogen to the biofuel production process, in turn saving more money.

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Ethanol bill earns Illinois cash, boosts struggling market

Quincy Journal
3/20/12, by Anthony Brino, Illinois Statehouse News

The bill also would create a new 10 percent sales tax credit for E20 gasoline and offer $20 million a year in grants, with $15 million going to ethanol companies for research and $5 million a year to gas stations to set up flex-fuel pumps

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois biofuel companies, like Marquis Energy, have been struggling to sell their ethanol in the United States since a federal tax credit on ethanol-blended gasoline expired in December, leaving the market glutted.

Marquis Energy in Hennepin has been turning Illinois corn into 100 million gallons of ethanol a year since 2008 — part of a biofuel boom over the past decade that helped make almost all regular gasoline sold in the U.S. 10 percent ethanol, called E10.

Now there’s more ethanol in the U.S. than American drivers are buying. “Since January, we've had some very tight (profit) margins” said Jason Marquis, the company’s plant manager and son of its founder, Mark Marquis.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Of miscanthus, Kardashians, wolves and fishmatoes: taming, mapping, enhancing genomes for bioenergy

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane March 20, 2012

Newly-public Ceres makes major breakthrough on miscanthus; is the gigantic energy grass ready for prime-time? Why is miscanthus driving so much attention, yet deserving more?
In California, followers of NASDAQ prices noted yesterday that shares in the newly-public Ceres rocketed up 15 percent to close at $17.52. What happened? It was revealed yesterday, in the peer-reviewed, online journal PLoS One that Ceres and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University in Wales have completed the first high-resolution, comprehensive genetic map of miscanthus. The full article is here.

In other crops, this type of comprehensive genetic mapping has significantly shortened product development timelines. Hence, the lift in the stock.

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First Complete Full Genetic Map of Promising Energy Crop

ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2012) — Researchers in Wales and the United States have collaborated to complete the first high-resolution, comprehensive genetic map of a promising energy crop called miscanthus.

The results -- published in the current edition of the peer-reviewed, online journal PLoS One -- provide a significant breakthrough towards advancing the production of bioenergy.

The breakthrough results from the long-term collaboration between energy crop company Ceres, Inc., based in Thousand Oaks, California, USA, and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University in Wales. The IBERS team created the collection of genetically related plants and Ceres then sequenced and analyzed the DNA. In other crops, this type of comprehensive genetic mapping has significantly shortened product development timelines.

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Brazilian ethanol producer switches to corn to boost production in sugarcane downtime

Biofuels Digest
Meghan Sapp March 20, 2012

In Brazil, ethanol production from corn has begun at traditional sugarcane ethanol producer Usimat Destilaria de Alcohol in Mato Grosso state in an attempt to boost ethanol supply during the sugarcane intercrop season.

The $11 million facility produces 90,000 liters of ethanol per day and will eventually reach 120 million liters per day from 300 metric tons of corn. The facility expects to produce up to 40 million liters per intercrop season by 2013.

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Push By Ethanol Producers Into Corn Oil Raises Concerns Over DDGs

Published March 20, 2012
Dow Jones Newswires

CHICAGO – A push by U.S. ethanol companies into corn oil is starting to give the livestock industry indigestion.

Corn oil, which is used both for cooking oil and to make biodiesel fuel, has emerged over the last year as a lucrative niche product for ethanol producers looking to add new revenue at a time of weak returns. Corn-oil production, though, comes with a downside: extracting the oil cuts into the fat content of the ethanol industry's major byproduct--distillers dried grain.

The yellow, powdery substance known as DDGs is ubiquitous in the feed rations for cattle, hogs and poultry. Yet extracting corn oil makes DDGs less effective at helping animals grow ahead of slaughter.

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RFA Ready for 15% Ethanol to be Legal
Posted by – March 19th, 2012

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is ready for 15% ethanol (E15) to become street legal – something that could happen at any moment.

RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen, Vice President of Technical Services Kristy Moore, and Director of Market Development Robert White gave an overview of the most recent developments in the commercialization of E15 ethanol blends. Specifically, they discussed EPA’s acceptance of the RFA’s Misfueling Mitigation Plan (MMP) and the release of its E15 Retailer Handbook.

“The job now is largely the industry’s to make E15 a commercial reality and we are working hard to make sure that happens,” said Dinneen.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

UW-Madison invention basis for top honor in clean-energy competition

University of Wisconsin-Madison
March 15, 2012
by David Tenenbaum

A new company built to commercialize a green-energy discovery at University of Wisconsin-Madison earned the top honor — and a check for $100,000 — at this month's Chicago Clean Energy Challenge.

The firm, named Hyrax Energy, is developing a process to make sugar from cellulose, the tough carbohydrate that gives structure to plants.

That sugar could be a raw material for the biofuels, chemical and plastics industries. Ethanol, a biofuel added to gasoline, consumes about 40 percent of the total American corn crop. Using cellulose would reduce pressure on the price of corn and greatly expand the range of raw materials.

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EPA signals that E15 Misfueling Mitigation Plan is workable

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane March 16, 2012

In Washington, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicated that the model Misfueling Mitigation Plan for E15 as submitted by the Renewable Fuels Association meets the requirements of EPA’s E15 waiver decision. In January 2011, EPA expanded upon its October 2010 decision and approved the use of E15 for light duty passenger vehicles Model Year 2001 and newer.

The next steps will include ensuring companies seeking to offer E15 are registered with EPA, they have submitted the Misfueling Mitigation plan, and are addressing lingering fuel regulatory requirements at the state level. Some states, including Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas, are prepared to welcome E15 and drivers in those states will be among the first to see E15 at the pump.

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EPA signals that E15 Misfueling Mitigation Plan is workable

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane March 16, 2012

In Washington, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicated that the model Misfueling Mitigation Plan for E15 as submitted by the Renewable Fuels Association meets the requirements of EPA’s E15 waiver decision. In January 2011, EPA expanded upon its October 2010 decision and approved the use of E15 for light duty passenger vehicles Model Year 2001 and newer.

The next steps will include ensuring companies seeking to offer E15 are registered with EPA, they have submitted the Misfueling Mitigation plan, and are addressing lingering fuel regulatory requirements at the state level. Some states, including Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas, are prepared to welcome E15 and drivers in those states will be among the first to see E15 at the pump.

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LS9, Novozymes, Boeing, Abengoa, Dupont among the winners in 2012 Sustainable Biofuels Awards

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane March 16, 2012

In the Netherlands, World Biofuels Markets Congress & Exhibition 2012 announced the winners of the 2012 Sustainable Biofuels Awards. The 4th annual awards, which recognize innovation and achievement in the development of truly sustainable and renewable fuels, were presented to winners at a special ceremony during the 7th annual World Biofuels Markets.

“We had thousands of nominations from around the world and across the entire biofuels value chain,” said Claire Poole, Event Director, Green Power Conferences, organizer of the awards and conference. “The winning companies demonstrated a layer of achievement and promise above their peers that bodes well for themselves as well as the industry as a whole.”

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Biofuels moves from Dark Ages to Renaissance; voices from World Biofuels Markets

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane March 15, 2012
By Nadim Chaudhry, CEO of Green Power Conferences

Representatives from up and down the value chain of the biofuels industry took stage this week at World Biofuels Markets to discuss issues regarding the state of the industry and several key issues impacting its growth.

Having been involved in this space since 2003, I’ve seen a series of phases. The first – what I’ll call Euphoria – was in the 2006-2008 timeframe, where a series of events, from high oil prices to feedstock surplus (and consequent low cost) and mostly supportive government policy around the world. Biofuels were “in.”

This quickly gave way to the Dark Ages, the period from 2008 until about midway through 2011. Crashing oil prices, soaring feedstock costs, controversial claims about food vs. fuel, Indirect Land Use, “Splash & Dash”, and expired tax credits all combined to hammer the industry.

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A Fragrant New Candidate For Biofuel
March 14, 2012

A class of chemical compounds used for flavor and fragrance may one day become a clean, renewable resource with which to fuel our automobiles. U.S. Department of Energy researchers have modified the E. Coli bacteria to create large quantities of methyl ketone from glucose. First tests of this methyl ketone show very high cetane numbers. Cetane is a fuel rating system for diesel fuel, similar to octane ratings for gasoline. This makes the methyl ketones a viable candidate for production of advanced biofuels, according to researchers.

“Our findings add to the list of naturally occurring chemical compounds that could serve as biofuels, which means more flexibility and options for the biofuels industry,” says Harry Beller, a Joint BioEnergy Institute microbiologist who led this study. “We’re especially encouraged by our finding that it is possible to increase the methyl ketone titer production of E. coli more than 4,000-fold with a relatively small number of genetic modifications.”

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Bioenergy Interests Invited to Attend Capitol Hill Day

Hoosier Ag Today
Posted on 14 March 2012 by Gary Truitt

A diverse group of bioenergy stakeholders is holding a Capitol Hill Day for Bioenergy in Washington, DC on March 21. The event is being sponsored by a number of organizations including the 25x’25 Alliance,American Farm Bureau Federation, Advance Biofuels Organization, Algal Biomass Organization, American Council on Renewable Energy, Biomass Power Association, Energy Future Coalition, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Farmers Union, and SAFER Alliance.

The groups are holding the event to draw attention to the fact that renewables make up nearly 12 percent of all energy produced in the U.S., such as fuels, electricity and thermal energy from biomass, and that bioenergy reduces the nation’s risks from dependence on foreign oil, strengthens our economy and ensures the continued, sustainable management of our natural resources.

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Monsanto tests drought-tolerant biotech corn

Post Bulletin
Posted: Mar 15, 2012, 7:04 am

BISMARCK, N.D. — Seed giant Monsanto Co. plans large-scale tests this year of the first government-approved biotech crop developed to deal with drought.

The new corn is being introduced as much of the U.S. remains abnormally dry and areas in the South and Southwest still face severe drought. Monsanto says the corn won't be a panacea for drought-stricken farmers but when combined with improved agricultural practices could help those in areas like the western Great Plains, where production without irrigation can be half as much as the national average.

The St. Louis-based company plans on-farm trials from South Dakota to Texas to quantify how well the corn works before releasing it commercially next year. Farmers in areas like western Kansas, which gets about half of the annual rainfall enjoyed by the eastern half of the state, are eager for the results.

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NH House: Ban ethanol in gasoline

UPDATED 12:47 PM EDT Mar 14, 2012

Ethanol driving up food prices, say supporters

CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire's House has voted to ban corn-based ethanol as a gasoline additive.

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The ban would not take effect unless at least two other New England states do the same. A similar proposal has not been approved in the rest of the region.

The House voted Wednesday to send the bill to the Senate after supporters successfully argued the use of ethanol has not benefited the environment as much as hoped. They also pointed out that use of corn to make ethanol has driven up food prices.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Field Trial Planned for PowerCane Miscanthus
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – March 13th, 2012

Mendel Biotechnology, Inc. and BP Biofuels will be conducting demonstration field trials of a newly developed energy specific variety of miscanthus.

The two companies have signed a four-year agreement to test Mendel’s PowerCane™ Miscanthus and evaluate its performance as feedstock for biofuel production at BP Biofuels’ demonstration plant at Jennings, Louisiana. A total of 100 acres of PowerCane™ Miscanthus will be planted in early 2012 near BP’s Jennings facility and the first biomass harvest from these fields is expected in 2013.

“PowerCane™ Miscanthus varieties are the first miscanthus products specifically developed for biomass production that can be planted as a seed,” said Mendel Bioenergy Seeds president Don Panter. “The PowerCane™ Miscanthus system will be significantly more economical and efficient for growers, and will allow the industry to scale up more quickly to meet renewable energy goals.”

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Ethanol Production in U.S. Falls 1.6%, Energy Department Says

By Mario Parker - Mar 14, 2012 9:46 AM CT

Ethanol output in the U.S. fell 1.6 percent to 892,000 barrels a day, the lowest level in five months, the Energy Department said today.

Production (DOETFETH) sank the most since the week ended Feb. 24 and to the lowest amount since October 7. Stockpiles (DOESFETH) fell to 22 million barrels, the first decline since Dec. 9, the department said in a report released in Washington today.

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U.S. ag secretary says ethanol holding gas prices in check
Updated: March 14, 2012 12:32 AM EST
By JIM MARTIN, Erie Times-News

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack knows gas prices are high.

His wife reminded him just how high recently after she paid more than $90 to fill their midsize car in Washington, D.C., where gas sells for more than $5 a gallon.

But Vilsack, a Pittsburgh native, said prices could be a lot worse.

In an interview with the Erie Times-News, Vilsack said Tuesday that ethanol and other biofuels are helping to hold prices at the pump in check.

"If we did not have a biofuel industry, we would probably be looking at 80 cents to $1.30 higher than today," he said.

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Stabenow amendment to extend biodiesel tax credit voted down

Biodiesel Magazine
By Erin Voegele March 13, 2012

Legislation that would have extended the biodiesel tax incentive through the end of the year was voted down by the U.S. Senate this afternoon. The amendment to the Surface Transportation Bill, S. 1813, was sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. Only 49 senators voted in favor of the amendment. A total of 60 ayes were needed for the measure to be added to the bill.

“This is another missed opportunity for Congress to do something to boost the economy,” said Anne Steckel, the National Biodiesel Board’s vice president of federal affairs. “We're talking about thousands of jobs across the country that are affected by this, and the very real possibility that biodiesel plants will go out of business. It's also a missed opportunity for Congress to do something about these oil price spikes by diversifying our fuel supplies and reducing our exposure to the global petroleum markets.”

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hog Producers Can Compete with Ethanol for Corn
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – March 12th, 2012

An agricultural economist says hog producers are now able to compete with ethanol producers for corn.

“This is an amazing difference from just five years ago,” said Purdue agricultural economist Dr. Chris Hurt. “The hog industry was largely set up with $2-2.50 corn going into 2006. After that we saw major increases in those corn prices.” Dr. Hurt spoke to swine veterinarians on the topic of “Global Feed Economics in a Biofuel World” during seminar in Denver on Friday.

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University of Illinois Study Finds Swine Diets Can Include Up to 15% Glycerin and Achieve Performance Similar to Conventional Diet

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: January 24, 2011

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

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

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

"Previous studies have shown variable results."

Glycerin is a major co-product of biodiesel production.

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Texas AgriLife Study Finds Crude Glycerin From Biodiesel Production Could Be Useful in Cattle Diets
Date Posted: March 12, 2012

Amarillo—Crude glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel production, could be an economical ingredient in cattle diets, according to studies by Texas AgriLife Research and West Texas A&M University personnel.

Dr. Jim MacDonald, AgriLife Research beef cattle nutritionist in Amarillo, said during biodiesel production from sources such as cottonseed oil, glycerol is separated from fatty acids.

The fatty acids become the biodiesel and the glycerol, combined with the impurities that remain, is a potential ingredient in livestock feed.

“Crude glycerin is usually priced at a discount relative to corn, so we wanted to look at replacing corn to evaluate at the energy value of the glycerin,” MacDonald said.

“Then the question became, what if you replace forage, which would be the case with stocker cattle?”

MacDonald said glycerin has good flowability in low temperatures, as opposed to molasses or other similar products, and is non-corrosive to feeding equipment — both traits making it attractive to the cattle feeding industry.

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U.S. must 'hustle' to reach 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022, ag secretary says
Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
Updated: 2012-03-12T13:29:25Z

The United States can meet President Barack Obama's goal of producing 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022, but it better get moving.

That's according to Tom Vilsack, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is working with other federal agencies to boost biofuels production.

"I think we're going to have to hustle," Vilsack said during a phone interview Tuesday with the Daily Press.

The U.S. produced roughly 14 billion gallons of biofuels last year. The overwhelming majority was corn-based ethanol, an industry that benefited from a 30-year federal subsidy program that Congress let expire in December.

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Dupont Cellulosic Ethanol Program
Posted on March 12, 2012 by Chuck

During the recent Pioneer Hi-Bred media event, “Turning Insight Into Action,” Chet Holingshead visited with Steve Mirshak, Global Business Director for Dupont Cellulosic Ethanol. Steve conducted a presentation titled, “DCE – Achieving Sustainable Residue Harvest Goals for Energy Independence.” The company is constructing a cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, IA with construction to start later this year. Steve talks about the planned 27.5 million gallon plant which will be built on land purchased from Lincolnway Energy. He says there are synergies with working closely with Lincolnway Energy.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Industry supports extension of cellulosic, advanced tax credits

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By AEC, Growth Energy, RFA March 08, 2012

Washington – The Renewable Fuels Association, Advanced Ethanol Council and Growth Energy March 8 expressed support for an amendment to the Senate transportation bill offered by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. RFA and AEC each also sent a letter to Senate leadership about the amendment.

“We support Sen. Stabenow’s amendment because it will help consumers have access to the most affordable vehicle fuel on earth – ethanol. We believe that as long as oil maintains it’s near monopoly over the market, this country needs to encourage the development of alternatives, like ethanol from cellulosic biomass. Otherwise we will always be victim to the saber-rattling of rogue states like Iran, which can drive up fuel prices for everyday Americans with just a threat,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “Ethanol from grain is already the most commercially-viable alternative to gasoline derived from foreign oil. We are very close to making cellulosic ethanol viable as well – and this policy will help a great deal with that.”

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Ethanol Land Use Debate Continues
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – March 8th, 2012

The debate over ethanol, greenhouse gases and land use continues – and that was the topic of a panel discussion at the recent 17th annual National Ethanol Conference.

The panel, moderated by Renewable Fuels Association VP of Research and Analysis Geoff Cooper, consisted of Thomas Darlington with Air Improvement Resource, Inc.; Dr. David Zilberman with the University of California-Berkeley; and Dr. Wally Tyner with Purdue University. The three experts addressed the latest developments in GHG analysis, and the impact of regulations like the Renewable Fuel Standard and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard on the future of the ethanol industry.

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No changes to corn supply/demand in March crop report

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Susanne Retka Schill March 09, 2012

No changes to the U.S. corn balance sheet from the previous month were made to the USDA’s monthly World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates report released Friday morning, although the projected farm-gate price range for corn and sorghum is narrowed. The projected ranges for the season-average farm prices are both narrowed 10 cents on each end to $5.90 to $6.50 per bushel and $5.80 to $6.40 per bushel, respectively.

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MSU’s giant miscanthus used to make gasoline

Delta Farm Press
Keri Collins Lewis, Mississippi State University
Mar. 8, 2012 2:27pm

Cool Planet Biofuels recently announced it has used Freedom giant miscanthus to create gasoline, a breakthrough in the biofuels industry.

Mississippi State University researcher Brian Baldwin and his colleagues in the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station spent years developing a variety of giant miscanthus, a perennial grass native to Asia, particularly suited to the Southeastern climate and soils. MSU filed a plant patent application for the resulting variety, named Freedom, in 2010, and licensed it to Georgia-based Repreve Renewables LLC.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Thirsty for More

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill February 22, 2012

Ethanol’s high octane rating may be the ticket for meeting escalating fuel efficiency standards in engines

In November, the U.S. EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration jointly announced the next step in the Obama administration’s plan to improve vehicle fuel efficiency and significantly reduce emissions over the next 15 years. The proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards unveiled by the agencies, which reportedly had the support of major automakers and environmental groups, would steadily increase fuel efficiency requirements for light-duty truck and passenger cars from an average of 34 miles per gallon (mpg) in 2016 to more than 50 mpg in 2025 and reduce allowable emissions to 163 grams of CO2 per mile in model year 2025 vehicles.

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Obama: “electricity, biofuels or natural gas, we’ll help you cut through the red tape and build fueling stations.”

Biofuels Digest
Thomas Saidak March 9, 2012

In North Carolina, speaking at the Daimler Trucks North America facility in Mount Holly, President Obama made the following statement:

“To cities and towns all across the country, what we’re going to say is, if you make a commitment to buy more advanced vehicles for your community — whether they run on electricity or biofuels or natural gas — we’ll help you cut through the red tape and build fueling stations nearby. And we’ll offer tax breaks to families that buy these cars, companies that buy alternative fuel trucks like the ones that are made right here at Mount Holly. So we’re going to give communities across the country more of an incentive to make the shift to more energy-efficient cars.”

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Feeding the Chemical Market

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Erin Voegele March 05, 2012

Ethanol serves as not only a liquid transportation fuel but also as a feedstock for biobased chemical production

Although ethanol is generally associated with the transportation fuel market, it is in no way limited to use as a liquid fuel. It can also be converted—via known technology—into biobased chemicals, the most predominant being the common platform chemical ethylene. Once an ethanol molecule is processed into ethylene, it can be further refined into a plastic material known as polyethylene.

While using ethanol as a feedstock to produce ethylene is relatively new, the finished chemical itself is not new, as it has traditionally been derived from crude oil. In fact, recent statistics show it is the most produced organic compound in the world. Information published by the National Petrochemicals and Refiners Association notes that the colorless, flammable gas is one of the most important olefin chemicals on the market. It is used extensively in chemical synthesis and in the production of plastics.

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Ohio adds 'algaculture' to agriculture statutory definition

Biorefining Magazine
By Erin Voegele March 06, 2012

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed HB 276 into law. The legislation amends state law to include algaculture, meaning the farming of algae, in the law governing agriculture, including those addressing county and township zoning, and current agriculture use valuation. Specifically, the legislation revises the definitions of "agriculture," "agricultural purposes," "agricultural production," and "land devoted exclusively to agricultural use" found in state agricultural statutes and some other state statutes to include algaculture.

“We applaud the commitment of Ohio’s leadership for their vision and support of the emerging algae industry for both business and agriculture,” said Ross Youngs, CEO and founder of Ohio-based Algaeventure Systems. “HB 276 provides the right regulatory framework to properly cultivate the growing algal industry, attract investment dollars into the state of Ohio, and provide regulatory clarity. Defining Algaculture as agriculture in the Ohio Revised Code places Ohio in a leadership position while making a powerful statement that Ohio is open for business and welcomes investment in this emerging industry.”

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JBEI spins out Lygos to commercialize sugar-metabolizing microbes

Biorefining Magazine
By Erin Voegele March 05, 2012

The U.S. DOE’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has spun out its first company, Lygos. The technology developed at JBEI, which will be commercialized by the new company, features designer microorganisms that metabolize sugar and can produce a wide variety of molecules.

According to information released by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which leads JBEI, the technology essentially repurposes a class of proteins that have been used for decades to make antibiotics and other drugs. Polyketide synthases are a (PKS) are a family of multifunctional enzymes that produce polyketides, hydrocarbon chains that serve as the backbone for many natural and synthetic organic chemicals. The JBEI researchers redesigned the PKS pathway by mixing and matching genetic information to produce compounds that were never made by nature but are used in everyday synthetic materials.

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Cobalt and NREL verify advanced biocatalyst

biofuels international
8 March 2012

Cobalt Technologies has successfully demonstrated of one of its advanced biocatalysts in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which forms part of the US Department of Energy. Cobalt completed multiple fermentation campaigns in a 9,000 litre fermenter, exceeding the target yield and other performance metrics for a commercial scale facility. The demonstration showed the biocatalyst's ability to convert non-food based substrates into renewable n-butanol and resulted in high sugar conversion and high yields of butanol.

'Ultimately, we're showing performance is achievable at commercial scale across our technology platform,' says Bob Mayer, CEO of Cobalt Technologies.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Biodiesel Education Program Develops 4-H and Elementary Curriculum

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: March 2, 2012

Students age eight to 12 have an opportunity to learn about renewable energy, including biodiesel, through hands-on activities and demonstrations.

The University of Idaho’s Biodiesel Education Program recently released a new curriculum designed to help elementary school age children understand the concepts of energy and renewable energy.

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University of Missouri Extension Researchers Study How Much DDGS Is Too Much
Date Posted: March 2, 2012

Columbia, MO—Any way you slice it, bacon appeals to the American palate.

“Right now bacon is where the money is as one of the hottest commodities on the pig, up there in price with the loin,” said Marcia Shannon, University of Missouri Extension swine researcher.

MU Extension researchers recently collaborated with other universities to figure out what mix of feed works best to finish out hogs while creating better bacon for the breakfast plate.

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Removing fiber from DDGS results in superior product for swine

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen February 27, 2012

Removing fiber from dried distillers grains with solubles using the elusieve process results in an enhanced product with greater nutritional value for growing and finishing pigs, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana.

The elusieve process separates fiber from DDGS by blowing air through DDGS that has been separated by particle size. “[It’s] similar to separating chaff from wheat,” according to a website about the process. Not yet being used at commercial scale, the elusieve process is being researched at pilot scale at Mississippi State University, which has the equipment to separate fiber from one ton of DDGS an hour, according to Radhakrishnan Srinivasan, assistant research professor at MSU’s department of agricultural and biological engineering. Srinivasan studied the process at the University of Illinois while completing his doctorate and now works at MSU.

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German scientists to conduct cooperative biofuels research

Renewable Energy Magazine
Friday, 02 March 2012
by Toby Price

In an attempt to better coordinate and, ultimately, speed up research into fuels of the future, an interdisciplinary “Fuels Joint Research Group” has been founded in Germany.

International research in fuel is becoming increasingly diverse. It's not just about setting the chemical energy in liquid fuel into motion. There are also the crucial interactions between the various fuel components, the engine, the engine oil and the treatment of exhaust. Four researchers from various German universities and research institutes have therefore taken the decision to merge to form the "Fuels Joint Research Group".

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Blue Marble, Anheuser-Busch sign MOU to develop pilot biorefinery

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Bryan Sims February 28, 2012

Seattle-based biorefining firm Blue Marble Biomaterials and Anheuser-Busch Companies LLC have signed a memorandum of understanding for Blue Marble to begin development of a pilot biorefinery to be co-located at a North American Anheuser-Busch brewery. A specific location of the Anheuser-Busch site wasn’t disclosed.

The project will initially focus on converting spent brewery grains and biogas derived from the brewing process into high-value biobased chemicals that can be readily used in the food, flavoring and fragrance industries using Blue Marble’s proprietary Acid, Gas and Ammonia Targeted Extraction (AGATE) process technology.

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Africa: New Tools Help Countries Harness the Potential of Bioenergy, Avoid Pitfalls
5 March 2012

Rome — FAO has just released a suite of guidance documents and policymaking tools that governments can use to help rural communities benefit from bioenergy development and ensure that biofuel crop production does not come at the expense of food security.

Materials released today by FAO's Bioenergy and Food Security Criteria and Indicators (BEFSCI) Project include: methodologies for assessing the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of bioenergy production, indicators that can be measured when doing so, recommended good practices, and policy measures for promoting sustainable bionenergy development.

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EPA says not now, maybe later to camelina, energy cane, napiergrass, and giant reed as biofuels feedstocks

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane March 6, 2012

In Washington, the EPA withdrew the direct final rule to allow camelina, energy cane, napiergrass, and giant reed to meet the RFS2.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said: “EPA published a direct final rule on January 5, 2012 (77 FR 700) to amend the Renewable Fuel Standard program regulations. The amendments would have expanded Table 1 of § 80.1426 to identify additional renewable fuel production pathways and pathway components that could be used in producing qualifying renewable fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard program. We stated in that direct final rule that if we received adverse comment by February 6, 2012, that we would publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register.

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Pellet boilers now classified as conventional heating source

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin March 06, 2012

Wood pellet boilers are now classified as a conventional, primary heating source, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and consequently will now qualify for Federal Housing Authority Funding. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shawn Donovan announced the news March 1.

The announcement came after a request from Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for HUD to take another look at the issue, because families in Maine are facing major financial burdens from high oil prices and cut backs in fuel assistance programs. “Maine is the most heavily dependent of any state in the nation on home heating oil, and when you see the spikes in oil prices that we’ve seen this year, and the cut backs in the low income heating assistance program, it is causing tremendous hardship for so many of our families in Maine,” she said. “It’s also very difficult because Maine has the oldest housing stock in the nation, and thus, there are a lot of homes that are poorly insulated and would benefit from weatherization projects, and that’s something we ought to invest more in, as well.”

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Bingaman introduces Clean Energy Standard

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin March 01, 2012

U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., has introduced legislation for a national Clean Energy Standard that would require large utilities to begin selling a certain portion of their electricity from clean energy sources beginning in 2015.

The Clean Energy Act of 2012 begins at 24 percent clean energy in 2015, and increases by 3 percent per year through 2035 to reach 84 percent. It would only apply to utilities that are selling electricity to retail consumers, and exempts small utilities. In 2015, 8 percent of all utilities would need to meet the standard, and 13 percent of all utilities would need to meet it in 2025.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Feeding the biofuels beast

Drovers Cattle Network
John Maday Updated: March 2, 2012

Back in my school years, I learned that agriculture involved production of food, feed and fiber. These days of course, we’ve added production of energy to the list. And according to a recent study from the University of Montana, without significant policy change, food, feed and fiber could nearly drop off the list entirely.

The study, titled “Bioenergy Potential of the United States Constrained by Satellite Observations of Existing Productivity,” was published recently in Environmental Science & Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society. Results of the study illustrate the need to develop alternative raw materials for biofuel production, rather than grain which is today’s primary feedstock, and to adjust our expectations.

The researchers point out that the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 aims to increase annual U.S. biofuel production by more than three-fold, from 40 to 136 billion liters of ethanol by 2022.

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Petroleum group discounts ethanol's role in gas prices

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill February 27, 2012

In a Feb. 22 press call to discuss rising gas prices, the American Petroleum Institute’s chief economist, John Felmy, blamed crude oil prices for high prices at the pump, and said refinery closures and increasing exports of U.S. gas and diesel are not major factors in the spike in prices. Felmy said that, in fact, U.S. refineries produced record amounts of gasoline in 2011 and in January, due to their ability to produce more gasoline and diesel from every barrel of crude. He also noted that the use of biofuels has reduced the amount of petroleum fuels needed in the market. “We’ve had a mandate to have more biofuels in the refinery stream and so the total finished gasoline supplies have gone up as a function of all those things,” he said.

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EIA releases early version of Annual Energy Outlook

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin February 29, 2012

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has made public an early release version of its 2012 Annual Energy Outlook. The report predicts biomass and wind electricity to dominate projected increases in U.S. non-hydro renewable electricity generation.

For biomass specifically, the EIA predicts a four-fold increase by the year 2035, accounting for 30 percent of the growth in non-hydro renewables. The report states that the quadruple increase is driven by two main factors: federal requirements to use more biomass-based transportation fuels—which leads to increased electricity generation as a co-product from liquid fuel facilities such as cellulosic ethanol refineries—and the co-firing of biomass with coal increasing over the projection period. This will be induced partially by state-level renewable portfolio standards, as well as favorable economics in regions with significant forestry residues, according to the EIA. It expects traditional industrial combined-heat-and-power generation in sectors such as the pulp and paper industry to continue to contribute to overall biomass generation.

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'Mini-cellulose' discovery may maximize thermochemical processes

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Bryan Sims February 28, 2012

In thermochemical processes such fast pyrolysis or gasification, the breakdown of biomass into solid biopolymers—in particular cellulose, a polysaccharide that consists of long chains of tightly linked sugar subunits that must be broken down into simple sugars before they can be processed into biofuel or biobased chemicals—involves reactions that occur at such a rapid rate and are often so complicated in nature. The reactions are so fast and complex that current technology doesn’t allow operators to devise or employ reliable computer modeling systems to track and decipher the myriad of complex reactions of biomass in the process all the way to the chemical vapor products, most notably furans, an important precursor for the production of biofuels and biochemicals.

But a team of chemical engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have discovered a small molecule, called α-cyclodextrin, which behaves the same as cellulose when it’s converted into biofuel. Coined the “mini-cellulose” molecule, according to Paul Dauenhauer, assistant professor of chemical engineering and leader of the UMass Amherst research team, it reveals for the first time the chemical reactions that take place in wood or prairie grasses during high-temperature conversion into biofuels. Dauenhauer and his team’s discovery was reported in the January 2012 issue of the journal Energy & Environmental Science and highlighted in Nature Chemistry.

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Tilbury biomass fire proves handling risks

Port Strategy
04 Mar 2012

A huge fire in two biomass storage hoppers at Tilbury Power Station has highlighted the challenges for ports involved in handling and storing wood pellets for power generation.

Essex deputy chief fire officer Adam Eckley described the blaze as one of the largest the service had ever encountered. At its peak, 120 firefighters were onsite. According to Mr Eckley, early indications suggested the fire may have started in a conveyor belt above the hoppers.

RWE has invested millions of pounds in converting the power station, situated alongside the River Thames, from coal-fired to a facility 100% fuelled by wood pellets and tall oil, a by-product of wood pulp manufacture, to deliver 750 MW of green power.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Algal Biomass Organization's Industry Survey Reveals Increased Production, Price-Competitiveness and Need for Level Playing Field

The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch
press release
March 1, 2012, 2:47 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar 01, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- A new survey of the algae industry conducted by the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO) shows algae companies are increasing production in 2012, they expect to be price-competitive with petroleum fuels by 2020, and that stable and effective Federal policy would accelerate production and job creation.

The survey of more than 380 algae industry contacts shows a rapidly growing sector: 65 percent of algae producers said they plan to expand capacity in 2012 as they work to provide the U.S with new sources of sustainable, domestically produced fuels.

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Catalyzing Biodiesel Growth

Biodiesel Magazine
By Bryan Sims February 28, 2012

An analysis of conventional acid and base catalysts used in today’s biodiesel industry

Catalysts play an important role in the overall profitability of a biodiesel production enterprise. Minimizing catalyst use, particularly homogenous catalysts, while simultaneously maximizing product quality and process yield is a pervasive challenge that every biodiesel producer encounters daily because, after all, single digit differences in yield can determine whether margins are positive or negative.

Among the most common and reliable catalysts for traditional transesterification of biodiesel, one that has supported the steady production volume increases over the past decade, is the homogenous, ready-to-use base catalysts of sodium and potassium methylate. Some smaller plants and many backyard brewers still prepare catalyst themselves by mixing sodium or potassium hydroxide (caustic soda or potash, respectively) with methanol, a practice that was more common years ago, but today the homogeneous catalyst of choice in the industry today is ready-to-use sodium methylate. Biodiesel producers tout the benefits of using sodium methylate as a catalyst—either in its solid crystal state or in a solution with methanol—including increased biodiesel yield, lower purification costs and more consistent quality.

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Ethanol oversupply situation may mean DDGS price increase

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen March 02, 2012

With ethanol plants slowing production or even idling in response to tight margins and oversupply, a South Dakota State University economics adjunct professor is advising cattle feeders to consider changing their seasonal habits and lock in price or physical supply of distillers grains.

“Right now, I think the slowdown of ethanol plants is likely to make this a year when DDGS prices don’t follow that seasonal trend, but instead stay stable or increase,” Darrell Mark, a former Extension livestock marketing specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told EPM. “Another factor is that demand for coproduct feed might increase a little due to winter weather—for cow/calf operations that use the feeds as a supplement, or to the extent that daily intake increases in feedlot cattle.”

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Bacteria tend leafcutter ants' gardens

DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Microbes turn leaves into nutrients; knowledge could improve biofuel production

RICHLAND, Wash. – Leafcutter ants, the tiny red dots known for carrying green leaves as they march through tropical forests, are also talented farmers that cultivate gardens of fungi and bacteria. Ants eat fungi from the so-called fungal gardens, but the bacteria's role has been unclear until now.

New research shows the bacteria help decompose the leaves and play a major role in turning the leaves into nutrients that may be important for both ants and fungi. The findings were published March 1 by The ISME Journal, a publication of the International Society for Microbial Ecology.

"This research provides some of the first tangible details about the fascinating symbiotic relationship between leafcutter ants, fungi and bacteria," said Kristin Burnum, a bioanalytical chemist at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Burnum is a co-author on the paper and led the study's protein analysis. "Understanding how bacteria turn plant matter into a source of energy in ant fungal gardens could also help improve biofuel production."

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Rabobank Report: The Future of Ethanol - Brazilian and U.S. Perspectives

The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch
March 1, 2012, 12:25 p.m. EST

NEW YORK, March 1, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- A new report from Rabobank's global Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory department on the future of ethanol provides a look at recent developments and current situations in both the Brazilian and United States markets, and perspectives for 2012 and beyond.

Current Landscape

In the report, Rabobank points out that the beginning of 2012 has seen significant changes in U.S. ethanol policy. The VEETC blending credit and a tax on ethanol imports both expired in December 2011 and U.S. ethanol industry groups have shifted their political weight toward initiatives like E15 and advanced biofuels.

Although these developments improve Brazil's access to the U.S. ethanol market in 2012, the reality is that the Brazilian cane industry may struggle to fully satisfy even its own domestic demand in 2012 owing to a sharp downturn in cane production and an uncertain outlook for output growth. Brazil became the leading importer of ethanol from the U.S. in 2011, a situation many would have considered unthinkable only a few years ago.

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Chemists Aid Study of Mutated Plants That May Be Better for Biofuels

Released: 2/28/2012 2:30 PM EST
Source: Iowa State University

Newswise — AMES, Iowa – Genetic mutations to cellulose in plants could improve the conversion of cellulosic biomass into biofuels, according to a research team that included two Iowa State University chemists.

The team recently published its findings in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Mei Hong, an Iowa State professor of chemistry and an associate of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, and Tuo Wang, an Iowa State graduate student in chemistry, contributed their expertise in solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to the study.

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Meeting biofuel production targets could change agricultural landscape

American Chemical Society
February 29, 2012

Almost 80 percent of current farmland in the U.S. would have to be devoted to raising corn for ethanol production in order to meet current biofuel production targets with existing technology, a new study has found. An alternative, according to a study in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology, would be to convert 60 percent of existing rangeland to biofuels.

W. Kolby Smith and colleagues explain that the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) set a goal of increasing U.S. biofuel production from 10 to 36 billion gallons of ethanol per year by 2022. They point out, however, that gaps exist in the ability to establish realistic targets for biofuel production, which the law fills with assumptions about technological developments and the availability and productivity of farmland. In an effort to establish more accurate estimates, they used satellite data about climate, plant cover and usable land to determine how much biofuel the U.S. could produce.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Biofuels Policy Will Drive Grain Prices in 2012

AG Web
February 28, 2012
By: Jeanne Bernick, Top Producer Editor

As producers make their marketing plans ahead of spring planting, they should keep an eye on three key drivers of commodity prices: global economic growth, the weakening of the dollar and biofuels policy.

"We have reached a new plateau grain markets and everyone is trying to figure out the average price for corn," noted William Lapp, grain economist with Advanced Economic Solutions. Lapp spoke at the Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum in Nashville, Tenn., ahead of the 2012 Commodity Classic. "The reality is there is only so much corn and different interests are going to fight for it."

Lapp believes biofuels policy, particularly regarding the ethanol mandate, could be the single biggest driver for grain prices. He projects a shortfall to meet the cellulosic ethanol mandate, which may cause the mandate to be rejected by policymakers in the future. Add to that the ethanol blend wall with E15 and biodiesel mandate adjustments, and the grain industry could be in for some significant market swings.

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EERC to develop biofuel for US Military

Renewable Energy Focus
29 February 2012
By Kari Williamson

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) will develop alternative liquid fuels, including biofuel, for US military applications under a US$906,000 contract from the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc (CCAT).

The EERC will demonstrate gasification-based technologies for converting non-petroleum feedstocks, such as coal and biomass, into liquid fuels including biofuel. The testing supports CCAT’s work for the US Defense Logistics Agency (US DLA).

The US Military has committed to increase energy security through the utilisation of domestic resources with life cycle CO2 emissions equal to or less than their petroleum-derived counterparts.

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Fire rages at RWE's UK biomass power plant

Mon, Feb 27 2012

LONDON (Reuters) - RWE npower said on Monday that a fire had broken out in a fuel storage area at its wood-pellet-fired Tilbury power station, which is located to the east of London and is Britain's largest dedicated biomass plant.

The company said no injuries had been reported in the fire that broke out at 0745 GMT, and added that police and 100 fire-fighters were at the plant, which only began generating power last month.

"The fire involves some 4,000 tonnes of fuel in storage cells. At least two are very well alight," the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said in an update.

The fire service said operations were being hindered by the fact that the fire is high up in the main structure of the building, making it difficult for crews to reach.

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Carbon capture initiative could benefit ethanol producers

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill February 29, 2012

Leaders of the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative were joined by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, on Capitol Hill Feb. 28 to unveil a set of recommendations aimed at encouraging greater use of CO2 from industrial facilities such as power plants and ethanol facilities for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) activities throughout the U.S. Among the group’s recommendations is that Congress modify an existing CO2 sequestration tax credit to make it more workable for applicants, a request to implement a 10-year tax credit provision for industrial CO2 sources, and suggestions for state policies to further incentivize industrial CO2 capture and storage.

Currently, about 6 percent of U.S. oil is produced using EOR, a method by which CO2 is injected into geological formations to draw otherwise inaccessible oil to the surface. This extraction method can prolong the life of aging oil fields, but the expansion of this practice is currently constrained by limited CO2 supplies, according to NEORI. By incentivizing industrial sources to supply oil fields with CO2, NEORI estimates that EOR oil production could increase to 400 million barrels per year while reducing CO2 emissions by 4 billion tons over the next 40 years. Leaders of NEORI said the incentives are also economically sound investments for U.S. taxpayers. Funding has already been allocated for the existing tax credit and would require no further financial investment. The recommended 10-year credit would pay for itself within 10 years through increased federal revenues by boosting domestic oil production, the group said.

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