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

Monday, April 30, 2012

OriginOil’s algae harvest technology removes 98% of hydrocarbons from frac flowback

Biofuels Digest
by Thomas Saidak
April 25, 2012 12

In California, OriginOil reports that, in recent independent third-party testing, the company’s algae harvesting process was able to remove 98% of hydrocarbons from a sample of West Texas oil well ‘frac flowback’ water in the first stage alone. Frac flowback describes water used in a drilling process called ‘hydraulic fracturing’, or ‘fracking’.
This test sample was taken from an oil well from which 200,000 gallons of oil-rich water flowed back over a period of two weeks. The water resources firm PACE Engineering supplied the sample and analyzed the results

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Ethanol Unlikely To Support Corn Prices This Year

Seeking Alpha
April 24, 2012
By Scott Martin

The corn chart looks eager for a short-term bounce, but the longer trend looks bearish as U.S. farmers dedicate more acreage to the crop than ever, creating a glut that neither ethanol production nor an Argentine drought can overcome. Last week’s crop report confirmed what commodity traders have been saying for weeks: there is going to be too much corn come harvest time to support current prices, no matter how much Chinese demand ends up taking off the market.

Argentina is still suffering from significant drought conditions, but the USDA estimates that the weather there will end up trimming only 500,000 tons of corn from the second-largest exporter’s harvest this year.

As a result, corn prices have sunk 21% over the last 12 months, taking the Teucrium ETF (CORN) with them and acting as a drag on broader-based agricultural ETFs like DBA.

The corn bulls point to China as a buyer of last resort, but while it can be fun to think about the world’s second-biggest economy having a theoretically bottomless appetite for raw materials, the truth is very different.

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Technology uses biomass emissions as greenhouse plant fertilizer

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Luke Geiver
April 26, 2012

ProSelect's technology allows bioenergy emissions to be reused as plant fertilizer.

ProSelect Gas Treating Inc. has released a carbon capture technology that can capture and repurpose flue gas emissions created in a biomass heating process. The system allows greenhouse operators to fertilize their fruits and vegetables with carbon dioxide captured from the biomass emissions.

The technology, called GC6, was officially unveiled at the SunSelect Produce greenhouses in Delta, British Columbia earlier this month. The system works by capturing the CO2 from the 14 MW Vyncke biomass boiler. The flue gas is filtered out and cooled before entering an absorber tower within the GC6 system. Using an organic solvent, the CO2 is stripped out of the gas stream and stored in a buffer tank, while the excess vapor is released into the atmosphere. When the greenhouse needs CO2 fertilizer, the solvent in the tank is heated and released into the greenhouse. A monitoring system oversees the CO2 stream entering the greenhouse, venting it out if a high level of pollutants are detected.

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New technique to modify plant genome developed

Biofuels Digest
Thomas Saidak
April 27, 2012

In Germany, botanists with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have developed a technique to more precisely and reliably install or modify genetic information in the plant genome. The new method is based on the natural repair mechanism of plants.

“Using an appropriate enzyme, i.e. molecular scissors, we first make a cut at the right point in the genome and then supply the necessary patch to repair this cut,” says Friedrich Fauser from KIT. This trick is referred to as “in planta gene targeting,” or IPGT, which can be applied to every plant. Researchers at KIT worked with SunGene GmbH, a subsidiary of BASF Plant Science.

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Bioenergy crop gets funding boost

Land Gazette (UK)
Written by David Lewis
Thursday, 26 April 2012 17:49

Miscantthus project get £6.4 million funding

The development of a promising biofuel crop, Miscanthus, has been given a boost today with the announcement of an additional £6.4 M in UK Government funding, over five years, for an integrated and collaborative breeding programme. The breeding programme aims to produce new commercial varieties of optimised Miscanthus to make a significant contribution to future energy security.

The development of crops as sources of bioenergy is an important component in finding economically acceptable substitutes for fossil fuels. Miscanthus, a ubiquitous Asian grass with high yields and requiring low inputs, is a particularly promising plant species for bioenergy development.

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Senate Ag Committee OK’s $800M for Farm Bill energy programs; DOE OK’d to move $100M for advanced biofuels

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane
April 27, 2012 4

In Washington, the Senate Agriculture Committee has approved $800 million in mandatory biofuels-related funding for the proposed energy title in the upcoming Farm Bill. Last week, the Committee had been moving forward with a Farm Bill draft that included an energy title but did not have mandatory funding, which would have required the USDA to seek funding of the provisions on an annual basis, and would have ensured policy uncertainty and annual funding battles throughout the five years of the proposed Farm Bill’s life.

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New Zealand undertakes miscanthus trial

Biofuels Digest
Meghan Sapp
April 25, 2012

In New Zealand, researchers at Otango University are exploring the use of miscanthus as a possible biofuel feedstock locally where 7,000 plants will be sited to test frost resistance and growth patterns.

As the plant doesn’t seed, it shouldn’t pose the threat of becoming a pest, which could open up opportunities to use miscanthus to replace wood or coal in boilers, especially at the university as a way to reduce energy costs. So far, about 15 hectares have been grown around the country.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

US ethanol growth to boost fuel additive market to $1.6B by 2016

Biofuels Digest
Meghan Sapp
April 26, 2012

In New York, Reportlinker says that growing biofuel use will boost the specialty fuel additives market in the US to $1.6 billion by 2016. The EPA will raise the amount of biodiesel and ethanol usage in the fuel supply in an effort to meet the requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard 2 (RFS2). These biofuels require the usage of different specialty fuel additives. For example, the EPA’s move to allow up to 15 percent ethanol blends in gasoline will stimulate corrosion inhibitor demand.

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Shengquan, Novozymes partner to commercialize cellulosic ethanol

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Novozymes
April 25, 2012

Shengquan Group, a Shandong-based company specializing in furan resin and polymers, and Novozymes announced a partnership enabling Shengquan to start commercial-scale production of cellulosic ethanol for solvents in June 2012 using Novozymes’ technology.

“Shengquan is a global first mover in this industry, which is on the verge of materializing right now,” says Poul Ruben Andersen, vice president for bioenergy at Novozymes. “Shengquan has profound experience in chemical production and is a leading company in commercializing cellulosic ethanol. Novozymes is proud to join Shengquan in nurturing a green and circular bioeconomy which lessens the dependence on fossil fuel resources.”

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Purdue / Stanford Study Finds Climate Change to Be Big Contributor to Corn Price Volatility in Coming Years
Date Posted: April 23, 2012

West Lafayette, IN—A study from Purdue and Stanford university researchers predicts that future climate scenarios may cause significantly greater volatility in corn prices, which would be intensified by the federal biofuels mandate.

The findings, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, show that severely hot conditions in corn-growing regions and extreme climate events that are expected to impact supply would cause swings in corn prices.

When coupled with federal mandates for biofuel production, the price volatility could increase by about 50 percent over the period from 2020-2040 as compared to recent history.

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Governors Want E85 Called Alternative Fuel
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – April 23rd, 2012

The Governors’ Biofuels Coalition is urging the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees to include E85 in the definition of the Alternative Fuel Tax Credit and recommending that the provision be extended as part of the pending “Extenders Bill.”

In a letter sent to the leadership of both committees last week, the governors noted that E85 was considered an alternative fuel for federal energy policy purposes under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, but Congress wrote E85 out of the alternative fuels credit in order to avoid a double tax benefit with both the ethanol tax credit and the alternative fuels tax credit in effect. “Now that Congress has ended the ethanol credit, E85 could continue to benefit from the alternative fuels incentive,” they said.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Harvesting equipment expected to reduce cellulosic ethanol costs

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen April 17, 2012

The largest bale picking truck (BPT) in the world is now on display at the International Biomass Conference & Expo in Denver, Colo. The 600-horsepower bale picking truck is designed to reduce the cost of field collection for square biomass bales with the capability to collect nearly three semi-loads of square bales per hour.

“We believe that advanced equipment could reduce supply chain costs as much as thirty cents per gallon on a cellulosic ethanol basis,” said Jeff Roskam, CEO of the Kansas Alliance for Biorefining and Bioenergy. The first-of-its-kind equipment has eight flotation tires and collects 42 square bales, the equivalent of a semi-truckload, without exceeding soil compaction standards. “No one else has this piece of equipment,” said Russ Gottlob, Feedstox operations manager. “We can’t wait to see the increase in productivity that will result from the consistent use of the BPT.”

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Ethanol producers step up to pay for required E15 fuel survey

Ethanol Producers Magazine
By Kris Bevill
April 23, 2012

A group of 99 ethanol producers has taken on the task of funding the nationwide fuel survey required by the U.S. EPA for E15 implementation. The fuel survey represents the final federal hurdle to allowing E15 to be sold for use in 2001 and newer vehicles, and the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the American Coalition for Ethanol praised ethanol producers for funding the survey despite the fact that the producers own only a few of the 160,000 retail stations that will be subjected to it.

“While rhetorical battles in Washington are waged to find a solution to lowering prices, America’s ethanol producers are stepping up to bring a cleaner, cheaper and more American-made fuel to the market,” the groups said in a statement. “With this survey in place, E15 is now ready in the eyes of EPA for commercial sale.”

The fuel survey is an annual requirement and will be conducted by the Reformulated Gasoline Survey Association. The association will collect and test more than 7,500 gasoline samples to check for ethanol content and other variables. If E15 is detected, the RFGSA will verify that the retailer has properly displayed E15 labels as required by the EPA. The first fuel samples will be collected on May 1.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch
MARKETWIRE: press release
April 20, 2012, 2:01 p.m. EDT

DELTA, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Apr 20, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- ProSelect Gas Treating Inc. officially unveiled the world's first carbon capture system for the greenhouse industry today at a launch event for the GC6 held at the SunSelect Produce greenhouses in Delta, British Columbia. The GC6 Carbon Capture System is a revolutionary new technology that's transforming the future of carbon capture with its ability to harness carbon dioxide (CO2) from biomass combustion emissions and convert it into fertilizer to grow climate friendly greenhouse crops.

With the launch of this $5 million Canadian-made innovation, greenhouse growers now have access to the cleanest, most sustainable and cost-effective solution for greenhouse operations on the planet. The state-of-the-art clean energy system allows growers to take advantage of vast resources of renewable and inexpensive biomass sources like wood waste to not only heat their greenhouses, but also deliver essential CO2 fertilizer to their crops. The unique technology is a highly sustainable, all-in-one solution that can greatly reduce their fuel and energy costs.

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Pennycress? Yep, It’s the Next Big Biofuel
April 19, 2012 By Tina Casey

Get ready to hear a lot about pennycress biofuel this year. Pennycress sounds like a name that belongs to an unassuming little weed commonly found along roadsides – and it does – but a while back the U.S. Department of Agriculture started to investigate the use of pennycress seeds in biofuel production and this year promises to be a breakout one, with farmers in the Midwest getting to rake in a bumper crop.

Biofuel from pennycress seeds
At first glance, pennycress seeds don’t seem to have enough oomph for biofuel. For one thing, they are tiny – they can be measured in less than a couple of millimeters. However, field pennycress is part of the same oilseed family that includes camelina, another weedy plant that has been proving itself to be a big time biofuel player.

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Proper soil management needed to combat climate change

pork network
Kansas State University Extension Updated: April 20, 2012

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Soils and plants play a significant role in global climate change, said Chuck Rice, K-State university distinguished professor of agronomy. And the relationship is a two-way street since climate change also can affect food and fiber production in the future, he added.

These are some of the most critical issues to consider on Earth Day 2012, he said, since the issue will only grow more complex with time if it is not addressed soon.

“Food and energy security, water availability and quality, and climate change adaptation and mitigation are some of the greatest challenges facing our society,” Rice said. “Appropriate management of soils offers the potential to provide solutions for each of these challenges.”

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UF-led research team selected for $125 million joint U.S.-India energy project

University of Florida News Release
Friday, April 20, 2012

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida-led research team has been selected to participate in a five-year, $125 million energy project involving the United States and India, U.S. Department of Energy officials have announced.

Known as the Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center, or JCERDC, the project is aimed at reducing energy consumption, cutting dependence on petroleum products and increasing use of renewable fuels.

The UF-led team will develop biofuels derived from inedible plant material. Two other research teams, led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will focus on solar energy and energy efficiency of buildings, respectively.

Total funding for the biofuels project is about $21 million, including about $2.7 million in federal funding destined for UF.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Ethanol Rises Most in Almost Three Weeks on Increased Blending

By Mario Parker - Apr 19, 2012 3:14 PM CT

Ethanol in Chicago rose the most in almost three weeks on increased demand for the fuel to be blended with gasoline.

Prices climbed a day after the Energy Department said production of conventional gasoline blended with ethanol, a measure of consumption beyond what’s mandated by the government, swelled to a record 5.4 million barrels a day, spurred by the additive’s discount to the motor fuel.

“You had a really good blending number, which was surprising,” said Jerrod Kitt, an analyst at Linn Group in Chicago. “It was really strong. That dollar discount to gasoline continues to work its magic.”

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Hot new manufacturing tool: A temperature-controlled microbe

Public release date: 17-Apr-2012

Many manufacturing processes rely on microorganisms to perform tricky chemical transformations or make substances from simple starting materials. The authors of a study appearing in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, on April 17 have found a way to control a heat-loving microbe with a temperature switch: it makes a product at low temperatures but not at high temperatures. The innovation could make it easier to use microorganisms as miniature factories for the production of needed materials like biofuels.

This is the first time a targeted modification of a hyperthermophile (heat-loving microorganism) has been accomplished, say the authors, providing a new perspective on engineering microorganisms for bioproduct and biofuel formation.

Originally isolated from hot marine sediments, the hyperthermophile Pyrococcus furiosus grows best at temperatures around 100ºC (212ºF). P. furiosus is an archaeon, single-celled organisms that bear a resemblance to bacteria, but they excel at carrying out many processes that bacteria cannot accomplish. Like other hyperthermophiles, P. furiosus' enzymes are stable at the high temperatures that facilitate many industrial processes, making it a well-used tool in biotechnology and manufacturing. But not all products can be made at high heat. Some enzymes will only work at lower temperatures.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Obama Administration Official Reaffirms White House Commitment to Biofuels

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: April 18, 2012

Washington—The Obama Administration is firmly in the corner of domestic renewable fuels a top aide to President Obama told attendees of the Renewable Fuels Association’s Washington Legislative Forum held April 18 at the Newseum in Washington, DC.

“One of those most promising [clean energy] industries has been American biofuels,” said Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

“Right now, domestic biofuel production is at the highest level ever.

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Optimizing biofuel supply chain is a competitive game
April 19, 2012

As biofuel production has increased – particularly ethanol derived from corn – a hotly contested competition for feedstock supplies has emerged between the agricultural grain markets and biofuel refineries. This competition has sparked concern for the more fundamental issue of allocating limited farmland resources, which has far-reaching implications for food security, energy security and environmental sustainability.

Numerous studies of land use, food prices, environmental impact and more have fed the so-called "food versus fuel" debate. However, according to new models created by University of Illinois researchers, most studies so far have overlooked a key factor: selfish and possibly competing interests of the biofuel industry and individual farmers, who independently seek the most profit from their crops.

"We looked at competition among farmers and between the refinery and the food market and put them into one model to optimize the whole system," said Yanfeng Ouyang, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. "A lot of researchers now working on biofuel supply chain optimization have not been able to develop a holistic model that can address such complex interactions among multiple stakeholders in a comprehensive framework."

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Houston to host National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By BBI International April 19, 2012

BBI International announced that it will host the 2012 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo in Houston, Nov. 27-29. The event will unite existing and future advanced biofuels producers with strategic petrochemical and agribusiness partners, government officials, investors and project finance professionals, technology and biomass supply-chain service companies.

The event was launched in 2011 as the International Biorefining Conference & Trade Show. In consultation with sponsors and supporting organizations, BBI changed the name of the event to highlight its critical role in helping the U.S. bioenergy and refining industries meet America’s explicit advanced biofuels quest. “RFS2 requires 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels to be blended into the U.S. transportation fuel supply by 2022,” said Joe Bryan, CEO of BBI International. “We have now aligned the conference and expo with that national mission.”

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Researchers inject heat-resistant traits into mustard, tobacco plants

Biofuels Digest
Meghan Sapp April 18, 2012

In North Carolina, researchers from are studying Pyrococcus furiosus, microorganisms that live n the scalding waters of ocean volcanic vents, in an attempt to develop traits that will allow plants to survive in harsher conditions, opening up non-traditional areas as potential land for biofuel feedstock production.

Research, which was originally started to develop plants that could survive on Mars, has introduced the superoxide reductase enzyme found in P. furiosus into mustard weed and tobacco with the results showing that both plants survived under much higher temperatures.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

RFA Launches Renewable Fuels PAC

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: April 17, 2012

Washington—The Renewable Fuels Association announced April 17 that it has formed a political action committee (PAC).

The Renewable Fuels Association PAC, to be referred to as the Renewable Fuels PAC, will help RFA members support candidates for federal office that understand and share their belief in the importance of domestic renewable fuels like ethanol.

“Domestic renewable fuels offer America a real opportunity to put an end to our addiction to imported oil while creating jobs and putting American ingenuity to work creating fuel technologies for the future,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

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ACE Infographic Illustrates How RFS is Working

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: April 12, 2012

Sioux Falls, SD—The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is releasing an ‘infographic’ entitled “It’s Working” which provides a vivid depiction of how the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) and ethanol are reducing oil imports and saving Americans money at the pump.

ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings says the infographic’s attention-grabbing charts and statistics were an important part of the group’s recent DC fly-in and can be used to educate the media and general public about the benefits of ethanol.

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ORNL team points path to 30X improvement in enzyme function for biofuels

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane April 18, 2012

In Tennessee, a team led by Pratul Agarwal of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered that light of specific wavelengths can be used to boost an enzyme’s function by as much as 30 fold, potentially establishing a path to less expensive biofuels, detergents and a host of other products.

The researchers introduced a light-activated molecular switch across two regions of the enzyme Candida antarctica lipase B, or CALB – which breaks down fat molecules — identified through modeling performed on DOE’s Jaguar supercomputer.

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Agrisoma partners with Paterson Grain for carinata distribution

Biodiesel Magazine
By Erin Voegele April 17, 2012

Agrisoma Biosciences Inc. and Paterson Grain recently announced a partnership agreement for the commercial contracting and distribution of the oilseed crop carinata. According to information released by the companies, carinata is a biofuel feedstock developed by Agrisoma that will be marketed under the brand name Resonance.

Information issued by Agrisoma noted that, under the agreement, Paterson will be the exclusive contracting partner for preserved production of Resonance Western Canada, and that Resonance seed will be distributed through Paterson outlets.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Brazil Expects More Cane and More Ethanol in 2012
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – April 16th, 2012

Brazil is expecting more sugarcane and more ethanol production in 2012.

According to the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), the forecast for the 2012/2013 sugarcane harvest calls for 509 million tons, up 3.19% compared to the total amount of sugarcane processed in the previous harvest, which totalled 493.26 million tons.

Data collected by UNICA, together with satellite image mapping of the South-Central region obtained from the National Institute for Space Research (CANASAT-INPE), indicates an expansion of 3% in the total area planted with sugarcane and available for the 2012/2013 harvest while no significant gains in agricultural productivity are anticipated.

Of the total projected sugarcane crush for the 2012/2013 harvest, UNICA estimates over half of the sugarcane in the 2012/2013 season (51.25%) will be used for ethanol production, which is expected to reach 21.49 billion liters, up 4.58% from last year’s 20.55 billion liters. That total includes 14.54 billion liters of hydrous ethanol, up 11% from last year, and the rest anhydrous, a drop of almost 7%.

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Brazil Makes Corn Ethanol, Too

Farm Futures
Posted on April 11, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Brazil's ethanol is made from sugarcane, right? You know - the stuff whose rate of fossil fuels in to biofuels out is seven times better than that of corn ethanol, according to one industry site? Well, soon enough, the Brazilians say they will be making at least some ethanol from corn, too.

Here's part of the irony at work: Lots of Brazilians patted themselves on the back at the first of the year, when the U.S. tax credit for ethanol expired, along with a $.54 per gallon tariff on imported ethanol. Sure, there was little immediate chance that tankers of Brazilian sugarcane ethanol would be lined up soon at U.S. ports, as the Brazilians - after years of underinvestment in their cane fields - weren't producing enough to keep the price competitive domestically with gasoline. In fact, last year`s Brazilian ethanol production was down 19%, and flex-fuel car owners put more and more gas into their tanks.

As a result, Brazil became America's top customer for corn ethanol in 2011.

A big factor in Brazil's strong demand for ethanol has been the introduction of so-called flex-fuel cars, which can take any blend of gasoline and ethanol.

Well, last month the Brazilians introduced the first flex-fuel ethanol plant in that country - designed to make the alternative fuel from sugarcane when that crop is abundant, and to switch easily over to corn when there's a lot of that crop in the market. And there often is too much corn in Mato Grosso.

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Energy Beets: Who will Leap First?

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen April 11, 2012

North American sugar-to-ethanol strategy differs from Brazil’s, Europe’s

The technology isn’t the issue. Clear examples of ethanol production from sugar beets and energy beets already exist. And, yet—despite the potential of the feedstock—North America has yet to see a full-scale beet-to-ethanol production facility built.

However, there’s been some exciting progress lately. North Dakota-based Green Vision Group is resolutely moving forward with a plan to build multiple 20 MMgy dedicated energy beet plants in the state. The quest began in 2007 and took some big leaps in early 2012, when it received $1 million in funding from the North Dakota Renewable Energy Council and other sources, says Maynard Helgaas, president. Around the same time, North Dakota State University, which has been assisting with the project, submitted an energy beet ethanol life-cycle analysis to the U.S. EPA in an effort to get it qualified as an advanced biofuel. The group has its first location selected, although it hasn’t been announced yet, and hopes to begin processing ethanol by fall 2014. “It wouldn’t take us long once we complete our research to get the most efficient processing out of energy beets—then we will build the plant,” Helgaas tells EPM.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Crossing the Valley of Dearth
By Jim Lane, Biofuels Digest
April 11, 2012

For bio-based industry, beyond the Valley of Death lies the Valley of Dearth, a shortfall in capital necessary to finance global deployment at scale. A global OPIC can bring institutional investors to the rescue, say top capital strategists in New York.

Michael Eckhart, the Global Head of Environmental Finance & Sustainability for Citigroup, doesn't hang around much on the conference circuit. In fact, the busy financier himself can't remember the last time he spent three days as a conference delegate, just taking in information. So when he came to ABLC last week, I took a chair and started making notes, fast.

You see, in project financings of $1B and up, Citigroup did all of them last year. When it comes to large-scale project debt financing of the type that bioenergy is turning to for at-scale deployments, they are not the elephant in the room. They are the room in the room.

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Biofuel trade groups defend Farm Bill energy title, RFS2

Biodiesel Magazine
By Erin Voegele April 11, 2012

Trade organizations representing many sectors of the biorefining industry, as well as other bioenergy stakeholders, are taking action on behalf of their members to encourage a strong energy title be included in the next Farm Bill. Biofuels trade organizations are also working to defend the RFS2 from a legal challenge initiated by the American Petroleum Institute.

Regarding support of the Farm Bill, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Advanced Biofuels Association, the Advanced Ethanol Council, the Algal Biomass Organization, the American Coalition for Ethanol, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association joined a coalition of 100 organizations to issue a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees asking for the reauthorization and funding of Farm Bill energy title programs.

“Congress can’t afford to wait to boost commercialization of advanced biofuels and revitalize rural America,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “A strong energy title in the farm bill can do this and help new agricultural markets emerge and reduce the need for direct payments to farmers. Thanks to the energy title in past farm bills, advanced biofuel, biobased product and renewable chemical biorefineries are being developed across the United States.”

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E85 loyalty

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen April 11, 2012

Economist finds buyers willing to pay more

Research showing consumers are willing to pay a premium for ethanol was published in the March issue of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. Soren Anderson, a Michigan State University economist, calculated that when ethanol increased 10 cents per gallon above the price of gasoline, there was only a 12 to 16 percent decrease in demand.

Frankly, Anderson was surprised at what he found. “I was expecting to see a sharp reduction in sales of E85 the moment that the price rose above the price of gasoline on an energy-adjusted basis,” he tells EPM. “But this doesn’t seem to be happening. Instead, it appears that many E85 buyers are willing to pay a premium for the fuel, and some fraction of these buyers continue to buy the fuel, even when its price rises above that of gasoline.”

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Dedini Sees Demand Climbing for Brazil Ethanol-Fuel Projects

By Stephan Nielsen - Apr 13, 2012 3:41 PM CT

Dedini SA Industrias de Base, the Brazilian company that builds ethanol mills, has received 20 requests to supply quotes this year to companies considering new production facilities as the industry seeks to meet rising demand for the renewable fuel.

The company provided five quotes to companies last year for ethanol projects in Brazil, Sergio Leme, president of Piracicaba-based Dedini, said today in a telephone interview.

Brazil doesn’t have enough mills to meet demand from a growing fleet of flex-fuel cars that may run on pure ethanol or standard gasoline, he said. Investments in new sugar-cane plantations and the mills that produce fuel from the crop plummeted following the 2008 financial crisis .

“The market was frozen” for the last two years, he said. “At least five of those quotes will turn into contracts” by the end of the year.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Policies, learning-by-doing played important role in reducing ethanol costs

Science Codex
Posted On: April 12, 2012 - 3:30pm

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A new study from the University of Illinois concludes that learning-by-doing, stimulated by increased ethanol production, played an important role in inducing technological progress in the corn ethanol industry. It also suggests that biofuel policies, which induced ethanol production beyond the free-market level, served to increase the competitiveness of the industry over time.

The study, co-written by Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at Illinois, and Xiaoguang Chen, of the U. of I. Energy Biosciences Institute, quantifies the role that factors such as economies of scale, learning-by-doing, induced technological innovation as a result of rising input prices and trade-induced competition played in reducing the processing costs of corn ethanol in the U.S. by 45 percent while also increasing production volumes seventeen-fold from 1983 to 2005.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Ethanol Co-Product Gains Foothold in Oil Country
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – April 10th, 2012

The livestock feed that is a co-product of ethanol production is gaining a foothold in the country that is synonymous with oil, thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC).

Saudi Arabia has always been the oil capitol of the world, but when Venezuela took the number one spot last year, the Saudis began to focus on diversifying into new revenue streams, like agriculture, and started to satisfy feed demand for dairy and livestock with the ethanol co-product distiller’s dried grains (DDGS).

The USGC launched the effort to expand market access for DDGS into Saudi Arabia through such activities as taking officials on tours of ethanol plants in the United States so they could see how the product was made. It was difficult at first to overcome the Saudis’ mistrust of ethanol as competition for petroleum, not to mention the fact that it is alcohol, which is prohibited in that country. But the Council ultimately succeeded in getting DDGS on the Saudi’s “feed ingredient subsidy list” which allows financial support for importers to aid them in bringing foreign feed ingredients to the market in order to reduce water consumption.

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Advancing Pathways for Advanced Feedstocks

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Erin Voegele April 11, 2012

EPA evaluates energy cane, giant reed and napiergrass

The approval of new feedstock pathways under the renewable fuels standard (RFS2) is critical to the developing cellulosic ethanol industry. The addition of new pathways expands the library of biomass crops available for conversion into RFS2 compliant biofuels and using approved feedstocks is the only way producers can generate renewable identification numbers (RINs) for the resulting fuel. The approval of specific feedstock pathways is also critical to financing a project, since investors may be less willing to support a project that relies on an unapproved feedstock.

On Jan. 5, the U.S. EPA issued a direct final rule regarding pathways for three grassy biomass crops—energy cane, giant reed and napiergrass. The agency also published a parallel proposed rule for the pathways on the same day. According to the EPA, it published the direct final rule without a prior proposed rule because it viewed the addition of these new RFS2 pathways as noncontroversial. The EPA explained the new pathway determinations did not require new agricultural sector modeling and involved relatively straightforward analyses that largely relied on work that had already been completed as part of the RFS2 final rulemaking. In the direct final rule, the EPA also noted that the pathways would become effective March 5 unless the agency received adverse comments or a hearing request by Feb. 6. The EPA did receive such comments, and on March 5 published a notice in the Federal Register officially withdrawing the direct final rule.

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Rocket developer, EERC begin testing solids pump for gasification

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Luke Geiver April 11, 2012

The University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Inc. (PWR), a global space propulsion systems developer, have officially begun the commissioning stage of a commercial-scale dry-solids prototype pump.

The pump is used to feed a novel gasification system designed to produce syngas from a range of feedstocks, including coal, petcoke and biomass. The system can feed roughly 400 tons per day of feedstock into the gasifier, helping to reduce capital costs of a commercial scale unit by 20 percent compared to conventional systems. The system also reduces carbon emissions by 10 percent, and the gasifier offers a 90 percent reduction in size compared to traditional systems. PWR credits that statistic to its ability to leverage decades of experience in rocket propulsion technology and its skill in controlling large amounts of energy in small spaces. “At this point, EERC is involved in rocket science,” said Gerald Groenewold, EERC director.

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U.S., Brazil zero in on drilling, biofuels in bilateral meeting
Posted on April 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm by Puneet Kollipara

An enormous offshore field in territorial waters, the biggest oil discovery in the Western Hemisphere in 30 years, has Brazilians saying, "Drill, baby, drill, " while environmentalists worry the forward-thinking nation will take a big leap backward to focus on crude. (AP Photo/Ricardo Moraes)President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Monday they hoped to boost cooperation between the nations on energy matters ranging from oil and gas development to renewable power.

Following a bilateral meeting between the two leaders in Washington, the two zeroed in on oil and natural gas and biofuels as areas on which they saw promise for additional cooperation. The two nations both engage in deepwater drilling and are far and away the world’s largest producers of ethanol, which is increasingy being used in transportation fuel.

“Brazil has been a extraordinary leader in biofuels, and obviously is also becoming a world player when it comes to oil and gas development,” Obama said, according to an event transcript. “And the United States is not only a potential large customer to Brazil, but we think that we can cooperate closely on a whole range of energy projects together.”

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Algae Facts and Experts From the Algal Biomass Organization

Energy Digital
6 Apr 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN--(Marketwire - April 5, 2012) - As high gas prices and the need for new supplies of fuel have entered the national energy discussion, the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO), the trade association for the U.S. algae industry, today announced the availability of experts and information resources that can clarify the potential for algae to provide the nation with a new source of domestically produced fuels.

ABO has also recently announced the launch of, the first website designed to showcase algae's potential for everyone -- from those just learning about algae to seasoned algae enthusiasts, media and entrepreneurs looking for the latest information on the industry's progress toward meeting challenges in energy security, food production and sustainability.

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Thanks to America, Brazilian ethanol exports are rising

Posted 4/10/2012 2:00 PM

A recent change in U.S. policy has allowed Brazilian exports of ethanol to increase, the Financial Times reports.

U.S. ethanol imports from South America's largest country are at their highest level since 2008 because of the elimination of American subsidies for corn ethanol (an onerous tariff that also prevented Brazilian sugarcane-derived ethanol from competing effectively with American corn ethanol) and the classification of sugarcane ethanol as an advanced biofuel by the EPA.

This development is an important step forward not only for freer trade, but for global food prices and advanced biofuels in general. Sugarcane ethanol production has little effect on world food prices, but the use of corn for biofuel unequivocally does. In addition to corn ethanol's detrimental effects on the price of food, the process to create ethanol from corn is much less efficient and more costly than sugarcane.

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Vilsack announces $5 million grant to support animal waste to bioenergy project

By Sara Wyant
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

OAKLEY, KS, April 9 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack headed to Kansas on Monday and brought a big check along to support a project designed to turn animal waste into energy.

Stopping in Oakley, KS. yesterday while on his way to deliver the Landon Lecture at Kansas State University today, Vilsack announced USDA approval of a $5 million payment to Western Plains Energy, LLC.

Funds will be used to support the construction of a biogas anaerobic digester in Oakley, KS. The completed project will utilize waste energy resources from a local cattle feedlot to replace almost 90% of the fossil fuels currently used by Western Plains Energy, according to USDA’s Rural Development mission area.

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Co-Product Antibiotic Levels Nearly Nil

National Hog Farmer
Lora Berg
Mar. 14, 2012 5:38pm

Livestock producers and their nutritionists have been wondering whether antibiotic residues from the ethanol fermentation process might linger in the distiller's co-products used in livestock diets.

A recent University of Minne­sota study indicates distillers’ grains with soluble (DGS) do not contain significant antibiotic residues to be of concern to livestock producers.

Antibiotics are added during ethanol fermentation to control bacterial contamination. Bacteria compete with yeast during the ethanol fermentation process, which can lead to a reduction in ethanol yields and reduced-quality DGS. Virginiamycin and penicillin are designated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use in ethanol and DGS production, though they are not the only antibiotics being used.

Livestock producers and their nutritionists have been wondering whether antibiotic residues might linger in the distiller’s co-products used in livestock diets and if they have any biological activity.

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Brazil '12/'13 sugar output seen up from prior season

Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:11pm EDT
By Peter Murphy

* Output rise marks turn around after disappointing '11/12
* Expanded planted area helps, weather a bit better
* Center South output to expand but Northeast stagnant (Adds quote, background on recent cane industry's struggles)

BRASILIA, April 10 (Reuters) - Brazil's sugar output will rise about 5 percent in the 2012/13 season that is now starting, the government forecast on Tuesday, as better weather and replacement of old cane plants have the crop on a recovery path after output dipped last season.

Sugar production should rise to 38.9 million tonnes, government crop supply agency Conab said in its first forecast of the season, up from 36.9 million tonnes in the prior season and also ahead of the 38.2 million tonnes produced in the season before that.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Report Asks: Biofuel Crop or Invasive Weed?

Public News Service - FL
April 5, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Biofuels are hot new crops around the nation, but a new report urges caution before plowing to seed the fields.

The National Wildlife Federation notes that bioenergy is an important piece of clean, local energy production. However, the report says, crops should be carefully selected and monitored because in many cases they can become noxious weeds if they escape the fields.

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Energy-Charged Epidemic

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Austin April 05, 201

An exploration of the mountain pine beetle infestation reveals its depth, possible ways to combat it, and uses for millions of acres of dead wood

Letting nature take its course has historically been one of the most effective ways to deal with natural disasters, as oftentimes these matters are out of the hands of mankind. Occasionally, however, there are ways to mitigate these occurrences while drawing value from them.

The great pine beetle outbreak of the Rocky Mountain West is a good example. The epidemic has swept across the forests of Colorado and Wyoming, devouring more than 3.5 million acres of forests, and it stretches all the way from Mexico to British Columbia, where more than 40 million acres are infested.

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Fracking Changes Everything

Biomass Power & Thermal
By John Crouch April 05, 2012

A headwind is approaching the biomass energy sector, and it’s called cheap natural gas. Fracking has dramatically changed the supply outlook for natural gas in North America for the foreseeable future and biomass proponents who fail to factor it into their planning will regret it.

The impact on the economics of proposed projects is obvious, but I think the impact on the political process could be even more profound. The decrease in heating energy costs will predominantly impact our urban communities, and it may also widen the gulf between urban and rural energy costs in both the U.S. and Canada.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

JBEI researchers develop dynamic sensor-regulatory system

Biodiesel Magazine
By Erin Voegele April 05, 2012

Researchers at the U.S. DOE’s Joint BioEnergy Institute have developed a new technique that can significantly boost the microbial production of biofuels. The new technique, referred to as a dynamic sensor-regulator system (DSRS), was able to triple the amount of biobased diesel produced from glucose in one demonstration. According to information released by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is part of the JBEI, the DSRS system is able to detect metabolic changes in microbes during the production of fatty acid-based fuels or chemicals and control the expression of genes affecting that production.

“Microbial production of fuels and chemicals from fatty acids is a greener and sustainable alternative to chemical synthesis,” JBEI researcher Fuzhong Zhang. “However, high productivities, titers and yields are essential for microbial production of these chemical products to be economically viable, particularly in the cases of biofuels and low-value bulk chemicals.”

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Friday, April 6, 2012

The Game Changer

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane April 5, 2012 5

Protect and defend the US Renewable Fuel Standard, says BP Biofuels chief
“And then there was a game-changing event,” BP Biofuels chief Philip New told delegates at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference, “with a profound effect on the shape and the trajectory of the biofuels industry.”

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Law prevents company from making fossil-fuel-based ethanol

Pittsburgh Gazette
Thursday, 05 April 2012 11:46 Written by Amy Friedenberger

Steven Sterin, the president of CelaneseSteven Sterin, the president of the advanced fuels division at Dallas-based chemicals company Celanese, came up with an innovative way to fuel America. According to Forbes, he wants to make ethanol by “tearing apart and recombining the hydrocarbons found in plentiful natural gas or coal.”

Unfortunately for Sterin, that’s not possible right now because the 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard law mandates that gasoline refiners blend so much plant-based or renewable ethanol into the gas supply that prevents Celanese from developing his fossil-fuel-based ethanols.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stakeholders exchange information at corn oil event

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen March 23, 2012

DES MOINES—About 180 ethanol producers, animal feed companies, animal nutritionists and university researchers attended a half-day meeting entitled “How is oil extraction impacting DDGS value in swine” on March 21 in Des Moines, Iowa. Attendees also heard presentations concluding that antibiotic residue in distillers grains are not biologically active and the results of two mycotoxin surveys.

Rob Musser, director of technical sales and marketing for Nutriquest, which sponsored the event, presented information about the Mason City, Iowa-based company’s database of DDGS nutrient loadings from more than 130 U.S. ethanol plants. Referred to as Illuminate, the program helps ethanol plants target the right customer for their product and provides feed customers with better comfort levels for using more distillers grains or continuing to use the product when prices rise, Musser said.

Based on the corn oil percentage levels in the distillers grains in the Illuminate database, the company estimated the growth in corn oil extraction in the past year. The data showed that 20 percent of ethanol plants were extracting corn oil as of March 2011 and—as of March 2012—that percentage had grown to 40 percent. Musser estimated that 70 to 80 percent of ethanol plants will be extracting corn oil by the end of 2012. Still, he clarified that the Illuminate numbers were somewhat “fuzzy” due to the fact that various facilities extract different percentages of corn oil and some facilities may only be ramping up corn oil extraction levels.

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POET Names Jeff Lautt CEO

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: April 3, 2012

Sioux Falls, SD—Jeff Lautt was named CEO of POET, the ethanol company announced April 3.

Lautt has been with POET since 2005, serving most recently as President of the company. Company founder Jeff Broin will step down after 25 years as the CEO but will continue managing and leading the company’s board as Executive Chairman.

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USDA wants to add DDGs to required weekly export sales report

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill March 27, 2012

The amount of distillers dried grains (DDGs) and pork being exported by U.S. producers every year continues to rise, but information on sales and shipments currently lags the actual export transactions by about two months, which can make it difficult for commodity markets to react to export activity, according to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Therefore, the agency has proposed adding pork and DDGs to the list of commodities covered by the Export Sales Reporting Requirements. If the rule is finalized as proposed, all exporters of those products would be required to report weekly export sales and provide information related to the quantity, destination and marketing year of the sales to the FAS.

In its proposal, the agency said adding pork and DDGs to the list of required commodities will improve market transparency and enable commodity markets to better adjust to changing export activity because export information would be made available within two weeks of the activity, rather than two months after the transaction. “Exports of these two products have grown significantly in recent years,” Suzanne Heinen, acting administrator of the FAS, said in a statement. “Exports of DDGs were about 2 million tons in 2007 and reached about 8 million tons in 2011. And U.S. pork exports reached about 2 million tons in 2011, which is double what it was five years ago.”

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Is Bioenergy Expansion Harmful to Wildlife?

Apr. 3, 2012

Despite the predicted environmental benefits of biofuels, converting land to grow bioenergy crops may harm native wildlife. Researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig have developed a way to study the effects of increased energy crop cultivation on farmland bird populations.

"The Skylark is an indicator species for agricultural areas because it occupies many habitats of the wider countryside around the globe, breeds on the ground within fields and feeds mostly on insects" notes lead researcher, Jan Engel. "Improving the habitat suitability for Skylark, accordingly, would improve conservation of natural vegetation, insects, and other ground breeding farmland bird species."

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Research paper reveals better analysis methods for algal oil

Biodiesel Magazine
By OpenAlgae LLC April 03, 2012

A new paper from University of Texas algae-to-biofuel researchers provides insights into the complex composition of algal oil. In addition to disclosing a new analytical method of extracting oils from algal cells, the paper describes a liquid chromatography method that generates a simple and highly informative oil profile.

The research ("Extraction of Algal Lipids and Their Analysis by HPLC and Mass Spectrometry," by Jessica Jones, Schonna Manning, Morela Montoya, Karin Keller and Martin Poenie) will be published in the May 2012 issue of The Journal of the Oil Chemists' Society (online now at and was funded in part by OpenAlgae.

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UCLA produces isobutanol from bacteria

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane April 4, 2012

In California, researchers at UCLA have produced isobutanol from genetically modified bacteria, carbon dioxide and electricity produced from solar cells. Researchers say the new process could eventually be even more efficient than a plant’s own photosynthesis processes. The team is currently working on how to move up beyond laboratory scale now that the process has been proven feasible.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

ADM funds distillers grains research in China

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill March 27, 2012

Archer Daniels Midland Co. is expanding its research activities related to the use of distillers grains and corn stover to replace corn in cattle diets, recently announcing a two-year research project to be conducted in China to explore the potential for the alternative feeds to be used at Chinese dairy farms. ADM will provide an undisclosed sum to fund the research program, which will be conducted jointly with Shengli Li, professor of dairy science at China Agricultural University. The program will include a series of feeding trials at the university as well as cooperative trials at some of China’s large dairy farms.

ADM has been a leader in researching stover/distillers grains combinations as corn replacements in cattle diets for several years in the U.S. The company has collaborated with researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Iowa State University and the University of Illinois to conduct more than 20 feeding trials, the results of which have shown that it could be possible to replace more than 60 percent of the corn in cattle diets with a mixture of 20 percent treated stover and 40 percent distillers grains.

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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.

Miller explained that when he started making fuel pellets out of everything from reed canary grass to switchgrass and straw, his family team simply wanted to see whether it could make a good pellet. To do that, his team engineered a pellet manufacturing facility capable of switching from one feedstock to another in a matter of two hours. The operation, he said, was built out of waste parts from junk yards. “We didn’t really know what would work, but we were thoroughly convinced of what wouldn’t.”

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Genetic Sensor Boosts Biofuel Production

Technology Review
Monday, April 2, 2012
By Susan Young

Designer microbes regulate their own pathways to optimize fuel production, boosting yields threefold.

Give bacteria a bit of self-awareness and they can be smarter about producing biofuel.

That's the conclusion from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who report a genetic sensor that enables bacteria to adjust their gene expression in response to varying levels of key intermediates for making biodiesel. As a result, the microbes produced three times as much fuel. Such a sensor-regulator system could eventually make advanced biofuels cheaper and bring them a step closer to being an economically viable replacement to petroleum-based products.

One issue that has limited the amount of biofuels that a microbe makes is an imbalance of the different biological ingredients, or precursors, used to make the final fuel product. In a study published this week in Nature Biotechnology, Jay Keasling, professor of chemical engineering and bioengineering at UC Berkeley, and colleagues describe a biological sensor system that lets bacteria regulate genes in its biofuel-production pathways according to the amount of certain precursors in the cell.

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U.S. approves 20 firms to make ethanol for E15

WASHINGTON Mon Apr 2, 2012 6:18pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Twenty companies, including Archer-Daniels-Midland Co and Cargill Inc, have been cleared to produce the new ethanol grade called E15, a significant step toward putting the higher blend biofuel on sale, the government announced on Monday.

Most fuel sold at filling stations is a 9-to-1 blend of gasoline and corn-based ethanol. The ethanol industry proposed E15, a 15 percent blend, three years ago.

The Environmental Protection Agency said it approved the first applications to register ethanol to make E15, "a significant step toward its production, sale and use" in cars and light trucks built since 2000. E15 is barred from use in light equipment or in older vehicles.

"Perhaps as early as summer we could see E15 at fuel stations in the heartland of America" said Bob Dinneen of the trade group Renewable Fuels Association.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Design of a dynamic sensor-regulator system for production of chemicals and fuels derived from fatty acids

nature biotechnology

Microbial production of chemicals is now an attractive alternative to chemical synthesis. Current efforts focus mainly on constructing pathways to produce different types of molecules1, 2, 3. However, there are few strategies for engineering regulatory components to improve product titers and conversion yields of heterologous pathways4. Here we developed a dynamic sensor-regulator system (DSRS) to produce fatty acid–based products in Escherichia coli, and demonstrated its use for biodiesel production. The DSRS uses a transcription factor that senses a key intermediate and dynamically regulates the expression of genes involved in biodiesel production. This DSRS substantially improved the stability of biodiesel-producing strains and increased the titer to 1.5 g/l and the yield threefold to 28% of the theoretical maximum. Given the large number of natural sensors available, this DSRS strategy can be extended to many other biosynthetic pathways to balance metabolism, thereby increasing product titers and conversion yields and stabilizing production hosts.

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EPA to Allow 15 Percent Renewable Fuel in Gasoline/Agency approves first applications for registration of ethanol to make E15

U.S. EPA News Release
Release Date: 04/02/2012

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the first applications for registration of ethanol for use in making gasoline that contains up to 15 percent ethanol – known as E15. Ethanol is a renewable fuel that can be mixed with gasoline. For over 30 years ethanol has been blended into gasoline, but the law limited it to 10 percent by volume for use in gasoline-fueled vehicles. Registration of ethanol to make E15 is a significant step toward its production, sale, and use in model year 2001 and newer gasoline-fueled cars and light trucks.

To enable widespread use of E15, the Obama Administration has set a goal to help fueling station owners install 10,000 blender pumps over the next 5 years. In addition, both through the Recovery Act and the 2008 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Department of Agriculture have provided grants, loans and loan guarantees to spur American ingenuity on the next generation of biofuels.

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Lawrence Berkeley Lab to consolidate in California

Biofuels Digest
Isabel Lane April 2, 2012

In Washington, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is planning to develop a major new research facility in Richmond to consolidate its biofuel-focused energy labs. The project is to have an annual budget between $200 and $250 million, 95% of the funding coming from the DOE. The effort is receiving significant pushback from activists against “synthetic biology,” though most of the protests have been dismissed as “baseless.”

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Groups highlight importance of RFS, urge Congressional support

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By American Coalition for Ethanol March 27, 2012

Washington, D.C. -- National biofuels organizations and renewable energy advocates are joining forces in highlighting the role the renewable fuels standard (RFS) plays in moderating gasoline prices, reducing foreign imports and supporting the advanced and cellulosic biofuels sector.

In a letter sent March 27 to Congressional leaders, the American Coalition for Ethanol, Advanced Ethanol Council, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, 25x’25 Alliance and Energy Future Coalition are urging Congress to support the RFS and reject attempts to reduce, waive or eliminate it.

“Today, ethanol is approximately $1 cheaper than gasoline and blending ethanol into U.S. gasoline saves consumers at the pump,” the groups said. A Center for Agriculture and Rural Development analysis found that from 2000-2010, ethanol reduced gasoline prices at the pump an average of 25 cents per gallon which meant consumers annually saved $34 billion dollars.

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AgEC applauds senators on bill to fund Farm Bill energy title

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Agriculture Energy Coalition March 30, 2012

The Agriculture Energy Coalition commends Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Al Franken, D-Minn., for their leadership on newly introduced legislation to reauthorize and mandatorily fund the most vital energy programs found in the current Farm Bill. This legislation should serve as a bipartisan basis for the Energy Title as the Senate begins debate on a new Farm Bill, which is scheduled to expire in September.

“The Farm Bill’s energy title is a tremendous economic driver for communities throughout rural America, funding renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in every state of the Union,” said Ryan Stroschein, a coalition director. “These funds have leveraged billions of dollars in additional capital and created quality jobs.”

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Monday, April 2, 2012

USDA Explores Feasibility of Alternative Energy Production at Airports

News Release

WASHINGTON, March 29, 2012--A recent study conducted by researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) highlights the potential for alternative energy production at airports. The study findings were published in an article titled "Airports Offer Unrealized Potential for Alternative Energy Production" in Environmental Management and indicates that airports may want to consider converting to alternative fuels where it is both economically and environmentally beneficial.

"Some available grasslands at airports have the potential to spur the type of innovation we need to build American-made, homegrown biofuels and biobased products that will help to break our dependence on foreign oil and move our nation toward a clean energy economy," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Converting airport grasslands to biofuel, solar or wind production not only provides more environmentally-sound alternative energy sources for our country, but may also increase revenue for airports and reduce the local abundance of potentially hazardous wildlife to aircraft. Such efforts may be particularly beneficial for rural economic development, as many rural airport properties contain expansive grasslands that potentially could be converted to biofuel crops or other renewable energy sources."

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Study shows impact of market forces on bioenergy GHG emissions

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Luke Geiver March 29, 2012

A new study completed by Christopher Galik, senior policy associate at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions highlights the important role market forces play in calculating the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from woody biomass used for bioenergy applications.

Market forces, Galik said, are shorthand for landowner and forestry industry response to changing market conditions created by an increased demand for forest biomass. “With changes in demand, you get changes in prices paid for forest biomass and a related change in landowner behavior—planting, management, conversion to other land uses, that sort of thing,” he said. Galik’s study, titled “The Effect of Assessment Scale and Metric Selection on the Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Woody Biomass,” shows that those changes result in more carbon being stored on the landscape, which in turn, lowers the net GHG emissions associated with widespread biomass use.

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