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

Friday, June 29, 2012

Designing microbes that make energy-dense biofuels without sugar

Phys.org
June 28, 2012 by Renee Meiller



(Phys.org) -- With metabolically engineered microorganisms hungry for levulinic acid rather than sugar, a UW-Madison chemical and biological engineer aims to create more sustainable, cost-effective processes for converting biomass into high-energy-density hydrocarbon fuels.

Currently, commercial biofuels — for example, ethanol and biodiesel — are produced from such crops as sugarcane or corn, or derived from plant oils. However, existing production processes for these “first-generation” biofuels are energy-intensive and ill suited to meet future demand for alternative transportation fuels.

Brian Pfleger, a UW-Madison assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, is among an emerging group of researchers that is capitalizing on modern biotechnology tools to engineer systems that efficiently and sustainably produce “drop-in” fuels—advanced biofuels interchangeable with today’s fuels and compatible with existing infrastructure.

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India’s SBI starts transgenic sugarcane R&D

Biofuels Digest
Meghan Sapp
June 28, 2012

In India, the Sugarcane Breeding Institute based in Coimbatore has begun research intro transgenic sugarcane though it expects it will take several years before it is able to release a BT sugarcane variety for commercial use. SBI has been working on energy canes with two varieties already released.

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Solazyme, Bunge break ground on new sugarcane-to-oils project in Brazil

Biofuels Digest
Meghan Sapp
June 28, 2012

In Brazil, Solazyme and Bunge have broken ground on their 100,000 metric ton sugars-to-oils plant in Moema that is meant to come online in Q4 2013. Hildo Henz has been appointed as general manager of the joint venture, which will operate under the name Solazyme Bunge Produtos Renováveis Ltda.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Biological switch paves way for improved biofuel production

Phys.org
June 25, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Scientists from Queen Mary, University of London have discovered a mechanism that controls the way that organisms breathe or photosynthesise, potentially paving the way for improved biofuel production.
Writing in the journal PNAS, Dr Lu-ning Lu and Professor Conrad Mullineaux from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences report that by exposing cells to different light conditions, they have changed the way in which electrons are transported.

Professor Mullineaux explains: "Any organism that breathes or photosynthesises depends on tiny electrical circuits operating within biological membranes. We are trying to find out what controls these circuits: what makes the electrons take the routes that they do, and what switches are available to send the electrons to other destinations?"

Cyanobacteria are a kind of bacterium that both breathes and photosynthesises and therefore has a complicated set of different possible electron transport pathways.

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Petrobras Wants to Increase Ethanol in Gasoline, Estado Says

Bloomberg News
By Peter Millard on June 23, 2012 Tweet

Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4), Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, wants to increase the amount of ethanol used in gasoline to 25 percent, the head of the company’s biofuels unit said yesterday, according to O Estado de S. Paulo.

The increase in ethanol content from the current 20 percent will help ease fuel imports, Estado quoted Miguel Rossetto as saying.

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Rain to push Brazil sugar output to later in year

Reuters
Tue Jun 26, 2012 5:42pm EDT

* Rain will help boost cane crop later in year
* Mills were kept from harvesting by rains early in season
* Mills favoring sugar production this year (Adds further details on report)

SAO PAULO, June 26 (Reuters) - Widespread rain during the first few months of Brazil's center-south sugarcane crush has slowed sugar and ethanol production and will push more of that output to the second half of the season, cane industry association Unica said on Tuesday.

Sugar output from the main center-south crush from April through mid-June fell 28 percent, compared with a year ago, to 4.89 million tonnes.

Production of ethanol over the same period fell 33 percent to 3.61 billion liters, Unica said in its biweekly crushing report.

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Researchers upgrade ethanol to a better fuel

Phys.org
June 27, 2012 By Anne Ju

(Phys.org) -- At Cornell, researchers are turning beer into biofuel.

It's not the beer that's good to drink -- but fermentation broth, which is chemically identical to the imbibing beer, from which the fuel ethanol is produced.

Using a mixed bag of microbes for specific chemical reactions, biological engineers have designed a process for upgrading ethanol into something even better -- caproic acid, a carboxylic acid that's a versatile fuel precursor. If scaled up, their process could integrate seamlessly into already-established ethanol production lines.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sec. Tom Vilsack blogs about the Bio-economy

Biofuels Digest
Tom Saidak
June 26, 2012

In Washington, Secretary Tom Vilsack posted on the USDA Blog about the progress to date on the bio-based economy. In part, he stated:

“Today, there are more than 3,000 American companies producing more than 25,000 bio-based products made from renewable sources grown here at home. In turn, their innovation is supporting more than 100,000 American jobs.

The bio-based economy will be critical in the coming years to creating even more jobs – particularly in rural America – by bringing together agriculture and manufacturing, two sectors that are key economic drivers.

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N.H. grants full RPS credit to biomass thermal

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Simet
June 25, 2012

New Hampshire has become the first state to grant the same credit to renewable thermal projects that renewable electricity projects receive under a renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

Established in 2007, the RPS requires electricity providers to provide 23.8 percent renewable electricity to customers by 2025, and grants renewable energy credits (RECs) on a four-category classification system. New Hampshire S.B. 218 adds thermal renewable to the RPS, granting RECs up to $29 per megawatt-hour of useable thermal energy produced by qualifying projects.

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WSSA SAYS BIOFUEL BEST PRACTICES ARE IMPERATIVE TO PROTECT AGAINST PLANT INVADERS

Weed Science Society of America
June 18, 2012

The biofuels industry is hitting its stride, with both small farms and large-scale plantations producing renewable crops that can be converted to energy. But scientists with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) caution that many of these crops also are known as invasive weeds in some of the regions where they are planted. That means growers must exercise caution in order to protect our natural ecosystems.

"We don't yet have sufficient research and risk models to predict the environmental impact of these new crops in the field," says Jacob Barney, Ph.D., assistant professor of Invasive Plant Ecology at Virginia Tech. "In many ways it's a large-scale experiment, with few regulations or policy guidelines. Voluntary precautions taken by stakeholders are virtually our only line of defense."

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Gevo v. Butamax: Judge denies injunction request

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Susanne Retka Schill
June 20, 2012

The latest chapter is near closure on the butanol patent dispute between Gevo Inc. and Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC. In an opinion filed June 19, U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson denied Butamax’s request for a preliminary injunction. Just 10 days earlier, the judge had requested Gevo maintain the status quo until her ruling.

Butamax said in a statement following the June 19 ruling that it would make an immediate appeal.

Gevo and Butamax are locked in a drawn out patent dispute. Butamax is suing Gevo for patent infringement; Gevo has won a round with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in challenging Butamax’ patent as being invalid and has counter sued. Butamax filed a motion in September for a preliminary injunction asking the court to stop Gevo from infringing on their patent. On June 13, Butamax quickly trumpeted the court’s request that Gevo not sell any of its biobased isobutanol produced at its Luverne, Minn., facility to anyone but the two initial customers. Yesterday’s ruling denied the request for an injunction.

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Reps. request continued Energy Title funding in House Farm Bill

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill
June 19, 2012

The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture is not expected to begin marking up its version of the 2012 Farm Bill until July, but some members of the House have already begun expressing their support for retaining Energy Title funding. In a letter sent to committee leaders on June 12, a bipartisan group of 12 representatives requested specifically that funding should be reauthorized for the Rural Energy for America Program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program and the Biorefinery Assistance Program, noting that those three programs have already supported projects in every state and are playing a role in advancing agriculture-based energy.

“These programs often provide the means for entrepreneurs to launch new rural small businesses producing biofuels, wind power, solar, geothermal or many other technologies,” the representatives said in the letter. “The public sector investment leverages greater private sector investment, creating jobs based in America’s private sector.” The representatives added that overcoming the nation’s energy challenges will require “long-term and consistent commitment” and urged Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson to provide that reassurance by renewing core Energy Title programs.

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European Biofuels Technology Platform stresses benefits of Bio-CC

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Erin Voegele
June 22, 2012

The European Biofuels Technology Platform published a report in June that addresses the potential to couple carbon capture and storage (CCS) with biofuel and biomass heat and power technologies. The report, titled “Biomass with CO2 Capture and Storage (Bio-CCS),” asserts that Bio-CCS is the only large-scale technology that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere, as it combines sustainable biofuel and bioenergy production with CCS, leading to carbon negative products. This type of process is already underway in the U.S. at an ADM ethanol plant.

Additional key findings uncovered by the report note that the biofuels industry in Europe could provide “low-hanging fruits” for early, low-cost CCS deployment. In addition, the EBTP said in the report that studies have indicated Bio-CCS cold remove 10 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year by 2050 using available, sustainable biomass. In Europe alone, 800 metric tons of carbon dioxide could be captured per year.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New research facility named after speaker Hubbard

The Auburn Plainsman
by Robert E. Lee / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF The Auburn Plainsman

A new building in the Auburn University Research Park has been named after Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.

The announcement was made during the board of trustees meeting today, as Hubbard was responsible for securing half of the $28 million required to build the facility.

“This is an unexpected honor, and is very much appreciated,” Hubbard told the board. “It is an honor and a privilege to represent Auburn University each day in Montgomery. I always want what is in the best interest of the university.”

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Opportunities limit Petrobras' ethanol investments

Reuters
Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:31pm IST

* Petrobras says investment opportunities are limited in ethanol
* Investments in ethanol declines in new five-year plan - CEO

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 25 (Reuters) - Sparse opportunities in Brazil's ethanol sector have limited the number of new biofuel projects in the five-year investment plan of the state-led oil company Petrobras, Chief Executive Maria das Gracas Foster said on Monday.

Petrobras hopes to become the world's largest exporter of ethanol over the next decade and one of Brazil's largest producers by forming minority partnerships with milling groups here.

Investments in Brazil's ethanol industry have dried up over the past few years after a boom that peaked in 2007-2008 which brought tens of billions of dollars in investments into the industry.

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MyCentralJersey.com
Written by Pamela MacKenzie
HILLSBOROUGH — In a marked bipartisan show of support for a project with no government funding, a collection of public officials from the national, state, county and local levels gathered Friday at Primus Green Energy to dedicate of the company’s new research-demonstration plant to produce synthetic gasoline from biomass or natural gas.

Officials such as former Gov. James Florio; Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J.; state Sen. Kip Bateman; Upendra J. Chivukula, state Assemblyman and deputy speaker; Robert Marshall, assistant commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection; and Joseph L. Fiordaliso, commissioner of the state Board of Public Utilities, came together to congratulate company officials and talk about the importance of this new fuel source.

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Senate passes Farm Bill with energy programs intact

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill
June 21, 2012

The U.S. Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill in a 64-35 vote on June 21 after considering more than 70 amendments and completing the floor debate in a timely fashion not often experienced in Congress as of late. The bill offers a reason for biofuel stakeholders to celebrate, at least temporarily, as the Senate agreed to retain energy title programs and provide mandatory funding for those programs for the next five years as passed earlier this year in the Senate Agriculture Committee’s version of the bill.

Agriculture Energy Coalition released a statement applauding the Senate for reauthorizing energy title programs, which include the Renewable Energy for America Program, the Biorefinery Assistance Program and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, and said their continued funding will continue to expand rural economies and create jobs. “These programs have been successful in supporting the growth of new renewable industries, creating markets for U.S. agriculture and saving energy,” the group said in its statement. “We urge members of the House, which is currently considering energy legislation, to quickly take up and pass the Farm Bill and its energy title.”

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China drops DDGS anti-dumping case

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen

June 22, 2012

Eighteen months after it was initiated, the anti-dumping investigation against U.S. dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) exports to China has been terminated. “This was an exceptional example of how competitors can come together to do what is correct,” said U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Thomas Dorr during a conference call June 22.

China’s Ministry of Commerce announced that the case was terminated after the three Chinese ethanol plants that initiated the case withdrew their petition on May 10. The Chinese companies were identified as AnHui Ethanol Co. Ltd., Jilin Fuel Alcohol Co. Ltd. and Meihekou Fukang Alcohol Co. Ltd. The termination signals the case is closed, said Mark McConnell, partner with Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, who served as an attorney for USGC and the ethanol industry. “From a legal perspective we’re essentially in the position we were before the anti-dumping investigation was filed in the first place,” he added. “The bottom line here is the investigation has come to a close without the imposition of duties.”

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Monday, June 25, 2012

New website debunks renewable energy myths

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Simet
June 20, 2012

The American Council on Renewable Energy has launched a new website designed to address the imbalance in America’s debate over clean and renewable energy.

The Energy Fact Check website offers visitors multiple browsing options to learn the truth about renewable energy cost and availability, jobs generation, policies and technology, public opinion and bipartisan support, the strength of the industry and how it affects national security.

Numerous common myths in each category are addressed with real answers, which are documented. For example, under the category Cost and Availability, the first claim listed is, “clean and renewable energy is too expensive,” and it is followed by a factual answer. “The cost of clean and renewable energy is much lower than some might think and is already cost competitive with conventional energy resources in many markets,” it said. “In the last two years, prices for wind, solar, electric vehicles and other technologies have fallen rapidly and will continue to do so, and biofuels have helped lower gas prices.”

Go to the ACORE web site: Energy Fact Check

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Researchers say $100B needed for plant science R&D to meet food, fuel targets

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane
June 22, 2012

In Washington, writing in The Scientist, Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Wolf Frommer and Tom Brutnell of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center said that a 10-year, $100 billion investment in food and energy science is required, in order to address the planet’s long term fuel and food needs.

The authors note a 2012 FAO estimate that 920 million people lack sufficient food to meet suggested daily caloric intake goals, and that global food production must increase 70 percent by 2050 to meet basic needs. The authors said that research in plant sciences, which has been shrinking, must be increased in the areas of crop yield, plant pathogens, water and fertilizer use — as well as the develop of plants that can produce sustainable biofuels.

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Who Shall Dare: Biobutanol and the intrepid ethanol producer

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane
June 22, 2012

Declining ethanol margins and plant idlings; ethanol price gloom; controversy over RFS2 targets.

Despair? Bah! It all spells “opportunity” for the intrepid ethanolista.

This week in biofuels, two storylines that have been gaining a lot of attention have been the declining margins and plant slowdowns and shutdowns in the US corn ethanol sector, and the battle over IP rights between Butamax and Gevo in the biobutanol sector.

The story lines are, in fact, closely linked. One of the reasons companies like Dupont and BP are pushing so hard on securing IP rights in biobutanol is the massive opportunity to bring the technology forward with corn ethanol producers, to improve their margins and increase the sector’s downstream distribution opportunities.

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Farm Bill passes Senate, energy title programs intact

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Simet
June 21, 2012

The Senate has finished voting on 73 amendments proposed for the $500 billion 2012 Farm Bill and subsequently passed it on to the House, leaving the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Rural Energy for America Program and Biorefinery Assistance Program slated for continuation.

Amendment 2226 was proposed by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and would have eliminated all Farm Bill energy title funding. It was voted down in a June 20 vote of 36-63.

Among multiple programs under the energy title, REAP has been reauthorized at $20 million per year, with mandatory funding of $48.2 million for each of fiscal years 2013-2017. A cap of $500,000 has been put on grants, and no money is available for feasibility studies. Leftover funds from the Repowering Assistance Program, which has been repealed, will be transferred to REAP.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Kordi finds Midas touch with biofuel

Korea JoongAng Daily
June 21,2012

Korea has invented a new technology that will help steel manufacturers cut emissions and enable the country to secure a higher value-added biofuel.

Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute (Kordi), which is under the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, announced yesterday it has developed a technology that turns carbon monoxide into hydrogen by using single-celled microorganisms from deep under the seabed in the Pacific Ocean.

Archaea microorganisms, particularly the strand known as NA1, can be used to produce hydrogen.

In September 2010, Kordi discovered how to use the microorganisms and the result was published in the U.S. science journal Nature.

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Purdue University Researchers and Partners Say Sorghum Should Be in The Mix as Biofuel Crop

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: June 20, 2012

West Lafayette, IN—Sweet and biomass sorghum would meet the need for next-generation biofuels to be environmentally sustainable, easily adopted by producers and take advantage of existing agricultural infrastructure, a group of researchers led by Purdue University scientists believes.

The scientists from Purdue, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Illinois and Cornell University believe sorghum, a grain crop similar to corn, could benefit from the rail system, grain elevators and corn ethanol processing facilities already in place.

Their perspective article is published early online in the journal Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining.

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Struggling ethanol makers diversify to corn oil

Reuters
Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:56pm EDT
By Carey Gillam


* California company adds corn oil to ethanol business
* US ethanol producers make 4.69 mln lbs of corn oil daily
* Diversification needed to offset weak ethanol margins

June 21 (Reuters) - Another U.S. ethanol maker is moving to diversify its revenue stream as the industry continues to suffer depressed margins as costly corn supplies dwindle.

On Thursday, California-based Pacific Ethanol Inc said it was installing corn oil separation technology at one of its plants and planned to include its three other plants by the first quarter of 2013. The company said its corn oil business should start generating revenue in the first quarter of 2013.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

RFA and Bobby Likis Launch Ethanol Education Initiative for Techs

AfterMarketNews.com
June 20, 2012
By aftermarketNews staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and automotive expert, car-talk host Bobby Likis have announced an extended collaboration for ethanol educational outreach to automotive service professionals. RFA says the outreach program, which includes the “Calling All Technicians ... 20 Facts About Ethanol” feature on the Car Clinic Network, is designed to enlighten, educate and energize automotive technicians with verifiable facts, studies and statistics on ethanol.

As the national trade association for the U.S. ethanol industry, the RFA promotes policies, regulations and research and development initiatives that will lead to the increased production and use of fuel ethanol.

The automotive technician outreach program will utilize radio, websites, social media, print media and key events. Likis, an award-winning, national talk-show host, has worn many hats in the automotive industry, including technician, service desk advisor, service shop owner, engine builder and pit crew, making him ideally suited to support this program, he says.

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Carbon Increases Oil Production from Algae

SciTechDaily.com
June 18, 2012 by Staff

By feeding algae more carbon, scientists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory increased the microbes’ overall metabolism, resulting in increased oil production as the organisms continued to grow.

Upton, New York — Overturning two long-held misconceptions about oil production in algae, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory show that ramping up the microbes’ overall metabolism by feeding them more carbon increases oil production as the organisms continue to grow. The findings — published online in the journal Plant and Cell Physiology on May 28, 2012 — may point to new ways to turn photosynthetic green algae into tiny “green factories” for producing raw materials for alternative fuels.

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RAND says US military cannot reduce biofuels price; should exit development; BIO disagrees

Biofuels Digest
Meghan Sapp
June 20, 2012

In Washington, a new study by the RAND Corporation says that the US military’s petroleum demand of 340,000 barrels per day, compared to global demand of 87 million barrels per day, isn’t large enough of a scale to impact the production cost of biofuels so should therefore stop spending money on more expensive alternative fuels.

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New Energy Farms develops new energy grass capsules

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Anna Simet
June 19, 2012

By reverse engineering a seed, energy crop developer New Energy Farms says it has developed a unique system for establishing miscanthus that could potentially reduce farmer establishment costs by 50 percent or more.

NEF has more than 15 years of experience in developing perennial energy grasses, but has made significant progress on the Crop Expansion Encapsulation & Drilling System (CEEDS) during the last two years, according to NEF cofounder and CEO Paul Carver, who holds a doctorate in miscanthus physiology.

Explaining how CEEDS work, Carver said the capsules contain vigorous vegetative tissue, to both protect it and allow it to develop prior to planting. “This is what delivers the more vigorous growth that we see,” he said.

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Official: Future of BCAP could impact future of energy crops

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill
June 19, 2012

The nearly $10 million awarded by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency to three energy crop project areas on June 13 will be the only funding distributed through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program this year and it’s unclear whether the program will be reauthorized by Congress as part of the next Farm Bill or if legislators will allow it to expire on Sept. 30.
BCAP was created by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill to assist farmers and land owners in establishing energy crops for bioenergy production and is the only federal program of its kind. If BCAP is not renewed, the risk and costs associated with establishing significant acres of energy crops will likely fall on the shoulders of bioenergy producers—the same producers who are already saddled with enormous amounts of risk and financial burdens associated with first-of-a-kind facilities.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

“End fossil fuel subsidies” emerges as Rio+20 theme; PANGEA says focus on “best practices” for biofuels

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane
June 19, 2012

In Brazil, “end fossil fuel subsidies” has emerged as a theme at the Rio+20 Summit is underway, where a flash mob of protesters, organized by Earth Day, 350.org and youth groups attending the summit protested $1 trillion per year in subsidies that they said posed a significant barrier to the adoption of clean energy.

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Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center marks first issued patent

University of Wisconsin - Madison
June 18, 2012

The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) is marking the arrival of summer with a milestone: the first patent issued on the center's technology.

The patent protects a new heat-tolerant enzyme capable of breaking down the sturdy plant cell walls of cellulosic biomass into biofuel. The pioneering piece of intellectual property is based on research conducted at the GLBRC's Middleton, Wis.-based industry partner, C5-6 Technologies.

Cellulosic biomass, the leaves, stems and other non-edible parts of plants like grasses and corn, is valued for its potential to help replace fossil fuels as a renewable energy source. The patented discovery makes it possible to transfer from laboratory to industry a technology that converts biomass to ethanol and other advanced biofuels.

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Scientists breakthrough on enzymatic synthesis, bio-based evolution of a semiconductor

BioBased Digest
Tom Saidak
June 19, 2012

In California, UC Santa Barbara scientists have, for the first time, used genetic engineering and molecular evolution to develop the enzymatic synthesis of a semiconductor.

Using silicateins, proteins responsible for the formation of silica skeletons in marine sponges, the researchers were able to generate new mineral architectures by directing the evolution of these enzymes.

With the creation of a silicatein gene pool, the scientists were able to create a multitude of silicateins, and then select for the ones with desired properties. The scientists noted that the process could potentially work with a variety of metals, to evolve different types of materials. By changing the laboratory-controlled environments in which directed evolution occurs, it will be possible to evolve materials with specific capacities, like high performance in an evolved solar cell, for example.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Register Special Report: Threats to Iowa's Bio-energy Industry

Des Moines Register
11:50 PM, Jun 16, 2012
Written by DAN PILLER

Fossil fuels' attacks on mandates, subsidies put renewables at risk

A surge in domestic oil and natural gas production and a decline in national political support for grain-fed biofuels threatens to cripple Iowa’s more than $20 billion renewable energy industry just as it has matured into a major force in the state’s economy.

The political battle, expected to continue beyond the November election, sets up a potential regional battle between the Midwestern grain interests and traditional fossil fuel strongholds in Texas and the Southwest.

The political energy map will change further with the emergence of states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York as major natural gas producers, with offshore wind farms in the Atlantic ocean arising to compete with Iowa and Midwestern wind.

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Agrivida launches field trials to test modified corn stover

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill
June 13, 2012

Massachusetts-based Agrivida Inc. is conducting the first year of USDA-permitted field trials to grow corn that has been engineered to include enzymes in the corn stalk. The addition should lower the cost of cellulosic ethanol production, according to Agrivida. The company has been developing molecular engineering technology to add enzymes to energy crops for several years and has advanced the technology to a stage which promises to deliver feedstocks with high yields and low external input requirements, according to Jeremy Johnson, co-founder and vice president of Agrivida. Small test plots of the modified corn were planted this spring in Indiana and Iowa to further evaluate the product. The number of acres planted this year is less than 100 acres, but the company intends to increase the size of its field trials over the next few years. Johnson estimates the product could be available for commercial use in four to five years.

Agrivida’s trademarked INzyme technology, previously known as GreenGenes, allows the company to engineer corn seed that contains enzymes which will grow in the stover only. The enzymes essentially lie dormant throughout the growing cycle, leaving the corn itself unaffected, and are activated only after being subjected to heat of less than 100 degrees Celsius at the processing plant. “That is a temperature that you would not see in nature, but it’s relatively low for a chemical process, so there’s considerable cost advantages of using that low of a temperature,” Johnson said. The company has also tested its technology on switchgrass and sorghum successfully in the greenhouse, but does not yet plan to conduct field trials with those feedstocks.

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Senators file multiple anti-energy Farm Bill amendments

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill
June 15, 2012

The Senate began its floor debate of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s 2012 Farm Bill, formally titled the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, on June 12 and proceeded to flood the legislation with amendments that would modify various components of the bill. Approximately 10 of those amendments relate to the Energy Title or renewable energy in general and must be defeated, said Lloyd Ritter, co-director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition. Among them, a proposal to defund all energy programs under the Farm Bill, an amendment that would prevent Farm Bill funds from being used for blender pump installations, an amendment to eliminate loan guarantee programs, and multiple amendments that address the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

In the June 13 letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the coalition pointed out the economic contributions already made by the emerging renewable energy industries and said the positive impacts of that sector will continue to grow with Congress’ support. Therefore, the group urged senators to defeat energy program amendments. “Farm Bill energy programs support the emergence of new markets for agriculture, encourage putting underutilized land back into production, incentivize innovation in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and create employment opportunities in rural America,” Ritter said in a statement. “These effective programs are a vital part of the overall Farm Bill and provide a strong return for American taxpayers.”

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Analysis addresses impact of biomass cost, logistics on biopower projects


Biomass Power & Thermal
By Erin Voegele
June 14, 2012

A recent analysis completed by Pike Research has found that the costs and logistics associated with sourcing, aggregating and transporting biomass feedstocks will likely continue to inhibit growth in the biopower industry.

“Biopower market growth is tied to the ability of facilities to access a continuous and consistent supply of feedstock,” said Pike Research Senior Analyst Mackinnon Lawrence. “While most estimates conclude that sufficient biomass resources are available to support robust biopower growth over the next decade—especially with the potential for dedicated energy crops to expand the feedstock supply—a number of obstacles still remain.”

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Indian researchers study lipid production potential of fungi

Biodiesel Magazine
By Erin Voegele
June 07, 2012

A research paper published in the peer reviewed journal Microbial Cell Factories shows that single-cell oils accumulated by oleaginous fungi have potential for use as a biodiesel feedstock. According to the paper, these fungi could be used to produce single-cell oils from lignocellulosic biomass. The study addressed in the paper was competed by researchers from the University of Pune in India and involved the investigation of 14 strains of fungi, which were isolated from the mangrove wetlands along the west coast of India.

According to the paper, the cells of the fungi were investigated with respect to oleaginicity, cell mass, lipid content, fatty acid methyl ester profiles and physicochemical properties of transesterified single-cell oils. These factors were described as being useful in exploring their potential for biodiesel production.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Raizen agrees to avoid sugarcane, ethanol expansion in indigenous areas of Brazil

Biofuels Digest
Meghan Sapp
June 14, 2012

In Brazil, the joint venture between Shell and Cosan, Raizen, has decided to terminate controversial plans to source sugar cane from land previously belonging to an indigenous tribe after pressure from a campaign organized by the Brazilian Indian tribe and global tribal rights non-profit organization, Survival International.

The company also agreed to consult Brazil’s Indian affairs department, FUNAI, in order to avoid further investment or expansion in conflict areas that could be recognized as indigenous land in the future.

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BCAP funding awarded to New York, North Carolina, Arkansas

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Luke Geiver
June 13, 2012

The USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) is back in action. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that two new project areas will be developed and another existing BCAP project area will be expanded through the help of a $9.6 million funding round.

In New York, ReEnergy Holding LLC will enroll 3,500 acres in a fast growing shrub willow that will be used to help the biomass power developer generate over 100 MW. The biomass company already has three facilities that have committed to purchasing the shrub feedstock. According to the USDA, the establishment of the energy willows will create roughly 144 jobs over the course of 11 years. Part of the project will include support from the “Come Farm With Us,” campaign, a program that targets new and beginning farmers form the St. Regis Mohawk reservation located only 15 miles from one of the committed facilities.

Chemtex International, a division of Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi, an advanced biofuels, biobased chemical and renewable energy developer based out of Italy, has been awarded roughly $4 million from the USDA to develop 4,000 acres of miscanthus and switchgrass in North Carolina. The energy crop project areas will be spread throughout 11 counties, and the energy crops will be used in part for Project Alpha, a 20 MMgy cellulosic ethanol biorefinery that will also produce onsite biogas for power generation, set for startup in 2014 in Sampson County, N.C.

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California awards $23 million to alternative fuels projects

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By California Energy Commission
June 13, 2012

The California Energy Commission today approved funding of $23,110,015 for projects that will advance the development of green fuels and the installation of fueling stations. These investments help California to fulfill its pioneering climate change policies, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and improve the environment.

“These awards support innovative projects that provide a crucial boost to emerging fuels and vehicle technologies,” Energy Commissioner Carla Peterman said. “They support a range of efforts, from cutting-edge scientific research to the development of alternative fueling stations. They also benefit all Californians by creating jobs and improving air quality while helping to develop a diverse range of transportation options the state can rely on in the future.”

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Sanitized develops bio-based polymers protection

Biobased Digest
Tom Saidak
June 14, 2012

In Switzerland, Sanitized AG has found a way to prevent biodegradable polymers from biodegrading prematurely, leaving plants susceptible to weather degradation. This is accomplished by use of antimicrobials that protect the biopolymers from both fungal and microbial attack. The PLA films used for agriculture must last from a minimum of three months to a maximum of one year. With the use of their product, Sanitized, the timing can be set based on the amount incorporated into the film.

Read story

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Codexis, Shell agreement intact, renewal negotiations ongoing

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Holly Jessen
June 13, 2012

A few news reports about the termination of a three-way research agreement between Shell, Iogen Energy Corp. and Codexis Inc. made a mountain out of a molehill, said Wes Bolsen, vice president and chief marketing officer. It was really just a housekeeping item. “It didn’t affect at all the two-way agreement between Shell and Codexis,” he added.

The Shell, Iogen and Codexis research agreement is terminated effective June 30, according to a two-paragraph notice at the end of a document filed June 7 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The move follows the April 30 announcement from Shell and Iogen that 150 employees were laid off at Iogen’s headquarters and a Shell-led proposed cellulosic ethanol project was scrapped. Codexis had been collaborating with Shell and Iogen on the conversion of cellulosic biomass to ethanol but was not receiving any research funding under this agreement, Bolsen said.

Read more

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

3rd Pan American Congress on Plants and Bioenergy ... July 15-18 ... Champaign, IL

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: June 7, 2012
Urbana—Scientists from over 12 countries in South and North America will come together to discuss progress toward sustainable fuels from a federal and industry perspective.

The 3rd Pan American Congress on Plants and Bioenergy encompasses genomics, genetics and plant breeding, advances in plant biology and biochemistry for improved bioenergy and biofuels production and quality, and mitigating the environmental impacts of bioenergy production.

Many of the major public and private initiatives in biofuels are represented.

The conference will be held July 15-18 at the I-Hotel and Conference Center of the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill., U.S.

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EPA recognizes University of Iowa biomass project

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Luke Geiver
June 06, 2012

A biomass boiler retrofit project at the University of Iowa has received a Green Power Partnership Award from the U.S. EPA.

According to the EPA, the school was recognized based on its use of oat hulls to displace coal in one of two solid fuel boilers. The main power plant at the school generates nearly 9 million kilowatts per hour of steam, helping provide roughly three percent of the entire Iowa City campus’ electrical needs. The award recognizes an organization, program or individual that has significantly advanced the development of green power sources. In addition to the awarded project, the University of Iowa is running a woody biomass boiler at a satellite campus.

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The Bio-Based Revolution

Biofuels Digest

Jim Lane
June 12, 2012

10,000 ways to replace a barrel of imported oil? BioBased Digest launches today, to help sort out the news and products in this fast-growing sector.

Also introducing BioBase, which will launch in conjunction with Advanced Biofuels Markets this October in San Francisco.

When the USDA announced recently that there are 3,700 bio-based products now approved in its BioPreferred catalog, which is used by government buyers, we weren’t a bit surprised by the trend, but the rapid rate of growth and change is impressive and a welcome shocker.

For several years, while an international debate and development effort has been ongoing in the arena of bio-based fuels – a corresponding revolution has been occurring in the area of bio-based materials.

The list of product categories, alone, totals more than 100. Packaging, flavors, food ingredients, fragrances, fibers, pipes, paints, lacquers, thinners, solvents, lubricants, coatings, insulation, cleansers, films, detergents – well, the list goes on, and on, and on.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Benefits of biofuel use on environment overestimated

News Track India
Washington, Sat, 09 Jun 2012 ANI

Washington, June 9 (ANI): Calculations of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions from bioenergy production are neglecting crucial information that has led to the overestimation of the benefits of biofuels compared to fossil fuels, two scientists have claimed.

The critique extends to the Life Cycle Analysis models of bioenergy production.

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is a technique used to measure and compile all factors relating to the production, usage, and disposal of a fuel or product.

The researchers said that LCAs are overestimating the positive aspects of biofuel use versus fossil fuel use by omitting the emission of CO2 by vehicles that use ethanol and biodiesel even when there is no valid justification.

Proponents of bioenergy argue that analyses should always ignore this CO2 because plants grown for biofuel absorb and therefore offset the same amount of carbon that is emitted by refining and combusting the fuel.

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Research center makes biofuel breakthrough

TheTelegraph.com
June 11, 2012 8:00 AM
By KATHIE BASSETT

EDWARDSVILLE - Researchers at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville have successfully produced an environmentally friendly, cost-effective biofuel from the non-edible portion of a corn kernel.

"What we did was take the most common form of cellulose that exists and convert it into fuel ethanol," Advancing Biofuels Research Center Director John Caupert said. "What is exciting from the consumer's viewpoint is that all the technology is currently commercial available."

This groundbreaking research has the potential to lessen dependency on foreign oil and provide consumers with economically sound and environmentally responsible fuel options, said Doug McIllhagga, a communications spokesman for the university.

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Is Shell still interested in cellulosic ethanol?

TheEnergyCollective
Posted by: Doris de Guzman
Posted June 10, 2012

On Codexis' 8-K filing, the company said its cellulosic ethanol research collaboration between Iogen and Shell will now be terminated effective June 30, 2012.

The question here is Shell's commitment in cellulosic ethanol, and if Codexis will still have Shell for its research collaboration partner after this news.

Shell dropped Iogen as its cellulosic ethanol partner in April as the companies noted that Iogen is said to be refocusing its strategies and activities.This results in shelving the companies' plans to build an industrial scale cellulosic ethanol in Manitoba, Canada. Codexis has been collaborating with the Shell-Iogen deal on developing the technology relating to conversion of cellulosic biomass to ethanol.
 
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DoE draws up ‘more realistic’ biofuel plan

Philippine Daily Inquirer  - Business
By: Amy R. Remo
1:00 am
Monday, June 11th, 2012

The Department of Energy is drafting a revised five-year biofuel program to increase by 2030 the blend of ethanol in gasoline to 20 percent (E20) from the current 10 percent, and of coco-methyl ester (CME) in diesel products to 10 percent (B10) from the current 2 percent.

Energy Undersecretary Jose M. Layug Jr. said that under the new biofuel plan, the government would set realistic targets and outline the programs that needed to be implemented to attain its goals.

“Originally, when we passed the Biofuels Act in 2006, we said we would target to be the number one producer of biofuels. More than five years later, we are hardly producing ethanol. So we revisited our biofuels program, we looked at some of the issues and problems of the industry, and then set a new target for the next five to 10 years,” Layug explained.

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NC on mission to build biofuel industry, company sees ethanol coming from grassy fields

The Republic (Columbus, IN)
EMERY P. DALESIO AP Business Writer
First Posted: June 09, 2012 - 10:36 am

OXFORD, N.C. — North Carolina's farm economy, already the state's largest industry, could be nearing a milestone as policymakers and business executives take another stab at betting on ethanol.

An Italian company's Wilmington-based subsidiary is geared up to build a factory that can convert grassy plants into fuel for cars and trucks amid Sampson County's hog and turkey growers.

With financial and verbal encouragement from local, state and federal governments, the company has picked a site that takes advantage of the smelly concentration of industrial-scale hog farming operations. The idea is it can get a relatively cheap, abundant supply as hog farmers grow fuel plants on land used to absorb the dirty but nutrient-rich water from their waste-holding lagoons.

"I'm sure that there would be a lot of people that would be interested in doing that. It just depends on what your situation is," said farmer Gerald Warren of Newton Grove, who has attended community meetings about the project. But he doubts he'll replace the Bermuda grass that now soaks up nutrients from the wastewater of about 100,000 hogs a year, since he feeds all the hay he can grow to the 900 cattle he also raises.

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The Hot Zone

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane
June 11, 2012

Thermocatalytic biofuels projects are Going South – here’s who and why

In US bioenergy as a whole, most of the attention has deservedly gone to the Midwestern states – by and large, that’s where the corn and soybean production calls home.

Efforts to diversify the production of first generation biodiesel have been able to stretch, to some extent, to a broader national production based on the availability of waste oils or canola; but ethanol production has struggled to establish itself far outside its natural Prairie and Great Plains state base.

With the coming of advanced bioprocessing, the picture of opportunity has radically changed and the Southeast, Northwest, and Southwest, in particular, have been assessing their opportunities and attracting projects.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

“Synthetic” Chromosome Permits Rapid, On-Demand “Evolution” of Yeast

Johns Hopkins Medicine
Released: 9/14/2011 8:00 AM EDT
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Johns Hopkins researchers create man-made system with built-in diversity generator
Newswise — In the quest to understand genomes—how they’re built, how they’re organized and what makes them work—a team of Johns Hopkins researchers has engineered from scratch a computer-designed yeast chromosome and incorporated into their creation a new system that lets scientists intentionally rearrange the yeast’s genetic material. A report of their work appears September 14 as an Advance Online Publication in the journal Nature.

“We have created a research tool that not only lets us learn more about yeast biology and genome biology, but also holds out the possibility of someday designing genomes for specific purposes, like making new vaccines or medications,” says Jef D. Boeke, Ph.D., Sc.D., professor of molecular biology and genetics, and director of the High Throughput Biology Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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Filta Introduces Cooking Oil Micro-Filtration and Fryer Management Service Franchise to Fargo, ND

PR Web
Fargo, ND (PRWEB) September 09, 2011

The Filta Environmental Kitchen Solutions Franchise announces the opening of a new franchise location in Fargo, ND. Richard Weise, a long time resident of Fargo is the proud owner operator for the new franchise. Having lived in Fargo for over 26 years, Mr. Weise has a background in the hospitality business, having managed several Fargo area restaurants. As a long time industry insider, Richard saw the opportunity to set himself apart by opening up a Filta Franchise, which is an eco-friendly mobile based cooking oil filtration service provided to establishments that have a deep fryer. “We can take one of the worst jobs in the kitchen out of our clients hands, provide them better quality oil for a longer time and clean fryers, all while saving our clients some money, time, and hassle.” Mr. Weiss will be offering Filta services to commercial kitchens throughout the Fargo community. Only in business for a few months, North Dakota State University and the Fargo Dome have already signed on as clients.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

5 firms team to develop plastic from plant materials

toledoBlade.com
REUTERS

Five of the biggest names in American business have formed a group to accelerate development and use of plant-based plastic.

Coca-Cola Co., Ford Motor Co., H.J. Heinz Co., Nike Inc., and Procter & Gamble Co. said Tuesday they are committed to developing a commercially viable, sustainably sourced plastic made entirely from plant materials while reducing the use of fossil fuels.

The collaboration builds on Coke's "plant bottle" packaging technology, which is partially based on material derived from sugar cane.

Heinz has licensed the technology from Coke for some ketchup bottles.

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Video series explains biomass sustainability guidelines

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Luke Geiver
May 18, 2012

A recently released online video series on biomass harvest and retention issues provides perspective on how woody biomass can be used for energy while maintaining forest habitat, soils and water.

The use of forest biomass will be essential, one of the videos explains, for meeting renewable energy targets in the U.S. Provided by The Forest Guild and others, the video series offers commentary on forest management, conservation, policy and the growing demand of biomass for energy production.

Read more and link to videos

Poet now producing its trademarked corn oil at 14 ethanol plants

Biodiesel Magazine
By Poet LLC
June 05, 2012

Fourteen plants in the Poet network have now installed Poet’s patent-pending corn oil technology, bringing total annual production capacity to approximately 235 million pounds per year, enough to provide feedstock for approximately 31 million gallons of biodiesel.

Poet has been selling VoilĂ , a trademarked corn oil product, into biodiesel and feed markets since January 2011, and strong demand for the product has prompted plans to upgrade the majority of the plants in the Poet network.

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EPA recognizes University of Iowa biomass project

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Luke Geiver
June 06, 2012

A biomass boiler retrofit project at the University of Iowa has received a Green Power Partnership Award from the U.S. EPA.

According to the EPA, the school was recognized based on its use of oat hulls to displace coal in one of two solid fuel boilers. The main power plant at the school generates nearly 9 million kilowatts per hour of steam, helping provide roughly three percent of the entire Iowa City campus’ electrical needs. The award recognizes an organization, program or individual that has significantly advanced the development of green power sources. In addition to the awarded project, the University of Iowa is running a woody biomass boiler at a satellite campus.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Agronomy activities at the EBI Energy Farm

University of Illinois - College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Published: Jun. 4, 2012

University of Illinois associate professor and Extension specialist Tom Voigt says that he feels "fortunate and happy" to be involved in EBI's research activities.

Voigt is a specialist in turf, landscape, and biomass grasses and is the principal investigator for EBI's Feedstock Production/Agronomy Program at the Energy Farm.

"One of the main studies we have out there uses replicated plots of Miscanthus x giganteus, switchgrass, a recreated tall grass prairie, and a corn-corn-soybean rotation, " he said. "We have five replications of each of those plots. We are comparing yields of those plants, we're looking at the crop development from initial planting to maturity and how the yields change, how the crops change, and how the populations may change over time."

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Gasification may convert mesquite and juniper wood to a usable bioenergy

North Texas e-News
By Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M
Jun 6, 2012

VERNON – Biomass gasification is being considered as a possible technology for converting 60 million acres of Texas brush into biofuel, according to Dr. Jim Ansley, Texas AgriLife Research rangeland ecologist in Vernon.

A study using an adiabatic bed gasifier to convert mesquite and redberry juniper species found in the Southern Great Plains into usable bioenergy gases was conducted by Ansley and Dr. Kalyan Annamalai, Paul Pepper Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Coal and Biomass Energy Laboratory, Texas Engineering Experiment Station at Texas A&M University in College Station.

The team also included graduate students Wei Chen, Dustin Eseltine and Siva Thanapal in College Station, and Dr. Mustafa Mirik, AgriLife Research associate scientist at Vernon.

The first published paper on this study, which appeared at www.elsevier.com/locate/energy with Chen as lead author, determined the heating value of mesquite and juniper, as well as the effects of wood chip particle size and moisture content on gas composition and yields, Ansley said.

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University of California San Diego Researchers Demonstrate Fuel Cell Performance Operating on Ethanol Alone

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: June 6, 2012

San Diego, CA—Researchers at the Center for Energy Research at UC San Diego recently demonstrated the best performance for solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) operating directly on ethanol without external reformation.

The work was performed by Dr. Nguyen Minh of the Center for Energy Research, postdoctoral scholar Dr. Eric Armstrong (now with Intel) and UC San Diego undergraduate student intern Jae-Woo Park.

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Polyurethane from Orange Oil

Kunststoffe International.com

May 30, 2012
Bio-based polyurethanes can be obtained from limonene, oxygen and carbon dioxide

Researchers at the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry at the University of Freiburg have developed a process with which bio-based polyurethanes can be derived from the naturally occurring substance limonene through reaction with oxygen and carbon dioxide. Limonene is the primary component of orange oil and is collected in large quantities as a by-product in the course of producing orange juice.

According to reports, limonene oxide has for the first time successfully undergone reaction with carbon dioxide without the need for a solvent. The reaction yields limonene dicarbonate, a compound that can be cast and cured (hardened) with amines. The researchers also used citric acid amidoamine as the curing agent for the first time; it too is derived from citrus fruits. The curing reaction produces polyurethanes as the product. The materials obtained from limonene can, for instance, be used for molded parts in the automobile industry and thermal insulation as well as coating systems and adhesives.

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Biodiesel leaders head to DC for tax credit, RFS push

Biofuels Digest
Meghan Sapp
June 6, 2012

In Washington DC, more than 120 biodiesel leaders will meet with White House officials and members of Congress to call for the extension of the expired biodiesel tax incentive and to urge the Obama Administration to quickly finalize the EPA’s proposal to grow biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard next year.

Industry leaders will specifically be asking the Obama Administration to increase the biodiesel volume requirement under the RFS to 1.28 billion gallons in 2013, up from 1 billion gallons this year. In late 2011, the Obama Administration delayed the decision despite strong bipartisan support and support from the EPA and USDA.

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Report: Natural gas prices to surpass wood pellets in 8 years

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Luke Geiver
June 05, 2012

A new report issued by FutureMetrics LLC predicts that the price of natural gas will be higher than that of wood pellet fuel within the next three to eight years.

“We believe that well before 2020 we will see the end of cheap natural gas,” the report noted. “Rapidly increasing global demand in the transportation and power sectors and the rapid growth of LNG export capacity will force domestic users to bid for gas against users in sectors and locations that are willing to pay much higher prices than we pay today.”

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Distillers grains initiative yields know-how more quickly

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Nebraska Corn Board
October 31, 2011

A three-year initiative that created a beef cattle advisory committee to oversee a research partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board and University of Nebraska resulted in a number of important breakthroughs when it comes to feeding distillers grains to cattle.
The initiative, which wrapped up this year, allowed an advisory committee to work with university researchers to more quickly identify research projects that would benefit cattle producers. The Nebraska Corn Board then provided funding for the projects. This reduced the lag time between research projects and doubled the amount of research conducted during the initiative.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Measuring environmental changes from cotton to biomass

AGProfessional
Rich Keller, Editor, Ag Professional
June 4, 2012

A three-year study by a team of Texas AgriLife Research scientists has begun to determine how a switch of land use from traditional cotton production in the southwest Cotton Belt to switchgrass or biomass sorghum “would affect the carbon balance, hydrologic cycle and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Texas AgriLife announced the project as part of the national effort “to ensure the U.S. can reach the goal outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The act requires the U.S. to produce 36 billion gallons per year of biofuels by 2022.”

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Purdue scientist develops new biofuel process

Evansville Courrier & Press
By The Associated Press
Posted June 5, 2012 at 8:09 a.m., updated June 5, 2012 at 8:09 a.m.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University says a new process for creating biofuels developed by one of the school's researchers has potential to be priced competitively with crude oil.

The H2Bioil method was created in the West Lafayette laboratory of chemical engineering professor Rakesh Agrawal.

The process exposes biomass such as switchgrass to pressurized hydrogen and heats it to about 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Catalysts then separate oxygen from carbon molecules, making the carbon rich in energy.

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Legume, sunflower, camelina rotation may intensify bioenergy yields, returns

Biofuels Digest
Isabel Lane
April 16, 2012

In Florida, combining the planting of a biofuels crop with a legume and a short-season oilseed crop may make an intensive and short rotation of crops economically profitable, according to research performed by plant pathologist Dan Chellemi.

During 2010, he added a legume cover crop, which would supply part of the nitrogen, into the rotation with sunflowers. Once the sunflowers were harvested, he returned with Camelina sativa, a deep-rooted 70-day mustard crop known for producing seeds with high oil and high protein content. Because camelina also is a good nutrient forager, Chellemi applied no nitrogen to the plots. Chellemi indicated that while the data is preliminary and not yet conclusive, results warrant continuing trials this season.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

$120 Million for New Energy Innovation Research Hub

TriplePundit.com
By Tina Casey
June 3rd, 2012

The Obama Administration has just launched a $120 million research program for new energy materials called the Critical Materials Hub, which is designed to ensure that U.S. companies get a steady supply of rare earths and other resources needed for manufacturing solar cells, advanced batteries and other alternative energy technologies.

The program also bears with it the potential to leverage economic development beyond its immediate sphere of research. Like the other innovation hubs started by the Obama Administration, the Critical Materials Hub establishes a centralized cluster that could be used as a valuable green branding and promotional opportunity for private companies and local governments.

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Entrepreneur operates 3 companies at University of Alabama business incubator

TuscaloosaNews.com
By Patrick Rupinski, Staff Writer
Published: Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 1, 2012 at 6:51 p.m.

TUSCALOOSA
There might be a use after all for the kudzu draping the Southeast's rural landscape. It might someday help fuel your car.

Scientists at the University of Alabama's manufacturing technology center are looking at kudzu, the non-native leafy vines that have spread across the South's fields and forests, as one of several sources that could be used to make ethanol.


This summer, chemical engineers working for a company at UA's Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs Building, a research center for budding entrepreneurs, will start making larger batches of a sugary syrup-like substance that could be used in the production of ethanol.

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Pure gasoline options shrinking in South Dakota

trib.com
By CODY WINCHESTER Argus Leader trib.com
Posted: Sunday, June 3, 2012 9:15 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Sometime this summer, already-scarce blends of pure gasoline will become rarer in western South Dakota.

That’s because the largest refineries that supply the Plains Rocky Mountain Pipeline terminal in Rapid City, and therefore much of western South Dakota, soon will begin piping shipments of subgrade gasoline that will have to be blended with ethanol before it can be sold.

Drivers who prefer not to burn ethanol because they see a drag in fuel mileage will have fewer nonethanol choices. Already, more than 95 percent of the motor vehicle fuel sold in the U.S. contains ethanol, according to estimates from the Renewable Fuels Association.

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As state funds expire, Genera seeks new mission

knoxvilleBiz.com

By Kay Brookshire
Knoxville News Sentinel
Posted June 4, 2012 at 3 a.m.

As the state's five-year, $70.5 million investment in the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative comes to an end in June, Genera Energy will take on a more focused role as a biomass supply company for biofuels producers.


At the same time, the University of Tennessee will spin off a second company, TennEra, based on the Genera model, to pursue related opportunities to transfer university technology to the marketplace, according to Kelly Tiller, Genera president and CEO.

TennEra's general research and development focus will be on technologies and processes for biomass fractionation, or separating cellulosic biomass components and commercial application of biorefinery co-products. UT's Center for Renewable Carbon and Department of Biosystem Engineering and Soil Science have contributed research in those areas, according to UT's website.

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EPA denies oil's request to waive cellulosic RFS, lawsuit pending

Ethanol Producer Magazine
by Kris Bevill
May 30, 2012

The U.S. EPA officially denied the petroleum industry’s request to retroactively waive the 2011 cellulosic biofuel volume requirements under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) on May 22, noting that the issues raised in the group’s petitions had already been addressed in the EPA’s proposed rule and no new evidence has since been provided by the petroleum groups to justify a rule change.

Petroleum groups have been opposed to the cellulosic biofuels portion of the RFS since it took effect in 2010. The groups contend that without a history of production, obligated parties should not be expected to include the fuels in required RFS volumes.

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Canada announces grant for BioFuelNet

Biofuels Digest
Isabel Lane
June 3, 2012

In Canada, the government has announced a $73.8m grant to serve three new Networks of Centers of Excellence, one of which will focusing on producing the production of biofuels. BioFuelNet, to be housed at McGill University, will link the various components of the Canadian biofuels and bioproducts sector, integrating and accelerating developments, and filling the gaps in current research. Its goal is to significantly expand the Canadian energy sector’s use of products, such as fuels and chemicals derived from renewable biomass sources.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

BioMass Packaging broadens its range of bio-friendly alternatives

Biofuels Digest
Thomas Saidak
June 1, 2012

In California, BioMass Packaging has broadened its range of bio-friendly alternatives to foodservice staples with the addition of new paper cold cups manufactured from renewably sourced paper fibers. Eschewing the polyethylene that is normally used to line paper cups, these new PLA-lined cold cups use a plant-based Ingeo lining to provide leak-proof performance.
When used in conjunction with an Ingeo-based lid and straw, any soft drink vendor can now offer its customers a fully compostable serving solution that enables diversion of cold cups from the landfill. The cups were designed for customers who prefer papercups to Ingeo-based clear plastic cups.

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Report addresses landfill gas pipeline injection issues

Biomass Power & Thermal
By Luke Geiver
May 31, 2012

The Gas Technology Institute (GTI) has issued a report outlining the process of integrating renewable landfill gas into pipelines.

According to Kristine Wiley, senior scientist in the infrastructure sector of GTI, the purpose of the document is to identify criteria that stakeholders should consider when developing a landfill gas recovery facility for introduction of biomethane into a natural gas pipeline. “The document provides a framework and a structured approach that pipelines, developers and landfill operators can use to begin the critical process of technical collaboration necessary to understand each other’s’ requirements and ultimately, to make each landfill gas development project a success story,” she said.

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ASTM creates first standard for midlevel ethanol blends

Ethanol Producer Magazine
By Kris Bevill
June 01, 2012

A new midlevel ethanol blend standard recently completed by scientific standards development body ASTM International could serve as the missing link necessary for blender pumps to become widely used in all U.S. states.

The standard, titled “Blending Mid-Level Ethanol Fuel Blends for Flexible-Fuel Vehicles with Automotive Spark-Ignition Engines,” provides technical guidance for retailers and blenders who wish to offer fuel blends containing ethanol volumes between 15 and 51 percent. Prior to this standard’s completion, those blends were not covered under any other ASTM guidance. Some states, primarily those located in the Midwest, had formed their own guidelines and regulations to allow blender pumps to dispense midlevel ethanol blends, but states that had not taken those measures were hesitant to allow blender pumps into the market without appropriate ASTM guidance. Kristy Moore, vice president of technical services at the Renewable Fuels Association and member of ASTM’s gasoline and oxygenate committee, said the new standard should ease those states’ concerns. “All of the state regulators who initially had apprehension about blender pumps weighed in on this document and said, ‘This is exactly what we need to help usher blender pumps into our state,’” she said.

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Toxic algae, cows being studied as biofuel sources

The Capital Times (Madison, WI)
May 31, 2012 8:58 am • BILL NOVAK
The Capital Times

Two common sites in Wisconsin, toxic algae blooms on lake water and cows standing in a field, could become the next big things in the biofuel industry.

UW-Madison researchers have been awarded federal grants to investigate using the bacteria in toxic algae and cow stomachs in the development of biofuels, according to a release from the UW-Madison news service.

Read more

Friday, June 1, 2012

Australia turns to pork in new bioenergy venture

BioenergyInsight.com
30 May 2012

A new program launched by the Australian Pork Cooperative Research Centre is to focus on maximising the value of captured emissions from the pork industry.

The capture, production and use of methane from piggery effluent treated in covered anaerobic lagoons will be the main priority for the Pork CRC Bioenergy Support Program. Research will also be conducted into making the gas collection and use there of economically viable.

According to the producer-owned and promotion organisation Australian Pork, more than 90% of the country’s pork production already uses ponds to manage effluent and interest in bioenergy is rising on home soil due to rising energy costs, lower cost technologies and the introduction of the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) and carbon tax.

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Bridgestone Corp. : and Ajinomoto Co., Inc. Jointly Developing Synthetic Rubber from Biomass

4-traders.com
05/31/2012
03:44am

Bridgestone Corp. and Ajinomoto Co., Inc. Jointly Developing Synthetic Rubber from Biomass
The Goal is to Develop Tires with 100 % Sustainable Materials

TOKYO (May 31, 2012) - Bridgestone Corporation today announced that it has successfully polymerized*1 high-cis polyisoprene (IR*2) synthetic rubber from isoprene*3 provided by Ajinomoto Co, Inc., a partner in synthetic rubber development for tires. Isoprene is produced with biomass.

Demand for tires is expected to increase in tandem with rising car ownership worldwide, and the Bridgestone Group is committed to promoting the development of technologies and business models that contribute to greater use of recyclable and renewable resources in order to build a sustainable society.

The Bridgestone Group is promoting a variety of initiatives for creating "100% sustainable materials*4" by 2050, but IR extracted from crude oil feedstock is a market with limited potential for supply. The Group has been searching for ways to procure raw materials from renewable resources to ensure the supply of sustainable resources. Polymerized IR has been successfully polymerized at this time using isoprene produced with biomass by Ajinomoto, which has the world's most advanced fermentation technologies. This development could be a major catalyst for achieving the Group's goal of a sustainable society. In addition, IR bonded with isoprene from biomass feedback using the Group's proprietary polymerization catalyst*5 technologies can verify the practical feasibility of IR.

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Brazil plans tax breaks for ethanol sector -paper

Reuters Aftrica
Thu May 31, 2012 3:07pm GMT

* Govt prepares package to stimulate ethanol production

* Ministries discussing tax breaks and fuel price hike

SAO PAULO May 31 (Reuters) - Brazil's government plans to cut taxes for its ethanol sector to stimulate production of the widely used biofuel, as ethanol output remains anemic after the 2008 financial crisis triggered industry consolidation, local papers reported on Thursday.

According to Brazil's Valor Economico financial daily, an unnamed, high-level source in the administration said that the government is drafting a package that will include the reduction or zeroing out of the so-called PIS/Cofins taxes, which account for about 12 centavos ($0.06) of the typical 1.87-real-per-liter price for ethanol in Sao Paulo.

The government is also studying a possible reduction of the IPI tax on machinery and equipment required in the construction of new ethanol mills, in an effort to boost future production of the fuel.

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Malaysia sends palm waste to Italy for cellulosic biofuels tests

Biofuels Digest
Meghan Sapp
May 30, 2012

In Malaysia, twelve tons of waste oil palm tree biomass is en route from Malaysia to a plant in Italy for tests on its suitability for conversion into industrial sugar. Successful results could one day result in commercial scale production of high-value green chemicals from the non-edible residue of Malaysia’s vast oil palm plantations.

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US Senate group starts up “seed to wheel” review of US Renewable Fuel Standard

Biofuels Digest
Jim Lane
May 30, 2012

The US Renewable Fuel Standard: Time to Add, Modify or Delete?

In Washington, staff members working for least eight US Senators will join a study group aimed at a “seed-to-wheel examination of the US Renewable Fuel Standard,” the Digest has learned.

The goal of the study group is to examine which provisions are working, and which provisions could be improved in the 113th Congress. The intent of the study group is to put the key biofuels and RFS elements on the table for a more in-depth discussion and analysis of issues.

The study group, styled “the Biofuels Investment and RFS Market Congressional Study Group,” is planning to commence its work in mid-June, and continue its sessions until late September, when Congress takes its election-season recess. Each session would last approximately one hour, and is directed toward congressional staff of Members on key committees of jurisdiction or from offices who have a particular interest in the subject.

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