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    Spanish company Ferry Group is to invest €42/US$55.2 million in a project for the production of biomass fuel pellets in Bulgaria. The 3-year project consists of establishing plantations of paulownia trees near the city of Tran. Paulownia is a fast-growing tree used for the commercial production of fuel pellets. Dnevnik - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Hungary's BHD Hõerõmû Zrt. is to build a 35 billion Forint (€138/US$182 million) commercial biomass-fired power plant with a maximum output of 49.9 MW in Szerencs (northeast Hungary). Portfolio.hu - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Tonight at 9pm, BBC Two will be showing a program on geo-engineering techniques to 'save' the planet from global warming. Five of the world's top scientists propose five radical scientific inventions which could stop climate change dead in its tracks. The ideas include: a giant sunshade in space to filter out the sun's rays and help cool us down; forests of artificial trees that would breath in carbon dioxide and stop the green house effect and a fleet futuristic yachts that will shoot salt water into the clouds thickening them and cooling the planet. BBC News - Feb. 19, 2007.

    Archer Daniels Midland, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Indonesia with Wilmar International Ltd. this year and a wholly owned biodiesel plant in Brazil before July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The Brazil plant is expected to be the nation's largest, the paper said. Worldwide, the company projects a fourfold rise in biodiesel production over the next five years. ADM was not immediately available to comment. Reuters - Feb. 16, 2007.

    Finnish engineering firm Pöyry Oyj has been awarded contracts by San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. to provide services for the first bioethanol plant in the Philippines. The aggregate contract value is EUR 10 million. The plant is to be build in the Province of San Carlos on the north-eastern tip of Negros Island. The plant is expected to deliver 120,000 liters/day of bioethanol and 4 MW of excess power to the grid. Kauppalehti Online - Feb. 15, 2007.

    In order to reduce fuel costs, a Mukono-based flower farm which exports to Europe, is building its own biodiesel plant, based on using Jatropha curcas seeds. It estimates the fuel will cut production costs by up to 20%. New Vision (Kampala, Uganda) - Feb. 12, 2007.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to use 10% biodiesel in its fleet of public buses. The world's largest city is served by the Toei Bus System, which is used by some 570,000 people daily. Digital World Tokyo - Feb. 12, 2007.

    Fearing lack of electricity supply in South Africa and a price tag on CO2, WSP Group SA is investing in a biomass power plant that will replace coal in the Letaba Citrus juicing plant which is located in Tzaneen. Mining Weekly - Feb. 8, 2007.

    In what it calls an important addition to its global R&D capabilities, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is to build a new bioenergy research center in Hamburg, Germany. World Grain - Feb. 5, 2007.

    EthaBlog's Henrique Oliveira interviews leading Brazilian biofuels consultant Marcelo Coelho who offers insights into the (foreign) investment dynamics in the sector, the history of Brazilian ethanol and the relationship between oil price trends and biofuels. EthaBlog - Feb. 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has announced its renewable energy target: 12% of all energy should come from renewables by 2020. The plan is expected to revitalise Taiwan's agricultural sector and to boost its nascent biomass industry. China Post - Feb. 2, 2007.

    Production at Cantarell, the world's second biggest oil field, declined by 500,000 barrels or 25% last year. This virtual collapse is unfolding much faster than projections from Mexico's state-run oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos. Wall Street Journal - Jan. 30, 2007.

    Dubai-based and AIM listed Teejori Ltd. has entered into an agreement to invest €6 million to acquire a 16.7% interest in Bekon, which developed two proprietary technologies enabling dry-fermentation of biomass. Both technologies allow it to design, establish and operate biogas plants in a highly efficient way. Dry-Fermentation offers significant advantages to the existing widely used wet fermentation process of converting biomass to biogas. Ame Info - Jan. 22, 2007.

    Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited is to build a biofuel production plant in the tribal belt of Banswara, Rajasthan, India. The petroleum company has acquired 20,000 hectares of low value land in the district, which it plans to commit to growing jatropha and other biofuel crops. The company's chairman said HPCL was also looking for similar wasteland in the state of Chhattisgarh. Zee News - Jan. 15, 2007.

    The Zimbabwean national police begins planting jatropha for a pilot project that must result in a daily production of 1000 liters of biodiesel. The Herald (Harare), Via AllAfrica - Jan. 12, 2007.

    In order to meet its Kyoto obligations and to cut dependence on oil, Japan has started importing biofuels from Brazil and elsewhere. And even though the country has limited local bioenergy potential, its Agriculture Ministry will begin a search for natural resources, including farm products and their residues, that can be used to make biofuels in Japan. To this end, studies will be conducted at 900 locations nationwide over a three-year period. The Japan Times - Jan. 12, 2007.

    Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched an arrogant attack on "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their attitudes to global warming, calling the Stern Review 'dubious'. The remarks illustrate the yawning gap between opinions on climate change among Europeans and Americans, but they also strengthen the view that announcements by US car makers and legislators about the development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing. Today, the EU announced its comprehensive energy policy for the 21st century, with climate change at the center of it. BBC News - Jan. 10, 2007.

    The new Canadian government is investing $840,000 into BioMatera Inc. a biotech company that develops industrial biopolymers (such as PHA) that have wide-scale applications in the plastics, farmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Plant-based biopolymers such as PHA are biodegradable and renewable. Government of Canada - Jan. 9, 2007.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Biobutanol, a competitor for ethanol?

DuPont and BP, riding the global wave of enthusiasm for bio-based fuels, announced today that the two companies have developed a new biofuel called biobutanol that they say has 30% more energy density than ethanol. "Biobutanol is higher performance in the engine, and that will translate into higher miles to the gallon," said DuPont Chief Executive Charles Holliday.

DuPont and BP have been working on the new fuel since 2003. The two companies plan to introduce the first generation of biobutanol in the U.K. by the end of 2007. And they hope to roll out an improved second-generation biobutanol by 2010. DuPont and BP aim to make the fuel competitive with gasoline, even when oil is priced as low as $30 to $40 a barrel.

Luckily for us, biobutanol can be produced from classic tropical starch or sugar energy crops, such as cassava, sugar cane, sago and sorghum.

Currently, biofuels account for just 2% of all fuel consumption. But biofuels could account for 30% of all fuel consumption by 2020, some sources predict. Dupont and BP estimate the global market for biofuels could reach 87 billion gallons by 2020, up from just under 11 billion gallons today.

One distinct advantage of biobutanol: Cars can use close to 100% of the fuel without making any vehicle modifications, DuPont says. To use that high a concentration of ethanol, car engines have to be modified into something known as a "flex fuel vehicle."

"If they can deliver what they are saying, and you don't even have to make a change in the vehicle, that is a positive check in the column," says Ron Pernick, a partner at clean-technology research and publishing firm Clean Edge. "But I don't think we should look at this and say, 'Let's stop ethanol.' We are moving away from a world with one fuel source to one with a diversity of sources. The market will determine which are the winners and which are the losers."

Biobutanol can blend effectively with gasoline and ethanol, and can be used in existing transportation-pipeline infrastructure, DuPont says. The new butanol is a four-carbon alcohol, whereas ethanol is a two-carbon alcohol. Biobutanol has greater tolerance of moisture and lower vapor pressure, says DuPont Chief Innovation Officer Thomas Connelly.

Butanol as a fuel has been around a long time, but the cost to produce it was never competitive with gasoline. Using plant sugars as a feedstock, DuPont and BP believe they can favorably compete with gasoline. Meanwhile, DuPont and BP have to perfect the technology to improve production of biobutanol. "We're working on starch structures that can be more efficiently fermented," says Connelly.

BP and DuPont are not announcing the investment into the project. But Holliday says the investment is more akin to developing software than building a new chemical plant.

The fact that biobutanol is more energy efficient than ethanol does not wipe out ethanol's appeal, says Clean Edge's Pernick. Saab has come up with a new vehicle that it says gets better mileage from ethanol than from gasoline. "There are ways of getting around the energy-efficiency issue of ethanol," says Pernick.



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