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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, August 15, 2006

Unlocking the vast energy potential of rice husks

Rice is the world's most important staple food, used by more than three billion people around the globe. The crop's production has doubled over the past 40 years and demand keeps growing. Now the Fraunhofer Institute - Europe's leading applied technology institute - has developed a highly efficient circulating fluidized bed combustion system that unlocks the energy potential contained in rice residues. Researchers from the institute's department of industrial automatisation are collaborating with scientists from the Hanoi University of Technology to test the system on a large and continuous scale after first tests in Magdeburg proved to be successful. For rice producing countries, the bioenergy potential from husks is considerable.

After paddy rice is processed, a large amount of biomass with a relatively high energy content (18 Gj/ton - higher heating value) is left over in the form of rice husks. According to the IEA's Bioenergy Task 33 on thermal biomass gasification, for each ton of processed rice, roughly 280kg of husks are left over, worth around 120 kWh[*.pdf]. Now consider that the world's total rice production in 2005 was 618 million tons (FAOStat), then it is not difficult to see the energy potential (if all this biomass were used in efficient gasification or combustion systems, it would yield roughly 266 Petajoules or 74 TWh of energy, which comes down to around 43.5 million barrels of oil - renewable energy from a waste stream).

For a country like Vietnam, which produced 36 million tons of rice in 2005 (FAOstat), such biomass combustion systems would mean a boost to its energy portfolio. That is why the collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute is considered to be invaluable and has been sped up, since demand for energy in Vietnam is growing rapidly and high fossil fuel prices have become a real burden. Vietnam produces enough rice residues to provide 4.3 TWh of electricity, enough to satisfy the energy needs of around 1 million people for an entire year (for per capita energy consumption statistics, please visit the World Resources Institute's Earth Trends database).

Fraunhofer's 'circulating fluidized bed combustor' suspends the solid biofuel on upward-blowing jets of circulating air during the combustion process. The result is a turbulent mixing of gas and solids. The tumbling and circulating action, much like a bubbling fluid, provides more effective chemical reactions and heat transfer. The combustor reduces the amount of sulfur emitted in the form of SOx emissions as well as NOx. Fraunhofer's approach has been to study the exact combustion behavior of rice husks as they travel through the system. The combustor was then custom-designed to match those qualities. Dr.-Ing. Lutz Hoyer, project leader, explains the rationale behind the development of this system specifically for rice husks:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

"These studies are very relevant to the market in Vietnam. Our aim is to deliver a competitive technology that can beat fossil fuels. Moreover, the environmental burden of burning fossil fuels is reduced with this biomass system that has universal appeal". His counterpart at Hanoi University of Technology, Dr. Pham Hoang Luong, adds: "Our university is currently investing in research and development. Fluidized bed combustion of biomass is one area where our future engineers will work on. Our collaboration with Fraunhofer is therefor much needed and appreciated."

After more tests in Magdeburg, Germany, the combustor will be transferred to Hanoi University in october to perform full-scale, long-term trials.

More information:

Fraunhofer: - Strom aus Reisschalen: Wissenschaftler aus Magdeburg und Hanoi erforschen Energiegewinnung aus Biomasse

Déchets: Les grains de riz, bientôt producteurs d'énergie? (August 14, 2006)


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