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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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Friday, September 29, 2006

Planemaker Boeing says biofuels show promise

Sugarcane and switchgrass are unlikely to fuel the next plane you ride, but Boeing says development of biofuels is gaining momentum as airlines and armed forces seek alternatives to expensive jet fuel. British billionaire Richard Branson, who earlier announced he wants to see his entire airline fleet to use green fuels by 2020, last week committed US$3 billion to help develop alternatives to fossil fuels, whose rising prices have been squeezing airlines. Nasa and Boeing are working together with Brazilian company Tecbio to develop biokerosene in a project that promises to bring vast job opportunities to small farmers (earlier post), and Argentina's air-force has carried out successful tests of biofuels in a large aircraft (earlier post).

"Fuel is the biggest four-letter word in the industry," Billy Glover, director of environmental performance strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, says. "Fuel efficiency is an economic issue, but it's also an environmental one," adds Glover, whose job involves looking at how Boeing can build planes that fly cleaner and quieter. That means using less kerosene-based JP-8 fuel and looking at alternatives.

"There are a number of feedstocks out there," Glover said, citing sugarcane, switchgrass, soybeans and algae. "Those are being looked at, and there appears to be some promise":
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The U.S. Air Force flew a B-52 bomber recently with two of its eight engines using a 50/50 blend of jet fuel and a synthetic alternative. The test flight reflected growing calls for fuel alternatives for military use, a process likely to feed civil applications as well.

The U.S. Department of Defense's technology development arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), in July asked for proposals on biofuel development. It hopes to find a way to convert crop oil into a synthetic jet fuel that will achieve at least a 60 percent conversion efficiency by energy content and eventually a rate of 90 percent.

Glover said challenges posed by biofuels include the fact they are less stable when stored for long periods and freeze at a much higher temperature than jet fuel. There's also infrastructure to be considered, with more than 10,000 airliners in operation all using engines designed for jet fuel.

"Jet fuel has sulphur in it, and this causes seals to swell, which is good. With biofuels without sulphur, you risk leaks. South Africa already uses a 50/50 blend of jet fuel and coal-derived synthetic fuel, but Glover said this had its limits.

"It's not environmentally friendly at this stage," he said, citing the fuel's higher output of carbon dioxide emissions in production. "What we're flushing out right now is 'What is viable?'," Glover said. "For now biofuels make more sense for land transport than air, but our job is to go find out."

Boeing's next airliner, the 787 due in 2008, is expected to use 20 percent less fuel and be 60 percent quieter than the 767 model it replaces. Its higher use of composites is expected to make the planes last longer as well.

More info:

Dagget, Dave, Alternate Fuelled Aircraft, presented to Boeing’s Transportation Research Board, 23 january 2006 [*.pdf].

The Potential for Renewable Energy Sources in Aviation [*.pdf]. Looks at the feasibility of nuclear aircraft (not safe), methanol and ethanol (too low energy density), bio-methane (low volumes and limited available quantity). Retained options: liquefied H2, synthetic kerosene (including Biomass-to-Liquids) and biokerosene (from oil crops).


Mark Simmons said...

An extremely interesting article about kerosene in aircraft. The target for 2020 is too far ahead. We have the designs and prototype for a unique processing plant that will produce biokereosene with 100% conversion of raw plant oil into aircraft fuel. We are currentyly in talks wioth several investors to build a plant. We are expecting to be operational in 2 years from start. Visit bioenerg.co.uk for more information

11:26 PM  

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