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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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Saturday, November 11, 2006

New solid catalyst technology reduces cost of making biodiesel and biolubricants

New Century Lubricants (NCL) has entered into an exclusive worldwide agreement with National Chemical Laboratory (NCL-India), a constituent laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in India, to demonstrate and commercialize NCL’s new transesterification catalyst and process for the production of biodiesel fuels and biolubricants.

The new ENSEL process, according to company President William Summers, eliminates most of the existing drawbacks of conventional transesterification processes and offers a simpler, more direct process for the production of hydrocarbon fuels. The ENSEL process involves the reaction of vegetable oils or animal fats with C1– C5 alcohols at moderate conditions using a novel, solid, reusable mixed-metal catalyst (an insoluble double metal salt). The feedstock oil can be triglycerides or mixtures of fatty acids and glycerides.
We can use less expensive unrefined oils in a truly continuous process, and generate no waste water. Furthermore, our process can make biodiesel with either methanol or ethanol. ENSEL can also manufacture premium biolubricants by running the reaction with higher alcohols such as octanol.

Adding all the advantages, we expect that ENSEL will reduce the total cost of making biodiesel by 20-25% over current practices. This competitive edge will be especially welcome if the bioenergy industry experiences any turbulence due to rising feedstock prices, increased utility rates, or unexpected swings in supply and demand.—William Summers, NCL President
New Century intends to build and to operate a 1-ton per day ENSEL pilot plant in India to evaluate different feedstocks from all over the world, to generate scale-up data and to optimize catalyst performance. The pilot plant is being engineered and designed by Unitel Technologies, and will be operated under the technical supervision of NCL-India scientists. Dr. Paul Ratnasamy, former Director of NCL-India, an expert in industrial catalysis and Government of India’s Ramanujan Scholar, has agreed to serve on the New Century Board of Directors.

The ENSEL catalyst can be separated easily by centrifugation or by filtration and reused or further compounded into a solid suitable for fixed bed reactors. Conventional base catalysts incur additional expenses for catalyst separation:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The catalyst is efficient—only a small amount (1 wt% of oil) is needed to carry out the reaction, for which conditions of temperature and pressure are only moderate (25 atm, 175° C, compared to ~60 atm, 180°C–220° C for some established catlaysts). Unlike the conventional base catalysts, the NCL-India catalyst is unaffected by the presence of water or free fatty acids in oil or fat feedstock. Hence, according to NCL, there are no limitations on the quality of oil that can be used.

The ENSEL process yields a diesel oil (products conform to ATMS 6751 and EN14214), from sources such as vegetable oil or animal fat, which can be either fresh oil or used oil or mixtures. Another feature of this process is the wide choice of alcohols which have been demonstrated to be effective, including methanol, ethanol, propanol, butanol, pentanol or their mixtures. The product hydrocarbon fuels comprise fatty acid esters in the range of C9– C23.

The ENSEL technology also provides a profitable solution to the glycerin glut now faced by the biodiesel industry. The glycerin recovered from the transesterification reaction is etherified with methanol, ethanol or butanol using another proprietary heterogeneous catalyst. The end products, primarily di- and tri-ethers of glycerin, are oxygenates for diesel fuels.

New Century is actively seeking the participation of strategic partners in North America and elsewhere.


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