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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, July 01, 2006

Japanese scientists succeed in continuous synthesis of diesel through wood gasification

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has announced that it has succeeded in the continuous synthesis at the laboratory scale of diesel fuel from woody biomass through gasification, purification using activated carbon, and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.

This new process removes the need for a cooling process, heat recovery, and compression of gas, which makes it attractive for application in compact and portable plants making use of widely available woody biomass.

In short:
  • The first successful continuous synthesis of diesel fuel through gasification from wood in Japan.
  • Simpler and more efficient processes than traditional ones, which can be used in compact and portable plants.
  • Reduces emission of carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming prevention.
To reduce the emission of carbon dioxide, it is imperative to actively promote the use of renewable energy sources such as biomass. The level of carbon fixation by solar energy is especially high in the case of woody biomass, so it is important to find economically sound technologies that allow the use of the highly available biomass composed of unused wood, timber cuts, construction waste, etc.

In addition, liquid fuel from biomass is useful for reduction of SPM (suspended particulate matters) and sulfur oxide, contributing to environmental conservation.

Concerning the synthesis of liquid fuel by way of gasification, liquid fuel production from natural gas containing methane as the main component (GTL) has developed into a promising fuel manufacturing technology. However, it is necessary to further develop the technology in order to match the costs to those for diesel production from petroleum.

In addition, biomass resources such as wood materials are usually found dispersed in mountainous regions and are difficult to collect, raising the production costs. Accordingly, it becomes necessary to design a system for application in compact and portable plants which is available on-site.

The Biomass Technology Research Center (BTRC) was established in October 2005 as a base for biomass research in the AIST. The two main research topics at the BTRC are developments of bio-ethanol production technology centered on saccharification of woody biomass, and of technology for liquid fuel synthesis through gasification. In pursuing these two central research topics, the BTRC aims at developing practical biomass conversion processes that are sufficiently cost efficient to promote the substitution of fossil resources centered around petroleum and to contribute to the establishment of an energy recycling society.

Concerning diesel fuel, the BTRC has tackled research on topics with high potential such as the utilization of clean gas conversion technologies and catalysis technologies.

1) Production of synthetic gas (carbon monoxide/hydrogen) by biomass gasification at high temperature (800- 900ºC) and high pressure (several MPa).

2) Hot gas cleaning for removal of tar, sulfur and other minute impurities.

3) Synthesis of liquid fuel from synthetic gas using FT synthesis catalysts.

The gasification process is carried out at high temperature (800-900 ºC) and high pressure (several MPa), removing the need for use of compressors or compression power. Gas cleaning is carried out through a dry refining process that uses active carbon, instead of the traditional wet method that utilizes water, increasing the gasification heat efficiency. As a result, it was possible to produce equipment with compact dimensions.
The main features of the equipment are the efficient use of heat which increases the energy efficiency, and the removal of the compression process which reduces the power requirements.

Article continues

Chinese scientists make breakthrough turning waste biomass to bio-oil

Quicknote bioenergy science
Yesterday we said breakthroughs in green chemistry and bioconversion technologies are speeding up. Today, The Hindu reports that Chinese scientists have claimed to have made a breakthrough in reducing the cost of converting crop stalks, chaff and sawdust into bio-oil, a biofuel with the same properties as (heavy) diesel.

Bio-oil produced with the scientists' technology is 56.8 per cent cheaper than diesel oil and 39.1 per cent cheaper than heavy oil, said Professor Guo Qingxiang of University of Science and Technology. However, that bio-oil only produces two-fifths of heat from the same amount of diesel oil and only half that of heavy oil, Guo said.

This news is fascinating, because the vision of turning residue biomass, waste-streams from agriculture and forestry, into useable liquid fuels comes a step closer.

This story continues:

The technology, which can produce over six kg of bio-oil from 10 kg of sawdust and five kg from stalks, has passed appraisals by provincial department of science and technology, Guo said. Producing one tonne of bio-oil in the Chinese lab only costs about USD 100. The lab also invented a machine that can process 120 kg of biomass per hour, Xinhua news agency said.

Globally research has been continuing from the 1980's on the process known as pyrolysis liquefaction technologies- that decompose biomass using heat which then turns it into liquid. The high cost has prevented scientists from making an economically feasible energy product.

"The Chinese government will subsidise the application of the lab's technologies," an official has said.

Traditionally, over 700 million tons of stalk and chaff left over from harvest every year is burned, causing not only pollution but also a huge waste of energy, Guo said.

Bio-oil can be used directly in heating boilers and as fuel for motor vehicles after further refining. Ethanol can also be extracted from bio-oil.

Source: The Hindu.

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