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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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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Integrated biogas-ethanol plant using sweet potatoes in Guyana - €110 million investment

An overall investment of some €110 million (US$140m) which would see the creation of a biomass plant to make ethanol and a range of by-products (including electricity from biogas), is planned for the tropical country of Guyana. The plant, when operational, would produce 150 million litres of ethanol per year (2600 barrels per day) and 200 gigawatt-hours of green electricity. According to David Sukhoo, president of the Canada-based Guyanese company Anand Marketing [no website], the ethanol section would cost US$67 million.

The Lands and Surveys Department of Guyana is now working to earmark some 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of land for the planting of sweet potatoes, the main feedstock. The land that is being considered consists of intermediate savannahs. The Guyanese National Agricultural Re-search Institute (NARI) is also "fully supporting" the project.

The proposed plant does much more than merely producing liquid biofuels. It will provide:
  • 120 million cubic metres of methane (bio-gas) per year because of the inclusion of an anaerobic digester fed by field and processing based biomass residues. This energy source will be used to generate steam to power a generator to produce electricity.
  • 150,000 metric tonnes of organic fertilizer per year
  • 150,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide gas (CO2) which will be used in the manufacturing of soft drink beverages
  • excess steam will also be available which will be used for sterilising purposes (such as the sterilisation of containers and fresh agricultural products)
  • several tens of thousands of liters of pure drinking water, from a reverse-osmosis plant driven by the steam, would also be released as a byproduct
  • finally, the biomass plant provides 20,000 metric tonnes of ammonia, that can be converted into bio-fertilizer (namely N-fertilizer, which is normally derived from natural gas)
When it comes to feedstocks, the main ones considered are:
  • sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas - not related to the potatoes known in the West, see picture) [Handbook of Energy Crops infosheet], an excellent sugar and starch rich bioenergy crop that thrives well in harsh conditions and requires almost no fertilizer inputs; sweet potatoes produce about 3 to 4 times more ethanol per hectare (between 8000-10000 liters per hectare) than corn (2500-3500 litres per hectare)
  • cassava and rice residues, of which Guyana produces a lot - market prices for these feedstocks have steadily declined, and the biomass plant could boost them
The project will lessen Guyana's oil dependence and relieve some of its increasing energy bill, but in the medium term the company already aims at exporting ethanol, to both the EU and the US, which it expects to be falling short of ethanol supply by 1.5 billion litres in the year 2010:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The company has two similar plants in Ontario and British Colombia, Canada, Sukhoo said. He said these were set up in tobacco growing areas. He said that with the tobacco business not doing very well the plants were set up to bring industry back to the areas. Sukhoo noted the benefits the project could bring about in Guyana pointing to the electricity it would make available and employment.

In the process the sweet potatoes are mashed and jet cooked. They are then treated with enzymes in an enzyme tank to bring about fermentation from which ethanol and the carbon dioxide gas are produced. The fermentation process, "is not for long because of the method we will use," Sukhoo said. The CO2 gas is trapped as a by-product.

Next in the process is distillation to boil off the ethanol as a vapour which would condense back into almost pure ethanol into a storage tank. The ethanol is then denatured, Sukhoo said. This is to make the spirit unfit as a beverage or for internal human medical use.

The remains from the distillation columns are passed to the anaerobic digester. Methane is given off here as a result of the reaction taking place in the digester on the organic matter by anaerobic organisms. This is in an environment lacking oxygen. The particles are also stripped of any liquids by spinning them in a centrifuge. The ammonia is secured from this process.

Water used in the process is made potable by reverse osmosis, Sukhoo said. Reverse osmosis is the process where a solution is forced through a filter which traps any dissolved substances but allowing the solvent, or the medium in which the substances where dissolved, to pass.

Source: Stabroek News, Guyana.

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