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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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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

NASA and Boeing join Brazil to develop biokerosene aviation fuel

Tecbio's president Expedito Parente and Boeing's Danny Hatfield at Tecbio's headquarters in Fortaleza, Brazil - burning some biokerosene.

Earlier we wrote about biofuels for aviation, reporting that Argentina's air force carried out the first tests with green fuels in a large aircraft (a C130). We also pointed out the many challenges facing the production of biofuels for airplanes. Now America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Boeing are teaming up with Brazilian biofuel company Tecbio to develop biokerosene ("biojet").

The alternative vegetable-oils based fuel to power airplanes was invented by Tecbio in 1980 and flight tested in Brazil on the 24th of octobre 1984. Back then, the test was carried out with pure (B100) biokerosene which the company called 'Prosene', in a Bandeirante aircraft (manufactured by Brazil's Embraer, a company that developed a small ethanol powered airplane). The pilot successfully flew the craft for 600 kilometres from São José dos Campos -- Brazil's aircraft manufacturing hub -- to the capital Brasília (for this history, see Diário do Nordeste [*Portuguese and cache]). Soon afterwards, on low oil prices, the fuel was abandoned, only to attrach fresh interest again after oil prices rose to record levels this year.

"We are starting to resurrect biokerosene ... the scenario today is different," Tecbio's president Expedito Parente said, adding that the partnership with NASA and Boeing was still at an early stage. A memorandum of understanding was signed earlier this month. Parente told the seminar in Sao Paulo that he expected to get the fuel patented in 2008.

The patent is based on much earlier work carried out by Mr Parente and Mr Délio Jardim de Matos in the early 1980s for Brazil's Ministry of Aeronautics. The 'bioquerosene' project resulted in successful tests of the fuel in turbine engines, work for which a patent was granted (PI-8007957-INPI). This research, carried out for the military junta that ruled the country at the time, was considered of strategic importance and deemed a state secret. (More on this history can be found in one of Tecbio's recent seminars [*.pdf/Portuguese])

According to Francisco Nivardo Ximenes Guimarães, Tecbio's commercial spokesperson, the biokerosene will revolutionize agriculture in Brazil's poor Nordeste region [*Portuguese / cache] - promising to bring countless jobs to small farmers and the rural poor. "The new kerosene can be produced from vegetable oils from some ten different oil crops which thrive in this most underdeveloped region of the country." Oilseed bearing (exotic) palm species such as babaçu ('babassu', about which we reported earlier - see last note), macaúba, and coco-da-baía will be used, amongst others. "The north hosts some 18 million hectares of wild Babassu trees", he added.

Based in Fortaleza, capital of the northeastern state of Ceara, Tecbio is Brazil's largest biodiesel technology company, having built 8 plants so far (with a combined capacity of 49.6 million liters per year), 6 far larger ones under construction (with a combined capacity of 657.7 million liters per year, or 11,000 barrels per day), and seeking funding for another 4 (check under 'Portifólio' at Tecbio's website - no direct link, no english version yet.)

Brazil takes pride in its aviation history, claiming to be the native country of the 'real father of aviation', Mr Santos Dumont who flew airplanes earlier than the Wright Brothers. Even though that history is up for dispute, it looks certain that Brazil might rightly claim the accolade of being the first to fly commercial aircraft on green, clean, renewable biokerosene.

More information:
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China breeds rapeseed with record high oil content for biodiesel

Quick note energy crops
Earlier we had a close look at China's ambi- tious biofuels pro- gram, and we noticed that the country's biodiesel industry was underdeveloped, compared to its already large ethanol production capacity. That is now about to change. China has bred a new kind of rape- seed with a record high oil content in a move to develop its biodiesel industry, the Ministry of Agriculture announced. According to Xinhua, the new rapeseed has an oil content of 54.72 percent, nearly two percentage points higher than the previously reported highest oil content, according to a test report from the ministry.

The seed was developed to meet the market demand for renewable sources of energy, according to the ministry. If grown in high altitude regions, such as West China's Qinghai Province, it was two to three percentage points higher in oil content, the ministry said. The new strain, named Zhongyou-0361 and bred by the Institute of Oil Crops Research of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, was disease resistant, early maturing and unmodified genetically, said Wang Hanzhong, leader of the development team and research fellow of the institute.

Wang says that the Yangtze River valley [picture], which is the world's largest rape production base with nearly one third of the world's entire rape yield, has the potential to produce 40 million tons of bio-diesel per year (770,000 barrels per day), equaling the oil output of one and a half Daqing oilfields (China's largest, and the fourth largest in the world).

Rapeseed is the most widely planted oil-bearing crop in China, which has the world's highest output. With international oil demand soaring, bioenergy is gaining popularity for being renewable and environmentally friendly. The European Union has been vigorously promoting biodiesel produced from rape, which pushed international rape oil prices up to the present 822 U.S. dollars per ton from 711 U.S. dollars at the end of last year, Wang added. [Entry ends here]
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