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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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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Brazil's ethanol expansion to bring 3.6 million jobs by 2010

Recently we reported about Nigeria's expectation that its cassava ethanol based biofuel program will yield 3 million direct jobs over the course of five years. A few days ago, Indonesia showed its 'millions' too and expects its green fuel program to bring in 2.5 million jobs in under three years time. Indeed, biofuels are job creation machines.

Now Brazil projects not less than 3.6 million jobs to arise out of its aggressive expansion of its sugarcane plantations, which it is currently undertaking. The country expects to more than double its annual exports of alcohol fuel, or ethanol, by 2010, Mines and Energy Minister Silas Rondeau says. Thanks to the rapid expansion of sugarcane areas, the country will export about 7.9 billion liters (2.1 billion gallons) of ethanol in 2010, up from current exports of about 3 billion liters (790 million gallons), Rondeau said at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference. [In 'barrel of oil equivalent' (boe) terms, we are talking about projected exports of roughly 100,000 boe/day].

"The potential for exports we have by 2010 is about 8 billion liters, generating about 3.6 million jobs directly and indirectly," Rondeau said in his opening remarks to the conference, which runs through Thursday.

Jobs will be created in sugar cane planting, harvesting, processing and transporting. Indirectly, the logistical sector involved in moving both raw materials, processed materials and finished goods will benefit (distribution, mixing, transmixing, storing, shipping), as well as trade, biotechnology and consultancy sectors. As always, it remains to be seen what the social and labor conditions of the workers at the bottom of the ethanol production pyramid are going to be.

Rondeau said thanks to an increase in the amount of area where sugarcane is planted Brazil's total production of ethanol is expected to rise to 26 billion liters (6.87 billion gallons) annually in 2010 up from the current production of around 16 billion liters (4.23 billion gallons) annually. [From roughly 193,000 boe/day to 313,000 boe/day].

Brazil is the world's second-biggest producer of ethanol after the United States and is the biggest exporter. Brazil also has the world's largest fleet of ethanol-powered cars _ seven out of every 10 new cars sold in Brazil are "flex fuel" vehicles that can run on gasoline, ethanol or any combination of the two. Brazil's state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, said it expected to sign a long-term contract to export ethanol to Venezuela:
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The company's downstream director Paulo Roberto Costa said the exact volume and terms of the contract were still being discussed.

Petrobras already has made two ethanol shipments of 6.6 million gallons each to Venezuela this year, and this week is shipping another 5 million gallons, Costa said.

Earlier this year, Petrobras said it planned to export 40 million gallons of ethanol to Venezuela in 2006.

Petrobras hopes the export volume in the planned contract with Venezuela will be larger than this year's shipment.

The company this year also is making two shipments of 5 million gallons of ethanol to Nigeria, Costa said. Petrobras is in negotiations with the African country over a long-term ethanol supply contract.

Petrobras has promised Venezuela and Nigeria that it would transfer ethanol production technology to enable those countries to build their own domestic ethanol industries.

Petrobras said it doesn't plan to begin producing ethanol but will continue to distribute and export it.

The company currently plans to build the world's first ethanol-only pipelines from producing regions in central Brazil to the coast.

Source: Chron: Brazil Ethanol Exports to Rise Sharply .

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The 14th Non-Aligned Movement Summit and the India-Brazil-South Africa Summit

The day after 9/11 remembrance ceremonies were held across the world, the global South will be holding two historic meetings over the coming days, that are a sign of changing geopolitics and power relations in the world.

The 14th Non-Aligned Movement Summit (official website) is being held in Havana, Cuba, with a highpoint over the weekend when 50 heads of states meet. The historic NAM - which was formed at the Bandung Conference of 1955 as a neutral block of nations that took no side during the Cold War - has been an important engine for deepening south-south cooperation and multilateral alliances on the political front. The organisation died after the collapse of the Soviet Union and after the end of the Cold War, but has since been revived. Since 9/11, more and more non-Western countries see South South relations gaining in importance and the divide between the North and the South is getting bigger. The NAM counts 116 countries from the (rapidly developing) global south and will be addressing the world's most pressing problems, amongst which the fight against terrorism, nuclear proliferation and energy security.

Tomorrow (Wednesday September 13) Brasilia is host to the first "India-Brazil-South Africa Summit" (IBSA), which unites three of the most rapidly growing economies, that have been creating ever narrower ties on the front of economic and scientific cooperation, trade and cultural exchanges. The Summit is expected to yield concrete trilateral agreements on transport, agriculture, energy, trade facilitation and information and communication technology.

At both Summits, energy security, biofuels development and energy cooperation are high on the agenda. India for example already announced that it will sign a formal agreement with Brazil on acquiring vast tracts of sugar cane land to enhance energy security. South Africa and Brazil are expected to sign a deal on technical biofuel cooperation. That is why we will obviously follow the debates at these Summits and report about them here.

For now let us present some resources:

India-Brazil-South Africa Summit

14th Non-Aligned Movement Summit
Check back often for updates about news on biofuels, energy cooperation and energy security as it comes from these two historic Summits.
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The Philippines battle over biofuels: oil lobby against the people

The Philippines has seen an at times heated debate about the need for biofuels. Two clear camps have arised, on the one hand the 'oil lobby' and the auto-makers (and here and here), who are being accused of trying to block the massive introduction of ethanol and biodiesel, and on the other, a diverse group of academics, environmentalists, farmers' unions and politicians (and here) who see the benefits of green fuels in an era of high oil prices and energy insecurity. The Philippines' senate floor has seen nothing less than an almost physical fight over attempts to get biofuel legislation passed.

The situation is strange, to say the least, because in many other countries, petroleum companies are working together with the biofuel advocates. After all, it is the oil companies who will be mixing and distributing the renewable fuels. Often, in the developing world this task is undertaken by the large and powerful state-owned petroleum company. Only, the Philippines' national petroleum company (PNOC), is too small to really weigh on the debate.

It is interesting to follow the discussion in the island state, because pro and con arguments there are often so exaggerated that they show us the real issues very clearly. The latest public debate is over whether or not ethanol blends can be readily used in the existing car fleet of the country.

The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) earlier said that 40 percent of the vehicles in the Philippines were not fit for biofuels. But Filcar Foundation trustee Alex Loinaz, a fuel expert is saying otherwise, even noting that the alternative fuel is ideal for use in countries with warm weather such as the Philippines. He said carbureted engines would even benefit from the use of ethanol-blended gasoline as these types of engines operate at very low-pressure differentials, making them unable to compensate for the volume effects of partially vaporized fuel.

Blending ethanol with gasoline jacks up the latent heat of vaporization of the fuel and allows the ethanol to absorb heat, Loinaz said. When the ethanol vaporizes, the air density in the fuel mixture also increases, and this enhances the air/fuel mixture, he said. The Chamber maintains that carbureted vehicles were not compatible with biofuels as their open loop systems cannot adjust to changes in the oxygen content of the fuel, resulting in higher emissions.

"The statement that 40 percent of the vehicles in the country are not fit for biofuels is an obvious error or an outright lie," said Loinaz, who has done extensive research on the development and application of ethanol and other gasoline additives:
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He also refuted the CAMPI claim that ethanol could degrade vehicle "drivability" because pf its higher heat of vaporization compared with other octane enhancer, which could result in poorer cold start performance.

The CAMPI had also said the energy content of ethanol was lower than that of pure gasoline, resulting in reduced mileage.

Loinaz admitted that using a 10-percent ethanol blend in gasoline reduced its energy content by 3.2 percent but he said this did not bring down a vehicle's overall efficiency.

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Biofuels research in Uganda based on local crops

Brazil acts like a sign of change and progress for much of the south. The country developed a thriving biofuels industry and has become an agricultural powerhouse. It also produced authoritative research in biotechnology and agronomy. Brazil, for example, hosts the world's largest stock of sugar cane varieties, developed over many decades - an extremely valuable resource for the future.

It is within this context that more and more African countries are engaging in thorough bioenergy R&D themselves - sometimes with very modest means and small funds. Uganda's Kyambogo University Department of Mechanical Engineering is one such institute. There, extensive ethanol fuel tests have been done by Dr. Bagenda Ssengonzi and his team. They proved that ethanol distilled from Ugandan cereals and tubers can power industrial machinery. The research started eight months ago.

Peter Okello-obeli, the university workshop manager, says two vehicles, Suzuki Samurai 1.5cc and Toyota Town ACE 1.8cc, which were formerly consuming petrol have responded well to the fuel, but the research is still going on. The university's four-stroke generator has also worked well with the fuel.

"Ethanol is an organic chemical product distilled from local raw plants like cassava, millet, sorghum, maize and sugarcane (cereals and tubers) that contain carbohydrates and sugars. It is a hydro-carbon composition like oil," Okello-obeli says. He says the chemical is mixed with yeast, which catalyses the action of sugars and carbohydrates to form brew or beer. The process involves heating the beer. The vapour is cooled in a distillation column, forming ethanol. To a layman, ethanol is alcohol or crude liquor.

"So far, the distillation tests we have produce 93% alcohol content above the industrial fuel alcohol content. The production of liquor is the same, but the difference arises in the alcohol content of 40%," Okello-obeli says. Industrial ethanol is supposed to have an alcohol content of 86% to run any machinery.

"This research looks at alternative fuel," says Eng. Robert Kafeero Smart Motor World Limited's general manager and a member of the research team. The Bio-ethanol research involved three stages. In the first stage, petrol and diesel engines were tested including the two and four-stroke generators:
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The second stage targeted attaining the ethanol alcohol content of 86%. Before distillation, the mixed plant cereals produced 7% alcohol content. This stage is still being researched on.

The third stage looks at sustainability. Okello-obeli says the price of ethanol fuel must be competitive enough to beat the existing price of petrol or diesel.

"After achieving the last stage, we shall announce that there is market for the product. The engineering research is spread out to other stakeholders in different fields," he explains.

The research team's main challenge is sourcing funds. "We have funded the project and designed five distillation columns like the one we secured from USA," he says.

Okello-obeli says their ethanol can be blended with petrol, but the ethanol must be 100% pure. However, Ethanol can be blended in various proportions with petrol, usually 5% to 10%.

Many states including USA blend 10% of ethanol with petrol to get the fuel that cars use. However, Brazil mixes 24% of ethanol.

According to Enger Smith's Environmental Science , Brazil is the largest producer of ethanol fuel from biomass. The low price of sugar coupled with the high price of oil prompted Brazil to use sugarcane as an energy source.

Ethanol fuel is exploited on a large-scale in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Kenya. Malawi and Zimbabwe, being landlocked countries have reduced their expenditure on on fuel imports.

Ethanol acts as an octane enhancement, fuel extender or replacement, anti-knocking and an oxygenating agent.

Ethanol also comprises oxygen and alcohol, therefore, petroleum with ethanol as an anti-knocking agent protects the engine. Using ethanol in place of tetraethyl lead prevents poisonous emissions. Ethanol can be used as an alternative to leaded fuel.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has spearheaded and coordinated a programme to phase out leaded petrol worldwide.

In 2001, UNEP sponsored a continental conference to draw a programme that would phase out the use of lead in Dakar, Senegal.

The Dakar Declaration set December 2005 as the deadline for the complete phase-out. Other countries including Uganda are now importing only unleaded petrol.

Vehicles that use leaded petrol produce exhaust fumes that are harmful to our health. Lead enters the body through inhalation or ingestion of lead-contaminated soil, dust or paint. Elevated levels can adversely affect the mental development and performance of the kidney and blood chemistry.

In congested urban areas, exhaust fumes from vehicles using leaded petrol account for 90% of airborne lead pollution. Lead also contains green house gases contributing to environmental degradation and global warming.

Okello-obeli says the bi-products of ethanol combustion are normal compounds in the air and are not dangerous to the environment.

"Ethanol is not corrosive and is lighter than petrol. Petrol additives make it heavier. Petroleum's ability to vapourise and flare up is higher than ethanol. During combustion, petroleum burns faster," he adds.

Okello-obeli says when using ethanol fuel, one must first alter the main metering jet in the carburettor. In most carburetors, there is a threaded brass plug with a specific sized hole drilled through the centre. This hole, the main jet orifice, and its diameter, dictate how rich or lean the air/fuel mixture will be when a car is travelling.

He says the smaller the hole, the less the fuel will blend with the air and the leaner the mixture. As the orifice is enlarged, the mixer gets richer. Since alcohol requires a richer air/fuel ration, it is necessary to bore out the main jet orifice when using ethanol fuel ranging from 20 to 40%.

Okello-obeli says if you choose to drill the jet to a larger dimension, the diameter should be increased between 10 to 32%.

He says in extremely cold climates, it may be necessary to preheat alcohol fuel before it enters the carburettor float bowl. Alcohol doesn't vapourise as easily as petrol.

Starting a car in cold weather can be a problem, especially if the engine is cold. To alleviate this undesirable situation in the morning, you must open up an air cleaner and apply thinner, which is used in the paint industry.
Relevant Links
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Science and Biotechnology

Since diesel engines do not use conventional spark ignition systems, it is difficult for pure ethanol fuel to ignite within the combustion chamber. In this case, you can use vapourised ethanol along with diesel. The simplest way is to mount an automobile carburettor onto the diesel's air intake.

To successfully run a generator, you need to control the amount of air inside by putting the choke midway. In case of cold starting, open the generator plug and put a little petrol on plug spark and the engine will start. According to the research, one litre of petrol and 1.2litres of ethanol can run a 2.1kVA generator for one hour.

"A generator running on ethanol fuel can be run inside the house without being worried about emitting carbon monoxide, unlike the petrol generator," says Okello-obeli.

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