<body> --------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home » Archive »
Add to My Yahoo!
Subscribe in NewsGator Online
    Saab will introduce its BioPower flex-fuel options to its entire 9-3 range, including Sport Sedan, SportCombi and Convertible bodystyles, at the Geneva auto show. GreenCarCongress - March 2, 2007.

    British oil giant BP plans to invest around US$50 million in Indonesia's biofuel industry, using jatropha oil as feedstock. BP will build biofuel plants with an annual capacity of 350,000 tons for which it will need to set up jatropha curcas plantations covering 100,000 hectares of land, to guarantee supply of feedstock, an official said. Antara [*cache] - March 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has decided to increase the acreage dedicated to biofuel crops -- soybean, rape, sunflower, and sweet potato -- from 1,721 hectares in 2006 to 4,550 hectares this year, the Council of Agriculture said. China Post - March 2, 2007.

    Kinder Morgan Energy Partners has announced plans to invest up to €76/US$100 million to expand its terminal facilities to help serve the growing biodiesel market. KMP has entered into long-term agreements with Green Earth Fuels, LLC to build up to 1.3 million barrels of tankage that will handle approximately 8 million barrels of biodiesel production at KMP's terminals on the Houston Ship Channel, the Port of New Orleans and in New York Harbor. PRNewswire - March 1, 2007.

    A project to build a 130 million euro ($172 million) plant to produce 200,000 cubic metres of bioethanol annually was announced by three German groups on Tuesday. The plant will consume about 600,000 tonnes of wheat annually and when operational in the first half of 2009 should provide about a third of Germany's estimated bioethanol requirements. Reuters - Feb. 27, 2007.

    Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs has announced that government vehicles in Taipei City will begin using E3 fuel, composed of 97% gasoline and 3% ethanol, on a trial basis in 2007. Automotive World - Feb. 27, 2007.

    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.

Creative Commons License

Friday, March 02, 2007

The bioeconomy at work: plant-based thermoset resins developed

Thermoset resins are some of the most commonly used materials in the construction, furniture and automotive industries. World demand currently stands at around 25 million tonnes per year for the product that is used to make a wide variety of composite materials from particleboard to glass fibre panels and fighter jet wings.

At present all the raw materials used in these resins are derived from petrochemicals, and the toxicity and volatility of starting materials such as formaldehyde require careful environmental, health and safety monitoring. But there will soon be a new, greener alternative on the market based on a new generation of ‘bio-resins’ – thermoset resins derived principally from vegetable oils.

Research supported by the UK's Sustainable Technologies Initiative [*.pdf] shows how the renewable polymers could offer a commercially viable alternative that would help manufacturers to meet tighter environmental regulations and reduce consumption of finite petrochemical resources. They would meet growing demand for more environmentally friendly resins that are competitive in price and performance and adaptable to existing composite manufacturing processes.

In the REPLANT project, a research team from the BioComposites Centre at the University of Wales, Bangor, who specialise in renewable plant technology, worked with industrial partners Cambridge Biopolymers, a contract manufacturer and a resin end-user. The project was supported by the DTI through the Sustainable Technologies Initiative, a programme to improve the sustainability of UK business. STI research aims to achieve economic growth and employment while safeguarding the environment and conserving natural resources.

"There is a clear place in the market right now for new, more environmentally friendly resins that are competitive in price and performance, and adaptable to existing processes for manufacturing composites," says project manager Dr Paul Fowler. "The growing interest reflects the demand for alternative, renewable sources of thermosetting resins that will begin to address the depletion of finite resources and reduce emissions."

A key goal of the project was to develop a thermosetting resin system derived from vegetable oils such as rapeseed oil, which is widely grown in the UK. As well as being based on renewable resources and offering new markets for UK producers, the new generation of bio-resins have other important attractions. Their use would avoid health and safety issues arising from the present reliance on phenol and formaldehyde in making conventional thermoset resins. Emissions of these volatile chemicals are regulated in the workplace and there are concerns over the slow release of formaldehyde from products such as particle board at the point of use. An added bonus of a switch to bio-resins would be a cut in carbon emissions as the growing crops absorb greenhouse gases:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

"Our clean and green chemical processing technologies make it possible to produce bio-resins from renewable resources," says Dr Fowler. "We’ve succeeded in developing a low effluent manufacturing procedure that’s based on the use of vegetable oil, water, air and electricity and yields formaldehyde-free products with excellent performance characteristics."

A key step was the development of a technique known as ozonisation to turn the vegetable oil into thermosetting resin. Patent applications have been made for the novel process technology, which is based on the use of ozone gas, and operates at ambient temperature. The clean, low effluent manufacturing process yields formaldehyde-free products with a high solids content of over 75%. Development of the new process is expected to appeal to thermoset manufacturers by making it easier for them to meet health and safety regulations in the workplace as well as demand from customers for greener products that are formaldehyde free.

In demonstration trials on factory production lines, the bio-resins performed well. Performance matched that of petrochemical resins. The trials demonstrated that the process is capable of working on an industrial scale and commercialisation is expected to follow. The first applications are likely to be in selected insulation products, with future potential in industries ranging from electronics to automotive, construction materials, furniture, foundry and engineered wood products.

"Our long-term aim is partial replacement with a bio-based alternative of the many hundreds of thousands of tonnes of petrochemical-derived thermoset resins that are currently used in the UK and rest of Europe every year," says Dr Fowler. "As well as helping us to develop the bio-resin technology, the STI project has demonstrated the sound economic, environmental and social gains that would accrue."

For rapeseed growers, the project could open up a valuable potential market outside the food and biodiesel industries. The outcome should provide a significant advance in the industrial usage of agricultural crops, with a market for tens of thousands of tonnes of oilseeds per year.

Substituting bio-resins could also help to meet UK government targets on environmental CO2 by reducing greenhouse gases. Growing rapeseed has the effect of sequestering carbon dioxide from the air. For every tonne of bio-resin produced approximately 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide would be fixed.

Energy savings could be an added benefit as rapeseed meal, left over when oil is extracted, can be used to generate electricity. By producing oil on the same site as bio-resins the recovered energy could be used to power the ozonisation process.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home