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    Paraguay and Brazil kick off a top-level seminar on biofuels, cooperation on which they see as 'strategic' from an energy security perspective. 'Biocombustiveis Paraguai-Brasil: Integração, Produção e Oportunidade de Negócios' is a top-level meeting bringing together the leaders of both countries as well as energy and agricultural experts. The aim is to internationalise the biofuels industry and to use it as a tool to strengthen regional integration and South-South cooperation. PanoramaBrasil [*Portuguese] - May 19, 2007.

    Portugal's Galp Energia SGPS and Petrobras SA have signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a biofuels joint venture. The joint venture will undertake technical and financial feasibility studies to set up a plant in Brazil to export biofuels to Portugal. Forbes - May 19, 2007.

    The Cypriot parliament has rejected an amendment by President Papadopoulos on the law regarding the use of biofuels that contain genetically modified substances. The amendment called for an alteration in the law that currently did not allow the import or use of biofuels that had been produced using GM substances, something that goes against a recent EU Directive on GMOs. Cyprus Mail - May 18, 2007.

    According to Salvador Rivas, the director for Non-Conventional Energy at the Dominican Republic's Industry and Commerce Ministry, a group of companies from Brazil wants to invest more than 100 million dollars to produce ethanol in the country, both for local consumption and export to the United States. Dominican Today - May 16, 2007.

    EWE AG, a German multi-service energy company, has started construction on a plant aimed at purifying biogas so that it can be fed into the natural gas grid. Before the end of the year, EWE AG will be selling the biogas to end users via its subsidiary EWE Naturwatt. Solarthemen [*German] - May 16, 2007.

    Scania will introduce an ethanol-fueled hybrid bus concept at the UITP public transport congress in Helsinki 21-24 May 2007. The full-size low-floor city bus is designed to cut fossil CO2 emissions by up to 90% when running on the ethanol blend and reduce fuel consumption by at least 25%. GreenCarCongress - May 16, 2007.

    A report by the NGO Christian Aid predicts there may be 1 billion climate refugees and migrants by 2050. It shows the effects of conflicts on populations in poor countries and draws parallels with the situation as it could develop because of climate change. Christian Aid - May 14, 2007.

    Dutch multinational oil group Rompetrol, also known as TRG, has entered the biofuel market in France in conjunction with its French subsidiary Dyneff. It hopes to equip approximately 30 filling stations to provide superethanol E85 distribution to French consumers by the end of 2007. Energy Business Review - May 13, 2007.

    A group of British organisations launches the National Forum on Bio-Methane as a Road Transport Fuel. Bio-methane or biogas is widely regarded as the cleanest of all transport fuels, even cleaner than hydrogen or electric vehicles. Several EU projects across the Union have shown its viability. The UK forum was lauched at the Naturally Gas conference on 1st May 2007 in Loughborough, which was hosted by Cenex in partnership with the NSCA and the Natural Gas Vehicle Association. NSCA - May 11, 2007.

    We reported earlier on Dynamotive and Tecna SA's initiative to build 6 bio-oil plants in the Argentinian province of Corrientes (here). Dynamotive has now officially confirmed this news. Dynamotive - May 11, 2007.

    Nigeria launches a national biofuels feasibility study that will look at the potential to link the agricultural sector to the automotive fuels sector. Tim Gbugu, project leader, said "if we are able to link agriculture, we will have large employment opportunity for the sustenance of this country, we have vast land that can be utilised". This Day Onlin (Lagos) - May 9, 2007.

    Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva meets with the CEO of Portuguese energy company Galp Energia, which will sign a biofuel cooperation agreement with Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras. GP1 (*Portuguese) - May 9, 2007.

    The BBC has an interesting story on how biodiesel made from coconut oil is taking the pacific island of Bougainville by storm. Small refineries turn the oil into an affordable fuel that replaces costly imported petroleum products. BBC - May 8, 2007.

    Indian car manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra is set to launch its first B100-powered vehicles for commercial use by this year-end. The company is confident of fitting the new engines in all its existing models. Sify - May 8, 2007.

    The Biofuels Act of the Philippines has come into effect today. The law requires all oil firms in the country to blend 2% biodiesel (most often coconut-methyl ester) in their diesel products. AHN - May 7, 2007.

    Successful tests based on EU-criteria result in approval of 5 new maize hybrids that were developed as dedicated biogas crops [*German]. Veredlungsproduktion - May 6, 2007.

    With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation for Regional Economic Development (WIRED), Michigan State University intends to open a training facility dedicated to students and workers who want to start a career in the State's growing bioeconomy. Michigan State University - May 4, 2007.

    Researchers from the Texas A&M University have presented a "giant" sorghum variety for the production of ethanol. The crop is drought-tolerant and yields high amounts of ethanol. Texas A & M - May 3, 2007.

    C-Tran, the public transportation system serving Southwest Washington and parts of Portland, has converted its 97-bus fleet and other diesel vehicles to run on a blend of 20% biodiesel beginning 1 May from its current fleet-wide use of B5. Automotive World - May 3, 2007.

    The Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP) and France's largest research organisation, the CNRS, have signed a framework-agreement to cooperate on the development of new energy technologies, including research into biomass based fuels and products, as well as carbon capture and storage technologies. CNRS - April 30, 2007.

    One of India's largest state-owned bus companies, the Andra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation is to use biodiesel in one depot of each of the 23 districts of the state. The company operates some 22,000 buses that use 330 million liters of diesel per year. Times of India - April 30, 2007.

    Indian sugar producers face surpluses after a bumper harvest and low prices. Diverting excess sugar into the ethanol industry now becomes more attractive. India is the world's second largest sugar producer. NDTVProfit - April 30, 2007.

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet on Thursday signed a biofuel cooperation agreement designed to share Brazil's experience in ethanol production and help Chile develop biofuels and fuel which Lula seeks to promote in other countries. More info to follow. People's Daily Online - April 27, 2007.

    Italy's Benetton plans to build a €61 million wood processing and biomass pellet production factory Nagyatád (southwest Hungary). The plant will be powered by biogas. Budapest Sun - April 27, 2007.

    Cargill is to build an ethanol plant in the Magdeburger Börde, located on the river Elbe, Germany. The facility, which will be integrated into existing starch processing plant, will have an annual capacity of 100,000 cubic meters and use grain as its feedstock. FIF - April 26, 2007.

    Wärtsilä Corporation was awarded a contract by the Belgian independent power producer Renogen S.A. to supply a second biomass-fuelled combined heat and power plant in the municipality of Amel in the Ardennes, Belgium. The new plant will have a net electrical power output of 3.29 MWe, and a thermal output of up to 10 MWth for district heating. The electrical output in condensing operation is 5.3 MWe. Kauppalehti - April 25, 2007.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bosch and Siemens introduce biofuel cooking stove for developing world

Almost half of the world's population relies on fuel wood, charcoal, dung, or kerosene as fuels for cooking and heating. Most often, it is women and children who are burdened with the tasks of collecting the fuel and who prepare the food. Indoor smoke pollution from cooking on an open fire is a real killer in the kitchen. A recent analysis by the World Health Organisation shows around 1.5 million women and children die each year because of it (earlier post).

Introducing efficient and non-polluting cooking stoves therefor means a real revolution on the household level (earlier post). Biofuels such as ethanol gelfuel, biogas, biopropane and pure plant oil (PPO) may come to the rescue, and many initiatives are under way to promote their use.

Bosch and Siemens Home Appliances Group (BSH) is now testing a clean biofuel cooking stove called Protos. First experiments in around hundred Philippine households over the past year, were successful, prompting BSH to expand the project to at least ten thousand more homes. BSH has described the rollout as a “small-scale carbon project”, and is emphasizing the ability of the stove to be carbon-neutral, depending on fuel used.

The Protos plant oil cooker works as follows (image, click to enlarge): the tank is filled with PPO after which the burner is pre-heated with a small amount of alcohol or an other available fuel source. Through application of the pump, the tank is pressurized making the oil rise into the vaporizer where the heat of the flame converts the liquid into a gaseous mixture. The gas flux emits from a nozzle into a burning area, where it mixes with surrounding air and burns in a blue flame. The power output can be adjusted with a valve in the fuel line.

The stove's properties look as follows:
  • Power range: 1.6–3.8 kW
  • Usage: 2 liters oil per week for a family of 4-5 → 100 liters per year
  • Fuel: diverse plant oils, plant oil esters
  • Efficiency: 40-50%
  • Emissions: ten times lower than with high quality kerosene
  • CO2-balance: neutral
Protos was designed to work with a wide range of liquid fuel sources including the full range of both edible and inedible oils such as coconut oil, jatropha, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, cottonseed oil or peanut oil. The fuel can be refined or unrefined. In addition to pure plant-oil it is also possible to burn used frying oil and plant oil esters (biodiesel):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

BSHG intends to introduce the stove in areas that can sustainably harvest the fuel it requires. It can also help cut down the use of wood in deforested areas; studies show that a typical family uses up to two tons of wood per year.

Protos is estimated to require about 100 liters of plant oils annually. BSH project leader Dr.-Ing. Elmar Stumpf noted “the plant oil stove is easy to operate and offers a very safe cooking environment since plant oils can neither burn nor explode.”

Vaporization and combustion of plant oils in a simple stove involve more than 10,000 different chemical reactions, which vary for each plant oil, depending on its origin, quality, and means of extraction. The Protos burner utilizes a combustion temperature of up to 1,400°C (2,550ºF) to ensure vaporization and low-emission combustion regardless of feedstock. With plant oil carbon residues forming at more than 100 times the rate of kerosene, the stove’s burner had to be designed to maintain a temperature profile which would minimize soot formation.

Trials with the cooker have been held in the Philippines and in Tanzania, with further projects planned in India, China, Madagascar, and Sri Lanka. The stove was developed and tested with support from the University of Hohenheim, the German Environmental Foundation, Leyte State University in the Philippines, and the European Environmental Heritage Fund, among others.

More information:
BSH: Protos Plant Oil Cooker - FAQ.

BSH: Plant Oil Cooker website.

Biofuel cooking stove mailing list.


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