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    After Brazil announced a record sugar crop for this year, with a decline in both ethanol and sugar prices as a result, India too is now preparing for a bumper harvest, a senior economist with the International Sugar Organization said. Raw sugar prices could fall further towards 8 cents per lb in coming months, after their 30% drop so far this year. Converting the global surplus, estimated to be 4 million tonnes, into ethanol may offer a way out of the downward trend. Economic Times India - June 18, 2007.

    A report from the US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Services (USDA FAS) estimates that the production of ethanol in China will reach 1.45 million tonnes (484 million gallons US) in 2007, up 12% from 1.3 million tonnes in 2006. Plans are to increase ethanol feedstocks from non-arable lands making the use of tuber crops such as cassava and sweet sorghum. USDA-FAS - June 17, 2007.

    The Iowa State University's Extension Bioeconomy Task Force carried out a round of discussions on the bioeconomy with citizens of the state. Results indicate most people see a bright future for the new economy, others are cautious and take on a distanced, more objective view. The potential for jobs and economic development were the most important opportunities identified by the panels. Iowa is the leading producer of corn based ethanol in the US. Iowa State University - June 16, 2007.

    Biofuel producer D1 Oils Plc, known for establishing large jatropha plantations on (degraded land) in Africa and Asia, said it was in advanced talks with an unnamed party regarding a strategic collaboration, sending its shares up 7 percent, after press reports linking it with BP. Firms like BP and other large petroleum companies are keen to secure a supply of biofuel to meet UK government regulations that 5 percent of automotive fuel must be made up of biofuels by 2010. Reuters UK - June 15, 2007.

    Jean Ziegler, a U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, told a news briefing held on the sidelines of the U.N. Human Rights Council that "there is a great danger for the right to food by the development of biofuels". His comments contradict a report published earlier by a consortium of UN agencies, which said biofuels could boost the food security of the poor. Reuters - June 15, 2007.

    The county of Chicheng in China's Hebei Province recently signed a cooperative contract with the Australian investment and advisory firm Babcock & Brown to invest RMB480 million (€47.2/US$62.9 million) in a biomass power project, state media reported today. Interfax China - June 14, 2007.

    A new two-stroke ICE engine developed by NEVIS Engine Company Ltd. may nearly double fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Moreover, the engine's versatile design means it can be configured to be fuelled not only by gasoline but also by diesel, hydrogen and biofuels. PRWeb - June 14, 2007.

    Houston-based Gulf Ethanol Corp., announced it will develop sorghum as an alternative feedstock for the production of cellulosic ethanol. Scientists have developed drought tolerant, high-yield varieties of the crop that would grow well in the drier parts of the U.S. and reduce reliance on corn. Business Wire - June 14, 2007.

    Bulgaria's Rompetrol Rafinare is to start delivering Euro 4 grade diesel fuel with a 2% biodiesel content to its domestic market starting June 25, 2007. The same company recently started to distributing Super Ethanol E85 from its own brand and Dyneff brand filling stations in France. It is building a 2500 ton/month, €13.5/US$18 million biodiesel facility at its Petromidia refinery. BBJ - June 13, 2007.

    San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), a utility serving 3.4 million customers, announced it has signed a supply contract with Envirepel Energy, Inc. for renewable biomass energy that will be online by October 2007. Bioenergy is part of a 300MW fraction of SDG&E's portfolio of renewable resources. San Diego Gas & Electric - June 13, 2007.

    Cycleenergy, an Austrian bioenergy group, closed €6.7 million in equity financing for expansion of its biomass and biogas power plant activities in Central and Eastern Europe. The company is currently completing construction of a 5.5 MW (nominal) woodchip fired biomass facility in northern Austria and has a total of over 150 MW of biomass and biogas combined heat and power (CHP) projects across Central Europe in the pipeline. Cycleenergy Biopower [*.pdf] - June 12, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan unveils its plan to promote green energy, with all government vehicles in Taipei switching to E3 ethanol gasoline by September and biofuel expected to be available at all gas stations nationwide by 2011. Taipei Times - June 12, 2007.

    A large-scale biogas production project is on scheme in Vienna. 17,000 tonnes of organic municipal waste will be converted into biogas that will save up to 3000 tonnes of CO2. 1.7 million cubic meters of biogas will be generated that will be converted into 11.200 MWh of electricity per year in a CHP plant, the heat of which will be used by 600 Viennese households. The €13 million project will come online later this year. Wien Magazine [*German] - June 11, 2007.

    The annual biodiesel market in Bulgaria may grow to 400 000 tons in two to three years, a report by the Oxford Business Group says. The figure would represent a 300-per cent increase compared to 2006 when 140 000 tons of biodiesel were produced in Bulgaria. This also means that biofuel usage in Bulgaria will account for 5.75 per cent of all fuel consumption by 2010, as required by the European Commission. A total of 25 biofuel producing plants operate in Bulgaria at present. Sofia Echo - June 11, 2007.

    The Jordan Biogas Company in Ruseifa is currently conducting negotiations with the government of Finland to sell CER's under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism obtained from biogas generated at the Ruseifa landfill. Mena FN - June 11, 2007.

    Major European bank BNP Paribas will launch an investment company called Agrinvest this month to tap into the increased global demand for biofuels and rising consumption in Asia and emerging Europe. CityWire - June 8, 2007.

    Malaysian particleboard maker HeveaBoard Bhd expects to save some 12 million ringgit (€2.6/US$3.4 million) a year on fuel as its second plant is set to utilise biomass energy instead of fossil fuel. This would help improve operating margins, group managing director Tenson Yoong Tein Seng said. HeveaBoard, which commissioned the second plant last October, expects capacity utilisation to reach 70% by end of this year. The Star - June 8, 2007.

    Japan's Itochu Corp will team up with Brazilian state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA to produce sugar cane-based bioethanol for biofuels, with plans to start exporting the biofuel to Japan around 2010. Itochu and Petrobras will grow sugarcane as well as build five to seven refineries in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. The two aim to produce 270 million liters (71.3 million gallons) of bioethanol a year, and target sales of around 130 billion yen (€800million / US$1billion) from exports of the products to Japan. Forbes - June 8, 2007.

    Italian refining group Saras is building one of Spain's largest flexible biodiesel plants. The 200,000 ton per year factory in Cartagena can handle a variety of vegetable oils. The plant is due to start up in 2008 and will rely on European as well as imported feedstocks such as palm oil. Reuters - June 7, 2007.

    The University of New Hampshire's Biodiesel Group is to test a fully automated process to convert waste vegetable oil into biodiesel. It has partnered with MPB Bioenergy, whose small-scale processor will be used in the trials. UNH Biodiesel Group - June 7, 2007.

    According to the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC), the Caribbean island state has a large enough potential to meet both its domestic ethanol needs (E10) and to export to international markets. BAMC is working with state actors to develop an entirely green biofuel production process based on bagasse and biomass. The Barbados Advocate - June 6, 2007.

    Energea, BioDiesel International and the Christof Group - three biodiesel producers from Austria - are negotiating with a number of Indonesian agribusiness companies to cooperate on biodiesel production, Austrian Commercial Counselor Raymund Gradt says. The three Austrian companies are leading technology solution providers for biodiesel production and currently produce a total of 440,000 tons of biodiesel per annum in Austria, more than half of their country’s annual demand of around 700,000-800,000 tons. In order to meet EU targets, they want to produce biodiesel abroad, where feedstocks and production is more competitive. BBJ - June 6, 2007.

    China will develop 200 million mu (13.3 million hectares) of forests by 2020 in order to supply the raw materials necessary for producing 6 million tons of biodiesel and biomass per year, state media reported today. InterFax China - June 6, 2007.

    British Petroleum is planning a biofuel production project in Indonesia. The plan is at an early stage, but will involve the establishment of an ethanol or biodiesel plant based on sugarcane or jatropha. The company is currently in talks with state-owned plantation and trading firm Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia (RNI) as its potential local partner for the project. Antara - June 6, 2007.

    A pilot project to produce biodiesel from used domestic vegetable oil is underway at the Canary Technological Institute in Gran Canaria. Marta Rodrigo, the woman heading up the team, said the project is part of the EU-wide Eramac scheme to encourage energy saving and the use of renewable energy. Tenerife News - June 6, 2007.

    Royal Dutch Shell Plc is expanding its fuel distribution infrastructure in Thailand by buying local petrol stations. The company will continue to provide premium petrol until market demand for gasohol (an petrol-ethanol mixture) climbs to 70-90%, which will prove customers are willing to switch to the biofuel. "What we focus on now is proving that our biofuel production technology is very friendly to engines", a company spokesman said. Bangkok Post - June 5, 2007.

    Abraaj, a Dubai-based firm, has bought the company Egyptian Fertilizers in order to benefit from rising demand for crops used to make biofuels. The Abraaj acquisition of all the shares of Egyptian Fertilizers values the company based in Suez at US$1.41 billion. Egyptian Fertilizers produces about 1.25 million tons a year of urea, a nitrogen-rich crystal used to enrich soils. The company plans to expand its production capacity by as much as 20 percent in the next two years on the expected global growth in biofuel production. International Herald Tribune - June 4, 2007.

    China and the US will soon sign a biofuel cooperation agreement involving second-generation fuels, a senior government official said. Ma Kai, director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a media briefing that vice premier Wu Yi discussed the pact with US Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and other US officials during the strategic economic dialogue last month. Forbes - June 4, 2007.

    German biogas company Schmack Biogas AG reports a 372% increase in revenue for the first quarter of the year, demonstrating its fast growth. Part of it is derived from takeovers. Solarserver [*German] - June 3, 2007.

    Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC has suspended the export of 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil because of community unrest in southern Nigeria, a company spokesman said. Villagers from K-Dere in the restive Ogoniland had stormed the facility that feeds the Bonny export terminal, disrupting supply of crude. It was the second seizure in two weeks. Shell reported on May 15 that protesters occupied the same facility, causing a daily output loss of 170,000 barrels. Rigzone - June 2, 2007.

    Heathrow Airport has won approval to plan for the construction of a new 'green terminal', the buildings of which will be powered, heated and cooled by biomass. The new terminal, Heathrow East, should be completed in time for the 2012 London Olympics. The new buildings form part of operator BAA's £6.2bn 10-year investment programme to upgrade Heathrow. Transport Briefing - June 1, 2007.

    A new algae-biofuel company called LiveFuels Inc. secures US$10 million in series A financing. LiveFuels is a privately-backed company working towards the goal of creating commercially competitive biocrude oil from algae by 2010. PRNewswire - June 1, 2007.

    Covanta Holding Corp., a developer and operator of large-scale renewable energy projects, has agreed to purchase two biomass energy facilities and a biomass energy fuel management business from The AES Corp. According to the companies, the facilities are located in California's Central Valley and will add 75 MW to Covanta's portfolio of renewable energy plants. Alternative Energy Retailer - May 31, 2007.

    Two members of Iowa’s congressional delegation are proposing a study designed to increase the availability of ethanol across the country. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Ia., held a news conference Tuesday to announce that he has introduced a bill in the U.S. House, asking for a US$2 million study of the feasibility of transporting ethanol by pipeline. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., has introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Des Moines Register - May 30, 2007.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Biogas Nord to make biomethane from bagasse in India

German biomethane company Biogas Nord AG has received [*German] its second order from a large sugar mill in India's Maharashtra state. An Indian delegation led by Suryakanta Patil, the state's Agriculture Secretary, visited the company in Bielefeld to sign the €1.8 million deal. In March of this year, Biogas Nord received its first major in India while on tour in the country with Christina Thoben, Minister for Economic Affairs of the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen (earlier post).

Operational Biogas Nord plants are located predominantly in Northern and Eastern Germany but demand from oustide the country is growing rapidly. The listed company's innovative technologies have allowed it to build a portfolio that includes large-scale plants in Thailand, Cuba, Chile and Peru.

Large potential
In Maharashtra, Biogas Nord will start construction of four anaerobic digesters that will convert sugarcane bagasse - the crushed canes from which the juice has been extracted - into the carbon neutral gas. Work will start next month.

India has the world's second largest sugar industry, producing some 14 million tonnes per year grown on 3.6 million hectares of land. A total of 165 sugar mills are located in Maharashtra alone, more than half of all large facilities in India (map, click to enlarge). The state also hosts the largest number of sugarcane ethanol plants.
Not only is the sugar industry a symbol of national pride in India, it is an economically vital sector. Large numbers of rural people make a living from growing sugarcane to supply the large sugar factories of the country. We are pleased to have built trust amongst the stakeholders in the sector in Maharashtra. This may open a series of offers to us. - Gerrit Holz, CEO of Biogas Nord AG
The planned biogas facilities will process around 100 tonnes of organic waste per day. Four digesters will ferment the processing residues into biogas, that will be upgraded to natural gas quality bio-methane. This fuel will then be used to power CNG vehicles. Traditionally, bagasse is burned as a solid biofuel for power and electricity, but converting it into biogas allows the energy contained in it to be used as a transport fuel.

The sludge from the biogas digesters will in turn be used as an organic fertiliser on the sugar plantations that supply the mill. The biogas plant will both power the sugar mill as well as vehicles used by the factory, replacing all its fossil fuel needs. This is possible because the production of sugar yields such a large stream of residual biomass that contains a lot of energy. Biogas Nord delivers, installs and operates the entire facility.

Optimized technology
Large-scale biogas technology is in its infancy in India but is finding a growing interest in several industrial sectors. "Besides our strong portfolio in Europe we see the Indian market as one with a lot of growth potential. More orders are on the table", says Dr. Holger Schmitz.

The biogas plants installed by Biogas Nord are based on a flow-storage process (chart, click to enlarge). This involves the operation of several tanks with substrate continuously flowing through them:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The addition of substrate into the fermenter (first tank) raises the level of the sludge and the putrefied sludge flows through the overflow into the next tank. This process is repeated if there is another tank connected to the second tank. The tanks we build are upright, cylindrical tanks made of reinforced concrete. The size, number and equipment of the tanks/fermenters depends on the type and amount of substrate to be treated. Where possible, existing tanks are integrated into the plant design.

A sump is installed in order to mix the individual substrates and ensure that the fermenter is continuously filled. Here, too, existing sumps are incorporated into the planning of the plant.

Pumps, screw conveyors or similar conveying equipment is used to feed the raw materials into the fermenter. The choice of conveying equipment depends on the type and amount of substrate to be fermented. Most of the biogas plants are equipped with a separate solids feeder.

Some substrates have to be sanitised before being spread onto agricultural land. For this purpose the substrate (prior to fermentation) or the entire digested sludge is heated to a specified temperature for a certain period of time.

All tanks can be fitted with up to four mixing devices depending on the type and amount of substrate to be treated and the size of the tank. Fermenters and secondary fermenters are fitted with double-membrane roofs for gas storage. The inner membrane serves as a gas holder and the outer membrane as protection against the weather. Between the two membranes a slight pressure is built up with a compressor, which gives the outer membrane its dimensional stability while at the same time applying pressure to the gas holder.

At Biogas Nord the second tank is called a secondary fermenter if it is fitted with a double membrane for gas storage, otherwise it is a storage tank. As a rule, wall and floor heating is installed in fermenters and secondary fermenters. The heating tubes are laid in the concrete. The outer walls of the fermenter and secondary fermenter are heat insulated and, as a final step, clad with trapezoidal panels.

The hydrogen sulphide content in the biogas produced is normally reduced with an integrated desulphurisation unit in the gas holder. At the request of the customer Biogas Nord can also install our specially developed external desulphurisation system.

After purification, the biogas is converted into electrical and thermal energy in a combined heat and power plant (CHP). Some of the electrical energy is used to cover the electricity requirements of the biogas plant. Some of the thermal energy generated is used as process energy for heating the fermenter and secondary fermenter. The surplus can be used to heat dwelling houses and stables as well as for agricultural and industrial processes with a particular requirement for heat.

In Europe
The past few years have brought a very rapid development of the biogas sector in the EU, especially in Central Europe. There the gas is being fed into secondary natural gas grids (with the option of feeding it in the mains being studied by the EU), used increasingly as a clean transport fuel, and positioned as a starting point for the creation of biorefineries. Dedicated energy crops are being developed. The gas is also being used on an experimental scale in highly efficient fuel cells. An overview of these developments can be found here (a search in the technorati search engine will reveal several newer developments).

The green gas has a very large potential in the EU, with some estimates indicating that it could replace all imports of Russian natural gas by 2030 (earlier post). If burned for the generation of electricity in power plants with socalled carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructures, biogas can become radically carbon negative. This means its use can take past CO2 emissions out of the atmosphere (earlier post).

Map: sugar mills, ethanol plants and cogeneration units in Maharasthra. Courtesy: Indian Sugar Mills Association.

More information:
Raffeisen: Biogas Nord erhält weiteren Auftrag aus Indien - June 15.


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