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    AthenaWeb, the EU's science media portal, is online with new functionalities and expanded video libraries. Check it out for video summaries of the latest European research activities in the fields of energy, the environment, renewables, biotech and much more. AthenaWeb - July 04, 2007.

    Biopact was invited to attend a European Union high-level meeting on international biofuels trade, to take place on Thursday and Friday in Brussels. Leaders from China, India, Africa and Brazil will discuss the opportunities and challenges arising in the emerging global biofuels sector. EU Commissioners for external relations, trade, energy, development & humanitarian aid as well as the directors of international organisations like the IEA, the FAO and the IFPRI will be present. Civil society and environmental NGOs complete the panorama of participants. Check back for exclusive stories from Friday onwards. Biopact - July 04, 2007.

    China's state-owned grain group COFCO says Beijing has stopped approving new fuel ethanol projects regardless of the raw materials, which has put a brake on its plan to build a sweet potato-based plant in Hebei. The Standard (Hong Kong) - July 03, 2007.

    Blue Diamond Ventures and the University of Texas A&M have formed a biofuels research alliance. The University will assist Blue Diamond with the production and conversion of non-food crops for manufacturing second-generation biofuels. MarketWire - July 03, 2007.

    African Union leaders are to discuss the idea of a single pan-African government, on the second day of their summit in Accra, Ghana. Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is championing the idea, but many African leaders are wary of the proposal. BBC - July 02, 2007.

    Triple Point Technology, a supplier of cross-industry software platforms for the supply, trading, marketing and movement of commodities, announced today the release and general availability of Commodity XL for Biofuels™. The software platform is engineered to address the rapidly escalating global market for renewable energy fuels and their feedstocks. Business Wire - July 02, 2007.

    Latin America's largest construction and engineering firm, Constructora Norberto Odebrecht SA, announced plans to invest some US$2.6 billion (€1.9 billion) to get into Brazil's booming ethanol business. It aims to reach a crushing capacity of 30 million to 40 million metric tons (33 million to 44 million tons) of cane per harvest over the next eight years. More soon. International Herald Tribune - June 30, 2007.

    QuestAir Technologies announces it has received an order valued at US$2.85 million for an M-3100 system to upgrade biogas created from organic waste to pipeline quality methane. QuestAir's multi-unit M-3100 system was purchased by Phase 3 Developments & Investments, LLC of Ohio, a developer of renewable energy projects in the agricultural sector. The plant is expected to be fully operational in the spring of 2008. Market Wire - June 30, 2007.

    Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc. and the U.S. National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) today announced a partnership to speed the growth of alternative fuel technology. The 10-year agreement between the center and Siemens represents transfers of equipment, software and on-site simulation training. The NCERC facilitates the commercialization of new technologies for producing ethanol more effectively and plays a key role in the Bio-Fuels Industry for Workforce Training to assist in the growing need for qualified personnel to operate and manage bio-fuel refineries across the country. Business Wire - June 29, 2007.

    A paper published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society proposes a new method of producing hydrogen for portable fuel cells that can work steadily for 10-20 times the length of equivalently sized Lithium-ion batteries. Zhen-Yan Deng, lead author, found that modified aluminum powder can be used to react with water to produce hydrogen at room temperature and under normal atmospheric pressure. The result is a cost-efficient method for powering fuel cells that can be used in portable applications and hybrid vehicles. More soon. Blackwell Publishing - June 29, 2007.

    An NGO called Grains publishes a report that highlights some of the potentially negative effects associated with the global biofuels sector. The findings are a bit one-sided because based uniquely on negative news stories. Moreover, the report does not show much of a long-term vision on the world's energy crisis, climate change, North-South relations, and the unique role biofuels can play in addressing these issues. Grain - June 29, 2007.

    Researchers at the Universidad de Tarapacá in Arica plan to grow Jatropha curcas in the arid north of Chile. The trial in the desert, is carried out to test the drought-tolerance of the biodiesel crop, and to see whether it can utilize the desert's scarce water resources which contain high amounts of salt minerals and boron, lethal to other crops. Santiago Times - June 28, 2007.

    India and Thailand sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that envisages cooperation through joint research and development and exchange of information in areas of renewable sources of energy like, biogas, solar-thermal, small hydro, wind and biomass energy. Daily India - June 28, 2007.

    Portucel - Empresa Produtora de Pasta e Papel SA said it plans to install biomass plants with an expected production capacity of 200,000 megawatt hours per year at its paper factories in Setubal and Cacia. The European Commission gave the green light for state aid totaling €46.5 million, contributing to Portucel's plans to extend and modernise its plants. Forbes - June 28, 2007.

    Petro-Canada and GreenField Ethanol have inked a long-term deal that makes Petro-Canada the exclusive purchaser of all ethanol produced at GreenField Ethanol's new facility in Varennes, Quebec. The ethanol will be blended with gasoline destined for Petro-Canada retail sites in the Greater Montreal Area. Petro-Canada - June 27, 2007.

    According to a study by the Korean Energy Economics Institute, biodiesel produced in Korea will become cheaper than light crude oil from 2011 onwards (678 won/liter versus 717.2 won/liter). The study "Prospects on the Economic Feasibility of Biodiesel and Improving the Support System", advises to keep biodiesel tax-free until 2010, after which it can compete with oil. Dong-A Ilbo - June 27, 2007.

    Kreido Biofuels announced today that it has entered into a marketing and distribution agreement with Eco-Energy, an energy and chemical marketing and trading company. Eco-Energy will purchase Kreido Biofuels’ biodiesel output from Wilmington, North Carolina, and Argo, Illinois, for a minimum of 3 years at current commercial market prices, as well as provide Kreido transportation and logistics services. Business Wire - June 27, 2007.

    Beijing Tiandi Riyue Biomass Technology Corp. Ltd. has started construction on its new fuel ethanol project in the county of Naiman in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region's Chifeng City, the company's president told Interfax today. Interfax China - June 26, 2007.

    W2 Energy Inc. announces it will begin development of biobutanol from biomass. The biofuel will be manufactured from syngas derived from non-food biomass and waste products using the company's plasma reactor system. Market Wire - June 26, 2007.

    Finland based Metso Corporation, a global engineering firm has received an order worth €60 million to supply two biomass-fired power boilers to Portugal's EDP Producao - Bioeléctrica, S.A. The first boiler (83 MWth) will be installed at Celbi’s Figueira da Foz pulp mill and the second boiler (35 MWth) at Caima’s pulp mill near the city of Constância. Both power plants will mainly use biomass, like eucalyptus bark and forest residues, as fuel to produce together approximately 40 MWe electricity to the national grid. Both boilers utilize bubbling fluidized bed technology. Metso Corporation - June 26, 2007.

    Canada's New Government is investing more than $416,000 in three southern Alberta projects to help the emerging biofuels industry. The communities of Lethbridge, Drumheller and Coalhurst will benefit from the projects. Through the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI), the three firms will receive funding to prepare feasibility studies and business plans to study the suitability of biofuels production according to location and needs in the industry. MarketWire - June 26, 2007.

    U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman is expected to announce today that Michigan State and other universities have been selected to share $375 million in federal funding to develop new bioenergy centers for research on cellulosic ethanol and biomass plants. More info soon. Detroit Free Press - June 26, 2007.

    A Kerala based NGO has won an Ashden Award for installing biogas plants in the state to convert organic waste into a clean and renewable source of energy at the household level. Former US vice president Al Gore gave away the award - cash prize of 30,000 pounds - to Biotech chief A. Saji at a ceremony in London on Friday. New Kerala - June 25, 2007.

    AltraBiofuels, a California-based producer of renewable biofuels, announced that it has secured an additional US$165.5 million of debt financing for the construction and completion of two plants located in Coshocton, Ohio and Cloverdale, Indiana. The Coshocton plant's capacity is anticipated to reach 60million gallons/year while the Cloverdale plant is expected to reach 100 million gallons/year. Business Wire - June 23, 2007.

    Brazil and the Dominican Republic have inked a biofuel cooperation agreement aimed at alleviating poverty and creating economic opportunity. The agreement initially focuses on the production of biodiesel in the Dominican Republic. Dominican Today - June 21, 2007.

    Malaysian company Ecofuture Bhd makes renewable products from palm oil residues such as empty fruit bunches and fibers (more here). It expects the revenue contribution of these products to grow by 10% this year, due to growing overseas demand, says executive chairman Jang Lim Kuang. 95% of the group's export earnings come from these products which include natural oil palm fibre strands and biodegradable mulching and soil erosion geotextile mats. Bernama - June 20, 2007.

    Argent Energy, a British producer of waste-oil based biodiesel, announced its intention to seek a listing on London's AIM via a placing of new and existing ordinary shares with institutional investors. Argent plans to use the proceeds to construct the first phase of its proposed 150,000 tonnes (170 million litres) plant at Ellesmere Port, near Chester, and to develop further plans for a 75,000 tonnes (85 million litres) plant in New Zealand. Argent Energy - June 20, 2007.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Researcher: feeding distiller's grains vital to future of livestock operations

An important question in the biofuel sector is to know whether the shift from crops grown to feed livestock (such as corn) towards using these feedstocks for biofuels, can be compensated by utilising the residues from the fuel production process as animal feed instead.

According to research by Dr. Jim MacDonald, a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researcher, there is no reason the cattle-feeding industry there cannot remain strong and viable if it incorporates distiller's grains into rations. Distiller's grains are the residue of corn that is processed into ethanol.

The Experiment Station beef cattle nutritionist says "our concern has been 'Will there be enough feed?' Assuming all the distiller's grains are available for livestock feed, clearly there will be."

But, MacDonald says, the ratio of corn being fed versus distiller's grains could go from 11-to-1 today to 3-to-1 nationally in the next 10 years. So it will become important to find the most optimal ways to feed distiller's grains in such large quantities. Several researchers are working on this (and some projections show this could even make meat less costly in the future; on other applications of biofuel byproducts, see here).

Relatively few distiller's grains are fed in the Southern Plains states now. Some beef producers are reluctant because there's no incentive and no ready supply. However, with the opening of two ethanol plants scheduled later this year in the Panhandle, a steady supply of distiller's grains should be available, making the alternative feedstock more attractive:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

"In the future, as long as it is priced relative to corn, I think there will be a necessity to use this new large pool of feed," MacDonald said. The proportion of corn used from 2002 to 2006 hasn't changed much in the areas of human consumption, high fructose production or exports, he said.

The biggest change has been corn moving from the livestock-feed sector to the fuel-ethanol sector, MacDonald said. Livestock feed has decreased from 60 percent to 55 percent in that time period, while the ethanol fuel sector increased from 8 percent to 14 percent.

However, National Corn Growers Association forecasts show that while the percentage has decreased, the actual bushels of corn produced will continue to increase due to higher yields and acres planted, he said.

Ethanol expansion

The acres of corn harvest is expected to rise from the current 71 million to 80-85 million over the next five years, MacDonald said. Yields are projected to rise from about 150 bushels per acre to almost 180 bushels per acre in the next 10 years.

"We're not sure how big the ethanol industry is going to get, but if every plant being proposed as of now gets built, the Renewable Fuels Association says we'll be producing 12.5 billion gallons of ethanol a year from starch," he said.

In estimating feed availability for livestock, MacDonald assumed as much as 15 billion gallons of ethanol being produced annually. At that rate, 35.5 percent of all corn would be needed for ethanol. This would bring the amount of corn available for feed down from the current 60 percent to 33.5 percent, assuming the other categories remain steady.

Because yields are expected to increase, he said the decrease of actual corn fed will not be as dramatic, going from 6.1 billion bushels in 2006 to 5 billion bushels by 2017.

The beef and dairy industries are in the best position of any of the livestock industry to use distiller's grains, MacDonald said.

Based on the number of plants proposed in the Texas High Plains, he estimated feed yards will need to include 15 percent to 20 percent of distiller's grains in the diet (moisture-free basis) to use all the available supply.

The two Hereford plants, with a combined 200 million gallons of ethanol production per year, will produce 665,000 tons of distiller's grains, he said. This quantity alone would be enough to include 6 percent to 7 percent distiller's grains in the diets of the 5.75 million head of cattle fed in the Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma region.

If a proportion higher than 20 percent were included into area feed yard and dairy rations, distiller's grains will need to be railed in from the Midwest, he said.

Growth of the ethanol industry in the Corn Belt has created a greater demand for corn in that area, MacDonald said. However, they now have a large surplus distiller's grains. That could make them cheaper to rail into Texas than whole corn.

"The only thing that keeps this all in balance is our ability to utilize the distiller's grains," MacDonald said. "We still have to go through the learning curve of how to feed them."

In the tri-state area, distiller's grains would be mixed with steam-flaked corn. This is different from in the Midwest, where dry-rolled corn is fed, he said.

Several studies are under way to see how to maximize the use of distiller's grains in the feed yard situation, MacDonald said. Those results should be available later this summer.

Picture: Tons of distiller’s dried grains being held in storage at a Midwest ethanol plant. Credit: Agricultural Research Service.

Eurekalert: Researcher: Feeding distiller's grains vital to future of livestock operation success - July 6, 2007.


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