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    Fujitsu develops a biodegradable laptop chassis from corn-starch bioplastic. The material reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 15% compared to a chassis made from petroleum-based plastics. CNET Asia - August 20, 2007.

    India's Rana Sugars Ltd has decided to set up a new plant for producing ethanol in Uttar Pradesh with an estimated investment of €9 to 10.9 (US$12.2 to 14.7). The facility will have a capacity of 180,000 liters per year and will generate, besides ethanol, 26MW of carbon-neutral power from bagasse. Economic Times India - August 20, 2007.

    Prominent pro-democracy activists staged a rare protest in Myanmar's biggest city Sunday, marching against a massive recent fuel price hike. "We are staging this performance to reflect the hardship our people are facing due to the government's fuel price hike," said Min Ko Naing, a leader of the 88 Generation Students' Group. Myanmar's ruling military junta imposed a surprise 100 percent hike on fuel at state-owned gas stations on Wednesday. The move was followed by increases in bus fares and commodity prices. The Star - August 19, 2007.

    Canada's Cavendish Farms, one of the country's largest food processing companies is to build a biogas plant to recycle spent cooking oils, starch and sludge from its waste-water plant to fuel its potato processing operation. Use of the carbon-neutral biofuel will limit the amount of bunker C fuel oil currently in use by the company. The plant, expected to be ready for operation by next fall, has received a $14-million loan from the Province of Prince Edward Island. CBC - August 18, 2007.

    Basin Electric Power Cooperative told a U.S. Senate Energy Appropriations subcommittee that it is looking into capturing carbon dioxide from its Antelope Valley Station and sell it for enhanced oil recovery in the Williston Basin. Carbon capture technologies have not yet been applied to a power plant that uses lignite, or even subbitumious coal. The trial would be the first one to do so in the Midwest. Bismarck Tribune - August 17, 2007.

    The BBC World Service's current 'One Planet' programme focuses on revolutionary technologies and research that uses a next-generation of GM crops as factories for the production of new pharmaceuticals, green products and alternatives to petroleum-based chemicals. One Planet - August 16, 2007.

    Germany's Biogas Nord has been commissioned to construct a large multi-feed biogas plant with a capacity of 2.8 MW of electrical power in Romania. The value of the order is approximately €3.5 million. The plant will be built in the Transylvanian region close to the county town of Oradea. Interestingly, a synergy will be created by coupling the facility to the construction of a biodiesel plant. In so doing, the waste products resulting from the production of biodiesel, such as rapeseed pellets and glycerin, will be brought to the biogas plant as substrates. Ad-Hoc News - August 16, 2007.

    The University of Western Ontario's Research Park at Sarnia has received $10-million in funding for the development of biofuel technologies. The funds will be used for the creation of the 'Ontario Bioindustrial Innovation Centre' at the University, including the addition of a commercialization centre with incubator suites, laboratory equipment, pilot plant space and space for startup companies. The Observer - August 16, 2007.

    Philippine Bio-Sciences Co., Inc. (PhilBio) and its Clean Development Mechanism subsidiary in Cebu, has told the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) that it will soon open a 10 megawatt biogas plant in Cebu. According to the company, under current conditions electricity generated from biogas is around 20% less costly than that generated from fossil fuels. Philippine Bio-Sciences - August 15, 2007.

    Scientists, economists and policy experts representing government and public institutions from more than 40 countries will exchange the latest information on economic and technology opportunities at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Global Conference on Agricultural Biofuels: Research and Economics", to be held Aug. 20-21 in Minneapolis. USDA ARS - August 14, 2007.

    A company owned by the Chinese government has expressed interest in investing up to 500 million US dollars in a biofuel project in Indonesia. The company is planning to use jatropha as its raw material and is targeting an annual output of around 1 million tons. Forbes - August 13, 2007.

    Virgin Atlantic, Boeing and General Electric are within weeks of selecting the biofuel for a flight demonstration in the UK early next year. The conversion of biomass via the Fischer-Tropsch process is no longer amongst the biofuel candidates, because the process has already been demonstrated to work. Ground testing of the chosen fuel in a development engine at GE is expected to begin in October-November. The limited flight-test programme will involve burning biofuel in one GE CF6-80C2 engine on a Virgin Boeing 747-400. Flight Global - August 13, 2007.

    Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said Saturday it plans to introduce a new preferential tax system in fiscal 2008 aimed at promoting a wider use of biofuel, which could help curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Under the envisaged plan, biofuel that has been mixed with gasoline will be exempt from the gasoline tax--currently 53.8 yen per liter--in proportion to the amount of biofuel included. If blended with diesel oil, biofuel will be free from the diesel oil delivery tax, currently 32.1 yen per liter. Daily Yomiuri - August 13, 2007.

    Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said Saturday it plans to introduce a new preferential tax system in fiscal 2008 aimed at promoting a wider use of biofuel, which could help curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Under the envisaged plan, biofuel that has been mixed with gasoline will be exempt from the gasoline tax--currently 53.8 yen per liter--in proportion to the amount of biofuel included. If blended with diesel oil, biofuel will be free from the diesel oil delivery tax, currently 32.1 yen per liter. Daily Yomiuri - August 13, 2007.

    Buenos Aires based ABATEC SA announces the release of a line of small biodiesel plants with modular design, high temperature reaction for the best yield, to produce from 50 to 1000 gal/day (190 to 3785 liter/day) of high quality methylester and valuable glycerol. PRWeb - August 10, 2007.

    Vegetable growers in North Queensland are trying to solve the problem of disposing of polyethylene plastic mulch by using a biodegradable, bioplastic based alternative. Trials are a collaboration of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries with the Bowen District Growers Association. Queensland Country Life - August 8, 2007.

    Hawaii's predominant utility has won approval to build the state's first commercial biofuel plant. It is the first substantial new power generator that Hawaiian Electric Co. has added in 17 years. HECO will build the $142.3 million facility at Campbell Industrial Park on Oahu beginning early next year, and expects to begin commercial operation in mid-2009. It will run exclusively on fuels made from ethanol or biodiesel. Star Bulletin (Honolulu) - August 8, 2007.

    PetroSun Inc. announced today that it conducted its initial algae-to-biofuel program held at Auburn and Opelika, Alabama. The company intends to hold a series of these programs during August and September with biodiesel refiners and firms that are researching the use of algal oil as a potential feedstock for jet fuel production. MarketWire - August 8, 2007.

    To encourage Malaysia's private sector to generate energy from biomass resources, national electricity company Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) has increased the purchase price of electricity produced from palm oil biomass waste to 21 sen per kilowatt hour from 19 sen now. According to Minister of Enegry, Water and Communications, Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik the new price structure, under the Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreement (REPPA), will be implemented immediately. Such projects are eligible for the Clean Development Mechanism. Under the 9th Malaysian Plan, the country's government aims to achieve the installation of 300MW and 50MW of grid-connected electric power from renewable energy sources in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, respectively. Bernama - August 7, 2007.

    Aspectrics, which develops encoded photometric infrared and near infrared spectroscopy, will be launching a new range of biofuels analyzers designed to meet the demands of scientists and analysts to carry out biodiesel quality control and analyze biodiesel blend percentages in real time. Bioresearch Online - August 7, 2007.

    Irish start-up Eirzyme has secured a €10m investment from Canadian company Micromill System. The new company will produce low-cost enzymes to convert biological materials such as brewers' grains into bioethanol and biogas. RTE - August 6, 2007.

    Imperium Renewables says it has a deal to provide Royal Caribbean Cruises with biodiesel. The Seattle-based biodiesel maker, which is scheduled to inaugurate its Grays Harbor plant this month, will sell the cruise line 15 million gallons of biodiesel in 2007 and 18 million gallons annually for four years after that. The Miami-based cruise line has four vessels that call in Seattle. It is believed to be the single-largest long-term biodiesel sales contract to an end user in the U.S. Seattle Times - August 5, 2007.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Community based biodiesel production in Ghana brings power, drinking water and transport fuels

An excellent example of the many advantages of local, decentralised biofuel production comes from a small village in Ghana. There, Dumpong Biofuels, in collaboration with the Dumpong Pineapple Growers Cooperative, has begun producing biodiesel from locally sourced and abundant palm kernel oil. Dumpong Biofuels is an NGO based in the country's Eastern Region, aiming to develop and support small scale, community-based biofuel production to replace ever more costly petroleum fuels. The fuel is used to generate electricity, to pump and purify water, and to power farm equipment and the farm's trucks.

Last month a team from the United States traveled to Dumpong, a small village near Aburi, to work with the cooperative to build a small processor to convert locally grown and extracted palm kernel oil into biodiesel. The production costs of the biodiesel are approximately 25% less than the current price for diesel fuel.

By working with community based palm oil processors and with local labor the project brings additional income and quality of life improvements to the nearby villages (slideshow).

Transport fuels and electricity are important for local development, but both resources are scarce and expensive. Local biofuel production allows the community to overcome two problems: the cost of imported petroleum fuels, and their irregular supplies. For the first time, villagers can pump water from a well and purify it, instead of gathering it from dirty streams (slideshow). The biodiesel powered pump saves women (and children) time and the clean water reduces the risk of disease. A local entrepreneur uses electricity from a biodiesel powered generator to package potable water in plastic sachets (photo, click to enlarge), a product he sells on the market (slideshow).

Jerry Robock, team leader from the U.S. who helped the cooperative, says the biodiesel is obtained by very basic equipment via transesterification. Glycerine is a byproduct from the process that can be utilized locally to make soap. The pilot project cost between US$ 600 and 1000 and can be replicated in many other rural communities and similar villages.

The small biodiesel processor was built on the farm of Frank Aidoo, president of the Dumpong Pineapple Growers. The processor comprises two 200 liter steel drums welded together with an electric heating element screwed through one opening. Additional piping and a small electric pump were added to pump palm kernel oil and a solution of methanol with potassium hydroxide into the processor, then circulate the mixture and finally pump the biodiesel into a washing tank:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The processor was built over two days and production began immediately. Over the next three days 550 liters of golden biodiesel was produced which has already been used to power a generator and to fuel the farm’s vehicles.

After the palm oil is processed into biodiesel it is washed to remove any impurities or unconverted reagents. It is then ready to be used as a substitute for diesel fuel. Due to the solvency quality of biodiesel it must initially be blended with diesel fuel as it works to clean the fuel system of the vehicle. Fuel filters will need to be changed at the start but biodiesel will actually clean the fuel system to make the vehicle perform more efficiently. Biodiesel can be mixed with diesel fuel in any proportion and there is no modification to the engine to use this fuel.

Some biodiesel will be used to power a generator that currently pumps water for a small sachet water (bottling) plant that provides clean drinking water. Frank plans to use this new fuel source to allow him to pump water to a storage tank in the nearby village to eliminate the current practice of sourcing water from a nearby stream.

The palm kernel oil is sourced from a neighboring village where palm kernel nuts are cracked to extract the palm nut. The palm nut is then crushed and boiled over a fire of palm kernel husks to separate the palm oil, which is then gathered and stored. The palm oil used for biodiesel is not further refined.

Dumpong Biofuels strategy is to take advantage of locally available oilseed crops, to included jatropha and sunflower seed, to convert into an environmentally renewable and sustainable fuel to be used locally to replace imported and dirty diesel fuel.

Images courtesy of Dumpong Biofuels.

Dumpong Biofuels homepage.

Dumpong biofuels: original project proposal [*.pdf].

Dumpong Biofuels: photo galleries.


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