<body> --------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home » Archive »
Nature Blog Network

    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.

    The J. Craig Venter Institute, leading the synthetic biology revolution, is expanding its Bio-Energy Program, seeking a senior scientist to head the new dedicated department. With ongoing research in biohydrogen, cellulosic ethanol, microbial fuel cells, and bacterial nanowires, the Environmental Genomics and Plant Genomics groups within JCVI are working on active components related to bio-energy. NatureJobs - August 5, 2007.

    Polish power and heat firm Praterm has decided to invest 50 to 100 mln zloty (€13.2-26.4 /US$18.1-36.4 mln) by 2013 in biomass production. The company has already bought Bio-Energia, an operator of four biomass heating plants with a total capacity of 14 MW. Wirtualna Polska - August 5, 2007.

    Brazil and Mexico will sign a cooperation agreement to collaborate on the production of ethanol from sugarcane, Gonzalo Mourão of the Brazilian chancellory's Departamento do México, América Central e Caribe said. Brazil's President Lula is on a tour of Central America and is currently in Mexico, after which he will visit Honduras, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Panama. He is set to sign several bilateral agreements on energy and biofuels with these countries. Reuters Brasil - August 4, 2007.

    Evergreen Pulp Inc. announced that it and Diversified Energy Corp. have been selected by the state of California for a $500,000, 36-month renewable energy project that aims to dramatically reduce natural-gas-use residue and natural gas at its Samoa mill. The Public Interest Energy Research Natural Gas Program, a part of the California Energy Commission, awarded four contracts for research, development and demonstration of technologies to replace natural gas with renewable resources, to four applicants from among a pool of 25. The state’s focus for the contracts was for biomass-to-gas and/or hybrid projects specifically addressing industrial and commercial process heating or combined heat and power needs. Eureka Reporter - August 4, 2007.

    Greenline Industries, which designs and builds biodiesel production facilities, and ULEROM, one of Romania's largest agri-business corporations, today announced the formal opening of their largest facility in Vaslui, Romania. The plant will produce some 26.5 million liters (7 mio gallons) per year. The Romanian facility is the 17th example of Greenline's technology featuring waterless wash, computerized, continuous flow and modular construction. PRNewswire - August 1, 2007.

    US Renewables Holdings announced today that it has successfully closed on $475 million of third party capital commitments in its most recent private equity fund, USRG Power & Biofuels Fund II, LP and related vehicles (collectively, "Fund II"), ahead of the fund's original target of $250 million. PRNewswire - August 1, 2007.

    Malaysian palm oil company Kim Loong Resources Bhd has secured European energy trading group Vitol as buyer for all its carbon credits from its planned biogas plant in Kota Tinggi. The biogas facility generates methane from palm oil mill effluent, a waste product. The project is expected to generate over RM2 million (€423,000/US$579,000) of earnings annually. The methane capture and power generation project was registered and approved by the Clean Development Mechanism. The Edge Daily - July 31, 2007.

    GreenHunter Energy, Inc. announces that its wholly-owned subsidiary, GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., located in Houston, Texas has successfully acquired Air Emission Permits from TCEQ (Texas Commission of Environmental Quality) under TCEQ's Permit by Rule (PBR) programs. These permits open the way for construction of a 105 million gallon per year (mgy) biodiesel facility including a separate but related methanol distillation facility. PRNewswire - July 30, 2007.

    Together with Chemical & Engineering News' Stephen K. Ritter, the journal Environmental Science & Technology sent Erika D. Engelhaupt to Brazil from where she wrote daily dispatches of news and observations about biofuels research. In particular she focuses on a bioenerrgy research partnership between the American Chemical Society, the Brazilian Chemical Society, and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA). Check out her blog. Dipatches from Brazil - July 28, 2007.

    Consultation is under way on a £50 million (€74/US$101million) renewable energy plant planned for the South Wales Valleys. Anglo-Dutch company Express Power plans to build a wood-fuelled biomass plant on Rassau Industrial Estate in Blaenau Gwent. The plant will generate an annual 160,000 MWh (Mega Watt hours) of green electricity for Wales from forestry, recycled wood and wood derivatives. ICWales - July 27, 2007.

    The price of New York crude leapt to 77.24 dollar a barrel on Thursday, marking the highest level since August 9, 2006, as keen global demand and tight supplies fuelled speculative buying, traders said. On Wednesday, the US government had revealed that inventories of American crude fell by 1.1 million barrels last week. France24 - July 26, 2007.

    Arriva, one of Europe's largest transport groups is trialling B20 biodiesel for the first time on 75 of its buses. The company is aiming to reduce total carbon emissions by around 14 per cent by using biodiesel as a 20 per cent blend (predominantly be a mixture of sustainable soya products, along with used cooking oil and tallow). The 75 buses in the innovative trial will carry around 130,000 passengers every week. Minimal engineering changes will be required to the fleet as part of the scheme. Arriva - July 26, 2007.

    Marathon Oil Corporation announces that it has completed two more projects adding biodiesel blended fuel at its Robinson and Champaign terminals in Illinois. The terminals now feature in-line ratio blending in order to provide soy-based B-2 (two percent biodiesel) and B-11 (eleven percent biodiesel). Marathon Oil - July 25, 2007.

    Norway-based renewable energy firm Global Green One has agreed to set up a € 101.6 million bioethanol plant in Békéscsaba (southeast Hungary), with more facilities planned for Kalocsa, Szombathely and Kõszeg, the latter of which was already a target for a €25 million plant in May this year. The Békéscsaba plant would process 200,000 tonnes of maize per year, employing around 100 people. The logistics part of the facility would also create 100 jobs. The company expects the factory to generate €65 million in revenues each year. Portfolio - July 25, 2007.

Creative Commons License

Friday, August 10, 2007

Steps to biorefining: new products from biofuel leftovers

The vision behind the emerging bioeconomy is the creation of integrated biorefineries that turn any given stream of biomass into an optimal range of finished products, green platform chemicals and specialty chemical compounds. The goal is to make the processing steps as efficient as possible, and to have them 'cascading' so that one bioconversion step's 'waste' stream becomes an input for a next step. Ultimately, biofuels will be just one of the many renewable, low-carbon products and compounds manufactured in the biorefinery.

Many researchers are pursuing on this concept, and the most common approach is to utilize currently available byproducts from biofuels - distillers’ dry grain from corn ethanol, lignin from cellulosic ethanol or glycerin from biodiesel - as a starting point for research. But some sciensists are going further already, and are adapting the biofuel production process itself in such a way that it may yield more interesting co-products (overview of some potential biobased products, schematic, click to enlarge). This is the way forward to genuine biorefining.

Here are some of the latest developments.

Using current byproducts
Several scientists are working with glycerol (glycerin), the main byproduct of biodiesel. Each batch of vegetable oil yields around 9 parts of biodiesel and 1 part of glycerol - currently in over-supply. Low-value uses are burning the glycerol as an energy source, using it as a substrate for the production of biogas (previous post), or as an animal feed (for poultry and cattle). The goal is to find products with a higher value.
  • Ronald Holser, research chemist at the United States Department of Agriculture’s research center in Athens, Ga., and Steven F. Vaughn, a plant physiologist, at the department’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill., are instead using the product to create biodegradable weed barriers and sticky films intended to hold grass seeds on the ground long enough to germinate.
  • Peggy M. Tomasula and her colleagues at the Agricultural Research Service's Eastern Regional Research Center's Dairy Processing and Products Research Unit in Wyndmoor found that combining the milk protein casein with water and glycerol, produces a water-resistant biodegredable film that can be used as an edible coating for food products (previous post).
  • Ramon Gonzalez, William Akers Assistant Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and team recently identified metabolic processes and conditions that allow a known strain of the E. coli bacterium to ferment glycerin into ethanol under anaerobic conditions. The process is highly efficient, with the scientists estimating the operational costs to be about 40 percent less than those of producing ethanol from corn (more here).
  • Dow Chemical Company recently reached a significant milestone in its pursuit of plant-based chemistries, with the development of propylene glycol (PG) derived biodiesel's glycerin. PG will be used in such applications as unsaturated polyester resins (UPR) for boat hulls and bathroom fixtures as well as aircraft deicers, antifreeze for automobiles, recreational vehicles and marine and heavy-duty laundry detergents (more here).
Another currently available biofuel byproduct is distillers’ dry grain (DDG) — a main byproduct of corn ethanol that is largely sold as animal feed (previous post) or alternatively used as an organic fertilizer and herbicide (more here). Several researchers think DDG can be used for a range of more valuable products.
  • Robert C. Brown, a lab researcher in Iowa, is using it to produce hydrogen and a compound called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). The PHA family of compounds is used for the production of biodegradable plastics. For PHA bioplastics to become competitive, they must be produced from a cheap and abundant feedstock - DDG is one such feedstock.
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
  • Working with DDG as well is Steven F. Vaughn, of the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research. He is looking at making a methylester biofuel from it. DDG contains more than 10 percent oil, and one ton of it can yield 30 gallons (113 liters) of the fuel.
New bioconversion techniques, new bioproducts
Ultimately, in the biorefineries of the future, traditional biofuel production techniques are up for redesign. They will be finetuned or if necessary radically altered in function of finding the most optimal mix between fuel production and the creation of green products. Two examples of this type of developments, that come closest to genuine biorefining:
  • Colorado-based PureVision Technology is making lignin, the natural compound that helps provide strength and rigidity in plants, lignin makes up 15 to 25 percent of most plants. Most plans for cellulosic ethanol processing call for burning the lignin to generate steam and heat to run the process. As a fuel, lignin is worth around $40 a ton. PureVision' Ed Lehrburger has devised a way to make a different form of lignin — one with a molecular composition that makes it an attractive material for a variety of green industrial products like glues, sealants and detergents. This type of lignin could sell for $300 a ton or more. According to the scientist, lignin is going to be one of the big drivers of the switch from oil-based to biobased products.
  • Dr. Victor Lin, chemistry professor and the associate director of the Center for Catalysis at Iowa State University and founder of Catilin, and George Kraus, a professor of chemistry at Iowa State, where he is director of the Center for Catalysis, have created a technology that changes the production process for biodiesel. Among other attributes, Lin’s invention yields a higher quality form of glycerol, which could be more easily converted into useful industrial materials. The new production process utilizes a catalyst that is safer and easier to use and reduces impacts on the environment. Lin and his colleagues are trying to use the higher-quality glycerol from their new process as a starting point for the production of 1,3 propanediol (PDO) the base material for a substance used in upholstery, carpets, clothing and other applications. If Lin succeeds, glycerol could become 15 times more valuable than current projected prices.
Image: PureVision’s chief executive Ed Lehrburger, showing his new form of ligning, which he thinks could sell for $300 a ton. Credit: New York Times.

New York Times: Cooking Up More Uses for the Leftovers of Biofuel Production - August 8, 2007.

Biopact: An in-depth look at biorefinery concepts - July 10, 2007


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home