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    The government of the Indian state of Orissa announced its policy for biofuel production which includes a slew of incentives as well as measures to promote the establishment of energy plantations. The state aims to bring 600,000 hectares of barren and fallow land under Jatropha and Karanj. At least 2 million hectares degraded land are available in the State. The new policy's other objectives are to provide a platform for investors and entrepreneurs, market linkages and quality control measures. Newindpress - August 29, 2007.

    Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras said today it expects to reach large scale cellulosic ethanol production in 2015, with the first plant entering operations as early as 2011. Lignocellulosic biomass is the most abundant biological material on the planet, making up the bulk of the structure of wood and plants. In a first phase, Petrobras intends to use bagasse as a feedstock. Reuters / MacauHub- August 29, 2007.

    Seattle based Propel Biofuels, is announcing a $4.75 million first round of capital from @Ventures and Nth Power. The money will be used to help Propel set up and manage biodiesel fueling stations. BusinessWire - August 29, 2007.

    BioEnergy International, a science and technology company committed to developing biorefineries to produce fuels and specialty chemicals from renewable resources, announced today the closing of a major US$61.6 million investment that will provide funding for the Company’s three strategic initiatives: generating secure cash flow from its conventional ethanol platform, product diversification through the introduction of novel biocatalysts for the manufacture of green chemicals and biopolymers and the integration of its cellulose technology. BusinessWire - August 28, 2007.

    German company Verbio Vereinigte BioEnergie, the biggest biofuels producer in Europe, says it is considering plans to invest up to €100/US$136.5 million in a biofuel production facility in Bulgaria. The company wants the new facility to be located close to a port and Bulgaria's city of Varna on the Black Sea is one of the options under consideration. If Verbio goes through with the plan, it would produce both biodiesel and bioethanol, making Bulgaria a major source of biofuels in southeastern Europe. Verbi currently produces around 700,000 tonnes of biofuels per year. Sofia News Agency - August 27, 2007.

    Czech brown-coal-fired power plant Elektrárna Tisová (ETI), a unit of the energy producer ČEZ, could co-fire up to 40,000 tons of biomass this year, the biggest amount in the company’s history, said Martin Sobotka, ČEZ spokesman for West Bohemia. ETI burned more than 19,000 tons of biomass in the first half of 2007. The company’s plan reckoned with biomass consumption of up to 35,000 tons a year. Czech Business Weekly - August 27, 2007.

    PetroSun, Incorporated announced recently that it has formed PetroSun BioFuels Mexico to establish algae-to-biofuel operations in the State of Sonora, Mexico. PetroSun BioFuels Mexico will enter into joint venture agreements to develop algae cultivation farms and extraction plants in Sonora and southern Arizona that will produce algal oil, algae biomass products and excess electricity for the Mexican and U.S. markets. MarketWire - August 27, 2007.

    China's Yunnan Province hopes to reach an annual output of 2 million tons (approx. 417 million gallons) of fuel ethanol by 2010, according to the province's fuel ethanol industry development plan released recently by the Yunnan Economic and Trade Commission, state media report. Interfax China - August 23, 2007.

    Seven companies have teamed up to create Kazakhstan's first Biofuel Association. Its aim is to integrate interested parties for creating favorable conditions to have the country’s biofuel industry developed. An initiator and coordinator of the Association is the National Holding KazAgro, the Agriculture Ministry’s press service informs. KazInform - August 23, 2007.

    Canadian forest products company Tembec today announced that it has completed the acquisition of the assets of Chapleau Cogeneration Limited located in Chapleau, Ontario. The transaction closed on August 15 and includes a biomass fired boiler and steam turbine with an installed capacity of 7.2 megawatts. Consideration for the assets consists of a series of future annual payments to 2022, with a present value of approximately $1 million. Newswire Canada - August 22, 2007.

    Taiwan's representative to Brazil, Chou Shu-yeh, is urging Taiwan's government and private enterprises to invest in Brazil's biomass energy sector. Chou was speaking at a workshop on global investment and trade opportunities in Taipei. RTi - August 22, 2007.

    An algae-to-biofuels startup by the name of Inventure Chemical has raised about $1.5 million to continue its development of a chemical process that turns algae into biodiesel and ethanol. One of the biggest backers of the company is Imperium Renewables, a biodiesel producer. Seattle Post Intelligencer - August 22, 2007.

    The government of India's Karnataka state has approved the blending of six million litres of ethanol with diesel for use as fuel in State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) vehicles. Automotive World - August 21, 2007.

    VeraSun Energy Corporation, one of America's largest ethanol producers, announced that it closed on its acquisition with ASAlliances Biofuels, LLC for three ethanol plants with a combined annual production capacity of approximately 330 million gallons (1.25 billion liters) per year. VeraSun - August 21, 2007.

    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.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Volvo releases comprehensive analysis of seven biofuels for use in carbon-neutral trucks

The Volvo Group today released results of an extensive analysis of seven different biofuels for use in demonstration trucks that run 100% on the renewable fuel without emitting any environmentally harmful carbon dioxide. The carbon-neutral trucks were equipped with diesel engines that have been modified to operate with the following renewable liquid and gaseous fuels: biodiesel, biogas combined with biodiesel, ethanol/methanol, DME, synthetic diesel and hydrogen gas combined with biogas.

The full 'well-to-wheel' efficiency and sustainability of the alternative fuels was assessed using seven criteria and scored on a five point scale (table, click to enlarge) .

1. Impact on the climate: carbon dioxide emissions throughout the entire chain according to the well to wheel principle, which includes growing the raw material including fertilizer; harvesting the raw material; transporting it to the plant where the fuel is produced; production of the fuel; distribution to refuelling stations; the use of the fuel in vehicles. Calculations are based on fully renewable raw materials, but fossil fuels are currently used for cultivation or production. In future, it will be possible to replace fossil energy with renewable energy, however, with a lower level of efficiency as a result.
Results: five of the alternatives — synthetic diesel, dimethyl ether, methanol, biogas and hydrogen plus biogas — reduce the impact on the climate by more than 90%. In the case of methanol, gasification of black liquor is required in order to get the highest rating. For biogas and hydrogen gas combined with biogas, gasification of biomass is required in order to receive the highest rating. A lower rating applies if the biogas is produced through anaerobic digestion of household waste. Results for ethanol vary between 0 and 75 percent reduction depending on the production method. Biodiesel had the lowest ranking after ethanol.

2. Energy efficiency: was rated on a falling scale and is expressed in percent. The percentage indicates the amount of energy that reaches the vehicle’s driven wheels. By way of comparison, it can also be mentioned that with the fossil diesel fuel used today, we achieve approximately a 35 percent total level of efficiency. This relatively high level of efficiency is reached because raw oil can be considered to be a “semi-finished product” and the production of diesel is thereby very energy-efficient. The results may vary for the same fuel, depending on the production process used.
Results: DME and methanol receive the highest rating, on the condition that they are produced from black liquor from the wood pulp industry. The highest rating for synthetic diesel also requires the gasification of black liquor. The rating for biogas, biogas+biodiesel and hydrogen gas+biogas apply to production with gasification and anaerobic digestion. The production of biogas via gasification of black liquor is not included in the summary. The low rating for ethanol is due to the high energy consumption for cultivation and fuel production.

3. Land use efficiency: the yield per hectare for each crop has been calculated using information about average yields from good quality land. The rating scale indicates how far a heavy truck can travel per year and hectare. Growing conditions apply to Swedish conditions. Cultivation in other places leads to different results but the relationships are more or less the same. The researchers reduced the amount of fuel produced by the amount of fuel/energy required for harvesting, production, transport, etc. The results may vary for the same fuel, depending on the production process used.
Results: DME and methanol, combined with black liquor gasification get the highest rating. These fuels have high harvest yields, require little use of fossil fuels, and have high energy efficiency. Synthetic diesel has high harvest yields, requires little use of fossil fuels, but has lower energy efficiency and limited selectivity in production. Ethanol gets a low rating due to limited energy efficiency and in certain cases the need for a great deal of fossil energy. Biodiesel gets the lowest rating due to low average harvest yields and the use of a great deal of fossil energy. Biogas production via gasification of black liquor is not included in the summary. Biogas from anaerobic digestion scored high.

4. Fuel potential: the availability of raw material and the choice ofproduction process determine the amount of fuel that can be produced. Certain processes can use many different feedstocks and complete crops. Others are limited to parts of the contents of individual crops. A general problem with feedstocks from agricultural products is that they compete with food production. According to a study conducted by EUCAR/CONCAWE/JRC, the potential availability of waste wood, farmed wood, and straw in the EU in 2012 is approximately 700 TWh (Terawatt hours) per year while the potential for sunflower oil and rapeseed oil is estimated at approximately 80 TWh per year. The amount of fossil fuel that can be replaced by biomass varies depending on the level of efficiency in the fuel’s production process and in its final use. Biomass potential in the EU in 2012 is not adequate to replace fossil fuels. The import of biomass from better areas from a cultivation perspective may solve this problem:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Results: 350 to 420 TWh are equivalent to approximately 10-12% of the expected demand for petrol and diesel in the EU in 2015. DME, methanol, biogas, biogas+biodiesel and hydrogen gas+biogas get the highest rating. Synthetic diesel, DME, methanol, and biogas can all be produced from entire crops, wood feedstocks, or other biological material. However, synthetic diesel has a lower level of efficiency and provides a lower proportion of fuel that can be used in vehicles. With respect to biogas, waste material and sewage can be used in production. Ethanol can be produced from a number of feedstocks, including waste wood or other biological materials that contain cellulose, although the level of efficiency is relatively low. Biodiesel, which has received the lowest rating, is produced from vegetable oils such as rapeseed oil and sunflower oil. Availability is limited since rapeseed can only be grown on the same land every fourth year or every sixth year. Furthermore, only the oil in the seeds can be utilised for fuel.

5. Vehicle adaptation: a collective assessment was provided, explaining how technically complicated it is to adapt vehicles to the new fuels. This criterion also includes the fuel’s effect on the vehicle’s efficiency in different ways, such as maximal engine performance, weight increase, and range between refuelling. The last parameter mentioned can, for example, affect the vehicle’s load capacity. The technical complexity includes factors that require increased space for the fuel and the need for new and more expensive components. It also encompasses the need for technology to meet future emissions requirements. For example, certain fuels require more advanced emission controls than others.
Results : biodiesel and synthetic diesel get the highest rating. Vehicles that are run on these fuels are essentially comparable to conventional diesel vehicles. However, biodiesel requires increased service and has higher nitric oxide emissions. The lower energy content in DME results in a 50-percent reduction in range but it is still possible to use the fuel for long-haul transport. DME requires a unique and advanced fuel system, but also offers savings in terms of costs and weight with regard to exhaust noise damping and treatment of exhaust gases. Ethanol’s lower energy content results in a 30-percent shorter range per tank of fuel. Biogas+biodiesel offers maximal engine performance, but range is reduced by half if the gas is in liquid form. This also requires two separate fuel systems. Biogas and hydrogen gas+biogas require an Otto engine, which limits power output. The compressed gas has a low energy density, which limits range to approximately 20 percent. A complex tank system results in higher costs and increased weight.

6. Fuel costs: the assessment includes the costs of raw materials, fixed and variable costs in the production plants, and costs for transport, infrastructure, and energy consumption in the chain of distribution. Generally speaking, it is difficult to calculate future costs due to fluctuations in the price of raw materials and rapid technological development. Production costs for the fuel often comprise only a small part of the price to the end-user due to taxes, etc. The researchers compared costs here with conventional diesel fuel, exclusive of taxes, at a raw oil price of USD 70 a barrel. The comparison was made per litre of diesel equivalent. In other words, more than a litre of certain fuels is needed to get the same energy content as a litre of diesel. The results may vary for the same fuel, depending on the feedstock used.
Results: DME and methanol get the highest rating. When produced from black liquor, they are already competitive today in terms of costs. Production via gasification of forest products or farmed wood is more expensive. The cost of biodiesel is some 60 percent higher than for conventional diesel. With respect to biogas and hydrogen gas+biogas, the biogas based on waste materials leads to the most favourable results, primarily due to low feedstock costs. For biogas+biodiesel, biogas in liquid form is approximately 25 percent more expensive than compressed biogas. Biogas production through gasification of black liquor is not included in the summary. Synthetic diesel is the most expensive fuel because of high investment costs and the relatively low energy efficiency in production. Ethanol is generally expensive to produce. Production from forest products is the most expensive process.

7. Fuel infrastructure: the infrastructure is often considered to be the greatest challenge for an alternative fuel. It is an important criterion in terms of how quickly and easily a new fuel can be introduced and integrated into the existing infrastructure. However, it should be kept in mind that the infrastructure for conventional fuels also requires major investments. In the long term, the infrastructure is a secondary issue. This criterion also takes into account the safety and environmental aspects of handling the fuel in the infrastructure.
Ratings: synthetic diesel gets the highest rating. Synthetic diesel can easily be mixed with traditional diesel without jeopardising established standards and specifications. Biodiesel requires certain measures due to its lower storage stability. Methanol and ethanol require corrosion-resistant material, increased fire protection measures, and a separate infrastructure if they are used as pure fuel. Methanol should be handled in completely closed systems due to a high health risk. DME is a gas at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. In a vehicle, it is a liquid fuel at a pressure of 5 bar. The infrastructure for DME is similar to the one that has been established for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). DME is heavier than air and can accumulate in the event of leakage, resulting in a fire hazard. Biogas is handled at high pressure (200 bar) and requires the same infrastructure as the current system for natural gas. The infrastructure for hydrogen gas is the most expensive and complicated one since hydrogen gas requires even higher pressure than biogas.

The seven Volvo FM trucks were equipped with Volvo’s own 9-liter engines that have been specially modified by the group’s engineers to illustrate the possibilities of carbon-dioxide-free transport:
The diesel engine is an extremely efficient energy converter that is perfectly suited to many different renewable fuels, liquid or gaseous. With our know-how in engine technology and our large volumes, we can manufacture engines for several different renewable fuels, and also create possibilities for carbon-dioxide-free transports in such other product areas as buses, construction equipment and boats. - Jan-Eric Sundgren, member of Volvo Group Management and Senior Vice President, Public and Environmental Affairs
Climate change, transport and responsibility
According to the widely publicized Stern report, approximately 14 percent of total global carbon-dioxide emissions will come from the transport sector, with road transport accounting for a total of 10 percent. However, there is no information on the percentage of these emission levels that in turn originate from cargo transport. A calculation based on European conditions and statistics, whereby passenger cars represent 60% of carbon-dioxide emissions and cargo transport for the remaining 40%, indicates that cargo transport will account for about 4-5% of total global carbon-dioxide emissions.

As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of heavy trucks, diesel engines and buses, the Volvo Group is part of the climate problem, says Leif Johansson, CEO of Volvo. But environmental issues are one of the areas which we have assigned the very highest priority, and based on our resources and knowledge, we both can and will be part of the solution.The seven trucks exhibited in Stockholm can be operated on the same number of different renewable fuels and/or combinations of fuels. Since all of these fuels are produced from renewable raw materials, they provide no carbon-dioxide contributions to the ecosystem when combusted and, accordingly, do not impact the environment.
With these vehicles, we have shown that Volvo is ready, that we possess the technology and the resources for carbon-dioxide-free transport, but we cannot do this alone. We also require large-scale production of renewable fuels and putting such production in operation requires extensive investments in research and development, and also well-defined, common guidelines from authorities in as many countries as possible. - Leif Johansson, CEO of the Volvo Group
Promising results from gasification
Despite the current shortage of both biomass for the production of renewable fuels, and finished fuels, the Volvo Group does not view carbon-dioxide-free transport as a utopian idea. One of the reasons for this is the second generation of renewable fuels that are produced through gasification and that generate both large volumes and a greater number of fuels to choose between.

“Gasification is a promising line that may lead to a significantly larger substitution than today’s technology,” says Leif Johansson. “Our own history has taught us that much of what we once thought impossible we have since been able to solve a few years later. This can be applied to such important areas as energy efficiency and exhaust emission control. I am an optimist and believe in a similar trend in carbon-dioxide-free transport.”


Volvo renewable fuels.

Collective overview of the ratings for seven biofuels.


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