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    The government of British Columbia launches a $100,000 study into the production of biogas, heat, power and clean water from household waste streams. Raw sewage water can be cleaned by microbial fuel cells that deliver electricity as they clean the water; other technologies include classic anaerobic fermentation. Canada.com - September 10, 2007.

    Saudi Aramco in its Annual Review 2006 said that last year the company's crude oil production declined by 1.7 percent, while exports declined by 3.1 percent, compared with the previous year. Crude oil production in 2006 averaged 8.9 million barrels of oil a day (b/d) and exports 6.9 million b/d. Saudi Aramco - September 9, 2007.

    Chinese packaging manufacturer Livan Biodegradable Product Co. Ltd. will build plants in Alsozsolca and Edeleny in eastern Hungary at a combined cost of €18 million by 2009, the Hungarian economics ministry says. The plants, which will employ 800 people, are planned to produce initially 50, 000 metric tons a year of environmentally-friendly packaging material, and double that amount by a later date. Livan will use corn to manufacture biodegradable packaging boxes with similar properties to petroleum-based plastic boxes used in the food industry. Dow Jones Newswires - September 7, 2007.

    South Korea aims to raise biodiesel content in domestic diesel to 3 percent from the current 0.5 percent by 2012, Seoul's energy ministry said today. The government was initially set last year to impose a mandatory 5 percent blend, in line with the level targeted by the European Union by 2010, but the country's powerful refining lobby opposed the move, forcing it to push back the target, according to market sources. Reuters - September 7, 2007.

    Virent Energy Systems, Inc. announced today that it has closed a US$21 million second round of venture financing. Investor interest in Virent was driven in large part by the Company’s continued development of its innovative BioForming process beyond its traditional hydrogen and fuel gas applications and toward the production of bio-based gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels. Virent Energy Systems - September 6, 2007.

    The U.S. National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) announces that 31 models of motor vehicles will be offered in the U.S. with an E85 capable engine in 2008. Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Mercedes Benz will all offer flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) in the coming year. The NEVC expects 750,000 such FFVs will be produced in 2008. National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition - September 5, 2007.

    GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., has begun commercial operations with the start-up of a 1,500 barrel per day methanol distillation system. Methanol is an alcohol used to transesterify vegetable oils into biodiesel. The methanol production facility is a key element of GreenHunter's 105 million gallon per year biodiesel refinery, the largest in the U.S., slated for initial operations during the first quarter of 2008. PRNewswire - September 5, 2007.

    GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., has begun commercial operations with the start-up of a 1,500 barrel per day methanol distillation system. Methanol is an alcohol used to transesterify vegetable oils into biodiesel. The methanol production facility is a key element of GreenHunter's 105 million gallon per year biodiesel refinery, the largest in the U.S., slated for initial operations during the first quarter of 2008. PRNewswire - September 5, 2007.

    Spanish renewables group Abengoa released its results for the first half of 2007 financial year in which its consolidated sales were €1,393.6 million, which is a 27.9 percent increase on the previous year. Earnings after tax were €54.9 million, an 18.6 percent increase on the previous year's figure of 46.3 million euro. Abengoa is active in the bioenergy, solar and environmental services sector. Abengoa - September 4, 2007.

    Canadian hydro power developer Run of River Power Inc. has reached an agreement to buy privately owned Western Biomass Power Corp. in a $2.2 million share swap deal that could help finance development of new green sources of electricity in British Columbia. The Canadian Press - September 4, 2007.

    As of Sept. 1, a biodiesel blending mandate has come into force in the Czech Republic, requiring diesel suppliers to mix 2 per cent biodiesel into the fuel. The same rule will be obligatory for gasoline starting next year. In 2009 the biofuel ratio will grow to 3.5 percent in gasoline and 4.5 percent in diesel oil. CBW - September 3, 2007.

    Budapest's first biofuel station opens on Monday near the Pesterzsébet (District XX) Tesco hypermarket. This is the third station selling the E85 fuel containing bioethanol in Hungary, as two other stations are encouraging eco-friendly driving in Bábolna and Győr. Caboodle - September 3, 2007.

    Canadian forest products company Tembec announced that it has completed the acquisition of the assets of Chapleau Cogeneration Limited located in Chapleau, Ontario. The transaction 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. Tembec - September 1, 2007.

    Innovative internet and cable/satellite channel CurrentTV is producing a documentary on Brazil's biofuel revolution. Biopact collegues and friends Marcelo Coelho (EthanolBrasil Blog), Henrique Oliveira (Ethablog) and Marcelo Alioti (E-Machine) provided consulting on the technical, economic, environmental and social aspects of Brazil's energy transformation. ProCana - August 31, 2007.

    Oil major BP Plc and Associated British Foods Plc won competition clearance from the European Commission on to build a plant to make transport fuel from wheat in Hull, northeast England. U.S. chemical company DuPont is also involved. Reuters UK - August 31, 2007.

    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.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Finaxo Environnement reports successful trial of experimental pyrogasification of biomass

Finaxo Environnement, a French bioenergy and water treatment developer, announces that tests carried out over six months on the experimental pyrogasification unit at the CVG Carbohydrate Utilization Centre in Amiens (France) have confirmed the efficiency of its patented technology on sugar beet molasses distillery slops (DS), with results 5% better than forecast.

Work on the experimental pyrogasification unit is part of the Pyrobio Energy+ project [*.pdf/French] run jointly by Finaxo Environnement, Téréos (an agro-industrial giant) and CVG (Centre de valorisation des glucides et produits naturels) at the Industry & AgroRessources science park operated by the Picardie and Champagne-Ardenne regional governments.

Pyrogasification involves ultra-fast transfer of heat (600 to 900°C) to the heart of the material, in the absence of oxygen, to burn organic matter and extract gas as a utilizable bioenergy source. Fertilizer rich in potassium and trace elements is produced as a valuable byproduct.

Finaxo Environnement's experimental reactor (schematic, click to enlarge) shows several key innovations:
  • a patented process relying on the utilisation of beds of small preheated iron balls to which the feedstock is introduced, which offers an increased thermal transfer (shown in bright yellow in the schematic)
  • fast pyrolysis (contrary to more common slow pyrolysis processes), which results in the production of a combustible gas with an energy potential closer to that of the raw material; reduction of energy losses
  • residual coke is burned to boost the amount of energy needed to drive the pyrolysis reaction, while at the same time preheating the pyrolysis gas which reduces the condensable fraction
  • the mineralisation of the organic material is close to complete
The plants under design show a high degree of modularity, with small units able to convert 100 tonnes of biomass, to large 30,000 ton facilities. Smaller units are being designed as mobile plants that can be transported in a standard container. These units would allow for a decentralised energy concept in which biomass is pyrogasified close to the source.

The tests on beet slops confirmed the feasibility of an industrial-scale plant, which should achieve results higher than initially expected. Initial validation results indicate that the target set by Téréos project manager Philippe Roux, namely '20% energy savings and 35,000 tonne reduction in atmospheric discharge of carbon at the Origny distillery' will be bettered.

Encouraged by these results, Finaxo Environnement will be pushing ahead with its programme, using the experimental pyrogasification unit to run tests on other types of biomass. Phase 2 of the project with Téréos, involving development of an industrial-scale pyrogasification unit capable of processing five tonnes of beet slop per hour, thus appears to be on track.

Molasses distillery slops are a byproduct of distillation of sugar crops, a product with a high viscosity which is difficult to handle and store, and requires specific equipment. Simply burning the product is energy inefficient and releases a large amount of pollution. As global ethanol output from beets and sugar cane increases, Finaxo Environnement wants to tap into this abundant resource with its pyrogasification process:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The pyrogasification process can be applied to a large number of biomass feedstocks (from dedicated energy crops to agro-forestry residues). Other organic waste streams, such as livestock residues, abbatoir coproducts, organic rich muds and sludges from urban and industrial processes, plastics, tires, and so on can be utilized as well.

Finaxo Environnement has also taken its first order for a heat-from-waste unit using its Pyrobio pyrogasification technology. The unit, to be delivered in November 2007, will be used by a shopping centre to heat and air-condition premises measuring 800 square metres using energy from waste wood, paper and card.

The 100 tonnes per year of waste material will convert under pyrolysis to 417,600 kWh, equivalent to burning 42 tonnes of fuel, to bring an overall CO2 reduction of 142 tonnes.

As well as avoiding dioxin pollution and achieving higher efficiency, the other main advantage of the Pyrobio process over incineration is that it produces gas, which means energy can be used for air-conditioning, by absorption cooling, for improved energy savings.

Finaxo Environnement sees substantial development prospects from Pyrobio implementation in this kind of shopping centre application.

In another development, the company has received an order for 12 ultrafiltration units for Annecy City Council.

Ultrafiltration involves filtering water through a membrane that traps viruses, larger bacteria and mineral matter larger than a hundredth of a micron. Free of organic matter, the resulting water does not need chlorination, and its mineral salt content is unaltered.

The units will be delivered in March 2008. The contract is worth €1 million.

Finaxo Environnement specializes in water treatment and biomass energy applications. As well as designing and making wastewater and drinking water treatment plants, it owns and develops rapid pyrogasification technology for organic matter treatment and energy utilization. Finaxo Environnement has been listed on the Marché Libre stock market since 18 June 2007.

The Pyrobio Energy+ project is the first to have been accepted by the French government for its 'plan for competitiveness' ('Pôle de Compétitivité') in the agro-industrial sector. Located in Picardia and the Champagne-Ardenne region, the project benefits from the large availability of biomass resources and industrial and scientific expertise in the green chemistry sector.

Projects in this 'pôle' must put France on the map as a leader in the development of bioenergy (biofuels, bio-electricity, heat), biomaterials (in construction, textiles, etc), biomolecules (in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and household product sectors) and in the sector of nutrition. Under the plan, by 2015, France wants to be a global reference for innovation in the bioeconomy.

Finaxo Environnement: Pyrobio Energy+ Pyro-gazeification des matières organiques [*.pdf].

Betteraves, vinasses, énergie et éthanol - Pyrobio Energy +, premier projet financé par le gouvernement
[*.pdf] - Champ'éco, Juin-Juillet 2006, Supplément N°52.


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