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    Portuguese fuel company Prio SA and UK based FCL Biofuels have joined forces to launch the Portuguese consumer biodiesel brand, PrioBio, in the UK. PrioBio is scheduled to be available in the UK from 1st November. By the end of this year (2007), says FCL Biofuel, the partnership’s two biodiesel refineries will have a total capacity of 200,000 tonnes which will is set to grow to 400,000 tonnes by the end of 2010. Biofuel Review - September 27, 2007.

    According to Tarja Halonen, the Finnish president, one third of the value of all of Finland's exports consists of environmentally friendly technologies. Finland has invested in climate and energy technologies, particularly in combined heat and power production from biomass, bioenergy and wind power, the president said at the UN secretary-general's high-level event on climate change. Newroom Finland - September 25, 2007.

    Spanish engineering and energy company Abengoa says it had suspended bioethanol production at the biggest of its three Spanish plants because it was unprofitable. It cited high grain prices and uncertainty about the national market for ethanol. Earlier this year, the plant, located in Salamanca, ceased production for similar reasons. To Biopact this is yet another indication that biofuel production in the EU/US does not make sense and must be relocated to the Global South, where the biofuel can be produced competitively and sustainably, without relying on food crops. Reuters - September 24, 2007.

    The Midlands Consortium, comprised of the universities of Birmingham, Loughborough and Nottingham, is chosen to host Britain's new Energy Technologies Institute, a £1 billion national organisation which will aim to develop cleaner energies. University of Nottingham - September 21, 2007.

    The EGGER group, one of the leading European manufacturers of chipboard, MDF and OSB boards has begun work on installing a 50MW biomass boiler for its production site in Rion. The new furnace will recycle 60,000 tonnes of offcuts to be used in the new combined heat and power (CHP) station as an ecological fuel. The facility will reduce consumption of natural gas by 75%. IHB Network - September 21, 2007.

    Analysts fear that record oil prices will fuel general inflation in Kenya, particularly hitting the poorest hard. They call for the development of new policies and strategies to cope with sustained high oil prices. Such policies include alternative fuels like biofuels, conservation measures, and more investments in oil and gas exploration. The poor in Kenya are hit hardest by the sharp increase, because they spend most of their budget on fuel and transport. Furthermore, in oil intensive economies like Kenya, high oil prices push up prices for food and most other basic goods. All Africa - September 20, 2007.

    Finland's Metso Power has won an order to supply Kalmar Energi Värme AB with a biomass-fired power boiler for the company’s new combined heat and power plant in Kalmar on the east coast of Sweden. Start-up for the plant is scheduled for the end of 2009. The value of the order is approximately EUR 55 million. The power boiler (90 MWth) will utilize bubbling fluidized bed technology and will burn biomass replacing old district heating boilers and reducing the consumption of oil. The delivery will also include a flue gas condensing system to increase plant's district heat production. Metso Corporation - September 19, 2007.

    Jo-Carroll Energy announced today its plan to build an 80 megawatt, biomass-fueled, renewable energy center in Illinois. The US$ 140 million plant will be fueled by various types of renewable biomass, such as clean waste wood, corn stover and switchgrass. Jo-Carroll Energy - September 18, 2007.

    Beihai Gofar Marine Biological Industry Co Ltd, in China's southern region of Guangxi, plans to build a 100,000 tonne-per-year fuel ethanol plant using cassava as feedstock. The Shanghai-listed company plans to raise about 560 million yuan ($74.5 million) in a share placement to finance the project and boost its cash flow. Reuters - September 18, 2007.

    The oil-dependent island state of Fiji has requested US company Avalor Capital, LLC, to invest in biodiesel and ethanol. The Fiji government has urged the company to move its $250million 'Fiji Biofuels Project' forward at the earliest possible date. Fiji Live - September 18, 2007.

    The Bowen Group, one of Ireland's biggest construction groups has announced a strategic move into the biomass energy sector. It is planning a €25 million investment over the next five years to fund up to 100 projects that will create electricity from biomass. Its ambition is to install up to 135 megawatts of biomass-fuelled heat from local forestry sources, which is equal to 50 million litres or about €25m worth of imported oil. Irish Examiner - September 16, 2007.

    According to Dr Niphon Poapongsakorn, dean of Economics at Thammasat University in Thailand, cassava-based ethanol is competitive when oil is above $40 per barrel. Thailand is the world's largest producer and exporter of cassava for industrial use. Bangkok Post - September 14, 2007.

    German biogas and biodiesel developer BKN BioKraftstoff Nord AG has generated gross proceeds totaling €5.5 million as part of its capital increase from authorized capital. Ad Hoc News - September 13, 2007.

    NewGen Technologies, Inc. announced that it and Titan Global Holdings, Inc. completed a definitive Biofuels Supply Agreement which will become effective upon Titan’s acquisition of Appalachian Oil Company. Given APPCO’s current distribution of over 225 million gallons of fuel products per year, the initial expected ethanol supply to APPCO should exceed 1 million gallons a month. Charlotte dBusinessNews - September 13, 2007.

    Oil prices reach record highs as the U.S. Energy Information Agency releases a report that showed crude oil inventories fell by more than seven million barrels last week. The rise comes despite a decision by the international oil cartel, OPEC, to raise its output quota by 500,000 barrels. Reuters - September 12, 2007.

    OPEC decided today to increase the volume of crude supplied to the market by Member Countries (excluding Angola and Iraq) by 500,000 b/d, effective 1 November 2007. The decision comes after oil reached near record-highs and after Saudi Aramco announced that last year's crude oil production declined by 1.7 percent, while exports declined by 3.1 percent. OPEC - September 11, 2007.

    GreenField Ethanol and Monsanto Canada launch the 'Gro-ethanol' program which invites Ontario's farmers to grow corn seed containing Monsanto traits, specifically for the ethanol market. The corn hybrids eligible for the program include Monsanto traits that produce higher yielding corn for ethanol production. MarketWire - September 11, 2007.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

U.S. NIST awards $10 million to 5 biofuels and green chemistry projects

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced 56 new awards for innovative industrial research and development projects under the agency’s Advanced Technology Program (ATP). Amongst them, the following 5 biofuels and green chemistry projects can be found:

Caisson Laboratories: platforms for biocontained high-value products
Caisson Laboratories has proposed creating a suite of broadly applicable biotechnology tools to redirect the biosynthetic capacity of seeds for the large-scale production of seed-based biofuel feedstocks and other biomaterials for the industrial and pharmaceutical sectors; and prevent genetically modified traits from being transferred to other plants through pollen.

The proposed tools will regulate the expression of certain plant genes while diverting large percentages of photoassimilate (the energy-storing sugars produced by photosynthesis) to the production in seeds of high-value natural or synthetic compounds.

Three commercially valuable applications of this technology will be demonstrated by the end of the project: the alteration of plant metabolic pathways to substantially increase the production per acre of fermentable starch in harvested seeds of grain sorghum; the prevention of germination among second-generation (F2) plants such that inadvertently unharvested volunteer sorghum plants do not create a weed problem in subsequent seasons; and transgene biocontainment such that pollen-based gene flow among engineered sorghum plants and neighboring crops or weeds is prevented.

The impact on the US economy could be substantial; the value of the increase in the amount of ethanol produced is expected to exceed $2 billion at today’s production levels and cost structure, according to Caisson. As for transgene biocontainment, the technology may provide the basis for meeting future regulatory standards for valuable genetically modified traits in crops.

Total project (est.): $2,495,000; Requested ATP funds: $2,000,000

Virent Energy Systems: catalytic biomass depolymerization
Virent is proposing to develop catalytic biomass depolymerization (CBD) process based on heterogeneous catalysis (where the catalyst is in a different phase from the reactants) for the pretreatment of biomass prior to fuel production.

The CBD system will combine acid-catalyzed hydrolysis of carbohydrates with reductive depolymerization to continuously and cost-effectively convert cellulosic feedstocks into oxygenated hydrocarbons (sugars and other intermediates) that can be processed easily into fuels and chemicals using fermentation or an existing Virent bioprocessing technology:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Compared to current approaches to biomass pretreatment, the proposed CBD process is more robust, yielding significantly higher reaction rates and higher product concentrations, according to Virent. If successful, this technology could be used in parallel with several biofuel refinery processes coming on-line in the next few years.

Total project (est.): $2,713,611; Requested ATP funds: $1,998,189

Metabolix: integrated bio-engineered chemicals
Metabolix has proposed developing a commercially viable process for producing widely used organic chemical feedstocks from renewable agricultural products rather than fossil hydrocarbons like oil or coal. Their planned Integrated Bio-Engineered Chemicals (IBEC) project will bio-engineer bacteria to produce a polymer precursor from fermentation sugars.

Chemical processes will then be used to recover product with high purity exploiting the ease of separation and subsequently disassemble the polyester and convert it into a variety of four-carbon (C4) industrial chemicals. Today, C4 chemicals are produced almost entirely from fossil-based hydrocarbons. Global demand is estimated at 2.5 billion pounds annually, and growing at a rate of 4 to 5 percent a year.

If successful, the process could be extended to produce commercially important C3, C5 and possibly C6 chemical intermediates as well. The project is technically risky because of the extensive bioengineering that is required, but if successful it would enable an entire class of bio-based routes for producing key industrial chemicals, reducing the need for non-renewable, fossil-based feedstocks and providing the nation with competitive advantages in polymers, chemicals and agriculture, all while reducing adverse environmental impacts.

Total project (est.): $4,754,451; Requested ATP funds: $1,996,241

Solazyme: biopetroleum from algae
Solazyme has proposed a project to use algae to produce biopetroleum, which will match the composition of light sweet crude oil. The biopetroleum would be fully compatible with the infrastructure that refines, distributes retails and consumes petroleum products—not just automobile fuels but aviation fuel and chemicals as well.

Biopetroleum will require an industrial scale biofermentation process that can produce pure, long-chain hydrocarbons efficiently. ATP funding is expected to accelerate the project by four years.

Adopting biopetroleum to meet even a fraction of the nation’s renewable energy goals could avoid a costly duplication of infrastructure and save consumers and industry an estimated $20 billion a year (compared with other biofuels), potentially growing to as much as $120 billion a year, according to Solazyme.

Total project (est.): $2,704,483; Requested ATP funds: $1,999,321

Thar Technologies: process for biodiesel production without hexane use
Thar Technologies has proposed developing and demonstrating novel processing technology and equipment to produce diesel-grade fuel from plants without the use of hexane. Instead of traditional techniques using hexane for extraction of the oil from plants, Thar will use supercritical fluid extraction, a green chemistry process that uses physiologically compatible carbon dioxide and also requires less energy per unit of production.

In addition, Thar’s process will integrate several post-extraction steps into one continuous, efficient process for producing biodiesel. Once the new processes are developed in the laboratory, a pilot plant will be constructed and operated.

If successful, the technology will be a green process that can profitably produce biodiesel directly from oilseed feedstock while reducing energy consumption, eliminating environmental hazards and eradicating the need for production subsidies.

Total project (est.): $2,408,245; Requested ATP funds: $1,944,126

These projects are amongst the new awards which represent a broad range of technologies, including medical diagnostic techniques, alternative energy sources, manufacturing, semiconductor electronics, transportation, nanotechnology, energy conservation and automated language translation, among others.

A total of 69 companies and one non-profit organization will participate in the projects, which include nine joint ventures. Forty-eight of the projects are led by small businesses. The new awards potentially represent a total of up to $138.7 million in ATP funding together with an industry cost-share of up to $104 million, if all projects are carried through to completion. ATP awards are made contingent on available funding and on evidence of satisfactory progress throughout the multi-year research schedules.

The 56 projects were chosen in a competition announced last April and represent the last set of R&D projects to be funded under the ATP, which was abolished under the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69). The act allows for continued support for ongoing ATP projects, including those chosen in the FY 2007 competition.

The ATP provided cost-shared support to enable or accelerate high-risk industrial research projects. Projects were selected for funding by a competitive, peer-reviewed process that evaluated the scientific and technical merit of each proposal and the potential for broad-based benefits to the nation if the technology were successfully developed.

NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.


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