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    Ethablog's Henrique Oliveira, a young Brazilian biofuels business expert, is back online. From April to September 2007, he traveled around Brazil comparing the Brazilian and American biofuels markets. In August he was joined by Tom MacDonald, senior alcohol fuels specialist with the California Energy Commission. Henrique reports about his trip with a series of photo essays. EthaBlog - October 24, 2007.

    Italy's Enel is to invest around €400 mln in carbon capture and storage and is looking now for a suitable site to store CO2 underground. Enel's vision of coal's future is one in which coal is used to produce power, to produce ash and gypsum as a by-product for cement, hydrogen as a by-product of coal gasification and CO2 which is stored underground. Carbon capture and storage techniques can be applied to biomass and biofuels, resulting in carbon-negative energy. Reuters - October 22, 2007.

    Gate Petroleum Co. is planning to build a 55 million-gallon liquid biofuels terminal in Jacksonville, Florida. The terminal is expected to cost $90 million and will be the first in the state designed primarily for biofuels. It will receive and ship ethanol and biodiesel via rail, ship and truck and provide storage for Gate and for third parties. The biofuels terminal is set to open in 2010. Florida Times-Union - October 19, 2007.

    China Holdings Inc., through its controlled subsidiary China Power Inc., signed a development contract with the HeBei Province local government for the rights to develop and construct 50 MW of biomass renewable energy projects utilizing straw. The projects have a total expected annual power generating capacity of 400 million kWh and expected annual revenues of approximately US$33.3 million. Total investment in the projects is approximately US$77.2 million, 35 percent in cash and 65 percent from China-based bank loans with preferred interest rates with government policy protection for the biomass renewable energy projects. Full production is expected in about two years. China Holdings - October 18, 2007.

    Canadian Bionenergy Corporation, supplier of biodiesel in Canada, has announced an agreement with Renewable Energy Group, Inc. to partner in the construction of a biodiesel production facility near Edmonton, Alberta. The company broke ground yesterday on the construction of the facility with an expected capacity of 225 million litres (60 million gallons) per year of biodiesel. Together, the companies also intend to forge a strategic marketing alliance to better serve the North American marketplace by supplying biodiesel blends and industrial methyl esters. Canadian Bioenergy - October 17, 2007.

    Leading experts in organic solar cells say the field is being damaged by questionable reports about ever bigger efficiency claims, leading the community into an endless and dangerous tendency to outbid the last report. In reality these solar cells still show low efficiencies that will need to improve significantly before they become a success. To counter the hype, scientists call on the community to press for independent verification of claimed efficiencies. Biopact sees a similar trend in the field of biofuels from algae, in which press releases containing unrealistic yield projections and 'breakthroughs' are released almost monthly. Eurekalert - October 16, 2007.

    The Colorado Wood Utilization and Marketing Program at Colorado State University received a $65,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service to expand the use of woody biomass throughout Colorado. The purpose of the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant program is to provide financial assistance to state foresters to accelerate the adoption of woody biomass as an alternative energy source. Colorado State University - October 12, 2007.

    Indian company Naturol Bioenergy Limited announced that it will soon start production from its biodiesel facility at Kakinada, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The facility has an annual production capacity of 100,000 tons of biodiesel and 10,000 tons of pharmaceutical grade glycerin. The primary feedstock is crude palm oil, but the facility was designed to accomodate a variety of vegetable oil feedstocks. Biofuel Review - October 11, 2007.

    Brazil's state energy company Petrobras says it will ship 9 million liters of ethanol to European clients next month in its first shipment via the northeastern port of Suape. Petrobras buys the biofuel from a pool of sugar cane processing plants in the state of Pernambuco, where the port is also located. Reuters - October 11, 2007.

    Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation, a leader in biomass-to-biofuel technology, announces that it has completed a $10.5 million equity financing with Quercus Trust, an environmentally oriented fund, and several other private investors. Ardour Capital Inc. of New York served as financial advisor in the transaction. Business Wire - October 10, 2007.

    Cuban livestock farmers are buying distillers dried grains (DDG), the main byproduct of corn based ethanol, from biofuel producers in the U.S. During a trade mission of Iowan officials to Cuba, trade officials there said the communist state will double its purchases of the dried grains this year. DesMoines Register - October 9, 2007.

    Brasil Ecodiesel, the leading Brazilian biodiesel producer company, recorded an increase of 57.7% in sales in the third quarter of the current year, in comparison with the previous three months. Sales volume stood at 53,000 cubic metres from August until September, against 34,000 cubic metres of the biofuel between April and June. The company is also concluding negotiations to export between 1,000 to 2,000 tonnes of glycerine per month to the Asian market. ANBA - October 4, 2007.

    PolyOne Corporation, the US supplier of specialised polymer materials, has opened a new colour concentrates manufacturing plant in Kutno, Poland. Located in central Poland, the new plant will produce colour products in the first instance, although the company says the facility can be expanded to handle other products. In March, the Ohio-based firm launched a range of of liquid colourants for use in bioplastics in biodegradable applications. The concentrates are European food contact compliant and can be used in polylactic acid (PLA) or starch-based blends. Plastics & Rubber Weekly - October 2, 2007.

    A turbo-charged, spray-guided direct-injection engine running on pure ethanol (E100) can achieve very high specific output, and shows “significant potential for aggressive engine downsizing for a dedicated or dual-fuel solution”, according to engineers at Orbital Corporation. GreenCarCongress - October 2, 2007.

    UK-based NiTech Solutions receives £800,000 in private funding to commercialize a cost-saving industrial mixing system, dubbed the Continuous Oscillatory Baffled Reactor (COBR), which can lower costs by 50 per cent and reduce process time by as much as 90 per cent during the manufacture of a range of commodities including chemicals, drugs and biofuels. Scotsman - October 2, 2007.

    A group of Spanish investors is building a new bioethanol plant in the western region of Extremadura that should be producing fuel from maize in 2009. Alcoholes Biocarburantes de Extremadura (Albiex) has already started work on the site near Badajoz and expects to spend €42/$59 million on the plant in the next two years. It will produce 110 million litres a year of bioethanol and 87 million kg of grain byproduct that can be used for animal feed. Europapress - September 28, 2007.

    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.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brazil launches project to develop dedicated ethanol generators to power isolated rural communities

Ethanol Brasil's Marcelo Coelho reports about a project [*Portuguese/.pdf] launched by the University of São Carlos (USP) aimed at developing small dedicated and efficient biofuel generators that can supply electricity to isolated rural communities. The modular and mobile gensets will have a capacity of 15kW and will be adapted to run on hydrated ethanol, an abundant and highly competitive fuel. The project is managed by the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the USP and funded by the National Council on Scientific and Technological Development. Brazil's succesful development of the flex-fuel engine for vehicles could well be replicated for electricity generators, because these flex-fuel engines form the starting point for the project.

In many developing countries, the majority of people live in small isolated rural communities cut off from modern energy supplies. Around 1.6 billion people have no access to electricity, this most basic of services, which has a serious impact on their social and economic development opportunities. Most recently, the world's leading energy scientists, in a key report about the future of energy, sketched the situation and urged the international institutions, governments, NGOs, and business communities to make access to modern energy for these communities a top priority. There is a strict correlation between the 'Human Development Index', which measures education, health and social development, and the 'Energy Development Index', the scientists said. Providing electricity and modern fuels to the poor is therefor key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Without access to modern energy, development and poverty alleviation efforts are doomed to fail.

The catch-22 for developing countries, and their governments, is that as long as rural communities are not economically prosperous there is no reason to connect them to a grid (or so the logic goes); but as long as they do not have access to electricity, they can never prosper. The InterAcademy Council's report therefor urges all stakeholders to help these countries and communities to 'leapfrog' into a new logic, based on renewables. Because of their decentralised nature, renewables can be introduced and scaled to fit the needs of remote communities. With biofuel systems, local biomass resources can be utilized, and, in theory, rural villages can become their own fuel producers. The case for renewables becomes stronger with ever increasing petroleum prices.

It is within this context that the Brazilian project is interesting. In the project description, lead researcher Antonio Moreira Dos Santos gives an example of the difference dedicated biofuel gensets can make:
When, for example, small milk producers have no access to electricity, they can not pasteurize their milk nor conserve it because of a lack of refrigeration capacity. This limits their chances of producing for a market larger than their own needs. Moreover, many cases show that electricity supplies are intermittent or of bad quality. For small milk producers the damaging effects on their production are clear: refrigeration and pasteurisation equipment fails, destroying production.
The example can be replicated across sectors. Moreira says the gensets under development will be used for such activities as irrigation, food processing, water pumping and purification, and in fertilzer, herbicide and insecticide applications. Other uses are in education, health care and general household electricity:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The project will convert a group of four and one of two 15kW gasoline generators to run on hydrated ethanol. It will study the compression, ignition and lubrication requirements and adapt the carburetor to ensure the best performance. The gensets will be evaluated for thermodynamic performance and for the effects of ethanol on the mechanical parts. Combustion properties of the fuel, in combination with other (bio)fuels will be examined, as well as their emissions.

A range of bio-based lubricating oils will be compared with petroleum-based alternatives, and their performance in the modified gensets.

The researchers chose to study generator groups so that a sufficient electric load can be generated and because this way the durability of the system can be studied better.

The project draws on earlier Brazilian studies, such as an analysis of the development of experimental bi-fuel engines (biodiesel-bioethanol), a study and simulation of the exhaust and intake of ethanol in turbo-fed engines, and the great number of studies dealing with the emissions and combustion properties of ethanol and gasoline mixtures in combustion engines.

According to the researchers, the project has great social, economic and environmental relevance. By drawing on renewable, locally produced biofuels and biolubricants, lower emissions can be expected; air pollution can be reduced locally; the livelihoods and agricultural output of remote communities can be strengthened; and new jobs can be created, especially in poor regions in the North, Northeast and Center-West of the country. Once developed, the gensets can be used in other developing countries.

EthanolBrasil: Geradores de energia elétrica movidos a etanol - October 24, 2007.

Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico: Desenvolvimento de grupos geradores de energia elétrica de pequeno porte movido à etanol para atender comunidades rurais isoladas [*.pdf]- USP / Departamento de Engenharia Mecânica de São Carlos.

Biopact: Leading scientists: energy crisis poses major 21st century threat, action needed now - October 23, 2007


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