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    Global Partners has announced that it is planning to increase its refined products and biofuels storage capacity in Providence, Rhode Island by 474,000 barrels. The partnership has entered into agreements with New England Petroleum Terminal, at a deepwater marine terminal located at the Port of Providence. PRInside - November 14, 2007.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) kicks off the meeting in Valencia, Spain, which will result in the production of the Synthesis Report on climate change. The report will summarize the core findings of the three volumes published earlier by the separate working groups. IPCC - November 12, 2007.

    Biopact's Laurens Rademakers is interviewed by Mongabay on the risks of large-scale bioenergy with carbon storage (BECS) proposals. Even though Biopact remains positive about BECS, because it offers one of the few safe systems to mitigate climate change in a drastic way, care must be take to avoid negative impacts on tropical forests. Mongabay - November 10, 2007.

    According to the latest annual ranking produced by The Scientist, Belgium is the world's best country for academic research, followed by the U.S. and Canada. Belgium's top position is especially relevant for plant, biology, biotechnology and bioenergy research, as these are amongst the science fields on which it scores best. The Scientist - November 8, 2007.

    Mascoma Corporation, a cellulosic ethanol company, today announced the acquisition of Celsys BioFuels, Inc. Celsys BioFuels was formed in 2006 to commercialize cellulosic ethanol production technology developed in the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering at Purdue University. The Celsys technology is based on proprietary pretreatment processes for multiple biomass feedstocks, including corn fiber and distiller grains. The technology was developed by Dr. Michael Ladisch, an internationally known leader in the field of renewable fuels and cellulosic biofuels. He will be taking a two-year leave of absence from Purdue University to join Mascoma as the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Business Wire - November 7, 2007.

    Bemis Company, Inc. announced today that it will partner with Plantic Technologies Limited, an Australian company specializing in starch-based biopolymers, to develop and sell renewably resourced flexible films using patented Plantic technology. Bemis - November 7, 2007.

    Hungary's Kalocsa Hõerõmû Kft is to build a HUF 40 billion (€158.2 million) straw-fired biomass power plant with a maximum capacity of 49.9 megawatts near Kalocsa in southern Hungary. Portfolio Hungary - November 7, 2007.

    Canada's Gemini Corporation has received approval to proceed into the detailed engineering, fabrication and construction phases of a biogas cogeneration facility located in the Lethbridge, Alberta area, the first of its kind whereby biogas production is enhanced through the use of Thermal Hydrolysis technology, a high temperature, high pressure process for the safe destruction of SRM material from the beef industry. The technology enables a facility to redirect waste material, previously shipped to landfills, into a valuable feedstock for the generation of electricity and thermal energy. This eliminates the release of methane into the environment and the resultant solids are approved for use as a land amendment rather than re-entering the waste stream. In addition, it enhances the biogas production process by more than 25%. Market Wire - November 7, 2007.

    A new Agency to manage Britain's commitment to biofuels was established today by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly. The Renewable Fuels Agency will be responsible for the day to day running of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, coming into force in April next year. By 2010, the Obligation will mean that 5% of all the fuels sold in the UK should come from biofuels, which could save 2.6m to 3m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. eGov Monitor - November 5, 2007.

    Prices for prompt loading South African coal cargoes reached a new record last week with a trade at $85.00 a tonne free-on-board (FOB) for a February cargo. Strong Indian demand and tight supply has pushed South African prices up to record levels from around $47.00 at the beginning of the year. European DES/CIF ARA coal prices have remained fairly stable over the past few days, having traded up to a record $130.00 a tonne DES ARA late last week. Fair value is probably just below $130.00 a tonne, traders said. At this price, some forms of biomass become directly competitive with coal. Reuters Africa - November 4, 2007.

    The government of India's Harayana state has decided to promote biomass power projects based on gasification in a move to help rural communities replace costly diesel and furnace oil. The news was announced during a meeting of the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA). Six pilot plants have demonstrated the efficiency and practicability of small-scale biomass gasification. Capital subsidies will now be made available to similar projects at the rate of Rs 2.5 lakh (€4400) per 100 KW for electrical applications and Rs 2 lakh (€3500) per 300 KW for thermal applications. New Kerala - November 1, 2007.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The bioeconomy at work: Teijin presents lightweight car that contains bioplastics and biofibers

GreenCarCongress reports that Japanese textile producer Teijin Ltd. unveiled a lightweight concept car, the PU_PA, made from materials including carbon fiber, bioplastics and fibers made from polylactic acid. The effort is aimed at demonstrating that renewable and new materials can greatly reduce the weight of cars, and thus increase their fuel economy.

The firm plans to advocate the use of advanced materials, and predicts it can lighten a 1-tonne small to 500kg in five years, a move that will greatly improve fuel efficiency. Teijin also promotes materials that have a smaller environmental impact to produce.

Teijin materials in the PU_PA include a carbon-fiber backbone; a roof and exterior window of polycarbonate resin; heat-resistant bioplastic (Biofront); an artificial leather dashboard; a polyester film for the plated front grille; and tire cord fabric.

Teijin introduced the BIOFRONT bioplastic, which it developed with Mazda, in September (previous post). The plastic will be used initially for the manufacture of a high-quality, highly durable car-seat fabric made of 100% BIOFRONT fibers, and was featured in the new Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid vehicle that Mazda premiered at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show 2007:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Although bioplastics have attracted much attention due to their environmentally friendly nature, polylactide and other bioplastics currently on the market do not offer the same level of performance as oil-based plastics in terms of heat and shock resistance. Accordingly, the use of bioplastics has been limited so far.

In 2004, however, Teijin began researching bioplastics with Musashino Chemical Laboratory, Mutual Corporation and Professor Yoshiharu Kimura from the Kyoto Institute of Technology. The result was the development of an all-new type of heat-resistant bioplastic that was officially introduced in March 2006.

BIOFRONT incorporates technologies developed at Teijin Fiber's Matsuyama plant, including those to combine polymer from non-oil materials, such as starch, and those related to yarn production, such as fiber spinning and drawing.

The melting point of BIOFRONT fibers is 210ºC, significantly higher than the 170ºC melting point of polylactide fibers. As a result, BIOFRONT readily accepts high-temperature, high-pressure polyester dyeing. Such improvements have brought BIOFRONT to the same level of performance of PET (polyethylene terephthalate).

Fabrics for car-seat skins must satisfy stringent conditions demanded by automotive makers. As a result, polyester fibers have been used as the main material for car-seat skins, since conventional plant-based fibers are not capable of meeting all demands sufficiently.

Thanks to the convergence of the Teijin Group's polymer technologies and Teijin Fiber's yarn-production know-how, however, BIOFRONT fully satisfies the requirements for high quality and durability, including high heat resistance. Moreover, surface-treatment technologies for car-seat skins developed with Mazda have made it possible to develop a car-seat fabric that is 100% bio-based fibers.

Fiber, film and plastic resin applications
Teijin Group companies are focusing on additional applications for BIOFRONT fibers, films and plastic resins, where the heat-resistance of BIOFRONT is expected to be particularly useful in meeting demanding requirements for fabrication and actual use.

The following applications are envisioned in fields such as automotives, industrial materials and apparel textiles:
  • Fibers: In-vehicle products, interior products and materials requiring heat-resistant, dye-affinity and anti-bacterial properties
  • Films: Optical applications requiring transparency and heat resistance
  • Plastic resins: Electric/Electronic parts and chassis requiring heat resistance and molding
Teijin expects BIOFRONT production to reach several hundred tons in fiscal 2008 (ends March 31, 2009). The company plans to increase production at its Iwakuni plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 2008, as part of raising output capacity to several thousand tons.

GreenCarCongress: Teijin Introduces Concept Car Made From Lightweight Materials - November 14, 2007.

Teijin: Teijin Launches BIOFRONT Heat-Resistant Bio Plastic - 100% BIOFRONT car seat fabrics developed with Mazda - September 12, 2007.

Biopact: The bioeconomy at work: Mazda develops 100% PLA based biofabric for vehicle interiors - September 12, 2007


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