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    South Korea plans to invest 20 billion won (€14.8/$21.8 million) by 2010 on securing technologies to develop synthetic fuels from biomass, coal and natural gas, as well as biobutanol. 29 private companies, research institutes and universities will join this first stage of the "next-generation clean energy development project" led by South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Korea Times - November 19, 2007.

    OPEC leaders began a summit today with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez issuing a chilling warning that crude prices could double to US$200 from their already-record level if the United States attacked Iran or Venezuela. He urged assembled leaders from the OPEC, meeting for only the third time in the cartel's 47-year history, to club together for geopolitical reasons. But the cartel is split between an 'anti-US' block including Venezuela, Iran, and soon to return ex-member Ecuador, and a 'neutral' group comprising most Gulf States. France24 - November 17, 2007.

    The article "Biofuels: What a Biopact between North and South could achieve" published in the scientific journal Energy Policy (Volume 35, Issue 7, 1 July 2007, Pages 3550-3570) ranks number 1 in the 'Top 25 hottest articles'. The article was written by professor John A. Mathews, Macquarie University (Sydney, Autralia), and presents a case for a win-win bioenergy relationship between the industrialised and the developing world. Mathews holds the Chair of Strategic Management at the university, and is a leading expert in the analysis of the evolution and emergence of disruptive technologies and their global strategic management. ScienceDirect - November 16, 2007.

    Timber products company China Grand Forestry Resources Group announced that it would acquire Yunnan Shenyu New Energy, a biofuels research group, for €560/$822 million. Yunnan Shenyu New Energy has developed an entire industrial biofuel production chain, from a fully active energy crop seedling nursery to a biorefinery. Cleantech - November 16, 2007.

    Northern European countries launch the Nordic Bioenergy Project - "Opportunities and consequences of an expanding bio energy market in the Nordic countries" - with the aim to help coordinate bioenergy activities in the Nordic countries and improve the visibility of existing and future Nordic solutions in the complex field of bioenergy, energy security, competing uses of resources and land, regional development and environmental impacts. A wealth of data, analyses and cases will be presented on a new website - Nordic Energy - along with announcements of workshops during the duration of project. Nordic Energy - November 14, 2007.

    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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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

FuelCell Energy sells three biogas fuel cells to EMWD: low emissions, high efficiency, renewable fuel

FuelCell Energy, Inc., a manufacturer of high efficiency, ultra-clean power plants for commercial, industrial and utility customers, today announced the sale of three DFC300 power plants to Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) in California. The Direct Fuel Cell (DFC) power plants will supply 750 kilowatts (kW) of the electricity needed to run the EMWD wastewater processing facility while reducing local greenhouse gas emissions by 10,400 tons annually.

Using anaerobic digesters for biosolids treatment, EMWD generates methane gas. The DFC power plants will purify 100 percent of this gas and use it for fuel. DFC units do not burn fuel, but transform it electrochemically into hydrogen, water and electricity (previous post and here). Because no combustion is involved and because the units are more efficient than traditional power plants, DFC fuel cells emit near-zero pollutants and much less CO2 than other power generators in their size class. DFC fuel cells' low emissions will also help the District meet California's CARB 07 requirements - some of the most stringent in the U.S.

Unlike other fuel cell products, DFCs internally reform readily available fuels such as natural gas and biogas into the hydrogen gas required to power the fuel cell system. This internal reformation process is a key ingredient to the DFC's ability to operate at high electrical power generation efficiency. Internal reforming is possible due to the relatively high operating temperature (650-750°F) of the DFCs. This operating temperature has other advantages: non-precious metals can be used for the anode and cathode instead of platinum, resulting in significant cost savings. Also, the exhaust from the system is high-grade heat, capable of supporting a variety of heat recovery options, including steam generation.

The power plant consists of three subsystem sections: electrochemical fuel cells that produce the DC power, Electrical Balance of Plant (EBOP) section that converts the DC power into high quality AC power and the Mechanical Balance of Plant (MBOP) section contains the process equipment that prepares air, fuel, and water for use in fuel cell stack module (schematic, click to enlarge).

Fuel and water are heated to the required fuel cell temperature in a heat recovery unit (HRU), which transfers heat from system exhaust gases.The heated humid fuel stream is sent to the fuel cell stacks where the fuel is converted to hydrogen, most of which is used in the electrochemical reaction. Residual fuel — i.e., fuel not consumed in the electrochemical reaction — is supplied to a catalytic reactor to heat incoming air. The heated air flows to the cathode to provide the cathode reactants (oxygen from the air and carbon dioxide from the anode reaction). Cathode exhaust gas exits the system through the heat exchanger used to preheat the fuel and water supplied to the HRU.

The fuel cells offer the benefits of cogeneration, known as CHP (combined heat and power). A bottoming process, in that heat can be extracted in the production of electric power, cogeneration using fuel cells can represent a significant opportunity to increase the efficiency of the power plant. The power plants have an exhaust temperature ranging from 650°C to 750°F. This heat energy can be captured to provide heat for buildings, swimming pools, and other facility needs. Alternatively, the heat can be turned into cold, as one Germany IT firm recently demonstrated when it took into operation a similar biogas fuel cell to power and cool its servers (previous post).

FuelCell Energy's cells operate with an electrical efficiency of 47 %, much higher than traditional fossil fuel power plants that average 30 to 35 percent. When the DFC power plant's heat is also used, system efficiency can be as high as 80%. This added efficiency results in less fuel being consumed to generate a kilowatt of power or a BTU of heat, saving money and substantially reducing greenhouse gases.

EMWD is in southern California's Moreno Valley and processes 11.5 million gallons of wastewater per day from 190,000 homes and businesses in the area. Treatment of this waste stream is an around-the-clock operation, entailing energy-intensive processes such as disinfecting effluent, removing biosolids and reclaiming usable water:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
Our ability to reduce air emissions and operating and maintenance costs were key factors in our decision to install FuelCell Energy fuel cells. In looking at the alternatives, including availability of grant funding through Southern California Edison's Self-Generation Incentive Program, our engineering team determined that DFC fuel cells were a cost-effective and environmentally friendly co-generation technology that meets the needs of our critical wastewater operations. - Charlie Bachmann, Assistant General Manager of Engineering, EMWD
The EMWD power plants will also capture heat generated by the DFC fuel cells and use this thermal energy in the wastewater treatment process itself. By eliminating a boiler and the gas-fired machinery that previously were used as heat sources, the new power plant further reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Municipalities throughout the U.S. are struggling to deal with the need to process ever growing amounts of wastewater. We can help them handle waste more cost effectively while generating ultra-clean power more efficiently. - William Karambelas, FuelCell Energy Vice President of Business Development
Fuel cells running on digester gas are categorized as renewable in California, qualifying them for the same treatment as either solar or wind power. Unlike solar and wind power, however, DFC fuel cells operating on biogas deliver ultra-clean power 24/7, meaning less dependence on costly and polluting grid electricity. FuelCell Energy's products are gaining market share in California and currently California orders and installations represent 43 percent of its worldwide business. Wastewater treatment customers in California are 40 percent of FuelCell Energy's California backlog and installed base.

The California Self-Generation Incentive Program will provide $3.375 million for this project through Southern California Edison. Alliance Power will serve as project manager and is expected to install the three power plants in the first half of 2008.

FuelCell Energy is the world leader in the development and production of stationary fuel cells for commercial, industrial, municipal and utility customers. FuelCell Energy's ultra-clean and high efficiency DFC(r) fuel cells are generating power at over 50 locations worldwide. The company's power plants have generated more than 200 million kWh of power using a variety of fuels including renewable wastewater gas, biogas from beer and food processing as well as natural gas and other hydrocarbon fuels. FuelCell Energy has partnerships with major power plant developers, trading companies and power companies around the world. The company also receives substantial funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and other government agencies for the development of leading edge technologies such as hybrid fuel cell/turbine generators and solid oxide fuel cells.

FuelCell Energy: FuelCell Energy Sells Three DFC300 Power Plants to Eastern Municipal Water District in California - November 20, 2007.

FuelCell Energy: The Direct FuelCell Advantage [*.pdf], brochure.

FuelCell Energy: Direct FuelCells White Paper [*.pdf].

Biopact: Biogas to power fuel cell power plant in city of Rialto - May 09, 2007

Biopact: German IT firm uses biogas fuel cell to power server farm - September 01, 2007


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