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    PetroChina Co Ltd, the country's largest oil and gas producer, plans to invest 800 million yuan to build an ethanol plant in Nanchong, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, its parent China National Petroleum Corp said. The ethanol plant has a designed annual capacity of 100,000 tons. ABCMoneyNews - December 21, 2007.

    Mexico passed legislation to promote biofuels last week, offering unspecified support to farmers that grow crops for the production of any renewable fuel. Agriculture Minister Alberto Cardenas said Mexico could expand biodiesel faster than ethanol. More soon. Reuters - December 20, 2007.

    Oxford Catalysts has placed an order worth approximately €700,000 (US$1 million) with the German company Amtec for the purchase of two Spider16 high throughput screening reactors. The first will be used to speed up the development of catalysts for hydrodesulphurisation (HDS). The second will be used to further the development of catalysts for use in gas to liquid (GTL) and Fischer-Tropsch processes which can be applied to next generation biofuels. AlphaGalileo - December 18, 2007.

    According to the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), Brazil's production of sugarcane will increase from 514,1 million tonnes this season, to a record 561,8 million tonnes in the 2008/09 cyclus - an increase of 9.3%. New numbers are also out for the 2007 harvest in Brazil's main sugarcane growing region, the Central-South: a record 425 million tonnes compared to 372,7 million tonnes in 2006, or a 14% increase. The estimate was provided by Unica – the União da Indústria de Cana-de-Açúcar. Jornal Cana - December 16, 2007.

    The University of East Anglia and the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre have today released preliminary global temperature figures for 2007, which show the top 11 warmest years all occurring in the last 13 years. The provisional global figure for 2007 using data from January to November, currently places the year as the seventh warmest on records dating back to 1850. The announcement comes as the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud, speaks at the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Bali. Eurekalert - December 13, 2007.

    The Royal Society of Chemistry has announced it will launch a new journal in summer 2008, Energy & Environmental Science, which will distinctly address both energy and environmental issues. In recognition of the importance of research in this subject, and the need for knowledge transfer between scientists throughout the world, from launch the RSC will make issues of Energy & Environmental Science available free of charge to readers via its website, for the first 18 months of publication. This journal will highlight the important role that the chemical sciences have in solving the energy problems we are facing today. It will link all aspects of energy and the environment by publishing research relating to energy conversion and storage, alternative fuel technologies, and environmental science. AlphaGalileo - December 10, 2007.

    Dutch researcher Bas Bougie has developed a laser system to investigate soot development in diesel engines. Small soot particles are not retained by a soot filter but are, however, more harmful than larger soot particles. Therefore, soot development needs to be tackled at the source. Laser Induced Incandescence is a technique that reveals exactly where soot is generated and can be used by project partners to develop cleaner diesel engines. Terry Meyer, an Iowa State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is using similar laser technology to develop advanced sensors capable of screening the combustion behavior and soot characteristics specifically of biofuels. Eurekalert - December 7, 2007.

    Lithuania's first dedicated biofuel terminal has started operating in Klaipeda port. At the end of November 2007, the stevedoring company Vakaru krova (VK) started activities to manage transshipments. The infrastructure of the biodiesel complex allows for storage of up to 4000 cubic meters of products. During the first year, the terminal plans to transship about 70.000 tonnes of methyl ether, after that the capacities of the terminal would be increased. Investments to the project totaled €2.3 million. Agrimarket - December 5, 2007.

    New Holland supports the use of B100 biodiesel in all equipment with New Holland-manufactured diesel engines, including electronic injection engines with common rail technology. Overall, nearly 80 percent of the tractor and equipment manufacturer's New Holland-branded products with diesel engines are now available to operate on B100 biodiesel. Tractor and equipment maker John Deere meanwhile clarified its position for customers that want to use biodiesel blends up to B20. Grainnet - December 5, 2007.

    According to Wetlands International, an NGO, the Kyoto Protocol as it currently stands does not take into account possible emissions from palm oil grown on a particular type of land found in Indonesia and Malaysia, namely peatlands. Mongabay - December 5, 2007.

    Malaysia's oil & gas giant Petronas considers entering the biofuels sector. Zamri Jusoh, senior manager of Petronas' petroleum development management unit told reporters "of course our focus is on oil and gas, but I think as we move into the future we cannot ignore the importance of biofuels." AFP - December 5, 2007.

    In just four months, the use of biodiesel in the transport sector has substantially improved air quality in Metro Manila, data from the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed. A blend of one percent coco-biodiesel is mandated by the Biofuels Act of 2007 which took effect last May. By 2009, it would be increased to two percent. Philippine Star - December 4, 2007.

    Kazakhstan will next year adopt laws to regulate its fledgling biofuel industry and plans to construct at least two more plants in the next 18 months to produce environmentally friendly fuel from crops, industry officials said. According to Akylbek Kurishbayev, vice-minister for agriculture, he Central Asian country has the potential to produce 300,000 tons a year of biodiesel and export half. Kazakhstan could also produce up to 1 billion liters of bioethanol, he said. "The potential is huge. If we use this potential wisely, we can become one of the world's top five producers of biofuels," Beisen Donenov, executive director of the Kazakhstan Biofuels Association, said on the sidelines of a grains forum. Reuters - November 30, 2007.

    SRI Consulting released a report on chemicals from biomass. The analysis highlights six major contributing sources of green and renewable chemicals: increasing production of biofuels will yield increasing amounts of biofuels by-products; partial decomposition of certain biomass fractions can yield organic chemicals or feedstocks for the manufacture of various chemicals; forestry has been and will continue to be a source of pine chemicals; evolving fermentation technology and new substrates will also produce an increasing number of chemicals. Chemical Online - November 27, 2007.

    German industrial conglomerate MAN AG plans to expand into renewable energies such as biofuels and solar power. Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said services unit Ferrostaal would lead the expansion. Reuters - November 24, 2007.

    Analysts think Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems, which pumped hundreds of millions and decades of research into developing hydrogen fuel cells for cars, is going to sell its automotive division. Experts describe the development as "the death of the hydrogen highway". The problems with H2 fuel cell cars are manifold: hydrogen is a mere energy carrier and its production requires a primary energy input; production is expensive, as would be storage and distribution; finally, scaling fuel cells and storage tanks down to fit in cars remains a huge challenge. Meanwhile, critics have said that the primary energy for hydrogen can better be used for electricity and electric vehicles. On a well-to-wheel basis, the cleanest and most efficient way to produce hydrogen is via biomass, so the news is a set-back for the biohydrogen community. But then again, biomass can be used more efficiently as electricity for battery cars. Canada.com - November 21, 2007.

    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.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

BIO sees U.S. biofuels target as new 'Manhattan project' that will unlock key technologies

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) reacts to the new renewable fuel standard (RFS) contained in the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which calls for the production of a massive 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022 (previous post). BIO describes the goal as an undertaking larger than the Apollo project or the Manhattan project that will unlock new technologies from science fields like synthetic biology and will spill over into other economic areas leading to the emergence of a high-tech biobased economy.
This effort to produce biofuels on a massive scale is an undertaking larger than the Apollo project or the Manhattan project. America can meet this goal because of the accelerating advances in industrial biotechnology. The new RFS will catapult the U.S. biofuels industry to the next level of commercial development and take us beyond conventional ethanol. It will accelerate the creation of a U.S. biobased economy built on sustainable and renewable resources instead of petroleum and it will reduce both our dependence on foreign oil and our climate change emissions. - Brent Erickson, executive vice president for BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section
BIO takes note of the following facts arising from the new RFS:
  • At the mandated volumes, biofuels would make up for more than 20 percent of total gasoline for road transport in the United States by 2022. These volumes imply a total revenue pool of about $50 billion to $70 billion for producers and very significant revenues for farmers and suppliers.
  • Enzymes and fermentation organisms necessary for biofuels could represent a business opportunity worth $3 billion to $5 billion.
  • Construction of this capacity requires major capital investments, up to $100 billion for building some 300 new biorefineries.
  • BIOWA (a non-profit group in Iowa) estimates that 10 new cellulosic biorefineries would create 22,000 jobs, yielding $11.6 Billion Economic Impact/yr and $367M Iowa Tax creation.
  • Reducing dependence on oil by about 1.5 million barrels per day is a major move for enhancing energy security.
  • And the United States could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mostly via use of lingocellulosic ethanol, by about 200 million tons of CO2 equivalents. For comparison, 200 million tons is more than the total emissions of a country like the Netherlands.
The Energy Independence and Security Act is seen by BIO as a-game-changing moment in American history. The new law includes the most ambitious policy undertaken by any government in the world to create a viable, large-scale biofuels industry, it says.

The RFS could add as much as $170 billion to the U.S. economy in advanced technology development, biofuel production, and infrastructure construction. McKinsey & Company analysts project that the new RFS will bring the potential for tens of billions of dollars for biotech companies, farmers, suppliers and fuel producers and necessitate the investment of more than 100 billion dollars for building some 300 new plants. The new RFS provisions in the federal energy bill will induce an unprecedented level of venture capital investment in the biofuel industry:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Erickson continued, “The industrial biotechnology and biofuel industries are ready and able to meet the challenge of sustainably increasing production of cellulosic and advanced biofuels to accomplish the goals of the new renewable fuels standard. Industrial biotechnology companies have made extraordinary leaps in an array of applications for biofuel production, from discovery of new microbes and enzymes for cellulosic ethanol production to creation of novel ones through synthetic genomics that can actually produce hydrocarbon molecules. By opening the door to advanced biofuels in the U.S. transportation fuel market, the energy bill will help biotechnology and biofuel companies deliver these advanced biofuel technologies to consumers’ gas tanks.”

According to a February 2007 analysis by Bio Economic Research Associates, productivity of DNA sequencing and synthesis, key industrial biotechnologies, has doubled in the past 12 to 24 months. These productivity improvements have contributed to the discovery and rapid development of new microbes for consolidated biofuel processing by such companies as Mascoma, Verenium, and Sun Ethanol. They have also advanced the work of synthetic genomics companies designing novel microbes for advanced biofuel production, including Gevo, OpX Biotechnologies, and LS9.

A report released by the J. Craig Venter Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in November 2007, “Synthetic Genomics: Options for Governance,” identified at least 24 companies within the United States and 21 in other countries – notably Germany and Canada – engaged in commercial synthesis of gene- and genome-length DNA for applications ranging from biofuels to fine chemical and pharmaceutical production from renewable resources (previous post).
Market demand for environmentally beneficial fuels and products, along with recent advances in industrial biotech, can help create a biobased economy in the United States. Biobased plastics and chemicals made from sustainable renewable resources are already economically competitive with petroleum-based products. Investment in biorefineries spurred by the new renewable fuel standard can support development of other biobased products that further reduce America’s reliance on petroleum. - Brent Erickson, executive vice president for BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section
BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the annual BIO International Convention, the global event for biotechnology.


BIO: Blockbuster Renewable Fuel Standard Plus Advances in Biotechnology Will Transform U.S. Energy Picture and Economy, BIO Says - December 19, 2007.

Biopact: US becomes biofuel nation as Congress approves Energy Bill - December 19, 2007

Biopact: Civil society organizations respond to report on synthetic biology governance - October 18, 2007


Blogger rufus said...

Remember how that flex-fuel Impala got 15% better mileage with an E20 ethanol blend than it did with straight gasoline? This bill will force the car companies into researching/improving their engines' optimization of ethanol.

The EPA will have to get off the schneid, and approve E20 for ALL Vehicles since the new legislation will mandate, essentially, a 20% mixture in the not far-off future.

It will get easier to get a "bank" loan for the construction of a "Cellulosic" refinery since the use of the 2nd generation fuel is now pretty much mandated.

This was a MUCH BIGGER Deal than many people realized. ('ceptin us "smart" guys, right?) :)

6:50 PM  

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