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    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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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Petrobras to push for B20 instead of B2

Via EthanolBrasil. Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras wants to stimulate the use of a bigger mixture of sustainably produced biodiesel than is currently mandated. In 2008 it will start a campaign to convince owners of large captive fleets to switch to a 20% biodiesel blend (B20) instead of the B2 required by law.

According to Jose Eduardo Dutra, president of BR Distribuidora (Petrobras' fuel distribution subsidiary) simulations and trials with B20 have shown that the logistics to get the fuel to captive fleets can be made efficient, even though many obstacles remain. Earlier, the company signed an agreement with Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) - a mining giant and the world's largest iron producer - to supply its locomotives and trucks with B20. To achieve this, BR Distribuidora will open 80 biofuel supply points across the country covering the mining, melting and logistical operations of CVRD (earlier post).

According to Dutra, Aracruz Cellulose, the world's leading supplier of bleached eucalyptus pulp, is negotiating a similar B20 supply deal. In this case, the logistics are more complex because of the scattered locations of the company's activities: it has two pulp making plants, one at Barra do Riacho in Espírito Santo state and the other at Guaíba in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Forestry operations are located in these states as well as in Bahia and Minas Gerais. But at the same time, biodiesel production plants have been established in these states, making a decentralised supply possible, though untried.

Petrobras further signed a contract with VIP, an urban bus company in São Paulo, to deliver B20.

With these contracts and its national B2 supply obligation, Petrobras is looking at a total supply of 336 million liters of biodiesel in 2008. According to Dutra contracts show a willingness amongst large fleets to switch to a high proportion of biodiesel, and he expects the number to go up because of a concerted campaign.

In June and August, Petrobras signalled difficulties in delivering the product and admitted the delays were caused by its inability to pool together enough biodiesel manufacturers willing to sell at prices offered by Petrobras, and needed to start supplying large quantities of the fuel across the country's territory. But these obstacles have now been 'practically surpassed'.

The logistics of biodiesel supplies are 'totally different' from those of Petrobras' petroleum products distribution, and they have to be matched in order to mix fossil diesel with the biofuel. The company's oil refineries are all located on the coast, while biodiesel plants are located inland, close to the feedstock source:
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Because of this situation, Petrobras faced a chicken-and-egg situation: as long as there weren't enough large fleets switching to B20, biodiesel capacity and demand was not growing sufficiently enough to warrant investments in supply points and complex distribution chains. And as long as these weren't created, biodiesel manufacturers were hesitatant to increase production or to sell to Petrobras at low prices.

The delivery obstacles are now out of the way, but biodiesel producers are already selling their output at a better price than the contracts Petrobras negotiated with them. New biodiesel auctions offered them higher prices, on the anticipation that from January 2008 onwards, the national B2 mandate comes into force.

However, Durta stressed that all contractual obligations will be met because otherwise manufacturers face severe fines from the National Petroleum Agency.

In order to pull the biodiesel producers back into Petrobras' arms, the company will now launch its B20 campaign for captive fleets, hoping it will take scale advantages that will enable it to negotiate for good prices after the B2 mandate comes into effect.

Biodiesel is produced in Brazil under a new Pro-Biodiesel program, launched during president Lula's first term in office. In contrast to the much older Pro-Alcool program, the new policy from the start included measures to improve the environmental and social sustainability of the biofuel. Incentives are available to manufacturers who source their feedstock from small farmers, members of cooperatives, who are trained and assisted by experts from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Biodiesel produced under this scheme receives a 'Social Fuel Stamp'. The program is meeting some success and is estimated to be benefiting some 60,000 rural families.

: castor bean farmers in the arid, poor Northeast of Brazil, supplying biodiesel manufacturers with feedstock under the Social Fuel program. Credit: ANBA.

EthanolBrasil: Petrobras quer incentivar mistura maior do biocombustível - December 10, 2007.

Biopact: World's largest iron producer CVRD to use biodiesel in its trains - May 18, 2007

Biopact: An in-depth look at Brazil's "Social Fuel Seal" - March 23, 2007


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