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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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Friday, December 21, 2007

Report: CHP to power corn ethanol production boosts energy balance of fuel, reduces emissions

One of the reasons why Brazil's sugarcane ethanol has such a strong energy balance and low carbon emissions profile is to be found in the fact that biomass (bagasse) is used as the energy source to power the production of the fuel. The renewable biomass cogenerates both heat and power to the biofuel plant, with excess electricity sold to the grid. Now a report by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) CHP Partnership shows that the adoption of combined heat and power (CHP) can achieve similar benefits in dry mill corn ethanol plants. CHP can reduce total energy use by up to 55% over state-of-the-art dry mill ethanol plants that purchase central station power, and can result in negative net CO2 emissions depending upon the fuel type used and CHP configuration.

The revised report, 'Impact of Combined Heat and Power on Energy Use and Carbon Emissions in the Dry Mill Ethanol Process' [*.pdf], includes updated data on energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions for state-of-the-art dry mill ethanol plants fueled by natural gas, coal, and biomass with and without CHP systems.

Dry milling has become the primary production process for corn ethanol. In the process, whole dry kernels are milled and sent to fermenters where the starch portion is fermented into ethanol. The remaining, unfermentable portions are produced as distilled grains and solubles (DGS) and used for animal feed.

Most dry mill ethanol plants use natural gas as the process fuel for raising steam for mash cooking, distillation, and evaporation. It is also used directly in DGS dryers and in thermal oxidizers that destroy the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in the dryer exhaust.

Although new plants use only about half of the energy used by the earliest ethanol plants, the rising price of natural gas is pushing the industry to explore other means to cut energy consumption, or to switch from natural gas to other fuels such as coal, wood chips, or even the use of DGS and other process byproducts.

The report evaluated five CHP system configurations and compared them to three base-case non-CHP ethanol plants (powered by natural-gas, coal and biomass).
Case 1: Natural gas in a gas turbine/supplemental-fired heat recovery steam generator (HRSG)—Electric output sized to meet plant demand; supplemental firing needed in the HRSG to augment steam recovered from the gas turbine exhaust.
Case 2: Natural gas in gas turbine with power export—Thermal output sized to meet plant steam load without supplemental firing; excess power generated for export.

Case 3: Natural gas in a gas turbine/steam turbine with power export (combined cycle)—Thermal output sized to meet plant steam load without supplemental firing; steam turbine added to generate additional power from high-pressure steam before going to process; maximum power generated for export.

Case 4: Coal CHP, High-pressure fluidized bed coal boiler with steam turbine generator—Exhaust from steam-heated DDGS dryer integrated into the boiler intake for combustion air and VOC destruction.

Case 5: Biomass CHP, High-pressure fluidized bed biomass boiler with steam turbine generator—Exhaust from steam-heated DDGS dryer integrated into the boiler intake for combustion air and VOC destruction:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

In all cases, fuel consumption at the plant increases with the use of CHP. However, total net fuel consumption is reduced, as electricity generated by the CHP systems displaces less efficient central station power (graph 1, click to enlarge). In the two natural gas CHP cases with excess power available for export (Cases 2 and 3), the displaced central station fuel represents a significant credit against increased fuel use at the plant. The total fuel savings for Cases 2 and 3 are 44 percent and 55 percent, respectively, over the natural gas base case.

Total CO2 emissions are reduced for all CHP cases compared to their respective base case plants. Total net CO2 emissions in Case 2 represent an 87% reduction compared to the natural gas base case. Total plant CO2 emissions for Case 3 are actually less than the displaced central station emissions, resulting in a negative (-0.71 pounds per gallon) net CO2 emissions rate compared to the base case. The lowest net CO2 emissions at the plant are obtained when biomass is used as the fuel (graph 2, click to enlarge).

The report is set to undermine many of the critiques leveled against corn ethanol. Some have argued that the biofuel - as it is currently produced - requires more energy to produce than consumers get out of it and that it doesn't contribute much to lowering carbon emissions. But when efficient cogeneration is used as the power and heat source to drive processes at the plant, both the energy and GHG balance of the fuel improves considerably.

Add the fact that in the future CO2 from the fermentation of ethanol will be captured and geosequestered, and the carbon balance of the fuel improves still further. Just recently, the US Department of Energy announced it is funding such a project.


EPA CHP Partnership: Impact of Combined Heat and Power on Energy Use and Carbon Emissions in the Dry Mill Ethanol Process [*.pdf] - November 2007.

Biopact: Towards carbon-negative biofuels: US DOE awards $66.7 million for large-scale CO2 capture and storage from ethanol plant - December 19, 2007


Blogger rufus said...

The future of U.S. Corn ethanol production is the Poet Voyager ethanol refinery expansion. It will produce "cellulosic" ethanol from corn cobs, and corn fiber, and utilize both biomass, and bio-gas. It will, also, produce corn oil from the germ, and, of course, distillers grains from the corn endosperm.

It will have a "Very Strong" EROEI, and will give us a domestic base to build from.

Poet has a webinar on the process at it's website: Rhapsodyingreen. It's worth the visit. (No, I'm NOT connected with Poet in any way - just an interested observer.)

3:35 PM  

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