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    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.

    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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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

World's cleanest energy one step closer: EESTech acquires CCS technology that can be applied to biomass

In an interesting development, EESTech, Inc. today announced the acquisition of a leading carbon capture and storage technology from Canadian company, HTC Purenergy. The technology can be applied to EESTech's biomass capable Hybrid Coal Gas Turbine (HCGT) technology, which means carbon-negative bioenergy - the most radical climate friendly form of energy - has come one step closer. The acquisition is structured around a share swap, with EESTech acquiring 100% of the shares in CO2 Technologies Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of HTC Purenergy, giving EESTech the exclusive rights to commercialise the CCS technology in China, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore.

Renewable energy technologies like wind or solar power, as well as nuclear, deliver 'carbon neutral' electricity, that is, energy that doesn't add new greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Power generated from fossil fuels on the contrary is strongly 'carbon positive' as it emits copious amounts of climate destructive CO2. To make fossil energy cleaner, researchers are looking into capturing the CO2 from power plants before it enters the atmosphere, and then to store the gas in depleted oil & gas fields, or in other geological formations such as saline aquifers.

But carbon capture and storage (CCS) has its critics. They fear the gas might leak, even though geologists are confident that there are enough suitable sites that can lock up the gas for centuries. Another point of criticism is that the investments in CCS are taking away money from the renewables industry.

Both these arguments can be side-stepped by the most radical of clean energy technologies, namely the production of renewable carbon-negative bioenergy. This form of energy, also called 'bio-energy with carbon storage' (BECS) effectively results in negative emissions. This means that each time you utilize electricity from BECS, you actually take historic emissions out of the atmosphere. Solar and wind merely prevent new emissions from occuring, but carbon negative bioenergy goes much further, by effectively taking previous emissions out of the carbon cycle (schematic, click to enlarge).

This makes BECS very radical, and the cleanest of all energy technologies. No other energy technology can deliver negative emissions. A coal plant without CCS generates around 800 grams of CO2 per kWh of electricity produced; CO2 emissions from a coal plant with CCS can be reduced to significantly to under 100 g/kWh; solar and wind offer low carbon emissions over their lifecycle, ranging from 30 to 100 g CO2eq/kWh; but electricity from a negative emissions bioenergy system generates -1000 g CO2/kWh, that is minus a thousand grammes.

So the argument that CCS investments divert money away from renewables is incorrect, because biomass is a renewable resource. In fact, the sooner CCS technologies become less costly and the faster research can be focused on developing dedicated capture technologies for biogenic gases, the sooner we can tackle climate change with BECS. Scientists have found that if applied on a planetary scale, BECS systems can take us back to pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 levels by mid-century and thus solve the climate crisis in a safe and relatively short time.

The CCS technology acquired today by EESTech goes a far way in developing this futuristic vision of a world powered by negative emissions. It was developed in conjunction with the leading University Of Regina's Greenhouse Gas Technology Centre and the International Test Centre for Carbon Capture, in Saskatchewan, Canada, a major research consortium for CCS technologies.

The process works in three steps: capturing the CO2 from flue gases via designer solvents (which can be designed to work on flue gases from the combustion of biomass), compressing the gas, and transporting it to the geosequestration site (see animation).

Capturing CO2
  • The exhaust gas from the power plant is the source of CO2.The exhaust gas is cooled before it reaches the capture process itself in order to optimise the process. The flue-gas cooler is the largest consumer of cooling water in the process, typically using 50% of the cooling water.
  • The flue-gas will meet some physical resistance within the capture plant on its way to the atmosphere, and this will result in a certain pressure drop in the exhaust gas. In order to ensure that the power plant’s gas turbine does not suffer a loss of power because of the capture facility, a blower is located in the flue-gas duct, either before the cooling unit or between it and the actual capture plant.
  • From the blower, the gases are brought to the bottom of an absorption tower, which is filled with a packing material that offers a large surface that the absorption solvent follows on its way down through the tower. The solvent is an amine or a mixture of amines dissolved in water, which absorb the CO2 in the flue-gas as it flows upwards through the tower. The CO2 removal efficiency for flue-gases from gas-turbine exhaust will typically be 85%.
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
  • After the CO2 has been captured by the amine, it has to be released by heating the solvent. The desorption of CO2 takes place in the desorption tower, also known as a stripper. This is done by allowing the amine containing the CO2 to flow down the packing material that fills the tower, while steam and CO2 flow upwards. The steam has two functions:a) it transfers the necessary heat to the amine, and b) it draws the released CO2 out of the tower. The mixture of steam and CO2 that exits the top of the stripper is cooled down, and most of the steam is condensed while the CO2 remains in a gaseous phase.
  • The water is pumped back to the stripper while the CO2 is directed to the dehydration and compression stages and on to transportation.
  • The amine flows from the bottom of the stripper to the reboiler, where the steam used in the desorption process is generated. The heat for the reboiler is steam generated by heat from an external source. This reboiler is the largest consumer of heat in the CO2 separation process.
  • A flow of virtually CO2-free amine solution leaves the boiler and is led back to the absorber, where it once again absorbs CO2.
  • In the absorption tower, the reaction between CO2 and amine produces heat, with the result that a certain amount of amine and water will evaporate during the absorption process and be carried upwards through the tower along with the flue-gases. The gas is saturated with steam and amines . As well as losing a portion of the amines, the water losses will also be large. In order to minimise water losses and emissions of amines, a water-wash process is integrated at the top of the absorption tower.
  • Cold water with a low concentration of amines washes the flue-gases, dissolving the amines while the water balance is maintained by the steam being condensed by the cold water.
  • When the solvent comes into contact with the flue-gases, the amines will also react with other components in the flue-gas, such as O2 and NOx. How much of these are absorbed will vary from one amine to another, and will also depend on the design of the absorption tower. These reactions form heat-stable salts that will not be released from the amine solution by the stripping process. Since the amine mixture is circulated between the absorber and the desorber, the amount of heat-stable salts in the solvent will gradually rise. After a certain period of time, the concentration of these salts will be so high that the CO absorption rate will be reduced. This is handled by the use of a reclaiming unit.
  • A side stream of the circulated solvent is heated so that the water and amines evaporate and are led back to the process. When the water and amines have been boiled off, what remains at the bottom of the reclaimer is a viscous liquid that must be disposed of. The waste will contain some amines and water, but will consist mostly of heat-stable salts.
CO2 compression
  • After the CO2 has been separated from the flue-gas in the capture plant, it must be dried and compressed. This is done in a multistage process of compression, cooling and water separation.
  • Pressure, temperature and water content all need to be adapted to the method of transportation (pipeline or vessel) and pressure requirement at the storage site. A typical compression and dehydration process for pipeline transportation is illustrated schematically (click to enlarge).
  • CO2 from the capture plant arrives at the dehydration and compression stage at about room temperature and at a little above atmospheric pressure. Apart from the CO2, the gas contains some steam and small fractions of impurities (nitrogen, oxygen, and traces of amines and other substances).
CO2 transportation
  • When CO2 is being transported by pipeline, compression requirements are determined by the supply pressure at the delivery site and the pressure drop through the transportation pipeline. The pressure in the pipeline should always be high enough to ensure that the CO2 is in a supercritical state, i.e. above 50 – 70 bars, depending on the temperature. Where a simple storage solution is involved, the offshore supply pressure is 70 – 100 bars while the pressure requirement for EOR may be higher. In order to meet pressure requirements of this order, the pressure of the CO2 may be anything from 150 bars to 300 bars or higher as it leaves the capture plant, depending on the type of transportation and the storage pressure involved.
  • The combination of water and CO2 in a pipeline creates corrosive conditions, requiring the water content to be kept low and monitored continuously in order to avoid corrosion and hydrate formation.
This CCS technology will now be applied to EESTech's patented, biomass capable HCGT technology which was co-developed with an Australian Government Research facility. The HCGT uses waste coal, ventilated air methane or biomass to produce electricity and steam. When the HCGT is integrated with HTC Purenergy's CCS technology the combined system can capture CO2 from power stations and other industrial flue gases, delivering a commercial-ready, cost-effective solution for the capture of CO2. If biomass only is used, the system would effectively deliver negative emissions energy.

The integration of both technologies has been independently validated as cost-effective climate change technologies. When the HCGT and CCS systems are combined they become the world's first stand-alone Hybrid CCS System that is non-disruptive to industry. The combined efficiencies of the HCGT and CCS Systems will set a new industry benchmark by reducing the cost of carbon capture and sequestration by up to 40%:
The combined technologies are globally relevant technologies in the world of today. They can be fitted as a stand-alone carbon capture service to a vast proportion of existing and planned [...] power stations. This acquisition will position EESTech, Inc. as a leader in this fast-growing marketplace and as a provider of clean coal and carbon capture technologies that are economically and environmentally sustainable. - Murray Bailey, EESTech CEO
EESTech's integrated hybrid system will cut emissions of both carbon dioxide and fugitive methane, which is 21 times more harmful as a greenhouse gas than CO2.

Using captured CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) is another option that will benefit oil field operators by extending the life of depleted oil reserves, and by yielding an increase of up to 6.5 barrels of oil for every new ton of CO2 injected into suitable oil formations.

EESTech, Inc. is well positioned to capitalize on both the energy-intensive resource boom, and the unfolding industries that will need to meet energy demands in a carbon-constrained global economy.

The announcement follows EESTech, Inc.'s September news that it had signed model power purchase and fuel supply terms with Beijing XingliYuan Science & Technology Company to provide Hybrid Coal Gas Turbines applicable to coal mine companies in China.
The ability of the HCGT to use waste as a fuel to generate both the energy and steam required for carbon capture and sequestration offer tremendous cost savings. We look forward to working with EESTech, Inc. and the opportunity to supply cost-effective CO2 capture for the emerging EOR / Sequestration markets in the Asia Pacific region. - Lionel Kambeitz, CEO of HTC Purenergy
EESTech, Inc. was incorporated in the US and is a US Corporation permitted to trade stock on the US Bulletin Board.

Images: all CCS schematics courtesy of HTC Pure Energy; comparison of carbon emissions of different forms of energy, Biopact.

HTC Pure Energy: publications on its CCS technologies.


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