<body> -------------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home / Archive
Nature Blog Network

    Spanish company Ferry Group is to invest €42/US$55.2 million in a project for the production of biomass fuel pellets in Bulgaria. The 3-year project consists of establishing plantations of paulownia trees near the city of Tran. Paulownia is a fast-growing tree used for the commercial production of fuel pellets. Dnevnik - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Hungary's BHD Hõerõmû Zrt. is to build a 35 billion Forint (€138/US$182 million) commercial biomass-fired power plant with a maximum output of 49.9 MW in Szerencs (northeast Hungary). Portfolio.hu - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Tonight at 9pm, BBC Two will be showing a program on geo-engineering techniques to 'save' the planet from global warming. Five of the world's top scientists propose five radical scientific inventions which could stop climate change dead in its tracks. The ideas include: a giant sunshade in space to filter out the sun's rays and help cool us down; forests of artificial trees that would breath in carbon dioxide and stop the green house effect and a fleet futuristic yachts that will shoot salt water into the clouds thickening them and cooling the planet. BBC News - Feb. 19, 2007.

    Archer Daniels Midland, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Indonesia with Wilmar International Ltd. this year and a wholly owned biodiesel plant in Brazil before July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The Brazil plant is expected to be the nation's largest, the paper said. Worldwide, the company projects a fourfold rise in biodiesel production over the next five years. ADM was not immediately available to comment. Reuters - Feb. 16, 2007.

    Finnish engineering firm Pöyry Oyj has been awarded contracts by San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. to provide services for the first bioethanol plant in the Philippines. The aggregate contract value is EUR 10 million. The plant is to be build in the Province of San Carlos on the north-eastern tip of Negros Island. The plant is expected to deliver 120,000 liters/day of bioethanol and 4 MW of excess power to the grid. Kauppalehti Online - Feb. 15, 2007.

    In order to reduce fuel costs, a Mukono-based flower farm which exports to Europe, is building its own biodiesel plant, based on using Jatropha curcas seeds. It estimates the fuel will cut production costs by up to 20%. New Vision (Kampala, Uganda) - Feb. 12, 2007.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to use 10% biodiesel in its fleet of public buses. The world's largest city is served by the Toei Bus System, which is used by some 570,000 people daily. Digital World Tokyo - Feb. 12, 2007.

    Fearing lack of electricity supply in South Africa and a price tag on CO2, WSP Group SA is investing in a biomass power plant that will replace coal in the Letaba Citrus juicing plant which is located in Tzaneen. Mining Weekly - Feb. 8, 2007.

    In what it calls an important addition to its global R&D capabilities, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is to build a new bioenergy research center in Hamburg, Germany. World Grain - Feb. 5, 2007.

    EthaBlog's Henrique Oliveira interviews leading Brazilian biofuels consultant Marcelo Coelho who offers insights into the (foreign) investment dynamics in the sector, the history of Brazilian ethanol and the relationship between oil price trends and biofuels. EthaBlog - Feb. 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has announced its renewable energy target: 12% of all energy should come from renewables by 2020. The plan is expected to revitalise Taiwan's agricultural sector and to boost its nascent biomass industry. China Post - Feb. 2, 2007.

    Production at Cantarell, the world's second biggest oil field, declined by 500,000 barrels or 25% last year. This virtual collapse is unfolding much faster than projections from Mexico's state-run oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos. Wall Street Journal - Jan. 30, 2007.

    Dubai-based and AIM listed Teejori Ltd. has entered into an agreement to invest €6 million to acquire a 16.7% interest in Bekon, which developed two proprietary technologies enabling dry-fermentation of biomass. Both technologies allow it to design, establish and operate biogas plants in a highly efficient way. Dry-Fermentation offers significant advantages to the existing widely used wet fermentation process of converting biomass to biogas. Ame Info - Jan. 22, 2007.

    Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited is to build a biofuel production plant in the tribal belt of Banswara, Rajasthan, India. The petroleum company has acquired 20,000 hectares of low value land in the district, which it plans to commit to growing jatropha and other biofuel crops. The company's chairman said HPCL was also looking for similar wasteland in the state of Chhattisgarh. Zee News - Jan. 15, 2007.

    The Zimbabwean national police begins planting jatropha for a pilot project that must result in a daily production of 1000 liters of biodiesel. The Herald (Harare), Via AllAfrica - Jan. 12, 2007.

    In order to meet its Kyoto obligations and to cut dependence on oil, Japan has started importing biofuels from Brazil and elsewhere. And even though the country has limited local bioenergy potential, its Agriculture Ministry will begin a search for natural resources, including farm products and their residues, that can be used to make biofuels in Japan. To this end, studies will be conducted at 900 locations nationwide over a three-year period. The Japan Times - Jan. 12, 2007.

    Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched an arrogant attack on "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their attitudes to global warming, calling the Stern Review 'dubious'. The remarks illustrate the yawning gap between opinions on climate change among Europeans and Americans, but they also strengthen the view that announcements by US car makers and legislators about the development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing. Today, the EU announced its comprehensive energy policy for the 21st century, with climate change at the center of it. BBC News - Jan. 10, 2007.

    The new Canadian government is investing $840,000 into BioMatera Inc. a biotech company that develops industrial biopolymers (such as PHA) that have wide-scale applications in the plastics, farmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Plant-based biopolymers such as PHA are biodegradable and renewable. Government of Canada - Jan. 9, 2007.

Creative Commons License

Saturday, February 24, 2007

EU opens public consultation on carbon capture and storage

As announced in its ambitious Energy and Climate Change Package adopted on 10 January 2007, the European Commission is preparing a legislative proposal which aims at establishing the regulatory framework for the capture of carbon dioxide and its geological storage, often referred to as “carbon capture and storage” (CCS).

To that end, Stavros Dimas (Commissioner for Environment), Andris Piebalgs (Commissioner for Energy) and Janez Potočnik (Commissioner for Science and Research) are analysing and studying this potentially important tool for the environment and energy policies of the European Union.

CCS is a technology concept to reduce the atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide that result from various industrial processes, in particular from the use of fossil fuels (mainly coal and natural gas) in power generation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) views CCS as “an option in the portfolio of mitigation actions” to combat climate change. CCS is expected to have far-reaching implications for the industry sectors based on fossil fuels, both in the EU and worldwide.

CCS can be also used in so-called "Bio-Energy with Carbon Storage" (BECS) systems, a radical carbon negative energy concept. BECS relies on burning renewable and climate neutral biofuels instead of fossil fuels, after which the CO2 released is sequestered, making the over-all GHG balance negative. BECS is the only system that can take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere while delivering energy at the same time. Scientists who proposed BECS in the context of so-called "abrupt climate change" think such a system can take us back to pre-industrial CO2 levels in a few decades (earlier post and a comparison between 'synthetic trees' and BECS).

Several CCS projects are currently underway (earlier post), but leakage of CO2 out of its storage medium remains a risk. A recently launched test in Australia is aimed at assessing this risk and other uncertainties (earlier post). Meanwhile, scientists are researching novel sequestration techniques and media, such as storing the gas in saline aquifers (earlier post) or transforming it into a liquid form and keeping it sequestered under cold conditions (earlier post).

Given the uncertainties and many unknowns surrounding CCS, the European commissioners now wish to consult European citizens and other stakeholders on the potential benefits and challenges of the technology, and how it relates to other energy and greenhouse gas mitigation options.

It is clear that the Biopact will suggest the EU look thoroughly into BECS. Our proposition consists of coupling the production of the biofuels in the Global South (basically short-rotation trees and herbaceaous biomass crops), to their use in the carbon negative energy system. This way, the developing world can benefit from the enormous bioenergy opportunity, which can bring millions of jobs to the rural poor and alleviate poverty on a massive scale, while globally, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels can be reduced fast and substantially. Vast amounts of biomass for energy can be grown efficiently and sustainably in the South, without threatening the food security of people, and without damaging the environment. The biomass can then be transported over long distances, with only negligeable losses in the energy and GHG balance (earlier post). For the African continent alone, the longterm maximum production potential for sustainably grown biomass for exports is estimated at around 410 exajoules per year, roughly the total amount of energy currently consumed by the world from all sources (nuclear, fossil fuels, hydro and renewables) (earlier post).

The consultation is open until 16 April 2007. Thereafter, a link to key findings will be added to this website. If you are a stakeholder or a concerned EU citizen, then click here to start the questionnaire (other language versions are forthcoming) [entry ends here].
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Article continues

Organic farming and local products not always better for the environment - report

Norman Borlaug, the father of the 'Green Revolution' and Nobel laureate, has often said that organic farming is more an ideological statement of scientifically illiterate but wealthy consumers, than an agronomically sensible idea. In an interview with Reason Magazine he explained why:
Reason: What do you think of organic farming? A lot of people claim it's better for human health and the environment.
That's ridiculous. This shouldn't even be a debate. Even if you could use all the organic material that you have--the animal manures, the human waste, the plant residues--and get them back on the soil, you couldn't feed more than 4 billion people. In addition, if all agriculture were organic, you would have to increase cropland area dramatically, spreading out into marginal areas and cutting down millions of acres of forests.
At the present time, approximately 80 million tons of nitrogen nutrients are utilized each year. If you tried to produce this nitrogen organically, you would require an additional 5 or 6 billion head of cattle to supply the manure. How much wild land would you have to sacrifice just to produce the forage for these cows? There's a lot of nonsense going on here.
If people want to believe that the organic food has better nutritive value, it's up to them to make that foolish decision. But there's absolutely no research that shows that organic foods provide better nutrition. As far as plants are concerned, they can't tell whether that nitrate ion comes from artificial chemicals or from decomposed organic matter. If some consumers believe that it's better from the point of view of their health to have organic food, God bless them. Let them buy it. Let them pay a bit more. It's a free society. But don't tell the world that we can feed the present population without chemical fertilizer. That's when this misinformation becomes destructive.
The scientist who understands the complexities of food security like no other indicates that introducing organic farming in the developing world would be disastrous for the environment, because it requires more land and extensive forms of agriculture. Instead, and in the name of sustainability, Borlaug advocates classic recipes that have proved to work, and that have brought food security to billions: fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, plant-breeding and crop improvement, biotech research, and if necessary, genetically modified crops. (By the way, Borlaug is working on genetically improving cassava, as part of an effort to produce biofuels in the South, to alleviate poverty and food insecurity - earlier post).

It seems like Borlaug has got it right, at least as far as his critique of organic farming is concerned. In a new study, Britain's environmental protection agency DEFRA (Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) shows that organic farming is often worse for the environment than classic, intensive farming.

The report, titled "The Environmental Impact of Food Production and Consumption" [*.pdf], concludes that the environmental benefits of organic food production are not clear and that locally-sourced rather than globally-sourced products are not necessarily more energy efficient. It also shows that reduced use of fertilizers requires more, not less, land for agriculture, increasing pressure on natural forests and ecosystems.

Recently, we urged European and American consumers to think more carefully about their consumer actions, as they affect millions of poor farmers, their environment and the biofuels future. Applying the idea of 'food miles', for example, which has become quite fashionable, would in all seriousness require quite complex and refined analyses and comparisons of products, which are currently lacking. The concept has become hip as part of a 'buy local' campaign, but its gratuitous application can have perverse effects, both from an environmental and energetic point of view. It may actually be wiser to import food and biofuels from a country thousands of kilometres away.

More importantly, we think, is the lack of insights into the potentially disastrous socio-economic effects of such campaigns: poor farmers in the South who today produce for the lucrative markets of the North may be kicked back into poverty, just because individuals in the West decide "to do something" about climate change and for sustainability, while in fact they are doing the contrary. And when these farmers lose their markets, they are forced to resort back to extensive, environmentally destructive agricultural practises (earlier post).

This is why the DEFRA report is more than welcome. It may teach consumers in the West that there is no quick-fix to solve climate change, the energy crisis or poverty in the South. Concepts such as 'food miles', 'fair trade', 'carbon footprints' and 'organic' certainly have their merits, but when they are used gratuituously, as marketing labels and picked up by questionable campaigns or trend-driven individuals, they can be very damaging.

DEFRA's report, prepared by the Manchester Business School, is based on the analysis of the full environmental impacts of 150 top-selling food items. Seven food groups were considered: basic carbohydrate foods, fruit and vegetables, dairy products, meat products, fish and other basic protein foods, drinks – alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and mixed products, snacks and other items. Amongst the factors analysed were:
  • the effect on water in the area (both usage and pollution)
  • energy use for cultivation
  • global warming potential
  • impacts arising from nutrient releases
  • processing, refrigeration and packaging impacts
"This is the first time such a comprehensive review of the available evidence has been carried out in the UK, and it highlights some challenging problems that DEFRA will need to consider in their development of policies for sustainable food production and consumption," says project director professor Ken Green:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

"If you are concerned about the 'carbon footprint' of foods, there can be good case for importing some of them (eg tomatoes or lamb) even if they can be grown in the UK. The evidence available so far shows that 'local' is not always the best option for the environment.”

The main findings of the report further showed that:

-the environmental benefits of organic food production are not clear-cut
-there is no clear evidence in environmental terms to support locally-sourced rather than globally-sourced shopping. For some foods, global sourcing might be a better option for the environment;
-the impact of car-based shopping by individual consumers is greater than the impact of transport within the food production distribution system
-the impact of packaging on food is difficult to quantify because the disposal of that packaging varies within the UK (eg discard rates by consumers and recycling/ recovery policies in different local authorities)

The authors caution that the report only considers the environmental effects of food production and consumption, and not the social or economic impacts of sourcing agricultural products locally or buying organic. These, in fact, may often be even worse, considering that many products are produced by millions of small-scale farmers in the developing world. If consumers in the West suddenly decide to 'go local' - for whatever obscure reason - these farmers are kicked back into poverty because they lose their markets.

More information:

DEFRA Environmental Protection: Sustainable Consumption and Production. Research programme themes: Theme 4: Impacts of food production and consumption.

Manchester Business School: DEFRA study highlights challenges of “sustainable consumption” - Feb. 4. 2007

Foster, C. et al. (2007) The Environmental Impact of Food Production and Consumption A report to the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs. [*.pdf, 6MB] Manchester Business School. DEFRA, London.

Reason Online: Billions Served: Norman Borlaug interviewed by Ronald Bailey - Apr. 2000.

Article continues

Biofuels in Ivory Coast: U.S. company plans to invest US$ 130mn

Until recently, the former French colony of Côte d'Ivoire was West-Africa's pride. For an African country Ivory Coast was politically stable, had a strong economy based on a robust agricultural sector, and an excellent infrastructure. Its capital, Abidjan, was seen as the 'Paris of the tropics' and, being West-Africa's largest port, reached levels of prosperity seen nowhere else on the continent. But then, in 2002, a civil war broke out and split the country in two, with rebel groups taking the North, and the government of Laurent Gbagbo controlling the capital and the South. The conflict is complex: ethnic strife mixed with a resource war in which local, regional and multinational interests are at stake. Despite French and UN interference, the situation in the 17 million strong nation remains tense today.

The civil war has had an immediate effect on agriculture - which employs 70% of the population - and the economy in general. Ivory Coast is the world's largest cacao exporter, the third largest coffee exporter, and a major palm oil and cotton producer. These sectors are mainly managed by small to medium enterprises that employ millions. But many of these companies were in the hands of French expatriates, who left the country en masse as the conflict broke out. Only large multinationals - who can absorb shocks and risks far more easily - remained.

Ivorian farmers do have a strong tradition of organising highly effective social movements, unions and civil society organisations. This capacity has led them to root out some of the most exploitative practises - such as child labor and plantation slavery - , even though much remains to be done. It has also allowed them to survive the conflict surprisingly well.

In theory, the country's agricultural sector could be revived fairly rapidly, as the excellent Ivorian infrastructure (road, rail and deep-water port) and the agricultural service sector has remained intact. The country has a large biofuels production potential, and some have seen this new global market as an opportunity to replicate Ivory Coast's successes with cacao, coffee and cotton. Given strong dependence on these agricultural products, diversifying into biofuels is seen an important way to mitigate the risks inherent in producing basic commodities for a volatile world market.

According to local newspapers, a newly established U.S. company, 21st Century Energy, specialised in converting underutilized agricultural resources into valuable products, now wants to invest up to €99/US$130 million over five years into the bioenergy sector. It plans to establish a 10,000 MT/day ethanol production facility that will use sugarcane, maize and sweet sorghum as primary feedstocks. Possibly a biodiesel production initiative will follow, that would rely on abundant but underutilized cotton seed and noix de cajou (cashew) residues. The ethanol plant would be the first industrial scale facility, and the largest in West-Africa.

The project is expected to bring 10,000 jobs, increased farmers incomes, and a series of 'social works' (a school, a hospital and a market), as well as an educational initiative and an extension service to reach local farmers:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

21st Century Energy's CEO, M. David Meyers, headed a delegation to Ivory Coast to meet with Sangafowa Coulibaly, chief of the cabinet of the Ministry of Agriculture, with the commercial attaché to the Ivorian embassy in Washington and with a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For Meyers, the visit was aimed at evaluating the investment climate and the interest of the Ivorian authorities in the project, to check the land planned to be used for the establishment of plantations and the greenfield for the ethanl plant. Meyers also visited the deep water port of Abidjan and received a tour of logistical infrastructures.

The Ivorian government assured that it is "fully backing the development of renewables in the country. On the one hand to cut Ivory Coast's dependence on volatile oil, and on the other hand to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. For this reason, the Ministry of Energy, in co-operation with the Ministry of Agriculture, gas created a national strategic policy framework for biofuels."

According to the Minister of Planning and Development, Paul Antoine Bohoun Bouabré, Ivory Coast has a large and skilled workforce able to make the project work, without the need to rely on foreign workers.

Ivory Coast's sugarcane sector is currently dominated by large companies working on an estate level, whereas its maize sector is dominated by smallholders who produce mainly for the local market.

21st Century Energy is expected to commence its activities in the country before the end of the year.

More information:
Fraternité Matin (Abidjan), via AllAfrica: Côte d'Ivoire: Biocarburant, une société veut en produire en Côte d'Ivoire - Feb. 20, 2007

Le Patriote (Abidjan), via AllAfrica: Côte d'Ivoire: Bio-énergie - Production de l'éthanol, des investisseurs américains à l'assaut de la Côte d'Ivoire - Feb. 16 2007

Article continues

Florida grants US$ 1 million to study cellulosic ethanol from sugarcane bagasse

Earlier we pointed to a basic study on the potential for the production of cellulosic ethanol from the biomass residues of tropical biofuel crops (previous post). Currently, the easily extractable parts of these crops - sweet potatoes, cassava, palm oil, sweet sorghum, sugarcane - are converted into liquid biofuels using 'first generation' technologies. The starch, sugar and oil they yield is extracted by simple mechanical processing, after which they are distilled or transesterified into fuel. The biomass residues - stems, crushed canes, leaves, stalks, fronds, shells, press cakes - are often discarded as waste if they don't find other markets. Sometimes they are even burned in the open air, thus contributing to climate change.

However, sugar and ethanol producers have learned to use bagasse, the fibrous residue from crushed canes, as a biomass feedstock for the production of steam and power in cogeneration plants. The residues contain enough energy to power the entire processing plant, and even to sell excess electricity to the grid. This tradition - most notably found in Brazil - makes both the sustainability, the GHG-balance, and the energy balance of sugarcane ethanol quite strong (earlier post). Palm oil producers in South-East Asia have recently become interested in using a similar combination of resources, not least because fossil fuels have become expensive (earlier posts on the use of 'empty fruit bunches', the use of palm oil mill effluents for the production of biogas, and on the rising popularity in SE Asia of cogeneration using biomass waste streams in general).

The economics of ethanol and the emergence of next generation bioconversion technologies may however change this already efficient way of using the biomass. Bagasse - rich in cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin - could be used as a feedstock for the production of so-called 'cellulosic ethanol' and thus have its value upgraded. This prospect has prompted Brazilian analysts to predict that sugarcane ethanol's impressive energy balance and fuel yield could be doubled, once more, in a matter of decades (earlier post), making the viability of large scale gasoline substitution all the more likely.

Help from Florida
To make this happen, help may come from Florida, the only U.S. state where the climate is favorable for the production of a tropical crop like sugar cane. The government there has awarded research funds under its 'Renewable Energy Technologies Grant Program', with one of the awarded projects being that of the Florida International University, entitled “Assessment and Development of Pretreatment for Sugarcane Bagasse to Commercialize Cellulosic Ethanol Technology” [*.pdf], for which it received a US$990,532 grant:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The university project will determine the technical feasibility of using Florida sugarcane waste as a feedstock for a large-scale ethanol industry in the state. The institution will try to identify a cost-effective pretreatment process to make sugarcane waste a viable feedstock for ethanol production. The proposal is a joint effort between the university and Florida Crystals Corporation.

Bagasse is quite an abundant biomass resource in Florida: over a million tons of it (dry basis) are annually produced by the state's sugar industry. Although bagasse is seen as a valuable solid biofuel, there is strong commercial interest in upgrading its value by converting it into a liquid transport fuel.

Demand for ethanol in the U.S. is driven by the President Bush's 'Advanced Energy Initiative' and the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as well as the 2006 Florida Energy Act, which seek to boost biofuel use. Tariff-free ethanol exports from Florida to the Caribbean Basin are another market incentive for ethanol production in the State.
Bagasse can be converted to ethanol through a series of steps:
1. Pretreatment to make cellulose digestible and dissolve hemicellulose to sugars;
2. Enzymatic hydrolysis to break down cellulose into its constituent sugars;
3. Fermentation of all sugars to ethanol; and
4. Distillation of the fermentation broth to recover ethanol.
The project states that the key challenge to commercialization - and strongest determinant of the success of cellulosic ethanol technology - is the efficient conversion of cellulose and hemicellulose to fermentable sugars during pretreatment. The extent to which these polymers are successfully hydrolyzed defines over 50 percent of the manufacturing cost of the produced ethanol.

Although several pretreatment processes have been developed to date, none has been optimized for sugarcane bagasse because this feedstock, although abundant in Florida, is not as common in most of the country.

To close this data gap, the project team proposes to: (1) Perform lab-scale bagasse pretreatment runs encompassing the most promising thermochemical and thermomechanical processes to determine their efficacy by quantifying released sugars and potential inhibitors and measuring enzymatic digestibility; and (2) Scale up to pilot size the pretreatment that yielded the best lab results to confirm process scalability, generate samples for large-scale hydrolysis and fermentation work, and determine
commercialization potential.

The project team’s evaluation will be based on a set of technical and financial criteria they have developed based on their cellulosic ethanol expertise: high sugar yield from hemicellulose, high cellulose digestibility, avoidance of side-reactions, minimal waste generation, minimal capital and operating cost, and process flexibility to accommodate additional Florida biomass species as supplements to bagasse, such as corn tops and trash, corn and sorghum stalks, and grasses.

Other bioenergy projects that received grants under the program included one by Citrus Energy LLC, “Fuel Ethanol Production from Citrus Waste Biomass” [*.pdf] ($2.5 million). This company will construct a four million gallons per year ethanol bio-refinery to use citrus waste to produce ethanol. This project will transform citrus waste, an abundant agricultural residual, into a clean, affordable and locally-produced biofuel.

One by Alico, Inc., entitled “Commercial Ethanol Production from Biomass” [*.pdf] ($2.5 million), a project aimed at use biomass products to co-produce ethanol and electricity at a savings for consumers. The facility will produce ethanol for blending with gasoline at less than one-third of the current national average retail cost of gasoline, and can deliver “green” electricity at a cost of less than a dime per kilowatt hour.

Finally, a Florida Biomass Energy Consortium, received a grant for its proposal aimed at “Using High Efficiency Biomass Gasification for Industrial Drying” [*.pdf] ($320,623). This proposal is to build and operate an integrated biomass gasification system to replace natural gas use with biogas for an industrial user. This project will define and establish both the technical and economic viability of using Florida’s biomass resources for industrial drying processes that currently use natural gas as the energy source.

Technology transfers
Even though some developing countries are investing in cellulosic ethanol research themselves, in all likeliness American and European researchers will develop viable conversion technologies first. If this is the case, institutions, governments and companies will have to decide whether to share the technologies with countries in the South. There, cellulosic ethanol production would have very positive environmental impacts, as it would increase the efficiency and energy balance of the fuels, reduce the land needed to grow feedstocks and increase the value of currently produced biofuels.

There are signs that such technology transfer agreements are likely to occur. Florida is working with Brazil on an inter-American ethanol partnership (earlier post) and Brazil in turn has offered to transfer its agronomic, scientific and biofuel expertise to African countries, where the potential is vast.

More information:
Florida Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program
Brazzil Magazine: Brazil Offers Africa Technology to Produce Bio-Fuel - Jan. 29, 2007

Article continues