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    The second European Summer School on Renewable Motor Fuels will be held in Warsaw, Poland, from 29 to 31 August 2007. The goal of the event is to disseminate the knowledge generated within the EU-funded RENEW (Renewable Fuels for Advanced Powertrains) project and present it to the European academic audience and stakeholders. Topics on the agenda include generation of synthetic gas from biomass and gas cleaning; transport fuel synthesis from synthetic gas; biofuel use in different motors; biomass potentials, supply and logistics, and technology, cost and life-cycle assessment of BtL pathways. Cordis News - March 27, 2007.

    Green Swedes want even more renewables, according to a study from Gothenburg University. Support for hydroelectricity and biofuels has increased, whereas three-quarters of people want Sweden to concentrate more on wind and solar too. Swedes still back the nuclear phase-out plans. The country is Europe's largest ethanol user. It imports 75% of the biofuel from Brazil. Sveriges Radio International - March 27, 2007.

    Fiat will launch its Brazilian-built flex-fuel Uno in South Africa later this year. The flex-fuel Uno, which can run on gasoline, ethanol or any combination of the two fuels, was displayed at the Durban Auto Show, and is set to become popular as South Africa enters the ethanol era. Automotive World - March 27, 2007.

    Siemens Power Generation (PG) is to supply two steam turbine gensets to a biomass-fired plant in Três Lagoas, 600 kilometers northwest of São Paulo. The order, valued at €22 million, was placed by the Brazilian company Pöyry Empreendimentos, part of VCP (Votorantim Celulose e Papel), one of the biggest cellulose producers in the Americas. PRDomain - March 25, 2007.

    Asia’s demand for oil will nearly double over the next 25 years and will account for 85% of the increased demand in 2007, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) officials forecast yesterday at a Bangkok-hosted energy conference. Daily Times - March 24, 2007.

    Portugal's government expects total investment in biomass energy will reach €500 million in 2012, when its target of 250MW capacity is reached. By that date, biomass will reduce 700,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. By 2010, biomass will represent 5% of the country's energy production. Forbes - March 22, 2007.

    The Scottish Executive has announced a biomass action plan for Scotland, through which dozens of green energy projects across the region are set to benefit from an additional £3 million of funding. The plan includes greater use of the forestry and agriculture sectors, together with grant support to encourage greater use of biomass products. Energy Business Review Online - March 21, 2007.

    The U.S. Dep't of Agriculture's Forest Service has selected 26 small businesses and community groups to receive US$6.2 million in grants from for the development of innovative uses for woody biomass. American Agriculturalist - March 21, 2007.

    Three universities, a government laboratory, and several companies are joining forces in Colorado to create what organizers hope will be a major player in the emerging field of converting biomass into fuels and other products. The Colorado Center for Biorefining & Biofuels, or C2B2, combines the biofuels and biorefining expertise of the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, the Colorado School of Mines, and the Colorado-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Founding corporate members include Dow Chemical, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell. C&EN - March 20, 2007.

    The city of Rome has announced plans to run its public bus fleet on a fuel mix of 20 per cent biodiesel. The city council has signed an accord that would see its 2800 buses switch to the blended fuel in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution. A trial of 200 buses, if successful, would see the entire fleet running on the biofuel mix by the end of 2008. Estimates put the annual emission savings at 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. CarbonPositive - March 19, 2007.

    CODON (Dutch Biotech Study Association) organises a symposium on the 'Biobased Economy' in Wageningen, Netherlands, home of one of Europe's largest agricultural universities. In a biobased economy, chemistry companies and other non-food enterprises primarily use renewable materials and biomass as their resources, instead of petroleum. The Netherlands has the ambition to have 30% of all used materials biobased, by 2030. FoodHolland - March 19, 2007.

    Energy giants BP and China National Petroleum Corp, the PRC's biggest oil producer, are among the companies that are in talks with Guangxi Xintiande Energy Co about buying a stake in the southern China ethanol producer to expand output. Xintiande Energy currently produces ethanol from cassava. ChinaDaily - March 16, 2007.

    Researchers at eTEC Business Development Ltd., a biofuels research company based in Vienna, Austria, have devised mobile facilities that successfully convert the biodiesel by-product glycerin into electricity. The facilities, according to researchers, will provide substantial economic growth for biodiesel plants while turning glycerin into productive renewable energy. Biodiesel Magazine - March 16, 2007.

    Ethanol Africa, which plans to build eight biofuel plants in the maize belt, has secured funding of €83/US$110 million (825 million Rand) for the first facility in Bothaville, its principal shareholder announced. Business Report - March 16, 2007.

    A joint venture between Energias de Portugal SGPS and Altri SGPS will be awarded licences to build five 100 MW biomass power stations in Portugal's eastern Castelo Branco region. EDP's EDP Bioelectrica unit and Altri's Celulose de Caima plan to fuel the power stations with forestry waste material. Total investment on the programme is projected at €250/US$333 million with 800 jobs being created. Forbes - March 16, 2007.

    Indian bioprocess engineering firm Praj wins €11/US$14.5 million contract for the construction of the wheat and beet based bio-ethanol plant for Biowanze SA in Belgium, a subsidiary of CropEnergies AG (a Sudzucker Group Company). The plant has an ethanol production capacity of 300,000 tons per year. IndiaPRWire - March 15, 2007.

    Shimadzu Scientific Instruments announced the availability of its new white paper, “Overview of Biofuels and the Analytical Processes Used in their Manufacture.” The paper is available for free download at the company’s website. The paper offers an overview of the rapidly expanding global biofuel market with specific focus on ethanol and biodiesel used in auto transportation. It provides context for these products within the fuel market and explains raw materials and manufacturing. Most important, the paper describes the analytical processes and equipment used for QA testing of raw materials, in-process materials, and end products. BusinessWire - March 15, 2007.

    Côte d'Ivoire's agriculture minister Amadou Gon has visited the biofuels section of the Salon de l'Agriculture in Paris, one of the largest fairs of its kind. According to his communication office, the minister is looking into drafting a plan for the introduction of biofuels in the West African country. AllAfrica [*French] - March 13, 2007.

    Biofuels and bioenergy producers in Ireland, a country which just recently passed bioenergy legislation, are allocated excise relief for imported biomass. Unison Ireland (subscription req'd). - March 13, 2007.

    EDF Energies Nouvelles, a subsidiary of energy giant Electricité de France, has announced a move into biofuels, by sealing a preliminary agreement with Alcofinance SA of Belgium. Upon completion of a reserved issue of shares for €23 million, EDF Energies Nouvelles will own 25% of a newly formed company housing Belgium-based Alcofinance's ethanol production and distribution activities. Alcofinance's projects are located in the Ghent Bioenergy Valley. BusinessWire - March 13, 2007.

    Fuel Tech, Inc., today announced a demonstration order for its 'Targeted In-Furnace Injection' program, part of a set of technologies aimed at controlling slagging, fouling, corrosion, opacity and acid plume problems in utility scale boilers. The order was placed by an electric generating facility located in Italy, and will be conducted on two biomass units burning a combination of wood chips and olive husks. BusinessWire - March 9, 2007.

    At a biofuels conference ahead of the EU's Summit on energy and climate change, Total's chief of agricultural affairs says building environmentally friendly 'flexible-fuel' cars only cost an additional €200 (US$263) a vehicle and that, overall, ethanol is cheaper than gasoline. MarketWatch - March 8, 2007.

    During a session of Kazakhstan's republican party congress, President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced plans to construct two large ethanol plants with the aim to produce biofuels for exports to Europe. Company 'KazAgro' and the 'akimats' (administrative units) of grain-growing regions will be charged to develop biodiesel, bioethanol and bioproducts. KazInform - March 6, 2007.

    Saab will introduce its BioPower flex-fuel options to its entire 9-3 range, including Sport Sedan, SportCombi and Convertible bodystyles, at the Geneva auto show. GreenCarCongress - March 2, 2007.

    British oil giant BP plans to invest around US$50 million in Indonesia's biofuel industry, using jatropha oil as feedstock. BP will build biofuel plants with an annual capacity of 350,000 tons for which it will need to set up jatropha curcas plantations covering 100,000 hectares of land, to guarantee supply of feedstock, an official said. Antara [*cache] - March 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has decided to increase the acreage dedicated to biofuel crops -- soybean, rape, sunflower, and sweet potato -- from 1,721 hectares in 2006 to 4,550 hectares this year, the Council of Agriculture said. China Post - March 2, 2007.

    Kinder Morgan Energy Partners has announced plans to invest up to €76/US$100 million to expand its terminal facilities to help serve the growing biodiesel market. KMP has entered into long-term agreements with Green Earth Fuels, LLC to build up to 1.3 million barrels of tankage that will handle approximately 8 million barrels of biodiesel production at KMP's terminals on the Houston Ship Channel, the Port of New Orleans and in New York Harbor. PRNewswire - March 1, 2007.

    A project to build a 130 million euro ($172 million) plant to produce 200,000 cubic metres of bioethanol annually was announced by three German groups on Tuesday. The plant will consume about 600,000 tonnes of wheat annually and when operational in the first half of 2009 should provide about a third of Germany's estimated bioethanol requirements. Reuters - Feb. 27, 2007.

    Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs has announced that government vehicles in Taipei City will begin using E3 fuel, composed of 97% gasoline and 3% ethanol, on a trial basis in 2007. Automotive World - Feb. 27, 2007.

    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.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Unique study analyses consumption and carrying capacity of ecosystems

How does the spatial distribution of human consumption of carbon (as embodied in food, fiber, and wood/biofuel products) compare to the ability of land-based ecosystems to produce it? This is an important question, the answer to which may yield insights into the bioenergy production potential of different regions of the planet. Ecosystems that can easily and sustainably meet the 'food-fiber-fuel' needs of their populations, can become bioenergy exporters, whereas others will be forced to import.

A unique study - titled 'Human Appropriation of Net Primary Productivity (HANPP)' - led by Marc Imhoff and Lahouari Bounoua of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has attempted to answer this question by spatially allocating the amount of carbon required to derive food and fiber products consumed by humans. Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) puts a combination of the results - published between 2004 and 2006 - under the spotlight.

Carrying capacity
Using United Nations data on food and fiber consumption, the scientists allocated it on a per capita basis to SEDAC's Gridded Population of the World dataset. The scientists compared this to a remotely-sensed map of global net primary productivity (NPP) — the net amount of solar energy converted to plant organic matter through photosynthesis — in order to identify parts of the world where local NPP is oversubscribed. The map (click to enlarge) shows how, in some urban areas, the excess of consumption over local NPP production is more than 1,000% (areas in dark red). In others, the ecosystem's maximum sustainable carrying capacity is far from reached.

Human appropriation of net primary productivity (HANPP), through the consumption of food, paper, wood, fuel and fiber, alters the composition of the atmosphere, levels of biodiversity, energy flows within food webs and the provision of important ecosystem services. Importantly for us, it also determines the sustainability of bioenergy production, and the carrying capacity of ecosystems to yield biomass and biofuels for exports:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

A tabular database associated with the spatial data also describes human requirements for NPP by country and major product: vegetable calories, meat, eggs, milk, fiber, paper, and wood. Globally, meat consumption accounts for 47% of NPP requirements for human food and 17% of overall NPP requirements. But these percentages vary significantly by country. For instance, meat consumption in the United States accounts for 68% of NPP requirements for human food and 23% of overall NPP requirements as opposed to Bangladesh (the country consuming the least amount of meat) where the percentages are 8% and 3%, respectively.

The spatial data products plus the tabular data are available from the HANPP Web site, which is part of the SEDAC Environmental Sustainability mission area.

Bioenergy potential of regions

Researchers from the International Energy Agency's Bioenergy Task 40 used virtually similar methods to calculate the sustainable biofuel and export potential in different regions of the planet (earlier post). The results clearly match those of the NPP-study.

Two regions stand out with their vast capacity to produce biofuels without exceeding the carrying capacity of their ecosystems, which are also needed to provide food, fiber and fuel to (growing) local populations: Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Zones with limited potential are the Indian subcontinent, China and the Far East, Europe, Eastern North-America and the Middle East. Not surprisingly, some of these regions already are net bioenergy importers (Europe, China and especially Japan which has been linking up with Brazil for biofuel supplies), and will become so increasingly in the future.

The original work on these data was published in Nature and Journal of Geophysical Research.

More information:
Columbia University's SEDAC: Human Appropriation of Net Primary Productivity (HANPP) website.
Imhoff, Marc L., Lahouari Bounoua, Taylor Ricketts, Colby Loucks, Robert Harriss, and William T. Lawrence. 2004. Global patterns in human consumption of net primary production. Nature, 429, 24 June 2004: 870-873.
Imhoff, Marc L., and Lahouari Bounoua. 2006. Exploring global patterns of net primary production carbon supply and demand using satellite observations and statistical data. Journal of Geophysical Research, 111, D22S12, doi:10.1029/2006JD007377.

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Brazil's growing biofuels output does not threaten rainforest - expert

At the Biopact, we try to take a cautious position in the debate about the environmental and social impacts of biofuels (here for a closer look at criteria to measure these impacts). Large-scale production of such fuels presents important challenges which shouldn't be denied. But on the other hand, it would be wrong to perpetuate the unnuanced and often incorrect argument that 'biofuels destroy rainforests'.

When credible and independent scientists study the matter in-depth and conclude for example that Brazilian ethanol as it is currently produced is fundamentally 'sustainable' (earlier post), then we do not gloss over these findings. Instead we present them, and with reason: the potential social, environmental and economic benefits of efficiently produced biofuels may far outweigh the risks they present. The dangerous opportunity cost of not using efficient biofuels on a massive scale, is accelerated climate change, which may result in far bigger damages to the planet's (rain)forests and ecosystems. Global warming is set to lead to a mass extinction of species, not just in Brazil, but across the world (earlier post). What's more, it will cause the destabilisation of entire societies - with migrations, poverty, political conflict and economic decline as possible outcomes - factors that are not beneficial to good environmental governance either. In short, a full life-cycle analysis and environmental balance of biofuels must be made, taking into account the potential disasters arising from not using those fuels.

Roberto Rodrigues, Brazilian coordinator of the Inter-American Ethanol Commission, and former agriculture minister who currently heads the agronomy center of the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a green and social think-tank (previous post), fully engages in this important debate. According to Rodrigues, Brazil's planned biofuels expansion does not pose an immediate threat to the country's rainforests and biodiversity hotspots.

Speaking to a seminar on the environmental impact of biofuels, Rodrigues said Brazil has some 220 million hectares of livestock land, which includes 90 million ha of degraded pasture which could be used for crops. 20 million ha of this area is suitable for sugar cane. Rodrigues added that sugar cane currently only occupied 6 million ha of the 62 million ha of Brazil's cultivated farmland. Roughly half the cane area is used to produce ethanol and the rest for sugar:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Environmental groups are rightly concerned that a huge expansion in Brazilian sugar cane planting to produce ethanol would result in forests being cut down and savannah cleared. They are worried that rivers and water supplies will be contaminated by massive additional use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. They also say it will increase air pollution due to the practice of burning cane fields before manual harvesting so as to clear undergrowth and pests.

But the practise of burning cane residues is being discouraged, not in the least because it makes for a viable biomass feedstock. More and more sugar mills and ethanol plants are using this biomass to produce power and feed renewable, green electricity to the grid (earlier post).

On the food versus fuel issue, Rodrigues added: "It's absolutely false to say that Brazilian food production will fall with an increase in ethanol output." As for the Amazon, he said the climate in the region was generally unsuitable for growing sugar cane.

But Rodrigues admitted that Brazil needed a strategic ethanol policy to cover issues such as zoning of agricultural farmland to ensure that sugar cane is planted in suitable areas. Currently, earth imaging is used to a great extent to study and monitor agronomic aspects of biofuel plantations, but no stringent zoning laws exist. The technology is there to make such policies and laws work in practise.

Cane burning, water supplies, ethanol credits, production mix, logistics, labor and social issues also needed to be examined, he said, noting that eight government ministries were involved with ethanol but only the agriculture ministry had drafted a national plan.

Brazil is the world's cheapest producer of ethanol and is competitive when oil is above $37 a barrel, he said. Oil is trading around US$64 a barrel. Brazil is the world's biggest producer and exporter of cane-based ethanol with output of 17.6 billion liters in 2006/07 (May/April). In Brazil, agroenergy covers the production of ethanol from sugar cane and from wood and plant cellulose. It also includes biodiesel from oilseeds.

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South African Industrial Development Corporation to invest US$437 million into biofuels projects

South Africa's biofuels developments are speeding ahead, even though criticism exists over the way the government crafted its bioenergy policy (earlier post). Environmentalists and other stakeholders felt they were left out of the discussions on the sustainability of the proposed biofuels program. This issue aside, South Africa's Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and its partners have now announced they are looking to invest 3.2 billion Rand (€327/US$437) in two biofuels projects, with first production set for early 2009.

According to project leader Noel Kamrajh, the renewable fuel projects that are in the most advanced stage of analysis and technical study, will be near Cradock in the Eastern Cape and the other near Hoedspruit in Mpumalanga.

In total, the IDC and the Central Energy Fund (CEF) are looking to develop five such projects (see map, click to enlarge):
  • The Mpumalanga project is undergoing final engineering studies, expected to be finished by September. Construction of the plant is likely to start in January. The plant in Hoedspruit aims to make 100 million litres of fuel from sugar cane.
  • The project in the Eastern Cape too is at the detailed engineering study level, due for completion by September. Construction here too is to start in January. The plant will utilize sugar beets to produce about 90 million litres of biofuel each year.
  • The other projects are aiming to produce 150 million litres of biofuel made from sweet sorghum and sugar cane in Pondoland, which spans KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
'Empowerment' and community groups included
The funding parastatal is likely to take a 49 percent stake in both projects, whereas the CEF and outside parties will share 51 percent. 25 percent of the IDC's shares are warehoused for 'empowerment' and 'community groups':
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Virtually all of South Africa's biofuels projects adhere to 'black empowerment' and 'community involvement' standards, which most often come down to distributing some of the shareholding power to small farmers, families and their communities.

No data were released about the projected number of jobs the projects will bring, though.

Other initiatives
Earlier government-led biofuel ventures that mark South Africa's entrance into the biofuel era, are decision by the Eastern Cape province to invest 1 billion Rand (€107/US$140.6 million) into a large biodiesel and ethanol project in the Transkei region that could result in 70,000 hectares of canola (rapeseed) and sugar beet being planted. The crops will be planted on communal land. Some 21,000 direct and indirect jobs are expected from the project (earlier post).

Biofuels are a priority sector of South Africa's Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (Asgisa), which aims to stimulate economic growth, create a large number of new jobs and halve poverty by 2014.

Besides public-private projects, the private sector has big plans in South Africa's bioenergy sector: Ethanol Africa launched its investment into South Africa’s first large-scale bioethanol production plant in Bothaville, in the Free State, late last year. The planned R700 million (€80 million/US$ 120 million) plant is the first of eight the company intends building in South Africa (previous post).

The Coega Development Corportation in Port Elizabeth, for its part, launched 70 million Rand (€7.5/US$9.75 million) biomass pellet production project. 'Eastern Cape Biomass Fuel Pellets' will create some 100 jobs during the construction of the plant, which is currently underway, and an additional 3000 jobs for poor rural communities who will help supply the biomass. The company's aim is to supply 10000MT per month of the biofuel pellets to European countries including Scandinavian countries who already have a large domestic forest and wood products industry (earlier post).

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U.S. announces $23 million in cellulose ethanol research

The U.S. Energy Department announced US$23 million in federal funds for five projects to convert biomass to ethanol. The funds follow the US$385 million awareded earlier to six biorefinery projects, three of which use biomass gasification as the main conversion technique (earlier post). The current funds are aimed at stimulating research into biochemical conversion of biomass.

These funds are important because they help spur innovations that can be transferred to the developing world. It is there that biomass production and conversion into liquid fuels makes most sense.

Recently, research into the biomass productivity of switchgrass grown in the U.S., seen as the most promising energy crop, showed disappointing results. The crop yielded below three times what is needed for commercial production (earlier post). Moreover, the logistics of harvesting, transporting and storing cellulosic waste streams, like corn cobs, remains a serious challenge.

In the Global South, energy crops, like sugarcane, sweet potatoes, cassava or sweet sorghum, are far more productive and more easily manageable. Today, these crops are used as 'first generation' crops only, with their easily extractible sugars and starches used as feedstocks, but a vast waste-stream of ligno-cellulosic biomass being left aside. If this waste-stream were to be converted into liquid fuel, the already impressive energy balance of Southern biofuels (for sugarcane it currently stands at between 1 to 8 - 1 to 10) will increase even further.

For this reason, it is important that research organisations - no matter their national affiliation - develop new thermochemical, physicochemical or biochemical conversion techniques. Technology transfers to the South of these techniques are in the interest of all of us, because they imply the production of efficient biofuels that effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking about the U.S. research funds, Alexander Karsner, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, said:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

"These projects will play a critical role in furthering our knowledge of how we can produce cellulosic ethanol cost-effectively. Ultimately, success in producing cost-competitive cellulosic ethanol could be a key to breaking our nation's addiction to oil. By relying on American farmers and ingenuity for fuel, we will enhance our nation's energy and economic security."

Commercialization of fermentative organisms is crucial to the success of integrated biorefineries. Fermentative organisms speed refining by converting lignocellulosic biomass material to ethanol. Today’s selections build upon the announcement of six biorefinery projects announced earlier this year. Commercialized fermentative organisms will be crucial to achieving commercial scale in cellulosic ethanol refining.

Projects were selected for the organism’s capacity to convert lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol in process-relevant conditions that would be economical in the commercial market. Additionally, the organism must be able to survive a wide range of environmental conditions and remain stable from adverse mutation. Selectees must have the ability to produce at commercial scale in the future and have a sound business strategy to market the organism.

Combined with the industry cost share, more than $37 million could be invested in these five projects. Negotiations between the selected companies and DOE will begin immediately to determine final project plans and funding levels. Funding will begin this fiscal year and run through FY 2010, subject to congressional appropriations.

Projects submitted by these five applicants were selected:
  • Cargill Incorporated to receive up to $4.4 million
  • Celunol Corporation to receive up to $5.3 million
  • E.I. Dupont de Nemours & Company to receive up to $3.7 million
  • Mascoma Corporation to receive up to $4.9 million
  • Purdue University to receive up to $5.0 million

Cellulosic ethanol is an alternative fuel made from a wide variety of non-food plant materials (or feedstocks), including agricultural wastes such as corn stover and cereal straws, industrial plant waste like saw dust and paper pulp, and energy crops grown specifically for fuel production like switchgrass.

By using a variety of regional feedstocks for refining cellulosic ethanol, fuel can be produced in nearly every region of the country. Though it requires a more complex refining process, cellulosic ethanol contains more net energy and results in lower greenhouse emissions than traditional corn-based ethanol. E-85, an ethanol-fuel blend comprised of 85-percent ethanol, is already available in more than 1,000 fueling stations nationwide and can power millions of flexible fuel vehicles already on the roads.

: the bacterium C. thermocellum, whose enzymes are being investigated as candidates for cellulosic ethanol.

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