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    A new market study by Frost & Sullivan Green Energy shows that the renewables industry in the EU is expanding at an extraordinary rate. Today biofuels and other renewables represent about 2.1 per cent of the EU's gross domestic product and account for 3.5 million jobs. The study forecasts that revenues from renewables in the world's largest economy are set to double, triple or increase even more over the next few years. Engineer Live - May 29, 2007.

    A project to evaluate barley’s potential in Canada’s rapidly evolving biofuels industry has received funding of $262,000 from the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI). Western Barley Growers Association [*.pdf] - May 27, 2007.

    PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corporation (PNOC-AFC), the biofuel unit of Philippine National Oil Company, is planning to undertake an initial public offering next year or in 2009 so it can have its own cash and no longer rely on its parent for funding of biofuels projects. Manila Bulletin - May 27, 2007.

    TMO Renewables Limited, a producer of ethanol from biomass, has licensed the ERGO bioinformatics software developed and maintained by Integrated Genomics. TMO will utilize the genome analysis tools for gene annotation, metabolic reconstruction and enzyme data-mining as well as comparative genomics. The platform will enable the company to further understand and exploit its thermophilic strains used for the conversion of biomass into fuel. CheckBiotech - May 25, 2007.

    Melbourne-based Plantic Technologies Ltd., a company that makes biodegradable plastics from plants, said 20 million pounds (€29/US$39 million) it raised by selling shares on London's AIM will help pay for its first production line in Europe. Plantic Technologies [*.pdf] - May 25, 2007.

    Shell Hydrogen LLC and Virent Energy Systems have announced a five-year joint development agreement to develop further and commercialize Virent's BioForming technology platform for the production of hydrogen from biomass. Virent Energy Systems [*.pdf] - May 24, 2007.

    Spanish energy and engineering group Abengoa will spend more than €1 billion (US$1.35 billion) over the next three years to boost its bioethanol production, Chairman Javier Salgado said on Tuesday. The firm is studying building four new plants in Europe and another four in the United States. Reuters - May 23, 2007.

    According to The Nikkei, Toyota is about to introduce flex-fuel cars in Brazil, at a time when 8 out of 10 new cars sold in the country are already flex fuel. Brazilians prefer ethanol because it is about half the price of gasoline. Forbes - May 22, 2007.

    Virgin Trains is conducting biodiesel tests with one of its diesel engines and will be running a Voyager train on a 20 percent biodiesel blend in the summer. Virgin Trains Media Room - May 22, 2007.

    Australian mining and earthmoving contractor Piacentini & Son will use biodiesel from South Perth's Australian Renewable Fuels across its entire fleet, with plans to purchase up to 8 million litres from the company in the next 12 months. Tests with B20 began in October 2006 and Piacentinis reports very positive results for economy, power and maintenance. Western Australia Business News - May 22, 2007.

    Malaysia's Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui announces he will head a delegation to the EU in June, "to counter European anti-palm oil activists on their own home ground". The South East Asian palm oil industry is seen by many European civil society organisations and policy makers as unsustainable and responsible for heavy deforestation. Malaysia Star - May 20, 2007.

    Paraguay and Brazil kick off a top-level seminar on biofuels, cooperation on which they see as 'strategic' from an energy security perspective. 'Biocombustiveis Paraguai-Brasil: Integração, Produção e Oportunidade de Negócios' is a top-level meeting bringing together the leaders of both countries as well as energy and agricultural experts. The aim is to internationalise the biofuels industry and to use it as a tool to strengthen regional integration and South-South cooperation. PanoramaBrasil [*Portuguese] - May 19, 2007.

    Portugal's Galp Energia SGPS and Petrobras SA have signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a biofuels joint venture. The joint venture will undertake technical and financial feasibility studies to set up a plant in Brazil to export biofuels to Portugal. Forbes - May 19, 2007.

    The Cypriot parliament has rejected an amendment by President Papadopoulos on the law regarding the use of biofuels that contain genetically modified substances. The amendment called for an alteration in the law that currently did not allow the import or use of biofuels that had been produced using GM substances, something that goes against a recent EU Directive on GMOs. Cyprus Mail - May 18, 2007.

    According to Salvador Rivas, the director for Non-Conventional Energy at the Dominican Republic's Industry and Commerce Ministry, a group of companies from Brazil wants to invest more than 100 million dollars to produce ethanol in the country, both for local consumption and export to the United States. Dominican Today - May 16, 2007.

    EWE AG, a German multi-service energy company, has started construction on a plant aimed at purifying biogas so that it can be fed into the natural gas grid. Before the end of the year, EWE AG will be selling the biogas to end users via its subsidiary EWE Naturwatt. Solarthemen [*German] - May 16, 2007.

    Scania will introduce an ethanol-fueled hybrid bus concept at the UITP public transport congress in Helsinki 21-24 May 2007. The full-size low-floor city bus is designed to cut fossil CO2 emissions by up to 90% when running on the ethanol blend and reduce fuel consumption by at least 25%. GreenCarCongress - May 16, 2007.

    A report by the NGO Christian Aid predicts there may be 1 billion climate refugees and migrants by 2050. It shows the effects of conflicts on populations in poor countries and draws parallels with the situation as it could develop because of climate change. Christian Aid - May 14, 2007.

    Dutch multinational oil group Rompetrol, also known as TRG, has entered the biofuel market in France in conjunction with its French subsidiary Dyneff. It hopes to equip approximately 30 filling stations to provide superethanol E85 distribution to French consumers by the end of 2007. Energy Business Review - May 13, 2007.

    A group of British organisations launches the National Forum on Bio-Methane as a Road Transport Fuel. Bio-methane or biogas is widely regarded as the cleanest of all transport fuels, even cleaner than hydrogen or electric vehicles. Several EU projects across the Union have shown its viability. The UK forum was lauched at the Naturally Gas conference on 1st May 2007 in Loughborough, which was hosted by Cenex in partnership with the NSCA and the Natural Gas Vehicle Association. NSCA - May 11, 2007.

    We reported earlier on Dynamotive and Tecna SA's initiative to build 6 bio-oil plants in the Argentinian province of Corrientes (here). Dynamotive has now officially confirmed this news. Dynamotive - May 11, 2007.

    Nigeria launches a national biofuels feasibility study that will look at the potential to link the agricultural sector to the automotive fuels sector. Tim Gbugu, project leader, said "if we are able to link agriculture, we will have large employment opportunity for the sustenance of this country, we have vast land that can be utilised". This Day Onlin (Lagos) - May 9, 2007.

    Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva meets with the CEO of Portuguese energy company Galp Energia, which will sign a biofuel cooperation agreement with Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras. GP1 (*Portuguese) - May 9, 2007.

    The BBC has an interesting story on how biodiesel made from coconut oil is taking the pacific island of Bougainville by storm. Small refineries turn the oil into an affordable fuel that replaces costly imported petroleum products. BBC - May 8, 2007.

    Indian car manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra is set to launch its first B100-powered vehicles for commercial use by this year-end. The company is confident of fitting the new engines in all its existing models. Sify - May 8, 2007.

    The Biofuels Act of the Philippines has come into effect today. The law requires all oil firms in the country to blend 2% biodiesel (most often coconut-methyl ester) in their diesel products. AHN - May 7, 2007.

    Successful tests based on EU-criteria result in approval of 5 new maize hybrids that were developed as dedicated biogas crops [*German]. Veredlungsproduktion - May 6, 2007.

    With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation for Regional Economic Development (WIRED), Michigan State University intends to open a training facility dedicated to students and workers who want to start a career in the State's growing bioeconomy. Michigan State University - May 4, 2007.

    Researchers from the Texas A&M University have presented a "giant" sorghum variety for the production of ethanol. The crop is drought-tolerant and yields high amounts of ethanol. Texas A & M - May 3, 2007.

    C-Tran, the public transportation system serving Southwest Washington and parts of Portland, has converted its 97-bus fleet and other diesel vehicles to run on a blend of 20% biodiesel beginning 1 May from its current fleet-wide use of B5. Automotive World - May 3, 2007.

    The Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP) and France's largest research organisation, the CNRS, have signed a framework-agreement to cooperate on the development of new energy technologies, including research into biomass based fuels and products, as well as carbon capture and storage technologies. CNRS - April 30, 2007.

    One of India's largest state-owned bus companies, the Andra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation is to use biodiesel in one depot of each of the 23 districts of the state. The company operates some 22,000 buses that use 330 million liters of diesel per year. Times of India - April 30, 2007.

    Indian sugar producers face surpluses after a bumper harvest and low prices. Diverting excess sugar into the ethanol industry now becomes more attractive. India is the world's second largest sugar producer. NDTVProfit - April 30, 2007.

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet on Thursday signed a biofuel cooperation agreement designed to share Brazil's experience in ethanol production and help Chile develop biofuels and fuel which Lula seeks to promote in other countries. More info to follow. People's Daily Online - April 27, 2007.

    Italy's Benetton plans to build a €61 million wood processing and biomass pellet production factory Nagyatád (southwest Hungary). The plant will be powered by biogas. Budapest Sun - April 27, 2007.

    Cargill is to build an ethanol plant in the Magdeburger Börde, located on the river Elbe, Germany. The facility, which will be integrated into existing starch processing plant, will have an annual capacity of 100,000 cubic meters and use grain as its feedstock. FIF - April 26, 2007.

    Wärtsilä Corporation was awarded a contract by the Belgian independent power producer Renogen S.A. to supply a second biomass-fuelled combined heat and power plant in the municipality of Amel in the Ardennes, Belgium. The new plant will have a net electrical power output of 3.29 MWe, and a thermal output of up to 10 MWth for district heating. The electrical output in condensing operation is 5.3 MWe. Kauppalehti - April 25, 2007.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Biogas powered fuel cell wins award, attracts attention from Sweden

Acumentrics Corporation, a leading developer of solid oxide fuel cells has won the 2007 New England Innovation Award from SBANE, the Smaller Business Alliance of New England. The company was one of 7 winners chosen from a pool of 171 applicants.

Acumentrics manufactures 5000-watt solid oxide fuel cell systems (SOFC) for power applications. It is also developing combined-heat-and-power units for the home market. Originally the company made power conditioners and backup for the military market. They acquired the fuel cell technology in 2000. Since then, they have increased the output of a single tube from 1 watt to 60 watts. Today they have over 30 fielded units.

One of their key innovations was making ceramic fuel cell technology shatter resistant. It is shatter resistant because of its shape - it is a tube, not a thin sheet as most other fuel cell manufacturers have used - with a special composition of layers that prevents them from flaking off (diagram, click to enlarge). Solid oxide fuel cells must handle temperature swings from 20 to 800ºC. Many other solid oxide fuel cells crack when they are cycled on and off, because of thermal shock.

Carbon neutral biogas
Another highly important feature of the SOFC's is that they do not require hydrogen or the hydrogen economy - which is mired in controversy because it requires huge investments in production, distribution and storage technologies. Acumentrics' fuel cells instead run on biogas, natural gas, propane, ethanol, diesel, and biodiesel - because they can disassociate fuels in the tube, via in-situ reformation (diagram, click to enlarge). While their systems can run off hydrogen, too, customers prefer to work with logistic fuels that are more affordable. Acumentrics fuel cells consume half as much fuel as a comparable small-engine generator, per kW. The combination of carbon neutral biofuels with highly efficient fuel cells makes for what is probably the cleanest and most efficient power system currently in existence.

The fact that SOFC's can be fed carbon neutral biogas instead of hydrogen has attracted the attention of the EU, and more in particular of Germany and Sweden, world leaders in biogas production. In Germany, the fuel cell was used with biogas in a world's first, to cool a server farm. The biogas is supplied by Schmack Biogas, global technology leader in the sector (earlier post). Another SOFC project making use of biogas and delivering both heat and power in a highly efficient way was launched late last year by German company MTU CFC in the District of Böblingen in Leonberg (previous post).

The EU recently awarded a grant of €5.8 (US$7.5) to a European consortium undertaking a three-year project to develop Large Solid Oxide Fuel Cell-based (SOFC) power plants that run on a multitude of (bio)fuels. The project, "Towards a Large SOFC Power Plant" started on January 1, 2007, with a total budget of €11 (US$14.2) million (earlier post).

Last week, Acumentrics shipped another of its 5 kW fuel cell generators to the innovative GlashusEtt environmental information center in Stockholm, Sweden. This generator was purchased by ABB Corporate Research in Västerås, Sweden, together with 8 other Swedish companies and organizations (FMV, Fortum, GlashusEtt, JM, Morphic, SBC, the City of Stockholm and the Swedish Energy Agency). The purpose of the installation is to evaluate how the state-of-the-art solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) works with the carbon neutral biofuel:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

"We are thrilled to see our units run on carbon-neutral biogas," said Gary Simon, CEO of Acumentrics. "People from all over the world come to observe Hammarby Sjöstad’s clever environmental system. And our ability to run directly off biogas makes our fuel cells extremely practical. While we can run on hydrogen, too, it is great to offer compatibility with logistical, affordable fuels. The renewable aspect is a huge bonus."

Stockholm has developed a new, eco-friendly, waterfront district called Hammarby Sjöstad which is slated to house some 25,000 residents. The district features solar cells, green roofs, foot paths, environmentally benign building materials, vacuum-assisted refuse collection, and a wastewater treatment plant that produces biogas for the district.

The wastewater treatment plant produces high quality, 97% methane biogas that is piped into apartments for heating and cooking. This same biogas is piped to the Acumentrics fuel cell system. Acumentrics’ solid oxide fuel cells disassociate fuels inside the cell, via in-situ reformation. They run directly from the biogas, without the need for complex pre-processing (reforming) of the fuel. The result is an elegant power system with fewer parts.

At present the electricity produced by the fuel cell is put to a load bank, but grid-tie ability is slated for later this year. Acumentrics’ fuel cells have the unique ability to follow loads. Output can be adjusted up or down with no harm to the cells. The company believes this is the first real-world solid oxide fuel cell installation that runs on biogas.

The GlashusEtt is Hammarby Sjöstad’s environmental information center. Knowledge is disseminated via study trips, exhibitions, and demonstrations of new environmental technology. Acumentrics’ fuel cell system is located on the third floor.

Acumentrics’ fuel cells can be built inexpensively, which was independently confirmed by the US Department of Energy’s SECA program in its rigorous tests for cost, reliability, durability, efficiency, and start-stop cycling. Today, all of the manufacturing is done in Westwood, MA. The company starts with ceramic powders which are formed into tubular cells, and finishes with fully-enclosed power systems complete with computer controls. In winning the SBANE award, Acumentrics joins an illustrious list that includes companies like Genzyme, Stonyfield Farm, The Mathworks, and iRobot.

Hyper efficiency and carbon negativity
In Europe, biogas is being developed on a large scale for the production of fuels for stationary power generation (to be used in natural gas plants), as well as for the transport sector (earlier post). It is being fed into the natural gas grid on a large scale (previous post) or in dedicated pipelines supplying cities (see here), while some are creating real biorefineries around it that deliver green specialty chemicals, fuels and power (earlier post). The green gas can be made by the anaerobic fermentation of biomass, either obtained from dedicated energy crops (such as specially bred grass species or biogas maize), or from industrial, municipal or agricultural waste-streams.

Of all biofuels, biogas delivers most energy per hectare of crops. It is also the least carbon intensive production path, with some biogas pathways actually delivering carbon negative bioenergy (earlier post). In Germany, some project the potential for biogas to be so high that it might replace all natural gas imports from Russia (see here).

Meanwhile, new fuel cells are being developed that do not require hydrogen to function, but that work on all common types of biofuels, from biomass-based syngas to ethanol and biogas. The latter fuel path is far more feasible for large-scale power generation than hydrogen, the production of which is inefficient, very costly and not very clean (if derived from fossil fuels; in case the hydrogen is made from biogenic processes and biomass, it is renewable and carbon-neutral, but currently, biohydrogen production is not very efficient).

The combination of the efficiency of the SOFC fuel cells - which is far higher than power plants using combustion engines or turbines - and the low carbon footprint and efficiency of biogas production based on organic waste, may probably be the cleanest and most efficient large-scale energy system currently in operation anywhere.

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Brazil to build 'Biofuel Town' in Nigeria to kickstart bioenergy industry

Brazil is becoming very creative and serious about its intentions to help Africa tap its vast biofuel potential. The green energy leader recently established an agronomic research center in Ghana, aimed at transferring knowledge on bioenergy and technology, and a host of bilateral agreements in the sector were signed (earlier post). But now, an exciting new project is being launched - one that may, according to the initiators, become a model for Africa, India and China alike. With the project, Brazil strengthens its commitment to pursue South-South exchanges on bioenergy.

'Biofuel Town'
During the "Dia da África" [*Portuguese] (Africa Day, 25 May), which celebrates relationships between Brazil and Africa, a consortium of research organisations, companies and civil society organisations announced [*Portuguese] it will establish an 'AgroTown' ('Biofuel Town') in Nigeria, to kickstart a biofuel revolution on the continent. The project has the direct support of the government of President Lula da Silva, who is a staunch advocate of using biofuels as a tool for international cooperation and development assistance, as well as of the Nigerian government.

The Brazilian 'Biofuel Town' project consists of the creation of a settlement that can, in a first phase, house 1000 people - who will become bioenergy experts - , on an area of 6 million square meters. The project is estimated to cost US$100 million in a first phase.

The initiative makes use of the vast Brazilian experience in building sector-specific towns on the agricultural frontier. José Luiz de Vasconcelos Bonini, director of JLVB Arquitetura e Urbanismo, one of the brains behind the project, says one of the goals is to export Brazilian biofuels and agronomic know-how to sub-Saharan Africa. "The 'AgroTown' will be built near Nigeria's capital Lagos. The idea is to attract local investors and to help them produce ethanol on the basis of sugar cane and biodiesel on the basis of palm oil, widely grown in the country, as well as from castor."

In between the urban and the rural
Lagos is Africa's largest capital, a true megapolis of 14 million (if not more) inhabitants, many of whom live in dire poverty. It is not a coincidence that the 'Biofuel Town' will be built nearby. As such, it becomes a 'transitional zone' between Nigeria's country-side and the urban landscape. Energy is at the center of this conceptual zone - green energy, and not petroleum, the curse of the country. The location is more than symbolic, because it will actively tap into the real traffic between the rural and the urban, namely into the stream of internal migrants who leave their villages to try their luck in the mega-city.

Bonini notes that Lagos is almost as large as São Paulo, Latin America's biggest city, and that Brazilians understand this trek from the country-side to the city very well.

These rural migrants, on the brink of becoming urbanites, but still fundamentally farmers, will be invited to come and live near the new 'Biofuel Town'. There they will be surrounded by Brazilian agronomists and bioenergy experts. In a first phase these rural families will become the workers on the industrial plantations, but gradually they will be helped to become biofuel experts who will start their own mini-industries in the sector. This 'avant-garde' can then transfer technology, knowledge and skills to other parts of the country:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

To attract families, the 'Biofuel Town' will offer a range of incentives, such as professional training and education. When it comes to Brazilian agronomists, Bonini says the project has received a warm welcome, and a special agency was created to link up agricultural engineers from different institutions to make sure that the project gets noted.

Nigeria's contribution
The African country is set to benefit from this project, and in exchange for this influx of expertise and technology, Nigeria will contribute by exempting Brazilian companies from taxes for a period of five years. "We think this is an opportunity for Brazilian companies to collaborate with local partners and to expand their capacities. The Nigerian partners will help in divulging the news about the Biofuel City. In Brazil, the Associação Comercial Brasil-Nigeria is one of the investors."

According to Berucke Chikaeze Nwabasili, president of Brazil's nigerian community and member of the Associação Comercial says the 'AgroTown' will also function as a commercial chamber that will boost exchanges between the two countries: "It is interesting to do this via the development of biofuels." Nwabasili adds that the experience gained in the 'Biofuel Town' will be transferred to other parts of the country.

Nigeria "is a country rich in land and where sugar cane already is one of the leading crops for subsistence farming. The company Eco Energia will be responsible for the extraction of castor, a crop that is well suited for the region which has an excellent climate."

Interestingly, in another concession, the Nigerian government has authorised the project leaders to supply the town of energy - a task that would normally be carried out exclusively by official energy companies.

The project's ultimate goal is to go beyond the borders of Nigeria and export the model of the 'Biofuel Town' to India, China and the countries of West Africa. But the expansion will also involve products other than biofuels.

Vita Brasil, one of the collaborating companies, hopes to introduce a new ranges of foodstuffs aimed at fighting infant mortality: baby food made from cassava and rice, combined with esential minerals. According to Marc Aygadoux, marketing director, the goal is to triple exports of these products to Nigeria, which currently stand at 100 tonnes per month. A one year pilot project with the food in Brazil's city of Mongaguá, on the coast of São Paulo state, showed very encouraging results: infant mortality was reduced from 26 promille to 5 promille.

According to the director, the company is looking for African directors who can help create the market for the projects there. The 'Biofuel Town' may well be the perfect starting point to do so.

No hegemony

Speaking to 22 African ambassadors to Brazil during the 'Dia da África' president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stressed that his country has no hegemonic intentions in Africa: "Brazil has no imperialist ambitions. Brazil refuses to become a hegemonic voice. Instead, Brazil wants to develop together, build together, to our common benefit."

The president signed a range of agreements tying the relationships between Africa and Brazil. Initiatives include the creation of a joint Latin-American - African university as well as the opening of a subsidiary of the Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) on the continent.

Brazil will help the continent especially on the front of peace building and conflict prevention, because a lack of political stability is the single most important factor determining Africa's underdevelopment.

"Only peace can guarantee a healthy development. Without peace, and with war, there is no economic growth, no educational development, no technological progress and injustice reigns."

Lula then focused on his intention to produce biofuels in Africa as a way to lift countries out of poverty.

Present at the celebration of the 'Dia da África' at the Palácio do Planalto were the ambassadors of South Africa, Angola, Cabo Verde África do Sul, Angola, Algeria, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Côte d´Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinee, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

More information:
Notícias Agrícolas: Brasil implantará agrovila na Nigéria para etanol e biodiesel (DCI) - May 25, 2007.

Agência Brasil: Lula sugere novas parcerias com países africanos e defende fim das guerras - May 25, 2007.

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Chevron and Texas A&M create alliance to develop cellulosic biofuels

Chevron Corporation and the Texas A&M Agriculture and Engineering BioEnergy Alliance (Texas A&M BioEnergy Alliance) announced today that they have entered into a strategic research agreement to accelerate the production and conversion of crops for manufacturing ethanol and other biofuels from cellulose.

Chevron Technology Ventures, a division of Chevron USA, will support research initiatives over a four-year period through the Texas A&M BioEnergy Alliance, a formal partnership combining the collective strengths of The Texas A&M University System's two premier research agencies in agriculture and engineering - the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (TAES) and the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) (and earlier post on these institutions' recent work on the development of a drought tolerant, high yield sorghum for biomass energy).

The research initiatives will focus on several technology advancements to produce biofuels including, but not limited to:
  • identifying, assessing, cultivating, and optimizing production of second-generation energy feedstocks for cellulose and bio-oils with a focus on non-food crops
  • characterizing and optimizing the design of dedicated bioenergy crops through advances in genomic sciences and plant breeding
  • developing integrated logistics systems associated with the harvest, transport, storage and conversion of bioenergy crops
  • developing advanced biofuels processing technologies
This means both partners will collaborate on all important aspects dealing with the production and enhancement of energy crops as well as with the logistics of getting them to processing facilities, and with the actual bioconversion of the biomass feedstocks into finished liquid fuels for transport:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

"Chevron believes that biofuels will fill an important role in diversifying the nation's energy sources by providing a source of low-carbon transportation fuel," said Don Paul, vice president and chief technology officer, Chevron Corporation.

"Bringing biofuels to large-scale commercial production is an enormous challenge that requires the combined efforts of industry, universities and research institutions, and governments. It is through partnerships like this that biofuels will be a viable part of meeting the energy challenges of tomorrow."

"The Texas A&M BioEnergy Alliance has a broad, holistic vision focused on developing practical, near-term solutions to bioenergy related problems, in addition to performing the necessary long-term fundamental research," said Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, vice chancellor and dean of Texas A&M Engineering. "Forming an alliance with Chevron fits well with our research initiatives and allows us to leverage our strengths in biomass and biofuels to transfer new technologies from lab to the public, providing real solutions that are economical, sustainable and environmentally friendly."

For instance, Texas A&M BioEnergy Alliance partners in agriculture have developed exceptional high-yield cellulosic energy crops that can produce significantly more biomass per acre than most alternatives. "The development of biofuels from agricultural feedstocks requires a regional approach and research into many alternatives for the long-term energy needs of our country," said Dr. Elsa Murano, vice chancellor and dean of Texas A&M Agriculture and Life Sciences. "We have been able to capitalize on decades of existing research into sorghum, sugarcane, forage and oil-based cropping systems, which should provide us with premier, dedicated feedstocks for biofuels and renewable energy that are sustainable within existing agricultural production systems."

"Cellulosic ethanol, as opposed to sugar- or starch-based ethanol, broadens the choice of feedstock without impacting food supplies," said Rick Zalesky, vice president of Biofuels and Hydrogen, Chevron Technology Ventures. "Making it commercially viable poses a number of scientific and technical challenges -- challenges which we believe the faculty, staff and students at one of the world's premier universities in agricultural sciences and engineering are well-equipped to overcome."

Cellulose is an energy-rich carbohydrate that is the main structural component of green plants, found in the stems, stalks and leaves. One of the primary technical and scientific challenges of making biofuels from cellulose involves designing a low cost method for releasing sugar from cellulose that is bound in the plant cell wall for fermentation into ethanol or other biofuels.

Chevron formed a biofuels business unit in May 2006 to advance technology and pursue commercial opportunities related to the production and distribution of ethanol and biodiesel in the United States. Its research and development (R&D) activities in biofuels are currently structured around a research initiative with Weyerhaeuser Company, one of the world's largest integrated forest products companies; a major alliance with U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory
(NREL); and a portfolio of four significant, regionally focused university programs.

In addition to the Texas A&M agreement announced today, Chevron's biofuels business unit has formed research arrangements with the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of California Davis and the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, which is a consortium of NREL, three major Colorado universities and other private companies. It also recently formed an alliance with Weyerhauser to develop cellulose-based biofuels.

This same day, Chevron Technology Ventures and BioSelect Fuels LLC, a division of Standard Renewable Energy LLC, unveiled their biodiesel plant in Galveston, Texas today. The plant is one of the first large-scale biodiesel production facilities in North America and is now producing clean-burning biodiesel from renewable resources. The facility will initially produce 20 million gallons of biodiesel per year and has the capability to expand operations to produce 110 million gallons per year.

The Texas A&M University System is among the largest systems of higher education in the nation. Through a statewide network of nine universities, seven state agencies, which include Texas A&M BioEnergy Alliance partners TAES and TEES, and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System is uniquely configured to optimize the integrated development and design of cellulosic and oil-based feedstocks with emerging technologies and sustainable supplies of biomass to address biofuels and renewable energy.

The Texas A&M BioEnergy Alliance is integrating and focusing its broad-based resources to become a world leader in bioenergy. Over the past two decades, faculty and staff researchers have worked on multiple feedstocks, biofuels and bioenergy projects. The Texas A&M Bioenergy Alliance is advancing this research toward demonstration projects and eventual commercialization, while accelerating the next generation bioenergy.

More information:

PRNewswire: Chevron and Texas A&M Form Strategic Biofuels Research Alliance - May 29, 2007.

Chevron Technology Ventures: Chevron and Weyerhaeuser Create Biofuels Alliance - 12 Apr 2007

Chevron Technology Ventures: Chevron and National Renewable Energy Laboratory Establish Research Alliance to Advance Cellulosic Biofuels - 04 Oct 2006

Chevron Technology Ventures: Chevron and UC Davis to Pursue Joint Research Into Next-Generation Biofuels - 19 Sep 2006

Chevron Technology Ventures: Chevron Partners With Georgia Tech to Pursue Next Generation of Renewable Transportation Fuels - 15 Jun 2006

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