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    Basin Electric Power Cooperative told a U.S. Senate Energy Appropriations subcommittee that it is looking into capturing carbon dioxide from its Antelope Valley Station and sell it for enhanced oil recovery in the Williston Basin. Carbon capture technologies have not yet been applied to a power plant that uses lignite, or even subbitumious coal. The trial would be the first one to do so in the Midwest. Bismarck Tribune - August 17, 2007.

    The BBC World Service's current 'One Planet' programme focuses on revolutionary technologies and research that uses a next-generation of GM crops as factories for the production of new pharmaceuticals, green products and alternatives to petroleum-based chemicals. One Planet - August 16, 2007.

    Germany's Biogas Nord has been commissioned to construct a large multi-feed biogas plant with a capacity of 2.8 MW of electrical power in Romania. The value of the order is approximately €3.5 million. The plant will be built in the Transylvanian region close to the county town of Oradea. Interestingly, a synergy will be created by coupling the facility to the construction of a biodiesel plant. In so doing, the waste products resulting from the production of biodiesel, such as rapeseed pellets and glycerin, will be brought to the biogas plant as substrates. Ad-Hoc News - August 16, 2007.

    The University of Western Ontario's Research Park at Sarnia has received $10-million in funding for the development of biofuel technologies. The funds will be used for the creation of the 'Ontario Bioindustrial Innovation Centre' at the University, including the addition of a commercialization centre with incubator suites, laboratory equipment, pilot plant space and space for startup companies. The Observer - August 16, 2007.

    Philippine Bio-Sciences Co., Inc. (PhilBio) and its Clean Development Mechanism subsidiary in Cebu, has told the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) that it will soon open a 10 megawatt biogas plant in Cebu. According to the company, under current conditions electricity generated from biogas is around 20% less costly than that generated from fossil fuels. Philippine Bio-Sciences - August 15, 2007.

    Scientists, economists and policy experts representing government and public institutions from more than 40 countries will exchange the latest information on economic and technology opportunities at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Global Conference on Agricultural Biofuels: Research and Economics", to be held Aug. 20-21 in Minneapolis. USDA ARS - August 14, 2007.

    A company owned by the Chinese government has expressed interest in investing up to 500 million US dollars in a biofuel project in Indonesia. The company is planning to use jatropha as its raw material and is targeting an annual output of around 1 million tons. Forbes - August 13, 2007.

    Virgin Atlantic, Boeing and General Electric are within weeks of selecting the biofuel for a flight demonstration in the UK early next year. The conversion of biomass via the Fischer-Tropsch process is no longer amongst the biofuel candidates, because the process has already been demonstrated to work. Ground testing of the chosen fuel in a development engine at GE is expected to begin in October-November. The limited flight-test programme will involve burning biofuel in one GE CF6-80C2 engine on a Virgin Boeing 747-400. Flight Global - August 13, 2007.

    Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said Saturday it plans to introduce a new preferential tax system in fiscal 2008 aimed at promoting a wider use of biofuel, which could help curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Under the envisaged plan, biofuel that has been mixed with gasoline will be exempt from the gasoline tax--currently 53.8 yen per liter--in proportion to the amount of biofuel included. If blended with diesel oil, biofuel will be free from the diesel oil delivery tax, currently 32.1 yen per liter. Daily Yomiuri - August 13, 2007.

    Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said Saturday it plans to introduce a new preferential tax system in fiscal 2008 aimed at promoting a wider use of biofuel, which could help curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Under the envisaged plan, biofuel that has been mixed with gasoline will be exempt from the gasoline tax--currently 53.8 yen per liter--in proportion to the amount of biofuel included. If blended with diesel oil, biofuel will be free from the diesel oil delivery tax, currently 32.1 yen per liter. Daily Yomiuri - August 13, 2007.

    Buenos Aires based ABATEC SA announces the release of a line of small biodiesel plants with modular design, high temperature reaction for the best yield, to produce from 50 to 1000 gal/day (190 to 3785 liter/day) of high quality methylester and valuable glycerol. PRWeb - August 10, 2007.

    Vegetable growers in North Queensland are trying to solve the problem of disposing of polyethylene plastic mulch by using a biodegradable, bioplastic based alternative. Trials are a collaboration of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries with the Bowen District Growers Association. Queensland Country Life - August 8, 2007.

    Hawaii's predominant utility has won approval to build the state's first commercial biofuel plant. It is the first substantial new power generator that Hawaiian Electric Co. has added in 17 years. HECO will build the $142.3 million facility at Campbell Industrial Park on Oahu beginning early next year, and expects to begin commercial operation in mid-2009. It will run exclusively on fuels made from ethanol or biodiesel. Star Bulletin (Honolulu) - August 8, 2007.

    PetroSun Inc. announced today that it conducted its initial algae-to-biofuel program held at Auburn and Opelika, Alabama. The company intends to hold a series of these programs during August and September with biodiesel refiners and firms that are researching the use of algal oil as a potential feedstock for jet fuel production. MarketWire - August 8, 2007.

    To encourage Malaysia's private sector to generate energy from biomass resources, national electricity company Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) has increased the purchase price of electricity produced from palm oil biomass waste to 21 sen per kilowatt hour from 19 sen now. According to Minister of Enegry, Water and Communications, Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik the new price structure, under the Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreement (REPPA), will be implemented immediately. Such projects are eligible for the Clean Development Mechanism. Under the 9th Malaysian Plan, the country's government aims to achieve the installation of 300MW and 50MW of grid-connected electric power from renewable energy sources in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, respectively. Bernama - August 7, 2007.

    Aspectrics, which develops encoded photometric infrared and near infrared spectroscopy, will be launching a new range of biofuels analyzers designed to meet the demands of scientists and analysts to carry out biodiesel quality control and analyze biodiesel blend percentages in real time. Bioresearch Online - August 7, 2007.

    Irish start-up Eirzyme has secured a €10m investment from Canadian company Micromill System. The new company will produce low-cost enzymes to convert biological materials such as brewers' grains into bioethanol and biogas. RTE - August 6, 2007.

    Imperium Renewables says it has a deal to provide Royal Caribbean Cruises with biodiesel. The Seattle-based biodiesel maker, which is scheduled to inaugurate its Grays Harbor plant this month, will sell the cruise line 15 million gallons of biodiesel in 2007 and 18 million gallons annually for four years after that. The Miami-based cruise line has four vessels that call in Seattle. It is believed to be the single-largest long-term biodiesel sales contract to an end user in the U.S. Seattle Times - August 5, 2007.

    The J. Craig Venter Institute, leading the synthetic biology revolution, is expanding its Bio-Energy Program, seeking a senior scientist to head the new dedicated department. With ongoing research in biohydrogen, cellulosic ethanol, microbial fuel cells, and bacterial nanowires, the Environmental Genomics and Plant Genomics groups within JCVI are working on active components related to bio-energy. NatureJobs - August 5, 2007.

    Polish power and heat firm Praterm has decided to invest 50 to 100 mln zloty (€13.2-26.4 /US$18.1-36.4 mln) by 2013 in biomass production. The company has already bought Bio-Energia, an operator of four biomass heating plants with a total capacity of 14 MW. Wirtualna Polska - August 5, 2007.

    Brazil and Mexico will sign a cooperation agreement to collaborate on the production of ethanol from sugarcane, Gonzalo Mourão of the Brazilian chancellory's Departamento do México, América Central e Caribe said. Brazil's President Lula is on a tour of Central America and is currently in Mexico, after which he will visit Honduras, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Panama. He is set to sign several bilateral agreements on energy and biofuels with these countries. Reuters Brasil - August 4, 2007.

    Evergreen Pulp Inc. announced that it and Diversified Energy Corp. have been selected by the state of California for a $500,000, 36-month renewable energy project that aims to dramatically reduce natural-gas-use residue and natural gas at its Samoa mill. The Public Interest Energy Research Natural Gas Program, a part of the California Energy Commission, awarded four contracts for research, development and demonstration of technologies to replace natural gas with renewable resources, to four applicants from among a pool of 25. The state’s focus for the contracts was for biomass-to-gas and/or hybrid projects specifically addressing industrial and commercial process heating or combined heat and power needs. Eureka Reporter - August 4, 2007.

    Greenline Industries, which designs and builds biodiesel production facilities, and ULEROM, one of Romania's largest agri-business corporations, today announced the formal opening of their largest facility in Vaslui, Romania. The plant will produce some 26.5 million liters (7 mio gallons) per year. The Romanian facility is the 17th example of Greenline's technology featuring waterless wash, computerized, continuous flow and modular construction. PRNewswire - August 1, 2007.

    US Renewables Holdings announced today that it has successfully closed on $475 million of third party capital commitments in its most recent private equity fund, USRG Power & Biofuels Fund II, LP and related vehicles (collectively, "Fund II"), ahead of the fund's original target of $250 million. PRNewswire - August 1, 2007.

    Malaysian palm oil company Kim Loong Resources Bhd has secured European energy trading group Vitol as buyer for all its carbon credits from its planned biogas plant in Kota Tinggi. The biogas facility generates methane from palm oil mill effluent, a waste product. The project is expected to generate over RM2 million (€423,000/US$579,000) of earnings annually. The methane capture and power generation project was registered and approved by the Clean Development Mechanism. The Edge Daily - July 31, 2007.

    GreenHunter Energy, Inc. announces that its wholly-owned subsidiary, GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., located in Houston, Texas has successfully acquired Air Emission Permits from TCEQ (Texas Commission of Environmental Quality) under TCEQ's Permit by Rule (PBR) programs. These permits open the way for construction of a 105 million gallon per year (mgy) biodiesel facility including a separate but related methanol distillation facility. PRNewswire - July 30, 2007.

    Together with Chemical & Engineering News' Stephen K. Ritter, the journal Environmental Science & Technology sent Erika D. Engelhaupt to Brazil from where she wrote daily dispatches of news and observations about biofuels research. In particular she focuses on a bioenerrgy research partnership between the American Chemical Society, the Brazilian Chemical Society, and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA). Check out her blog. Dipatches from Brazil - July 28, 2007.

    Consultation is under way on a £50 million (€74/US$101million) renewable energy plant planned for the South Wales Valleys. Anglo-Dutch company Express Power plans to build a wood-fuelled biomass plant on Rassau Industrial Estate in Blaenau Gwent. The plant will generate an annual 160,000 MWh (Mega Watt hours) of green electricity for Wales from forestry, recycled wood and wood derivatives. ICWales - July 27, 2007.

    The price of New York crude leapt to 77.24 dollar a barrel on Thursday, marking the highest level since August 9, 2006, as keen global demand and tight supplies fuelled speculative buying, traders said. On Wednesday, the US government had revealed that inventories of American crude fell by 1.1 million barrels last week. France24 - July 26, 2007.

    Arriva, one of Europe's largest transport groups is trialling B20 biodiesel for the first time on 75 of its buses. The company is aiming to reduce total carbon emissions by around 14 per cent by using biodiesel as a 20 per cent blend (predominantly be a mixture of sustainable soya products, along with used cooking oil and tallow). The 75 buses in the innovative trial will carry around 130,000 passengers every week. Minimal engineering changes will be required to the fleet as part of the scheme. Arriva - July 26, 2007.

    Marathon Oil Corporation announces that it has completed two more projects adding biodiesel blended fuel at its Robinson and Champaign terminals in Illinois. The terminals now feature in-line ratio blending in order to provide soy-based B-2 (two percent biodiesel) and B-11 (eleven percent biodiesel). Marathon Oil - July 25, 2007.

    Norway-based renewable energy firm Global Green One has agreed to set up a € 101.6 million bioethanol plant in Békéscsaba (southeast Hungary), with more facilities planned for Kalocsa, Szombathely and Kõszeg, the latter of which was already a target for a €25 million plant in May this year. The Békéscsaba plant would process 200,000 tonnes of maize per year, employing around 100 people. The logistics part of the facility would also create 100 jobs. The company expects the factory to generate €65 million in revenues each year. Portfolio - July 25, 2007.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Deforestation rate in Amazon decreased by 25% between 2005 and 2006

In what is seen as a major success for Brazil's president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, new figures show that the deforestation rate in the Amazon has decreased by 25 percent between August 2005 and July 2006, despite high commodity prices and rapidly growing demand for crops like soybeans. The data [*.pdf/Portuguese] released by the Ministry of the Environment show that the deforestation rate has reached the lowest level since at least the year 2000. It is the second consecutive decrease measured since President Lula's new comprehensive policies were enforced, indicating a historic trend reversal.

The reduction could be observed across all territories and administrative divisions: in seven out of the nine tropical rainforest states, in the 'Federal Conservation Units' ('unidades de conservação' - UCs), in the peri-urban zones as well as in the Indigenous Territories.

President Lula welcomed the figures and said the decrease had prevented the release of millions of tonnes of CO2 gas into the atmosphere. The Brazilian government says environmental policies, including measures against illegal logging, have had a clear effect. The president stressed that strong policies make sustainable development more than an empty word:
I'm convinced that it's possible to have growth while preserving the environment. The challenge that we have overcome is knowing how to use the jungle and how to preserve the environment while allowing people's lives to be improved.
"We are gradually going back to the situation of the 1970s", said the minister of the Environment, Marina Silva, referring to a period when the forest suffered little pressures.
Three thematic lines have been essential for achieving this success: a rural and territorial land-use policy, a monitoring and environmental control system and the promotion of sustainable agricultural activities. Brazil is perhaps the only country in the world that is implementing a consistent and comprehensive plan that allows for both the protection and preservation of the rich biodiversity of the Amazon, while at the same time quickly and substantially reducing its contributions to climate change. - Dilma Rousseff, chief of staff of the president
The latest estimate is the result of Brazil's Real Time Deforestation Detection System. The data were announced last friday, in Brasilia, at a press conference attended by the minister of the Environment, Marina Silva, of Agrarian Development, Guillermo Cassel, of Agriculture, Reinhold Stephanes and by Dilma Rousseff, the president's chief of staff.

The results
This is the second fall in the deforestation rate since March 2004, when the Plan for Prevention and Control of Deforestation in Amazônia (PPCDA) was launched by president Lula. This integrated plan combines different technologies (earth monitoring), policies and enforcement instruments. The accounting is a undertaken in an inter-ministerial manner, with 13 ministries cooperating.

Since 2004, the deforestation rate has fallen by 49%. In 2004-2005, the area deforested in the Amazon region was 18,793 square kilometres; fallling back in 2005-2006 to 14,039 square kilometres. Of the nine states that make up the Amazon region, seven have witnessed a reduction against last year (table, click to enlarge):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Pará was the state that had greatest area deforested in the period and showed the lightest decrease. To be precise, the paraense territory registered a fall of 4,48% of the rate in relation the 2005. In 2006, the total deforested area in Pará was 5,005 square kilometres.

The Mato Grosso witnessed a fall of 39,36%, with the largest reduction in absolute terms: 7,145 square kilometres were registered in 2005 against 4,333 square kilometres in 2006.

The city that registered the biggest growth in the deforestation indices was New Repartimento, in Pará state: the total deforested area grew by 214 square kilometres, in 2005, and by 446 square kilometres in 2006.

On the other hand, the city of São Félix de Xingu, also in Pará - which represented the city with the largest deforested area in 2005, with 1,406 square kilometres and which was the object of intense fiscalization on the part of the Ibama [Environmental Protection Agency] and the Federal Police -, registered the biggest fall in 2006, with only 764 square kilometres deforested.

In the 'Federal Conservation Units' ('unidades de conservação' - UCs), the variation in the fall of the deforestation rate was 56%. In 2005, the total of deforested area was in 689 square kilometres; in 2006, the total deforested area in the UCs was 306 square kilometres.

These data show that the creation of UCs, one of the main politics of the Ministry for the Environment, has been crucial in the fight against deforestation.

In the same way, the evolution of the deforestation rates in the Indigenous Territories showed a decrease, passing from of 441 square kilometres, in 2005, to 190 square kilometres, in 2006. In the nestings, also km² for 2.054 had fall in the deforested area of 4.406 km².

Measuring, monitoring and intervening
The director of the National Institute of Space Research, Gilbert Chamber, presented the two systems currently implemented by the INPE: "the PRODES calculates the consolidated annual rate of deforestation of the Amazônia; DETER gives estimates on large deforested tracts areas of the Amazônia with the biggest possible rapidity".

On the ground the Brazilian government stepped up its interventions in the Amazon region by means of command and control actions to combat the illegal trade in tropical timber as well as by implementing fiscal policies. The Federal Police carried out 20 large operations, 14 of which occured in the Amazon region; the IBAMA ('Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis', the enforcement arm of the Ministry of the Environment) carried out 446 operations of integrated fiscalization, which have become routine by now.

About 600 people have been arrested, 115 of them because of the work of the IBAMA. In total around 1 million of cubic meters of wood have been confiscated - an amount that would occupy 40,000 fully loaded trucks and that would form an uninterrupted chain of trucks from Rio De Janeiro to São Paulo, or 480 kilometres.

Moreover, 3.3 billion reais (€1.246/US$1.695 billion) in fines have been handed out.

Agricultural land enforcement actions allowed the creation of 20 million hectares of protected areas - which corresponds to four times the size of the state of Rio De Janeiro - and the homologation of about 10 million hectares of indigenous lands was carried out.

"All this indicates that, with planning and integrated efforts, it is possible, indeed, to change the picture", summarized Marina silva. She concluded : "We want to share this victory with all the Brazilian people".

Ministério do Meio Ambiente: Taxa de desmatamento na Amazônia cai 25% - August 10, 2007

Grupo Permanente de Trabalho Interministerial sobre Desmatamento na Amazônia Decreto de 3 de julho de 2003: Resultados PRODES ago/05 a jul/06, Projeção DETER ago/06 a jul/07 [*.pdf].

Biopact: Brazil demonstrating that reducing tropical deforestation is possible while expanding biofuels - May 16, 2007

Article continues

USDA forecasts biggest corn crop ever for 2007

U.S. farmers are expected to produce the largest corn crop in America's history in 2007, according to the Crop Production report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Corn production is forecast at 13.1 billion bushels (331.5 million tons), 10.6 percent above the previous record of 11.8 billion bushels set in 2004.

Based on conditions as of August 1, corn yields are expected to average 152.8 bushels per acre (9.59 ton per hectare), up 3.7 bushels (230kg) from last year. This would be the second highest corn yield on record, behind the 160.4 bushels per acre produced in 2004. Growers are expected to harvest 85.4 million acres (34.5 million hectares) of corn for grain, the most since 1933 and 14.8 million more acres than last year.

Table 1 (yields and production) and 2 (hectarage) offer a summary of the numbers for basic crops grown in the U.S., in metric units.
Yield forecasts for corn are higher than last year across the Great Plains, central Corn Belt and Delta. Meanwhile, hot, dry conditions led to lower expected yields across much of the northern and eastern Corn Belt, Ohio Valley, Tennessee Valley, Southeast and Atlantic Coast:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

NASS forecasts 2007 soybean production at 2.63 billion bushels, down 18 percent from last year’s record high of 3.19 billion bushels. Yields are expected to average 41.5 bushels per acre, down 1.2 bushels from last year.

All cotton production is estimated at 17.3 million 480-pound bales, down 20 percent from last year’s 21.6 million bales. Yield is expected to average 783 pounds per harvested acre, down 31 pounds from 2006.

All wheat production, at 2.11 billion bushels, is up 17 percent from 2006, with yield forecast at 40.6 bushels per acre, up 1.9 bushels from last year.

NASS’s crop production forecasts are based on both farm operator surveys and actual field counts conducted among a statistically selected sample between July 23 and August 6.

USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service: Crop Production - August 10, 2007.

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POSCO subsidiary completes purchase of power module from FuelCell Energy - biogas powered fuel cell

Utilizing carbon-negative biogas in highly efficient fuel cells is arguably the cleanest energy system imaginable. What's more, the concept is not some distant futuristic fantasy, it is here, today.

Earlier we reported on several players from the EU and the US who are designing fuel cells that run on biomethane (here, here and here) and on initiatives aimed at actively promoting the concept (here). One of the leading developers is FuelCell Energy Inc., which designs ultra-clean power plants based on Direct Fuel Cells that are capable of reforming a variety of fuels including biogas into hydrogen, used to generate heat and power for commercial, industrial and utility customers.

Today the company announced [*.pdf] the sale of a 300 kilowatt (kW) fuel cell stack module and associated balance of plant components to POSCON, one of the subsidiary companies of POSCO, and FuelCell Energy's strategic partner for the South Korean market.

The components enable POSCON, a systems engineering and electronics manufacturing company, to build its first power plant to prepare for its own balance of plant (BOP) manufacturing in Asia. These components are equivalent to a complete DFC300MA system (image, click to enlarge) and are expected to ship this fall.

Under its licensing and distribution agreement with POSCO, FuelCell Energy currently ships complete fuel cell power plants to POSCO. When its own manufacturing facility is ready, POSCO will integrate FuelCell Energy's fuel cell module with POSCO's BOP, installing and servicing the units at customer sites. POSCO's manufacturing plant is expected to have 50 MW of capacity by the end of 2008 and 100 MW by 2010:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
This arrangement allows us to capitalize on POSCO's manufacturing capabilities and their economies of scale as we work to meet the increasing demand customers in South Korea have for highly efficient, ultra-clean power generation. Over time, as POSCO gains experience with our DFC systems, we expect them to emerge as a superior BOP supplier, integrator and service provider - not just for power plants there, but potentially for other parts of the world, too. - Ben Toby, Vice President of Global Business Development for FuelCell Energy.
Having ratified the Kyoto Protocols, South Korea is becoming one of the world's leading adopters of clean energy technology, and a burgeoning market for fuel cell power plants. The country's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) last year introduced a renewable energy subsidy program that provides substantial incentives for fuel cells - powered by biogas and natural gas - exceeding the funding created for wind power, biomass and hydro, and second only to solar power.

This order brings FuelCell Energy's fiscal year total to 7.8 MW from POSCO.

The company is also researching the use of both ethanol and biodiesel in its fuel cells.

FuelCell Energy: DFC300MA (300 kW), brochure [*.pdf].

FuelCell Energy: biofuels R&D.

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Cyclone Power Technologies tests fuel made from orange peels in fuel injector of its Green Revolution Engine

Cyclone Power Technologies announced last week that it has burned a biofuel derived from orange peels in the high-performance fuel injector of its 'Green Revolution Engine', an external combustion engine currently under development.

The 100% natural biofuel is called d-Limonene, an oil extracted from citrus rind. When citrus fruits are juiced, the oil is pressed out of the rind and distilled, resulting in food grade d-Limonene. After the juicing process, the peels are conveyed to a steam extractor which collects more of the oil from the peel. When the steam is condensed, a layer of d-Limonene oil floats on the surface of the condensed water. This is technical grade d-Limonene (schematic, click to enlarge).

d-Limonene is a very versatile chemical which can be used in a wide variety of applications. As a straight solvent, d-Limonene has found use as an alternative to mineral spirits, methyl ethyl ketone, acetone, toluene, glycol ethers, and fluorinated and chlorinated organic solvents. Much of the product goes into making paint solids or as a secondary cooling fluid. With record-high oil prices, the product has become a biofuel that can be used directly in combustion engines.

Cyclone Power Technologies tested d-Limonene in its Green Revolution Engine (image, click to enlarge) and found that it atomized efficiently through the fuel injector, produced a clean burning flame, and registered a BTU level almost 500 units greater than kerosene. Equally important, the test required no modifications to the fuel injector, demonstrating the versatility of this critical component of Cyclone's engine:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

"Our fuel injector is based on a technology known as High Turbulence Siphon-Type Air Atomization, which emits a small micron gasified particle," stated Michael Hodgson, Cyclone's chief engineer. "We can ignite the bio-fuels on and off like a light switch and they are very clean to burn."

Over the next few weeks, the Company plans to test other alternative fuels in its fuel injector, including biodiesels produced from palm oil, cotton seed oil and chicken fat, as well as ethanol, which is produced from corn.

"We're very pleased with what these results tell us about our fuel injector," stated CEO Harry Schoell. "We're also pleased with d-Limonene, which burns hotter and cleaner than kerosene, and also makes the entire test area smell like oranges."

Cyclone holds the U.S. patent, international patent applications, and exclusive commercial rights to the Green Revolution Engine, an environmentally-friendly and highly-efficient external combustion, heat-regenerative engine.

The Green Revolution Engine regenerates (or recycles) its heat, which allows it to run cleaner, cooler and more efficiently than traditional internal combustion engines. It is capable of running on any liquid or gaseous fuel, including ethanol and propane, and is lubricated with de-ionized water instead of motor oil.

By eliminating many subsystems like oil pumps, radiators, catalytic converters and fuel injectors, Cyclone's Green Revolution Engine is expected to cost less to manufacture, operate and maintain; however, it is highly scalable and sufficiently powerful for applications ranging from lawn equipment and small home generators, large stand alone generators, to cars, trucks, buses, RV's, boats and ships, as well as earth moving equipment and locomotives.

Cyclone Power Technologies: Cyclone engine.

Florida Chemical Company: What is d-Limonene?

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Helsinki citizens support large biomass power plant

An interesting exercise on assessing public acceptance of biofuels comes from Helsinki, Finland. There, a public consultation and a poll was organised to assess citizen's opinions on the proposal by city-owned utility Helsinki Energy to build a large biomass-fired power plant. The results show that a majority is in favor of the biofuel plan, with people on left and those with green sympathies showing strongest support for the renewable energy solution.

According to the poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat, the Finnish capital's residents see the plan as a measure of climate change prevention. A report issued last year showed that, of all Nordic cities, Helsinki contributes the largest amount of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the generation of heat and electricity from fossil fuels, a fact the climate-conscious Finns have not forgotten. Utilizing carbon-neutral biomass instead offsets these emissions.

In the Greater Helsinki area the most divided opinions were found in the city of Espoo, where 48 per cent of the population are for and 38 per cent against the construction of the large chip plant. In the city of Vantaa, 60 per cent of the respondents back the idea.

Respondents' political views also play a role in their attitude towards the plant. The members of the Left Alliance, the Centre Party, and the Green League stand most solidly behind the biomass plant undertaking. Of the rightist National Coalition party members, a narrow minority of 48 per cent give their approval to the idea:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Among different professions, the salaried employees are most sympathetic towards the plant. The most resistance was detected among entrepreneurs.

The discussion of the energy company’s taking part in climate change prevention was stepped up a notch in the spring by the Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre), who suggested that Helsinki Energy should be involved in the climate protection efforts by switching over to using bio fuels.

The company has argued that it produces both electricity and heat as cleanly and efficiently as possible. The main fuel is natural gas, although some coal is also used.

Before its first meeting on the 29th of August, the Helsinki City Council will organise a political discussion as a forum for the politicians to receive information and exchange views on the situation.

Other energy production units in the capital area are the large power plants of Fortum in Suomenoja and Vantaa Energy in Martinlaakso, both of which also utilise fossil fuels.

Next year, energy company Fortum will start constructing a new large natural gas power plant in Suomenoja. The facility’s introduction is scheduled towards the end of 2009.

Those who responded to the questionnaire were not asked how much or how much extra they would be prepared to pay for greener energy.

Helsingin Sanomat: Most Helsinki residents support idea of large wood chip power plant - August 13, 2007.

Helsingin Sanomat: Comparison of Nordic cities shows Helsinki has worst gas emissions - September 19, 2006.

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ICRISAT's pro-poor biofuel projects provide livelihood and food security to landless farmers in India

Soaring prices of fossil-fuels and environmental pollution associated with their use, have resulted in an increased worldwide interest in the production and use of biofuel. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) located in Patancheru in India's Andhra Pradesh state, is playing a major role in bringing poor and marginal dryland farmers into the global biofuel revolution while strengthening food security. Part of its pro-poor Biopower program, the ICRISAT has been working on developing high yield sweet sorghum hybrids as well as designing energy cropping systems that allow smallholders to lift themselves out of poverty (earlier post).

Innovative research

ICRISAT is now carrying out innovative research on biodiesel made from oilseeds obtained from Pongamia and Jatropha plants in an integrated and sustainable system that provides livelihood and food security to a number of ryots (traditional collectively organised farmers) while reducing the dependence on fossil fuels.

Both Jatropha and Pongamia meet the main needs of dryland farmers, as they require little water, can withstand stress and are inexpensive to cultivate, according to Dr. Suhas P. Wani, Principal Scientist and Regional Theme Co-ordinator, ICRISAT.

ICRISAT’s research on biodiesel from pongamia and jatropha crops is not only ensuring energy, livelihood and food security to these dryland farmers, but also reduces the use of fossil fuels, which in turn can help in mitigating climate change, according to Dr Wani.

The institute is working with governments and industry leaders to develop partnerships that can result in economic benefit for the marginal farmers of the semi-arid tropics, even while retaining the strong economic competitiveness for the industry.

The idea is to develop partnerships that link ICRISAT’s innovative research with farmers and markets. “We call this our pro-poor biofuels initiative for the dryland farmers without compromising on food security,” says Dr. William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT.

The path to success began in 2005 when small and casual farm labourers were identified by ICRISAT for linking them with the global biofuel revolution, which has currently taken Andhra Pradesh by storm. “These people are not landlords or ryots with large holdings. All of them are small-scale labourers, with some of them having only 30-50 cents of barren land,” said Dr Dar. About 200 farmers were selected from Velchal and Kothlapur villages and asked to form 15 groups. Experts identified about 140 ha and 160 hectares of wastelands in the nearby areas.

Sapling procurement
With the District Collector’s permission, the eight groups, with technical inputs from ICRISAT, started growing jatropha and pongamia. Plant saplings were procured from women self help groups (SHGs) in Kothapally village, the Forest Department and ICRISAT nurseries.

The soil where the crops were planted was red in colour, rocky and unsuitable for any crop cultivation:
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Wild thorny bushes were occupying the entire area. Jatropha and pongamia were planted after removing the thorny bushes. Jatropha was planted in straight rows at a spacing of 2x2 meters and after every 50 rows of Jatropha one row of Pongamia was planted at a spacing of 4x4 meters.

Soil fertility
About 20 kg of urea and 10 gm of DAP (Diammonium phosphate) were applied as fertilizer to each plant. Small pits were also dug in between the plant rows and dry weeds and grass were constantly mulched into the pits to improve the soil fertility.

The pits also served as efficient water harvesters during monsoon. In Welchal village, intercrops such as pearl millet, pigeon pea and castor were also grown by the labourers.

With fuel prices increasing globally there is a demand for bio-diesel from pongamia and jatropha. We believe that this provides a wonderful opportunity for dryland farmers to get more money from their farms and wastelands, explained Dr. Dar.

“This project was mainly intended to develop a sense of ownership among the labourers so that they work for the development of government wastelands.

The unskilled labourers took care of the plants as their own. All the groups were given complete rights to harvest the jatropha and pongamia trees,” said Dr Wani.

Photo: women self help groups (SHGs) in Kothapally village participating in ICRISAT's pro-poor biopower program.

ICRISAT: pro-poor Biopower program.

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Jamaica selects castor beans as biodiesel feedstock

During his recent 'biofuel tour' of Central America, Brazil's President Lula visited Jamaica, where his country's Coimex Group operates an ethanol plant together with Petrojam, the island state's national oil company (previous post). Besides sugarcane for ethanol, Brazil's biofuel experts have also been working with Jamaica to study the use of castor beans (Ricinus communis L.) for biodiesel. Castor oil is the most important feedstock from perennial crops for biodiesel made in Brazil, where it is grown in the arid Northeast by small farmers under the Social Fuel policy.

Speaking at a biofuel conference last week, Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce said Jamaica is now building concrete plans around the crop, to cut oil dependence. Jamaica imports 90 per cent of all its oil products, and high prices are pushing the island's trade balance into the red. Producing biodiesel from castor beans has become an economically attractive alternative. Castor beans have a high oil content and are widely grown by smallholders on the island. The poisonous plant provides a safe opportunity for biodiesel development without the risk of displacing food crops. It requires relatively few inputs and thrives in poor soils.

Karl James, the chairman of Petrojam Ethanol Limited, who also spoke at the biofuel seminar noted that "there are plans for a major commercial plant to be constructed and many persons are now preparing their lands for the castor bean." James did not give specifics but added, "We believe that large areas of rural Jamaica could be quickly transformed into attractive economic zones where independent small land owners are engaged in the production of an agricultural good for which there is a ready market at a price that should provide satisfactory return for their efforts."

As a perennial crop, castor bean has many advantages:
It is well known in Jamaican agriculture. It is not prone to praedial larceny and can be produced on varied scales from large scale farms to cottage industries, involving thousands of small farmers in the rural areas. I would, therefore, propose that we plan to produce castor oil as the agent for mixing with diesel fuel. - Karl James, the chairman of Petrojam Ethanol Limited
Jamaica currently uses 168 million gallons (636 million liters) of diesel fuel and, therefore, will need 5 million gallons (19 million liters) of castor oil for an initial B2 biodiesel project. According to the minister, the reduction of just two per cent of diesel imports will help in the country's balance of payments and increase agricultural output:
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People will see a reduction in noxious emission as diesel consumption is reduced, thus contributing to the improvement of the environment.

Minister Paulwell informed the audience that the country had to change course with regards to the consumption of fuel. "As a nation which is 90 per cent dependent on petroleum energy, Jamaica has been very vulnerable to the alarming cost fluctuations of petroleum energy, particularly in this decade. And, even as we measure the cost implications to the national budget, and the need to conserve, development and lifestyle changes in our young nation are increasing demand, averaging at approximately five per cent per year."

Paulwell added: "In 2006, imported petroleum product to meet national demand was US$1.736 million. With growth in demand and price increases in 2007, this is expected to climb to over US$2.0 billion. Demand by sector is highest for transportation - 41 per cent of imports meet air, sea and land transportation needs. Energy demand for bauxite and alumina production follows with 35 per cent, while power generation requires 19 per cent of the products imported."

James noted that, "We must then set a timetable within which to produce the oil and introduce the mix to the transport industry."

Paulwell explained that the government could not commit to a timetable for implementation of a biofuel policy as, "We have a few things to get out of the way this month, but I will suggest a time frame to Cabinet as the time is now," declared Paulwell. He went further adding that, "Should I retain my current post then I will bring tremendous exuberance to implementing biodiesel technology as part of our energy policy."

Jamaica's efforts in implementing a viable biofuel industry are receiving much technical support and investment from Brazil.

The Minister explained: "In a partnership with Coimex of Brazil, for the production and export of fuelgrade ethanol, manufactured by the Petrojam Ethanol Dehydration Plant, refurbished jointly by Petrojam and Coimex, fuel grade ethanol is being manufactured from Brazilian feedstock." He continued, "As I see it, this collaboration between Jamaica and Brazil must continue, particularly in areas of improving our technical competence, local production of feedstock and more importantly, private sector investment in infrastructure development to ensure a continuous supply of local feedstock. These are critical to our going forward with ethanol."

Brazil's experience with bio fuels has been extremely positive. The country mandates that 25 of its fuel consumption derive from sugar cane produced ethanol.
Brazil also uses pure ethanol in flex-fuel cars, which has reduced by 40 per cent their consumption and importation of fossil fuels. The biofuel industry in Brazil has also created over 4.5 million direct and indirect jobs and has helped to curtail a rural to urban migration shift.

Paulwell told the audience that, "It is essential to reduce our dependency on non-renewable fossil energy and at the same time, we must increase our use of energy from renewable sources."

Jamaica Observer: Jamaica can use castor bean as a biofuel - August 10, 2007.

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Woodland Biofuels project to receive $9.8 million from SDTC for cellulosic ethanol plant

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), an arm's length, not-for-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada, has awarded $9.8 million to a project led by Woodland Biofuels Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario for the construction and testing of a cellulosic ethanol plant.

Woodland Biofuels Inc. and its partners will build the facility to efficiently produce cellulosic ethanol from wood waste. The plant will use Woodland's patented Catalyzed Pressure Reduction (CPRT) technology, which can be used to produce sustainable fuels from virtually any type of biomass, including wood waste and agricultural waste. The technology generates no toxic emissions and eliminates the need to use food, such as corn, to produce ethanol.
Woodland's technology has the potential to help solve some of the world's biggest problems by taking what is effectively waste and turning it into clean burning fuel. The flexibility of our technology, its ability to convert basically all forms of biomass into ethanol, means it is relevant to every corner of the globe. - Greg Nuttall, CEO of Woodland
CPRT is an emission-free technology that produces energy products from renewables. It converts organic materials into ethanol or industrial chemicals, and electrical power (schematic, click to enlarge). The plants are configured to produce the product most suitable for efficient energy recovery from the feedstock at hand.

CPRT accomplishes efficient conversion of renewable feedstock into valuable end products via three major phases:
  1. Gasification - Gasification is widely used in the chemical, petroleum refining and steel industries, as well as generation and cogeneration processes
  2. Catalyzed chemical reactions - Catalysts and catalyzed reactions are the backbone of the chemical manufacturing industry, accounting for 60% of all chemicals produced today, in 90% of chemical processes
  3. Distillation - Distillation technology is well established, used wherever purified chemicals are needed
The industrial chemicals produced (schematic, click to enlarge) compete with those typically produced from fossil fuel refining and meet chemical industry standards. The ethanol competes against the production from fermentation of grains such as rye, wheat, barley and corn. During normal operations, no greenhouse gases are produced.

Unlike conventional fermentation and chemical manufacturing plants, Woodland plants are smaller scale, modular units which can be built in a wider range of suitable locations. This is an important economic benefit for plants with ethanol output, which cannot be shipped by standard pipelines and must be transported by rail or truck to its destination:
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Typical biomass feedstocks handled by CPRT process include:
  • All forms of wood: commercial logging or forest management (silviculture) residue; mill residue from all softwood and hardwood operations, residue from pallets; dimensional lumber, construction wood, demolition wood, engineered wood products; urban wood waste collected from households and classified as municipal waste; coated wood product residues manufactured with resins, glues, binders, and wood impregnated with preservatives; beetle-infested wood.
  • Most other forms of cellulosic materials: cotton gin waste, hay, dried distillers grain, bagasse, rice straw, etc.
  • All forms of sewage sludge: biosolids "cake", processed at a wastewater facility to contain ~ 20% solids; raw sewage containing 3% solids; dry biosolids pellets.
The plant is expected to be located in Atlantic Canada and in addition to fuel ethanol will also produce green energy for use by a neighbouring industrial facility. This will eliminate the need for the neighbouring facility to use 19,000,000 litres per year of Bunker C oil to provide energy, providing further environmental benefits.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada is an arm's length, not-for-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada that currently operates a $550 million fund to support the development and demonstration of clean technologies - solutions that address issues of clean air, greenhouse gases, clean water, and clean soil, to deliver environmental, economic and health benefits to Canadians.

SDTC fills the void in the innovation chain between research and commercialization - helping clean technology developers move through the development and demonstration phases, in preparation for commercialization.

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