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    Spanish renewables group Abengoa released its results for the first half of 2007 financial year in which its consolidated sales were €1,393.6 million, which is a 27.9 percent increase on the previous year. Earnings after tax were €54.9 million, an 18.6 percent increase on the previous year's figure of 46.3 million euro. Abengoa is active in the bioenergy, solar and environmental services sector. Abengoa - September 4, 2007.

    Canadian hydro power developer Run of River Power Inc. has reached an agreement to buy privately owned Western Biomass Power Corp. in a $2.2 million share swap deal that could help finance development of new green sources of electricity in British Columbia. The Canadian Press - September 4, 2007.

    As of Sept. 1, a biodiesel blending mandate has come into force in the Czech Republic, requiring diesel suppliers to mix 2 per cent biodiesel into the fuel. The same rule will be obligatory for gasoline starting next year. In 2009 the biofuel ratio will grow to 3.5 percent in gasoline and 4.5 percent in diesel oil. CBW - September 3, 2007.

    Budapest's first biofuel station opens on Monday near the Pesterzsébet (District XX) Tesco hypermarket. This is the third station selling the E85 fuel containing bioethanol in Hungary, as two other stations are encouraging eco-friendly driving in Bábolna and Győr. Caboodle - September 3, 2007.

    Canadian forest products company Tembec announced that it has completed the acquisition of the assets of Chapleau Cogeneration Limited located in Chapleau, Ontario. The transaction includes a biomass fired boiler and steam turbine with an installed capacity of 7.2 megawatts. Consideration for the assets consists of a series of future annual payments to 2022, with a present value of approximately $1 million. Tembec - September 1, 2007.

    Innovative internet and cable/satellite channel CurrentTV is producing a documentary on Brazil's biofuel revolution. Biopact collegues and friends Marcelo Coelho (EthanolBrasil Blog), Henrique Oliveira (Ethablog) and Marcelo Alioti (E-Machine) provided consulting on the technical, economic, environmental and social aspects of Brazil's energy transformation. ProCana - August 31, 2007.

    Oil major BP Plc and Associated British Foods Plc won competition clearance from the European Commission on to build a plant to make transport fuel from wheat in Hull, northeast England. U.S. chemical company DuPont is also involved. Reuters UK - August 31, 2007.

    The government of the Indian state of Orissa announced its policy for biofuel production which includes a slew of incentives as well as measures to promote the establishment of energy plantations. The state aims to bring 600,000 hectares of barren and fallow land under Jatropha and Karanj. At least 2 million hectares degraded land are available in the State. The new policy's other objectives are to provide a platform for investors and entrepreneurs, market linkages and quality control measures. Newindpress - August 29, 2007.

    Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras said today it expects to reach large scale cellulosic ethanol production in 2015, with the first plant entering operations as early as 2011. Lignocellulosic biomass is the most abundant biological material on the planet, making up the bulk of the structure of wood and plants. In a first phase, Petrobras intends to use bagasse as a feedstock. Reuters / MacauHub- August 29, 2007.

    Seattle based Propel Biofuels, is announcing a $4.75 million first round of capital from @Ventures and Nth Power. The money will be used to help Propel set up and manage biodiesel fueling stations. BusinessWire - August 29, 2007.

    BioEnergy International, a science and technology company committed to developing biorefineries to produce fuels and specialty chemicals from renewable resources, announced today the closing of a major US$61.6 million investment that will provide funding for the Company’s three strategic initiatives: generating secure cash flow from its conventional ethanol platform, product diversification through the introduction of novel biocatalysts for the manufacture of green chemicals and biopolymers and the integration of its cellulose technology. BusinessWire - August 28, 2007.

    German company Verbio Vereinigte BioEnergie, the biggest biofuels producer in Europe, says it is considering plans to invest up to €100/US$136.5 million in a biofuel production facility in Bulgaria. The company wants the new facility to be located close to a port and Bulgaria's city of Varna on the Black Sea is one of the options under consideration. If Verbio goes through with the plan, it would produce both biodiesel and bioethanol, making Bulgaria a major source of biofuels in southeastern Europe. Verbi currently produces around 700,000 tonnes of biofuels per year. Sofia News Agency - August 27, 2007.

    Czech brown-coal-fired power plant Elektrárna Tisová (ETI), a unit of the energy producer ČEZ, could co-fire up to 40,000 tons of biomass this year, the biggest amount in the company’s history, said Martin Sobotka, ČEZ spokesman for West Bohemia. ETI burned more than 19,000 tons of biomass in the first half of 2007. The company’s plan reckoned with biomass consumption of up to 35,000 tons a year. Czech Business Weekly - August 27, 2007.

    PetroSun, Incorporated announced recently that it has formed PetroSun BioFuels Mexico to establish algae-to-biofuel operations in the State of Sonora, Mexico. PetroSun BioFuels Mexico will enter into joint venture agreements to develop algae cultivation farms and extraction plants in Sonora and southern Arizona that will produce algal oil, algae biomass products and excess electricity for the Mexican and U.S. markets. MarketWire - August 27, 2007.

    China's Yunnan Province hopes to reach an annual output of 2 million tons (approx. 417 million gallons) of fuel ethanol by 2010, according to the province's fuel ethanol industry development plan released recently by the Yunnan Economic and Trade Commission, state media report. Interfax China - August 23, 2007.

    Seven companies have teamed up to create Kazakhstan's first Biofuel Association. Its aim is to integrate interested parties for creating favorable conditions to have the country’s biofuel industry developed. An initiator and coordinator of the Association is the National Holding KazAgro, the Agriculture Ministry’s press service informs. KazInform - August 23, 2007.

    Canadian forest products company Tembec today announced that it has completed the acquisition of the assets of Chapleau Cogeneration Limited located in Chapleau, Ontario. The transaction closed on August 15 and includes a biomass fired boiler and steam turbine with an installed capacity of 7.2 megawatts. Consideration for the assets consists of a series of future annual payments to 2022, with a present value of approximately $1 million. Newswire Canada - August 22, 2007.

    Taiwan's representative to Brazil, Chou Shu-yeh, is urging Taiwan's government and private enterprises to invest in Brazil's biomass energy sector. Chou was speaking at a workshop on global investment and trade opportunities in Taipei. RTi - August 22, 2007.

    An algae-to-biofuels startup by the name of Inventure Chemical has raised about $1.5 million to continue its development of a chemical process that turns algae into biodiesel and ethanol. One of the biggest backers of the company is Imperium Renewables, a biodiesel producer. Seattle Post Intelligencer - August 22, 2007.

    The government of India's Karnataka state has approved the blending of six million litres of ethanol with diesel for use as fuel in State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) vehicles. Automotive World - August 21, 2007.

    VeraSun Energy Corporation, one of America's largest ethanol producers, announced that it closed on its acquisition with ASAlliances Biofuels, LLC for three ethanol plants with a combined annual production capacity of approximately 330 million gallons (1.25 billion liters) per year. VeraSun - August 21, 2007.

    Fujitsu develops a biodegradable laptop chassis from corn-starch bioplastic. The material reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 15% compared to a chassis made from petroleum-based plastics. CNET Asia - August 20, 2007.

    India's Rana Sugars Ltd has decided to set up a new plant for producing ethanol in Uttar Pradesh with an estimated investment of €9 to 10.9 (US$12.2 to 14.7). The facility will have a capacity of 180,000 liters per year and will generate, besides ethanol, 26MW of carbon-neutral power from bagasse. Economic Times India - August 20, 2007.

    Prominent pro-democracy activists staged a rare protest in Myanmar's biggest city Sunday, marching against a massive recent fuel price hike. "We are staging this performance to reflect the hardship our people are facing due to the government's fuel price hike," said Min Ko Naing, a leader of the 88 Generation Students' Group. Myanmar's ruling military junta imposed a surprise 100 percent hike on fuel at state-owned gas stations on Wednesday. The move was followed by increases in bus fares and commodity prices. The Star - August 19, 2007.

    Canada's Cavendish Farms, one of the country's largest food processing companies is to build a biogas plant to recycle spent cooking oils, starch and sludge from its waste-water plant to fuel its potato processing operation. Use of the carbon-neutral biofuel will limit the amount of bunker C fuel oil currently in use by the company. The plant, expected to be ready for operation by next fall, has received a $14-million loan from the Province of Prince Edward Island. CBC - August 18, 2007.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

UCI and CODA Genomics collaborate to re-engineer yeast for biofuel production

Scientists from the University of California Irvine (UCI) and CODA Genomics today announced they are partnering on new research aimed at turning Saccharomyces, a common strain of yeast used in the production of beer, wine and bread into an efficient producer of ethanol.

Researchers at UCI’s Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics (IGB) are using CODA Genomics’ patented gene-protein-production algorithms to tweak the genetic structure of the yeast strain. The fungus has the potential to efficiently turn switchgrass, hemp, corn, wood and other biomass materials into ethanol.

The $1.67 million collaboration, which began Sept. 1, is funded by CODA Genomics, an Orange County synthetic biology company, and a UC Discovery Grant that provides matching funds for innovative industry-university research partnerships.

Saccharomyces produces ethanol as a byproduct when it ferments sugars found in plant materials. In its natural state, the yeast processes the glucose that grows in these materials, but does not contain the necessary enzymes to process other sugars, such as xylose and arabinose, that are components of biomass. The bio-engineered version of the yeast will produce enzymes that can help it digest these and other sugars with equal ease, maximizing its ethanol production.

Scientists believe the bio-engineered yeast could use 80-90 percent of the sugars in biomass for ethanol production, up from about 20 percent with current technologies:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

“Ethanol could be an answer to the U.S.’s dependence on fossil fuels,” said G. Wesley Hatfield, principal investigator on the grant, a UCI professor emeritus and co-founder of CODA Genomics. “While there currently are yeast strains that can make ethanol from biomass, the existing process is very expensive and inefficient. We’re trying to build a better yeast strain – one that can produce more ethanol from the same amount of biomass by breaking it down naturally.”

The multidisciplinary research project involves UCI researchers in the schools of information and computer sciences, engineering and medicine, as well as researchers at CODA Genomics, which spun off in 2005 from UCI research.

CODA’s patented technology uses computer algorithms to design synthetic genes that self-assemble easily and generate protein in large amounts. This allows genes that occur naturally in certain organisms to be re-engineered to meet the needs of different organisms. When applied to Saccharomyces, the technology modifies the yeast so it can manufacture enzymes to break down a wider variety of sugars.

Even when the yeast is producing the necessary enzymes, inefficiencies in its metabolic pathways can slow the process. Pierre Baldi, IGB director and one of the project’s co-principal investigators, is computationally “optimizing” key enzymes to increase their efficiency. With computer algorithms, he is engineering compatibility of these key enzymes with various co-factors – the small molecules that help the enzymes work.

“Given the current energy crisis and global warming concerns, we are particularly pleased with this award,” said Baldi, who is also Chancellor’s Professor in UCI’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences.

Also involved in the multidisciplinary project are researchers from IGB’s Computational Biology Research Laboratory (CBRL) in the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, and the labs of professors Suzanne Sandmeyer (biological chemistry) and Nancy Da Silva (biochemical engineering).

CBRL scientists perform the computation, gene design and gene assembly of the yeast proteins using CODA’s technology. Sandmeyer, a yeast molecular biologist, inserts the proteins into the yeast genome, ensuring the enzymes’ stability and their ability to function. Da Silva, a chemical engineer, ensures that fermentation conditions are optimal to maximize ethanol production.

“The CODA technology is already showing commercial success in therapeutic protein markets,” said CODA Genomics CEO Robert Molinari. “Now we are going to apply the unique approach to a large national problem.”

University of California Irvine: UCI and CODA Genomics collaborate to re-engineer yeast for biofuel production - September 4, 2007.

Article continues

India's TVS Motor to roll out CNG-fueled motorbikes, allows leapfrogging with biogas

In a very interesting development, India's TVS Motor is set to launch CNG-powered motorbikes and three-wheelers on the huge Indian market next year. The motorcycles promise much lower carbon emissions and urban air pollution compared to petrol powered bikes, and would cut fuel consumption by up to 50 percent. Two- and three-wheelers are the major means of personal transport in many of the Global South's rapidly growing megacities. In Delhi, for example, close to 80 percent of households own a two-wheeler, not a car. In the highly developed world too the vehicles are making a come-back: in 2006, scooter sales in the U.S. soared by 200% as the bikes are increasingly energy efficient and tackle urban traffic congestion. In Europe some of the largest car leasing firms have recently begun introducing motorcycle lease plans for companies, with increasing success.

In what could be seen as a case of leap-frogging, the compressed natural gas motorbikes could eventually be fuelled by biogas in developing countries that are still building their fuel infrastructures. Biogas would be produced from local biomass resources near the point of consumption and coupled to CNG filling stations. The use of this green fuel would make such bikes very attractive on a well-to-wheel basis, since biogas is one of the most efficient and cleanest biofuels (earlier post). Even though a transition towards a CNG fuelling infrastructure requires large investments, countries like Argentina and Pakistan have shown that it is possible to make the switch. The latter country succeeded in getting 1 million CNG cars on the road in under two years time (earlier post). In India too, serious initiatives are underway to build a gas infrastructure for the transport sector.

For its part, Europe has demonstrated sufficiently that biogas can readily be used in CNG-vehicles. And when it comes to ideas for future mobility, it is no coincidence that a €3.35 million EU-financed research program on the most optimal and cleanest vehicle for urban transport resulted in the CLEVER, a CNG-powered three-wheeler that can readily use the biofuel (picture, click to enlarge).

TVS Motor, India’s third-largest two-wheeler manufacturer, announced the news of its CNG motorbike plans during a presentation of seven new products to be rolled out from its Hosur plant, including a range of CNG three-wheelers.
We will invest Rs 50-60 crore [€9/US$12.3 to €10.8/US$14.7million] every year to increase our capacities and launch new products. [...] We are close to launching hybrid and CNG bikes, which will bring fuel costs down by 50%. We are expecting major volumes from our CNG bikes. - Venu Srinivasan, chief managing director TVS Motor
Challenging Bajaj Auto on the three-wheeler front, TVS has invested Rs 150 crore [€2.7/US$3.7 million] to roll out petrol-LPG-CNG three-wheeler variants and is targeting 25% market share in the 540,000 unit market. "We are targeting major metros such as Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad and the neighbouring markets of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Africa for exports. Despite a general slump in the automobile sector, three-wheelers have shown consistent growth. There is tremendous demand from smaller cities and towns and our product has been customised to meet the demand of small operators," said TVS Motor senior vice-president for 3-wheelers HS Goindi:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

TVS Motor, which has faced reversals on the two-wheeler front with 10% negative sales in the first five months of the fiscal and had cut production to control inventories, expected a turnaround in 2008. “We are expecting flat growth during the festival period of October-December. We had strengthened our portfolio and entered the 125cc executive segment with Flame, that will being incremental sales and help us achieve positive sales in 2008,” Mr Srinivasan added.

The series of launches will give the two-wheeler major incremental 40,000-unit sales every month from early next year October taking the total monthly sales to around 1 million units.

With the aim to emerge as an Indian multinational in the automobile sector, TVS Motor will also invest Rs 200 crore (€3.6/US$4.9 million) in its Indonesian facility. There it would be launching two new products this year, taking the total tally to four.

Daniel Sperlingand Eileen Claussen, Motorizing the Developing World [*.pdf] - Access, 24, Spring 2004, University of California Transportation Center.

The Economic Times: TVS to roll out hybrid, CNG two-wheelers - August 31, 2007.

TVS Motor: Seven new models [*.pdf].

Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transportation: CLEVER website.

Biopact: Report: carbon-negative biomethane cleanest and most efficient biofuel for cars - August 29, 2007

Article continues

Pro-Cana to invest $510 million in integrated ethanol, power, sugar and fertilizer plant in Mozambique

The Agencia de Informação de Moçambique announces that Pro-Cana, a private company with British interests, is set to invest US$510/€375 million for the construction of new plant for the production ethanol, sugar, electricity and fertilizers in the district of Massingir, in Mozambique's southern province of Gaza. The announcement comes after the recent news that the country's state-run oil company Petromoc is to invest an equally large amount into the biofuel sector (previous post).

Joana Matidiana, spokesperson of the government of Gaza, said that in the first stage, the project will generate at least 7,000 new jobs for the people of Massingir and surrounding areas, and "therefore it is welcome, as it will contribute largely in the fight against poverty in Mozambique".
It is beyond any doubt that production of ethanol is one of best opportunities for the country. [...] We want to diversify our economy because we don't want [...] to depend on just four major products of export. We would like to contribute with some other products, such as alcohol. We can also contribute with the export of electricity, as the sugar mill could also generate electrical power and sell it to the domestic market. - spokesperson of Mozambique's Agrarian Promotion Centre.
The owners of the company, the first to build a large integrated fuel-food-fertilizer plant in Africa, also own an ethanol plant in Brazil. The project in Massingir involves the establishment of 30,000 hectares of sugar cane, besides other infrastructures that will benefit the local communities. The proponents of the project are planning to develop pastures in the same area for cattle belonging to the local communities, as Massingir is one of the major beef producing districts in Gaza.

In the short term, the province as a whole is expected to be able to support the production of around 220 Petajoules of biomass energy in a sustainable way (i.e. without deforestation and without impacting local food, fuel, fodder and fibre supplies; map, click to enlarge):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Besides biofuels and sugar, the new plant will generate electricity from bagasse, a byproduct of sugarcane. This would enable to decrease the consumption of power generated at the Cahora Bassa Dam, which could eventually be exported to other countries in the region such as Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi and Botswana, said the same source who asked not to be named.

"We are already working with the Ministries of Energy, Industry and Trade Ministry and Agriculture. The Energy Ministry has already established a task force to work on that area of ethanol, to evaluate the possibility to generate electricity", said the spokesperson.

The government believes that this "is an opportunity and that it must work fast, other wise it will run away to other countries".

Currently, the Mozambican authorities are in the process of expanding the sugar industry in Mozambique to diversify country's economy. In 2006, the Mozambican sugar industry achieved the highest production of the last 30 years, by producing 300.000 tons in the existing four plants currently operating in the country, namely Marromeu and Mafambisse, in the central province of Sofala and Maragra and Xinavane, in the southern province of Maputo.

The highest production ever reported in Mozambique was in 1972, when there were six factories operating in Mozambique.

Mozambique is seen by analysts as one of the African countries that contribute considerably to the continent's large biofuel production potential. Researchers affiliated with the International Energy Agency estimate that Mozambique can produce around 7 Exajoules of biofuels sustainably (earlier post; map, click to enlarge). The country currently consumes around 590,000 tonnes of oil products per year, the bulk being diesel (IEA data). This equates to around 0.18EJ. Achieving full energy independence is well within reach, with capacity to spare to supply international markets.

When it comes to the availability of land, the country currently uses around 4.3 million hectares out of a total of 63.5 million hectares of potential arable land, or 6.6 per cent (FAO). Moreover, some 41 million hectares of poor quality land are available for the production of energy crops that require few inputs and are not suitable for food production (earlier post).

A host of companies are investing in Mozambique's biofuel potential. Canada's Energem recently acquired a jatropha biodiesel project based on an initial 1000 hectares; it will begin planting a further 5000 hectares, and will invest in an additional 60,000 hectares over the coming years (earlier post). Chinese, Italian, Portuguese and Brazilian companies are active in the sector as well (more here).

Most recently, the government of India and Mozambique discussed the potential of the biofuel sector to alleviate poverty in the country (previous post).

Map credit: Batidzirai, B., A.P.C. Faaij, E.M.W. Smeets.

Biopact: Mozambique's Petromoc seeks to invest $408 million in biofuels - August 30, 2007

Agencia de Informaçao de Moçambique (via AllAfrica): British Company to Invest U.S. $510 Million in Sugar And Ethanol Plant - August 30, 2007.

Agencia de Informaçao de Moçambique: Petromoc Seeks Funding to Produce Bio-Fuels - 29 August 2007

Salvador Namburete: Mozambique's Experience on Bio-fuels [*.pdf], Minister of Energy of the Republic of Mozambique, presentation at the International Conference on Biofuels, Brussels, July 5-6, 2007.

Batidzirai, B., A.P.C. Faaij, E.M.W. Smeets (2006), "Biomass and bioenergy supply from Mozambique" [*abstract / *.pdf], Energy for Sustainable Development, X(1),
Pp. 54-81

Faaij, A.P.C., "Emerging international biomass markets and the potential implications for rural development" [*.pdf], Development and Climate Project Workshop: Rural development, the roles of food, water and biomass; opportunities and challenges; Dakar, Senegal, 14-16 November 2005.

Biopact: Mozambique-India partnership: biofuels for poverty alleviation - July 03, 2007

Biopact: Energem acquires jatropha biodiesel project in MozambiqueAugust 02, 2007

Biopact: Journal "Energy for Sustainable Development" focuses on international bioenergy trade - November 05, 2006

Biopact: Lusophone world and China join forces to produce biofuels in Mozambique - May 19, 2007

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Citroën launches C4 BioFlex in Europe

Citroën is to launch its first flexfuel vehicle in Europe this month. The 1.6-litre powered C4 BioFlex has the ability to run seamlessly on low-carbon E85 bioethanol, regular unleaded or a mixture of both.

Already well established in Brazil, where flexfuel models currently account for 80 percent of Citroën sales, the company is now introducing the technology to Europe as availability of E85 fuel increases. The car will initially be launched later this year in France and Sweden, where it is set to be priced the same as the equivalent petrol models. Both countries are implementing plans to make ethanol widely available, with 500 stations by the end of the year in France and 900 already established in Sweden. The last country imports a substantial amount of the biofuel from Brazil.

When E85 bioethanol is used in the C4 BioFlex, CO2 emissions on a 'field-to-wheel' basis drop by 40 percent compared to standard fuel. Its oxygen-containing, sulphur-free properties also help reduce other harmful pollutants, particularly carbon monoxide (CO). At the same time CO2 emissions fall by 5 percent from 169g/km to 160g/km on the combined cycle.

As an added bonus, when running on E85 bioethanol, performance for the 1.6i engine is boosted by 2.5 percent to give a maximum output of 113bhp (compared to 110bhp on standard unleaded) at 5,800rpm and a 4 percent improvement in torque from 147Nm to 153Nm at 4,000rpm:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

In order to accommodate the flexibility afforded to the C4 BioFlex, modifications have been made to the engine, such as the rings and valve seats, as well as the fuel circulation system, including the tank, fuel gauge and pump module, pipes and fuel filter.

The engine’s intelligent ECU software has also been adapted to monitor the alcohol content of the fuel mix, and automatically recalibrate the operating curve to optimise performance. As a result of all this, regardless of the fuel type or mixture, there is no discernible difference in the driving experience.

The choice to launch in Sweden is obvious: since the introduction of ethanol on a large scale there, rival automaker Saab's Biopower, which runs on E85, topped the list of most environmentally friendly cars. Its introduction has been a runaway success, taking almost 30% of sales in a segment that has already grown to account for 13% of the total car market there. For the first nine months of 2006, Bio-Power sales totaled 7,700 units. As a result, Saab raised its full-year Bio-Power sales forecast to 10,000 units, twice its original estimate.

GreenCarCongress: Citroën Launching C4 BioFlex in September - August 20, 2007.

Article continues

Wärtsilä to build bioenergy plant for Finnish energy company Haapajärvi

Power engineering company Wärtsilä has been awarded the contract to supply the Finnish energy company Haapajärven Lämpö Oy with a biomass heating plant. The contract, which was signed in August 2007, specifies a Wärtsilä BioEnergy 7 plant to be delivered to Haapajärvi as an EPC delivery, excluding ground works. Hand over to the customer is scheduled for September 2008.

The output of the biomass plant is 7 MWth, with a reserve oil boiler of 8 MWth that will cover possible peaks in heating demand. The deal comprises the total process equipment, commissioning and training. The plant will produce heat for the Hasa sawmill in Haapajärvi, as well as for the 8000 inhabitant city of Haapajärvi, located in the middle of Finland. The fuel will be local wood residues, and ensures the customer clean and profitable energy.

The core of Wärtsilä biopower and bioenergy plants is the BioGrate combustion system. The patented BioGrate is a new-generation moving grate technique. The fuel input ranges from 3 to 17 MWth.

BioGrate is rotating grate with a conical primary combustion chamber (image, click to enlarge):
  • the fuel is fed from underneath to the centre of the grate since the heat radiators from the refectory lining bricks and the flames, the fuel dries in the middle of the grate without disturbing the burning fuel bed in the combustion zone
  • after the complete combustion of the residual carbon the ash falls from the edge of the grate to the ash space filled with quenching water
Wärtsilä's biomass-fuelled plants are clean and show a thermal efficiency ranging between 85 an 90 per cent. They are practical solutions for meeting the needs for renewable energy supplies with minimal environmental impact. The BioGrate combustion technology burns biomass fuels with high combustion efficiency and low NOX and CO emissions. The moisture content of the fuel can be as high as 65%, allowing for a large range of feedstocks. The SOX emissions of such wood-fuelled plants are negligible. The fly ash is removed from the flue gases in an electrostatic filter or multicyclone, in accordance with local norms:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Wärtsilä BioEnergy plants are highly modular, being based on well-proven standardised components with a conservative design approach. The plants can thus be delivered and installed quickly. Their proven technology results in a reliable, durable plant. They are also highly automated, enabling unmanned operation.

The customer had already gained positive experience from an earlier boiler plant supplied by Wärtsilä, and this, together with visits to a number of other Wärtsilä installations, was a key factor in the purchasing decision.

Wärtsilä announced earlier this year it had received an order to build six turnkey biomass-fuelled power plants in Germany. The total value of the order was approximately €100/US$135 million. The customer is the German-based company Bayernfonds BestEnergy GmbH & Co, which will utilize forestry residues to fuel the plants.

Biopact: Wärtsilä to build six biomass power plants in Germany - May 10, 2007

Article continues

Origo enters global bioenergy sector in partnership with Pongamia grower RIBEC

Origo Sino-India Plc, an investment and strategic advisory company focused on the private equity markets of China and India, has entered into definitive agreements with Roshini International Bio Energy Corporation Ltd (RIBEC) to create an international joint venture focused on the bioenergy sector. Origo has taken a 20% equity position in RIBEC, while extending a convertible note of up to US$2,000,000 and retaining the right to invest an additional US$6 million in a pre-IPO private placement.

Headquartered in Hyderabad, India, RIBEC has the world’s largest plantation of non-edible, tree-borne biofuel feedstock with more than 40 million trees and seedlings. As a fully integrated bioenergy company, RIBEC is involved in the whole bioenergy value chain from plantations to refining and trading of biodiesel, bioethanol, biogas and biofertilisers. RIBEC is achieving rapid growth, with un-audited revenues for the financial year ending March 30, 2007 being US$5.87 million, and EBITDA at US$4.4 million. With operations and representation in India, China, Brazil and Africa, RIBEC intends to list on a major international stock exchange to provide further funding for its rapid expansion.

Established in 1996, RIBEC has more than a decade of research and development expertise and is a producer of non-edible feedstock from dry wasteland areas. RIBEC is a leading supplier of Pongamia Pinnata (known in India as karanj), a non-edible and drought-resistant tree with high yields of crude oil that recaptures rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions and generates income to poor farmers and rural communities. RIBEC also grows Jatropha, a source of biodiesel whose residue can also be processed into biomass to power electricity plants.

The Pongamia tree’s advantages as bioenergy feedstock include:
  • Use of cultivable waste land
  • Does not crowd out edible food crops
  • Re-capturing or sequestering rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions, helping alleviate global warming
  • Low water irrigation requirements
  • Allows for inter-cropping with other crops
  • Leaves and de-oiled cake are in demand as organic fertiliser
  • Economically advantaged as Pongamia qualifies for carbon credits
RIBEC is in close negotiations with a major international energy company about a possible joint venture for plantations and the refining of biofuel in certain geographical sectors.

In addition to taking a 20% equity position in RIBEC, Origo has extended a credit facility under which Roshini may draw down up to US$2,000,000 for working capital purposes and operational expenses associated with the expansion of RIBEC’s feedstock:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The note is repayable in full in the event of an external financing round, or convertible into equity at the discretion of Origo at a 20% discount to the then applicable price per share. Origo has also been retained as a strategic consultant to assist RIBEC’s expansion and fundraising activities.

Origo is an established private equity investor and strategic consultancy business, which provides its shareholders with exposure to growth opportunities and private equity returns in China and India.

Origo’s business model is to generate capital gains from private equity investment in growth companies from which it also generates fees for consultancy services related to further fundraisings, M&A and strategic development.

Origo is aligned with two major institutions which provide a source of high quality deal flow. In China, Origo works closely with China Equity, a leading private equity firm, whose chief executive is on Origo’s board. In India, Origo has entered into a memorandum of understanding with SBI Capital Markets, one of the longest-established companies in the Indian capital markets. A former chairman of SBI is on the board of Origo.

Roshini International Bio Energy Corporation Ltd manages and owns the world’s largest non-edible, tree-borne bioenergy feedstock. With captive feedstock supply from its operations and representation in India, China, Brazil and Africa, RIBEC also is an integrated processor, refiner and trader of biodiesel, ethanol, gas and fertiliser.

Founded by Anil Reddy in 1996, RIBEC initially focused on research and development of Pongamia Pinnata and Jatropha Curcas feedstock in India. While still growing both Pongamia and Jathropa, the company has excelled in commercialising the farming and plantation the high-oil-yielding tree Pongamia.

RIBEC’s competitive position stems from years of research and development of Pongamia, developing a gene bank of “alpha” genetic material that enhances plantation yield, combined with specialised grafting, planting and irrigation techniques developed by RIBEC.

RIBEC’s primary business model is to work with farmers, contracting the plantations to the land owners, thereby reducing its working capital needs, with rapid growth being further facilitated by government and micro-finance institutions. When operating under contract farming system, RIBEC has the first right of refusal to buy the produce from the farmers with prices set by government regulated commodity pricing.

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