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

    Chinese packaging manufacturer Livan Biodegradable Product Co. Ltd. will build plants in Alsozsolca and Edeleny in eastern Hungary at a combined cost of €18 million by 2009, the Hungarian economics ministry says. The plants, which will employ 800 people, are planned to produce initially 50, 000 metric tons a year of environmentally-friendly packaging material, and double that amount by a later date. Livan will use corn to manufacture biodegradable packaging boxes with similar properties to petroleum-based plastic boxes used in the food industry. Dow Jones Newswires - September 7, 2007.

    South Korea aims to raise biodiesel content in domestic diesel to 3 percent from the current 0.5 percent by 2012, Seoul's energy ministry said today. The government was initially set last year to impose a mandatory 5 percent blend, in line with the level targeted by the European Union by 2010, but the country's powerful refining lobby opposed the move, forcing it to push back the target, according to market sources. Reuters - September 7, 2007.

    Virent Energy Systems, Inc. announced today that it has closed a US$21 million second round of venture financing. Investor interest in Virent was driven in large part by the Company’s continued development of its innovative BioForming process beyond its traditional hydrogen and fuel gas applications and toward the production of bio-based gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels. Virent Energy Systems - September 6, 2007.

    The U.S. National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) announces that 31 models of motor vehicles will be offered in the U.S. with an E85 capable engine in 2008. Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Mercedes Benz will all offer flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) in the coming year. The NEVC expects 750,000 such FFVs will be produced in 2008. National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition - September 5, 2007.

    GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., has begun commercial operations with the start-up of a 1,500 barrel per day methanol distillation system. Methanol is an alcohol used to transesterify vegetable oils into biodiesel. The methanol production facility is a key element of GreenHunter's 105 million gallon per year biodiesel refinery, the largest in the U.S., slated for initial operations during the first quarter of 2008. PRNewswire - September 5, 2007.

    GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., has begun commercial operations with the start-up of a 1,500 barrel per day methanol distillation system. Methanol is an alcohol used to transesterify vegetable oils into biodiesel. The methanol production facility is a key element of GreenHunter's 105 million gallon per year biodiesel refinery, the largest in the U.S., slated for initial operations during the first quarter of 2008. PRNewswire - September 5, 2007.

    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.

Creative Commons License

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Germany's Biostrom Energy Group to build 10 biogas plants to feed renewable gas into national grid

Biostrom Energy Group AG, a 75.1% subsidiary of Germany's BKN BioKraftstoff Nord AG has acquired a further key order in the biogas segment. It has concluded an advance agreement with the city of Potsdam to construct ten biogas plants and two CarboCompact plants with a total volume of €26/US$35.8 million.

According to this agreement, the modular plants, with an output of 10 times 500 KW will be constructed from the middle of 2008 in Energiepark Linthe near Potsdam (southwest of Berlin). Biostrom Energy Group AG is currently constructing 17 plants with total output of 8.5 MW. The gas produced in the ten biogas plants in Linthe will be of natural gas quality and will be fed into the national gas grid.

Biogas is a mixture of gases which result from the anaerobic microbial decomposition of organic substances, of which 50-70% is methane – a top-quality energy source. Additional components are carbon dioxide (CO2) as well as traces of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), Nitrogen (N2), Hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO). By upgrading and cleaning these components out of biogas, biomethane of natural gas quality can be obtained. When this renewable and carbon-neutral gas is fed into the main pipelines, it can be used for a range of end-uses, from home use to powering CNG-cars. Germany recently started looking into opening up the country's entire gas grid to accomodate biogas (more here and here).

Biostrom will supply the biogas plants with substrates obtained from dedicated energy crops. For this purpose, the company has taken out long-term leases on agricultural land. The 20-year leases will safeguard the supply of maize silage for the ten 500 kW biogas plants. Supplies for the CarboCompact plants - which include wood chips - will come from third parties:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

BKN BioKraftstoff Nord AG has specialized in project development for biogas plants and the production of biodiesel. Thanks to Biostrom Energy Group AG and its operating subsidiaries, which BKN successfully acquired in April, BKN now operates successfully on the market for biogas plants as a prime contractor, covering the entire value chain: from maintaining competitiveness standards for plant locations to project planning, permit acquisition, construction and operation of biogas plants as well as the efficient control of the plants.

Biological process control for biogas plants, supported by Biostrom’s know-how, is one of its particular assets. BKN's subsidiary BioDiesel Bokel GmbH, which stemmed from an agricultural distillery cooperative, currently has a capacity to produce around 50,000 t/year of biodiesel. The company has already substantially increased its revenues and earnings over the past few years.

Biopact: Germany considers opening natural gas network to biogas - major boost to sector - August 11, 2007

Biopact: EU research project looks at feeding biogas into the main natural gas grid - April 08, 2007

Article continues

U.S. Forest Service: ethanol from forests can replace 15 percent of gasoline

The U.S. Forest Service chief Abigail Kimbell is proposing replacing 15 percent of the United States' gasoline with ethanol made from wood obtained from thinning unhealthy forests, while doubling the amount of carbon dioxide emissions absorbed by public and private forests.

Kimbell presented the proposal in a speech before the Society of Environmental Journalists in San Francisco. These are ambitious goals, and they would take a concerted national effort to reach.

New biofuel technologies
According to Kimbell, with the technologies now becoming available, the U.S. could replace as much as 15 percent of its current gasoline consumption with ethanol from wood — and not just any wood, but 'unhealthy' wood that is not being used for other purposes and that must be removed from forests to prevent wildfires. Second-generation biofuel technologies capable of converting this type of woody biomass consist of biochemical and thermochemical conversion techniques.

Of these technologies, the thermochemical pathway known as pyrolysis is most advanced and cost-effective. But biochemical conversion techniques, based on enzymes that succeed in breaking down lignocellulosic biomass, are receiving a great deal of research and investment. Alternative routes consist of gasifying wood and converting the syngas via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis into ultra-clean synthetic biofuels.

The wood for ethanol would come mainly from undergrowth that the 'healthy forests' law now requires to be removed to prevent wildfires. The Healthy Forests Initiative contains a variety of provisions to speed up such hazardous-fuel reduction and forest-restoration projects on specific types of Federal land that are at risk of wildland fire and of insect and disease epidemics.
A lot of our forests across our country are unhealthy because they're overstocked. There's a lot of unhealthy underbrush. That's where we're talking about getting the bioenergy from. It's from the reduction of flammable fuels in the forests — instead of just burning it up in piles or grinding it up. - Allison Stewart, spokeswoman U.S. Forest Service
Besides use for the production of liquid fuels, small-diameter trees and underbrush can also be used as solid biofuels to heat homes and to generate renewable electricity.

The biofuel plan is ambitious and it is not clear how the biomass logistics would work out. Thinning forests and removing underbrush is labor intensive and transporting this low energy density biomass to central biofuel facilities would probably be uneconomic.

However, several innovations have seen the light that allow for a decentralised production system. New forest residue harvesters integrated with wood chippers have been developed (earlier post), as have mobile pellet plants. Small, modular pyrolysis plants can be located close to the source of the biomass (more here). There, the wood would be transformed into bio-oil with a higher energy density. This oil can then be transported more efficiently to a central biorefinery that refines the pyrolysis oil into specific fuels ready for use in cars:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The Forest Service estimates that America's forests — both public and private — offset about 10 percent of carbon emissions in the United States. Kimbell proposes a national effort to double that amount by 2020. The Forest Service manages 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands — an area equivalent to the size of Texas.

While producing biofuels, the Forest Service will at the same time be "doing a lot of replanting of new forests, where there are no forests now." Most of those are in areas cleared out by wildfires, floods and other calamities of nature.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide, but the science for measuring how much is unsettled. Some have suggested forests in temperate climates contribute to climate change, whereas grasslands would do more to reduce global warming.

Despite these uncertainties, the Forest Service is teaming up with the nonprofit National Forest Foundation to allow consumers to participate in a voluntary program to "offset" their carbon dioxide emissions by making charitable contributions that will be used to plant trees and do other work to improve national forests. Several such reforestation projects have been identified in the Custer National Forest in Montana and South Dakota and in the Payette National Forest in Idaho.

Picture: Fire Behavior in a small area that was thinned: fire burns low and on the ground. The U.S. Forest Service now proposes to utilize the removed underbrush and thinnings for the production of biofuels.

Associated Press: Forest Chief Touts Ethanol to Power Cars - September 8, 2007.

KSBY: Forest Service chief urges using forests to power cars on ethanol - September 8, 2007.

Forests and Rangelands, official site of the U.S. Healthy Forests Initiative.

Biopact: Efficient timber harvester delivers wood chips on the spot, improves biomass logistics - August 19, 2007

Biopact: The mobile pellet plant - April 29, 2007

Biopact: Dynamotive begins construction of modular fast-pyrolysis plant in Ontario - December 19, 2006

Article continues

New Gasoline Direct injection (GDi) system optimized for biofuels lowers emissions and boosts performance

Delphi is launching a new, high-performance Gasoline Direct injection (GDi) system that is optimised for the increasing use of turbochargers and biofuels as a flexible, cost-effective solution to global pressures on emissions and CO2 emissions. Delphi is poised to supply the total system - including injectors, pumps, engine control units, electrical/electronic systems, fuel rails and fuel handling hardware - or individual components.

The heart of Delphi's homogeneous GDi system - named Multec 10 - is a new multi-hole injector, designed for homogeneous combustion and available with spray preparation options optimised for a wide variety of combustion chamber shapes and static flow requirements. Highly refined solenoid technology allows very fast opening and closing, which enables the Delphi system to provide a linear range of more than 15 (the relationship between maximum fuel flow and minimum fuel flow), substantially higher than today's best production systems.

Delphi's GDi system takes into account two key trends that we see in the requirement for gas injection systems. First, there will be rapid growth in turbocharging as engines are downsized to reduce CO2 emissions. Second, we see bio-fuel content of gasoline increasing, particularly in the United States and Europe. - Mark Shost, Delphi Engineering Director for Engine Management Systems and Products

Delphi injectors' high linear range make the system ideal for turbocharged applications, where significantly higher fuel rates on a full load are required without compromising fuel rate control at idle. Innovative engineering delivers zero pintle bounce when closing, with very low noise, making it the quietest injector on the market. Careful optimisation of the magnetic and hydraulic characteristics allows extremely high performance economically.

After tapping into extensive experience with biofuels in the South American market, Delphi achieved biofuel optimisation by carefully selecting and testing materials and coatings to ensure they will withstand high biofuel contents - like ethanol. For example, high-pressure fuel rails are manufactured from stainless steel with brazed caps instead of today's popular aluminium rails which may suffer from internal corrosion if run for long periods on biofuels:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

To increase durability, fuel-contacted parts inside the all-new high-flow fuel pump are constructed from stainless steel. The same pump can be adapted for all sizes of four- and six-cylinder application, providing component cost savings, part number reduction and simplified manufacturing. The pump delivers up to 150 bar pressure for homogenous charge applications and up to 200 bar for next-generation stratified charge applications.

Delphi's new GDi system is targeted to meet today's most demanding emissions requirements - including SULEV and EURO 6 - without the cost of a complex after-treatment system. After engine start, multiple injection pulses enable accelerated catalyst heating reducing unburned hydrocarbons, thereby allowing further cost savings by reducing catalyst precious metal content.

Coupled with Delphi's components is a comprehensive library of Engine Management Systems (EMS) control algorithms. This set of "state-of-the-art" algorithms uses a torque-based strategy that seamlessly aligns the driver's command to the powertrain output, thus simplifying the application of the Delphi system to various vehicles over a wide array of regional and customer driven requirements. Delphi continues to lead the industry in cost and flexibility through the use of innovative control algorithm solutions.

Multec GDi is ready for applications engineering today, with production expected early 2010. Delphi predicts that about 40 percent of new European gasoline vehicles will be fitted with direct gas systems by 2010.

Delphi is also developing a GDi system for stratified charge (lean) combustion engines named Multec 20. These systems require very low sulphur fuel to protect lean-burn-compatible catalytic converters, but offer a further fuel economy saving of around 15 percent. Delphi actuates its outward opening injector for stratified charge systems by a single coil, which offers a significant cost advantage over competitors' piezoelectric injectors. With the same external diameter as the homogenous charge GDi injector, systems can be fitted to engines with centrally mounted injectors with minimal, if any, revisions to the cylinder head. Due to the injector's solenoid actuation, the system can use the standard GDi ECU, bringing further simplification and cost savings.

To further increase the operating range and improve fuel economy on stratified GDi engines, Delphi has employed its Multi-Charge Ignition System. Multi-Charge features a coil-per-cylinder control system that enables longer spark duration, increased spark energy, and re-ignition in the event of combustion blow-out when liquid is present.

Firing multiple times in a short timeframe, Multi-Charge Ignition ensures initiation of robust combustion and compensation of fuel spray variation.

Delphi now has a complete range of diesel and gasoline injection systems that includes MPFI, GDi, Common Rail diesel and heavy duty diesel. All are compatible with widely used biofuels and are complemented by innovative fuel handling, evaporative emissions, transmission control, valve train, and aftertreatment solutions.

Image: Delphi Multec 10 GDi Multi-Hole Fuel Injector, designed for homogeneous combustion applications.

Article continues