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    Brasil Ecodiesel, the leading Brazilian biodiesel producer company, recorded an increase of 57.7% in sales in the third quarter of the current year, in comparison with the previous three months. Sales volume stood at 53,000 cubic metres from August until September, against 34,000 cubic metres of the biofuel between April and June. The company is also concluding negotiations to export between 1,000 to 2,000 tonnes of glycerine per month to the Asian market. ANBA - October 4, 2007.

    PolyOne Corporation, the US supplier of specialised polymer materials, has opened a new colour concentrates manufacturing plant in Kutno, Poland. Located in central Poland, the new plant will produce colour products in the first instance, although the company says the facility can be expanded to handle other products. In March, the Ohio-based firm launched a range of of liquid colourants for use in bioplastics in biodegradable applications. The concentrates are European food contact compliant and can be used in polylactic acid (PLA) or starch-based blends. Plastics & Rubber Weekly - October 2, 2007.

    A turbo-charged, spray-guided direct-injection engine running on pure ethanol (E100) can achieve very high specific output, and shows “significant potential for aggressive engine downsizing for a dedicated or dual-fuel solution”, according to engineers at Orbital Corporation. GreenCarCongress - October 2, 2007.

    UK-based NiTech Solutions receives £800,000 in private funding to commercialize a cost-saving industrial mixing system, dubbed the Continuous Oscillatory Baffled Reactor (COBR), which can lower costs by 50 per cent and reduce process time by as much as 90 per cent during the manufacture of a range of commodities including chemicals, drugs and biofuels. Scotsman - October 2, 2007.

    A group of Spanish investors is building a new bioethanol plant in the western region of Extremadura that should be producing fuel from maize in 2009. Alcoholes Biocarburantes de Extremadura (Albiex) has already started work on the site near Badajoz and expects to spend €42/$59 million on the plant in the next two years. It will produce 110 million litres a year of bioethanol and 87 million kg of grain byproduct that can be used for animal feed. Europapress - September 28, 2007.

    Portuguese fuel company Prio SA and UK based FCL Biofuels have joined forces to launch the Portuguese consumer biodiesel brand, PrioBio, in the UK. PrioBio is scheduled to be available in the UK from 1st November. By the end of this year (2007), says FCL Biofuel, the partnership’s two biodiesel refineries will have a total capacity of 200,000 tonnes which will is set to grow to 400,000 tonnes by the end of 2010. Biofuel Review - September 27, 2007.

    According to Tarja Halonen, the Finnish president, one third of the value of all of Finland's exports consists of environmentally friendly technologies. Finland has invested in climate and energy technologies, particularly in combined heat and power production from biomass, bioenergy and wind power, the president said at the UN secretary-general's high-level event on climate change. Newroom Finland - September 25, 2007.

    Spanish engineering and energy company Abengoa says it had suspended bioethanol production at the biggest of its three Spanish plants because it was unprofitable. It cited high grain prices and uncertainty about the national market for ethanol. Earlier this year, the plant, located in Salamanca, ceased production for similar reasons. To Biopact this is yet another indication that biofuel production in the EU/US does not make sense and must be relocated to the Global South, where the biofuel can be produced competitively and sustainably, without relying on food crops. Reuters - September 24, 2007.

    The Midlands Consortium, comprised of the universities of Birmingham, Loughborough and Nottingham, is chosen to host Britain's new Energy Technologies Institute, a £1 billion national organisation which will aim to develop cleaner energies. University of Nottingham - September 21, 2007.

    The EGGER group, one of the leading European manufacturers of chipboard, MDF and OSB boards has begun work on installing a 50MW biomass boiler for its production site in Rion. The new furnace will recycle 60,000 tonnes of offcuts to be used in the new combined heat and power (CHP) station as an ecological fuel. The facility will reduce consumption of natural gas by 75%. IHB Network - September 21, 2007.

    Analysts fear that record oil prices will fuel general inflation in Kenya, particularly hitting the poorest hard. They call for the development of new policies and strategies to cope with sustained high oil prices. Such policies include alternative fuels like biofuels, conservation measures, and more investments in oil and gas exploration. The poor in Kenya are hit hardest by the sharp increase, because they spend most of their budget on fuel and transport. Furthermore, in oil intensive economies like Kenya, high oil prices push up prices for food and most other basic goods. All Africa - September 20, 2007.

    Finland's Metso Power has won an order to supply Kalmar Energi Värme AB with a biomass-fired power boiler for the company’s new combined heat and power plant in Kalmar on the east coast of Sweden. Start-up for the plant is scheduled for the end of 2009. The value of the order is approximately EUR 55 million. The power boiler (90 MWth) will utilize bubbling fluidized bed technology and will burn biomass replacing old district heating boilers and reducing the consumption of oil. The delivery will also include a flue gas condensing system to increase plant's district heat production. Metso Corporation - September 19, 2007.

    Jo-Carroll Energy announced today its plan to build an 80 megawatt, biomass-fueled, renewable energy center in Illinois. The US$ 140 million plant will be fueled by various types of renewable biomass, such as clean waste wood, corn stover and switchgrass. Jo-Carroll Energy - September 18, 2007.

    Beihai Gofar Marine Biological Industry Co Ltd, in China's southern region of Guangxi, plans to build a 100,000 tonne-per-year fuel ethanol plant using cassava as feedstock. The Shanghai-listed company plans to raise about 560 million yuan ($74.5 million) in a share placement to finance the project and boost its cash flow. Reuters - September 18, 2007.

    The oil-dependent island state of Fiji has requested US company Avalor Capital, LLC, to invest in biodiesel and ethanol. The Fiji government has urged the company to move its $250million 'Fiji Biofuels Project' forward at the earliest possible date. Fiji Live - September 18, 2007.

    The Bowen Group, one of Ireland's biggest construction groups has announced a strategic move into the biomass energy sector. It is planning a €25 million investment over the next five years to fund up to 100 projects that will create electricity from biomass. Its ambition is to install up to 135 megawatts of biomass-fuelled heat from local forestry sources, which is equal to 50 million litres or about €25m worth of imported oil. Irish Examiner - September 16, 2007.

    According to Dr Niphon Poapongsakorn, dean of Economics at Thammasat University in Thailand, cassava-based ethanol is competitive when oil is above $40 per barrel. Thailand is the world's largest producer and exporter of cassava for industrial use. Bangkok Post - September 14, 2007.

    German biogas and biodiesel developer BKN BioKraftstoff Nord AG has generated gross proceeds totaling €5.5 million as part of its capital increase from authorized capital. Ad Hoc News - September 13, 2007.

    NewGen Technologies, Inc. announced that it and Titan Global Holdings, Inc. completed a definitive Biofuels Supply Agreement which will become effective upon Titan’s acquisition of Appalachian Oil Company. Given APPCO’s current distribution of over 225 million gallons of fuel products per year, the initial expected ethanol supply to APPCO should exceed 1 million gallons a month. Charlotte dBusinessNews - September 13, 2007.

    Oil prices reach record highs as the U.S. Energy Information Agency releases a report that showed crude oil inventories fell by more than seven million barrels last week. The rise comes despite a decision by the international oil cartel, OPEC, to raise its output quota by 500,000 barrels. Reuters - September 12, 2007.

    OPEC decided today to increase the volume of crude supplied to the market by Member Countries (excluding Angola and Iraq) by 500,000 b/d, effective 1 November 2007. The decision comes after oil reached near record-highs and after Saudi Aramco announced that last year's crude oil production declined by 1.7 percent, while exports declined by 3.1 percent. OPEC - September 11, 2007.

    GreenField Ethanol and Monsanto Canada launch the 'Gro-ethanol' program which invites Ontario's farmers to grow corn seed containing Monsanto traits, specifically for the ethanol market. The corn hybrids eligible for the program include Monsanto traits that produce higher yielding corn for ethanol production. MarketWire - September 11, 2007.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

POET receives $80 million grant for cellulosic ethanol project

POET and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announce that they have signed a cooperative agreement for a commercial cellulosic ethanol project in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The agreement finalizes the first phase of a DOE award that was announced in February and will govern all aspects of the project leading up to construction. With the agreement in place, POET will move forward on project preliminary design and engineering, environmental engineering, biomass collection and other activities.

According to the cooperative agreement, phase one of the project will last approximately 20 months. A subsequent phase two agreement will then be negotiated to cover construction which is expected to take two years. Following construction, facility operation is expected to begin in 2011.

Along with five other companies, POET was selected in February by the DOE to negotiate a joint funding relationship to construct a commercial cellulosic ethanol production facility. POET's award is up to $80 million and can�t exceed 40 percent of the project's total cost.

Project Liberty, POET's cellulosic project, will convert an existing 50 million gallon per year (mgpy) dry-mill ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa into an integrated corn-to-ethanol and cellulose-to-ethanol biorefinery. Once complete, the facility will produce 125 million gallons per year and show the following efficiency increases:
  • delivering 11 percent more ethanol from a bushel of corn
  • reaping 27 percent more ethanol per acre of corn
  • reducing natural gas consumption in the plant by 83 percent
  • reducing water consumption by 24 percent
Twenty-five percent of the output will be from cellulosic corn fiber and corn cobs. Once the transformation is complete, the facility will also produce corn germ meal and corn oil, as well as 80,000 tons of Dakota Gold Corn Germ Dehydrated and 100,000 tons of Dakota Gold HP (a high protein distillers grain feed product) annually as animal feed co-products.

The bioconversion process to be used at the cellulosic ethanol plant draws on two technologies:
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  1. 'BFRAC', an advanced corn fractionation process which separates the corn into three fractions including fiber, germ and endosperm. The endosperm is then fermented to create ethanol while the remaining fractions are converted into new value-added co-products, including POET's trademarked Dakota Gold HP, trademarked Dakota Bran cake, corn germ meal and corn oil. In addition to these high value co-products, the process also results in increased plant throughput and decreased energy consumption.
  2. 'BPX', a patent-pending raw starch hydrolysis process which converts starch to sugar, which then ferments to ethanol without heat. The BPX process not only reduces energy costs, but also releases additional starch content for conversion to ethanol, increases protein content and quality of co-products, increases co-product flowability, potentially increases plant throughput and significantly decreases plant emissions.
In June, POET announced that Jim Sturdevant, a 22-year veteran of the US Geological Survey, will serve as director of the project and that they had successfully produced cellulosic ethanol from corn cobs. POET has purchased additional land adjacent to their Emmetsburg production facility in order to accommodate construction of the cellulosic facility.

POET, the largest dry mill ethanol producer in the United States, is an established player in the biorefining industry through project development, design and construction, research and development, plant management, and marketing. Formerly known as Broin, the 20-year old company currently operates 21 production facilities in the United States with six more in construction or in the midst of expansion. The company produces and markets more than 1.1 billion gallons of ethanol annually.

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World Bank to provide $5 million for biogas plants in rural Nepal

The World Bank has agreed to provide $5 million in assistance to co-finance the setting up of 37,000 biogas plants in rural areas of Nepal. The World Bank administered Global Partnership on Output Based Aid (GPOBA) has signed a grant agreement with the Nepalese government under the fourth phase of the Biogas Support Program (BSP-IV). The Project will be implemented by the Alternate Energy Promotion Center (AEPC). The grant is co-funded by the United Kingdom 's Department for International Development (DFID).

The project aims to replace traditional energy sources used by the rural population, such as fire wood and kerosene, with modern biogas plants. Biogas digesters use anaerobic decomposition of organic material to produce a methane-rich which can be used for cooking and light. GPOBA’s grant will sponsor new biogas plants ranging in capacity from 4m3 to 10m3. Even the smallest plants with a 4m3 capacity produce enough gas to run a cooking stove for nearly 2.5 hours daily.

Switching to biogas has multiple social, economic and environmental advantages:
  • use of the biofuel reduces carbon emissions
  • it decreases the pressures leading to deforestation by relying on household and farm waste instead
  • decreases the frequency of respiratory infections that result from burning sooty fuels in poorly ventilated households - a killer in the kitchen claiming approximately 2 million lives each year (earlier post)
  • in the particular context of rural Nepal, the Community Development Carbon Fund estimates that families will save approximately three hours of labor per day from the switch from gathering fuel wood to biogas - quite an impressive change in the life of these people
  • considerable financial savings occur from not purchasing fuels like kerosene
  • biogas production yields an organic fertilizer; families save by not spending on synthetic fertilizer
Women and girls, who are traditionally responsible for running the household, colleting firewood and cooking, will be among the project's primary beneficiaries. Furthermore, access to biogas will enable families to use gas lanterns after sunset to provide light for children's studies or other household activities:
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The Biogas Support Program was started in 1992 by the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) together with the Government of Nepal to promote environmentally friendly and affordable energy to remote rural areas. The project has also received substantial funding from KfW. Since 2006, the BSP-IV is benefiting from funding form the World Bank's Community Development Carbon Fund in exchange for reductions of emissions of greenhouse gases.

Since 1992 the Biogas Support Program has helped to install 150,000 biogas plants in rural Nepal. The local non-governmental organisation Biogas Sector Partnership – Nepal (BSP-N) is serving as project implementing agency.

The Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA) is a multi-donor trust fund established in 2003 to develop output based aid (OBA) approaches across a variety of sectors including infrastructure, health and education. OBA subsidies are performance based and are designed to create incentives for efficiency and the long term success of development projects. GPOBA’s current donors are DFID, IFC, the Directorate-General for International Cooperation of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS) and AusAid of Australia.

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Philippines in cooperation agreement with India's Praj Industries to develop biofuel sector

The Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) sealed an agreement with India-based bioenergy company Praj Industries to help develop the country's nascent biofuels industry. Under a Memorandum of Understanding both parties will team up for feedstock development and setting up biofuel production plants.

The biofuel sector will be promoted through the propagation of new farming technologies and investments in the planting of sweet sorghum, cassava and sugarcane to be used as feedstock and in the production of bioethanol and jatropha for biodiesel. Praj will provide assistance and extend its knowledge in identifying varieties of sweet sorghum and jatropha for cultivation trials.

Praj will also provide the design, engineering and supply the biofuel production plants to potential investors in the biofuel sector based on mutually agreed terms and conditions on a case-to-case basis.

For its part, the DA will identify land for feedstock development; encourage and assist farmers in cultivating sweet sorghum, sugarcane, cassava or jatropha; and help in attracting investments for commercial scale feedstock production and construction of biodiesel and bioethanol plants.

The Philippine government expects the ever-growing global demand for crops-based alternative clean fuels to energize Philippine farms, increase the profitability of small holders in the agriculture sector, and reduce the country's dependence on imported energy sources. Last January, President Arroyo signed into law Republic Act 9367 or the Biofuels Act, which aims to ease the country's imports on petroleum products, which are dollar-draining and pollution-generating.

The DA is now in the process of identifying for private sector investments more than 400,000 hectares of land to plant crops that would be used as feedstock and for biofuels production. Of these, about 90,000 hectares are located in the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle; 10,000 hectares in Central Philippines; and 300,000 in Agribusiness Mindanao:
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The lands being processed so far already represent 78 per cent of the 600,000 hectares targeted for development this year. These lands would be planted to cassava, oil palm, coconut, sugarcane, jatropha, and other crops used as feedstock for projects that would be set up by private investors cashing in on the biofuels boom in the global market.

Investors are planning to set up plants in the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern and Central Mindanao, and the Davao region either through straight purchases, lease arrangements, contract growing or joint ventures.

In all these arrangements, farmers stand to earn more through profit sharing, guaranteed income packages or straight purchases of harvested crops, and benefit from new planting technologies that would create more jobs and boost production.

Praj is a publicly listed company in the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange in India. It has provided distillery and brewery wastewater treatment and utilization solutions to over 35 countries worldwide. The company now has diversified its range of solutions such as in fermentation systems that include technology packages for multiple feedstock including cane-molasses, cane juice and filtrate, starch-based raw materials like corn, sorghum, wheat, tapioca, tropical sugar-beet, among others.

Philippines News Agency: RP inks biofuels deal with India-based company - October 5, 2007.

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The bioeconomy at work: Meredian Inc. acquires PHA technology from Procter & Gamble

Meredian, Inc. announced the acquisition of an extensive intellectual property portfolio from Procter & Gamble relating to Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) technology. Procter & Gamble developed the technology through more than a decade of research, resulting in a highly functional and cost effective material.

Meredian will use the technology to manufacture new biopolymers using renewable resources, further reducing the global dependence on petroleum products in the production of plastics.

are naturally-occurring polymers produced by bacteria. A variety of bacterial species produce PHAs by fermenting biomass under nutrient-limiting conditions. These water-insoluble storage polymers are biodegradable, exhibit thermoplastic properties and can be produced from renewable carbon sources found in plants (schemtic, click to enlarge).

PHA based polymers can be used in many applications, including molded goods, paper coatings, non-woven fabrics, performance additives. As a family of biopolymers, they have functional properties sufficient to replace a significant portion of the 300 billion pounds of petroleum-based plastics used worldwide today.

Meredian expects to begin construction in 2008 on the first of four planned production facilities; the first will be located in the Southeastern United States. Meredian plans to produce over 600 million pounds of biopolymers annually.

Meredian polymers work well in many traditional plastic applications by retaining product quality and convenience while reducing the burden on landfills. Meredian polymers will biodegrade either aerobically or anaerobically. This means the material will be quickly reabsorbed into the natural environment with no adverse ecological or health affects. Degradation occurs in septic systems, commercial waste water treatment systems, composting environments or even cold ocean waters. In these environments, naturally occurring bacteria use Meredian polymers as a food source and accelerate degradation:
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S. Blake Lindsey, President of Meredian, says that given the unique physical property range of existing Meredian biopolymers - DaniMer and Seluma - the company expects to see a wide array of applications, from highly flexible films and fibers to rigid packaging, including many single-use food service and liquid packaging applications.

The combination of biopolymers will enable the company to provide synergies within the technology platforms and will result in one of the world's most versatile biopolymer product lines.

P&G was seeking an enthusiastic company that could efficiently commercialize its intellectual property on polymers. Meredian was selected because of its dedication to biopolymers and ability to take the development work to the next level - delivering finished products to the market.

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: Biomass Program - Production of Polyhydroxyalkanoate Polymers.

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