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    Timber products company China Grand Forestry Resources Group announced that it would acquire Yunnan Shenyu New Energy, a biofuels research group, for €560/$822 million. Yunnan Shenyu New Energy has developed an entire industrial biofuel production chain, from a fully active energy crop seedling nursery to a biorefinery. Cleantech - November 16, 2007.

    Northern European countries launch the Nordic Bioenergy Project - "Opportunities and consequences of an expanding bio energy market in the Nordic countries" - with the aim to help coordinate bioenergy activities in the Nordic countries and improve the visibility of existing and future Nordic solutions in the complex field of bioenergy, energy security, competing uses of resources and land, regional development and environmental impacts. A wealth of data, analyses and cases will be presented on a new website - Nordic Energy - along with announcements of workshops during the duration of project. Nordic Energy - November 14, 2007.

    Global Partners has announced that it is planning to increase its refined products and biofuels storage capacity in Providence, Rhode Island by 474,000 barrels. The partnership has entered into agreements with New England Petroleum Terminal, at a deepwater marine terminal located at the Port of Providence. PRInside - November 14, 2007.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) kicks off the meeting in Valencia, Spain, which will result in the production of the Synthesis Report on climate change. The report will summarize the core findings of the three volumes published earlier by the separate working groups. IPCC - November 12, 2007.

    Biopact's Laurens Rademakers is interviewed by Mongabay on the risks of large-scale bioenergy with carbon storage (BECS) proposals. Even though Biopact remains positive about BECS, because it offers one of the few safe systems to mitigate climate change in a drastic way, care must be take to avoid negative impacts on tropical forests. Mongabay - November 10, 2007.

    According to the latest annual ranking produced by The Scientist, Belgium is the world's best country for academic research, followed by the U.S. and Canada. Belgium's top position is especially relevant for plant, biology, biotechnology and bioenergy research, as these are amongst the science fields on which it scores best. The Scientist - November 8, 2007.

    Mascoma Corporation, a cellulosic ethanol company, today announced the acquisition of Celsys BioFuels, Inc. Celsys BioFuels was formed in 2006 to commercialize cellulosic ethanol production technology developed in the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering at Purdue University. The Celsys technology is based on proprietary pretreatment processes for multiple biomass feedstocks, including corn fiber and distiller grains. The technology was developed by Dr. Michael Ladisch, an internationally known leader in the field of renewable fuels and cellulosic biofuels. He will be taking a two-year leave of absence from Purdue University to join Mascoma as the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Business Wire - November 7, 2007.

    Bemis Company, Inc. announced today that it will partner with Plantic Technologies Limited, an Australian company specializing in starch-based biopolymers, to develop and sell renewably resourced flexible films using patented Plantic technology. Bemis - November 7, 2007.

    Hungary's Kalocsa Hõerõmû Kft is to build a HUF 40 billion (€158.2 million) straw-fired biomass power plant with a maximum capacity of 49.9 megawatts near Kalocsa in southern Hungary. Portfolio Hungary - November 7, 2007.

    Canada's Gemini Corporation has received approval to proceed into the detailed engineering, fabrication and construction phases of a biogas cogeneration facility located in the Lethbridge, Alberta area, the first of its kind whereby biogas production is enhanced through the use of Thermal Hydrolysis technology, a high temperature, high pressure process for the safe destruction of SRM material from the beef industry. The technology enables a facility to redirect waste material, previously shipped to landfills, into a valuable feedstock for the generation of electricity and thermal energy. This eliminates the release of methane into the environment and the resultant solids are approved for use as a land amendment rather than re-entering the waste stream. In addition, it enhances the biogas production process by more than 25%. Market Wire - November 7, 2007.

    A new Agency to manage Britain's commitment to biofuels was established today by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly. The Renewable Fuels Agency will be responsible for the day to day running of the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, coming into force in April next year. By 2010, the Obligation will mean that 5% of all the fuels sold in the UK should come from biofuels, which could save 2.6m to 3m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. eGov Monitor - November 5, 2007.

    Prices for prompt loading South African coal cargoes reached a new record last week with a trade at $85.00 a tonne free-on-board (FOB) for a February cargo. Strong Indian demand and tight supply has pushed South African prices up to record levels from around $47.00 at the beginning of the year. European DES/CIF ARA coal prices have remained fairly stable over the past few days, having traded up to a record $130.00 a tonne DES ARA late last week. Fair value is probably just below $130.00 a tonne, traders said. At this price, some forms of biomass become directly competitive with coal. Reuters Africa - November 4, 2007.

    The government of India's Harayana state has decided to promote biomass power projects based on gasification in a move to help rural communities replace costly diesel and furnace oil. The news was announced during a meeting of the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA). Six pilot plants have demonstrated the efficiency and practicability of small-scale biomass gasification. Capital subsidies will now be made available to similar projects at the rate of Rs 2.5 lakh (€4400) per 100 KW for electrical applications and Rs 2 lakh (€3500) per 300 KW for thermal applications. New Kerala - November 1, 2007.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Large European ethanol maker hit by cheap Brazilian imports

German bioethanol producer Verbio says a combination of cheap imports from Brazil and high grain prices means commercial production of bioethanol in Germany is hardly possible. In a sense, this is good news, because it clearly demonstrates the need for and benefits of a 'Biopact' - a win-win strategy that allows developing countries to make use of their comparative advantages at producing efficient, sustainable and affordable biofuels, and European citizens to import them instead of making their own highly unsustainable and inefficient biofuels from grains, which drives up food prices.

Under such a Biopact, poor countries with large land and labor resources and urgently in need of economic and agricultural opportunities can help lift millions of the rural poor out of misery (previous post). Objectively speaking, they have all the resources needed to produce a very large amount of biofuels, in an explicitly sustainable manner (more here and here). With good policies and trade reform, such a mutually beneficial exchange relationship is possible. Important think tanks and international organisations - the FAO, the IEA (and here), the Global Bioenergy Partnership (and here), the UNIDO, the WorldWatch Institute and many others - have called for such a win-win situation. What is more, it would make an end to the unnecessary 'food versus fuel' debate, which is precisely driven by the fact that EU/US producers use grains like corn and wheat to make ethanol, while blocking far more efficient and less costly biofuels from the South.

Verbio posted [*German] a €600,000 net loss in January-September 2007 against a €25.7 million net profit in the same year-ago period. Nine month 2007 sales fell to €307.1 million from €325.7 million. The company said it had only produced on average about 50 percent of its total 300,000 tonnes annual German bioethanol production capacity in the first nine months of 2007. Bioethanol was produced at a loss because it could not compete with imports from Brazil and because its grain feedstock had reached record prices - the result of Europe's very own biofuel sector which utilizes grains instead of efficient tropical energy crops.

Brazilian ethanol thus pushes inefficient biofuels out of the European market, despite a high import tariff and despite massive subsidies for European producers:
Brazilian bioethanol is currently available in Germany at around 55 cents a litre but we need at least 80 cents a litre to cover our production costs using grain. - Verbio statement
Brazil's ethanol is highly competitive - currently about a third to fifty percent less costly than oil - and made from sugarcane, grown in the South of the country (more here). The International Energy Agency analysed the way in which the fuel is produced and deemed it to be largely sustainable (previous post). Sugarcane ethanol also has a much stronger energy and greenhouse gas balance than ethanol made from corn or wheat. Whereas corn ethanol reduces carbon emissions by only a fraction compared to gasoline (some say it can even add more), sugarcane ethanol reduces emissions by up to 80 percent. Likewise, whereas the energy balance for corn ethanol is barely positive (1 to 1 / 1.2), that of Brazilian ethanol is very strong (between 1 to 8 and 1 to 10).

What is more, according to the FAO's latest Food Outlook sugar prices have actually declined during 2006 and 2007, despite a record output of ethanol (more here). All other major agricultural commodities have seen their prices increase, partly because US/EU producers use them to make inefficient biofuels. In short, ethanol from wheat and corn pushes up food prices, ethanol from sugarcane does not:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

In September, Verbio had said it was cutting bioethanol production at its 200,000 tonne plant in Schwedt in east Germany because of high grain prices and low bioethanol demand. The spokesperson declined to say how much the Schwedt plant was now working under capacity but it was less than 50 percent. But she said Schwedt will continue some production.

The company also has a second bioethanol plant in Zoerbig in east Germany producing about 100,000 tonnes annually which is not affected by the decision to run down output at Schwedt. Verbio has also been hit by rising prices for German grain which it uses as feedstock for both plants.

Verbio has successfully tested use of untreated alcohol, sugar syrup and sugar molasses as alternatives feedstocks to the grain currently used. The problem is that the major oil companies do not really want to use bioethanol and that the compulsory blending quotas are so low, the spokesperson added. This meant it was not worthwhile changing to new feedstocks.

German biofuel industry associations are pressing the government to raise minimum 2008 blending levels to 2.6 percent from 2 percent. If demand is increased the German ethanol industry could produce the fuel using alternative raw materials.

Verbio: Biodieselgeschäft profitabel, EBIT-Marge 5,9% – Ethanol weiterhin deutlich unter den Erwartungen – Ausblick bestätigt - November 14, 2007.

Guardian: German bioethanol firm hit by cheap Brazil imports - November 14, 2007.

Biopact: Worldwatch Institute: biofuels may bring major benefits to world's rural poor - August 06, 2007

Biopact: Brazilian ethanol is sustainable and has a very positive energy balance - IEA report - October 08, 2006

Biopact: Nature sets the record straight on Brazilian ethanol - December 09, 2006

Biopact: FAO forecasts continued high cereal prices: bad weather, low stocks, soaring demand, biofuels, high oil prices cited as causes - November 07, 2007

Biopact: NREL: Brazilian ethanol does not harm the Amazon - July 12, 2007

Biopact: Worldwatch Institute chief: biofuels could end global malnourishment - August 23, 2007

Biopact: FAO chief calls for a 'Biopact' between the North and the South - August 15, 2007

Biopact: Report: biofuels key to achieving Millennium Development Goals in Africa - August 02, 2007

Biopact: IEA chief: Europe and United States should import ethanol from developing world - October 16, 2006

Biopact: IEA chief economist: EU, US should scrap tariffs and subsidies, import biofuels from the South - March 06, 2007

Biopact: Stiglitz explains reasons behind the demise of the Doha development round - August 15, 2006

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CARMA: website reveals emissions from more than 50,000 power plants worldwide

A very interesting project, the Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) database, offers the first global inventory of emissions from more than 50,000 power stations on the planet. Its data is compiled by the Confronting Climate Change Initiative at the Center for Global Development (CGDev), an independent and non-partisan think tank located in Washington, DC. CARMA offers a perfect starting point for conducting comparative studies on local, regional and global emissions generated from the power sector.

CARMA's database includes more than 50,000 power plants of different sizes, 4,000 power companies, and nearly 200,000 geographic regions in every country on Earth. Users can view carbon emissions data for the year 2000, the present, and future plans. And all of CARMA’s data is updated quarterly to reflect changes in plant ownership and planned construction. The maps and database show each power facility in a region and give the plant its own page that reveals its location, ownership, power production, and CO2 emissions. Users can select individual plants from interactive maps or lists, search for specific plants, or filter and sort the data in multiple ways. The data also show which type of fuel or primary energy input the power facility utilizes to generate electricity.

CARMA thus provides the world’s most detailed and comprehensive information on carbon emissions resulting from the production of electricity. Judging by the sheer number of red dots on the maps, the database shows that a transition to a cleaner, low carbon future is a tall order indeed. On a lighter note, CARMA, with its satellites and eyes in the skies, also offers the perfect place to indulge in power plant voyeurism.
We hope that CARMA will equip millions of concerned global citizens – consumers, investors, political leaders, managers, professionals, and community organizers – with the information they need to take action and build a low-carbon future. - CARMA
The initiative is based on the notion that public disclosure of critical information can have powerful effects on environmental performance. CGDev believes that the time is ripe for rapid reduction of carbon emissions, and CARMA is intended to be its contribution to this effort. As a think tank involved in addressing development questions, the CGDev is particularly concerned because global warming threatens to undermine the poverty-reduction efforts of many developing countries.

First results: Australians worst emitters

A first study based on CARMA has already yielded interesting results. It shows the extent to which developed countries produce more carbon dioxide per head than emerging economies. Australians were found to be the world's worst polluters per capita, producing five times as much CO2 from generating power as China. The US came second with eight tonnes of the greenhouse gas per head - 16 times more than that produced by India. The US also produced the most CO2 in total, followed by China:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

CARMA points out that while US power plants emit the most CO2, releasing 2.5 billion tonnes into the atmosphere each year, Australian power stations are the least efficient on a per capita basis, with emissions of 10 tonnes, compared with the US's 8.2 tonnes.

China's power sector emits the second-highest total amount of carbon dioxide, pumping 2.4bn tonnes of the gas into the atmosphere annually. However, its emissions are only one fifth of Australia's when measured on a per capita basis.

CARMA's carbon worries
The bulk of humanity’s energy needs are currently met through the combustion of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. About 60% of global electricity generation relies upon fossil fuels to generate the heat needed to power steam-driven turbines. Burning these fuels results in the production of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the primary heat-trapping, “greenhouse gas” responsible for global warming.

Over the past two centuries, mankind has increased the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere from 280 to more than 380 parts per million volume, and it is growing faster every day. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 has not been this high for at least the past 650,000 years. As the concentration of CO2 has risen, so has the average temperature of the planet. Over the past century, the average surface temperature of Earth has increased by more than 1.3°F (0.74°C). If we continue to emit carbon without restraint, temperatures are expected to rise by an additional 6°F (3.4°C) by the end of this century.

Climate change of that magnitude would likely have serious consequences for life on Earth. Sea level rise, droughts, floods, intense storms, forest fires, water scarcity, and cardiorespiratory and tropical diseases would be exacerbated. Agricultural systems would be stressed – possibly decimated in some parts of the world. A conservative estimate suggests that 30% of all species are at risk of extinction given current trends. It would be the greatest extinction of life on Earth since the K-T extinction event that destroyed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. No one can imagine, never mind predict, the ecological consequences of such a radical loss of life.

Despite mounting evidence of the dangers posed by climate change, efforts to limit carbon emissions remain insufficient, ineffective, and, in most countries, non-existent. If the world is to avert the worst consequences of an altered climate, the status quo must change quickly. Given current trends and the best available scientific evidence, mankind probably needs to reduce total CO2 emissions by at least 80% by 2050. Yet each day emissions continue to grow.

In the absence of action on the part of governments, hundreds of millions of increasingly climate-conscious citizens can promote low-carbon alternatives by changing the ways they purchase, invest, vote, think, and live. CARMA thinks all we need is timely, accurate, publicly-available information about the choices we face. The Carbon Monitoring for Action website offers this information.

CARMA project.

Center for Global Development: Confronting Climate Change Initiative.

BBCNews: Australians named worst emitters - November 14, 2007.

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The bioeconomy at work: Dow successfully completes testing phase for biobased polyols

In September, Dow Polyurethanes, a business group of The Dow Chemical Company, successfully completed preliminary development of natural oil based polyols (NOPs) for urethane formulations and will begin product sampling with a select group of customers immediately. Dow plans to begin market development scale production of the next-generation biobased polyols before the end of the year. The green polymer compound is made from soy oil, even though other natural oils will be used later on. Its production is based on a novel process dubbed RENUVA, which is carbon neutral and reduces fossil fuel inputs by up to 60 percent.

Polyols are compounds with multiple hydroxyl functional groups available for organic reactions. A molecule with two hydroxyl groups is a diol, one with three is a triol, one with four is a tetrol and so on. The main use of polymeric polyols is as reactants to make other polymers, such as polyurethanes. These materials are ultimately used in a wide variety of applications such as rigid and flexible foams, adhesives, sealants, coatings, elastomers and more. The biobased polyols made with RENUVA technology will help manufacturers of commercial and consumer products in the furniture and bedding, automotive, carpet and CASE (coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers) markets to more effectively differentiate themselves and meet their customers' growing demand for finished products that are both high quality and environmentally sound. With this polyol, the bioeconomy has now developed plant-based, renewable alternatives for most commonly used petroleum based polymer groups.

Producing polyurethanes from natural oil sources isn't a completely new concept, but Dow's approach is. The company developed a distinct, multi-step process - 'RENUVA' Renewable Resource Technology - to break down and functionalize the vegetable oil molecules, then reconstructs them in combination with traditional polyurethane molecules to achieve quality and consistency (schematic, click to enlarge). RENUVA creates polyols with a reduced impact on the environment. Life-cycle analysis done by researchers shows the technology is greenhouse gas neutral and uses 60% fewer fossil fuel resources than the conventional polyol technology. This technology enables products with high levels of renewable content and without the odor often associated with bio-based polyols.

Since first announcing its intention to conduct small-scale product testing of NOPs with select customers in June of 2005, Dow has continued to invest in further advancing the technology and capabilities of these next generation products. The company has now achieved the performance milestones necessary to support moving ahead to the market development scale production phase.
Our developmental work has reached the point where we are now able to produce natural oil based polyols that can match or exceed the performance of hydrocarbon-based products, and at fairly high levels of natural oil polyol content. Dow’s continued work in developing NOPs illustrates our continued commitment to pursuing practical technology options for small scale, economical and enviromentally advantaged feedstocks where they make sense, support our business strategies and, most importantly, meet the needs of our customers. - Pat Dawson, business vice president, Dow Polyurethanes
Early developers of NOPs experienced several performance challenges when incorporating NOPs into formulations such as retaining tensile strength, resiliency, and compression set. And, as they increased the level of NOPs in formulations, the processability of the foam was often compromised:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Dow’s mastery of polyurethanes chemistry enabled it to make significant progress on many of these critical performance issues. The company achieved this improved level of performance by creating optimized blends of NOPs and propylene oxide polyols. By working with a select group of customers during this next phase, Dow will continue to refine the performance attributes of these products so that they meet specific customer needs.

To enable more extensive product sampling and scale-up of small, beta projects, Dow plans to begin market development scale production of soy-based polyols in 2007. Meanwhile, the company is exploring various production options to support additional capacity as customer demand for the products grow. Based on progress in this second phase, Dow will evaluate options for this new line of natural oil based polyols, which includes bringing on additional capacity and expanding into new applications and geographies.

Dow’s investment in natural oil based polyols is consistent with the company’s recently announced 2015 Sustainability Goals, one aspect of which calls for investment in products and technologies that will help reduce industry’s dependency on non-renewable resources. Natural oil based polyols can be made from soybeans, sunflower seeds or rapeseeds, although Dow’s technology currently focuses on a polyol that contains a significant percent of oil extracted from soybeans.

Dow’s intention is to ultimately develop a NOP-based multi-generational product line that provides customers with superior solutions to meet their needs in applications such as flexible slab, molded, and some CASE applications. In addition, other Dow businesses, such as Dow Automotive, are working with their customers to introduce natural oil polyols into automotive applications.
We now have the technology, the results and the capabilities to take the first step toward providing a full line of natural oil based polyols to customers around the globe. - Pat Dawson, business vice president, Dow Polyurethanes
Dow is the world’s largest producer of polyether polyols, a leading producer of quality aromatic isocyanates, such as MDI and TDI, and a major supplier of propylene oxide, an essential component of polyether polyols. Dow’s polyurethanes products and formulated systems are used in rigid foams, flexible foams, adhesives, sealants, coatings, and elastomers, as well as many other applications. Dow also offers the latest in polyol technology with its VORANOL VORACTIV polyols, part of an ongoing initiative by Dow to lead the industry in providing high-performance products with reduced VOC-emissions.

Dow Polyurethanes: Cleaner, Greener, Performance Polyols - Enabled by Breakthrough Technology from Dow [*.pdf].

Dow Polyurethanes: Natural Oil-based Polyols for C.A.S.E Applications [*.pdf].

Dow Polyurethanes: Breakthrough Technology from Dow Polyurethanes Promotes Sustainable Chemistry and Excellent Product Performance - September 25

Dow Polyurethanes: Dow Polyurethanes Successfully Completes Testing Phase for Natural Oil Based Polyols - September 25

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GreenShift Agrifuels and Global Ethanol form corn oil biodiesel joint venture

GreenShift Agrifuels and Global Ethanol, LLC have announced the execution of agreements to extract about 10 million gallons (37.8m liters) per year of crude corn oil from the distillers grain co-product of Global Ethanol’s 100 million gallon (378.5m liters) per year ethanol facility in Lakota, Iowa and 57 million gallon (215.8m liters) per year ethanol facility in Riga, Michigan, and to convert the extracted corn oil into biodiesel at Global Ethanol’s Lakota facility.

Under the terms of the agreements, GS AgriFuels Corporation and Global Ethanol formed a jointly owned company called 'GS Global Biodiesel', LLC to build, own and operate the Lakota, Iowa-based biodiesel facility. The GS Global Biodiesel facility will be initially sized for 10 million gallons of biodiesel production per year but will be designed to scale up to 30 million gallons (113.6 million liters) per year in coordination with the onset of production of nearby corn oil extraction systems that are installed by GS AgriFuels’ parent company, GS CleanTech Corporation.

GS CleanTech’s patent-pending corn oil extraction system is designed to extract crude corn oil out of the distillers dried grain co-product of the dry mill ethanol production process (previous post, schematic, click to enlarge). This crude corn oil has been proven to be an excellent biodiesel feedstock with the proper processing. GS CleanTech executed a development agreement with Global Ethanol and GS Global Biodiesel to build and install corn oil extraction systems at Global Ethanol’s Lakota and Riga ethanol facilities and to design and build the GS Global Biodiesel facility.

GS AgriFuels will raise and provide the financing for the construction of the corn oil extraction systems at Global Ethanol’s Lakota and Riga ethanol facilities, as well as the financing for the construction and operation of the GS Global Biodiesel facility. Global Ethanol will manage and operate the GS Global Biodiesel facility and market all of the biodiesel produced. GS AgriFuels has recently engaged an investment banker to raise the estimated $35 million needed for the project. The parties expect that the first tranche of financing, which will support the construction and installation of two extraction systems in Lakota and one extraction system in Riga, will close in December 2007. The GS Global Biodiesel facility is expected to be commissioned beginning during the fourth quarter of 2008:
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In addition to converting the 10 million gallons of corn oil that we extract from Lakota and Riga into biodiesel, we plan to ship an additional 20 million gallons of corn oil as we bring extraction systems online at nearby ethanol facilities to GS Global Biodiesel for conversion as well. Global Ethanol’s team will run the facility and market the biodiesel and their expertise in commodities management and operations will make a facility of this scale an exciting and successful project. - Kevin Kreisler, GreenShift’s chief executive officer
GS AgriFuels draws on its proprietary process intensification techniques developed by its subsidiary NextGen Fuel Inc. to accelerate and enhance traditional biodiesel reaction kinetics, thus decreasing process time, reducing energy and raw material needs, and increasing product quality. These benefits translate to reduced up-front capital and ongoing operating costs by as mush as 50% versus traditional technologies. Additionally, NextGen's systems can be manufactured and shipped to customers in as quickly as 12-18 weeks from the time of order. NextGen currently offers turn-key biodiesel production plants rated for 5 million gallons per year and 10 million gallons per year, but the modular and continuous-flow aspects of the technology make scaling plants up or down easy and cost-effective.

NextGen employs a number of chemical and physical processes (permutations and variations of chemistry, temperature and pressure) – in real time – to convert fats and oils at greatly reduced reaction times (minutes as compared to hours and days) in a true continuous flow operation. With the NextGen technology, the fats and oils noted above simply move through the process with no need to linger at any particular stage while a reaction is allowed to complete. In other words, the targeted fats and oils are reacted as they pass through the system.

This has several compelling implications for developers and operators of biodiesel production facilities:
  • Greatly reduced equipment and related infrastructure needs – reacting the fats and oils as they move through the system versus at several stops along the away simply reduces the amount of tanks, pumps, controls, pipes, utilities, and square feet of floor space required to produce biodiesel.
  • Process time – intensifying the chemical reactions involved in biodiesel production accelerates reaction rates. Increased reaction rates correspond to less time required to complete the process, less equipment to manage raw materials as reactions are completed, and overall less labor and other operating and maintenance expenses.
  • Greater Native Feedstock Tolerances – standard biodiesel processing will require feedstocks to comply with a range of relevant material specifications – the chemical reactions involved in a conventional process will not produce the desired product quality if feedstocks are out of specification. Intensifying the relevant chemical reactions increases the tolerance of the process to a wider array of feedstocks and enables more liberal material specification requirements.
  • These benefits translate to reduced capital and operating expenses and a broader feedstock market for the client – and equate to reduced financial, operational and market risk for the client and its stakeholders.
The Benefits of Modularity
Concentrations of risk in the feedstock markets correspond to concentrations of financing and operational risk for developers. These risks increase dramatically with the size of the production facility. Smaller plants simply have smaller risk profiles and are inherently easier for entrepreneurs to finance and operate.

The modular aspect of the NextGen technology allows developers and their financing sources to incur less financial and operating risk as they initiate production at, for example, a 5 or a 10 million gallon per year production facility, and then leverage their free cash flows to scale plant sizes up into their desired markets. An additional 10 million gallon system can simply be plugged into an existing plant with reduced balance of plant costs.

Most standard technologies, regardless of size, are designed to process a specific feedstock at any given time. The modular aspect of the NextGen systems allows operators to dedicate process lines to specific feedstocks or blends of feedstocks (for example, the first 10 million gallon line would process fat based feeds while the second processes oil based feeds).

When a standard processing facility needs to be shut-down for maintenance or has a process upset, the operator’s whole business stops. Modularity enables operators to keep their business operating as lines are iteratively shut-down for maintenance or the like. Standardization with a modular process technology also has compelling regulatory permitting and other operating benefits.

Finally, modularity and reduced equipment and infrastructure needs also translate to rapid delivery cycles (12-18 weeks) and quicker site development (6-9 months) as compared to conventional technologies (18-24 months).

Global Ethanol, a Minneapolis based company was established in 2006 and currently employs 140 employees in three locations. With operating plants located in Lakota, Iowa and Riga Michigan, Global Ethanol is turning fields of corn into clean-burning ethanol. In Lakota it produces 34 million bushels of corn into 100 million gallons of ethanol annually. Another 57 million gallons are produced in Riga from 19.9 million bushels of corn.

GS CleanTech Corporation provides applied engineering and technology transfer services based on clean technologies and process innovations that make the use of natural resources more efficient.

GS AgriFuels was founded to produce and sell clean fuels from agriproducts in innovative ways. GS AgriFuels’ business model is based on the manufacturing and sales of proprietary biodiesel equipment and the use of new technologies to produce biodiesel and ethanol from non-traditional feedstocks such as corn oil and cellulosic biomass through the utilization of several new proprietary technologies, including innovative desiccation, process intensification, gasification, and catalytic technologies, synergistically at small-scales to enable the refining of many forms of biomass into clean fuels at Integrated Multi-Fuel (“IMF”) production facilities.

Biopact: GS CleanTech to produce biodiesel from corn ethanol co-product - October 23, 2007

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