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    Lithuania's first dedicated biofuel terminal has started operating in Klaipeda port. At the end of November 2007, the stevedoring company Vakaru krova (VK) started activities to manage transshipments. The infrastructure of the biodiesel complex allows for storage of up to 4000 cubic meters of products. During the first year, the terminal plans to transship about 70.000 tonnes of methyl ether, after that the capacities of the terminal would be increased. Investments to the project totaled €2.3 million. Agrimarket - December 5, 2007.

    New Holland supports the use of B100 biodiesel in all equipment with New Holland-manufactured diesel engines, including electronic injection engines with common rail technology. Overall, nearly 80 percent of the tractor and equipment manufacturer's New Holland-branded products with diesel engines are now available to operate on B100 biodiesel. Tractor and equipment maker John Deere meanwhile clarified its position for customers that want to use biodiesel blends up to B20. Grainnet - December 5, 2007.

    According to Wetlands International, an NGO, the Kyoto Protocol as it currently stands does not take into account possible emissions from palm oil grown on a particular type of land found in Indonesia and Malaysia, namely peatlands. Mongabay - December 5, 2007.

    Malaysia's oil & gas giant Petronas considers entering the biofuels sector. Zamri Jusoh, senior manager of Petronas' petroleum development management unit told reporters "of course our focus is on oil and gas, but I think as we move into the future we cannot ignore the importance of biofuels." AFP - December 5, 2007.

    In just four months, the use of biodiesel in the transport sector has substantially improved air quality in Metro Manila, data from the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed. A blend of one percent coco-biodiesel is mandated by the Biofuels Act of 2007 which took effect last May. By 2009, it would be increased to two percent. Philippine Star - December 4, 2007.

    Kazakhstan will next year adopt laws to regulate its fledgling biofuel industry and plans to construct at least two more plants in the next 18 months to produce environmentally friendly fuel from crops, industry officials said. According to Akylbek Kurishbayev, vice-minister for agriculture, he Central Asian country has the potential to produce 300,000 tons a year of biodiesel and export half. Kazakhstan could also produce up to 1 billion liters of bioethanol, he said. "The potential is huge. If we use this potential wisely, we can become one of the world's top five producers of biofuels," Beisen Donenov, executive director of the Kazakhstan Biofuels Association, said on the sidelines of a grains forum. Reuters - November 30, 2007.

    SRI Consulting released a report on chemicals from biomass. The analysis highlights six major contributing sources of green and renewable chemicals: increasing production of biofuels will yield increasing amounts of biofuels by-products; partial decomposition of certain biomass fractions can yield organic chemicals or feedstocks for the manufacture of various chemicals; forestry has been and will continue to be a source of pine chemicals; evolving fermentation technology and new substrates will also produce an increasing number of chemicals. Chemical Online - November 27, 2007.

    German industrial conglomerate MAN AG plans to expand into renewable energies such as biofuels and solar power. Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said services unit Ferrostaal would lead the expansion. Reuters - November 24, 2007.

    Analysts think Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems, which pumped hundreds of millions and decades of research into developing hydrogen fuel cells for cars, is going to sell its automotive division. Experts describe the development as "the death of the hydrogen highway". The problems with H2 fuel cell cars are manifold: hydrogen is a mere energy carrier and its production requires a primary energy input; production is expensive, as would be storage and distribution; finally, scaling fuel cells and storage tanks down to fit in cars remains a huge challenge. Meanwhile, critics have said that the primary energy for hydrogen can better be used for electricity and electric vehicles. On a well-to-wheel basis, the cleanest and most efficient way to produce hydrogen is via biomass, so the news is a set-back for the biohydrogen community. But then again, biomass can be used more efficiently as electricity for battery cars. Canada.com - November 21, 2007.

    South Korea plans to invest 20 billion won (€14.8/$21.8 million) by 2010 on securing technologies to develop synthetic fuels from biomass, coal and natural gas, as well as biobutanol. 29 private companies, research institutes and universities will join this first stage of the "next-generation clean energy development project" led by South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Korea Times - November 19, 2007.

    OPEC leaders began a summit today with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez issuing a chilling warning that crude prices could double to US$200 from their already-record level if the United States attacked Iran or Venezuela. He urged assembled leaders from the OPEC, meeting for only the third time in the cartel's 47-year history, to club together for geopolitical reasons. But the cartel is split between an 'anti-US' block including Venezuela, Iran, and soon to return ex-member Ecuador, and a 'neutral' group comprising most Gulf States. France24 - November 17, 2007.

    The article "Biofuels: What a Biopact between North and South could achieve" published in the scientific journal Energy Policy (Volume 35, Issue 7, 1 July 2007, Pages 3550-3570) ranks number 1 in the 'Top 25 hottest articles'. The article was written by professor John A. Mathews, Macquarie University (Sydney, Autralia), and presents a case for a win-win bioenergy relationship between the industrialised and the developing world. Mathews holds the Chair of Strategic Management at the university, and is a leading expert in the analysis of the evolution and emergence of disruptive technologies and their global strategic management. ScienceDirect - November 16, 2007.

    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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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New study finds biodiversity conservation secures ecosystem services for people

Healthy ecosystems that provide people with essential natural goods and services often overlap with regions rich in biological diversity, underscoring that conserving one also protects the other, according to a new paper published by researchers from Conservation International (CI), the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Titled "Global Conservation of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services", the paper confirms the value of making biological diversity a priority for conservation efforts. It shows that more than 70 percent of the world’s highest priority areas for biodiversity conservation also contain significant value in ecosystem services such as fresh water, food, carbon storage, storm buffers and other natural resources that sustain human life and support social and economic development.
This paper clearly shows that in many places in the world, strategies targeted at conserving threatened biodiversity also help protect ecosystems, thereby improving human well-being and alleviating poverty. - Thomas M. Brooks, CI senior director for conservation synthesis, author
The researchers found that the value of ecosystem services in the 7 percent of the planet of greatest biodiversity conservation priority was more than double the global average. Overall, the annual value of the world’s ecosystem services is estimated at $33 trillion, or greater than the gross national product of all nations combined.

These highly valuable ecosystem services can be grouped into five broad categories, all present in biodiversity hotspots that require conservation:
  1. Provisioning services such as foods (including seafood and game) and spices, precursors to pharmaceutical and industrial products, energy from biomass fuels and hydropower
  2. Regulating services such as carbon sequestration and climate regulation, waste decomposition and detoxification, nutrient dispersal and cycling
  3. Supporting services like the purification of water and air, crop pollination and seed dispersal, pest and disease control
  4. Cultural services such as cultural, intellectual and spiritual inspiration, recreational experiences (including ecotourism), or scientific discovery
  5. Preserving services such as genetic and species diversity for future use, accounting for uncertainty or the protection of options
Sadly, no formal market mechanism exists with which to bank in on these ecosystems services, which is why many of the biodiversity hotspots found in service-rich regions are threatened by common activities that allow communities to make a more direct and secure income from the market-as-we-know-it, such as farming, cattle ranching or extracting timber - activities that often negatively impact both ecosystems services and biodiversity. Likewise, large agro-industrial interests (logging, palm oil) can not be stopped from engaging in damaging practises as long as habitat destruction is merely seen as an 'externality'.

However, one of these ecosystem services, namely the fact that intact forests store carbon dioxide, might soon be turned into a genuine economic opportunity. As climate scientists and government delegates are meeting in Bali to discuss a new framework for ways to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, they are looking into schemes to compensate communities and nations for reducing deforestation or for avoiding it alltogether. Such schemes are still mired with difficulties, but if these can be overcome, incomes from carbon credits for forest conservation could offer a very good deal for forest-rich nations such as Congo and Brazil.

In short, making ecosystem services bankable in a more formal way can help in protecting biodiversity hotspots. The new study by the environmental economists and conservationists, published in the November 2007 issue of BioScience magazine, further suggest that the opposite is true as well: conservation strategies that protect biological diversity simultaneously protect ecosystem services. By coupling both and by focusing on overlaps, they suggest the efficiency of dollars and efforts spent on conservation can be increased. The paper identifies tropical forests as places of particularly high overlap of priorities because of their biological diversity and ecosystem services essential to the welfare of many of the world’s 1 billion people living in extreme poverty:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Significantly, there are many opportunities for conserving both species and ecosystem services together, especially in the Amazon Basin, the Congo Basin, Madagascar, Borneo and New Guinea. Protecting these intact forests is critical to reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries while also supporting the livelihoods of traditional and indigenous peoples.

With climate change recognized as the greatest environmental threat facing the planet, the study provides a timely reminder that investments to maintain healthy ecosystems and their restorative powers is cost effective for biodiversity, the livelihoods of local people and economic development, and as a way to protect the CO2 stored in these areas from release.
Protecting intact tropical forests is critical for reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries. We need to conserve these forests for the benefit of local populations and the world as a whole. - Will R. Turner, CI ecologist, author
Restoring destroyed forests also is necessary to help damaged habitat recover, ensure the persistence of species, and restore critical ecosystem services, particularly in regions with large human populations such as Brazil’s Atlantic Forest and much of Southeast Asia.

Conservation International
(CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth’s richest regions of plant and animal diversity and demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents to help people find economic alternatives without harming their natural environments.

Picture: swamp forest in the Congo Basin: both biodiversity hotspot and ecosystem providing valuable ecosystem services to indigenous communities. Credit: National Geographic.

Will R. Turner, et. al., "Global Conservation of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services", BioScience, Volume 57, Issue 10 (November 2007), pp. 868–873.

Mongabay: Carbon credits for forest conservation concept faces challenges - November 27, 2007.

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World's cleanest energy one step closer: EESTech acquires CCS technology that can be applied to biomass

In an interesting development, EESTech, Inc. today announced the acquisition of a leading carbon capture and storage technology from Canadian company, HTC Purenergy. The technology can be applied to EESTech's biomass capable Hybrid Coal Gas Turbine (HCGT) technology, which means carbon-negative bioenergy - the most radical climate friendly form of energy - has come one step closer. The acquisition is structured around a share swap, with EESTech acquiring 100% of the shares in CO2 Technologies Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of HTC Purenergy, giving EESTech the exclusive rights to commercialise the CCS technology in China, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore.

Renewable energy technologies like wind or solar power, as well as nuclear, deliver 'carbon neutral' electricity, that is, energy that doesn't add new greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Power generated from fossil fuels on the contrary is strongly 'carbon positive' as it emits copious amounts of climate destructive CO2. To make fossil energy cleaner, researchers are looking into capturing the CO2 from power plants before it enters the atmosphere, and then to store the gas in depleted oil & gas fields, or in other geological formations such as saline aquifers.

But carbon capture and storage (CCS) has its critics. They fear the gas might leak, even though geologists are confident that there are enough suitable sites that can lock up the gas for centuries. Another point of criticism is that the investments in CCS are taking away money from the renewables industry.

Both these arguments can be side-stepped by the most radical of clean energy technologies, namely the production of renewable carbon-negative bioenergy. This form of energy, also called 'bio-energy with carbon storage' (BECS) effectively results in negative emissions. This means that each time you utilize electricity from BECS, you actually take historic emissions out of the atmosphere. Solar and wind merely prevent new emissions from occuring, but carbon negative bioenergy goes much further, by effectively taking previous emissions out of the carbon cycle (schematic, click to enlarge).

This makes BECS very radical, and the cleanest of all energy technologies. No other energy technology can deliver negative emissions. A coal plant without CCS generates around 800 grams of CO2 per kWh of electricity produced; CO2 emissions from a coal plant with CCS can be reduced to significantly to under 100 g/kWh; solar and wind offer low carbon emissions over their lifecycle, ranging from 30 to 100 g CO2eq/kWh; but electricity from a negative emissions bioenergy system generates -1000 g CO2/kWh, that is minus a thousand grammes.

So the argument that CCS investments divert money away from renewables is incorrect, because biomass is a renewable resource. In fact, the sooner CCS technologies become less costly and the faster research can be focused on developing dedicated capture technologies for biogenic gases, the sooner we can tackle climate change with BECS. Scientists have found that if applied on a planetary scale, BECS systems can take us back to pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 levels by mid-century and thus solve the climate crisis in a safe and relatively short time.

The CCS technology acquired today by EESTech goes a far way in developing this futuristic vision of a world powered by negative emissions. It was developed in conjunction with the leading University Of Regina's Greenhouse Gas Technology Centre and the International Test Centre for Carbon Capture, in Saskatchewan, Canada, a major research consortium for CCS technologies.

The process works in three steps: capturing the CO2 from flue gases via designer solvents (which can be designed to work on flue gases from the combustion of biomass), compressing the gas, and transporting it to the geosequestration site (see animation).

Capturing CO2
  • The exhaust gas from the power plant is the source of CO2.The exhaust gas is cooled before it reaches the capture process itself in order to optimise the process. The flue-gas cooler is the largest consumer of cooling water in the process, typically using 50% of the cooling water.
  • The flue-gas will meet some physical resistance within the capture plant on its way to the atmosphere, and this will result in a certain pressure drop in the exhaust gas. In order to ensure that the power plant’s gas turbine does not suffer a loss of power because of the capture facility, a blower is located in the flue-gas duct, either before the cooling unit or between it and the actual capture plant.
  • From the blower, the gases are brought to the bottom of an absorption tower, which is filled with a packing material that offers a large surface that the absorption solvent follows on its way down through the tower. The solvent is an amine or a mixture of amines dissolved in water, which absorb the CO2 in the flue-gas as it flows upwards through the tower. The CO2 removal efficiency for flue-gases from gas-turbine exhaust will typically be 85%.
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::
  • After the CO2 has been captured by the amine, it has to be released by heating the solvent. The desorption of CO2 takes place in the desorption tower, also known as a stripper. This is done by allowing the amine containing the CO2 to flow down the packing material that fills the tower, while steam and CO2 flow upwards. The steam has two functions:a) it transfers the necessary heat to the amine, and b) it draws the released CO2 out of the tower. The mixture of steam and CO2 that exits the top of the stripper is cooled down, and most of the steam is condensed while the CO2 remains in a gaseous phase.
  • The water is pumped back to the stripper while the CO2 is directed to the dehydration and compression stages and on to transportation.
  • The amine flows from the bottom of the stripper to the reboiler, where the steam used in the desorption process is generated. The heat for the reboiler is steam generated by heat from an external source. This reboiler is the largest consumer of heat in the CO2 separation process.
  • A flow of virtually CO2-free amine solution leaves the boiler and is led back to the absorber, where it once again absorbs CO2.
  • In the absorption tower, the reaction between CO2 and amine produces heat, with the result that a certain amount of amine and water will evaporate during the absorption process and be carried upwards through the tower along with the flue-gases. The gas is saturated with steam and amines . As well as losing a portion of the amines, the water losses will also be large. In order to minimise water losses and emissions of amines, a water-wash process is integrated at the top of the absorption tower.
  • Cold water with a low concentration of amines washes the flue-gases, dissolving the amines while the water balance is maintained by the steam being condensed by the cold water.
  • When the solvent comes into contact with the flue-gases, the amines will also react with other components in the flue-gas, such as O2 and NOx. How much of these are absorbed will vary from one amine to another, and will also depend on the design of the absorption tower. These reactions form heat-stable salts that will not be released from the amine solution by the stripping process. Since the amine mixture is circulated between the absorber and the desorber, the amount of heat-stable salts in the solvent will gradually rise. After a certain period of time, the concentration of these salts will be so high that the CO absorption rate will be reduced. This is handled by the use of a reclaiming unit.
  • A side stream of the circulated solvent is heated so that the water and amines evaporate and are led back to the process. When the water and amines have been boiled off, what remains at the bottom of the reclaimer is a viscous liquid that must be disposed of. The waste will contain some amines and water, but will consist mostly of heat-stable salts.
CO2 compression
  • After the CO2 has been separated from the flue-gas in the capture plant, it must be dried and compressed. This is done in a multistage process of compression, cooling and water separation.
  • Pressure, temperature and water content all need to be adapted to the method of transportation (pipeline or vessel) and pressure requirement at the storage site. A typical compression and dehydration process for pipeline transportation is illustrated schematically (click to enlarge).
  • CO2 from the capture plant arrives at the dehydration and compression stage at about room temperature and at a little above atmospheric pressure. Apart from the CO2, the gas contains some steam and small fractions of impurities (nitrogen, oxygen, and traces of amines and other substances).
CO2 transportation
  • When CO2 is being transported by pipeline, compression requirements are determined by the supply pressure at the delivery site and the pressure drop through the transportation pipeline. The pressure in the pipeline should always be high enough to ensure that the CO2 is in a supercritical state, i.e. above 50 – 70 bars, depending on the temperature. Where a simple storage solution is involved, the offshore supply pressure is 70 – 100 bars while the pressure requirement for EOR may be higher. In order to meet pressure requirements of this order, the pressure of the CO2 may be anything from 150 bars to 300 bars or higher as it leaves the capture plant, depending on the type of transportation and the storage pressure involved.
  • The combination of water and CO2 in a pipeline creates corrosive conditions, requiring the water content to be kept low and monitored continuously in order to avoid corrosion and hydrate formation.
This CCS technology will now be applied to EESTech's patented, biomass capable HCGT technology which was co-developed with an Australian Government Research facility. The HCGT uses waste coal, ventilated air methane or biomass to produce electricity and steam. When the HCGT is integrated with HTC Purenergy's CCS technology the combined system can capture CO2 from power stations and other industrial flue gases, delivering a commercial-ready, cost-effective solution for the capture of CO2. If biomass only is used, the system would effectively deliver negative emissions energy.

The integration of both technologies has been independently validated as cost-effective climate change technologies. When the HCGT and CCS systems are combined they become the world's first stand-alone Hybrid CCS System that is non-disruptive to industry. The combined efficiencies of the HCGT and CCS Systems will set a new industry benchmark by reducing the cost of carbon capture and sequestration by up to 40%:
The combined technologies are globally relevant technologies in the world of today. They can be fitted as a stand-alone carbon capture service to a vast proportion of existing and planned [...] power stations. This acquisition will position EESTech, Inc. as a leader in this fast-growing marketplace and as a provider of clean coal and carbon capture technologies that are economically and environmentally sustainable. - Murray Bailey, EESTech CEO
EESTech's integrated hybrid system will cut emissions of both carbon dioxide and fugitive methane, which is 21 times more harmful as a greenhouse gas than CO2.

Using captured CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) is another option that will benefit oil field operators by extending the life of depleted oil reserves, and by yielding an increase of up to 6.5 barrels of oil for every new ton of CO2 injected into suitable oil formations.

EESTech, Inc. is well positioned to capitalize on both the energy-intensive resource boom, and the unfolding industries that will need to meet energy demands in a carbon-constrained global economy.

The announcement follows EESTech, Inc.'s September news that it had signed model power purchase and fuel supply terms with Beijing XingliYuan Science & Technology Company to provide Hybrid Coal Gas Turbines applicable to coal mine companies in China.
The ability of the HCGT to use waste as a fuel to generate both the energy and steam required for carbon capture and sequestration offer tremendous cost savings. We look forward to working with EESTech, Inc. and the opportunity to supply cost-effective CO2 capture for the emerging EOR / Sequestration markets in the Asia Pacific region. - Lionel Kambeitz, CEO of HTC Purenergy
EESTech, Inc. was incorporated in the US and is a US Corporation permitted to trade stock on the US Bulletin Board.

Images: all CCS schematics courtesy of HTC Pure Energy; comparison of carbon emissions of different forms of energy, Biopact.

HTC Pure Energy: publications on its CCS technologies.

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Research suggests certain ethanol blends provide better fuel economy than gasoline, despite biofuel's lower energy content

Surprising research findings released today show that mid-range ethanol blends - fuel mixtures with more ethanol than E10 but less than E85 - can in some cases provide better fuel economy than regular unleaded gasoline, even in standard, non-flex-fuel vehicles and despite the biofuel's lower energy content. The University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) and the Minnesota Center for Automotive Research (MnCAR) conducted the tests, results of which are published in the report titled Optimal Ethanol Blend-Level Investigation [*.pdf].

Previous assumptions held that ethanol's lower energy content - around 30% lower than gasoline - directly correlates with lower fuel economy for drivers. Those assumptions were found to be incorrect. Instead, the new research suggests that there is an 'optimal blend level' of ethanol and gasoline - most likely E20 or E30 - at which cars will get better mileage than predicted based strictly on the fuel's per-gallon Btu content. The new study, cosponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), also found that mid-range ethanol blends reduce harmful tailpipe emissions.
This is a compelling argument for more research on the promise of higher ethanol blends in gasoline. There is strong evidence that the optimal ethanol-gasoline blend for standard, non-flex-fuel vehicles is greater than E10 and instead may be E20 or E30. We encourage the federal government to move swiftly to research the use of higher ethanol blends and make necessary approvals so that American motorists can have the cost-effective ethanol choices they deserve at the pump. - Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol
The University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) and the Minnesota Center for Automotive Research (MnCAR) conducted the research using four 2007 model vehicles: a Toyota Camry, a Ford Fusion, and two Chevrolet Impalas, one flex-fuel and one non-flex-fuel. Researchers used the Environmental Protection Agency's Highway Fuel Economy Test (HWFET) to examine a range of ethanol-gasoline blends from straight Tier 2 gasoline up to 85 percent ethanol. All of the vehicles got better mileage with ethanol blends than the ethanol's energy content would predict, and three out of four traveled farther on a mid-level ethanol blend than on unleaded gasoline (graph, click to enlarge):
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

In addition to the favorable fuel economy findings, the research provides strong evidence that standard, non-flex-fuel vehicles can operate on ethanol blends beyond 10 percent. The three non-flex-fuel vehicles tested operated on levels as high as E65 before any engine fault codes were displayed.

Emissions results for the ethanol blends were also favorable for nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and non-methane organic gases, showing an especially significant reduction in CO2 emissions for each vehicle's "optimal" ethanol blend.

University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), Minnesota Center for Automotive Research (MnCAR), Optimal Ethanol Blend-Level Investigation [*.pdf], December 2007.

American Coalition for Ethanol: Groundbreaking study finds that certain ethanol blends can provide better fuel economy than gasoline - December 5, 2007.

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Dynamotive to build fully commercial fast-pyrolysis biofuel plant in Missouri

Canada's Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation, and its subsidiary, Dynamotive USA, Inc., today announced plans to invest US$24 million to build the first fully commercial industrial fast-pyrolysis biofuel plant in the U.S. The next-generation biofuel facility will be located on a site in Willow Springs, approximately 180 miles southwest of St. Louis. The site secured was chosen for its ready access to rail transport, proximity to biomass and the potential to host up to four additional facilities.

The modular, second-generation biomass-to-biofuel plant is designed to use Dynamotive’s proprietary fast-pyrolysis process to convert 200 tons per day of wood by-products and residues from nearby sawmills into 34,000 gallons per day of bio-oil (also known as pyrolysis oil or 'bio-crude'). Commercial terms have been agreed and signed with local feedstock providers to supply the plant.

Bio-oil is an industrial fuel that can be produced from virtually any type of lignocellulosic biomass, including forestry and agricultural waste. By rapidly heating the biomass feedstock to medium temperatures (450 - 600 °C) in an oxygen free environment, pyrolysis oil is obtained (schematic, click to enlarge). When combusted it produces substantially less smog-precursor nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions than conventional oil as well as little or no sulfur oxide gases (SOx), which are a prime cause of acid rain. Dynamotive's BioOil and BioOil Plus (earlier post) are price-competitive replacements for heating oils #2 and #6 that are widely used in industrial boilers and furnaces. They have been awarded the EcoLogo in Canada, meaning that they are certified, as meeting the stringent environmental criteria for industrial fuels as measured by Environment Canada’s Environmental Choice Program.

Bio-oil can be further upgraded into vehicle fuels and green chemicals. A byproduct of the process is biochar, which can be sequestered into agricultural soils and help boost the greenhouse gas emission reduction potential of the biofuels. Via the technique it is even possible to produce carbon-negative biofuels - energy which, unlike 'carbon-neutral' renewables like solar or wind, takes historic CO2 emissions out of the atmosphere. Dynamotive has been testing and evaluating biochar (also known as 'terra preta' or 'agrichar').

Dynamotive recently successfully demonstrated its large commercial plant in Guelph, Ontario, with over seventy-five global biofuel experts attending. Amongst them were scientists from the International Energy Agency's Bioenergy Task 40, to which we refer often as they are leading research into global bioenergy trade and logistics (previous post).

Development and construction of the first American plant will be implemented by Dynamotive’s U.S. management, supported by Dynamotive’s engineering team and its partners. Opportunities exist for a significant expansion of Dynamotive’s operations, with more than 1.1 million dry long tons of biomass per year in Missouri alone. As a result, other, similar projects in the state are currently under review. The bio-oil produced at the Willow Springs complex is expected to be sold to commercial and industrial users in the region through a major local distributor of renewable fuels.

An initial burn of bio-oil from Dynamotive’s commercial plant at Guelph, Ontario, is being scheduled at a major industrial facility with this distributor. The initial burn would be preparatory to its adoption of bio-oil as a primary fuel, and the opening of the Midwest market for the product:
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It is expected that up to 5,000 tons of bio-oil will be made available to Midwest consumers over the next year from Dynamotive’s and Evolution Biofuels’ plant while the Willow Springs facility is under construction. The fuel provided is expected to be priced competitively to #2 heating oil, a light industrial fuel.

William C. Holmberg, Chairman of the Washington-based Biomass Coordinating Council and a pioneer of the renewable fuels industry, hailed the plant announcement as "an important step towards releasing America from the bonds of foreign oil, and achieving a sustainable energy future." Holmberg pointed out that "the commercialization of BioOil adds another element to our arsenal of renewable fuels that can help address a previously neglected segment of our oil use: industrial boiler fuels. As such it complements, rather than competes with, fuel ethanol and biodiesel."
This first U.S. project will demonstrate the viability of our technology in the U.S. market and the enormous potential of BioOil to help America make the transition to clean, renewable fuels that do not depend on food crops for their production. We are pleased to announce this project and would like to take this opportunity to thank all stakeholders involved for their magnificent support this year. Missouri has provided a unique platform to showcase our technology and its capabilities. We are committed to this project and look forward to developing further plants in the near future. - Andrew Kingston, Dynamotive’s President and Chief Executive Officer
Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation is an energy solutions provider headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, with offices in the USA, UK and Argentina. Its carbon and greenhouse-gas-neutral fast pyrolysis technology uses to turn dry, waste cellulosic biomass into BioOil for power and heat generation. Bio-oil can be further converted into vehicle fuels and chemicals.

Earlier this year, Dynamotive Latinoamerica S.A., a subsidiary, announced plans to build 6 pyrolysis plants in the forest-rich regions of the Northeastern Argentinian province of Corrientes (more here). So far detailed plans to invest approximately $105 million to develop of these two self-contained biofuel-to-electricity complexes in this northeastern province were presented. Each complex will be comprised of a 15.7 megawatt electricity generating station powered by the majority of the fuel output of two 200-ton-per-day modular plants producing bio-oil from wood waste and residues from nearby forests and other biomass residue. Excess bio-oil produced at these facilities will be sold into commercial and industrial fuel markets (earlier post).

: Dynamotive's first large-scale commercial fast-pyrolyis plant in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Credit: Dynamotive.

Biopact: Dynamotive demonstrates fast-pyrolysis plant in the presence of biofuel experts - September 18, 2007

Biopact: Dynamotive to invest $105 million to develop second-generation biofuel and electricity complexes for rural Argentina - October 02, 2007

Biopact: Dynamotive and Mitsubishi Corporation sign cooperation agreement - August 02, 2007

Biopact: Dynamotive plans to build 6 bio-oil plants in Argentina - April 30, 2007

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

Biopact: Biomass-to-liquids: bring the factory to the forest, not the forest to the factory - September 18, 2006

Biopact: Carbon negative biofuels: Dynamotive to test biochar to boost crop yields, water quality, and sequester carbon - May 30, 2007

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Thenergo acquires German bioenergy group ENRO; conversion of existing fossil fuel to biomass plants

Thenergo, a Belgian renewable energy company today announces it has acquired a controlling stake in ENRO AG, a German biomass-to-energy company listed on the Open Market at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. In a private placement, ENRO investors received one new Thenergo share for every 2.25 ENRO shares. In addition, Thenergo bought in the market approximately 14% of ENRO shares at an average price of €3.7 per share. At €3.7, ENRO is valued at around €14 million.

ENRO has an operating portfolio of 13.7MWe (electrical) and 73 MWth (thermal).This is produced from two biomass CHP plants fueled by fresh cut and waste wood, generating a total of 13.7MW electrical power and 23MW thermal power. In addition, ENRO is co-owner and co-operator of the companies distributing the heat to industrial and residential clients. In these companies an additional (natural gas based) heat capacity of 50 MW is available. The power produced is sold through 20-year power purchase contracts.

Thenergo anticipates ENRO’s current management retaining full operational control developing and operating on-site CHP biomass plants for industrial customers and local communities. The company is pursuing a growth strategy through integration and conversion of existing fossil fuel plants to biomass, construction of new renewable energy power plants and project acquisitions:
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ENRO’s engineers bring know-how about energy production based on Rankine Cycles (incineration + steam cycle for electricity production) to the Thenergo engineering team. Together with Thenergo’s comprehensive experience in Otto Cycle based energy production (biogas & biofuel engines) the integrated engineering team will cover all aspects of decentralized energy production from biomass. The extra skills and know-how will allow Thenergo to exploit a wider range of energy production opportunities across Europe.
The combination of Thenergo and ENRO has a compelling strategic and operational logic. Thenergo secures a critical foothold in Germany, one of the most fertile business regions in Europe . Shared expertise brings both companies new revenue streams and deeper engineering know-how, and while our financial capacity will drive ENRO’s pipeline growth in Germany, ENRO will facilitate Thenergo’s development in Germany and Central and Eastern Europe. This is a real opportunity to create a leading player in Europe’s fast developing biomass to energy market. It is a value-creating partnership for business partners, employees and shareholders of both companies. - Kurt Alen, CEO, Thenergo
Founded in 2002 and based in Antwerp, Belgium, Thenergo is a fast growing, fully integrated and independent developer and operator of sustainable energy projects using biomass, biogas and natural gas. Thenergo brings solutions and added value to clients' CHP energy needs, from financing and concept design to energy sales and trading on Europe's power markets. In addition, Thenergo's recent acquisition of Leysen Group adds long term procurement security to its business model and brings new opportunities to Thenergo's project pipeline. Since 14 June 2007, Thenergo has been listed on Alternext, Paris.

The acquisition will allow Thenergo to accelerate the growth and structure of its existing business model while increasing its turnover and earnings. In 2008, ENRO will contribute €4 million to EBITDA from an estimated €20 million in turnover. ENRO’s fixed assets at end 2006 were valued at €35 million.

Thenergo has been involved in a number of acquisitions and participations recently. Last week it acquired controlling interests in Polargen, a leading Benelux combined heat and power (CHP) developer for the greenhouse industry, increasing its net capacity in greenhouse CHP operations, in addition to its existing biogas site, to 32MW, up from 8.2MW three months earlier.

The company also announced two new projects earlier this summer: the development of a 3MW CHP biogas project in Flanders generating annually 24,000MWh of clean power, enough to supply around-the-clock electricity for up to 6,000 households (earlier post), and the establishment of a 5MW electricity and biocoal plant in northern Holland together with Eclair-E, a Dutch CHP sustainable energy supplier. The facility will generate annually up to 42,800MWh of power and 75,000 tons of biocoal pellets (more here).

Image: ENRO's biomass CHP plant in Ludwigfelde. Credit: ENRO.

Biopact: Thenergo acquires Polargen: CHP capacity in greenhouse sector to quadruple to 32MW - December 02, 2007

Biopact: Thenergo to develop new 3MW CHP biogas project in Flanders - August 08, 2007

Biopact: Belgian-Dutch partnership to develop 5MW biocoal project - August 10, 2007

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US DOE to invest $7.7 million for four biomass-to-liquids projects; more than $1 billion for biofuels this year

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced the selection of four biofuels projects in which the DOE plans to invest up to $7.7 million. These projects will demonstrate the thermochemical conversion process of turning grasses, stover, the non-edible portion of crops and other materials into biofuel. Combined with this new investment in biomass-to-liquids (BtL) technologies, just this calendar year alone, DOE has announced over $1 billion in funding for biofuels research and development (multi-year funding) projects.

The research is primarily aimed at improving techniques to efficiently eliminate contaminants generated during the thermochemical production of biofuels. Ultimately, the R&D projects will help further President Bush’s goal of making cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive with gasoline by 2012 and, along with increased automobile fuel efficiency, reduce America’s gasoline consumptions by 20 percent in ten years.

Combined with the industry cost share, more than $15.7 million is slated for investment in these four projects. Negotiations between the selected companies and DOE will begin immediately to determine final project plans and precise funding levels. Funding will begin in Fiscal Year 2008 and will run through FY 2010, subject to Congressional appropriations.

The biomass-to-liquids process consists of gasifying biomass to generate a carbon monoxide and hydrogen rich syngas, which is then liquefied via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. The resulting fuels are ultra-clean 'synthetic' biofuels.

The following four projects were competitively selected for negotiation of awards:
  1. Emery Energy Company of Salt Lake City, Utah: Emery Energy Company has partnered with Ceramatec, Inc. and the Western Research Institute to demonstrate a new, low-cost, novel way to mitigate tars and oils in biomass synthesis gas while also managing other impurities. This project will also verify the technical viability of using the resulting clean synthesis gas in a downstream liquid fuel catalysis process. EEC intends to use a ‘high impact’ biomass such as corn stover as the high impact biomass for their project. DOE will provide up to $1.7 million for the $2.9 million project.
  2. Iowa State University of Ames, Iowa: Iowa State, in partnership with ConocoPhillips Company, will test an integrated biomass to liquids system that uses gas cooling through oil scrubbing rather than water scrubbing in order to minimize waste water treatment. Switchgrass will be the biomass feedstock fed into the gasifier. The gas-oil scrubbing liquid will then be sent to a coker in existing petroleum refining operations to be used as a feedstock. ConocoPhillips’ proprietary sulfur removal technology will also be incorporated into the gas cleanup. Non-proprietary methods will be used to remove ammonia, chloride and other alkali materials. DOE will provide up to $2 million for the $5.2 million project.
  3. Research Triangle Institute of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Research Triangle Institute, in partnership with North Carolina State University and the University of Utah, will generate syngas derived from woody biomass. A dual fluidized bed reactor will allow continuous regeneration of a catalyst that can simultaneously reform, crack, and remove tar, NH3 and H2S down to ppm levels. During Phase 2, RTI will design and build a slurry bubble column reactor system to convert the clean syngas into a liquid transportation fuel. DOE will provide up to $2 million for the $3.1 million project.
  4. Southern Research Institute of Birmingham, Alabama: In collaboration with Pall Corporation, Thermochem Recovery International, and Rentech, Southern Research Institute will use a 1 megawatt thermal biomass gasifier to generate syngas. The proposed ceramic filter technology and proven gas cleanup sorbent and catalyst system is expected to exceed the required contaminant removal levels specified by Rentech. The unique cleanup technology will be coupled with a conventional scrubber and polishing filter downstream. DOE will provide up to $2 million for the $4.5 million project.
Cellulosic ethanol is a clean, renewable fuel made from a wide variety of non-food plant materials (or feedstocks), including agricultural wastes such as corn stover and cereal straws, industrial plant waste like saw dust and paper pulp, and energy crops grown specifically for fuel production like switchgrass:
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By using a variety of regional feedstocks for refining cellulosic ethanol, the fuel can be produced in nearly every region of the country. Though it requires a more complex refining process, cellulosic ethanol requires less fossil fuels for production and results in lower greenhouse emissions than traditional corn-based ethanol. E-85, an ethanol-fuel blend that is 85-percent ethanol, is already available in more than 1,200 fueling stations nationwide and can power millions of flexible fuel vehicles already on the road.
We are committed to expanding the sustainable production and use of biofuels and these projects will help develop cleaner methods for turning a wide variety of feedstocks into fuel. Successful completion of these projects stands to redefine the way we produce America’s fuels and follows the President’s call to end our dependence to oil. - Samuel Bodman, US Secretary of Energy
As part of DOE’s effort to meet the goal of reducing U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent in ten years, other biofuels research and development projects announced this year include: $385 million for commercial-scale biorefineries (6 projects being pursued); $200 million for pilot-scale (10%) biorefineries to test novel refining processes; over $400 million for three bioenergy centers - funding originally include $375 million, but an early surge of funds allowed for an additional $30+ million; and $23 million for “ethanologen” to develop more efficient microbes for ethanol refining.

US DOE: Department of Energy to Invest up to $7.7 Million for Four Biofuels Projects
DOE Announces over $1 Billion in Biofuels R&D Projects this Year
- December 4, 2007.

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