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    Record warm summers cause extreme ice melt in Greenland: an international team of scientists, led by Dr Edward Hanna at the University of Sheffield, has found that recent warm summers have caused the most extreme Greenland ice melting in 50 years. The new research provides further evidence of a key impact of global warming and helps scientists place recent satellite observations of Greenland´s shrinking ice mass in a longer-term climatic context. Findings are published in the 15 January 2008 issue of Journal of Climate. University of Sheffield - January 15, 2007.

    Japan's Tsukishima Kikai Co. and Marubeni Corp. have together clinched an order from Oenon Holdings Inc. for a plant that will make bioethanol from rice. The Oenon group will invest around 4.4 billion yen (US$40.17 million) in the project, half of which will be covered by a subsidy from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The plant will initially produce bioethanol from imported rice, with plans to use Hokkaido-grown rice in the future. It will produce 5 million liters per year starting in 2009, increasing output to 15m liters in 2011. The facility will be able to produce as much as 50,000 liters of bioethanol from 125 tons of rice each day. Trading Markets - January 11, 2007.

    PetroSun, Inc. announced today that its subsidiary, PetroSun BioFuels Refining, has entered into a JV to construct and operate a biodiesel refinery near Coolidge, Arizona. The feedstock for the refinery will be algal oil produced by PetroSun BioFuels at algae farms to be located in Arizona. The refinery will have a capacity of thirty million gallons and will produce 100% renewable biodiesel. PetroSun BioFuels will process the residual algae biomass into ethanol. MarketWire - January 10, 2007.

    BlueFire Ethanol Fuels Inc, which develops and operates carbohydrate-based transportation fuel production facilities, has secured capital liquidity for corporate overhead and continued project development in the value of US$15 million with Quercus, an environmentally focused trust. BlueFire Ethanol Fuels - January 09, 2007.

    Some $170 billion in new technology development projects, infrastructure equipment and construction, and biofuel refineries will result from the ethanol production standards contained the new U.S. Energy Bill, says BIO, the global Biotechnology Industry Organization. According to Brent Erickson, BIO's executive vice president "Such a new energy infrastructure has not occurred in more than 100 years. We are at the point where we were in the 1850s when kerosene was first distilled and began to replace whale oil. This technology will be coming so fast that what we say today won't be true in two years." Chemical & Engineering News - January 07, 2007.

    Scottish and Southern Energy plc, the UK's second largest power company, has completed the acquisition of Slough Heat and Power Ltd from SEGRO plc for a total cash consideration of £49.25m. The 101MW CHP plant is the UK’s largest dedicated biomass energy facility fueled by wood chips, biomass and waste paper. Part of the plant is contracted under the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation and part of it produces over 200GWH of output qualifying for Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), which is equivalent to around 90MW of wind generation. Scottish & Southern Energy - January 2, 2007.

    PetroChina Co Ltd, the country's largest oil and gas producer, plans to invest 800 million yuan to build an ethanol plant in Nanchong, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, its parent China National Petroleum Corp said. The ethanol plant has a designed annual capacity of 100,000 tons. ABCMoneyNews - December 21, 2007.

    Mexico passed legislation to promote biofuels last week, offering unspecified support to farmers that grow crops for the production of any renewable fuel. Agriculture Minister Alberto Cardenas said Mexico could expand biodiesel faster than ethanol. More soon. Reuters - December 20, 2007.

    Oxford Catalysts has placed an order worth approximately €700,000 (US$1 million) with the German company Amtec for the purchase of two Spider16 high throughput screening reactors. The first will be used to speed up the development of catalysts for hydrodesulphurisation (HDS). The second will be used to further the development of catalysts for use in gas to liquid (GTL) and Fischer-Tropsch processes which can be applied to next generation biofuels. AlphaGalileo - December 18, 2007.

    According to the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), Brazil's production of sugarcane will increase from 514,1 million tonnes this season, to a record 561,8 million tonnes in the 2008/09 cyclus - an increase of 9.3%. New numbers are also out for the 2007 harvest in Brazil's main sugarcane growing region, the Central-South: a record 425 million tonnes compared to 372,7 million tonnes in 2006, or a 14% increase. The estimate was provided by Unica – the União da Indústria de Cana-de-Açúcar. Jornal Cana - December 16, 2007.

    The University of East Anglia and the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre have today released preliminary global temperature figures for 2007, which show the top 11 warmest years all occurring in the last 13 years. The provisional global figure for 2007 using data from January to November, currently places the year as the seventh warmest on records dating back to 1850. The announcement comes as the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud, speaks at the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Bali. Eurekalert - December 13, 2007.

    The Royal Society of Chemistry has announced it will launch a new journal in summer 2008, Energy & Environmental Science, which will distinctly address both energy and environmental issues. In recognition of the importance of research in this subject, and the need for knowledge transfer between scientists throughout the world, from launch the RSC will make issues of Energy & Environmental Science available free of charge to readers via its website, for the first 18 months of publication. This journal will highlight the important role that the chemical sciences have in solving the energy problems we are facing today. It will link all aspects of energy and the environment by publishing research relating to energy conversion and storage, alternative fuel technologies, and environmental science. AlphaGalileo - December 10, 2007.

    Dutch researcher Bas Bougie has developed a laser system to investigate soot development in diesel engines. Small soot particles are not retained by a soot filter but are, however, more harmful than larger soot particles. Therefore, soot development needs to be tackled at the source. Laser Induced Incandescence is a technique that reveals exactly where soot is generated and can be used by project partners to develop cleaner diesel engines. Terry Meyer, an Iowa State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is using similar laser technology to develop advanced sensors capable of screening the combustion behavior and soot characteristics specifically of biofuels. Eurekalert - December 7, 2007.

    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.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Biofuels debate flawed, warn experts: trade best biofuels

Despite concerns about global warming and the impact of biofuel production on food prices, policy makers have done little to boost international trade of cheaper and more environmentally friendly fuels for consumers, experts told the Reuters Global Agriculture and Biofuel Summit. They speak out at a time when the biofuels debate is at its most confrontational: environmentalists use all means to discredit all biofuels, whereas proponents from the EU and the US blame them for falsifying the arguments (e.g. by saying that all biofuels have increased food prices, which is not entirely correct, or by claiming that all biofuels in the South are based on deforestation, which is of course not the case).

Biopact has often taken the middle-ground in this polarised debate, by saying that there is an elegant option that could make more sense: the EU should import sustainably produced biofuels from the South that are clearly contributing to carbon reductions, that are highly efficient and that don't require subsidies to compete, unlike its own biofuels. We called this potential 'win-win' situation a pact with the Global South, where a large sustainable biofuels potential exists. This potential is estimated, by the IEA, to be more than twice the total amount of oil currently consumed. On this basis, many experts and scientists have meanwhile taken up the idea as an interesting proposition. It is however merely that: a proposal worth exploring.

Trade and efficiency
Brazil's Sugar Cane Industry Union (Unica), Marcos Jank, said at Summit that import tariffs and trade barriers have prevented, for example, an increase in cane-based ethanol exports from Brazil, the world's most competitive producer of the biofuel. Shipments are actually expected to be lower in 2008 than last year.

In Europe, biodiesel producers have been hit by an increase in U.S. imports, which benefit from subsidies if they are blended with mineral diesel. To counterattack, the EU bloc may impose countervailing duties, industry leaders said.

The EU has also been affected by large volumes of Argentine biodiesel at cheap prices, which are encouraged by preferential taxes. The product is charged a 5 percent tariff by Argentina's government, while edible oil exports have a 30 percent duty.

"Some countries are trying to solve a world problem, which is global warming and climate change, just with national solutions," Jank said.

According to Unica, cane-based fuel has higher productivity than other feedstocks. Sugar cane yields seven liters of ethanol per hectare compared with three liters with corn. Production costs are lower, and energy efficiency -- amount of energy used in the process versus energy resulting -- is five times higher with cane than with corn, Unica said. Moreover, its impact on food prices is much more limited than the one caused by corn or wheat. Almost a third of the next U.S. crop may be turned into fuel, increasing upward pressure on food inflation.

But tariffs in some of the world's largest fuels markets like the U.S. and Europe will limit ethanol exports. Shipments from Brazil are to drop this year to 3.4 billion liters, down from 3.8 billion liters in 2007, Datagro consultants said.

Opportunities for development

Unica argues its position is not self-promotional as cane-based ethanol could come also from Asia, Africa or South America. More than 100 countries -- most of them poor nations -- have natural conditions to grow cane.

"Europe is trying to subsidize their farmers to produce ethanol from beet and wheat instead of buying ethanol from abroad. The same happens in the U.S. Most of the ethanol there will come from corn, probably from biomass in the future, but not imported (ethanol)," Jank said.

"We believe that if these countries consider to import more from developing countries, the energy and environmental balance would be much better, and costs would be much lower.":
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

But signals from these countries point to the opposite direction.

The chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson, said on Tuesday tax credits and tariffs on ethanol would have to be maintained to create the necessary conditions for the development of cellulosic ethanol.

"We are hoping that we won't have any changes in the tax or tariffs any time soon," he said.

Brazilian ethanol is charged with a 54-cent-a-gallon tariff to enter the U.S. market. This makes direct sales possible only on specific and uncommon occasions, depending on low prices in Brazil and high prices in the United States.

And perspectives remain negative as the U.S. passed in December its Energy Bill, which sets a target for biofuel use of 36 billion gallons -- none of them imported, in principle.

"They (U.S.) won't open their market. They will stick to its import tariff and create a quota, and then administrate this quota under geopolitical criteria," said the president of Brazil's Datagro consultants, Plinio Nastari.

Wallace Tyner, professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, said it would be necessary either alter the mandate or change the tariff for U.S. to meet its goal.

"Brazil and a lot of Central American countries have a capacity to expand pretty quickly their ethanol production if they get signals that there's a market for it," Tyner said.

Reuters: Biofuels protectionism trumps climate concerns - January 16, 2007.


Blogger rufus said...

He doesn't mention that that Brazilian Ethanol receives a $0.51/TAX CREDIT when it's blended into gasoline in the U.S (Even the 500 Million Gallons that are let in sans tariff.)

He, also, doesn't mention that the inherently unstable, uber-socialist government of Brazil not only has some of the Highest Import Taxes in the world, it also keeps it's costs down, in some (many?) cases by using the equivalent of "Slave" Labor.

Also, it's time for you guys to adjust to the "Current" situation with Corn Ethanol.

1) The average corn yield this year was 151 bu/acre.

2) A Modern refinery produces right at (a little more when you consider the corn oil) 3.0 gallons of fuel per bushel of corn.

3) Only 2/3 of the bushel is used in the ethanol production. 1/3 comes back in Distillers Grains, which are a slightly better than one to one substitute for corn in livestock feed (livestock feed accounts for over 90% of the usage of field corn - and, no, field corn production has, absolutely, nothing to do with Sweet Corn production.

So, the numbers (the REAL numbers) come down like this:

150 X 3 X 3/2 = 675 Gallons/Acre.

We use about 8 gallons of diesel (or biodiesel) per Acre to produce, and harvest the corn (this comes out to less than 2,000 btu's per gal of ethanol,) About 23,000 btu's of nat gas per gallon of ethanol to refine the product (this number is dropping like a rock as we write - Poet says they will get it down to 4,000 btu's, in a couple of years,) and there's approx. 12,000 btu's of nat gas in the fertilizer, seed drying, etc.

This gives you a slightly better than 2:1 EROEI, and with the newer plants coming online we're looking at about 3:1. But, wait, there's more. We've already seen that, due to it's very high OCTANE, Ethanol can, in a properly tuned engine, replace 116,000 btus of gasoline. This will bring the newest ethanol plants, once you've included the veg oil up to over 5:1.

And, we still haven't considered the new Poet technology of instituting corn cobs and stover into the process. We will, probably, end up with over 10:1

6:09 PM  

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