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    Toyota Tsusho Corp., Ohta Oil Mill Co. and Toyota Chemical Engineering Co., say it and two other firms have jointly developed a technology to produce biodiesel fuel at lower cost. Biodiesel is made by blending methanol into plant-derived oil. The new technology requires smaller amounts of methanol and alkali catalysts than conventional technologies. In addition, the new technology makes water removal facilities unnecessary. JCN Network - January 22, 2007.

    Finland's Metso Paper and SWISS COMBI - W. Kunz dryTec A.G. have entered a licence agreement for the SWISS COMBI belt dryer KUVO, which allows biomass to be dried in a low temperature environment and at high capacity, both for pulp & paper and bioenergy applications. Kauppalehti - January 22, 2007.

    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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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Florida awards $25 million to biofuel and bioenergy projects in "Farm to Fuel" initiative: 25% of all energy from biomass by 2025

Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has announced the recipients of $25 million in renewable energy grants. The 12 entities chosen were among 76 vying for the awards, which were funded by the Florida Legislature last spring. The grants are part of the “Farm to Fuel” initiative, a program designed to get Florida’s agriculture industry to produce an impressive 25 percent of the state’s energy needs by the year 2025 in an effort to reduce Florida’s dependency on foreign oil and to keep land in agriculture.

The grants award both research, demonstration and finalisation projects dealing with the production of advanced liquid biofuels obtained from both thermochemical and biochemical conversion processes, gaseous biofuels, electricity and heat from biomass, and bioproducts.
We believe that awards such as these are critical in triggering the development of a renewable energy industry in Florida. With the backing of and an investment from the state, we’re hopeful that these projects will yield positive results and serve as a catalyst for major commercial investment in this industry. - Charles H. Bronson, Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner
The entities chosen for the grants are investing nearly $157 million of their own resources into their renewable energy projects. The proposals were evaluated on a number of factors, including their use of Florida-grown crops or biomass to produce energy, their potential to expand agribusiness in the state, preliminary market research and the efficiency of their use of energy and other material resources.

Last spring, the Florida Legislature authorized and Governor Charlie Crist signed into law the “Farm to Fuel” Grants Program to provide matching grants for demonstration, commercialization, and research and development projects involving bio-energy. As part of the program, $25 million was appropriated to stimulate investment in projects that produce renewable energy from Florida-grown crops or biomass.

The winners of this year’s “Farm to Fuel” grants are:

  • Gulf Coast Energy of Walton LLC: Awarded $7 million, in a commercial project grant for the construction and operation of both an ethanol and biodiesel plant in a $62 million project in Mossy Head, Florida. This project will build and operate a tandem biodiesel and ethanol production facility. Construction on Phase 1 will begin in the next few months at the Northwest Florida Commerce Park. Actual production of biodiesel is expected by the end of this year and of ethanol in early 2009. The ethanol will be produced using cellulosic materials such as wood waste, and the biodiesel with a blend of chicken fat and soybean oil. The two processes will work well together in that the ethanol process generates methanol which is required in biodiesel production, and the biodiesel process generates glycerin which can be used along with the woody material for ethanol production. In addition, the project’s technology recycles 100% of the carbon dioxide resulting in a state of the art environmental performance while reducing the U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
  • U.S. Envirofuels LLC: Awarded $7 million, in a commercial project grant for the construction of a $47 million ethanol production plant in Highlands County. This project aims to construct a 20 million-gallon-a-year ethanol production plant using sugar products. The primary feedstock is sweet sorghum which is not a food crop, uses less water and fertilizer than sugar or corn crops and grows rapidly. Water used in the production process will be treated and reused and other byproducts will be sold as high- potassium fertilizer. Supplemental feedstock will also include sugar cane, cane milling byproducts and other sugar crops produced by local growers. Site planning and conceptual plant design are done and permitting is about to begin. The plant will use several technologies to ensure the finished products are low carbon ethanol, green renewable power, bio-fertilizer, beverage grade liquid carbon dioxide, and treated water for process recycling and irrigation.
  • Liberty Industries: Awarded $4 million, in a commercial project grant for the construction and operation of a $38 million Liberty County facility that will produce ethanol and electricity using primarily forest waste products. The project will initially produce 7 million gallons of ethanol and 5.4 Megawatts of electricity using predominantly forest waste products. That capacity is expected to be doubled in 2-3 years and subsequently expanded even more. The technology using gasification and fermentation has been successfully used in a pilot demonstration. The feedstock will include forestry waste, waste products from sawmills and to a lesser extent waste from nearby straw, peanut and cotton crops. In addition, the technology can use all carbon based materials and the company intends to also use discarded tires, plastics and municipal waste, reducing the amount of waste going into the landfill. Another environmental benefit is the plant’s waste product is ash, certified by the USDA as environmentally safe.
  • Agri-Source Fuels: Awarded $4 million, in a commercial project grant for the construction of a $21 million biodiesel plant in Pensacola. This project will build a biodiesel production plant with an annual output of 20 million gallons of biodiesel. Agri-Source is an existing EPA registered biodiesel producer in Dade City, Florida. The business has improved the process (B100) by reducing production time by 30%, resulting in a 15% energy savings. The increased production will help meet the growing demand for biodiesel fuel by government vehicle fleets. Agri-Source also intends to construct the only operating National Biodiesel Board certified laboratory in Florida and a glycerin refinery which will transform waste by product into a useful commodity. The production process reduces all regulated emissions by 90% compared to petroleum diesel, including carbon monoxide.
  • University of Florida: Awarded $500,000, in a research and development grant to develop a catalytic chemical reactor system to convert woody biomass to biodiesel. This is a research and development grant to perform research to develop a catalytic chemical reactor system to convert woody biomass to biodiesel. It seeks to develop the most efficient and effective catalyst for the conversion of synthesis gas to biodiesel, and design a plan for industrial operation. As Florida is the top producer of biomass in the country and ranks third in the nation in energy consumption, the project would focus on the potential of producing 9 million gallons of biofuels a year from an estimated 93 million tons of dry biomass created each year in Florida, allowing the state to move forward in its quest of energy independence.
  • Southeast Biofuels LLC: Awarded $500,000, in a demonstration grant to build a nearly $6 million pilot plant in Auburndale to produce ethanol from citrus peels. This is a demonstration grant to Southeast Biofuels to build a commercial demonstration and pilot plant on property leased from Cutrale Citrus Juices USA Inc. in Auburndale to produce ethanol from citrus peels. Located in Florida’s citrus belt, the plant would begin by using a 10,000 gallon fermenter and some 67,000 pounds of citrus peels per batch, and then upgrading capacity, in the production of ethanol. The ultimate goal of the project is to design and build a full-scale commercial plant capable of generating 8 million gallons of ethanol a year by using and disposing of 800,000 tons of citrus waste annually.
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  • Sigarca Inc.: Awarded $499,500, in a research and demonstration project involving the construction of a 3,000-square-foot bioenergy plant on the grounds of the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion in Ocala to process horse waste into renewable energy. This is a research and demonstration project that will build a 3,000-square-foot bioenergy demonstration plant on the grounds of the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion in Ocala, Florida. Working with the University of Florida and other partners, the company will use its patented dry fermentation process to process horse waste into renewable energy and other agricultural products, including organic soil and soil tonic. The project’s objectives are to demonstrate the potential to convert animal waste to bioenergy and other useful agricultural products while at the same time offering Florida’s animal industry a productive, easy to operate and environmentally superior method to dispose of animal waste.
  • University of Central Florida: Awarded $498,000, in a research and development grant to demonstrate the viability and cost effectiveness of technology developed at the university to convert farm and animal waste into renewable energy. This is a research and demonstration project for generating clean-burning synthetic fuels made from biomass and animal waste throughout Florida. One of the key objectives of the research is to demonstrate the viability and cost-effectiveness of technology developed and patented by UCF that uses an advanced thermocatalytic process to convert the materials into liquid fuel. The successful implementation of the technology involved would benefit farmers in finding new uses for their farm and animal waste, and would reduce environmental problems associated with disposal of animal waste in Florida.
  • Florida Institute of Technology: Awarded $415,520, in a research and development grant to cultivate and research various strains of Microalgae capable of producing biodiesel. This is a research and development project in which Florida Institute of Technology, along with its partner Aurora Biofuels Inc., is developing what it describes as the next generation of biofuels – biodiesel from microalgae. Its potential is promising as microalgae is naturally oily, grows quickly, produces more bio-oil per acre than traditional crops and can be grown on marginal land unsuitable for food crops. The project calls for the cultivation and testing of microalgae in outdoor ponds for the purpose of selecting specific strains capable of resisting contamination and showing the greatest promise in producing biodiesel. One of the key benefits of the research is to develop a novel source for biodiesel that does not strain the food supply chain and can be developed in rural areas without depleting natural resources.
  • Applied Research Associates Inc. of Panama City: Awarded $203,130, in a research and development grant involving converting cellulosic materials such as sugarcane byproducts to fermentable sugars for a more cost-effective way of producing ethanol. This is a research and development grant which will assist in the demonstration of hydrothermal saccharification (CHS), a process that converts cellulosic materials, such as sugarcane bagasse, to fermentable sugars for a more cost effective production of cellulosic ethanol. The conventional process for converting cellulosic material to ethanol involves a multi-step process which is often too costly to enable this type of ethanol production to be competitive in the alternative fuel market. This process uses high-temperature water to achieve saccharification in a single and continuous processing step. In order to speed up technology demonstration and the success of cost effective cellulosic ethanol production, ARA is collaborating with Florida Crystals Corporation (FCC). Success of this project will result in a significant cost savings to the cellulosic ethanol industry. The project is expected to be completed within one year.
  • Applied Research Associates Inc. of Panama City: Awarded $182,832, in a research and development grant to demonstrate a new technology in converting crop oils into biodiesel. This is a research and development grant to enable Applied Research Associates to demonstrate a new approach to converting crop oils into biodiesel, called catalytic hydrothermolysis (CH). The one year project would use locally grown soybean, peanut and cotton seed crops with a process that would significantly increase efficiencies and biodiesel output. The applicant already has research and development capabilities at its Panama City facilities which will speed up progress and cut costs for the proposed demonstration project. The novel conversion process has the potential to increase biodiesel production from soybeans by 900 percent. It would also significantly increase output of biodiesel from peanut and cotton seed crops.
  • Neptune Industries Inc.: Awarded $158,270, in a research and development project that would create a pilot-scale floating algae production system in quarry lakes in South Florida to produce algae capable of being converted into biodiesel. This is a research/demonstration project in which Neptune Industries Inc. would create a pilot scale floating algae production system using quarry lakes in semi-tropical South Florida to produce algae capable of being converted into biodiesel. By locating the production system in natural water bodies, fish waste would be produced and provide essential nutrients in the form of nitrogen and phosphorous to promote algae growth. The advantage of such research would be a demonstration of the feasibility of using a non-food source in the production of biodiesel, thus sparing the strain on corn, soybeans and other food crops which have become increasingly more expensive as a portion of those crops have been diverted to the production of renewable energy.

Picture: one of the awarded projects aims to convert bagasse, the fibrous waste from sugarcane processing, into liquid biofuels.


Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Bronson Announces ‘Farm To Fuel’ Grant Winners; Projects To Share In $25 Million To Spur Renewable Energy Industry - January 22, 2008.

Florida Farm to Fuel project website.


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