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    The 16th European Biomass Conference & Exhibition - From Research to Industry and Markets - will be held from 2nd to 6th June 2008, at the Convention and Exhibition Centre of FeriaValencia, Spain. Early bird fee registration ends 18th April 2008. European Biomass Conference & Exhibition - February 22, 2007.

    'Obesity Facts' – a new multidisciplinary journal for research and therapy published by Karger – was launched today as the official journal of the European Association for the Study of Obesity. The journal publishes articles covering all aspects of obesity, in particular epidemiology, etiology and pathogenesis, treatment, and the prevention of adiposity. As obesity is related to many disease processes, the journal is also dedicated to all topics pertaining to comorbidity and covers psychological and sociocultural aspects as well as influences of nutrition and exercise on body weight. Obesity is one of the world's most pressing health issues, expected to affect 700 million people by 2015. AlphaGalileo - February 21, 2007.

    A bioethanol plant with a capacity of 150 thousand tons per annum is to be constructed in Kuybishev, in the Novosibirsk region. Construction is to begin in 2009 with investments into the project estimated at €200 million. A 'wet' method of production will be used to make, in addition to bioethanol, gluten, fodder yeast and carbon dioxide for industrial use. The complex was developed by the Solev consulting company. FIS: Siberia - February 19, 2007.

    Sarnia-Lambton lands a $15million federal grant for biofuel innovation at the Western Ontario Research and Development Park. The funds come on top of a $10 million provincial grant. The "Bioindustrial Innovation Centre" project competed successfully against 110 other proposals for new research money. London Free Press - February 18, 2007.

    An organisation that has established a large Pongamia pinnata plantation on barren land owned by small & marginal farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India is looking for a biogas and CHP consultant to help research the use of de-oiled cake for the production of biogas. The organisation plans to set up a biogas plant of 20,000 cubic meter capacity and wants to use it for power generation. Contact us - February 15, 2007.

    The Andersons, Inc. and Marathon Oil Corporation today jointly announced ethanol production has begun at their 110-million gallon ethanol plant located in Greenville, Ohio. Along with the 110 million gallons of ethanol, the plant annually will produce 350,000 tons of distillers dried grains, an animal feed ingredient. Marathon Oil - February 14, 2007.

    Austrian bioenergy group Cycleenergy acquired controlling interest in Greenpower Projektentwicklungs GmbH, expanding its biomass operational portfolio by 16 MW to a total of 22 MW. In the transaction Cycleenergy took over 51% of the company and thereby formed a joint venture with Porr Infrastruktur GmbH, a subsidiary of Austrian construction company Porr AG. Greenpower operates two wood chip CHP facilities in Upper and Lower Austria, each with an electric capacity of 2 MW. The plants have been in operation since the middle of last year and consume more than 30,000 tonnes of wood chips and are expected to generate over €5 million in additional revenue. Cycleenergy - February 6, 2007.

    The 2008 edition of Bioenergy World Europe will take place in Verona, Italy, from 7 to 10 February. Gathering a broad range of international exhibitors covering gaseous, liquid and solid bioenergy, the event aims to offer participants the possibility of developing their business through meetings with professionals, thematic study tours and an international forum focusing on market and regulatory issues, as well as industry expertise. Bioenergy World Europe - February 5, 2007.

    The World GTL Summit will take place between 12 – 14th May 2008 in London. Key topics to be discussed include: the true value of Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) projects, well-to-wheels analyses of the GTL value chain; construction, logistics and procurement challenges; the future for small-scale Fischer-Tropsch (FT) projects; Technology, economics, politics and logistics of Coal-to-Liquids (CTL); latest Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) commercialisation initiatives. CWC Exhibitions - February 4, 2007.

    The 4th Annual Brussels Climate Change Conference is announced for 26 - 27 February 2008. This joint CEPS/Epsilon conference will explore the key issues for a post-Kyoto agreement on climate change. The conference focuses on EU and global issues relating to global warming, and in particular looks at the following issues: - Post-2012 after Bali and before the Hokkaido G8 summit; Progress of EU integrated energy and climate package, burden-sharing renewables and technology; EU Emissions Trading Review with a focus on investment; Transport Climatepolicy.eu - January 28, 2007.

    Japan's Marubeni Corp. plans to begin importing a bioethanol compound from Brazil for use in biogasoline sold by petroleum wholesalers in Japan. The trading firm will import ETBE, which is synthesized from petroleum products and ethanol derived from sugar cane. The compound will be purchased from Brazilian petrochemical company Companhia Petroquimica do Sul and in February, Marubeni will supply 6,500 kilolitres of the ETBE, worth around US$7 million, to a biogasoline group made up of petroleum wholesalers. Wholesalers have been introducing biofuels since last April by mixing 7 per cent ETBE into gasoline. Plans call for 840 million liters of ETBE to be procured annually from domestic and foreign suppliers by 2010. Trading Markets - January 24, 2007.

    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.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

EU research project increases biogas yield by up to 40%, improves utilisation efficiency

Energy experts participating in a European Union research project called EU-AGROBIOGAS, recently held a meeting at the invitation of the Leibniz Institute for Agrarian Technology Potsdam Bornim (ATB), in order to discuss results from their research. The project, funded under the 6th Framework Program, and involving universities from seven EU member states, runs from 2007 until 2009. First results and the consensus amongst the participants indicated large-scale biogas production and utilization can be improved substantially.

The EU project's main goal is aimed at increasing the efficiency of all stages of producing and using biogas made in medium to large facilities. The use of biomass for the production of renewable methane is climate friendly and already relatively efficient. Feedstocks used range from manure to organic waste and dedicated energy crops.

By anaerobically fermenting the biomass, a gas mixture consisting of around 50 to 70 percent methane and carbon dioxide is obtained. The EU-AGROBIOGAS aims to increase these yields and tilt the fraction further in favor of methane. This methane fraction can be burned in cogeneration plants and thus delivers renewable heat and electricity. However, most biogas facilities do not optimally use the heat, so here too improvements can be made. Finally, biomass supply chains and preprocessing steps are currently rather inefficient.

Given these inefficiencies, the unanimous opinion of the scientists from seven countries, who met at the Seddiner lake near Potsdam, was that the project can contribute to improving the overal lifecycle efficiency of biogas production substantially. Ten key areas for intervention and research were put on the agenda:
  1. To optimise the planning and operating process of agricultural biogas plants based on the European online substrate atlas-database and standardised methane energy valuation model with the aim to reduce investment costs (including quality control)
  2. To optimise the biogas production through a demonstration of an innovative feeding technology to bring in the substrate or mixtures into the agricultural biogas plant
  3. To monitor, identify and benchmark the main influence factors during the technological process in agricultural biogas plants based on already available data and newly monitored medium and large agricultural biogas plants (16 biogas plant operators have already agreed to co-operate)
  4. To test, implement and demonstrate a newly developed monitoring, management and early-warning system for agricultural biogas plants and new and innovative technological solutions under full-scale operating conditions in agricultural biogas plants
  5. To improve the degree of efficiency in the fermenter of about 35%
  6. To increase the biogas yield of about 40%
  7. To optimise and guarantee quality and safety of digested material
  8. To improve, optimise and demonstrate several selected conversion technologies which will lead to an improvement of the degree of efficiency (CHP, heat utilisation)
  9. To reduce the investment and operational costs of medium and large agricultural biogas plants of about 20 to 30%
  10. To disseminate and present the demonstration projects to planners, investors and farmers as potential users and to provide inputs for the future development of energy policy and legislation
Matthias Ploechl of the ATB said the potential for efficiency increases in farm based biogas operations is "almost inexhaustible". Presenting results of a first trial aimed at rationalising the utilization of cogenerated heat - a fairly simple intervention - showed the room for improvement: by coupling the process to dry biomass feedstock to the utilization of heat from the CHP plant and to waste heat recycling, the overall efficiency of heat utilization was improved by 80 percent, and the energy yield in the fermenter increased by more than 40 percent as a result of improved preprocessing of the feedstock.

Another set of results showed that a new technique to manipulate the behavior of methanogenic microorganisms used in the reactor can double biogas output. By introducing magnetic particles in the fermenter, the bacteria spontaneously flocculate around the particles and are thus far more easy to recycle; the new technique allows more continuous biogas production and keeps using the same bacteria at the height of their productive capacity and concentration:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

In current practise large amounts of active bacteria are washed away in batch systems, and new communities have to be build from scratch with each new batch. Low concentrations take a long time to grow into productive communities. By preventing this expensive work and by reusing bacteria at the point when they have become most active, overall biogas yields and the productivity of the system can be improved dramatically.

The magnetic particles in the biogas substrate attract the bacteria, which can then be recycled simply by applying a permanent magnet. Low doses of commerical materials like ferrite do the trick (0.1 gram per gram of dry matter substrate). A variant can be found in using magnetic particles contained in brown coal fly ash. Biogas yield increases of 200% have been achieved with the technique.

EU-AGRO-BIOGAS runs from January 2007 to December 2009 under the EU's 6th Framework Program. Agricultural and environmental research institutes and universities from Germany, Austria, Denmark, Great Britain, Italy, the Czech Republic and Poland are involved. The co-ordination is taken care off by the Universität für Bodenkultur Wien (University of Soil Sciences, Vienna).

The Leibniz-Institut für Agrartechnik Potsdam-Bornim e.V. (ATB) ranks among the most prominent agro-technical research organisations in Europe. Its research into the utilisation of biomass resources - not only for the generation of CO2-neutral energy but also for the production of bio-products - includes economic and ecological evaluations. The ATB takes an integrated approach to studying biomass utilisation and value creation chains - from the raw material to the product and/or from the field to the tank.


Informationsdienst Wissenschaft: 30 Prozent mehr Biogas aus bestehenden Anlagen - February 11, 2008.

ATB: Mehr Leistung im Kessel - neues Verfahren macht die Biogaserzeugung effizienter [*.pdf].

EU-AGRO-BIOGAS project page.


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