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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

India and Canada to cooperate on advanced bioenergy: biohydrogen, biogas, biofuels

India's Agriculture Ministry has announced that it will cooperate with Canadian research organisations to jointly study next-generation bioenergy from energy crops and biomass waste. Both countries have large biomass resources that can be utilized for the efficient production of biohydrogen, biogas and liquid biofuels.

A first collaboration agreement was made between the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) and the University of Saskatchewan, which is known for its ambitious Bioeconomy Centre that is set to accomodate more than 100 scientists. Both institutions will explore ways to add value to biomass conversion through biorefining.
Agriresidues such as bagasse, wheat straw, sorghum and maize straws, leaf litter and various other plant biomass, which have not been adequately utilized for energy production, provide ample opportunities for use as biofuels. Conversion of biomass to clean energy such as hydrogen, ethanol and biogas offers promising solutions. - S.A. Patil, director Indian Agricultural Research Institute
Both institutions have agreed to work on four specific biofuel projects. One focuses on the conversion of biomass into ethanol using different technologies such as acid hydrolysis and supercritical carbon dioxide to produce fermentable sugars, which will be converted into ethanol via fermentation.

Another project is looking into the efficient production of biodiesel from jatropha and other oils using ultrasound technology. Ultrasonic processing used in biodiesel production delivers a biodiesel yield in excess of 99% in five minutes or less, compared to one hour or more using conventional batch reactor systems. Ultrasonication can also help to reduce the separation time from 5 to 10 hours required with conventional agitation, to less than 15 minutes, as well as decrease the amount of catalyst required by 50 to 60% due to the increased chemical activity in the presence of cavitation. Another benefit is the increase in purity of the glycerol.

Two projects will study the conversion of waste biomass into gaseous biofuels. One delves into the production of biogas from anaerobic digestion with optimal co-production of organic fertilizers.

Finally, IARA and Saskatchewan will collaborate on researching the production of bio-hydrogen through the supercritical water gasification process (more here). Supercritical water gasification is a relatively novel gasification method, in which biomass is transformed into a hydrogen-rich gas by introducing it in supercritical water (SCW). SCW is obtained at pressure above 221 bar and temperatures above 374 °C. By treatment of biomass in supercritical water - but in the absence of added oxidants - organics are converted into fuel gases and are easily separated from the water phase by cooling to ambient temperature. The produced high pressure gas is very rich in hydrogen:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Last year, the University of Saskatchewan proposed to create a Bioeconomy Centre aimed at converting raw materials into high-value products, instead of merely exporting biomass.

Like their collegues in India, Canadian policy makers want to curb the trend of a reliance on mere resource extraction, and want to invest more in processing that represents value-added commercial ventures. For bioenergy, this step is crucial, because else farmers in Canada will not be able to compete with producers in the more productive tropics.

The Bioeconomy Centre focuses on bioenergy and bioproducts, drawing on the biggest hub of bioscience expertise in Canada. Surrounded by the National Research Council - Plant Biotechnology Institute, Ag West Bio, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Centre, Saskatchewan Research Council and the Protein, Oil and Starch Pilot Plant to name a few, the Bioeconomy Centre is well positioned to take a leadership role in developing the bio-based knowledge economy.
We are now exiting the fossil fuel-based economy over the next few decades and we need to replace fossil energy with renewable energy from biomass and waste for biofuels and biorefining. - Dr. Bernard Laarveld, Strategic Project Leader, Bioeconomy Centre
The epic change from fossil to biofuels signals higher expectations for the efficiencies and sustainability of the agriculture and forestry industries. Project leader Laarveld says people have to be more patient about progress in biorefining, as this transformation into a bio-based economy must be compared to the emergence of the petroleum based economy, over a century ago. It takes time to develop efficient processes and products.
Society has a bit of an attention deficit syndrome. By having very short time frame expectations and not realizing the scope and magnitude of the change and the importance of technological development. In the early going, ethanol is a first-generation product of the bioeconomy that is attracting its fair share of debate on cost and fuel efficiency. Remember that fossil fuels got underway in the 1940s and will expire in about 2040. We are now in the first primitive stage of converting to a more sustainable cycle. We can expect much more improvement in the future. - Dr. Bernard Laarveld, Strategic Project Leader, Bioeconomy Centre
The vision for the Bioeconomy Centre at University of Saskatchewan rests on establishing collaborative research platforms that include plant breeding, chemical and process engineering, byproduct utilization, nutraceuticals and economy, policy and law. Key is that research is not completed in isolation, that it be governed by studies on economic and legal implications to society. To make the Bioeconomy Centre complete, a commercialization component is needed: industrial partners will draw on technologies developed at the centre and turn them into new applications.

Finally, international collaboration and the sharing of expertise is of crucial importance. Working together with rapidly growing economies like India and China is the only way forward to tackle the challenges presented by energy scarcity and climate change.

Just like in India, every step of the value chain in the production of bio-based products has to generate value, starting with farmers. At the moment, they are exporting commodities but what if they can produce and process their crops into fractions? That would offer farmers major new markets and income opportunities. In developing countries this could lead to positive social effects and revitalise rural areas.

The University of Saskatchewan has played an important role in the development of the bio-based economy. This is illustrated by the fact that one of its key researchers, Dr. Janusz Kozinski was appointed as the International Research Chair in Bioenergy at the Institute for Advanced Studies and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France. There, he is responsible for the creation of the network of research centres of excellence involving research institutions and universities engaged in research concerning renewable and sustainable energy systems, biofuels, and bioenergy, and for formulating policies that influence European energy legislation.

The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) is India's premier national institute for agricultural research, education and extension. It has served the cause of science and society with distinction through first rate research, generation of appropriate technologies and development of human resources. The Green Revolution was born in the fields of IARI.


UPI: India, Canada to cooperate on biofuels - February 21, 2008.

Biocrop News: University of Saskatchewan Proposes Bioeconomy Centre, Vol. 7, Issue 3, 2007.

Biopact: India prepares 'Biomass Atlas' to map and tap bioenergy potential - November 26, 2007


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