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    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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Monday, February 18, 2008

Scientists discover maize oil gene; could help development of high yielding oil crops

A team of crop geneticists in the United States have identified a key gene that determines oil yield in maize kernels, a finding that could have repercussions for the fast-expanding biofuels industry with applications in developing high yielding oil crops. Results are published as an advance online article in Nature Genetics.

Lead author Bo Shen, plant scientist of DuPont unit Pioneer Hi-Bred International, writes oil is an important renewable resource for biodiesel production and for dietary consumption by humans and livestock.

Through genetic mapping of the oil trait in plants, studies have reported multiple quantitative trait loci (QTLs) with small effects, but the molecular basis of oil QTLs remains largely unknown. The researchers discovered a high-oil QTL which affects maize seed oil and oleic-acid contents by encoding an acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT), which catalyzes the final step of oil synthesis.

The gene that encodes for the catalysing enzyme lies on Chromosome 6 of the maize genome.

In addition, a tiny amino acid variant within this gene can boost the yield of oil and oleic acid - the sought-after edible fat in corn - by up to 41 percent and 107 percent respectively.

The paper, written by a 16 strong team from the US chemicals and agribusiness giant DuPont, was based on a comparison of 71 strains of maize whose oil content ranged from low to high:
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Their work provides insights into the molecular basis of natural variation of oil and oleic-acid contents in plants and highlights DGAT as a promising target for increasing oil and oleic-acid contents in other crops.

Present-generation biodiesel is derived from oilseed crops such as soybean, palm oil, jatropha and rapeseed. Some of these have low yields but a low environmental footprint while others with higher yields can have detrimental effects on the environment if their cultivation leads to, e.g. deforestation or peat swamp destruction.

By boosting oil yields, less land would be required, the energy balance of the fuel would increase, it would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions further and pressures on the environment would be lowered.

Peizhong Zheng, William B Allen, Keith Roesler, Mark E Williams, Shirong Zhang, Jiming Li, Kimberly Glassman, Jerry Ranch, Douglas Nubel, William Solawetz, Dinakar Bhattramakki, Victor Llaca, Stéphane Deschamps, Gan-Yuan Zhong, Mitchell C Tarczynski & Bo Shen, "A phenylalanine in DGAT is a key determinant of oil content and composition in maize", Nature Genetics, Published online: 17 February 2008 | doi:10.1038/ng.85


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