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    Mongabay, a leading resource for news and perspectives on environmental and conservation issues related to the tropics, has launched Tropical Conservation Science - a new, open access academic e-journal. It will cover a wide variety of scientific and social studies on tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity and the threats posed to them. Tropical Conservation Science - March 8, 2008.

    At the 148th Meeting of the OPEC Conference, the oil exporting cartel decided to leave its production level unchanged, sending crude prices spiralling to new records (above $104). OPEC "observed that the market is well-supplied, with current commercial oil stocks standing above their five-year average. The Conference further noted, with concern, that the current price environment does not reflect market fundamentals, as crude oil prices are being strongly influenced by the weakness in the US dollar, rising inflation and significant flow of funds into the commodities market." OPEC - March 5, 2008.

    Kyushu University (Japan) is establishing what it says will be the world’s first graduate program in hydrogen energy technologies. The new master’s program for hydrogen engineering is to be offered at the university’s new Ito campus in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lectures will cover such topics as hydrogen energy and developing the fuel cells needed to convert hydrogen into heat or electricity. Of all the renewable pathways to produce hydrogen, bio-hydrogen based on the gasification of biomass is by far both the most efficient, cost-effective and cleanest. Fuel Cell Works - March 3, 2008.

    An entrepreneur in Ivory Coast has developed a project to establish a network of Miscanthus giganteus farms aimed at producing biomass for use in power generation. In a first phase, the goal is to grow the crop on 200 hectares, after which expansion will start. The project is in an advanced stage, but the entrepreneur still seeks partners and investors. The plantation is to be located in an agro-ecological zone qualified as highly suitable for the grass species. Contact us - March 3, 2008.

    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2008.

    Tasmania's first specialty biodiesel plant has been approved, to start operating as early as July. The Macquarie Oil Company will spend half a million dollars on a specially designed facility in Cressy, in Tasmania's Northern Midlands. The plant will produce more than five million litres of fuel each year for the transport and marine industries. A unique blend of feed stock, including poppy seed, is expected to make it more viable than most operations. ABC Rural - February 25, 2008.

    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, 2008.

    '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, 2008.

    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, 2008.

    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, 2008.

    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, 2008.

    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, 2008.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

China and Australia sign 'clean coal' agreement - steps to carbon-negative bioenergy

In what they see as an important step towards a 'cleaner' coal future, Australia and China signed a formal international agreement for joint research into carbon capture from coal plants. The agreement, between CSIRO and China’s Thermal Power Research Institute (TPRI), will see TPRI install, commission and operate a post-combustion capture pilot plant at the Huaneng Beijing Co-Generation Power Plant as part of CSIRO’s research program. The agreement formalises an earlier partnership (previous post).

Biopact tracks carbon capture developments, because the technology can be applied to biomass power plants to yield "negative emissions" energy, that is, bioenergy which actively removes CO2 from the atmosphere. The logic is: if the coal industry, especially in China, is putting money into developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies anyways, then we would rather see those being applied to renewable biomass from the start as this results in the most radical tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Post-combustion capture (PCC) is a process that uses amines to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from power station flue gases and is a technology that can potentially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing and future coal-fired power stations by more than 85 per cent. If coupled to biomass power plants, energy with negative emissions as large as -1000 tons CO2/GWh can be achieved (that is: for each GWh of electricity generating it takes a large amount of CO2 from the past out of the atmosphere).

Benefits of PCC include:
  • PCC can be retrofitted to existing plants and is a very prospective means of substantially reducing their greenhouse gas intensity
  • PCC can be integrated into new plants to achieve a range of greenhouse gas intensity reductions down to near zero emissions
  • in contrast to competing technologies, PCC has high operational flexibility (partial retrofit, zero to full capture operation) and can match market conditions for both existing and new power stations- for instance, during periods of high power prices, PCC can be turned off and maximum power delivered to the market
  • PCC offers a lower technology risk compared to competing technologies - this is further enhanced by the ability for staged implementation, which is not possible with competing technologies
  • renewable technologies can be integrated in the PCC process - in particular, PCC allows low-cost solar thermal collectors to provide the necessary heat to separate CO2 from sorbents, effectively reducing the loss of electrical output due to capture
  • PCC can be applied to capture CO2 from natural gas fired power stations and other large stationary sources of CO2, including biomass power plants, smelters, cement kilns and steelworks.
The Sino-Australian pilot plant is designed to capture 3,000 tonnes per annum of CO2 from the power station and begins the process of adapting this technology to evaluate its effectiveness in Chinese conditions. CSIRO’s involvement in this PCC project has been made possible through funding from the Australian Government. The Australian Government is supporting this work through a $A12 (€7.2/US$11.1) million grant, $A4 (€2.4/US$3.7) million of which supports this work in China:
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Director of CSIRO’s 'Energy Transformed National Research Flagship', Dr John Wright, said low emission energy generation was a key research area for the Flagship and he welcomes the support of the Australian Government.
This project is part of a major research program to identify ways to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. Climate change is a critical issue for Australia and internationally, and we’re delighted to be working with TPRI to help find solutions to this global challenge. - Dr Wright
The project will focus on assessing the performance of an amine-based PCC pilot plant under Chinese conditions. It will allow PCC technology to be progressed in the Chinese energy sector which will have a much greater impact than operating in Australia alone.

The Chinese partners are aiming for the Beijing pilot plant to be up and running before August this year.

The installation of the PCC pilot plant in Beijing is a CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship research project and forms part of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate initiative (APP). The APP program for PCC also includes a pilot plant installation at Delta Electricity’s Munmorah power station on the NSW Central Coast, with an additional Australian site currently under negotiation.

The Energy Transformed National Research Flagship is also undertaking PCC research outside the scope of the APP program with a $A5.6 million project in the Latrobe Valley, which focuses on brown coal.

CSIRO: Clean coal agreement with China - March 6, 2008.

CSIRO: Post combustion capture (PCC) - Fact Sheet.

Biopact: Australia and China partner to develop carbon capture and storage technologies - September 07, 2007


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