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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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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Renergie receives $1.5 million grant for sweet sorghum ethanol production

Renergie, Inc. is one of the eight recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program (previous post). It received $1,5 million (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first sweet sorghum juice mechanical harvesting system and ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. The fuel is competitively priced at 15 percent less per gallon than regular gasoline, in part because of the crop's high yield. Renergie focuses on a decentralised production approach, firmly rooted in local farming communities.

Renergie was formed in March 2006 by Meaghan M. Donovan for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Each ethanol plant in Louisiana has a production capacity of 5 million gallons per year of fuel-grade ethanol. Upon completion of the initial network of ten ethanol plants, Renergie will have an annual production capacity of fifty 50 million gallons (189 million liters). Renergie intends to replicate its Louisiana decentralized network of ethanol plants in Florida.

Sweet sorghum advantages
Renergie produces ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. This crop has received growing interest from the bioenergy community because it outperforms most alternative, firts generation energy crops. According to Renergie, the main advantages of producing ethanol from sweet soghum juice are:
High Yield – Sweet sorghum yields between 500 to 800 gallons of ethanol per acre (4700 to 7500 liters per hectare);

Water Efficient Crop – Sweet sorghum requires one-half of the water required to grow corn and one third of the water required to grow sugarcane;

Ability to Grow in Marginal Soil – Sweet sorghum can grow in marginal soils, ranging from heavy clay to light sand. Sweet sorghum has been called a “camel among crops,” owing to its wide adaptability, its marked resistance to drought and saline-alkaline soils, and tolerance to high temperature and waterlogging;

Not Harmful to the Environment – Sweet sorghum requires the use of only 40 to 60 pounds of nitrogen per acre whereas corn growers use more than 150 pounds per acre, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Less fertilizer reduces the risk of water contamination. Producing ethanol from sweet sorghum, rather than increasing corn-to-ethanol production, reduces the risk of the continued formation of dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico;

Rapid Growth – Sweet sorghum takes only 4 months to reach maturity, which is short enough to allow harvesting twice a year. Sugarcane requires 14 months to reach maturity; and

Energy Efficient – The energy requirement for converting sweet sorghum juice into ethanol is less than half of that required to convert corn into ethanol. This is due to the fact that the sugars in sweet sorghum juice are fermented directly. There is no need to excessively heat the juice to breakdown starch into sugars as required for corn.
In 2007, China and India produced 1.3 billion gallons of ethanol from sweet sorghum juice. The Renergie project will be the first time that ethanol will be produced solely from sweet sorghum juice in the U.S.

The company focuses on creating a decentralized network of smaller ethanol plants with a commitment to local rural economic development. The distributed nature of a smaller ethanol production plant network reduces Renergie’s feedstock supply risk, does not burden local water supplies and provides broad-based economic development:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

In Louisiana, Renergie is headquartered in the small city of Kaplan (population of less than 5,000). Renergie has agreed to donate two cents of every gallon of ethanol it sells to the City of Kaplan. Renergie firmly believes that the success of the ethanol industry requires a long-term commitment to rural economic development.

Market focus
The Renergie philosophy is to produce ethanol locally and market ethanol locally. There is not an oversupply of ethanol. The major obstacle to widespread ethanol usage continues to be the lack of fueling infrastructure. Only 1,347, of the nearly 180,000 retail gasoline stations in the United States, offer E85. Moreover, ethanol is slowly moving from being just a blending component in gasoline to a truer fuel alternative in the form of E85. If it were up to the company, the day of building 100 million gallon per year corn-to-ethanol plants in the Midwest corn belt, for the sale of E-10 to consumers on the U.S. East Coast and West Coast, is over.

Renergie is focusing its efforts on growing ethanol demand beyond the 10% blend market. Initially, Renergie will directly market E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline for use in FFVs, to fuel retailers under the brand Renergie E85. Renergie’s unique strategy is to blend fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump. Currently, ethanol providers blend E10 and E85 at their blending terminal and transport the already blended product to retail gas stations.

Once state approval is received, Renergie’s variable blending pumps will be able to offer the consumer a choice of E10, E20, E30 and E85. Via use of the Blender’s Tax Credit, Renergie will be able to ensure that gas station owners are adequately compensated for each gallon of fuel-grade ethanol that is sold via Renergie’s variable blending pumps at their gas stations.

Cost of Feedstock
Renergie will not fall victim to rising feedstock costs. Farmers in Louisiana and Florida will share in the profits realized from the sale of the ethanol made from their crops. Renergie enters into long-term feedstock supply contracts with area farmers. Currently, the profits from corn-to-ethanol projects go primarily to the wealthiest farmers, major corporations, e.g., Archer Daniels Midland, and out-of-state investors.

Renergie ensures that there is a link between the compensation paid to its feedstock producers and ethanol market conditions. Farmers will receive a lease payment for their acreage and a royalty payment based on a percentage of Renergie’s gross sales of ethanol. The Renergie ethanol project will mark the first time that Louisiana and Florida farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.

Sorghums are receiving a great deal of interest from the bioenergy community. Recently, scientists from the U.S. Agricultural Research Service released new low-lignin sorghums that are ideal for biofuel and feed (previous post). Several projects are underway to develop drought-tolerant varieties, high sugar varieties and high biomass varieties (earlier post). Some sorghums promise great opportunities for use in developing countries, where they can be grown with low inputs to yield both fuel, food, fiber and fodder (more here and here).

Late last year, a major breakthrough was achieved when researchers succeeded in engineering a sorghum that can grown in soils plagued by aluminum toxicity. Such acidic soils limit crop production in as much as half the world's arable land (previous post).

Thanks to Renergie's Brian J. Donovan.

Biopact: Florida awards $12.5 million grants for renewable energy: includes sweet sorghum ethanol, biodiesel distribution, multi-feedstock biofuels - March 07, 2008

Biopact: Researchers use IV to monitor flow of sugar in sweet sorghum, analysis aimed at maximizing biofuel potential - September 13, 2007


Blogger ShopDownLite.com said...

This is an exciting story - I'm excited for other bio fuel options besides corn. Do they make fabric or bedding out of sorghum? I've seen some pressed furniture before.

5:57 AM  

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