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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.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Study: solid biofuels 570% more efficient than corn ethanol in reducing GHG emissions

A study by Canadian and Dutch scientists just released in a book by Springer Publishers found that commercial second-generation solid biofuel technology has set a new Canadian benchmark in greenhouse gas displacement. The solid biofuel technology using biomass from energy crops for heat energy developed by REAP-Canada reduces GHG emissions by 7,600-13,100 kg CO2e /ha. By comparison soybean biodiesel and corn ethanol were found to reduce GHGs by a mere 900 and 1,500 kg CO2e/ha respectively.

Biopact has often said that liquid biofuels are not the smartest idea, because the conversion process is inefficient and the fuels would be used in equally inefficient internal combustion engines. With the advent of electric vehicles, it will be far more interesting to use biomass (pellets) as a solid fuel to generate electricity and heat, in highly efficient cogeneration facilities. (However, note that electric vehicles may not penetrate markets of poor, developing countries. There, liquid biofuels may remain a temporary option that makes sense, given the fact that mobility is key to development, and that high oil prices are having devastating effects on all sectors of the economy of such energy-intensive countries.)

According to Roger Samson, Executive Director of REAP-Canada and lead author of the new study:
Solid biofuels produced from 2nd generation energy crops, such as switchgrass, effectively blow away liquid biofuels like corn ethanol as a serious greenhouse gas mitigation option.
REAP-Canada is calling on the federal and provincial governments to work jointly to implement a national solid biofuels GHG mitigation strategy.
Solid biofuels are 570% more efficient than liquid fuels in using farmland to mitigate GHG's yet there are no subsidies in Canada for such technologies. In the race to reduce GHG's, solid biofuels are the winning horse while liquid biofuels are a donkey. - Roger Samson, Executive Director of REAP-Canada
The study also offers several recommendations on how energy from solid biofuels can be developed efficiently and equitably across Canada.

One of the key densification technologies to make next-generation solid biofuels work is found in a process known as torrefaction. By 'roasting' biomass, its energy density can be improved dramatically and its fuel properties are altered in such a way that the fuel can be (co-)fired in existing power infrastructures:
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Torrefaction also makes long-distance transport of the biomass much more feasible (distances can be squared), allowing for a far more efficient planning process and use of the existing resources.

The full article titled "Developing Energy Crops for Thermal Applications" in Biofuels, Solar and Wind as Renewable Energy Systems: Benefits and Risks is available from Springer Publishers or online, here.

Resource Efficient Agricultural Production (REAP)-Canada is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on sustainable biofuel systems development. A world leader in developing bioenergy for greenhouse gas mitigation and rural development, REAP-Canada provides services in bioenergy research, policy and market development. The agency has 17 years of experience in energy crop development, biomass resource assessments and bioenergy conversion technologies in industrialized and developing nations.


REAP-Canada: Analysing Ontario Biofuel Options: Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Efficiency and Costs (2008) [*.pdf].

Innovative research on Switchgrass and BioHeat - click here to see a CBC Market Place Video.

Biopact: Torrefaction gives biomass a 20% energy boost, makes logistics far more efficient - July 25, 2008


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