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    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.

    Record warm summers cause extreme ice melt in Greenland: an international team of scientists, led by Dr Edward Hanna at the University of Sheffield, has found that recent warm summers have caused the most extreme Greenland ice melting in 50 years. The new research provides further evidence of a key impact of global warming and helps scientists place recent satellite observations of Greenland´s shrinking ice mass in a longer-term climatic context. Findings are published in the 15 January 2008 issue of Journal of Climate. University of Sheffield - January 15, 2007.

    Japan's Tsukishima Kikai Co. and Marubeni Corp. have together clinched an order from Oenon Holdings Inc. for a plant that will make bioethanol from rice. The Oenon group will invest around 4.4 billion yen (US$40.17 million) in the project, half of which will be covered by a subsidy from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The plant will initially produce bioethanol from imported rice, with plans to use Hokkaido-grown rice in the future. It will produce 5 million liters per year starting in 2009, increasing output to 15m liters in 2011. The facility will be able to produce as much as 50,000 liters of bioethanol from 125 tons of rice each day. Trading Markets - January 11, 2007.

    PetroSun, Inc. announced today that its subsidiary, PetroSun BioFuels Refining, has entered into a JV to construct and operate a biodiesel refinery near Coolidge, Arizona. The feedstock for the refinery will be algal oil produced by PetroSun BioFuels at algae farms to be located in Arizona. The refinery will have a capacity of thirty million gallons and will produce 100% renewable biodiesel. PetroSun BioFuels will process the residual algae biomass into ethanol. MarketWire - January 10, 2007.

    BlueFire Ethanol Fuels Inc, which develops and operates carbohydrate-based transportation fuel production facilities, has secured capital liquidity for corporate overhead and continued project development in the value of US$15 million with Quercus, an environmentally focused trust. BlueFire Ethanol Fuels - January 09, 2007.

    Some $170 billion in new technology development projects, infrastructure equipment and construction, and biofuel refineries will result from the ethanol production standards contained the new U.S. Energy Bill, says BIO, the global Biotechnology Industry Organization. According to Brent Erickson, BIO's executive vice president "Such a new energy infrastructure has not occurred in more than 100 years. We are at the point where we were in the 1850s when kerosene was first distilled and began to replace whale oil. This technology will be coming so fast that what we say today won't be true in two years." Chemical & Engineering News - January 07, 2007.

    Scottish and Southern Energy plc, the UK's second largest power company, has completed the acquisition of Slough Heat and Power Ltd from SEGRO plc for a total cash consideration of £49.25m. The 101MW CHP plant is the UK’s largest dedicated biomass energy facility fueled by wood chips, biomass and waste paper. Part of the plant is contracted under the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation and part of it produces over 200GWH of output qualifying for Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), which is equivalent to around 90MW of wind generation. Scottish & Southern Energy - January 2, 2007.

    PetroChina Co Ltd, the country's largest oil and gas producer, plans to invest 800 million yuan to build an ethanol plant in Nanchong, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, its parent China National Petroleum Corp said. The ethanol plant has a designed annual capacity of 100,000 tons. ABCMoneyNews - December 21, 2007.

    Mexico passed legislation to promote biofuels last week, offering unspecified support to farmers that grow crops for the production of any renewable fuel. Agriculture Minister Alberto Cardenas said Mexico could expand biodiesel faster than ethanol. More soon. Reuters - December 20, 2007.

    Oxford Catalysts has placed an order worth approximately €700,000 (US$1 million) with the German company Amtec for the purchase of two Spider16 high throughput screening reactors. The first will be used to speed up the development of catalysts for hydrodesulphurisation (HDS). The second will be used to further the development of catalysts for use in gas to liquid (GTL) and Fischer-Tropsch processes which can be applied to next generation biofuels. AlphaGalileo - December 18, 2007.

    According to the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), Brazil's production of sugarcane will increase from 514,1 million tonnes this season, to a record 561,8 million tonnes in the 2008/09 cyclus - an increase of 9.3%. New numbers are also out for the 2007 harvest in Brazil's main sugarcane growing region, the Central-South: a record 425 million tonnes compared to 372,7 million tonnes in 2006, or a 14% increase. The estimate was provided by Unica – the União da Indústria de Cana-de-Açúcar. Jornal Cana - December 16, 2007.

    The University of East Anglia and the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre have today released preliminary global temperature figures for 2007, which show the top 11 warmest years all occurring in the last 13 years. The provisional global figure for 2007 using data from January to November, currently places the year as the seventh warmest on records dating back to 1850. The announcement comes as the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud, speaks at the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Bali. Eurekalert - December 13, 2007.

    The Royal Society of Chemistry has announced it will launch a new journal in summer 2008, Energy & Environmental Science, which will distinctly address both energy and environmental issues. In recognition of the importance of research in this subject, and the need for knowledge transfer between scientists throughout the world, from launch the RSC will make issues of Energy & Environmental Science available free of charge to readers via its website, for the first 18 months of publication. This journal will highlight the important role that the chemical sciences have in solving the energy problems we are facing today. It will link all aspects of energy and the environment by publishing research relating to energy conversion and storage, alternative fuel technologies, and environmental science. AlphaGalileo - December 10, 2007.

    Dutch researcher Bas Bougie has developed a laser system to investigate soot development in diesel engines. Small soot particles are not retained by a soot filter but are, however, more harmful than larger soot particles. Therefore, soot development needs to be tackled at the source. Laser Induced Incandescence is a technique that reveals exactly where soot is generated and can be used by project partners to develop cleaner diesel engines. Terry Meyer, an Iowa State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is using similar laser technology to develop advanced sensors capable of screening the combustion behavior and soot characteristics specifically of biofuels. Eurekalert - December 7, 2007.

    Lithuania's first dedicated biofuel terminal has started operating in Klaipeda port. At the end of November 2007, the stevedoring company Vakaru krova (VK) started activities to manage transshipments. The infrastructure of the biodiesel complex allows for storage of up to 4000 cubic meters of products. During the first year, the terminal plans to transship about 70.000 tonnes of methyl ether, after that the capacities of the terminal would be increased. Investments to the project totaled €2.3 million. Agrimarket - December 5, 2007.

    New Holland supports the use of B100 biodiesel in all equipment with New Holland-manufactured diesel engines, including electronic injection engines with common rail technology. Overall, nearly 80 percent of the tractor and equipment manufacturer's New Holland-branded products with diesel engines are now available to operate on B100 biodiesel. Tractor and equipment maker John Deere meanwhile clarified its position for customers that want to use biodiesel blends up to B20. Grainnet - December 5, 2007.

    According to Wetlands International, an NGO, the Kyoto Protocol as it currently stands does not take into account possible emissions from palm oil grown on a particular type of land found in Indonesia and Malaysia, namely peatlands. Mongabay - December 5, 2007.

    Malaysia's oil & gas giant Petronas considers entering the biofuels sector. Zamri Jusoh, senior manager of Petronas' petroleum development management unit told reporters "of course our focus is on oil and gas, but I think as we move into the future we cannot ignore the importance of biofuels." AFP - December 5, 2007.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Oxford Catalysts announces expansion of catalyst research capacity: towards ultra-clean synthetic biofuels

New catalysts could hold the key to developing cleaner and greener synthetic (bio)fuels. As part of its mission to produce such fuels, Oxford Catalysts announces it is expanding its laboratory facilities and investing in additional analytical equipment to speed up the development of new catalysts, including new Fischer Tropsch (FT) and hydrodesulphurisation (HDS) catalysts. These types of catalyst play an important role in processes such as gas-to-liquids (GTL) and coal-to-liquids (CTL) which are used to convert feedstocks such as natural gas and coal into liquid fuels. FT catalysts are also important in the emerging field of biomass-to-liquids (BTL) which yields ultra-clean synthetic biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass.
Developing new catalysts can be a time consuming process, and each catalyst has to be custom-made for a particular application to suit a customer's requirements. Having this expanded lab facility will allow us to carry out the necessary testing to provide our customers with the essential information they need about a catalyst more quickly. It will also help us to develop further new and innovative catalysts at a rate that will allow us to meet demand for new applications within the clean fuels area as they continue to arise. - Derek Atkinson, Business Development Director, Oxford Catalysts
The expansion, due to begin at the end of January 2008, will involve a total investment of over £1 (€1.34/$1.98) million, and will more than double the floor space of the existing laboratory facilities. As part of the project, Oxford Catalysts has already purchased two Amtec Spider16 high throughput screening gas phase reactor systems. These are due to be brought into operation in March and April 2008. To supplement the rigs it already owns, it also plans to purchase three additional rigs, including a small scale Fischer-Tropsch (FT) rig, a reforming test rig, and a hydro-desulphurisation test rig, along with associated analytical and catalyst preparation equipment:
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In addition, Oxford Catalysts will be taking on the necessary technicians and catalyst preparation chemists needed to support the new equipment, as well as employing additional senior technology managers. In all, scientific staff numbers are expected to rise from the current 15 to around 23. The expansion is expected to be completed by July 2008. In the meantime, Oxford Catalysts will be posting regular progress updates on its website.

Fischer-Tropsch (FT) fuels are based on a reaction that is the key step in the process of converting natural gas (mainly methane), coal or biomass into virtually sulphur-free liquid fuels, such as gasoline or diesel. It uses hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide – known as syngas – to make waxes which are then split into liquid fuels. Oxford Catalysts' FT catalysts are carbide-based.

Trials at the University of Oxford showed that in comparison with the leading industrial catalysts, the FT carbide catalysts had a greater cost effectiveness, double the productivity on a weight-for-weight basis, higher quality output, a tolerance to higher levels of water and carbon dioxide, making them particularly well-suited to CTL and BTL, where such contaminants are typically found.

Oxford Catalysts produces specialty catalysts for the generation of clean fuels, from both conventional fossil fuels and renewable sources such as biomass. Core products include catalysts for the following markets: petro/chemicals: removing sulphur from gasoline/diesel and converting natural gas or coal into ultra-clean liquid fuels; fuel Cells: generating hydrogen-on-demand from methanol starting at room temperature or from conventional hydrocarbon fuels by reforming at higher temperatures; biogas Conversion: transforming waste methane into the chemical building blocks of liquid fuels; portable steam: creating superheated steam instantaneously from methanol and hydrogen peroxide.

AlphaGalileo: Stepping on the gas: accelerating catalyst development for cleaner fuels - January 30, 2008.

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Scientists outline novel approach to ecosystem management: beyond imagined 'pristine' biomes

Traditional ecosystems in which communities of plants and animals have co-evolved and are interdependent are increasingly rare, due to human-induced ecosystem changes. As a result, historical assessments of ecosystem health are often inaccurate. Conservation and restoration efforts and public perceptions about "pristine" biomes based on these inaccuracies could lead to misguided ecosystem management practises. A novel approach must therefor be developed, says a team of scientists who present such a new vision in a paper posted this week on Frontiers e-View, the online prepress publication site of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, published by the Ecological Society of America.

The researchers suggest that such efforts should focus less on restoring ecosystems to their imagined "original state" and more on sustaining new, healthy ecosystems that can cope with current environmental change. Their work is congruent with that of a growing group of environmental researchers who say traditional ecology pays too much attention to increasingly rare "pristine" ecosystems while ignoring the overwhelming influence of humans on the environment. New environmental science therefor tends to look at ecosystems as "anthropogenic biomes" instead (previous post).

Timothy R. Seastedt (University of Colorado at Boulder), Richard J. Hobbs (Murdoch University in Australia) and Katharine N. Suding (University of California at Irvine) looked at ecosystem management studies from the past 12 years to develop a new approach to managing ecosystems in the face of increasing human impacts.
The focus of ecological study should not simply recognize change, but should acknowledge that current systems have already been transformed and are in the process of transforming further. - Seastedt et al.
Historically, ecosystems have passed through discrete stages over time, based on a cycle of predictable disturbances. The authors define this variation as the historical range of variability for a particular geographic area. Many human factors contribute to moving an ecosystem away from its historical range of variability, including the composition of gases in the atmosphere, climate change, invasions of non-native species, extinctions and land fragmentation effects.

In the modern era, human activities augment and promote these disturbances, affecting ecosystems more rapidly and with a broader scope than traditional disturbances. Major permanent ecosystem changes are therefore much more likely. Environmental changes of this magnitude often produce "novel ecosystems", combinations of animals, plants and environmental regimes that have never occurred before.
Most ecosystems are now sufficiently altered in structure and function to qualify as novel systems, and this recognition should be the starting point for ecosystem management efforts. Under the emerging biogeochemical configurations, management activities are experiments, blurring the line between basic and applied research. - Seastedt et al.
As the authors point out, "In managing novel ecosystems, the point is not to think outside the box, but to recognize that the box itself has moved, and in the 21st Century, will continue to move increasingly rapidly."

Problems with traditional ecology
Management experts traditionally looked at so-called "pristine" systems when devising management strategies for novel ecosystems, the goal being to restore ecosystems to their presumed historical state. However, the authors of this paper see two problems with this approach. First, such untouched ecosystems are rare if not completely absent from our planet, and therefore cannot be used for comparison:
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Second, current management practices often try to fix past mistakes by focusing on one aspect of an ecosystem, such as eradicating invasive species. The authors point out, however, that in many cases this approach results solely in the removal of a negative factor and does nothing to improve the health of the ecosystem. For example, once an invasive plant species is removed, if no further action is taken, there is plenty of room for other invasive species to colonize the area.

The solution, according to the authors, involves acknowledging the current level of change in an ecosystem and using innovative approaches to ensure that the novel ecosystem is resilient to further change. As an example, the authors cite a rare tall-grass ecosystem in which selective grazing by cows can be an effective replacement for seasonal fires that are actively suppressed due to the proximity to a highway.

Currently, however, enthusiasm and funding are in short supply for these types of management efforts, since policy makers and the public tend to demand short-term results rather than looking at the longer term benefits. The researchers conclude that ecologists should assume the role of liaison between lawmakers and managers:
Scientists provide an appropriate interface between stakeholders and managers. Awareness among stakeholders, policy makers, and managers of the realities of current and future ecosystem changes is essential to generate management strategies that have positive rather than neutral or negative outcomes. - Seasteadt et al.

The Ecological Society of America is the world's largest professional organization of ecologists, representing 10,000 scientists in the United States and around the globe. Since its founding in 1915, ESA has promoted the responsible application of ecological principles to the solution of environmental problems through ESA reports, journals, research, and expert testimony to Congress.

Picture: restored tallgrass prairie in the U.S. Scientists urge ecosystem managers to go beyond imagined "pristine" conditions and instead make existing systems integrate with change and more resilient to it. Credit: Tallgrass Prairie Center.

Timothy R Seastedt, Richard J Hobbs, and Katharine N Suding, "Management of novel ecosystems: are novel approaches required?", Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Volume preprint, Issue 2008 (January 2008) pp. 0000–0000, DOI: 10.1890/070046

Eurekalert: Scientists outline novel approach to ecosystem management - January 31, 2008.

Biopact: Environmental researchers propose radical 'human-centric' map of the world - November 26, 2007

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India lauches first biofuels and bioenergy science centre at University of Mumbai to develop advanced fuels

India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) at the Ministry of Science & Technology has funded [*.doc] the establishment of the country's first Centre of Energy Biosciences (CEB). The CEB, which is funded at Rs24 crore (€4.1/$6.1 million) and aims to raise an additional Rs16 crore (€2.7/$4 million), has received the specific task of developing cutting-edge biofuels, bioenergy and biohydrogen technologies capable of converting lignocellulosic biomass into transportation fuels. The centre will aim to develop bio-based renewables in order to reduce India’s rising dependence on petroleum fuels and to cut down emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Centre of Energy Biosciences will establish advanced pilot biofuel plants and create research partnerships with leading biotechnology, industry and academic organisations from India, the United States and other countries. Plant biotechnology, enzyme technology, metabolic engineering, and life cycle and technology assessments are focus areas. The CEB is to be established at the University Institute of Chemical Technology (UICT), the University of Mumbai's leading scientific institution.

The problem
Liquid petroleum fuel demand makes up more than 30% of India's total energy consumption of which petrol and diesel consumption together add up to about 65 million tons per year.

According to the UICT, a good part of this demand can be met through biomass resources. Primarily an agricultural economy, India produces about 200 million tons of waste biomass per year unfit for animal and human consumption. This lignocellulosic waste biomass, coupled with specially developed high yield energy crops that can be grown on India’s 30 million hectares of waste but marginally cultivable land, can together yield enough alcohol to meet country’s liquid fuel demand.

However, technologies that can be used to make the required alcohol fuels from waste biomass in an economically and ecologically sustainable manner are still under development. The DBT-UICT Centre of Energy Biosciences has therefor been given the specific responsibility of developing new cutting edge technologies and to integrating technology components developed elsewhere in the country under various research schemes, all with the aim of providing liquid biofuel for the country.
Lignocellulosic waste biomass can become the truly renewable source of bioethanol intended to be next generation liquid fuel. But the technology available today is only in pieces. We will set up a pilot scale plant incorporating all components of the technology to bring down cost capital as well cost of production. - Professor G D Yadav, co-director Centre of Energy Biosciences
Research partnerships
The technical program of the CEB is to be coordinated by Dr. Arvind Lali and will involve active scientific collaboration with industrial and academic partners. While the UICT will be involved in design, scale-up and in bringing all technologies together, India's MAHYCO Research Centre will assist in the development of new biomass and crop varieties; Novozymes South Asia Pvt. Ltd. India will help in enzyme development; the School of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University, USA and the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Centre for Resilience, Ohio State University, USA, will assist with bioconversion of sugars into fuels and is to provide mathematical modelling tools for it. Another bioconversion partner is Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, India:
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These collaborations will be in the specific areas of plant biotechnology, enzyme technology, metabolic engineering, and life cycle and technology assessment. Focus of the research and technology development program at the CEB will be on creating a vibrant bioscience and bioengineering platform for developing and demonstrating viable technologies for bio-alcohols, biodiesel, biohydrogen and other biofuels production.

The UICT has a proven track record of productive association with chemical and biotech industry and with many novel concepts currently under development it is confident of making significant contributions in the area of biofuel technologies in a short time. As a result of the Centre being established and valuable IPR being generated, UICT also expects to garner increasing participation from both private and public investors in its biofuel technology development program in the near future.

Part of the Centre's task is to support the development of India's own bio-based knowledge economy by keeping local science, research and development inside the country:
Unless technology and knowledge is generated by a particular country, the industry and wealth generated is not economical for that country. Our students should take up our own problems. This is what is meant by knowledge economy. - Professor J. B. Joshi, UICT Director
The CEB emerged as a result of the vision and efforts of Dr. M.K. Bhan, Secretary DBT and Dr. Renu Swarup, Advisor DBT, will function under the leadership of Dr. J.B. Joshi, Director of the UICT and Dr. G.D. Yadav.

UICT: DBT funds India's first Center of Energy Biosciences at UICT [*.doc] - s.d. [January] 2008.

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Native American tribes and grad students receive $3 million to tap forests and farms for biofuels in Washington

The University of Washington has launched a $3 million program that will team doctoral students, faculty and local Native American tribes to transform local forestry and agricultural waste into new generations of biofuels. The award for graduate education was awarded by the National Science Foundation.

The program's goals are to create a new generation of PhD graduates in sustainable energy, and develop local sources of renewable fuels. The students will learn to consider not only economic benefit, but the environmental and social implications of their designs. The program therefor takes a social, economic and environmental lifecycle or 'cradle-to-cradle' approach to bioenergy and biofuels from the very start.

The IGERT award, for Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training, funds six interdisciplinary doctoral students each year for five years. Program partners include the University of Washington's College of Engineering, the College of Forest Resources and the American Indian Studies Program.

The bioenergy experts in the making will follow a curriculum that includes topics like 'Sustainability & Design for Environment', 'Sustainable Resources in Indigenous Communities', 'Economics of Conservation', 'Plant-Microbe Interactions', 'Bio-fuel processing', 'Life Cycle Assessment', 'Engineering, Resource Management and Culture', and 'Technology Assessment in Indigenous Communities'. The centerpiece of the program is a two quarter multidisciplinary design and resource management project that will involve collaboration with Washington State Native American communities.

Local resources
Biofuels, energy sources from plants, are popular because they’re often domestically produced, renewable, and close to 'carbon-neutral' - meaning the plants suck up the same quantity of CO2 while growing that they release when converted into fuels and burned. But right now, biodiesel and ethanol are generally made from plants such as corn or soy imported from other states, or tropical oils imported from other nations. The new BioEnergy IGERT program will try to identify local alternatives.

A major emphasis will be forestry waste from the state's large forests (map, click to enlarge), the branches and debris that normally get burned or left behind to cause a fire hazard, and residue from paper mills. Students will also look at agricultural waste such as leftovers from apple and wheat crops. Converting these products to fuel creates a new source of energy and also reduces the quantity of material going to landfills and emissions from burning waste.

Transforming these wastes into a liquid fuel that fits in a gas tank is not easy. The alternative to first generation fuels based on easily extractible sugars, starches or oils, is cellulosic products, like wood or agricultural waste, which we can’t eat, but have repeating sugars embedded in their structures. These complex sugars are much more difficult to extract. But it is not impossible.

Cellulosic biofuels

According to Dan Schwartz, professor of chemical engineering and leader of the interdisciplinary group that has received the multimillion-dollar award, wood can be processed into a product that resembles brown sugar or molasses. These technologies do exist, he says, but they are not yet economical, nor can they be operated at sufficient scale right now:
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Students in the program will work on these types of engineering challenges for sustainable energy. They will also consider social and environmental impacts. The program emphasizes 'cradle-to-cradle' analyses that compare the overall impact of different energy sources. How much energy does it take to harvest and process the resource? Where does it go when it’s burned as fuel? Is it reducing the food supply? What would it take to do it on a large scale? Are there social benefits, such as increasing local employment?
Understanding the energy and environmental impacts of biomass production, transportation and conversion into biofuels allows us to engineer systems that maximize the benefits of switching to biofuels. - Joyce Cooper, associate professor of mechanical engineering who performs life-cycle assessments
Native Americans
Another major emphasis of the grant is working with Native American communities. Native Americans are underrepresented in doctoral programs and the project will recruit students from those communities, Schwartz said. Partners include the Yakama Nation in southern Washington and the Quinault Indian Nation on the Olympic Peninsula.

Washington state tribes’ natural resources are more valuable than those of tribes in any other state except for Alaska and California, said Tom Colonnese, director of the UW’s American Indian Studies program and member of the program board. The Yakama Nation, located on 1.2 million acres in south-central Washington, controls more forestry resources than any other Native American tribe in the country.

While each doctoral student in the program will work on a traditional thesis, each year’s class will work together on a group project on one of the Native reserves, solving an energy-related problem identified by one of the tribes.

Phil Rigdon, director of natural resources for the Yakama Nation and a graduate of the UW’s College of Forest Resources, said tribe members are discussing their options for sustainable energy. Plans include installing small-scale hydropower and wind energy projects. The collaboration with the UW may produce energy from forest and agricultural wastes.
We have significant natural resources, and to be able to convert some of that to energy would help our economy as well as provide jobs for our community. Working with people at the UW who are technically capable of the engineering is an important link to make this happen. - Phil Rigdon, member of the BioEnergy IGERT program's advisory board
Students will be asked to incorporate not just engineering constraints, but also address environmental, social and labor concerns in their designs. "We want appropriate energy technologies" Schwartz emphasized. "Whenever you hear someone present an energy solution and say, ’This is the solution,’ you know it’s wrong because there is no one solution for every situation"

The results could be applied to other forest- or agricultural-based communities in the state. And the skills the students learn will be prized by future employers, Schwartz believes.

This year the committee got additional funding from the University of Washington, enabling it to accept eight graduate students who began classes in January. Students can major in any of the participating colleges. This class includes three students in the College of Forest Resources and five in the College of Engineering. The students’ skills and interests range from plant ecology, to remote sensing to map forest resources, to chemical engineering techniques for converting biomass into other products. The inaugural class includes two Native American students.

This is the eighth IGERT award for the University of Washington, which has won more of the interdisciplinary training grants than any other institution in the country. Previous IGERT programs were focused on nanotechnology, urban ecology, international environmental issues and astrobiology.

Map: Land cover map of Washington State. This false color image uses data from the Landsat satellite; forests in green and deserts in red. The light blue regions are the highest mountains in Washington. Credit: NASA/Landsat.

University of Washington: Graduate students and Native American tribes will tap forests, farms for biofuels - January 30, 2008.

University of Washington: Bioresource-based Energy for Sustainable Societies - project website.

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Outlook Resources to acquire 75% of biomass densification company Prairie Bio Energy

Canada's Outlook Resources Inc. announces that it has reached an agreement to acquire 75% of the outstanding common shares of Prairie Bio Energy Inc., of La Broquerie, Manitoba. Prairie Bio Energy has developed a proprietary densification process for the production of biomass 'fuel cubes', a renewable fuel alternative to traditional coal, propane and natural gas for heating and power generation.

Bioeconomy Park

Outlook's current projects seek to introduce normally uncorrelated business initiatives or "tenants" into a single cluster or 'Bio-Economy Park' location. Prairie Bio Energy's biomass densification process is seen as fitting well within this structure. The 'Park' concept allows ecological relationships to be developed between individual business units allowing them to operate symbiotically through the sharing and exchange of resources within the Park. These ecological relationships are meant to create an opportunity for higher overall efficiencies between the Bio-Economy Park tenants because of their increased capacity to exploit a resource sharing opportunity.

Additionally the by-products and waste streams of renewable biofuels and bioenergy production can be mostly, if not completely, eliminated amongst the Bio-Economy Park's group of tenants as the waste from one component becomes input energy, nutrients or a source of feedstock for another. This integrated approach thus forms the key to experimenting with 'cascading' and 'circular' resource strategies.

Biomass in Canada
Biomass energy, or bioenergy, is the energy stored in non-fossil organic materials such as wood, straw, vegetable oils and wastes from the forestry, agricultural and industrial sectors. Like the energy in fossil fuels, bioenergy is derived from solar energy that has been stored in plants through the process of photosynthesis. The principal difference is that fossil fuels require thousands of years to be converted into usable forms, while properly managed biomass energy can be used in an ongoing, renewable fashion. Municipal solid waste and sewage sludge can also be considered as biomass.

In Canada, biomass energy accounts for 540 PJ (petajoules) of energy use. It already provides more of Canada's energy supply than coal (for nonelectrical generation applications) and nuclear power, accounting for 5% of secondary energy use by the residential sector and 17% of energy use in the industrial sector, mainly in the forest industries. Including lumber and pulp and paper, forestry accounts for 35% of Canada's total energy consumption; the forest industries meet more than one-half of this demand themselves with self-generated biomass wastes. The forest industries have been increasing their use of wood wastes that otherwise would be burned, buried or landfilled. Principal uses include firing boilers in pulp and paper mills for process heat and providing energy for lumber drying.

Prairie Bio Energy's approach to utilizing biomass is focused on the design of novel densification techniques. Its briquetting technology results in a 7/8inch fuel cube that utilises the lignin in the biomass as a binder. The primary components of the fuel cubes include a mixture of wood by-products and flax shives. The energy content is approximately 7900 BTU (British Thermal Unit) per pound, making the fuel is equivalent in energy to lignite coal. The fuel cubes have an average density of 33 pounds per cubic foot and a moisture content of 5-6%:
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With the acquisition of Prairie Bio Energy, Outlook Resources plans to produce a renewable fuel product from biomass more commonly known as Biomass-fuel or Refuse-Derived-Fuel. Management believes this approach will result in Outlook being particularly well positioned to process a variety of industrial and agricultural processing wastes or by-products in a manner that allows for the production of higher value products to be used as a source of renewable, carbon neutral fuels.

Outlook intends to grow the company through the construction and operation of both RDF/Biomass-fuel densification plants in addition to the development of environmentally conscientious, land based aquaculture facilities built and operated in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The transaction includes an exchange of Outlook Resources shares for Prairie Bio Energy shares and a combination of cash and notes payable. The transaction is subject to the completion of due diligence, TSX Venture Exchange approval and to Outlook raising a minimum of $2 million dollars.

Prairie Bio Energy was founded in 2004 by Stephane Gauthier and Eugene Gala, P. Eng. The business employed 5 people and culminated in the establishment of a 100 ton per day biomass fuel cubing line that was operated from Prairie Bio Energy's 20,000 square foot research and development facility located on an 80 acre agricultural property, one hour east of Winnipeg. Patent applications have been filed in Canada and the U.S. for the Prairie Bio Energy densification process.

Stephane Gauthier, President and Eugene Gala, Executive Vice President & COO will continue to lead Prairie Bio Energy as the company moves forward with Outlook Resources on the development of a commercial scale, 400 ton per day biomass cubing production facility. All of the current employees will be retained and the operations will be expanded over the next six months to facilitate additional business currently being finalized. Outlook is currently negotiating a long term lease on suitable premises for the proposed production facility.

Outlook will acquire 75% of the voting equity of Prairie Bio Energy in consideration for the issuance of 4,067,702 common shares of Outlook priced at $0.06 per share, the payment of $744,000 of debts owed to shareholders of Prairie Bio Energy and the assumption of the liabilities of Prairie Bio Energy. The founding shareholder group, including Stephane Gauthier and Eugene Gala, will retain a 25% interest in Prairie Bio Energy. The share consideration will be subject to a voluntary escrow until December 31, 2008 subject to earlier release upon Prairie Bio Energy meeting certain milestones.


Outlook Resources: Outlook to Acquire 75% Ownership of Prairie Bio Energy - January 28, 2008.

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