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 Low carbon biofuels are key to Canada’s goal of reducing fuels carbon intensity by 11 percent, say experts

Biofuels Digest - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 7:05am

In Canada, Growth Energy, the U.S. Grains Council, and Renewable Fuels Association jointly submitted comments to Environment and Climate Change Canada supporting their goal of reducing the carbon intensity of Canada’s fuel stream through the Clean Fuel Standard. The comments offered recommendations on how biofuels, like ethanol, can help reach the ECCC Regulatory Design Paper’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 23 megatons by 2030.

“While there are several details that are yet to be determined, we support the laudable and achievable goal to reduce the carbon intensity of the liquid fuel stream by 11 percent, ultimately leading to a 23-megaton reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. We believe that by using low carbon biofuels such as ethanol, Canada can succeed in its own greenhouse gas reduction goals.” The comments suggested expanding the current minimum blending requirement for biofuels from 5 percent to 10 percent nationwide. 

Meanwhile in Washington, bioeconomy stakeholders are focusing EPA’s attention on release a legally-defensible rulemaking for E15 use year-round and recommit to finalizing the rule by the June 1 summer driving season. Stakeholders pointed out in comments that “there are less than 100 days until June 1, leaving no time for EPA to waste in publishing a proposed rule in the Federal Register for public comment and to finalize the rule before the low-RVP season kicks-in.” The overall industry strategy has been to encourage EPA to decouple potential Renewable Identification Number (RIN) reforms from the E15 rulemaking.

With the Senate confirmation of new EPA head Andrew Wheeler, the American Coalition for Ethanol called on the new administrator to  “uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as the law of the land by reallocating the 2.25 billion gallons of ethanol blending unlawfully waived by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.”

More on the Canada story.

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CRISPR reveals the secret life of antimicrobial peptides

Biofuels Digest - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 7:04am

In France, scientists from the lab of Bruno Lemaitre at EPFL’s Global Health Institute have used CRISPR, the gene-editing technique, to delete no less than 14 AMPs from the fruit fly Drosophila. By deleting single AMP genes, various combinations of genes, or even all 14 genes, the scientists were able to remove their corresponding AMPs and observe how their absence affected the fly’s resistance to different bacterial and fungal pathogens.

The results showed that, at least in Drosophila, AMPs act mainly against Gram-negative bacteria (e.g. E. coli, Enterobacter species) and certain fungi. The AMPs also work either together or by adding up their individual effects. Surprisingly, they found that certain AMPs can be incredibly specific in defending against certain infections (e.g. the AMP diptericin against the pathogen P. rettgeri). This unexpected result highlights a previously unknown level of specificity to the innate immune response.

One of the main weapons of innate immunity are a family of small peptides, collectively known as “antimicrobial peptides” or AMPs for short. AMPs are produced by the host’s (e.g. the human’s) cells and combat invading microorganisms by breaking apart their cell membranes or by disrupting their functions. Despite their importance, we know very little about AMPs. Some in vitro studies have shown that they can kill bacteria and fungi, but scientists have been hard pressed to study them in living organisms. One of the reasons is that there are simply too many factors involved in innate immunity, so isolating the effect of individual AMPs in a living organism is a very complex proposition.

“What’s really exciting is that these results will help us understand how our own AMPs might help fight infection,” says Mark Austin Hanson, the study’s first author. “It could be that some people have a defective copy of a specific AMP needed to prevent a common infection – as an example, uropathogenic E. coli – and so they are at higher risk. Fighting infection is great, but learning how to prevent it in the first place is the ideal of medicine. That’s what these AMPs do: they prevent infection before it ever settles in.”

But the applications of studying AMPs go even further, Hanson adds. “Studying how the fly’s AMPs work can also help us manage economically important insects, whether it be protecting bumblebees or preventing mosquitoes from spreading disease.”

More on the story.

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Looking for partners: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to NatSurFact

Biofuels Digest - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 7:02am
NatSurFact is the rhamnolipid-based biosurfactant product that Logos has developed in recent years.

Rhamnolipids are a naturally occurring class of compounds that have surface active (surfactant) properties. In nature, many species of single-celled organisms produce rhamnolipids to help them survive. The NatSurFact Team is harnessing these organisms to produce rhamnolipids efficiently in order to help us live better lives, too. Rhamnolipids are made up of fats and sugars – which is a big part of the reason they have such good environmental and safety characteristics.

NatSurFact is made from a renewable source – vegetable oil – in a natural fermentation process. It is mild when we use it to wash our skin, hair, or home, and does not hurt the environment.

The technology team is looking for partners right now to acquire or license the rhamnolipid technology. A brochure on the technology is available here. For more information on the opportunity, you can contact Dan Derr, the Business Area Lead at Logos Technologies, here.  

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Gevo teams with HCS Group on renewable isooctane purchase and sale agreement

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 6:57pm

In Colorado, Gevo announced that it and HCS Group have entered into a long-term, definitive, binding and bankable renewable isooctane purchase and sale agreement, dated February 21, 2019. HCS Group will be supplied exclusively for sales of Gevo’s renewable isooctane into high-end applications ranging from high purity solvents to specialty fuels under its Haltermann Carless brand, excluding use of isooctane for on-road transportation fuels. Gevo’s renewable isooctane is a low-carbon, drop-in blending component for gasoline and has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases by as much as 70 percent, well within the standards established by the EU Renewable Energy Directive.

This long-term, binding purchase and sale agreement with HCS Group is an important step forward in Gevo’s previously-announced strategy to build out Gevo’s advanced biofuels production facility in Luverne, Minnesota, USA, to increase the production of renewable isobutanol and renewable jet fuel as well as isooctane.

Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Gevo will supply low-carbon, renewable isooctane to HCS Group over ten years if certain conditions are met, including the expansion of Gevo’s isooctane production capabilities at its advanced biofuels production facility in Luverne.

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Cardinal Ethanol looking to potentially sell out

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 6:56pm

In Indiana, in the face of low ethanol prices that have in many cases led to negative margins, local press reports that Cardinal Ethanol is looking to potentially sell its 10-year-old ethanol plant despite being one of the most profitable ethanol plants nationally, or so says its financial advisor. Some investors seem to want to cash out without have to put in money for continuous improvement but if a buyer can’t be found, the standalone facility will continue to operate as it always has.

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Senate confirms EPA Administrator

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 6:55pm

In Washington, Reuters reports that the Senate has confirmed the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to the role permanently in a tight 52-47 vote. Democrats and a sole Republican voted against his confirmation due to his record of easing environmental protections while the remaining Republicans eagerly welcomed him to the permanent position in hopes of weakened regulations especially for oil and coal. Despite pushback from oil state Senators over the Renewable Fuel Standard, in the end they still voted in favor of his nomination.

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ePure welcomes European Court of Justice appeal ruling in favor of anti-dumping duties on US ethanol imports

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 6:54pm

In Belgium, ICIS reports that ePure has welcomed the European Court of Justice appeal ruling upholding the European Union’s 9.5% anti-dumping duties on US ethanol imports in place since 2013. The original case was won by the US’s Marquis Energy in 2016 but this week’s ruling overturns that decision through appeal. An ongoing review of the anti-dumping duties by the European Commission is, separately, expected to make a ruling in May 2019 that could amend, extend or cancel them.

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FGV sees palm oil range at between $491.8 and $614.7 per ton

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 6:53pm

In Malaysia, Reuters reports that FGV sees crude palm oil prices rising to a range of between $491.8 and $614.7 per metric ton thanks to increased demand from domestic biodiesel blending and growing exports mixed with smaller production for the year. FGV, the largest palm oil producer in the country, is having to shift its production due limited feedstock supply, forcing it to shut down six mills through 2012 in order to maximize throughout at those whose doors remain open.

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India approves $253.9 million in gap funding for 2G ethanol

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 6:52pm

In India, the Economic Times of India newspaper reports that the country’s cabinet has approved $253.9 million in gap funding to help fund cellulosic ethanol plants over the next half dozen years including 12 commercial projects and 10 demonstration projects. The government has been pushing to get ethanol blending to 10% by 2022 but has been struggling, especially in getting cellulosic ethanol production online. Ethanol in the country has traditionally been produced from B-heavy molasses but recently feedstocks have been expanded to include C-heavy molasses, cane juice and waste feedstocks.

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NREL researchers find way to upcycle plastics into higher value greener products

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 6:51pm

In Colorado, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have discovered a method of plastics upcycling—transforming discarded products into new, high-value materials of better quality and environmental value—that could economically incentivize the recycling of waste plastics and help solve one of the world’s most looming pollution problems.

Published in Joule, “Combining reclaimed PET with bio-based monomers enables plastics upcycling,” describes how the NREL team chemically combined reclaimed polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, in the form of single-use beverage bottles, with bio-based compounds to produce higher-value fiber-reinforced plastics (FRPs) that can be used in products from snowboards to vehicle parts to wind turbines. Not only are the resulting composites worth more than double the original PET, the FRPs exhibit twice the strength and improved adhesion to fiberglass when compared to the standard petroleum-derived FRP.

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Paul and Grassley looks to extend biodiesel tax credits in new legislation

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 6:50pm

In Washington, U.S. Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Chuck Grassley of Iowa introduced the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act of 2019 (S.581), legislation that would remove burdensome regulations on domestic energy production.

“The Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act provides new economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers by allowing fuel producers and automobile manufacturers to innovate and bring new products to market that will lower costs for consumers, increase domestic energy production, and protect the environment,” Paul said. “If we want to ensure a strong future for Kentucky agriculture and the industry across the rest of the country, we must get burdensome government regulations out of the way and allow consumer choice and competition to spur economic growth and innovation.”

“The EPA has long imposed regulatory burdens that have prevented innovation in the fuel market and limited options for consumers across the country who would like to purchase alternative fuels like biofuels from Iowa,” Grassley said. “Allowing more consumer choice at the pump fits in well with President Trump’s deregulatory agenda. This bill would level the playing field by removing the EPA’s impediments to market competition and provide more access to cleaner, domestic renewable fuels.”

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World’s 1st for product carbon footprints, polyhydroxyalkanoates bioplastic, BASF shoe shanks, bacteria-infused knits, Eastman’s cellulosic yarn and more: The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of February 28th

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 4:49pm

The pace of bioeconomy invention and change continues at a frenetic pace. Here are the top innovations for the week of February 28th.

In today’s Digest, world’s 1st for product carbon footprints, polyhydroxyalkanoates bioplastic, BASF shoe shanks, bacteria-infused knits, Eastman’s cellulosic yarn — these and more, ready for you now at The Digest online.

#1 CoClear creates world’s first data visualization of product carbon footprints

In New York, an interactive data visualization depicting the life cycle analysisv (LCA) of hundreds of commercial and consumer products has been developed by sustainability consultancy CoClear, Inc. The data underlying this tool — called the Carbon Catalogue — represents the detailed product submissions made by companies to CDP between 2013 and 2017 as part of their ‘Supply Chain Climate Change Information Request.’

By generating carbon-intensity data for each product — through measuring the rate of carbon emissions per kilogram of product — CoClear was able to identify industry trends, as well as track product performance improvements along value chains.

This comprehensive data is drawn from 145 companies from 28 countries, representing 30 global GICS industry groups and totaling 866 products.

This is the first time an analysis of global product data has been assembled into a data visualization, providing participating companies across industries — including Braskem, Danone, GM and Stanley Black and Decker — a platform they can use to explore their product’s carbon footprints along with those of other companies that reported to CDP.
More on the story, here.

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BioSNG Bulletin: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Biomass to Synthetic Natural Gas (BioSNG)

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 4:48pm

Lee Enterprises Consulting is the world’s largest bioeconomy consulting group with over 100 subject matter experts (SME’s) in all areas of the bioeconomy.

Mark Robertson, from Small Planet Engineering and a member of Lee Enterprises Consulting offers this illuminating overview of renewable natural gas via biomass gasification and methanation, biogas upgrading to RNG, BioSNG developments, challenges, opportunities and more

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The Competitive Edge: Benefuel Inc.

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 5:53pm

Benefuel Inc.

Q: What was the reason for founding your organization – what was the open niche you saw that could be addressed with a new product or service? What was the problem, or gap, or opportunity?

Benefuel recognized that biodiesel production from virgin oil seeds was neither profitable nor sustainable long term. However, to process lower quality fats or oils required an ability to either remove the free fatty acid component or put in additional process technology to convert it into biodiesel. This was expensive, inefficient and difficult to operate reliability.

As a result, Benefuel worked to develop a novel and patented, catalytic refining process that combines transesterification and esterification which allows the efficient production of biodiesel from low cost waste fats and oil to produce a low carbon, low cost fuel. This business model takes advantage of the multitude of waste feedstocks, worldwide.

Q: Tell us about your organization. What do you do?

Benefuel Inc. is a biodiesel process technology and production company with offices in Ottawa, Ontario and Coppell, Texas. Over the last 12 years, the company has developed a novel, next-generation technology for manufacturing biodiesel and bio-lubricants. Benefuel’s patented ENSEL® process allows for the production of very low-carbon biodiesel, by using lower cost, high free fatty acid feedstocks and converting them efficiently into a high-quality biodiesel and technical grade glycerin.

Q: What stage of development are you? 

Commercial stage – have mature products or services on the market.

Q: What do your technologies, products or services do and accomplish – how does it (they) work, who is it (they) aimed for?

Benefuel’s ENSEL technology can covert low value, high FFA feedstocks into high purity biodiesel, biolubricants and technical grade glycerin.

Benefuel’s novel process design and proprietary catalyst offers the highest rate of conversion and yield of waste oils to finished spec biodiesel of any commercially demonstrated process.

The efficiency and yields that Benefuel’s refining process achieves combined with the use of low carbon feedstocks results in one of the lowest carbon fuels available.

Benefuel achieves a lower carbon intensity per gallon, or per dollar of invested capital, than any other available renewable or biodiesel technology available in the market today.

Q: Competitively, what gives your technology, product or service set an edge in cost or performance, sustainability, or any other aspect, that makes it stand out from the crowd, In short, what makes it transformative?

Benefuel combines two refining steps (esterification & transesterification) into a single step, eliminating both capital and operating costs in doing so.

Benefuel’s proprietary refining catalyst achieves extremely high rates of conversion and yields of all fats and oils.  This when combined with the use of low carbon feedstocks like Used Cooking Oil, Yellow Grease, Distillers Corn Oil and animal fats results in one of the lowest cost renewable fuels with one of the lowest carbon intensity scores.

One gallon of Benefuel’s biodiesel has 80% less GHG emissions than petroleum diesel.

Q: What are the 3 top milestones you have accomplished in the past 3 years?

  1. Completed the build and start-up of a 50 million gallon per year biodiesel refinery.
  2. Demonstrated the conversion efficacy of Benefuel’s proprietary catalyst and longevity with over 2.5 years of operating history.
  3. Gathered significant lessons learned and incorporated them into the 2.0 design basis for future expansion.

Q: What are the 3 top milestones you will accomplish in the next 3 years?

  1. Complete the design and engineering of version 2.0 of Benefuel’s ENSEL refining process.
  2. Deploy the first modular refining unit starting with Sarnia, Ontario.
  3. Establish a strong financial partner that is committed to GHG reduction and climate change to rapidly deploy additional refineries in the key, low carbon markets on a global basis.
Where can I learn more about Benefuel?

Click here to visit Benefuel’s website.


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UK implementing EU fuel pump rules to help drivers identify biofuel blends

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 5:50pm

In the UK, drivers are set to benefit from new labels to help them to easily identify the right fuel for their vehicle, thanks to new rules being rolled out by the Department for Transport. The labels, which will be accompanied by a wider public information campaign later this year, will also help drivers understand the biofuel content of the fuels they use every day.

Last year, the carbon dioxide (CO2) savings from using biofuels in road transport was equivalent to taking over a million cars off the UK’s roads. Blending biofuels into regular petrol and diesel reduces CO2 emissions, helping us to meet climate change commitments. Petrol, which contains up to 5% renewable ethanol, will be labelled ‘E5’, while diesel, which contains up to 7% biodiesel, will be labelled as ‘B7’.

A DfT spokesperson said, “These new labels will help drivers chose the right fuel for their vehicle, whilst also highlighting the use of biofuels in reducing the CO2 emissions from everyday road vehicles. The UK’s Road to Zero strategy sets out the agency’s ambition to end the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2040, while the ongoing decarbonizing of traditional fuels will help during this transition.”

The labels will appear on the pumps on every forecourt and on the filler caps of all new vehicles, allowing motorists to easily match the correct fuel to their car or motorbike.

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Kern Oil threatens EPA with lawsuit over failed response to hardship waiver request

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 5:49pm

In Washington, Reuters reports that Kern Oil sent a letter to the Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on February 7 threatening to sue the agency after it failed to respond to its small refinery hardship waiver request within the 90 days prescribed by law. The California refinery applied for the waiver in July 2018 in an effort to waive its 2017 compliance requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard but has yet to receive a response. It said in the letter that it prefers to have the response than suing the acting administrator and the agency in US District Court.

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CropEnergies decides to resume ethanol production in the UK

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 5:47pm

In Germany, the executive board of CropEnergies AG, Mannheim, has decided to resume ethanol production in its UK plant in Wilton at the beginning of March 2019. It is planned to initially run the factory at reduced capacity to supply orders from British customers.

The company says that for a continuous operation of the plant in Wilton, the development of the local British market for alternative fuels is imperative. This includes above all the speedy introduction of Premium E10 with 10 volume percent of ethanol which has been overdue for years. Already today, climate friendly Premium E10 is the standard fuel for the certification of new petrol engines in the EU.

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Australia-first 100% renewable diesel trial kicks off

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 5:46pm

In Australia, the Australian-first trial using 100 per cent renewable diesel to fuel a Scania test engine is up and running thanks to the Palaszczuk Government’s Advance Queensland Industry Attraction Fund.

Southern Oil’s Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant at Yarwun, near Gladstone, is pioneering the refining of renewable diesel fuel made from waste plastic, old vehicle tyres, agriculture and forestry waste, and biosolids.

The high-end Scania V8 test engine is being used in its power generation configuration for the testing – allowing assessment of exhaust emissions, performance and response, fuel efficiency, cost and engine lifetime.

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Boeing delivers China Southern news A320NEO on 10% aviation biofuel

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 5:45pm

In China, China Southern Airlines has become another airline to join the programme to use a blend of traditional and sustainable biofuels to power aircraft for delivery flights from Airbus. The aircraft involved is the first A320NEO for China Southern Airlines, which left the manufacturer’s delivery center in Toulouse last week for its new home in Guangzhou with a 10 percent blend of sustainable jet fuel in its tanks.

The sustainable fuel option for delivery flights has been developed by Airbus in association with Air Total, the aviation subsidiary of the global energy operator. In order to stock the eco-friendly product, Air Total has installed the first ever biofuel station adjacent to the Airbus delivery center in Toulouse. More than of 30 aircraft have so far been delivered by Airbus since the facility was inaugurated in May 2016.

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Democrats push Washington low carbon fuel bill out of committee

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 5:44pm

In Washington state, Democrats on the state’s House Appropriations Committee voted succeeded in moving the proposed low carbon fuels bill to the full House debate in a 19-14 line party committee vote. Opponents claim the proposed legislation that would reduce carbon intensity by 10% below 2017 levels by 2028 would increase fuel prices as a result of mandated biofuel blending but proponents see it as a way to help support fledgling biofuel producers in the state.

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