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Today's News

Circa gets EU green light to import or manufacture its bio-based solvent

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 5:26pm

In the UK, biotechnology company Circa Group has received authorization from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to manufacture or import up to 100 metric tons/year of its bio-based solvent CyreneTM in the European Union, after receiving REACH Annex VIII approval.

A chiral dipolar aprotic solvent, CyreneTM was developed in conjunction with the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence (GCCE) at the University of York. CyreneTM is a two-step conversion of waste biomass, produced at Circa’s large-scale prototype plant, built in partnership with pulp and paper company Norske Skog in Tasmania, Australia.

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Institute of Technology Tralee gets EU grant to develop country’s first biorefinery

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 5:25pm

In Ireland, the Institute of Technology Tralee will receive EUR940,000 under the EU Agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI), which is co-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and the EU, to lead the Biorefinery Glas project, Ireland’s first small-scale bioeconomy initiative. The Biorefinery Glas project aims to address key challenges in Irish agriculture while promoting farmer diversification into Ireland’s exciting and growing bioeconomy. Within this, IT Tralee will partner with University College Dublin, the Carbery Group, Barryroe Co-Operative and Wageningen University-spinout GRASSA BV on the Biorefinery Glas project, through which farmers will demonstrate new business models, using an automated and low-cost biorefinery model, which integrates well within traditional beef and dairy farming and could be replicated across Ireland, addressing fodder and emissions challenges while adding value to primary production. The two-year demonstration project will commence in 2019 at IT Tralee.

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China seen producing 6.6 million tons of ethanol annually from 2020

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 5:24pm

In China, Reuters reports that the country is expected to nearly triple its ethanol production to 6.6 million metric tons annually by 2020 in time for implementation of its E10 blending mandate. Installed capacity in 2017 was 2.7 million tons. To achieve the mandate, ethanol demand will be 15 million tons, indicating that significant imports will be required to achieve its policy goals. The US and Brazil are expected to be the main origins of those imports.

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Judge approves Syngenta $1.51 billion settlement over GMO corn rejected by China

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 5:23pm

In North Carolina, Farm Journal reports that a federal judge has approved the landmark $1.51 billion settlement by Syngenta to those impacted back in 2013 by China shutting off imports of GMO corn varieties and DDGS produced from those GMO corn varieties that included a gene not approved in the country. The company’s attorneys said that if appeals did not slow down the process, payments to hundreds of thousands of farmers and ethanol plants could already begin by Q2 2019 following eight years of litigation.

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Green Plains laying off around 40 employees to “right size” following asset shifts

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 5:21pm

In Nebraska, Reuters reports that Green Plains has started laying off employees in the wake of selling off ethanol production assets rather than due to weak production margins. Sources told Reuters that about 40 people had been laid off as the company seeks to “right size” itself. The company recently sold three ethanol plants to Valero as well as a vinegar plant while permanently shuttering an ethanol plant in Virginia. Low ethanol prices have hit margins across the industry.

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New Energy Blue five months away from finalizing permitting and engineering for 2G plant

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 5:20pm

In North Dakota, Agweek reports that design for the $150 million New Energy Blue cellulosic ethanol plant in Spirtwood is chugging right along with permitting and engineering about five months away. The 16 million gallon per year facility will use wheat and corn residues as feedstock and could be online as soon as 2021. Located near the corn-based SpiritAg Energy ethanol plant in hopes of sharing rail infrastructure. The cellulosic ethanol is anticipated for the higher value California market.

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TU Delft researcher develops model assessing impacts of transportation emissions on climate

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 5:13pm

In the Netherlands, a PhD candidate at TU Delft created a unique chemistry-climate response model called TransClim (Modelling the effect of surface Transportation on Climate) which assesses the impact and the contribution of road traffic emission scenarios on O3 and CH4 concentration as well as their subsequent climate effect.

‘Comparing the results delivered by TransClim with simulations of the complex global chemistry climate model EMAC, reveals very low deviations. TransClim reproduces the results calculated by EMAC very well. TransClim thus offers a new method to quickly assess the climate impact and the contribution of mitigation strategies for road traffic in a sufficiently accurate manner. As TransClim simulates about 6,000 times faster than a complex chemistry climate model, it enables to quickly quantify the effect of many emission scenarios in different regions.’

TransClim made it possible to assess the climate effect of three prospective mitigation options of German road traffic. The future emission scenario including the strictest environmental regulations and emission controls leads to the strongest decrease of O3 and CH4 radiative forcing. ‘Secondly, two scenarios have been constructed describing the cases that European vehicles use fuel blends containing a low and a high proportion of biofuels. Simulations with TransClim reveal that fuels with a low content of biofuels mainly reduce CH4, while fuels with a high content of biofuels reduce tropospheric O3.’

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Biodiesel companies urge Congress to extend biodiesel and renewable diesel tax breaks

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 5:12pm

In Washington, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and more than 50 member companies and affiliated organizations delivered a letter to House and Senate leaders, urging them to enact a multiyear extension of the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive before Congress adjourns for the year. In February 2018, Congress retroactively extended the tax incentive for 2017, leaving it expired for this year and beyond. The letter welcomes a recent proposal for a seven-year extension of the tax incentive.

In the letter, the biodiesel industry stakeholders state, “We believe that a multiyear extension of the tax incentive would help the biodiesel industry achieve substantial growth over the next several years, creating significant new employment opportunities, an important market for agricultural products and renewable feedstocks, as well as opportunities for rural economic growth.”

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Torrefaction of Biomass: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide ABLC Guide to International Biomass Torrefaction Council

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 5:09pm

The International Biomass Torrefaction Council aims to promote biomass torrefaction and let the world know that integrated torrefaction process technology is mature, available and happening.

Michael Wild from Wild & Partner LLC gave this illuminating overview of biomass torrefaction’s status, market requirements, and supply chain efficiency comparison at ABLC Global 2018 in San Francisco – and it’s ready for you now at The Digest online.

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Year of the Tree, CORSIA fuels, Mabus’ remarks, a breakthrough on woody biomass?: Heard on the Floor at the CAAFI general meeting

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 3:54pm

When the world’s leaders for sustainable aviation fuels have a general meeting the week before the COP24 global climate sessions (this year in Poland), you can bet that the focus will be breaking the “You Can Have Two out of Three Conundrum” of aviation fuels. Which is to say: affordable, available at scale, and sustainable: pick any two of the three. 

Fossil fuels are (usually) affordable and always available at scale. Sustainable jet fuels that are available at scale have generally not been affordable to date, and affordable sustainable fuels have been mostly explored at bench scale, so far.

San Francisco’s buying more renewable fuel

Case in point, the exciting and welcome news that Shell, World Energy, SkyNRG, KLM, SAS and Finnair have joined forces to reduce carbon emissions at San Francisco Airport. 

Turns out that Shell Aviation and SkyNRG have commenced the supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to international airlines KLM, SAS and Finnair at San Francisco Airport (SFO). The fuel is produced by World Energy, currently the only at0scale SAF refinery worldwide, at the Paramount refinery in Los Angeles, and is made from used cooking oil, resulting in a fuel that has significantly lower lifecycle carbon emissions than conventional jet fuel. In general, sustainable aviation fuel has a reduction potential of 60-80%, compared to conventional jet fuel.

And, isn’t this the same refinery that provided diesel and jet fuel blends for which the Navy paid $2.07 a gallon in late 2015? (And, though that was a 10 percent biofuels blend, the same refinery won a competitive bid in 2017 for a 30 percent biofuels blend).

So what’s not to like? In the context of aviation demand, running at around 30 billion gallons worldwide and every drop of that airlines would like to switch-over to sustainable aviation fuels — there’s the problem of Peak FOG.

No that’s not something you see in San Francisco around November; it refers to a global shortage of waste Fats, Oils and Greases. Turns out the world runs out of affordable, sustainable liquid alternatives to fossil fuels faster than it runs out of fossils. 

Year of the Tree

Which is why the talk of CAAFI was, in a nutshell, all about wood — not virgin timber, mind you, or even the choice parts of the timber supply chain that become 2x4s or round logs. No, there’s no Frame-House vs Fuel in here. It’s the needles, tops, branches that are the waste products of our usual applications for wood. Plus, thinnings as we take dead trees out of forests to limit fire risk.

A breakthrough in woody biomass from federal lands?  

Among the more juicy items heard on the floor at CAAFI, one that regards the unfortunately-named 40 CFR 80.1401, Renewable Fuels Standard and Regulation of Fuels and Fuel Additives.

The 2,000 page FY2018 Omnibus Spending Bill signed by President Trump on March 23, 2018, in Title IV General Provisions, on page 866, states; “That the Federal policy relating to forest bioenergy- must be consistent across all Federal departments and agencies, shall recognize the full benefits of the use of forest biomass for responsible forest management and recognizes biomass as a renewable energy source. The only limitations is that, the use of forest biomass for energy production does not cause conversion of forests to non forest use”.

CJ Evans (Managing Director, American Diversified Energy Consulting Services) added, “Some background on this language. I first tried to advance legislation in 2007 (through Rep. Adam Putnam’s office) to make the definitions of biomass consistent across all federal laws. There were almost a dozen different definitions.  I hit a buzz saw of opposition from interest groups and abandoned the effort. Mark Riedy also got involved at one point and several groups wrote white papers in 2014 and 2015, without making any progress.

“I was working on other issues during the last 5 months of 2017 (restoration of funding for Title 17 and EERE at DOE and removal of a provision in ag appropriations that would have eliminated USDA staff working on renewable energy programs) but had contact with the offices that could fix the problem with not being able to use diseased trees from national forests and have the wood quality as renewable biomass. So I wrote a short bullet list with some suggested language and gave it to a couple of these offices … and it was included in the Omnibus Spending Bill. Certainly one of easiest legislative victories I’ve ever undertaken.”

The capacity build out

The numbers are getting impressive amongst those who can produce heavy fuels — diesel and jet fuels, specifically. 

Consider these. Neste, 600 million gallons of existing capacity and a capacity-adding project underway. World Energy, 60 million gallons of existing capacity, with a project underway to expand to 300 million gallons. Diamond Green Diesel, 170 million gallons in place and expanding capacity towards a goal of 300 million gallons. REG, 70 million gallons in place in Louisiana, and a project underway in partnership with Phillips 66 to build new capacity in Washington state. 

And that’s not taking into account companies such as Red Rock Biofuels (first commercial under construction), Fulcrum Bioenergy (first commercial under construction), SG Preston (first commercial under development), Ryze Renewables (first commercial under development), and EnerSysNet (pilot under development), among many more. Not to mention the companies pursuing alcohol-to-jet, including LanzaTech, Gevo and Vertimass.

The feedstocks 

Think residues. That’s where the sustainability has, so far, met the economics. There have been three basic thrusts, to date. First, the afore-mentioned foray into waste FOG. There is municipal solid waste, which Fulcrum is using. There is waste wood, which Red Rock has been using. And, there has been waste land — targeting lands that have fallen out of traditional agricultural production because of crop disease or changing economics with traditional crops — Agrisoma and the SPARC consortium in Florida are targeting land that in years gone by would have been home to citrus or cattle in South Florida.

CORSIA fuels, baby

Perhaps the most welcome news of the floor is at last a single word that we can use to replace all the monikers and acronyms for sustainable aviation furls. SPK, SAF, CARB fuel, RJ just to name three of many.

Now we know we can simply call them CORSIA fuels. For the CORSIA Global Carbon Offsetting Scheme that the airlines have established. Which is not a carbon tax or emissions trading, and it applies only to international flights (which represent about 67 percent of commercial airlines fuel use).

Now even the CORSIA group has come up with a three-letter acronym of their own, CEF, CORSIA-eligible fuel. We’ll ignore that. CORSIA is fine.

The leading expert we know is Nancy Young of Airlines 4 America and here are your 10 takeaways:

  • single global market-based standard
  • time frame 2021-35
  • CORSIA is in lieu of other measures imposed
  • 2021-26 voluntary phase in for countries, 2027 mandatory other then exempt countries or routes eg LDCs
  • 76 countries representing 76% of international in the opt-in phases, in 2027 goes up about 90 percent
  • demonstration of compliance every 3 years begins Jan 1 2019
  • monitoring is country by country reporting to ICAO
  • alt fuel not included in 2019-20, rather in 2021 when offsetting begins
  • emissions savings from purchase of CORSIA eligible fuels reduces individual operators obligations
  • when we fly country to country, this is the single mechanism

On concerns that airlines will simply buy offsets and ignore fuels. Young predicts: “Watch what happens to the market over 15-20 years as countries move to meet Paris and CORSIA obligations, it will be a tight offset market.”

Mabus: stop buying a way out of a problem and starting buying into a solution

Former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus took the stage and said:

“When I was the nominee for Secretary of the Navy and waiting for my confirmation, what kept jumping out at me in the briefings I received was fuel, how it could be used as a weapon against us. We set a policy goal that no later than 2020 half of fuel would come from non-fossil. When i did that frankly the technology and the economics weren’t there, but we believed that we could save the navy and taxpayers money by doing i, and i saw energy as a national security argument and alternative fuels as a key part of that energy security. 

“I got a little push back on that particularly from Congress where one legislator said “you’re the secretary of the navy not energy. I said that the navy has always led in energy transformation, sail to coal, coal to oil, oil to nuclear, and every time we did that there were all these naysayers. They would say, things like ‘why are you giving up all these coaling stations for this unproven oil technology,’ and every time single they were wrong and they are completely wrong about alternative energy. 

“We moved aggressively. We tested and certified every type of ship and aircraft. We flew on 100% biofuels. And Fulcrum and Red Rock are here today and doing well, and we made an investment in them. But we got the benefit. 77 mgs in 2015 90/10 blend and in 2017 a 60 million gallons purchase on a 70/30 blend. In each case, 25 cents cheaper to the navy.

“Now, in 2017 I wasn’t there any more pushing for this. Now, it’s the new normal. Now, the navy and so many others — including airlines like United, KLM, Lufthansa and Alaska are moving aggressively, and ports and airports like San Francisco, Singapore, Oslo, Brisbane and Seattle. Alternative energy in all its forms did one major thing for the Navy, it made the navy better at what they do, better warfighters. This is not a group of ardent environmentalist, they run in big ships and have a lot of vehicles. They have become leaders because of the proof that it makes them better at doing the job that the United States needs them to do. Ultimately it was national security, not the 60-90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that was important.

“But, the US government put out a national climate assessment the day after Thanksgiving. Every time the assessment comes out , the warnings become more severe, the consequences more dire. The lower states have warmed 1.5 degrees  this century, 1.2 degrees in last few decades and will get 3-12 degrees warmer by end of the century. The effects of this are catastrophic. Already we see the effects on places and people, we have the the first internally displaced people from climate change in some of our coastal islands. 

“Big companies are now seeing the benefits of direct action. But we have got to get beyond buying carbon offsets. We have tostop buying our way out of a problem and starting buying into a solution. Two immediate ideas. Corporate jet fuels costs usually 3-4X larger than big commercial airlines, Switching to alternatives would send a strong signal that corporations are paying attention. And, favor airlines as business travel partners by screening for alternative fuels. Using that power with business travel to make sure we are moving in the right direction.

“We all have to change how we operate, just as we did at the Navy. In the military if you keep doing the same things you become predictable, and predictable is defeatable. If you don’t change and make the moves you have to make, and think differently about how you procure fuel, your corporation will go away.”

“The RFS debate has been not productive and about locking in first-generation biofuels and failing the industry.”

In his opening remarks, Steve Csonka, executive director of CAAFI said “Aviation is at a crossroads – a vision for expansion but a carbon intensity that the public is turning sharply against. if done right, biofuels can be part of the solution, but not done right it is the opposite.  LanzaTech is clearing industrial emissions, Agrisoma is planting cover crops.. Fulcrum is reducing landfill waste. The RFS debate has been not productive and about locking in first-generation biofuels and failing the industry.”

“The problem is the low cost of offsets”

SG Preston CEO Randy LeTang veered away from feedstocks as the primary challenge. “The problem is not feedstock, but support from the end consumer, when you have high cost fuel vs low cost credits. How can we drive down the cost to provide fuels without he support of airlines offtakers? We see lack of interest and waning interest from offtakers given the optionality of low cost offsets vs high cost fuels.”

#1 opportunity: “clean up this biointermediates rule”

For US policy, CAAFI brought in Advanced Biofuels Association president Mike McAdams, who noted that the 2019 RVO was as expected, and of more interest was the Brady tax bill which offers a 7 years tax credit starting at $1.19 and sunsets after 7 years. He noted that the i#1 opportunity was to “clean up this biointermediates rule”,  that it is essential in scaling advanced biofuels that bio-intermediates be allowable and with a mass balance rather than carbon-14 analysis system. He noted that “consumers are increasingly aware of aviation carbon impact and want to participate in real change; now is the time to drive policies to enable alternative jet fuel commercialization. But he warned that efforts could be undercut by carryover RINs. He commented that 2.8B carryover RINS issued in 2018; up from 2017’s 2.25 billion, and in the D6 RIN pool that had taken the RIN value from 80 cents to 6 cents.

“LCFS is the right tool to address the toughest GHG sector, heavy transport”

For California policy, CAAFI brought in Graham Noyes, who noted that the overall California Low Carbon Fuel Standard drives down the carbon intensity of California fuels by 1.25 percent per year through 2030, with obligated parties having the option to buy credits or blend low carbon fuels. Jet fuels are coming into the standard, though on an opt-in basis at first.

The value of California credits. Noyes noted that a technology with a carbon intensity of 40 could earn $1.19 per gallon and those with a carbon intensity of 10 could earn $1.83 in the trading values today.  He said that the LCFS is the right tool to address the toughest GHG sector, heavy transportation, because it materially overvalues alternatives compared to cap and trade of emissions and offsets.

He noted that Low Carbon Standards were very much in an expansion mode. Washington state in 2019 could be next, there was a coalition of interests in the Midwest looking at a regional LCFS, and a RGGI group for the Northwestern states. Noyes said that the essentials for 

2019 were continued vocal leadership from A4A and CAAFI, and sustained support from the agencies.

“We all see a significant shift, that customers are demanding low carbon solutions and by and large the majors don’t make them.”

World Energy COO Bryan Sherbacow commented, “I was pleasantly surprised after 2008 with the Obama Administration coming in to find that the military were the new hippies in embracing sustainability. It seemed clear and obvious this was going to be the successful path forward and that Secretary Mabus was setting out the demand signal. Our timing worked well and we were awarded the first commercial fuel and now on our 3rd Navy contract and its one of our more important pieces of business for us. But the US government eliminated the USDA component and hopefully we can restore that, because we probably won’t be competitive in the fourth solicitation. 

Meanwhile, people being displaced and fires are breaking out and it is important what we do. We all see a significant shift, that customers are demanding low carbon solutions and by and large the majors don’t make them. 

“At World Energy we are partnering with incumbents in the oil & gas space and we become part of their distribution where they are compelled by policy, We don’t have to replicate the infrastructure – just work through them. Our California asset was back in 2013 a small asphalt refinery and we formed a JV to convert to renewables with initial deliveries in 2016 and first deliveries to UAL and delivering into LAX since then. We started at 3,000 barrels per day and are expanding to 20000 barrels a day. With our process we produce 50 percent jet, but about 10 percent very competitively on a cost basis. So, we’re making 3-4 million gallons, and in the future we would ideally make around 30-40 million gallons.

The problems are that the incentives significantly favor diesel over jet, and that we have to get past fats oils and greases and get to novel feedstocks. The incentives can be fixed, right now if a customer shows up in the California market we can win those contracts every time, unless we have just done a poor job of educating the customer. Now, in January, jet fuel will be included in that LCFS program and that will make a big change.

On technology, the tricky part of that most processes that involve gasification of woody biomass, which is available and affordable, give you a lot of naphtha and not enough diesel, so the economics don’t work nearly as well as they could, because naphtha generally fits into the lower-value gasoline pool. 

Get beyond private wood

Red Rock Biofuels CEO Terry Kulesa noted, “the gasoline pool is growing and there’s a need for 30 percent more diesel going forward. We use the same process, different suppliers compared to Fulcrum BioEnergy, we gasify biomass, use FT to get to a biocrude, then hydroprocessing to produce a finished fuel. We’re making15.1 million gallons per year of heavy transport fuels. The tricky part? In terms of technology, it’s really the gasification. The tricky part of the economics is that we have to buy private wood, we can’t qualify for federal renewable fuel credits when we use wood sourced from federal lands.” Even though we all could use getting some of that waste wood off of federal land.

“Completion? We’ll be completed in December and we expect 6-12 months of ramp up. Plants never run exactly as designed, that’s why we have great operators. 

“We need alternatives to landfilling fossil plastics that cannot be recycled or reused”

Neste’s US head, Neville Fernandes spoke about the growth at the world leader by production volume. “At Neste, we’re at 260000 barrels per day, or 910 million gallons per year in Poorvoo, Rotterdam and Singapore, we have $1.4 billion in operating profit. In a few weeks we’ll make the decision on adding 340 mgy in Singapore which will take out total footprint up to 1.3 billion gallons. 

Our pathway involved moving to renewable diesel in 2007, renewable jet in 2015, Ultra low Sulphur marine in 2018 and renewable propane and chemicals are the new initiatives. In the future, we see ourselves building a GreenHub to convert waste plastics to fuels. Last year, 80 percent of our feedstock came from waste and residues. In the short term it is about waste FOG; in the longer term we see microbial oil, algae and plastic liquefaction as important feedstocks. And we need alternatives to landfilling fossil plastics that cannot be recycled or reused. 

“100% biofuels now ready for ASTM balloting”

Chuck Red at ARA took the stage to focus on 100% biofuels flights and supplies. “We’re now ready for the ASTM ballot. And we expect to have out first commercial unit at 3600 barrel per day in the Western US, with ARA participating as an equity partner and using a USDA 9003 loan guarantee. 

“It’s jet, and ground operations, too”

FedEx’s Joel Murdoch noted that the demand is not only for jet fuel but for diesel for ground operations, for many.

“FedEx’s goal is 30 percent alternative fuel use for aviation by 2030.  In petroleum we contract for 1-2 years but we contract for 5-10 years with alternatives, with exit mechanisms, and we have a 5% maximum per location until the security of supply established.”

The challenges? More than just fuel price and composition, Murdoch advises. “There are logistics as well as cost. Truck, rail, pipelines — how will it be transported? There’s the airport fuel consortiums to consider, will the blends be on or off the airport. There’s the use of existing tankage, the addition of new tanks. And more.”

Replacing aromatics

Representing the US Department of Energy was BETO director Jonathan Male, who noted that the 26 billion gallon jet fuel is expected to double in size and would require nearly a billion tons of biomass. He noted that most blends are restricted to date to 50 percent because of the performance of aromatics. “But, are there renewable molecules and help us with particulate matter and give us what aromatics do?” He suggested that R&D should and would examine replacing the aromatics with iso-alkanes and cycloalkanes.

Pursuing economics through process optimization and co-products

Overall, Male’s message was “Bring Down Cost’ and he noted that when it comes to feedstocks, and processing, yield was the goal and “every gram counts”.  To reach the economics needed, he said, you have to have unit operations s that work together in an optimal way — you don’t have a process until you join units together,” and by inference, you don’t have a sustainable, affordable, defensible process until the units work together in an optimal way.

NIFA’s National Program Leader in the Division of Sustainable Bioenergy Bill Goldner chimed in decisively on this point, The co-products are really important to the economics.”

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Shell Aviation and SkyNRG begin supply SAF at San Francisco airport

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 6:19pm

In the Netherlands, Shell Aviation and SkyNRG have commenced the supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to international airlines KLM, SAS and Finnair at San Francisco Airport (SFO).

The fuel is produced by World Energy, currently the only SAF refinery worldwide.

The initial phase of the arrangement aims to pave the way for longer term, more resilient supply chains for sustainable aviation fuels and reduce the carbon emissions of flights from SFO and other airports. Following May’s agreement, Shell Aviation is the first major fuel supplier to support SFO in its ambition to expand the use of sustainable aviation fuel in its operations.

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BioLNG EuroNet consortium commits to expand LNG around Europe and build a BioLNG plant in the Netherlands

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 6:18pm

In Poland, BioLNG EuroNet announced a commitment to the further expansion of LNG (liquefied natural gas) as a road transport fuel across Europe with new infrastructure that should ensure the long-term success and mass scale adoption in Europe.

The consortium, comprising Shell, DISA, Scania, IVECO, CNH Industrial Capital Europe under the trademark of IVECO Capital and Nordsol, and co-funded by the European Union, will each deliver separate activities that will see 2,000 more LNG trucks on the road, 39 LNG fueling stations and the construction of a BioLNG production plant in the Netherlands.

The LNG Retail stations will form part of a pan-European network and be built in Belgium, France, Germany the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. The stations will be located approximately every 400 km along core road network corridors from Spain to eastern Poland.

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Bio-on teams up with Hera to produce PHA from captured CO2 and waste feedstocks

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 6:17pm

In Italy, Bio-on and Gruppo Hera have reached an agreement to take 90% and 10% shares respectively (with the possibility of Hera increasing its share to 49.9%) in LUX-ON, the new company founded by Bio-on aiming to revolutionize the production of PHAs biopolymers using CO2 captured from the atmosphere and producing energy without using fossil fuels. The new technology developed by Bio-on envisages using carbon dioxide as a zero cost “raw material”, in addition to those already used to produce Bio-on bioplastic: sugar beet and sugar cane molasses, fruit and potato waste, carbohydrates, glycerol and waste frying oil. Using CO2 will also help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The laboratories and first plant of the new Lux-on project will be built by the end of 2019 close to the Bio-on Plants industrial facility at Castel San Pietro Terme (Bologna). It will be designed entirely by Bio-on technicians in collaboration with Hera, with carbon capture plants and a production facility using renewable solar energy. The development of the technology will be aided by the fact that many of the principles and equipment used in the standard technology can also be used in Lux-on’s new production systems. This is why the development and pre-industrial phase will be much faster than usual. The plant will occupy an area of 1,500 m2, 600 m2 of which is covered, and will have a flexible production capacity that is rapidly expandable.

The electric energy used in Lux-on’s innovative production process will be produced by photovoltaic systems which, aside from directly powering production, will also provide storable energy for nocturnal power (24/7 production). For energy storage, partnerships will be entered into with international experts in hydrogen (H) technology. Hydrogen, a non-polluting gas, will be produced from solar energy, stored and then converted to electric energy to power the plant when the solar panels are not running, i.e. at night or when light levels are poor.

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Amyris teams with Spanish fermentation company to expand production

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 6:16pm

In California, Amyris announced that it has executed an expanded agreement for its existing production contract with ADL Bionatur Solutions, through its fermentation division ADL Biopharma. ADL Bionatur, a European leader in research and development of health products, services and industrial fermentation production, provides cost effective, contract manufacturing capabilities. This marks the second expansion of an agreement the parties executed in 2018.

This expanded agreement supports confidence in ADL Bionatur Solutions by Amyris, a science and technology company that continues to establish its reputation for its fermentation process and clean, best-in-class performing ingredients.

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India clarifies that biodiesel imports will be restricted but not feedstocks

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 6:15pm

In India, the Director General for Foreign Trade has clarified a new rule prohibiting biodiesel imports that imports of feedstock for biodiesel production are exempt from the ban. Last month, following the announcement of the import restrictions, My Eco Energy that has become a major player in the country’s fledgling biodiesel industry sent the ministry a request for clarification to ensure that imports of feedstock would not be hindered by the new rules. The ministry confirmed that import permits were not required for feedstock.

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Lego says it wants bio but not biodegradable plastics

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 6:14pm

In Denmark, ICIS reports that Lego has chosen to focus on the sourcing side of bioplastics rather than the degradability properties some bioplastics offer because of concerns that biodegradable plastics could jeopardize child safety. The company undertook an internal assessment of its carbon footprint and found that most of the impact was upstream in its processes so is tackling it through management of the feedstocks used in the plastics it uses in its iconic toys.

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Germany researchers find that bioplastics aren’t necessarily more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 6:08pm

In Germany, bioplastics are often promoted as an environmentally and climate-friendly alternative to conventional petroleum-based plastics. However, a recent study from the University of Bonn suggests that shifting to plant-based plastics could have less positive effects than expected. Specifically, an increased consumption of bioplastics in the following years is likely to generate increased greenhouse gas emissions from cropland expansion on a global scale. The study is published in the scientific Journal “Environmental Research Letters”.

All in all, it takes a lot of time for the switch to bioplastics to pay off. Furthermore, the researchers estimate the societal costs of this policy to decrease one tonne of CO2 at more than $2,000 – a high sum as compared to biofuel mandates. A subsidy to bioplastics would have very different effects on the global economy. However, both the compensation period and the costs for climate change mitigation would remain almost the same as with the tax.

Categories: Today's News

CleanBC looks to strengthen low carbon fuel standard and boost biofuel production

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 6:07pm

In Canada, the Government of British Columbia released on December 5th its CleanBC climate plan, which charts a path to 19 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030—an ambitious yet achievable set of measures that put low-carbon biofuels at the forefront of the Province’s climate efforts. It also puts BC firmly in a leadership role on the national stage.

Highlights from the CleanBC plan include:
• Strengthening the low carbon fuel standard to a 20% reduction in fuel carbon intensity by 2030
• Supporting ramp up of new renewable fuel production to 650 million liters by 2030
• Zero-Emission Vehicles to make up 10% of new light duty vehicle sales in 2025, 30% in 2030, and 100% in 2040
• 15% minimum renewable content in industrial natural gas consumption, and cleaner industrial operations through electrification, CO2 storage, and direct air capture
• Improved energy efficiency in buildings

Categories: Today's News

What’s the Buzz? Heard on the floor at the COP24, on renewable fuels and more

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 3:00pm
COP24 descends on Katowice, Poland. What’s the buzz, what’s the mood? The Mood

“Pretty intense I’d say. Good.” notes Climate Ethanol Alliances’s James Cogan. “We’ve been in a dozen transport energy events so far.”

The Message

Climate Ethanol Alliance’s James Cogan handing out bio-oriented t-shirt messaging at COP 24.

“Fortunately the IEA had their big event today, and they shouted it loud and clear..  “use bioenergy in transport or suffer the consequences”. The Brazil pavilion just had a good event too. We’ve giving them t-shirts with the IPCC Report findings.””

The Buzz

Most discussions here about climate progress in transport get to the hand-wringing stage of recognizing the urgency and scale of progress needed, but falling short of saying what should be done, Cogan adds. “So it’s a lot of armchair generals. We’ve been intervening at every point to say (a) the UN’s Special Report says bioenergy is as important as electromobility for the next four decades and (b) no policy discussion can be meaningful unless it looks at the cost of the different measures, and regular ethanol is the cheapest climate measure in transport by a long shot.  We believe we’re being successful in getting people to listen and to make the step forward.”

The New Report

A landmark new multi-country report launched today states that the world’s greenhouse gas reduction goals cannot be met without greater use of biofuels and bioproducts, and reveals the four largest barriers currently impeding further progress.

The report, Creating the Biofuture: A Report on the State of the Low Carbon Bioeconomy, affirms – in line with models and scenarios by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – that biofuels and bioproducts must play an integral role in the global energy transition, in tandem with other complementary mitigation efforts across all sectors. 

According to the report launched today, around 130 billion liters of biofuel were produced annually in 2016, in a market worth approximately US$170 billion annually, mostly from sales of first-generation ethanol and biodiesel. Global biofuel output must rise to more than 200 billion liters annually by 2025 and more than 1100 billion liters annually by 2050 to be in line with long-term climate change mitigation scenarios developed by the IEA and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Second and third generation biofuels are emerging but must grow dramatically if Biofuture Platform targets are to be met. These can be made from inputs such as non-food crops, agricultural or industrial waste and algae, although much of the technology is still evolving and hence not yet commercially deployed at large scale.

The report — which you can download here identifies key barriers as:

• High levels of perceived risk affecting the availability of financial resources for commercial-scale production, holding back necessary research, development and deployment.

• Lack of competitiveness for biofuels and other bioproducts relative to fossil fuel-based alternatives in many markets, taking into account fossil fuels subsidies and the comparative cost reductions achieved in a mature industry.

• Unfavorable policy frameworks that do not effectively coordinate the competing needs of the agricultural economy and food system, a secure and clean energy supply, and the protection of the natural environment.

• Insufficient, unreliable or expensive supplies of sustainably-sourced feedstock to use in the production of biofuels and other bioproducts.

The Creating the Biofuture report was commissioned by the Biofuture Platform – a government-led, multi-stakeholder initiative created to support the development of the sustainable, low carbon bioeconomy. It is based on insights and data from 19 countries and the European Commission, collaborating as members of the Biofuture Platform coalition and the Mission Innovation Sustainable Biofuel Innovation Challenge multilateral initiative.

The original technical draft of the report was prepared by the Carbon Trust and Way Carbon consultancies, submitted for review by the participating governments, agencies, and partners, and published by the Government of Brazil in its capacity as the Biofuture Platform Interim Facilitator (a role similar to a Secretariat for the initiative).

IEA Designated to Become Biofuture Platform’s Facilitator

The Biofuture Platform also announced today that the IEA was designated to assume the role of Facilitator, following the Government of Brazil’s interim tenure. This development comes as part of a major governance overhaul to reinforce the Platform’s position as a key driver of international collaboration to overcome barriers to growth and accelerate the deployment of a sustainable low carbon bioeconomy.

With these internal governance changes, the Biofuture Platform expects to improve its position to drive the reinforced international collaboration called for in its Vision Declaration and in the Creating the Biofuture report, mobilizing governments, industry, academia, and related international initiatives, agencies and organizations.

The Bottom Line: Notes from The Been Here Before Department

Given that the COP24 is meeting in Katowice in Poland, it seems the right time to relate the situation of one of the more interesting characters ever to hail from Katowice, Lady Margaret Noszak of Ciezyn. Doubly so because so many leaders currently struggling with climate change, Brexit, open borders, and international trade flows are directly descended from her family.

Lady Margaret lived at the time of last great climate disaster that beset Europe, the Little Ice Age of the 14th century. A time when a version of a Paris Agreement over the relations of Europe was in constant jeopardy, border disputes raged over Bohemia, Prussia, France, England and elsewhere. Bandits were on the borderlands. Emperor Wenceslaus would have fractious relations with the Imperial Diet over questions of the legitimacy of his election. There was a turbulent shuffle of officials, and an energy shift owing to deforestation. The monarch of France was widely suspected to have gone quite insane. Debate raged across Europe over the revival of trade, but on fair terms, and the securing of borders. 

Enter Lady Margaret, arriving in England as lady-in-waiting to Anne of Bohemia, betrothed to Richard II. It was a controversial tie-up, owing to questions of payments that were supposed to flow between Europe and Britain as a result of the marriage, and the question of whether closer ties with Europe would result in more trade or less sovereignty. Meanwhile, there were Irish border troubles and Richard II’s mishandling of them caused the downfall of his government and the loss of his life.

All of which to say, we’ve been here before, in so many ways. Time to get it right.

Categories: Today's News

Residual Biomass to Gasoline: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide ABLC Guide to Bioliq Pilot Plant

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 12/09/2018 - 5:39pm

Karlsruher Institut für Technologie’s Bioliq pilot plant is producing synthetic fuels and chemicals from lignocellulosic, ash rich biomass.

Bernd Zimmerlin from Karlsruher Institut für Technologie gave this illuminating presentation on the technology behind the magic, from fast pyrolysis to entrained flow gasifier at ABLC Global 2018 in San Francisco – and it’s ready for you now at The Digest online.

Categories: Today's News


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