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Today's News

Researchers find they can manufacture proteins in the field using chloroplasts

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 4:15pm

In New York state, a team from Cornell University and the University of Illinois announced that crops can cheaply manufacture proteins inside their cellular power plants called chloroplasts—allowing the crops to be grown widely in fields rather than restrictive greenhouses—with no cost to yield.

In this study, the team engineered tobacco to produce cellulase proteins in the crop’s chloroplasts, where plants turn sunlight and carbon dioxide into energy through the process called photosynthesis. Each leaf cell contains about one hundred chloroplasts that contain thousands of copies of chloroplast DNA—which is separate from nuclear DNA—that can produce an enormous amount of protein.

To find out, the team grew tobacco engineered to produce cellulase in real-world, agronomic conditions over two years at Illinois’ Energy Farm. While they detected a slight effect on photosynthetic capacity in one year, there were no detectable differences in yield in either year.

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Canada’s conservative leader wants to scrap clean fuel standard

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 4:13pm

In Canada, The Canadian Press reports that the leader of the conservative party has written a letter to the Prime Minister that the new clean fuel standard that promotes increased use of biofuels to lower greenhouse gas emissions of fuels will increase prices at the pump by 4 cents per liter and reaching 11 cents by 2022. He has vowed that if his party wins the election this fall that he will scrap the standards all together and has asked the PM in his letter to dump the regulations now rather than waiting for a new government to make the change.

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Paper pen, bioasphalt, water activated bio shampoo, lignin self-healing elastomer, bio crop coating, and more: The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of July 10th

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 4:12pm

While many are on vacation this time of year, the bioeconomy is not even close to taking a break. In fact, bioeconomy innovations, are like a beach goer in Florida this time of year – hot! Here are the top innovations for the week of July 10th – from the crazy awesome idea that a pen can be made from paper to ORNL’s self-healing elastomeric material made from lignin.

In today’s Digest, paper pen, bioasphalt, water activated bio shampoo, lignin self-healing elastomer, bio crop coating — these and more, ready for you now at The Digest online.

#1 World’s first water-activated powder shampoo debuts

In New York, OWA Haircare, Inc. launched the world’s first water-activated powder shampoo, Moondust Collection: Hair Wash. It is sourced from naturally-derived ingredients and is a powder shampoo that becomes a liquid when activated with water in the shower.

Conventional liquid shampoo is typically around 80% water, according to OWA, and Moondust Collection: Hair Wash is 0% water. This product contains a unique blend of gentle cleansing agents activated by water that condition both the hair and scalp.

Moondust Collection: Hair Wash maintains the quality and efficacy of salon-grade shampoo and is free of water, sulfates, parabens, silicones, and synthetic colors and fragrance. OWA’s debut offering is part of the company’s mission to make the beauty industry a more sustainable place.
More on the story, here.

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Supply Chain Management: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Algenol

Biofuels Digest - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 3:03pm

Algenol knows a thing or two about supply chains. As a global biotechnology company that develops all natural products, as well as customized biology solutions, they use fundamental science and cutting edge technology to convert algae into high purity commercial products.

Ed Legere, CEO of Algenol gave this illuminating overview of how to fit into a multinational supply chain, business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and more at ABLC 2019 in Washington, D.C.

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Anellotech’s MinFree technology reduces mineral content of biomass at scale

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 4:41pm

In New York state, Anellotech’s MinFree technology, a patent pending biomass pretreatment process has been demonstrated to significantly reduce the mineral (ash) content of loblolly pine at a 20 metric ton/day scale.  Month-long trials converting this MinFree-treated, low-mineral pine into aromatics (BTX) at Anellotech’s Bio-TCat process TCat-8® pilot plant showed extended, economic catalyst life.

MinFree is expected to provide similar results with other woody biomass like eucalyptus and hard woods, and agricultural residues like cotton straw, sugarcane bagasse and corn stover. Anellotech is in discussions with feedstock suppliers and other participants in the supply chain to select the next feedstock for development and commercialization with the MinFree process.

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EID Parry looks to convert spirit and alcohol production to ethanol

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 4:40pm

In India, the Press Trust of India reports that EID Parry has permission in principle to convert 600,000 liters per day of impure spirit produced at one of its facilities in Tamil Nadu into ethanol and another 300,000 liters per day of impure alcohol into ethanol at another facility. The company began producing ethanol from B-heavy molasses during this season for the first time. Securing sufficient cane supplies has been a challenge for the company so it is investing heavily in technology to improve cane production.

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Groundbreaking for Thai bioeconomy park seen for October

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 4:38pm

In Thailand, the Bangkok Post newspaper reports that the planned bioeconomy park co-located at Kaset Thai’s sugar mill in Takhli will likely celebrate its groundbreaking in October. The facility to be jointly owned by Kaset Thai International Sugar and Global Green Chemicals aims to produce biochemical products. The first phase of the project will require investment of $248.3 million and start operations in 2021 while the total investment for the project will be around $1.3 billion.

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Tehran biodiesel trial moves to second phase after saving 160,000 kg of CO2

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 4:37pm

In Iran, the Tehran Times newspaper reports that the capital city’s three-year biodiesel bus trial saw carbon dioxide emissions savings of 160,000 kg from the use of 60,000 liters of biodiesel and the next phase will now kick off. The first phase included 300 buses running on blends of between 2% and 15% of UCO-based biodiesel. Air pollution, especially in winter, has become a major problem in Tehran and the government has looked at a number of solutions to improve air quality including biodiesel in public transport and increasing the use of public transport overall.

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Danish helping Indonesia tackle waste through create of circular island economies

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 4:36pm

In Indonesia, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (DEPA) and the Danish Energy Agency have engaged Ramboll to help identify which islands would best benefit from the Sustainable Island Initiative that looks to consider the potential for hybrid energy solutions, where waste-to-energy works in tandem with other forms of renewable energy, such as solar and hydropower. The synergy between waste and energy in a Circular Economy approach is a key aspect of the SII project together with the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Ministry of Energy.

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IRENA renewable energy job report shows bioenergy jobs rose to 3.18 million in 2018

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 4:35pm

In the UAE, IRENA’s latest annual renewable energy jobs reports shows widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies creates employment opportunities up and down the supply chain. Worldwide, the sector employed 11 million people at the end of 2018, according to this sixth edition of the Renewable Energy and Jobs series. Global bioenergy jobs in 2018 grew to 3.18 million from 3.06 million the year prior, out of a total 10.98 million jobs in renewable energy.

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Japanese researchers develop new way to harvest energy from algae

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 4:34pm

In Japan, a team at the University of Tsukuba introduced a new procedure of harvesting energy and organic molecules from algae using nanoporous graphene and porous graphene foams. By developing a reusable system that can evaporate water at high rate without the need for centrifugation or squeezing. This research has a great potential for the application of producing cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient biofuels, vitamins, and chemicals. They introduced a new method for removing water from algae biomass that does not damage the fragile compounds to be harvested. In contrast with previous methods which rely on mechanical centrifugation or squeezing, while this approach uses solar irradiation and reusable, nanostructured support materials. The fabrication of hierarchically-structured nanoporous graphene and porous graphene foams creates tiny channels for water to be pulled upwards from deep inside the sample.

This novel developed material protects the biomass from overheating while capturing more of the sun’s energy to evaporate the water.

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Fossil fuel industry launches new ad campaign to “check” ethanol

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 4:33pm

In Washington, the American Fuel and Petroleum Manufacturers Association launched an advertising campaign asking President Trump to keep his promise to protect U.S. refiners from unchecked ethanol mandates that threaten to “kill our jobs.” This campaign comes on the heels of increasing calls from the ethanol industry to eliminate small refinery exemptions – a critical lifeline for small refineries that experience disproportionate economic hardship from the Renewable Fuel Standard. The campaign is running in Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan.

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Successful Biogas to Renewable Energy Production is All About the Feedstock

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 4:24pm

By John Hanselman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Vanguard Renewables

Special to The Digest

Introduction

Renewable natural gas production is a good news story, but how to get there successfully is more complicated than most of us in the business anticipated. At Vanguard Renewables, we entered the renewable energy landscape with two different “eat what you kill” on-farm anaerobic digesters that combined varying levels of manure and food waste to less than consistently produce biogas and ultimately generate electricity. We thought we were a renewable energy company that happened to recycle food waste. What we have learned since then is that we are actually an organics recycling company that happens to produce renewable energy.

Reducing variability is key

That first iteration of our business was fraught with way too much variability in feedstock strength and quantity. Vanguard was also seen by the feedstock haulers as lacking reliability as a food waste destination because of our variable performance. Because of the small footprint of those initial anaerobic digesters and the associated lack of reliability, the haulers were unwilling to build a collection/recycling program around the farms to meet their customer needs and they continued to look for other destinations for organic waste.

After a couple of years in, we had the “we are an organics recycling company” aha moment. When we did, what we realized was that a larger capacity AD footprint, that was more stable in terms of volume and technology, was critical to a successful co-digestion AD to renewable energy program. And, using one standardized technology that could accept the same type and volumes of food waste across the platform was key to being a reliable organics destination 24/7/365. In this new scenario, food waste could be managed across a portfolio of facilities and the independent variation of any one digester would not imperil our relationships with the hauling community.

Understanding the haulers

Another critical component of moving toward success was to understand the needs of the waste haulers. What’s important to haulers first and foremost is reliability. They need to know that they will have a destination for the food waste they collect every day and that they will not be turned away by system capacity or maintenance issues. This is the only way they can deliver on their contracts with the food waste generators and make money. If they need to shop around for a destination at the last minute because a recycler does not have multiple facilities to redirect waste between when there is an issue, it cuts deeply into the haulers slim bottom line margin.

And, speaking of margins, haulers need to make money with slim margins. Food waste producers want to spend as little money as possible on collection and tipping fees to have that waste taken away. For everyone, time and hauling distance makes or breaks the profit margin. By having greater capacity in each digester and redundancy in the processing capacity of our AD facilities throughout the hauler’s target area, we deliver on the promise of reliable and profitable organics collection and recycling.

Addressing special customer needs

We also began to run our own vehicles to handle customers with “special waste” needs that the haulers were unable to accommodate. This was an opportunity for Vanguard to build our own side of the business by adding liquid waste hauling capacity for food manufacturing byproducts and other liquid organic waste streams. In some cases, the addition of this offering also enables us to incorporate totes in to our program and contract with smaller solid food waste generators that the haulers simply can’t afford to service.

In the end, any company trying to do large-scale food waste recovery must have capacity to handle all organics streams, not just clean liquids with a few solids. Generators simply want you to show up and take it. In the beginning, we generally got clean waste streams, but the larger addressable food waste market includes a variety of contaminants. Realistically, as an industry, we cannot put that separation burden on the generators. We should charge differential pricing for different “quality” food waste, but to be successful, we need to be able to take all types of loads with organics.

Brand recognition and value

The other thing we realized was as our Farm Powered® brand became more recognizable and symbolized good environmental stewardship by the partner farms, the food waste generators, and the haulers who contributed to its success. This became a valuable asset to all involved as a customer sales and loyalty proposition and a selling point for building a program with us.

Vanguard Renewables today

Today we have capacity for 500 tons per day of organic waste and will take nearly 1000 tons per day by 2020. Our multiple co-digestion facilities, all now 1MW or larger, offer large, reliable capacity that makes us a dependable resource for haulers because they know if they show up, we can take their waste every single day.

A by-product of the AD plant process is separated solids, which the dairy farms that host our facilities use for bedding. In at least one case, a farmer who switched from using wood chips for bedding to digested solids, and saw a significant reduction in the herd’s somatic cell count (which yields a higher price for the milk). The effluent is also land applied on the farms’ acreage and this makes neighbors happy because it is virtually odorless. Garnering this community support has been another key link in our chain to success.

Conclusion

We started the business to make renewable electricity from RNG in the tariff rich environment of Massachusetts, but we see our greatest opportunity in promoting RNG to pipeline and vehicle fuel as part of the massive explosion in interest in Renewable Natural Gas production that began with the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCSF). We’ve also recognized that the appeal of achieving carbon neutral status to institutions and businesses is strong and that Federal RIN credits are a key piece in the puzzle to getting there. Hopefully, understanding the component pieces of the intricate puzzle of food waste recycling leads to success in the creation of renewable natural gas business.

About the Author

John Hanselman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Vanguard Renewables

jhanselman@vanguardrenewables.com

Vanguard Renewables’ Farm Powered Anaerobic Digesters produce renewable energy from recycled food waste and farm waste. Vanguard was named 2018 Organics Recycler of the Year by the National Waste and Recycling Association. Hanselman has thirty years of experience in environmental innovation including as a Managing Principal and founder of Brightfields, a solar brownfields solutions company, and as a Managing Principal of Renova Partners, a national brownfield investment and development company.

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All About Algae: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to ABO

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 4:19pm

Algae Biomass Organization advocates for algae-advancing policy and funding, serves as a hub for innovation and networking, and drives demand for “made with algae” products and services.

Mark Allen, Chairperson of ABO, offers this enlightening overview of the Algae Interagency Working Group, current state of the algae industry, thoughts on algae for food and feed, and more at ABLC 2019 in Washington, D.C.

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ABA’s Take: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to RVOs & SREs

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 07/07/2019 - 3:24pm

In line with today’s top story on the EPA’s RVOs proposal for 2020, here’s the Advanced Biofuels Association’s take from ABLC 2019 on it all from a history perspective.

Mike McAdams, President of Advanced Biofuels Association, looks back at the history of EPA’s small refinery exemptions going back to 2013 and how estimated exemptions have changed over the years, compares RVO mandates to SREs and touches on the ABFA lawsuit challenging the EPA.

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New strategy for efficiently producing fatty acids and biofuels from glucose

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 07/07/2019 - 11:41am

In South Korea, researchers from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) presented a new strategy for efficiently producing fatty acids and biofuels that can transform glucose and oleaginous microorganisms into microbial diesel fuel, with one-step direct fermentative production.

The newly developed strain, created by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee and his team, showed the highest efficiency in producing fatty acids and biodiesels ever reported, according to the KAIST press release. It will be expected to serve as a new platform to sustainably produce a wide array of fatty acid-based products from glucose and other carbon substrates.

The research team engineered oleaginous microorganisms, Rhodococcus opacus, to produce fatty acids and their derivatives that can be used as biodiesel from glucose, one of the most abundant and cheap sugars derived from non-edible biomass.

They found that the resulting strains produced 50.2, 21.3, and 5.2 g/L of fatty acids, fatty acid ethyl esters, and long-chain hydrocarbons, respectively. These are all the highest concentrations ever reported by microbial fermentations. It is expected that these strains can contribute to the future industrialization of microbial-based biodiesel production.

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Latest resolution signed into RenovaBio to further boost Brazil’s ethanol sector

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 07/07/2019 - 11:39am

In Brazil, a new regulation, Resolution No. 791, recently signed by the Ministry of Mines and Energy into the country’s national biofuels policy, RenovaBio, is expected to boost the ethanol sector with the new decarbonization targets for fuel distributors. RenovaBio will come into full force in January 2020 and is estimated to include investments of about R$9 billion (about $2.3 billion) for the ethanol sector and another R$4 billion (about $1 billion) for increased sugarcane production, Bento Albuquerque, Mines and Energy Minister told Rio Times.

The Minister told Rio Times that with the latest resolution, RenovaBio becomes the largest financing program for the country’s sugar-based energy sector. The resolution “will allow companies to receive investments with tax exemptions and encourage investors to expand operations, open new plants, or modernize existing ones,” according to Rio Times.

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Slight increase in ethanol production this week

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 07/07/2019 - 11:32am

In Washington, D.C. ethanol production averaged 1.081 million barrels per day (b/d), an increase of 8,000 b/d, or 0.7%, according to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association. This is equivalent to 45.40 million gallons daily. The four-week average ethanol production rate rose 0.8% to 1.082 million b/d—the highest since December 2017. This is equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.59 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks grew 5.9% to 22.8 million barrels, a 6-week high. Stocks expanded across all PADDs except the Rocky Mountain (PADD 4) region. There were no imports reported for the third consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of May 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied edged 0.3% higher to 9.492 million b/d (398.7 million gallons per day, or 145.51 bg annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol declined 0.4% to 947,000 b/d, equivalent to 14.52 bg annualized. Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 11.39%.

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Global rapeseed production covers demand despite drought

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 07/07/2019 - 11:31am

In Germany, according to UFOP, in its current global rapeseed supply outlook for 2019/20, the International Grain Council (IGC) anticipates a considerable decline in world production. At the same time, global stocks are expected to rise to a record high.

In its recent forecast for the 2019/20 marketing year, the IGC projects global rapeseed production at 69.8 million tonnes. In other words, the harvest is set to drop 3 per cent from the previous year’s level. This is a result of inadequate rainfall and distribution of rain over the growth period, as it was the previous year. According to Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft mbH (AMI), the EU harvest will amount to approximately 17.9 million tonnes of rapeseed. This would be down just less than 2 million tonnes from the previous year. The IGC expects the biggest decrease to occur in France, which continues to be the number one rapeseed producer in the EU, producing 4 million tonnes, Romania and Germany. According to the harvest estimate of the Deutscher Raiffeisenverband (DRV), the German harvest will decrease 16 per cent year-on-year to 3.1 million tonnes.

Although the IGC forecasts a significant drop in harvest, the organisation also expects an increase in global rapeseed stocks. At 7.1 million tonnes, stocks are even projected to reach the highest level in ten years, first and foremost because of rising stocks in Canada. The latter are likely due to the continuing delivery problems as regards shipments to China.

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RSB to develop first-of-its-kind biofuels book and claim system for Maersk

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 07/07/2019 - 11:29am

In Denmark, A.P. Moller – Maersk is rolling out a flagship project with Switzerland-based RSB to pass emissions savings from its use of alternative fuels on to its clients, with retail giant H&M among the first to benefit. RSB is developing a ‘book and claim’ system that will allow Maersk to reliably and credibly pass on greenhouse gas savings to customers as part of its drive to reach carbon neutrality.

“The system being developed by RSB will enable Maersk’s customers to be credited for these savings on the transportation of goods, lowering the carbon footprint of the final product in shops,” according to the RSB press release. “This will be a powerful tool for these customers to make claims about their lowered carbon footprint based on a truly credible and practical system developed the world’s most trusted sustainability standard.”

While the fuel in the pilot is not currently certified to RSB’s best-in-class sustainability standard, as an RSB member and partner Maersk aspires to RSB certification for the full supply chain of its fuel.

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