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Today's News

European Commission experts on the ground looking at Malaysian palm oil sustainability

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 6:31pm

In Malaysia, in response to an anti-palm oil sentiment in Europe due to real or perceived environmental challenges with the way oil palms are grown, the European Commission will hold an in-country consultation next week including four expert panels and site visits to plantations in an effort to better understand the reality on the ground. The mission falls on the heels of the second EU-Malaysia Discourse on Palm Oil Sustainability held this week in Kuala Lampur.

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Chinese researchers discover gene the controls stem juiciness in sorghum

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 6:30pm

In China, through careful genetic analysis of a large, diverse panel of sorghum varieties, scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences discovered the gene controlling the stem juiciness trait in sorghum, as described in this month’s issue of the Plant Cell.

The dry gene product appears to function as a master switch that controls the expression of many genes that help determine the shape and composition of the plant cell wall.

Mutations in the dry gene in juicy-stemmed sorghum varieties lead to abnormal cell walls and even cell collapse, but the high sugar content in these plants enhances their growth and could lead to increased grain production.

It appears that breeders have long been selecting plants with mutations in the dry gene to increase the efficiency of sorghum syrup production. The authors identified similar genes in other crop species, providing the opportunity to shape the level of stem juiciness in other plants as well.

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NBB sends letter to EPA seeking end to demand destruction for biodiesel

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 6:29pm

In Washington, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) delivered a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler asking that the agency fully account for small refinery exemptions in the annual Renewable Fuel Standard rules and “end the demand destruction for biodiesel.” The letter also asks EPA to set RFS biomass-based diesel volumes for 2020 at 2.8 billion gallons, consistent with the industry’s demonstrated ability to produce fuel.

In the letter, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik writes, “EPA must end the demand destruction for biodiesel – not as part of a deal to change the RFS rules; rather, as an integral part of the agency’s duty to ensure that the RFS volumes it sets are met.”

The letter thanks Acting Administrator Wheeler for increasing transparency around the agency’s granting of small refinery exemptions. However, the agency’s data dashboard now makes it easy to calculate the biodiesel demand lost to these exemptions, the letter points out.

“Between 2015 and 2017, the demand destruction for biomass-based diesel is more than 300 million gallons,” Kovarik writes in the letter. “Independent analysis further substantiates the demand destruction for biodiesel and renewable diesel,” he adds.

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Edible barcodes, DARPA’s modified crops, insects, Pivit Bio raises $70M, rice straw ethanol, renewable concrete, automated indoor farming, biobased hairstyling, silkworms making spider silk: The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of October 17th

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:15pm

The pace of bioeconomy invention and change continues at a frenetic pace. Here are the top innovations for the week of October 17th

In today’s Digest, edible barcodes, DARPA’s modifying crops, insects, Pivit Bio raises $70M, rice straw ethanol, renewable concrete, automated indoor farming, biobased hairstyling, silkworms making spider silk — these and more, ready for you now at The Digest online.

#1 Edible barcodes anchor blockchain for food

In California, TruTag Technologies, a provider of product identity solutions, and PwC Australia formed a strategic alliance to add TruTag’s edible barcode technology to the PwC Food Trust initiative. The Food Trust Platform provides manufacturers and consumers greater confidence in their food products.

“Blockchain technology offers brand owners a new means of sharing information and improving supply chain visibility. However, these systems are still reliant on ensuring a secure link or crypto anchor between the physical and digital world,” said Trent Lund, Lead Partner, Innovation and Ventures. “TruTag’s covert edible barcodes act as a perfect crypto anchor offering unrivalled security and a unique ability to directly mark foods and food-contact packaging.”

The PwC Food Trust Platform is an advanced and holistic anti-counterfeit technology solutions for the food and beverage industry and integrating TruTag’s edible barcode technology into the Food Trust Platform will enable it to deliver unrivalled supply chain visibility.

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The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Honeywell’s UOP and biomass-to-fuels

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:10pm

Honeywell’s UOP has developed a renewable jet fuel processing technology, a renewable diesel process, as well as a joint venture, Envergent Technologies, that will market technologies and equipment for generating power, transportation fuel and heating oil from biomass using pyrolysis. UOP also owns a Renewable Energy & Chemicals business that produced green diesel using its Ecofining process.

UOP’s Dharmesh Mahajan gave this illuminating overview of Honeywell technology’s progress and promise and the opportunities in the burgeoning Indian market.

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Fargo Biodiesel Terminal opens

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 6:22pm

In North Dakota, Targray announced the opening of its Fargo Biodiesel Terminal, a 24/7 fuel distribution center serving wholesale fuel buyers throughout the Fargo-Moorhead metro area. Centrally located in West Fargo, North Dakota, the new terminal will provide local fuel retailers, distributors and fleet managers with greater access to biodiesel, a bio-based renewable fuel that produces 80% fewer CO2 emissions than petroleum diesel.

On May 1st, 2018, Minnesota began requiring that all diesel fuel sold in the state contain at least twenty percent Biodiesel (B20). The minimum content for the remainder of the year is five percent (B5). The state’s move to increase the use of biodiesel, a cleaner-burning alternative to petroleum-based diesel, has received strong support from local clean air advocates, including the American Lung Association’s Upper Midwest Chapter.

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Indian Oil Company gets 50 acres from UP government for 2G ethanol plant

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 6:21pm

In India, the Times of India reports that the Uttar Pradesh cabinet has given the green light to the Indian Oil Company to supply it with 50 acres where it can locate its proposed waste-based ethanol plant. The 30-year lease for the facility was one of the final steps required before the company could move forward with the project. The property provided for the ethanol plant is the Ghuriapar Farmer Cooperative Sugar Mill in Gorakhpur that has been mothballed for several years.

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The Andersons buys out the rest of Lansing Trade Group

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 6:20pm

In Ohio, The Andersons, Inc. announced that it has entered into a merger agreement with Lansing Trade Group, LLC, its long-time affiliate, to acquire the 67.5% of Lansing equity that it does not already own for cash and stock currently valued at a total of approximately $305 million.

In addition to paying approximately $175 million in cash, the Company will issue unregistered shares to current Lansing equity holders presently valued at approximately $130 million, subject to certain closing adjustments and changes in the share price of Andersons stock, respectively.  The transaction will also result in the consolidation of Thompsons Limited of Ontario, Canada and related entities as they have been jointly owned by Lansing and the Company.  The Company will assume approximately $166 million of long-term debt, consisting of up to $130 million from Lansing and about $36 million from Thompsons. The implied purchase price is less than 9 times EBITDA for the twelve months ended August 31, 2018.

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D3MAX has started construction of its facility at Ace Ethanol’s plant

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 6:19pm

In Wisconsin, D3MAX LLC and Ace Ethanol LLC announced they have started construction of the first D3MAX facility at Ace Ethanol’s plant in Stanley, Wisconsin. Ace Ethanol will be the first ethanol producer to integrate the patented D3MAX technology with its existing corn dry mill. Earlier this year, Ace Ethanol received approval from its board of directors and members to proceed with the design and construction of the corn kernel fiber-to-ethanol plant.

The integrated facility will also employ membrane-based ethanol recovery technology supplied by Whitefox Technologies, resulting in significant energy savings. Fagen Inc. is the chosen contractor to build the new D3MAX facility.

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EPA to adopt final E15 rules by May

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 6:18pm

In Washington, Platts reports that the Environmental Protection Agency will adopt final rules for year-round E15 blending by May as well as for fuel economy standards by March, a move that will freeze Obama-era clean fuel standards and create an additional demand for fossil fuels of 500,000 barrels per day. The EPA proposal for E15 is expected by February. The timelines were published in the agency’s fall regulatory agenda this week that also show the EPA is on schedule to approve final blending volumes for 2019 and the biodiesel volumes for 2020 by the November 30 deadline.

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More soft loans sought to fund additional 168 Indian ethanol plants

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 6:16pm

In India, the food ministry has gone back to cabinet to seek another $951 million in soft loans in order to facilitate implementation of 168 ethanol projects. Already 114 ethanol projects have been approved. The funding is in the form of five-year’s worth of interest subsidy, lowering interest rates to 6% or dropping bank rates by half, depending on which is lower, to jumpstart projects. The funding intended for use towards sugarcane or molasses-based ethanol production.

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EU BIOWAYS project collects data regarding public perception of bio-based production

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 6:15pm

In Belgium, EU-funded BIOWAYS conducted an EU-wide online survey alongside analysis of relevant studies which helped them to collect qualitative and quantitate data regarding the public perception on bio-based products.

The online questionnaire was translated in seven languages and evaluated public perception and engagement with bio-based products, the benefits of utilizing them and reasons that prevent their greater use. Results from over 450 respondents from various EU countries showed that although the majority could identify bio-based products, less than 40 % of the people had sufficient knowledge about them.

Nearly half of the respondents indicated a lack of information regarding the benefits of bio-based products while the majority agreed that better labelling and incentives should be offered to consumers. This clearly showed that public awareness needs to be increased through well-targeted and innovative training tools and materials.

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Democratic congressmen send letter to EPA over widespread issuance of hardship waivers

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

In Washington, Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Danny Davis (D-IL) led a letter signed by 17 of their colleagues to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing concern over the Trump Administration’s widespread issuance of waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

With transportation emissions representing the bulk of U.S. greenhouse emissions, the decision to flout RFS standards could have a devastating impact on our climate and public health outcomes and result in higher prices for consumers at the gas pump.

“With the technology for cleaner, safer, and more economical fuels available, there is simply no reason not to continue our progress and commitment to renewable fuels,” said Rep. Gallego. “The Trump administration’s decision to abandon RFS goals has already set back our progress by 5 years. We are urging the EPA to reverse this harmful decision.”

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New and improved routes to Low Carbon Fuels, Chemicals and Materials: Re-Thinking the Global Bioeconomy

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 3:35pm

By Tammy Klein, Douglas Faulkner and Gerard J. Ostheimer, Ph.D.

Special to The Digest

The development of the global bioeconomy has made great leaps and strides over the past 10 years, but it has also had its fair share of stops and starts. Despite numerous technological advances, a witch’s brew of policy issues emerged (and re-emerged), including worries over “food vs. fuels”, indirect land use change and whether the bioeconomy really contributes to climate goals. All of these body-blows created an atmosphere of resignation among the industry players, and a discernible “biofuels fatigue” became the norm among global policymakers and thought-leaders.

But we’ve noticed that a revival of sorts is happening.

After the Paris Agreement in 2015 the urgent challenge of mitigating climate change forced numerous people across the advocacy-to-action spectrum to look for practical options to de-carbonizing the entire economy. People who five years ago couldn’t be bothered to think about biofuels were suddenly realizing that the production of biofuels had matured with a genuine effort on sustainability and an eagerness to drive down carbon intensity scores. And the other arguments for a thriving bioeconomy, like reducing dependence on fossil fuels and juicing rural development, are as valid as ever.

Last week, Fatih Barol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, and Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing of Finland wrote an op-edarguing that modern bioenergy is critical to meeting climate change goals. They noted that while frequently controversial and often overlooked, bioenergy is the only renewable energy today that can supply all sectors. They wrote:

“The role of modern bioenergy in decarbonising the global energy system is not widely recognised, which is a major blind spot in the global energy debate. The fact is that modern bioenergy is a sustainable solution to address the global climate challenge while contributing to energy diversification and security. But in order to achieve these targets, its deployment must accelerate.”

Whether at the California Global Climate Action Summit or the NYC Climate Week, new voices are calling for the expansion of bioenergy across sectors, including transport. The International Renewable Energy Agency, Sustainable Energy for All, the Biofutures Platform, and corporate groups such as below50, are but a few. For them the evolving global bioeconomy is creating new opportunities to meet climate change and sustainable development goals in both developed and emerging economies.

Advances in agriculture, biotechnology and bioprocessing have made it possible to meet a considerable fraction of the global demand for chemicals and fuels from renewable carbon derived from bioenergy. And countries as far-flung as Australia, Brazil, China and India are working overtime to bring their biomass resources online to realize the potential economic and environmental win-win. What remains to be seen is how fast we can bring the benefits of the emerging bioeconomy to the next tier of developing countries across sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia.

Join the webinar

We’ll be discussing these issues and more at the next Future Fuels Outlook web conference, “Re-Thinking the Global Bioeconomy: New and Improved Routes to Low Carbon Fuels, Chemicals and Materials that Are an Economic and Environmental Win-Win.” to be held 10 am ET on Tuesday, October 23. The webinar will feature presentations and a moderated Q&A with two key experts working in this space:

  • Gerard Ostheimer, Ph.D., Global Lead for Bioenergy, Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Founder and Senior Advisor, below50
  • Douglas Faulkner, Leatherstocking, LLC, Co-Chair of the U.S. governments’s Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee

Space is limited so reserve your spot now! Please RSVP to host and moderator Tammy Klein at to receive the connection details. Please do forward the invite to your colleagues.

Can’t attend? No problem! This web conference will be recorded and posted, along with the presentation.


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The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to 26 advantaged biobased chemical platforms

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 3:24pm

The problem: The vast number of potential chemicals and products that could be made from biomass makes prioritization of research difficult for optimizing market viability, cost competitiveness, environmental benefits, and supply chain development.

The project: This CEMAC/DOE initiative studied 160 potential chemicals, and the list was pared to 26 candidates for further evaluation.

The goal: To understand manufacturing costs and value-added along the supply chain, U.S.-specific competitive advantages, and potential market impacts of lignocellulosic-derived chemicals. 

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Landfill-to-Anything-Soon, Puleeze: in search of new energy, materials from waste

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 3:17pm

The names seem less settled than the markets or science: is it biogas, biomethane, renewable natural gas, or RNG? Whatever your preferred name, you don’t have to burn it to make it hot — methane of the kind generated from waste landfills and farm waste is on the march. And much of it propelled by the desire to do something, anything useful with the organic material piling up in landfills.

It’s been expanding geographically of late. 

Bright Biomethane and Biogen Biotechnologies from the Caribbean Barbados entered a strategic partnership agreement to promote and further develop biogas upgrading technology and biomethane production in Barbados.

The Barbados background 

All the waste in Barbados is currently separated by private handlers and most is stored at the landfill sites owned by the government. Biogen Biotechnologies processes waste from the food industry and uses it as feedstock for the biogas plants. This places Barbados at a great advantage. Using sustainable and smart solutions and technologies for waste transformation to energy, and other organic materials such as seaweed, sea moss and industrial waste, the island can benefit from an extended biogas network that can be transformed into transport fuel and electricity.

The produced biogas can not only be used for energy generation. The end-product of the Bright Biomathane process is biomethane, a methane-rich product gas, which can be injected into the national gas grid network or compressed to CNG properties and utilized as transport fuel. 

Barbados, an island with over 284,000 inhabitants, is situated in the Lesser Antilles in the region of Caribbean. Due to its location, until recently, a focus of renewable energy policies was solar power. But Barbados faces many issues connected to waste generation. It is the third country in the world with the highest Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generation: 4.75 kg of MSW per capita/per day, according to the World Bank. This translates to around 1,000 tons of waste per day, of which 70% is organic. HoSt and Biogen Biotechnologies will work in close cooperation to actively promote biogas to biomethane upgrading systems.

Will landfills ban organic waste?

Dr. Sarah Mason-Renton at Lystek International thinks so. She writes:

States, provinces and municipalities across North America are increasingly taking regulatory action to either prohibit organic materials from being disposed of in landfills or they are ushering in mandatory waste recycling regulations. Jurisdictions who have implemented these policies in the U.S. include the states of California, New York, Connecticut and Vermont, and cities such as New York and Austin, among others. 

In Canada, the movement is being spearheaded in places such as Vancouver, British Columbia and Nova Scotia. These jurisdictions have the highest diversion rates for organics. For example, Nova Scotia implemented a Solid Waste Management Strategy in 1995, which included the ban of organic materials in landfills. By 2011, 94% of households were composting food and yard waste, compared with less than 20% diversion in 1994.

Lystek is part of the solution. It has  a low temperature, thermal hydrolysis process (Lystek THP) that produces a range of alternative products, and has helped North American generators divert over 1.6 million pounds of organics from landfills contributing to the circular economy. These products and processes include the LysteGro biofertilizer product, the LysteMize digester optimization process and LysteCarb, an alternative source of carbon for use in Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) systems.

What about all that plastic?

The marine plastic waste problem is more on everyone’s minds today. Good news on that from from Finland and VTT.  The institute has developed a project called PlastBug a mobile container unit to remove plastic waste from ocean areas, in order to create a safe living environment. This year researchers in the PlastBug project have been searching microbes that are capable to degrade different kind of plastics (PE, PP, PS or PET) and developed methods for the pretreatment of plastics. Researchers are currently using a three-stage screening method to screen microbes from different sources.

The aim is to develop a small, container-based factory that can be placed in an area where centralized plastic waste collecting or recycling is not possible or feasible. The container can be located on a beach or ship. The factory unit would get most its energy needed for the process from solar energy and wind power.

A complete process is being engineered around the fermenting unit containing microbes – a small plant in which plastic is modified from waste to products. The aim is that the pilot unit will operate on the Baltic Sea in 2021, but funding still needs to be secured for the realization of this plan. The Plastbug team took second place in the Meriroska (Marine Litter) Challenge arranged by the Finnish Environment Agency on 25 August 2018.

RNG on the move

As we reported in August, RNG Energy Solutions and Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining and Marketing LLC announced they have completed and executed several contracts including a long-term renewable natural gas sales agreement and site lease agreement to build a state-of-the-art anaerobic digester facility.

The facility will be named Point Breeze Renewable Energy (PBRE) and located at the PES Refining Complex. RNG Energy will develop and construct the $120 million anaerobic digester facility to produce renewable natural gas, which will be injected into the Interstate Pipeline and sold as a transportation fuel for bus and truck fleets. Permitting and construction of the project is estimated to take two to three years.

Organic waste consisting of grocery, restaurant and food processing wastes will be processed at offsite locations and delivered in fully enclosed tanker trucks to the PBRE facility. The facility will be designed to process up to 1,100 tons per day of diverted organic waste in eight bioreactors visually similar to the surrounding refinery tankage.

Further Reading

That was then, This is NOW! or The New Economics of Biogas Projects

Creating Value from Landfill Gas
By Dr. Terry Mazanec, Lee Enterprises Consulting

On the rise: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Biogas, its markets and production and treatment technologies

1+1=3: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Biogas Production With Mixed Feedstocks

What’s Next in cellulosic biofuels and biogas?: The Digest’s 2018 Multi-Slide Guide to Iogen

Value Days at the Landfill: The Digest 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to unlocking polylactic acid from waste biogas

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