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Today's News

FAO says debate over conventional biofuels too simplified

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 7:10pm

In Belgium, FAO told Euractiv that making overgeneralizations and sweeping statements about biofuels, such as conventional biofuels competing with food or that palm oil destroys forests, are not necessarily true and can be counterproductive. Brazil has demonstrated that both sugar and ethanol can be produced sustainably, while in Indonesia where 45% of high yielding palm oil is produced by small farmers would require a shift to other lower yielding vegetable oil that would demand far more land.

Categories: Today's News

Gujarat high court scraps interstate import tax on ethanol

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 7:09pm

In India, the high court in Gujarat has ruled against the policy lobbing import taxes on interstate ethanol trade, a move that is expected to help bring down fuel prices. The state doesn’t produce ethanol due to a ban on alcohol so imports for fuel blending, chemical and industrial use demanded imports. The import levy was established in 2013. The court ruled that excise duty, VAT and income tax provided the exchequer sufficient revenue from ethanol that an additional levy, which it said was the providence of the central government rather than state government, was not required.

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Vietnam sets E5 mandate for December 31

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 7:09pm

In Vietnam, the government has set December 31 as the new date for implementing its E5 mandate after several false starts at converting the voluntary blending scheme into a mandate. The delay in implementation has weighed heavily on the industry, forcing most plants to shut down completely or run at very low rates. Price controls will also be set by the government in order to avoid the creation of ethanol monopolies. It is looking into potential import taxes on ethanol as well in order to support the domestic industry.

Categories: Today's News

Heneiken, Nedcargo and GoodFuels launch inland barge route with drop-in biofuel

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 7:08pm

In the Netherlands, HEINEKEN Netherlands, Nedcargo and sustainable fuel market-leader GoodFuels have launched a pilot to demonstrate a sustainable drop-in marine fuel on-board of the ‘For Ever’ – an inland barge dedicated to transport Heineken® export beer, from the HEINEKEN brewery in Zoeterwoude to the deep-sea terminals in Rotterdam. The advanced marine fuel supplied by GoodFuels contains 30% biofuel and thereby reduces CO2-emissions by more than 25%, whilst also sharply reducing local emissions as nitrogen and particulate matter.   

The project will showcase the possibility of reducing emissions of inland waterway transport without any vessel modification. The exact emission reduction compared to fossil fuel will be monitored live during the pilot using Blueco’s Konnexus® system for remote monitoring. It is the first time that such an extensive pilot takes place in this segment – supported by the EICB (Expertise en InnovatieCentrum Binnenvaart) and the Dutch Ministry of Transport.

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Resynergi teams with University of Minnesota to develop biorefining technology

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 6:58pm

In Minnesota, California waste recovery company Resynergi Inc. is drawing on University of Minnesota expertise and technology to develop and commercially manufacture a biorefining technology that converts both plastic and biomass into oil and gas.

Resynergi is combining U of M Professor Roger Ruan’s microwave-based technology to convert biomass such as waste wood or crop residue into oil with its own modular, microwave-based system to transform unrecycled waste plastic into biodiesel from a broadened range of feedstocks.

Company CEO Brian Bauer and co-founder Jason Tanne formed Resynergi in October 2015 and sought out Ruan, who had developed a novel and efficient technology called rMAP (Rapid Microwave Assisted Pyrolysis) for transforming biomass into biofuels.

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RFS reforms heating up in Congress

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 6:51pm

In Washington, the Senate bill that looks to scratch the Reid Vapor Pressure rule that currently forbids E15 from being sold during summer months will be heard before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on June 14 which some say could be a precursor to wider reforms of the Renewable Fuel Standard, or even sunsetting of the policy all together. It is expected that if the bill moves forward that it will include pieces that are favorable to the biofuels industry but also those that won’t be taken too kindly.

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Carbon: The Final Frontier

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 2:41pm

By Jennifer Holmgren, CEO, LanzaTech

As our planet approaches a 1.5C temperature raise, decarbonizing our economy has become a central topic of discussion from governments to board rooms to the popular press. To successfully decarbonize, we must change the way we use carbon and focus on preserving every bit of our carbon budget for essential uses. Fortunately, we are already seeing a revolution in the power sector. With recent prices of renewables at <$0.04/KWh, it is no longer a question of if but rather a continual march to a day when we fully decarbonize power production. The same cannot be said of liquid fuels, especially for aviation, or chemicals. These still require carbon and we now have a choice as to where that carbon comes from.

Today there is an abundance of carbon in all the wrong places with plumes of carbon based particulates polluting our major cities. We currently recycle metals, plastics and paper, so why not recycle carbon and using the principles of the circular economy, convert it into useful products? Imagine a “carbon smart” world where you could capture waste emissions from a factory and recycle them into chemicals to make plastic piping for your home, make fibers for your running shoes or make low carbon fuel for your next flight abroad? This world is possible now.

ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel and mining company, and LanzaTech, are the epitome of “carbon smart.” Both founding members of the forward-thinking global initiative, below50, the companies are constructing a 64,000-ton ethanol/annum carbon capture and utilization (CCU) project, in Belgium, that takes waste gases from steelmaking and ferments them with a microbe to produce low carbon fuel and chemicals.

To avoid the expected risks and costs of climate change, we need to deploy all means to stretch our carbon budget throughout and beyond the next 50 years. Technologies exist today that meet sustainability criteria and show GHG reductions, much like the steel project above, but new technologies often challenge the status quo. It takes time to gain acceptance for new ideas and it is imperative that there is a level playing field for all sustainable technologies to contribute, regardless of feedstock or technology. The focus must be on decarbonizing and meeting sustainability criteria not how this outcome is achieved. Indeed, today in Europe there is an opportunity to broaden the scope of the Renewable Energy Directive to include all sustainable technologies that can contribute to the fuel pool while delivering carbon reductions. Without inclusion, there is no market for these fuels and with no market, there is no investment.

As long as legislation favors one approach over another, we all lose.

By opening policies up to new (and of course sustainable) pathways, we will enable investment. As technologies scale, the cost of future facilities will also decrease. Inclusion today will mean that we will have more technologies ready to deliver meaningful quantities of fuel by 2021. If we wait until 2021 or beyond to debate how to treat new technologies and approaches, it will be too late.

We need to find a way to maximize our existing resources and carbon recycling can play a significant role in this. It is no coincidence both LanzaTech and ArcelorMittal are founding members of below50. This organization was created by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Roundtable for Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) and Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), with representatives from technologies and end users. The goal? To promote all sustainable fuels that can achieve significant carbon reductions (of 50% or more), and scale up their development and use.
below50 will hold a series of talks at the upcoming EU Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels, a week which celebrates the commitment of the EU to decarbonize the economy.

The European Commission (EC) especially DG Energy, DG Clima and DG Grow have been instrumental in supporting new technologies, through funding programs for innovation as well as assessing how novel carbon reduction technologies would fit under existing or future EU Energy regulations, but to achieve change on a global scale, there is more work to be done. below50 is a step in the right direction bringing together stake-holders across the supply chain. While decarbonizing is the challenge of our times, the problem isn’t bigger than we are and we are certain that innovation, government regulations and commitment will create the future we are seeking.

How we source, utilize and dispose of carbon will define our generation. Indeed, carbon is our final frontier.


Categories: Today's News

Fuels from thin air: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to Soletair technology

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 2:37pm

The Soletair process, developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Lappeenranta University of Technology, is using carbon dioxide and solar power to produce renewable fuels and chemicals and has reached an end-to-end small demonstration scale. The new power-to-liquid plant was initially launched at the BIORUUKKI Piloting Center of VTT, and now has moved to the campus of LUT. The SOLETAIR project will be completed in mid-2018. It is funded with €1M by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. The pilot plant is coupled to LUT’s solar power plant in Lappeenranta, and demonstrates the entire process chain, from solar power generation to hydrocarbon production.

Here below is the latest update on the Soletair project.

Categories: Today's News

Fuels from thin air: drop-in liquid fuels from sky CO2, water and solar power

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 2:20pm

In Finland, we reported last week commercial vehicles operated by the City of Helsinki and bus services commissioned by HSL will fully switch to renewable fuels by 2020.

HSL, Stara, UPM, Neste, Teboil, St1, the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Employment, the Finnish Petroleum and Biofuels Association and the Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT are partners in that project, which is a signature element of the Helsinki region’s Smart & Clean project, which aims to achieve the most attractive zero-emission mobility in the world.

You might wonder if the technical progress towards unlocking biofuels on a grand scale in Finland is keeping up with the switch-over from petroleum, and the short answer is, Yes.

The VTT project

In the latest news, the Soletair process, developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Lappeenranta University of Technology, is using carbon dioxide and solar power to produce renewable fuels and chemicals and has reached an end-to-end small demonstration scale.

Olli Pyrhönen, Wind Power Professor, LUT (left) and Pasi Vainikka, Principal Scientist, VTT. (Photo: LUT)

The new power-to-liquid plant was initially launched at the BIORUUKKI Piloting Center of VTT, and now has moved to the campus of LUT. The SOLETAIR project will be completed in mid-2018. It is funded with €1M by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.

The aim of the project is to demonstrate technical performance and produce 200 liters of fuels and other hydrocarbons for R&D.

The pilot plant is coupled to LUT’s solar power plant in Lappeenranta, and demonstrates the entire process chain, from solar power generation to hydrocarbon production.

The process

The demo plant comprises four separate units: a solar power plant; equipment for separating carbon dioxide and water from the air; a section that uses electrolysis to produce hydrogen; and synthesis equipment for producing a crude-oil substitute from carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

The plant consists of three components. The direct air capture unit developed by the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT) extracts carbon dioxide from air. An electrolysis unit developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) produces the required hydrogen by means of solar power. A microstructured, chemical reactor is the key component of the plant and converts the hydrogen produced from solar power together with carbon dioxide into liquid fuels. This reactor was developed by KIT. The compact plant was developed to maturity and is now being commercialized by INERATEC.

The Direct air capture

Soletair’s creators say:

The current Direct Air Capture unit is a modified version of air-scrubbing units for civil shelters. The main principle for collecting carbon dioxide is adsorption/desorption process using solid amine sorbents. The sorbents used in the direct air capture unit are amine-functionalized polystyrene spherical beads.

Direct air capture of carbon is as follows: (1) Ambient air is introduced to the resin bed by fans. As air passes through the bed, CO2 reacts with the amine in the resin via chemisorption. In parallel water is also physically adsorbed. N2 and O2, major components of air, pass the bed unabsorbed. (2) Next is purging, pneumatic valves are closed and high vacuum is applied to remove air in the bed. (3) The bed is then heated to 80°C, to reverse the adsorption reaction and produce gas (CO2, H2O) in bed. (4) Finally, heating and vacuuming is continuously applied for two hours to collect the product CO2. Water is removed via air-cooled heat exchanger.

The Mobile Synthesis Unit

There are two approaches, both available in the Mobile synthesis unit.

The methanation production line produces synthetic natural gas (i.e. methane) from CO2 and H2 by using Sabatier reaction. Synthetic natural gas can replace traditional, fossil-derived natural gas without any problems. The reactor will be VTT in-house design with a nickel-based catalyst. Operating temperature for the methane production is around 300 °C in mildly elevated pressure.

The Fischer-Tropsch production line has two major steps. First, we will alter CO2 to a more useful component, CO. This is done by reverse water gas shift reaction (rWGS) in which a gas mixture of CO, CO2, H2 and H2O is balanced at high temperature of 800 °C with the help of a precious metal catalyst. The reactor operates at the same pressure as the following Fischer-Tropsch synthesis in order to avoid compression between process steps. The design of rWGS reactor and the catalyst is VTT in-house know-how.

Secondly, carbon monoxide and hydrogen are reacting to hydrocarbons in the Fischer-Tropsch reactor. Our project partner, IneraTec GmbH, has designed and manufactured this ultra-compact and efficient reactor. Fischer-Tropsch reaction produces a wide range of products from light hydrocarbon gases like methane, to liquid components like diesel and up to more solid wax components.

The main parts of Fischer-Tropsch module are the intensified reactor, a hot trap to condense the wax products, and a cold trap to condense the liquid products. The Fischer-Tropsch unit has a cobalt catalyst in a novel compact reactor with integrated water evaporation cooling cycle.

Phase 4: Mobile Synthesis Unit (MOBSU)

Refining into gas, chemicals and fuels

Soletair’s creators say:

The renewable product stream from the Mobile Synthesis Unit is a mixture of hydrocarbons ranging from light gaseous products to liquids and even solid paraffin waxes. The share of each type of product varies a lot depending on the reaction conditions and the catalyst used in the Fischer-Tropsch reaction. It is essential to utilize all of these products fully to make an economically feasible process.

The renewable product that is in gaseous form at room temperature consists of methane, the main component of natural gas, and other light hydrocarbons. It is easy to separate the gaseous fraction from the liquid and solid products. The light paraffins generally known as Liquefied Petroleum Gas, are sold to customers to be used for instance in stoves, grills and refrigerators. 

The liquid product can be fractioned by distillation to renewable gasoline and middle-distillate hydrocarbons. The gasoline fraction is further hydrotreated and reformed over a platinum catalyst in order to increase its octane number and to improve other characteristics for motor use. The middle-distillate fraction is also hydrotreated and thereafter distilled to renewable jet-fuel and/or diesel.

There is only limited use for the wax fraction in special applications such as candles or white oils for consumer products. However, it is possible to hydrocrack the waxes to diesel and jet-fuel and to lesser extent to gasoline. These products can then be combined with the distilled liquid products.

THE INERATEC backstory

INERATEC GmbH is a spinoff of KIT and develops, constructs, and sells compact chemical plants for various gas-to-liquid and power-to-liquid applications. The spinoff is supported under the EXIST research transfer program of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. In addition, KIT and INERATEC contribute their expertise to the “Power-to-X” Kopernikus project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Scale-up prospects

Pilot-scale plant units have been designed for distributed, small-scale production. It is so compact that it fits into a ship container and produces gasoline, diesel, and kerosene from regenerative hydrogen and carbon dioxide.Production capacity can be increased by adding more units.

Information gathered during the project will be useful for the commercialization of the technologies. New business opportunities will arise for companies such as those benefiting from the carbon circular economy or surplus electricity, or for chemical companies.

The Helsinki backstory

Vehicles serving on HSL’s routes in the Helsinki region include around 1,400 buses, which consume about 40,000 tons of fuel each year. Stara’s own vehicle fleet uses around 2,000 tons of fuel a year. About 500,000 tons of biofuel are produced in Finland on an annual basis.

Helsinki launches project to convert commercial and public transport fleet to 100% bio by 2020

The developing partners

VTT and LUT have invested €1M in the equipment. The research is being funded by Tekes and a number of companies: ABB, ENE Solar Systems, Green Energy Finland, Proventia, Hydrocell, Ineratec, Woikoski, Gasum and the Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi).

Further Readings

You can read about a related set of developments from VTT in detail, here: Liquid transportation fuels via large-scale fluidized-bed gasification of lignocellulosic biomass.

Here are the detailed Soletair process calculations.

And here’s our 2017 Digest Multi-Slide Guide to Soletair technology.

The Digest’s Take

Clearly, the news out of Finland and the deployment of this technology at pilot scale is a material step forward. The process economics we will understand better, later, after the pilot data is obtained, but for a commercially-relevant plant size expect the capex to be daunting, given that the inputs (sun, air, water) are so cheap. This VTT study looked at biomass-to-fuels via F/T — not the same thing, but in the general ball park, and had figures like €360M in there for a full-scale plant.

Second, let’s await the results on catalyst life, cost and yield before we break out the bubbly — the search for the catalytic Methuselah is proving to be daunting when it comes to biosphere — although fair to say that a lot of the catalyst-poisoning impacts seen with biomass (for example, too much steam from the water released from feedstock) would not be a factor here.

However, let’s note this as the technological leap that it is, and also note how Fuel-Forward Finland is turning out to be.

More on the story.

Photo 1: Olli Pyrhönen, Wind Power Professor, LUT (left) and Pasi Vainikka, Principal Scientist, VTT. (Photo: LUT)

Photo 2 Cyril Bajamundi, Research scientist from VTT

Categories: Today's News

Rockin’ PEFormance: €25M for Avantium-BASF Synvina biobased plastics project

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 12:28pm

In the Netherlands, a BBI subsidy of €25 million has been granted to “PEFerence,” a consortium consisting of 11 companies including Synvina, Avantium, BASF,  Tereos Participations (France), Alpla Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH & Co Kg (Austria), OMV Machinery Srl (Italy) and Croda Nederland B.V. (The Netherlands), Nestec Sa (Switzerland) Lego System As (Denmark), Nova-Institut für politische und ökologische Innovation GmbH (Germany) and Spinverse Innovation Management Oy (Finland).

The partners will jointly work on establishing an innovative supply chain for FDCA and PEF, including the intended construction of a 50,000 tons reference plant in Antwerp. Synvina will be coordinating the “PEFerence” project.

It was one of a trio of key stories this week for Avantium, voted #3 anong the 50 Hottest Companies in the Advanced Bioeconomy by Digest readers earlier this year.

Avantium taps Zanna McFerson as CBDO

In other news, Avantium appointed Zanna McFerson as its Chief Business Development Officer.  McFerson is the former Chief Business officer at Amyris and before that a Vice-President at Cargill, where she led the successful introduction of the natural sweetener Truvia in the US, Latin America and Europe.

AVTX now included in the Small Cap index Euronext

In another development of note for Avantium, the company’s shares have been includedin the AScX index of Euronext as of the start of trading next Monday 19 June 2017.   The AScX index is composed of 25 funds that trade on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange and rank position 51-75 in size.

FDCA and PEF: The competitive edge

FDCA is the essential chemical building block for the production of PEF. Compared to conventional plastics, PEF is characterized by improved barrier properties for gases like carbon dioxide and oxygen. This can lead to longer shelf life of packaged products. Due to its higher mechanical strength, thinner PEF packaging can be produced, thus a lower amount of packaging material is necessary. Therefore PEF is particularly suitable for the production of certain food and beverage packaging, for example films and plastic bottles. After use, PEF can be recycled.

The European Joint Undertaking on Bio-based Industries backstory

The European Joint Undertaking on Bio-based Industries (BBI) is a public-private partnership between the European Union and the Bio-based Industries Consortium aiming at increasing investment in the development of a sustainable bio-based industry sector in Europe. It aims at providing environmental and socio-economic benefits for European citizens, increasing the competitiveness of Europe and contributing to establishing Europe as a key player in research, demonstration and deployment of advanced bio-based products and biofuels. The BBI Joint Undertaking will also play an important role in achieving a bioeconomy in Europe.

The Synvina backstory

Synvina is a Joint Venture of Avantium and BASF, located in Amsterdam. Operating a pilot plant in Geleen, the Netherlands, Synvina produces and markets furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) from renewable resources on pilot plant scale and markets the new polymer polyethylenefuranoate (PEF). For the packaging industry, PEF offers superior characteristics like improved barrier properties and a higher mechanical strength enabling thinner packaging. PEF is recyclable.

We reported last October that Avantium and BASF formed a joint venture, named Synvia, for the production and marketing of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), which is produced from renewable resources, as well as the marketing of polyethylenefuranoate (PEF) based on the new chemical building block FDCA.

The Synvina JV plans to invest a medium three-digit million Euro sum to build a reference plant with an annual capacity of up to 50,000 metric tons per year at BASF’s Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium, and to license the technology for industrial scale production. Synvina will use the YXY process developed by Avantium for the production of FDCA.

The companies had announced negotiations last March as reported here.

More on Avantium and BASF: The Multi-Slide Guides

Going to scale: The Digest’s 2016 8-Slide Guide to Avantium

Elephant in the Bio-Room: The Digest’s 2015 8-Slide Guide to BASF

The Digest’s 8-Slide Guide to the Plant Bottle is here.

Synvina advances Avantium’s partnering activities

Synvina is continuing Avantium’s established partnering activities with leading brands associated with FDCA and PEF. The goal of the cooperation platform is to develop a complete supply chain for PEF as sustainable bio-based packaging material. Together with Toyobo, the companies will jointly boost the PEF polymerization and further develop PEF films for food packaging, in electronics applications such as displays or solar panels, industrial and medical packages. With Mitsui, Synvina will work on developing PEF thin films and PEF bottles in Japan. Furthermore, Synvina aims to continue the development partnerships with The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, ALPLA and other companies on the Joint Development Platform for PEF bottles.

Reaction from the stakeholders

“The grant of the BBI is a strong signal for Synvina and our partners along the value chain to continue our mutual process to make PEF commercially available”, said Patrick Schiffers, CEO of Synvina, and continued: “To open up a market for a new plastic based on renewable feedstock is a major challenge that we best meet with strong partners and our combined expertise. We share the common goal to get PEF commercially to the market thereby providing the market materials with superior properties and to establish sustainable and bio-based plastic value chains.”

More on the story.

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US DOE tips $15.8M for Hydrogen, Fuel Cell technologies

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 12:02pm

In Washington, the U.S. Department of Energy announced approximately $15.8 million for 30 new projects aimed at discovery and development of novel, low-cost materials necessary for hydrogen production and storage and for fuel cells onboard light-duty vehicles.  Selected projects will leverage national lab consortia launched under DOE’s Energy Materials Network (EMN) this past year, in support of DOE’s materials research and advanced manufacturing priorities.

More than 2,000 fuel cell vehicles have been sold or leased in the U.S. since 2015.  These consume 95% less petroleum per mile than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, have no tailpipe emissions, and offer quiet operation.

Selections were made under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) annual funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in 2017.  The 2017 FOA solicited early-stage materials research to advance the Department’s goals of enabling economic and efficient transportation via fuel cell electric vehicles that use hydrogen fuel produced from diverse domestic resources.

Selected projects will cover the following topics:

• Topic 1: PGM-free Catalyst and Electrode R&D—4 projects will leverage the Electrocatalysis Consortium (ElectroCat) to accelerate the development of catalysts made without platinum group metals (PGM-free) for use in fuel cells for transportation.

• Topic 2: Advanced Water Splitting Materials—19 projects will leverage the HydroGEN Consortium to accelerate the development of advanced water-splitting materials for hydrogen production, with an initial focus on advanced electrolytic, photoelectrochemical, and solar thermochemical pathways.

• Topic 3: Hydrogen Storage Materials Discovery—4 projects will leverage the Hydrogen Materials—Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC) to address unsolved scientific challenges in the development of viable solid-state materials for hydrogen storage onboard light-duty vehicles.

• Topic 4: Precursor Development for Low-Cost, High-Strength Carbon Fiber—3 projects will reduce the cost of onboard hydrogen storage tanks necessary for fuel cell vehicles. These projects will pursue innovative approaches to developing novel precursors for high-strength carbon fiber at half the cost of current materials. Resources from LightMAT (a DOE Vehicle Technologies Office-managed EMN consortium), and IACMI (an institute for advanced composites research within the Manufacturing USA network managed by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office), may also be leveraged by the awardees.

More on the story.

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RFS: ‘Tremendous Success’ Since Adoption, concludes new RFA report

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 12:01pm

In Washington, a new analysis by the Renewable Fuels Association, “RFS Impacts: By the Numbers. is highlighting tremendous progress has been made toward its goals of energy security, clean air and boosting local economies.

The report highlighted advances in US ethanol production, jobs, corn production, petroleum independence, retaoling of alternatives fuels and emissions. The report also debunked negative outcomes that opponents of the RFS predicted would occur, showing that corn acres increased only marginally, corn prices dropped, water use trended lower, deforestation in the Amazon fell, retail food inflation was in check, prices for meat and cereals dropped,  milk production increased and global hunger rates dropped while food price indexes were stable.

“As this analysis clearly shows, the RFS has made a huge impact on consumers, providing them with greater choice at the pump, while cleaning the air and boosting local economies,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

More on the story.

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Clariant cellulosic ethanol donation: 1,000 Malagasy Families Cooking Safer, Cleaner

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 12:00pm

In Germany, Clariant and Project Gaia announced the donation of approximately 24m3 of cellulosic ethanol from Clariant’s pre-commercial sunliquid plant in Straubing, Germany to a commercial ethanol cooking program in Madagascar, run by Project Gaia’s partner, Clean Cooking Madagascar (CCM). The donation will provide a month’s worth of cooking fuel for 1,000 Malagasy families. The Clariant cellulosic ethanol is made from agricultural residues, resulting in greenhouse gas savings of about 95% without competing with food and feed production or for arable land.

Ethanol cooking stoves offer a clean and sustainable alternative for household cooking. In response to this, a Norwegian carbon finance company, Green Development AS, through its local implementing entity CCM, developed the Madagascar Ethanol Stove Program to promote ethanol cooking in Madagascar, aiming to deliver 100,000 ethanol stoves in five years’ time. The program also encourages the development of local ethanol supply chains through the establishment of small or micro distilleries.

Green Development is supporting these activities through the issuance of carbon credits that will be sold to the World Bank’s Carbon Initiative for Development or “Ci-Dev” program, which is designed to increase access to carbon finance in developing countries. Ci-Dev is administered through the World Bank. Project Gaia is acting as an advisor to the program, consulting on ethanol micro distillery procurement and ethanol supply chain control. Project Gaia was an author of a seminal report prepared for the Government of Madagascar and the World Bank in 2011 on the opportunity for cooking with ethanol in Madagascar. This report gave rise to the National Ethanol Stove Program, which is run by the Government of Madagascar. The Green Development activities are a private sector, business-driven initiative that is closely aligned with the government’s program.

Madagascar is one of the most bio diverse countries in the world; however, it also has high rates of deforestation. Land clearance, slash and burn agriculture, wildfires, and over-harvesting of wood for charcoal and fuelwood are all to blame. While forest reserves are on the decline, the demand for fuelwood and charcoal is rising dramatically. Madagascar’s population has tripled since 1950, and fuel alternatives are scarce. Low and middle income households rely on firewood, while urban households almost exclusively use charcoal for cooking. Nearly 12,000 deaths per year in Madagascar are attributed to diseases caused by kitchen smoke. Of these deaths, 10,000 are children under 5 years of age.

Reaction from the stakeholders

Martin Mitchell, Business Development Manager Americas, commented: “Clariant is pleased to support Project Gaia’s initiative in Africa with the cellulosic ethanol donation. Cellulosic ethanol is not only a sustainable household cooking and heating solution for the developing world, it is also a healthier alternative to reduce diseases caused by kitchen smoke produced from charcoal.”

Harry Stokes, Executive Director of Project Gaia, stated: “We are very pleased to have this Clariant on board. By combining Clariant’s expertise in second generation ethanol with Project Gaia’s familiarity with African markets, we can together chart new opportunities for ethanol in Africa and particularly for the household energy market.”

More on the story.

Categories: Today's News

Vegetable oil prices lost substantial ground: UFOP

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 11:59am

In Germany, UFOP reports that the vegetable oil price index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) fell around 4 per cent to a nine-month low in April 2017. Prices for palm and soybean oil saw an especially sharp decline.

Vegetable oil prices decreased considerably over the first half year of 2017. Whereas at the beginning of the year the FAO vegetable oil price index, which illustrates the changes in international prices of the ten most important vegetable oils in world trade, was at its highest level since July 2014, the index slumped sharply over the months that followed. The vegetable oil price index for April 2017 was down just less than 4 per cent from the previous month. This was the lowest level in nine months. Weaker asking prices for palm and soybean oil weighed especially heavily on the sector, Agrarmarkt Informationsgesellschaft (AMI) reported. Growth in production on Southeast Asian oil palm plantations coincided with falling demand, resulting in downward pressure on prices. Asking prices for soybean oil were also affected by the global oversupply. Bumper soybean crops in South America and the foreseeable record soybean area in the US put a cap on upward movements of prices.

More on the story.

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NCGA launches $150K “Next Big Thing for Corn” Innovation Challenge in Sustainable Chemicals

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 11:58am

In Missouri, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), along with innovation facilitator NineSigma, today announced the launch of a global competition to identify new and innovative uses for field corn as a renewable feedstock for making sustainable chemicals with significant market demand.

Up to six winning proposals will be selected and winners will each receive US$25,000. Winners will be announced in February 2018. NCGA may also explore funding or other support of an entry for further development and/or commercialization, even if the entry is not a prize winner.

The National Corn Growers Association’s strategic plan includes a goal to establish three new uses that each utilize 25 million bushels or more by 2020. The concept of open innovation provides a path to add value to corn and problem solve creatively and rapidly.

Responses to the Consider Corn Challenge are due by September 28, 2017 at 5:00 PM US EDT. Solution providers can submit proposals through NineSigma’s Open Innovation community,

More on the story.

Categories: Today's News

New Computer Model Harnesses Ancient Biology for Climate Change Solution 

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 11:57am

In Illinois, a computer-based model developed by researchers at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) at the University of Queensland in Australia is now able to predict the optimal conditions for acetogenic carbon fixation, specifically for the species Clostridium autoethanogenum (C. auto), used by gas fermentation company LanzaTech. The results were released in the article

“Maintenance of ATP homeostasis triggers metabolic shifts in gas-fermenting acetogens” published as the cover article in Cell Systems, here.

Acetogens are one of the oldest living organisms, with the acetogenic CO2 fixing pathway considered to be one of the first biochemical pathways on Earth. Today, these organisms still play a major role in the global carbon cycle, accounting for around 20% of the fixed carbon on the planet. With a more detailed understanding of the metabolism of acetogens, more carbon could be fixed from existing waste streams into everyday products that would otherwise come from fossil resources.

LanzaTech’s acetogen was originally discovered in the droppings of a rabbit species, from there the acetgoen was isolated and brought to the lab where it was further developed. Today the LanzaTech acetogens ferment waste industrial gases from process industries, such as the steel or refining sector to produce ethanol and other chemicals. In this way, waste gases can be captured, and biologically converted into chemicals for plastic production! The company has proven the scalability and commercial viability of the technology. In addition, they have perfected a genetic tool kit to modify the organism to allow it to make many different products from these waste gas streams. However, with the aid of this new computer model, the company is able to accurately and predictively design microbes. This greatly reduces the time from concept to production, ensuring that gas fermenting organisms will become a viable solution for the production of a broad spectrum of valuable fuels and chemicals from waste and sustainable feedstocks.


Categories: Today's News

US ethanol production drops to 15.54B gallon annual rate

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 11:54am

In Washington, according to EIA data as analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, US ethanol production averaged 999,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 41.96 million gallons daily. That is down 21,000 b/d (-2.1%) from the week before and a five-week low. The four-week average for ethanol production decreased to 1.014 million b/d for an annualized rate of 15.54 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol were 22.0 million barrels, down 3.5% from last week to the lowest level since late January. Average weekly gasoline demand plunged 5.1% from the previous week’s record volume. Gasoline demand tallied at 391.3 million gallons (9.317 million barrels) daily, for an annualized rate of 142.8 billion gallons. Refiner/blender input of ethanol sank 4.3% to 909,000 b/d. Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production fell to 10.72%.

More on the story.

Categories: Today's News

Phyco2 refocuses algae R&D on Agriculture, Nutrition

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 11:53am

In California, Phyco2 said that is shifting its focus to meet the growing market demand for algae production.

Six primary high-value markets with strong growth both in the United States and globally have been identified as bio-stimulants, bio-pesticides, animal feed, nutraceuticals, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. The global market for algae is growing at an estimated Compound Annual Growth Rate of 7% a year, with a $1.1 billion in sales by 2022. The company is currently investing in production plants in Clinton, Iowa with an estimated initial production of 1000 metric tons of algae per year.

Phyco2 plans to begin building commercial scale production plants and start operations within the next two years.

The company backstory: Phyco2 has a high algae productivity rate due to its Algae Photobioreactor (APB) technologies that allow pure microalgae to grow indoors, 24 hours a day, at any time of the year, with minimal water consumption, and in any geographic location. Phyco2’s APB technologies grow algae without sunlight or risk of contamination, unlike open-pond systems.  Phyco2 will be utilizing their APB technologies to produce algae for these growing markets.

Reaction from the stakeholders

“Phyco2’s new technologies continuously grow pure microalgae that can be used for a multitude of everyday products, including nutritional supplements for human and livestock consumption, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals” said Phyco2 CEO William Clary. “Additionally, PHYCO2’s algae can help farmers through bio-stimulants to increase crop yields for organic produce.  These bio-stimulants also benefit agricultural land since they are organic and do not contain nitrates or phosphates thereby limiting  water run-off issues.”

More on the story.

Categories: Today's News

Performance, price, sustainability: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to Genomatica

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 11:31am

Genomatica is a widely-recognized technology leader for the chemical industry, delivering new manufacturing processes that enable its partners to produce the world’s most widely-used chemicals from alternative feedstocks, with better economics and greater sustainability than petroleum-based processes.

Categories: Today's News

Brazilian ethanol imports soar six-fold on year during May

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 8:14pm

In Brazil, ethanol imports increased 122% in May from April at 248 million liters, more than six times the volume imported during May 2016, nearly all of it from the US coming into northeastern ports. With the possibility of suspended import duties expiring in May or June rather than 2019 as planned in response to increased imports over recent months, volumes increased significantly before the policy shift requested by UNICA and north-northeastern producers could be implemented.

Categories: Today's News


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