The Michigan Economic Development Corporation last week awarded a $3.4 million grant to redevelop the former Pfizer research facility in Holland into a bioeconomy research and commercialization center. Michigan State University will use the facility to develop technologies that derive alternative energy from agri-based renewable resources.
Michigan.org - July 13, 2007.
Fuel prices increased three times in Mozambique this year due to high import costs. For this reason, the country is looking into biofuels as an alternative. Mozambique's ministries of agriculture and energy presented a study showing that more than five million hectares of land can be used sustainably in the production of crops that would produce biodiesel fuels. The first phase of a biofuel implementation plan was also presented, identifying the provinces of Inhambane, Zambezia, Nampula and Cabo Delgado as the first to benefit.
News24 (Capetown) - July 12, 2007.
The Malaysian Oleochemical Manufacturers Group (MOMG) has urged the government for incentives and grants to companies to encourage the development of new uses and applications for glycerine, the most important byproduct of biodiesel. Global production of glycerine is currently about one million tonnes. For every 10 tonnes of oil processed into biodiesel, one tonne of glycerine emerges as a by-product.
Bernama - July 12, 2007.
BioDiesel International AG has acquired 70 per cent of the shares in Lignosol, a Salzburg based company that is making promising progress in Biomass-to-Liquids conversion techniques. The purchase price is in the single-digit million Euro range.
ACN - July 10, 2007.
Gay & Robinson Inc. and Pacific West Energy LLC announced today a partnership to develop an ethanol plant in Hawaii based on sugarcane feedstocks. The plant's capacity is around 12 million gallons (45 million liters) per year. The partnership called Gay & Robinson Ag-Energy LLC, will also ensure the continuation of the Gay & Robinson agricultural enterprise, one of the oldest in Hawaii. Approximately 230 jobs will be preserved, and a large area of West Kauai will be maintained in sustainable agriculture.
Business Wire - July 10, 2007.
Water for Asian Cities (WAC), part of UN-Habitat, is extending partial financial support for the construction of several biogas plants across the Kathmandu valley and develop them as models for municipal waste management. The first biogas plants will be built in Khokna, Godavari, Kalimati, Patan, Tribhuvan University premises, Amrit Science College premises and Thimi.
The Himalayan Times - July 09, 2007.
EnviTec Biogas's planned initial public offering has roused 'enormous' interest among investors and the shares have been oversubscribed, according to sources. EnviTec has set the IPO price range at €42-52 a share, with the subscription period running until Wednesday. EnviTec last year generated sales of €100.7 million, with earnings before interest and tax of €18.5 million.
Forbes - July 09, 2007.
AthenaWeb, the EU's science media portal, is online with new functionalities and expanded video libraries. Check it out for video summaries of the latest European research activities in the fields of energy, the environment, renewables, biotech and much more.
AthenaWeb - July 04, 2007.
Biopact was invited to attend a European Union high-level meeting on international biofuels trade, to take place on Thursday and Friday in Brussels. Leaders from China, India, Africa and Brazil will discuss the opportunities and challenges arising in the emerging global biofuels sector. EU Commissioners for external relations, trade, energy, development & humanitarian aid as well as the directors of international organisations like the IEA, the FAO and the IFPRI will be present. Civil society and environmental NGOs complete the panorama of participants. Check back for exclusive stories from Friday onwards.
Biopact - July 04, 2007.
China's state-owned grain group COFCO says Beijing has stopped approving new fuel ethanol projects regardless of the raw materials, which has put a brake on its plan to build a sweet potato-based plant in Hebei.
The Standard (Hong Kong) - July 03, 2007.
Blue Diamond Ventures and the University of Texas A&M have formed a biofuels research alliance. The University will assist Blue Diamond with the production and conversion of non-food crops for manufacturing second-generation biofuels.
MarketWire - July 03, 2007.
African Union leaders are to discuss the idea of a single pan-African government, on the second day of their summit in Accra, Ghana. Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is championing the idea, but many African leaders are wary of the proposal.
BBC - July 02, 2007.
Triple Point Technology, a supplier of cross-industry software platforms for the supply, trading, marketing and movement of commodities, announced today the release and general availability of Commodity XL for Biofuels™. The software platform is engineered to address the rapidly escalating global market for renewable energy fuels and their feedstocks.
Business Wire - July 02, 2007.
Latin America's largest construction and engineering firm, Constructora Norberto Odebrecht SA, announced plans to invest some US$2.6 billion (€1.9 billion) to get into Brazil's booming ethanol business. It aims to reach a crushing capacity of 30 million to 40 million metric tons (33 million to 44 million tons) of cane per harvest over the next eight years. More soon.
International Herald Tribune - June 30, 2007.
QuestAir Technologies announces it has received an order valued at US$2.85 million for an M-3100 system to upgrade biogas created from organic waste to pipeline quality methane. QuestAir's multi-unit M-3100 system was purchased by Phase 3 Developments & Investments, LLC of Ohio, a developer of renewable energy projects in the agricultural sector. The plant is expected to be fully operational in the spring of 2008.
Market Wire - June 30, 2007.
Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc. and the U.S. National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) today announced a partnership to speed the growth of alternative fuel technology. The 10-year agreement between the center and Siemens represents transfers of equipment, software and on-site simulation training. The NCERC facilitates the commercialization of new technologies for producing ethanol more effectively and plays a key role in the Bio-Fuels Industry for Workforce Training to assist in the growing need for qualified personnel to operate and manage bio-fuel refineries across the country.
Business Wire - June 29, 2007.
A paper published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society proposes a new method of producing hydrogen for portable fuel cells that can work steadily for 10-20 times the length of equivalently sized Lithium-ion batteries. Zhen-Yan Deng, lead author, found that modified aluminum powder can be used to react with water to produce hydrogen at room temperature and under normal atmospheric pressure. The result is a cost-efficient method for powering fuel cells that can be used in portable applications and hybrid vehicles. More soon.
Blackwell Publishing - June 29, 2007.
An NGO called Grains publishes a report that highlights some of the potentially negative effects associated with the global biofuels sector. The findings are a bit one-sided because based uniquely on negative news stories. Moreover, the report does not show much of a long-term vision on the world's energy crisis, climate change, North-South relations, and the unique role biofuels can play in addressing these issues.
Grain - June 29, 2007.
Researchers at the Universidad de Tarapacá in Arica plan to grow Jatropha curcas in the arid north of Chile. The trial in the desert, is carried out to test the drought-tolerance of the biodiesel crop, and to see whether it can utilize the desert's scarce water resources which contain high amounts of salt minerals and boron, lethal to other crops.
Santiago Times - June 28, 2007.
India and Thailand sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that envisages cooperation through joint research and development and exchange of information in areas of renewable sources of energy like, biogas, solar-thermal, small hydro, wind and biomass energy.
Daily India - June 28, 2007.
Portucel - Empresa Produtora de Pasta e Papel SA said it plans to install biomass plants with an expected production capacity of 200,000 megawatt hours per year at its paper factories in Setubal and Cacia. The European Commission gave the green light for state aid totaling €46.5 million, contributing to Portucel's plans to extend and modernise its plants.
Forbes - June 28, 2007.
Petro-Canada and GreenField Ethanol have inked a long-term deal that makes Petro-Canada the exclusive purchaser of all ethanol produced at GreenField Ethanol's new facility in Varennes, Quebec. The ethanol will be blended with gasoline destined for Petro-Canada retail sites in the Greater Montreal Area.
Petro-Canada - June 27, 2007.
According to a study by the Korean Energy Economics Institute, biodiesel produced in Korea will become cheaper than light crude oil from 2011 onwards (678 won/liter versus 717.2 won/liter). The study "Prospects on the Economic Feasibility of Biodiesel and Improving the Support System", advises to keep biodiesel tax-free until 2010, after which it can compete with oil.
Dong-A Ilbo - June 27, 2007.
Kreido Biofuels announced today that it has entered into a marketing and distribution agreement with Eco-Energy, an energy and chemical marketing and trading company. Eco-Energy will purchase Kreido Biofuels’ biodiesel output from Wilmington, North Carolina, and Argo, Illinois, for a minimum of 3 years at current commercial market prices, as well as provide Kreido transportation and logistics services.
Business Wire - June 27, 2007.
Beijing Tiandi Riyue Biomass Technology Corp. Ltd. has started construction on its new fuel ethanol project in the county of Naiman in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region's Chifeng City, the company's president told Interfax today.
Interfax China - June 26, 2007.
W2 Energy Inc. announces it will begin development of biobutanol from biomass. The biofuel will be manufactured from syngas derived from non-food biomass and waste products using the company's plasma reactor system.
Market Wire - June 26, 2007.
Finland based Metso Corporation, a global engineering firm has received an order worth €60 million to supply two biomass-fired power boilers to Portugal's EDP Producao - Bioeléctrica, S.A. The first boiler (83 MWth) will be installed at Celbi’s Figueira da Foz pulp mill and the second boiler (35 MWth) at Caima’s pulp mill near the city of Constância. Both power plants will mainly use biomass, like eucalyptus bark and forest residues, as fuel to produce together approximately 40 MWe electricity to the national grid. Both boilers utilize bubbling fluidized bed technology.
Metso Corporation - June 26, 2007.
Canada's New Government is investing more than $416,000 in three southern Alberta projects to help the emerging biofuels industry. The communities of Lethbridge, Drumheller and Coalhurst will benefit from the projects. Through the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI), the three firms will receive funding to prepare feasibility studies and business plans to study the suitability of biofuels production according to location and needs in the industry.
MarketWire - June 26, 2007.
U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman is expected to announce today that Michigan State and other universities have been selected to share $375 million in federal funding to develop new bioenergy centers for research on cellulosic ethanol and biomass plants. More info soon.
Detroit Free Press - June 26, 2007.
A Kerala based NGO has won an Ashden Award for installing biogas plants in the state to convert organic waste into a clean and renewable source of energy at the household level. Former US vice president Al Gore gave away the award - cash prize of 30,000 pounds - to Biotech chief A. Saji at a ceremony in London on Friday.
New Kerala - June 25, 2007.
AltraBiofuels, a California-based producer of renewable biofuels, announced that it has secured an additional US$165.5 million of debt financing for the construction and completion of two plants located in Coshocton, Ohio and Cloverdale, Indiana. The Coshocton plant's capacity is anticipated to reach 60million gallons/year while the Cloverdale plant is expected to reach 100 million gallons/year.
Business Wire - June 23, 2007.
Brazil and the Dominican Republic have inked a biofuel cooperation agreement aimed at alleviating poverty and creating economic opportunity. The agreement initially focuses on the production of biodiesel in the Dominican Republic.
Dominican Today - June 21, 2007.
Malaysian company Ecofuture Bhd makes renewable products from palm oil residues such as empty fruit bunches and fibers (more here). It expects the revenue contribution of these products to grow by 10% this year, due to growing overseas demand, says executive chairman Jang Lim Kuang. 95% of the group's export earnings come from these products which include natural oil palm fibre strands and biodegradable mulching and soil erosion geotextile mats.
Bernama - June 20, 2007.
Argent Energy, a British producer of waste-oil based biodiesel, announced its intention to seek a listing on London's AIM via a placing of new and existing ordinary shares with institutional investors. Argent plans to use the proceeds to construct the first phase of its proposed 150,000 tonnes (170 million litres) plant at Ellesmere Port, near Chester, and to develop further plans for a 75,000 tonnes (85 million litres) plant in New Zealand.
Argent Energy - June 20, 2007.
According to a new report released by Helmut Kaiser Consultancy, the market for biogas plants is seeing an explosive growth worldwide in municipalities, industry and agriculture, with the sector's investments set to expand from around €2 billion in 2006 to €25 billion by 2020. The key to participate competitively in this market is advanced knowledge in biotechnology, molecular science, and a push towards the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology and IT ('nano-bio-it').
The study shows that over the past few years, the biogas market has been growing at a rate of 20 to 30 percent annually, depending on the country. The study is the first analysis of the global market for biogas plants in 50 countries, projecting future potentials and developments to 2030, with a focus on the development of new technologies and drivers of worldwide competition.
Germany as a technology leader reached investment levels of around €700 million in 2006 with 400 companies involved in segments of the sector and 100 companies offering the whole value chain. Export of biogas related technologies and services is between 10 and 15 percent. The production of biomethane is Germany's fastest growing renewables sector, outpacing both wind, solar and other types of biomass use (earlier post).
In Germany alone, 900 new plants were built in 2006, reaching a total of 3,600. By 2020, the market size in the country is expected to reach €7.5 billion for plants, with 30 percent coming from exports. Some 85,000 full and direct jobs will be created in the sector in Germany.
In Europe, biogas is being developed on a large scale for the production of fuels for stationary power generation (to be used in natural gas plants or in fuel cells), as well as for the transport sector (earlier post and here). It is being fed into the natural gas grid on a large scale (previous post and especially here) or in dedicated pipelines supplying cities, while some are creating real biorefineries around it that deliver green specialty chemicals, fuels and power (earlier post). The green gas can be made by the anaerobic fermentation of biomass, either obtained from dedicated energy crops (such as specially bred grass species, biogas maize or sugarcane), or from industrial, municipal or agricultural waste-streams.
Of all biofuels, biogas delivers most energy per hectare of crops. It is also the least carbon intensive production path, with some biogas pathways actually delivering carbon-negative bioenergy (earlier post and here). Importantly, biogas can be integrated in carbon capture and storage systems (CCS), in a way that presents advantages over other CCS pathways (earlier post).
According to the Helmut Kaiser Consultancy report, the world market for biogas currently has a value of around €2 billion, expected to grow to €25 billion by 2020. But the competition is growing, worldwide. Even though some projections show biogas may replace all of Europe's natural gas imports from Russia by 2020 and yield up to 500 billion cubic meters per year (earlier post), the report sees an even greater potential for biomethane in the U.S. and China: biofuels :: energy :: sustainability :: biomass :: bioenergy :: natural gas :: biogas :: biomethane :: biotechnology :: Many plants today remain low tech and easy to reproduce and design. To acquire a competitive edge, the key is knowledge in biotechnology, molecular science and optimization in the future. Biogas is part of a rapidly growing renewable energy sector, that saw investments leaping to around $100 billion in 2006 (earlier post).
According to the report, the total energy mix of the future will be more regenerative and sustainable. The generation and storage of renewable energy will be the fastest growing sector in energy market for next 20 years. The market volume of renewable energy worldwide will increase from US$ 95.8 billion in 2007 to US$ 124.4 billion in 2010 and reach US$ 198.1 billion in 2015. These figures and developments are based on the whole value chain.
Biogas power plants are a combination of anaerobic digestion systems with associated electricity generators such as gas turbines or gas engines. The electricity they produce is classified as renewable or green energy and if sold into the national grid attract subsidies.
In the last 20 years, biogas utilisation been successful in wastewater treatment plants, industrial processing applications, landfill and the agricultural sector. The future increase use of biogas is a strong goal in most countries, not only because is it a renewable energy source but it will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and soil degradation and last not least it will change agriculture sectors in many countries worldwide to produce partly energy.
For a more in-depth overview of why analysts think 2007 is the year of biogas, see here.
India’s Enhanced Biofuel Technologies (EBT) has proposed plans to the Suriname government to invest up to US$150 million in bioenergy, the Surinamese Council of Ministers disclosed this week. EBT has submitted a business plan to the government covering 7 years in developing new crops for the production of biofuels.
Meanwhile, the Ministries of Agriculture [*Dutch], Natural Resources and Spatial Zoning, Land and Forest Management are reviewing the proposals, while a Memorandum of Understanding is being drafted.
“If the government decides to cooperate with this company and the project is successful, Suriname will play a major role in the field of bioenergy in the region,” said the cabinet in a press release. 'Social sustainability'
EBT is aming at reducing dependency on fossil fuels and relieving pressure on the environment by growing perennial energy crops and by utilizing biomass waste streams from farming comunities to produce green electricity. Most importantly, it has created a social sustainability program that should ensure feedstock growers and communities benefit from biofuel production.
The integrated social sustainability scheme is built around a stream of byproducts and coproducts flowing back to the communities, either in a material form (e.g. livestock feed, biofertiliser), in the form of energy (e.g. electricity from biomass residues) or in an immaterial form (sales of bioproducts) (schematic, click to enlarge).
The strategy of EBT is to grow Jatropha curcas in a series of tropical and subtropical countries, like Suriname, for the global market. Within 5 years time, the company plans to begin to make an impact on replacing rapeseed oil based biodiesel in Europe and North America (schematic, click to enlarge): energy :: sustainability :: ethanol :: biodiesel :: biomass :: bioenergy :: biofuels :: social sustainability :: Suriname :: EBT is a commercially-driven business that addresses the pressing global issues of the scarcity of fuel supply, climate change, poverty reduction and sustainable development. The company is building a global production, supply and distribution chain for the high volume production of commercialized renewable, energy efficient and reduced carbon emission fuels.
Energy production on a global scale will require the sourcing of vast quantities of crude vegetable oil, the company says on its website. EBT has negotiated the procurement of rapeseed, palm oil and soya bean, while creating projects to increase the growth of energy crops in rural communities.
EBT fuels are targeted at industries that are amongst the highest producers of carbon emissions and other toxins, including cement, mining, and power generation.
According to EBT, crops such as sunflower, rapeseed and tree-borne oil seeds like Jatropha Curcas provide rich biomass and nutrients for soil whilst combating degradation of land, a problem affecting millions of hectares of land world wide, particularly in the subtropical zones which will be the focus of the agricultural extension kit’s deployment.
In 2007, EBT will begin the process of delivering the company to market in the UK, in India and alternative energy development markets. For the past two years the company has continually invested into the development of a global platform of corperate endevour in India, South East Asia, Africa, the Middle East, USA, Canada, UK, EU, South America and the Caribbean.
Besides biofuels from energy crops, EBT is researching the production of biohydrogen from algae.
Cassava has one of the highest rates of CO2 fixation and sucrose synthesis for any C3 plant. With this in mind, researchers from Ohio State University develop transgenic cassava with starch yields up 2.6 times higher than normal plants by increasing the sink strength for carbohydrate in the crop. This means cassava makes for a 'super crop' when it comes to both CO2 fixation and carbohydrate production, i.e. sugars, the feedstock for ethanol - Plant Biotechnology Journal - Volume 4/Issue 4 - July 2006
Vietnam's Institute of Tropical Biology to invest in Jatropha research - Le courrier du Vietnam - Sept. 6, 2006
Genetic study proves humans have pushed orangutans to the brink of extinction; genetic decline coincides with establishment of oil palm plantations in Malaysia/Indonesia since the 1950/60s- Public Library of Science / Biology, Volume 4/Issue 2 - February, 2006
Synthetic Genomics and the Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology Sdn Bhd (ACGT) have created a multi-year research and development joint venture to sequence and analyze the oil palm genome. In-depth genomic analyses will be followed by subsequent studies that will analyze the oil palm’s root and leaf microbial communities, to identify biomarkers and metabolic pathways that affect the plant's growth and viability. Biopact - July, 2007
Researchers at the International Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics have developed a sweet sorghum for the production of ethanol. The new variety has a very high sugar content in its root. Average yields in trial fields in the Philippines were between 95 to 125 tons, considerably higher than those of sugarcane - ICRISAT - Feb. 28, 2007
Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania, develops sorghum and millet processing technologies suitable for local conditions in effort to empower small farmers - IPP Media - Sept. 6, 2006
South Africa blocks GM Sorghum project for fears over contamination of local wild sorghums - Kruger Park - Aug. 26, 2006
Brazilian authorities have given their fiat for field trials with genetically modified sugar cane plants. The Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira (Cane Technology Center - CTC) will test three genetically modified varieties that are expected to yield 15% more sugar - GMO Compass
The International Eucalyptus Genome Consortium's sequencing effort has been taken up as a project under the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Joint Genome Project for the year 2008. - Biopact June 12, 2007
Brazilian state of Acre intends to make cattle ranchers reforest land which they have cleared for grazing. The sustainable forestry policy is based on replanting economic tree crops such as mahogany, acai, Brazil nut and palms - BBCNews Sept. 27, 2006
Illegal deforestation of acacia for charcoal is becoming a serious problem in Kenya's Naivasha area. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai's Green Belt Movement re-afforests with acacia but needs more support to win fight against illegal loggers - Kenya Times Sept. 5, 2006
Australian scientists are conducting a 'time-machine' experiment to see how eucalyptus trees cope with increased levels of CO2 and global warming. - University of Western Sydney Aug. 28, 2006
Bamboo planting can slow deforestation, scientists from the International Center for Research in Agroforestry in Nairobi, Kenya, say. Bamboo rapidly becoming economically beneficial crop with large potential for energy, bioremediation, and afforestation - Chosun (S.Korea) Aug. 30, 2006
"The beauty of miscanthus is that you only have to sow it once...Because of the way it grows, there is no need for fertilisers or chemicals", an English entrepreneur talks about his experience with Miscanthus as an energy crop - Grantham Today Aug. 8, 2006