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    Japan's Tsukishima Kikai Co. and Marubeni Corp. have together clinched an order from Oenon Holdings Inc. for a plant that will make bioethanol from rice. The Oenon group will invest around 4.4 billion yen (US$40.17 million) in the project, half of which will be covered by a subsidy from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The plant will initially produce bioethanol from imported rice, with plans to use Hokkaido-grown rice in the future. It will produce 5 million liters per year starting in 2009, increasing output to 15m liters in 2011. The facility will be able to produce as much as 50,000 liters of bioethanol from 125 tons of rice each day. Trading Markets - January 11, 2007.

    PetroSun, Inc. announced today that its subsidiary, PetroSun BioFuels Refining, has entered into a JV to construct and operate a biodiesel refinery near Coolidge, Arizona. The feedstock for the refinery will be algal oil produced by PetroSun BioFuels at algae farms to be located in Arizona. The refinery will have a capacity of thirty million gallons and will produce 100% renewable biodiesel. PetroSun BioFuels will process the residual algae biomass into ethanol. MarketWire - January 10, 2007.

    BlueFire Ethanol Fuels Inc, which develops and operates carbohydrate-based transportation fuel production facilities, has secured capital liquidity for corporate overhead and continued project development in the value of US$15 million with Quercus, an environmentally focused trust. BlueFire Ethanol Fuels - January 09, 2007.

    Some $170 billion in new technology development projects, infrastructure equipment and construction, and biofuel refineries will result from the ethanol production standards contained the new U.S. Energy Bill, says BIO, the global Biotechnology Industry Organization. According to Brent Erickson, BIO's executive vice president "Such a new energy infrastructure has not occurred in more than 100 years. We are at the point where we were in the 1850s when kerosene was first distilled and began to replace whale oil. This technology will be coming so fast that what we say today won't be true in two years." Chemical & Engineering News - January 07, 2007.

    Scottish and Southern Energy plc, the UK's second largest power company, has completed the acquisition of Slough Heat and Power Ltd from SEGRO plc for a total cash consideration of £49.25m. The 101MW CHP plant is the UK’s largest dedicated biomass energy facility fueled by wood chips, biomass and waste paper. Part of the plant is contracted under the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation and part of it produces over 200GWH of output qualifying for Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), which is equivalent to around 90MW of wind generation. Scottish & Southern Energy - January 2, 2007.

    PetroChina Co Ltd, the country's largest oil and gas producer, plans to invest 800 million yuan to build an ethanol plant in Nanchong, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, its parent China National Petroleum Corp said. The ethanol plant has a designed annual capacity of 100,000 tons. ABCMoneyNews - December 21, 2007.

    Mexico passed legislation to promote biofuels last week, offering unspecified support to farmers that grow crops for the production of any renewable fuel. Agriculture Minister Alberto Cardenas said Mexico could expand biodiesel faster than ethanol. More soon. Reuters - December 20, 2007.

    Oxford Catalysts has placed an order worth approximately €700,000 (US$1 million) with the German company Amtec for the purchase of two Spider16 high throughput screening reactors. The first will be used to speed up the development of catalysts for hydrodesulphurisation (HDS). The second will be used to further the development of catalysts for use in gas to liquid (GTL) and Fischer-Tropsch processes which can be applied to next generation biofuels. AlphaGalileo - December 18, 2007.

    According to the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), Brazil's production of sugarcane will increase from 514,1 million tonnes this season, to a record 561,8 million tonnes in the 2008/09 cyclus - an increase of 9.3%. New numbers are also out for the 2007 harvest in Brazil's main sugarcane growing region, the Central-South: a record 425 million tonnes compared to 372,7 million tonnes in 2006, or a 14% increase. The estimate was provided by Unica – the União da Indústria de Cana-de-Açúcar. Jornal Cana - December 16, 2007.

    The University of East Anglia and the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre have today released preliminary global temperature figures for 2007, which show the top 11 warmest years all occurring in the last 13 years. The provisional global figure for 2007 using data from January to November, currently places the year as the seventh warmest on records dating back to 1850. The announcement comes as the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud, speaks at the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Bali. Eurekalert - December 13, 2007.

    The Royal Society of Chemistry has announced it will launch a new journal in summer 2008, Energy & Environmental Science, which will distinctly address both energy and environmental issues. In recognition of the importance of research in this subject, and the need for knowledge transfer between scientists throughout the world, from launch the RSC will make issues of Energy & Environmental Science available free of charge to readers via its website, for the first 18 months of publication. This journal will highlight the important role that the chemical sciences have in solving the energy problems we are facing today. It will link all aspects of energy and the environment by publishing research relating to energy conversion and storage, alternative fuel technologies, and environmental science. AlphaGalileo - December 10, 2007.

    Dutch researcher Bas Bougie has developed a laser system to investigate soot development in diesel engines. Small soot particles are not retained by a soot filter but are, however, more harmful than larger soot particles. Therefore, soot development needs to be tackled at the source. Laser Induced Incandescence is a technique that reveals exactly where soot is generated and can be used by project partners to develop cleaner diesel engines. Terry Meyer, an Iowa State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is using similar laser technology to develop advanced sensors capable of screening the combustion behavior and soot characteristics specifically of biofuels. Eurekalert - December 7, 2007.

    Lithuania's first dedicated biofuel terminal has started operating in Klaipeda port. At the end of November 2007, the stevedoring company Vakaru krova (VK) started activities to manage transshipments. The infrastructure of the biodiesel complex allows for storage of up to 4000 cubic meters of products. During the first year, the terminal plans to transship about 70.000 tonnes of methyl ether, after that the capacities of the terminal would be increased. Investments to the project totaled €2.3 million. Agrimarket - December 5, 2007.

    New Holland supports the use of B100 biodiesel in all equipment with New Holland-manufactured diesel engines, including electronic injection engines with common rail technology. Overall, nearly 80 percent of the tractor and equipment manufacturer's New Holland-branded products with diesel engines are now available to operate on B100 biodiesel. Tractor and equipment maker John Deere meanwhile clarified its position for customers that want to use biodiesel blends up to B20. Grainnet - December 5, 2007.

    According to Wetlands International, an NGO, the Kyoto Protocol as it currently stands does not take into account possible emissions from palm oil grown on a particular type of land found in Indonesia and Malaysia, namely peatlands. Mongabay - December 5, 2007.

    Malaysia's oil & gas giant Petronas considers entering the biofuels sector. Zamri Jusoh, senior manager of Petronas' petroleum development management unit told reporters "of course our focus is on oil and gas, but I think as we move into the future we cannot ignore the importance of biofuels." AFP - December 5, 2007.

    In just four months, the use of biodiesel in the transport sector has substantially improved air quality in Metro Manila, data from the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed. A blend of one percent coco-biodiesel is mandated by the Biofuels Act of 2007 which took effect last May. By 2009, it would be increased to two percent. Philippine Star - December 4, 2007.

    Kazakhstan will next year adopt laws to regulate its fledgling biofuel industry and plans to construct at least two more plants in the next 18 months to produce environmentally friendly fuel from crops, industry officials said. According to Akylbek Kurishbayev, vice-minister for agriculture, he Central Asian country has the potential to produce 300,000 tons a year of biodiesel and export half. Kazakhstan could also produce up to 1 billion liters of bioethanol, he said. "The potential is huge. If we use this potential wisely, we can become one of the world's top five producers of biofuels," Beisen Donenov, executive director of the Kazakhstan Biofuels Association, said on the sidelines of a grains forum. Reuters - November 30, 2007.

    SRI Consulting released a report on chemicals from biomass. The analysis highlights six major contributing sources of green and renewable chemicals: increasing production of biofuels will yield increasing amounts of biofuels by-products; partial decomposition of certain biomass fractions can yield organic chemicals or feedstocks for the manufacture of various chemicals; forestry has been and will continue to be a source of pine chemicals; evolving fermentation technology and new substrates will also produce an increasing number of chemicals. Chemical Online - November 27, 2007.

    German industrial conglomerate MAN AG plans to expand into renewable energies such as biofuels and solar power. Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said services unit Ferrostaal would lead the expansion. Reuters - November 24, 2007.

    Analysts think Vancouver-based Ballard Power Systems, which pumped hundreds of millions and decades of research into developing hydrogen fuel cells for cars, is going to sell its automotive division. Experts describe the development as "the death of the hydrogen highway". The problems with H2 fuel cell cars are manifold: hydrogen is a mere energy carrier and its production requires a primary energy input; production is expensive, as would be storage and distribution; finally, scaling fuel cells and storage tanks down to fit in cars remains a huge challenge. Meanwhile, critics have said that the primary energy for hydrogen can better be used for electricity and electric vehicles. On a well-to-wheel basis, the cleanest and most efficient way to produce hydrogen is via biomass, so the news is a set-back for the biohydrogen community. But then again, biomass can be used more efficiently as electricity for battery cars. Canada.com - November 21, 2007.

    South Korea plans to invest 20 billion won (€14.8/$21.8 million) by 2010 on securing technologies to develop synthetic fuels from biomass, coal and natural gas, as well as biobutanol. 29 private companies, research institutes and universities will join this first stage of the "next-generation clean energy development project" led by South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Korea Times - November 19, 2007.

    OPEC leaders began a summit today with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez issuing a chilling warning that crude prices could double to US$200 from their already-record level if the United States attacked Iran or Venezuela. He urged assembled leaders from the OPEC, meeting for only the third time in the cartel's 47-year history, to club together for geopolitical reasons. But the cartel is split between an 'anti-US' block including Venezuela, Iran, and soon to return ex-member Ecuador, and a 'neutral' group comprising most Gulf States. France24 - November 17, 2007.

    The article "Biofuels: What a Biopact between North and South could achieve" published in the scientific journal Energy Policy (Volume 35, Issue 7, 1 July 2007, Pages 3550-3570) ranks number 1 in the 'Top 25 hottest articles'. The article was written by professor John A. Mathews, Macquarie University (Sydney, Autralia), and presents a case for a win-win bioenergy relationship between the industrialised and the developing world. Mathews holds the Chair of Strategic Management at the university, and is a leading expert in the analysis of the evolution and emergence of disruptive technologies and their global strategic management. ScienceDirect - November 16, 2007.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

São Paulo joins EU's BEST project with pure ethanol bus trial; over 400 in operation so far

The University of São Paulo's (USP) Cenbio (National Center for Biomass Technologies) of the Electrotechnical Institute of Energy (IEE), has joined an EU-led international project aimed at researching and stimulating the use of ethanol in public transport. The €17.7 million BEST project (Bioethanol for Sustainable Transport) now has more than 160 buses running on the fuel in cities across Europe and in China. Sweden is the leader and has been operating ethanol buses for over 15 years, with more than 400 now on the road.

The participation of Brazil is logical, because the country is the largest user of the biofuel. Under BEST, the megacity of São Paulo will trial a set of buses running on a special E95 hydrous alcohol fuel for one year to demonstrate the nearly pure biofuel's viability and to study its emissions profile. The vehicles will serve the metropolitan Jabaquara corridor, with nine terminals and four municipalities: São Paulo, Diadema, São Bernardo do Campo and Sainto André. This 33-km line will transport 1900 travelers per day. (See video at O Globo).

The action is an initiative of Cenbio and eight other partners: BAFF/SEKAB, Copersucar, EMTU/SP, SPTrans, Marcopolo, state-owned oil company Petrobras - via its Conpet (National Program for the Rationalization of the Use of Oil & Gas Derivatives) -, Petrobras Distribuidora, Scania and Unica (Union of the Sugarcane Industry).

Funding comes from the European Union. The investment in São Paulo's participation in BEST is of the order of R$1,6 million (€618,000/US$914,000). The vehicles will be incorporated into the fleet of the Metra operator (Sistema Metropolitano de Transporte), the EMTU/SP (Empresa Metropolitana de Transportes Urbanos de São Paulo), and into that of an operator chosen by SPTrans (São Paulo Transporte), which manages bus transport in the city.

The buses
During the trials, the performance and CO2, NOx and SOx emissions of the buses will will be compared to those of similar diesel models. The ethanol buses are standard Scania Omni buses with a 9 litres Scania compression ignition engine, slightly modified to operate on E95 bioethanol bus fuel [brochure *.pdf].

Scania started to develop ethanol buses in the mid-1980s in close co-operation with Stockholm Transport (SL). After more than 15 years of regular full-scale operation in tough city conditions, Stockholm Transport considers it a fully proven bus technology.

There are no operational drawbacks as long as the scheduled maintenance requirements are followed. The buses themselves are completely standard, using regular Scania components. Around 600 ethanol buses have been delivered so far. Scania has meanwhilde developed its third generation Euro-5 compliant ethanol engine.

The dedicated fuel
The bioethanol bus fuel is a liquid homogeneous and stable fuel, which is developed for heavy-duty, ethanol compression-ignition engines. It has been commercialised in Sweden and fulfils the ethanol fuel standard given by Scania. The trade name of the fuel is Etamax D and the ethanol used originates from renewable sources only.

The fuel is produced by SEKAB and delivered directly to each ethanol bus depot. Etamax D has following composition (percentage by volume):
  • 93,5 % bioethanol (hydrous 95 %)
  • 3,6 % ignition improver
  • 3,0 % denaturants (MTBE 2,5 % and iso-butanol 0,5 % according to Swedish law)
  • a corrosion inhibitor
Even if ethanol has a very low cetane number the fuel has very good qualities and works excellent in a compression-ignition engine. This property of the fuel is given by the special developed ignition improver additive. The ethanol fuel for buses has been carefully developed, tested and then used on a large scale in Swedish buses for over 15 years. The use of the ignition enhancer in the busfuel is patented.

All sites in Europe, China and Brazil will demonstrate effective systems for delivering the fuel through the introduction of dedicated fuel stations. Umeå University (Sweden) will study the consequences, sustainability and cost of the long-term production and supply of ethanol from cellulose (from forest residues and crops/wheat) in the participating cities and in some regional markets in Europe. This will also include the experiences from the ligno-cellulose pilot plant in Örnsköldsvik and the consequences and sustainability of a large-scale import of ethanol to the EU.

The (e)mission
The mission of the BEST project is to analyse and demonstrate the fact that the use of ethanol in public transport has major air quality as well as environmental benefits. The E95 fuel as trialed in Sweden reduces carbon monoxide by 60% and particulate matter emissions by up to 90%. When made from highly efficient Brazilian bioethanol it reduces GHG emissions by around 90% (figure 1, click to enlarge). This numbers is based on the EU's CONCAWE/EUCAR/Joint Research Center well-to-wheel study, the most comprehensive analysis of current and future propulsion pathways ever undertaken:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Brazil is first country of Americas to participate in BEST. Eight cities in Europe and Asia already participate in the program. USP professor Jose Robert Moreira, chairman of the board of Cenbio and BEST project leader in Brazil affirms that the time is very favorable for these trials in São Paulo too:
It offers an alternative to diminish air pollution in metropolitan areas, where the technology will be demonstrated. [...] Today, diesel fuel almost costs twice as much as ethanol and there clearly exists a trend of continuous rises in the price of oil. - Jose Robert Moreira
Brazil has trialed ethanol in buses before, particularly in São Paulo, which ran them for eight years, but the economic parameters were different then. Meanwhile, the Swedish experience, the optimisation of the fuel and the new generation bus engine has given new reliability to this form of mobility.

The tasks of each partner in the Brazilian participation can be summarised as follows:
  • Copersucar will import the first lot of ethanol with the additive from Sweden
  • BAFF/SEKAB will then supply the ethanol additive to be mixed with Brazilian ethanol
  • EMTU/SP and SPTrans perform the tests via their bus operators
  • Marcopolo is to supply and mount the dedicated body work of the demonstration vehicles
  • Petrobras will mix the additive into the ethanol and will distribute the bus fuel to the operators
  • Scania will import the chassis and the ethanol engine
  • Unica will supply the ethanol for the tests
The BEST project is co-financed within the EU's 6th framework - Sustainable Energy Systems/Alternative Motor Fuels: Biofuel Cities. It is aimed at putting more than 10 000 ethanol cars and 160 ethanol buses into operation.
13 E95 fuelstations for buses and 135 E85 fuelpumps will be opened. Low blends with petrol and diesel will be developed and tested as well.

Through this the participating cities and regions aim to prepare a market breakthrough for ethanol vehicles and for bioethanol and also to inspire and obtain followers.

Participating cities/regions are (map, click to enlarge):
  • Biofuel Region (Sweden): Stockholm has 15 years experience of Bioethanol buses. The Stockholm fleet has expanded to approximately 400 buses in 2006. In addition, smaller fleets of ethanol fuelled buses are run in other cities for example Umeå, Gävle, Örnsköldsvik, Falun and Sundsvall. The existing ethanol bus technology is a standard solution, which gives an effective reduction on both local and global emissions from your bus fleet.
  • Brandenburg (Germany)
  • Somerset(UK),
  • Rotterdam (Netherlands),
  • Basque Country and Madrid (Spain),
  • La Spezia (Italy)
  • Nanyang (China)
  • Sao Paolo (Brazil)
The co-ordinating city is Stockholm. Research partners are, amongst others, Imperial College (UK), Umeå university (Sweden), and Tsingua University (China). Besides Scania, Ford Motor Company and Saab are industrial partners. The project started in january 2006 and will continue til end of 2009.

The work and investments within BEST gaining European support is estimated to amount almost 17 700 000 €. In addition a lot of non funded work and investments is carried out in, or very close to, the project, meaning the 'real' BEST budget is higher.

BEST is one of two sister projects within the European Partnership Biofuel-Cities; the other project is BiogasMAX. One aim for the European partnerships like Biofuel–Cities is to establish European partnerships for innovative demonstration of alternative fuels and energy efficient vehicles, which will foster the progressive take up of alternatives to petrol and diesel.

Together with another European Partnership Hydrogen for Transport, the partnerships build up the Alternative Motor Fuel Work programme.


Translated from Portuguese, and adapted for Biopact, CC, 2008.


Picture
: Scania ethanol bus running on E95 in Stockholm, Sweden. Credit: Scania.

References:
EU BEST project.

Scania: Bioethanol Bus specifications [*.pdf].

Joint EU Concawe/JCR/EUcar WTW study, update march 2007.

European Commission DG-TREN Viewls project: Shift Gear to Biofuels - Final report Viewls project [*.pdf].

O Radical (via Ethanol Brasil): Ônibus a etanol entra em circulação no Brasil - January 2, 2007.

O Globo: Ônibus movido a etanol - video.


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