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February 2011 News and Matters of Interest

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UBCBreaks Ground on Biomass Gasification to CHP Demonstration Project

UCB Bioenergy ProjectThe University of British Columbia (UBC) has announced that construction has begun on campus of a demonstration and teaching biomass to combined heat and power (CHP) plant. The $27-million UBC Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Project (BRDP) is a partnership with Vancouver-based Nexterra Systems Corp. (providing their up-draft gasifier technology) and General Electric Co. (GE; integrating their Jenbacher engine capabilities). Nexterra signed the initial agreement with UBC in August 2010. The plant is expected to start operations in 2012. The completed facility will generate up to 2 MWe, or 6% of the UCB electric demand and around 25% of the campus steam demand. UBC research collaborators include the Clean Energy Research Centre (CERC), the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, the Faculty of Applied Science and the Sauder School of Business. “This innovative approach allows the accelerated development, demonstration and commercialization of clean-energy technology for domestic use and global export,” says Professor David Wilkinson, CERC Director. “The UBC campus provides an ideal analytical model for research and learning and will give municipalities the data required to help plan and install future bioenergy operations.” The project is a key part of UBC’s transformation into a living laboratory for sustainability research and action. 02/28/2011

 

AlltechAlgae Facility Opens in Kentucky

AlltechAfter a $14MM acquisition and around $200MM in renovations, the nutrition company Alltech held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to announce the opening of Alltech Algae in Winchester, Kentucky, now Alltech’s largest production facility. Inside the facility is the pilot algal growth plant containing fermentors that stand over 8 stories high and have a capacity of 265,000 liters. The plant, formerly held by Martek Bioscience, will now be focused on production of algae for food, cosmetics, and fuels, with initial production scheduled for April 2011. Alltech states that one acre of Chlorella algae can produce as much protein as 21 acres of soybeans; 49 acres of corn; 95 acres of wheat; or 994 acres of barley. The opening ceremony coincided with Alltech’s invitation only International Algal Conference in Lexington. “For Alltech, algae fermentation presents the latest technological frontier from which we expect incredible opportunities in the areas of food, feed and fuel to arise,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, founder and president of Alltech. “We have already been working in this area for several years and see it playing a major role in both human and animal health and nutrition.” 02/28/2011

 

W2Energy Starts Construction on Biobutanol Reactor

W2 Energy's SunFilter BioreactorCanadian multi-tech company W2 Energy (W2E) has announced that they have started construction on a new version of their SunFilter bioreactor, this time to grow bacteria and produce Biobutanol. Instead of seeding the growth chambers with algae, they’ll get Clostridium acetobutylicum bacteria, and instead of producing algal-sourced biofuel, the new reactor will produce a mixture of 60% biobutanol, 30% acetone and 10% ethanol. The SunFilter is a tubular algae bioreactor designed to sequester nitrogen and carbon oxide gases, which enter the bottom manifold of the SunFilter and bubble up through the algae tubes. The manifold can absorb all the emission gases from W2E’s “cool plasma” non-thermal Plasmatron gasifier. "Biobutanol may become one of the transportation fuels of the future, and it already has a robust worldwide market for a variety of industrial uses," says Mike McLaren, President and CEO of W2 Energy. "Making biobutanol with our existing technology is a recipe for success." 02/28/2011

 

USDAExpands Study of Crop Insurance Program to Include Biofuel Feedstocks

US Department of AgricultureDepartment of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that USDA will expand the scope of their on-going feasibility study of providing crop insurance. Current feasibility studies address energy cane, switchgrass and camelina. The USDA now plans to issue a Request for Proposals to develop the next round of feasibility studies, this time to back-stop producers of biofuel feedstocks, including corn stover, straw and woody biomass. Secretary Vilsack stated, "Providing additional risk management tools for American farmers to produce advanced biofuels crops is an important step toward developing a thriving biofuels industry and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Renewable energy development contributes to the Obama Administration's effort to 'win the future' by supporting America's farmers as they grow and harvest materials that can be converted into renewable energy. This effort creates new jobs and opportunities for those who live in rural America." The feasibility studies are funded by the Risk Management Agency (RMA). Applications for the solicitations will soon be posted to both the FedBizOps and the RMA websites. 02/27/2011

 

EPAReleases Summary of EJ Impacts of CISWI, NHSM and Boiler Rules

US Environmental Protection AgencyEnvironmental Justice (EJ) concerns lie at the heart of Rulemakings finalized this month by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency has just released a comprehensive assessment of EJ-associated issues in their “Summary of Environmental Justice Impacts for the Non-Hazardous Secondary Material (NHSM) Rule, the 2010 Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incinerator (CISWI) Standards, the 2010 Major Source Boiler NESHAP, and the 2010 Area Source Boiler NESHAP”. See Teru’s Focus Report for an expanded discussion of the Summary and its conclusions. 02/26/2011

 

EPAEstablishes Clean Air Act Standards, Initiates Reconsideration Process

US Environmental Protection AgencyResponding to a court order denying another time extension, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued four inter-related final Rules that establish final Clean Air Act standards for boilers and certain types of incinerators. The Final Rules requiring Maximum Achievable Control Technologies (MACT) for Boilers separately address Major Sources and Area Sources. Separate emissions standards are set for Commercial / Industrial Solid Waste incinerators (CISWI rule), and for Sewage Sludge Incinerators (SSI rule). The day the new Rules appeared in the Federal Register, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson formally announced initiation of a reconsideration process for all but the SSI Rule. See Teru’s Focus Report for an expanded discussion of the Final Rules and the reconsideration process. 02/26/2011

 

EPAReleases Final NHSM Rule Impacting Direct Combustion

US Environmental Protection AgencyThe US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the Final Rulemaking for identification of Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM) that are solid waste. This Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) final rule identifies which non-hazardous secondary materials are, or are not, solid waste when burned in combustion units. Final Rulemakings do not become law until published in the Federal Register; a pre-publication version of this Final Rule has been issued for reference. Additional information and supportive materials are available at www.Regulations.gov: In the Keyword or ID Search box, type in the docket number EPA-HQ-RCRA-2008-0329. See Teru’s Focus Report for an expanded discussion of the Final Rule and its impact on direct combustion. 02/26/2011

  

UK Advances AD Projects, Studies Uses of Digestate

UK Waste & Resources Action ProgrammeAnaerobic Digestion (AD) projects in the United Kingdom have received policy and financial support recently from the Environmental Transformation Fund, and the Lincolnshire produce company Staples Vegetables is the first to receive funding. Their AD systems are capable of processing about 40,000 tons of organic wastes annually. AD projects have been hampered by lack of a market for the nutrient-rich digestate. A series of field trials have been initiated by the United Kingdom's WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) that could open markets for the residual digestate by testing the materials as a bio-fertilizer for brownfields regeneration, and other broad landscape applications. Trials underway in England will compare the performance of anaerobic digestate when injected into golf greens and fairways against surface application. The trial plots will be compared with ones treated with conventional industry fertilizer, and with untreated control sites. Trials underway in Scotland are examining digestate use for newly planted trees and energy crops. Paul Mathers, Programme Manager, Landscape & Regeneration at WRAP, explains, “We have seen significant improvement in how vegetation establishes itself in brownfield restoration and sport turfs through the use of BSI PAS 100 compost. I am confident that anaerobic digestate offers similar environmental and economic benefits. If successful, the results will have far reaching implications for a wide range of regeneration programmes and sports turf applications. The use of anaerobic digestate could open new markets on a national scale.” 02/25/2011

                                    

Novozyme’sLars Hansen Nominated Chair of EBTP

European Biofuels Technology PlatformNovozymes President for Europe, Lars Christian Hansen, has been selected this month as Chair of the Steering Committee for the European Biofuels Technology Platform (EBTP). Formed in 2006 to support the European Council (EC), the EBTP “…brings together the knowledge and expertise of stakeholders from industry, biomass resources providers, research & technology development organizations and NGOs in a public private partnership”. In October 2009, the EC called for a dramatic increase in investment in low carbon technologies and especially in biofuels stating, “…Different bio-energy pathways are at various stages of maturity. For many, the most pressing need is to demonstrate the technology at the appropriate scale – pilot plants, pre-commercial demonstration or full industrial scale.” EBTP responded last fall with a detailed program outline; in this month’s newsletter, Mr. Hansen notes, “Currently, the EBTP is devoting much of its work effort to the development of the European Industrial Bioenergy Initiative and will keep stakeholders informed of progress.” The new Chair also announced EBTP’s next Stakeholder Plenary Meeting (SPM4), to be held on September 14, 2011 in Brussels. 02/25/2011

 

CereplastMeets Financier’s Goals and Gets 2nd Round $2.5 MM

CereplastAccording to terms of their December 2010 debt financing agreement with Horizon Technology Finance Corporation, the California-based bioplastics company Cereplast, Inc had to meet or exceed certain market targets during January and February for further investment. Cereplast has announced that they have shown they will exceed the revenue targets, and have received a second round of $2.5 million growth capital. The new funds will go to acquire raw materials and cover expenses necessary to meet demand for Cereplast resin. "Cereplast is on track to reach its revenue target of $24 to $32 million this year, a projected 400% increase from 2010," said Frederic Scheer, Chairman and CEO of Cereplast. "Because of growing demand for Cereplast resin, we have already satisfied Horizon for the first two months of 2011. As the burgeoning market for bioplastic material continues to soar, we are well-positioned to meet increasing demand from regions across the globe." 02/23/2011

 

USDARequests Renewable Energy Funds in FY 2012 Budget

US Department of AgricultureThe US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2012 has been cut to $23.9 billion from the $27 billion level in FY 2011, but will still invest $6.5 billion to support renewable and clean energy. Facilitating sustainable renewable energy development is one of five over-arching objectives of the USDA’s proposal. In particular, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is getting an increase of $8.2 million to further development of high-quality, cost-effective feedstocks for biofuel production. The Rural Business-Cooperative Services, which operates a renewable energy loan and grant program for the purchase of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements, will see a combination of mandatory funding and grants for programs at about $57 million above the FY 2011 budget. Commenting at length on the Administration’s budget, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, "This budget increases support for various Farm Bill conservation programs, including CRP, on 335 million acres – an average increase of 20 million acres annually since 2009 … For our National Forests, this budget improves the ability to restore forest resiliency and health, while supporting sustainable economic development and job-creation essential to growth in rural America.” 02/23/2011

 

CaryInstitute Completes Forest Biomass and Bioenergy Report

Cary Institute of Ecosystem StudiesThe Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies has released a detailed report of the benefits and challenges of using forest sourced biomass for energy, fuels and other commodities. The report, “Forest Biomass and Bioenergy: Opportunities and Constraints in the Northeastern United States”, estimates that forest biomass could replace as much as one quarter of the liquid fossil fuel now being used for industrial and commercial heating in the NE region. The report analyzed USDA Forest Service data for the NE, and found that using forest biomass for heat was more effective in replacing liquid fossil fuels than converting it to cellulosic ethanol for road transport. Biomass burned in combined heat and power plants reduced fossil fuel use more than five times more effectively than substituting gasoline with cellulosic ethanol. “In targeted applications, the heat generated by locally-grown biomass can reduce dependence on fossil fuels and support local economies,” said Dr. Charles D. Canham, a forest ecologist at the Cary Institute and co-author of the report. “But each forested landscape is different, and regional variation in forest conditions and energy infrastructure means there is no one-size-fits-all solution.” 02/22/2011

 

LanzaTechSigns Emissions-to-Fuel MOU with Korean Steel Plant

LanzaTechNew Zealand-based LanzaTech announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Korean steel manufacturing giant Posco. LanzaTech’s core technology passes the steel maker’s exhaust through a fermentation bath of proprietary microbes, where the carbon monoxide is converted into ethanol and chemicals such as other 2,3-Butanediol (2,3-BD), a key building block used to make polymers, plastics and hydrocarbon fuels. The company now has additional offices in Roselle, Illinois in the United States, and in Shanghai, China. “Posco’s environmentally conscious policies are consistent with LanzaTech’s technology vision of reducing the carbon footprint while increasing energy efficiencies at industrial facilities,” says Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. “The proposed licensing by Posco of our patented microbe and fermentation process fits with our growth strategy in Asia.” 02/21/2011

 

PublicComment Period Open on Proposed EPA Biomass Plant Fines

US Environmental Protection AgencyThe US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has lodged Consent Decrees in federal court to levy Clean Air Act fines of over $800,000 against two San Joaquin Valley biomass plants. Ampersand Chowchilla Biomass, LLC (ACB), and Merced Power, LLC (MP), located within 12 miles of each other in the San Joaquin Valley, are required to pay $328,000 and $492,000, respectively. The EPA and the District will split the penalty equally. ACB is also required to pay an extra $15,000 to the District for a District-only violation. The Biomass power plants generate power by controlled combustion of green waste from agriculture and other sources that would typically be disposed of by open burning, and woody construction debris that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Although the plant emissions are far less than generated via the alternative disposal methods, the San Joaquin Valley is a "non-attainment zone" for ozone and particulate matter, and little allowance is made per project. The proposed legal actions are open for a 30-day public comment period from 02/18/2011 through 03/21/2011. Public comments on proposed consent decrees should be submitted per instructions provided in the respective Federal Register notices for Merced and for ACB. 02/21/2011

 

LANXESSReinvests in Gevo for Isobutanol Supply

GevoInternational giant LANXESS announced their $17MM reinvestment in IPO stock of Colorado-based bioproducts company Gevo, strengthening their share gained in an earlier $10MM private placement. LANXESS’ core business is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals. The companies have signed an agreement that gives LANXESS (pending completion of negotiations) certain exclusive rights to purchase biobased isobutanol from Gevo, while Gevo receives an exclusive first right to supply LANXESS with specified quantities of biobased isobutanol over a ten-year period. Isobutene is conventionally produced in steam crackers, which use various petrochemical-based materials as feedstock. Gevo patented their fermentation process to produce the organic compound isobutanol from the fermentable sugars in biomass in November 2010. LANXESS is currently developing a dehydration process to convert isobutanol into isobutene. “We are extremely pleased that LANXESS has increased its holdings in Gevo,” said Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo. “This new 10 year agreement further validates the technology and investment behind creating isobutene from renewable resources. It solidifies our strategic relationship with a global leader and enables us to better plan our future capacity growth.” 02/20/2011

 

RenewableFuels Association Forms Advanced Ethanol Council

Renewable Fuels AssociationLeaders in the development of biofuels from waste and non-food biomass have joined with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) to form the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC). The AEC represents a wide range of advanced ethanol technologies utilizing feedstock from grasses and corn stalks to wood waste, municipal solid waste and algae to produce clean, renewable ethanol. Founding members include Abengoa Bioenergy, BlueFire Renewables, Coskata, Enerkem, Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inbicon, Iogen, Mascoma, Osage Bio Energy and Qteros. The new Council will focus on developing proactive and durable federal and state policies to accelerate advanced ethanol development, ensure proper accounting of greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental concerns, and expand the marketplace for ethanol fuels.The AEC this week urged lawmakers to vote ‘no’ on numerous amendments to the House Continuing Resolution (CR) that would limit the marketplace for ethanol and slow the commercialization of advanced ethanol technologies. “We urge lawmakers to make clear that America’s energy strategy is focused on the future and not the technologies of the past,” said AEC Chair and Mascoma Chief Executive Officer Bill Brady. “Advanced ethanol companies strongly oppose efforts to further constrict the market for ethanol and deny much-needed government partnerships to bring our technologies to commercialization.” 02/20/2011 

 

MFAOil Biomass Formed to Grow Miscanthus

MFA Oil BiomassMFA Oil has announced partnering with Aloterra Energy to form MFA Oil Biomass LLC, a new company dedicated to creating a vertically integrated renewable energy supply chain company. MFA Oil, a farmer-owned cooperative formed in 1929 and now with 40,000 members, supplies fuels, lubricants, and propane to customers in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky and Iowa. The company intends to plant a renewable energy crop that provides an alternative clean burning energy source for power generation, agricultural heating and next generation liquid fuels, thereby creating jobs, having a positive economic impact and reducing our country’s dependence on foreign oil. “Initially, we plan to pelletize the miscanthus output for power generation,” says Scott Coye-Huhn, director of business development for Aloterra Energy. “However, the possibility of using it to produce ethanol in the future is vast, since it is projected to produce three times more gallons of ethanol per acre than corn.” About 250 farmers have shown interest in MFA Oil Biomass by signing letters of intent to grow miscanthus on more than 21,000 acres. “Our goal is to establish approximately 50,000 acres of miscanthus in each of the three project areas,” Coy-Huhn said. “That goal will enable each area to process approximately 600,000 tons of biomass per year.” For more information on MFA Oil Biomass, contact Jared Wilmes at (573) 442-0171. 02/19/2011

 

Canadian Forest Industry Examines Bio-Market Potential

The New Face of the Canadian Forest IndustryThe Future Bio-pathways project’s second phase report called “The New Face of the Canadian Forest Industry” is now available, examining market potential of bio-energy, bio-chemical and bio-products. The Project, led by the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), with FPInnovations, Natural Resources Canada and scores of economic and scientific experts, is an investigation of opportunities for energy, chemicals and materials bio-products from wood fibre. The first phase of the study, released in February 2010, examined the economic, social and environmental benefits. The Bio-pathways project finds that markets will continue to exist for traditional forest products such as wood and pulp. Meanwhile, the new technologies will have smaller niche markets but generate a much higher price. Integrated plants could produce up to five times as many jobs as stand-alone bio-energy plants. Combining the old and the new is the way forward for the next generation forest industry. Visit FPAC’s Bio-pathways website to find out more about the project. 02/19/2011

  

Harvard School of Medicine Releases Coal Life Cycle Analysis

Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coalResearchers at the Harvard School of Medicine’s Center for Health and the Global Environment has completed and published a highly detailed Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tracking the social, economic and health impact costs of energy generated from coal. LCA tracking is fast becoming the means by which true costs of energy can be compared. Dr. Paul Epstein’s work closely considers the burden of extraction, transportation, processing and combustion rather than simply the cost per kilowatt charged to the final energy product. Alternative sources of energy and fuel usually take a back seat to King Coal; since 1995, coal has provided half of the energy generated in the United States. In 2005, coal energy generation is estimated to have produced over 80% of US CO2 emissions. Moreover, the report discusses proposed coal-related carbon capture and storage (CCS) alternatives, finding system efficiency losses would roughly double the amount of coal required to be mined to generate the same amount of power. Any policy determinations regarding coal derived energy, fuels and other commodities should seriously compare this methodical LCA to that of the renewable alternatives. The full article entitled "Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal" is available free on-line, as published formally in the February 2011 Annals of the New York Academy of Science, Volume 1219 Ecological Economics Reviews, pages 73-78. 02/18/2011

 

JoulePublishes Biofuel Production Analysis: 15,000 Gallons per Acre

Joule UnlimitedIn the peer-reviewed article entitled "A New Dawn for Industrial Photosynthesis," published this week by Photosynthesis Research, microbial conversion company Joule Unlimited detailed their empirical analysis of the potential for biofuels production using their genetically modified organism (GMO) approach. Joule’s methods of industrial photosynthesis offer advances in genome engineering, solar energy capture and conversion, direct synthesis and continuous biofuel and biochemical production, which the company contends can dramatically out-strip methods requiring either biomass conversion or algal oil harvesting. Bill Sims, President and CEO of Joule, stated "We have channeled photosynthesis, the most productive energy-capture process on earth, at efficiencies previously thought unattainable. At the same time we've eliminated dependence on biomass, the Achilles heel of biofuel production, and the prohibitive costs, processing and logistics it entails. The result is a new paradigm for renewable fuel production with unrivalled productivity targets that are fully supported by actual, measurable gains we've achieved at every layer – from photon capture through product synthesis, secretion, separation and collection." 02/18/2011

 

USDABCAP Releases New Guidance & Forms

USDA Farm Services Agency Biomass Crop Assistance ProgramThe US Department of Agriculture’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) has released instructions and forms for the “Biomass Conversion Facility Overview”. The multi-function BCAP-1 Form is used for application under both: 1) The Collection, Harvest, Storage, and Transportation matching payment component of BCAP; and 2) The BCAP project area proposal component. The first part pertains to the Biomass Conversion Facility Qualification Application and Agreement between the applying biomass conversion facility and the USDA/CCC/FSA. The second element, Project Area Proposal, is used to submit information about the committed biomass conversion facility or facilities to which feedstock would be delivered. For more information about the Agreement, BCAP-1 form, matching payments and BCAP project area proposals, see the USDA Farm Service Agency’s web site at or contact Kelly Novak at 202.720.4053 or cepdmail@wdc.usda.gov. 02/15/2011

 

DOEStarts Loan Guarantee Due Diligence on Rialto Bio-Refinery Project

RentechRentech announced that the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program Office (LGPO) selected Rentech's loan guarantee application for due diligence review, initiating negotiations on terms and conditions The selection for due diligence does not guarantee Rentech will be offered a loan package. Rentech applied in February 2010 for a loan guarantee for the Rialto Renewable Energy Project as an advanced bio-refinery under the Section 1705 Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program, which if granted, would support the construction of the California advanced biorefinery, designed to produce about 9 million gallons per year of renewable fuels and 35 megawatts of renewable power from green waste. Rentech continues to seek alternative financing in case terms are not acceptable, or if commercial agreements are not completed in time. Under the Section 1705 program as currently authorized, applicants are required to commence construction of their projects and achieve financial closing by September 30, 2011. 02/14/2011

 

BiossenceStarts Work on East London Waste Gasification Plant

BiossenceConstruction has begun on an £80 million gasification plant to turn post-recycling household rubbish into clean energy expected to power 15,000 homes. London Waste & Recycling Board (LWRB) made the  announcement, including that they have agreed on a £8.9 million loan to Biossence Ltd, in part to fund the construction. Planned to be fully operational in 2013, the facility will convert over 250 British tons a day for generation of around 19 MWe. LWRB says the plant is part of their commitment to supporting the development of new waste infrastructure in London. The Biossence East London project site was purchased from Ford of Britain’s Dagenham manufacturing plant; Chairman Joe Greenwell said their facility produces “…the lowest carbon engines in the Ford world … the Biossence project aligns with Ford's strategy." Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “This will be a fantastic facility taking our everyday rubbish and miraculously transforming it into a valuable resource - electricity. Local people can rest easy knowing that instead of any rubbish they are unable to recycle being dumped in a landfill site and emitting harmful greenhouse gas emissions, it will be used to power their homes with green energy.” 02/14/2011

 

PNNLResearchers Create Stronger, More Efficient Catalyst

A Paperweight for PlatinumFuel Cells provide excellent, clean conversion of hydrogen and hydrocarbons to energy, but are both fragile and subject to degrading function when fed contaminants. Researchers working with the DOE’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory within the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have made a catalyst breakthrough to stabilize a fuel cell catalyst and make it better available to do its job. Their new combination of platinum and indium-tin oxide (ITO) nanoparticles and graphene, a one-atom-thick honeycomb of carbon, results in a more durable catalytic material for fuel cells. "This material has great potential to make fuel cells cheaper and last longer," said catalytic chemist Yong Wang, who has a joint appointment with PNNL and WSU. "The work may also provide lessons for improving the performance of other carbon-based catalysts for a broad range of industrial applications." The research work published February 8, 2011 online at the Journal of the American Chemical Society. 02/14/2011

 

Metsoto Supply Repotec Gasifier to 20 MW GoBiGas Project in Sweden

Metso CorporationMetso Corporation has announced that they will develop biomethane production facilities at the 20 MWe GoBiGas demonstration facility, supplying biomass gasification, syngas methanation and up-grading systems for production of high-calorific biomethane for distribution in the existing gas grid. Metso’s pipeline biogas solution is based on new licensed technology for indirect gasification developed by Austrian company Repotec. The initial demo will be built on the existing premises of Rya Värmecentral in Gothenburg, Sweden during 2011-2013. Scale-up to commercial scale is anticipated to have a capacity of approximately 100 MW biogas. “We see a huge market potential for biogas in replacing fossil alternatives and our mission is to show that gasification can play an important role in biogas supply”, says Åsa Burman, CEO of the GoBiGas project. “The quality of the gasification is essential for the success of the project and with the equipment from Metso together with the selected methanation and gas-upgrading technology, we are now able to proceed to the next step, building the plant in order to meet our targets to replace natural gas by synthetic natural gas – from fossil energy to renewable energy.” 02/14/2011

 

EPA“Biofuels & the Environment” Draft Report to Congress Available

US EPAThe US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) published a draft of “Biofuels & the Environment: First Triennial Report to Congress” on January 28, 2011 and scheduled a peer review meeting for March 14, 2011. Concluding peer review, updates will be made and the final report will be published in 2012 on the EPA Biofuels web site. The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) mandates an increase of biofuels production from 9 billion gallons per year in 2008 to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022, and requires the EPA to assess and report to Congress every three years; this is the first report, and is available free through NCEA’s web portal. Public comments on the assessment may be submitted and reviewed using the e-Government Regulations web site. At the site, select “Environmental Protection Agency” and the keyword “EPA-HQ-ORD-2010-1077". 02/14/2011

 

AustralianJatropha BioOil Firm Sets Up US Office

Mission NewEnergy LimitedThe Australian company Mission NewEnergy Limited (MNEL) has announced establishment of US headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, supported by the addition of Major General Wilbert Pearson (USAF-retired) to lead their Advisory Council. The Major recently retired from his position as Vice President of Lockheed Martin. MNEL grows and harvests ISCC-certified (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) Jatropha bio-oil, and was the first biodiesel producer to receive the international certification. . The bio-oil is refined to produce biodiesel and biojet fuel. The company signed a 5-yr supply agreement with oil giant Valero last December. "I believe that Mission NewEnergy's approach is particularly efficient and effective. Its product will not impact our food supply and its source provides the noblest of social reforms by employing those living in poverty," Pearson stated. "Finally, in these challenging economic times, the far lower cost per barrel produced without government subsidy is remarkable and will benefit all Americans." 02/12/2011

 

SolazymeBegins MicroAlgae-to-Jet Fuel Collaboration with Qantas Airlines

SolazymeCalifornia-based bioproducts company Solazyme has announced the start of collaboration with Australian aviation giant Qantas Group to explore commercial scale production of Solazyme’s microalgae-sourced aviation fuel, SolaJet™. The company’s indirectly lit photo-bioreactor uses microalgae to convert biomass directly into oil, which they can further refine into biojet fuel. "Qantas is establishing a leadership position in the airline industry in supporting the commercialization of renewable, sustainable aviation fuels. Through this alliance, we intend to use Solazyme's technology platform to help provide the Australian market with renewable aviation biofuel," said Jonathan Wolfson, chief executive officer of Solazyme. "We also believe this alliance is a helpful step towards the commercialization of SolaJet™." 02/12/2011

 

DyadicInternational Gets US Patent for Cellulosic Conversion Enzyme Packet

Dyadic InternationalCellulosic biofuels enzyme development company Dyadic International  announced that they have been issued a US patent for “Construction of Highly Efficient Cellulase Compositions for Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Cellulose”, a key element for the conversion of lignocellulosic-containing biomass into glucose. The patent covers their proprietary beta-glucosidase gene and its corresponding enzyme, derived from their also-patented C1 fungus. Along with other processing, this “construction” turns wood into fermentable, sugary syrup. Dyadic’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Emalfarb, stated, “This patent continues Dyadic’s mission of both developing and protecting the technology necessary to produce low cost fermentable sugars from biomass for the manufacturing of many types of renewable fuels, specialty chemicals and other bio-based materials as an alternative to petroleum-based products.” Dyadic International is based in Florida. 02/12/2011 

 

INEOSBio Breaks Ground in Florida

Indian River BioEnergy CenterThe Indian River BioEnergy Center officially started construction this week, marking a major milestone in the commercialization of their syngas-to-fermentation advanced biorefinery approach. The $130MM biorefinery in Vero Beach, Florida is the product of an INEOS Bio / New Planet BioEnergy joint venture (INPB), supported by grants from the Departments of Energy and Agriculture and the State of Florida. Parent company INEOS is a global petrochemicals leader; spin-off INEOS Bio will license the technology for the Indian River facility and elsewhere. The methodology was developed in 1989 by Dr. James Gaddy and his BRI Energy team at their Fayetteville, Arkansas, pilot plant; the company joined INEOS in 2008. Gasification of food waste, yard trimmings and other household wastes produces a raw synthetic fuel gas or “syngas”. The syngas is cooled and cleaned, with heat recovered for energy generation, then bubbled through a broth of micro-organisms that break down the gaseous hydrocarbons and recombine them to short-chain alcohols for further refinement as liquid biofuels. “We are excited to celebrate this important milestone, which moves advanced biofuels a step closer to achieving significant scale, enabling the US to achieve a leading position in the bioenergy sector.” said Peter Williams, Chairman of INPB and CEO of INEOS Bio. 02/10/2011

 

KoreanResearch Improves Fermentation of Seaweed for Biofuel Production

Biotechnology & Bioengineering JournalResearch sponsored in part by the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology and the Korea Research Foundation has yielded improved strains of yeast capable of efficient fermentation of galactose, one of the abundant sugars in marine plant biomass such as red seaweed, as well as cheese whey and molasses. Marine macroalgae and microalgae show promise for production of biofuels. Yields of biomass per unit area, and rate of CO2 fixation are higher for marine than terrestrial biomass sources, but traditional fermentation results in low ethanol yields. A current article in the Biotechnology & Bioengineering Journal explains in detail how the researcher’s inverse metabolic engineering approach was undertaken to improve ethanol yield and productivity from galactose in S. cerevisiae, the common yeast used in ethanol fermentation. 02/10/2011

 

WasteManagement and Genomatica Announce Strategic Agreement

GenomaticaWaste Management has entered another key Conversion Technology strategic alliance, this time with San Diego-based microbial genetics development firm Genomatica. The two firms have announced signing of a joint development agreement for RD&D. Genomatica will create organisms and manufacturing processes to convert syngas into chemical products, using locally-available waste with varying characteristics. The agreement will allow Genomatica to advance their first commercial product, a waste-sourced "green Bio-BDO" (1,4-butanediol), an intermediate chemical with a $4 billion market worldwide used to make plastics. "Genomatica is already on a path to deliver sustainable, lower-cost, smaller-footprint chemicals made from renewable feedstocks, including various commercially-available sugars, rather than from oil or natural gas”, said Christophe Schilling, chief executive officer of Genomatica. “This agreement accelerates our initiatives to provide greater feedstock flexibility, by enabling the use of syngas to produce a range of chemicals, and in particular, syngas derived from waste materials. Together with Waste Management we are seeking to create greater value from waste material, while adding to Genomatica’s ability to deliver more sustainable, lower-cost manufacturing to the chemical industry.” 02/10/2011

 

GevoPrices Initial Public Offering at $15 per Share

GEVO Colorado-based advanced biofuels company Gevo has announced that its initial public offering of 7,150,000 shares of common stock at $15.00 per share should net about $96 million, after deducting expenses. All shares are being sold. The offering is being made only by means of a prospectus, which is available upon request. Khosla Ventures-backed Gevo’s biorefinery system converts renewable raw materials into isobutanol and other renewable hydrocarbons to make "drop in" biofuels and green chemical products. In November 2010, Gevo announced that their isobutanol had successfully cleared registration with the U.S. EPA as a fuel additive, becoming the first isobutanol to be listed in the EPA’s Fuel Registration Directory; the bioproduct is now approved for blending with gasoline. 02/10/2011

 

SoCalGas& City of Escondido Start Up First BioMethane Project

Xebec Adsorption IncSouthern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and the City of Escondido jointly announced start-up of California’s first biomethane project, reprocessing biogas from the City’s wastewater treatment facility. The demonstration project utilizes Canadian company Xebec Adsorption Inc.’s kinetic pressure swing adsorption (PSA) technology to refine the raw sewer gas to the high specifications of pipeline quality, creating “renewable natural gas”. The $2.7 million project funded by SoCalGas is intended to prove the process can be effective both economically and technically. Once the initial 12 month demonstration period is completed, the system will be put into commercial use on-site or, if necessary, moved to an alternative location. The demo project supports the proposal filed with the California Public Utilities Commission in November 2010 by SoCalGas, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, and San Diego Gas & Electric seeking authorization for bioenergy production and gas conditioning facilities for production of renewable natural gas. Kurt Sorschak, President and CEO of Xebec, stated, “Using Xebec’s technology, the City of Escondido has the potential to produce enough natural gas to serve 1,200 homes with absolutely no negative impact on the environment, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering the overall dependence on fossil fuel derived products.” 02/09/2011

 

DOEAnnounces Federal Renewable Energy Project Implementation Webinar

Federal Energy Management ProgramThe US Department of Energy (DOE) Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) has announced that the agency will present a free Federal Renewable Energy Project Implementation webinar on Thursday, February 24, 2011, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The webinar is primarily designed to introduce Federal energy managers to the renewable energy project development process from the request for proposal (RFP) to project closeout. Non-federal interested parties will find the information useful for renewable energy projects proposed on Federal lands. The course will explain the nine common steps followed by Federal renewable energy projects, provide information on financing mechanisms available, and show technical resources available through FEMP, including information that can be used to inform agency staff and contractors. Blaise Stoltenberg of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will present the session. Several NREL renewable energy and alternative financing experts will also be on hand to answer questions after the presentation. Online registration is required in advance to obtain access to the presentation. 02/09/2011

 

EPAReleases 2009 Facts & Figures Report for US MSW  

US Environmental Protection AgencyThe US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) constantly gathers data and analyses the statistics on Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) from across America. At almost 200 pages, Municipal Solid Waste in the United States - 2009 Facts and Figures is the most current assessment, and now the definitive national MSW data source. This report covers the period from 1960 to 2009, presenting year-by-year quantities and trends for generation, recycling and disposal. The US generated 4% less waste in 2009 than in 2008, at 4.34 pounds generated per person, per day. Recycling was down from 2008 but still reclaimed almost 1.5 pounds disposal per person. Waste to energy recovery converted about a half pound per person, while disposal after recycling and energy conversion dropped 3.3% from 2008, amounting to 2.36 pounds of our resources disposed of the 4.34 pounds generated per person. EPA provides a summary and discusses methodology on their Wastes website. 02/08/2011 

 

Alitalia& Solena Group Sign LOI for MSW-to-Fuel Feasibility Study 

Solena FuelsThe Italian airline Alitalia and plasma arc company Solena Group announced that they have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to initiate a Feasibility Study to evaluate construction of a plant and implementation of processing technology for conversion of municipal solid waste to aviation fuel. Solena Group’s Solena Fuels division utilizes plasma arc torches for high-temperature gasification of waste to produce synthetic gas, converts the “syngas” to liquid fuel by the Fischer/Tropsch catalysis process, and upgrades that liquid to industry-standard aviation fuel. Alitalia expects to dramatically reduce their airline exhaust production of CO2, while providing the secondary benefit of an alternative to landfill waste disposal. With the LOI, Alitalia notes that they have followed the example of British Airways, who last year entered a similar agreement with Solena as part of Solena’s “Green Sky” program. 02/08/2011  

 

DOEBiomass Program IBR Review Presentations Available

DOE Biomass ProgramThe U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Biomass Program conducted an open meeting for the 2011 Integrated Biorefinery (IBR) Peer Review on February 1-3, 2011, as announced here last month,. Grant recipient IBR projects that were reviewed included POET’s Project Liberty, BlueFire Ethanol, Mascoma’s demonstration and many others. Presentations are available beginning today on the IBR program’s website. The Biomass Peer Review Process continues with reviews of conversion R&D activities February 14-18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado, and reviews of feedstock, algae, strategic analysis, and sustainability activities April 4-8, 2011 in Annapolis, Maryland. The complete results of the reviews will be released by the DOE’s Biomass Program after the June 27-28, 2011 Program Review wrap-up meeting. 02/08/2011

 

NovozymesAcquires EMD/Merck Crop BioScience

NovozymesThe Danish headquarters of Novozymes announced today that acquisition of EMD/Merck Crop BioScience (EMD) has been completed for USD $283MM. EMD is one of the world's leading developers of crop-enhancing products focusing on yield enhancement and improving plant health. The combination of Novozymes’ biofertility products with those of EMD will offer farmers more choices with complementary worth. This may benefit Conversion Technologies that produce biochar, an excellent nutrient carrier, while providing greater product diversity for all areas of biocrop production and organics conversion to bioenergy and biofuels. “We’re excited to bring these two innovative companies together to help farmers produce more and better food, feed, fuel, and fiber while minimizing the environmental footprint,” said Thomas Videbæk, Executive Vice President of Novozymes. 02/07/2011

 

NewGeneration Biofuels Receives $1MM Convertible Debt Placement

New Generation BiofuelsNew Generation Biofuels Holdings (NGB) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with institutional investors for Senior Secured Convertible Promissory Notes of $1.0 million. “This new infusion of capital will allow us to take several important near-term steps toward establishing value-added alliances with technology partners, feedstock suppliers and strategic customers. Chief among these are making fuel deliveries under our existing contracts; demonstrating a repeat-delivery cycle with our technology to produce a cleaner burning renewable product; and initiating feasibility studies of new, lower-cost feedstocks that have the potential to result in positive margins regardless of government incentives,” stated Miles F. Mahoney, President and Chief Executive Officer.NGB holds an exclusive license for North America, Central America and the Caribbean to commercialize proprietary technology to manufacture alternative biofuels from plant oils and animal fats. More information is available on their website. 02/07/2011

 

BioJetBacked with 3-Yr, $1.2B Source of Supply Chain Capital

BioJet InternationalBioJet International’s interest in developing all aspects of the supply chain for production of biomass-sourced aviation fuel just received a massive financial vote of support. The company announced that they have been backed by the Cayman-based Equity Partners Fund SPC, for an available total “facility” up to $1.2 billion. The access to capital, which EPF says is similar to that of a Merchant Bank that invests it’s own money, will allow BioJet to dramatically increase their international integration of supply chain projects related to production of renewable aviation fuel and other forms of biodiesel. This includes feedstock generation, technology, refining, logistics, sustainability certification, distribution, and eventual end use. BioJet is also the first Strategic Partner of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). 02/05/2011

 

BenefuelFunded for Advanced Waste Oil Catalysis

Benefuel, IncTurning waste fats and oils into biofuel takes a technical step forward with Flint Hills Resources announcement of their equity investment in Chicago-based advanced biofuels company Benefuel Inc. The company acquired the exclusive license to the patented ENSEL process from National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), which combines esterification of free fatty acids and transesterification of triglycerides of renewable, inedible fats and oils into a single process in a new business model of localized production and consumption. Jeremy Bezdek, managing director of innovation for Flint Hills Resources and now a Board Member of Benefuel said, “As part of our agreement with Benefuel, the company will build and operate an integrated pilot plant to prove its innovative process.” 02/05/2011

 

ColoradoBioscience Association’s 2011 BDEGP Report Available

Colorado Bioscience AssociationThe Colorado Bioscience Association (CBSA)’s Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program (BDEGP) was founded in 2006 by the Colorado General Assembly to support growth of the bioscience industry. As of August 2010, $10.8 million has been distributed through 106 grants to research institutions and early stage companies in three program areas: (1) Proof of Concept grants to research institutions to accelerate the development of new bioscience discoveries and lead to the creation of new Colorado companies; (2) Early Stage Company Grants to Colorado companies that have licensed a bioscience technology from a Colorado research institution; and (3) Infrastructure grants to develop essential resources for Colorado scientists and bioscience companies. Energy, agricultural and biotech companies are among the recipients of early stage grants, providing support through what CSBA recognizes are the most challenging funding stages. The 2011 BDEGP report is available on-line free of charge. 02/05/2011

 

KiORReceives $1B DOE Loan Guarantee Term Sheet for Pyrolysis

KiORTexas-based thermal biomass conversion company KiOR, Inc. announced yesterday that they have received a term sheet backing over $1 billion in biofuels projects from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Guarantee Program. The DOE guarantee will support financing for four biorefineries: two in Mississippi, one each in Georgia and Texas for converting woody biomass into drop-in green gasoline and Re-Crude™ biodiesel, producing about 250 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel. Receipt of the term sheet from the DOE is an important step toward finalizing the loan guarantee. Mississippi’s Governor Haley Barbour said, “Last year Mississippi realized the tremendous potential of the KiOR technology and made a decision to bring it to our state … We're excited the U.S. Department of Energy has come to the same conclusion to support this one-billion-plus dollar project to speed up the construction of two additional KiOR facilities here.” Khosla Ventures incubated the company in 2007 and is the lead investor. 02/04/2011

 

FulcrumCloses on $75MM Financing

Fulcrum BioenergyCalifornia-based Fulcrum Bioenergy has announced that they have secured a $75 million Series C financing. A portion of the funds will finance construction of their fully-permitted $120 million Sierra BioFuels Plant, located in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in Storey County, outside of Reno, Nevada. The company has secured multiple long-term feedstock contracts and key strategic alliances. Fulcrum is working with Fluor to start construction this year, aiming for completion in late 2012. Fulcrum’s thermal process will convert post-recycling municipal solid waste (MSW) into ethanol, renewable electricity and propanol. The plant will provide a clean source of transportation fuel and creating more than 500 jobs. “With this funding, we have secured the equity capital necessary to complete our Sierra BioFuels Plant. We are excited to be starting construction on this milestone project which will demonstrate the tremendous future potential of our business,” said Fulcrum’s President and Chief Executive Officer E. James Macias. 02/04/2011

 

CPUCRemoves Hold on TRECs

California Public Utilities CommissionThe California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has announced that they released a hold imposed on purchase and sale of unbundled tradable renewable energy credits (TRECs) to meet California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). TRECs are a claim over the compliance value and renewable attributes associated with renewable energy generation, and can be purchased by a utility and traded separately from the underlying energy produced by a renewable generating facility. The CPUC originally approved the use of TRECs in March 2010, but then suspended that decision in May 2010. TRECs can now be traded for up to 25 percent of an investor-owned utility’s (IOU) annual RPS compliance until December 31, 2013. An interim cap of $50 per TREC was also mandated, set to expire at the end of 2013. CPUC President Michael R. Peevey stated in part, “… we provide the market with the necessary guidelines it needs to operate effectively. Tradable renewable energy credits can play an important role in increasing the liquidity of the renewable market." 02/03/2011

 

BioProcessAlgae Completes Construction of Phase II at GRPE

BioProcess AlgaeGreen Plains Renewable Energy (GPRE) has announced that their joint venture BioProcess Algae LLC has completed construction and successfully commissioned their Phase II “Grower Harvester” algal photo-bioreactor. The Phase II vessels are 20 times larger than the demonstration units of Phase I. Algae are feed on CO2, nutrients and heat from GRPE’s Shenandoah, Iowa ethanol facility. Tim Burns, Chief Executive of BioProcess Algae, commented, "After achieving 100% uptime in Phase I of the project and exceeding productivity targets at varying harvest intervals, we are excited to have Phase II of this project deployed and fully functional." Burns also said, "Our goal for Phase II is to satisfactorily demonstrate the commercial viability of our technology. We plan to utilize third-party verification for productivity, harvest densities and product value concerning lipid content and composition." The ethanol facility’s wastes converted by the algae may then be used for further advanced bio-fuel production, high quality animal feed, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and/or as biomass for energy production. Further information is available on GRPE’s website, including an album of photos. 02/03/2011

 

CECAwards $4.5MM to CR&R MSW-to-BioMethane Project

Southern California Conversion Technology The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded over $4.5 million to CR&R Inc. for conversion of municipal solid waste (MSW) to biomethane for transportation fuel, utilizing the ArrowBio processing technology. Funding is part of the 2011-2012 Investment Plan for the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, authorized by AB 118 (Solicitation PON-09-003, Biomethane Production for Transportation). The revised Notice of Proposed Award (NOPA) released January 28, 2011, listed the CR&R project as one of five awardees; other recipients included High Mountain Fuels’ Simi Valley Bio-LNG Production Plant ($11MM), the Pixley Biogas project ($4.7MM), North Star Rendering’s anaerobic digestion (AD) of animal waste for production of compressed biogas fuel ($4MM),  and Eurisko Scientifics’ bio-sludge to biomethane project ($1.8MM). The CR&R project is one of three Conversion Technology (CT) efforts selected by the Los Angeles County Integrated Waste Management Task Force, Alternative Technology Assessment Subcommittee in 2007 and approved by the LA Board of Supervisors in 2010 for demonstration of MSW conversion to energy and fuels as an alternative to disposal. The five AB 118 awards totaled $26,000,000. For further information on the Los Angeles County program, contact Coby Skye, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, (626) 458-5163 or. For information on the AB 118 program, contact Charles Smith, Emerging Fuels & Technologies Office, Fuels & Transportation Division, California Energy Commission, 916-654-4770 or  . 02/01/2011

 

POET’sEmmetsburg Site Now Accepting BCAP Biomass Deliveries

Project LIBERTY storage sitePOET has announced that deliveries of Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) approved biomass finally began to arrive in bales at their Emmetsburg, Iowa storage site on January 24, 2011.The storage site is the future home of the 25 million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol plant known as "Project LIBERTY." Regional farmers had already harvested 56,000 tons of corn cobs, leaves, husks and stalks, but were waiting for the BCAP guidelines to be completed so they could submit applications to the program. Project LIBERTY Director Jim Sturdevant said, "BCAP is important to helping these first farmers get the new biomass market off the ground. BCAP's inclusion in the next Farm Bill is an important part of continuing to develop this market." The U.S. Department of Agriculture's BCAP (see Teru Talk’s December 2010 News) recognizes POET’s “Project Liberty” as an approved destination for cellulosic biomass feedstock delivery, but program guidelines had not yet been finalized at the time of approval. BCAP provides matching funds up to $45 per ton per farmer for two years, to help offset startup costs. 02/01/2011

 

PrinceEdward Island BioAlliance to Build Cellulosic Ethanol Facility

Prince Edward Island BioAllianceDiversified Metal Engineering (DME) has been awarded a contract to build a pilot cellulosic ethanol plant on the New Brunswick Community College, Edmundston Campus. Canada's Prince Edward Island BioAlliance announced the selection on January 28, 2011, following award of Canadian governmental support funds earlier this month. According to DME President Peter Toombs, “As of December 2010, government legislation requires that gasoline in Canada has to have an average five percent ethanol content. And with no businesses in the whole of Atlantic Canada that can produce ethanol at a commercial level, this project could not have come at a better time.” 02/01/2011

 

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