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Beta Renewables wins ACHEMA Innovation Award

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Last Updated on Sunday, 24 June 2012 07:44 Written by Mehdi Khatamifar Sunday, 24 June 2012 07:20

In Italy, Beta Renewables announced that it won the ACHEMA 2012 Innovation Award in the category of Biotechnology for its PROESA technology. Over 100 companies applied for awards in ten categories. Winners were picked according to innovation, usability, quality, efficiency and economy. PROESA is the technology that will be used at the world’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Crescentino, Italy, expected to start operations by the end of 2012, and in a series of plants to be built by GraalBio in Brazil.




India delays 300,000 hectare jatropha project, citing yields

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Written by Mehdi Khatamifar Wednesday, 06 June 2012 07:34

In India, the Rural Development Ministry has put on hold the state-sponsored 300,000 hectare jatropha plantation development program because of a study showing that jatropha is not financially viable and could threaten food security.



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Aviation biofuels: which airlines are doing what, with whom?

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 June 2012 07:32 Written by Mehdi Khatamifar Wednesday, 06 June 2012 07:09

Airlines announces plans to test Amyris sugarcane-based jet fuel; more than 30 airlines now trialing, deploying biofuels – but who’s doing what, exactly?

In Brazil, Azul Airlines announced that Amyris’s innovative renewable jet fuel sourced from Brazilian sugarcane has passed all required testing and will be used during a demonstration flight on an Azul Embraer 195 aircraft powered by GE’s CF34-10E engines. The “Azul+Verde” (a Greener Blue) flight will take place in Brazil on Tuesday, June 19th, during the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

Amyris’s renewable jet fuel has been designed to be compliant with Jet A/A-1 fuel specifications and provide equivalent performance versus conventional petroleum-derived fuel in a range of metrics, including fit-for-purpose properties and greenhouse gas emission reduction potential. The feedstock for the renewable jet fuel is sugarcane, a highly desirable biomass that can be produced sustainably in large-scale quantities in Brazil and other tropical countries.

Azul is the third largest airline in Brazil, a low-cost carrier connecting 48 destinations, 47 cities, with over 400 daily flights, and a fleet of 54 aircraft including 42 jets (32 Embraer 195 and 10 Embraer 190s) and 12 turboprops (7 ATR 72-600 and 5 ATR 72-200). To date, Azul has served more than 19 million customers.

The bottom line

It’s a test, but an important one, because this is one of the first fuels supplied directly from an advanced fermentation company – Solazyme has been supplying renewable oils for aviation biofuels, but the upgrading has been done by Honeywell’s UOP.

Further, we’ll watch this one with interest, because it is the first biofuels test-flight to tap the vast potential of sugarcane as an aviation biofuels feedstock.

Airlines around the world

In today’s Digest, we look at the latest news from airlines around the world – who’s moving on biofuels, and when and how?

The Americas

United States

Last week, United Airlines, Boeing, Honeywell’s UOP, the Chicago Department of Aviation and the Clean Energy Trust announced the formation of the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative (MASBI), designed to advance aviation biofuel development in a 12-state region holding significant promise for biomass feedstock, technology development, job creation and sustainable commercialization.

Last December, American Airlines said that it expects to begin its first biofuel flights in mid-2012 using a Boeing ecoDemonstrator airplane to complete the flight. Around the same time as the Chapter 11 filing, the company signed agreements with two biojet suppliers as well as a purchase agreement. The airline announced its MOUs for biofuels supply at the CAAFI meeting in DC last week.

In February, Alaska Airlines said its decision to use 20% biofuel during its 75-flight biofuel commercialization program was limited to 20% because of lack of supply. With the fuel produced in Louisiana from used cooking oil, refined in Texas and sourced by a broker the Netherlands, the supply chain was very difficult. Beyond that, it cost $17 per gallon compared to $3.14 per gallon for A1 jet fuel.


In April, Porter Airlines successfully conducted the first biofuel-powered revenue flight in Canada. In the successful conclusion to a test program that was launched in 2010, the airline flew one of its Bombardier Q400 turboprops from its base at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to Ottawa using a 50/50 blend of biofuel and Jet A1 fuel in one of its engines.
This is the final step in a two-year project whose key members besides Porter included Targeted Growth, Bombardier Aerospace, and Pratt and Whitney Canada, the manufacturer of the PW150A engines that power the Q400 aircraft.


In May 2010, ten organizations partnered to form the Brazilian Alliance for Aviation Biofuels (Aliança Brasileira para Biocombustíveis de Aviação – ABRABA) this week at a meeting in Sao Paulo. Founding members include: Algae Biotechnology, Amyris Brazil, the Brazilian Association of Jatropha Producers, the Brazilian Aerospace Industry Association (AIAB), Azul Brazilian Airlines, Embraer, GOL Airlines, TAM Airlines, TRIP Airlines, and the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA).

The objective of the alliance is to promote public and private initiatives that seek to develop and certify sustainable biofuels for aviation. The goal will be achieved through dialogues with those who form public policies, as well as opinion makers, in order to obtain biofuels that are just as safe and cost efficient as petroleum derivatives.


In March, Netherlands-based SkyNRG supplied LAN Chile and Air BP Copec for its first commercial flight with second generation jet fuel. The flight, which operated between the Chilean cities of Santiago and Concepcion, was conducted on an Airbus from the A320 family with CFM56-5B motors.  The fuel came from used cooking oil.
The flight ended with an event held in the city of Concepcion, which was attended by Government and local authorities, and also by LAN and Air BP Copec executives.


Last September, Aeromexico began using a 25 percent biofuel mixture on its flights from Mexico City to San Jose, Costa Rica. As part of the “Green Flights” project designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a Boeing 737 will now fly the route using a mixture of 75 percent conventional jet fuel and 25 percent synthetic paraffin biokerosene.
Aeromexico carried out its first transoceanic commercial flight using biofuels last month on the Mexico City-Madrid route.

Europe, Middle East and Africa


Last December, Algae.Tec announced that Algae.Tec Ltd and the major European airline Lufthansa have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly evaluate the potential for algae oil from Algae.Tec’s bio-reactors to be developed into a sustainable source of aviation biofuels.

In January, Lufthansa had announced that its flight trial from Frankfurt to Washington on Jan. 12 wouldbe its last using renewable jetfuel because it hasn’t been able to secure long-term sources of the biofuel. In all, 1,187 biofuel flights were operated between Hamburg and Frankfurt. According to initial calculations, CO2 emissions were reduced by 1,471 tonnes. Total consumption of the biokerosene mix amounted to 1,556 tonnes. Overall,  Neste and Lufthansa  found that the aircraft and their engines performed excellently. The condition of the combustion chambers, turbines, and fuel systems of their engines was exemplary both during and at the conclusion of the trial. Usage of NExBTL fuel resulted in 1% lower fuel consumption compared to regular fossil jet fuel.


In France, Air France completed its first biofuel-powered scheduled passenger flight, running on a 50/50 combination of traditional jet fuel and jet fuel produced from used cooking oil. Together with “optimised” air traffic management (ATM), the flight saved roughly 50% of its CO2 emissions, bringing the per passenger emissions rate down to 54g per kilometer.


Last October, Virgin Atlantic said that it has teamed with LanzaTech to create renewable jet fuel that will power planes Shanghai and Delhi to Heathrow within two to three years. LanzaTech is working on producing its fuel in India and China, making those two destinations easy targets for implementation of the ‘green fleet.’ A flight demo with the new fuel is planned in the next 18 months, and the project will also include Boeing during the trial phases.

Within two to three years Virgin Atlantic plans flights with the new fuel on its routes from Shanghai and Delhi to London Heathrow as LanzaTech and partners develop facilities in China and India. The technology is currently being piloted in New Zealand, a larger demonstration facility will be commissioned in Shanghai this year, and the first commercial operation will be in place in China by 2014. Following successful implementation, a wider roll-out could include operations in the UK and the rest of the world.

Last October, Thomson Airways said it would fly passengers from Birmingham to Arrecife, on the Spanish Canary island of Lanzarote, using a combination of used cooking oil and regular jet fuel. The airline had originally hoped to start its biofuel flights last July, but experienced delays with testing and safety clearances. It claims that the use of biofuels could reduce the aviation industry’s carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80 percent, and plans to use biofuels across its entire fleet within three years.

At the 2011 Paris Air Show, major European stakeholders set a goal of 600 million gallons (2 million metric tons) of annual sustainable biojet production by 2020 under a new program called Biofuel Flightpath. For Flightpath, the European Commission has teamed with Airbus, Lufthansa, Air France/KLM, British Airways and biofuel producers Choren Industries, Neste Oil, Biomass Technology Group and UOP.


Last October national airline Iberia flew the country’s first commercial flight using a 25% blend of biojet fuel made from camelina. The inaugural flight using an Airbus A320 flew from Madrid to Barcelona. The fuel was produced by UOP LLC, a unit of U.S.-based Honeywell International Inc. and certified by the oil company Repsol YPF SA.


Last July, Finnair announced plans to operate flights powered by biofuel. The airline operated an Airbus biofuel flight between Amsterdam Schiphol and Helsinki in the week of July 18th, running on a 50 percent blend of biofuel produced from recycled vegetable oil and kerosene, and was refuelled at Amsterdam Schiphol airport. The biofuel wasprovided by SkyNRG, a consortium launched by KLM, North Sea Group and Spring Associates to develop a sustainable supply chain for aviation biofuel.


Last June, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines became the first airline in the world to operate a commercial flight carrying 171 passengers on aviation biofuels. Flight KL1233 – a Boeing 737-800 – took off from Schiphol bound for Charles de Gaulle in Paris carrying 171 passengers. KLM’s first commercial flight to Paris was operated on biokerosene produced from used cooking oil. This same raw material will be used in the flights scheduled for September. The fuel was supplied by Dynamic Fuels via SkyNRG, the consortium co-founded by KLM in 2009 with the North Sea Group and Spring Associates.


In January, Qatar Airways was reported to be investing in the California firm Byogy Renewables, according to Bloomberg.  Chris Schroeder, a senior manager with QA was quoted as saying, “We’re looking to underwrite an investment into Byogy of up to 10 percent, coupled with an off-take agreement… This will enable the company to go into the market and look for further equity investment or other partners.”  Financial details were not given.

The Emirates

In the United Arab Emirates, Etihad’s delivery acceptance of a new Boeing 777-300ER, flown from Seattle to Abu Dhabi was completed using biofuel – the first such flight to be conducted in the Persian Gulf.  The biofuel was supplied by Holland’s SkyNRG, sourced from recycled vegetable cooking oil.

South Africa

Last November, South African Airlines noted that it may have to use as much as 50% biofuels in its fuel supply by 2020 in order to avoid carbon penalties, which could in turn be the stimulus needed to create a thriving biofuels industry in South Africa and the region. Currently South Africa limits biofuel feedstocks to sorghum, sugar cane, sugar beet and jatropha.



Last year, the China Air Transport Association stated that they oppose having their flights into Europe included in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme.  The ETS requires that all emitters to buy permits for each tonne of CO2 released, above a certain cap.  The program is scheduled to start on January 1, 2012 and include most carriers.
CATA has stated that this plan will increases the costs for its members, and unless adjusted, CATA will ask their government in Beijing to look into countermeasures for European carriers flying into China.  Analysts are quoted as saying that this will add between €1 and 1.4 billion in costs to airliners during the first year of the ETS.


In April, Boeing and All Nippon Airways reported that a 787 Dreamliner flew for the first time powered in part by sustainable biofuels.  This was a delivery flight between Boeing’s Delivery Center in Everett, Washington and Tokyo Haneda Airport is also the first ever transpacific biofuel flight, using biofuel made mainly from used cooking oil and emitted an estimated 30 percent less CO2 emissions when compared to today’s similarly-sized airplanes.

Back in 2009, Japan Air Lines tested camelina, jatropha and algae-based biofuels in a 747-300 test slight from Tokyo’s Haneda airport, but we haven’t heard much from JAL on biofuels since then. The fuel was processed by UOP, and used in a no-passenger test flight using Pratt & Whitney JT9D engines, and used a mixture of 84 percent camelina, nearly 16 percent jatropha, and less than one percent algae. The biodiesel was mixed in a B50 blend with conventional jet fuel.


From Twitter: Singapore Airlines looks to biofuels as it becomes latest airline to join Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group


In March, Thai Airways International launched a workshop jointly with the Ministry of Energy and PTT Public Company to focus on aviation biofuels, as a first step in the country’s effort to develop this sector.

Last year, Thai Airways announced plans to power a commercial passenger flight using only biofuel. Commercial flights were planned to begin on December 22 for the Bangkok to Chiang Mai route.The biofuel-powered flight supports the company’s Travel Green initiative as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility activities. The first flight on December 21 will use a Boeing 777-200 plane.


In March, Indian Oil announced that it is working with Airbus, Kingfisher Airline and UOP to conduct biofuel test flights.  Indian Oil, a state run corporation has signed pacts with Canadian universities and Pratt & Whitney to further their ambitions to join the growing group of countries pursuing bio-avjet.

Back in 2010, Garuda Indonesia exec Wendy Aritonang confirmed to the Jakarta Globe that “We are in the process of changing from [aviation fuel] to biofuel. Not a single [domestic] airline has done it yet. We will be implementing this plan in stages and it will not necessarily be achieved within this year.” The airline signed an MOU in February with the International Air Transport Association, committing to improving air travel services as well as to using biofuel.

We haven’t heard any advancement of the Garuda plans since then.


In April, Qantas launched Australia’s first commercial biofuels flight from Sydney to Adelaide using a 50/50 blend of cooking-oil derived jet fuel.

Qantas is operating under the AUS$500,000 Emerging Renewables Program grant, which enables Qantas to partner with Shell Australia for a feasibility study of long-term aviation biofuels. Other airlines in the country such as Virgin Australia are also working on aviation biofuels programs.

New Zealand

Last December, Air New Zealand announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Licella Pty Ltd to examine the development and commercialisation of a process to convert woody biomass into sustainable biofuel in New Zealand. Under the MOU Air New Zealand and Licella will jointly explore the potential of the technology to produce sustainable aviation biofuel in New Zealand.





Biofuels Basics

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Last Updated on Monday, 28 May 2012 07:41 Written by Mehdi Khatamifar Wednesday, 23 May 2012 10:13

Biofuels Basics

(Click The Picture to Download)


NREL Research on Converting Biomass to Liquid Fuels (Text Version)

The video opens with shots of a gas station, pumps, and someone fueling their car.

High prices at the pump.

Heavy traffic goes by on a freeway, against images of a gas display counting up as it pumps gas, and images of a blue, cloudy sky.

Dependence on foreign oil.

Jim McMillan: "Our gasoline consumption is about 140 billion gallons per year."

Air pollution. They could one day be problems of the past, thanks to work going on now at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.

The video switches to a shot of the NREL campus, which fades into an interview of Jim McMillan and Andy Aden.

Andy Aden: "It's never been done before. We're trying to do something that's first of a kind and really benefit society as well. That's absolutely exciting."

Jim McMillan: "We are looking at domestically-produced, renewable feedstocks that we can convert to liquid fuels."

An image of an expansive field of corn appears, with a silhouette of low mountains visible in the far distance.

Farmers are harvesting fields of corn not only for food, but for fuel. Most of the alternative fuel in the U.S. today is corn grain ethanol.

Jim McMillan: "It represents about 3 to 4% of our gasoline supply."

Not enough. NREL engineers say cellulosic ethanol could potentially eliminate the need for imported oil without eating up our corn supply.

The video pans through images of rising gas prices, heavy traffic on the freeway and, finally, focuses in on an ear of corn.

Andy Aden: "You don't get into the feed versus fuel issues."

Cellulosic ethanol. It's plant matter...

The video switches to Jim McMillan, who holds a box full of corn stover. He runs the woody, weed-like fibers through his fingers.

Jim McMillan: "You have inner parts of the stalk..."

Like the leftovers from the corn harvest...

Jim McMillan: "...pieces of cob, pieces of the leaf."

...converted to liquid fuel at NREL.

The video focuses in on a jar of clear liquid, labeled "cellulosic ethanol," and then turns to an interview of Andy Aden.

Andy Aden: "My name is Andy Aden. I'm an engineer here at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the building we're in right now is called the AFUF, the Alternative Fuels User Facility."

The video pans through images of the outside of the Alternative Fuels User Facility before it zooms in on Andy Aden, inside the facility, moving up the stairs in a hardhat.

Andy Aden is part of this pioneer project to make fuel from organic plant matter, known as biomass.

Jim McMillan: "These are biomass samples we're about to do a dry weight on."

Jim opens a machine. Inside, several trays of biomass samples are lined up. They vary in color and form, from nearly black to pale orange biomass.

Biomass is made of three components: Cellulose...

Andy Aden: "This is what was mentioned in the President's State of the Union Address as cellulosic biomass."

...long chains of sugars known as hemicellulose, and lignin.

Andy Aden: "It's kind of the glue that holds the plant together."

Image of a person holding a handful of corn kernels.

The corn kernels used for grain ethanol are composed of starch—easy and inexpensive to convert, but limited in supply. Biomass is abundant, but the cellulose and hemicellulose are structural carbohydrates.

Jim McMillan: "Nature's made these materials harder to break down. As a consequence, it takes more chemicals and higher temperatures to access the sugars in these materials."

Andy Aden: "So, here we are in the pilot plant. This is where all the magic happens."

This is where it all goes down: NREL's bioprocessing pilot plant.

Andy Aden: "This facility is built to handle one dry ton of biomass per day."

The video pans through the large machines and computers that fill the bioprocessing pilot plant.

Enough to churn out as much as 75 gallons of cellulosic ethanol. Commercial-scale plants, when they're built, will of course be much bigger and will produce hundreds of thousands of gallons a day. The biomass is brought in, cleaned up...

Image of a huge vat of tightly packed, fibrous pale biomass.

Jim McMillan: "We usually slurry that material. We essentially wash it."

...And milled down.

Andy Aden: "So, this is one of our vats of milled corn stover."

It's then moved upstairs and scanned with cutting-edge technology that originated in NREL's compositional analysis lab.

Image of several displays on a computer screen. The computer is charting a large graph composed of several different elements, with different colored lines charting similar paths across the graph.

Jim McMillan: "It's really a chemical fingerprint of the material."

Andy Aden: "So that in a matter of minutes, we can tell how much feedstock is coming in. We can tell what the composition of that is in terms of sugars, glucose, xylose... those types of things."

Next, it's pretreatment.

Andy Aden: "This is the part of the process where we start to break the biomass into its individual constituents, start to put some of the sugars into solution."

The biomass is mingled with diluted acid under high pressure and heat.

Andy Aden pulls a jar of liquid off of a shelf and takes off the top, and waves the scent towards him.

Andy Aden: "If I were to take this off and take a whiff of it, it would smell sweet, kind of like raisins or molasses, or something along those lines."


Andy Aden: "Which are just natural proteins."

...are introduced to release sugars from the cellulose. More effective enzymes are being engineered to make the conversion more efficient and less expensive.

Andy Aden: "Five years ago, the cellulose enzymes were the largest cost component of this whole process. Now within the past five years, industry has really helped to reduce that cost by over a factor of 20."

Finally, the sugars are fermented into fuel.

Andy Aden stands in a huge corridor, flanked on either side by large, metal machines.

Andy Aden: "Really, this is a glorified brewery."

Jim McMillan: "The goal is to reduce the production time down to three days and to reduce the cost from the current $2.25 a gallon estimate to $1.07 a gallon or less by 2012."

Cellulosic ethanol.

Andy Aden is holding a jar of cellulosic ethanol, and leans in to smell it.

Andy Aden: "And if you take a whiff of it, it smells a lot like hooch."

Born of biomass...

Jim McMillan: "Switchgrass. You heard that mentioned in the President's State of the Union Address."

Andy Aden searches through boxes of different types of biomass.

Andy Aden: "And then, all the way over to a hard-wood poplar feedstock like this."

Jim McMillan picks up a box and removes the top, revealing tightly-packed biomass material within.

Jim McMillan: "After they extract the juice from the sugar cane, they're left with so-called bagasse."

The video ends with a montage of images of people fueling their cars at a gas station, followed by the NREL Alternative Fuels User Facility, a blue, cloudy sky, and a sign that reads, "Alternative Fuel: Ethanol. For Official Use Only."

...and brewed into the blueprint for clean, home-grown renewable fuels.

Jim McMillan: "This could be a win for the planet because it's a carbon-neutral technology, a win for rural economies because, really, you're creating a new agricultural resource base."

The promise for a brighter tomorrow is driving NREL's biomass research today.

A car drives off into the distance.

Jim McMillan: "I'm living my dream."

The video ends with the NREL logo and the words, "U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory."


Waste Lines: The hottest trends with bio’s coolest feedstock

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 07:27 Written by Mehdi Khatamifar Wednesday, 23 May 2012 07:17

There’s nothing growing faster in the bio-based world than waste-based projects.

Or, rather, is there any disappearing faster than the concept of waste, as bioenergy projects show us how to re-use and re-use and re-use?

There are some names that have gone wrong – badly wrong – in bioenergy feedstocks. For example, vomit nut doesn’t sound too appetizing, which is why its now generally called jatropha. Stinkweed is now known as pennycress. False flax – that doesn’t sound like a good product – maybe camelina, its other name, sounds better. And so on.

But of all the names gone wrong, “waste” has to be the king of them. By definition, anything that you have found a feasible use for has ceased to be a waste and has been promoted to feedstock. Perhaps, “residue” is a better term.

3 reasons why waste is king

Regardless of its naming deficiencies, waste has been hot and getting hotter as a bioenergy feedstock because it solves three of the most pressing problems blocking capacity expansion.

1. The feedstocks are available at fixed, affordable prices – sometimes free, sometimes even transitionally available with a negative-cost tipping fee. And available in fixed, long-term supply contracts.

2. The odious sources are generally already aggregated, for health or noxiousness reasons.

3. They are less subject to considerations such as indirect land-use change that have plagued energy crops, and evoke few protects, if any, from environmental extremists.

Another reason to love waste is that residues can be used over and over again – once you have the idea that waste from one process can be the feedstock for another, there’s no limit but ingenuity from the process being repeated over and over again, making many uses out of the one original aggregation of organic molecules that set the chain in motion.

Why symbiosis is cool

The advantages of industrial symbiosis have long been demonstrated at Kalundborg, where public and private enterprises buy and sell waste products from industrial production in a closed cycle. The residual products traded can include steam, dust, gases, heat, slurry or any other waste product that can be physically transported from one enterprise to another. A residual product originating from one enterprise becomes the raw material of another enterprise, benefiting both the economy and the environment.

For example, organic waste from Novozymes is made into agricultural fertilizer, while smoke from DONG energy’s plant is made into gypsum at Gyproc, while wheat straw from the region is converted into ethanol at Inbicon, whose lignin byproduct is burned by DONG Energy for electricity and district heat, in place of coal – including a feed of process heat and steam to power the Inbicon process.

For all those reasons, waste-based projects have been getting a lot of traction. Projects like Fulcrum, Enerkem, POET and Abengoa have been the ones getting out of the door in terms of finalizing designs and getting financed. The reasons? Primarily, assurance of affordable, aggregated biomass over the long term – reducing the risk of a first commercial project to the technology itself (generally addressed through loan guarantees), and fuel market volatility which is generally addressed through mandates.

What’s up in the market place? Today, we’ll look at the 6 types of waste and some of the most notable recent projects.


What is it? Corn stover, cane bagasse, tops and leaves; soy husks and hulls; palm fruit waste, sugarbeet bagasse, and so on.

Examples: POET project in Emmetsburg, Iowa; the Abengoa project in Hugoton, Kansas

The Pros: First, there’s plenty of it. Costs for enzymes are coming down quickly. Ethanol plants are built near lots of available ag waste, helping with grower outreach. Farmers are getting antsy about corn stover, also. Research is finding that moving a portion of stover off the field improves yield, and reduces exposure to pests that harbor in waste.

The Cons:  Aggregation, its tough – though sugarcane bagasse is already aggregated in the cane delivery. Plus, the costs are expected to be higher than other forms of waste – in the $55-$75 per ton range. Fermentation technologies have struggled – not the least because every load of ag waste is slightly different in content, and enzymes have had challenges in maintaining activity rates, the more mixed the wastebasket.

FOG (fats, oils and greases)

What is it? Includes animal rendering leftovers after meat production; veggie oils from industrial kitchen flyer oil. Generally, FOG ranges in quality from choice white grease, through yellow grease and brown grease.

Examples: The Dynamic Fuels project in Geismar, Louisiana;  or the Diamond Green Diesel project ready for completion in Norco, Louisiana.

The Pros: It’s aggregated, odious and cheap.  The technology is understood for extracting value from the waste stream.

The Cons:  Volumes vary by country. Lots in the US, none to speak of in India. Processing technology costs are high, especially at small scale, and can need extra hydrogen. Specialized technology is just under development for really tough-to-work-with brown greases.

Municipal solid waste

What is it? The biologically active fraction of household, yard and construction waste – the stuff that generally goes into the landfill. Minus the refrigerators and plastics.

Examples: INEOS Bio project in Vero Beach, Florida, or the Enerkem projects in Edmonton, Alberta or Westbury, Ontario, backed by no less than Valero and Waste Management.

The Pros: Already aggregated, can be available at zero or negative costs. Feedstock owners can grant long-term (15-20 years) and are generally credit worthy entities. Feedstock developers are aggressively developing this channel.

The Cons:  Water content, and pre-sortation and impurities are a problem. Generally, fermenting technologies are out (except companies like INEOS Bio that can ferment the syngas from gasifying biomass). Gasifiers are generally expensive and low-yield. Finally, MSW does not generally count as agricultural biomass, for such projects as the DOE/USDA/US Navy collaboration to commercialize biofuels production utilizing Title III provisions in the Defense Production Act.


What is it? There’s forest slash – the fallen stuff in the forest. There’s sawmill waste (up top 45 percent of log volume is wasted after trimming). All this can be converted into wood chips.

Examples: KiOR just completed construction of its first commercial scale facility, located in Columbus, Mississippi.  The approximately $190 million facility is expected to create several hundred direct, indirect, and induced jobs during operation, and over 500 jobs on site during peak construction.

The Pros: Easy to find, and widely available around the globe. Black liquor is an odious problem for mills, so technology can turn problem into opportunity. Lots of mills are closed or clog, leaving one-employer towns eager to help with incentives.

The Cons:  Aggregation of forest slash – really, really tough. Sawmill residues and black liquor are great, but growth is constrained by the scope of mill operations. Not always included in sector credits and incentives, owing to sustainability concerns.


What is it? Industrial off-gases, including carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide; process heat and steam.

Examples: The LanzaTech project in Shanghai, China; Inbicon cellulosic ethanol project in Kalundborg, Denmark.

The Pros: Aggregated, available for zero cost, generally. Lots of infrastructure available at the partner site to help reduce capital costs.

The Cons:  Got to have a close relationship with the industrial partner, as the pad for the process is likely to be on or adjacent to the industrial site.  Not many labs have developed bugs that can handle the conditions.


What is it? Industrial or municipal waste water; can be graded as brown water (sludge) or grey water (e.g. post-industrial use); plus, there’s the pulp mill residue known as black liquor.

Examples: In Massachusetts, ThermoEnergy has brought to market a system that turns soluable sugars found in wastewater into feedstock for ethanol production; or, the Chemrec black liquor project in Pitea, Sweden.

The Pros: Aggregated, and available for zero cost, generally. Lots of infrastructure available at the partner site to help reduce capital costs. Good use for micro algae.

The Cons:  Requires a close partnership with the feedstock partner. Bio-based content in the wastewater is critical (processing too much water for too little energy content is problematic).
10 projects on the move

Fats, oils and greases

In Michigan, a school teacher will soon begin producing 100,000 gallons of biodiesel annually from waste cooking oil that will be traded with restaurants in exchange for locally grown canola oil he will process at a facility that he has been planning for the past eight years. He is also experimenting with ethanol production from food waste for later addition to the biodiesel facility.

In Europe, biodiesel plants are turning to animal fats and waste oils in an attempt to stay viable in a market where poor canola crop forecasts mean canola prices have skyrocketed, eating into biodiesel margins. Margins have halved this season from $100 per metric ton last year. Canola oil use for biodiesel has fallen by 800,000 tonnes, replaced by waste cooking oil and animal fats, as well as a major boost in palm oil imports.

In New Zealand, the Department of Corrections has signed on to supply used cooking oil from all 18 of its prison kitchens across the country to Biodiesel New Zealand. The deal will see about 5,000 liters of used cooking oil a month avoid the landfill and instead be converted into high-quality Biogold renewable fuel. Every liter of used cooking oil makes a liter of Biogold™ fuel and saves more than 2kg of carbon emissions. By supporting a local manufacturer, the Department of Corrections is also helping to support jobs and reduce New Zealand’s dependence on imported fossil fuel.

In Australia, Qantas launched Australia’s first commercial biofuels flight from Sydney to Adelaide using a 50/50 blend of cooking-oil derived jet fuel. Qantas is operating under the AUS$500,000 Emerging Renewables Program grant, which enables Qantas to partner with Shell Australia for a feasibility study of long-term aviation biofuels. Other airlines in the country such as Virgin Australia are also working on aviation biofuels programs.


This month, DuPont Industrial Biosciences announced it will contract with Fagen to build its 25 million gallon cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Nevada, Iowa. During 2011, DuPont Industrial Biosciences purchased land adjacent to the existing Lincolnway Energy ethanol plant, which will enable potential synergies in energy and logistical management.  DuPont had already contracted KBR Inc. to execute the front-end engineering, procurement and detailed engineering design work for the project, and continues to work with Iowa State University to complete large-scale stover supply chain testing.

In March, New Holland strongly backed ethanol production, saying that “ethanol’s success is our success” as many of its machines are used for planting and harvesting feedstock, including biomass baling equipment, originally developed for the forage and hay industry, that is used to collect stover for use in second-generation ethanol production.

Forest products

KiOR just completed construction of its first commercial scale facility, located in Columbus, Mississippi.  The approximately $222 million facility is expected to create several hundred direct, indirect, and induced jobs during operation, and over 500 jobs on site during peak construction. Production is scheduled to commence in the second half of 2012. KiOR’s process produces refinery intermediates for the production of renewable diesel.

Industrial waste

In New Mexico, Joule Unlimited announced last November it is ready to start construction on a biofuels demonstration plant in New Mexico. Joule Unlimited Inc. plans to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide waste into biofuel at the planned facility in Hobbs, which is expected to begin operations in 2012. New Mexico state officials say Joule has the potential to expand its operations to create 500 new jobs in Hobbs by producing up to 75 million gallons of renewable diesel and 125 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Waste waster

In Massachusetts, ThermoEnergy has brought to market a system that turns soluable sugars found in wastewater into feedstock for ethanol production.

The CASTion Sugar Recovery System cane help eliminate the expense of treatment and disposal of biological oxygen demand (BOD) by making concentrated sugars suitable for resale in a wide variety of applications, including feedstocks for ethanol production while, the remaining water is purified to levels suitable for normal discharge.
ThermoEnergy’s Controlled Atmospheric Separation Technology (CAST) concentrates sugar-bearing wastewater to create up to a 65-brix sugar product for use in a variety of agricultural and renewable fuel market applications.

Municipal solid waste

In the UK, an innovative $10.4 million bioenergy project which will see five European countries working together to develop bioenergy initiatives that will significantly reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill, has been officially launched in the West Midlands.

BioenNW (Bioenergy North West) is focused on promoting the use of green bioenergy power facilities fuelled by waste materials across five regions of North West Europe: West Midlands (UK), Eindhoven (The Netherlands), Ile-de-France (France), North Reine Westphalia (Germany) and Wallonia (Belgium). Waste materials such as straw, wood, algae and sewage sludge could potentially be explored as sources of biofuel, therefore removing any reliance on the production of dedicated food crops.




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