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TMO Renewables advances in China

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Written by Mehdi Khatamifar Sunday, 06 May 2012 08:29

TMO Renewables advances in China with cassava stalk to biofuels process

In England, TMO Renewables announced they have advanced to demonstration scale on cassava stalk feedstock with major Chinese fuel and food producers. TMO is now processing an initial shipment of cassava stalk delivered from China, an inexpensive, abundant feedstock underutilized in 2G bioethanol.
Improved efficiencies at TMO’s 12,000 sq. ft. demonstration facility are projected to produce ethanol for less than two dollars per gallon, marking a crucial step toward commercialization.  Utilizing cassava stalk, TMO’s conversion process will yield 70 to 80 gallons of 2G ethanol per ton of feedstock.

 

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Brazil Seeks Biofuel Exports to Spain as Argentina Barred

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Last Updated on Sunday, 06 May 2012 08:28 Written by Mehdi Khatamifar Sunday, 06 May 2012 08:22

Brazilian biodiesel producers are seeking export agreements with Spanish oil companies after the European country moved to cut off imports of the renewable fuel from Argentina.

Erasmo Carlos Battistella, president of the biofuel trade group Associacao dos Produtores de Biodiesel do Brasil, will discuss the issue at a meeting today with Spain’s ambassador in Brasilia.

Spain is cutting trade ties with Argentina after the South American country said it would seize control of YPF SA (YPFD) from the Spanish energy company Repsol YPF SA. (REP) That’s creating a market for Brazil’s biofuels industry, Battistella said.

“It’s opened up a major export opportunity” for Brazilian producers, he said in a telephone interview today. “Argentina was a big supplier there.” He expects trade contracts to be signed within three months.

Spain revised an incentive program last month to exclude biofuels produced outside Europe from meeting government requirements for using renewable fuel. That effectively blocked imports from Argentina and other nations in the region. Battistella will ask that Brazil be included on the list of approved suppliers.

Brazil’s biodiesel plants have annual production capacity of 6.94 billion liters (1.83 billion gallons). Of that, 15 factories with 4.59 billion liters of capacity have been approved for exports, Battistella said. Spain purchased 1.87 billion liters of biodiesel from Argentina in 2011.

 

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From Soil Microbe to Super-Efficient Biofuel Factory?

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Last Updated on Saturday, 05 May 2012 08:11 Written by Mehdi Khatamifar Saturday, 05 May 2012 08:05

 

Is there a new path to biofuels hiding in a handful of dirt? Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) biologist Steve Singer leads a group that wants to find out. They’re exploring whether a common soil bacterium can be engineered to produce liquid transportation fuels much more efficiently than the ways in which advanced biofuels are made today.

The scientists are working with a bacterium called Ralstonia eutropha. It naturally uses hydrogen as an energy source to convert CO2 into various organic compounds.

The group hopes to capitalize on the bacteria’s capabilities and tweak it to produce advanced biofuels that are drop-in replacements for diesel and jet fuel. The process would be powered only by hydrogen and electricity from renewable sources such as solar or wind.

The goal is a biofuel—or electrofuel, as this new approach is called—that doesn’t require photosynthesis.

Why is this important? Most methods used to produce advanced biofuels, such as from biomass and algae, rely on photosynthesis. But it turns out that photosynthesis isn’t very efficient when it comes to making biofuel. Energy is lost as photons from the sun are converted to stored chemical energy in a plant, which is then converted to a fuel.
It takes a team to explore what it takes to develop an electrofuel. From left,

“We’re after a more direct way,” says Singer, who holds appointments with Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and with the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a multi-institutional partnership led by Berkeley Lab.

“We want to bypass photosynthesis by using a microbe that uses hydrogen and electricity to convert CO2 into a fuel,” he adds.

Widespread use of electrofuels would also reduce demands for land, water, and fertilizer that are traditionally required to produce biofuels.

Berkeley Lab’s $3.4 million electrofuel project was funded in 2010 by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, which focuses on “high risk, high payoff concepts—technologies promising genuine transformation in the ways we generate, store and utilize energy.”

That pretty much describes electrofuels. ARPA-E estimates the technology has the potential to be ten times more efficient than current biofuel production methods. But electrofuels are currently confined to lab-scale tests. A lot of obstacles must be overcome before you’ll see it at the pump.

Fortunately, research is underway. The Berkeley Lab project is one of thirteen electrofuel projects sponsored by ARPA-E. And earlier this year, ARPA-E issued a request for information focused on the commercialization of the technology.

Singer’s group includes scientists from Virginia-based Logos Technologies and the University of California at Berkeley. The project’s co-principal investigators are Harry Beller, Swapnil Chhabra, and Nathan Hillson, who are also with Berkeley Lab and JBEI; Chris Chang, a UC Berkeley chemist and a faculty scientist with Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division; and Dan MacEachran of Logos Technologies.

The scientists chose to work with R. eutropha because the bacterium is well understood and it’s already used industrially to make bioplastics.

They’re creating engineered strains of the bacterium at JBEI, all aimed at improving its ability to produce hydrocarbons. This work involves re-routing metabolic pathways in the bacteria. It also involves adding pathways from other microorganisms, such as a pathway engineered in Escherichia coli to produce medium-chain methyl ketones, which are naturally occurring compounds that have cetane numbers similar to those of typical diesel fuel.

The group is also pursuing two parallel paths to further boost production.

In the first approach, Logos Technologies is developing a two-liter bioelectrochemical reactor, which is a conventional fermentation vessel fitted with electrodes. The vessel starts with a mixture of bacteria, CO2, and water. Electricity splits the water into oxygen and hydrogen. The bacteria then use energy from the hydrogen to wrest carbon from CO2 and convert it to hydrocarbons, which migrate to the water’s surface. The scientists hope to skim the first batch of biofuel from the bioreactor in about one year.

In the second approach, the scientists want to transform the bacteria into self-reliant, biofuel-making machines. With help from Chris Chang, they’re developing ways to tether electrocatalysts to the bacteria’s surface. These catalysts use electricity to generate hydrogen in the presence of water.

The idea is to give the bacteria the ability to produce much of their own energy source. If the approach works, the only ingredients the bacteria will need to produce biofuel would be CO2, electricity, and water.

The scientists are now developing ways to attach these catalysts to electrodes and to the surface of the bacteria.

“We’re at the proof-of-principle stage in many ways with this research, but the concept has a lot of potential, so we’re eager to see where we can take this,” says Singer.

 


In both approaches, here's how the system would work: Electricity splits water into oxygen and hydrogen. The bacterium uses the hydrogen as an energy source to take in carbon dioxide and convert it to a biofuel, which it then emits.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

 

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Biodiesel Byproduct Glycerin Could Be Ingredient in Livestock Feed

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Last Updated on Saturday, 05 May 2012 08:03 Written by Mehdi Khatamifar Saturday, 05 May 2012 07:57

Biodiesel Byproduct Glycerin Could Be Economical Ingredient in Livestock Feed

Biodiesel is made from a wide variety of agricultural oils that are byproducts and co-products of producing protein meal for livestock feed.

Now glycerin, the main byproduct of producing biodiesel, could be making its way into the livestock industry as an ingredient in cattle feed.

During biodiesel production glycerol is separated from oil through a chemical reaction.

The oils without the glycerol become the biodiesel and the glycerol that is removed is a potential ingredient in livestock feed.

According to a recent article in the High Plains Journal studies by Texas AgriLife Research and West Texas A&M University personnel have evaluated the energy value of the glycerin in replacing corn or hay in cattle diets.

The studies were designed to determine the feeding value, optimal concentration and which components of the livestock feed were best to displace with the crude glycerin, said Jim MacDonald, Ph.D., AgriLife Research beef cattle nutritionist in Amarillo.

"I feel very comfortable using crude glycerin up to 7.5 percent of a diet," MacDonald said.

"We also observed no negative impacts on animal health up to 10 percent inclusion in diets of newly received calves.”

Capturing the value of the byproducts becomes increasingly important to bioenergy plants as production volumes continue to rise.

 

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CORE BioFuel Selects Technip to Engineer Wood to Gasoline

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Last Updated on Saturday, 05 May 2012 08:03 Written by Mehdi Khatamifar Saturday, 05 May 2012 07:49

CORE BioFuel Inc. announced today that it has selected Technip, a world leader in engineering, construction and project management in the energy industry, to complete the construction engineering of their first wood to gasoline biorefinery.

CORE's Green Gasoline plant will produce 67 million litres of renewable gasoline and generate over 20 million litres of water annually from wood waste.

George Stanko, President of CORE BioFuel, states: "We are very excited about working with Technip to provide the next step in our commercialization process, which is to complete the engineering for our first plant.

"Technip, as a leader in syngas plant design, is uniquely positioned to support CORE thru the critical engineering phase of commercialization.

"One of the critical factors in our selection of the Technip team is their established working relationship with key component suppliers such as Air Products and Chemicals and Energy Products of Idaho (now Outotec).

"Both firms have agreements with CORE for development of production equipment."

Technip is a world leader in project management, engineering and construction for the energy industry.

From the deepest Subsea oil and gas developments to the largest and most complex Offshore and Onshore infrastructures, their 30,000 people are constantly offering the best solutions and most innovative technologies to meet the energy challenges.

Present in 48 countries, Technip has atate-of-the-art industrial assets on all continents and operates a fleet of specialized vessels for pipeline installation and subsea construction.

Technip shares are listed on the NYSE Euro (next Paris) exchange and the USA over-the-counter (OTC) market as an American Depositary Receipt (ADR: TKPPK).

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