Thursday, February 19, 2009


Daily Biofuels News Digest
February 19, 2009
"The most widely-read daily on biofuels - readers in 199 countries"

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Biodiesel 2020: A Global Market Survey
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Editor's Column
Jim Lane
- "A four-principle approach to sustainability".

Futures TV
biofuels and feedstocks, featuring Biofuels Digest commentary

This week - Continental algae, jatropha test flight

Sean O'Hanlon
Will Thurmond

Biofuels Digest.com
American Biofuels Council
Top Story

OPXIn Colorado, Boulder, genomic search company OPX Biotechnologies is reported to have closed a $12.1 million series C financing round.

OPX is a licensee of technology from the University of Colorado that optimizes the process of selecting and modifying microbes used in the production of renewable fuels. The company said it aims to raise an additional $2.9 million for the expansion of staff and increase the pace of engineering activity.

The company is backed by Braemar Energy Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures and X/Seed Capital.

Garbrook Advanced Biofuels Resource.The biofuels world at your fingertips.
Producer News

In Wisconsin, a receiver was appointed over the assets of Olsen's Mill after a subsidiary filed for bankruptcy, citing $100 million in debt. The Wisconsin Bureau of Business Trade Practices said that farmers who faced non-payment for contracted grain shipments could obtain relief from the  Producer Security Fund, funded by grain traders, which contains $9 million in reserve funds. 

In Maryland, New Generation Biofuels announced that construction of the company's 5 Mgy production facility in Baltimore that will support the company's 1.7 Mgy offtake agreement with Dynegy and a 220,000 gallon annual contract with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Taunton State Hospital. New Generation Biofuels is targeted to the off-road, stationery uses of biofuel, including hospitals and power plants.

In North Carolina, executives from Agrivida and Novozymes confirmed that the state, which is not a significant producer of corn, needed to focus on alternative crops and residues in order to meet a target of producing 10 percent of liquid fuels from local resources by 2017, as established in the state's biofuels roadmap.

Renew Energy
World Opinion

Jason Pyle, CEO of Sapphire Energy: "The passage of the stimulus bill by the United States Congress and signing into law by President Obama proves this nation is on a new course to address our energy security needs, fight climate change and create jobs to improve the economy.   It's the right bill, at the right time, with the right priorities, and our nation's Congressional leaders and President Obama should be congratulated for their leadership."

From a joint statement by the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association and the Renewable Fuel Association (US): "The Canadian Parliament last year passed a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requiring gasoline sold in Canada to contain an average of 5% renewable content, including ethanol, and 2% renewable content, including biodiesel, in the diesel supply...Together with production in Canada...North American biofuel production will be able to replace a majority of our oil imports."

International News

In Scotland, the Glenturret distillery in Crieff, Perthshire, home to Famous Grouse whisky, said that it would expand its carbon capture pilot project that utilizes 20 tons of CO2 produced by the plant as a feedstock for the production of Chlorella algae. The plant said that Chlorella does not have the highest oil content among algae strains, but consumes the copper residues and other chemicals produced in the fermentation stills.

In Germany, the national bioethanol association BDBe reported that German ethanol production increased 46 percent in 2008 to 458,394 tons, of which 61 percent came from grains. The association notes that sugar beets, which accounted for 8 percent of production volume in 2007, jumped to a 36 percent share in 2008, and allowed the production volume of ethanol to expand without increasing grain usage by ethanol producers.
In Denmark, the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Programme awarded BioGasol a $13 million grant for a 1.2 Mgy cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant with a capacity of 5 million liters of ethanol per year. The EUDP previously awarded $5 million to BioGasol for the initial phase of the project.

Research News

In Germany, researchers at Goethe-University Frankfurt have developed a new process to convert xylose to ethanol by genetically modifying yeasts that previously would only convert glucose. The researchers discovered a new bacterial enzyme and inserted it into yeast cells. The research, which is published in Applied Environmental Microbiology, demonstrates that xylose can be converted in a single step.

Policy & Policymakers

WoodwasteIn "Pickin' On Pickens", Biofuels Digest correspondent Tim Sklar publishes a second part of his series on the development of biofuels and bioenergy from wood waste. The detailed article surveys US wastewood inventories as well as calculating the potential to produce 9.7 Bgy of ethanol at 441 midsize refineries, or 45 percent of the 2022 total mandate for second-generation biofuels.

Consumer & Fleet News

In New Jersey, Union County will commence a conversion to biofuels this week by employing B5 biodiesel in its 16 tractors, backhoes, lawn mowers, and an air compressor. The county has a total of 260 vehicles or pieces of equipment in total that run on diesel and could be converted to biodiesel in the future, according to county executives.
A Note to Readers

The producers of the Biofuels: Science and Innovation for Sustainable Development Conference to be held on June 28-30, 2009 in San Francisco, are offering Digest readers a $300 discount for the Conference and Workshop, which reduces the cost to $695-$995 depending on which track you select. (I will be presenting on advanced fuels and feedstocks during the workshop section of the conference).  The coupon can be obtained at biofuelsdigest.com.

In addition, this spring I will be presenting at several other conferences open to the public.
World Biofuels Markets (Brussels 03/09), 4th African Biofuels conference (Jo'burg, 04/09) , the Advanced Biofuels Development Summit (DC, 04/09), and Communicating Renewables 2009 (Minneapolis, 04/09). Presentation topics are detailed here.

If you plan on attending any of these fine conferences, let me know by email (jlane@biofuelsdigest.com) so we can schedule a coffee. I would like to learn more about your own activities and goals!

Regards, Jim Lane

Financial News

The Biofuels Digest Index™ (BDI), a basket of public biofuels stocks, dropped 1.54 percent to close at 49.33 on an ethanol plunge.  Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) gained 1.77 percent to $27.54, while British Petroleum (BP) lost 3.09 percent to $40.72.  Among small caps, Aventine Renewable Energy (AVR) fell 25.71 percent to $0.26. Overall, declines led advances 3 to 1 for the day. 
Biofuels Digest's LinkedIn and Facebook discussion groups

Ramin Abhari, P.E. Senior Process Engineer at Syntroleum Corporation: "Pyrolysis makes very poor liquid fuels. These are generally characterized by nasty phenolics, carbonyls, and stable water emulsions (some of the byproducts make excellent emulsifiers!). So in some sense, the problem is moved downstream (where these poor quality pyrolysis fuels have to be upgraded in high pressure hydroprocessing units equipped with appropriate metallurgy)."

Sam Thiessen, CEO of Ag BioPower: The key here is high pressure - getting solid fuel in a pressure vessel is tricky, plus you have added opportunity for problems like corrosion and metal fatigue under high pressure, especially with materials that can transform in acids and alkalines. High pressures complicate gasification."

More than 60 discussions are now underway at the online forums.

These stories and more are available at BiofuelsDigest.com. Your comments and story requests are warmly welcome: email me at jlane@biofuelsdigest.com. Jim Lane, Editor, Biofuels Digest.

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