After a 77-year break, hemp plants are growing in American soil again. Right now, in fact.
Stewart Kelly's insight:
One of the ironies of biofuel use and development is special interests have convinced advocates for the environment, and for the poor, that biofuels have tremendous environmental costs and raise food prices by competing for food crops. The use of alternative, sustainable plant and algal oils should ease those concerns and help create more widespread use of biodiesel and biofuels.
Converting biomass into clean burning hydrogen takes away some of the arguments that biofuels are still environmentally unfriendly. Looking forward to learning more about catalyst development and how that can assist in improving yields.
Little did Debora Sky know Tuesday afternoon that her first time depositing her used cooking oil in the City of Duncan's collection bin it would be a media sensation.
The Duncan bin has been there for about a year and so far it has collected about 1,000 litres of used oil. That translated into 900 litres of clean-burning bio fuel - and all with little media buzz.
Project coordinator Rick Juliusson hopes the official opening of the bins will encourage more people to use them and for more biofuel to be made. The concept is one Sky supports. "You sort of have to be mindful of what the options are. It takes all of 10 seconds to do. Open the door and put the container inside. It really is that easy".
A host of troubles roils the biodiesel credit-trading market Since 2007, federal regulators have overseen the growth of the biodiesel industry, which converts discarded animal fats, used cooking oil and other materials into fuel that can power cars, earth moving equipment and commercial trucks.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency required large fossil-fuel refiners and importers to produce or purchase enough renewable fuels, including biodiesel, to account for up to 9 percent of total production.
If the companies couldn't produce the alternative fuels, they had to buy credits from others that did.
In recent months, the credit-trading market has been rattled by fraud allegations, plummeting confidence and lawsuits.
The EPA has identified more than 140 million fraudulent credits, a sizable figure considering that 1.6 billion credits were generated last year.
The turmoil has raised concern about the EPA's system for subsidizing production of biodiesel, which has transformed into a complex web of trading in largely unregulated financial instruments.
Access to land is one of the oldest sources of conflict. It's written deep into Britain's history through the enclosure acts and the seizing of the commons - a process that shaped the landscape, forcing people to live and work in the cities.
The growing need for reliable and renewable energy sources has had unintended consequences, such as the rise in food prices as an increasing slice of grain harvests are channeled into fuels.
It’s also provoked a rash of land grabs to plant new plantations energy crops in developing countries.
It’s a rather sorry side-effect of a policy that doesn’t even work in the first place – most biofuels are no more environmentally-friendly than fossil fuels.
ActionAid are currently highlighting the experiences of a community in Tanzania with Sun Biofuels, which makes an interesting case study in how this process has been playing out in developing countries.
Five years after Sun Biofuels arrived, none of the promised infrastructure or services has been delivered.
Most people have not been compensated, and those that have were unable to negotiate a fair price and the people are unable to access former water sources and are without the promised wells.
Solar and windpower may be the predicted winners for immediate financial backing, but two Cambridge University departments are hedging their bets on something else entirely: biophotovoltaic (BPV) technology, using the photosynthesis of living organisms such as algae and moss to harness a new renewable energy.
Biophotovoltaics may have been the subject of Ian McEwan’s recent comedy Solar, but the field is no joke. It uses a tried and tested natural process that takes place all around us, every second of every hour: photosynthesis. The Cambridge professors are hopeful that the technology could genuinely become a viable source of renewable energy in the next ten years
BPV technology works by exploiting the photosynthetic apparatus of biological material, such as cyanobacteria or algae, to convert the solar energy into electrical energy and then use the electrical energy to drive a current or create a potential difference to drive a chemical reaction.
Biomass Energy Laboratory in Conyers, Ga., is expected to begin operation by Nov. 1, making it the first U.S.-baseded pellet testing facility that will be fully compliant and accredited under Europe's fuel quality specifications.
Up until now, pellet manufacturers exporting their products to Europe have sent their samples to a lab in Holland for analysis and verification of compliance with their end users’ specifications under ISO 17025, the accreditation process for conducting European testing on biomass.
Technology developer Codexis Inc. signed a joint development agreement with Raizen Energia S.A., Brazil’s largest sugar and ethanol producer, to improve cane-based ethanol production using its “directed evolution” biocatalyst technology
Codexis has developed a trademarked platform called the CodeEvolver which, according to the company, combines DNA shuffling and proprietary bioinformatics to create new biocatalysts with characteristics that exceed the performance of those found in naturally occurring enzymes.
The platform enables Codexis to develop specialized catalysts that can be used in the production of biofuels and biobased chemicals. The technology can also be applied to carbon capture processes at coal-fired power plants and, in the future, to wastewater treatment operations.
The USDA will make payments to more than 160 energy producers in 41 states to support the advancement of advanced biofuels.
“Renewable energy production will create tens of thousands of direct, American jobs; thousands more indirect jobs, and clean electricity to power millions of homes and reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The payments are authorized under the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels (Section 9005 of the 2008 Farm Bill) and are made to eligible producers to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels.
9/11 put energy security front and center of the political agenda. America's dependence on fossil fuels from countries that may prove unfriendly in the future is putting America in a dangerous position.
It also inspired the development of exotic biofuels feedstocks and technologies, and expanded the field of end-use customers, investors and geographies.
Renewable biofuels are an important part of helping America reduce the reliance on foreign oil, provide good jobs, and wean us away from fossil fuels.
The SMH reports that Virgin Blue, looking to escape the squeeze from scarcer fossil fuels, is partnering with a consortium including GE to produce biofuel for aviation from eucalypts - Plane biofuel to be made from eucalypt.
Referring to cellulosic biofuels targets in the Renewable Fuel Standard, she wrote: “Much as parents may tell stories about unicorns and fairies, some players in the ethanol and environmental industries pushed a product ...
“As demonstrated by Quad County Corn Processors—which produced its first commercial gallon of cellulosic ethanol from corn fiber just yesterday—this feedstock holds tremendous potential to contribute meaningful volumes ...
Stewart Kelly's insight:
Corn stover has been used for ethanol production for some time now. One of the major hurdles has been breaking down the cellulose and converting the cellulose and lignin to bioavailable fermentation substrates. There have been some major advancements in enzyme biochemistry that should help. Would be interesting to see how corn stover would fare as a pelletized biofuel.
16 Year Old Egyptian Girl Figures Out How to Turn Used Plastic Into $78 Million in BioFuels http://t.co/cHOGWqOH
Sixteen year old Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad from the Zahran Language School in Alexandria, Egypt just won the European Fusion Development Agreement award at the 23rd European Union Contest for Young Scientists.
#1 – She found a positive use for used/leftover plastic which ends up in landfills and destroys the environment.
#2 – This addresses energy needs for the populace which is one of the largest costs for the average person.
#3 – This is just another example of what happens when we teach our kids science and math.
Green Prophet writes:
The idea of breaking down plastic polymers into fuel feedstocks, the bulk raw material used for producing biofuel , is not a new idea. But Faiad has found a high yield catalyst, aluminosilicate catalyst, that breaks down plastic waste producing gaseous products like methane, propane and ethane, which are then converted into ethanol to use as biofuel.
The House Armed Services Committee issued its report on next year's Pentagon budget, which includes a measure that would exclude the purchase of biofuels that cost more than traditional fossil fuels.
The Navy has pledged to use 50 percent alternative fuels by 2020, but the House Armed Services Committee are questioning the value of current biofuel blend costs around $15 per gallon.
The US Navy purchases biofuels like cooking oil and algae-based fuels. Although these purchases are crucial to keep the US biofuels industry alive, they are expensive and offer questionable value to the environment .
The US military has repeatedly indicated that climate change is a threat to national security and finding cleaner energy alternatives is in the strategic interests of the nation. However, biofuels may not be the best solution.
Given the fact that biofuels offer questionable benefits, decreasing biofuel purchases may be in the best interest of the nation and the planet. The US military has kept the biofuels pipe-dream alive, if these purchases are reduced, it may force the nation's armed services to find truly clean sources of energy.
With the sudden demise of U.S. corn ethanol subsidies, opportunity beckons to remake American biofuels policy along greener, more efficient lines.
As 2011 expired, so did a U.S. government program that for over three decades appeared politically untouchable: the federal tax credit and domestic tariff for ethanol.
The growth in federal support for ethanol and the consequent surge in corn ethanol production have attracted no small amount of criticism, and for good reason. Corn ethanol production is, for the most part, energy intensive and inefficient.
To add to the environmental cost of U.S. corn ethanol is the potential of its expanded production to raise global food prices, potentially increasing the likelihood of social unrest and instability worldwide.
Yet the removal of subsidies for corn-based ethanol should not blind policymakers to the merits of using tax credits to jump-start the development of other renewable energy technologies or even more efficient biofuels. At the NRDC, Greene has outlined a Greener Biofuels Tax Credit that would accomplish the latter through a variety of incentives. Critically, it would subsidize not blenders of gasoline and biofuels but the biorefineries that actually produce the biofuels themselves, thereby removing the incentive to choose cheap biofuel without regard for environmental impact.
In replacing one set of subsidies with another, Greene’s proposal would simply reconfigure U.S. biofuels policy to account for the environmental externalities of the production process. Encouraging the production of cellulosic ethanol could not only minimize those externalities compared with corn, but reduce the risk of food price instability. It would also help to achieve some of the original objectives behind biofuels tax credits such as the VEETC, namely to help balance energy usage away from crude oil by employing renewable forms of energy.
Malaysian researchers at the Forestry Research Institute of Malaysia have developed biodiesel using forest trees bintangor laut and perahas feedstock which, they say has far few carbon emissions than palm oil biodiesel.
The feedstocks also have low fatty acid contents and give off a sweet smell when combusted.
The institute has a pilot production plant hat produces 20,000 liters per month of biodiesel from bintangor and jatropha oil as well as industrial wastes.
The facility uses the biodiesel it produces to run a B5 blend in all its vehicles.
The theme of the final panel discussion at the North American Biomass Pellet Export Conference, which was held Sept. 8-9 in New Orleans, was that the pellet industry is growing rapidly, and sustainability is of utmost importance.
Sustainability (a major concern of environmentalists) is the core of the pellet production industry, Neraas said. Without it, the business is not successful. All the speakers on the panel addressed sustainability and its importance
The tremendous wood basket in the Southeast U.S. can continuously supply European industrial demand and the residential market as it grows. The global pellet industry is becoming more attractive, helping to solve environmental problems, assisted even more by the manufacturers’ best practices policies.
A researcher has been selected to receive a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Young Faculty Award to support the development of a technology to produce jet fuel from lignin from cellulosic ethanol production or the pulp and paper industry.
Bin Yang, an assistant professor at WSU Tri-Cities’ Department of Biological Systems Engineering and the Center for Bioproducts & Bioenergy, has been awarded a two-year $300,000 grant to support his project, titled “Jet Fuel Production from Biomass-Derived Lignin in Remote Locations.”
Turning from 1st generation biofuels produced from food crops to 2nd generation biofuels produced from ligno-cellulosic feedstocks has been praised by many, but 2nd generation has a long way to go to reach full commercialisation.
First generation biofuel production – usually ethanol – is expected to rise to around 100,000 Ml in 2014, and it is widely used in countries such as Brazil. But there are a number of limitations:
Competition for land and water – often with competing with food and fibre production;High production and processing costs – often requiring government subsidies; andWidely varying assessments of net greenhouse gas reduction when land use is taken into account.
Although biomass crops take up less than 2% of the world’s arable land, estimates about biomass’ contribution to total food price increases typically range from 15% to 25%, with some estimates reaching 75%.
2nd generation biofuels do not have the same direct competition for food crops, as ligno-cellulosic feedstocks include by-products such as cereal straw, sugar cane bagasse and forest residues; waste including organic components of municipal wastes; and dedicated feedstocks such as purpose-grown vegetative grasses, short rotation forests and other energy crops.
Many dedicate crops can be grown on poorer quality land than food crops, although higher yields are likely if grown on quality land.
Can biotech and biofuels relieve pressure on water, land, food and fuel by revolutionizing meat production?
At the meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden, arranged by Chalmers University of Technology and the European Science Foundation, the group reviewed technology components are now coming into place in order to realize the concept of cultured meat.
This includes a cell source that is possible to use, several alternative processes to turn these cells into muscle cells for meat, and nutrients free of animal components which can be produced from sunlight and carbon dioxide.
The group agreed last week on a general principle that the nutrients for growing the cells for meat must be produced with renewable energy and without animal products.
The best source for this, they concluded, is the use of a photosynthetic organism, such as as cyanobacteria.
Bottom line for biofuels: a provider of energy and nutrients and for that, think advanced biofuels and in particular the micro crop technologies based on algae and cyanobacteria.
“Producing advanced, drop-in biofuels in the U.S. will reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and support development of a new industry that will create jobs in rural communities across the country,” said Secretary Chu.
In Spain, a Chilean researcher at the Institute of Ocean Sciences at CSIC in Barcelona has narrowed down three species of marine algae that are common in most parts of the world as ideal for biofuel feedstock. Using existing production methods for algae however is unviable because compared to fossil diesel, the biomass production requires an extra 800 megajoules of energy in controlled areas and 115 megajoules in open seas.
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