Weltec Biopower Showcases Biogas Technologies

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

Weltec Biopower is showcasing its biogas technologies during the upcoming Energy Decentral in Hanover, Germany taking place November 15-18, 2016. For the first time, the company will promote its slurry and digestate processing system “Kumac.”

For the first time, WELTEC will showcase the efficient slurry and digestate processing system “Kumac“. The fully automated processing system “Kumac“ reduces the liquid manure and digestate volume by 50 percent. Photo credit: Weltec Biopower

For the first time, WELTEC will showcase the efficient slurry and digestate
processing system “Kumac“. The fully automated processing system “Kumac“
reduces the liquid manure and digestate volume by 50 percent. Photo credit: Weltec Biopower

According to the company, the system, which is fully automated, reduces the liquid manure and digestate volume by 50 percent. In a four-stage procedure, clear water, liquid fertilizer concentrate and valuable solid matter are extracted from the source material that Weltec Biopower explains represents a sustainable, economic solution for mitigating the impact of the nutrient surplus by reducing the volume of slurry and improving its transportability. The Kumac technology has already been successfully used in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Weltec will also be featuring the MULTIMix, a retrofittable liquid input system for biogas plants that the company says reliably shreds fibrous feedstock and separates foreign matter. It enables operators the ability to make use of alternative substrates, thereby ensuring flexibility, technical stability and sustainably economic operation of biogas plants.

In addition to showcasing its own technology, the company will also offer show attendees recommendations as to how they can optimize existing biogas plants. Based on a thorough analysis of the respective framework conditions, the biogas specialists will prepare a custom-tailored concept for the improvement of the plant performance – regardless of how old the plant is and no matter whether waste or agricultural substrates are used.

biogas, Waste-to-Energy

Which Candidate is Better for Agricultural Exports?

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

zp-nh1Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What is most important to food sustainability?”

Sustainability is no longer simply a word used in agricultural circles. Consumers are also weighing in and therefore food companies are recognizing the importance of sustainability in agriculture, but some aren’t understanding technology and food production work hand-in-hand. Yet, this poll stresses agriculture’s point. All factors need to come into play when we talk sustainability.

Here are the poll results:

  • Biotechnology – 14%
  • Precision technology – 0%
  • Nutrient management – 4%
  • Water management – 8%
  • Ag education – 13%
  • All of the above – 53%
  • Other – 8%

Our new ZimmPoll is live and asks the question, Which candidate is better for agricultural exports?

Both major party candidates have said they are opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership which most studies show would help to open up markets and increase agricultural exports. The Obama administration has been strongly in favor of TPP and urging Congress to ratify the trade agreement as soon as possible, but that will not likely be before the end of the year, leaving it in the hands of the next president and a new Congress. So, which candidate would be better to help increase ag exports?


Researchers Create Better Algae Oil Producers

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

Researchers have discovered a way to make algae better oil producers without sacrificing growth. The team, led by James Umen, Ph.D., associate member at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, found a mutation in the green alga Chlamydomonas that substantially removes a constraint that is widely observed in micro-algae where the highest yields of oil can only be obtained from starving cultures.

nr_umen_plantcell_final_10_18-imagecaptionUmen and his team found the oil-accumulating mutation in Chlamydomonas, called vip1-1, while investigating how two conserved signaling systems interact with one another. One system involves a protein called TOR (target of rapamycin) whose activity is tuned to match cell growth rate with nutrient levels in the environment. The other system involves a family of proteins called VIP that produce highly phosphosphorylated small molecules called inositol polyphosphates that are thought to act as intracellular signals, but whose function in algae is not well-defined. The team found that when VIP activity was reduced by the vip1-1 mutation, cell growth became extremely sensitized to changes in TOR activity; but unexpectedly, this sensitivity was dependent on the sources of carbon nutrients that cells had available. When TOR-inhibited vip1-1 cells were given light for photosynthesis and supplemented with acetate—a “free” source of extra carbon—their growth was completely arrested. However, the vip1-1 mutation had no impact on TOR-inhibited cell growth when acetate was removed and atmospheric CO2 was the only carbon source.

The connection between acetate and the growth behavior of vip1-1 cells led Umen and his team to investigate the mutant further to see if it had other metabolic alterations that could be detected without perturbing TOR signaling. Remarkably, they found that actively growing vip1 cells were oil overaccumulators that made extra storage oil compared to normal cells, and did so without incurring a significant growth penalty. Moreover, under starvation conditions when normal cells boost their oil content significantly, vip1-1 cells increased it even more with up to double the yields seen in normal cells.

“Our study reveals a new way to understand how cells control carbon metabolism and storage,” said Inmaculada Couso, Ph.D., post-doctoral researcher, Institute of Plant Biochemistry and Photosynthesis. “As we decipher the inositol polyphosphate signaling code, we open up the prospect of being able to reprogram metabolism and make algae better producers of oil or other high value carbon-rich compounds.

The findings were published September 6, in a paper titled, “Synergism between inositol polyphosphates and TOR kinase signaling in nutrient sensing, growth control and lipid metabolism in Chlamydomonas,” in The Plant Cell.

advance biofuels, algae, Research

Megatrends Mean New Opportunities at #ExEx16

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

exex16-nolanA number of global megatrends can mean new opportunities for agribusiness moving forward, according to Chris Nolan with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), who gave the keynote address at the 2016 Export Exchange this week in Detroit.

Nolan identified five global megatrends – demographic shifts, global economic power shifts, accelerating urbanization, resource scarcity, and evolving technology – that provide opportunities for the agricultural industry.

One of the most important megatrends for the audience at Export Exchange is the demographic shifts, which Nolan differentiated from population growth. “The fact is population growth is not a trend but a fact of life,” he said. However, the accelerating growth of the middle class is a trend that means the need for food will increase faster than the overall rate of population growth. “To be in the middle class means you consume more calories and your diet includes protein,” said Nolan. “Feeding the middle class will mean increased protein consumption so investment in the protein value chain will be required.”

And producing more animal protein will mean producing more grains to feed those animals, which means opportunities for increasing exports of U.S. coarse grains and distillers feed from ethanol production.

Listen to Nolan’s presentation here: Chris Nolan, PricewaterhouseCoopers

2016 Export Exchange Photo Album

Audio, corn, Distillers Grains, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Export Exchange, Exports

USGC Chairman Bullish on #ExEx16

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

exex16-councellThe chairman of the U.S. Grains Council is attending his first Export Exchange this week in Detroit and he is very impressed.

Maryland farmer Chip Councell says he is amazed by the number of attendees and the prospects that the event offers for U.S. grain suppliers. “We have over 200 international customers from 35 countries,” said Councell. “It’s a great opportunity for us to show them U.S. agriculture and our infrastructure and how we are a consistent, reliable supplier of high quality grain.”

That consistency and reliability continues to grow with the increased investment that farmers have made in the latest technology. Councell related how farmers in his area were able to harvest grain in record time when Hurricane Matthew was coming up the East Coast. “We actually harvested two-thirds of our corn crop in three and a half days,” he said. “It just shows the ability of the U.S. farmer to get it done when we have to.”

Councell says much of the investments were made a few years ago when customers of U.S. grains were paying much higher prices for corn. “So farmers invested in technology which I think our customers are benefiting from now,” he said.

Learn more in this interview: Interview with Chip Councell, US Grains Council chairman

2016 Export Exchange Photo Album

Audio, corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, USGC

#ExEx16 Considers Election Impact on Trade

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

exex16-dinneenRenewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen had the unenviable task of talking about the U.S. presidential election to an international audience at Export Exchange 2016 today in Detroit.

“I know half of you are sick to death of the election and just want it over, and half of you are watching in somewhat bemused amazement wondering what in the world is going on with the world’s greatest democracy,” Dinneen said before delving into how the elections might impact global trade. “America remains deeply divided and our political system is as polarized as it has ever been.”

Dinneen gave a good overview of polling data, battleground states, Senate races and much more, with the caveat that anything can change in this unusual election year. When it comes to trade, Dinneen noted that anti-trade rhetoric has been high this year. “But at the end of the day, trade is just too important to the U.S. economy, particularly the farm economy, so I don’t see (the election) having much of an impact,” Dinneen said in an interview after his address. “Part of what I was trying to do with the international audience was to tell them not to get caught up in the rhetoric of an impassioned and frankly odd campaign.”

Comparing the views of both presidential candidates on trade side-by-side, Dinneen said, “Donald Trump has never met a trade pact that he likes…his rhetoric and policy have all been anti-trade.” Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, “has had a history of being far more favorable to trade,” said Dinneen, but during the campaign has “also moved to be a bit more anti-trade.” He notes that Mrs. Clinton now says she opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) even though she once called it the “Gold Standard.”

Dinneen believes trade is more dependent on people like those attending the Export Exchange, working one on one together to build relationships, which is critical for ethanol producers who export one third of the more than 40 million metric tons of the co-product distillers grains (DDGS) for livestock feed.

Listen to Dinneen’s address here: RFA CEO Bob Dinneen at Export Exchange 2016

Listen to interview here: Interview with Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association

2016 Export Exchange Photo Album

Audio, Distillers Grains, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Export Exchange, Exports, RFA

GFRA Tells G20 to Take Immediate Climate Action

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

grfa-logoOn the heels of the recent data showing that global temperature rise has been accelerating at faster rates than were anticipated when negotiating the Paris Agreement during COP21, Bliss Baker, president of the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GFRA) is calling on G20 countries to take immediate climate action on reducing GHG emissions. The climate data was released by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and showed that the average global temperatures in the first six months of 2016 were already approaching 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The data contained indications that global CO2 levels will soon exceed the symbolic 400 parts-per-million concentration level. To curb climate change, scientists have said that temperatures can not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius.

The ink on the Paris Agreement was barely dry before the foundation on which the negotiations were based had fundamentally shifted,” Baker said. “These changing circumstances should serve as a clear signal to the leaders of advanced economies that accelerated action to reduce CO2 emissions in the short and medium term is critical.

According to GFRA, it is estimated that the transport sector accounts for approximately 25 percent of all energy-related global CO2 emissions at present while having the lowest renewable energy share of any sector. Additionally, emissions growth in the transport sector is the highest of all sectors, and is expected to increase by over one-third by 2030.

A recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) called REMap outlined the key role that biofuels will have to play in the transition to a low carbon global transport sector to 2030 and beyond. The report describes the potential to significantly scale up renewables in the global transport sector on a cost-efficient basis to 2030 by setting biofuels targets. It estimates that demand for liquid biofuels would quadruple to 500 billion litres within the next 15 years.

Increased mandates for low-carbon transport fuel alternatives to crude oil like ethanol are a cost-effective and immediately available option to significantly reduce CO2 emissions,” Baker added. “In 2014 alone, global ethanol use in the transport sector reduced emissions by 160 million tonnes CO2 equivalent. Increased biofuel use represents huge potential for CO2 emission reductions in the transport sector that G20 nations must commit to in the short and medium term to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

biofuels, Climate Change, Ethanol

New IRENA Report Looks at Future of #Biofuels

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

IRENA has released the second report in it’s Innovation Outlook series called, “Innovation Outlook: Advanced Liquid Biofuels. The report looks at the global outlook future for liquid biofuel technology. According to IRENA, advanced biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 95 percent as compared to fossil fuels. This, said the agency, puts biofuels in the position as the only alternative fuel to mitigate carbon emissions from the aviation sector that uses around 380 billion litres of jet fuel per year.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-8-09-57-pmWhile advanced biofuels are beginning to reach commercialization, IRENA says the pace of fuel development must accelerate and projects will need to be developed in a wider range of locations if advanced liquid biofuels are to realize their full practical and economic potential for displacing fossil fuels.

There is no way to meet our ambitious climate change targets without addressing transportation, and the fastest, most-cost effective route to low carbon transport is via advanced biofuels,” said Jim Lane, editor and publisher of Biofuels Digest, an external reviewer of the report. “An additional benefit of advanced biofuels is that they can be used in the same engines, fuel pumps and drive trains but produce profound reductions in carbon when compared to fossil gasoline and diesel.”

The report calls for decisive support from policy-makers to make advanced biofuels competitive. To ensure that advanced biofuel plants continue to be built and their costs continue to decline, policies and business models needs to advance alongside technological innovation.

According to the report, by 2045, ad­vanced biofuels are likely to cost between USD 0.60 and USD 1.10 per litre to produce, meaning that with oil prices above USD 100 per barrel, most advanced biofuels should be able to compete effectively. But the report also predicts that if oil prices are below USD 80 per bar­rel, advanced biofuels produc­tion would have a difficult time competing with fossil based gasoline and diesel. Therefore, there is an urgent need for decisive policy actions that will unlock the potential for advanced liquid biofuels, and enable innovative business models to co-produce high value products along with biofuels.

advance biofuels, aviation biofuels, Biodiesel, Ethanol

Hundreds in Detroit for #ExEx16

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

exex16-signHundreds of buyers and sellers of U.S. coarse grains and ethanol co-products have arrived in Detroit for Export Exchange 2016 and even though they are from more than 30 countries they are busy making connections and building relationships.

The event, which has been held every two years since 2010, is co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), and this year it is more important than ever for domestic suppliers of corn, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), sorghum and barley.

exex16-sleight“Obviously with four successive years of record harvests, I hear every day we’ve got to find markets for these grains,” said USGC president and CEO Tom Sleight. “It’s very important this year to really focus on short term market development, we’ve got to get some movement into the grain market. Exports in general are doing well and we hope this will give a little bit of a boost.”

Sleight says there is still lots of room for growth in many western hemisphere nations, including Mexico and Canada, while eastern countries such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan are increasing purchases of DDGS. “Japan we had our first month of 100 percent market share since 2009,” said Sleight.

Despite China recently imposing duties on U.S. imports of DDGS, Sleight says they have two teams from China in attendance at the Export Exchange this year. “It’s part of our normal business is to keep talking because opportunities change,” he said. “We have some trade difficulties right now, we think we can work through them but in the meantime we still keep talking to our customers.”

Sleight says he is excited about the agenda for the Export Exchange, but what it’s really all about it the networking opportunities where relationships are built and sales are made.

Learn more in this interview and watch for our coverage of the event this week: Interview with Tom Sleight, U.S. Grains Council

2016 Export Exchange Photo Album

Audio, corn, Distillers Grains, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Export Exchange, Exports, RFA, USGC

USDA Accepting FY 2017 REAP Applications

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

usda-rural-development-logosThe United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced it is accepting applications under its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) that is administered by the Rural Business-Cooperative Service for FY 2017. This cycle, REAP has two funding opportunities: Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Assistance, and Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants.

The goal of the program is to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs with the use of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency programs. Eligible renewable energy systems that qualify under the REAP program include wind, solar, renewable biomass including anaerobic digesters, small hydro-electric, ocean, geothermal and hydrogen.

Applications for grants requesting $20,000 or less are due by 4:30 pm local time on October 31, 2016 or 4:30 pm local time on March 31, 2017. Applications for funds exceeding 20,000 are due March 31, 2016. Click here for more information.

Alternative energy, Renewable Energy, USDA