Partnership Fosters Algae and Biodiesel Growth

MSUPHYCOMichigan State University (MSU) and algae company PHYCO2 are developing algae technologies that cut greenhouse emissions and could eventually lead to more biodiesel. This article from MSU says PHYCO2’s revolutionary and patented concept promotes algae growth and sequesters, or captures, carbon dioxide from power plant emissions.

Under the collaborative research agreement, MSU and PHYCO2 – an algae growth and carbon dioxide sequestration company based in Santa Maria, California – will investigate the performance of PHYCO2’s algae growth and carbon dioxide absorption technology, as well as algae-processing technologies.

PHYCO2 will be testing its algae photo bioreactor, technology that continuously captures significant amounts of CO2 and grows algae with LED light, at MSU’s T.B. Simon Power Plant. MSU and PHYCO2 expect to be able to absorb up to 80 percent of captured CO2 emissions for the production of algae. MSU will be testing the growth of several algae strains and post processing of the algae that is grown.

The project’s goals are to cost-effectively grow algae while significantly absorbing CO2 for sequestration from the gas emissions at the power plant. The algae can then be sold into current markets for biofuels, bioplastics and other applications.

“MSU has always been on the forefront of cutting-edge research and development,” said Robert Ellerhorst, director of utilities at the MSU power plant. “Our collaborative work with developers fits MSU’s research agenda to solve the world’s problems – in this case, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

“We are confident that this partnership between MSU and PHYCO2 will meet and exceed the challenge issued by the White House,” said PHYCO2 CEO Bill Clary. “The PHYCO2 photobioreactor represents the future of cleaner emissions and the first CO2 capture technology that truly is market sustainable.”

VW’s Diesel Scandal Could Hurt Biodiesel

VWA growing scandal that Volkswagen created software to let its diesel vehicles cheat some environmental tests could have implications for the even greener fuel biodiesel. This story from CBS News says VW cheating on diesel with possibly as many as 11 million vehicles doesn’t help the fuel’s greener cousin.

“It’s a shame when someone tries to cheat this test because it’s an important yardstick for us to make sure the car will provide cleaner driving,” [Andre Boehman, professor of mechanical engineering at University of Michigan and a self-described diesel-vehicle fan] said. “It would make me a little more careful in my shopping for which vehicle to purchase, although it may be hard for a consumer to know if vehicles are operating the way” the automaker states it should be.

For some diesel enthusiasts, the idea of driving a car that’s easier on the environment — diesel-engine fuel efficiency can be as much as 30 percent higher than gas-powered cars, and diesel cars can also use biodiesel fuel — is the main draw. The cars were not only billed as virtuous to drive, since they consume less fuel than gas-powered cars, but fun, too…

Current owners of Volkswagen diesel vehicles are feeling burned, with some saying that they bought their cars for their fuel efficiency and minimal impact on the environment, which now appears to be a lie.

“I am very disappointed that VW willfully decided to lie not only to the government, but to its customers,” one car owner wrote on Volkswagen’s Facebook page. “Many of us have been fans of the brand through thick and thin for entire lifetimes. I currently own two diesels and I feel betrayed and cheated.”

Meanwhile, Volkswagen is trying to regain that trust and issued the following statement:

Volkswagen does not tolerate any kind of violation of laws whatsoever. It is and remains the top priority of the Board of Management to win back lost trust and to avert damage to our customers. The Group will inform the public on the further progress of the investigations constantly and transparently.

Cup of Joe Provides Biomass for London Homes

bio-bean1While England might be better known for its tea, Londoners certainly have a taste for coffee. And the waste grounds will soon be heating home’s in the United Kingdom’s capital. This article from the London Evening Standard says Bio-bean is collecting waste coffee grounds to be turned into biomass pellets.

Although only a couple of hundred tonnes will be collected each week at first, Bio-bean spokesman Daniel Crockett expects the firm to be processing the equivalent of 50,000 tonnes a year by 2016.

“We wanted to build it inside London,” Mr Crockett told the Standard, “but we aren’t at that stage yet.

“We’re collecting from cafes, office blocks and transport hubs – we’re filling up the Monopoly board!”

While Bio-bean does not pay the coffee shops – which include cafes in big-name firms and all seven of London’s biggest rail stations – its collection service saves them coughing up potentially costly landfill fees.

At peak production, the Southwark business will be producing enough pellets to heat 15,000 homes. The pellets will be burnt in efficient biomass boilers to produce energy.

Bio-bean is also looking at turning the oil in the coffee grounds into biodiesel.

As Temps Cool, Propane Supplies Hit Record

Just in time for winter heating and agriculture crop drying seasons, the supplies of propane hit record levels in the U.S. This U.S. Energy Information Administration report says inventories of propane and propylene reached 97.7 million barrels as of September 11, the highest level in the 22 years.
During the first six months of 2015, production of propane at natural gas plants was 31.3 million barrels, or 172,000 barrels per day (b/d), higher than during the first half of 2014. Exports increased by 33.3 million barrels (182,000 b/d) over the same period.

In the United States, propane is mainly used for space heating and as a feedstock for petrochemical plants, as well as for drying agricultural crops. Relatively small amounts of propane are also used for fueling vehicles. Its heating and agricultural uses make propane consumption highly seasonal and weather dependent, rising in the fall and peaking in the winter. In addition to heating and agricultural use, propane is used by petrochemical plants to produce ethylene and propylene, key building blocks for the manufacturing of chemicals and plastics. Petrochemical propane consumption has little seasonality but can vary significantly based on plant operations.

Traditionally, propane and propylene stocks increase from the start of April to the end of September, and they are drawn down from October to March, when agricultural and heating demands increase. In 2015, inventories began increasing in mid-February, more than six weeks earlier than the historical average.

EIA expects propane and propylene inventories to begin the October heating season at record levels, reaching a high of 99.1 million barrels at the end of September.

Aemetis 100% Biodiesel Replaces Diesel in India

aemetis1California-based Aemetis is replacing 100 percent diesel with 100 percent biodiesel in India. This news release from the company says the pure biodiesel reduces emissions by 80 percent in the warm climate areas of India.

Traditionally, in Europe and in the United States, biodiesel is blended in the range of 5% to 20% with petroleum diesel due to colder temperature conditions. With southern/western India’s tropical climate, Aemetis led the introduction of 100% distilled biodiesel in truck, bus, taxi and stationary generator sectors as a 100% replacement of petroleum diesel.

The 99.8% pure distilled biodiesel produced by Aemetis has superior attributes such as a high cetane number (66-68) compared to the regular biodiesel cetane number of about 51 along with excellent lubricating properties to reduce engine wear.

Aemetis now has multiple sales channels in India, directly selling to bulk businesses and selling through Government-owned oil marketing companies (OMC’s). Aemetis is currently selling biodiesel to a large OMC in addition to a number of major transportation and logistics businesses.

“We are excited to lead the replacement of 100% petroleum diesel with 100% distilled biodiesel in India where 13 Indian cities rank among the 20 most polluted cities in the world,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aemetis.

“We have succeeded in working with major bulk fuel customers to convert their fleets to 100% distilled biodiesel to achieve significant cost benefits as well as help improve the environment,” said Sanjeev Gupta, Managing Director of Aemetis’ India biofuels subsidiary, Universal Biofuels, based in Hyderabad.

In India, diesel-based fuels are king, as diesel makes up 25 billion gallons per year, significantly larger than the current India gasoline market of 5 billion gallons per year. Biodiesel production in India is only about 250 million gallons. Aemetis owns and operates a biodiesel production facility with a capacity of approximately 50 million gallons per year in India.

Florida Biodiesel Delivers Plant to Bahamas

B500Florida Biodiesel, Inc. has delivered a refinery to the Bahamas. This company news release says it sent a B-500 Biodiesel plant to the Grand Bahama Power Company, Bahamas.

The Grand Bahama Power Company has chosen the B-500 Biodiesel processor for their prime transesterification facility. The B-500 Biodiesel plant is economical to operate and will allow the Grand Bahama Power Company to safely produce 1600 gallons of Biodiesel each 24 hours. The B-500 will also be used as a hands-on educational tool to show government agencies how to make renewable energy. “They will process used cooking oil collected locally into Biodiesel fuel,” says William Gehrs, of Florida Biodiesel, Inc. “The B-500 is very user friendly, has a low carbon footprint, and will economically produce Biodiesel for them.”

Automotive Students Get Lesson in Biodiesel

pittstate-logoStudents learning automotive technologies at a college in Kansas are learning about how to work with biodiesel. This story from KOAM-TV says students from Pittsburg State University are learning about the green fuel as more automakers are offering engines able to use more biodiesel.

Steven Benzel, an automotive technology major says the course gave him new insights into bio-diesel. He says, “It’s much cleaner but has the same power output. And I think it’s, maybe even it will get cheaper down the road. But right now it’s the better fuel of the two.”

Steven wants to design new cars and trucks. He and those studying mechanics are learning how biodiesel works in engines.

MARC IV Bio-based Innovations instructor, Steve Howell says, “It reduces the carbon dioxide in the air about eighty percent with the b100 about sixteen percent with the b20.”

And students learn how to fix engines running on bio-diesel

Scott Norman the associate professor of Automotive Technology at PSU says, “If someone’s making their own, not certified correctly, they could have engine problems. The filters could plug up in cold weather. There are some very unique problems you have to be aware of if you’re running bio-diesel in your vehicle.”

Most new biodiesel engines can take biodiesel blends of at least 20 percent.

Kentucky Fried Biodiesel Being Made in India

advaitWaste cooking oil from KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut restaurants in India is being made into biodiesel. Advait says it has inked a deal with Yum! Restaurants India Pvt Ltd. to collect the used oil from the restaurants in the Andhra and Telangana region.

Advait which is the only ISCC certified Used Cooking Oil collector in India, will convert the Used Cooking Oil into Biodiesel or export the used cooking oil for biodiesel processing to Europe. Advait is one of the Major Used Cooking Oil collector in India and presently collecting in 4 South Indian states.

Advait aims to start collecting the Used Cooking Oil throughout India with over 15 collection yards in major cities by the end of this year.

Advait has partnered with one of the largest Biodiesel producer in India, Southern Online Bio Technologies Ltd., to supply Used cooking Oil to it and market their Biodiesel in India and abroad. The biodiesel made will be sold to various road transport organisations in India.

Oberon, Ford Team Up to Build First DME Car

oberonOberon Fuels, Inc. is partnering with Ford Motor Company and other European companies to build the world’s first dimethyl ether-powered car. This Oberon news release says the 3-year, €3.5 million project will research, analyze and test the potential of DME and oligomethyl ether (OME) fuel in passenger cars and heavy-duty truck engines, and ultimately build the world’s first production passenger car powered by DME for on-road testing.

FVV is a unique worldwide research network of 170 international member companies across the engine supply chain, including researchers, engine manufacturers, component suppliers, and fuel providers. FVV has become the leading forum for pre-competitive joint research projects, for the exchange of knowledge between industry and science, and for training junior researchers for work in the industry.

“We must continue to find ways to meet the growing global demand for liquid transportation fuels with lower-carbon fuels and more efficient, cleaner burning engines if we are to ensure the long term sustainability of our planet,” said Ralf Thee, project manager with FVV. “This is our most ambitious project yet, and we are pleased to be working with partners who share our commitment to innovation.”

DME is a clean-burning, non-toxic fuel that can be derived from renewable sources. Its high cetane number and quiet combustion, as well as its inexpensive propane-like fueling system, make it an excellent diesel alternative for both passenger cars and heavy-duty vehicles. DME-powered engines are expected to benefit from almost soot-free combustion, higher thermal efficiency and excellent cold start properties.

“Ford is committed to helping develop the market for alternative fuels, and DME has exciting characteristics,” said Werner Willems, Ph.D., a technical specialist for powertrain combustion systems with Ford of Europe, and project leader for this initiative. “Not only does DME offer the efficiency and torque desired in a diesel engine, but it can be made from renewable waste streams and reduce the long-term cost of ownership, all of which are important to our customers.”

World’s First Sustainable Biomass to Replace Coal

munro-logoA collaboration between three companies looks to create the world’s first sustainable biomass fuel to replace coal. Manufacturing and innovation leader Munro & Associates is working with with Biomass Energy Enhancements LLC (BEE) and UK-based and AIM-listed Active Energy Group Plc (AEG) to produce a market-ready sustainable biomass fuel that would be able to directly replace coal without retrofitting the plant.

Other processes that have been used in the past, such as simple compaction and thermal drying, either leave a high level of toxic salts in the biomass creating pollution and frequent maintenance issues or leave too much intercellular moisture reducing the effective energy release from the fuels. BEE’s process “explodes” the fibers like popcorn and exposes the intra-fiber moisture and soluble salts which can then be easily removed. This new process allows biofuels to be generated from materials that would not have been suitable or viable before, such as reclaimed waste wood, and diseased and invasive crops or trees.

A further benefit is that the final product is also hydrophobic, which not only prevents possible reabsorption of moisture that would degrade the fuel, but it subsequently reduces distribution, transportation and storage costs.

Although Munro has worked on several new technologies over the years, rarely does the company make the leap to actually invest in the technologies as well,” said Sandy Munro, CEO of Munro & Associates. “This process has the potential to revolutionize the industry and we are very proud to be a part of the Coal Switch Team.”

Munro’s engineers worked with the BEE team to create a highly scalable, mobile and “flexible in the field” process that can be moved anywhere in the world. This creates a massive savings in regards to moving the raw potential biomass to a facility, rather than move the scalable facility easily and cheaply to set up onsite.

Munro officials say its proprietary Design Profit software has allowed the company to scale up a prototype to a market-scale winning solution.