Novozymes to Research Ethanol From Seaweed

Novozymes has announced a new research agreement that will explore enzymatic technology to produce fuel ethanol, fine chemicals, and protein from seaweed.

NovozymesThe industrial biotech firm has entered into an agreement with India-based Sea6 Energy to jointly develop a process for the production of biofuels from seaweed. The research alliance will use enzymes to convert seaweed-based carbohydrates to sugar, which can then be fermented to produce ethanol for fuel, fine chemicals, proteins for food, and fertilizers for plants.

NovozymesNovozymes will research, develop, and manufacture enzymes for the conversion process, while Sea6 Energy contributes its offshore seaweed cultivation technology. “Seaweed is a natural complement to our efforts to convert other types of biomass to fuel ethanol,” says Per Falholt, Executive Vice President and CSO of Novozymes. “More than half of the dry mass in seaweed is sugar, and the potential is therefore significant.”

Sea6 Energy is currently trialing its cultivation technology in partnership with a few fishing communities around the coastal areas of South India. Novozymes’ Indian arm will work closely with Sea6 Energy to develop the conversion technology.

OriginOil and Idaho National Lab Partner for Research

OriginOil has a new research agreement with the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to collaborate on establishing industry standards for algal biomass.

Under the terms of the agreement, OriginOil will provide INL with its Single Step Extraction technology and contribute its knowledge of how to stimulate oil production and pre-treat for consistent extraction of the algae and its co-products. In return, OriginOil expects to benefit from INL’s scientific and engineering expertise and its large Process Demonstration Facility which boasts advanced biofuels processing capabilities and equipment. A primary effort will be to integrate algae with terrestrial biomass sources to achieve large-scale biofuels production.

Under this agreement INL will assist OriginOil by conducting evaluations of processes and technologies that may help find solutions to converting algae into energy feedstocks more efficiently by optimizing and standardizing various formats.

“The U.S. Navy alone plans to achieve 50 percent use of alternative fuels in just eight years, a goal of eight million barrels of biofuels per year that must be blended from non-food fuels like algae,” said Riggs Eckelberry, OriginOil’s CEO. “But to blend, we must standardize, using the latest breakthrough technologies.”

Largest Government Purchase of Biofuels Announced

The largest government purchase of biofuels for military application was announced today.

U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack jointly announced that the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) signed a contract to purchase 450,000 gallons of advanced drop-in biofuel.

The biofuel to be purchased is made from a blend of non-food waste (used cooking oil) from the Louisiana-based Dynamic Fuels, LLC, a joint-venture of Tyson Foods, Inc., and Syntroleum Corporation, and algae, produced by Solazyme. The fuel will be used in the U.S. Navy’s demonstration of a Green Strike Group in the summer of 2012 during the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime exercise.

“The Navy has always led the nation in transforming the way we use energy, not because it is popular, but because it makes us better war fighters,” stated Secretary Mabus. “This unprecedented fuel purchase demonstrates the Obama Administration’s commitment to seeking energy security and energy independence by diversifying our energy supply.”

“In March, the President challenged me, Secretary Mabus, and Secretary Steven Chu to work with the private sector to cultivate a competitively-priced—and domestically produced—drop-in biofuel industry that can power not just fighter jets, but also trucks and commercial airliners,” said Secretary Vilsack, “Today’s announcement continues our efforts to meet that challenge. This is not work we can afford to put off for another day.”

The biofuel will be mixed with aviation gas or marine diesel fuel for use in the Green Strike Group demonstration.

Read more from USDA and listen to press conference of the announcement.

U.S. Navy Successfully Runs Ship on Biofuel

The U.S. Navy successfully concluded the largest demonstration of shipboard alternative fuel use last week when the Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS) arrived on November 17 at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme, Calif.

The SDTS is a decommissioned Spruance-class destroyer ex-Paul F. Foster (EDD 964) reconfigured to provide the Navy an at-sea, remotely controlled, engineering test and evaluation platform without the risk to personnel or operational assets.

The ship received approximately 20,000 gallons of a 50-50 blend of an algae-derived, hydro-processed algal oil and petroleum F-76 from the Defense Fuel Supply Point at Naval Base Point Loma on Nov. 16 and then traveled 17 hours to Port Hueneme on the fuel. According to the Navy, 100 percent of ship’s propulsion power and 50 percent of service power came from the algal oil/F-76 fuel blend.

“How can we have an impact?” asked Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment) Jackalyne Pfannenstiel at the demonstration’s kick-off. “We can have an impact as a technology leader, highlighting and demonstrating the viability of biofuels.”

Meeting the secretary of the Navy’s call for a drop-in fuel replacement, no changes were required to the infrastructure of the ship or fueling pier for the SDTS test. “From our perspective as the ship’s operators, there was absolutely no difference, whatsoever, in the operation or performance of the ship,” said Mike Wolfe, Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division underway project officer. “The fuel burned just like the traditional fuel we get from the Navy and have been burning for years. We could not tell the difference. The biggest success is that a Navy ship with engines identical to those in commissioned warships operated successfully on an overnight transit with the alternative fuel without a glitch in anything. Operationally, it was absolutely a success.”

The alternative fuels effort supports the Navy’s overall energy strategy to increase energy security and safeguard the environment.

OriginOil Announces Algae Appliance

During the 4th Algae World Asia conference in Beijing, China, OriginOil announced it’s newest algae extraction technology – Algae Appliance. This entry-level commercial algae harvesting system was designed to help producers process algae at a low cost and without chemicals.

Algae Appliance is set for release in the first half of 2012 and is a continuous flow ‘wet harvest’ system that has the potential to remove up to 90 percent of water volume. Field testing will begin shortly and the companies are looking for additional project partners.

MBD Energy’s Technical Director Larry Sirmans, and an OriginOil Australian partner, said of the technology, “This Algae Appliance should be very beneficial to producers and researchers who are developing the most efficient processes for growing algae at commercial scale.”

Bill Charneski, OriginOil senior director of product engineering added, “We are continuing to scale up our technology at MBD’s pilot site in Australia. Now, everything we have learned is going into a standardized entry-level system to help the worldwide algae industry meet the high demand for sustainable, low-cost algae production.”

The company anticipates that this technology, and ultimately algae production, will help to meet the renewable aviation fuels demand of the commercial airline industry and of the various branches of the U.S. military.

USDA Funds Algae Fuel Project in New Mexico

USDA has issued a loan guarantee that will allow a biofuels firm to construct a facility in New Mexico to produce “green crude” oil from algae which can be refined into transportation fuel.

The loan is going to Sapphire Energy, which intends to design, build and operate a $135 million integrated algal biorefinery (IABR) in Columbus, N.M., for the production of advanced biofuel that is a “drop-in” replacement for petroleum derived diesel and jet fuel. The IABR will be capable of producing 100 barrels of refined algal oil per day, equivalent to at least one million gallons per year. The oil will be shipped to the United States Gulf Coast to be refined by Sapphire’s refinery partner, Dynamic Fuels, located in Geismar, La.

The funding is provided through USDA’s Biorefinery Assistance Program. On December 3, 2009, USDA issued a conditional commitment for an 80 percent guarantee on a $54.5 million loan. The loan closing and issuance of the Loan Note Guarantee for this project took place on October 21, 2011.

First Commercial Flight Made on Advanced Biofuel

The friendly skies of United Airlines are now friendlier for the environment as subsidiary Continental flew the first commercial flight on advanced biofuel yesterday.

“United is taking a significant step forward to advance the use of environmentally responsible and cost-efficient alternative fuels,” said Pete McDonald, United’s executive vice president and chief operations officer. “Sustainable biofuels, produced on a large scale at an economically viable price, can one day play a meaningful role in powering everyone’s trip on an airline.”

A Boeing 737-800 made the historic flight from Houston to Chicago Monday on an algae-derived renewable jet fuel made by Solazyme. The plane was fueled with 40 percent Solajet™ and 60 percent petroleum-derived jet fuel. United also signed a letter of intent with Solazyme to purchase up to 20 million gallons per year of renewable jet fuel starting in 2014.

“Looking at United, a company that understands the sustainability of tomorrow means environmental responsibility today, we see a true pioneer in the future of flight,” said Jonathan Wolfson, Solazyme’s CEO. “Solazyme is deeply committed to commercializing our renewable oil production technology, and we’re excited to be partnering with United on the first U.S. commercial biofuel flight.”

Solajet is made using microbial algae that grow in fermenters by feeding on sugars from plants. According to United, the biofuel meets the ASTM International specification for bio-derived aviation fuels, approved in July 2011 and referred to as “Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids” (HEFA) fuel. “HEFA fuels underwent rigorous testing and review by engine and airframe manufacturers, the U.S. military, the FAA and airlines. Solajet(TM), powering this United flight, met the certification requirements established by the ASTM and approved by the FAA.”

Read more from United.

Senators to Address Algae Biomass Summit

amy klobucharU.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Al Franken (D-MN) will address the 2011 Algae Biomass Summit October 25-27 in Minneapolis, according to the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO).

al frankenSenator Franken will help kickoff the conference on October 25, while Senator Klobuchar will address the conference via a video lunchtime keynote on October 26, focusing on home grown energy and job creation.

“That Senators Klobuchar and Franken both chose to participate in the conference reflects the importance of algae-based fuels and co-products not only for the state of Minnesota, but also the rest of the country,” said Mary Rosenthal, Executive Director of ABO.

Other speakers at the conference include Harrison Dillon, President of Solazyme, Judy Canales, USDA Administrator for Rural Business and Cooperative Programs; and Cynthia “C.J.” Warner, CEO of Sapphire Energy.

The 5th annual Algae Biomass Summit will feature presentations and poster sessions from more than 200 experts from around the world, with exhibits by more than 60 companies and organizations. The event is expected to attract more than 800 participants, with 20 countries already represented among the registrants to date.

Algae Industry Gets Sneak Peak of OriginOil Technology

The biofuel industry was invited to tour OriginOil’s algae technology during the recent Algae World Australia conference. The end-to-end algae production project is located in North Queensland, Australia. Riggs Eckelberry, company CEO, spoke during the conference and joined the visitors touring the facility, which is operated by their partner MBD Energy on the James Cook University campus (JCU) in Townsville.

“We were incredibly impressed with the professionalism that the joint MBD and JCU team showed in putting on this site visit,” said Eckelberry. “Next-generation algae production has been integrated into an end-to-end system for the first time, and we’re proud to be part of this effort.”

The tour also included the Tarong Power Station, near Brisbane, where visited were able to check out a new industrial demonstration site that MBD is building to capture flue-gas CO2 produced by the coal-fired power plant. MBD plans to use the large-scale OriginOil Single Step Extraction systems to harvest algae at the one hectare site.

UOP Breaks Ground on Hawaii Cellulose Plant

UOP, a honeywell company, has broken ground on a biofuels demonstration plant in Hawaii that will convert forest waste, algae and other cellulosic biomass to fuel. The project is being helped along by a $25 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. The project will help meet federal biofuel mandates as well as help Hawaii reach its clean energy goals of producing 70 percent of its energy from “clean” sources by 2030.

The Integrated Biorefinery will be located at the Tesora Corp. refinery in Kapolei. The goal of the plant is to prove out the viability of the technology, test the fuels produced and evaluate the environmental footprint of the fuel. The first phase of production is expected to be begin in 2012 with the plant fully operational by 2014.

“Biomass is abundantly available today, and it is an important opportunity to consider as we seek alternatives that will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and improve our environmental footprint,” said Jim Rekoske, vice president and general manager of Renewable Energy and Chemicals for Honeywell’s UOP.

“Our Integrated Biorefinery will illustrate these benefits as well the potential that biorefineries have to enhance the local economy and provide new green jobs. Our island home is far too dependent on imported fossil fuels, and I am very pleased that this alternative energy initiative has the support of the federal government,” he added.

According to Rekoske, once the technology is proven out, it could produce up to 50 million gallons of drop-in fuels. The Integrated Biorefinery is testing the RTP, rapid thermal processing technology to convert the biomass to biofuels.

Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye said of the project, “Hawaii will play a critical role in helping the domestic biofuel industry thrive and this project will create much needed jobs in Kapolei. I am also pleased that Honeywell’s UOP is partnering with a number of local stakeholders including Hawaii BioEnergy, Group 70, Kai Hawaii, University of Hawaii and Leeward Community College. I will do all I can to ensure that Hawaii continues to serve as the laboratory for renewable energy initiatives in the Pacific.”