Texas A&M Developing Biofuel, Forage Crop

jessupamResearchers at Texas A&M University are developing a crop that will double as a bioenergy and livestock forage source. This news release from the school says Dr. Russ Jessup, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research perennial grass breeder in College Station, is introducing a new biofuel-biomass feedstock hybrid that is a hybrid “similar to seedless watermelons, seedless grapes and other sterile triploid crops.”

Jessup is utilizing two grass species: pearl millet, a grain crop, and Napier grass, which is a very high-biomass crop that can be crossed to make progeny that are sterile triploids in the field.

“This is a dual-use crop with a low seed cost, high yield potential and quality perennial biomass suitable for both forage and dedicated biofuels,” he said. “So in light of current downtrends in oil prices, this crop can stand on its own as a forage crop in the interim, until that reverses.”

As a high-quality forage crop, Jessup said, it is sterile in the field but has seeded parents, unlike sugarcane that has to be planted from stocks.

To produce this hybrid he started with the larger seeded but shorter pearl millet to give it quality, large seeds and drought tolerance. Pearl millet is native to Africa and can be more drought tolerant than even sorghum, he said.

Then he crossed it with Napier grass, a closely related cousin of pearl millet that is grown in Africa for cut-and-carry silage and high biomass fodder.

“You can cross these two species and get ample seed off of the pearl millet parent,” Jessup said.

New Holland Hero Growing for Energy

This year during the Expo Milano New Holland announced its “heros” as part of its “Seeds of Life Series“. One such hero was Brazilian Victor Campenelli, who grows 37,000 acres of corn and sugarcane and also has a cattle operation in Southern Brazil. Looking in to the future, Victor is looking forward to building a power plant utilizing cane straw.

brazil-victorHe works as part of his family business dating back to 1982. Since 2002 their main crops are sugarcane, cattle and corn. He was proud to be a winner because he feels that it helps farmers in his country gain more respect for the work they do to feed, fuel and power the country.

Victor also noted that one thing Brazil hasn’t really capitalized is producing power from biomass. They have completed a project where the plant is able to produce 30 MW per hour and about 240,000 MW per year just using cane straw, a material he said is like trash, its just left behind on the field. He added that it’s good for the land because they only take a portion of the biomass from the field and the remaining cane straw puts organic matter back in the soil and protects from erosion.

There are plans to develop additional power plants using cane straw.

Listen to Cindy interview with Victor Campenelli here: New Holland Hero Victor Campanelli from Brazil

2015 New Holland Heroes & Bloggers Days

What Do You Think About the Brazilian Bioeconomy?

Leading up to World Bio Markets Brasil, taking place November 30-December 1, 2015 in Sao Paulo, GreenPower Conferences asked over 100 people their thoughts on the Brasilian bioeconomy and the factors influencing it, including: What the biggest change in the last 12 months has been; the biggest threat to the industry; and the most important factor over the next year. And the survey said…Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 10.42.48 AM

Click here to see the full infographic.

PHG Energy to Build Waste-to-Energy Plant in TN

PHG Energy (PHGE) will be constructing a new biomass gasification plant that will convert more than 30 tons of composted material per day into thermal energy and biochar. Sevier Sold Waste (SSWI), located in Pigeon Forge, TN, contracted the PHG Energy. SSWI operates a garbage composting plant that processes more than 10,0000 tons per year from the Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. All the municipal solid waste (MSW) is processed through the plant, with 60% of it being made into compost. The carbon footprint of the facility will be reduced by over 450 tons of CO2 emissions each year, according to EPA calculators.

PHG Energy's Large Frame Gasification Unit (PRNewsFoto/PHG Energy)

PHG Energy’s Large Frame Gasification Unit (PRNewsFoto/PHG Energy)

“This new installation will help us reduce the amount of compost we need to transport by converting it into a biochar material, creating a new revenue stream for us,” said Tom Leonard, director of SSWI. “The energy from the gasification system will be used in a thermal oxidizer promoting odor control in the buildings and will allow us to defer other upgrades. This represents a significant savings from our current disposal and operating costs.”

PHGE’s gasification plants employ a thermo-chemical process that cleanly converts biomass to a combustible fuel gas. Around 90% of the biomass that is gasified in the PHGE system becomes fuel gas, and the only remaining residue is the charcoal-like biochar, that in SSWI’s case will be sold to a local industrial user as a renewable source of fuel to displace coal consumption.

The cost of the Pigeon Forge facility is $2.25 million. The project has been awarded a $250,000 Clean Energy Tennessee Grant through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). The project will showcase PHGE’s second installation of its Large Frame gasifier, believed to be the world’s largest downdraft unit and capable of more than 60 tons per day throughput.

“This project is important to us for several reasons,” noted PHGE President Tom Stanzione. “This is our second municipal project to receive approval this year and demonstrates the growing confidence in our technology. We have a strong research and development commitment to converting MSW to energy and reducing landfill usage, and this is another significant step in that process. It is also very important to us that we have been able to prove the commercial value of our biochar as a commodity, and that it has become a positive factor in the economic equation of our systems.”

USDA Offers Incentives for Biomass for Energy

usda-logoEnrollment is underway for farmers and forest landowners to get financial assistance for growing new sources of biomass for energy or biobased products. This U.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA) news release says the money comes from the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).

Biomass energy facilities or groups of producers may submit proposals for new BCAP project areas. Proposals will be accepted on www.grants.gov through Nov. 6, 2015. USDA will also allocate $7.7 million towards four existing BCAP project areas in New York, North Carolina, Ohio/Pennsylvania and Kansas/Oklahoma, targeting the establishment of an additional 10,500 acres of shrub willow, giant miscanthus, and switchgrass for energy. Project area sponsors include Chemtex International, Aloterra Energy LLC, Abengoa Biomass LLC and ReEnergy Holdings LLC. Farmers and forest landowners may enroll for biomass establishment and maintenance payments for these four sites through Sept. 25, 2015.

In June, USDA began accepting applications from foresters and farmers seeking financial assistance for removing biomass residues from fields or national forests for delivery to energy generation facilities; the deadline for those applications is Sept. 4, 2015. The retrieval payments are provided at a cost-share match of $1 for $1 up to $20 per dry ton with eligible crops including corn residue, diseased or insect infested wood materials, or orchard waste. The energy facility must first be approved by USDA to accept the biomass crop, and deliveries to the facilities can continue until Dec. 11, 2015.

So far, BCAP has provided incentives for producers across more than 48,000 acres in 71 counties and 11 different project areas.

College Works on Bio-Inspired Fuel Cell

Koylu-UmitResearchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology are working on developing fuel cells made from natural, biological sources. This article from the school says Dr. Umit Koylu, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has received a six-month $50,000 Innovation Corps Teams (I Corps) Program grant from the National Science Foundation to accelerate tech-transfer and explore commercialization of a biology-inspired polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell.

“Nature perfected its natural delivery system,” Koylu says, glancing out his window. “Our team of researchers came up with an engineering version of it.”

The technology was developed during four years of research led by Dr. Ming Leu, the Keith and Pat Bailey Missouri Distinguished Professor of Integrated Product Manufacturing and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri S&T.

Koylu currently works with Dr. John W. Sheffield, visiting associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, who is professor emeritus of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri S&T; and post-doctoral Missouri S&T researcher Dr. Warren Vaz.

To get useable energy out of fuel cells, they have to be stacked together, which takes up a lot of space to produce minimal results. However, the bio-inspired fuel cells are expected to increase peak power density by up to 30 percent over conventional fuel cells, Koylu says. That means bio-inspired cells would take up less space than current models, or more could be stacked in the same amount of space, increasing power.

The research is set to end in December.

Need Biomass? There’s an App for That

Genera Energy has developed a biomass app to use as a crop planning and learning tool for biomass farmers and landowners. The Biomass app has multiple features including a biomass crop library complete with detailed information, photos and range maps for the most utilized biomass crops in the U.S., along with the ability to overlap crop ranges in a live, interactive map function.

Genera-Logo-150x75“We are very pleased with the Biomass app’s features,” said Sam Jackson, vice president of business development for Genera Energy, Inc. “The information that the app is built on is the result of years of research and development in the biofuels management industry.”

According to the company, another key function, is a multi-function biomass calculator that helps the user determine how much biomass they’ll need for their specific situation, including conversion technology, conversion rate, and location. The results can then be emailed to the user. People wishing to convert biomass to biofuels, biochemical, bioproducts, or biopower, the app will provide realistic projections and crop suggestions based on actual, in-the-field studies and crop outcomes.

Jackson added, “Probably the most important aspect in developing the app was working directly with biomass producers, project developers, and policy makers across the different aspects of the industry. This helped us to develop an app specifically targeted to what users actually needed and wanted.”

The free version of the app is available for both Apple- and Android-based devices. Visit the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store from your phone to download.

Williamsburg Students Win BioenergizeME Challenge

BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge winning team from Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design. From left to right: Nicholas Shannon, Najee Neil, Xavier Abreu Negron, Alfredo Sanchez III and Victor Perry. Photo credit: Joanna Schroeder

BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge winning team from Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design. From left to right: Nicholas Shannon, Najee Neil, Xavier Abreu Negron, Alfredo Sanchez III and Victor Perry. Photo credit: Joanna Schroeder

The future looks bright for the bioenergy industry as the next generation is already showing great enthusiasm and talent for sustainable fuels and products. This past spring, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) kicked off a pilot program for high school aged teams (grades 9-12) to use technology and their creative mojo to design bioenergy-based infographics. The BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge theme was “Exploring the Future of American Energy Landscape,” and the winner was announced during the BioEnergy 2015 Conference to great applause.

The wBioEnergizeME infographic challenge winnerinning team was a group of 14 year old freshman students from Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design located Brooklyn, New York: Nicholas Shannon, Najee Neil, Xavier Abreu Negron, Alfredo Sanchez III and Victor Perry. There were 76 teams that submitted entries and 50 teams shared their infographics through social media channels including Facebook and Twitter garnering more than 12,000 page views. Infographics from all competitors can be viewed on the BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge Map.

Teams were given four topic areas to choose from: Bioenergy History, Workforce and Education, Science and Technology and Environmental Impacts. Once a team selected their topic area, they conducted research and then developed an infographic that visually explained a specific area within a topic such as cellulosic energy or how algae is used to produce biofuels. With the success of the program, the BioenergizeME Infographic Challenge will be rolled out nationwide next spring.

View the 2015 BioEnergy 2015 photo album. 

Schroeder to Participate in Bioenergy 2015

bio2015Domestic Fuel’s own Joanna Schroeder will be part of next week’s U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO) eighth annual conference “Bioenergy 2015: Opportunities in a Changing Energy Landscape.” She’ll be in Washington, D.C., moderating the session titled, “Reaching Your Stakeholders: Effectively Engaging and Educating Key Audiences,” on the second day of the June 23-24 conference.

This session focuses on demonstrated communication strategies and tactics to engage and educate key audiences—such as the general public, communities, policy makers, and investors—on bioenergy. Panelists, through a facilitated discussion, will provide attendees with unique insights, success stories, and best practices and lessons learned that improved public perception of bioenergy at local, regional, and national levels.

About 600 participants are expected to attend the conference, including key stakeholders from the bioenergy industry, Congress, national laboratories, academia, and the financial community. Some of the other issues they’ll discuss include:

– Impact of changing oil prices
– Vehicle/fuels co-optimization
– Future of the Renewable Fuel Standard
– Environmental benefits of biofuels
– Innovative technologies and emerging pathways
– U.S. manufacturing in a global marketplace.

Check out the full agenda here.

Novozymes Part of Global Bioenergy Initiative

sustainableA new UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative was announced this week with the goal of “doubling the global use of renewable energy and ensuring universal energy access by 2030.”

Co-chaired by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the initiative includes Novozymes, a global technology provider for the biofuels industry, as a partner in the project to scale up the development and deployment of sustainable bioenergy solutions.

novozymes“With this initiative, we help bring together a diverse range of global frontrunners to advance the development and use of sustainable bioenergy in countries where the environmental and socio-economic benefits are greatest,” said Thomas Videbæk, Executive Vice President for Business Development with Novozymes. “It is a unique chance to involve governments, industry, financial institutions, academia, and civil society to identify opportunities where action on sustainable bioenergy can be accelerated.”

Accounting for nearly half of the global enzyme market, Novozymes has been a major player in the commercial development of cellulosic ethanol. “We produce the enzymes that help break down starch and make sugar available for first generation ethanol and we are working on a number of projects to help breakdown cellulosic material,” said Videbæk in an interview today with DomesticFuel.

Videbæk says next generation biofuels are considered “sustainable bioenergy” under the initiative’s High Impact Opportunity (HIO) goals. “I look at the biofuel area, be it first or second generation, as very sustainable forms of energy,” said Videbæk. “We certainly hope to see that continues going forward.”

Which is one of the reasons Novozymes wanted to be part of this initiative that they hope will help get some regulatory clarity regarding sustainable bioenergy around the world, including the United States. “And we can get politicians to commit to mandates and targets for this type of energy, because we believe that is for the best of the planet’s future,” Videbæk said.

In this interview, Videbæk explains much more about the new initiative and Novozymes’ role in it. Interview with Thomas Videbæk, Novozymes