Algenol to Aid China in CO2 Reductions

Algenol is partnering with South China’s Fujian Zhongyuan New Energy Company (ZYNE) to solve three major problems: lack of clean air, clean water and the needs for sustainable, low carbon fuels. The two companies will work together on an exploration project where Algenol will take ZYNE’s captured CO2 and covert it to ethanol. Algenol’s technology, Direct to Ethanol, uses the CO2 as the feedstock for algae to produce ethanol, gas, diesel and biojet fuel.


Algenol’s CEO and Founder Paul Woods and Wang Suwei, ZYNE’s Chairman of the Board in Seattle, WA

“We all share one atmosphere. Clean air has no borders,” said Algenol CEO Paul Woods during a ceremony to solidify the partnership. “We are eager to bring our technology to China because we know that our process can remove health-damaging pollution straight from its source and turn it into renewable fuel and clean water.”

According to an Algenol press statement, this partnership unites the economic and environmental benefits of their technologies with ZYNE’s existing expertise in delivering renewable fuels in China. The companies will identify and evaluate the utilization of CO2 emissions from industrial sources such as power plants, steel mills, cement and chemical factories in the Fujian province, and other parts of Southern China. Once the CO2 sources are identified, the process will begin to incorporate Algenol’s technology solution of carbon capture and utilization and renewable fuel production. An added benefit of Algenol’s technology is the primary by-product of clean water, which is valuable to many communities in Southern China.

U of W Research Converts Poplar Trees to Biofuels

New research from the University of Washington is laying the foundation to use woody biomass from poplar trees into sustainably produced biofuels and biochemicals. A five-year $40 million dollar study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is in its last year and results will seed a wood-based cellulosic ethanol production facility.

Poplar materials, including bark, leaves and wood, are used to make cellulosic ethanol.Dennis Wise/University of Washington

Poplar materials, including bark, leaves and wood, are used to make cellulosic ethanol.Dennis Wise/University of Washington

ZeaChem, one of the industry partners in the study, is moving ahead with plans to build a commercial production facility in Boardman, Oregon, in 2016 that will produce cellulosic ethanol and biochemicals from poplar trees grown specially for those industries.

“We’ve established that poplar is a viable and sustainable feedstock for the production of fuels and bio-based chemicals,” said Rick Gustafson, a UW professor of bioresource science and engineering, who leads the project. “We’ve provided fundamental information that our industry partners can use to convince investors that production of fuels and chemicals from poplar feedstock is a great investment.”

The research team is known as the Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest and they have set up five demonstration tree farms with different varieties of poplar. None of the trees is genetically engineered, but instead researchers bred them to thrive in different environments and to grow fast. The trees can gain up to 20 feet a year, allowing for a harvest every two or three years.

When a poplar tree is cut, its stump naturally sprouts new shoots and the next generation of trees grow out of the parent stumps. Each tree can go through about six cycles of this regrowth before new poplars must be planted, explained Gustafson. Continue reading

Green Flights for Tokyo Olympics Athletes, Fans

The athletes and fans who are traveling to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games in Tokyo will be flying a bit greener as Boeing and Japanese aviation industry stakeholders have charted a path to develop and fly with aviation biofuels. A group of 46 organizations have formed The Initiatives for Next Generation Aviation Fuels that along with Boeing includes ANA (All Nippon Airways), Japan Airlines, Nippon Cargo Airlines as well as Japan’s government and the University of Tokyo and others.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), aviation biofuels can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50-80 percent compared to current fuel options.

tokyo olympics logo“Boeing is proud to work with Japan’s aviation sector, including customers and the Japanese government, to achieve their ambitious goals for developing sustainable aviation biofuel,” said George Maffeo, president, Boeing Japan. “Building on our longstanding relationships in Japan, we are committed to help reduce aviation’s carbon emissions and its reliance on fossil fuel.”

INAF said the Olympics and Paralympics are “the perfect opportunity” for Japan and its airlines to showcase their environmental commitment.

“Developing and using sustainable aviation biofuel is an excellent way for Japan to show its commitment to the environment and technologies that can reduce aviation’s environmental impact,” said Shinji Suzuki, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics,University of Tokyo. “And, as the new aviation biofuel ‘roadmap’ indicates, Japan is ready to accelerate development and use of sustainable aviation fuels by the 2020 Olympics.”

Among the report’s conclusions:

  • Industry, government and academia in Japan need to collaborate to promote the introduction of sustainable aviation biofuel to support Japan’s energy security and reduce aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Potential feedstocks, or biologically based sources, that could be used to produce sustainable aviation biofuel in Japan include municipal solid waste, plant oils and animal fats, used cooking oil, algae, cellulosic biomass and residues from the wood products industry.
  • Policy incentives promoting the introduction of next-generation aviation fuels are a prerequisite to success in aviation biofuel use.

The INAF report is available here.

DOE Invest $18M in Algae

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $18 million to six projects aimed at reducing the costs of algae-based biofuels to less than $5.00 per gallon equivalent by 2019.

The funds are being used to help meet the DOE’s goal of $3 per gallon for advanced algal biofuels by 2030. These biofuels can be used as replacements for petroleum-based diesel and jet fuels as well as products derived from algae can be used as petroleum replacements for products such as chemicals, beauty products, plastics and more. In the near future, algae-based technologies can achieve higher yields of oils. However,  to achieve the goals set forth by the DOE, barriers that still remain in place such as efficient cultivation, harvesting and conversion to bioproducts must be deconstructed.

The projects selected include:

  • Producing Algae and Co-Products for Energy (PACE), Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO – Colorado School of Mines, in collaboration with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Reliance Industries Ltd., and others, will receive up to $9 million to enhance overall algal biofuels sustainability by maximizing carbon dioxide, nutrient, and water recovery and recycling, as well as bio-power co-generation.
  • Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium (MAGIC), Duke University, Durham, NC – Duke University will receive up to $5.2 million to lead a consortium including University of Hawaii, Cornell University, Cellana and others to produce protein-based human and poultry nutritional products along with hydrotreated algal oil extract.
  • Global Algae Innovations, Inc., El Cajon, CA – Global Algae Innovations will receive up to $1 million to increase algal biomass yield by deploying an innovative system to absorb carbon dioxide from the flue gas of a nearby power plant.
  • Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ – Arizona State University will receive up to $1 million for atmospheric carbon dioxide capture, enrichment, and delivery to increase biomass productivity.
  • University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA – The University of California, San Diego will receive up to $760,000 to develop an automated  early detection system that can identify and characterize infestation or infection of an algae production pond in order to ensure crop health.
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will receive up to $1 million to protect algal crops by developing “probiotic” bacteria to combat pond infestation and increase ecosystem functioning and resilience.

Gevo’s Biojet Fuel Catches Air

Gevo’s technology to convert wood waste to biojet fuel has achieved a breakthrough in its fermentation technology and will soon “catch air” as its soars in the sky in test flights. The wood waste is first converted to isobuanol and then converted into alcohol-to-jet fuel.

Gevo has an operational plant in Luverne, Minnesota that has flexible feedstock technology allowing the plant to produce isobutanol from multiple feedstocks. In the past the primary feedstock has been corn and the resulting fuel has been tested by airlines and the U.S. military in their planes. This new process uses forest residues. Removing waste helps to prevent forest fires.

tree copy

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

According to the company, they have adapted their patented Gevo Integrated Fermentation Technology(R) (GIFT(R)) to convert the cellulosic sugars from wood into renewable isobutanol. They then use their patented hydrocarbon technology to convert the cellulosic isobutanol into alcohol-to-jet-synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK) fuel.

“There are significant economic and environmental benefits of renewable jet fuel, which makes it a great market for Gevo. This announcement demonstrates the flexibility of our technology and reinforces our technology leadership,” said Dr. Pat Gruber, Chief Executive Officer of Gevo, Inc. “The next two milestones for renewable jet fuel are the approval by ASTM and the scheduled commercial test flights. Our team is actively engaged in both of these activities.”

Gevo’s cellulosic isobutanol production will be conducted at a demonstration facility in St. Joseph, MO, that the company jointly operates with ICM Inc. The ATJ-SPK will be produced in Silsbee, Texas, at the demonstration facility the company operates with South Hampton Resources.

The company is a member of the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) and is providing the organization with technology to enable the commercial scale processing of cellulosic sugars from wood waste into valuable products. The cellulosic jet fuel made using Gevo’s technologies will be used in a 1,000-gallon renewable fuel demonstration test flight that NARA announced yesterday in conjunction with Alaska Airlines. Gevo’s isobutanol and ATJ-SPK technologies are both planned to be licensed by NARA as part of this project.

Ralph Cavalieri, director of NARA, added, “We’re encouraged by Gevo’s work with the NARA team in converting Pacific Northwest forest residual biomass into jet fuel, and look forward to working with them on this test flight and in the next phases of the commercialization of this technology.”

Alaska Airlines Commits to Renewable Fuel

Alaska Airlines has teamed up with Washington State University’s Northwest Advanced Renewable Alliance (NARA) to advance development on renewable jet fuel made from forest residues. As a result of the collaboration, Alaska Airlines plans on taking the aviation biofuels to the sky during a demonstration flight next year.

NARA is focusing on developing alternative jet fuel derived from post-harvest forest residuals, which are often burned after the timber harvest. By using these waste materials as the feedstock of a biojet fuel supply chain, NARA and its aviation industry partners, are looking to reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions as well as bolster sustainable economic-development potential in timber-based rural communities located throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Photo Credit: Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance

Photo Credit: Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance

“Alaska Airlines is thrilled to partner with NARA to help further promote sustainable aviation biofuels,” said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines senior vice president of external relations. “Sustainable biofuels are a key to aviation’s future and critical in helping the industry and Alaska Airlines reduce its carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels.”

NARA is a five-year project supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and is comprised of 22 member organizations from industry, academia and government laboratories.

“Developing alternative jet fuel made from forest residuals represents a significant economic challenge with considerable sustainability benefits,” added Michael Wolcott, NARA co-director. “While the price of oil fluctuates, the carbon footprint of fossil fuels remains constant. NARA efforts to engage stakeholders from forest managers to potential fuel users like Alaska Airlines to lay the foundations for a bio-based, renewable fuel economy is exciting work that we believe will benefit society in the years ahead.”

Process to Make Renewable Fuel for Under $1/Gallon

duckweedusaA new process looks to make renewable fuel out of algae, waste water and even vegetable for under $1 per gallon. Duckweed USA says its new thermodynamically reversible process can make clean jet fuel, diesel fuel or gasoline from the less common feedstocks.

Using the patented Linear Venturi Kinetic Nozzle changes the aquatic-mass-to-energy process to one that requires no high-heat processes nor chemicals. 90% of the energy used in production is recoverable and feedstock is self-replenishing. With 3 variables in production cost nearly eliminated, the ideas of energy independence and financial self-sufficiency are now viable options at any level. For investors, no plummet in oil prices can spoil profitability projections when production is under $40 per barrel. Domestically and globally, this breakthrough opens doors to new opportunities of growth never before seen.

For stakeholders at any level, the bottom line is, as Michael Rigolizzo states, “Our system turns energy liabilities into assets. Every school bus that needs gasoline to every jet that needs fuel is a point of profit for synfuel-producing communities instead of a cost.” Duckweed believes its patented process could revolutionize the President’s action plan, the combination of energy types needed and especially the costs to be incurred by taxpayers. “By the time the 5-year initial phase of the action plan would be completed, the Duckweed process could be established – and turning profits – in every community along the Keystone Pipeline,” says Rigolizzo.

Duckweed says it already has interest from groups, such as Sparta, Georgia, Rutgers University and countries from Europe to Africa.

Vertimass Secures $2M BioJet Fuel Grant

Vertimass is in negotiations with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to receive a $2 million grant to aid them in commercilizing the conversion of their “green” catalyst technology that converts ethanol into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel blend stocks. The resultant fuel is compatible with current transportation fuVertimassel infrastructure.

The company has a world-wide exclusive license for the technology from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Vertimass hopes to expand the ethanol market and believes that its fuel will be certified under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). According to the company, benefits of their technology include:

  • A single step conversion of ethanol into a hydrocarbon blend stock without the addition of hydrogen.
  • The ability to process between 5 percent and 100 percent of ethanol concentrations.
  • Production of minimal amounts of light gases.
  • Operation at relatively low temperature and atmospheric pressure.
  • The ability to shift product distributions in response to changing market demands. The technology, which dilutes ethanol streams, will result in higher yields to gasoline, jet fuel and diesel products and is expected to prolong the life of vehicles.

“This green catalyst technology can be rapidly added to an existing ethanol plant with low capital and operating costs while providing fuel flexibility and essentially replacing dehydration operations,” said Charles Wyman, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Vertimass. “With the ability to add operations to existing plants at a rapid pace and low cost, the new product will help meet the goals of Renewable Standard Fuel production and also help the Federal Aviation Administration achieve their target of 1 billion gallons of renewable aviation fuel by 2018.”

The new Vertimass technology has an estimated yearly production potential of 140 billion gallons. The technology would also expand opportunities to use more ethanol from corn in the U.S., sugarcane in Brazil and cellulosic biomass worldwide.

Boeing, COMAC to Open Biojet Demo Facility

Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) have opened a demonstration facility that will produce aviation © Pascalinaclaudiu | - Collection Of Used Vegetable Oil In Italy Photobiofuels from used cooking oil or “gutter oil” as it is called in China. The companies estimate gutter oil could produce 500 million gallons (1.8 billion liters) of aviation biofuels each year.

“Strong and continuing teamwork between Boeing and COMAC is helping our industry make progress on environmental challenges that no single company or country can solve alone,” said Ian Thomas, President, Boeing China. “By working together for mutual benefit, we’re finding innovative ways to support China’s aviation industry and build a sustainable future.”

Boeing and COMAC are sponsoring the China-U.S. Aviation Biofuel Pilot Project. It will use a technology developed by Hangzhou Energy & Engineering Technology Co., Ltd. (HEET) to clean contaminants from waste oils and convert it into jet fuel at a rate of 160 gallons (650 liters) per day. The project’s goal is to assess the technical feasibility and cost of producing higher volumes of biofuel.

“We are very happy to see the progress that has been made in the collaboration between Boeing and COMAC, especially the achievement in aviation biofuel technology,” said Dr. Guangqiu Wang, Vice President of COMAC’s Beijing Aeronautical Science & Technology Research Institute. “We will continue to work with Boeing in energy conservation and emissions reduction areas to promote the sustainable development of the aviation industry.”

The Boeing Current Market Outlook forecasts that China will require more than 6,000 new airplanes by 2033 to meet fast-growing passenger demand for domestic and international air travel. Boeing and COMAC have been collaborating since 2012 through their Boeing-COMAC Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions Technology Center. The biojet fuel produced by the project will meet international specifications approved in 2011 for jet fuel made from plant oils and animal fats. This type of biofuel has already been used for more than 1,600 commercial flights.

Southwest Airlines Inks Deal with Red Rock Biofuels

Southwest Airlines is partnering with Red Rock Biofuels (RBB), who recently received U.S. Department of Energy funding to produce aviation biofuels for the military, to purchase renewable jet fuel (biojet) produced from forest residues. The airline’s agreement with RRB covers the purchase of approximately three million gallons per year. The blended product will be used at Southwest’s Bay Area operations with first delivery expected in 2016.

“Our commitment to sustainability and efficient operations led us on a search for a viable biofuel that uses a sustainable feedstock with a high rate of success,” said Bill Tiffany, vice president of Supply Chain at Southwest Airlines HeartSouthwest Airlines. “Red Rock Biofuel’s technology, economics, and approved use made entering into an agreement for purchase a win-win situation.”

RRB’s first plant will convert approximately 140,000 dry tons of woody biomass feedstock into at least 12 million gallons per year of renewable jet, diesel, and naphtha fuels. It is hoped that the forest residues will help to reduce forest fires in states that are struggling with drought and dry conditions.

RRB’s CEO, Terry Kulesa added, “From the outset, we have sought to build the best possible team of project partners. A conversation we started with Southwest on the premise of providing renewable jet fuel at cost parity with conventional jet fuel has evolved into a great partnership. We’re happy to help Southwest diversify its fuel supply.”

Southwest is a long-time member of Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) which is a government and industry coalition for the development and deployment of alternative jet fuel for commercial aviation. As a member of CAAFI, the airline has followed the progress of alternative fuel technologies. Red Rock Biofuels is the first viable opportunity the airline has found to meet its financial and sustainability objectives.