Alliance BioEnergy Converts Coastal Hay to Sugar

Ek Laboratories, located in Longwood, Florida, has achieved a 63 percent conversion of Coastal Hay, at commercial scale, into fermentable sugars in less than 30 minutes. The Alliance BioEnergy Plus subsidiary used it licensed and patented mechanical/chemical CTS (Cellulose to Sugar) process.

Coastal HayAccording to Ek Laboratories, unlike most cellulose to sugar technologies, their CTS process does not use liquid acids, applied heat or pressure, enzymes, super critical waters, expensive precious metal lined with equipment or any hazardous materials. The company also says that also unlike other CTS processes, their technology can covert virtually any cellulose material into fermentable sugars in one step in just minutes.

As such, says Ek Laboratories, for the first time, biofuel producers will be able profitably produce cellulosic ethanol, diesel and other biofuels without subsidies.

“We have completely redesigned and custom manufactured the mill and went from 1g in the lab to a mill capable of processing 2,500kg (2.5mt) a day, in a single leap, while seeing the efficiency and conversion rates increase and energy consumption decrease,” explains Dr. Peter Cohen, Director of Analytics at Ek Labs. Unlike traditional chemical processes or industrial scaling, this is a mechanical process where the chemistry happens thousands of times at a micro scale by a kinetic process therefore aided by size and increased impact pressure.

Cohen noted that they should see 70 to 80 percent conversion rates by the time they are finished with the first commercial plant for sub-license RRDA in early 2016. The plant is in construction in Georgia and will convert 1,000mt a day of yellow pine waste and Vidalia onion waste. He added that existing plants can easily be converted to the CTS process.

Aemetis Harvests Record Sorghum Crop in Cali

Aemetis has announced the harvest of sorghum grown in Central California that grew between 12-15 feet tall. The 20 acre demonstration crop was grown using proprietary Nexsteppe seed genetics and harvested in 90 days by Aemetis. The water supply for the sorghum was lower quality pump water containing salts that typically damage crops in western San Joaquin Valley, an area with little water allocation for ag crops. The sorghum will be used to produce advance biofuels.

Aemetis California biomass plant“Nexsteppe’s sorghum is uniquely capable of growing a large amount of biomass in a short period of time using land that lacks quality water and where other plants may not grow,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis. “Biomass sorghum can be converted to cellulosic ethanol or a variety of other renewable fuels through various available technologies. Aemetis has already processed about 80 million pounds of grain sorghum at its Keyes biorefinery, producing lower-carbon fuel ethanol.”

The company is also a participant of the California In-State Sorghum program (CISS) through a $3 million grant awarded by the California Energy Commission. The CISS program combines research and market development to support the in-state growth of grain sorghum as a reliable low-carbon feedstock for California’s ethanol producers. The CISS program has just completed the first harvest of grain sorghum at the CSU Fresno International Center for Water Technology.

Aemetis’ 60 million gallon per year ethanol plant in California converts sugars to biofuels. The company has a multi-year strategy to transition its biofuel production from traditional starch-based feedstocks to renewable biomass feedstocks that can produce low-carbon, advanced biofuels. The transition is expected to evolve from corn to grain sorghum and ultimately to biomass sorghum and agricultural wastes available in California.

Anna Rath, CEO of NexSteppe, added, “Growing high-yield biomass sorghum in California is a milestone in the production of low-carbon feedstocks for biofuels. NexSteppe is focused on designing industrial sorghum feedstock solutions to support the growing biobased economy.”

UPM BioVerno Diesel Reduces Tailpipe Emissions

Studies have found that wood-based UPM BioVerno significantly reduces harmful tailpipe emissions. Several engine and vehicle tests were conducted by a number of research institutes including VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, University of Vaasa in Finland and at FEV, an internationally recognized vehicle engineering company based in Germany.

UPM BiofuelsThe Finnish company’s renewable diesel functions just like conventional diesel in all diesel engines yet it generates up to 80 percent less greenhouse gas emissions during its lifecycle compared to conventional fossil diesel fuels, as found by the research.

According to the study, the renewable diesel also reduces harmful tailpipe emissions including particle mass, hydrocarbon, carbon dioxide, nitrogeous oxide and carbon monoxide emissions, but the percentage of reduction varied based on vehicle technology and blend. However, all tests demonstrated similar or improved efficiency of the engine, without compromising the engine power, when UPM BioVerno was introduced to the fuel blend. In addition, it was found that by using 100 percent UPM BioVerno diesel fuel consumption decreased.

FEV Germany carried out a series of tests on UPM BioVerno’s effect on engine functionality and emissions with both a diesel blend containing 30 percent UPM BioVerno and 100 percent UPM BioVerno diesel. In addition to measuring engine output and fuel consumption, the tests focused on tailpipe emissions and the performance of UPM BioVerno compared with conventional diesel.

“UPM BioVerno renewable diesel was investigated in a screening campaign at FEV Germany. The results showed that even as a 30% blending component, the accumulated HC emissions were reduced by more than 50% and the CO emissions by more than 40% compared to reference fossil diesel. Our tests also showed good results in NOx emissions and efficiency,” said Dr. Ing Thorsten Schnorbus, manager passenger car diesel, FEV.

UPM BioVerno was also tested in University of Vaasa, Finland using a heavy duty engine. These experiments were performed in the Technobothnia Education and Research Centre in Vaasa.

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

Biofuels Capacity to Grow to 61B Gallons by 2018

According to new research, global biofuels capacity will grow to 61 billion gallons per year (BGY0 by 2018. Ethanol and biodiesel will continue to dominate with 96 percent of the capacity in 2018, but novel fuels and novel feedstocks will be major drivers of capacity growth, according to Lux Research.

The study finds that novel fuels and novel feedstocks will grow at a rate of 27 percent and 16 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), respectively, through 2018. Ethanol and biodiesel will grow at a slower 2 percent rate but will reach capacities of 40 BGY and 19 BGY, respectively.

Biofuels growth from Lux research“While ethanol and biodiesel dominate global biofuel capacity today, limits on their growth mean that novel fuels like renewable diesel, biojet fuel and biocrude are crucial to the future of the industry,” said Victor Oh, Lux Research Associate and lead author of the report titled, “Biofuels Outlook 2018: Highlighting Emerging Producers and Next-generation Biofuels.”

“Producers also need to tap into novel feedstocks like waste oils, non-edible biomass, and municipal solid waste to push the industry beyond food-vs.-fuels competition,” he added.

Lux Research analysts studied growth of biofuels utilizing an alternative fuels database of over 1,800 production facilities globally. Among their findings:

  • Waste oils will dominate next-generation biofuels. With a 52% share, biodiesel made from novel feedstock, specifically waste oils, will lead novel fuels capacity in 2018. Cellulosic ethanol and renewable diesel follow with 19% and 18%, respectively.
  • Americas continue dominance. With a 64% share of global biofuels capacity, the Americas are a dominant force. The region, led by the U.S. and Brazil, also leads in utilization of global production capacity with 86%, much higher than the global average of 68% in 2014.
  • Eight countries are biggest emerging producers. China, Indonesia and Thailand in Asia; Colombia and Argentina in the Americas; and Portugal, Poland and France in Europe are the biggest emerging production centers for biofuels after the U.S. and Brazil.

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.

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.

Two Wood-Burning Plants Being Built in Georgia

GeorgiaFlag1An Alabama company is building two wood-burning electricity plants in Georgia. This article from the Athens (GA) Banner-Herald says state environmental officials have approved one of the two applications for the GreenFuels Holding Company’s plants expected to produce a total of nearly 140 megawatts of electricity.

The company filed its application for a 58 megawatt plant near Colbert about two weeks ago. State officials won’t begin to evaluate it for another couple of weeks, until a 30-day window has passed when the public can make formal comments, said Eric Cornwell, the Air Quality Branch’s program manager for stationary source permitting.

GreenFuels has a policy to not comment publicly to media, said GreenFuels vice president Steven Ingle.

But much of what the company has planned is outlined in documents on file with the state detailing their predicted emissions of pollutants, including sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrochloric acid.

GE Provides Biomass Gasification for Project

GEPowerWaterGE is providing an integrated biomass gasification solution to power a bioenergy plant in California. This news release from the company says it struck the deal with Western Energy Systems and San Francisco-based Phoenix Energy to provide this for the North Fork project, the next in a series of bioenergy plants that Phoenix Energy is building in the state.

GE’s integrated biomass gasification solution includes an Ecomagination qualified, 1-megawatt engine and biomass gasification system. Phoenix Energy and GE have collaborated to design and implement this solution statewide.

For the North Fork project, Phoenix Energy will use the GE gasification solution to convert excess forest biomass to electricity, heat and biochar, supporting the state and federal efforts to reduce wildfire risk, eliminate wasteful pile and burn management practices and improve carbon sequestration. The renewable biomass is procured locally from U.S. Forest Service and CalFire managed lands. With GE’s process, the carbon in the biomass is left mostly in solid form as biochar. This biochar is then put back into California agriculture to improve soil health and water retention and can also be used as carbon filter media. GE will provide an integrated biomass solution including the gasifier, gas conditioning system and engine.

“GE is the first company to offer us a single end-to-end solution on the complete biomass system, rather than piecing it all together from multiple vendors. This is game changing for the forested communities,” said Phoenix Energy CEO Greg Stangl. “By working together, GE has given us the confidence that this is the right solution to use throughout California to produce sustainable local energy from local biomass, creating local jobs.”

The North Fork project received a $4.9 million California Energy Commission grant as part of a larger plan to support further deployment of bioenergy in the state.

Algae Biomass Summit to Highlight Comm’l Potential

ABOScientists and industry innovators will be talking about the commercial potential of algae at the upcoming 9th Annual Algae Biomass Summit, taking place in Washington, DC. This news release from the Algae Biomass Organization says the summit happens Sept. 30th-Oct. 2nd and features nearly 30 oral presentations on the business strategies, technologies and sustainable production methods that are bringing to market algae-based products, such as fuels.

“The leaders of the algae industry and research community are gathering in Washington, DC for the very first time at this year’s Algae Biomass Summit to highlight the unprecedented progress we have seen in algae’s potential to impact a number of multi-billion dollar markets,” said Al Darzins, Program Chair for the Algae Biomass Summit. “Companies from around the nation, and the world, are unveiling new production and process technologies, new facilities, new purchase agreements and other milestones. The commercial potential of these projects in terms of revenues, jobs and production yields will be hot topics at this year’s summit.”

The summit will have four tracks and more than 100 live presentations.

More information is available here.