McD’s Cooking Oil Biodiesel Runs to Mars and Back

UAEflagBiodiesel made from McDonald’s used cooking oil in the United Arab Emirates hit an impressive milestone: running the equivalent of the distance to Mars and back. This article in the UAE’s The National says McDonald’s UAE fleet completed 5 million kilometres this month fueled entirely by biodiesel. The green fuel is possible thanks to a four-year partnership between Mickey D’s and Dubai-based biodiesel producer Neutral Fuels.

Sixteen vehicles collect cooking oil from McDonald’s 135 outlets up to twice a day, which is then converted into a renewable fuel, or biodiesel.

It is the first quick service restaurant in the Mena region recycling all of its “waste cooking oil for refuelling the company’s logistics fleet to transport its goods throughout the emirates”, said Rafic Fakih, managing director and partner at McDonald’s UAE.

Each litre of cooking oil can make about one litre of biodiesel, according to Karl Feilder, chairman of Neutral Fuels. And the price matches what customers would pay at the pump, although the company declined to comment on wholesale prices and discounts for providing the feedstock.

McDonald’s is not the only company using the alternative fuel. Neutral Fuels says there has been an increase in biodiesel purchased in the UAE, doubling sales each year for the past three years.

This month, the company produced and sold 400,000 litres of biodiesel to hotels, restaurants, transport companies, schools and for power generators.

Neutral Fuels’ one biodiesel refinery in the UAE produces about 120,000 gallons per month.

20 Countries Pledge “Mission Innovation” at #COP21

Leading up to the World Climate Summit and #COP21 that kicked off in Paris today, three major announcements were make regarding the acceleration of technological developments in clean energy and clean technologies. The first announcement came from Bill Gates about the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, that will will working directly with Mission Innovation, a “pledge” by 20 countries to commit to doubling its governmental and/or state-directed clean energy research and development investment over the next five years. More countries are encouraged to join the efforts.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 11.29.02 AMThe third announcement came from President Obama who announced the U.S. will be participating in the Mission Innovation initiative.

According to the Mission Innovation website, all new investments will be focused on transformational clean energy technology innovations that can be scalable to varying economic and energy market conditions that exist in participating countries and in the broader world. The goal of the initiative is to reinvigorate and accelerate global clean energy innovation with the objective to make clean energy widely affordable.

The Mission Innovation website states that accelerating widespread clean energy innovation is:

  • An indispensable part of an effective, long term global response to our shared climate challenge;
  • Necessary to provide affordable and reliable energy for everyone and to promote economic growth; and
  • Critical for energy security.

In line with the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, Mission Innovation was formed to fill accelerate the time between innovation, scale-up and commercial scale availability.

Nanoparticle Helps Harvest Algae, Brew Biodiesel

ntuResearchers in Taiwan have made a magnetic nanoparticle for harvesting microalgae, extracting algae oil and converting the oil’s fatty acids into a methyl ester, used in biodiesel. This article from the Taipei Times says a National Taiwan University (NTU) team led by Wu Chia-wen developed the product.

The team used iron oxide and silicon dioxide to form nanoparticles, which, when applied to algae solution, magnetically attract algae and convert their fat into biodiesel with an alkaline-based catalyst, Wu said.

Traditional algae-harvesting methods require large amounts of energy to break down cell walls, but the team’s nanoparticles effectively convert algae oil to biodiesel with a maximum yield of 97.1 percent of the oil’s fatty acid methyl esters, compared with existing methods, which yield less than 60 percent, Wu said.

Microalgae contain the highest fat content among biomaterials commonly used to produce biofuel, so microalgae has replaced corn and barley as a favored source for the industry.

Referring to the past few years’ food safety and tainted oil scandals, NTU president Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池) said that nanoparticles can also turn waste cooking oil into biodiesel.

BDI – BioEnergy to Build UK Biodiesel Plant

BDIAustrian-based BDI – BioEnergy International will build a new biodiesel plant in the U.K. This news release from the company says the plant is part of of a larger project by the company also constructing an industrial-sized algae plant.

BDI – BioEnergy International AG developed a new process for the production of high valuable products from algae in its in-house research and development department. The newly founded 100 percent subsidiary “BDI – BioLife Science GmbH”, now invests in the construction of an own production plant at the location in Hartberg/Steiermark.

The implementation of the follow-up order of an existing client in the UK was successfully started. The BioDiesel project for the same client – for the treatment of commercial and industrial waste fats – which has been started beginning of the year is already in the installation phase. The BioGas plant built in Austria for the Heineken Group is currently undergoing its biological start-up. In addition, the BioGas plant in Poland is close to completion.

Ethanol Report on the RFS and COP21

ethanol-report-adThe Renewable Fuels Association sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry this week urging him to highlight the role of the Renewable Fuel Standard in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions as he prepares to head to the international climate conference COP21 in Paris.

nafb-rfa-cooperAt the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper talked about the importance of the United States promoting biofuels as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the conference, how successful the RFS has been, the U.S. corn crop, and much more.

Listen to this edition of the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report on the RFS and COP21

Ethanol Industry Takes Clean Energy Mission to India

A team from the U.S. including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Growth Energy, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) recently returned from a clean energy mission to India. Led by USDA Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Micheal Scuse, the group met to discuss opportunities for developing clean energy solutions, technologies and policies. An additional goal of the mission was to strengthen the level of cooperation and coordination between the ethanol industries of the two countries.

logosDuring a series of meetings that involved ethanol producers, oil companies and government officials, the U.S. participant group of seven received an in-depth look at the local industry’s situation and outlook. There were extensive discussions on India’s economy, political environment, energy sector, and the role of government policy as a driver of the ethanol industry’s growth.

“Macroeconomic factors like population growth, continuing urbanization and increases in disposable income mean India is poised to use more gasoline and diesel fuels,” said USGC Past Chairman Ron Gray, who was part of the group representing the U.S. industry. “Given the negative effect that petroleum-based gasoline has on air quality, we feel that the expanded use of ethanol as an oxygenate can help India reduce smog and carbon emissions in this rapidly growing developing country, particularly in its cities.”

Ed Hubbard, general counsel for RFA said of the trip, “America’s commitment to using ethanol in our fuel has made it possible for our nation’s busiest cities to dramatically reduce levels of smog and other harmful tail-pipe emissions. By sharing our experiences with our friends here in India, we believe we can help them significantly improve the country’s air quality.”

In 2014, India imported $86 million of industrial ethanol mostly from the U.S. and Brazil and USGC expects imports to rise potentially researching $150-200 million in 2015. Even accounting for this level of growth, the U.S. ethanol industry believes there is still room for growth, especially in the transportation market. According to a press release sent out from the U.S. delegation, this view was echoed by India’s sugar and ethanol sector during last week’s meetings, with the country seeking ways to increase their blend rates from current low levels as a means to improving air quality while supporting India’s sugar producers.

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French Biodiesel Maker Expands Output

avrilA French biodiesel maker is expanding its production capacity to help meet increased blending requirements in the European country. Reuters reports Avril, the European Union’s largest maker of biodiesel, has opened a 100,000-tonne-per-year refinery on France’s Mediterranean coast.

The facility at Sete, where Avril’s Saipol oilseed processing and refining branch already has a plant, will allow the group to raise biodiesel capacity to 1.7 million tonnes, Jean-Philippe Puig told Reuters in a phone interview.

Avril shut two plants in northern France in 2013, reducing its French capacity by 20 percent, after the government said it wanted to pause the rise in biofuel blending in fuels at 7 percent.

It raised the level by one percent for biodiesel late last year.

“The rise in capacity follows a rise in blending levels in France to 8 percent. Even if it’s not the case today in all gas stations, we should stretch towards 8 percent in the coming months,” Puig said.

Avril chose southern France over the north, where competition is high with Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, which are facing overcapacity.

Biodiesel Technology Makes Brewery Greener

bdiheineken1A biodiesel technology company has teamed up with one of the world’s biggest makers of beer to open the world’s first major green brewery. This news release from BDI – BioEnergy International says the company teamed up with Brau Union Österreich, part of the international Heineken family, to open the BDI spent-grain fermentation plant that will generate energy from residual brewery materials.

As part of Heineken’s sustainability initiative “Brewing a better World”, the last milestone towards carbon neutrality was laid … with the opening of brewery Göss’ spent-grain fermentation plant.

The BDI spent-grain fermentation plant in Göss/Leoben was opened only six months after the official start of construction. In the presence of Styrian VIPs, Brau Union Österreich and BDI – BioEnergy International AG celebrated the last milestone towards achieving carbon neutrality of the Göss brewery plant.

Brau Union Österreich, part of the international Heineken family, has set itself the goal of using renewable energies throughout the entire brewing process.

In future the energy generated from the brewery’s residual materials will be used in the brewery for steam generation and excess gas will be converted into green electricity. In addition, the digestate, a by-product of the spent-grain fermentation plant, will be used as high quality fertilizer.

“With the construction of this industrial spent-grain fermentation plant, we were able, due to the optimal integration of our biogas process, to supply a convincing solution to this environmental project, and thus to help Brau Union Österreich on its way to a completely carbon-neutral plant”, says Dr. Edgar Ahn, Member of the Executive Board of BDI – BioEnergy International AG.

Funding Secured for Redstone CSP Plant in Africa

Funding has been secured for the Redstone Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) project in Northern Cape, South Africa by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The group has made a $400 million commitment of debt financing for the project, that is part of Secretary John Kerry’s Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum. The project also supports President Obama’s Power Africa initiative to bring power access to more than 600 million sub-Saharan Africans currently living without power. The CSP facility will be developed by U.S.-based SolarReserve and ACWA Power.

The first of its kind in Africa, the Redstone Solar Thermal Power Project features SolarReserve's world-leading molten salt energy storage technology in a tower configuration with the capability to support South Africa's demand for energy when it's needed most - day and night. The 100 MW project with 12 hours of full-load energy storage will be able to reliably deliver a stable electricity supply to more than 200,000 South African homes during peak demand periods, even well after the sun has set. (PRNewsFoto/SolarReserve)

The first of its kind in Africa, the Redstone Solar Thermal Power Project features SolarReserve's world-leading molten salt energy storage technology in a tower configuration with the capability to support South Africa's demand for energy when it's needed most – day and night. The 100 MW project with 12 hours of full-load energy storage will be able to reliably deliver a stable electricity supply to more than 200,000 South African homes during peak demand periods, even well after the sun has set. (PRNewsFoto/SolarReserve)

“The development of the Redstone project will benefit the South African people, the international clean energy sector, and the role of U.S. leadership in emerging market development,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC’s President and CEO. “It’s impressive that Redstone brings together the innovative U.S. private sector leadership and technology of SolarReserve, the international experience of ACWA and large-scale catalytic financing from OPIC. This sort of change-making partnership is at the heart of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative and creates broad, lasting impact in international development.”

The 100 MW Redstone project will be connected to the South African national grid. The solar plant will Using SolarReserve’s CSP technology, Redstone’s molten salt storage capability will deliver consistent baseload electricity, even after the sun sets. This is a critical development in a country where frequent power outages have been cited as an obstacle to economic growth.

SolarReserve’s CEO Kevin Smith said the project marks an important technology advancement for Africa in clean, renewable power. He also noted that the project’s delivered electricity price is the lowest of any CSP project in the country to date.

Patrick Gaspard, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, said of the news, “We are excited about the progress forged by OPIC and these private sector leaders on the Redstone project. It’s a priority for South Africa and regional neighbors to diversify their power production beyond traditional energy sources, including a greater share of renewables, efficiency improvements, and energy storage capabilities. The U.S. stands by South Africa as a partner, and working together with agencies like OPIC and great U.S. companies like SolarReserve, we can increase sustainable access to electricity, a foundation linked to overall lasting economic growth.”

RE-VOLT Helps Haitians with Energy Needs

A new start-up company, RE-VOLT, is helping to bring reliable and affordable electricity to families in rural Haiti and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help fund a service expansion. The system is a combination of a solar panel, control/power storage unit, lights and a phone charger. Founded by Digicel Haiti chairman, Maarten Boute, the RE-VOLT campaign hopes to raise the working capital necessary to grow its customer base on La Gonave to 2,000 households or 10,000 people by January 2016.

Photo Credit: RE-VOLT

Photo Credit: RE-VOLT

Customers are charged a low monthly fee of 250 Haitian Gourdes (about USD $5) and pay for the service through Digicel’s Mon Cash mobile banking platform. The units themselves contain a cellular antenna allowing RE-VOLT to manage payments and maintenance remotely. An on-ground team handles basic maintenance and troubleshooting on installed systems.

“To their tremendous credit, Digicel Group chairman Denis O’Brien and the Digicel board decided to commit even more capital to Haiti after the earthquake,” said Boute. “Others might have walked away at that point, but they decided to double down instead.”

The idea for RE-VOLT’s business model came to Boute over five years ago in the aftermath of Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake. At the time, he was two months into his tenure as CEO of Digicel Haiti, having previously served as the company’s chief operating officer.

According to Boute, “At the start of that period of expansion, Digicel already had a strong subscriber base in cities like Port-au-Prince. The biggest opportunity to grow the business was in rural areas, and, as we expanded our network there, we began to realize how much of a problem energy-poverty was. It became very clear to us that there was a huge business opportunity to provide affordable, reliable energy to these people – as well as it being a morally compelling thing to do as well.”