- Renewable Energy Group’s (REG) Board of Directors has authorized a review of strategic alternatives for its Life Sciences subsidiary, which is developing renewable chemicals and fuels using a proprietary microbial fermentation process. The strategic review process will be comprehensive and focused on the best path to maximize shareholder value. Over the last three years under REG ownership, the Life Sciences subsidiary has advanced its technology, increased the number of potential products that can be made from the technology and expanded its intellectual property portfolio.
- The Bio-Industrial Process Research Centre at Lambton College (Ontario) and Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park have completed a techno-economic modelling feasibility study. The study identified suitable high value-added products and determined business scenarios where a beet-based sugar value chain could be re-established economically within southern Ontario. In these scenarios, after a 50-year absence from the Ontario Agricultural sector, sugar beets would be grown, harvested and processed in Ontario with the products and co-products used for the food, feed and industrial biochemical markets. Based on the positive results of the techno-economic modelling study, the Ontario Innovative Sugarbeet Processors Cooperative (OISPC), a farmer cooperative, has been formed.
- In Finland, UPM Biofuels has joined the below50 coalition to promote the most sustainable fuels that can achieve significant carbon reductions – and scale up their development and use. Below50 is one of the newest initiatives in sustainable fuels, and it brings together forward-thinking businesses with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Roundtable for Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) and Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL). The initiative was launched in June 2016.
- The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has announced AquaHarmonics as the winner of the Wave Energy Prize – which comes with a $1.5 million grand prize. CalWave Power Technologies and Waveswing America were awarded second and third place, respectively, with $500,000 and $250,000 in cash prizes. With more than 50 percent of the U.S. population living within 50 miles of coastlines, there is vast potential to provide clean, renewable electricity to communities and cities across the United States using wave energy.
As more and more consumers choose ethanol at the pump, Bobby Likis, host of Bobby Likis Car Clinic, says there is a continued need to educate mechanics about ethanol. Likis is a 45-year auto veteran who in his shop has worked on more than 200,000 cars and he loves ethanol. He said that most car problems are not caused by ethanol, but by neglect. Likis and I spoke in-depth about ethanol and technicians and following is our discussion.
Q1: How well-versed are today’s auto mechanics when it comes to ethanol fuels?
A: Likis said there is a no question that there is a need for higher education levels around ethanol although states with direct ties to ethanol and agriculture tend to have technicians better informed about the biofuel. Bobby Likis on need for ethanol education
Q2: How familiar are technicians with the basics of ethanol and its assets?
A: Likis said there-in lies the problem. “Most technicians are not even informed about the basics of ethanol,” he replied. “They have been so bombarded by myths promoted by oil companies or uneducated individuals who promote totally unfounded horror stories, that unfortunately many technicians have accepted this water tool fiction as truth.” Ethanol, notes Likis, then becomes an easy blame for technicians who haven’t yet learned or embraced the facts.
The challenge is not only with technicians, Likis continued. “There are many aftermarket companies that prey on unknowing consumers fear and use the ethanol ruins engines myth as a means to sell their pour and pray products.” What exactly are those? Likis explained, “The pour and pray products concept is where people are enticed to buy a product, such as a fuel conditioner, pour it in their gas tank and pray that it fixes their car’s problem.” Likis added, “Cars don’t need to be protected from ethanol, cars love ethanol!” Bobby Likis on mechanics level of ethanol knowledgeRead More
Growth Energy sent Co-Chair Tom Buis to the recent National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention to talk about topics important to the industry including the EPA’s Point of Obligation ruling and what Donald Trump as president may mean for the ethanol industry.
To answer the election question, Buis noted that going into the Iowa Caucuses there were 21 candidates with only three having made public statements about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Hillary Clinton.
“A good chunk of those even said negative comments about ethanol,” said Buis. In response, the ethanol industry created the biggest issues campaign ever in Iowa to educate the presidential candidates that ethanol is a good thing and to educate the worldwide press. “All eyes were on Iowa for a long time,” Buis noted.
“Obviously we succeeded because at the end of the day the two nominees of the major parties both said pro-RFS statements,” Buis said. “Now we’re in devils in the details.”
Using one of his favorite sayings, “Hypocrisy in Washington is not a sin it’s a fine art,” Buis said the industry must keep the Trump Administration’s “feet to the fire” and continue to work with them. “We’re confident that Mr. Trump is on our side and we’ll continue to work with his transition team and his new appointees and others to make sure it stays there.”
In this interview, Buis also talks about what they are expecting from EPA in the volume obligations under the RFS: Interview with Tom Buis, Growth Energy
View and download photos from the event here: NAFB Convention Photo Album
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) last week elected American Soybean Association (ASA) Board member Mike Cunningham as the new vice chairman of the organization. Cunningham is a farmer from Bismark, Illinois.
The agenda included updates on the status of federal and state policy intitiatives, such as the federal biodiesel tax credit and Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), as well as discussion on the impact of the recent elections, outlook for 2017 and more immediately the Lame Duck session of Congress.
The biodiesel tax credit will expire on Dec. 31, 2016 if not extended during the Lame Duck session. As part of this effort, the industry will conduct a fly-in to Washington, D.C. on Nov. 30 to continue to advocate to Members of Congress the value of biodiesel and the importance of the tax credit.
One of the first transportation-fuel related climate initiatives was announced during COP22 this week. The Biofuture Platform was launched in COP22 host country Marrakech by co-hosts Brazil and Morocco, and is a coalition formed to accelerate development and scale up deployment of modern sustainable low-carbon alternatives to fossil based solutions in transport fuels, industrial processes, chemicals, plastics and other sectors. There are 20 founding members of which the U.S. is one, with the first interim facilitator from Brazil, the country who originally proposed the initiative.
“Transportation has, so far, been one of the most challenging sectors for mitigation. This is not a matter of selecting between different paths to achieve a certain goal. We need all hands on deck, to explore all avenues towards near and medium term solutions for the transport sector if we are to reach our emissions targets by 2030,” said the Minister of Environment of Brazil, Sarney Filho, who presided the launch event. “In face of the urgency of fighting climate change, countries cannot afford to ignore the largely underestimated potential of bioenergy, especially in face of new technological developments which are opening the door to a whole new low-carbon bioeconomy as an alternative to fossil-based fuels, chemicals and materials,” added Filho.
Several international organizations have come out in support of the initiative including IRENA. “Sustainably-sourced advanced biofuels will be key to expanding the use of renewables in the transport sector. Their high energy density and wide range of feedstock options make them especially vital as a transportation fuel,” said Adnan Z. Amin, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). “As we move to deliver a sustainable energy future and meet climate objectives, initiatives for strengthening international cooperation, such as the Biofuture Platform, can make an important contribution.”Read More
A research team led by Professor Jae Sung Lee of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST has discovered a new way to make biofuels directly from carbon dioxide. The team has produced road ready diesel through a direct CO2 conversion to liquid transportation fuels by reacting with renewable hydrogen generated through solar water splitting. The research was published in the journal Applied Catalysis B: Environmental.
According to Lee, traditional catalysts used for H2 with CO2 reactions mostly rely on low molecular weight substances such as methane or methanol. These low value catalysts provide low CO2 reduction effects. However, the research team has found the new delafossite-based catalyst composed of affordable copper and steel, converts CO2 into liquid hydrocarbon-based fuels (e.g., diesel fuel) in one single step. The resulting fuels can be used by trucks and buses with no modifications. The catalyst causes a reaction between CO2 emissions of industrial plants and H2 generated from solar hydrogen plant with diesel as the result.
“Diesel fuels have longer chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms, compared to mathanol and methane,” says Yo Han Choi, the first author of the research. “Using delafossite-CuFeO2 as the catalyst precursor, we can create longer carbon chains and this would allow for the production of diesel.”
This direct CO2-FT synthesis, explains Yo Han Choi, is different from the German car maker Audi’s CO2-to-dielsel conversion process that involves two steps – reverse water gas shift (RWGS) reaction to CO followed by CO Fisher-Tropsch (FT) synthesis.
The researchers believe their new discovery holds the potential to revolutionize the auto industry in part due to its two major benefits: the process removes climate-change causing CO2 from the atmosphere and the resulting diesel/biofuel can be used an an alternative to petroleum-based transportation fuels.
Professor Lee adds, “We believe the new catalyst breaks through the limitation of CO2-based FT synthesis and will open the avenue for new opportunity for recycling CO2 into valuable fuels and chemicals.”
KAAPA Ethanol Ravenna has joined the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The ethanol company, KAAPA Ethanol Holdings, recently closed on its purchase of the Abengoa Bioenergy ethanol facility located in Ravenna, Nebraska. The company also owns an ethanol facility in Minden, Nebraska. With the addition of Ravenna, KAAPA’s total ethanol production is 170 million gallons per year. This is the KAAPA’s second producer membership to RFA.
“We are pleased that KAAPA’s experience already being an RFA member made it an easier choice to add their second facility to our roster,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “The hardworking farmer-owners of KAAPA Ethanol Holdings are providing consumers with ethanol, the lowest cost, cleanest-burning and highest octane source in the world. We welcome KAAPA’s second ethanol plant to our membership and look forward to its participation and input.”
“RFA has a stellar reputation of providing outstanding member services, technical analyses and policy support, which benefits our entire ethanol industry and directly affects our two ethanol plants,” said KAAPA Ethanol Holdings CEO Chuck Woodside. “RFA continues to be at the forefront of promoting even further growth of our industry through higher ethanol blends, while simultaneously combatting misinformation propagated by our critics. We are thrilled to add another plant to our RFA membership and look forward to future growth opportunities under the RFA umbrella.”
This week, Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB) former leader Chad Stone, with the Renewable Energy Group (REG), was elected to a leadership position with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). Stone recently served as the immediate past chair of IBB. The election took place in St. Louis, Missouri last week during NBB’s annual fall meeting. NBB’s board is comprised of 15 governing board members, including four executive officers.
“The year ahead is important as we will be in a vastly changed political landscape, and we’ll be working hard to continue to grow the volumes of biomass-based diesel,” Stone said. “I’m optimistic for the future of NBB, and for America’s Advanced Biofuel. I look forward to serving as an officer in this important national organization.”
Two other Iowans were also elected to positions on the NBB Board. Ron Heck, soybean farmer from Perry, Iowa who is currently serving as IBB treasurer and representing the Iowa Soybean Association on the IBB board, along with Steve Nogel of AGP, a biodiesel producer with biorefineries in Sergeant Bluff and Algona, Iowa.
“The fact that Iowa is the leading biodiesel-producing state is reflected in the makeup of the national organization’s leadership,” said Grant Kimberley, executive director of IBB. “This will be a critical time to maintain the momentum of this American manufacturing industry, and Chad’s leadership will help guide the national effort.”
DuPont Industrial Biosciences and MIAVIT GmbH have forged a biogas enzyme supply contract. An integral part of the agreement will be DuPont supplying enzymes for incorporation in MIAVIT biogas boosting products. According to DuPont, its enzyme technology is proven to improve several production areas including biogas yields and process robustness. This, says DuPont, will increase revenues and profitability.
MIAVIT will be adding DuPont’s FIBREZYME® G4 enzyme biotechnology for inclusion in its MiaMethan® ProCut, a new biogas ingredient for the ag sector. The product, says MIAVIT, improves the breakdown of difficult to digest materials enabling more efficient biogas conversion. FIBREZYME G4 comes in a powder format to help reduce viscosity of hard to digest materials by over 60 percent, according to DuPont, thus enabling faster processing time.
“We are constantly innovating to offer our customers the latest technology to improve profitability and opportunity in the marketplace,” said Franz Otten, managing director of Sales at MIAVIT. “As new technology, like FIBREZYME® from DuPont, comes online, we see tremendous opportunity for our customers to improve efficiency and yields. This, in turn, provides the emerging biogas industry a new revenue stream, particularly for rural and farm communities, from materials that would ordinarily go to waste – reducing damaging environmental impacts and expanding renewable options for power generation.”
Enzymes are an important element to more effective and efficient biogas production. They serve to accelerate the breakdown of materials such as animal and food and farm waste, resulting in sugars and amino acids more pliable for conversion into biogas. The resulting renewable methane biogas can then to used to generate electricity or can be compressed and transported into a pipeline gas grid.
“DuPont is focused on continuous innovation for our customers,” added Conrad Burke, global marketing director at DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “Customers can expect this technology to increase biogas production, improve biogas quality, shorten process time and reduce the amount of feedstock required – all backed by our decades of experience in the global industrial enzyme and renewable energy businesses.”
This is not DuPont’s first enzyme entry for the biogas market. Back in July the company launched OPTIMASH® AD-100, a new liquid enzyme that DuPont says has been shown to produce up to a 13 percent increase in biogas yields in anaerobic digesters.
With COP22 under way, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) is calling for a global commitment to biofuels as countries transition to low-carbon economies. Bliss Baker, GRFA president, says that biofuels such as ethanol are proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from 40 percent to 90 percent as compared to fossil fuels.
Prior to COP22, the United Nations released an Environment Programme (UNEP) report that determined current global emission reduction commitments will fall far short of international temperature targets. The report called for global emissions reductions of at least a quarter by 2030.
“Negotiators are confronting the enormous challenge of identifying achievable policy options that will significantly, and affordably, reduce GHG emissions.” Baker said. “Biofuels represent the only commercially viable technology available to significantly offset emissions in the global transport sector. In 2014 alone global ethanol production and use reduced GHG emissions by 169 million tonnes CO2 equivalent.” he added.
Today nearly half the world’s oil consumption is by the global transportation sector that accounts for 25-30 percent of global emissions. According to GRFA, this sector also has the lowest renewable energy share. In light of this, the organization is highlighting studies that find significant potential for increased biofuel use.
“In order to achieve international targets, the negotiations at COP22 must result in decisive support for biofuels production and technology development.” added Baker. “To fully achieve the huge potential of biofuels to cut global transport emissions, the historic political commitments of the past year have to result in concrete, and ambitious action.”