Clariant’s Sugarcane Bagasse Can Achieve Price Parity

Clariant has completed testing on more than 40 containers of sugarcane bagasse asnd tops and leaves from Brazil at its pilot facility in Germany on the feedstock conversion to cellulosic ethanol. The tests using the company’s sunliquid technology proved the cost per liter when including feedstock, conversion and depreciation produce a price competitive biofuel.

Clariant’s pre-commercial plant: sugarcane bagasse loaded into bulk handling system.

Clariant’s pre-commercial plant: sugarcane bagasse loaded into bulk handling system.

“The process integrated on-site enzyme production using feedstock specific enzymes for sugarcane residues delivers a competitive edge and enables our sunliquid technology to drive high yields and attractive OPEX economics for cellulosic ethanol production,” said  Markus Rarbach, Head of Biofuels & Derivatives at Clariant. “In addition the advanced performance of our optimized enzymes allows us to use a chemical-free, mechanically lean and highly stable pre-treatment based on commercially proven equipment. Detailed hands-on process validation was always the key principle for our sunliquid development and with this approach we couldn’t have been more spot on. Our motto has always been ‘Keep it simple!’”

The performance runs at the pre-commercial plant in Straubing were conducted on multiple variations in composition (bulk and bale) and different qualities of sugarcane bagasse and straw. A yield of up to 300 Liters of ethanol per ton of dry bagasse was achieved and validated during extended performance runs. These tests constitute an important milestone for the realization of a commercial-scale project with sugarcane residues says the company.

Besides excellent yields on both C5 and C6 sugar conversion to cellulosic ethanol, Clariant says it was able to demonstrate its superior fermentation performance and stability. Some of the ethanol from the performance runs was shipped to Brazil and used in a commercial application, the details will be announced shortly.

Iowa Senate Passes RFS Resolution

The Iowa Senate has passed a bipartisan resolution in support of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) through 2022. The resolution calls on Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), President Obama, and the next president to support the policy as passed by Congress in 2005.

dontmesswithRFS_logoSenate Resolution 118 names the RFS as one of the single most successful energy policies in our nation’s history and goes on to say, “Under the RFS, renewable fuels have access to a retail market in the face of a vertically integrated petroleum market; and whereas, the RFS represents a congressional promise to American biofuels producers, farmers, communities, and investors that the blend levels of the RFS will increase each year; and whereas, this congressional policy support the RFS will continue to build on the long-term capacity of the renewable fuels industry and will encourage the development of new types of clean fuels…”

The resolution serves as a reminder of the benefits of the RFS to the state of Iowa in terms of economic output and the preservation of Iowa’s agricultural way of life. “The RFS has been a tremendously successful bipartisan policy that’s worked to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by producing our own clean American fuel and in leading the innovation of 21st century solutions to our energy needs. We need to keep this momentum going and I commend the Iowa Senate for passing this resolution,” said Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy.

Producing Biodiesel Using Cooking Oil & Microwave

Researchers have discovered a way to produce biodiesel using used cooking oil and a microwave. Scientists have developed a process of using a microwave and catalyst-coasted beads to produce the renewable fuel. The research, with funding from the Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, was recently published in ACS’ journal Energy & Fuels.

french fries to biodiesel

Converting leftover cooking oil into biodiesel could become less expensive with a new processing technique. Photo Credit: Rena-Marie/iStock/Thinkstock

One of the challenges of biodiesel production is the cost per gallon. With this in mind, the researchers, led by Aharon Gedanken, set out to discover a less expensive method.

The research team developed silica beads coated with a catalyst and added them to waste cooking oil. Then, they zapped the mixture with a modified microwave oven to spur the reaction of the beads with cooking oil. In just 10 seconds, nearly 100 percent of the oil was converted to fuel. The researchers could also easily recover the beads and reuse them at least 10 times with similar results.

With conversion values as high as 99 percent, the research team believes economical production of biodiesel from cooking oil is feasible and on the horizon.

Maryland Clean Energy Center Council Adds Ivancic

Joanne-headshotcroppedJoanne Ivancic, executive director Advanced Biofuels USA as been added to the Maryland Clean Energy Center’s (MCEC) Advisory Council for the 2016-2017 term. Advanced Biofuels USA is a non-profit organization based in the state that advocates for the use of advanced biofuels.

“I’m eager to contribute to the understanding, development and use of biofuels in Maryland,” said Ivancic. “And MCEC provides a great forum for reaching leaders in the state who are interested in clean energy of all kinds.”

The mission of MCEC to to assist in the economic development of advancing the use of clean energy as well as energy efficiency products, services and technologies. The Advisory Council is selected annually by the MCEC Executive Director in consultation and with the approval of the Board of Directors. Members provide strategic guidance and counsel, represent the views of their sector, and help to mobilize and energize partners in their industries and communities on behalf of promoting clean energy.

US Wind Jobs Hit Record

The U.S. wind industry continues to shatter records. In 2015, wind energy supported 88,000 jobs, an increase of 20 percent over 2014. The data was released as part of the U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2015 from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The strong job growth coincided with wind energy hitting the number one spot as the country’s new source of generating capacity.

US Wind Industry Annual Report 2015The report was officially released at the Vestas wind turbine component factory near Denver and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was on hand for the event. He noted in his remarks, “In 2015, Colorado ranked fifth in the nation for wind power capacity additions. An investment in the wind power industry and in wind projects generates new jobs, economic development in rural counties and clean air benefits to all Coloradans.”

Helping to fuel growth is the re-passage of the wind energy Production Tax Credit along with the Investment Tax Credit late in 2015. The report finds that wind energy is on track to meet the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision scenario of supplying 20 percent of total electricity by 2030.

“Wind power benefits more American families than ever before,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “We’re helping young people in rural America find a job close to home. Others are getting a fresh chance to rebuild their careers by landing a job in the booming clean energy sector. With long-term, stable policy in place, and a broader range of customers now buying low-cost wind-generated electricity, our workforce can grow to 380,000 well-paying jobs by 2030.”

AWEA Wind power“Made-in-the-USA wind power will help keep our economy competitive and our air clean for generations,” Kiernan added. “Our wind energy will never run out.”

The job growth in 2015 is primarily fueled by more wind project development and construction, requiring more than 38,000 employees. The report found the industry also experienced a stabilization of its manufacturing sector, which now supports over 21,000 well-paying jobs across 43 states, up over 10 percent in a year. And more than 8,800 jobs are held by wind turbine technicians, the fastest growing profession in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Texas leads the nation with over 24,000 wind energy employees. Wind project construction propelled Oklahoma to second place with more than 7,000 jobs. Rounding out the top five are Iowa and Colorado with over 6,000 jobs, and after moving up 11 spots, Kansas ranks fifth with over 5,000 wind workers. Maine gained the most in the state wind employment rankings, rising 16 spots.

Retailers Tell Success Stories at #ACE16DC

ace16-dc-retailersFuel retailers disputed the existence of the mythical “blend wall” and told their success stories selling higher ethanol blends during a Congressional briefing last week at the end of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) legislative fly-in. Participants in the briefing for Congressional staffers were ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty, Pearson Fuels CEO Mike Lewis and Midway Service Owner Bruce Vollan.

“For years, we’ve been battling against an avalanche of misinformation about ethanol, the RFS, and E15, and yet there seem to be some lawmakers who have just given into this “cartoon villain” version of ethanol and are opposed for reasons that don’t exist,” said Lamberty. “Among the most frequent objections we hear are station owners don’t want to sell higher blends of ethanol, customers won’t buy them, and those factors create a mythical “blend wall” that makes it impossible to get beyond ten percent as required by the RFS. The best way to bust all of those myths is to introduce policymakers to people like Bruce and Mike whose real-world stories prove the naysayers are wrong, and higher ethanol blends are creating tremendous opportunities for station owners.”

Vollan talked about how has seen ethanol blends help his store grow from a tiny gas station into a multipurpose convenience and auto repair stop, and noted that he has never had customers report any damage from using higher ethanol blends. Pearson Fuels is a supplier of multiple locations offering E15 and E85 to drivers in the Pacific Coast and Lewis discussed the growth he has seen in demand since opening the nation’s first Alternative Fuel Station in San Diego in 2003.

ACE 2016 DC Fly-in Photo Album

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1BIRD Energy has made a call for proposals in its seventh funding cycle for U.S.-Israel joint Project Proposals with a focus on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. Proposals must include R&D cooperation between two companies or cooperation between a company and a university/research institution (one from the U.S. and one from Israel). The proposal should have significant commercial potential and the project outcome should lead to commercialization. The conditional grant per project is up to 50% of the R&D costs associated with the joint project, and up to a maximum of $1 million per project.
  • The premium-quality Neste Pro Diesel is now available from the most of the Neste stations in Latvia. Neste Pro Diesel supplements the range of high-quality Futura fuels launched previously in the Baltic region and Russia. Neste Pro Diesel is available in Finland, Lithuania and Latvia.
  • Biofuels Digest is reporting that North Dakota ethanol plant Red Tail Energy has paid off the last of its $5.5 million in debt. The company paid the debt off three years ahead of when was indicated in previous financial filings and paid investors $20 million in dividends. The plant has paid off a total of $50 million in debt and added $13 million in capital to the company since 2011.
  • Comet Biorefining has announced the appointment of Rich Troyer as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Troyer was most recently the Chief Business Officer at Coskata and was previously a Managing Director at the Blackstone Group. “I am pleased to join Comet at such an exciting time, and look forward to working with the management team as we advance Comet to commercial stage,” said Troyer.

Flights Fueled by Neste’s Biojet Fuel

Neste Corporation has announced that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will be using its renewable jet fuel in a series of flights between Oslo to Amsterdam. Over the next few weeks, KLM will use Neste Renewable Jet Fuel in about 80 flights with the EMBRAER 190 from Oslo to Amsterdam. Embraer will be conducting measurements during these flights to gauge the efficiency of biofuel in comparison with kerosene.

101903“We are very happy that KLM is using Neste Renewable Jet Fuel in dozens of flights from Oslo to Amsterdam. It shows that KLM is a pioneer in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation,” said Kaisa Hietala, Executive Vice President of Renewable Products at Neste.

KLM has reported CO2 emission reduction goals of 20 percent by 2020 using 2011 levels. The company hopes to achieve this goal in part through the use of biojet fuels and increasing flight efficiency.

“KLM believes that sustainable biofuel is important for the airline industry. For this reason, we have for some time been cooperating with different partners, including those united within the scope of the KLM Corporate BioFuel Programme, to stimulate the development of the market. Our new cooperative relationship with Embraer and Oslo Airport (Avinor) serves to underscore just how important this is,” added Boet Kreiken, Managing Director KLM Cityhopper.

Neste Renewable Jet Fuel is refined in Porvoo, and meets the requirements of ASTM 7566 for aviation fuels using sustainably produced camelina oil. The fuel is blended at a 50 percent blend ratio with Jet A1 fuel and transported to Oslo Airport where it is pumped into the airport’s existing hydrant system.

Alliance BioEnergy Reports Successful Cellulosic Pilot

Alliance BioEnergy + has been developing bolt-on cellulosic ethanol technology and the company has announced that its results from the testing of its pilot plant are positive. The tests looked at distillers grains (DDGs) and corn kernel fiber and it ability to be converted to cellulosic ethanol using the CoPro Max separation unit designed in conjunction with Harvest Technology. The two byproducts can be converted into cellulosic ethanol, adding millions of gallons of additional ethanol production to an existing facility.

alliance-bioThe pilot testing has demonstrated that the corn kernel fiber is an ideal feedstocks when used in the CTS process and converts nearly 100 percent of the available sugars in as little as 12 minutes, according to Alliance BioEnergy. When combined with the CoPro Max system (to an 100 million gallons per year) corn ethanol plant), the company is reporting the CTS process adds nearly 12 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol to the plant and recovers most all of the highly valuable corn oil and proteins, from the DDGs. In addition, Alliance BioEnergy is reporting the sale of the additional ethanol, corn oil and proteins as well as cellulosic credits could add an additional $48 million to the bottom-line of a typical 100 mmgy corn ethanol plant.

Advantages of the bolt-on technology, says Alliance, include no need to purchase or transport feedstock to the plant nor is there a pre-treatment process.

Alliance BioEnergy is reporting its intentions to build and install the first unit in an existing ethanol plant this year and begin marketing the combined unit to U.S. ethanol plants later this year.

Big Oil Wins Big on Taxes

Big OilToday is Tax Day. While many Americans will receive a modest refund, oil producers are raking in the big bucks, $4 billion to $6 billion, through tax incentives dating back more than 100 years. Today, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is pointing out that many of these century-old tax provisions never expire while the ethanol industry agreed to let its incentive expire in 2011.

The Joint Committee on Taxation recently estimated that elimination of certain “fossil fuel preferences” (i.e., subsidies) would save U.S. taxpayers at least $24.5 billion — or roughly $210 per U.S. household — between 2015 and 2020.

“Big Oil needing any government assistance is preposterous,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Why would an incumbent industry that has a virtual monopoly at the pump need taxpayer dollars to compete?”

“On this tax day, Congress should seriously consider repealing this absurd and costly corporate welfare,” continued Dinneen. “Consumers will benefit when there is a truly free market in motor fuel, when alternatives like ethanol have access to the pump, when a variety of biofuel blends (E15, E25, E85) are accessible to consumers and when taxpayers no longer have to subsidize the most profitable industry on the planet. Until then, programs like the Renewable Fuel Standard are all we have to compel some level of competition and cost-control on an otherwise broken and unfair market.”