BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1At a time when clean energy and water sources are critical to the health of our planet SunPower and the Surfrider Foundation have launched a partnership. Surfrider Foundation members can reduce their carbon footprints with solar, while locking in low electricity rates, and protecting oceans, waves and beaches around the world. As part of the program eligible Surfrider Foundation members and supporters can receive a $500 mail-in rebate on the purchase or lease of a high efficiency residential solar energy system from SunPower. Along with the rebate, SunPower will donate $1,000 to the Surfrider Foundation for each system installed.
  • Sungevity, Inc. has announced the appointment of Jan Slaghekke as Chief Global Officer, a new position for the company. Slaghekke is responsible for managing Sungevity’s expansion and strategic relationships in key markets outside the U.S., including its partnership with E.On as they work collaboratively to enter the German market.
  • DTE Energy has announced it is teaming with Domino’s Farms and Ford Motor Company to build and operate the two largest solar arrays in Michigan. DTE Energy has begun construction of a 1.1-megawatt photovoltaic solar installation at Domino’s Farms, just east of Ann Arbor, which will be completed and operational by the end of the year. The project will comprise more than 4,000 panels on property just north of M-14 and west of Earhart Road and have the capacity to generate 1,089 kilowatts of electricity.
  • Clean energy company Invenergy LLC announced the start of commercial operations of its 31.5 MW Grand Ridge Energy Storage project in La Salle County, Illinois. The project is located about 80 miles southwest of Chicago at Invenergy’s Grand Ridge Energy Center, which is comprised of a 210 MW wind farm; a 20 MW solar project; and an existing 1.5 MW energy storage unit.

Wash. State Researchers Make Biofuels from Fungus

Researchers at Washington State University are making a biofuel for jets from a common black fungus found in decaying leaves, soil and rotting fruit. This news release from the school says they hope to have a viable aviation biofuel in the next five years.

washstfungusbiofuel1The researchers used Aspergillus carbonarius ITEM 5010 to create hydrocarbons, the chief component of petroleum, similar to those in aviation fuels.

Led by Birgitte Ahring, director and Battelle distinguished professor of the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory at WSU Tri-cities, the researchers published their work in the April edition of Fungal Biology.

The fungus produced the most hydrocarbons on a diet of oatmeal but also created them by eating wheat straw or the non-edible leftovers from corn production.

Fungi have been of interest for about a decade within biofuels production as the key producer of enzymes necessary for converting biomass to sugars. Some researchers further showed that fungi could create hydrocarbons, but the research was limited to a specific fungus living within a specific tree in the rainforest, and the actual hydrocarbon concentrations were not reported.

Ahring’s group has previously been successful in using standard Aspergillus fungi to produce enzymes and other useful products, which have been patented and are under commercialization, so they decided to look into A. carbonarius ITEM 5010’s potential for biofuels.

The researchers got help from Kenneth Bruno, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who developed a method essential for the genetic manipulation of A. carbonarius. The research received funding from the Danish Council for Strategic Research under the program for Energy and Environment.

Biodiesel Part of ‘Round-the-World Boat Race

NBBvolvo1Boats stopping over in North America for an around-the-world race are refueling with biodiesel. This news release from the National Biodiesel Board says the fuel used for the Volvo Ocean 65 race boats that sailed into Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, is made from recycled cooking oil.

As a supporting sponsor of the May 5-17 stopover, the NBB is providing biodiesel blends for the race boats and for all of the diesel generators and land vehicles associated with the shoreside operations — helping the event to obtain certification by Sailors for the Sea as a “Platinum Level” Clean Regatta.

“Biodiesel stakeholders are excited to take part in this much-anticipated international regatta,” said Paul Nazzaro, NBB program manager. “It seems fitting that America’s first advanced biofuel will be featured at the U.S. leg of the race, where sustainability is such a prominent theme. Our entire team looks forward to sharing the many benefits of biodiesel over the course of this extraordinary event.”

“We’re in a ‘chicken or egg’ situation where boaters can’t readily purchase biodiesel because it’s not typically supplied by marinas, and the marinas don’t dedicate tanks to biodiesel because they aren’t sure if there will be sufficient demand” said Nazzaro. “We hope Volvo’s show of confidence in biodiesel to help power such a high profile event will help address this conundrum by educating consumers and raising demand.”

NBB points out that biodiesel blends can be used in many types of marine vessel, including inland and ocean-going commercial ships, research vessels, the U.S. Coast Guard Fleet, and recreational vessels.

Yellowstone Distributed Energy Project Powers Up

Old hybrid batteries have a new home on the range. Toyota has flipped the switch on a project that is reusing 200 old battery packs from Toyota Camry hybirds. The Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus in Yellowstone National Park, now not only features buffalo, but an innovative distributed energy system that combines solar power generation with re-used Camry Hybrid battery packs. The result according to Toyota: reliable, sustainable, zero emission power to the ranger station and education center for the first time since it was founded in 1907. Solar panels generate the renewable electricity stored within the 208 used Camry Hybrid nickel-metal hydride battery packs, recovered from Toyota dealers across the United States.

Announced in June 2014, the partnership among Toyota, Indy Power Systems, Sharp USA SolarWorld, Patriot Solar, National Park Service and Yellowstone Park Foundation is an innovative effort to extend the useful life of hybrid vehicle batteries while providing sustainable power generation for one of the most remote, pristine areas in the United States.

Toyota_Yellowstone_Battery_001“Through our long-standing partnership with Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone Park Foundation, Toyota has helped preserve Yellowstone for future generations,” said Jim Lentz, chief executive officer, Toyota North America. “Today, our relationship with Yellowstone continues, as more than 200 battery packs that once powered Toyota Camry hybrids have found a new home on the range.”

On an annual basis, the solar system will generates enough electricity to power six average U.S. households for a year, or plenty of power for the five buildings on the Ranch campus. The hybrid batteries provide 85kWh of energy storage to ensure continuous power, as the system charges and discharges. Onsite micro-hydro turbine systems, capturing energy from a neighboring stream, are scheduled to join the power mix in 2016.

The Yellowstone system is the first of its kind to use recovered hybrid vehicle batteries for commercial energy storage. Each battery pack has been disassembled and tested, and every piece that could be was repurposed. New components were also designed and built by Indy Power Systems specifically for this application, including an onboard battery management system for each battery pack. The battery management system is designed to maximize battery life and will also provide important insights into real-world performance. These insights will help Toyota design future battery performance and durability improvements.

“Toyota’s innovative response to solve a difficult problem has helped Yellowstone move closer to its goal of becoming the greenest park in the world,” added Steve Iobst, acting superintendent of Yellowstone.

Advanced Disposal Opens Gas-to-Energy Plant

Advanced Disposal has opened the doors to a new gas-to-energy plant built on behalf of the Sarasota County, Florida landfill. To celebrate, elected officials, media and community members toured the landfill and facility including the new gas-to-energy plant built by Aria Energy Company. The plant is comprised of three engines that can produce as much as 4.8 MW of electricity. Gas produced by the landfill is converted by the plant’s generators. The power created at the facility, operated by Advanced Disposal, produces energy that will be sold around the state of Florida.

Sarasota County Landfill Tour“This is a really great opportunity for the county, as well as for Aria Energy, to take a resource that would otherwise be burned away into the atmosphere and use it to create something that is usable by the community,” said Sarasota County Public Utilities Solid Waste Engineer Jason Timmons.

Guests were also invited to participate in landfill facility tours. The company said in a news release this allowed consumers to better understand where the methane is created to power the generators.

Advanced Disposal General Manager Tim Ferris provided the landfill tours and answered guests’ questions. “This is an exciting time for Sarasota County Landfill,” said Ferris. “While we are not operating the new gas-to-energy facility, we are proud to operate the landfill that produces the gas, which in turn will provide energy to not only the local community, but also across the state.”

Biofuel Producers Thrive Despite Cheap Oil

According to a new report, “How Alternative Fuel Companies Will Compete with $50 Oil,image001many biofuel producers are still able to thrive despite dropping oils prices nearing $50 per barrel. Lux Research evaluated 25 alternative fuel producers to identify the ones most likely to compete with cheap oil and found that renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel, gasification specialist Red Rock Biofuels, and Edeniq, which makes cellulosic ethanol, were among 13 alternative producers of fuels best positioned for cheap oil.

Lux Research analysts used its database of 400 alternative fuel producers to select 25 companies – from seven technology families, four feedstock types and three stages of development – for detailed analysis.

Among their findings:

  • Neste Oil, Diamond Green are benefiting from cost cuts. Thanks to lowered production costs achieved through feedstock diversification, renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel were the clear leaders in Lux’s model. On the other hand, Solena Biofuels and Joule Unlimited were among the laggards on account of delayed production and commercialization.
  • Developers move to alternate markets. Amid low oil prices, high-profile companies such as Solazyme, Amyris, and Gevo have shifted decisively toward specialty chemicals and nutraceuticals this year. Sapphire Energy also has shifted away from fuels and now targets nutraceuticals, producing Omega-3 EPA from its algae.
  • Oil majors remain a pillar of support. Believing cheap oil to be a short-term phenomenon, oil majors have remained prominent supporters of alternative fuel developers across various technology platforms. For example, Total has added to its existing portfolio in biofuels and bio-based chemical companies by investing in Renmatix, a biomass-to-sugars company.

“$50 oil was never an afterthought for technology developers,” said Yuan-Sheng Yu, Lux research associate and the lead author of the report. “Many companies have technology roadmaps for cheaper alternative fuels. Not all of them will actually achieve that benchmark, but some will – while others will find alternate markets or, ironically, use support from oil majors to survive until prices rise again.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1 Azure Power, an independent power producer in the Indian solar power sector, has announced the commissioning of its largest (100 MW) solar plant under India’s National Solar Mission (NSM) policy in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Azure Power had won this project under the NSM Phase-2 Batch I to supply power to Solar Energy Corporation of India, for 25 years. With the commissioning of this project, Azure Power is now the single largest owner and operator of solar PV projects under the NSM with a cumulative operational capacity of 142MWs under this policy.
  • Atlantic Wind & Solar, Inc. subsidiary Atlantic Solar has announced that its new 130 KW AC/137.25 KW DC fixed solar array featuring 450 multi-crystalline modules, located in Ontario Canada, is now powering the grid. With the formal receipt of a notice of Commercial Operation (COD) from the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) this marks the final step in the construction and connection of this solar plant. The power will be sold to the Ontario Power Authority at a rate of 71.3 cents per Kwh for 20 years.
  • CenturyLink, Inc. has announced the opening of a new data center in central Washington, adding hydro-electric-powered data center services to CenturyLink’s hybrid IT services portfolio. The facility offers global enterprises low power costs, and its high resiliency and geographic location make it ideal for cloud and disaster recovery solutions. The data center, located in Moses Lake, Washington, will ultimately support up to 30 megawatts of IT load on the site, with an initial ramp to 8 megawatts.
  • The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, a USD 50 million investment in CEC Africa Investments Limited, a multinational power company headquartered in Nigeria and Zambia. CEC Africa (CECA) seeks to acquire and develop distribution and transmission assets and complementary greenfield generation projects throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. By investing across the energy value chain (generation, transmission, and distribution), CECA aims to reduce electricity losses while improving the overall economics in Africa’s power sector.

Auto Steer/GPS Attributed to #Plant15 Progress

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What technology is most responsible for rapid planting progress?”

#Plant15 is in full swing and many attribute the rapid progress to auto steering and GPS capabilities. Others commented saying larger equipment, lots of hard work and long hours come into play. I know all are true. Where would we be without technology?

Here are the poll results:

  • Automatic section control (ASC) – 5%
  • Variable-rate seeding – 6%
  • Precision seed metering – 21%
  • Auto steer/GPS – 31%
  • Faster planters – 16%
  • Other – 21%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What is your favorite type of craft beer?

The Alltech’s Rebelation is right around the corner and no Alltech event is complete without craft beer. This year Alltech will kick off the educational festivities with the 2nd Annual Craft Brews & Food Fest slated for Saturday, May 16. In honor of that, we want to know what craft beer tops your list. Do your taste buds lean towards an IPA, wheat, stout or do you love them all?

Blossman Gas Ups Vehicles Running on Propane

ROUSH Propane Bobtail1One of the country’s biggest propane dealers is practicing what it preaches. Blossman Gas is increasing the number of vehicles in its fleet that run on propane with the purchase of three new autogas bobtails, purchased from ROUSCH CleanTech.

“Propane autogas provides numerous benefits for our nation’s fleet vehicles,” notes Stuart Weidie, President and CEO of Blossman Gas and President of Alliance AutoGas. “Blossman Gas has made the commitment to run our own fleet on autogas and therefore has the ability to share real data and experiences, which enhances our ability to convince prospective customers that it is a cost effective, clean and domestic fuel that is available right here, right now” adds Weidie.

Currently, ninety-five percent of the Blossman fleet running on gaseous fuels has been converted to propane autogas within the last two years, netting a cost savings to the company of over $976,000. Additionally, their fleet has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 96 tons since converting to autogas.

Added to the fleet of work and service vehicles are the three new F-650 Ford ROUSH CleanTech bobtails. The Ford F-650 ROUSH CleanTech units have a 6.8L V-10 engine that will be dedicated to use propane autogas. These units will be deployed this month with a 2600 gallon barrel for the sole purpose of delivering propane gas to Blossman’s residential and commercial accounts.

Expansion Complete on BDI Biodiesel Plant

BDIGermany-based BDI – BioEnergy International AG has completed the expansion of a biodiesel plant in Spain. This company news release says the refinery will turn oils and animal fats with very high FFA-content into the green fuel.

ecoMotion Biodiesel S.A. (a company of the international SARIA Group) commissioned BDI with the installation of a “High-FFA esterification” unit in its plant in Barcelona. This technological in-house development from BDI allows BioDiesel producers to use the most challenging oils and fats available on the market – without a limit on free fatty acids (FFA) – whilst retaining the highest BioDiesel quality. BDI therefore sets again a technological milestone in the future market of the BioDiesel production based on oils and animal fats.

“Biodiesel producers are currently facing major challenges as a result of uncertainties with regard to the future European biofuel policy. However, the use of waste and residual materials is safeguarded due to the positive environmental aspects. With the BDI RetroFit-program, we can already integrate the necessary, well-developed solutions in plants for the requirements of tomorrow. We also managed at ecoMotion Spain to prove again our lead regarding technologies for the BioDiesel production from the most challenging animal by-products available on the market”, says Dr. Edgar Ahn – Member of the Board (CSO).

BDI had already been commissioned with the construction of a multi-feedstock biodiesel plant in Barcelona in 2002. This new capability to accept more raw materials is expected to increase the efficiency and flexibility of the refinery.