If only things were simple
Here’s an interesting take on the idea that biodiesel production uses chemicals, and that these are contained in biodiesel. How else are they going to make it? It doesn’t quite grow on trees.
Here’s an interesting take on the idea that biodiesel production uses chemicals, and that these are contained in biodiesel. How else are they going to make it? It doesn’t quite grow on trees.
I'm just a sucker for mapping applications. If you decide you want a tankfull of biodiesel then this could be the place for you. The link takes a few seconds to load, but it looks pretty comprehensive. You'll have to drill down into the individual states for more detail.
Guess where these guys recommend you go for biodiesel feedstock: Fry-o-diesel
Now, my Portuguese is more than a little non-existent (apart from hello) but I guess these chaps are busy building a biodiesel plant in that country.
Here's an extract from seawaydobrasil in the original
A Brasil Ecodiesel investirá R$ 25 milhões na construção de unidade produtora de biodiesel em Dourados (MS). O protocolo de intenções foi assinado hoje pelo presidente da empresa, Nelson da Silveira, e pelo governador sul-mato-grossense Zeca do PT...
and after Babelfish has had a go at it
Brazil Ecodiesel will invest to R$ 25 million in the construction of producing unit of biodiesel in Dourados (MS). The protocol of intentions was signed today by the president of the company, Nelson of the Silveira, and for the governing Zeca south-weeds-grossense of the PT...
Biodiesel producers will have new fuel stabilisation options at the Fuels of the Future conference in Berlin, November 27-28 from Lanxess, a German chemical firm, which will be offering a range of stabilisers and ion exchange resins designed for the biodiesel market.
Lanxess , says the products can be used to make unstable oils like, polyunsaturated methyl esters, found in soy (soya) bean oil more oxygen resistant. This is important because once the biodiesel starts to oxidise it can begin to corrode and damage engines. Lanxess says its Lewatit ion exchange resins, can help simplify production by removing water, salts, ash and glycerine too.
Biodiesel supplies in near Chicago got a boost today when, the Illinois state environmental protection agency has given Nova Energy Holding a permit to build and operate for one year a 60m gallons/year (227m litres/year) biodiesel plant in Seneca, Illinois. Nova is in the process of completing financing for the project. The plant is part of Nova's strategy to build facilities capable of processing around 240m gallons/year. Nova says it will be using its own patented technology.
If ever anyone asks you why they should use biodiesel instead of the regular stuff that comes out of the pumps, just memorise the data from Alternative Energy on their post the Advantages of Biodiesel Fuel for Transportation and you won't be short of an answer.
Just the news the biodiesel industry does not want to hear. The US National Biodisel Board surveyed biodiesel pumps across the US between November 2005 and July this year and found that one third (my emphasis) of biodiesel sampled did not meet biodiesel fuel standards.
Biodiesel is very much the preserve of enthusisasts in the US. Diesel as a fuel seems to be fighting an up hill battle against the entrenched gasoline-driven automotive industry. The last thing the biodiesel producers want to do is had a story like this to the gasoline lobby…
In a news release on off-spec biodiesel the US the NBB says:
DeBeers Fuel is taking delivery of 90, biodiesel from algae reactors and is starting production n Naboomspruit, South Africa, according to the Energy Blog. The firm has signed an agreement with Greenstar Products for 90 reactors over 18 months and has taken delivery of the first, which was shipped from MIT in Cambridge Massachutsettes. DeBeers Fuel will be acting as Greenstar's master franchisee in South Africa for 90 sites located close to high level carbon dioxide emitters like power plants.
The 2-ton reactors will be built by Greenstar at its Glenns Ferry Facility in Idaho and delivered over the next 18 months. The first reactor was shipped November 8, 2006 by airfreight to South Africa.
Greenstar Products says its reactors can:
process raw materials into biodiesel in minutes, (versus one to two hours for the rest of the industry) will transform the De Beers plant into a State-of-the-Art Continuous Flow Process to increase efficiency and reduce operating costs.
Many people have high hopes for biodiesel from algae because they are fast growing, and to non-biologists like me, surprisingly algal oil yields are high. Up to 40% of the algae's weight. The great thing about algae is that there is no one strain that is better than the rest, so there should be plenty of competition.
The De Beers model will use algae developed at MIT, where the algae have been used to reduce emissions from the Institute's cogeneration plant. There are
thirty 3-meter-high triangles of clear pipe containing a mixture of algae and water. Bubbling the plant’s flue gases through the mixture has reduced CO2 emissions by 82 percent on sunny days and 50 percent on cloudy days (during daytime) and has cut nitrogen oxides by 85 percent (on a 24-hour basis).
One thing that worries me about the MIT process is that it takes several weeks to condition the algae to grow in the kind of carbon-dioxide-rich atmospheres found in flue gases. That looks like it could be a limiting step.
Biodiesel makers face a problem: what to do with the glycerine/glycerol,that the biodiesel production process makes on the side.
One answer to the problem of what to do with glcyerine made with biodieselcame across my desk from Chemisch2Weekblad a few minutes ago. I saw it in translation, the site is in Dutch.
The former Methanor plant at Delfzijl, Netherlands, is to use glycerine as a raw material for producing biomethanol according to the initiators of the project. The facility was acquired earlier in 2006 from the joint owners DSM, Akzo Nobel, and Dynea by BioMethanol Holding, a consortium of Ecoconcern, the NOM, the investor OakInvest, and the process technologists Sieb Doorn and Paul Hamm.
What are they going to do with the biomethanol? Firstly, sell it as a petrol additive and later maybe use it in fuel cells. The plant produced methanol from Dutch natural gas but was closed down because this process was no longer profitable. Modifications to allow the use of glycerine will be carried out over then next nine months. The plant will be re-commissioned as soon as possible and in the first instance will produce 100,000 tonne/yr.
Glycol is quite like a bunch of methanol molecules welded together, the process to convert this to methanol would involve breaking up the molecule and adding hydrogen. Now where are they getting the hydrogen from? Natural gas? and what kind of catalyst would you use for the reaction... Any thoughts, because BioMethanol Holding isn't saying
The Asian biofuel markets face big challenges, according to a report on ICIS news. Anu Agarwal has been talking to producers of ethanol and biodiesel in and around Singapore and discovered they are as concerned about the prospects for their industry as delegates at the World Refining Association's 2006 European Biofuels Forum in Warsaw, yesterday and Tuesday.
(Full disclosure: I work for ICIS)
Biodiesel says Brazil's president Luiz Inácio Da Silva said biodiesel should be added to straight diesel the opening of a new biodiesel plant on Tuesday Baro do Bugres (163 kilometers the northwest of Cuiabá). He said that in some parts of the world, blends with 20% biodiesel are used, Da Silva said it is likely that a 5% mixture (B5) could be used in the country between 2009 and 2013.
According to Agrosoft, this is the first plant in the Matto Grosso to make biodiesel and will used locally sourced feeds including sunflower seeds from small growers. The project sees a semi-government run organisation supplying sunflower seeds and tame nuts* to 2000 local farmers who supply the land and labour in return for a guaranteed purchase of their crops.
*I have no idea what tame nuts are, but I'm trying to find out
The information in this post was translated by Bablefish
Neste is to build a second 170,000 tonne/year biodiesel facility in Porvoo, Finland using its NExBTL hydrogenation technology. This can use either plant-derived or animal-based fats and convert them to pure alkane diesel.
President and CEO Risto Rinne says.
“Building a second plant at Porvoo will bring us one step further towards reaching our goal, but it will not be the only move that we’ll be making. We intend building a number of such plants in various markets, both alone and together with partners. When we talk about aiming to be the leader in the field, we’re not just talking about production volumes, but also about being the technology leader as well. We aim to secure this position by investing heavily in R&D on biofuels to develop technologies that will enable us to further extend the range of raw materials that we can use. Ensuring the sustainability of the raw materials is also a top priority for us.”
This is in addition to the earlier 170 000 tonnes/ year plant there, which is due to come on stream in 2007. Neste has other similar projects in other markets.
This story made me blink, Sasol says it will need subsidies if it is to operate a biofuels plant.
According to Business Report
"Biodiesel production is not economically viable considering the cost of vegetable oil and crude prices," Brian Tait, the manager of alternative energy at the world's biggest producer of liquid fuels from coal, said at a conference in Cape Town
Vegetable oil feedstock would have to come from new plantings or be imported at a cost of about $700 (R5 000) a ton because most current oilseed production was consumed locally, Tait said.
Sasol expected to decide this month whether to build a 100 000 ton a year plant fed by soya beans. It would cost at least $30 million, Tait added.
Picture from : http://www.flickr.com/photos/accidntl/190211610/
This story about the SF bay area biofuel community appeared on ABC a couple of weeks ago...
Biodiesel is set to gain ground in Barbados news of a deal between Integrated Bio-Energy Resources based there and Guyana on the near-by South American mainland, according to BioPact.
Integrated Bio-Energy Resources got the green light last week to utilise more than 162,000 hectares (400,000 acres) of land Guyana, (which is famous as the only South American counry to play cricket), for a palm oil plant project to produce bio-diesel
Integrated Bio-Energy Resources projects it will produce over one million gallons [3.785 million liters] of biodiesel per day, with plans for expansion to over three million gallons per day [11.36 million liters] making it one of the Caribbean's largest operations. 11.36 million liters per day comes down to a production of roughly 71,000 barrels oil equivalent per day:
Managing director Hally Haynes, also noted talks had already begun with the Barbados Government and it was estimated that the company would generate an income of over US$13 million at the end of the first year.
Adrian, Ohio, will be the home of a new biodiesel plant in June 2007, to be built by Biofuel Industries Group. Biofuel industries plans to spend $20m on the facility, according to Toledoblade.com.
A plan for a 10-acre green-waste facility in South Kohala that could lead to a biodiesel plant was presented last week to the Hawaii County Council.
Plans for the $1.75 million facility, which would be built next to the Puuanahulu landfill, call for backbone infrastructure to allow for green-waste grinding, composting, according to Automobile, the Auto News Press Digest
A day of questions I'm afraid. This one occurred to me after chatting with my new friend Charlie on Farmers Weekly Interactive. He and his family brew their own in Ireland for use down on the farm and he was telling me that the price has risen dramatically from free 18 months ago to around 20p (30cents)/litre. The good stuff is around 25p (40cents)/litre.
Is he being ripped off? Or has he found a gold mine...
PetroChina is to up biofuels output and grow feestocks in China in an agreement with China’s State Forestry Administration to with a 2010 deadline.
(Disclosure: I work for ICIS: About ICIS)
My friend Keith Tan Liming says
The project will span an area of more than 6m acres (24,281 square kilometres) by 2010, it added.
PetroChina will also expand its ethanol capacity to over 2m tonnes/year, or more than 40% of the country’s output, using non-grain feedstock, it said.
It looks to me like they'll be using plants like Sorghum and cassava. The announced increase is possibly part of the Chinese National Development and Reform Commissions's plan to increase China's own biofuel production to 300m tonne/year. This could put greater stress on the country's water resources. Much of these are polluted.
There's lots of biodiesel in Brazil, that's a given. Just how much is shown by this list of biodiesel plant capacities from the government.
Imperium renewables, based in Seattle, Washington has signed a contract to buy up to 1m gallons of canola oil from within Washington State, according to AP. The company thinks it will help to diffuse criticism that it has been importing vegetable oil to make biodiesel.
Certainly, if the other environmental impacts are low, and the price is right then it makes sense to source locally.
Here's a site offering some suggestions about how Biodiesel could be made commercially in Cambodia.
US soybean growers want a larger subsidy and want an incentive payment to encourage development of biodiesel,. according to Domesticfuel.com
Biofuels from microbes or microdiesel is an area that could be important in the future. (And along with plant physiology is an area that I know next to nothing about (beyond being just about able to say the words)). So check out how microbiology can reduce your carbon foot print for a quick run down on the subject (and the Blueman video at the end) on Microbiology bytes.com.
Macon-based Alterra Bioenergy announced plans Tuesday for a new biodiesel refinery in Plains with help from former President Jimmy Carter according to macon.com.
Hattip to Peach Pundit
Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron the CEO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council explained why he thinks the European Union needs to get its own house in order before considering preventing non-certificated palm oil imports for use in biodiesel in the New Straights Times last Saturday. The European Commission is considering a certification process to measure how sustainable veg oil is for use in biodiesel.
Some points though are more valid than others. He says:
In reality, protectionist measures are being cleverly disguised as environmental issues, which are being exploited and propagated as anti-palm oil campaigns by environmental NGOs to increase financial contributions from unaware sympathisers. Any measure to exclude palm oil will naturally contravene World Trade Organisation provisions.
He has a point in the next paragraph though:
Although statements issued in the Netherlands say that only palm oil from sustainable sources would be allowed in the biofuel industry, ironically, no vegetable oils, even those produced in the EU or US currently, have a sustainability certification scheme in place. Therefore, to stipulate that palm oil be certified sustainable for biofuel use in the EU is likely to be regarded by exporters as a non-tariff barrier against WTO rules.
Lets get a certification process in place in that can be applied to both European and non-European vegetable oil.
This is an analysis, of how traditional fermentation processes are not really going to be the best long-term solution to energy needs in the US and some of the unintended consequences of switching to green energy sources.
A new Asia Biodiesel report from ICIS is due on 21st March. The report will feature an FOB SE Asia assessment for Palm-based biodiesel (PME), much of which is being exported to Europe.
(Disclosure: I work for ICIS: About ICIS)
ICIS pricing has developed a global portfolio of biofuels reports in the last 12 months, with Fuel Ethanol coverage in Europe, Asia and Latin America, Biodiesel reports in Europe, the USA and Asia and an ETBE (Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether) report in Europe.
If you're interested in more details about these reports, then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The grant will be used to bring together a consortium of bio-diesel advocates to help develop distribution and fueling infrastructure and provide classroom training to fuel distributors, mechanics and users.
Wayne Nastri the EPA's Administrator for the Pacific Southwest region said:
"This grant gives City College of San Francisco a unique opportunity to help jump start the use of biodiesel in the Bay Area. Bringing biodiesel into mainstream use provides a homegrown fuel source that improves air quality and reduces the impact of waste oil to our waterways."
There are plenty of people in and around San Francisco Biofuels scene who I'm pretty sure would be happy to help.
Neste Oil and Stora Enso agreed on 16 March to develop a technology producing biofuels from wood residues and invest €14m ($18.4m) in a pilot plant, according to ICIS news.
(Disclosure: I work for ICIS: About ICIS)
Stora Enso, an integrated paper, packaging, and forest products company, will supply wood biomass while Neste Oil will market the biofuels. The process will involve using the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert syngas to fuel.
I wonder if they're talking to the chaps at Purdue University who are into hydrogenating biomass to fuel about optimising the process...
The European Biodiesel Board says the US is fixing prices and dumping cheap biodiesel in Europe, according to ICIS news.
(Disclosure: I work for ICIS: About ICIS)
My friend Mark Watts, quotes the EBB as saying
"In most EU countries EEB member companies are experiencing dumping competition from B99 blends which are offered in the market as pure biodiesel with a substantial discount".
These subsidies were in some cases thought to be above €150/tonne ($200/tonne).
The EBB continues in a letter to EU trade commissioner, Peter Mandleson
EU producers were being pushed out of business by price-setting, which has allowed large discounts on imports from the US
If this is true then European Biofuel producers face two difficulties. Firstly, the US Biodiesel industry is heavily subsidised in he US because of tax breaks, and it would be politically difficult to remove these.
Secondly, it is not illegal in the US for American firms to operate as cartels outside the US, if that's what they're doing. An amendment to the Sherman Act, called the Web-Pomerene act, makes it legal.
So, the European biodiesel industry will have to rely on political pressure from the European Union to sort the problem out.
There's an interesting round up of much Indian biodiesel activity over on a blog called Renewable Energy by Ajith Gopi
It is Good to see India doing so much in this area. I wonder how the equilibrium between using crops for food or fuel is balancing out and how much could be available for export.
Standards for biofuels are important to the future of the business, there needs to be standardised biofuel products if they are to win a significant role in future fuel mixtures.
Eugene, a fellow-poster on the SVO forum is interested in capturing some of the experiences of people making biofuels to a standard and home brewers in a survey, partly I think to see if the current AST</EN standards for the fuels are appropriate.If you'd like to take part in a survey, let me know by email to email@example.com and I'll forward Egene's details to you.
Now biofuels could damage Europe's forests, according to a report on the BBC, which cites unnamed oil firms.
For Roger Harrabin at the BBC that looks a bit sloppy, the big oil reference only comes in the first paragraph and is not backed up with names or firms...But he does make some good points about the sustainability of palm oil.
If you're interetsted in Jatropha as a biofuel, there is a conference in Mombassa later this month.
WHEB Biofuels plans to build a £50m/70.2m euro biodiesel plant in the Port of Rotterdam. The plant will be a multi-feedstock plant with the capacity of 400,000 tonnes/year biodiesel production. This will be supplid on long term contracts to major oil companies.
Plant construction is subject to environmental permitting, should start later this year and full scale commercial operations scheduled for 2009.
UOP LLC, a Honeywell (NYSE: HON) company, and Eni S.p.A. (NYSE: ENI) announced today that Eni will build a production facility using EcofiningTM technology to produce diesel fuel from vegetable oils.
The facility, to be located in Livorno, Italy, will process 6,500 barrels per day of vegetable oils to supply European refineries with a high-cetane "green" diesel fuel, to meet growing demand for high-quality, clean fuels and biofuels throughout Europe.
BP and D1 oils have agreed to form a joint biodiesel venture. Over the next five years the 50/50 joint venture D1-BP Fuel Crops plans to invest around $160m (€119m) on planting over 1m hectares of the oilseed bearing plant, BP said, according to a report on ICIS news.
(Disclosure: I work for ICIS, About ICIS)
D1 oils says in its most recent annual report that it has rights to 110 000 hectares of jatropha and that in five to seven years the firm could be netting 1.7 tonne oil/hectare
I notice that Mr Panton's tanks are coming along nicely in his blog about making your own biodiesel.
Gormet biodiesel, the idea hadn't really crossed my mind before I came across Luxist, who in turn has found Apres Vin, a company that makes gourmet oils from crushed varietal grape seeds. As Luxist says,
The company creates gourmet grape seed oils based on varietals such as Riesling and Merlot... The company is also exploring other options...even Chardonnay biodiesel.
JM Panton's tanks are now green, I notice over on Can I make some BioDiesel?
Eastman has moved to B20 for in house locomotives at its Kingsport, Tennessee plant, according to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.
BP and the German biofuel group Verband der Deutschen Biokraftstoffindustrie (VDB) have fallen out over the level of blending and the type of biodisel to be blended in Germany, according to a report on ICIS news
(Disclosure: I work for ICIS. About ICIS)
BP says the level is too high --and that car engine makers agree -- and pointed out the impact that first generation biofuels are having on food supplies. (Separately I notice the BBC has a story about rising wheat prices being passed through to customers of Cornish Pasties ).
Instead BP, which has interests in Jatropha, says that hydro treated oils should be used instead.
The VDB's reaction is pretty predictable, saying there's enough capacity in Germany and anyway that the BP position would imply greater imports of palm oil and that could harm German biofuel makers.
Well excuse me. Shouldn't the consumer get the cheapest biofuel irrespective of the source, subject to ethical standards in production being met? Why should German consumers be forced to buy expensive uneconomic biofuel if it can be made elsewhere, shipped to Germany and sold at the pumps for less than locally produced biofuel? I think that the WTO should look at the subsisides, and trade barriers that exist between the rich north and the poor south in all forms of biofuels.
This website can give you help in finding the right way to pay tax and duty on biofuel or straight veg oil used as fuel in the UK. It might save you a lot of trouble...
I've had a sort of answer to my flippant question about whether Jatropha will grow in the Catskills mountains of New York state. One of my colleagues who works in an office in New York, New York has sent me a relaease about Blue Sun Biodisel planning a Jatropha plantation in Texas. Where there's lots of land and lots of sunshine.
There are some economics on algae as a biofuel here. Ok so BioKing want's you to buy thier kit, but it should be a guide...
If you need to find biodisel in the and the rest of the world you could check out Nate Clarke's website, called Findbiodiesel.org. Its a work in progress, you can add your own details if you wish.
We got there in the end Nate!
I came across this on YouTube, it was posted a little earlier today... before you watch it, you might be interested to read about what the price of palm oil is doing to the biofuel industry in southeast Asia. If you don't want to have any doubts about getting rich quickly (oh, if you've got the odd $1m under the mattress) then just watch the video.
Interesting post on how the developing and developed world can work together to produce biofuels over on allAfrica.com in a report by Dominique Patton
Nairobi first published in the Nairobi Business Daily. The allAfrica report it features D1 Oils and Sun Biofuels. It says:
Jatropha could be Africa's first real chance to profit from the booming biofuels market and allow it to solve its energy problems at the same time. The tropical plant grows in poor and arid soil conditions and can be grown on land that has fallen out of agricultural production or in wasteland.
Its seeds yield up to 40 per cent oil, and once processed, the waste seed cake could be sold as an organic fertiliser. Most importantly, though, jatropha is not edible so increased planting will not put pressure on food supply, say proponents.
We know that, what is interesting is the plant's water requirements:
D1Oils estimates it needs between 300 and 1,000 ml of water a year for optimum output.
That sounds low, compared with 35 inches for corn
"If we can get the logistics right, we would look at prices of $570 to $625 per tonne, which is below the current palm oil price," says Mr Prince.
The report also touches on logistics and price:
Palm oil has recently surged to $770 per tonne, up from $417 per tonne in June 2006, and higher than even crude oil. This has led to most biofuel plants in Malaysia being abandoned.
ABS Biodiesel is to build the UK's biggest biodisel plant in Bristol, according to Biofuels International. The plant will have capacity for 225 00 tonne/year, can be expanded to 500,000 tonne/year, is well placed for crops and for nearby refineries, according to the report. The report adds that there were 190,000 tonnes of biodiesel consumed in the UK, presumably in 2006.
I love the idea of the police using biodisel -- there's no mention of whether they're paying duty on it in the story. But being Thailand the contributions of waste veg oil are voluntary...
Over on Biofuel Review they have some interesting figures on the kind of yield that super algae can produce in carbon-dioxide-rich environments.
The growth rate — an average productivity of 98 grams/meter2/day (ash free, dry weight basis) and reaching a high peak value of 174 grams/meter2/day — surpassed previous lab growth rates and exceeded all expectations going into the project.
Assuming that 60% of that weight is processable oil. That means that each square meter could generate 104g/oil day (that's about 4oz to the non metric). So it will take a goodly area of algae to make a barrel/day.
The key is sunlight and surface area. I wonder if it would be energetically worth while to illuminate algae at night to keep them growing 24 hours/day?
Hattip to Oilgae
High soy prices are taking their toll on US biodiesel producers in Delaware and in Wisconsin, according to Domestic fuel. In both of those states, Biofuel plants have opened or are being built with help from state or local funding and have closed or construction has stopped because no one thought to do the sums if the price of feedstock increased. Which doesn't cover either the companies or the local lenders in glory. Biofuels are a more than a warm cosy glow that win local law makers votes. They are products sold in markets and markets will have their way.
If there is a bright spot in this (and it is pretty dim) , by funding the plant's construction the local authorities will have stimulated the local economy.
Brazil wants to be a biodiesel super power as it jockeys for biodisel market share, but may be derailed by the high price of soy, according to, John Waggoner, on ICIS news.
(Disclosure: I work for ICIS: About ICIS)
John's report says
Brazil could become the world’s second largest biodiesel producer, with annual production expected to skyrocket nearly 89% to 850m litres (225m gal) in 2008, a government official said on Thursday.
The country produced some 450m litres in 2007, but demand is growing due to the implementation of mandatory blending requirements.
Brazil is mandating a 2% blend in diesel. John continues:
Market sources have told ICIS news that feedstock costs have risen so much in response to demand from biodiesel production that there are doubts about the ability of the programme to generate desired results.
The chief problem is reliance on soy. Which is ironic, since on Tuesday we saw that substituting soy for corn in the US is leading to deforestation in Brazil.
Citing global demand and Brazil’s alternatives to soy as feedstock, Energy Ministry Director of Renewable Fuels Ricardo Dornelles said the government in the year ahead would seek to spur cultivation of oilseed crops with higher oil yields.
I'd suggest that they go for castor oil, if it has any uses they will be industrial, there is only so much castor oil that people can drink. Of course this will push inflation into other areas, which are not directly food related. It will be interesting to see how the Brazilians balance the needs of the biofuel industry with the environment and how they manage the lag between planing more crops and the instant need for fuel.
It was a tough end to 2007 and hard start to 2008 for biodiesel makers in the US. There have been at least three petitions for bankruptcy for US Biodiesel producers in the last few days of 2007 and the first few days of 2008.
Most recently U.S. Bioenergy of America filled for Chapter 11 protection last week but before that
Green Country Biodiesel filed to have assets at its Chelsea, Oklahoma facility liquidated just before Christmas.
However, its not all bad news Earth Biodiesel, successfully staved off an attempt by creditors to get it wound up in mid December. Earth Biodiesel distributes BioWillie, among other things.
The cost of lobbying by the National Biodisel Board in the US has been published by Congress. In 2007 the National Biodiesel Board spent about $1.2m, which seems pretty small beer to me, according to Hemscott
There's no free grease any more, that's the mournful message from Christopher Griffin, director of legal affairs for Griffin Industries, a company that collects raw grease in 20 states and turns it into yellow grease. Its all under contract, apparently.
It didn't take people long to realise that there's value in old chip fat. So much that they have taken to walking off with it.
You might remember that I wrote a couple of days ago that there is no free grease anymore... well its got worse. Much worse. Words like "warzone", are being used, the battleground is partly in San Francisco, where the city uses waste grease to make biodiesel for its busses, according to an article in SF Gate.com.
This scenario fits quite well with point two of my four or five predictions for 2008.
"The cost of input--primarily soy and corn--costs too much given the price they get for their biodiesel," says Butler.If that's your problem, then you need to cut costs in your process as much as possible, or if you've got the financial muscle, integrate downstream into raw material production and upstream into distribution. It can be very uncomfortable sitting in the middle.
What's more, the parliamentary committee is demanding that, before 2015, a full review of the whole EU biofuel promotion policy and its social and environmental impacts be carried out to determine whether the targets need revising. This review should "focus on consequences for food security, biodiversity and the availability of electricity or hydrogen from renewable sources, biogas or transport fuels from ligno-cellulosic biomass and algae," the text reads.
This flies in the face of much of the current thrust of European biofuel industry, and will create uncertainty in the market. That is not completely a bad thing. The difficulty for many existing companies and the trade associations that represent them centres around their needs to keep shareholder/proprietors happy quarter to quarter and year to year. The Parliament, by voting in this way, is hoping to develop a rounded robust biofuels sector that will have little or no impact on food supplies. This has to be preferable in the long term to a biofuel sector that competes for food crops.
The one thing that I don't like about the vote is that it adds in electricity and hydrogen. I especialy doubt that hydrogen will be a sustainable fuel untill we develop bacteria/algae to produce it from organic material without generating carbon dioxide. Hydrogen is bad because it is currently made using electicity, so the process is less efficicnt than electricity production. There is little or no infrastructure in place to get hydrogen to the point of need.
The European Parliament's powers vary from area to area, for example, if this decision is seen in the context of agriculture, then parliament can only give its opinion to the Council of Ministers. If its a non-sensitive area then the Council and Parliament have to agree. If there are any experts in the rolls of Council and Parliament out there, I'd like to hear from you.
So where do the Malaysians fit into all of this... They are concerned that the poposed increases in carbon savings that are also included in the parliament's decison will leave palm and soy oil out in the cold. They might neet to lobby national governements, or be much more imaginative.
"Current policies tend to favour producers in some developed countries over producers in most developing countries. The challenge is to reduce or manage the risks while sharing the opportunities more widely."The FAO puts the total share of the world fuel market supplied by biofuels at 2%. It also makes a point that this blog has made on numerous occassions in the past that
If developing countries can reap the benefits of biofuel production, and if those benefits reach the poor, higher demand for biofuels could contribute to rural development. "Opportunities for developing countries to take advantage of biofuel demand would be greatly advanced by the removal of the agricultural and biofuel subsidies and trade barriers that create an artificial market and currently benefit producers in OECD countries at the expense of producers in developing countries,"
Burried at the end of chapter 1 of the State of food is this gem...
The potential for current biofuel technologies to replace fossil fuels is also illustrated by a hypothetical calculation by Rajagopal et al. (2007). They report theoretical estimates for global ethanol production from the main cereal and sugar crops based on global average yields and commonly reported conversion efficiencies.
The results of their estimates are summarized in Table 3. The crops shown [wheat, rice, maize, cassava,sugar cane, sorghum and sugar beet] account for 42 percent of total cropland today. Conversion of the entire crop production to ethanol would correspond to 57 percent of total petrol consumption. Under a more realistic assumption of 25 percent of each of these crops being diverted to ethanol production, only 14 percent of petrol consumption could be replaced by ethanol. The various hypothetical calculations underline that, in view of their significant land requirements, biofuels can only be expected to lead to a very limited displacement of fossil fuels. Nevertheless, even a very modest contribution of biofuels to overall energy supply may yet have a strong impact on agriculture and on agricultural markets.
My emphasis. Biofuels can only make a marginal difference to the world's energy demands using current technology, and as I wrote earlier today, second generation technologies around cellulose will become increasingly costly in future.
Should we be downhearted?
There is real scope for biofuels to make a difference, providing that we use the right combination of technologies, we use the right feedstocks and we trade them in the right way. That is fairly across borders using a genuine free market without hidden subsidies or corruption.
I'm going to say it once again, we as a society must get to grips with fuel econonmy in all of its guises, from better home insulation and higher building standards to building cars with greater fuel efficiency.
Dr Titus Mathe, The South African National Energy Research Institute's (Saneri's) programme manager, said that, although the country had a range of alternative fuels available, biodiesel was very comparable to petrol and diesel in terms of energy content. It also offered a favourable impact on energy security, as it could be locally produced.He added
In 2007, South Africa's demand for liquid transport fuels rose to 23 707-million litres, while State-owned power utility Eskom's gas turbine power plants demanded about 600-million litres.
Certainly, it is both timely and interesting that G. roseum
can utilize cellulose for the production of hydrocarbons
given the enormous volumes of foodstuff grains currently
being utilized for alcohol (fuel) production. However, the
yields of these compounds were lower than those found on
the oatmeal-based medium, probably because the digestion
of cellulose is rate limiting. Increases in the yields of these
products may be enhanced by new developments in
fermentation technology, membrane technologies and
genetic manipulation (Danner & Braun, 1999).
Their ambassadors to the EU have drafted a joint letter, which Reuters claims to have seen, saying the safeguards "impose unjustifiably complex requirements" on producer nations.
Recent high crude oil prices reaching 140 $/barrel and federal incentives have spurred biofuel production. Additionally, as noted by a 2007 McKinsey report, cellulosic biofuels have the potential to be a negative cost means to abate CO2. However, the majority of the current ( I generation ) U.S. biofuel production consists of corn converted to ethanol via fermentation ( ~6.5 billion gallons of ethanol in 2007 , ~250 million gallons of biodiesel in 2006). First generation biofuels in the US primarily comprise of corn ethanol and soy biodiesel. This conversion of food to fuels has not been without its disadvantages. For example, concerns about food for fuel, resource (land, water, energy) requirements, as well as net energy balances have made first generation biofuels a topic of debate. In this article, I will examine the some near-term challenges and opportunities for the U.S. biofuel industry , and discuss some of Obama's biofuel energy policies.
In comparison to I generation biofuels, II generation biofuels such as ethanol from cellulose, fuels from lignin likely have lesser environmental impacts. However logistical issues (gathering waste biomass) as well as enzyme costs are the main impediments for the commercialization of this technology. Additionally, in the case of waste biomass from crop refuse, the amount of biomass (ex: corn stover) to be left in the field to replenish the soil carbon is still a subject of research. The so-called III generation biofuels (algal biodiesel, high-photosynthetic rate plants) have the advantage of higher specific yields, but more research needs to be performed before they can be commercialized. For example, algal biodiesel economics are primarily affected by the algal yields, and improvements in algae productivity significantly improve the algal yields and overall economics.
The current economic downturn and lower demand for commodities has impacted several corn ethanol producers who locked into higher corn prices, anticipating an uptrend in commodity prices. VeraSun, for example, has filed for bankruptcy protection and is hoping to renegotiate agreements with corn producers. In the short-run, additional corn ethanol plants are not likely to be constructed because of lower demand for gasoline and tight credit markets . More about the general effects of the credit crisis on various sectors of the energy industry from an article on The Oil Drum .
In the near-term, the demand for biofuels will be affected by existing federal mandates, world oil prices, credit markets and regional cap-and-trade programs. Of these, providing access to lines of credit and accelerating research in advanced biofuels would be some of the near-term initiatives that could help meet the 60 billion gallons/year target for biofuels. Any policy actions taken should not result in unintended consequences. For example, a recent study found that meeting the renewable fuel standards for biofuels by corn ethanol production would worsen the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, the use of agricultural land to grow fuel-producing crops will likely result in conflicts with other means of carbon mitigation. Balanced policy measures addressing the larger picture are required for sustainable biofuel production.
Emami Biotech is using Jatropha in commercial jatropha biofuel production according to the Bioenergy site.
If this is the case, and the report is a little garbled, then could it be the first commercial application of that technology?
Plans to switch from gasoline to electricity or biofuels to increase energy security are effectively a strategic decision to switch dependence from foreign oil to domestic water. Attempts to alleviate some serious problems - such as energy security and climate change - can aggravate an even more serious problem, acute water shortages.The report points to a couple of recent examples of water shortages in the US and Europe. The tension between water and energy is already visible in the US and Europe.
• The Department of Energy report to Congress on the interdependency of energy and water stated that energy production is very much at the mercy of water availability
• Utilities in the US recognize that water quantity is becoming a significant permitting issue - Maryland County denies cooling water to proposed power plants18
• Tennessee Valley Authority shut down one of three reactors at its Browns Ferry nuclear plant to avoid heating the Tennessee River to dangerous levels. Due to a drought that reduced the river level and hottest temperatures in 50 years, the plant could not discharge the cooling tower water since it would have crossed the permissible limit.
to require corn ethanol and soy biodiesel to compete with second-generation and other advanced biofuels;
to improve production and make lower carbon products;
to tie support to second generation fuels, up blending quotas;
to make feedstock producers show compliance with programmes designed to protect the rural environment before they get funding;
to promote micro production; and,
to pull policy together in one place.