Biofuel News Part 2

Other big news announcements from the biofuel industry the past two weeks include a new biojet fuel production facility being built by British Airways; news about biodiesel catalysts; a new enzyme from Novozyme that helps turn waste into fuel; and car rental company Enterprise Holding announcing its North American fleet shifting to biodiesel.

In the transportation sector, British Airways announced last week that it will establish Europe’s first bio-based jet fuel plant in partnership with US-based Solena Group and that the fuel will be used to power its fleet starting 2014. The facility in London (exact location still under consideration) will convert 500,000 tonnes of the city’s waste per year into 16 million gallons of green jet fuel.

British Airways has signed a letter of intent to purchase all the fuel produced by the plant, which will be built by the Solena.

US-based Enterprise Holdings announced on February 9 during the National Biodiesel Conference that it will begin usng at least 5% biodiesel (B5) to power its entire fleet of more than 600 Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental airport shuttle buses across more than 50 North American markets. The company will also immediately convert buses in nine markets to 20 percent biodiesel (B20) as a first step toward the company’s goal of converting its entire bus fleet to B20 over the next five years.

Enterprise Holdings expects to complete the conversion to all B5 by spring of this year, with at least 50 percent converted to B20 by the end of next year.

As previously mentioned in another recent biofuel post, General Motors announced during the National Biodiesel conference its plans to introduce the company’s 2011 model year Duramax 6.6L turbo diesel engines that will be able to use B20 biodiesel. The engines will be part of all 2011 GM heavy-duty products including Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Express, and GMC Savana, after extensive evaluation of B20.

GM said it previously offered B20 capability as a special equipment option for fleets. GM announced several upgrades for 2011, such as upgraded seal and gasket materials, an upgraded fuel filter, and additional heating to the fuel circuit to make the new diesel vehicles B20 compatible with standard equipment.

Another announcement, this time at the National Ethanol conference, came from Novozymes, which claimed that their new enzyme Cellic® CTec2 enable the production of cellulosic ethanol at a price below $2/gallon for the initial commercial-scale plants that are scheduled to be in operation in 2011. Novozymes said this cost is on par with gasoline and conventional ethanol at the current US market prices.

Cellic CTec2 has proven to work on many different feedstock types, including corn cobs and stalks, wheat straw, sugarcane bagasse, and woodchips.

More news came from chemical companies such as BASF and Rockwood Holdings. BASF announced on February 10 that it will built a sodium methylate plant in Guaratinguetá, Brazil, which will have a capacity of 60,000 metric tons/year. The plant is expected to start by the end of 2011.

Sodium methylate is used as a catalyst for the production of biodiesel. BASF said it expects about 15% of the annual global demand for biodiesel, which is about 30 million tons, to come from South America in 2015.

Finally, Rockwood’s business unit Sachtleben has developed a new catalyst system for biodiesel production that they said are more energy efficient, simpler and sustainable. The process will also permit the conversion of inferior fats, paper-industry waste and algae oil to high-quality diesel fuel.

Sacthleben is working with Augsburg College and biodiesel producer Ever Cat Fuels LLC, which is currently designing the first commercial-scale pilot plant incorporating this innovative fluidized-bed catalyst system at Isanti, Minnesota, near Minneapolis.

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