Quad County to Host Grand Opening

It’s the month of celebration for cellulosic ethanol in Iowa. On Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 11:00 am Quad County Corn Processors will be hosting a grand opening event for its new “bolt on” biorefinery that produces cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber. Quad County is the site of Iowa’s first cellulosic ethanol gallons and the world’s first corn kernel fiber cellulosic ethanol, a process that was invented by Plant Engineer Travis Brotherson and patented by Quad County Corn Processors.

Quad County Corn Processors Team“After four years of research and development, financing hurdles, waiting on EPA rule clarifications and construction, we are excited to see the ACE project working and are proud to be producing the world’s first corn kernel fiber cellulosic ethanol gallons and Iowa’s first cellulosic ethanol gallons,” said Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors. “This state-of-the-art technology will create 2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol out of the corn kernel cellulose, a feed stock that we already have on site.”

“In addition to creating 4 new full-time jobs in Galva, this process will increase our ethanol yields by six percent, increase our corn oil removal by three times and create a feed product that is much higher in protein and lower in fiber,” add Johnson. “In essence, we will create more value out of the corn bushels we already process which increases our efficiency so we can continue to be a leader in the ethanol industry.”

Confirmed speakers for the ceremony include: Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture; Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association in Washington, DC; Monte Shaw, Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association; Brian Jennings, Executive Vice-President of the American Coalition for Ethanol; and David Witherspoon, Head of Renewable Fuels for Syngenta.

The public and media are invited. Event attendees can meet by the tents on the west side of the plant which is located at 6059 159th Street. Quad County is situated two miles south of Galva at the intersection of Highways 20 and M-25. Due to limited parking and truck traffic safety, guests are asked to park in the field northwest of the plant and enter the parking area from Highway M-25.

Project Liberty to Celebrate with Grand Opening

POET-DSM’s Project LIBERTY is celebrating the ethanol plant’s production of cellulosic ethanol produced from corn stover and corn cobs during a grand opening celebration on Wednesday, September 3, 2014. The event will be held in Emmetsburg, Iowa and will showcase what POET-DMS calls a “first-of-its-kind technology that is poised to dramatically expand the world’s resources for transportation fuel”.

POET-DSM Project Liberty July 2014The Grand Opening will feature plant tours, a formal ceremony, a flyover by the ethanol-powered Vanguard Squadron, booths, music and more. The public is invited to attend and lunch will be provided.

Project LIBERTY will process 770 tons of corn cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk daily to produce 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year, later ramping up to 25 million gallons per year. Plant personnel are currently running biomass through the pretreatment process and preparing for the first gallons of ethanol. Project LIBERTY will be the flagship plant in POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels’ plan to license this technology to companies across the U.S. and around the world.

Public tours will be available from 9:00 am to 11:00 am and 1:45 pm to 4:00 pm. A grand opening ceremony will take place from 11:00 am to 12:20 pm. Lunch will be provided and visitors can also view booths and equipment from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Location is 777 Main Street in Emmestburg, Iowa, 50536. There will be no public parking at the site. Free parking and regular shuttles will run from the Wild Rose Casino parking lot.

Virent Receives EPA Approval for BioForm

virentThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded Virent fuel registration for its BioForm Gasoline in blends of up to 45 percent. As a registered fuel, Virent’s biogasoline can now be used in on-highway motor vehicles. According to Virent, BioForm Gasoline is a high octane, direct replacement fuel made from plants that offers the benefits of high performance and blend rates, complete compatibility with existing refining and distribution infrastructure networks and reduced carbon footprint.

“Securing EPA registration of our BioForm Gasoline is further confirmation of Virent’s high quality drop-in fuel and is another step towards commercializing our technology to produce renewable fuels and chemicals from biobased feedstocks,” said Lee Edwards, CEO and President of Virent. “We would also like to recognize our longtime collaborator Royal Dutch Shell for supporting the registration and testing process.”

The BioForm Gasoline blended with conventional gasoline underwent testing at Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) with the results demonstrating that the emissions from the blended fuel were well below the maximum permitted by current regulations, according to Virent. The BioForm Gasoline was manufactured by Virent at its demonstration plant in Madison, Wisconsin, which is capable of producing up to 10,000 gallons of biofuels and biochemicals per year. The EPA testing work was funded by Virent partner Royal Dutch Shell.

Matthew Tipper, Shell Vice President Alternative Energies, added, “Shell is pleased to see continued progress of biofuels as a road transport fuel in the United States as evidenced by this most recent EPA registration of a plant-based alternative fuel. This success demonstrates the progress being made by the biofuels industry. Also, it supports a continuation of a framework for expanding commercialization and use of biofuels, including advanced biofuels produced from non-food based plant alternatives, in the United States.”

Bio Revolution America Uses Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is coming to biofuels. On August 3, 2014, Bio Revolution America launched a 45 day Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to fund its biofuels projects in Appalachia and within one week is reporting reaching 30 percent of their goal. The company has developed a Bio extractor machine that has they believe has the potential to change the face of biofuel manufacturing. The extractors are made in America, have six years of field testing and are patent pending.

According to Bio Revolution America, the machine extracts 100 percent carbon neutral bio oil and byproducts from plants using a cold oil extraction process. Cold oil extraction uses no chemicals or solvents and leaves everything in its natural, organic state. The bio-oil can then be used in foods, as biodiesel and the pressed meal can be used for cosmetics, medicine and more.

“There has probably never been a time in the history of America when something this important could happen,” said Bio Revolution America spokesperson Randall Richards. “Everyone wins! We help create jobs and income in the poorest parts of the U.S., We help save the environment, and become the world’s leader in pure, green, bio technology on a large scale!”

Upon reaching their Indiegogo funding goal they plan to help farmers in Appalachia plant seeds this fall so that the plants can be harvested in the spring 2015. The initial outreach is taking place in Appalachia, but will expand from there to the Midwest and Western U.S. in the next year.

Cathay Pacific Airlines Invests with Fulcrum BioEnergy

Cathay Pacific Airways is the first airline investor in Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc. The investments was made as part of the airline’s biofuel strategy and to help it achieve a target of carbon-neutral growth from 2020. Fulcrum is focused on the development and commercialization of converting municipal solid waste into sustainable aviation fuel or “biojet fuel”. Cathay Pacific also has an option for further investment.

“We are very pleased to become the first airline investor in this sustainable biofuel developer. We are well aware of the impact the aviation industry has on the environment Cathay-Pacific-Logoand have been doing a great deal to minimize our own impact,” said Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Ivan Chu. “We are pleased to have identified Fulcrum as a strategic business partner that has the necessary vision and technological know-how to help Cathay Pacific pursue the use of biojet fuels. These fuels are an important component of our sustainable development strategy, under which we aim to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020.”

Cathay Pacific has also negotiated a long-term supply agreement with Fulcrum for an initial 375 million U.S. gallons of sustainable aviation fuel over 10 years (representing on an annual basis approximately 2% of the airline’s current fuel consumption) that meets all the airline’s technical requirements and specifications. Fulcrum plans to commence construction of its first commercial plant later this year and to build large scale, waste-to-renewable jet fuel plants at multiple locations, including locations strategic to the Cathay Pacific network, primarily in North America.

Cathay Pacific Biofuel Manager Jeff Ovens said of their technology, “Fulcrum has successfully demonstrated a process of converting municipal solid waste feedstock into sustainable aviation fuel at its scale demonstration facility. The feedstock will be pre-sorted to remove any recyclables prior to being processed into fuels. The company has proved that its technology is viable and has supply commitments in place for feedstock needed for the fuel production. These supply commitments will cover both near-term and future developments.”

According to Jim Macias, CEO of Fulcrum BioEnergy, jet fuel produced by Fulcrum’s waste-to-fuels process will reduce lifecycle carbon emissions when used in aircraft or road Fulcrum logotransport by more than 80 percent when compared to traditional fuels derived from crude oil and other fossil sources. This process also reduces the amount of municipal solid waste going into landfill sites and the methane gas emissions that result from this. If not captured, methane gas is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming contributor.

“We value our strategic relationship with Cathay Pacific, one of the world’s premier airlines. Cathay Pacific shares our vision and plan to bring a whole new source of sustainable fuel to the airline industry,” added Macias. “A new fuel that has the exact same molecules as fossil fuel but is cleaner, lower in carbon, renewable and lower cost than traditional fossil fuels. Cathay Pacific is really stepping up to help accelerate deliveries of this fuel to the market. This relationship adds to Fulcrum’s existing feedstock, technology and fuel off-take partners that enhance Fulcrum’s low-cost business model for the production and sale of large volumes of low-carbon, jet fuel.”

Hawaii Funds BioTork Advanced Biofuel Technology

The Hawaii Department of Budget and Finance is now authorized to issue special purpose revenue bonds not exceeding $50,000,000 for the purpose of planning, permitting, designing, construction, equipping, and operating BioTork Hawaii LLC’s commercial facilities. Recently, the state passed legislation to assist in funding a zero waste project that converts crops, crop residues, dedicated energy crops and ag waste into sustainable biofuels and co-products.

According to BioTork, their bioconversion development efforts in Hawaii date back to 2010 when it began research of its technology. The company uses a “proprietary evolutionary optimization approach,” and “enhances the performance of non-GMO microorganisms under real-world industrial conditions in an unrivaled cost efficient way”. The conversion process takes a few days to cycle in a heterotrophic environment, meaning no sunlight is needed, to create oil for biofuel and high-protein feed.

bioTork“The passage of this legislation greatly enhances BioTork’s efforts in Hawaii. It demonstrates the attractiveness and the potential of our technology, which is focused on the bioconversion of agricultural waste, into a higher value product,” said Eudes de Crecy, CEO of BioTork.

Basing its efforts on the requirements of the “Hawaii Zero Waste Program,” BioTork entered into collaboration with the Daniel K. Inouye Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center. Since that time Hawaii committed $4,800,000 in research, development and capital improvement funding through a contract with DKI-PBARC to focus on BioTork’s evolution technology. Some of these funds have been committed through the state’s barrel tax allocations, which target energy and food security initiatives. Other funds have been appropriated through legislative capital improvement program allocations.

“At BioTork we firmly believe that in many circumstances there is much more value in converting carbon rich organic biomass into high value products, than just burning it, burying it or using it as fertilizer in the field. The model we pursue is to breed the good microbe candidates to specifically address the locally available biomass sources, using natural methods and to create much more value to the local and global economy,” added Tom Lyons, CSO of BioTork.

With the additional support of special purpose revenue bond funding, BioTork Hawaii LLC will be able to fuel the third step of its development program. This would involve scaling up to build and operate commercial facilities that will have the capacity to convert agricultural crops and by-products such as albizia, sweet potatoes, papaya, sugarcane bagasse, glycerol and molasses to biofuels and high-protein feed.

Boeing & SAA Collborate on BioJet Fuel From Tobacco

Boeing, South African Airways (SAA) and SkyNRG are partnering together to develop aviation biofuel from a specific type of tobacco plant. SkyNRG is currently expanding its production of Solaris, an energy crop hybrid derived from the tobacco plant. Pilot farming of the plant, which is effectively nicotine-free, is underway in South Africa with to end goal of producing advanced biojet fuel from the seeds. As the program expands, Boeing expects emerging technologies to increase South Africa’s aviation biofuel production from the rest of the plant.

The project is an effort to expand the support of South Africa’s goals for improved public health along with economic and rural development.

Tobacco Photos“It’s an honor for Boeing to work with South African Airways on a pioneering project to make sustainable jet fuel from an energy-rich tobacco plant,” said J. Miguel Santos, managing director for Africa, Boeing International. “South Africa is leading efforts to commercialize a valuable new source of biofuel that can further reduce aviation’s environmental footprint and advance the region’s economy.”

In October 2013, Boeing and SAA agreed they would work together to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain in Southern Africa. As part of that effort, they are working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials to position farmers with small plots of land to grow biofuel feedstocks that provide socioeconomic value to communities without harming food supplies, fresh water or land use.

Ian Cruickshank, South African Airways Group Environmental Affairs Specialist said of the expanded project, “By using hybrid tobacco, we can leverage knowledge of tobacco growers in South Africa to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking. This is another way that SAA and Boeing are driving development of sustainable biofuel while enhancing our region’s economic opportunity.”

“We strongly believe in the potential of successfully rolling out Solaris in the Southern African region to power sustainable fuels that are also affordable,” added Maarten van Dijk, Chief Technology Officer, SkyNRG.

Ethanol Plant Innovators

Four ethanol producers who are innovating plants through new process and product technology took the podium at the American Coalition for Ethanol conference this week to talk about what they are doing.

ace14-ronFirst up was ACE president Ron Alverson of Dakota Ethanol who talked about the importance of carbon, particularly the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and how it impacts ethanol production. Alverson is a corn farmer in South Dakota and he discussed how carbon intensity ratings for corn ethanol are improving and will continue to improve down the road. Ron Alverson, Dakota Ethanol

ace14-baker-adkinsRay Baker, general manager of Adkins Energy in northwest Illinois, who talked about the new biodiesel plant they are building to co-locate with their 50 million gallon ethanol plant and use corn oil as a feedstock. “Having corn oil as your main feedstock gives you a competitive advantage,” he said.
Ray Baker, Adkins Energy

ace14-erhart-prairieMike Erhart, CEO of Prairie Horizon Agri Energy in Kansas, says he runs a biorefinery, not an ethanol plant. “I think ethanol plant is antiquated,” he said. “It’s now time that we become a biorefinery and start touting that.” Erhart also talked about why his plant is producing renewable diesel. Mike Erhart, Prairie Horizon Agri Energy

ace14-delayneDelayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors, has the distinction of producing the very first gallons of cellulosic ethanol, just about a month ago. He talked about his plant being the first to use Syngenta Enogen corn and efficiencies they have implemented in the production process.
Delayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors

27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album

SG Preston Announces Renewable Diesel Project

SG Preston (SGP) has announced the planned development of a 120 million gallon renewable diesel facility in Lawrence County, Ohio. The $400 million bioenergy facility will be the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel when finished in 2017 according to SGP.

SG Preston logoThe company said a key component of the facility’s development is the licensing of their advanced process technology that has been successfully proven at commercial scale at other locations. According to SGP, this advanced technology efficiently converts waste feedstock into renewable diesel – chemically identical to petroleum-based diesel- and can be used as a drop-in replacement in vehicles. In addition, SGP said this technology allows them to customize its biofuel offering by adjusting fuel characteristics to meet various operating environments (extreme cold or heat) of the end user without diluting energy content in the GHG reduced fuel blend.

“For SG Preston, this is an important milestone and part of a larger vision of partnering with leading, global refining technology partners and local communities to develop a portfolio of renewable diesel and renewable jet fuel refineries targeting 1.2 billion gallons per year, or 20% of the federal RFS2 biomass-based mandate for biofuels,” said R. Delbert LeTang, CEO of SG Preston. “We see a blue sky opportunity to deliver customized, renewable fuel to government, the petroleum industry and other private users throughout the United States and we look forward to partnering with the people of southern Ohio to build new industries and new economic opportunity.”

Other partners in the project include the Lawrence County Economic Development Council, which is investing 62 acres in land and other incentives. The Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth and JobsOhio were also instrumental in securing the investment and technology to play a role in the future of southern Ohio.
Pre-engineering studies for the facility are expected to begin in September 2014, with commercial operations targeted for 2017.

Bill Dingus, executive director of Lawrence County Economic Development Council, added, “This project will be of significant economic importance to southern Ohio, bringing long-term employment and income to the region. We look forward to supporting the development of new energy technologies, and passing on the benefits of commerce and cleaner air to local residents.”

UC Riverside Researchers Enhance Biofuel Yields

University of California, Riverside researchers have developed a versatile, virtually non-toxic and efficient way to convert raw ag and forest residues along with other plant matter into biofuels and biochemicals. Professor Charles E. Wyman is leading the research team and their patent-pending method coined Co-solvent Enhanced Lignocellulosic Fractionation (CELF) and they believe they are another step closer to solving the goal of producing biofuels and biochemicals from biomass and high enough yields and low enough costs to become viable.

“Real estate is about location, location, location,” said Wyman, the Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering at UC Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT). “Successful commercialization of biofuels technology is about yield, yield, yield, and we obtained great yields with this novel technology.”

Charles Cai UC RiversideThe key to the technology, according to Wyman, is using tetrahydrofuran (THF) as a co-solvent to aid in the breakdown of raw biomass feedstocks to produce valuable primary and secondary fuel precursors at high yields at moderate temperatures. These fuel precursors can then be converted into ethanol, chemicals or drop-in fuels. Drop-in fuels have similar properties to conventional gasoline, jet, and diesel fuels and can be used without significant changes to vehicles or current transportation infrastructure.

Compared to other available biomass solvents, THF is well-suited for this application because it mixes homogenously with water, has a low boiling point (66 degrees Celsius) to allow for easy recovery, and can be regenerated as an end product of the process, explained Charles M. Cai, a Ph.D. student working with Wyman.

The research, focused on lignin, was recently published in Green Chemistry: “Coupling metal halides with a co-solvent to produce furfural and 5-HMF at high yields directly from lignocellulosic biomass as an integrated biofuels strategy.”

Students Present Research at Ethanol Conference

Several University of Minnesota students are giving the ethanol industry a preview of their cutting-edge research in biofuels, biochemicals and bioproducts during the 27th Annual Ethanol Conference in Minneapolis. One such student is Sahana Ramanna who is a PhD student who is working on improving the pre-treatment technologies used for biomass, specifically Aspen.

Sahana RammanaRamanna explained that one of the most difficult and energy intensive parts of converting biomass (aka cellulose) to sugar is in the initial phase. Using 3D imaging, similar to the technology used for brain scans, she and her team are able to test “pre-treatment” strategies and see how it affects the structure of the biomass.

Ultimately, Ramanna said they are looking to increase the amount of biomass that can be converted into biofuels and other biochemicals and products, thus increasing the amount of biofuels. In addition, the processes they are looking at would significantly improve the energy efficiency during this process. Next steps – refining the process for Aspen and then testing it on other forms of biomass.

Listen to Sahana Ramanna discuss her research here: Interview with Sahana Ramanna

Another student I spoke with is just beginning his PhD studies and has spent the last year working on an interesting biofuels project. Joseph Molde works in the BioTechnology Institute and he and his team are working on a process called hydrothernmal carbinization using distillers grains (DDGs), a bi-product of ethanol production.

Joseph Molde U of MWhat is really neat is the process is producing two new possible co-products: liquid carbon and biochar. The liquid carbon can be used as an organic fertilizer on fields, while the biochar can be used in various applications including biomaterials and biochemicals. Molde said that similar research has been taking place in Europe, but not much has been done with biochar here in the states.

Molde also noted that the process improves efficiency throughout the production process – just one more way the ethanol industry is working to improve its technology and environmental footprint – while also adding valuable additional co-products to an ethanol plant’s portfolio. He said they are scaling up the technology now and that he hopes to see it in commercial scale application in the next five to 10 years.

Listen to Joseph Molde discuss his research here: Interview with Joseph Molde

View the 27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album.

Oxygenate from Ethanol and Corn

xfxF Technologies Inc. is an advanced biofuel company that has developed a chemical process to convert corn or biomass plus alcohol (especially ethanol or methanol) into an oxygenate that can be blended with gasoline and diesel.

cutc-14-rob-randle“It’s a completely chemical process – no enzymes, no bacteria, no fermentation,” said Bob Randle of xF Technologies, who spoke at the recent Corn Utilization and Technology Conference. The end products are furoates – from either ethanol, methanol or butanol – that can then be used as oxygenates for fuel transportation to improve mileage, reduce emissions, increase lubricity, and more.

Randle says the technology offers co-location and add-on opportunities for ethanol and corn wet milling plants. “Because our primary feedstocks are corn and ethanol, or biomass and ethanol,” he said. “We can also be co-located with a cellulosic ethanol plant as well.”

Learn more in this interview: Interview with Bob Randle, xF Technologies

2014 CUTC Photo Album

Amyris & GOL Take to the Skies with Biojet Fuel

Amyris along with Brazilian airline GOL have flown the industry’s first commercial flight with farnesane, a recently approved jet fuel. Flight 7725 left from Orlando, Florida July 30 at 5:15 pm ET and landed in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

GOL committed to fly its Boeing 737 fleet with up to a 10 percent blend of the renewable farnesane fuel starting with this initial flight on July 30, 2014. According to Amyris, Farnesane can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 80 percent compared to petroleum fuels. When blended with Jet A/A1 fuel at 10 percent, farnesane can also reduce particulate matter emissions, decreasing pollution near airports and major metropolitan areas.

The global aviation industry has committed to aggressive goals to reduce its GHG emissions, including achieving carbon neutral growth by 2020 and reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2005. In addition to improving the efficiency of airplanes and flight operations, this renewable biofuel represents a major opportunity for commercial aviation to reduce emissions. The approved renewable jet fuel is drop-in and can be blended directly with petroleum jet fuel without any changes to airplanes, engines or fueling infrastructure. Amyris will now begin to quantitatively measure the positive impact to GHG emissions and air quality with every flight using the renewable jet fuel.

MSU to Develop Hardier Switchgrass for Biofuels

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture have awarded $1 million to Michigan State University (MSU) to develop hardier switchgrass. The feedstock is a North American native plant that holds great potential as a biofuel source. The research team believes that if switchgrass would better survive northern winters, the plant could be an even better source for clean energy.

Robin Buell, MSU plant biologist, will work to identify the genetic factors that regulate cold hardiness in switchgrass. “This project will explore the genetic basis for cold tolerance that will permit the breeding of improved switchgrass cultivars that can yield higher biomass in northern climates,” said Buell, also an Robin Buell MSUMSU AgBioResearch scientist. “It’s part of an ongoing collaboration with scientists in the USDA Agricultural Research Service to explore diversity in native switchgrass as a way to improve its yield and quality as a biofuel feedstock.”

One of the proposed methods to increase the biomass of switchgrass is to grow lowland varieties in northern latitudes where they flower later in the season. Lowland switchgrass is not adapted to the colder conditions of a northern climate, however, and merely a small percentage of the plants survive. It is these hardy survivors that are the subject of Buell’s research.

“Dr. Buell’s investment in this collaborative project will identify important genetic elements in switchgrass that control survival over the winter and can be used to breed better adapted cultivars to meet biomass production needs,” noted Richard Triemer, chairperson of the plant biology department.

Buell hopes to identify alternative forms of the same gene that is responsible for cold hardiness by studying switchgrass’ genetic composition, These could then be applied in breeding programs for switchgrass that can thrive in northern climates.

Free Webinar: Muncipal Solid Waste to BioProducts

Renewable-Waste-IntelligenceMunicipal solid waste is a big concern for cities around the world and many are discovering that they can make money from their waste. How? But converting the waste stream into biofuels and bioproducts. Yet a question that remains to be answered is where and when will this development play out and how are developers strategizing their business model to reach commercialization?

People can learn the answers to these questions by signing up for Renewable Waste Intelligence’s  free webinar, “The challenges of achieving a commercial scale MSW to biofuels and bio-products project“. The webinar will take place Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 10:30 am ET.

Speakers include experts from several of the country’s leading biofuels and bioproducts companies who will share their views on the unfolding project plans, how commercialization has been reached and how MSW can be used to produce a viable and green “drop in” solution for the biochemicals industry.

Speakers include:

  • Tim Cesarek, VP, Enerkem
  • Steve Csonka, Executive Director, CAAFI
  • Sadesh Sookraj, EVP, Novomer

For more information and to register click here.