Blue Sun Project Achieves Milestone

A key development milestone has been achieved by the collaborative project between Blue Sun Energy, ARA Inc. and Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) in their 100 barrel/day (4,200 gallons/ per day) demonstration-scale Biofuels ISOCONVERSION (BIC) facility located in St. Joseph Missouri. The plant has now been commissioned and is producing biofuels.

“This is a key milestone toward commercial scale production, with initial results showing comparable system performance in the scale-up from our 4 barrel/day pilot system in Panama City, Florida to the 100 BBL/day demonstration system in St. Joseph,” said Rob Sues, CEO of ARA.

biofuel_demoAccording to press materials, the BIC process seamlessly processes renewable feedstocks such as plant oils, tallow, and waste vegetable oil into 100% drop-in diesel and jet fuels. The subsequent biofuels meet petroleum specs without blending. In addition, the naphtha produced during the process can be used as a gasoline blend stock.

Leigh Freeman, CEO of Blue Sun CEO said, “Operation of the demonstration system is critical in terms of scaling the process and technology and garnering the insights and experience needed to begin construction on our first commercial facility, which will truly be a landmark for the emerging next-generation biofuels industry.”

The team will continue to test the system with various feedstocks, including Resonance, an industrial oil feedstock from Agrisoma Biosciences as well as fatty acid distillate, distillers grain corn oil, and tallow to ensure reliable and cost effective operation. The demonstration system will be operated in campaigns to produce tens of thousands of gallons of jet fuel and diesel for certification testing, endurance testing, and test flights through the end of this year.

“We are enthusiastic about the early success that Blue Sun, CLG, and ARA have achieved at the demonstration facility in St. Joseph. Production of completely fungible jet and diesel fuels from renewable industrial oils and waste oils is a game changer,” added Leon DeBruyn, Managing Director of CLG.

Neste’s Aviation Biofuel Wins Sustainability Award

nesteairplane1Dutch refiner Neste Oil has won an award for its sustainable aviation biofuel. This company news release says the Sustainable Bio Award comes for its work with Neste’s Dutch partners on their joint initiative, Bioport for jet fuels in the Netherlands.

Launched in November 2013, the initiative is designed to promote the deployment of sustainably produced biofuels in the aviation sector. In addition to Neste Oil, the initiative has been signed by KLM, SkyNRG, Schiphol Airport, the Port of Rotterdam, the State Secretary of Infrastructure and the Environment, and the Minister of Economic Affairs. Neste Oil’s role in the initiative is to explore the opportunities for producing renewable aviation fuel on a continuous basis and scaling up production.

The Sustainable Bio Award competition recognizes innovations that promote the development of sustainably produced biofuels and bio-products. Joint initiative received the top award in the Collaboration of the Year category.

Neste’s NEXBTL renewable aviation fuel, made from vegetable oil and waste oil feedstocks, enables airlines to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and has been tested successfully on commercial flights.

Boeing Looks to Get Green Diesel Approval

boeing1Aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing wants the government to approve its plan of using renewable or “green” diesel. This story from says the company is appealing to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other stakeholders to get permission to fly its planes on biodiesel’s close (but chemically different) cousin.

“Boeing wants to establish new pathways for sustainable jet fuel, and this green diesel initiative is a groundbreaking step in that long journey,” said Julie Felgar, managing director of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Environmental Strategy and Integration, in a statement. “To support our customers, industry and communities, Boeing will continue to look for opportunities to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint.”

“Green diesel approval would be a major breakthrough in the availability of competitively priced, sustainable aviation fuel,” said Dr. James Kinder, a Technical Fellow in Boeing Commercial Airplanes Propulsion Systems Division. “We are collaborating with our industry partners and the aviation community to move this innovative solution forward and reduce the industry’s reliance on fossil fuel.”

Estimates are that there’s about 600 million gallons of green diesel produced in the U.S., Europe, and Singapore, about 1 percent of jet fuel demand.

Boeing is part of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), which looks to develop sustainable jet fuels. Back in 2011, Lufthansa became the first airline to test biofuels in regular flight operations.

Amyris Partners With GOL

Bioenergy company Amyris, Inc. and GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes S.A. (GOL) the largest low-cost and low-fare airline in Latin America, have announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will pave the way for GOL commercial flights to use Amyris renewable jet fuel in 2014. The partnership was announced during the first commercial flight with a renewable jet fuel in Brazil by the airline.

“GOL is committed to making commercial aviation more efficient and sustainable. Our GOL airplaneexperimental flight with renewable jet fuel at the Rio+20 in 2012 was an important step to guide our work. Today, we advance one more step,” said Adalberto Bogsan, Vice President of GOL.

Under the MOU, GOL and Amyris will work together to establish a framework for bringing Amyris renewable jet fuel produced from Brazilian sugarcane to GOL’s commercial flights. However, for thid to happen, regulatory approvals and validation by standard-setting bodies, including ASTM International and Brazil’s Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANP) will need to occur.

The partnership, under of auspices of the Brazilian Biofuels Platform, an industry and government-supported initiative to encourage the use of renewable fuels in aviation, was announced at Brazilian Aviation Day celebration, which included participation of Brazil’s Secretary of Civil Aviation, Minister Moreira Franco, and a number of industry stakeholders including Brazilian Airlines Association (ABEAR), Brazilian Biodiesel and Biojet Association (UBRABIO), GE, and Boeing among others.

“GOL supports all initiatives to help make Brazilian aviation more sustainable,” says Paulo Kakinoff, President of GOL. During this past year, the airline’s fuel saving initiatives have helped it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 30 thousand tons.

Lifecycle analysis indicates that the Amyris renewable jet fuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% or more when compared to convention fossil-derived jet fuel. Amyris has applied for certification under the Roundtable of Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) and is a member of Bonsucro, the world’s leading sugarcane sustainability standard.

“We are committed to working with the aviation industry to bring cleaner skies, starting in Brazil in 2014. Following two successful demonstration flights and a series of successful tests with multiple industry stakeholders, we look forward to receiving ASTM validation and ANP approval of our breakthrough renewable jet fuel produced from Brazilian sugarcane,” said John Melo, Amyris’s President & CEO.

AFAI Launches “Jetropha” Campaign

optimal_growth_jatropha_trees_-_2012_20130219_1955646226Alternative Fuels Americas (AFAI), an advanced biofuels company, is launching Project Jetropha, a campaign to encourage and promote the use of Jatropha based biofuels in aircraft. The project website will be launched in the coming weeks.

“The aviation industry has been under pressure to lower its disproportionately high contribution to carbon emissions,” said CEO Craig Frank. “With fuels costs comprising up to 50% of total costs, industry leaders such as Richard Branson, United Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Jet Blue, AeroMexico and others have embraced biofuels as part of an affordable solution.”

“Project Jetropha – through will provide a platform for discussions, a forum for the exchange of information, and a voice to the Jatropha sector,” added Frank. “The time has come for us to assume a leadership role. Project Jetropha will provide great benefit to the industry as well as significant opportunities for AFAI, and rightfully establish AFAI as a leading force in the biofuels sector.”

Boeing & SAA Partner for Aviation Biofuels

Boeing and South African Airways (SAA) have announced a partnership to develop and implement a sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain in Southern Africa, a first for the continent. The companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding for sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain development at The Corporate Council on Africa’s 9th Biennial U.S.-Africa Business, attended by executives from leading U.S. and African firms and government representatives from several countries.

South African Airways PlaneThis collaboration between Boeing and SAA is part of the companies’ broader efforts to support environmental sustainability for the airline’s operations and the commercial aviation industry overall, in addition to advancing South Africa’s social and economic development.

“South African Airways is taking the lead in Africa on sustainable aviation fuels and, by setting a best practice example, can positively shape aviation biofuel efforts in the region,” said Ian Cruickshank, SAA Head of Group Environmental Affairs. “By working with Boeing’s sustainable aviation biofuel team, which has a history of successful partnerships to move lower-carbon biofuels closer to commercialization, we will apply the best global technology to meet the unique conditions of Southern Africa, diversify our energy sources and create new opportunities for the people of South Africa.”

Boeing has collaborated extensively with airlines, research institutions, governments and other stakeholders to develop road maps for biofuel supply chains in several countries and regions, including the United States, China, Australia and Brazil. The aerospace company’s plan to work with SAA is the first such project in Africa.

“Sustainable aviation biofuel will play a central role in reducing commercial aviation’s carbon emissions over the long term, and we see tremendous potential for these fuels in Africa,” said Julie Felgar, managing director of Environmental Strategy and Integration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Boeing and South African Airways are committed to investigating feedstocks and pathways that comply with strict sustainability guidelines and can have a positive impact on South Africa’s development.” Continue reading

Cool Planet Chooses Louisiana for Biofuel Project

Cool Planet Energy Systems, a developer of small scale biorefineries which convert non-food biomass into gasoline, jet fuel, and soil biochar, has announced the selection of Alexandria, Louisiana as the location for their first commercial biorefinery. The facility will be located on the Port of Alexandria in Rapides Parish and will serve as a showcase facility. The goal of Cool Planet is to build hundreds of additional small scale biorefineries across the U.S. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2014.

The site was chosen due to tremendous support from the city of Alexandria, and the economic development team from the state of Louisiana. The location provides access to an abundance of renewable biomass feedstock, the ability to load fuel onto barges, rail lines and trucks, and local talent to operate the facility.

“Louisiana is known for its substantial oil interests, but now will also have the distinction of being home to the first, of what is planned to become many, production facilities for Cool Cool PlanetPlanet’s renewable, high-performance gasoline and soil enhancing biochar,” said CEO Howard Janzen. “Our goal for the Alexandria facility is to be economically competitive with conventional fuels made from non-renewable crude oil.”

The company believes it will have one of the lowest capital costs per plant in the refining industry, with project economics that work at facilities 100 times smaller than conventional refineries, while being able to use a wide variety of renewable biomass materials as inputs. construction is expected to be complete before the end of 2014.

In other news, Cool Planet has completed a joint vehicle road test with Ventura County, California. Officials ran a 5 percent blend of the company’s renewable, low-carbon gasoline for six weeks during their normal operations. The demonstration received special approval from the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

External testing of the fuel was conducted at various points during the fleet demonstration. Carbon-14 dating proved that Cool Planet was successfully turning renewable plant material into drop-in fuel.

Students Fly the Skies with Biofuel

Purdue faculty and students took to the skies with biofuel when the Purdue Embrarer Phenom 100 flew during the recent Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture, an international plane show. The airplane was unique in that one engine was filled with traditional jet fuel while the other engine was filled with a biofuel blend prepared by the Air Force. The plane was flown from the Purdue airport to Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

According to David Stanley, Purdue’s Air Transport Institute for Environmental Sustainability (Air TIES) co-director, the demonstration flight was one of the first in the U.S. in which a university-owned jet flew with biofuels. This flight is just one in many that will bring Purdue closer to its goal of operating a green training fleet.

Pilot Lisa Lewis, director of flight operations at Purdue Airport, was joined in the cockpit by student co-pilot, Braxton Baker. Air TIES uses student researchers on their projects because they are the next generation of aviation leaders.

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 12.17.41 PMRichard Simmons, executive director of research at the Air Ties Research Center noted that while there have been many flights, they have mostly been with larger jets. This flight was unique, he said, because it involved a smaller aircraft in a university setting. Simmons explained that it is one of the first university jets to travel using a biofuel blend.

Upon arrival, the jet was taxied to the exhibit area and viewed by air show attendees.

“The fuel was approved and meets the same specifications as a jet fuel,” Simmons said in an article in AgriNews. “There was very little concern about performance. That’s one reason we want to go back and compare performance data and validate it.”

Before and after the flight, key performance measurements will be studied and selected system inspections will be made. During the flight, engine and fuel system measurements were compiled and corresponding data from previous research from the laboratory will be compared and analyzed as the basis for an exploratory paper on the use of biofuels in aircraft of this size. The biofuel Purdue is studying includes Camelina-based HEFA (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acid). Continue reading

Amyris Signs $60M Funding Agreement

Amyris, Inc. has announced they have entered into an agreement for the sale of convertible notes in a private placement for up to $60 million in cash proceeds.

Amyris-logoUnder the terms of the agreement, one of Amyris’s largest stockholders, Temasek, agreed to purchase $35 million of the notes in an initial tranche and, at Amyris’s election, up to $25 million in a second tranche. Both tranches are subject to Amyris’s satisfaction of closing conditions, including stockholder approval of the transaction at an upcoming special meeting of stockholders.

“This financing agreement is an affirmation of our largest stockholders’ continued support for our strategy. This funding will provide us with financial flexibility to help us achieve our business objectives,” said John Melo, Amyris President & CEO.

“Our progress to date developing and manufacturing molecules developed under our proprietary synthetic biology platform, including ramp up of our new industrial fermentation facility for the production of farnesene in Brazil, continues to demonstrate our leadership in the sector,” Melo concluded.

DOE Announces Biofuels Funding

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced funding for four research and development projects to bring next generation biofuels on line faster and drive down the cost of producing gasoline, diesel and jet fuels from biomass. The announcement comes less than a week after President Obama’s commitment to the climate and efforts to cut carbon pollution. In total, the projects in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin will receive $13 million in funding.

US DOE logo“By partnering with private industry, universities and our national labs, we can increase America’s energy security, bolster rural economic development and cut harmful carbon pollution from our cars, trucks and planes,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As the President made clear in his plan to cut carbon pollution, partnerships like these will help move our economy towards cleaner, more efficient forms of energy that lower our reliance on foreign oil.”

In the United States, the transportation sector accounts for two-thirds of total U.S. oil consumption and one-third of our nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrocarbon-based biofuels made from non-food feedstocks, waste materials and algae can directly replace gasoline and other fuels in our gas tanks and refineries. The Energy Department continues to take steps to speed the development of clean, renewable biofuels, with the goal of producing cost-competitive drop-in biofuels at $3 per gallon by 2017.

The research projects announced today build on the Obama Administration’s broader efforts to accelerate the next generation of biofuels by bringing down costs, improving performance and identifying effective, non-food feedstocks and conversion technologies. These projects will help maximize the amount of renewable carbon and hydrogen that can be converted to fuels from biomass and improve the separation processes in bio-oil production to remove non-fuel components – further lowering production costs.

The projects selected for negotiation include:

  • Ceramatec – up to $3.3 million, based in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory – up to $2.1 million, based in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
  • University of Oklahoma, up to $4 million, based in Norman, Oklahoma
  • Virent, Inc. – up to $4 million, based in Madison, Wisconsin

More Must Be Done to Develop Aviation Biofuels

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 9.59.22 AMThe commercial aviation industry has a clear path toward cleaner, more economical and more secure energy alternatives through the increased use of advanced biofuels developed in the Midwest, according to a report issued by the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative (MASBI). The report was produced following a yearlong analysis of the benefits that could be delivered from a robust sustainable aviation biofuels industry in the Midwest.

Noting the progress made in developing biofuels, including its use on more than 1,500 commercial aviation flights globally, the coalition agreed that more must be done to achieve the sustainable production of commercial-scale and cost-competitive advanced biofuels from sources such as non-food crops and waste products and issued several recommendations:

  1. Streamline the approval process for new biofuel production methods;
  2. Level the policy playing field for advanced biofuels with the conventional petroleum industry;
  3. Tailor agriculture products such as oil-seed crops for jet-fuel production;
  4. Improve biofuel production through agricultural innovation; and
  5. Pursue deal structures that balance risk and reward for early adopters of technology.

MASBI Executive Committee“We’ve been developing a new industry – one that has the ability to reduce carbon emissions, create green jobs, drive innovation in clean technology and bolster the successful future of the airline industry which is vital to communities all around the world,” said Jimmy Samartzis, managing director of global environmental affairs and sustainability for United Airlines. “We need to focus on this today, so that we can have these options tomorrow as we build a more sustainable future.”

Expanding the availability of sustainable aviation biofuels will have clear business benefits for the airline industry and the broader Midwest economy. From 1990 to 2012, fuel costs increased by 574 percent and are now the single largest expense for commercial aviation, accounting for up to 40 percent of an airline’s operating budget. Commercial aviation spends $6.3 billion on jet fuel a year for flights originating in the Midwest. MASBI estimates that replacing five percent of petroleum jet fuel in the Midwest with aviation biofuel would create more than 3,600 jobs and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 700,000 tons.

“The Midwest can be a leader in this effort because it boasts the experience, technological innovation, and resources to do so,” said Samartzis. “The impact of MASBI goes well beyond the Midwest and influences the development of the advanced biofuels industry nationally and globally.”

Amyris-Total Biofuels Flight Successful

Amyris and Total have successfully completed a demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show using a breakthrough technology that converts plant sugars into renewable jet fuel. The Airbus A321 aircraft powered by two Snecma CFM56 jet engines flew from Toulouse to Paris with a blend of renewable jet fuel produced by Amyris and Total. This demonstration flight was in support of the French Initiative for Future Aviation Fuels, which seeks to produce and commercialize alternative, renewable and sustainable aviation fuels in France in the coming years.

This was the second public demonstration flight with the Amyris-Total renewable jet fuel. In June 2012, an Embraer E195 jet flew with the renewable jet fuel produced from sugarcane in Brazil.

“This is a significant milestone in our strategic partnership with Total for biofuels,” said John Melo, President & CEO of Amyris. ” From developing the world’s leading synthetic biology Amyris biofuel flight Paris Air Showplatform to producing and distributing renewable products globally, the Amyris-Total collaboration demonstrates the power of partnerships to drive innovation and deliver sustainable products.”

Melo noted that the flight put them another step closer in achieving ASTM certification, which paves the way for the commercialization of our renewable jet fuel.

Philippe Boisseau, President, Marketing & Services and New Energies and a member of the Executive Committee of Total added, “The air transport sector has an ambitious target: drastically reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 while commercial flights and demand for jet fuel will steadily grow. To that end, biofuels will play an important role along with improved aircraft energy efficiency.”

“This demonstration flight illustrates the capacity of Amyris and Total to integrate, as of today, aeronautical biofuels in a concrete and reliable way. As one of the world’s biggest suppliers of aviation fuel, Total aims at widely offering this solution to airline customers. We are confident that we will be able to achieve this within the coming years,” concluded Boisseau.

United Signs Biofuel Agreement with AltAir

ecoskies1-medium1Flying giant United Airlines signs an agreement with aviation biofuel provider AltAir Fuels to buy 15 million gallons over three years with options for more of sustainable aviation biofuel to be used on flights from Los Angeles starting in 2014. This United news release says the move is expected to cut greenhouse gases from the flights in half:

With United’s strategic partnership, AltAir Fuels will retrofit part of an existing petroleum refinery to become a 30 million gallon, advanced biofuel refinery near Los Angeles, Calif. AltAir will produce low-carbon, renewable jet fuel and other renewable products. United has collaborated with AltAir Fuels since 2009…

“This is a great day for United and the aviation biofuels industry. This agreement underscores United’s efforts to be a leader in alternative fuels as well as our efforts to lead commercial aviation as an environmentally responsible company,” said United’s Managing Director for Global Environmental Affairs and Sustainability Jimmy Samartzis. “We’re excited about what this strategic partnership with AltAir means for United, the industry, the environment, and for our customers.”

“United Airlines has been a strategic partner for several years as we work to establish our biofuel facility,” said AltAir’s Chief Executive Officer Tom Todaro. “We cannot overestimate how important this milestone is for the commercialization of sustainable aviation biofuels, and we at AltAir are proud that United is our first customer.”

AltAir is taking idled refining equipment and retooling for biofuels purposes. The company is using Honeywell’s Green Jet process to become the first refinery internationally to be capable of in-line production of both renewable jet and diesel fuels.The facility will convert non-edible natural oils and agricultural wastes into approximately 30 million gallons of low-carbon, advanced biofuels and chemicals per year.

United Airlines is part of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, an association that represents about a third of commercial aviation fuel demand and works for the advancement of drop-in aviation biofuels.

Biofuels, Farm Groups Applaud Pentagon’s Move

coalition1Groups representing biofuels and farm interests are praising the Pentagon’s action to develop cheaper, drop-in biofuels. Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, says the $16 million awarded under the Defense Production Act is a significant step in supporting efforts to build commercial drop in fuels facilities:

“Biofuels offer outstanding performance and environmental sustainability, while also providing a diversity of fuels that increases security for the men and women serving in our armed forces. The vision of the military once again leads the world in the evolution of fuels, and is one that should be supported and admired by all.”

Another coalition of groups, including the Advanced Biofuels Association, as well as the Algae Biomass Organization, American Council on Renewable Energy, American Farm Bureau Federation, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), and the National Farmers Union, among others, echoed those sentiments:

“Adopting advanced “drop-in” biofuels will help the DoD and the nation achieve its broader national security goals,” the groups said. “As the largest institutional consumer of liquid fuels in the world, the U.S. military is incredibly susceptible to the volatile global oil market. The DoD estimates that every 25 cent increase in the price of a gallon of petroleum-based fuel costs the military $1 billion in additional fuel costs. It is increasingly important to find domestically produced alternatives to improve the country’s energy security, meet global energy demands, and provide jobs, while strengthening our military and domestic economy.

“By pursuing new processes and technologies for producing next-generation biofuels, we are working to accelerate innovation in a critical and growing sector that will help to improve U.S. energy security and sustain the U.S. military’s readiness.”

Enerkem Launches New Research Project

Waste-to-biofuels company Enerkem has launched a new research project with the Government of Canada. The project objective is to develop new catalytic processes for the conversion of waste into drop-in biofuels that can be used to replace conventional gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. The Government of Canada is contributing $1.1 million to this project via Natural Resources Canada.

usine_pilote_sherbrooke“Enerkem’s core business is the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol, and we now intend to take advantage of our flexible technology platform to gradually expand our line of biofuels and chemical products,” said Vincent Chornet, president and CEO of Enerkem. “This research project is part of our growth strategy and demonstrates our commitment towards innovation and a greener economy.”

Enerkem’s technology produces a chemical-grade synthesis gas that serves as a key intermediate for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals. This R&D project will be conducted at Enerkem’s research and development pilot facility in Sherbrooke, Quebec, in collaboration with the University of Sherbrooke.

“Through the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative, our Government is investing in innovative clean energy technologies that create jobs, generate new economic opportunities and protect the environment,” added the Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “This program demonstrates our tangible support for energy projects that drive energy innovation.”