Bioheat Part of Atlantic Region Energy Expo

Bioheat® is now be part of the largest energy events in the Northeast as they will join the Atlantic Region Energy Expo, reflecting a unique partnership with the National Biodiesel Board. The Atlantic Region Energy Expo and Bioheat is hosting the AREE 2012 event in Atlantic City, New Jersey, May 1 – 3. The conference, billed as the best energy, petroleum and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) industry tradeshow in the Northeast, will explore the evolving world of home and building comfort, efficiency and environmental responsibility.

The event features an educational track of five Bioheat sessions, which do not require a registration fee, thanks to funding from the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.

“We’re proud that AREE is the first industry trade show and convention officially combining traditional fuels with the renewable biodiesel found in Bioheat,” said Eric DeGesero, executive vice president, Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey. The association was the catalyst for the founding of AREE 19 years ago. “But this represents more than a conference name change. It’s a sign of changing times for oilheat dealers, who recognize that Bioheat is their best option to adapt their businesses in the 21st century.”

The need for change is a powerful theme at this year’s conference as the oilheat industry works to remain competitive. That’s why the Bioheat team, led by Paul Nazzaro, the National Biodiesel Board’s liaison to the petroleum industry, is bringing in a keynote speaker to talk about change at the event. Michael Rogers, a renowned technology author and futurist, most recently served as futurist-in-residence for The New York Times. He focuses on how companies can think about the future in useful ways.

“As their market share contracts, doing nothing is not an option for oilheat dealers,” Nazzaro said. “Bioheat is the first real opportunity for them to make a progressive shift in decades. Bioheat is a more desirable product to their customers, offering enhanced energy security, benefits to health and the environment, and American jobs.”

Virdia Opens New Pilot Facility

A new cellulosic demonstration facility has opened in Danville, Virginia. Virdia, a company focused on developing cellulosic sugars,  located the facility on the campus for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR). The facility will prove out Virdia’s CASE process in pilot scale and the resulting  cellulosic sugars and lignin will be designed for use in commercial applications.

Philippe Lavielle, Virdia CEO said, “Siting our technology center and our demonstration facility in Virginia is the next key step towards commercial production for us. Virdia’s products are cost-competitive, and are setting new standards for industrial uses of cellulosic sugars and lignin.”

Lavielle also said that the company looks forward to demonstrating the technology on a larger scale, and when they are ready, plan on locating the larger facility near sustainable sources of biomass.  The CASE process converts biomass to fermentable sugars and lignin. The resulting sugars can be used to produce renewable chemicals, materials, nutritional additives for the feed industry and renewable fuels. The company is currently working with Virent who is using the sugars to produce drop-in jet fuels.

The company held a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 25th.  “Virdia is making huge strides in the emerging bioeconomy, and I am pleased the company has decided to site its new technology center in Virginia,” said Bob McDonnell, the Governor of Virginia. “The development of sustainable and clean sources of energy is a necessary component of our all the above energy strategy, and Virginia is proud to welcome Virdia to the state in pursuance of cleaner energy, scientific innovation and economic stimulus.”

USDA Explores Alternative Energy at Airports

There have been a few companies that are exploring growing bioenergy crops on land owned by airports. Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is in the game. The division of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is looking at the potential for alternative energy production at airports in a published article, “Airports Offer Unrealized Potential for Alternative Energy Production.” The article, published in Environmental Management, states that airports may want to consider converting land to alternative fuels where it is economically and environmentally beneficial.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, an avid supporter of alternative energy said of the findings, “Some available grasslands at airports have the potential to spur the type of innovation we need to build American-made, homegrown biofuels and biobased products that will help break our dependence on foreign oil and move our nation toward a clean energy economy.”

Vilsack also said converting grasslands at airports to alternative energy, whether it be biofuel, wind or solar production, not only provides more environmentally sound energy sources for the county, but “may also increase revenue for airports and reduce the local abundance of potentially hazardous wildlife to aircraft.”

Many of us remember the plane that went down in the Hudson due to birds hitting the plane (i.e. getting into the engines), sparking a conversation about environmental responsibility versus air safety. Researchers at the National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) note that many airport properties are already managed to reduce wildlife abundance and habitat quality as part of efforts to avoid wildlife collisions with aircraft.

Yet not all energy crops will prove to be equal on managing wildlife. NWA says that once biofuel crops are identified for airport use demonstrating low wildlife-strike risks compared to existing airport landcovers, converting grasslands could become a revenue generator.

Federally obligated airports have restrictions on how land may be used but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said it will work with airports interested in pursuing alternative energy.

Novozymes CEO Named BIO 2012 George Washington Carver Award Winner

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has named Novozymes President and CEO Steen Riisgaard as the recipient of its 2012 George Washington Carver Award for innovation in industrial biotechnology.

A panel selected Riisgaard as this year’s winner “to recognize his significant contributions to the industrial biotechnology field.”

Under Riisgaard’s leadership, Novozymes is creating tomorrow’s industrial biotechnology solutions and improving the use of our planet’s resources, while reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Riisgaard will receive the award and also deliver a short address during a May 1, 2012 plenary lunch session at the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing. The conference is being held at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando April 29-May 2.
Washington Carver Award Recipient

“I am honored to receive the 2012 George Washington Carver Award,” Riisgaard said. “At Novozymes, we see biotechnology as a way to reshape the world’s economy and create balance between better business, a cleaner environment and better lives. This award is a mandate to continue innovating with our customers, moving towards a world where everyday products are made with organic materials instead of oil.”

The award honors the original vision of George Washington Carver, an originator of the “chemurgy” movement who, more than a century ago, achieved world renown by combining agriculture and science to produce everyday biobased products, changing the nature of farm economics and sustainability. Industrial biotechnology is the modern-day equivalent, combining biotech innovations with renewable biomass to create solutions that can revitalize manufacturing and energy.

New Funding For Biomass Research & Development

Yesterday in conjunction with Presidenta Obama’s visit to Ohio State University to discuss the administration’s strategy for American energy, he announced $35 million in new federal funding over the next three years for biomass research and development. The project is funded by the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) and will focus on the development of advanced biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products. The effort, aimed at reducing America’s use of oil while at the same time embracing a more environmental friendly fuel source, is joint initiative between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Energy Department (DOE).

In support of the program, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “USDA’s partnership with the Department of Energy aims to improve our country’s energy security and provide sustainable jobs in communities across the country.” Vilsack is a large supporter of homegrown renewable energy and biobased products that can be developed and produced by rural Americans.

The renewable energy industry advocates that green energy will bring green jobs to America and save Americans money. Secretary Chu said that these advanced technologies will both help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and save money for American consumers. He also stated, “Investing in next-generation biofuels helps boost the competitiveness of the U.S. biofuels industry, supports economic development in rural communities, and creates skilled jobs for American workers.”

The funding is allocated For fiscal year 2012 and applicants seeking BRDI funds must propose projects that integrate science and engineering research. Three technical areas will be considered and all projects must demonstrate technological advances in at least one category: feedstock development, biofuels and biobased products development and biofuels development analysis.

Subject to annual appropriations, the USDA and DOE have allocated $35 million over three years for the BRDI project. It is anticipated that the funding will support five to seven projects over the timeframe. Applications are being taken now and are due April 23, 2012 and must be submitted electronically. Winning projects will be announced by June 15, 2012. A description of the requirements, instructions and the application is available at www.fedconnect.net or  www.grants.gov under Reference Number DE-FOA-0000657.

Miscanthus Genetic Map Completed

The first comprehensive genetic mapping of miscanthus has been completed. Researchers have been studying the feedstock as a possible source for bioenergy. The goal of the project is to accelerate product development. The results were published in the online journal PLoS One and the project is a collaboration between Ceres and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University in Wales.

The project entailed creating a collection of genetically related plants and then sequencing and analyzing DNA. Researchers mapped all 19 chromosomes of mischanthus and over several years have analyzed more than 400 million DNA sequences. The benefit of this research is that by isolating positive genes, for example a marker that would yield more biomass per plant, researchers can then focus on that gene, along with others, to create bioenergy superior feedstocks.

Today, miscanthus is primarily grown in Europe and used for electricity generation. It is not commercially viable as a bioenergy feedstock due to high production costs and few miscanthus producers. Ceres Chief Scientific Officer Richard Flavell, PhD, FRS, CBE said that the company will be able to more rapidly introduce important crop traits. The company is currently evaluating various varieties in several locations and anticipates that its varieties of miscanthus will require less time, effort and money to be bred for different environments.

In the past the majority of miscanthus research focused on field trials and this is the first large-scale project of its kind to focus on its genetics. Iain Donnison, PhD and head of the bioenergy team at IBERS added that, “The joint miscanthus development programme with Ceres has provided new insight into the evolution of the species as well as the similarities and differences in populations across different countries and environments.”

Sustainable Biofuels Awards Presented

biofuelsThe Sustainable Biofuels Awards were presented this week at the World Biofuels Markets 2012 Congress in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The awards include biofuels leadership, technology, adoption, bioethanol, biodiesel, feedstock innovation, innovation in aviation, biopower generation and bio-based chemicals and are determined based on judging by an elite panel of independent industry experts, with final voting by individuals in the general biofuels industry.

2012 Sustainable Biofuels Awards Winners:

Biofuels Leadership Award – Novozymes
Sustainable Biofuels Technology Award – LS9
Biofuels Adoption Award – City of Stockholm
Sustainable Bioethanol Award – Abengoa
Sustainable Biodiesel Award – Vale
Sustainable Feedstock Innovation – DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol
Innovation in Aviation – Boeing
Sustainable Biopower Generation Facility – Envergent Technologies
Leader in Bio-based Chemical Industry – Kiverdi

Bioenergy Interests Invited to Attend Capitol Hill Day

A diverse group of bioenergy stakeholders is holding a Capitol Hill Day for Bioenergy in Washington, DC on March 21.

The event is being sponsored by a number of organizations including the 25x’25 Alliance, American Farm Bureau Federation, Advance Biofuels Organization, Algal Biomass Organization, American Council on Renewable Energy, Biomass Power Association, Energy Future Coalition, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Farmers Union, and SAFER Alliance.

The groups are holding the event to draw attention to the fact that renewables make up nearly 12 percent of all energy produced in the U.S., such as fuels, electricity and thermal energy from biomass, and that bioenergy reduces the nation’s risks from dependence on foreign oil, strengthens our economy and ensures the continued, sustainable management of our natural resources.

The day will include a morning briefing with congressional members and trade group association leaders on bioenergy issues, small group visits to educate Congressional leaders and their staffs, an evening reception on Capitol Hill to network with other industry stakeholders, Congressional staff, and association partners.

Anyone in the bioenergy sector is welcome to take part in the event – registration and other information is available on-line.

ZeaChem to Develop “Drop-In” Advanced Biofuels

ZeachemZeaChem, a developer of biorefineries for the conversion of renewable biomass into sustainable fuels and chemicals, will receive a portion of a $40m grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Regional Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP). The USDA project will establish regional systems for the sustainable production of bioenergy and bio-based products.

ZeaChem will secure $12m of the total $40m grant, and will implement the AFRI project at its existing 250,000 gallon-per-year integrated demonstration biorefinery, located at the Port of Morrow, near Boardman, Ore. The company is creating integrated cellulosic biorefineries, capable of producing a broad portfolio of fuel and chemical products from renewable biomass.

ZeaChem’s role in the USDA project is the logical progression of the company’s phased development strategy, in which it researches and develops potential products at each step toward commercialization. Design of the AFRI project is underway and the equipment modules are expected to be installed in 2013.

“ZeaChem is pleased with the USDA’s support to establish a bioenergy economy in the Pacific Northwest,” said Jim Imbler, president and chief executive officer of ZeaChem. “The grant allows ZeaChem to use our existing integrated demonstration facility to develop advanced biofuels beyond cellulosic ethanol, including bio-based jet, diesel and gasoline. The project highlights one of our unique strengths, which is that we can utilize a variety of biomass feedstocks and proven processes to develop a wide range of economical and sustainable fuel and chemical products.”

Production of bio-based jet and diesel is expected to begin in 2013 and production of bio-based gasoline, part of the C3 product platform, will follow in 2015.

The USDA AFRI Regional CAP is led by the University of Washington and includes GreenWood Resources, Oregon State University, Washington State University, the University of California, Davis, University of Idaho, and the Agricultural Center for Excellence.

USDA Launches Clean Energy Website

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week launched a new energy website to provide quick access to the agency’s energy efficiency and renewable energy data.

The website, usda.gov/energy, provides access to all USDA energy resources, including: agricultural, forestry, economic, and social data. This is done in part through a set of new complementary web-based tools: the USDA Renewable Energy Investment Map, the Renewable Energy Tool and Energy Matrix. These tools focus on USDA’s energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy investments and projects; provide information and data to a broad spectrum of stakeholders; and empower the user with the ability to easily navigate USDA’s energy web resources. In addition, the site provides a link to all USDA state and local offices and energy resource coordinators.

The new website was welcomed by the Ag Energy Coalition (AEC). “USDA’s Energy portal demonstrates the positive impact the Farm Bill energy title and related programs are having on job creation, national security, and the environment,” said Coalition co-director Lloyd Ritter. “The Ag Energy Coalition believes Rural America will be a continuing force for change in the advancement of sustainable energy and renewable chemicals production in the years ahead. With the right policies in place, and requisite funding, the promise of a rural renaissance focused on clean energy solutions will become a reality.”

The Ag Energy Coalition includes a membership of organizations and companies representing a variety of clean, renewable energy and bioproducts stakeholders.

BBI International and NEAtech Form Joint Venture

BBI International and NEAtech have formed a joint venture, called BBI Consulting Services, to offer bioenergy consulting to thousands of companies and organizations worldwide, as well as state and federal departments in the United States.

BBI International originally started as a bioenergy consulting firm in 1995 and has since grown into a media and events company focused on growing the bioenergy industry. Founded in 2009, NEAtech is a technology-based engineering and consulting firm specializing in advanced biofuels, biomass energy, and biotechnology projects. Having already helped hundreds of companies plan and execute successful projects, this new joint venture with NEAtech will reintroduce BBI International’s consulting service to thousands of new businesses worldwide.

Dr. Rafael Nieves and Mark Yancey of NEAtech, two experienced bioenergy consultants, are leading this group. Nieves has worked in the bioenergy sector for more than 28 years. He has extensive experience nationally and internationally managing bioenergy projects in the U.S., Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Australia, Philippines, Ghana, Armenia, Indonesia and the Ukraine.

Yancey has 35 years of experience in the fields of bioenergy and environmental engineering including extensive experience in project development and economic analysis for first and second generation biofuels facilities. His expertise is in the development of bioenergy projects including development of business strategies and financial, market and technical analyses of projects and renewable energy opportunities.

“We are excited about offering a consulting service to our customers,” said Joe Bryan, president and chief executive officer of BBI International. “This venture is the first step in helping companies associated with BBI International gain valuable insight on their current and future projects.”

“This venture will allow us to combine our expertise with BBI’s knowledge and resources,” said Nieves, CEO of NEAtech.

Pilot Biorefinery Dedicated in Perry, Florida

Florida State Representative Debbie Mayfield dumped a load of sugarcane waste to dedicate a new pilot biorefinery this week in honor of her late husband, Stan Mayfield.

uf ethanol plantThe dedication ceremony involved Mayfield pulling the lever on a front-end loader to dump a pile of pulverized sugarcane stalks, officially delivering the first shipment of feedstock to the facility, which will now be known as the Stan Mayfield Biorefinery Pilot Plant. The plant is located in Perry, Florida and is a cooperative venture between the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Buckeye Technologies Inc. The facility will be operated as a UF/IFAS satellite laboratory researching the use of inedible plant material to produce fuel ethanol, such as sugarcane waste.

When fully operational, the biorefinery will produce up to 400 gallons of fuel ethanol and 5,000 pounds of organic acids for bioplastics each day. Some of the researchers’ goals include testing a wide variety of feedstocks, such as crop residues and yard waste, and finding ways to save money on production costs.

Stan Mayfield was a member of the state House of Representatives from 2000 until his death in 2008 and was instrumental in securing a $20 million appropriation from the Florida Legislature to fund the biorefinery. A UF graduate, Mayfield was a strong advocate of renewable fuels, environmental protection and economic growth.

HyperSolar to Use Solar to Make Natural Gas

HyperSolar has filed a patent application for its technology to produce natural gas using solar power. According to the company, the natural gas is a carbon neutral methane gas that can be used as a replacement for fossil-fuel based natural gas.

“The sun is our greatest source of energy and a method to use this energy to make clean, renewable fuel is a very significant discovery,” said Tim Young, CEO of HyperSolar. “We intend to focus all our energies and resources on commercializing this breakthrough technology.”

The technology was inspired, according to HyperSolar, by the photosynthetic processes that plants use to create energy. The company is developing a solar-powered nanoparticle system that mimics photosynthesis to separate hydrogen from water. The hydrogen is then reacted with carbon dioxide to produce the methane, which is the primary component of natural gas.

“With global consumption projected to surpass coal in 2035, natural gas will be the next great fuel, continued Young. “From sunrise to sunset, our proprietary nanoparticles will work in a water based solution to produce clean and environmentally friendly renewable natural gas that can be collected for later use in power plants, industrial plants and vehicles – anywhere and anytime.”

Young also noted that there has already been hundreds of billions of dollars invested in natural gas infrastructure. He believes a renewable natural gas fuel is a reality.

New DOE Report Asseses Energy Technology

The U.S. Department of Energy has released a brand new report that recognizes the importance of renewable energy for the nation’s future.

The inaugural Quadrennial Technology Review report (DOE-QTR) is billed as “an assessment of the Department’s energy technology research and development portfolios” establishing a framework for energy technology activities and priorities.

“Innovation in energy technology is going to be central to solving our energy challenges,” said John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “New energy technologies can reduce the cost of energy services to firms and families, improve the productivity of manufacturing, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, increase the reliability and resilience of our energy infrastructure, and reduce the risks from climate change, even as they strengthen and sustain U.S. competitiveness in global markets.”

The DOE-QTR defines six key strategies: increase vehicle efficiency; electrification of the light duty fleet; deploy alternative fuels; increase building and industrial efficiency; modernize the electrical grid; and deploy clean electricity. According to the report, “Reliance on oil is the greatest immediate threat to U.S. economic and national security, and also contributes to the long-term threat of climate change.” The DOE-QTR promotes “out of the box” ideas for improving all types of energy alternatives, including battery and fuel cells, biofuels, solar, and wind, with a strong emphasis on modernization and efficiency.

Read the report here.

USDA Approves Payments for Advanced Biofuels

USDAUSDA will make payments to more than 160 energy producers in 41 states “to support and ensure the production and expansion of advanced biofuels.”

“Renewable energy production will create tens of thousands of direct, American jobs; thousands more indirect jobs, and clean electricity to power millions of homes. The payments I am announcing today represent the continuing commitment of the Obama administration to work with producers to provide the biofuel necessary to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

The payments are authorized under the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels (Section 9005 of the 2008 Farm Bill) and are made to eligible producers to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels. Payments are based on the amount of biofuels a recipient produces from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch. Eligible examples include biofuels derived from cellulose, crop residue, animal, food and yard waste material, biogas (landfill and sewage waste treatment gas), vegetable oil and animal fat.

The payments total nearly $80 million and range from a low of just over $1000 for Kaapa Ethanol in Nebraska to a high of nearly $10 million for Hero Bx in Pennsylvania for “biodiesel mechanical.” Some of the bigger payments being awarded include $6.2 million to Renewable Energy Group for biodiesel trans esterification, $4.8 million to Smarter Fuel of Pennsylvania for biodiesel from waste products, $4 million to White Energy in Texas for ethanol, $3.2 million for Louis Dreyfus Agricultural Industries for biodiesel from waste, and $2.6 million to ADM for biodiesel trans esterification.

For a list of all recipients, click here.