Senators Caution EPA Over Indirect Land Use Calculations

Senators from ethanol producing states are asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to propose regulations assuming that greater U.S. biofuels use would increase carbon dioxide emissions.

Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) spoke on the Senate floor about the issue on Monday, following a letter sent by 12 senators to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson last week.

Grassley expressed fears that EPA is “going down a path of blaming our biofuels producers for land use changes around the globe.”

I’m afraid the climate folks at the EPA are heading in the wrong direction on this. I don’t think they’re bad people, but I’m afraid they don’t understand how American agriculture works. I don’t think they’re aware of the significant crop yield improvements we’ve seen in recent years or the great potential over the next 20 years. I also don’t think they fully understand the benefit of valuable ethanol byproducts, which further reduce the effective land used for fuels production. It defies common sense that the EPA would publish a proposed rulemaking with harmful conclusions for biofuels based on incomplete science and inaccurate assumptions.

Grassley is urging President Obama to take an active role in the issue and keep a close eye on what EPA is doing with regard to indirect land use calculations.

World Congress Focuses on Biofuels Progress

QuebecProgress toward next generation biofuels will be a focus of the 2009 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing, to be held July 19-22, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Now in its sixth year, the conference will move to its largest venue to date, the Palais des congrès de Montréal (the Montreal Convention Centre).

BioThe Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has released the full schedule of breakout sessions and speakers, which includes topics such as, Synthetic Biology for Next Generation Biofuels; Progress Toward Commercialization of Lignocellulosic Ethanol Processes; and Algae for Fuels and Chemicals.

Registration information is available on-line here.

Cellulosic Firms Urge EPA to Approve 15% Ethanol

Nine cellulosic ethanol companies have sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in support of the Green Jobs waiver that would increase ethanol used with gasoline from 10 percent to up to 15 percent.

lisa_jackson_epaThe companies – Edenspace Systems Corporation, ICM, LanzaTech Inc., POET, Qteros, Inc., Range Fuels, Red Shield Acquisition LLC, and ZeaChem – assert that removing the regulatory cap of 10 percent “will ensure the product market necessary to encourage continued investment in the commercialization of advanced biofuels.”

Ethanol offers a practical solution to fuel our country’s environmental sustainability, economic growth and energy independence. As we invest in the near term deployment of advanced biofuels, grain-based ethanol production is an important foundation upon which scientists and producers have begun to build. As we move from making ethanol from corn, to also producing it from agricultural waste, wood chips and other biomass materials, ethanol will continue to be a sustainable and effective energy solution for the U.S. and the world.

Read the full letter here.

Illinois Offering Bioenergy Masters Degree

Knowledge is power, and the folks at the University of Illinois are giving a new crop of students the power they’ll need in the fields of bioenergy… biodiesel and ethanol.

The Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research (CABER) on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus is offering the first new master’s degree in bioenergy approved by Illinois Board of Higher Education, a masters level degree program. This podcast from BioFuels Journal has more information.

blaschekDr. Hans Blaschek, director of the CABER explains the degree will provide a professional science master’s degree program.

“We have tailored it to provide students with some flexibility in being able to pick from a number of areas of bioenergy which could include policy but certainly could include the technical side as well.”

Blaschek says the university already has more than 100 faculty members on campus with plenty of knowledge and experience in bioenergy he thinks will turn into a first-class degree. Enrollment is going on now with classes set to begin this fall.

Pretty interesting podcast from our friends at BioFuels Journal. While you’re out there looking for interesting podcasts on renewable energy, don’t forget you can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

BIO Accepting Applications for Carver Award

biologoThe award is named for a true pioneer in the biotechnology field, and it will be handed out by a group touted to be the “champion of biotechnology” to someone who makes the most significant contribution in the field of biotechnology.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is now accepting nominations for the annual George Washington Carver Award and will present it at the 2009 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing, to be held July 19-22, 2009 in
Montreal, Quebec, Canada:

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, said, “We are honoring George Washington Carver because he was one of the founding fathers of modern industrial biotechnology. Today, his legacy lives on in industrial biotechnology companies that are developing new methods to use renewable agricultural resources to manufacture fuels, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food ingredients, just as Carver did during the first half of the 20th century. Science has developed in ways that Carver may never have imagined, but the work remains true to his goal – a sustainable agricultural economy that includes production of useful everyday products.”

BIO is now accepting nominations for the George Washington Carver Award online at https://www.surveymonkey.coms.aspx?sm=zHj_2bEVxeMcJzE4A7hmZCqw_3d_3d. Nominees must be living individuals who have demonstrated significant and innovative accomplishments employing industrial biotechnology to advance a biobased economy and industrial sustainability. Written nominations should highlight the contributions the nominee has made in using biotechnology for sustainable production of biobased products, materials and energy. In addition, nominations should include examples of the pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit of the nominee. The deadline for nominations is May 10, 2009.

It only makes sense that an organization such as BIO would name its award after such a visionary as George Washington Carver along with a scholarship given in the name of the recipient. As you might already know, Carver and his students are known for their innovative uses for farm products, finding more than 300 industrial uses for peanuts, sweet potatoes, and other crops that could be grown in rotation with cotton and corn. Glues, plastics, paints, soap… you name it, Carver came up with a use for it… truly a pioneer in the sustainability field.

For more information on BIO’s Carver Award, click here and make plans to attend the Sixth Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing, July 19-22, 2009 in Montreal, Canada.

Posted in BIO

Farm Foundation Conference to Help Bioeconomy Discussion

ff-transitiontobio1Domestic Fuel will be there as the Farm Foundation hosts the next in its series of meetings to talk about what needs to be done for this country… and the world, for that matter… transition to a bioeconomy.

In the fourth in the series of “Transition to a Bioeconomy” conferences, our friends at Farm Foundation will facilitate conversation focusing on global trade and policy issues, March 30-31 at the Westin Washington D.C. City Center Hotel:

“The developing bioeconomy is creating diverse and complex issues for public and private decision makers, particularly in the area of policy and trade issues,” says Farm Foundation President Neil Conklin. “This conference is an opportunity for conference participants to gain broader understanding, as well as new perspectives, of the issues and challenges.”

Conference speakers include:
· Michael Schall, Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy
· Laurent Javaudin, Delegation of the European Commission to the United States
· Al Mussell of the George Morris Centre
· Seth Meyer of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute
· Joel Velasco of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association
· Paul Willems of BP Energy Biosciences Institute
· Mark Willers of Minwind Inc.
· Mark Dietzen of INEOS Bio
· Thomas Alfstad of Brookhaven National Laboratory

The Farm Foundation has teamed up with the USDA’s Office of Energy Policy and New Uses and the farm agency’s Economic Research Service. Like the previous three Transition to a Bioeconomy conferences, organizers promise this one will “provide public and private leaders with objective information and analyses they can use to make more informed decisions as they address these issues.”

I’ve been lucky enough to make it to a couple of these, and they are really well worth the trip. I strongly suggest you make plans to attend this conference March 30-31 at the Westin Washington D.C. City Center Hotel. Registration information is available here.

But if you can’t be there in person, let Domestic Fuel and AgWired.com give you the next best thing. We’ll be covering the events as they happen on both of our ZimmComm New Media Web sites. Either way, don’t miss it!

E85 Infrastructure Incentives Announced in Michigan

cecThe Clean Energy Coalition (CEC) has announced that it is offering up to $5,000 to install or upgrade an existing pump to dispense E85 in the state of Michigan. This is one of many of the incentives offered in the state.

“The Clean Energy Coalition is dedicated to increasing the number of E85 pumps in Michigan,” said Sean Reed, CEC executive director. “Through a grant from the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DeLEG), we are providing infrastructure incentives for E85.”

In addition to the CEC grant, gas station owners can also apply for federal and state tax credits that significantly reduce the installation and qualified equipment costs. “Stations may be eligible for up to an additional $50,000 to be applied towards installation costs from other state and federal incentives,” said Reed. The federal government is offering a 50 percent tax credit of up to $50,000 and the Michigan Department of Treasury is offering a 30 percent tax credit up to $20,000.

The DeLEG Energy Office is also offering a $1,500 incentive to assist with the cost of designing and installing a highway exit sign that promotes the E85 pump, as well as paying the first year’s annual fee.

mi-cornIn total, the CEC was awarded $145,000 from the DeLEG and $20,000 from the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan (CMPM) to offer station owners the opportunity to sell E85. “I’m excited to work with the CEC to help bolster Michigan’s ethanol industry and increase the number of E85 pumps available to consumers,” said Pollok-Newsom. “Ethanol reduces our country’s need for foreign oil, supports our rural communities, and helps reduce harmful greenhouse gases.”

For more information or to apply for a grant from the CEC, visit www.cec.mi.org.

North Carolina Funds Biofuels Projects

The Biofuels Center of North Carolina is giving the emerging biofuels sector in the state a $2.77 million jolt.

Biofuels North CarolinaThe Center has approved a total of 18 grants to accelerate the technologies and feedstocks needed to develop the state’s biofuels sector.

“The Midwest has corn and Brazil has sugarcane. North Carolina needs to develop conversion technologies for the types of crops and trees the state has in plenty so that we are able to turn this biomass into viable, advanced biofuels,” said Biofuels Center President Steven Burke. “This funding puts North Carolina on the path toward reducing its dependency on foreign oil and liquid fuel imports while putting money back into our state’s economy.”

North Carolina has a goal of growing and producing 10% of its own liquid fuels by 2017 – or about 600 million gallons.

Report Makes Case for Homegrown Biodiesel

worcCan small and community-scale biodiesel plants be economically viable and contribute to rural development in the Western United States? A new report by the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), “Homegrown Prosperity from the Bottom Up,” answers that question with case studies of biodiesel plants in those western rural communities… and the answer is YES!

This article from Biodiesel Magazine says the report, entitled “Homegrown Prosperity from the Bottom Up” and co-written by Wilbur Wood, found that these small, local biodiesel plants can “disengage family farmers and ranchers from domination by the global fossil fuel market, enhance both fuel and food security, create jobs, and keep money in local communities”:

Brett Earl, co-owner of Earl Fisher Biofuels LLP in Chester, Mont., is featured in case study number one. Earl views biodiesel as a community-based industry. “We can grow the oil seeds locally, we can manufacture the fuel locally, and we can consume the products locally,” he said. The facility currently operates at 275,000 gallons annually and employs three full-time employees, with plans to expand to 1 MMgy and employ six to ten workers. Earl said that would make Earl Fisher Biofuels the third largest employer in the small town of Chester. When operating at a larger scale, Earl wants to share it with other rural communities in Montana, proving it can work.

Not only does the report use the successes of the community-scaled biodiesel plants as examples of how they could spark economic growth in rural areas, the WORC makes the case that there should be federal and state government policies to help these small production facilities.

Bug Helps Make Biodiesel

blacksoldierflylarvaeThe little guy on the left might not look very pretty, but it could be beautiful when it comes to turning food waste into biodiesel. It’s the larva of the Black Soldier Fly, and this bug is at the heart of EcoSystem Corporation’s MAGFUEL™ biofuel feedstock model.

This company press release says EcoSystem is using the larvae to turn food scrap waste into natural oils for biodiesel feedstock:

ecosystem_logoWhen at full capacity, Black Soldier Fly food scrap waste conversion technology could yield up to 190,000 gallons of crude (non-food) natural oils per acre of bioreactor surface area annually. In comparison, soybean yields an average of 40 gallons of oil per acre annually. EcoSystem’s integrated bioreactor is estimated to be deployed at a cost of less than $100 per square foot with minimal use of utilities for other than periodic cleaning and heating.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the annual food scrap waste generated per capita in the U.S. is 1,678 pounds, of which 11% are food scraps. 40% to 50% of nearly all food harvested never gets consumed according to the University of Arizona’s Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology. Nationwide, household food waste adds up to $43 billion per year. Residential households waste an average of 14% of their food purchases, and fifteen percent of that includes products still within their expiration date but never opened.

EcoSystem estimates that 25% of the volume of retail, restaurant, and industrial generated food waste could be converted into Black Soldier Fly larvae. Based upon U.S. 2010 Census data, up to 100 million gallons per year of MAGFUEL™ natural oils could be produced and sold to U.S. biodiesel producers using EcoSystem technology.

This product could be a real win-win situation… creating a high-quality, competitively-priced biodiesel feedstock, while taking more waste out of landfills.

Company Develops Algae Growth Booster for Biodiesel

bionavitasA Seattle-based company has come up with a new method of boosting the growth of algae that will help make the green scum more commercially viable for biodiesel production.

This story from Biofuels Media Ltd. says Bionavitas is using what the company calls Light Immersion Technology.. pencil-shaped rods that bring more light to algae, stimulating growth:

The acrylic tubes can direct sunlight deeper into a pond of algae which could allow algae to grow up to 1.5 meters deep, rather than the about 10 centimetres depth now possible before “self-shading” prevents deeper growth.

And that density of growth per square meter could allow algae-based biofuel to compete with petroleum-based diesel and gasoline on price.

“For you to be able to grow any kind of density that’s cost effective, you must be able to break through the self-shading barrier,” he said.

The article goes on to point out that algae might just be the perfect feedstock for biodiesel, but the high cost of production have held it back a bit, commercially. This new technology could change all that.

Bipartisan Bill Introduced Mandating FFVs

flexfuellogoA bipartisan group of congress members has introduced a bill that would require that 80 percent of all new automobile and light trucks sold or manufactured in the U.S. be capable of running on either E85, M85 (a methanol-gasoline blend of 85 percent) or biodiesel.

The measure, H.R. 1476, would require half of the new cars and light trucks sold or built here in 2012 to be E85 or M85 flex-fuel capable, ratcheting up to 80 percent three years later. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel [D-NY], Rep. Roscoe Bartlett [R-MD], Rep. Steve Israel [D-NY], and Rep. Bob Inglis [R-SC].

Ford, GM and Chrysler all have said they do not need a mandate. The groups promise to produce half their lines as flexible fuel by the year 2012 should there be fueling infrastructure to support the vehicles. There are currently less than 2,000 E85 fueling locations for more than 7 million E85 vehicles now on American roads.

Canadian Cellulosic Ethanol Company Gets Grant

Canadian company Lignol Energy Corporation has received additional funding for the completion of an industrial scale cellulosic ethanol facility in British Columbia.

LignolLignol Energy Corporation announced that the project led by its wholly-owned subsidiary, Lignol Innovations was awarded up to $1.82 million in additional funding contributions from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC). This award is in addition to the $4.42 million awarded to date from SDTC, representing an aggregate contribution to Lignol from SDTC of up to $6.24 million.

“Our Government is investing in new and innovative technologies to help move forward the next generation of renewable fuels,” said Mark Warawa, Member of Parliament for Langley and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment. “These new technologies have the potential to generate even greater environmental benefits than traditional renewable fuels and will provide new economic opportunities.”

At the same time this week, Lignol reported a third quarter loss of C$1.88 million or C$0.04 per share, compared to a loss of C$1.19 million or C$0.03 per share in the third quarter a year ago.

Lignol also reported that they ceased negotiation of a joint venture with Suncor Energy to pursue the development of a cellulosic ethanol commercial demonstration plant in Colorado due to the instability of energy prices and uncertainty in capital markets and they are now exploring other alternatives for the $30 million grant they had received for that project from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Canadian Firm Plans Cellulosic Ethanol Plant in Mississippi

A Canadian biofuels and green technology company has announced plans to build a second-generation ethanol production facility in Mississippi using wood residue and municipal waste as feedstocks.

EnerkemEnerkem Inc. of Montreal plans to build the plan in Pontotoc, Mississippi and has contracted with Three Rivers Solid Waste Management Authority to supply approximately 189,000 tons of unsorted municipal solid waste (MSW) per year as feedstock.

The plant is expected to cost $250 million and produce 20 million gallons per year of next-generation ethanol made from wood residues from regional forest and agricultural operations, as well as urban biomass such as municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, and treated wood. In addition to the biofuels production facility, the investment includes an upstream municipal solid waste recycling and pre-treatment center.