Biofuel, News Roundup

Biofuel News Roundup

Sorry for the delayed news roundup. I have been working hard negotiating with a couple of consulting firms for possible employment opportunities. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

In the biofuels and energy market, the big news last week was the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2013 Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) proposal, and the stepping down of Steven Chu as the Secretary of the US Department of Energy.

The blog will write more about the RFS and the back-and-forth “polite” bickering between the petroleum industry and the biofuels industry in another post.

Meanwhile, Steven Chu noted in his letter to Energy Department employees some of the Department’s successes in the past four years especially in sponsoring programs for clean technologies such as solar photovoltaic, wind farms, and electric vehicles. Secretary Chu also emphasized that the Department of Energy will continue its mission for the US to lessen dependency on foreign oil, to work on solving the devastating effects of climate change, and continue the agency’s significant role in accelerating the transition to affordable, accessible and sustainable renewable/clean energy.

“Just as today’s boom in shale gas production was made possible by Department of Energy research from 1978 to 1991, some of the most significant work may not be known for decades. What matters is that our country will reap the benefits of what we have started.” – DOE Secretary Steven Chu

And yes, he also noted that among the more than 1,300 companies that the Department of Energy made grants and loans through the Recovery Act, only one percent of those companies that the government funded went bankrupt (remember Solyndra?).

“The test for America’s policy makers will be whether they are willing to accept a few failures in exchange for many successes. America’s entrepreneurs and innovators who are leaders in global clean energy race understand that not every risk can – or should – be avoided. Michelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” – DOE Secretary Steven Chu

Secretary Chu said he plans to return to an academic life of teaching and research.

Here are the blog’s biofuel news roundup. The Weekly News Roundup will be posted soon as well.

NEDAK Ethanol dissolved
Nebraska-based NEDAK Ethanol has sold all of its property for $22m to North Dakota-based Choice Ethanol Holding LLC, a new entity formed by NEDAK’s senior lender at an auction held on January 22. The auction included a 44m gal/year facility in Atkinson, Nebraska, which Choice Ethanol intends to turn around and find a new buyer and operator. The plant was idled in June last year because of lower ethanol demand as well as higher corn prices.

ETH Bioenergia, Inbicon ethanol partnership
Brazil-based ETH Bioenergia has partnered with Danish cellulosic ethanol company Inbicon to accelerate the development and commercialization of cellulosic ethanol in Brazil using sugarcane-based straw and bagasse for feedstock. The first phase of the partnership will cover joint research on the feasibility of ethanol production from sugarcane waste using Inbicon’s technology.

POET suspends ethanol production
POET Biorefining-Macon has temporarily suspend plant operations at its 44m gal/year Macon, Missouri, ethanol facility because of a lack of available local corn due to last season’s drought. The plant is currently getting a $14.5m upgrade that includes installation of POET’s Voila corn technology, installation of POET’s patented BPC technology that significantly reduces heat/energy use; a new control system; a more efficient evaporator; a new administration building and scale house. The company did not announce any timeline for resuming production but noted that the plant will continue to purchase corn for future use as it is available.

Praj bags ethanol plant order
Colombian biofuel company Riopaila Castilla SA has contracted India-based Praj Industries, a global engineering firm, for a new 400,000 liter/year ethanol plant in Riopaola’s site at La Palla in the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia. The plant will use sugarcane juice and molasses-B for feedstock, and is expected to be completed within one year. This is the 7th ethanol plant being installed by Praj. The company said Colombia’s current ethanol mandate of 10% blending is expected to double to 20%.

Pearson to install E85 ethanol fuel stations
San Diego-based Pearson Fuels has received $1.35m from the California Energy Commission (CEC) for the installation of E85 ethanol-dispensing equipment at 19 existing fueling stations throughout California. In addition to establishing the new E85 outlets, Pearson is to collect data on E85 fuel station operations.

Wuhan commissions biomass gasifier
Wuhan Kaidi has completed the commissioning of a Westinghouse Plasma gasifier unit bought from Alter NRG at its waste-to-liquids demonstration facility in Wuhan, China. The gasification unit is designed to take 100 tons/day of biomass waste and convert it into syngas, which is then converted into diesel fuel and other transportation fuels at the Kaidi facility. Under the contract, Alter NRG has access to operational data from the Kaidi facility.

Linde, Forest BtL licensing deal
Linde Engineering Dresden GmbH has signed a deal with Finnish Forest BtL Oy for the licensing of the biomass gasification technology Carbo-V, which will be implemented at Forest BtL’s new biomass-to-liquid plant in Kemi, Northern Finland. Commercial operation is expected to start at the end of 2016. The plant will have a gasification capacity of 480 MW and annual output of 130,000 tons of biodiesel and naphtha, using 1.5m tons of wood.

JV in wood biomass-based electricity
Tosa Electric Railway, Kochi Prefecture Federation of Forest Owner’s Cooperative Associations, and Idemitsu Kosan Co. have established a joint venture company called Tosa Green Power Corp. to establish a planned wood biomass power plant in Kochi city, Kochi Prefecture, Japan, using unused wood materials for feedstock. The plant is expected to generate 36m kWh/year which will be used for purposes such as powering streetcars to contribute to the local community.

Feedstock news:

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.

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