Biofuel, News Roundup

Biofuel News Roundup

Yes, I am still working on posting earnings news…sigh. I hate reporting earnings…

BioFuel Energy lay-offs
US ethanol producer BioFuel Energy has reduced staffing at its Fairmont, Minnesota, ethanol facility resulting in the elimination of 40 full-time positions. The plant ceased ethanol production in September 2012, and will continue to operate its adjacent grain storage facility with its remaining employees. The Fairmont plant is expected to remain idle until this year’s harvest season.

Lignol ups stake in Aussie biofuels
Lignol Energy Corp. has increased its stake in Australian Renewable Fuels Limited making Lignol one of its largest shareholders. Upon completion of transactions, Lignol expects to hold a total of 744,660,715 ordinary shares of Australian Renewable Fuels, or approximately 17.75% of the company.

VIASPACE on biomass power plant
Biomass crop producer VIASPACE has contracted AGRICORP of Managua, Nicaragua, to grow its Giant King Grass on AGRICORP’s 10,000-acre farm, and to co-develop with the company a biomass electric power plant fueled by Giant King Grass. A small percentage of the biomass electric power plant will also use rice husk waste for feedstock. AGRICORP has a rice mill co-located on the farm.

Chromatin sorghum partnerships
Crop breeding technology provider Chromatin has signed a multi-year alliance with California-based Calgren Renewable Fuels for locally grown sorghum for ethanol production, The alliance covers up to 30,000 acres of sorghum to be grown and supplied to Calgren, which produces over 55m gal/year of ethanol. Chromatin has also signed multi-year deal with Aemetis and Pacific Ethanol for sorghum supply. With the Aemetis agreement, Chromatin will engage local growers to plant its hybrid grain sorghum on up to 30,000 acres, and Aemetis will use the sorghum in its Keyes, California, facility to produce biofuels. With the Pacific ethanol deal, Chromatin will produce, deliver and use locally grown sorghum of up to 30,000 acres to be supplied to Pacific Ethanol’s California facility.

Proterro receives patent
Cellulosic sugar producer Proterro has received patent 8,367,379 from the US States Patent and Trademark Office, which protects the company’s engineered photosynthetic cyanobacteria and their genetic code. The patent is said to be the cornerstone of Proterro’s patent portfolio. Proterro uses the cyanobacteria in a biosynthetic process to manufacture sucrose for the economical and scalable production of biofuels and biobased chemicals.

Metso supplies biomass power plants
Metso will supply Vimmerby Energi & Miljo AB (VEMAB) with a biomass-fired power plant for combined heat and power production at Tallholmen in Vimmerby, Sweden. The plant is scheduled to start at the end of  2014. VEMAB is owned by the municipality of Vimmerby. The plant will use local forest residues such as bark and wood chips as fuel. In another news, Metso will also supply biomass power plant to Bioenergeticheskaya Kompaniya LLC in Syktyvkar, the Komi Republic, Russia. The power plant is scheduled to be in operation in 2014, and will use bark and wood residues from the Syktyvkar sawmill and other biomass. The power output of the plant will be 4 megawatts of electricity.

EPA approves E15, E10 pumps
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved a new blender pump configuration, submitted by the Renewable Fuels Association for general use by retail stations that wish to dispense E15 and E10 from a common hose and nozzle. A retail station that wants to sell E15 from blender pumps can now choose from any of the three approved configurations, based on its own assessment of what would work best for that station and its customers, or it may submit a different approach for EPA approval.

…finalized new advanced biofuel pathways
The US EPA has issued its final rule that gives clearance for the use of camelina oil and energy cane as cellulosic biofuel feedstocks. The rule also qualifies renewable gasoline and renewable gasoline blendstock made from certain qualifying feedstocks as cellulosic biofuel, as well as clarifies the definition of renewable diesel. By qualifying these new fuel pathways, the rule provides opportunities to increase the volume of cellulosic biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standards program.

Top 5 advanced biofuel states
The top five states for biofuel companies are California, which is home to 30 advanced biofuel companies, Illinois (8), Colorado (6), Texas (5) and Iowa (4), according to analysis by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). The study indicates more than 80 advanced biofuel companies, refineries and related operations located in at least 27 states. The biofuel market according E2 could be worth more than $60bn within the next decade. The US and Canadian biofuel production capacity increased from 427m gallons in 2011 to more than 685m gallons in 2012. Capacity is expected to increase to 2.6bn gallons by 2015.

US ethanol 2012 prices down vs 2011
Spot prices for US fuel ethanol were lower throughout most of 2012 compared to 2011, according to a report by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Prices were relatively stable during the first half of 2012 but they rose at mid-year as severe drought and scorching temperatures reduced corn yields resulting in higher prices for corn. Ethanol spot prices rose from a low of around $2/gal in mid-June to a 2012 peak of $2.61 in late July. That was still 30 cents/gal lower than the peak spot price at the same time in 2011.

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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