March 31, 2006
Ethanol producers VeraSun Energy Corporation and Aventine Renewable Energy plan to go public in offerings that could raise $200 million or more. The companies have filed their S-1 registration statements with the SEC.
VeraSun, which recently has closed deals with Ford and GM to expand E85 fueling stations in several states, filed the larger of the two, expecting to raise $150 million. Aventine expects to raise $50 million.
Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that Toyota Motor plans to offer gasoline-electric hybrid versions for all vehicle classes to meet its target of quadrupling annual worldwide hybrid sales to 1 million vehicles by 2012, representing 10% of total annual new vehicle sales.
Toyota will replace vehicle platforms as the models are redesigned to provide compatibility with hybrid drive systems. The paper reports that Toyota plans a new hybrid version of its Crown luxury sedan in 2008 and its Vitz subcompact in 2010 or later. (Toyota currently offers a mild-hybrid version of the Crown in Japan.)
The military is exploring the field use of hydrogen fuel cells to power electronic gadgets and facilitate communications, thereby avoiding use of generators that are noisy and create heat signatures. One barrier to that approach, however, is the source of the hydrogen.
The military has no current plants to add hydrogen to the strategic and tactical operations logistics burden, and therefore the challenge is the on-board reforming of the existing prevalent JP-8 military fuel to produce hydrogen. JP-8, however, can be high in sulfur—specifications allow it to contain up to 3,000 ppm. Neither catalysts used in reforming nor fuel cells are tolerant of sulfur.
Ebco Industries, under contract to REGI US, is implementing the same set of modifications done on the 42hp Rand Cam sliding-vane rotary engine on the diesel, 125hp version of the Rand Cam. (Earlier post.)
The modifications include vane design to eliminate sealing and six additional cam designs with a special coating to ensure durability. The company expects these to be complete within 30 days, and will then begin an engine testing program to assess endurance, maintenance factors and fuel efficiency.
BP Australia has signed two contracts and a Memorandum of Understanding to provide more than 200 million liters of biofuels to Australian consumers per annum by 2008—more than half of the Federal Government’s national target of 350 million liters.
BP is undertaking a number of actions to deliver on that promise. These include:
March 30, 2006
|Launch of a radiosonde balloon.|
A new analysis of weather balloon observations from the last 30 years reveals that the Antarctic has the same global warming signature as that seen across the whole Earth—but three times larger than that observed globally.
The major warming of the Antarctic winter troposphere is larger than any previously identified regional tropospheric warming on Earth. (The troposphere is the lowermost portion of Earth’s atmosphere.) The data show that regional mid-tropospheric temperatures have increased at a statistically significant rate of 0.5° to 0.7° Celsius per decade over the past 30 years.
Researchers at Virginia Tech have developed a pre-treatment process for biomass that promises to reduce the processing cost of cellulosic ethanol.
The challenge in using corn stover—the most abundant agricultural residue in the US—as an ethanol feedstock is in separating the sugars (that will be fermented into ethanol) from the lignocellulose—the combination of lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose that form plant cell walls.
|The American Forest & Paper Associations’s concept of a forest biorefinery.|
The University of Maine is embarking on a $10.35-million research project to develop an integrated forest biorefinery—one that allows mills to create new, high-margin revenue streams while maintaining their traditional production. This could be the first integrated forest biorefinery in the country.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the university a grant of $6.9 million for the project; UMaine is investing a 50% match ($3.45 million) through the Main Economic Improvement Fund.
General Motors announced plans to add E85 fuel pumps to approximately 20 Kroger fueling sites throughout the Houston and Dallas area through a collaborative partnership with the retailer and Abengoa Bioenergy.
The collaboration is part of a broader, ongoing national GM campaign to boost the use and awareness of ethanol-based E85 fuel in the United States. E85 FlexFuel vehicles can run on any combination of gasoline and/or E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.
|C Gas Plus engine|
These buses will exclusively transport workers to and from the AutoVAZ car manufacturing plant located in Togliatti, Samara region, 1,000 km from Moscow. AutoVAZ is the largest car manufacturer in Russia, and the plant in Togliatti produces more than 700,000 cars annually.