May 31, 2006
Researchers from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico have genetically engineered the bacterium Bacillus subtilis to ferment glucose sugar directly to ethanol with a high (86%) yield. This is the first step in their quest to develop bacteria that can breakdown and ferment cellulose biomass directly to ethanol.
In a presentation at last week’s 106th General meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, the team members described their work in engineering the bacterium to produce ethanol as a single fermentation product from the sugars resulting from the breakdown of plant cellulose into simple carbohydrates.
E85 is now allowed for retail sale in the state of Florida. State fuel regulations have, until now, prohibited the sale of the 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline blend to the public. With the rules prohibiting public sale now changed, retailers must get their E85 infrastructure in place.
John Magwood, President of First Coast Biofuels, which supplies a handful of private fleets with E85 including the City of Jacksonville and Kennedy Space Center, says that Florida has about 400,000 flexible-fuel vehicles on its roads.
Tenneco is launching a retrofit diesel particulate filter (DPF) for the European independent aftermarket in advance of the introduction of European Union (EU) legislation and tax incentives on retrofit units that come into effect in The Netherlands this July.
The Tenneco Walker-brand DPF features a lightweight foam filter coated with precious metals and combines the catalytic converter and DPF into one unit. This allows installers to replace the existing catalytic converter with the DPF without adding additional weight and without disturbing the vehicle’s entire NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) profile.
|Bolivia’s major natural gas fields are in the south; the proposed GTL plant would be in Santa Cruz, fed by a pipeline. Map: Petrobras.|
Franklin Oil & Gas, Bolivia S.A. and YPFB (Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos, Bolivia’s state-owned oil company) have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to build and to operate a Gas-To-Liquids (GTL) plant in the Grande River region of the Department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Preliminary studies call for the Grande River plant’s design to produce approximately 10,000 barrels per day of Fischer-Tropsch diesel using GTL technology. By comparison, the Qatar Petroleum-Sasol Oryx GTL facility in Qatar, due to come online in June, will produce 34,000 barrels per day of liquids (24,000 barrels of diesel, 9,000 barrels of naphtha and 1,000 barrels of liquefied petroleum gas).
Chevron Corporation has formed a biofuels business unit to advance technology and pursue commercial opportunities related to the production and distribution of ethanol and biodiesel in the United States.
Chevron made the announcement today at the groundbreaking ceremony for Galveston Bay Biodiesel (GBB)—a new 100-million gallon per year biodiesel plant. Chevron has a 22% stake in the GBB company. (Earlier post.)
|AES AgriVerde anaerobic digester.|
Global power company AES and AgCert International plc have formed a joint venture—AES AgriVerde—to deploy AgCert’s anaerobic bio-digester technology to capture methane from agricultural and animal waste products. This is AES’ first significant direct investment in projects and technologies to help reduce and offset greenhouse gas emissions.
The resulting biogas will either be flared or used to generate electricity, heat or both. Applying it as a transportation fuel would require further scrubbing.
After completing long-term tests, Scania, the Swedish manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks and buses, is now guaranteeing operating reliability for 100% biodiesel (B100) for all its trucks with engines featuring unit injectors.
This means that most Scania trucks built during the past eight years—more than 300,000 vehicles—are officially capable of using unblended biodiesel fuels that meet the European standard EN14214 for fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) fuels. Scania tested with rapeseed methyl ester (RME), the prevalent biodiesel fuel in Europe at this point.
BASF Aktiengesellschaft reached an agreement with Engelhard that paves the way for BASF’s acquisition of the US catalyst maker. According to the agreement, Engelhard will recommend that Engelhard shareholders tender their shares to BASF in exchange for $39 per share in cash and will withdraw its $45 per share self-tender offer for approximately 20% of the company’s shares.
With those terms, the acquisition would be worth more than $5 billion—the largest acquisition in BASF’s history.
May 30, 2006
Hoku Scientific, a designer, developer and manufacturer of hydrocarbon-based membranes and membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, plans to diversify its product offerings by manufacturing and selling solar modules, in addition to manufacturing polysilicon, a key material used in the production of solar modules.
Hoku anticipates that the costs to establish its solar operation will be approximately $250 million, which the company will seek to fund through the issuance of debt and from potential customers’ cash down payments for future supply of polysilicon and modules. Hoku will explore basing these manufacturing operations in Singapore.
|Dark green marks the states with enacted RFS and light green the states currently in legislative process.|
Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack today signed several pieces of legislation designed to grow Iowa’s renewable energy and bio-energy industries, including a state Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) of 25% by 2020—the most aggressive state RFS yet. (Earlier post.) Other bills promote wind, solar, and new uses for soy-based products.
Iowa becomes the fifth state to enact legislation defining a state-level RFS; another six states are in varying stages of the legislative process with their own RFS proposals.