[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
ITOCHU invests in Flint Hills/Benefuel biodiesel project in US
June 05, 2013
Japan-based ITOCHU Corporation has invested in a 50-million-gallon/year, next-generation (inedible feed stock base) biodiesel fuel (BDF) project, which Flint Hills Resources LLC (FHR), a leading US refining, biofuel and chemicals company, and Benefuel Inc, developer of a solid-state biodiesel catalyst and process (earlier post), are jointly developing in Beatrice, Nebraska.
Benefuel and FHR have an exclusive agreement to develop and operate US-based biodiesel projects using Benefuel’s ENSEL technology. The joint venture—Duonix, LLC—is actively developing the first project, which is a retrofit of the 50-million-gallon-per-year facility in Beatrice, Nebraska. The facility was acquired by FHR out of bankruptcy and has since been transferred to Duonix. The Beatrice plant will continue to be operated by FHR.
EIA: US consumption of alt fuels up 13% in 2011; E85 second behind natural gas; medium-duty vans had greater impact than LDVs
April 09, 2013
|Consumption of alternative fuels by vehicle type, 2011. Replacement fuels—i.e., E10 and biodiesel—are categorized separately. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.|
Overall consumption of alternative transportation fuels in the US increased almost 13% in 2011 to a total of 515,920 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons, compared to 457,755 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2010, according to the latest Alternative Fuel Vehicle Data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
In alternative-fueled vehicles, consumption of ethanol (E85) increased 52% from the prior year’s consumption, an increase from 90,323 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2010 to 137,165 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2011. EIA attributed this to the increase in overall inventory of E85-capable vehicles. In 2011, E85 became the second-most consumed alternative fuel, behind natural gas (220,247 thousand-gasoline-equivalent gallons), and outpacing LPG (124,457 thousand-gasoline-equivalent gallons).
Navigant forecasts global 6% CAGR for biofuels to 2023
March 29, 2013
|Total Biofuels production by fuel type, world markets: 2013-2023. Source: Navigant. Click to enlarge.|
Navigant Research forecasts global biofuels production will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% between 2013 and 2023, despite slower than expected development of advanced biofuels pathways (such as cellulosic biofuels); an expected expansion in unconventional oil production in key markets such as the United States; and a decline in global investment for biofuels in recent years.
In contrast, Navigant expects the CAGR for fossil-based gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel to be 3.1% over the forecast period. The research firm projects that total biofuels production will reach 62 billion gallons by 2023 or 5.9% of global transportation fuel production from fossil sources.
California ARB considering regulations for alternative diesel fuels; focus on biodiesel
March 23, 2013
The staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) is holding a public meeting on 23 April in Sacramento to discuss regulatory concepts for establishing fuel requirements for alternative diesel fuels (ADF), including biodiesel, renewable diesel and other emerging diesel fuel substitutes.
ARB’s goal is to conduct public meetings leading to the development of a regulatory proposal for consideration by the Board this fall. Staff anticipates the regulatory concepts would involve new alternative diesel fuel provisions, as well as amendments to the existing diesel fuel regulation to accommodate the new ADF requirements and to update outdated provisions. This effort is not directed at other existing transportation fuel programs, such as those for compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen, or electricity.
California Energy Commission awards more than $5.5M for green transportation projects and $1.8M for 20 energy research projects
March 21, 2013
The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved $5,580,773 for clean-energy transportation projects including biodiesel production, power control electronics for medium-and heavy-duty battery electric vehicles, and buydowns for propane vehicles. The awards were made through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program.
In addition, CEC awarded $1,815,274 to fund 20 energy research projects in the areas of transportation, electricity, and natural gas. Funds for these projects—which span areas as diverse as a new crossover valve for the split-cycle Tour Engine (earlier post) to a new solar thermal storage device capable of integration with utility scale solar thermal power plants—come from Commission’s Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) program.
California ARB considering four new low-carbon fuel pathways; Neste renewable diesel and sugarcane molasses ethanol
March 20, 2013
California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted four new Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) pathways to the LCFS web site. (Earlier post.) Among the new pathways to be considered is the production of renewable diesel from Australian tallow at Neste Oil’s Singapore plant. Others are sugarcane molasses ethanol from Guatemala; mixed feedstock to biodiesel from Texas; and a new ARB-staff-developed pathway for North American landfill gas.
The Low Carbon Fuel Standard, approved in April 2009, requires that suppliers of transportation fuels meet an average declining standard of carbon intensity (CI) —expressed in grams of CO2 equivalent per megajoule of fuel energy (g CO2e/MJ)—that will provide a 10% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions for all fuels used in California by 2020. The CI of a fuel is determined by the sum of all greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, transportation, processing and consumption of a fuel (its pathway).
California Energy Commission awards more than $17M to support alternative fuel and infrastructure projects
February 14, 2013
The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved $17,223,593 for eight projects including alternative fuel production, plug-in truck demonstrations, EV charging station deployment, and infrastructure planning. The awards were made through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118. This program is slated to invest approximately $90 million during this fiscal year to develop new transportation technologies, as well as alternative and renewable fuels. It is paid for through surcharges on vehicle and boating registrations, and smog check and license plate fees.
These awards also assist in fulfilling Governor Brown’s executive order directing state government to support the rapid commercialization of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in California, with a 2025 target of having 1.5 million ZEVs on the state’s roads. The order also requires the installation of sufficient infrastructure to support 1 million ZEVs in California by 2020. (Earlier post.)
SG Biofuels signs deals in Brazil to develop Jatropha as an alternative energy crop
January 29, 2013
SGB, Inc. (SG Biofuels) has signed agreements in Brazil with Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), the country’s leading agricultural research institution, and with Fiagril, one of the country’s leading biodiesel refiners, to advance the development of Jatropha as a next-generation energy crop.
SGB’s strategic research partnership with Embrapa will combine the company’s breeding and genomics platform, including the world’s largest and most diverse library of Jatropha genetic material, with Embrapa’s leadership in the advancement of new technologies that have increased agricultural productivity in Brazil. Embrapa has identified Jatropha as one of the most promising new energy crops in Brazil.
Study finds biodiesel from algae, yeast and bacteria can displace both petroleum diesel and soybean biodiesel
November 23, 2012
|Diesel engine torque output as a function of the engine speed (rpm) for the tested fuels. Credit: ACS, Wahlen et al. Click to enlarge.|
Biodiesel (fatty acid methyl ester) derived from oleaginous microbes—microalgae, yeast, and bacteria—can effectively displace both petroleum diesel and biodiesel produced from plant oils, according to the findings of a new study by a team from Utah State University.
The researchers, who reported their results in a paper published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, examined the properties, engine performance, and emissions for biodiesel produced from the microalgae Chaetoceros gracilis; the yeast Cryptococcus curvatus; and the bacterium Rhodococcus opacus.
Comparative study finds that B20 increases emission rates of a number of pollutants in both light- and medium-duty diesel engines at idle
October 20, 2012
|Emission rates for the 1.7 and 6.4 L engines at idle. Panels show (a) PM2.5, (b) elemental carbon (EC), (c) NOx, (d) CO, (e) formaldehyde, and (f) sum of target VOCs. Credit: ACS, Chin et al. Click to enlarge.|
A new study led by researchers at the University of Michigan compared regulated and unregulated emissions from both light-duty passenger car (1.7 L) and medium-duty (6.4 L) diesel engines at idle and load, using a biodiesel blend (B20) and conventional ultralow sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel. Their paper appears in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.
They found that the level of emissions of regulated and unregulated pollutants in diesel exhaust depends on fuel, load, engine calibration, and exhaust aftertreatment technology. Among the findings were that at idle, B20 increased engine-out and DOC-out emission rates of CO, NMHC, PM2.5, elemental carbon (EC), formaldehyde, benzene, and other VOCs (volatile organic compounds) for both the 1.7 L/2002 calibration and 6.4 L/2004 calibration engines.
California Energy Commission selects 7 biofuel companies for almost $27M in funding
October 18, 2012
The California Energy Commission (CEC) has selected seven companies as proposed recipients for $26,896,373 in Round 2 of awards from a solicitation released under the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) to provide funding for the development of new, California-based biofuel production facilities that can sustainably produce low-carbon transportation fuels.
Maximum funding available for this grant solicitation, which was issued in January, was $37.69 million; the Energy Commission reserved the right to increase total funding under this solicitation by up to an additional $30 million. The Commission released Round 1 of the proposed awards in March. Of the seven Round 2 proposed award recipients, two produce diesel substitutes ($8,641,723); two produce gasoline substitutes ($9,664,657); and three produce biomethane ($8,589,993).
Brazilian biofuels with LUC may have much higher non-GHG emissions than conventional gasoline and diesel
September 24, 2012
|Comparisons of life-cycle emissions from LUC phase for (a) sugar cane ethanol and (b) soybean biodiesel. Credit: ACS, Tsao et al. Click to enlarge.|
When including Land Use Change (LUC) factors, Brazilian sugar cane ethanol and soybean biodiesel have much larger life-cycle emissions than conventional gasoline and biodiesel for six regulated, non-greenhouse gas (GHG) air pollutants, according to a study led by a team from the University of California, Merced. The pollutants are NMHC, CO, NOx, TPM, PM2.5 and SOx.
Even with the application of the “Green Ethanol Protocol”—which will eliminate sugar cane pre-harvest burning in the future—Brazilian biofuels including sugar cane ethanol and soybean biodiesel are still likely to have higher air pollution impacts than conventional fossil fuels due to the LUC effects if the LUC occurs as projected through 2020, according to the researchers. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Study finds clear trend of increasing NOx with higher biodiesel blends with CARB diesel; NOx neutrality achieved by blending in renewable or GTL diesel
August 30, 2012
|NOx emissions results of biodiesel, renewable, and GTL diesel fuel blends, and CARB diesel fuel for 2006 Cummins ISM. Credit: ACS, Hajbabaei et al. Click to enlarge.|
A study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s College of Engineering – Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) and colleagues at the California Air Resources Board (ARB) found a relatively clear trend of increasing NOx emissions with increasing biodiesel blend level at levels of B20 and above for CARB-like/high cetane diesel fuels. The study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
They also found that increasing renewable diesel (Neste Oil’s NExBTL) and gas-to-liquids (GTL) diesel blends showed NOx reductions with rising blend level. Blending GTL or renewable diesel fuels with various levels of biodiesel or by using di-tert-butyl peroxide (DTBP) can achieve NOx emissions neutrality with the CARB diesel, according to their results. The study is part of a larger program conducted by ARB in conjunction with UC Riverside, UC Davis and others to develop diesel formulations with higher levels of renewable biofuels.
Researchers develop new non-catalytic process for converting lipids from sewage sludge to biodiesel; high yield and economic production
August 25, 2012
|Illustration of non-catalytic biodiesel conversion Credit: ACS, Kwon et al. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers from the Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology (RIST) and Korea University have developed and demonstrated a novel methodology for transforming lipids containing high amounts of free fatty acids (FFAs)—such as those extracted from sewage sludge (SS)—to biodiesel using a non-catalytic thermochemical process under ambient pressure in a continuous flow system.
This allowed the combination of esterification of FFAs and transesterification of triglycerides into a single non-catalytic process, which led to a 98.5% ± 0.5% conversion efficiency to FAME (fatty acid methyl ester) within 1 minute in a temperature range of 350–500 °C. They also demonstrated that the production of biodiesel using the lipids extracted from sewage sludge (SS) could be economically feasible because of its remarkably high yield of oil and low cost, as compared to conventional biodiesel feedstocks.
German researches conclude EU rapeseed biodiesel extremely unlikely to meet current definition of sustainability
August 20, 2012
|GHG emissions savings of rapeseed FAME compared to RED “typical” and “default” levels. Dashed line indicates RED threshold of 35%. Pehnelt and Vietze. Click to enlarge.|
In a new analysis of GHG emissions savings potential of rapeseed biodiesel produced in the EU, a pair of researchers from GlobEcon, an independent economics and politics research and consulting institute based in Jena, Germany, conclude that the GHG emissions saving values of rapeseed biodiesel stated by the EU “are more than questionable.”
“Given these striking differences as well as the lack of transparency in the EU’s calculations,” they write, “we assume that the EU seems to prefer ‘politically’ achieved typical and default values regarding rapeseed biodiesel over scientifically proven ones.” The findings are published as a Jena Economic Research Paper, a joint publication of the Friedrich Schiller University and the Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena, Germany.
Yale team advances toward a one-pot oil extraction and transesterification process for algal biodiesel using a supercritical CO2 system
June 19, 2012
A team from Yale described advances toward achieving a single-step lipid extraction and transesterification process to produce algal biodiesel during the symposium “Biobased Feedstocks for Chemical and Fuel Production” at ACS’ 16th annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Such a one-pot process would have a significant impact on the lifecycle impact of algal biodiesel production.
Led by Dr. Julie Zimmerman, Associate Professor of Green Engineering, the researchers investigated the fundamental science necessary to achieve a one-pot approach that both extracts and transesterifies lipids from algae using supercritical carbon dioxide/methanol (scCO2/MeOH) and heterogeneous catalysts.
California Energy Commission awards more than $23M to encourage use of alternative transportation fuels
June 14, 2012
The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved funding of $23,110,015 for projects that will advance the development of green fuels, and the installation of fueling stations. The awards are provided through the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118.
The program provides approximately $100 million annually to encourage the development and use of alternative and renewable fuels and new vehicle technologies. By leveraging outside funding, many of these projects also attract additional investment in clean energy technology. The award recipients are: