Univ. of Illinois team argues that renewable fuel standard needs to be modified, not repealed

A policy analysis by two University of Illinois researchers argues that Congress should minimally modify, not repeal, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In the study, law professor Jay P. Kesan and Timothy A. Slating, a regulatory associate with the Energy Biosciences Institute, argue that RFS mandates ought to be adjusted... Read more →


Study finds biodiesel blend reduces total particle mass in emissions but may have greater adverse health effect per mass than diesel

Findings from a study by researchers from the Department of Medicine and the School of Engineering at the University of Vermont suggest that the addition of biodiesel to diesel fuels will reduce the total particle mass of PM emissions—but that the biodiesel blend particles may contribute to greater biological effects... Read more →


The EROI ratio and GHG emissions/MJ of (a) algae-derived diesel and (b) algae-derived gasoline produced using HTL. The results are benchmarked against commercialized biodiesel or bioethanol as well as petroleum-derived versions of the drop-in fuels. Credit: Liu et al. Click to enlarge. A new life cycle analysis by a team... Read more →


European Parliament backs 6% cap on land-based biofuels, switchover to advanced biofuels; no mandate

In a vote on draft legislation, the European Parliament has backed a cap on the use of biofuels produced from starch-rich crops, sugars, oil and other crops grown on land and a speedy switchover to new biofuels from alternative sources such as seaweed and waste. The measures aim to reduce... Read more →


U Wisc. study explores effects of biodiesel-gasoline blend in diesel engine

One high-efficiency combustion concept under investigation is gasoline compression ignition (GCI)—the use of gasoline-like fuels to deliver very low NOx and PM emissions as well as high efficiency in a diesel compression ignition engine. (Earlier post.) A challenge to be overcome with this approach is the higher resistance to autoignition... Read more →


Study investigates impact of operating conditions and load on soot particle number distribution for diesel and biodiesel

A team led by researchers from Brunel University (UK) has investigated the exhaust soot particle number size distributions obtained from the combustion of diesel and biodiesel (rapeseed methyl ester, RME) in a high speed direct injection (HSDI) diesel engine under different engine operating conditions: fuel injection pressure, injection timing, exhaust... Read more →


Full genome map of oil palm indicates a way to raise yields and protect rainforest; single gene controls oil palm yield

A multinational team of scientists has identified a single gene, called Shell, that regulates yield of the oil palm tree. The Shell gene is responsible for the oil palm’s three known shell forms: dura (thick); pisifera (shell-less); and tenera (thin), a hybrid of dura and pisifera palms. Tenera palms contain... Read more →


ITOCHU invests in Flint Hills/Benefuel biodiesel project in US

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.... Read more →


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,... Read more →


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... Read more →


California ARB considering regulations for alternative diesel fuels; focus on biodiesel

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... Read more →


California Energy Commission awards more than $5.5M for green transportation projects and $1.8M for 20 energy research projects

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... Read more →


California ARB considering four new low-carbon fuel pathways; Neste renewable diesel and sugarcane molasses ethanol

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... Read more →


California Energy Commission awards more than $17M to support alternative fuel and infrastructure projects

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... Read more →


SG Biofuels signs deals in Brazil to develop Jatropha as an alternative energy crop

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... Read more →


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... Read more →


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... Read more →


California Energy Commission selects 7 biofuel companies for almost $27M in funding

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... Read more →


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... Read more →


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... Read more →


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... Read more →


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... Read more →


Yale team advances toward a one-pot oil extraction and transesterification process for algal biodiesel using a supercritical CO2 system

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... Read more →


California Energy Commission awards more than $23M to encourage use of alternative transportation fuels

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... Read more →


California Energy Commission awards more than $35M for green transportation in California

The California Energy Commission unanimously approved funding of $35,031,310 to projects that will accelerate the development of green fuels and technology in California. This set of awards supports a diversity of alternative fuel and vehicle types, including biodiesel production, natural gas vehicle technologies and incentives, hybrid and plug-in vehicles, and... Read more →


California Energy Commission awards more than $15M to advance biofuels, plug-in and V2G research

The California Energy Commission unanimously approved funding of more than $15 million to projects that will advance biofuels and electric vehicle research in California. These grants are provided through the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The program, created by Assembly Bill 118 (Núñez, Chapter 750,... Read more →


New study finds GHG emissions from palm oil production significantly underestimated; palm oil biofuels could be more climate-damaging than oil sands fuels

When peat swamps are drained for agriculture, the peat begins to decompose, and is an enormous source of carbon emissions. Based on visual interpretation of high-resolution (30 m) satellite images, a new study in the journal Global Change Biology: Bioenergy determined that industrial plantations covered over 3.1 Mha (20%) of... Read more →


Obama Administration releases National Bioeconomy Blueprint; health, food, energy and environment

The White House today released a national Bioeconomy Blueprint, a comprehensive approach to harnessing innovations in biological research to address national challenges in health, food, energy, and the environment. In coordination with the Blueprint’s release, Federal officials also announced a number of new commitments to help achieve the Blueprint’s goals.... Read more →


Solazyme produces tailored oils using heterotrophic algae grown in industrial fermenters. Source: Solazyme. Click to enlarge. Algae-based renewable oil company Solazyme, Inc. and Bunge Global Innovation LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of agribusiness and food company Bunge Limited, along with other Bunge subsidiaries have signed definitive agreements forming a joint venture... Read more →


Pike Pulse Grid for oil majors commercializing biofuels. Source: Pike Research. Click to enlarge. With “easy oil” increasingly difficult to source and with an obvious stake in the future of the $2 trillion transportation fuel market, the world’s largest oil companies have begun charting strategies to bring biofuels to market... Read more →


Pike Research forecasts global biofuels market to double by 2012 to $185.3B

Pike Research forecasts that the global market for biofuels will more than double over the coming decade, increasing from $82.7 billion in 2011 to $185.3 billion by 2021. At least 38 national governments have enacted blending mandates or targets to accelerate the expansion of biofuels production and consumption in the... Read more →


Simplified palm oil biofuel lifecycle system diagram. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has conducted lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) analyses on biodiesel and renewable diesel produced from palm oil and estimated GHG emission reductions of 17% (81 (kgCO2e/mmBtu) and 11% (87 (kgCO2e/mmBtu) respectively for these... Read more →


The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the 2012 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2). (Earlier post.) The final 2012 overall volumes and standards are: Biomass-based diesel (1.0 billion gallons; 0.91%) Advanced biofuels (2.0 billion gallons; 1.21%) Cellulosic biofuels... Read more →


Shell exec says biofuels are the most important alternative to fossil hydrocarbons in mobility for the next 20 years

In a keynote interview to open F.O. Licht’s World Ethanol & Biofuels in Barcelona on 8 November, Arthur Reijnhart, General Manager, Alternative Energies and Fuel Development Strategy for Shell, described a scenario of an increasingly diverse energy supply landscape against a backdrop of soaring demand between now and 2050, driven... Read more →


Study finds GHG emissions associated with palm oil production have been significantly underestimated; implications for carbon intensity of biofuels as well as biofuel policies in Europe

A new study on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the conversion and degradation of peatland in palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia has determined that past studies have generally significantly underestimated emissions associated with palm oil grown on peatland. This has resulted in underestimation of the indirect land use... Read more →


Pennsylvania DEP awards more than $4.4M in alternative fuels grants to 12 projects; bulk for natural gas

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will award more than $4.4 million in Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants to 12 projects across the state. The bulk of the funding is flowing to natural gas projects, with additional funding for electric vehicle infrastructure and a biodiesel project. The grants, funded by... Read more →


Pike Research forecasts global biofuels market value to double to $185B by 2021

According to a new report from Pike Research, the increased production and consumption of biofuels will more than double the industry’s market value in the next decade. Pike forecasts that the global market for biofuels will increase from $82.7 billion in 2011 to $185.3 billion by 2021. Pike projects that... Read more →


World ethanol and biodiesel production, 1975-2010. Source: Worldwatch Institute. Click to enlarge. Global production of biofuels increased 17% in 2010 to reach an all-time high of 105 billion liters (28 billion gallons US), up from 90 billion liters (24 billion gallons US) in 2009. High oil prices, a global economic... Read more →


Petrobras to invest US$2.5 billion in increasing biodiesel and ethanol production through 2015

Brazil’s Petrobras, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Petrobras Biocombustível, will invest US$2.5 billion in increasing biodiesel and ethanol production between 2011 and 2015. This amount is part of $4.1 billion earmarked for the biofuels business, which also foresees $1.3 billion for ethanol logistics and $300 million for research in this segment.... Read more →


Researchers castigate planning bodies for ill-conceived Jatropha programs

The results of massive plantings of Jatropha worldwide for use as a biofuel feedstock—some 12.8 million ha (49,421 square miles) are expected to be planted by 2015—are “anything but encouraging”, according to Promode Kant from the Institute of Green Economy in India and Shuirong Wu of the Chinese Academy of... Read more →


Comparing energy requirements for major biodiesel subsystems and total life-cycle energy requirements between the current study and two earlier assessments: Pradhan et al. (2009), and Sheehan et al. (1998). Pradhan et al. (2011) Click to enlarge. Researchers from the University of Idaho and the US Department of Agriculture have updated... Read more →


UW-Madison Hybrid Vehicle Team working with Engine Research Center to apply dual-fuel RCCI engines in series and parallel hybrids

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Hybrid Vehicle Team will work with the UW-Madison Engine Research Center to test implementations of Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI) engines being developed by UW mechanical engineering professor Rolf Reitz and his colleagues. RCCI is a dual-fuel compression-ignition engine low-temperature combustion (LTC) strategy that uses in-cylinder... Read more →


Wärtsilä’s LBF specification. Click to enlarge. Wärtsilä was recently contracted by the STX Finland shipyard in Turku, Finland, to supply the main engines for a new multi-purpose cargo vessel. The vessel will be powered by three Wärtsilä 6L20 main generating sets, capable of operating on various types of liquid bio-fuels... Read more →


EPA proposes 2012 Renewable Fuel Standards, 2013 biomass-based diesel volume

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the 2012 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2). The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established the annual renewable fuel volume targets, which steadily increase to an overall level of... Read more →


GHG emission comparison between fossil diesel, transesterified lipids, HVO and woody BTL. GD = HVO; RSO = Rapeseed Oil; SBO = Soybean oil; Biodiesel = Transesterified lipids. Sunde et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers in Norway reviewing the lifecycle impacts and costs of three renewable fuels—(1) transesterified lipids, (2) hydrotreated... Read more →


Fuel provisions in the Tax Relief bill

US President Barack Obama on Friday signed H.R. 4853, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (“Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010”). The bill, among its other provisions, contains a number of provisions related to energy (Title VII, Subtitle A) and within that, provisions... Read more →


California Energy Commission awards $9.6M to 8 projects on electric vehicles, natural gas and biofuels

The California Energy Commission has approved eight grants that leverage more than $9.6 million in state funding with $11,969,855 in private funds. The projects will advance the manufacture of electric vehicles and vehicle batteries; add vehicle charging stations; and encourage the use of biofuels. The $9,612,515 is funded from the... Read more →


Brown Chemists Develop Process to Simplify Waste Vegetable Oil to Biodiesel Process, Chart Progress of Transesterification Reaction

Two chemists at Brown University have streamlined the conversion of waste vegetable oil (WVO) into biodiesel, eliminating the need for corrosive chemicals to perform the reactions. In a paper published in the RSC journal Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, the chemists describe the waste vegetable oil-to-biodiesel conversion in a single reaction... Read more →


Microalgae biodiesel processing and lifecycle analysis model overview. Credit: ACS, Click to enlarge. Researchers at Colorado State University have found that a microalgae biodiesel process using currently available technologies can show improvement in lifecycle GHG emissions and net energy ratio (NER) compared to soybean-based biodiesel. A paper on their lifecycle... Read more →


Process flow diagram for biodiesel production through intracellular lipid hydrolysis and supercritical in situ transesterification (SC-IST/E) using ethanol (EtOH). Credit: ACS, Levine et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed and demonstrated the feasibility of a two-step hydrolysis-solvolysis process to produce biodiesel directly from wet... Read more →