Green Car Congress
Home Topics Archives About Contact  RSS Headlines
Google search

GCC Web

Biomass

[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.]

China Lake team devises new class of bio-based high-cetane renewable diesel fuels: dioxolanes

December 14, 2017

Researchers at the Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake have synthesized a new class of renewable diesel fuels from a methyl ketone and diols including 2,3-butanediol, 1,2-propanediol, and ethylene glycol. These fuels exhibit comparable net heats of combustion (NHOCs) to conventional biodiesel, while maintaining derived cetane numbers between 82-91. These values are 20–30 units higher than conventional biodiesel and 40–50 units higher than petroleum-derived diesel fuel.

The short combustion delays of the new fuels make them compelling blendstocks to enhance the combustion efficiency of petroleum-derived diesel fuel; further, careful selection of the renewable diol allows for custom tailoring of viscosity and freezing point. In addition, methyl ketones can be efficiently generated from sugar feedstocks or CO2/H2 with metabolically engineered microorganisms, while the diols can be readily obtained from biomass sugars via fermentation or chemical methods.

More... | Comments (0)

Global Bioenergies starts scale-up of its second process: renewable acetone and isopropanol

December 13, 2017

Global Bioenergies has started the scale-up phase of a process converting renewable resources into acetone and isopropanol. The markets for both these 3-carbon compounds are well established and worth billions of dollars. In a further process, these two compounds can be converted to propylene, a key petrochemical building block with a market valued in excess of US$100 billion. The process has been transferred to ARD, a specialist in scaling up fermentation processes, and the first pilot run has been successfully completed.

Founded in 2008, Global Bioenergies develops processes to convert renewable resources into fuels and materials. Its most technically mature process is for the production of isobutene, a 4-carbon compound, from which fuels and materials are derived. While the process continues to be improved in the laboratory, demo plant trials are under way, and a full-scale plant project is being studied in a joint venture with Cristal Union, Europe’s fourth-largest sugar producer.

More... | Comments (0)

NREL-led research could lead to improved enzyme performance to break down biomass for renewable fuels

December 12, 2017

A team led by researchers from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have gained new insights into how glycosylation—the natural attachment of sugars to proteins—affects a key cellulase enzyme. This work could be used to improve enzyme performance to better break down biomass and convert waste plant matter to renewable fuels and products.

The new research, which focuses on the enzyme Cel7A that breaks down cellulose in plants to sugars, is detailed in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study elucidates the specific functions of small sugars (glycans) that microbes attach to their enzymes. This enzymatic modification by the addition of sugars is referred to as “glycosylation” and it is known to have a substantial impact on enzyme function.

More... | Comments (0)

Two-stage catalytic fast hydropyrolysis of biomass produces biofuel with heating value, aromaticity close to gasoline

December 11, 2017

A team at the University of Connecticut Storrs reports on a two-stage catalytic fast hydropyrolysis process (CFHP) that produces a drop-oin biofuel with heating value and aromaticity close to that of gasoline. Their paper is published in the journal Fuel.

The two-stage CFHP followed by hydroprocessing produced nearly 18 mol% carbon yield to alkanes, and a total bio-oil carbon yield of 25 mol%. The approximate bio-oil higher heating value (HHV) and aromaticity were 43.4 MJ/kg and 28 wt%, respectively—both within the range of gasoline.

More... | Comments (5)

NREL develops novel method to produce renewable acrylonitrile; carbon fibers from renewable biomass

December 08, 2017

Researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and their colleagues have devised a novel catalytic method to produce renewable acrylonitrile (ACN) using 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP), which can be biologically produced from sugars. This hybrid biological-catalytic process offers an alternative to the conventional petrochemical production method and achieves unprecedented acrylonitrile yields.

The process, reported in a paper in the journal Science, achieves ACN molar yields exceeding 90% from ethyl 3-HP via dehydration and nitrilation with ammonia over an inexpensive titanium dioxide solid acid catalyst. The researchers described an integrated process modeled at scale that is based on this chemistry and that achieves near-quantitative ACN yields (98 ± 2%) from ethyl acrylate.

More... | Comments (0)

IH2 technology licensed to Biozin Holding AS for production of liquid transportation fuels from woody biomass

November 19, 2017

CRI/Criterion Catalyst Company LTD (CRIUK), a global catalyst technology company wholly owned by Royal Dutch Shell, has awarded an FEL-2 license agreement for the IH2 technology which converts biomass to liquid transportation fuels (earlier post), to Norway-based Biozin Holding AS (BZH).

Norwegian saw mill company Bergene Holm AS and the Swedish oil company Preem AB have entered into a cooperation, with the intention to realize full scale biofuel production sites in Norway through Biozin Holding AS. The production facility is intended to be located adjacent to the Bergene Holm AS saw mill in Åmli in southern Norway.

More... | Comments (0)

Univ of Washington team working to make poplar coppice viable cheap, high-volume biofuel feedstock

November 17, 2017

A University of Washington team is trying to make poplar an economically viable biofuel feedstock by testing the production of younger poplar trees that could be harvested more frequently—after only two or three years—instead of the usual 10- to 20-year cycle. These juvenile trees are planted closer together and cut in such a way that more branches sprout up from the stump after each harvest, using the same root systems for up to 20 years. This method is called “coppicing,” and the trees are known as poplar coppice.

The UW team is the first to try converting the entire young tree—leaves, bark and stems—into bio oil and ethanol using two separate processes. Their results, published recently in two papers—one in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering and the other in Biotechnology for Biofuels (open access)—point to a promising future for using poplar coppice for biofuel.

More... | Comments (3)

UC Riverside team develops streamlined process for enhanced cellulosic ethanol production

November 13, 2017

UC Riverside researchers have developed a streamlined process that could finally make the ethanol production cost from abundant “second generation” plant wastes competitive with “first generation” ethanol made from sugars.

A major historical barrier to low-cost production of ethanol from biomass is the low ethanol yields and titers that result from fermentation of biomass solids at high solids when compared with simple sugar fermentations. The UCR team showed that combining its cosolvent-enhanced lignocellulosic fractionation (CELF) pretreatment process with subsequent simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) can achieve similar high ethanol yields and titers that match that of separate pure glucose fermentations. The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

More... | Comments (0)

Sandia-led team demonstrates two efficient hybrid biochemical routes for lignin conversion to value-added chemicals

November 11, 2017

A Sandia National Laboratories-led team has demonstrated two new routes to lignin conversion that combine the advantages of earlier methods while minimizing their drawbacks. The team’s recent findings are described in an open access paper in the journal Scientific Reports.

Lignin, the tough material left over from biofuel production, contains compounds that can be converted into products such nylon, plastics and drugs. Lignin is one of the main components of plant cell walls, and gives plants structural integrity as well as protection from microbial attacks. Products made from converted lignin could subsidize biofuel production, making the cost of biofuels more competitive with petroleum. Unfortunately, lignin’s toughness also makes it difficult to extract its valuable compounds. Scientists have wrestled for decades with deconstructing it. As a result, lignin often sits unused in giant piles.

More... | Comments (1)

POET-DSM claims cellulosic biofuel breakthrough with new pretreatment system for increased production

November 06, 2017

POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels says it has achieved a major breakthrough in cellulosic biofuels production at its Project LIBERTY plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. (Earlier post.) The company has solved the critical challenge in pretreatment, overcoming what has been the primary hurdle to commercialization for producers around the world. Project LIBERTY is now running pretreatment at 80% uptime.

Pretreatment is the first stage in cellulosic biofuels production, in which the feedstock (corn cobs, leaves, husk) is processed so that enzymes and yeast can access the cellulosic sugars and ferment them into biofuel. POET-DSM and other producers have identified this stage in the past as the major chokepoint in commercial production.

More... | Comments (0)

Aemetis signs 20-year feedstock supply agreement to produce cellulosic ethanol

November 04, 2017

Aemetis, Inc. announced that its Aemetis Advanced Products Keyes subsidiary signed a 20-year feedstock supply agreement to produce cellulosic ethanol at a former US Army munitions facility located in Riverbank, California, which is near the existing Aemetis biofuels plant in Keyes, California. The cellulosic ethanol biorefinery will use patented and proprietary process technologies developed by Aemetis, Lanzatech, and InEnTec to convert waste orchard wood and nutshells into low carbon cellulosic ethanol.

The feedstock to be supplied comes from the more than 1.6 million tons of waste orchard wood and nutshells that are generated each year from approximately 1 million acres of almond, walnut, and pistachio orchards in the Central Valley. Aemetis’ price of the feedstock is approximately $20 per ton delivered for the first ten years.

More... | Comments (0)

VTT-led project to develop enzymes found in India’s wildfire-prone areas for biorefineries; IndZyme

November 02, 2017

Micro-organisms found in the wildfire-prone rainforests of India are an potential resources for biochemical production, as they are accustomed to the challenging conditions following a forest fire. The enzymes they produce are likely to also have a higher-than-normal resistance to the substances released from biomass in high-temperature industrial processes.

An EU- and nationally-funded project led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, called IndZyme, is investigating if these enzymes are capable of breaking down agricultural waste better than current commercial enzymes.

More... | Comments (0)

ExxonMobil and Renewable Energy Group report progress in cellulosic biodiesel research

November 01, 2017

ExxonMobil and Renewable Energy Group (REG) announced that by utilizing REG’s patented fermentation technology, the companies’ joint research program has demonstrated the ability to convert sugars from a variety of non-edible biomass sources into biodiesel. (Earlier post.)

During their initial research, the companies successfully validated the feasibility of the REG Life Sciences fermentation technology across multiple cellulosic sugar compositions produced with a variety of methods from various non-edible biomass sources. The research also confirmed REG Life Sciences technology is capable of achieving substantial reductions of full-lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional diesel fuel.

More... | Comments (5)

Clariant to build flagship sunliquid cellulosic ethanol plant in Romania

Specialty chemicals company Clariant announced the approval by its Board of Directors to invest in a new full-scale commercial plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues using its sunliquid technology.

The new plant, with an annual production capacity of 50,000 tons, will be built in the southwestern part of Romania. The facility will be a flagship site, confirming competitiveness and sustainability of the sunliquid technology at commercial scale, in support of Clariant’s sunliquid licensing business strategy.

More... | Comments (0)

Pollutant emitted by biomass burning found to cause DNA damage and lung cell death; the role of retene

October 25, 2017

A new study by a team from Brazil, with colleagues in the US, has shown that particulate pollution biomass burning in the Amazon induced inflammation, oxidative stress and severe DNA damage in human lung cells. After 72 hours of exposure, more than 30% of the cultured cells are dead, the researchers found.

The main culprit appears to be retene, a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH). The open-access study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

More... | Comments (2)

Phase 1 of DOE-funded ABBA Integrated Biorefinery project begins; renewable jet, gasoline, diesel and nanocellulose

October 24, 2017

Phase 1 of the ABBA Integrated Biorefinery project, to be built at the AVAPCO Thomaston Georgia site, has begun. The project, which will co-produce full replacement renewable jet fuel, gasoline, diesel and Bioplus nanocellulose from woody biomass in an integrated biorefinery at AVAPCO’s site in Thomaston, Georgia, has received a $3.7-million award from the Department of Energy. (Earlier post.)

The project aims to demonstrate that co-production of high volume commodity fuels and low volume, high value co-products enables profitable biorefineries at commercial scale. ABBA integrates the biorefinery value chain by converting wood to cellulose and cellulosic sugars, which are then converted to cellulosic biojet and nanocellulose. Patented technologies and intellectual property will be provided by AVAPCO, Byogy and Petron. Technology collaborators also include the Renewable Bioproducts Institute at Georgia Tech and the University of Tennessee,Knoxville.

More... | Comments (0)

DOE awards Donald Danforth Plant Science Center $16M to enhance energy sorghum

October 10, 2017

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a 5-year, $16-million grant to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, one of the world’s largest independent plant science institutes. Building on earlier research using the model grass, green foxtail (Setaria viridis), this project will identify new genes and pathways that contribute to photosynthesis and enhanced water use efficiency. The team will then deploy these genes using tools of the emerging field of synthetic biology to accelerate development of elite energy sorghum varieties for production under marginal environments.

This project aims to deliver stress-tolerant sorghum lines, addressing DOE’s mission in the generation of renewable energy resources. The development of a low input, environmentally safe and highly productive sorghum germplasm could help establish a lignocellulosic energy economy that can provide jobs to rural communities, ensure energy security and benefit the environment.

More... | Comments (0)

Agrisoma expanding partnership with Univ. of Florida on biojet fuel in US; Carinata seed

October 03, 2017

Agrisoma Biosciences Inc. is expanding its partnership with the University of Florida (UF) to advance the supply of biojet fuel in the United States. The Québec-based company and its subsidiary, Agrisoma USA, is working with a network of 40 academic researchers from seven universities associated with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Science. Agrisoma’s goal is to maximize production of carinata seed grown in the southeastern US.

Brassica carinata (carinata) is a non-edible oilseed crop used to produce industrial oil with highly desirable fuel chemistry for ‘drop in’ aviation fuels. The research project will operate under the oversight of the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture, in conjunction with the Florida-based Southeast Partnership for Advanced Renewables from Carinata (SPARC).

More... | Comments (0)

High-density renewable jet fuel from eucalyptus

October 02, 2017

Researchers at Washington State University and the University of Nevada developed a novel process for synthesizing dense jet fuel from mint, pine, gumweed, eucalyptus or other plants.

The process, known as biphasic tandem catalytic process (biTCP), synthesizes cyclic hydrocarbon compounds for jet fuel from terpenoids, the natural organic chemical compounds found in many plants. Cyclic hydrocarbons are molecular compounds with structures that can store high levels of energy. The researchers were able to create a high yield of the cyclic hydrocarbon p-menthane from eucalyptus oil. A paper on the work is published in the journal Green Chemistry.

More... | Comments (0)

Masdar Institute’s SEAS harvest marks critical milestone in development of sustainable aviation biofuel

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC)—a non-profit entity supported by Etihad Airways, Boeing, Takreer, Safran and General Electric— announced that its flagship project, the Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS) (earlier post), has reached a critical milestone in its development of sustainable aviation biofuels through the first harvest of the biofuel feedstock. Masdar Institute is a part of the Khalifa University of Science and Technology.

Dr. Alejandro Rios G., Director of the SBRC, led a team of Masdar Institute researchers in harvesting the first crop of the biofuel feedstock Salicornia, which is a local salt-tolerant and oil-rich plant. The harvesting took place at a two-hectare SEAS pilot facility in Masdar City, where seafood and sustainable biomass are being cultivated using saltwater and desert land to contribute to the UAE’s sustainable food and fuel security.

More... | Comments (0)

EPA issues NODA concerning potential further reductions in RFS volume requirements

September 27, 2017

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) to provide public notice and an opportunity to comment on potential reductions in the 2018 biomass-based diesel (BBD), advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel volumes, and/or the 2019 biomass-based diesel volume under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

EPA is suggesting that it could reduce the biodiesel volume for 2018 by as much as 315 million gallons and effectively carry through those volumes to further reduce the proposed volumes of advanced and total renewable biofuels by 473 million gallons. This would reduce the 2018 advanced biofuel volume requirement from a proposed level of 4.24 billion gallons to 3.77 billion gallons, and the 2018 total renewable fuel volume requirement from 19.24 billion gallons to 18.77 billion gallons. The agency is seeking comments on this possible use of the waiver authority granted it for that purpose under the Clean Air Act.

More... | Comments (0)

Enviral licenses Clariant’s sunliquid cellulosic ethanol technology

September 18, 2017

Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals, and Enviral, the largest producer of bioethanol in Slovakia, have signed a license agreement on sunliquid cellulosic ethanol technology. Enviral has acquired a license to use Clariant’s sunliquid technology as part of its goal to realize a full scale commercial cellulosic ethanol plant for the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues.

This new plant will be owned and operated by Enviral and is planned to be integrated into the existing facilities at Enviral’s Leopoldov site in Slovakia with an annual production capacity of 50,000 tons. It will use Clariant’s sunliquid technology as well as starter cultures from its proprietary enzyme and yeast platforms to process Enviral feedstock into cellulosic ethanol.

More... | Comments (0)

EU COMSYN project for compact gasification and synthesis for biomass-based fuels

The EU-funded COMSYN project aims to develop a production concept for competitive bio-based fuels by means of a compact gasification and synthesis process. The target reduction of the biofuel production cost is up to 35% compared to alternative routes, which translates to less than €0.80/l ($3.62/gallon US) production cost for diesel.

The production concept is based on the distributed primary conversion of various kind of biomass residues to intermediate liquid products at small-to-medium scale (10-50 kt/a Fischer-Tropsch products, 30–150 MW biomass) units located close to biomass resources. The Fischer-Tropsch products will be upgraded to fuels in existing central oil refineries, also bringing the benefits of economy of scale for the overall process.

More... | Comments (0)

Tokyo Tech: reusable ruthenium-based catalyst could advance large-scale production of biomass-derived materials

September 04, 2017

Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed a highly selective catalyst consisting of ruthenium nanoparticles supported on niobium pentoxide (Ru/Nb2O5). In a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the team demonstrated that Ru/Nb2O5 is capable of producing primary amines from carbonyl compounds with ammonia (NH3) and dihydrogen (H2), with negligible formation of by-products.

By pushing the boundaries of material design, the researchers say that Ru/Nb2O5 may accelerate the production of environmentally friendly plastics, rubber and heat-resistant aramid fibers. In future, the Ru/Nb2O5 catalyst may also impact the development of novel anti-cancer drugs, anti-bacterials, pesticides, agrochemicals, fertilizers, bio-oils and biofuels.

More... | Comments (0)

HelioBioSys, Sandia Labs, Berkeley Lab partnering on sugar-producing cyanobacteria for biofuel production

August 28, 2017

HelioBioSys has patented a group of three marine cyanobacteria that, when grown together, can produce high quantities of sugar just right for making biofuels. Sandia National Laboratories is helping HelioBioSys Inc. learn whether farming them on a large scale would be successful.

Until the early 1900s, cyanobacteria were mistaken for algae. Like algae, colonies of cyanobacteria grow in water and have incorrectly been referred to as “blue-green algae.” But unlike algae, these marine cyanobacteria excrete sugars directly into the water where they grow.

More... | Comments (2)

Digging into the differences in carbon accounting for biofuels

August 24, 2017

The benefit to the climate of using biofuels as a substitute for fossil fuels has been sharply contested for years; much of the disagreement is based on the assumptions underlying the carbon accounting in the lifecycle analysis. The argument essentially boils down to whether or not biofuels are inherently carbon neutral because the CO2 released when they are burned is derived from CO2 uptake during feedstock growth.

A paper and subsequent formal comments and responses in the journal Climatic Change highlights the conceptual differences and the impact on policy. Professor John DeCicco at the University of Michigan Energy Institute has grown increasingly critical of the lifecycle analysis methods used to justify and administer biofuel policies. In a 2016 open-access paper in Climatic Change, he and his colleagues argued that once estimates for process emissions and displacement effects including land-use change are considered, US biofuel use to date is associated with a net increase rather than a net decrease in CO2 emissions. (earlier post)

More... | Comments (9)

U Delaware team develops efficient catalyst for production of renewable jet-fuel-range alkanes from biomass under mild conditions

August 16, 2017

A team at the University of Delaware has synthesized renewable jet-fuel-range alkanes by hydrodeoxygenation of lignocellulose-derived high-carbon furylmethanes over ReOx-modified Ir/SiO2 catalysts under mild reaction conditions (170 ˚C, 5 MPa). Their paper is featured on the cover of the journal ChemSusChem.

In their work, they found that Ir−ReOx/SiO2 with a Re/Ir molar ratio of 2:1 exhibits the best performance, achieving a combined alkanes yield of 82–99% from C12–C15 furylmethanes. The catalyst can be regenerated in three consecutive cycles with only about 12% loss in the combined alkanes yield.

More... | Comments (1)

California Energy Commission to award up to $3M to support development of bio-oil as intermediate for renewable jet fuel

August 12, 2017

The California Energy Commission is issuing a solicitation (GFO-17-901) to provide up to $3 million in funding for innovative, pre-commercial low-carbon fuel production processes that result in the development of bio-oil as an intermediate fuel with wide-scale adoption potential used for renewable jet fuel production.

For the purpose of the solicitation, bio-oil is defined as a synthetic or organic equivalent to crude oil such as bio-crude. Funding will support pilot-scale demonstrations of a thermochemical platform using advanced thermochemical conversion methods successfully proven at the lab or bench scale to efficiently produce bio-based intermediate fuel and potential co-products. Applicants must site a demo facility in California that will produce a minimum of 50,000 gallons of bio-oil intermediate fuel over the term of the project.

More... | Comments (5)

Aemetis to license InEnTec gasification technology to produce cellulosic ethanol; coupled with LanzaTech syngas-to-ethanol tech

August 04, 2017

Aemetis has signed a Master Agreement with key exclusive rights for the use of an advanced gasification technology from InEnTec to produce cellulosic ethanol. The InEnTec gasification technology agreement is a key part of Aemetis’ strategy to produce high-value, low-carbon cellulosic ethanol from locally sourced biomass by integrating InEnTec’s patented advanced gasification technology with Lanzatech’s patented microbial fermentation technology.

Under the Master Agreement, Aemetis has predominant exclusive rights to use the InEnTec Plasma Enhanced Melter (PEM) gasification equipment and technology for cellulosic ethanol production until 2024. The gasification technology complements Aemetis’ current license with LanzaTech for syngas-to-ethanol conversion, providing Aemetis with a complete technology solution to produce locally-sourced, low-carbon cellulosic ethanol.

More... | Comments (1)

DOE announces additional MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels award; $1.8M for deconstruction of biomass

August 02, 2017

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will award a fourth project up to $1.8 million under the MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels Funding Opportunity. In August 2016, DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) selected three projects for an initial round of funding. (Earlier post.) The total funding for the four MEGA-BIO awards is $13.1 million.

DOE selected Michigan State University to manage the fourth project, which will work in partnership with the University of Wisconsin–Madison and MBI International to optimize a two-stage process for deconstruction of biomass into two clean intermediate streams: sugars for the production of bio-hydrocarbon fuels and lignins for the production of multiple value-added chemicals.

More... | Comments (0)

Continental reports successful testing of diesel blends with 15% OME synthetic fuel

August 01, 2017

Continental has successfully conducted tests on the synthetic diesel fuel oxymethylene ether (OME) in test vehicles, including its Super Clean Electrified Diesel vehicle presented this year. Overall, the Continental tests confirmed that diesel fuel containing 15% OME blend for current diesel engines is a technically safe and viable possibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A 15% OME blend reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 8g/km.

Oxymethylene ethers are synthetic compounds of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen (CH3O(CH2O)nCH3). Due to their high oxygen concentration, they suppress pollutant formation in combustion. As diesel fuels, they reduce the emission of carbon black and NOx. Germany launched a 3-year study of oxymethylene ethers (OME) as clean diesel fuels in 2016 (earlier post) and Ford is leading a €3.5-million (US$3.9-million) research project, co-funded with the German government, to test cars running on monooxymethylene ether (OME1) and DME. (Earlier post.)

More... | Comments (1)

DOE awarding $40M in FY 2018 to 4 DOE Bioenergy Research Centers; plans for 5 years of funding

July 18, 2017

US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced $40 million in Department of Energy awards for the establishment of four DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs), which will provide the scientific breakthroughs for a new generation of sustainable, cost-effective bioproducts and bioenergy.

The centers—each led by a DOE National Laboratory or a top university—are designed to lay the scientific groundwork for a new bio-based economy that promises to yield a range of important new products and fuels derived directly from nonfood biomass. Initial funding for the four centers will total $40 million for FY 2018, with plans for a total of five years of funding. The following centers were selected based on an open competition using outside peer review:

More... | Comments (0)

ExxonMobil and UW Madison extend research collaboration on conversion of biomass to transportation fuels

July 17, 2017

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and ExxonMobil announced a two-year renewal of an agreement to research the fundamental chemistry of converting biomass into transportation fuels. The research is part of a broad effort to identify scalable and commercially viable solutions to help meet increasing global energy demand with a renewable resource.

UW-Madison has long been known for its expertise in biomass conversion. The project leverages the university’s expertise with ExxonMobil’s resources and strong technological capabilities. George Huber, the Harvey D. Spangler professor of chemical and biological engineering at UW-Madison, is working closely with ExxonMobil’s scientists to build a stronger understanding of the basic chemical transformations that occur during biomass conversion into diesel and jet fuels.

More... | Comments (1)

Researchers engineer enzyme surfaces to bind less to lignin; potential cost reduction for cellulosic ethanol production

July 06, 2017

Researchers at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Michigan State University have devised a way to reduce the amount of enzymes needed to convert biomass into biofuels by designing and genetically engineering enzyme surfaces so they bind less to the lignin in biomass. This potentially could reduce enzyme costs in biofuels production. A paper on their work is published in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

Cellulases (enzymes) deconstruct lignocellulosic biomass for conversion to biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol and biochemicals. However, lignin, an organic polymer in biomass that binds to and strengthens plant fibers, inactivates the cellulase enzymes via non-productive binding interactions. This leads to high enzyme loading requirements—and therefore high deconstruction costs.

More... | Comments (1)

EPA proposes slight ease in 2018 renewable fuel volumes compared to 2017; gearing up for future reset

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule setting the minimum amount of renewable fuels that must be supplied to the market in calendar year 2018 under the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) program. EPA will issue the final rule in the fall.

Relative to the levels finalized in 2017, the proposed 2018 volume requirements for advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel are lower by 40 million gallons. For the first time, EPA is proposing to reduce the advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel volumes for 2018 by the same amount as it would reduce the required volume of cellulosic biofuel. In the proposal, EPA said that these reductions effectively preserve the implied statutory volumes for conventional renewable fuel and non-cellulosic advanced biofuels, rather than requiring additional volumes of non-cellulosic advanced biofuels to backfill for some of the shortfall in cellulosic biofuel, as EPA has done in previous years.

More... | Comments (1)

U Minn seeking to license new process to produce isoprene from biomass at high yield; green tires

July 02, 2017

Researchers from the University of Minnesota, with colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, have developed a new high-yield process—a hybrid of fermentation followed by thermochemical catalysis—to produce renewable isoprene from biomass.

In the process, fermentation of sugars produces itaconic acid, which undergoes catalytic hydrogenation to produce 3-methyltetrahydrofuran (MTHF). The MTHF then undergoes catalytic dehydra-decyclization to isoprene. This catalytic process dehydrates MTHF to isoprene via several combinations of temperatures, pressures, and space velocities (reactant volumetric flow rate per volume of catalyst) and achieves selectivity of MTHF to isoprene.

More... | Comments (0)

GLBRC research review concludes cellulosic biofuels can benefit the environment if managed correctly

June 30, 2017

Cellulosic biofuels could provide an environmentally sustainable way of meeting energy needs—but with a few important caveats, according to a new review of research by a team from the US Department of Energy-funded Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC). Their paper is published in the journal Science.

Although not yet a market force, cellulosic biofuels are routinely factored into future climate mitigation scenarios because of their potential to both displace petroleum use and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Those benefits, however, are complicated by the need for vast amounts of land to produce cellulosic biofuels on a large scale.

More... | Comments (12)

New efficient biphasic catalytic process for conversion of biomass to dense jet-range fuels

June 13, 2017

Most current bio-jet fuels consist primarily of linear or branched chain alkanes; they suffer from low densities (~0.76 g/mL) and low volumetric heating values compared with those of petro-jet fuels. As a result, most alternative fuels have to blend with petro-jet fuels to meet the energy density requirements.

Cyclic hydrocarbons (i.e. cycloalkanes) can be used to make dense jet fuels with high thermal stability. However, industrial synthesis is costly, and the precursor from hydrocracking of petroleum has low selectivity. Now, researchers from the University of Nevada and Washington State University have developed a novel efficient biphasic tandem catalytic process (biTCP) for synthesizing cycloalkanes from renewable terpenoid biomass (such as 1,8-cineole). A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Green Chemistry.

More... | Comments (2)

DLR and Lufthansa Technik investigate aviation biofuels in large-scale test

June 08, 2017

In a large-scale test, researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), together with Lufthansa Technik and the Bundeswehr Research Institute for Materials, Fuels and Lubricants, investigated the chemical and physical properties of particularly promising aviation biofuels. The tests were carried out in a special test rig at Lufthansa Technik.

The European Union-funded “High Biofuel Blends in Aviation” (HBBA) study focused on blends—i.e. mixtures of conventional kerosene with biofuels. The study analyzed particularly promising biofuels, according to source, production process and approval status.

More... | Comments (0)

USDA, DOE to award $9M for bioenergy feedstocks, biofuels and bio-based products

June 06, 2017

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), announced that up to $9 million in funding will be made available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) to support the development of bioenergy feedstocks, biofuels, and bio-based products (DE-FOA-0001637).

The projects funded through BRDI—a joint NIFA and DOE program—will help develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass, increase the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products, and diversify the US energy portfolio. Both DOE and NIFA have been given statutory authorities to support the development of a biomass-based industry in the United States, under the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (FCEA) and the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

More... | Comments (1)

Gevo signs definitive supply agreement with HCS Holding for commercial supply of renewable isooctane

May 04, 2017

Gevo, Inc. has entered into a definitive supply agreement with HCS Holding GmbH (HCS) to supply renewable isooctane (earlier post) under a five-year offtake agreement. HCS is a leading global supplier of high-quality hydrocarbon specialty products. Haltermann Carless, a subsidiary of HCS and one of the oldest companies in the world of chemistry, is expected to be the direct customer with Gevo under the agreement.

he agreement is consistent with the Letter of Intent with HCS that Gevo announced earlier this year. The Supply Agreement has two phases:

More... | Comments (1)

Sugar-derived levulinic esters and cyclic ether show superior anti-knock quality to Euro95 reference gasoline

April 24, 2017

A team from The Netherlands and the US reports that the sugar-derived levulinic esters methyl levulinate (ML) and ethyl levulinate (EL) and the sugar-derived cyclic ether (furfuryl ethyl ether (FEE) demonstrate superior anti-knock quality (in 10% blends) to a reference Euro95 gasoline.

The sugar-derived ethyl tetrahydrofurfuryl ether (ETE), another cyclic ether, conversely, performed markedly worse than the reference fuel on both setups. ETE this may be a more appropriate fuel additive for compression ignition engines, the authors suggest in an open-access paper published in the journal Fuel.

More... | Comments (0)

U Minn researchers develop bio-based elastomers from recoverable methyl valerolactone; tires, gaskets, seals, etc.

April 18, 2017

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed and demonstrated at laboratory scale a novel process to synthesize low-cost, polymeric valerolactones with tunable mechanical properties and low glass transition temperatures.

The glass transition temperature is the temperature region in which a polymer transitions from a hard, glassy material to a soft, rubbery material. In other words, when the polymer is cooled below the glass transition temperature, it becomes hard and brittle. The low glass transition temperature allows these polymers to be used at lower temperatures than other biodegradable polymers; applications could include tires, gaskets, seals adhesive, sealant and damping products.

More... | Comments (0)

CSIRO licenses technology to Amfora for production of oil in leaves and stems of plants; participates in Series A

April 17, 2017

US-based biotech startup Amfora and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the federal government agency for scientific research in Australia) signed an agreement to advance development and commercialization of technology to produce oil in the leaves and stems of plants as well as the seeds.

Innovation Leader with CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Allan Green, said that this was the first of many applications of the technology, which can be used to produce energy-rich feed for livestock as well as for human food, biofuels and industrial uses.

More... | Comments (0)

OSU team developing Gas and Biomass to Liquids (GBTL) technology for production of liquid hydrocarbons

April 12, 2017

Researchers at Oklahoma State University are developing a novel natural Gas and Biomass to Liquids (GBTL) technology that will synergistically use biomass (e.g. switchgrass and eastern red cedar) and methane to produce liquid hydrocarbons that are compatible with existing infrastructure.

The work is led by Dr. Ajay Kumar in collaboration with Dr. Allen Apblett. The team uses a synergistic reaction system consisting of activation of methane and deoxygenation of pyrolysis-derived volatiles with metal-loaded HZSM-5 catalysts.

More... | Comments (1)

Ghent researchers develop new process to convert grass to drop-in hydrocarbon decane

April 04, 2017

Researchers at Ghent University have developed a process that turns grass into the hydrocarbon decane via a lactic acid intermediate. The process was the basis for the doctoral dissertation of Way Cern Khor.

To improve the biodegradability of grass, pretreatments such as extrusion and calcium hydroxide pretreatment were performed; efficiencies were tested through biogas production. Next, a fermentation process using mixed microbial populations was carried out to produce higher value products such as lactic acid.

More... | Comments (2)

GM, Ford R&D execs stress importance of improved, advanced fuels for future engine efficiency gains, GHG goals

April 03, 2017

In separate presentations at the 2017 SAE High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium in Detroit, R&D executives from GM and Ford each stressed the importance of improved, advanced fuels—among other technology developments—for their future engine efficiency gains and for long-term CO2 emissions goals.

David Brooks, Director for General Motors Global Propulsion Systems R&D located in Pontiac, gave a more medium-term perspective, emphasizing a pragmatic approach toward reducing CO2 with an eye to 2025. Meeting regulatory targets while keeping vehicles affordable will require the synergistic integration of fuels and engine technologies, he noted.

More... | Comments (9)

DOE BETO report provides overview of current state of alternative aviation fuels; overcoming technical and commercial barriers

March 29, 2017

The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has published a report titled Alternative Aviation Fuels: Overview of Challenges, Opportunities, and Next Steps. The report provides an overview of the current state of alternative aviation fuels, as reported in findings by recent working groups, and also presents findings from the Alternative Aviation Fuel Workshop hosted by BETO in September 2016.

Unlike other liquid fuels (e.g., diesel or gasoline) with developed alternatives (such as electrical power), alternatives to current aviation jet fuels are at the early stages of development. In the near term, the most promising option is bio-derived aviation fuel. Bio-based jet fuels also present a tremendous opportunity to transition away from fossil fuels towards domestically produced aviation biofuel that would further reduce US reliance on foreign oil and create jobs, BETO notes.

More... | Comments (1)

Aachen team develops framework for model-based formulation of biofuel blends with tailored properties

March 28, 2017

A team at RWTH Aachen University has developed a framework for the model-based formulation of biofuel blends with tailored properties by considering the fuel’s molecular composition as the fundamental design degree of freedom. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

The researchers envision that the model-based approach can (i) guide fundamental experimental investigations of the combustion behavior of blended biofuels toward the most favorable mixtures and (ii) identify promising conversion pathways for further elaboration by means of reaction engineering and conceptual process design. The latter is ultimately needed to bridge the gap from a mass- and energy-based molecular level analysis to a process level analysis addressing the economics of the involved conversion and separation steps.

More... | Comments (6)

Cambridge team demonstrates light-driven photoreforming of unprocessed biomass to H2 at room temperature

March 14, 2017

A team of scientists at the University of Cambridge has reported the light-driven photoreforming of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin to H2 using semiconducting cadmium sulfide quantum dots in alkaline aqueous solution.

The system operates under visible light, is stable beyond six days and is even able to reform unprocessed lignocellulose, such as wood and paper, under solar irradiation at room temperature, presenting an inexpensive route to drive aqueous proton reduction to H2 through waste biomass oxidation. A paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Energy.

More... | Comments (5)

Navy researchers produce high-density, high-cetane bio-hydrocarbon fuels from sesquiterpenes; jet and diesel

February 23, 2017

Researchers at the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division, China Lake have produced three new high-density, high-cetane biofuels from sesquiterpene feedstocks. In an open-access paper published in the RSC journal Sustainable Energy & Fuels, they describe the preparation of the three fuels from sesquiterpene components of cedarwood oil.

The three biofuels described in the work could outperform conventional fuels. The researchers, Kale Harrison and Benjamin Harvey, note that with recent advances in metabolic engineering, the generation of multicyclic sesquiterpenes from biomass sugars could allow for the production of these new fuels on a commercial scale.

More... | Comments (4)

Lux Research forecasts global biofuels output to rise to 67B GPY in 2022; advanced biofuels will nearly double to 9.6B GPY

February 14, 2017

New biofuel technology is finally starting to push aside traditional biofuels such as first-generation biodiesel, according to a new report by Lux Research. New facilities based on non-food feedstocks and producing novel fuels account for over half of new capacity deployment for the first time in the biofuel industry’s history, according to Lux. However, overall output will grow at a slower pace to 67 billion gallons a year (BGY) in 2022, from 59 BGY in 2016.

The report, titled “Biofuels Outlook 2022: The Dawn of a New Era in Global Biofuel Capacity Expansion,” is part of the Lux Research Alternative Fuels Intelligence service. Lux Research analysts quantified the commercial deployment of new technologies in the global biofuels industry using a database of nearly 2,000 facilities from 1,461 companies in 90 countries with nameplate capacity data through 2022. Among their findings:

More... | Comments (6)

Researchers find shade from stand density can cost farmers about 10% of potential crop yield

January 30, 2017

A team from the University of Illinois has found that compared to top leaves, the shaded lower level leaves of C4 crops planted in dense stands such as corn and Miscanthus underperform, costing farmers about 10% of potential yield.

These findings, published in an open-access paper in the Journal of Experimental Botany, could help scientists further boost the yields of corn and Miscanthus, as well as other C4 crops that have evolved to photosynthesize more efficiently than C3 plants such as wheat and rice.

More... | Comments (2)

Velocys establishes strategic alliance with TRI for gasification systems for BTL plants

January 27, 2017

Velocys plc, the developer of smaller scale gas-to-liquids (GTL), signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ThermoChem Recovery International, Inc. (TRI), establishing a strategic alliance. TRI—a leading provider of steam reforming gasification systems suitable for woody biomass and other waste feedstocks—will be Velocys’ preferred supplier of gasification systems for its biomass-to-liquids (BTL) plants.

The agreement will see the alliance partners rapidly deploy an integrated biorefinery offering that combines Velocys’ Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology with TRI’s proven gasification technology.

More... | Comments (2)

US DOD to award $55M for advanced drop-in biofuels production; 10M gallons/year

January 25, 2017

The US Air Force Research Laboratory, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate (AFRL/RX) has issued a funding opportunity (FOA-RQKM-2017-0006) for up to $55 million to design, retrofit, construct, operate, validate and qualify domestic, commercial-scale, an integrated biorefinery(s) capable of producing bio-equivalent fuels suitable for military use with a rated capacity of at least 10 million gallons of neat biofuel per year. Cost competitiveness of the neat biofuel fraction with conventional petroleum-derived fuels is a primary goal.

The biorefinery—which may be either a brownfield expansion/modification of existing facilities, or new greenfield construction—is required to use domestic feedstock, and create an Integrated Biofuels Production Enterprise (IBPE). Expansions must add an additional 10 million gpy of capacity; new construction must support the 10 million gpy capacity.

More... | Comments (3)

DOE Co-Optima initiative publishes report reviewing first 12 months; progress on fuels and engines

January 16, 2017

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Co-Optima initiative—a broad, joint effort to co-optimize the development of efficient engines and low greenhouse-gas fuels for on-road vehicles with the goal of reducing petroleum consumption by 30% by 2030 beyond what is already targeted (earlier post)—has published a year-in-review report for FY 2016—the initiative’s first 12 months.

Co-Optima’s premise is that current fuels constrain engine design—and thus engine efficiency. The researchers suggest that there are engine architectures that can provide higher thermodynamic efficiencies than available from modern internal combustion engines; however, new fuels are required to maximize efficiency and operability across a wide speed/load range. The report details the technical progress in a selection of projects across the initiative’s two main thrusts: spark ignition (SI) and advanced compression ignition (ACI).

More... | Comments (5)

DOE and USDA issue notice of intent for Biomass Research and Development Initiative

January 15, 2017

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE’s) Bioenergy Technologies Office, in coordination with the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA's) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced its intent to issue a Request for Applications (RFA) through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative. (DE-FOA-0001711)

Projects funded through this RFA, titled “Fiscal Year 17 Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI),” will help develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass, and increase the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products. The BRDI program requires that funded projects address at least one of the following three legislatively mandated technical areas:

More... | Comments (1)

BETO report identifies biofuel/bioproducts opportunities from wet and gaseous waste: ~22.2B GGE/year

January 11, 2017

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Bioenergy Technologies Office has published a report, titled Biofuels and Bioproducts from Wet and Gaseous Waste Streams: Challenges and Opportunities. The report is the first comprehensive assessment of the resource potential and technology opportunities provided by wet and gaseous feedstocks, including wastewater treatment-derived sludge and biosolids, animal manure, food waste, inedible fats and greases, biogas, and carbon dioxide streams.

These feedstocks can be converted into renewable natural gas, diesel, and aviation fuels, or into valuable bioproducts.

More... | Comments (4)

DOE and USDA partner to award up to $22.7M for integrated biorefineries

January 07, 2017

The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) jointly announced $22.7 million to support the optimization of integrated biorefineries (IBR). DOE is providing majority funding with up to $19.8 million and USDA-NIFA is providing up to $2.9 million in funding.

Federal support for first-of-a-kind IBRs could significantly reduce the technical and financial risks associated with the operation of commercial scale biorefineries. The DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has identified, via stakeholder engagements through a request for information (RFI) and a Biorefinery Optimization Workshop, areas in which DOE and USDA-NIFA can effectively support technology development and engineering solutions to economically and sustainably overcome technology barriers.

More... | Comments (1)

DOE BETO releases new strategic plan; biofuels to constitute 25% of US transportation fuels by 2040

December 31, 2016

The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) released its new strategic plan, titled Strategic Plan for a Thriving and Sustainable Bioeconomy. The strategic plan—with a vision for 2040—lays out BETO’s mission to accomplish its vision in a dynamic setting that realizes changes in the energy landscape, advances in technology, growing environmental awareness, and public expectations.

The strategic plan sets the foundation for the development of BETO’s multi-year program plans, annual operating plans, and technology program areas. It also takes a crosscutting approach to identify opportunities to adapt and align BETO activities and project portfolios with those in both the public and private sectors. The plan centers around four key opportunities: enhancing the bioenergy value proposition; mobilizing US biomass resources; cultivating end-use markets and customers; and expanding stakeholder engagement and collaboration.

More... | Comments (4)

Researchers in China develop new process for direct synthesis of drop-in jet-fuel-range blendstock from lignocellulose

December 29, 2016

Researchers in China have developed an integrated two-bed continuous flow reactor process for the direct synthesis with high carbon yields (~70%) of dodecanol (C12H26O) or 2,4,8- trimethylnonane (C12H26O2)—a jet-fuel-range C12 branched alkane—from methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK), which can be derived from lignocellulose.

The dodecanol as obtained can be used as the feedstocks in the production of sodium dodecylsulphate (SDS) and sodium dodecyl benzene sulfonate (SDBS)—widely used as surfactants or detergents. The 2,4,8-trimethylnonane as obtained can be blended into conventional jet fuel without hydroisomerization. A paper on their work is published in the journal ChemSusChem.

More... | Comments (1)

ARPA-E to award $25M for macroalgae projects; seaweed biomass to be cost-competitive with terrestrial biomass at energy-relevant scales

December 16, 2016

ARPA-E announced up to $25 million in funding for the MacroAlgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) program (DE-FOA-0001726). The program will focus on developing advanced cultivation technologies that enable the cost and energy efficient production of macroalgal biomass in the ocean at a scale suitable as feedstock for the production of fuels and chemicals. The deadline to submit a Concept Paper for MARINER is 5 pm ET, 14 February 2017.

The US has the world’s largest marine Exclusive Economic Zone—an area of ocean along the nation’s coast lines which is equivalent to the total land area of all 50 states. The US has the potential to utilize this resource to build and grow a thriving marine biomass industry for the production of fuels, chemicals, feed, and food. Growing macroalgal biomass in the oceans offers a unique opportunity to sidestep many of the challenges associated with terrestrial biomass production systems, particularly the growing competition for land and freshwater resources, which are likely to result from the 50 to 100% increase in demand for food expected for 2050.

More... | Comments (3)

DOE to award up to $8M to develop algae-based biofuels

The US Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE's) Bioenergy Technologies Office announced a funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001628) of up to $8 million, subject to appropriations, for innovative technologies and approaches to help advance bioenergy and bioproducts from algae. This FOA, entitled “Productivity Enhanced Algae and Tool-Kits,” has two topic areas: (1) algal strain improvements and (2) algal cultivation biology improvements.

Selected projects and approaches will seek to overcome species-specific, ecological, and practical challenges to improved algal productivity and biomass composition—two key metrics in achieving high fuel yields. The FOA objectives are tightly focused on developing strain and cultivation improvements that increase algal areal productivity, in grams of ash-free dry weight of algae produced per square meter per day (g/m2/d), and fuel yield, as understood by proximate analysis of biomass composition and paper-based calculation of gasoline-gallon equivalency (GGE) using literature-based conversion factors.

More... | Comments (2)

Global Bioenergies reports first production of green isobutene at demo plant

December 15, 2016

Global Bioenergies is now entering the final phase of demonstrating its technology for converting renewable carbon into hydrocarbons. The first trials on the demo plant in Leuna were successfully completed, within schedule, in the fall of 2016 and Global Bioenergies announced first production of green isobutene via fermentation. (Earlier post.)

With a nameplate capacity of 100 tons/year, the demo plant will allow the conversion of various resources (industrial-grade sugar from beets and cane, glucose syrup from cereals, second-generation sugars extracted from wheat straw, bagasse, wood chips…), into high-purity isobutene.

More... | Comments (0)

Green Car Congress © 2017 BioAge Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | Home | BioAge Group