JCAP researchers propose artificial photosynthetic system for high-yield production of ethanol

A team at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley is proposing an artificial photosynthesis scheme for direct synthesis and separation to almost pure ethanol with minimum product crossover using saturated salt electrolytes. In a paper in the RSC journal Energy &... Read more →

ORNL team discovers mechanism behind direct ethanol-to-hydrocarbon conversion; implications for energy efficiency and cost of upgrading

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have discovered that the reactions underlying the transformation of ethanol into higher-grade hydrocarbons unfolds in a different manner than previously thought. The research, supported by DOE’s BioEnergy Technologies Office (BETO), has implications for the energy efficiency and cost of catalytic upgrading technologies proposed... Read more →

The global biofuels industry averaged 68% in utilization rate from 2005 to 2014, reached a high of 80.9% in 2007, dropped to a low of 56.9% in 2012, and climbed slightly back to 60.4% in 2014. Despite the still apparent softness in capacity utilization, and the on-going softness in fossil... Read more →

Over its 10-year lifespan, the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS’) requirement to substitute biofuels for fossil fuels has displaced nearly 1.9 billion barrels of foreign oil and reduced US transportation-related carbon emissions by 589.33 million metric tons, according to a new analysis released by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). To develop... Read more →

UC Riverside team characterizes impact on PM of fuels with varying aromatics and octane rating; benefit of increased ethanol fraction

Researchers at the University of California-Riverside have characterized the effect of decreased aromatic content fuels combusted in advanced vehicle technologies on emissions of particulate matter (PM). In a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they present the changes in PM emissions for different fuels, engine technologies, and... Read more →

Researchers at Tsinghua University in China are studying the effects of Dual-Fuel Spark Ignition (DFSI) combustion fueled with different alcohols and gasoline. In one paper, published in the journal Fuel, they investigated the use of alcohols–gasoline DFSI Combustion for knock suppression and high fuel efficiency using a gasoline engine with... Read more →

Brazil’s UNICA opposes EPA’s proposed RFS changes; says sugarcane ethanol can meet volume requirements

UNICA, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, this week submitted formal comments to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opposing the agency’s proposed reductions (relative to the volumes originally specified) to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume targets for 2014, 2015 and 2016—and especially the volume target for advanced biofuels. (Earlier... Read more →

NREL examines potential of blending ethanol with condensate for flex-fuels and high-octane mid-level blends

A team at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), with a colleague at EcoEngineering, has explored the potential of blending ethanol with natural gasoline (condensate) to produce flex-fuels (ASTM D5798-13a) and high-octane, mid-level ethanol blends (MLEBs). A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.... Read more →

EPA honors winners of the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge; advanced biofuels

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored the six 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners at a ceremony in Washington, DC. EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention sponsors the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards in partnership with the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute and other members... Read more →

ArcelorMittal, LanzaTech and Primetals to build €87M commercial-scale waste-gas-to-ethanol plant

ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel and mining company; LanzaTech; and Primetals Technologies, a leading technology and service provider to the iron and steel industry have entered into a letter of intent to construct Europe’s first commercial-scale production facility to create bioethanol from waste gases produced during the steelmaking process. (Earlier... Read more →

LanzaTech gas fermentation technology at core of €14.6M EU Steelanol project; 25K t/year demo plant

LanzaTech’s gas fermentation technology (earlier post) is at the core of the new Horizon2020 Steelanol project (2015-2018), which seeks to produce bioethanol via an innovative gas fermentation process using exhaust gases emitted by the steel industry. The €14.6-million (US$16.3-million) project is coordinated by steelmaker Arcelormittal Belgium NV. Steelanol’s main objective... Read more →

Like other major automakers, Audi (and its parent Volkswagen Group) is working on meeting its medium-term regulatory requirements (e.g., in the 2020 timeframe) by reducing the average fuel consumption of its new vehicles using a combination of three primary measures: optimizing its combustion engines for greater efficiency; developing alternative drive... Read more →

The first Etanolix plant delivered to the international market by Finland-based St1 Biofuels Oy was inaugurated in Gothenburg, Sweden last week. The plant, built for North European Bio Tech Oy (NEB), recycles feedstocks such as food industry biowaste and process residue from local bakeries and bread from shops that is... Read more →

USDA to invest up to $100M to boost infrastructure for renewable fuel use; seeks to double number of higher blend ethanol fuel pumps

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest up to $100 million in a Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership to support the infrastructure needed to make more renewable fuel options available to American consumers. USDA will post a Notice of Solicitation of Applications in June.... Read more →

EPA proposes volume requirements for Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014-2016

Adhering to a schedule in a proposed consent decree (earlier post), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its long-awaited proposed volume requirements (renewable volume obligations, RVO) (earlier post) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and also proposed volume requirements for biomass-based... Read more →

Audi partner Joule announces its “CO2-recycled” ethanol meets US and Euro specs; $40M financing

Joule, the developer of a direct, single-step, continuous process for the production of solar hydrocarbon fuels using engineered cyanobacteria (earlier post), announced the successful results from third-party testing of its ethanol fuel (Sunflow-E), setting the stage to obtain certification for commercial use. Initiated by Audi, Joule’s strategic partner in the... Read more →

A team from the University of Michigan and Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering group in Dearborn has studied the effects of ethanol on reducing particulate emissions from a direct injection spark ignition (DISI) engine by comparing neat anhydrous ethanol with a baseline fuel of reference grade gasoline (indolene). In a... Read more →

China Steel Corporation making $46M investment in LanzaTech commercial waste-gas-to-ethanol project

Taiwan’s largest integrated steel maker, China Steel Corporation (CSC), has announced formal Board approval of a 1400-million TWD (US$46 million) capital investment in a LanzaTech commercial ethanol facility. This follows the successful demonstration of the carbon recycling platform at the White Biotech (WBT) Demonstration Plant in Kaohsiung using steel mill... Read more →

China’s shift toward alternative fuels in order to cut its reliance on imported oil is creating large opportunities, notably in natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and in the conversion of coal to ethanol, according to a new report from Lux Research. China is seeking to reduce its imports of oil from... Read more →

Ceres and Raízen sign multi-year collaboration to scale-up sweet sorghum for ethanol in Brazil

Ceres, Inc, an agricultural biotechnology company, and Brazilian energy company Raízen S.A., signed a multi-year collaboration agreement to develop and produce sweet sorghum on an industrial scale. Raízen has conducted field and industrial evaluations of Ceres’ sweet sorghum hybrids since 2011. Sweet sorghum can extend the ethanol production season by... Read more →

Rice, Minnesota scientists use predictive modeling to identify optimized zeolites to aid ethanol, petroleum production

Scientists at Rice University and the University of Minnesota have identified, through a large-scale, multi-step computational screening process, promising zeolite structures for two energy-related applications: the purification of ​ethanol from fermentation broths and the hydroisomerization of alkanes with 18–30 carbon atoms encountered in petroleum refining. The results, presented in a... Read more →

EPA approves Algenol ethanol as RFS advanced biofuel with D5 code; 69% reduction in GHG compared to gasoline

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved ethanol made from Algenol’s process as an advanced biofuel, meeting the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Algenol’s ethanol, produced by photosynthetic cyanobacteria, is now eligible for a Renewable Identification Number (RIN) under the D5 classification. (Earlier... Read more →

New anode for direct ethanol fuel cells enables peak power and current densities approaching H2 PEM fuel cells

A team of researchers in Italy has developed a new palladium-doped anode for direct alcohol fuel cells that produces peak power and current densities (using ethanol at 80 °C) approaching the output of hydrogen-fed proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal... Read more →

Ethanol conversion to hydrocarbons as a function of temp. at a LHSV of 2.93 h−1. Source: US 20140100404 A1. Click to enlarge. Vertimass LLC has been selected for negotiation of an award to receive up to $2 million from the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) within the US Department of Energy’s... Read more →

UC Riverside researchers find mixed emissions impact from use of higher ethanol and butanol fuels in FFVs

A study by University of California, Riverside researchers found that the use of higher ethanol blends and a 55% butanol blend in port-fueled and direct injection flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) could lead to emission changes of GHGs, CO, aldehydes, BTEX (monoaromatic hydrocarbons of benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, m/p-xylene, and o-xylene), and... Read more →

EPA delays issuing 2014 RVO standards for RFS until sometime in 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not finalize the 2014 applicable percentage standards (the 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations, RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program until sometime next year. In a notice to be published in the Federal Register, the agency said that it intends to take action... Read more →

UCLA researchers develop synthetic biocatalytic pathway for more efficient conversion of methanol to longer-chain fuels

Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science led by Dr. James Liao have developed a more efficient way to turn methanol into useful chemicals, such as liquid fuels, and that would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The UCLA team constructed a synthetic biocatalytic pathway that... Read more →

Substituting biofuels for marginal fossil-based liquid fuels results in the avoidance of significant GHG emissions that are not currently accounted for in the European Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC), according to a new analysis by the consultancy Ecofys. The study was commissioned by the European Oilseed Alliance (EOA), the European Biodiesel... Read more →

Ford, GM and AVL researchers argue match-blending a flawed approach to evaluate ethanol-gasoline blends (corrected)

(Earlier version attributed the final quote to the research team. Our apologies for the error.) In a newly published SAE paper, a team from Ford, General Motors and AVL argues that the exclusive use of a match blending approach to prepare ethanol-gasoline blends for regulatory emissions testing “has fundamental flaws”.... Read more →

Researchers enhance yeast thermotolerance and ethanol tolerance; potential for significant impact on industrial biofuel production

The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae plays a central role in global biofuel production; currently, about 100 billion liters of ethanol are produced annually worldwide by fermentation of mainly sugarcane saccharose and corn starch by the yeast. There are also efforts underway to use the yeast with cellulosic biomass. Boosting the yield... Read more →

Emissions study suggests E10 + renewable hydrocarbons a high bioenergy alternative for conventional cars

Researchers from VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and Neste Oil analyzed the exhaust emissions from three different spark ignition engine technologies—multipoint fuel injection (MPFI); direct-injection spark-ignition (DISI); and flex-fuel (FFV)—using different biofuels—low- and high-concentration ethanol blends; isobutanol; and biohydrocarbons. They report their findings in a paper in the ACS... Read more →

Optical micrographs of severe corrosion on steel alloy samples exposed to ethanol and acetic acid vapors—conditions typical of underground gasoline storage tanks—after 355 hours, 643 hours, and 932 hours. Source: NIST. Click to enlarge. In recent years, field inspectors in nine states have reported many rapidly corroding underground gasoline storage... Read more →

Ethanol producer to integrate renewable diesel production from corn distiller oil

Ethanol producer East Kansas Agri-Energy LLC (EKAE) intends to integrate renewable diesel production at its ethanol plant in Garnett, Kansas. Renewable diesel will be made from the corn distillers oil (CDO) already produced at the plant along with other feedstocks purchased on the market. WB Services is the technology provider... Read more →

The ETHOS 2.8L demo truck. Click to enlarge. Cummins has developed an E-85-specific engine and powertrain that reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 80% compared with a baseline gasoline-powered medium-duty truck. The work was jointly funded by Cummins and partners ($3,790,027) in partnership with the California Energy Commission... Read more →

Joule first to gain US EPA clearance for commercial use of modified cyanobacteria for fuel production

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has favorably reviewed Joule’s Microbial Commercial Activity Notice (MCAN) for the company’s first commercial ethanol-producing catalyst (a modified Synechococcus cyanobacterium). This clears the catalyst for commercial use at the company’s demonstration plant in Hobbs, New Mexico. This also marks the first time that EPA... Read more →

Illustrative impact of the fuel roadmap. Source: LowCVP, Element Energy. Click to enlarge. The UK’s LowCVP has published twin reports which set out how the UK could meet its 2020 targets defined in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, and proceed on a pathway to decarbonize road transport fuel in the... Read more →

In a companion study to an SAE paper presented in April (earlier post), researchers at MIT have quantified the net economic and CO2 emissions benefit that could be obtained by utilizing 98 RON gasoline in light-duty vehicles, based on reasonable assumptions for possible refinery changes and the evolution of the... Read more →

The MEC uses syntrophic cooperation within a bacterial consortium (red and green) in the anode chamber to ferment ethanol from glycerol and to remove inhibiting H2. Credit: ACS, Speers et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers at Michigan State University have developed a microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) which will allow biodiesel... Read more →

AlcoMix displays antiknock blending characteristics similar to those of ethanol when blended at various concentrations with non-oxygenated gasoline (RON = 82). Credit: ACS, Rapp et al. Click to enlarge. Results of a study by a team from the US and Austria suggest that the primary alcohol mixture (“AlcoMix,” comprising 75%... Read more →

Study finds São Paulo switch from ethanol to gasoline dropped local ozone levels by 20%, increased CO and nitric oxide concentrations

A study by a pair of researchers at Northwestern University found that when fuel prices drove residents of São Paulo, Brazil, to switch from ethanol to gasoline in their flexible-fuel vehicles, local ozone levels dropped 20%. At the same time, nitric oxide and carbon monoxide concentrations tended to go up.... Read more →

Byogy’s four-step process for the conversion of ethanol to renewable jet fuel. Click to enlarge. Byogy Renewables and airline partner Avianca Brasil (earlier post) have launched an initiative to support advanced testing to accelerate the approval by ASTM of Byogy’s alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel. (Earlier post.) The Avianca/Byogy Team will perform... Read more →

ARB posts 5 new LCFS pathways; two renewable diesel

California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted five new and one revised Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) fuel pathway applications to the LCFS public comment website. The new pathways include two renewable diesel pathways; two biodiesel pathways, and one corn ethanol pathway. The revised package is for corn oil... Read more →

Stanford researchers develop copper-based catalyst that produces ethanol from CO at room temperature; potential for closed-loop CO2-to-fuel process

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a nanocrystalline copper material that produces multi-carbon oxygenates (ethanol, acetate and n-propanol) with up to 57% Faraday efficiency at modest potentials (–0.25 volts to –0.5 volts versus the reversible hydrogen electrode) in CO-saturated alkaline water. The material’s selectivity for oxygenates, with ethanol as the major product,... Read more →

World ethanol and biodiesel production. Source: Worldwatch. Click to enlarge. In 2012, the combined global production of ethanol and biodiesel fell for the first time since 2000, down 0.4% from the figure in 2011, according to the Worldwatch Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online report. Global ethanol production declined slightly for... Read more →

Gevo transitioning Luverne plant to produce both isobutanol and ethanol; “side-by-side” configuration

Bio-isobutanol company Gevo, Inc. is transitioning its Luverne plant to the production of both isobutanol and ethanol. Gevo said that its decision—announced during its 4Q 2013 earnings call—to transition to the simultaneous production of both products is a direct result of (1) the steady progress made in executing its flexible... Read more →

Vertimass licenses ORNL ethanol-to-hydrocarbon conversion technology; overcoming the blend wall with drop-in fuels

Vertimass LLC, a California-based start-up company, has licensed an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) technology that directly converts ethanol under moderate conditions at one atmosphere without the use of hydrogen into a hydrocarbon blend-stock for use in transportation fuels. The technology developed by ORNL’s Chaitanya Narula, Brian Davison and Associate... Read more →

Navigant Research forecasts 58% growth in global biofuels consumption by 2022; biodiesel and drop-in fuels gain market share

In a new report, “Biofuels for Transportation Markets”, Navigant Research forecasts that global demand for biofuels in the road transportation sector will grow from representing almost 6% of the liquid fuels market in 2013 to roughly 8% by 2022. Of that 8%, 8% will consist of advanced drop-in fuels, according... Read more →

Two scenarios of US ethanol consumption and projections of original, revised, and repealed RFS2 requirements from the present to 2022. The consumption scenarios are technically achievable but do not reflect significant barriers such as cost, regulation, legality, and consumer acceptance. Source: ICCT. Click to enlarge. A team at the International... Read more →

Audi investigating its e-fuels in an optical research engine using laser-induced fluorescence. Click to enlarge. Audi testing of synthetic ethanol (Audi e-ethanol = Joule Sunflow-E) and synthetic diesel (Audi e-diesel = Joule Sunflow-D), produced in partnership with Joule (earlier post) in a pressure chamber and optical research engine has shown... Read more →

Top: Weighted CI (g CO2 e/MJ) of petroleum fuels and corn ethanol consumed in the US over time. Bottom: Weighted CI of petroleum fuels consumed in the US and California over time. Click to enlarge. The carbon intensity (CI) of corn ethanol—i.e., the greenhouse gas emissions produced via the production... Read more →