Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed an electrocatalyst which operates at room temperature and in water for the electroreduction of dissolved CO2 with high selectivity for ethanol. Their finding was serendipitous. An open-access paper on their work appears in the journal ChemistrySelect. The... Read more →


EPA proposing updates to Renewable Fuel Standard

EPA is proposing updates to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) regulations and related fuels regulations to better align the standards with the current state of the renewable fuels market and to promote the use of ethanol and non-ethanol biofuels. Several of the proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard program... Read more →


Researchers at the University of Witwatersrand and the University of South Africa are proposing replacing the final purification steps of conventional bio-ethanol production with a simple gasoline-blending step. In a paper published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, they show that gasoline pre-blending results in a spontaneous liquid phase... Read more →


In a milestone for the low-carbon fuel project, LanzaTech has produced 1,500 gallons of jet fuel from waste industrial gases from steel mills via a fermentation process for Virgin Atlantic. Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech have been working together on the project since 2011. HSBC joined the partnership in 2014. The... Read more →


U-M study finds crop-based biofuels associated with net increase in GHGs; falsifying the assumption of inherent carbon neutrality

A new study from University of Michigan researchers challenges the assumption that crop-based biofuels such as corn ethanol and biodiesel are inherently carbon-neutral—i.e., that only production-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to be tallied when comparing them to fossil fuels. In an open-access paper published in the journal Climatic Change,... Read more →


With funding from Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has been working with industry-partner LanzaTech to convert alcohols derived from captured carbon monoxide, a byproduct in the production of steel, into synthetic paraffinic kerosene, a non-fossil-based jet fuel. The technology not only provides a viable source of... Read more →


EPA Office of Inspector General: EPA has not met certain statutory requirements to identify environmental impacts of RFS

The US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found that the EPA has not met certain statutory requirements to identify environmental impacts of Renewable Fuel Standard. In a newly released report, the OIG said that EPA’s Office of Research and Development has not complied with the requirement... Read more →


One of the key points of contention over the climate benefit of biofuels is the impact of land use change (LUC) associated with biofuel feedstock production. LUC results in biogeochemical (e.g., soil organic carbon) and biogeophysical (e.g., surface albedo, evapotranspiration, and surface roughness) changes. Of the biogeophysical factors, surface albedo... Read more →


Fuel ethanol production capacity in the United States was 14.903 billion gallons per year, or 973,000 barrels per day (b/d), at the beginning of 2016, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) most recent US Fuel Ethanol Plant Production Capacity report. Total capacity of operable ethanol plants increased by... Read more →


The US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. However, argues a team from the University of Minnesota in an open-access paper published in the journal Energy Policy, once the “fuel market rebound effect” is factored in, RFS2 actually increases GHG emissions when all... Read more →


In Brazil, Nissan Motor revealed the first Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC)-powered prototype vehicle that runs on bio-ethanol electric power. Research and development of the e-Bio Fuel-Cell was announced by Nissan in June in Yokohama. (Earlier post.) The e-Bio Fuel-Cell prototype vehicle, based on a Nissan e-NV200 electric van (earlier post),... Read more →


Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) and Mitsui Zosen Machinery & Service (MZM), a subsidiary of Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding are partnering to produce and sell zeolite membranes, with a focus on ethanol dehydration. MCC will purchase MZM’s entire output of zeolite membranes and hold the sole sales rights in the US... Read more →


Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. announced that it is currently researching and developing a Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC)-powered system using bio-ethanol as the on-board hydrogen source. The new e-Bio Fuel Cell system—a world-first for automotive use—features an an SOFC stack and an on-board reformer to convert 100% ethanol or ethanol-blended water... Read more →


Clariant to scale-up catalysts for Gevo’s Ethanol-to-Olefins (ETO) technology; renewable diesel and hydrogen

Gevo, Inc. has entered into an agreement with Clariant Corp., one of the world’s leading specialty chemical companies, to develop catalysts to enable Gevo’s Ethanol-to-Olefins (ETO) technology. Gevo’s ETO technology, which uses ethanol as a feedstock, produces tailored mixes of propylene, isobutylene and hydrogen, which are valuable as standalone molecules,... Read more →


The staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) released the first full set of carbon intensity (CI) pathways certified under the readopted LCFS regulation using the CA-GREET 2.0 model. (Earlier post.) These pathways include both new applications and requests to have “legacy” pathways (adopted under the prior LCFS rule)... Read more →


China team identifies new thermophilic bacterium for direct production of ethanol from brown algae

Researchers from the Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Synthetic Biology, Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences have identified and characterized the first thermophilic bacterium capable (Defluviitalea phaphyphila) of direct conversion of brown algae to ethanol. D. phaphyphila Alg1 can simultaneously utilize mannitol, glucose, and alginate... Read more →


A new biorefinery process developed by scientists at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has proven to be significantly more effective at producing ethanol from algae than previous research. The process, dubbed Combined Algal Processing (CAP), is detailed in an open-access paper in the journal Algal Research. The... Read more →


New method for creating interspecies yeast hybrids could boost biofuels production

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a simple, robust, and efficient method for generating interspecies yeast hybrids. As reported in the journal Fungal Genetics and Biology, this method provides an efficient means for producing novel synthetic hybrids for beverage and biofuel production, as well as for constructing tetraploids... Read more →


Researchers improve efficiency of ethanol-to-butanol conversion with new bifunctional catalyst

Researchers at the University of Rochester and the University of Ottawa (Canada) have developed a highly selective (>99%) tandem catalytic system—a bifunctional iridium catalyst coupled with bulky nickel or copper hydroxides—for the conversion of ethanol (up to 37%) to n-butanol, through the Guerbet process. The team was able to increase... Read more →


Bio-isobutanol company Gevo enters major licensing and development agreement with Praj

Gevo, Inc. has entered into a license agreement and a joint development agreement with Praj Industries Limited to enable the licensing of Gevo’s isobutanol technology to processors of non-corn based sugars, including the majority of Praj’s global customer base of ethanol plant owners. The two companies had signed a memorandum... Read more →


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 →