Brookhaven researchers improve understanding of how plants regulate oil synthesis; potential for more abundant bio-fuels and -products

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered new details about biomolecules that retard oil production in plants. The findings suggest that disabling these biomolecular brakes could accelerate oil production and lead to a possible pathway toward generating abundant biofuels and plant-derived bioproducts. The open-access study... Read more →


A team of engineers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) recently discovered that a naturally occurring bacterium, Thermoanaerobacterium thermosaccharolyticum TG57, isolated from waste generated after harvesting mushrooms, is capable of directly converting cellulose to biobutanol. In an open-access paper in the journal Science Advances, the research team, led by... Read more →


A team of Idaho National Laboratory (INL) researchers, with colleagues at Georgia Tech, has pioneered an electrochemical process that could eliminate the need for high-energy steam cracking. In an open-access paper in the RSC journal Energy and Environmental Science, the researchers suggest that their study provides a disruptive approach for... Read more →


New technique for modeling auto-ignition characteristics of bioethanol-blended gasolines

Researchers at KAUST in Saudi Arabia, with colleagues from Saudi Aramco and the National University of Ireland Galway, have developed a new method for investigating the auto-ignition behavior of bioethanol-blended gasolines. Their work, reported in a paper in the journal Combustion & Flame, explores the oxidation behavior of two oxygenated... Read more →


Study finds blending gasoline with GTL improves efficiency and lowers emissions in compression-ignition PPC mode

A team from Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, in collaboration with Bengt Johansson at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, reports that blending gasoline with high cetane number (CN) gas-to-liquids (GTL) fuel appears to be a promising route to improve not only efficiency, but also PM... Read more →


JBEI enzyme discovery enables first microbial production of aromatic hydrocarbon toluene, a widely used octane booster

Researchers at the US Department of Energy Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have discovered a new enzyme that will enable microbial production of a renewable alternative to petroleum-based toluene, a widely used octane booster in gasoline that has a global market of 29 million... Read more →


The technology group Wärtsilä will supply its Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) recovery technology, LNG fuel gas handling systems and the auxiliary engines for two new shuttle tankers being built for Singapore-based AET Tankers at the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea. The order, worth in total more than €30... Read more →


Study finds between 87 to 98% of ships following the new sulfur regulations in northern Europe

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have shown that between 87 and 98 percent of ships comply with the tougher regulations for sulfur emissions that were introduced in northern Europe in 2015. The lowest levels of compliance were observed in the western part of the English Channel and in the... Read more →


Researchers at Princeton University have used light to control genetically modified Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast—i.e., optogenetic control—and to increase its output of commercially valuable chemicals. In a paper in the journal Nature, the researchers reported that they used light to increase yeast’s production of the chemical isobutanol as much as 5... Read more →


Startup Mattershift says it has achieved a breakthrough in making carbon nanotube (CNT) membranes at large scale. The startup is developing the technology’s ability to combine and separate individual molecules to make gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel using CO2 removed from the air. In an open-access paper in Science Advances,... Read more →


Audi begins initial engine testing of Global Bioenergies, Fraunhofer e-gasoline

Audi remains convinced of the potential of the fuels e-gas, “e-benzin” (e-gasoline) and e-diesel and is continuing to pursue its e-fuels strategy. (Earlier post.) Audi and its development partners Global Bioenergies S.A. (earlier post) and the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical Biotechnological Processes (CBP) now report that they have for the... Read more →


ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics algae biofuels program targets 10,000 barrels per day by 2025

ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics Inc. announced a new phase in their joint algae biofuel research program (earlier post) that could lead to the technical ability to produce 10,000 barrels of algae biofuel per day by 2025. The new phase of research includes an outdoor field study that will grow naturally... Read more →


European Commission approves €4.7B public support scheme for advanced biomethane and biofuels in Italy

The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules an Italian support scheme for the production and distribution of advanced biofuels, including advanced biomethane. The measure will contribute to reaching EU energy and climate change goals while limiting distortions of competition. The Italian scheme supports the production and distribution... Read more →


Researchers at the University of York (UK), with colleagues from the University of Leeds, University of Cambridge and Université Aix-Marseille in France, have identified more than 20 members of an uncharacterized family of lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) (earlier post) by investigating the digestive proteome of Thermobia domestica—the firebrat, a small... Read more →


International team discovers family of fungal enzymes that degrades xylans in wood biomass

An international team of researchers has discovered a new family of enzymes found in fungi (fungal lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases, LPMOs) that are capable of breaking down xylans—a recalcitrant polysaccharide abundant in wood biomass. The enzymes could now potentially be used to sustainably convert wood biomass into valuable chemical commodities such... Read more →


DOE awards $10.6M to ROGUE to engineer energycane, Miscanthus to produce oil for biodiesel, biojet fuel

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded the University of Illinois a $10.6-million, five-year grant to transform two of the most productive crops in the US into sustainable sources of biodiesel and biojet fuel. The new research project Renewable Oil Generated with Ultra-productive Energycane (ROGUE) kicked off on 25... Read more →


BP outlook: Energy demand grows as fuel mix continues to diversify; EVs in global car parc at 15% by 2040, but electric share of VMT at 30%

The 2018 edition of BP’s Energy Outlook considers the forces shaping the global energy transition out to 2040 and the key uncertainties surrounding that transition. The speed of the energy transition is uncertain and the new Outlook considers a range of scenarios. Its evolving transition scenario, which assumes that government... Read more →


The US Department of Energy launched three Bioenergy Research Centers just over ten years ago (earlier post). Of them, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), led by the University of Wisconsin–Madison, had a goal of turning more of the corn plant—the stalk and leaves that makes up the stover—into... Read more →


The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released two studies from the Co-Optimization of Engines & Fuels initiative (Co-Optima) (earlier post). The first study, Fuel Blendstocks with the Potential to Optimize Future Gasoline Engine Performance, identifies eight representative high-octane blendstocks across five chemical groups that could be blended into gasoline... Read more →


DOE to award $35M to 24 projects to support early-stage, innovative technologies and solutions in advanced manufacturing

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $35 million for 24 projects to support early-stage, innovative technologies and solutions in advanced manufacturing. These projects were selected under an Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Advanced Manufacturing Office funding opportunity, focused on advanced materials, advanced processes, and... Read more →


A cradle-to-grave (C2G) assessment of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and costs for current (2015) and future (2025–2030) light-duty vehicles by a team from US DOE and national laboratories, major automakers, EPRI and Chevron has found that currently, hybrid and plug-in hybrid petroleum-fueled vehicles provide the most attractive cost in terms... Read more →


Removing fossil fuel subsidies would have only a small effect on CO2 emissions and renewable energy use, according to a new study led by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and published in the journal Nature. Fossil fuel subsidies amount to hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide, and... Read more →


Canada-based Enerkem Inc., a leading waste-to-biofuels and chemicals producer, has completed a C$280-million (US$223 million) investment round—its largest to date. In addition to new investors BlackRock and Sinobioway, existing investors also participated in this financing. In January, Enerkem signed an agreement with Sinobioway Group worth more than C$125 million (US$100... Read more →


UMD IBBR awarded DOE grant to investigate how to protect biofuel crop poplar trees from disease

The University of Maryland (UMD) Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) has been awarded a $1.1million US Department of Energy (DOE) grant to elucidate the mechanism of rust pathogenesis in poplar in an effort to engineer durable resistance for this important, second-generation biofuel crop. The aim of the three-year... Read more →


In 2016, the US Department of Energy (DOE) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) released a study concluding that within 25 years, the US could produce enough biomass to support a bioeconomy, including renewable aquatic and terrestrial biomass resources that could be used for energy and to develop products for... Read more →


European Parliament endorses proposal for 12% share of energy from renewable energy in transport by 2030; 10% advanced biofuels

The European Parliament last week endorsed a series of proposals setting targets for cleaner, more efficient energy use. Among those was a proposal for a binding EU-level target of a 12% share of energy from renewable sources in transport, by 2030. Members of Parliament also endorsed setting a 35% improvement... Read more →


Shell, ITM Power to build world’s largest hydrogen electrolysis plant in Germany; €20M REFHYNE project

Shell and ITM Power will build the world’s largest hydrogen electrolysis plant at Rhineland refinery, Germany. (Earlier post.) With a peak capacity of 10 megawatts, the hydrogen will be used for the processing and upgrading of products at the refinery’s Wesseling site as well as testing the technology and exploring... Read more →


Evea study estimates 69% reduction in GHG emissions for Global Bioenergies’ fully renewable ETBE compared to fossil gasoline

Life-cycle analysis specialist EVEA has estimated that fully renewable ETBE produced by the Global Bioenergies’ IBN-One plant would enable 69% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil gasoline. This figure was calculated for the current design planned for the IBN-One plant using a greenhouse gases emissions calculator based on... Read more →


Air Products to acquire Shell’s coal gasification technology business and patent portfolio for liquids (residue) gasification; coal-to-fuels in China

Air Products will acquire Royal Dutch Shell’s Coal Gasification Technology business as well as Shell’s patent portfolio for Liquids (Residue) Gasification. Financial terms are not being disclosed, and the acquisition is expected to close in the coming months. As a leading industrial gas company, Air Products has extended its onsite... Read more →


EIA forecasts US crude oil production rate to break record high in 2018 and again in 2019; 10.3 and 10.8 million b/d

In its latest edition of the Short-Term Energy Outlook, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that US crude oil production will average 10.3 million b/d in 2018—the highest annual average production in US history, surpassing the previous record of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970. EIA also forecasts that... Read more →


Eni’s proprietary Eni Slurry Technology (EST) is able to convert refining residues entirely into high-quality light products, eliminating both liquid and solid refining residues with significant environmental benefits. Eni has now sold the licence and basic engineering project to the Chinese company Sinopec for the construction of a refining plant... Read more →


OSU team developing chemical looping technology to convert fossil fuels and biomass to syngas while consuming CO2

Engineers at The Ohio State University are developing technologies that have the potential to convert fossil fuels and biomass economically into syngas for conversion into useful products including methanol, gasoline and electricity without emitting carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. In the first of two papers published in the journal Energy... Read more →


WUSTL team receives $3.9M to engineer bacteria to produce drop-in fuels from lignin

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have received a $3.9-million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop bacteria that manufacture renewable biofuels. Building on prior funding from the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) for systems biology work on Rhodococcus opacus, this project will apply... Read more →


Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have demonstrated a novel integrated conversion process for algal biomass to produce fuel and chemical products of sufficient quality to be blend-ready feedstocks for further processing. A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Green Chemistry. Biomass from the... Read more →


Berkeley Lab team develops predictive model to optimize biomass blends for commercial-scale biorefinery processing

The type of biomass available for fuels and chemical production varies with the time of year and geography; the ability to integrate multiple feedstocks into the process of a bio-refinery can substantially de-risk the logistics of supply. However, pioneering bio-refineries have been optimized to process a single feedstock such as... Read more →


EU Council of Ministers adopts position on Renewable Energies Directive; bumps renewables in transport to 14% in 2030

The EU Council has adopted its position on a directive promoting the use of renewable energy across the EU. This agreement paves the way for the Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament as soon as it agrees on its negotiating mandate. The EU is committed to reach a... Read more →


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

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... Read more →


GE Aviation testing 100% Gevo Alcohol-to-Jet fuel

GE Aviation has begun jet engine combustor component testing with 100% Gevo renewable alcohol-to-jet fuel (ATJ). The testing is being performed as part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise Program (CLEEN). CLEEN is the FAA’s principal environmental effort to accelerate the development of new... Read more →


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

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... Read more →


For the last 18 months, a fleet of 6 methanol-fueled versions of the Geely Emgrand 7 cars have been in Iceland. Geely is a shareholder ($45.5-million investment in 2015) in Carbon Recycling International (CRI), an Icelandic company which produces renewable methanol using recycled CO2 emissions sourced from a local thermal... Read more →


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

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... Read more →


Siluria and Wood launch Modus: process technology to convert low-value offgas into high-octane, low-sulfur gasoline blendstock

Siluria Technologies, developer of a catalytic oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) process to convert natural gas into liquid fuels or petrochemical building blocks (earlier post), and Wood, a leader in the delivery of project, engineering and technical services to energy and industrial markets, announced the availability of the Modus process... Read more →


WVU, NETL partner with Pitt, Shell to develop process to transform stranded natural gas into marketable products

Researchers at West Virginia University will lead a team that will investigate ways to convert stranded gas resources into value-added liquid products that could reduce the United States’ demand for crude oil by up to 20%. The WVU-led team will combine the capabilities of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL)... Read more →


Researchers at KAUST, Saudi Aramco evaluating low-octane fuels for gasoline compression ignition engines

Gasoline compression ignition (GCI) is an experimental engine technology that could consume 25% less energy than a conventional automobile engine. (Earlier post.) GCI uses a gasoline-type fuel, but rather than ignited with a spark, it is compression-ignited like diesel. GCI engines operate at higher compression ratios than conventional gasiline engines,... Read more →


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... Read more →


NAIT partnering with Oberon, Mack and Westcan to advance use of DME fuel in long-haul trucks

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is partnering with Mack Trucks, Oberon Fuels and Westcan Bulk Transport to develop fuel moisture management technology for dimethyl ether (DME), a cleaner-burning (sulfur-free and no PM), high-cetane (55-60), diesel fuel alternative that can be made from natural gas or methanol produced from... Read more →


Hydrogen Council study: hydrogen could contribute to 20% of CO2 emissions reduction targets by 2050

In Bonn, as global leaders gathered at COP 23, the Hydrogen Council coalition (earlier post) released a report developed with support from McKinsey quantifying the potential for hydrogen in the energy transition. According to the study, if deployed at scale, hydrogen could account for almost one-fifth of total final energy... Read more →


Neste and American Airlines collaborate to explore opportunities for renewable fuel use; High Freeze Point HEFA

Neste, the world’s leading producer of renewable diesel, and American Airlines, the world’s largest airline, have entered into an agreement to explore opportunities to further reduce American’s environmental footprint through the use of Neste’s renewable fuels. One goal of the cooperation will be complementary efforts to facilitate acceptance and commercialization... Read more →


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

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... Read more →


Study concludes 20% synthetic diesel blend could reduce PM emissions in Beijing by ~19%

PM emissions from current vehicles in Beijing could be reduced by approximately 19% by simply blending 20% synthetic diesel with currently available diesel, according to a new study by Tsinghua University, the Desert Research Institute in Nevada and Greyrock Energy, a developer of gas-to-liquids technology. This improvement can be accomplished... Read more →