GM Developing Global Advanced Biofuels Program

A portion of the current biofuels component of GM’s roadmap to improved energy diversity and reduced emissions. Click to enlarge. GM has been steadily building a global advanced biofuels program as one element of its efforts to reduce the use of petroleum and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. The company’s approach... Read more →

BP: Biofuels Could Potentially Account for up to 30% of Global Transportation Fuel by 2030

Based on announced targets and pending regulations, BP’s assessment is that biofuels could account for between 11 and 19% of the transport fuel market by 2030. The company also thinks there is a possibility, if the industry can address some of the land, feedstock and technology issues that exist today,... Read more →

USDA & DOE Release National Biofuels Action Plan; UN FAO Report Calls For Review of Biofuels Policies

NBAP top-level advanced biofuels commercialization timeline. Click to enlarge. The US Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) released the National Biofuels Action Plan (NBAP), an interagency plan detailing the collaborative efforts of Federal agencies to accelerate the development of a sustainable biofuels industry. Separately, in a new edition of... Read more →

Argonne Investigating Butanol/Diesel Blends in Light-Duty Vehicles

Steady-state NOx versus filter smoke number at 35 mph for ULSD, Bu20 and Bu40. Click to enlarge. Butanol can be used as a blending agent in diesel to displace petroleum and reduce emissions of particulate matter without significantly increasing NOx or significantly lowering the cetane number, according to the results... Read more →

China Lake Researchers Develop Potential Biobutanol Pathway for Synthetic Jet Fuel

Researchers at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) at China Lake, California have developed an efficient batch catalysis process for the conversion of 1-butene (C4H8)—easily derived from butanol (C4H10O)—to a new class of potential synthetic jet fuel blends, with a specific focus on the requirements for the Navy’s... Read more →

GM Pushes for Ethanol; Update on Cellulosic Biofuels Partner Coskata

Cellulosic ethanol producer Coskata has rapidly brought its microbes to levels of commercial productivity with the assistance of genomic analysis that identified optimized nutritional pathways. Click to enlarge. Source: Coskata General Motors is picking up the pace on its steady push for the adoption of ethanol as a major alternative... Read more →

Bio-Butanol Startup Closes $17M Financing Round

Mercury News. Gevo, a spinoff from Caltech that is targeting the production of bio-butanol and other advanced biofuels from a variety of biomass feedstocks, has closed a $17-million third round of funding. New investors include life sciences merchant bank Burrill & Co. and the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, who... Read more →

Ohio Awards $17M in Advanced Energy Grants; Major Focus on Alternative Fuels

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission has awarded more than $12 million in grants to 17 Ohio-based entities to accelerate the development and growth of the advanced energy industry in Ohio. Awards for advanced energy were selected from the wind, solar, alternative fuel, energy storage and instruments, controls, and electronics sectors.... Read more →

DuPont and BP Partnership Targeting Multiple Butanol Molecules; Testing 16% Blends

The DuPont and BP partnership to develop and commercialize biobutanol (earlier post) is targeting advanced metabolic pathways for 1-butanol as well as other higher-octane biobutanol isomers. Testing of these advanced biofuels has demonstrated that the use of biobutanol can increase the blending of biofuels in gasoline beyond the current 10%... Read more →

UCLA Researchers Modify E. Coli to Produce Efficiently Higher-Chain Alcohols for Advanced Biofuels

The UCLA approach shifts part of the bacteria’s biosynthetic pathway to alcohol synthesis. Various 2-keto acid precursors lead to corresponding alcohols through 2-ketoacid decarboxylase and alcohol dehydrogenase. Click to enlarge. Researchers at UCLA have genetically modified Escherichia coli to produce efficiently several higher-chain alcohols from glucose, including isobutanol, 1-butanol, 2-methyl-1-butanol,... Read more →

University of Alberta Team wins iGEM Prize for Bioengineering E. Coli to Produce Butanol

A 10-member team of University of Alberta students, who call themselves the “Butanerds,” won first prize in the Energy and the Environment category at the fourth annual International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition held this past weekend at MIT. The team has been working on manipulating E. coli to produce... Read more →

BlueFire Files for Construction Permits for California’s First Cellulosic Waste to Ethanol Plant; Demo Facility for Bio-Butanol

Simplified flow diagram for the Arkenol process used by BlueFire Ethanol. Click to enlarge. BlueFire Ethanol Fuels, Inc. filed for its permits with Los Angeles County in June for California’s first cellulose to ethanol production facility. BlueFire Ethanol will receive around $40 million in funding from the US Department of... Read more →

Virgin Fuels Joins Khosla for Second Round in Bio-Butanol Company

Virgin Fuels has joined founding investor Khosla Ventures in a Series B venture round for Gevo, Inc., a spinoff from Caltech, targeting the production of bio-butanol and other advanced biofuels from a variety of biomass feedstocks. With the funding, Patrick Gruber has joined Gevo as CEO. Gruber was a founder... Read more →

ABF, BP and DuPont to Build $400M Bioethanol Plant and Biobutanol Demonstration Plant

Associated British Foods (ABF), BP and DuPont will invest around $400 million for the construction of a major bioethanol plant alongside a demonstration plant for biobutanol. Although initial production of the primary plant will be bioethanol, the partners will explore converting it to biobutanol production once the required technology is... Read more →

Cellulosic Biobutanol from Wheat Straw

Scientists at the USDA Agricultural Research Services (USDA ARS) are exploring the production of cellulosic biobutanol from wheat straw using Clostridium Beijerinckii. The research is part of a larger, ongoing research project: Cost-Effective Bioprocess Technologies for Production of Biofuels from Lignocellulosic Biomass. In work to be published in the Journal... Read more →

Test Results Show Biobutanol Performs Similarly to Unleaded Gasoline

1-butanol is less volatile than ethanol, and butanol-gasoline blends are less volatile than ethanol blends. Adding a fraction of butanol to an ethanol blend brings down the volatility. Click to enlarge. Source: BP New fuel testing results on bio-derived 1-butanol presented by DuPont and BP at the SAE World Congress... Read more →

Leaders of Senate Energy Committee Introduce Biofuels Bill: 36 Billion Gallons by 2022

US Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Pete Domenici (R-NM), the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced legislation that increases the required renewable fuel standard from 8.5 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons in 2022. The “Biofuels for Energy Security and... Read more →

EPA Awards SBIR Contract for Butanol from Biomass

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will award a $70,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to Integrated Genomics Inc. to develop a method to produce butanol from biomass (cellulosic butanol rather than cellulosic ethanol) that is economically competitive with the chemical synthesis of butanol from petroleum. In 2004, EPA... Read more →

Biofuels Entrepreneur Seeking £80M for Biobutanol Plant in Ireland

Telegraph. John Nichols, the co-founder and former chief executive of UK-based Biofuels Corporation, is trying to raise up to £80 million (US$156 million) to design and to build a biobutanol plant in the south of Ireland, which would use local sugar beets as the feedstock. In 2006, BP and DuPont... Read more →

BP Selects Berkeley Consortium for $500M Energy Biosciences Institute

BP has selected the University of California, Berkeley and its partners, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to join in a $500 million bioscience research program. Announced in 2006 during the release of the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2006, the BP program will... Read more →

Green Biologics Awarded £560,000 for Cellulosic Biobutanol Development

GBL has developed a proprietary library of thermophiles and thermostable enzymes for a variety of applications. Click to enlarge. Green Biologics (GBL), an Oxfordshire (UK) biotechnology company, has received £560,000 (US$1.1 million) in funding to support the development of its fuel biobutanol product—Butafuel—from cellulosic biomass. The Department of Trade and... Read more →

Syngenta and Diversa Enter New 10-year Enzyme Partnership for Cellulosic Biofuels

Syngenta and Diversa Corporation have entered into a new 10-year research and development partnership focused on the discovery and development of a range of novel enzymes to convert pre-treated cellulosic biomass economically to mixed sugars for fermentation into biofuels. The new agreement allows Diversa to develop and commercialize fermentation-based enzyme... Read more →

House of Lords Report Urges Further Actions to Increase Biofuel Use

Graphical overview of EU-25 biofuels use in 2005. Click to enlarge. A report just published by the European Union Select Committee of the House of Lords (earlier post) assesses the varied progress of EU member states in promoting the use of biofuels and concludes that without the implementation of a... Read more →

Report Describes Mechanisms for Microbial Energy Conversion and Outlines Research Needs

A new report released by the American Academy of Microbiology outlines the potential for microbial energy conversion as a partial solution to the problems of energy shortages and climate change. In microbial energy technologies, microorganisms make fuels out of raw organic materials, thereby converting the chemical energy in the biomass... Read more →

Synthetic Biology Company Raises $20 Million; New Focus on Biofuels

Amyris Biotechnologies, Inc., a privately-held company applying advances in synthetic biology to produce high-value pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals and biofuels, has raised $20 million in a first round of venture funding. The Series A financing was led by Khosla Ventures, with additional participation from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), and... Read more →

DuPont Biofuels Exec Outlines Company’s Growth Plans

DuPont’s strategy laid across the biofuels value chain. Click to enlarge. DuPont is focused on three strategic initiatives within the biofuels industry, according to one of its bioproducts executives: developing enhanced crop hybrids (inputs) that result in higher fuel yields; developing microbes for the production of cellulosic ethanol at a... Read more →

UK Parliament Report Blasts Government’s Bioenergy Policies; Calls for 2nd-Gen Biofuels on Road and in Aviation

UK total energy mix and transport fuel use. Click to enlarge. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) of the UK Parliament has published a report on the role of bioenergy in addressing the challenge of climate change. The report—Climate change: The role of bioenergy—is highly critical of the... Read more →

DuPont, BP and British Sugar Testify on Biofuels and Biobutanol before the House of Lords

Executives from DuPont Biofuels Europe, BP and British Sugar recently testified before a subcommittee (European Union agricultural and environmental policies) of the UK House of Lords as part of the subcommittee’s Biofuels Inquiry. BP and DuPont have formed a partnership to develop, produce and market next-generation biofuels to help meet... Read more →

DuPont Scientists Outline Company’s Biofuels Strategy

Genomic sequence of Z. mobilis—a key player in DuPont’s BioRefinery. Source: Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, TDU Two DuPont research leaders provided an update on the company’s strategy to develop next-generation biofuels at the third annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing. In June, DuPont and BP announced a... Read more →

BP and DuPont to Partner on Next-Generation Biofuels; Biobutanol the First Product

BP and DuPont have created a partnership to develop, produce and market next-generation biofuels to help meet increasing global demand for renewable transport fuels. The two companies have been working together since 2003 and are now ready to bring their first product to market: biobutanol, which will be introduced in... Read more →