Lipid-derived biofuels have been proposed as a promising substitute for fossil fuels. The oleaginous ascomycete (sac fungus) yeast Yarrowia lipolytica accumulates large amounts of lipids and has potential as a biofuel producing organism; however, little is known about the key biological processes involved. To address this gap in knowledge, a... Read more →


Japan-based global automotive supplier DENSO Corporation will build a large 20,000 square meter test facility for the culture of Pseudochoricystis ellipsoidea, an oil-producing microalga patented by DENSO. The new facility located in Amakusa, Kumamoto, Japan will be used to perform verification tests needed to establish large-scale microalga cultivation technologies required... Read more →


Researchers at Kansas State University led by Professor Timothy Durrett and their colleagues at Michigan State University and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln have engineered Camelina sativa—a non-food oilseed crop—to produce high levels (up to 85 mol%) of acetyl-triacylglycerols (acetyl-TAGs, or ac-TAGs)—a novel plant oil lipid with possible biofuel or... 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 →


Lund researchers develop optimized two-phase enzymatic process for production of biodiesel

Researchers at Lund University (Sweden) have developed an optimized two-phase enzymatic (lipase) system for the conversion of plant oils to biodiesel. Applied to the solvent-free ethanolysis of rapeseed oil, the system delivered a yield of 96% under mild conditions. Under the mild conditions used, chemical catalysts were inefficient. An open... Read more →


California ARB issues feedstock-only pathway for camelina-based fuels under LCFS; zero ILUC emissions results in very low CI fuels

The California Air Resources Board has issued Sustainable Oils Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Clean Energy Holdings, a feedstock-only pathway for the production of camelina-based fuels under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The feedstock-only CI (carbon intensity) is 7.58 gCO2e/MJ. A feedstock-only pathway allows a fuel producer... Read more →


Novozymes has launched Eversa Transform, the first commercially available enzymatic solution (a liquid lipase) to convert both glycerides and free fatty acids (FFA) into biodiesel. Biodiesel producers can thereby use cooking oil or other lower grade oils as biodiesel feedstock, reducing their raw material costs. The resulting enzymatic biodiesel is... 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 →


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 →


Study shows biodiesel blends in buses reduce PM, other harmful exhaust elements, EC and CO

A new study on the combustion properties of biodiesel for use in urban transit buses found that using biodiesel can effectively reduce the mass of particulate matter released in both hot and cold idle modes. The study, published by the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC), observed a reduction in... 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 →


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 →


Monthly US biodiesel and renewable diesel imports. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge. Total US imports of biomass-based diesel fuel—biodiesel and renewable diesel—reached 525 million gallons in 2013, compared to 61 million gallons in 2012, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). As a result, the United States switched from... 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 →


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 →


Scania 16-liter V8 580 hp Euro 6 engine with EGR and SCR is available in a 100% biodiesel version. Click to enlarge. Scania is adding another alternative to its engine lineup with a 100% biodiesel (EN 14214) configuration of a 16-liter, 580 hp (433 kW) V8 engine in the R-series.... Read more →


A team led by researchers at the University of Cordoba (Spain) have used a CaO alkaline heterogeneous catalyst to produce what they call a “second-generation biodiesel” blend composed of 2:1 molar mixture of conventional fatty acid methyl esters (FAME, or regular biodiesel) and monoglyceride (MG). The process integrates glycerol—the conventional... 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 →


Renewable Energy Group acquires drop-in renewable fuels company LS9 for up to $61.5 million

Biodiesel producer Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (REG) has acquired LS9, Inc., a synthetic biology company developing fermentation-derived drop-in renewable fuels and chemicals (earlier post), for a purchase price of up to $61.5 million, consisting of up front and earnout payments, in stock and cash. Most of the LS9 team, including... Read more →


Torque and power curves for the 490 hp biodiesel engine. Click to enlarge. Scania is introducing two Euro 6-certified, 13-liter truck engines that can run on any diesel blend, right up to 100% biodiesel (EN 14214). The versions certified for biodiesel operation are the modular, six-cylinder, 13-liter 450 and 490... Read more →


JAMA cites the poor oxidation stability of high-level biodiesel blends, highlighted in the JATOP findings, in sticking with B5 levels. PME= palm oil methyl ester, RME = rapeseed methyl ester, SME = soy methyl ester, WME = waste cooking oil methyl ester, FTD = Fischer-Tropsch diesel, HBD = hydrogenated biodiesel.... Read more →


U Texas at Austin researchers rewire yeast for high lipid generation; 60x improvement over parent strains

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering have rewired the native metabolism of the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica for superior production of lipids (lipogenesis). Tri-level metabolic control resulted in saturated cells containing upwards of 90% lipid content and titres exceeding 25 g l−1 lipids—a 60-fold improvement over parental... Read more →


ARB posts six new LCFS pathway applications for comment; new PFAD biodiesel approach

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted six new Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) pathway applications to the LCFS public comment web site: corn ethanol; molasses ethanol (from Brazil); palm fatty acid distillates (PFAD) to biodiesel; and landfill gas to LNG, L-CNG, and CNG. The LCFS requires oil... Read more →


Converting glycerol from biodiesel production into bio-gasoline

A team at the University of Idaho has demonstrated that glycerol, a byproduct from biodiesel production, could be used as a substrate for producing drop-in gasoline-range biofuel. In a paper published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, Guanqun Luo and Armando G. McDonald describe their study of converting methanol... Read more →


Study finds biodiesel use in HD trucks in Canada will result in very minimal changes in air quality and health benefits

Results of a study by a team from Health Canada and Environment Canada suggest that the use of B5 and B20 biodiesel fuel blends (5% and 20% biodiesel, respectively) compared to ULSD in on-road heavy-duty diesels in Canada will result in very minimal changes in air quality and health benefits/costs... Read more →


Univ. of Illinois team argues that renewable fuel standard needs to be modified, not repealed

A policy analysis by two University of Illinois researchers argues that Congress should minimally modify, not repeal, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In the study, law professor Jay P. Kesan and Timothy A. Slating, a regulatory associate with the Energy Biosciences Institute, argue that RFS mandates ought to be adjusted... Read more →


Study finds biodiesel blend reduces total particle mass in emissions but may have greater adverse health effect per mass than diesel

Findings from a study by researchers from the Department of Medicine and the School of Engineering at the University of Vermont suggest that the addition of biodiesel to diesel fuels will reduce the total particle mass of PM emissions—but that the biodiesel blend particles may contribute to greater biological effects... Read more →


The EROI ratio and GHG emissions/MJ of (a) algae-derived diesel and (b) algae-derived gasoline produced using HTL. The results are benchmarked against commercialized biodiesel or bioethanol as well as petroleum-derived versions of the drop-in fuels. Credit: Liu et al. Click to enlarge. A new life cycle analysis by a team... Read more →


European Parliament backs 6% cap on land-based biofuels, switchover to advanced biofuels; no mandate

In a vote on draft legislation, the European Parliament has backed a cap on the use of biofuels produced from starch-rich crops, sugars, oil and other crops grown on land and a speedy switchover to new biofuels from alternative sources such as seaweed and waste. The measures aim to reduce... Read more →


U Wisc. study explores effects of biodiesel-gasoline blend in diesel engine

One high-efficiency combustion concept under investigation is gasoline compression ignition (GCI)—the use of gasoline-like fuels to deliver very low NOx and PM emissions as well as high efficiency in a diesel compression ignition engine. (Earlier post.) A challenge to be overcome with this approach is the higher resistance to autoignition... Read more →


Study investigates impact of operating conditions and load on soot particle number distribution for diesel and biodiesel

A team led by researchers from Brunel University (UK) has investigated the exhaust soot particle number size distributions obtained from the combustion of diesel and biodiesel (rapeseed methyl ester, RME) in a high speed direct injection (HSDI) diesel engine under different engine operating conditions: fuel injection pressure, injection timing, exhaust... Read more →


Full genome map of oil palm indicates a way to raise yields and protect rainforest; single gene controls oil palm yield

A multinational team of scientists has identified a single gene, called Shell, that regulates yield of the oil palm tree. The Shell gene is responsible for the oil palm’s three known shell forms: dura (thick); pisifera (shell-less); and tenera (thin), a hybrid of dura and pisifera palms. Tenera palms contain... Read more →


ITOCHU invests in Flint Hills/Benefuel biodiesel project in US

Japan-based ITOCHU Corporation has invested in a 50-million-gallon/year, next-generation (inedible feed stock base) biodiesel fuel (BDF) project, which Flint Hills Resources LLC (FHR), a leading US refining, biofuel and chemicals company, and Benefuel Inc, developer of a solid-state biodiesel catalyst and process (earlier post), are jointly developing in Beatrice, Nebraska.... Read more →


Consumption of alternative fuels by vehicle type, 2011. Replacement fuels—i.e., E10 and biodiesel—are categorized separately. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge. Overall consumption of alternative transportation fuels in the US increased almost 13% in 2011 to a total of 515,920 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons, compared to 457,755 thousand gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2010,... Read more →


Total Biofuels production by fuel type, world markets: 2013-2023. Source: Navigant. Click to enlarge. Navigant Research forecasts global biofuels production will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% between 2013 and 2023, despite slower than expected development of advanced biofuels pathways (such as cellulosic biofuels); an expected... Read more →


California ARB considering regulations for alternative diesel fuels; focus on biodiesel

The staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) is holding a public meeting on 23 April in Sacramento to discuss regulatory concepts for establishing fuel requirements for alternative diesel fuels (ADF), including biodiesel, renewable diesel and other emerging diesel fuel substitutes. ARB’s goal is to conduct public meetings leading... Read more →


California Energy Commission awards more than $5.5M for green transportation projects and $1.8M for 20 energy research projects

The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved $5,580,773 for clean-energy transportation projects including biodiesel production, power control electronics for medium-and heavy-duty battery electric vehicles, and buydowns for propane vehicles. The awards were made through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. In addition, CEC awarded $1,815,274 to fund... Read more →


California ARB considering four new low-carbon fuel pathways; Neste renewable diesel and sugarcane molasses ethanol

California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted four new Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) pathways to the LCFS web site. (Earlier post.) Among the new pathways to be considered is the production of renewable diesel from Australian tallow at Neste Oil’s Singapore plant. Others are sugarcane molasses ethanol from... Read more →


California Energy Commission awards more than $17M to support alternative fuel and infrastructure projects

The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved $17,223,593 for eight projects including alternative fuel production, plug-in truck demonstrations, EV charging station deployment, and infrastructure planning. The awards were made through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118. This program is slated to invest... Read more →


SG Biofuels signs deals in Brazil to develop Jatropha as an alternative energy crop

SGB, Inc. (SG Biofuels) has signed agreements in Brazil with Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), the country’s leading agricultural research institution, and with Fiagril, one of the country’s leading biodiesel refiners, to advance the development of Jatropha as a next-generation energy crop. SGB’s strategic research partnership with Embrapa will combine... Read more →


Diesel engine torque output as a function of the engine speed (rpm) for the tested fuels. Credit: ACS, Wahlen et al. Click to enlarge. Biodiesel (fatty acid methyl ester) derived from oleaginous microbes—microalgae, yeast, and bacteria—can effectively displace both petroleum diesel and biodiesel produced from plant oils, according to the... Read more →


Emission rates for the 1.7 and 6.4 L engines at idle. Panels show (a) PM2.5, (b) elemental carbon (EC), (c) NOx, (d) CO, (e) formaldehyde, and (f) sum of target VOCs. Credit: ACS, Chin et al. Click to enlarge. A new study led by researchers at the University of Michigan... Read more →


California Energy Commission selects 7 biofuel companies for almost $27M in funding

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has selected seven companies as proposed recipients for $26,896,373 in Round 2 of awards from a solicitation released under the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) to provide funding for the development of new, California-based biofuel production facilities that can sustainably produce... Read more →


Comparisons of life-cycle emissions from LUC phase for (a) sugar cane ethanol and (b) soybean biodiesel. Credit: ACS, Tsao et al. Click to enlarge. When including Land Use Change (LUC) factors, Brazilian sugar cane ethanol and soybean biodiesel have much larger life-cycle emissions than conventional gasoline and biodiesel for six... Read more →


NOx emissions results of biodiesel, renewable, and GTL diesel fuel blends, and CARB diesel fuel for 2006 Cummins ISM. Credit: ACS, Hajbabaei et al. Click to enlarge. A study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s College of Engineering – Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) and colleagues... Read more →


Illustration of non-catalytic biodiesel conversion Credit: ACS, Kwon et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers from the Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology (RIST) and Korea University have developed and demonstrated a novel methodology for transforming lipids containing high amounts of free fatty acids (FFAs)—such as those extracted from sewage... Read more →


GHG emissions savings of rapeseed FAME compared to RED “typical” and “default” levels. Dashed line indicates RED threshold of 35%. Pehnelt and Vietze. Click to enlarge. In a new analysis of GHG emissions savings potential of rapeseed biodiesel produced in the EU, a pair of researchers from GlobEcon, an independent... Read more →


Yale team advances toward a one-pot oil extraction and transesterification process for algal biodiesel using a supercritical CO2 system

A team from Yale described advances toward achieving a single-step lipid extraction and transesterification process to produce algal biodiesel during the symposium “Biobased Feedstocks for Chemical and Fuel Production” at ACS’ 16th annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Such a one-pot process would have a significant impact on the lifecycle... Read more →


California Energy Commission awards more than $23M to encourage use of alternative transportation fuels

The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved funding of $23,110,015 for projects that will advance the development of green fuels, and the installation of fueling stations. The awards are provided through the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118. The program provides approximately... Read more →


California Energy Commission awards more than $35M for green transportation in California

The California Energy Commission unanimously approved funding of $35,031,310 to projects that will accelerate the development of green fuels and technology in California. This set of awards supports a diversity of alternative fuel and vehicle types, including biodiesel production, natural gas vehicle technologies and incentives, hybrid and plug-in vehicles, and... Read more →