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 →


California Energy Commission awards more than $15M to advance biofuels, plug-in and V2G research

The California Energy Commission unanimously approved funding of more than $15 million to projects that will advance biofuels and electric vehicle research in California. These grants are provided through the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The program, created by Assembly Bill 118 (Núñez, Chapter 750,... Read more →


New study finds GHG emissions from palm oil production significantly underestimated; palm oil biofuels could be more climate-damaging than oil sands fuels

When peat swamps are drained for agriculture, the peat begins to decompose, and is an enormous source of carbon emissions. Based on visual interpretation of high-resolution (30 m) satellite images, a new study in the journal Global Change Biology: Bioenergy determined that industrial plantations covered over 3.1 Mha (20%) of... Read more →


Obama Administration releases National Bioeconomy Blueprint; health, food, energy and environment

The White House today released a national Bioeconomy Blueprint, a comprehensive approach to harnessing innovations in biological research to address national challenges in health, food, energy, and the environment. In coordination with the Blueprint’s release, Federal officials also announced a number of new commitments to help achieve the Blueprint’s goals.... Read more →


Solazyme produces tailored oils using heterotrophic algae grown in industrial fermenters. Source: Solazyme. Click to enlarge. Algae-based renewable oil company Solazyme, Inc. and Bunge Global Innovation LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of agribusiness and food company Bunge Limited, along with other Bunge subsidiaries have signed definitive agreements forming a joint venture... Read more →


Pike Pulse Grid for oil majors commercializing biofuels. Source: Pike Research. Click to enlarge. With “easy oil” increasingly difficult to source and with an obvious stake in the future of the $2 trillion transportation fuel market, the world’s largest oil companies have begun charting strategies to bring biofuels to market... Read more →


Pike Research forecasts global biofuels market to double by 2012 to $185.3B

Pike Research forecasts that the global market for biofuels will more than double over the coming decade, increasing from $82.7 billion in 2011 to $185.3 billion by 2021. At least 38 national governments have enacted blending mandates or targets to accelerate the expansion of biofuels production and consumption in the... Read more →


Simplified palm oil biofuel lifecycle system diagram. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has conducted lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) analyses on biodiesel and renewable diesel produced from palm oil and estimated GHG emission reductions of 17% (81 (kgCO2e/mmBtu) and 11% (87 (kgCO2e/mmBtu) respectively for these... Read more →


The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the 2012 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2). (Earlier post.) The final 2012 overall volumes and standards are: Biomass-based diesel (1.0 billion gallons; 0.91%) Advanced biofuels (2.0 billion gallons; 1.21%) Cellulosic biofuels... Read more →


Shell exec says biofuels are the most important alternative to fossil hydrocarbons in mobility for the next 20 years

In a keynote interview to open F.O. Licht’s World Ethanol & Biofuels in Barcelona on 8 November, Arthur Reijnhart, General Manager, Alternative Energies and Fuel Development Strategy for Shell, described a scenario of an increasingly diverse energy supply landscape against a backdrop of soaring demand between now and 2050, driven... Read more →


Study finds GHG emissions associated with palm oil production have been significantly underestimated; implications for carbon intensity of biofuels as well as biofuel policies in Europe

A new study on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the conversion and degradation of peatland in palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia has determined that past studies have generally significantly underestimated emissions associated with palm oil grown on peatland. This has resulted in underestimation of the indirect land use... Read more →


Pennsylvania DEP awards more than $4.4M in alternative fuels grants to 12 projects; bulk for natural gas

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will award more than $4.4 million in Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants to 12 projects across the state. The bulk of the funding is flowing to natural gas projects, with additional funding for electric vehicle infrastructure and a biodiesel project. The grants, funded by... Read more →


Pike Research forecasts global biofuels market value to double to $185B by 2021

According to a new report from Pike Research, the increased production and consumption of biofuels will more than double the industry’s market value in the next decade. Pike forecasts that the global market for biofuels will increase from $82.7 billion in 2011 to $185.3 billion by 2021. Pike projects that... Read more →


World ethanol and biodiesel production, 1975-2010. Source: Worldwatch Institute. Click to enlarge. Global production of biofuels increased 17% in 2010 to reach an all-time high of 105 billion liters (28 billion gallons US), up from 90 billion liters (24 billion gallons US) in 2009. High oil prices, a global economic... Read more →


Petrobras to invest US$2.5 billion in increasing biodiesel and ethanol production through 2015

Brazil’s Petrobras, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Petrobras Biocombustível, will invest US$2.5 billion in increasing biodiesel and ethanol production between 2011 and 2015. This amount is part of $4.1 billion earmarked for the biofuels business, which also foresees $1.3 billion for ethanol logistics and $300 million for research in this segment.... Read more →


Researchers castigate planning bodies for ill-conceived Jatropha programs

The results of massive plantings of Jatropha worldwide for use as a biofuel feedstock—some 12.8 million ha (49,421 square miles) are expected to be planted by 2015—are “anything but encouraging”, according to Promode Kant from the Institute of Green Economy in India and Shuirong Wu of the Chinese Academy of... Read more →


Comparing energy requirements for major biodiesel subsystems and total life-cycle energy requirements between the current study and two earlier assessments: Pradhan et al. (2009), and Sheehan et al. (1998). Pradhan et al. (2011) Click to enlarge. Researchers from the University of Idaho and the US Department of Agriculture have updated... Read more →


UW-Madison Hybrid Vehicle Team working with Engine Research Center to apply dual-fuel RCCI engines in series and parallel hybrids

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Hybrid Vehicle Team will work with the UW-Madison Engine Research Center to test implementations of Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI) engines being developed by UW mechanical engineering professor Rolf Reitz and his colleagues. RCCI is a dual-fuel compression-ignition engine low-temperature combustion (LTC) strategy that uses in-cylinder... Read more →


Wärtsilä’s LBF specification. Click to enlarge. Wärtsilä was recently contracted by the STX Finland shipyard in Turku, Finland, to supply the main engines for a new multi-purpose cargo vessel. The vessel will be powered by three Wärtsilä 6L20 main generating sets, capable of operating on various types of liquid bio-fuels... Read more →


EPA proposes 2012 Renewable Fuel Standards, 2013 biomass-based diesel volume

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the 2012 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2). The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established the annual renewable fuel volume targets, which steadily increase to an overall level of... Read more →


GHG emission comparison between fossil diesel, transesterified lipids, HVO and woody BTL. GD = HVO; RSO = Rapeseed Oil; SBO = Soybean oil; Biodiesel = Transesterified lipids. Sunde et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers in Norway reviewing the lifecycle impacts and costs of three renewable fuels—(1) transesterified lipids, (2) hydrotreated... Read more →


Fuel provisions in the Tax Relief bill

US President Barack Obama on Friday signed H.R. 4853, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (“Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010”). The bill, among its other provisions, contains a number of provisions related to energy (Title VII, Subtitle A) and within that, provisions... Read more →


California Energy Commission awards $9.6M to 8 projects on electric vehicles, natural gas and biofuels

The California Energy Commission has approved eight grants that leverage more than $9.6 million in state funding with $11,969,855 in private funds. The projects will advance the manufacture of electric vehicles and vehicle batteries; add vehicle charging stations; and encourage the use of biofuels. The $9,612,515 is funded from the... Read more →


Brown Chemists Develop Process to Simplify Waste Vegetable Oil to Biodiesel Process, Chart Progress of Transesterification Reaction

Two chemists at Brown University have streamlined the conversion of waste vegetable oil (WVO) into biodiesel, eliminating the need for corrosive chemicals to perform the reactions. In a paper published in the RSC journal Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, the chemists describe the waste vegetable oil-to-biodiesel conversion in a single reaction... Read more →


Microalgae biodiesel processing and lifecycle analysis model overview. Credit: ACS, Click to enlarge. Researchers at Colorado State University have found that a microalgae biodiesel process using currently available technologies can show improvement in lifecycle GHG emissions and net energy ratio (NER) compared to soybean-based biodiesel. A paper on their lifecycle... Read more →


Process flow diagram for biodiesel production through intracellular lipid hydrolysis and supercritical in situ transesterification (SC-IST/E) using ethanol (EtOH). Credit: ACS, Levine et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed and demonstrated the feasibility of a two-step hydrolysis-solvolysis process to produce biodiesel directly from wet... Read more →


DOE Issues Funding Opportunity Announcement for Two Congressional Earmarks: Liquid Carrier for Hydrogen and Biodiesel Fuels from Low-Impact Crops

The Department of Energy has issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-DOA-000380) soliciting applications in the two topic areas: Liquid Carrier Technology for Hydrogen Storage or Delivery; and Biodiesel Fuels from Low-Impact Crops. DOE anticipates selecting one project of two years duration in each area; the maximum award is $500,000 for... Read more →


EPA Proposes 2011 Percentages for Renewable Fuel Standard

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the 2011 percentage standards for the four fuels categories under the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2): cellulosic biofuel; biomass-based diesel; advanced biofuel; and renewable fuel. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established the annual renewable fuel volume targets, reaching... Read more →


European Commission Sets Up System for Certifying Sustainable Biofuels

The European Commission is encouraging industry, governments and NGOs to set up certification schemes for all types of biofuels, including those imported into the EU and laid down what the schemes must do to be recognized by the Commission. This is intended to help implement the EU’s requirements that biofuels... Read more →


Study Finds Current Swedish Biofuels Offer Major Climate Benefits; Biogas from Manure the Best

A study by researchers at Lund University in Sweden found that Swedish biofuels produce between 65 and 148% less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline and diesel, even when direct and indirect land use changes are taken into account. In the study, which looked at various types of biogas, ethanol and... Read more →


Researcher Says Biodiesel from Sewage Sludge Nearly Cost-Competitive with Petroleum Diesel

Existing technology can produce biodiesel fuel from municipal sewage sludge that is within a few cents a gallon of being competitive with conventional diesel refined from petroleum, according to Dr. David Kargbo, with the US EPA’s Office of Innovation, Environmental Assessment & Innovation Division in Philadelphia, PA. His analysis was... Read more →


DOT to Award Funding for Research Into Biofuels and Bio-based Lubricants for Locomotives

The US Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FR-RRD-10-010) for two separate grants totalling $700,000 for research into biofuels and bio-based lubricants for locomotive application. Eligible projects will include dynamic testing of locomotives, rolling stock and other rail equipment, with various biofuel blends... Read more →


Carbon steel coupons after 60 days of exposure to Key West seawater and biodiesel under anaerobic conditions. (b, c, and d) Coupons in biodiesel, at the biodiesel/seawater interface, and in seawater, respectively. Corresponding micrographs (e-g) indicate pitting after acid cleaning. Credit: ACS, Aktas et al. Click to enlarge. A study... Read more →


Petrobras Launches Two Palm Oil Projects; Biodiesel in State of Pará, Renewable Diesel with Galp in Portugal

Brazil’s Petrobras is launching two projects to produce biofuels from palm oil (dendê) in Tomé-Açu (state of Pará): a Petrobras-owned biodiesel plant (the Biodiesel Pará project), and a project to produce renewable diesel in partnership with Portuguese outfit Galp Energia (the Belém project) (earlier post). The feedstock supply strategy foresees... Read more →


Life Cycle Analysis of Evogene Castor Bean-based Biodiesel Shows 90% Emissions Reduction Compared to Petroleum

A life cycle assessment (LCA) of biodiesel produced from castor bean varieties being developed by Israel-based Evogene Ltd. (earlier post) found that such biodiesel reduces greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions by 90% compared to petroleum diesel in the US. Evogene is a developer of improved plant traits; the company’s proprietary product... Read more →


EPA Awards $2M to Small Businesses to Develop Sustainable Technologies; Includes Biofuel, Emissions Reduction Projects

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $2.38 million to 34 small businesses to develop innovative, sustainable technologies to protect human health and the environment. The awards to businesses in 16 states focus on ten key environmental research areas: increasing the efficiency of green building materials and systems; manufacturing... Read more →


Direct Production of Biodiesel from the Fungus M. circinelloides; Opportunity to Enhance Yield with Genetic Engineering

Researchers in Spain have demonstrated the direct transformation of biomass consisting of the fungus M. circinelloides into biodiesel compliant with ASTM D6751 and EN14213 and 14214 standards. A paper on their work was published online 2 April in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels. Oils from oleaginous microorganisms, such as... Read more →


GM Partners with US DOE to Develop Jatropha-to-Biodiesel Project in India

GM is entering a five-year partnership with the US Department of Energy (DOE) to help develop the potential of the jatropha plant as a sustainable biofuel energy crop. The goal of the project is to demonstrate that jatropha can produce significant quantities of oil for conversion to biodiesel and to... Read more →


Analysis Finds That First-Generation Biofuel Use of Up to 5.6% in EU Road Transport Fuels Delivers Net GHG Emissions Benefits After Factoring in Indirect Land Use Change

A new report by researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has calculated that the use of up to 5.6% of first-generation, land-using biofuels in EU road transport fuels delivers a net greenhouse gas reduction benefit (13 Mt CO2 savings in a 20-year horizon) even after factoring in... Read more →


Japan Automakers Support B5, E10 as Baseline Biofuel Blends, Recommend Specifications to ASEAN Countries

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc (JAMA), a nonprofit industry association comprising fourteen manufacturers of passenger cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles in Japan, recently issued position statements on and recommended specifications for bioethanol and biodiesel (fatty acid methyl ester, FAME). Experts from JAMA visited six countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore,... Read more →


Researchers Develop Single-Step, Solid Acid-Catalyzed Process for Production of Biodiesel from Feedstocks with High Free Fatty Acid Content

Researchers at the University of Waterloo (Canada) have demonstrated a single-step solid acid-catalyzed process with the potential for industrial-scale production of biodiesel from high free fatty acid (FFA) feedstocks. A paper on their work was published online 19 February in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels. The use of waste... Read more →


Study Finds Government Mandates Superior to All Other Biofuels Policies, But Mixing With Subsidies Causes Adverse Effects; The Argument for a Direct CO2 Tax

A new cost-benefit analysis of biofuels policies by economists Harry de Gorter and David Just at Cornell University has concluded that government mandates for biofuels “are clearly superior to all other policies, with few tradeoffs arising.” However, they write in a paper published in the journal Applied Economics Perspectives and... Read more →


Researchers Propose Method for Co-processing of Carbohydrates and Lipids in Oil Crops To Produce a Hybrid Biodiesel

Mark Mascal and Edward Nikitin from the University of California Davis are proposing a method that can use both the carbohydrates as well as the oils in oil seed plants—such as soybean, sunflower, jatropha, camelina, safflower, and canola—to produce a hybrid lipidic/cellulosic biodiesel with greater product yield than conventional transesterification.... Read more →


Cradle-to-Gate (farmer-to-product) pathways for soybeans. Source: USB. Click to enlarge. An updated life cycle assessment (LCA) of soybean production and products commissioned by the United Soybean Board found multiple energy and environmental benefits of current US soybean farming and processing. Currently, the data included in the Department of Energy’s US... Read more →


Electron micrograph shows rod-shaped E. coli secreting oil droplets containing biodiesel fuel, along with fatty acids and alcohol. (Image by Jonathan Remis, JBEI) Click to enlarge. A collaboration led by researchers with the US Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has developed a microbe that can produce an advanced... Read more →


Simulated impact of a sugarcane ethanol industry in terms of exports for different countries, based on non-crop land available for cane cultivation. The calculations set aside protected areas but not non-protected forests. Source: Hausmann and Wagner. Click to enlarge. In a discussion paper released by Harvard University’s Sustainability Science Program... Read more →


Using Simulated Distillation as Efficient Tool for Modeling Biofuels

Researchers at the University of Graz are proposing the use of simulated distillation (SimDis) as an efficient and effective method to classify biodiesel fuels regarding boiling characteristics and quality. SimDis is a gas chromatographic method widely used in petroleum industries to determine the distillation behavior of different petroleum products and... Read more →


Engineered Tobacco Plants Have Potential As Biofuel Feedstock; Expressing Oil in the Leaves

Researchers from the Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have identified a way to increase the oil in tobacco plant leaves, which may be the next step in using the plants for biofuel. Their paper was published online in Plant Biotechnology Journal. According to Vyacheslav Andrianov, Ph.D.,... Read more →