The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) updated its annual survey of US non-starch ethanol and renewable hydrocarbon biofuels producers. The 2015 Survey of Non-Starch Ethanol and Renewable Hydrocarbon Biofuels Producers provides an inventory of the domestic advanced biofuels production industry as of the end of calendar year 2015, documenting important... Read more →


A team from the US, China and India, led by researchers from Michigan State University, has developed a new liquid ammonia biomass pretreatment methodology called Extractive Ammonia (EA). EA-pretreated corn stover delivers a higher fermentable sugar yield compared to the older Ammonia Fiber Expansion (AFEX) process while using 60% lower... Read more →


Newly identified enzymes from herbivore gut fungi may lead to cheaper cellulosic biofuels

A team of researchers led by Dr. Michelle O’Malley at UC Santa Barbara has identified several promising new enzyme candidates for breaking down lignocellulsoic biomass for biofuel production from relatively unexplored gut fungi in herbivores. To do so, they developed a systems-level approach that integrates transcriptomic sequencing (RNA-Seq); proteomics; phenotype;... Read more →


A team from the University of Illinois, Urbana and ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company (EMRE) has identified regions in the United States where bioenergy crops would grow best while minimizing effects on water quantity and quality. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. The researchers... Read more →


Wisconsin, GLBRC researchers use chemical genomics to engineer IL-resistant yeast to improve biofuel production

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) and colleagues have engineered a new strain of the yeast S. cerevisiae that is more resistant to the toxic effects of ionic liquids (ILs) used to generate sugars from lignocellulose. As a result, their xylose-converting strain... Read more →


BESC study finds unconventional bacteria could boost efficiency of cellulosic biofuel production

A new comparative study by researchers at the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center (BESC), based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, finds the natural abilities of unconventional bacteria could help boost the efficiency of cellulosic biofuel production. A team of researchers from five institutions analyzed the ability of six microorganisms... Read more →


New one-pot high-yield “high-gravity” process for cellulosic ethanol; potential for drop-in fuels

Researchers with the US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a “high-gravity” one-pot process for producing ethanol from cellulosic biomass that gives unprecedented yields while minimizing water use and waste disposal. “High gravity” means high biomass loading—the higher the biomass loading, the lower the costs for... Read more →


Chempolis Limited, a Finland-based biorefining technology corporation, has entered into partnership with India-based Avantha Group’s research wing—Avantha Centre for Industrial Research & Development (ACIRD)—on technology to produce ethanol from various agricultural residues for fuel blending. India’s agricultural sector produces large amounts of bagasse, cane trash, rice and wheat straw the... Read more →


A team from Chonnam National University in Korea has developed a new pretreatment method for lignocellulosic biomass that is more efficient and effective for the downstream biocatalytic hydrolysis of various lignocellulosic materials. This, they suggest, will accelerate bioethanol commercialization. The new hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-acetic acid (CH3COOH) (HPAC) pretreatment removes lignin... Read more →


Hydrogen from biomethane; gasoline & diesel from tree residue; cellulosic ethanol among new proposed California LCFS fuel pathways

California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff posted 32 new Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) fuel pathway applications for comments at the LCFS website. Among the multiple applications for different processing pathways of corn or sorghum ethanol are four pathways from LytEn for hydrogen produced from biomethane; four pathways for renewable... Read more →


UCLA–UC Berkeley paper outlines how CA can boost biofuel production to cut pollution and help the economy

California has not taken full advantage of opportunities to increase its in-state production of biofuel, despite state policies that encourage biofuel consumption, according to a policy paper by the Climate Change and Business Research Initiative at the UCLA and UC Berkeley law schools. The paper is the sixteenth in a... Read more →


EPA nudges up volume of renewable fuel in final requirements for 2014-2016 under RFS

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program today for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and final volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2014 to 2017. This rule finalizes higher volumes of renewable fuel than the levels EPA proposed... Read more →


by Derek Petersen It’s fascinating how individuals and companies continue to find creative ways to recycle and reuse. Companies will attract negative attention for not doing their part to help protect the environment—potentially risking a loss in profits due to a shrinking consumer base because of their environmental decisions. One... 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 →


Aemetis harvests demo crop of optimized biomass sorghum in California for advanced biofuels; ~90 days from planting to harvest

Aemetis, Inc., an advanced renewable fuels and biochemicals company, has harvested 12- to 15-foot tall biomass sorghum grown in Central California that was produced using proprietary seed genetics from Nexsteppe, a provider of optimized sorghum feedstock solutions. Biomass Sorghum is a feedstock for low-carbon advanced biofuels. The 20-acre demonstration crop... 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 →


New yeast engineered by BESC, Mascoma could accelerate production of cellulosic ethanol

Consolidated bioprocessing technology company Mascoma LLC and the US Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) have developed a new strain of yeast that could help significantly accelerate the development of biofuels from nonfood plant matter. The new C5 FUEL yeast delivers fermentation and ethanol yields that set a new... 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 →


A comprehensive review of 94 potential pathways to biofuels and biochemicals via the sugar platform, prepared for the European Commission (DG ENER) by a team from E4tech, RE-CORD and Wageningen UR, finds that the global market value of the sugar platform is today of the order of $65 billion, with... Read more →


BIO: RFS policy instability has chilled advanced and cellulosic biofuel investments; $13.7B shortfall

EPA’s delays in rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the past two years have chilled necessary investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels just as they reached commercial deployment. The industry has experienced an estimated $13.7-billion shortfall in investment as a result, according to a new analysis released by... Read more →


European Parliament votes to cap crop-derived biofuels at 7% of transport energy consumption by 2020

The European Parliament approved a draft law to to cap crop-derived biofuel consumption and accelerate the shift to alternative sources. Member states must enact the legislation by 2017. Current legislation requires EU member states to ensure that renewable energy accounts for at least 10% of energy consumption in transport by... Read more →


Researchers from the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum are proposing a biorefinery scheme using lignocellulosic biomass feedstock (sugarcane bagasse) for the production of fuel (ethanol), chemicals (furfural), and energy (electricity). The proposed scheme could be integrated with existing sugar or paper mills, where the availability of biomass feedstock is in abundance... 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 →


New engineered metabolic pathways in yeast enable efficient fermentation of xylose from biomass

Researchers with the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), a partnership that includes Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, have introduced new metabolic pathways from the fungus Neurospora crassa into the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to increase the fermentative production of fuels and other chemicals from biomass. An open access... Read more →


A team led by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana−Champaign has, for the first time, integrated the fermentation pathways of both hexose and pentose sugars from biomass as well as an acetic acid reduction pathway into one strain of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae using synthetic biology and metabolic... Read more →


New LCFS pathway applications show Abengoa cellulosic ethanol with CI of 29.52 and 23.36 g CO2e/MJ

California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted thirteen new Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) fuel pathway applications to the LCFS public comments website. Among them are two pathways for cellulosic ethanol produced by Abengoa Bioenergy at its Hugoton, Kansas plant. One pathway uses corn stover for feedstock, the other... Read more →


A team led by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed an integrated framework to determine and to compare greenhouse gas (GHG) intensities and production costs of cellulosic ethanol derived from corn stover, switchgrass, and miscanthus grown on high and low quality soils for three representative counties... Read more →


IU researchers find Z. mobilis can use N2 gas in cellulosic ethanol production; potential major cost savings

Researchers at Indiana University have shown—for the first time to their knowledge—that the ethanol-producing bacterium, Zymomonas mobilis, can use nitrogen (N2) gas in lieu of traditional nitrogen supplements. The finding, reported in a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), could make cellulosic ethanol more competitive with... 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 →


Study casting doubt on GHG benefits of corn stover ethanol draws sharp criticism by other researchers; Liska responds

A study published earlier this year in the journal Nature Climate Change that cast doubt on whether biofuels produced from corn residue could meet federal mandates for cellulosic biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% compared to gasoline (earlier post) has drawn critical response published as correspondence in the... Read more →


California Energy Commission to award up to $3M for advanced biofuel projects

The California Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) announced (PON-14-602) the availability of up to $3 million in grant funds for biofuels projects that are in the early/pre-commercial technology development stage. This solicitation is emphasizing transformative technology solutions to significant biofuels industry problems that increase... Read more →


The Hugoton cellulosic ethanol plant covers 400 acres, more than 380 of which will be used to store biomass from local farmers. Click to enlarge. Abengoa held the grand opening of its cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas, located about 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Dodge City. Abengoa’s new... Read more →


DEINOVE and MBI partner on cellulosic biofuels using DEINOL and AFEX

France-based DEINOVE and US-based MBI have formed a technological partnership to demonstrate the effectiveness of the DEINOVE’s DEINOL technology for producing biofuels based on lignocellulosic biomass (2G biofuels) using MBI’s AFEX (ammonia fiber expansion) pretreatment system. DEINOL uses Deinococcus bacteria to break down the complex sugars contained in pre-treated lignocellulosic... Read more →


GranBio begins producing cellulosic ethanol in Brazil; very low carbon intensity of 6.98 gCO2e/MJ for California LCFS

GranBio, a 100% Brazilian industrial biotech company, has begun production at the first commercial-scale plant for second-generation (cellulosic) ethanol in the Southern Hemisphere. The Bioflex 1 unit, built in São Miguel dos Campos, Alagoas, has an initial production capacity of 82 million liters (21.6 million gallons US) of ethanol per... Read more →


BIO says EPA inaction on RFS rule causing an increase in GHG emissions

Increased greenhouse gas emissions equal to 4.4 million additional cars on US roads are likely as a result of EPA inaction on finalizing the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rules, according to a new white paper issued by The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). The white paper updates earlier BIO’s March... Read more →


Clariant, Haltermann and Mercedes-Benz have fleet-tested high-octane sunliquid 20 fuel—containing 20% cellulosic ethanol produced from straw—since January. (Earlier post.) The test found that the use of sunliquid 20 improves engine efficiency—more than compensating for its 4% lower energy content compared to E10. For drivers, this means with sunliquid 20, CO2emissions... Read more →


California Energy Commission awards $5M grant to AltAir Fuels to expand renewable diesel production; $3M to GFP Ethanol for sorghum feedstock

The California Energy Commission approved $8 million in grants to two biofuel companies stemming from a solicitation issued earlier this year (PON-13-609: Pilot-Scale and Commercial-Scale Advanced Biofuels Production Facilities). AltAir Fuels LLC (earlier post) will receive $5 million to expand production of renewable diesel fuels at its Paramount facility in... Read more →


UGA-led team engineers bacterium for the direct conversion of unpretreated biomass to ethanol

A team led by Dr. Janet Westpheling at the University of Georgia has engineered the thermophilic, anaerobic, cellulolytic bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor bescii, which in the wild efficiently uses un-pretreated biomass—to produce ethanol from biomass without pre-treatment of the feedstock. A paper on the work is published in Proceedings of the National... Read more →


Contribution of modeled CO2 emissions from SOC to the life cycle of biofuel from corn residue. Error bars are ± one standard deviation. Liska et al. Click to enlarge. Using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels reduces soil carbon and under some conditions can generate more greenhouse... 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 →


DEINOVE produces ethanol at 9% titer with its optimized Deinococcus bacteria

DEINOVE, a technology company that designs, develops and markets a new generation of industrial processes based on optimized Deinococci bacteria, has produced ethanol at a titer of 9% via its fermentation of biomass sugars in 20L pre-industrial fermentors. In September 2012, the company had reported that its optimized strain of... Read more →


Sandia study finds meeting RFS2 requirements unlikely without stronger enforcement mechanism; the importance of drop-in biofuels

Even if well-known technology, infrastructure, economic and political challenges in meeting the biofuel requirements of the RFS2 mandate are overcome, it is “highly unlikely” that the light-duty vehicle parc will be capable of consuming the RFS2 (Renewable Fuel Standard) mandated volumes of biofuels, according to a new analysis by a... Read more →


NREL/UGA study finds microbial enzyme digests cellulose ~2x fast as current leading commercial cellulase; implications for biofuels cost

Researchers at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Georgia have discovered that an enzyme from a microorganism first found in the Valley of Geysers on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia in 1990 can digest cellulose almost twice as fast as Cel7A, the current leading... Read more →


Ethanol yield (g/L) for the Belgian and French field trials. Van Acker et al. Click to enlarge. The results of field trials with genetically modified poplar trees in Belgium and France shows that the wood of the modified poplar trees—down-regulated for cinnamoyl-CoA reductase (CCR), an enzyme in the lignin biosynthetic... Read more →


Minor changes to an existing Federal tax incentive for second-generation biofuels (i.e., biofuel made from cellulose, algae, duckweed, or cyanobacteria) could mitigate the current elevated risk of investing in the industry that is retarding its advance, according to a new paper by a team from the International Council on Clean... Read more →


DSM and DONG Inbicon show cellulosic bio-ethanol fermentation on industrial scale with 40% higher yield

Royal DSM, together with DONG Energy (Denmark), has demonstrated the combined fermentation of C6 and C5 sugars from wheat straw on an industrial scale. The combined fermentation results in a 40% increase in ethanol yield per ton of straw, which can result in significant cost cuts in the production of... Read more →


Bamboo, the composition of which is highly similar to energy grasses used for biofuel production such as switchgrass, is an interesting potential feedstock for advanced bioethanol production in China due to its natural abundance, rapid growth, perennial nature and low management requirements. Now, researchers at Imperial College London have shown... Read more →


Raízen breaks ground on Iogen cellulosic ethanol facility in Brazil

Iogen Corporation announced that Brazilian ethanol giant Raízen Energia Participações S/A has started construction of a commercial biomass-to-ethanol facility using Iogen Energy’s advanced cellulosic biofuel technology. (Iogen Energy is a joint venture between Raízen and Iogen Corporation. Earlier post.) The $100-million plant, to be located adjacent to Raízen’s Costa Pinto... Read more →


EPA proposes reduction in cellulosic biofuel and total renewable fuel standards for 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a reduction in the cellulosic biofuel and total renewable fuel standards (RFS) for 2014. Once the proposal is published in the Federal Register, it will be open to a 60-day public comment period. Specifically, EPA is proposing a total renewable fuel target... 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 →