Planned cellulosic biofuel production by 2015. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge. US Commercial-scale production of cellulosic biofuels reached about 20,000 gallons in late 2012, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). EIA estimates this output could grow to more than 5 million gallons this year, as operations ramp up... Read more →


EPA proposes 2013 standards for RFS; cellulosic biofuel at 14 million gallons

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the 2013 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2). The proposal comes shortly after the DC Circuit Court vacated the EPA’s 2012 cellulosic biofuels standard for the RFS. (Earlier post.) The cellulosic biofuel... Read more →


DOE to award up to $6M for projects to develop advanced biomass supply chain technologies

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000836) for up to $6 million for projects that will develop and demonstrate supply chain technologies to deliver commercial-scale lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks affordably to biorefineries across the country. DOE’s updated Billion Ton Study (earlier post) finds that... Read more →


DC Circuit court vacates 2012 cellulosic RFS standard, affirms 2012 advanced biofuel standard

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled this week in a case (#12-1139) brought by the American Petroleum Institute (API) against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (earlier post), and vacated the 2012 cellulosic biofuel RFS standard while affirming the 2012 advanced biofuel standard. API... Read more →


Well-to-wheels results for greenhouse gas emissions in CO2e for six pathways. Source: Wang et al. Click to enlarge. A new lifecycle analysis of five bioethanol production pathways by a team from Argonne National Laboratory led by Dr. Michael Wang found that, relative to petroleum gasoline, ethanol from corn; sugarcane; corn... Read more →


Sweetwater Energy signs 2nd cellulosic ethanol deal; 15-year, $100M agreement with Front Range

Sweetwater Energy, Inc., a cellulosic sugar producer, announced a 15-year commercial agreement with Windsor, Colorado-based Front Range Energy, to generate cellulosic ethanol at Front Range’s current corn-ethanol facility. The agreement, Sweetwater’s second such (earlier post), has a total potential value in excess of $100 million, and requires a minimal capital... Read more →


Flow chart of a portion of Sweetwater’s distributed hydrolysis process to produce C5 and C6 sugar streams from biomass. Source: Sweetwater patent application. Click to enlarge. Sweetwater Energy, Inc., a Rochester NY-based cellulosic sugar producer (earlier post), announced a long-term commercial agreement with Ace Ethanol, a Stanley, WI-based corn ethanol... Read more →


Direct land use, life cycle GHG emissions (excluding indirect land use change), and life cycle fossil fuel requirements to generate the transportation services provided by 17.8 × 1012 MJ NCV of gasoline, the amount used in transportation in the US in 2009. Credit: ACS, Geyer et al. Click to enlarge.... Read more →


JBEI-led team identifies galactan-boosting enzyme; important new tool for engineering fuel crops

An international collaboration led by scientists at the US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has identified the first enzyme capable of substantially boosting the amount of galactan in plant cell walls. The GALS genes governing the enzyme may become important tools for developing bioenergy crops, the researchers... Read more →


EC awards €1.2B from NER300 “Robin Hood” mechanism for 23 renewable energy projects; 5 advanced biofuel projects targeted for €516.8M

The European Commission awarded more than €1.2 billion (US$1.6 billion) funding to 23 highly renewable energy demonstration projects—including five advanced biofuels projects with maximum combined funding of €516.8 million (US$687 million), or 43% of the total—under the first call for proposals for the NER300 program. Funding for the program comes... Read more →


Goals of the DuPont cellulosic biorefinery. Click to enlarge. DuPont broke ground on its cellulosic ethanol facility in Nevada, Iowa—among the first and largest commercial-scale cellulosic biorefineries in the world. DuPont contracted with Fagen, Inc. for the construction. (Earlier post.) Once fully operational, the more than $200-million facility, expected to... Read more →


Beta Renewables and Novozymes to form strategic partnership in the cellulosic biofuel market; Novozymes takes 10% stake

Novozymes, the world’s largest producer of industrial enzymes, and Beta Renewables have agreed to market, to demonstrate and to guarantee jointly cellulosic biofuel solutions. Beta Renewables is a $350-million (€250-million) joint venture formed from the Chemtex division of Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi and TPG focused on the development and broad... Read more →


Shell grants Codexis rights to commercialize cellulase enzymes for biofuels as research agreement ends

Codexis, Inc., a developer of processes for the production of biofuels, bio-based chemicals and pharmaceuticals, has signed an agreement with Shell to expand Codexis’ ability to commercialize its CodeXyme cellulase enzymes. In the context of the ending of the company’s research agreement with Shell (earlier post), the Board of Directors... Read more →


Terranol strain V1 is capable of completely fermenting glucose and xylose in different pretreated lignocellulosic materials within a short period of time. Shown here is NREL corn stover hydrolysate obtained after pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis using Novozymes Cellic Ctec2. Source: Terranol. Click to enlarge. Enzyme leader Novozymes and Terranol, a... Read more →


The UGA team reports a method for modifying the extremely thermophilic, cellulose-degrading C.bescii. Source: ORNL. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of Georgia, who are also members of Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center (BESC), have developed a method for the genetic manipulation of members of bacterial genus Caldicellulosiruptor,... Read more →


The PROESA process delivers cost-effective sugars from non-food biomass for use in bioproducts. Source: Beta Renewables. Click to enlarge. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), through its Rural Development Biorefinery Assistance Program (Section 9003 of the 2008 Farm Bill), approved a $99-million, 80% loan guarantee to Chemtex International, Inc. to... Read more →


BP Biofuels, Texas AgriLife Research partner to advance cellulosic biofuel feedstock development

BP Biofuels and Texas AgriLife Research, part of The Texas A&M University System, have signed a three-year agreement to develop and commercialize cellulosic feedstocks for the production of advanced biofuels. The collaboration will utilize AgriLife Research’s diverse high biomass energy crop breeding program and BP Biofuels’ position as one of... Read more →


Novozymes and Shengquan finalize cellulosic ethanol enzyme supply deal; Shengquan production begins next month

China-based Shengquan Group and Novozymes finalized an enzyme supply deal for the production of cellulosic ethanol. Shengquan starts production of cellulosic ethanol from its commercial-scale facility month; the production will be cost-competitive with conventional ethanol, as the cellulosic ethanol feedstock is a waste product from Shengquan’s current production, the companies... Read more →


USDA providing $9.6M to create 9,000 acres of BCAP project areas for non-food energy crop production

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $9.6 million for the creation of two new Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas in New York and North Carolina, and the expansion of an already established BCAP project area in Arkansas. The announcement provides the opportunity to expand the use... Read more →


A flow diagram of two potential biomass-to-biofuel bioprocessing configurations that utilize IL-pretreatment. A) Diagrams a configuration based on current methods and lists potential barriers. B) Combines IL-pretreatment and saccharification into a single pot and may overcome barriers outlined in A, but requires an IL-tolerant cellulase cocktail, such as JTherm. Park... Read more →


GraalBio will use the Chemtex PROESA cellulosic ethanol process. Source: Chemtex. Click to enlarge. GraalBio, a biotechnology company of the Graal Group, is planning to build a commercial plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol in Brazil. The company will also install an agricultural station to develop new cane varieties... Read more →


US DOE announces 3 consortia for $125M US-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center; solar, second-generation biofuels and buildings

The US Department of Energy announced the selections for three consortia that will make up the $125-million US-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (JCERDC). These consortia—led in theUS by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the University of Florida, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)—will bring together experts... Read more →


Mascoma and Lallemand Ethanol Technology enter commercial agreement with Pacific Ethanol for drop-in MGT yeast product

Mascoma Corporation, developer of a consolidated bioprocessing platform (CBP) for renewable fuels, and Lallemand Ethanol Technology, a leading supplier of fermentation ingredients to fuel ethanol producers, have entered into a commercial agreement with Pacific Ethanol Columbia, LLC, the owner of the ethanol production facility located in Boardman, Oregon and operated... 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 →


Relative enzyme dose reduction with succeeding generations of Cellic product. Source: Novozymes. Click to enlarge. Novozymes has introduced its next-generation of enzyme technology for cellulosic biofuels, Cellic CTec3, an advanced cellulase and hemicellulase complex. The enzyme enables more cost-efficient conversion of biomass to ethanol and performs 1.5 times better than... Read more →


BESC proteomic analysis of Yellowstone thermophile could aid cellulosic biofuel production

The study of proteins (proteomics) of thermophilic bacteria first found in Yellowstone’s hot springs are furthering efforts at the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) toward developing commercially viable ethanol production from crops such as switchgrass. The current production of ethanol generally relies on the use of expensive enzymes... Read more →


Government of Québec to invest $27M in Enerkem/Greenfield Ethanol waste-to-biofuels plant

The Government of Québec plans to inject C$27 million in Québec’s first full-scale commercial cellulosic ethanol plant through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife and Investissement Québec. This facility will be built and operated by a joint venture partnership formed by Enerkem, a waste-to-biofuels and chemicals company, and GreenField... Read more →


USDA approves conditional $232.5M loan guarantee commitment to ZeaChem cellulosic biorefinery

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved a conditional loan guarantee commitment in the amount of $232.5 million to ZeaChem Boardman Biorefinery, LLC (ZBB) through the Biorefinery Assistance Program. ZBB will operate a 25 million gallon per year biorefinery, which will be constructed on an industrial site in Boardman,... Read more →


DSM and POET form major JV for cellulosic bioethanol; POET to decline $105M DOE loan guarantee

Royal DSM and POET, LLC, one of the world’s largest ethanol producers, have formed a joint venture to commercially demonstrate and license cellulosic bioethanol based on their proprietary and complementary technologies. POET–DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, is scheduled to start production in the second half of 2013 at one of the... Read more →


The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved a conditional commitment for a $25 million guaranteed loan to build a biorefinery plant with funding support from USDA’s Biorefinery Assistance Program. The plant will be constructed by Fiberight, LLC, based in Blairstown, Iowa. USDA funding will be used to construct a... Read more →


Mascoma implements commercialization strategy for Drop-In MGT yeast product to improve economics of corn ethanol production

Renewable fuels company Mascoma Corporation has implemented key components of the commercialization strategy for its Mascoma Grain Technology, or MGT, yeast product—the first commercial application of Mascoma’s proprietary consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) technology platform. The MGT product is a genetically-modified yeast designed as a drop-in substitute for conventional fermenting yeast that... 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 →


Mascoma and Valero establish JV for commercial-scale hardwood cellulosic ethanol facility; Valero providing majority of financing

Cellulosic biofuels and consolidated bioprocessing company Mascoma Corporation has entered into definitive agreements with Valero Energy Corporation, the US’ largest independent oil refiner and a leading ethanol producer, to develop and to operate a first-of-its-kind 20 million gallon per year (mgpy) commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in Kinross, Michigan. In January,... 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 →


Univ. of Georgia researchers develop new higher-yielding yeast strain for improved economics of pine-to-ethanol processes

Researchers at the University of Georgia have developed an industrial strain of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae which produces ethanol much more rapidly than its parent in fermentations of pretreated pine. The final strain produced ethanol at more than 90% of the maximum theoretical yield after 120 hours of fermentation. In... Read more →


This graphic is a full-size view of a RiceNet layout, color-coded to indicate the likelihood of network links; red for higher and blue for lower likelihood scores. Image from Insuk Lee, Yonsei University. Click to enlarge. An experimentally tested genome-scale model for predicting the functions of genes and gene networks... Read more →


National Research Council report finds it unlikely the US will meet cellulosic biofuel mandates absent major innovation or a change in policies

In the absence of major technological innovations or policy changes, the United States is unlikely to meet cellulosic biofuel mandates under the current Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) by 2022, according to a new report from the National Research Council. Further, the report found, only in an economic environment characterized by... Read more →


Toyota Motor Corp exhibits biotechnology and greening technologies; new xylose-fermenting yeast for cellulosic ethanol

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) held an event at its Toyota Biotechnology and Afforestation Laboratory in Aichi prefecture to showcase technologies developed there as part of its biotechnology and afforestation businesses. Technology on display included a newly developed yeast that increases the production yield of cellulosic ethanol, new technologies for the... Read more →


Iowa State researchers developing low-cost thermochemical process to produce sugars from biomass for bio-fuels and -chemicals; “pyrolytic molasses”

Iowa State University (ISU) researchers have developed technologies to efficiently produce, recover and separate sugars from the fast pyrolysis of biomass. Fast pyrolysis involves quickly heating the biomass without oxygen to produce liquid or gas products. ISU’s Robert C. Brown calls the result of the process “pyrolytic molasses.” Low-cost sugars... Read more →


Overview of the Plantrose supercritical hydrolysis process. Click to enlarge. Renmatix (formerly Sriya Innovations), which exited stealth mode earlier this year, unveiled its Plantrose process, a supercritical hydrolysis process to produce sugars from biomass with less expense. At Renmatix’s demonstration facility in Kennesaw, Georgia, the company has already scaled its... Read more →


Chrysler Group LLC and ZeaChem Inc. enter into Memorandum of Understanding to support development and commercialization of cellulosic ethanol

Chrysler Group LLC and ZeaChem Inc. have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)for the initiation of a strategic alliance to accelerate the development and market adoption of cellulosic ethanol. The partners say the primary alliance goals are to strengthen the credibility among regulators and American consumers of cellulosic ethanol... Read more →


Researchers identify gene controlling ethanol intolerance in C. thermocellum; a basis for rational engineering of optimized microbial strains for cellulosic ethanol production

A team of researchers at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) has identified the gene that controls ethanol intolerance in Clostridium thermocellum, a thermophilic, obligately anaerobic, Gram-positive bacterium that is a candidate microorganism for converting cellulosic biomass into ethanol through consolidated bioprocessing. Among fermentation-based conversion processes of... Read more →


Researchers identify cocktail of enzymes from termites and symbionts that break down cellulose; benefits for cellulosic biofuel production

Researchers at Purdue University led by Mike Scharf, the O. Wayne Rollins/Orkin Chair in Molecular Physiology and Urban Entomology, have identified a cocktail of enzymes from the guts of termites that may be better at getting around the barriers that inhibit fuel production from woody biomass. The findings, published in... 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 →


Oak Ridge team reveals surface structure of lignin; highly folded surface impedes enzymatic hydrolysis

A first of its kind combination of experiment and simulation at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is providing a close-up look at the lignin molecule that complicates next-generation biofuels. Lignin, a major component of plant cell walls, aggregates to form clumps, which cause problems during... Read more →


Kobe Univ. researchers develop yeast capable of direct fermentation from cellulosic materials to produce ethanol

In a proof-of-concept study, a team from Kobe University (Japan) has developed a diploid yeast strain optimized for expression of cellulolytic enzymes, which is capable of directly fermenting from cellulosic materials to produce ethanol without the use of additional enzymes to break down the cellulose. Their open access paper is... Read more →


G2BioChem’s process design and patents, applied across the three phases of the planned demo plant. Source: G2BioChem. Click to enlarge. GreenField Ethanol, Canada’s largest ethanol producer, announced the launch of G2BioChem, a collaborative effort between GreenField, industrial process solutions company Andritz and enzyme developer Novozymes. The group is committed to... Read more →


TMO Renewables partners with COFCO and CNOOC on second-generation ethanol in China; cassava residue and stalks

UK-based TMO Renewables Ltd, the developer of a novel thermophilic bacterium and process for converting biomass into fuel ethanol (earlier post), has entered into two separate technology partnerships in China. One is with the Bio-energy and Bio-chemical Division of COFCO, China’s largest diversified products and services supplier in the agribusiness... Read more →


Viability of Mitsubishi Heavy cellulosic ethanol technology verified; MHI looking to commercialize it with partners

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has successfully developed technology to produce cellulosic ethanol for automobile fuel satisfying the standards of the Japanese Automotive Standards Organization (JASO) from feedstocks such as rice straw and barley straw. Verification of the technology was conducted as a joint project involving the government, academia, and... Read more →


The conversion of biomass to cellulosic ethanol is the most efficient and productive use of biomass to create a high-octane, environmentally friendly transportation fuel, according to a perspective paper published in the Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology. Authors of the paper are Rathin Datta, cellulosic ethanol company Coskata’s chief... Read more →