Commercial production of cellulosic biofuel via fermentation pathways has been hampered by inefficient fermentation of xylose and the toxicity of acetic acid, which constitute substantial portions of cellulosic biomass. Now, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and UC Berkeley have engineered yeast to convert cellulosic sugars and toxic... 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 →

Novozymes and Raízen to collaborate on cellulosic ethanol in Brazil

Novozymes has entered into a collaboration agreement with Brazil’s largest sugarcane crusher, Raízen Energia S/A (the $12-billion joint venture between Shell and Cosan founded in 2011). (Earlier post.) As part of the agreement, Novozymes will supply enzyme technology to Raízen’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Brazil, scheduled to be... Read more →

Conventional separate pretreatment and saccharification of biofuel feedstock (a) entails water and waste disposal that the new one-pot system (b) eliminates. (Image courtesy of Joint BioEnergy Institute). Click to enlarge. Researchers with the US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) report the first demonstration of a one-pot, wash-free... Read more →

EPA sets 2013 percentages for Renewable Fuel Standard; anticipating adjustments to 2014 volume requirements

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the 2013 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The final 2013 overall volumes and standards require 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into the US fuel supply (a 9.74% blend).... Read more →

CCST report: an integral role for next-gen biofuels in meeting California GHG targets requires advanced biofuels and demand reduction

Next-generation biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions of transportation to meet California’s target greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal, but deep replacement of fossil fuels through implementation of low-carbon lignocellulosic ethanol and advanced biomass derived hydrocarbons (drop-in biofuels) and reduction in demand is required, according to a new report from the... Read more →

Anglo-Brazilian JV to launch first commercial bagasse cellulosic ethanol production plant in Brazil

UK-based TMO Renewables (TMO) and Usina Santa Maria Ltda have entered into an agreement to form a joint venture to build the first commercial production plant in Brazil to convert sugar cane waste (bagasse) to cellulosic bioethanol. TMO signed a binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Usina Santa Maria Ltda... Read more →

PALM enables researchers to quantify how and where enzymes are binding to the surface of cellulose in heterogeneous surfaces, such as those in plant cell walls. Source: Berkeley Lab. Click to enlarge. Researchers with the Energy Biosciences Institute, University of California, Berkeley have provided insight into how multiple cellulase enzymes... 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 →

Process of biomass pretreatment, acid hydrolysis and sugar extraction using alkaline solutions. Sun et al. Click to enlarge. A team from the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a novel one-pot process to extract sugars liberated from biomass in aqueous ionic liquid (IL) solutions. The new... Read more →

Zeachem’s C2 platform uses an acetogenic organism to ferment sugars to acetic acid, which is converted to ethanol. Source: Zeachem. Click to enlarge. ZeaChem Inc. has produced commercial-grade cellulosic chemicals and ethanol at its 250,000 gallons per year (GPY) demonstration biorefinery in Boardman, Ore. The demonstration facility is intended to... Read more →

Codexis has delivered significant improvements in enzyme performance (left) and enzyme manufacturing cost (right). Source: Codexis. Click to enlarge. Codexis, Inc., a developer of engineered enzymes for pharmaceutical, biofuel and chemical production, launched CodeXyme 4 and CodeXyme 4X cellulase enzyme packages for use in producing cellulosic sugar for production of... Read more →

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 →