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 →


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 →