November 30, 2006

November 2006 Digest

Broadening the Scope - Focusing on Potential

The BIOconversion Blog - while keeping an eye on biofuel and biomass conversion technologies, facility deployments, and international issues - welcomes two new siblings! The BIOstock Blog covers biomass feedstock questions - what feedstocks are being used, how they are being transported, and what pre-processing technologies are being developed. The BIOoutput Blog focuses on the output of biomass conversion technologies - emissions, biofuels, electricity, green chemicals - and new uses for them.

The Digest will list the titles from all of them so don't worry about receiving 3 digests per month (whew!). However, those who use newsfeed software should link to all three because, in general, the articles will not be duplicated between sites. Here are this month's articles:

General Topics--------------
Forest Industry: Bio-Solutions to Climate Change
Harvesting Green Power
Forests: Carbon S(t)inks?
Investor's Roundup of Leading Cellulosic Ethanol Companies
Expanded Recycling - a Key to Cutting Fossil Fuels and Global Warming
Cellulosic Ethanol RD&D - Mascoma Corp. Raises $30 Million
The Social Costs of the Status Quo
U.S. D.O.E.: 5-year Plan for Biomass Conversion
Renaissance of the Forest Products Industry
Cellulosic Ethanol – Snake Oil for the new millennium?
Upgrading Existing Plants for Biomass Conversion
BIOplastics: BIOdegradable by-products of BIOconversion
Colusa Completes Successful Rice Straw Harvest
Cellulosic Ethanol from Woody Biomass
Green Chemistry from Sugar Cane

Around the Nation--------------
California Energy Commission PIER Grants for Biofuels RD&D
CALIFORNIA: Cities favoring Gasification over Combustion
CALIFORNIA: Enforcing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limits

Around the World-----------------
BIOstock of the Southern Hemisphere
Impact of Global Growth on Carbon Emissions

Please forward a link to this digest to anyone you know who would be interested in keeping track of change that will affect us all. They can add their name to the mailing list on the BioConversion Blog.

technorati , , , , , ,

November 29, 2006

Cellulosic Ethanol from Woody Biomass

Three weeks ago Mascoma Corporation announced the successful raising of $30 Million to be applied to RD&D for cellulosic ethanol technology. Today they announced a commitment to collaborate with Tamarack Energy, Inc. of Essex, CT on the development of cellulosic ethanol facilities using Mascoma enzymatic hydrolysis technology. They will start with a demonstration facility based on wood biomass feedstock. New York is targeted as the first state to see commercial-scale facilities deployment.

I talked with Tamarack President Derek Amidon about the announcement and his company's plans for the future. The upbeat president said his company is a subsidiary of Haley & Aldrich, a 50+ year old environmental, engineering and management consulting services firm with an international clientele.

Tamarack Energy, Inc. conforms to the parent company's vision of creating opportunities with clients to help meet local and global energy demands. The range of renewable energy they service includes wind, solar, biomass conversion, and the production of biofuels. Their team touts extensive experience in the development, permitting, engineering, construction and operation of a broad range of energy projects.

Below are excerpts from their joint press release:

Mascoma and Tamarack Energy partner to accelerate the Commercialization of Cellulosic Ethanol
Plans Underway to Open Facilities with Initial Focus on the State of New York

ESSEX, CT and CAMBRIDGE, MA, November 29, 2006 -- Tamarack Energy, Inc., of Essex, Connecticut and Mascoma Corporation, the leader in cellulosic biomass-to-ethanol development and production, announced today an agreement to collaborate on the joint development of cellulosic ethanol facilities in New York, as well as follow-on opportunities in Pennsylvania and New England states, leveraging wood mills and other production facilities. Cellulosic ethanol is an emerging renewable alternative to fossil fuels, which reduces U.S. reliance on foreign oil and creates jobs for rural America.

This partnership enables Mascoma to apply its licensed and internally-developed cellulosic conversion technologies, processes, engineering and design expertise, to Tamarack Energy’s alternative energy development, permitting, operational, and financing abilities.

“Mascoma has assembled a formidable powerhouse of technical talent that, when integrated with the Tamarack Energy team’s biomass project development, wood procurement, engineering, construction and facility operations experience, strategically positions us to lead the commercialization of ethanol production from cellulosic biomass,” said Tamarack Energy President Derek Amidon. “Given the number of sites across the northeast with access to cellulosic feedstocks, including scrap wood, paper sludge, and other forestry and agricultural biomass, the region is ideal for the renewable energy economic development projects and integrated plants which Tamarack Energy and Mascoma can develop.”

Mascoma President Colin South added, “Mascoma is leading the development of cellulosic ethanol technology for an economically competitive fuel alternative. By working with Tamarack Energy to integrate our cellulosic ethanol plants into their bio-energy parks under development, we can reduce the cost and time required to bring cellulosic ethanol production to deployment and commercialization. This will enable Mascoma to provide a source for environmentally superior fuels, as well as create an economic development opportunity for rural America.”

technorati , , , , , ,

November 25, 2006

FAQ: BIOstock Blog

1. What is "BIOstock"?

Biomass feedstocks (BIOstocks) are living or recently living biological material which can be used as fuel or raw material for industrial production. Most commonly, biomass refers to plant matter grown for use as biofuel, but also includes plant or animal matter used for production of fibers, chemicals, or heat. It is usually measured by dry weight.

2. What is the focus of the BIOstock Blog?

The first of four biomass conversion blogs, this one covers biomass feedstock issues - which are being used, how they are being transported, and what pre-processing technologies are being developed. The other three related blogs are the BIOconversion Blog, BIOoutput Blog, and the BIOwaste Blog.

As biomass conversion technologies develop, demand for procurement services, delivery systems, feedstock pre-processing installations, and management will become prevalent.

3. Who provides these services?

In addition to editing the BIOstock Blog, I consult and represent Price BIOstock Services of Monticello, Arkansas. This company already operates nineteen significant wood processing facilities in the United States that they designed and installed. Having begun development of a facility in Australia, they are now expanding the scope of their business to include other forms of biomass and other regions of the world.

I have been given no guidelines by PBS on what I can or cannot write about. As a legal disclosure I aver:

The Price Companies, Inc./BIOstock Services division is underwriting a portion of the expense of research and editing of the BIOstock Blog. C. Scott Miller is not required to blog about Price BIOstock Services. The only requirement as a condition of underwriting these expenses was to include this disclosure of this relationship on the BIOstock Blog.

4. What is the significance of the Rubik's cube imagery on the Blogs?

The Rubik's cube is emblematic of the multi-faceted energy puzzle that confronts civilization. This four blog series is my attempt to create some semblance of order out of the chaos of global interlinking challenges - geopolitics, employment, pollution, energy, waste, carbon emissions, etc. Each Blog is an attempt to work on a side of the puzzle - BIOstock, BIOconversion, BIOoutput, and BIOwaste. Solve these and I believe many international problems will be substantially mitigated.

technorati , , ,

Colusa Completes Successful Rice Straw Harvest

Agricultural waste is plentiful in many parts of the U.S. that do not produce corn. Each kind of waste is a potential source of biomass for conversion. Some companies are developing vertical specializations focused on a certain biostock to harvest, deliver, and biorefine into biofuels and other marketable products.

One such company is Colusa Biomass Energy Corporation (CBEC) named after a rice-producing county north of Sacramento, California. In a recent press release, Colusa announced that they have achieved better than expected yields from their harvesting of rice straw - the waste leftover from rice cultivation. They will break ground in 2007 on a biorefinery to process the rice straw into ethanol and other by-products.

There is a strong need in this state to convert rice straw because farmers are precluded by law from burning it in the fields, which was the customary practice. California produces about 18% of the rice grown in the United States; about 550,000 acres annually. Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Missouri also produce large quantities of rice. By focusing on this one feedstock, Colusa is developing an expertise that is marketable in many regions of the world - significantly in Asia.

Here is the content of their press release...

Colusa Biomass Energy Completes an Industry First - Waste Rice Straw Harvest Preparing for Ethanol

Colusa Biomass Energy Corporation (CLME.PK) today announced the successful completion of its first-ever rice straw harvesting operation in Colusa County, California. Field Operations Manager Rick Nannen said, "Yields of rice straw were very significantly higher than expected, showing that our specialized equipment and field practices result in highly efficient collection of biomass."

CBEC announced that it had collected 6,800 tons of rice straw in a truncated harvest period of 5 weeks, with an average yield per acre harvested of over 4 tons/acre, compared to previous assumptions of 2.5 tons/acre. These higher yields significantly reduced the amount of acres necessary to be harvested in order to reach CBEC's target volume of rice straw.

CEO Tom Bowers said, "Our average cash cost for collection of rice straw in this harvest was $9.44 per ton. In the full scale harvest we will undertake in 2007 we are confident that total cost (including capital cost) will not exceed $24.00 per ton. This places us very significantly below the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's benchmark for biomass gathering costs of $30.00 per ton." Rick Nannen added, "Our process gathers rice straw without baling it. Avoiding the baling step significantly reduces the cost of gathering biomass."

In the 2007 harvest CBEC intends to undertake a full-scale rice-straw harvest operation using 5 forage harvester units, over the full 10 weeks of the harvest. This full scale operation will produce over 70,000 tons of rice straw, which will be processed into ethanol in CBEC's biorefinery, on which it is expected to begin construction in 2007.

technorati , , , , , ,

November 23, 2006

High Yielding BIOstock of the Southern Hemisphere

Biopact is a developing consortium based in Brussels that is focused on the development of biorefineries in "the Southern Hemisphere" (mainly Africa). Their thesis is that environmental conditions exist in southern continents that are ideal for the cultivation of energy-rich feedstock for biorefineries. By harnessing this geographical advantage, developing nations there can build export industries while supplying local biofuel alternatives to increasingly expensive fossil fuels.

Two recent articles posted at Biopact's blog present their "Biofuels Manifesto" and provide a stinging comparison of Northern vs. Southern hemisphere biomass feedstock by an American professor familiar with policymaking in Washington, D.C. Here are some excerpts from each...

A Biofuels Manifesto - why green fuels should be priority number one for developing countries

At this crucial time in history, developing nations can leapfrog away from the petroleum paradigm and the relations of inequality and dependence it creates, and into a sustainable, secure, autonomous and independent future. With a green development strategy they can reduce their economic, cultural and political dependence on the West.

Conventional wisdom has it that the developing countries will have to replicate the energy steps of the developed world... But what the conventional wisdom failed to foresee was that perhaps India and China would find an alternative pathway – one not based on fossil fuels and extreme dependence on oil imports, but on a different trajectory, namely one of energy independence and in particular independence from fossil fuels. Unlike Russia, which is playing strategic games with its vast oil and gas reserves, Brazil, India and China (the countries we can christen the ‘BICs’) are strategizing around how they can build energy independence through a variety of renewable fuels and energy sources – starting with liquid biofuels, since this is where their vulnerability to balance of payments disasters caused by rising oil import bills would be most pronounced.

John Mathews is professor of Strategic Management at the Graduate School of Management (Macquarie University). We present Mathews' 10 core arguments below. They can be seen as reference points in the great debate that is currently raging around bioenergy and biofuels. The arguments in favor of developing countries moving vigorously towards promotion of biofuels industries center around the following issues:
1. Energy security and the peaking of oil supplies globally;
2. Biofuels as tested substitutes for fossil fuels;
3. Abundance of land for producing energy crops in tropical countries;
4. Biofuels’ potential to reduce fuel import bills and fossil fuel dependence;
5. Biofuels production is a rural industry and can promote social inclusion;
6. Countries with even low levels of science and technology can get a start in biofuels, and they can create thereby a ‘development bloc’ that can drive industrial development;
7. Biofuels are greenhouse gas neutral and can earn countries carbon credits;
8. Developing countries can develop their own distinctive latecomer institutional innovations to capture benefits
9. Biofuels promote South-South cooperation; and
10. Biofuels represent simply the first step on a clean technology development trajectory

From oil addicts to alcohol addicts: U.S. distorts the global biofuels market

In its report entitled, Should the Clean Air Act Be Used to Turn Petroleum Addicts Into Alcoholics? [*.pdf], lead author Professor Arnold W. Reitze makes an important contribution to the hotly contested debate over the disadvantages of biofuels produced in the Northern hemisphere.

It says that subsidies under the US Clean Air Act have made ethanol production immensely profitable in the US even though it is more costly and performs worse than gasoline. Moreover, it says subsidisation in the US has "distorted the market for renewable fuels".

Biofuels produced in the US (so-called "lobby fuels") are based on feedstocks such as corn (for ethanol) or soya (for biodiesel). The resulting fuels have a very weak energy balance (some have found them to have a negative balance, which means you put more energy into making the fuel, than you get out of it). They are also very expensive to produce and do not contribute in any significant way to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

In contrast, biofuels produced in the global South, based on high yielding feedstocks such as sugarcane, cassava or sorghum, have a very positive energy balance. They can be produced at a cost competitive with petroleum fuels and their use contributes significantly to the reduction in greenhouse gases. Biofuels made in the US must be heavily subsidized in order to survive. Tax payers in the US literally pay billions for uncompetitive fuels, while farmers in the South are kept outside of the market and in poverty because of US subsidies.


I posted my own comments to the second article at Biopact. After reading the full article, I would be interested in any other responses.

technorati , , , , , ,

November 22, 2006

Upgrading Existing Plants for Biomass Conversion

We are beginning to see the "low hanging fruit" being plucked as aggressive ethanol development companies are buying installations and upgrading them into cellulosic ethanol plants. Just this last week two companies have made purchases in two different biostock arenas - agricultural corn waste and forestry wood chips. The companies have bought the plants for their existing procurement infrastructure, permitting, manpower, and proximity to their research facilities.

In the first case, Broin Companies of Sioux Falls, South Dakota has bought a corn dry mill in northwest Iowa to reconfigure it into a commercial-scale facility capable of converting corn fiber and stover into ethanol. They will be using Broin's patented fractionalization process to break down the fibers and then ferment the resulting starch into ethanol using their own hydrolysis process.

In the second case, controversial Xethanol Corp. has purchased a fiberboard factory that is close to their R&D facility at Virginia Tech to deploy a biorefinery that can convert wood chips into ethanol. This is exactly the kind of plant makeover anticipated by the Forest Products Industry Technology Roadmap study. Expect to see more.

View the entire BIOconversion Blog story HERE.

technorati , , , , , , , ,

Inventing the BIOstock Services Concept

"Boom" periods provide investors with high potential return - at high risk. To reduce these risks, early business collaborations are often formed with seasoned providers of products and services that can reliably meet project requirements and deadlines. These relationships represent a real value to new enterprises by providing sure-footed execution of critical parts of the operation based on experienced management and knowledge of existing resources.

Other outsourced products and services that will contribute to the success of new biofuel facility investments include: marketing, publicity, training, lobbying, consulting, real estate, insurance, financing, manpower, shipping, procurement, engineering, design, construction, sales, etc., etc.

A good example of a company that is taking its core business and repositioning itself to service the booming biofuels industry is the Price Companies, Inc. of Monticello, Ark. They recognize that, to be successful, new biorefineries will require a steady, year-round flow of biomass feedstock ("biostock") which needs to be contracted, shipped, stored, pre-processed, and conveyed into the facilities. With very little variation, these are the same services that Price currently provide at 19 wood processing installations throughout the southeastern U.S.

Price recently hung a new shingle establishing a division called Price BIOstock Services under the control of experienced General Manager Dick Carmical. Below is a press release that provides a glimpse of their business vision.

The Price Companies, Inc. introduces new Price BIOstock Services division
Experienced wood processing facilities operator markets management services for handling other biomass feedstock

Monticello, ARK (October 12, 2006): The Price Companies, Inc. has announced the launch of a new division called “Price BIOstock Services.” As a wood processing services company for over forty years, the new division will focus on offering a broad range of management and operations technology services to companies involved in the rapid growth of biofuel refineries in North America and abroad.

The future of biofuels production will involve using cellulosic biomass (like wood chips, rice straw, corn stover, and even urban waste) as feedstock for the refinery/conversion process. Capitalizing on the parent company’s existing resources and experience from operating state-of-the-art facilities at nineteen sites in the United States, the new division offers an expanded set of services for managing other biomass feedstock materials. These services include consulting, procurement, systems design/engineering, and facilities management.

“From industry changes we are monitoring through our association memberships, we anticipate a surge in demand for the products and services that The Price Companies have been providing, with minor modification, for over forty years,” says Price BIOstock Services General Manager Dick Carmical. “The need for specialized equipment and personnel will be huge worldwide. Price can provide people and facilities to procure, grow, harvest, and process the fiber necessary for biofuels. We are eager to work with enterprises in search of an experienced, professional team that can source, build, and manage biostock.”

In a related development, The Price Companies, Inc. has announced the signing of a contract with fine paper manufacturer PaperlinX Limited of Australia. Under the terms of the contract, Price will build, own, and manage a state-of-the-art facility that will enhance the quality and consistency of pulp to be produced for PaperlinX’s Maryvale Mill pulp capacity and bleach plant in Victoria, Australia.

technorati , , , , , ,

Renaissance of the Forest Products Industry

Often maligned as a exploiter of America's forests, the Forest Products Industry (FPI) may be "behind the times" in some contexts, but it has great potential for leading the paradigm shift to renewable energy (both electricity and biofuels), reducing greenhouse gases, upgrading the nation's workforce, reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and suppressing the spread of tree diseases and forest fires due in part to global warming.

Recently released is the Forest Products Industry Technology Roadmap which provides a framework for reinventing and reinvigorating the industry through technological innovations in processes, materials, and markets. The 2006 update of the publication captures the Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance* vision and translates it into a set of focus areas and R&D priorities for each Agenda 2020 technology platform. The Roadmap provides a summary of priority technical challenges and research needs of the U.S. forest products industry, and highlights opportunities for partnerships with researchers and funding organizations.

Seven Technology Platforms Provide Focus for RD&D
1. Advancing the Forest “Bio-Refinery”
2. Sustainable Forest Productivity
3. Breakthrough Manufacturing Technologies
4. Advancing the Wood Products Revolution
5. Next Generation Fiber Recovery and Utilization
6. Positively Impacting the Environment
7. Technologically Advanced Workforce

As the publication states, the inescapable truth is that "America is the world’s largest producer and consumer of forest products. The industry is a vital contributor to the domestic economy, particularly in rural areas where many pulp and paper mills are located. In 2004, U.S. paper and wood products companies posted annual sales of close to $260 billion and employed almost one million Americans. Despite decades as a global leader, the industry is increasingly challenged by international competitors, who in some cases enjoy economic advantages in wood, labor, and environmental costs. Other competitive pressures include the growing use of electronic communication and advertising, product substitution, an aging process infrastructure, few technology breakthroughs, and scarcity of capital for new investments."

The time for a technological renaissance is now. Not only is demand for change the greatest that it has ever been, but also the "aging process infrastructure" of the industry is reaching the end of its lifecycle. Due to be replaced are Tomlinson boilers and other biomass- or fossil fuel-based boilers that are used for energy production and chemical recovery.

The FPI is calling for new investment in what it calls "Forest Biorefineries." Utilizing emerging technologies, these "optimized forest biorefineries would produce new streams of biomass-derived, high-value chemicals, fuels, and electric power while continuing to meet the growing demand for traditional wood, pulp, and paper products. This evolution could more than double economic returns on the industry’s manufacturing assets, create a significant U.S. manufacturing base for renewable transportation fuels, and help meet the nation’s need for clean, diverse, domestic energy supplies."

In addition to fulfilling functions such as providing combined process heat and power and/or recovering the pulping chemicals for re-use, the gasifiers would produce syngas, consisting largely of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Depending on the economics of the situation, the syngas could then be burned in gas turbines to produce steam and power, used as a replacement for fossil fuels (such as natural gas in a lime kiln or fuel oil in a power boiler), or converted into transportation fuels, including Fischer-Tropsch liquid fuels or pure hydrogen.

*The Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance is an industry-led partnership with government and academia that holds the promise of reinventing the forest products industry through innovation in processes, materials and markets. Initiated in 1994 in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to improve energy efficiency in the industry's manufacturing processes, Agenda 2020 is now organized as a membership alliance to accelerate research, demonstration and deployment of breakthrough technologies.

technorati , , , , , ,

Forests: Carbon S(t)inks?

Biopact reports that research on the carbon sequestering capacity of forests is challenging long cherished beliefs that they are 'carbon sinks" that suck more carbon-dioxide out of the atmosphere than they emit. The idea that planting or retaining more trees will automatically compensate for greenhouse gases released elsewhere is apparently a myth.

Still, the net CO2 contribution of forests is far lower than that of simply burning fossil fuels, so planting new energy trees (either as part of a re- or afforestation effort) to use them as bioenergy feedstocks to be used instead of coal, gas or oil, remains a good strategy to tackle climate change.

This means that the real impact of forests on global warming is the risk they pose when consumed in fires - during which they expell huge amounts of carbon, particulate matter, NOx, and SOx into the atmosphere.

For the full story, click the title link below to the Biopact site. Excerpts of their article are below:

Idea that forests are 'carbon sinks" no longer holds

New research now shows that instead of carbon sinks, some forests emit more carbon than they store. Forests can do little to improve the future climate or to lower the atmosphere's carbon levels. What they can do is make global warming worse.

This is the conclusion of a Canadian and American team of forest scientists that went into the woods in northern Manitoba to measure the carbon cycle of a forest ecosystem. They wanted to measure carbon going into and out of a living forest, to learn how effectively the forest was sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and storing it.

The results of this scientific work are congruent with research done in other forest types, most notably in tropical forests where the same observation was found: forests contribute more CO2 to the atmosphere than they store.

The consequences of these scientific results are manifold: forest nations will not be able to enjoy the benefits brought by the United Nations Framework on Convention on Climate Change because forests can no longer be filed as 'carbon sinks'. Re- and afforestation efforts are no longer a certain quick fix to climate change (they do have many other benefits, though), and large fossil fuel burning utilities who now often contribute financially to such efforts to appease their conscience, must rethink their strategies.

technorati , , , , , , ,

Forest Industry: Bio-Solutions to Climate Change

Is there an environmentally safe role for wood industry byproducts and waste to play in providing sustainable bio-solutions to climate change? Can we really live on less paper, pulp, and lumber? Are substitutes likely to be better environmentally - with equal or less impact on carbon sequestration? What is the responsible thing to do with tree trimmings, black liquor, and bark beetle-infested trees?

Does "saving forests" include thinning them to prevent forest fires - a horrific source of toxic carbon emissions and particulate matter (see below)?

These are some of the questions that are being asked at Forestry Industry meetings like the International Seminar on Energy and Forest Products Industry (30-31 October) held in Rome.

The forest products industry is a major consumer of energy, using 6 percent of total industrial energy use in 2003. But the industry also produces energy, as well as other by-products that can be used for energy generation. It is the only sector that already generates approximately 50 percent of its own energy needs, the majority from renewable carbon-neutral biomass. Energy costs, energy supply and climate change are amongst the core issues impacting on the future of the forest products industry.

Wulf Killmann, Director of Forest Products and Economics at Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that the potential of the forestry industry to help solve energy and climate change needs to be tapped. "Governments have a key role to play in encouraging industries to use cleaner and more efficient energy technologies and in promoting bio-energy."

Here are excerpts from a recent article published by Forest Newswatch:

Can the forest products industry be part of a bio-solution to climate change?
Forest Newswatch (subscription)
Friday, 03 November 2006

The global forest products industry can play a significant role in combating climate change by optimizing the use of raw material, increasing efficiency, producing bio-energy and expanding into bio-refinery products while developing the competitiveness of the sector.

This was the conclusion of the International Seminar on Energy and Forest Products Industry (30-31 October), in which intergovernmental and private sector organisations of the global forest product industry joined forces. Participants stressed that well integrated and carefully balanced energy and forest policies around the globe set the stage for these developments. Governments, industry, institutions and society at large each have a role to play and should work together.

"The forest products industry can be part of the solution for climate change if committed to technological changes and energy efficiency," said Neil Hirst, Director of Energy Technology of the International Energy Agency (IEA). "It has the exceptional ability to become a net supplier of a range of energy products and it could, in combination with carbon capture and storage, become an important actor in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere."

"Wood and paper products are uniquely renewable and recyclable products that help reducing greenhouse gas emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere," said Teresa Presas, Chair of the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA). The industry is committed to innovative energy solutions that meet the challenge of climate change, increase efficiency, reduce reliance on fossil fuel and expand the use of renewable energy sources. The industry believes that fibre from sustainable managed forests makes a positive contribution to the world's future energy supply.

"To achieve this", Presas said, "the industry needs enabling policies that support research and innovation, promote demonstration projects and improve the investment climate, specifically in this sector. Moreover there needs to be a level playing field between energy and non-energy uses of wood, considering that all this has to take place within the boundaries of sustainable forest management."

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) would be glad to see the global forest product industry taking a stronger role in the energy and climate change mitigation field, but also sets some requirements.

"WWF considers that sustainable bioenergy has to be part of the global strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other measures aiming to reduce the ecological footprint. Credible certification of bioenergy feedstocks with a focus on social and environmental issues - including greenhouse gas calculations - and land use planning are part of the solution to ensure the sustainability of development", said Duncan Pollard, Director of the WWF Forests for Life Programme.

technorati , , , , , , , ,

Greenhouse Gases as Feedstock?

Will bacteria play THE major role in the production of biofuels and sequestering of carbon dioxide? Patents already exist for strains of bacteria that can convert syngas into ethanol.

New research being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to study new roles for bacteria. The challenge is to sequence the DNA of certain cyanobacteria that can extract greenhouse gases from the air and, using sunlight, convert them into "thick mats of green biomass, from which liquid ethanol can be extracted." Sounds similar to the idea of using algae as a "breath mint" for smokestacks - but much more refined.

Here are excerpts form an article that appeared in "Washington University in St. Louis News & Information":

Sequencing The DNA Of Six Photosynthetic Bacteria To Make Biofuel To Warm Homes And Run Cars
by Tony Fitzpatrick

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has devoted $1.6 million to sequencing the DNA of six photosynthetic bacteria that Washington University in St. Louis biologists will examine for their potential as one of the next great sources of biofuel that can run our cars and warm our houses.

That's a lot of power potential from microscopic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that capture sunlight and then do a variety of biochemical processes. One potential process, the clean production of ethanol, is a high priority for DOE.

A natural at fermentation

"The Department of Energy is very interested in the production of ethanol or hydrogen and other kinds of chemicals through biological processes," said Pakrasi, who also is director of the University's Bioenergy Initiative. "Cyanobacteria have a distinct advantage over biomass, such as corn or other grasses, in producing ethanol, because they use carbon dioxide as their primary cellular carbon source and emit no carbons and they naturally do fermentation. In biomass, yeast needs to be added for fermentation, which leads to the production of ethanol. Cyanobacteria can offer a simpler, cleaner approach to ethanol production." Pakrasi heads a group of nearly two dozen researchers who will do a lengthy, painstaking manual annotation of the gene sets of each organism to figure out what each gene of each strain does.

"The diversity in those sequences will give us the breadth of what these organisms do, and then we can pick and choose and make a designer microbe that will do what we want it to do," Pakrasi said. "We want to tap into the life history of these organisms to find the golden nuggets."

One possible way to produce ethanol using Cyanothece strains is a hybrid combination of the microbe and plant matter where the cyanobacteria coexist with plants and enable fermentation. The model exists in nature where cyanobacteria form associations with plants and convert nitrogen into a useful form so that plants can use the nitrogen product.

Extracting ethanol

At Washington University, Pakrasi and his collaborators have designed a photobioreactor to watch Cyanothece convert available sunlight into thick mats of green biomass, from which liquid ethanol can be extracted.

Pakrasi led the sequencing of Cyanothece 54112 as the focus of a Department of Energy "grand challenge project" that resulted in the sequencing and annotation of a cyanobacterium gene that could yield clues to how environmental conditions influence key carbon fixation processes at the gene-mRNA-protein levels in an organism.

technorati , , , , , ,

Reducing Biofuel Risk through Feedstock Diversification

Following a theme of this blog, as long as ethanol production is constrained to a single feedstock source - corn or sugarcane - the longterm risks and volatility of feedstock prices will become untenable. Either competitive demand for feedstock will raise prices too high or agricultural soil sustainability will be compromised. And, clearly, there isn't enough corn available to satisfy a significant percentage of gasoline consumption. If we are lucky, we will replace the growth in demand for fuel, leaving existing consumption untouched.

However, by converting a wide array of feedstock into ethanol and other biofuels, we not only embrace a greater volume of biomass, but also reduce the risk of unbalanced supply. This will lead to global decentralization of production - important to defusing friction from competitive demand.

GS AgriFuels has the right bioconversion idea. By using gasifiers to process cellulosic feedstock into syngas, they will be able to creatively address local supply procurement and delivery issues. As their website explains...

We use a proprietary new biomass gasifier that is designed to standardize variable biomass feeds and optimize high yields of high-quality syngas in real-time with greatly increased capital and operating cost efficiencies at smaller scales as compared to traditional gasification technologies.

The syngas output of our gasifier can either be used to generate heat and power with standard generation equipment or catalyzed into liquid fuels such as ethanol, methanol and synthetic diesel with the Fischer-Tropsch process.

Looks like they have the front end down. However their reliance on F-T process makes it appear that they may need to look for a more efficient process for converting the syngas into biofuels. Here is their press release as published on Business Wire...

GS AgriFuels to Build Integrated Multi-Feedstock, Multi-Fuels Production Facility in Memphis, Tennessee

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 6, 2006--GS AgriFuels Corporation (OTC Bulletin Board: GSGF) today announced its plans to build an integrated multi-feedstock, multi-fuels production facility in Memphis, Tennessee.

GS AgriFuels has executed several of the agreements necessary to develop its Memphis site and expects to commence construction of the Memphis facility later this year.

"We strongly believe in the potential of renewable fuels, but our view is that the domestic clean fuels industry faces significant challenges over the coming years," said Kevin Kreisler, GS AgriFuels' chairman and chief executive officer. "Among other challenges, the biodiesel sector faces high concentrations of risk in the soy markets and the corn-derived ethanol sector is facing both increasing corn prices and decreasing distillers dried grains prices. Our belief is that these risks can be mitigated with feedstock diversification and with the use of proprietary new technologies and production improvements. Our business model incorporates elements of each."

GS AgriFuels intends to use standard fuel production technologies and a number of proprietary technologies, including innovative pre-treatment, process intensification, gasification, catalytic, and carbon capture technologies, synergistically at small-scales to enable the refining of many forms of biomass into clean fuels, including biodiesel and ethanol.

"Our development plans are based on the premise that feedstock diversification and integrated multi-fuel production capability at relatively small-scales will allow us to hedge risk and proactively manage fluctuating market conditions in opportunistic ways," added Kreisler. "We are designing our facilities around this philosophy."

GS AgriFuels is currently developing several sites for the construction of its planned integrated multi-fuel production facilities. GS AgriFuels' planned Memphis facility will have an initial nameplate capacity of 10 million gallons of biodiesel and 5 million gallons of ethanol, methanol and/or biomass-derived synthetic diesel and will commence production in 2007.

GS AgriFuels' expects to scale its Memphis, Tennessee facility to in excess of 45 million gallons of annual fuel production given that facility's location in a major distribution hub. Additional information on GS AgriFuels' development plans is available online at

technorati , , , , , ,

Recycling’s “China Syndrome”

At last month's Southern California Emerging Waste Technologies Forum State Senator David Roberti (ret.) made a statement about the duplicity of state policy on "diversion credits" for specific forms of recycling. I had heard Roberti make a similar statement at a hearing last November but hadn't researched it. Here is what I have learned since...

What are "diversion credits"?

In 1989, Assembly Bill 939, known as the Integrated Waste Management Act was passed because of the increase in California's waste stream and the decrease of its landfill capacity. As a result, the current California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) was established. A disposal reporting system with CIWMB oversight was created and facility and program planning was implemented.

AB 939 mandates a reduction of waste being disposed: jurisdictions were required to meet diversion goals of 25% by 1995 and 50% by the year 2000. Those that didn't meet these deadlines were liable to receive noncompliance fines. Whether a form of diversion receives credit toward the target or not is based on an ongoing refinement of legal definitions in the state's legislature.

Currently, California municipalities qualify for diversion credits on trash that recyclers ship to the China. China can process waste far less expensively than we can in the U.S. because of cheap labor and their incredibly toxic emissions and health standards. As long as the waste is segregated as recyclable it makes no difference how it is processed afterwards as far as our diversion counting is concerned. Talk about sweeping a problem under the rug!

Even waste China is not asking for, e.g. the e-waste piling up in China’s coastal river valleys, is considered diverted according to our counting methodology. Whether the Chinese dump it or we dump it - it shouldn't receive diversion credit.

Believe it or not, if local municipalities instead opt to build clean CTs - conversion technology facilities using gasification or pyrolysis to significantly reduce the volume of waste to be landfilled while generating green energy and clean fuels - they would NOT receive diversion credit! This in spite of the fact that it would represent an ultimate and environmentally responsible processing of the waste near the source.

Why should facilities that convert waste into heat, electricity, and renewable fuels not earn credits for the municipalities that build them? The answer is that recycling groups are afraid of losing control of any portion of the waste stream - that such credits would create irresistable incentives to municipalities at risk of being fined for non-compliance. Once municipalities gain control of their waste streams, recyclers may get less, or as Scott Smithline of Californians Against Waste (CAW) worded it, "“We are concerned that demand, that hunger for feedstock, is going to pull materials from other traditional recycling uses.”

So the environmental interests are taking second seat to bickering over control of the waste stream. But the duplicity is far worse than that. Consider the trail of the waste that goes to China -

1 - The ships that transport the trash thousands of miles to China spew tons of greenhouse gases from burning bulk fuel (the least refined and most toxic oil-based fuel sold). These emissions into the atmosphere return to California and points in-between.

2 - The destinations in China are unregulated, polluting factories that, among other repugnant policies, employ children as sorters within close proximity to toxic ovens that smelt and reform the plastic. Are we so unprincipled that we would ship recyclables to foreign destinations knowing that their low health standards would endanger the workers that handle our trash? Should we credit those shipments for landfill diversion?

3 - Airbourne particulate matter from all unregulated Chinese combustion factories reaches back to the U.S. In a recent article in the San Diego Union Tribune entitled China's growing air pollution reaches American skies, UC/David researchers have evidence that as China consumes more fossil fuels to feed its energy-hungry economy, the U.S. is seeing a sharp increase in trans-Pacific pollution that could affect human health, worsen air quality and alter climate patterns.

4 - Plastic and trash debris from throughout Asia accumulates and returns to North America via Pacific ocean currents. In a story titled Plague of Plastic Chokes the Seas writers for the Los Angeles Times detailed evidence of waste that was accumulating in giant offshore gyres:

The debris can spin for decades in one of a dozen or more gigantic gyres around the globe, only to be spat out and carried by currents to distant lands. The U.N. Environment Program estimates that 46,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating on every square mile of the oceans. About 70% will eventually sink.

The purpose of this article is not to point fingers at the recycling industry. Rather, to insist that the California Integrated Waste Management Board's attempts to modernize California's recycling policies, including diversion credits, receive the full backing and support of the California legislature – which it clearly has not. California not only needs to reduce the source of its waste and expand programs for dealing with more types of waste, but also must update the definition of transformation and conversion technologies so that we can process more waste, more completely while creating "green collar jobs" for our own workers. These are the objectives of AB 2118, currently hung up in negotiation before the California Assembly Natural Resources Committee.

Exporting our waste to poorer countries is unprincipled and uncivilized. Furthermore, CTs represent a new opportunity to significantly expand our recycling efforts, reduce landfill demand, suppress pollution of our atmosphere and oceans, reduce greenhouse gases, and create new energy resources to help meet the electricity and fuel needs of future generations both here and abroad.

technorati , , , , , , ,

Spinning “Gold” Out of Trash

With its huge population and guilt-free car culture, California is the world's largest consumer of gasoline. By state regulation, 5.67% of the fuel pumped is actually ethanol - which is used as an oxygenate for gasoline. As a result, California is also the world's biggest consumer of ethanol - closing in on 1 Billion gallons per year.

As a rich agricultural state, one would think that there would be a huge production of corn or sugar cane to produce ethanol to meet the demand. Not so. 95% of the ethanol consumed is imported from, primarily, the Midwest by truck. There is no corn farming to speak of in California, nor will we see a sudden switch in cultivation. New ethanol plants located there will be shipping the corn in from surrounding states.

Assuming that California wants to become self-sufficient in ethanol, what will the feedstock be if not corn or sugar cane? The answer is agricultural, forestry, and urban waste. Being a heavily wooded, agriculturally rich, population booming, and super-consuming state means an incredible amount of waste. Therefore, progressive thinkers in California are looking to its waste streams to provide feedstock for the next big thing - biomass conversion of waste into biofuels including cellulosic ethanol, with the co-generation of electricity.

Such a switch couldn't come at a better time. Many professionals in the waste disposal industry recognize that major urban centers like Los Angeles will be faced with a "Peak Landfill" problem way in advance of a "Peak Oil" problem. Available land is scarce in a region of burgeoning development, NIMBYism, and accelerating waste disposal growth.

Kay Martin, Ph.D is vice president of the BioEnergy Producers Association. She directed Ventura County's solid waste programs from 1987 to 2004. She has been an active proponent of waste diversion from landfills for over a decade. She has written an incisive article about the need for landfill diversion and the potential of bioenergy production using conversion technologies. Here are some excerpts from a recent article she wrote for the Ventura County Star - a neighboring county of Los Angeles:

S.V. Landfill has chance to spin gold out of trash
By Kay Martin

...the total amount of garbage disposed in the county and statewide has not changed much over the past 10 years, despite the best efforts of local governments, businesses and residents to recycle. Recent gains made by recycling have been largely eclipsed by the effects of population and economic growth, and this trend is expected to continue. The growing waste problem is real, and requires some strategic planning now to avert a future crisis.

...Complicating the picture of where waste will flow in the future is the disappearance of local landfills. About the same time that recycling laws were passed, the federal government imposed stringent new standards on disposal sites intended to abate air and groundwater pollution threats. These costly permitting standards contributed to a 63 percent decline in the number of landfills nationally since 1988. The trend is for fewer and larger facilities, more remote from urban centers.

Several landfills in our neighboring Southern California counties are slated for closure, and NIMBY factors have trumped attempts at siting new ones, save for expensive desert landfill options accessible only by rail.

Role for bioenergy

The factor that should weigh heaviest in decisions to expand the Simi Valley Landfill, however, is the emergence of new "bioenergy" industries that can convert about 80 percent of the materials currently going to landfills into environmentally beneficial products — green power, biofuels and a variety of chemicals that reduce our reliance on petroleum. Moreover, because these industries produce valuable commodities, they can be cost-competitive with landfills. Bioenergy plants are operating successfully in both Europe and Japan, and are in various stages of development in other parts of the United States. The central question is, should we be looking to simply bury our wastes in the decades to come, or should we take positive steps now to turn these wastes into resources that can help build a more sustainable society?

The county of Santa Barbara, and the city and county of Los Angeles are each actively engaged in procurement processes to site bioenergy facilities (so-called "conversion technologies") to reduce and ultimately to replace their dependence on landfills.

technorati , , , , , ,

LOUISIANA: Cellulosic Feedstock Conversion Deployments

The process of converting sugar cane into either sugar or ethanol results in a biomass waste product called bagasse. Many research efforts have tried to find a renewable fuel use for bagasse. An obvious use is to burn it, as they do in Brazil, but the carbon dioxide emissions offsets the benefit of any heat or electricity that would be co-generated during the process.

Recently there have been two press releases for new biorefineries in Lousiana that intend to convert corn and sugar cane (using sugar fermentation) and the bagasse (using catalysts or enzymes) into ethanol and other renewable products.


Jennings Project using Celunol Technology

Celunol Corp. is developing a 55-million gallon ethanol production facility in Jennings, Louisiana.

By working with the University of Florida and acquiring other technology, Celunol has developed a unique technology to release the sugar potential of cellulosic biomass.

Celunol's landmark technology is based on the metabolic engineering of microorganisms. The key element of Celunol’s technology is genetically engineered strains of Escherichia coli bacteria that are capable of fermenting into ethanol essentially all of the sugars released from all types of cellulosic biomass. This enables Celunol to achieve the required efficiency to make the process commercially feasible.

Feedstocks That Can Be Used With Celunol Technology

Celunol expects that its technology will be able to convert almost any type of cellulosic biomass material to ethanol. Examples of these feedstocks are:

Agricultural Residues
Rice straw
Corn stover
Wheat straw

Agricultural Wastes
Sugarcane bagasse
Rice hulls
Corn fiber
Sugar beet pulp
Citrus pulp
Citrus peels

Forestry Wastes
Hardwood and softwood thinnings
Hardwood and softwood residues from timber operations

Wood Wastes
Saw mill waste
Pulp mill waste

Urban Wastes
Paper fraction of municipal solid waste
Urban wood waste
Urban green waste

Dedicated Crops
Hybrid poplar wood


BioEnergy International Commences Site Work on 108 Million Gallon Ethanol Project

BioEnergy International, LLC ("BioEnergy"), a company developing proprietary technologies to produce ethanol and specialty chemicals from traditional feedstocks as well as lignocellulosics, announced today that it has commenced site work on its first biorefinery, a 108 million gallon per year ethanol plant located on land leased from the Lake Providence Port Commission in East Carroll Parish, Louisiana.

Initially the plant will produce ethanol from corn using conventional technology designed by Delta-T Corporation, a leading, innovative designer of alcohol plants, systems and technology. BioEnergy intends to rapidly introduce its proprietary technology to produce fuels and specialty chemicals using organic wastes such as bagasse, rice hulls and wood in addition to corn. BioEnergy has a pipeline of projects in various stages of development representing over 400 million gallons of annual ethanol production.

technorati , , , , ,

BRI Energy - Converting Blended Feedstock into Ethanol

Given a choice of three biomass conversion processes, which is the most promising for greatly expanding the nation's ethanol production?
1) sugar fermentation which only works on sugar crops (like corn kernels and sugar cane);
2) enzymatic hydrolysis which relies on the development of specific enzymes to convert a variety of unblended cellulosic feedstock (like corn stover and switchgrass) into sugars that can then be conventionally fermented into ethanol;
3) syngas fermentation which converts blended or unblended cellulosic feedstock (including all of the above and other crops, plus agricultural, forestry, and urban waste, and even fossil fuels) into ethanol while co-generating electricity.

Bill Bruce, President of BRI Energy, LLC, justifiably contends that the answer is syngas fermentation. Not only would the process' feedstock flexibility greatly increase the volume of biomass available to convert, but decentralized facilities could be used to solve both energy and waste disposal problems for a rural and urban communities alike. For instance, success of Los Angeles' comprehensive landfill diversion program, R.E.N.E.W. L.A., depends on the permitting of six plants using technology like BRI Energy's syngas fermentation process.

Testifying at a Congressional hearing this week, Bruce provided a glimpse of what the potential is for his company's patented processes. Not only that, but he revealed that BRI Energy is working on a developed plan to build two commercial-scale ethanol facilities at the vacant K-31 complex at the Oakridge National Laboratory (ORNL) near Knoxville, Tennessee.

As reported in the Green Car Congress blog May 1st (BRI Energy Seeking to Build Two Gasification-Fermentation Ethanol Plants) the company will begin construction as soon as Department of Energy federal loan guarantees are approved.

The first plant would use gasification to convert Western coal into ethanol. Since gasification operates in a closed environment, no toxic emissions would result from the process.The coal gasification facility would cost $25 million, and the company is seeking a $20-million federal loan guarantee.

The second plant would use blended municipal solid waste (MSW) from Knoxville as the feedstock and convert that as well into ethanol. The municipal waste facility would require $62.5 million in private investment and a $250-million federal loan guarantee.

Both facilities would use the heat in the gasification process to co-generate electricity which would be added to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) grid.

The Knoxville News Sentinel also reported on the announcement in their story titled Company plans big ethanol plant in Oak Ridge. Anticipation of 500 new high quality jobs in a clean, breakthrough technology is good news to their readership.

These innovative commercial-scale deployment projects provide the federal government a crucial role to play toward reduction of our fossil fuel addiction - while reducing landfills, greenhouse gases, and unemployment.

technorati , , , , , , , ,

CHINA: The Food vs. Energy Feedstock Conundrum

Asia's growing affluence virtually guarantees that the world's petroleum and natural gas markets will suffer rising prices for the foreseeable future. However, China does not enjoy rich reserves of fossil fuels other than coal so, as reported by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg at sustainablog, China and the rest of Asia is "Looking Hard at Biofuels".

In the 1950's China had a choice between using food for feeding its populace or using it to obtain weapons. Mao opted for power - resulting in the starvation of an estimated 12 million Chinese. It will not sacrifice its people for energy now but the writing is on the wall - it must secure its energy future. According to the following story, China is aggressively pursuing an ethanol production capability using a variety of feedstock. Excerpts are below:


Sky-High Oil Prices Fuel Ethanol Mania in China

HONG KONG/BEIJING - Record crude oil prices are fuelling ethanol fever in China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, despite Beijing's reservations in allowing more food grains to be used to run cars.

Beijing is reluctant to expand ethanol production from food grains as China will face a shortage of grains like corn or wheat possibly as early as next year, due to rising domestic demand brought on by higher affluence.

China began its ethanol projects in early 2000 in a bid to get rid of its surplus grain reserves and partially convert them into the biofuel.

China is the world's third-largest ethanol fuel producer after the United States and Brazil, which make the fuel from corn and sugar cane, respectively.

With crude oil prices skyrocketing to more than US$70 a barrel from about US$30 in 2003 when China's ethanol projects started operations, Beijing is likely to scrap subsidies for the four ethanol plants altogether.

But eager investors are unfazed by the prospect.

"Oil prices are so high that it's interesting to make ethanol from most raw materials at the moment," Simon Bentley, an analyst from LMC International Ltd. in Oxford told Reuters.

"With current technology, people start breaking even making ethanol at around US$40 a barrel of oil," said the head of LME's Starch & Sweetener Research, who was in China last week.

Earlier this month, the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top planner, said on its Web site ( that biofuels should replace about 2 million tonnes of crude oil by 2010 and 10 million tonnes by 2020.

But it also said China would shift to non-grain raw materials -- such as sweet sorghum or cassava, also known as tapioca -- to make fuel ethanol. These alternatives can be used to churn out around 30 million tonnes of ethanol, the commission said.


FLORIDA: Citrus as Feedstock - a Farm-to-Fuel Update

Florida has crops and the will of its Farm-to-Fuel Program sponsors to become a leader in the development of an ethanol industry. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said April 28th:

"I know we can do it. We can have 2 million acres worth of crops for fuel if we can get enough plants built so we can turn it into ethanol. Florida can outproduce any state in the union. Thousands of acres of Florida citrus that were leveled as part of the now-defunct citrus canker eradication program could be put into production for fuel crops."

Below are some excerpts that appeared in a story that contained an interview with Craig Evans, president of Stewardship America Inc. in Boca Raton.


Florida Has Future in Alternative Energies
By Kevin Bouffard
The Ledger

A study done earlier this year for the Polk County Farm Bureau suggests the county could land in the center of the alternative-fuel revolution.

"Two technologies . . . are ready for Polk County to use right now," according to a supplement on bio-fuels in the report, "The Contribution of Agribusiness to Polk County, Florida," done by Craig Evans, president of Stewardship America Inc. in Boca Raton.

Evans suggests alternative-fuel technologies using biomass -plant and animal products -could generate a renaissance of profit for Polk's farms and ranches.

Biomass includes not only fruits, vegetables and other foods but waste products such animal manure; grass, weeds, tree limbs and other yard wastes; and tons of citrus peels and pulp from Florida's juice-processing plants.

Until gas prices began heading toward $3 a gallon, ethanol could not compete without federal subsidies. Most ethanol is produced from Midwestern corn.

Even with subsidies, U.S. ethanol production this year will total 3.4 billion gallons, or about 2.3 percent of 145 billion gallons of gasoline consumed annually, Evans said.

How can new technologies change that?

Most ethanol production today comes from a standard fermentation process similar to the production of whiskey and other potable grain alcohols, Evans said.

"Sugar fermentation has, thus far, been the only technology to commercially produce ethanol from biomass, but it is only marginally profitable," Evans said.

Evans supports a new technology called BRI, named for the Arkansas company Bioengineering Resources Inc. that developed it.

The BRI process has an advantage in that it uses not only agricultural products and wastes but anything containing hydrocarbon, such as plastics and tires, Evans said.

"This technology converts any organic waste or hydrocarbon into ethanol," he said. "It also creates low-cost electricity as a byproduct."

That offers the potential to convert garbage now stored in landfills at the cost of millions of dollars to local governments into a valuable product, Evans said.


During past energy crises, Americans showed interest in alternative energy, but it faded once the crisis passed.

On April 18, 1977, President Jimmy Carter gave a nationally televised speech on his new energy policy geared toward conservation and developing alternative fuels.

"This difficult effort will be the `moral equivalent of war,' " Carter said.

Critics derisively labeled the policy by the acronym MEOW. Only his proposal for a strategic petroleum reserve became a reality.


Tires-to-Ethanol Facility Planned for New Jersey

Startech Environmental Corporation and Fuel Frontiers, Inc. (FFI - formerly known as Future Fuels, Inc.), a subsidiary of Nuclear Solutions Inc., have announced a Strategic Alliance Agreement and progress toward establishment of a waste-to-ethanol facility in Toms River, New Jersey by late 2007. Initially, the facility is expected to process 100 tons of tires per day with additional modules added later. The Startech Plasma Converter system will convert the feedstock into Plasma Converted Gas (PCG)™, a syngas, which FFI will, in turn, convert into ethanol using a catalytic process.

The press release, without background information on the principals, is provided below.


Startech Environmental and Future Fuels Form a Strategic Alliance for the Production of Ethanol Fuel from Tires
First-of-its-kind Project to be the $84 Million Future Fuel Tires-to-Ethanol Facility in Toms River, New Jersey

WILTON, Conn., March 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Startech Environmental Corporation (OTC Bulletin Board: STHK), a fully reporting company, announced today that Startech and Future Fuels, Inc., (FFI) a subsidiary of Nuclear Solutions, Inc., (OTC Bulletin Board: NSOL) of Washington, D.C., have formed a Strategic Alliance Agreement to mutually obtain contracts for waste-to-ethanol facilities and also for FFI's own $84 million Waste-to-Ethanol Facility to be constructed in Toms River, New Jersey.

The Company has also received the Letter Of Intent from FFI for FFI's purchase of a 100 ton-per-day Startech Plasma Converter System (PCS) for installation in the first-of-its-kind Waste-to-Ethanol Facility in Toms River, scheduled to go on-line in late 2007. The PCS will safely and completely destroy the tires in its process that results in a clean synthesis gas product called Plasma Converted Gas (PCG)™. The Plasma Converter will be attached to the front of the FFI system. PCG produced will be piped directly into the FFI system to make commercial fuel-grade ethanol for sale. Plans also call for the Toms River Facility expansion to include a series of additional Startech 100 ton-per-day modular Plasma Converter Systems.

President of FFI, Jack Young, said, "We welcome partnering with Startech to fuse their expertise and commercial experience in plasma processing technology with FFI's unique business model to convert abundant waste feedstocks into ethanol. Where Startech provides front-end technology to transform a variety of waste products into syngas, FFI provides the back-end catalytic process to convert that syngas into useful products such as ethanol, higher alcohol fuels and synthetic fuels, like diesel, gasoline and kerosene (jet fuel). The Strategic Alliance between FFI and Startech will open more doors into the U.S. ethanol market for both companies as well as to customers in Europe, Asia and South America where Startech currently has initiatives underway," states FFI President Jack Young.

Joseph F. Longo, Startech president said, "The Startech-FFI teaming is a perfect fit that will help increase Startech's market penetration and sales at home and overseas. As a result of the FFI press release on March 13, 2006 announcing the Alliance, we have already received lively interest from our Sales Representatives, Distributors and potential customers in the U.S., Central America, Australia, Asia and the European Union.

"We are especially pleased to know that we will be a significant part of the new $84 million FFI Toms River Ethanol Facility.

"Ethanol is an important renewable fuel, derived from ubiquitous feedstock materials previously regarded as wastes. When added to gasoline, it will help America move further towards energy independence and actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Startech processing customers are paid for receiving waste feed stocks at the front-end of the System and paid for producing and selling the resulting commercial products at the back-end. To the many commodity products that can be made from PCG, we have now added FFI fuel-grade ethanol fuel. Fuel-grade ethanol is about 199 Proof. Two hundred proof is 100% ethanol. Industrial ethanol, for paint thinners, solvents and so forth, is typically about 160 Proof.

"An important fact sometimes overlooked is that waste is an inexhaustible, renewable, ever-recurring resource."


Additional technical information is published at The Energy Blog by James Fraser - thanks James!


Scientists set sights on biomass to reduce fossil fuel dependence

This news release was posted 1/26/06 by Imperial College London. The alliance described includes the Oak Ridge National Laboratory which is clearly interested in the development of technology that can convert biomass into cellulosic ethanol. Efforts in this release refer to biomass feedstock involving the complete use of individual crops and a variety of different crops with the objective being the production of a variety of products including fuel, heat, and power using minimal amounts of non-renewable fuels.


Scientists set sights on biomass to reduce fossil fuel dependence
Using plants rather than oil or coal to produce fuels and chemicals could play an essential role in reducing the world's dependence on fossil fuels, according to a group of scientists from the UK and the USA writing today in the journal Science.

The scientists from Imperial College London, Georgia Tech and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have evaluated the scientific and technological potential of a future based on renewable plant matter and biological material such as trees, grasses, agricultural crops, known as biomass. Their conclusions form the basis of a strategic alliance between the three institutions, the AtlantIC Alliance.

Today's paper describes the scientific challenges of creating a facility to process all the components of biomass. Such a facility would make a range of fuels, foods, chemicals, animal feeds, materials, heat and power in proportions that would give maximum value with minimum waste.

The scientists believe that efficient refining of biomass will be vital for producing renewable products with reduced carbon emissions. Biofuels and biomaterials are derived from plants which take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow. Their net contribution to the addition of greenhouse gases can be very small if minimal non-renewable energy is used when processing them into useful material or energy products.

Dr Charlotte Williams , from Imperial's Department of Chemistry and one of the authors of the paper, said: "We're looking at a future for biomass where we use the entire plant and produce a range of different materials from it.

"Biomass has a completely different molecular structure compared with hydrocarbons from oil. That means we'll need to develop new techniques so that we can transform plant material into everything from specialty, high value products such as perfumes and plastics to higher volume products such as fuels."

Imperial hopes that the partnership with Georgia Tech and Oak Ridge will combine their complementary areas of expertise and examine the critical issues from alternative angles. The project has been given a major boost by the award of a UK Office of Science and Technology grant to develop the alliance, backed up by internal funding from each of the partners.

Professor Richard Templer , Head of Imperial's Department of Chemistry, said: " No one institution is going to cover all the aspects and issues in this transition from a fossil resource-based present to a bio-based future. This partnership will increase the range of our scientific capacity. It will also enable us to evaluate the scientific and technological possibilities for the bio-based future from different perspectives, and in respect to the different potential for applications in the UK, USA and more widely, for example in developing economies."

Biomass as Feedstocks for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply

Published on the U.S. Department of Energy's Bioenergy Feedstock Information Network (BFIN) website is a factual report of the biomass potential of the United States from agricultural and forestry sources. It contains charts and graphs analyzing and organizing the major categories of resources available. While many critics of ethanol as a longterm solution to U.S. liquid fuel needs point to the limits of corn availability to supply sugar fermentation in sufficient quantity, this report accepts the broader view that all biomass, including what we consider agricultural and forestry waste, will be convertible to ethanol through emerging production processes.


Biomass as Feedstocks for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply

Biomass is already making key energy contributions in the United States, having supplied nearly 2.9 quadrillion Btu (quad) of energy in 2003. It has surpassed hydropower as the largest domestic source of renewable energy. Biomass currently supplies over 3 percent of the total energy consumption in the United States — mostly through industrial heat and steam production by the pulp and paper industry and electrical generation with forest industry residues and municipal solid waste (MSW). In addition to the many benefits common to any renewable energy use, biomass is particularly attractive because it is the only current renewable source of liquid transportation fuel. This, of course, makes it an invaluable way to reduce oil imports — one of our nation’s most pressing energy and security needs. Biomass also has great potential to provide heat and power to industry and to provide feedstocks to make a wide range of chemicals and materials or bioproducts.

The overall mission of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is to strengthen the nation’s energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality in public-private partnerships that enhance energy efficiency and productivity; bring clean, reliable and affordable energy technologies to the marketplace; and make a difference in the everyday lives of Americans by enhancing their energy choices and their quality of life.

The purpose of this report is to assess whether the land resources of the United States have the potential to produce a sustainable supply of biomass that can displace 30 percent of the country’s current petroleum consumption.

This study found that the combined forest and agriculture land resources have the potential of sustainably supplying much more than one-third of the nation’s current petroleum consumption. Forest lands, and in particular, timberlands, have the potential to sustainably produce close to 370 million dry tons of biomass annually.

Agricultural lands can provide nearly 1 billion dry tons of sustainably collectable biomass and continue to meet food, feed and export demands. This estimate includes 446 million dry tons of crop residues, 377 million dry tons of perennial crops, 87 million dry tons of grains used for biofuels, and 87 million dry tons of animal manures, process residues, and other residues generated in the consumption food products.

In the context of the time required to scale up to a large-scale biorefinery industry, an annual biomass supply of more than 1.3 billion dry tons can be accomplished with relatively modest changes in land use and agricultural and forestry practices.