December 31, 2006

December 2006 Digest

December 2006 saw major developments in the commitment of whole industries to a new paradigm shift to renewable energy.

On the heels of last month's release of the forest products industry report called the Forest Products Industry Technology Roadmap several wood chip refinery press releases and wood industry reference sites became articles in the blogosphere. There were also two auto shows in Los Angeles that touted a new commitment to renewable energy propulsion systems including hybrids, electric cars, solar-powered, fuel cells, PHEVs, and flex-fuel vehicles.

The big news here is that the BIOstock Blog has a sponsor - Price BIOstock Services of Monticello, Arkansas. Originators of the BIOstock Services concept, The Price Companies has joined other industry leaders in recognizing the value of informing the general public of breaking information concerning emerging technology trends.

Here are their most significant developments of December 2006, organized by Blog...

BIOstock Blog--------------
New Hampshire Renewable Power Plant Burns Wood Chips
U.S. D.O.E. Information on "BIOstock" & Legislation
HAWAII: Powering Paradise with biofuels
Global BIOstock/BIOfuels Database
Bioenergy Gateway: Energy from Wood
Woody Biomass-to-Ethanol Demonstration Plant Contracted
FLORIDA: Citrus Peels as BIOstock
CANADA: Wood chips biorefinery venture announced
Price BIOstock Services is a BIOstock Blog sponsor

BIOconversion Blog--------------
Sugar Fermentation's Achilles Heel - Water
James Woolsey on Biomass Conversion and PHEVs
Decentralizing the BioFuels Industry
NEW YORK: Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Demo Facility Contracted
Xethanol's Cellulosic Ethanol Business Approach
Bacteria - "Miniature Chemical Factories" Convert Waste to Ethanol
Future Production of Liquid Biofuels
Top Stories of 2006

BIOoutput Blog-----------------
Carbon credits traded online
"Mermaids' Tears" - Unrecycled plastic chokes the seas
Alt Car Expo: A Day at the Beach
A Tale of Two Auto Shows

New Feature
Each month we will provide a similar breakdown of December article titles from our favorite "companion" site - Biopact Blog. This list is kept current and is accessible in the right hand column of each of the three blogs.

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.

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December 30, 2006

Price BIOstock Services is a BIOstock Blog sponsor

We are pleased to announce, and recognize the responsibility to disclose, that the BIOstock Blog has a sponsor - Price BIOstock Services (PBS). PBS is the subject of an article BIOconversion Blog ran in October entitled Inventing the BIOstock Services Concept.

I have posted an announcement of the sponsorship relationship on each page of this blog which simply states: "Sponsored in part by Price BIOstock Services."


The relationship between bloggers and their sponsors are becoming an area of some fascination. Recently, fellow blogger Jeff McIntire-Strasburg of Sustainablog, who also writes for Treehugger, attended the L.A. Auto Show. His trip was financed by Shell Oil and its online press relations company, Edelman.

Shell's requirement for sponsorship involved Jeff's posting the following legal disclosure on his blog:

Shell has underwritten Jeff McIntire-Strasburg's travel expenses to attend the LA Auto Show. Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is not required to blog about Shell products or initiatives. The only Shell requirement as a condition of underwriting these expenses was to include this disclosure of this relationship on sustainablog.

After returning from his trip, Jeff subsequently took great pains to answer potential critics by writing a post on his blog titled Shell, Public Relations, and the LA Auto Show. In it he makes an astute observation:
I do believe that the Green Blogosphere and the green movement in general simply have to engage and build relationships with these companies. We're certainly not alone here -- NRDC and the Rocky Mountain Institute have worked with Wal-Mart, a representative of the Union of Concerned Scientists was a part of the Schwarzenegger press conference at the Auto Show (and was complimentary of the efforts by the governor and the auto companies represented at the press conference). None of this, including my trip, should be seen as an endorsement of everything these companies and politicians do -- I think we've all been openly critical when the situation called for it; we've also praised developments that we believe are largely positive. I plan to keep that stance -- you'll, of course, be the ultimate judges of whether I'm successful.

In short, there needs to be engagement between companies and the public - and that is a service of blogs. Blogs are educational vehicles. Those who write blogs are the first students. It is our privilege to be tasked with the responsibility to read what is going on in our chosen focus area and to write about it. Bloggers do need to be discerning about what they report for fear of misleading the public. Failure to do so reduces credibility and the integrity of the blog.

Supporting blogs aids the sponsor in several ways. Obviously, it provides them with heightened visibility, but it also provides them with vital news about the rapid changes in their industry, areas for growth, and insight into the demands of the marketplace. This is an important service for them to provide to their clients as well.

I have been given no guidelines by PBS on what I can or cannot write about. Using Sustainablog's legal disclosure as a template, I wish to 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.

December 22, 2006

CANADA: Wood chips biorefinery venture announced

SunOpta is one of the most demonstrably successful biomass conversion companies. It has conducted significant enzymatic hydrolysis R&D and deployed groundbreaking facilities on both sides of the Atlantic that convert a variety of different biostock into cellulosic ethanol, cellulosic butanol, xylitol and dietary fiber for human consumption. Raw materials include wheat straw, corn stover, grasses, oat hulls and wood chips.

Their mission is to leverage their biomass conversion expertise with proprietary technologies to participate in the construction, ownership and operation of cellulosic ethanol facilities across North America, Europe and Asia.

Just days after the New York cellulosic demonstration plant announcement by Mascoma and Genencor we learn of an agreement between SunOpta Biomass Process Group and GreenField Ethanol Inc.. This is touted to be "the first commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plant built and operational in the world using wood chips." The plan is to site the facility in Quebec or Ontario.

Below is the press release...
SunOpta and GreenField Ethanol Create Cellulosic Ethanol Joint Venture

TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 21, 2006--SunOpta Inc. (SunOpta or the Company) (NASDAQ:STKL)(TSX:SOY) today announced that it has signed a joint venture agreement with GreenField Ethanol Inc. ("GreenField"), formerly known as Commercial Alcohols Inc., Canada's leading producer of fuel ethanol, to develop and implement commercial scale processes for the production of cellulosic ethanol from wood chips, including the planned establishment of one or more commercial scale plants employing the new process.

The first plant is planned to produce 40 million liters (approximately 10 million gallons) of cellulosic ethanol per year, which would be the first commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plant built and operational in the world using wood chips. Greenfield Ethanol and SunOpta are actively involved in selecting a site for the first plant in Ontario or Quebec. Subsequent plants will be in the range of 200 to 400 million liters (approximately 50 to 100 million gallons) per year capacity.

The venture will be owned 50% by GreenField and 50% by SunOpta's BioProcess Group and will utilize the SunOpta BioProcess Group's patented and proprietary process solutions for the production of cellulosic ethanol.

Steve Bromley, President and COO of SunOpta commented, "As previously announced, the SunOpta BioProcess Group is raising $30 million to fund exciting growth projects utilizing the Group's proprietary technology in the production of cellulosic ethanol. This joint venture is an exciting first step in the use of these funds and we are most pleased to partner with GreenField, combining their world class expertise developing ethanol plants with our world class expertise in biomass pretreatment and cellulosic ethanol technologies."

Bob Gallant, President and CEO of GreenField commented, "This partnership combines decades of GreenField's experience in developing world-class ethanol plants and SunOpta's experience in developing cellulose pre-treatment technologies. This new joint venture creates unparalleled experience in developing cellulose technology."

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December 21, 2006

FLORIDA: Citrus Peels as BIOstock

Xethanol Corporation is an aggressive marketer of cellulosic ethanol technology. They have had their share of controversy which is addressed on their website and which resulted last month in a major change in top management.

Xethanol has one of the most comprehensive cellulosic ethanol business approaches around. They aim to:
1 - identify appropriate bioconversion technologies for a wide range of biostocks,
2 - utilize waste forestry and urban biomass in addition to waste agricultural biomass
3 - locate their manufacturing facilities near the sources of the feedstock,
4 - size the facilities to the close proximity of the biostock rather than truck it great distances
5 - build some facilities near urban sources of municipal solid waste

Here are excerpts from their press release announcing their current plans to implement their business approach for the bioconversion of citrus waste into ethanol and other bioproducts:

Xethanol Corp. Joins Renewable Spirits to Produce Ethanol From Citrus Peels
Plans Pilot Production Facility in Bartow, FL

Xethanol Corporation (AMEX: XNL), a renewable energy company focused on converting biomass to biofuel, Dec. 13 announced the Company has formed a venture with Renewable Spirits, LLC for the purpose of building a biomass-based pilot production facility, utilizing waste citrus peels as raw material for making ethanol.

The venture is located in Bartow, FL the heart of the state's citrus industry. The venture is expected to establish a pilot plant to produce up to 50,000 gallons of ethanol this harvesting season.

The pilot plant, which will increase to over 500,000 gallons per year (GPY), is co-located at a facility owned and operated by Peace River Citrus Products, Inc., a leading producer of orange and grapefruit juice and other citrus products.

Slated to begin production by the second quarter of 2007, the program plans to utilize a production technology process, developed through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the USDA that will convert waste citrus biomass into ethanol, as well as other marketable co-products, such as limonene and citrus oil, to improve the economics of fuel production.

"Here's what's exciting: The next time you drink grapefruit juice, remember we will be making ethanol from what's left of the fruit. We are extremely excited to advance the efforts to convert biomass to ethanol with the use of citrus peels, a very promising feedstock" said David Ames, president and CEO of Xethanol. "We are also extremely proud to be partnering with leading scientists from the USDA to extend their breakthrough work into the pilot production phase." Ames said, "This project is a perfect example of how Xethanol is executing on its unique strategy of partnering with best-in-class research institutions and developing regional footprint facilities whereby ethanol production is located adjacent to the biomass feedstock."

"We are extremely confident in Mr. Ames' vision, leadership, and strategy of focusing on biomass based ethanol production in the southeast," said Chandler Hadlock, President and CEO of Coastal Energy Development, Inc., who will be overseeing the construction and management of the plant. "We look forward to working with Peace River Citrus Products and the USDA to further this technology and exponentially increase the citrus-to-ethanol production in Florida over the coming months."

In juice processing, one half of a citrus fruit is waste. Converting this alternative biomass feedstock into ethanol creates a tremendous economic opportunity for America's citrus growers.

Co-locating the processing facility adjacent to the biomass source also helps to reduce the transportation and shipping costs associated with production.

There are more than 35 major citrus producers located in Florida that collectively produce waste that could be converted to more than 80MM GPY of ethanol.

Renewable Spirits, an investor group, has spent the last two years working with the USDA to develop the technology used in the pilot plant, and has been successful in removing limonene from the peel, allowing for the fermentation of the sugars in the peel and batch distillation of ethanol at the USDA laboratory in Winter Haven, FL.

USDA scientists say this is the first facility of its kind.

Doug Westfall, President of Renewable Spirits, said "Xethanol's acquisition of this technology allows for a much quicker path to commercial applications. We believe that there is tremendous potential for citrus to ethanol production in central Florida, and that this is a winning proposition for both the citrus and ethanol industries."

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December 20, 2006

Woody Biomass-to-Ethanol Demonstration Plant Contracted

New York is starting to put some teeth into its plans to position the state as a leader in cellulosic ethanol development. It has agreed to help finance the establishment of a biomass-to-ethanol demonstration facility in Rochester, New York with the collaborative support of Mascoma Corporation and Genencor, a leading industrial biotechnology company that develops innovative enzymes.

Most interesting to me is the range of feedstock that will be demonstrated - "The facility is expected to operate using a number of New York State agricultural and/or forest products as biomass, including paper sludge, wood chips, switch grass and corn stover." Demonstrating proficiency and high yield from any of these feedstocks would enhance further investment and development for not only these collaborators but also other developers in allied technologies.

This announcement is significant for a number of other reasons - the bioconversion process to be demonstrated (enzymatic hydrolysis); the location (near chilly, urban Rochester, New York); the investment structure ($14.8 million state support, $5.2 million from the developer); the industry/education involvement of International Paper/Cornell University/Clarkson U.; and the endorsement by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) - which in my state of California has been equivocal in its support of similar waste-to-energy initiatives.

To learn more and read the press release click HERE.

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December 16, 2006

Bioenergy Gateway: Energy from Wood

The forest industry self-examination and renaissance is worldwide. Just as the new renewable fuels fever has captured the imagination of rural communities, the potential for woody biostock is just as great - if not greater. After all, the wood and forestry industries have been leaders in using their waste for energy; unlike corn or sugar, wood does not have any food uses to compete with; and the industrial biostock infrastructure is already in place. What is needed are new biorefinery developers, entrepreneurs, and educators who can help the industry through its transition.

New Zealand seems poised to provide an example of how one country plans to collaborate to further this ambition.

The New Zealand Forest Industry Development Agenda (FIDA) is an agreement between Government and the forest industry to address the information and technology barriers that were seen to discourage investment in bioenergy. The FIDA Bioenergy Programme aims to increase the use of renewable energy and, as a consequence, forest owners’ income, through utilizing wood waste left in the forest after tree harvesting, and waste produced from wood processing sites.

The FIDA Bioenergy Programme has three key elements:
1. Research into engineering solutions for forest waste harvesting.
2. Funding for feasibility studies into use of woody biomass as a fuel.
3. To provide information through a web-based knowledge centre.

Below is the introduction to the web-based knowledge center:

Bioenergy Gateway: Energy from Wood

This website provides tools and information for utilising wood waste as a renewable energy source.

The forest industry frequently burns wood waste to produce energy for processing. As the market grows for bioenergy production, there are opportunities to expand the use of this renewable resource.

This website can help forest growers and wood processors or bioenergy investors to assess the potential value of wood waste and harvesting residues.

Bioenergy offers value to different people in different ways:
Dairy or other food processing
Home heating
Heating for schools or commercial buildings

Case Studies
The website provides a series of case studies that demonstrate how different wood processing companies in New Zealand are developing bioenergy solutions, such as:

• Cogeneration Facility
• Landfill Electricity Generation
• Fuel Feed Systems
• Forest Residues as Fuel
• Energy Savings Through Energy Management
• Energy Use in the NZ Wood Processing Industry
• Energy Audits

Tools & Calculators
They also feature a page filled with biostock conversion calculators:
Wood waste valuation tool
On-site biomass assessment tool
Biomass boiler investment tool
Biomas cogeneration plant investment tool
Biomass Calorific value calculator
Wet/Dry Basis Converter
Energy Unit Converter

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December 15, 2006

Global BIOstock/BIOfuels Database

It is always gratifying to suddenly find a resource online that you considered so necessary that you had considered creating it yourself. Thanks to Friends of the Earth and the financial support of the Wallace Global Fund, this one happens to be free. Here is the website's introduction to this useful resource:

The Global Biofuels Database

In response to mounting global concerns about the costs and impacts of fossil fuel consumption, the development of biofuels is growing rapidly around the world. Despite the recent biofuels boom, however, many of the environmental and social impacts of a biofueled world have not been fully examined or addressed.

To address the need for greater understanding of biofuels impacts, Friends of the Earth has developed the Global Biofuels Database, an online database that enables users to compare the environmental and social impacts of a wide range of transport biofuels.

Although a great deal of information is presented here, the Global Biofuels Database is still being expanded and improved. We are eager to receive your feedback, comments and input for an updated version of the database.

To use the Global Biofuels Database, please... START HERE

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December 12, 2006

HAWAII: Powering Paradise with biofuels

Hawaii is rich in many things except the fuels that power industry, agriculture, transportation, and urban lifestyles, It imports almost all of the fuels it uses. The search for alternative energy sources has been an ongoing challenge for decades. Its quest is a microcosm of America's quest for a new way to address the need for clean renewable energy. What does it take to power "paradise"?

Hawaii's Public Utilities Commission has determined that it is time to find out. Here is a report from the Honolulu's Star Bulletin newspaper about the commitment the top utility in Oahu has made - with the firm resolve of the state government - to fuel its new power plant with ethanol and biodiesel. Rather than wait until commercial-scale technology has been proven elsewhere, in Hawaii the vision and commitment is coming first.

Here is a portion of the report ...

Biofuel to power HECO plant
A pact with the state has the firm using renewable fuels like biodiesel and ethanol
By B.J. Reyes, Star Bulletin

HAWAIIAN Electric Co.'s proposed 110 megawatt power plant at Campbell Industrial Park would be run entirely on renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel under an agreement with the state's consumer advocate.

The commitment to power the plant completely on biofuels was finalized last week and submitted in writing to the Public Utilities Commission yesterday, at the opening of a weeklong series of public hearings about HECO's application to build the $137 million plant.

A commitment to alternative fuels -- those made mostly from agricultural products such as corn, soybeans, sugar and their byproducts -- would reduce the amount of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, that account for an estimated 90 percent of the state's energy needs.

HECO originally had said it would initially use low-sulfur diesel and other more traditional fuels while pursuing a switch to alternatives and renewables as those fuels became more commercially available.

Robbie Alm, HECO's senior vice president for public affairs, said the state's promotion of alternative energy played a role in the company agreeing to the 100 percent commitment.

"After looking over what we believe is the reality of biofuels -- ethanol and biodiesel markets -- we felt we could make that commitment," Alm said.

As of April, 80 percent of all gasoline sold in Hawaii is required to be blended with 10 percent ethanol. Additionally, lawmakers this year passed a bipartisan package of bills aimed at lessening the state's dependence on imported fossil fuels through conservation and development of alternative fuels.

The first ethanol processing plants in Hawaii are expected to come online by 2007, while three of the state's largest landowners -- Maui Land & Pineapple Co., Grove Farm Co. and Kamehameha Schools -- in July announced the formation of a partnership to study the viability of a large-scale biofuels industry in the islands.

For more of this article, click HERE

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December 7, 2006

U.S. D.O.E. Information on "BIOstock" & Legislation

The U.S. Department of Energy Energy Information Administration (EIA) has a wealth of online biomass and energy data that shows the immensity of the biomass potential in the United States. It also catalogs the breadth of federal and state-by-state legislative efforts to address the alternative fuels challenge.

Want to start a national renewable energy enterprise? Then you might want to take a closer look at the Biomass Resources on Federal Lands map. It shows (in pink) where biomass resource potential outside Federal lands is and where (in green) 469 existing electric generating plants exist that utilize biomass energy. They estimate that, currently, only about 1.4% of U.S. electric energy is generated using biomass fuels.

That will change. The resource documents data up to 2004 but will be updated again this month.

The EIA site also contains a tutorial section aimed at students who are interested in learning energy basics. One entry of the Energy Kid's Page focuses on Biomass-Renewable Energy from Plants and Animals.

On the subject of Biomass...

"Biomass energy is derived from three distinct energy sources: wood, waste, and alcohol fuels. Wood energy is derived both from direct use of harvested wood as a fuel and from wood waste streams. The largest source of energy from wood is pulping liquor or “black liquor,” a waste product from processes of the pulp, paper and paperboard industry. Waste energy is the second-largest source of biomass energy. The main contributors of waste energy are municipal solid waste (MSW), manufacturing waste, and landfill gas. Biomass alcohol fuel, or ethanol, is derived almost exclusively from corn. Its principal use is as an oxygenate in gasoline."

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency - DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. The source can be researched for Renewable Energy and/or Energy Efficiency data.

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December 5, 2006

New Hampshire Renewable Power Plant Burns Wood Chips

New technology boilers will contribute to the production of energy while greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions symptomatic of the older boilers they replace. They will be financed in part by earning renewable energy certificates that can be traded.

Central to the concept of certificates is the idea that the 'environmental attributes' of renewable energy can be 'unbundled' from the energy itself, and traded independently: the attributes = certificates. By allowing the ‘green’ attributes of renewable energy to be treated separately, certificates allow electricity suppliers to purchase just the attributes of electricity generated elsewhere. If the state permits it, the supplier might be able to fulfill part or all of its portfolio requirements by purchasing certificates. In this way, certificates increase the efficiency and liquidity of the market. – Evolution Markets, Inc.

Evidence of this new trend comes from Public Service of New Hampshire, the state's largest electricity utility. Below is their recent press release.

PSNH Renewable Power Plant Burns Wood Chips

One of the nation’s largest new renewable energy projects is now in service in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, producing power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the state through the burning of wood chips. The $75 million “Northern Wood Power Project,” located at Public Service of New Hampshire’s Schiller Station, has permanently replaced a 50 megawatt coal boiler with a state-of-the-art wood-burning boiler of the same size. As a result, air emissions at the power plant are expected to be reduced by more than 380,000 tons annually through the burning of clean wood chips.

“The dramatic emission reductions from this facility will help us satisfy the strict requirements of the New Hampshire Clean Power Act,” noted Gary Long, PSNH president and chief operating officer. “Furthermore, we are able to make this improvement while still maintaining some of the lowest energy rates in the region.”

Because it is a new renewable energy project, the PSNH facility will produce more than 300,000 “renewable energy certificates” annually. Revenue from the sale of the certificates to regional energy suppliers seeking to satisfy renewable energy requirements will be used to offset the project’s capital costs.

The new boiler is expected to annually consume more than 400,000 tons of wood, most of which will come from suppliers in the Granite State. The use of local wood supply was a key goal of PSNH and the New Hampshire Timberland Owner’s Association, an early supporter of the project, and will help bolster the state’s economy and advance good forestry practices.

“Our thanks go out to the Timberland Owner’s Association, as well as the City of Portsmouth and the Town of Newington,” said Long. “We could not have succeeded without the support they provided, as well as the support of many others, including the Audubon Society of New Hampshire and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.”

Construction of the Northern Wood Power Project began in October 2004, following a rigorous review by state regulators and by planning boards in Portsmouth and Newington. The project’s primary components include a 110-foot high boiler, equivalent to a nine-story building, a wood-fuel delivery system, and a large wood storage facility, capable of holding about 10,000 tons of wood chips. Additional information on the project is available at

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