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Posts Tagged ‘biomass

A solar ‘sledgehammer’ to produce biomass gas

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This is really neat but will using solar power to create fuel have long-term legs? We’ll see – at some point alternative, renewal fuel ideas will have to catch on, won’t they?

Anyway this one is called solar biomass gasification, a concept and process that’s been around for some time, mostly in university scientific research circles. A relatively new company that has emerged from that university research environment, Sundrop Fuels Inc., might have the drop on making a commercial go of it.

CEO Wayne Simmons puts it quite succinctly: “We’re going to convert the sun’s energy into liquid fuel using concentrated solar power to gasify biomass, then convert the resulting syngas into green gasoline or diesel.”

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Written by William DiBenedetto

August 6, 2010 at 2:00 am

PNW flys with biofuel

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Pacific Northwest aviation businesses and airports are flying together to promote aviation biofuel development in the region.

The “strategic initiative,” launched this week, includes Alaska Airlines, The Boeing Company, Portland International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Spokane International Airport and Washington State University. The  “Sustainable Aviation Fuel Northwest” project is the first regional assessment of this kind in the U.S., according to a joint announcement from the group.

It will examine all phases of developing a sustainable biofuel industry, including biomass production and harvest, refining, transport infrastructure and actual use by airlines. It will include an analysis of potential biomass sources that are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, including algae, agriculturally based oilseeds such as camelina, wood byproducts and others. The project is jointly funded by the participating parties and is expected to be completed in about six months.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

July 15, 2010 at 9:03 am

For 2010 it’s bioplastic, not plastic

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The future of plastics once fossil fuels run dry or the price for it becomes too expensive will hinge on bioplastics.

So says says Frederic Scheer, chairman, president and founder of Cereplast Inc., a Hawthorne, CA, company that designs and manufactures bio-based, sustainable plastics. But he also says, somewhat ruefully, that the bioplastic future is distant, measured in terms of decades.

Which is not to say that bioplastics’ present is particularly shabby: Scheer says that U.S. demand for bioplastics could exceed $10 billion by 2020. That’s a conservative estimate, he contends, but it’s still a “drop in the bucket” compared to the traditional plastic market, which is about $2.5 trillion.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

January 4, 2010 at 6:18 pm

U.S. kicks-in $2m to Washington State Algae Alliance

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The Washington State Algae Alliance, which includes two bioscience firms and the Washington State University, is set to receive $2 million from funding provisions in the 2010 Senate Energy and Water Development appropriations bill.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) was instrumental in securing the funding for the Alliance, which will jointly develop a new algae-based system for the production of sustainable and renewable fuels, chemicals, and chemical intermediates.

Targeted Growth, Inc. (TGI), Inventure Chemical and WSU are the Alliance members.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

December 22, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Sunday feeling: Scotland’s whiskey-byproduct biomass

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Helius_small@bodyIt feels like a natural for the Scots to come up with a way to get energy out of whiskey.

If you like your whiskey neat or on the rocks or even if you don’t drink this is pretty neat:  Helius Energy Plc and the Combination of Rothes Distillers (CoRD) formed a joint venture known as Helius CoRDe, that will build and operate a biomass energy plant using whiskey distillery by-products.

The proposed £50 million ($82.7 million) project would reduce the carbon footprint of the whiskey industry on the Scottish island of Speyside.

The plant will use whiskey distillery byproducts to fuel a 7.2-megawatt GreenSwitch biomass combined heat and power plant and a GreenFields plant that will turn the liquid co-product of whisky production, known as Pot Ale, into a concentrated organic fertilizer and an animal feed for use by local farmers.

Helius CoRDe will be responsible for the financing, construction and operation of the new plant. The project could save more than 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year when compared to CoRD’s current energy use, the distillers say.

“This agreement formalizes the work we have undertaken so far and sets out the structure for us to take this project forward to completion,” says Frank Burns, CoRD general manager. “ The ability to generate renewable heat and power and secure additional markets for our distillery co-products is a very exciting development for the malt whisky industry on Speyside.”

Officials said they anticipate that engineering procurement and construction contract awards likely will come soon, allowing plant construction to begin in early 2010. It will take about two years to complete project construction.

And there’s more recent action on the Scottish biomass front with word late last month that Forth Energy, a joint venture created last year between Forth Ports Plc and Scottish and Southern Energy is preparing to go ahead with the development of four dedicated biomass power stations at Forth Ports’ site in Scotland.

Plants are proposed for Dundee, Leith, Rosyth and Grangemouth. Installed capacity would total around 400 megawatts. Softwood sourced from forests in the UK and overseas would provide the main source of fuel.

Pot Ale is a high-protein co-product removed prior to final distillation of the spirit. The solid grain product removed from the mash tun, prior to fermentation of the liquor, is known as draff.

The GreenFields process takes the co-products from distillery operations (including process water, pot ale and draff) and turns them into “value inputs” such as biomass fuel, soil conditioner, animal feed and water for cooling and cleaning purposes.

The combined heat and power unit will use a combination of distillery co-products and wood chips from sustainable sources to generate the 7.2 megawatts of electricity, enough for 9,000 homes, which can be used onsite or exported to the National Grid.

CoRD was founded in 1904 to process the Pot Ale produced by the whisky distilleries in the Rothes area. It is owned by a combination of distilling companies – comprising The Edrington Group, Chivas Brothers, Glen Grant Distillery Ltd, Inver House Distillers, Diageo and Benriach Distillery Co.

“Biomass will play a major role in meeting the UK’s targets for emissions reductions, and [the Helius CoRde venture] is a model that has the potential to be rolled-out elsewhere. Drinking green whisky may give you a warm glow but it’ll also help to avoid warming the planet,” says John Seed, managing director of Helius Energy.

So drink responsibly and don’t drive but if you do overdo it on occasion the morning-after guilt might not be so bad, if you can remember the biomass angle. Or not.



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Written by William DiBenedetto

September 20, 2009 at 8:58 am

BP ventures with Verenium, Martek provide biofuels boost

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cellulosic ethanolVerenium Corporation (Nasdaq: VRNM) a developer of next-generation cellulosic ethanol from biomass and high-performance specialty enzymes, reported a net second quarter loss for the period ending June 30 of $28.9 million on declining revenue and higher operating expenses.

Slightly more than $8.9 million of the total loss was attributed by Verenium to its “non-controlling interest in consolidated entities,” so the net loss on the part of the Cambridge, MA, company was $19.9 million. That was an increase of nearly 30 percent over the comparable period in 2008.

Despite the losses as the company’s joint venture with BP, called Vercipia Biofuels, gets underway and as it gears up to eventual commercial biofuel production, Carols Riva, president and CEO, told analysts that Verenium continues to make “significant progress on many fronts.”

He said the company has continued its aggressive expense management initiatives to control operating expenses and to conserve cash,. Verenium also amended financial covenants related to its 8 percent convertible notes to eliminate some of their “onerous restrictions.” Riva says that will simplify its financial structure and give the company financial flexibility.

Riva said that despite significant challenges that the ethanol industry has endured over the past three years, government support for biofuels ”remains strong as our government leaders realize that an overdependence on imported oil remains a critical weakness in our economy.“

The $300 million Vercipia 50/50 venture was selected in June to proceed with due diligence on a Department of Energy loan guarantee for Venerenium’s first commercial project in Highlands County, FL. That project is scheduled to break ground in 2010.

Riva says the guarantee “could extend the project debt covering up to 80 percent of eligible costs.”

The company is also making progress on the “optimization phase” at its demonstration plant in Jennings, LA, and has operated the plant on sugarcane bagasse and energy cane.

Riva says that Verenium remains optimistic that the markets for its products “will stabilize and improve as economic activity recovers.” He acknowledged that softening market conditions have affected revenues, which declined 11 percent to 16.3 million during the quarter. The revenue deline was mainly on the enzyme side of the business, regarding a change in “revenue recognition,” and the discontinuation of two product lines.

BP is also forging aheead on another biofuels front with the announcement earlier this week that it has entered a $10 million joint venture with Martek Biosciences Coporation to develop microbial oil for biofuels. BP and Martek said they will work together to develop a “step-change technology for the conversion of sugars into biodiesel.

Under the terms of the multi-year agreement they said they want to establish “proof of concept” for large-scale, cost-effective microbial biodiesal production through fermentation. The sugar-to-biodiesel plan converts sugars derived from biomass into lipids using unique fermentation mico-organisms. The lipids are then converted into fuelmolecules through chemcial or thermocatalytic processes.

Written by William DiBenedetto

August 20, 2009 at 7:30 am

Big biomass supply contract for Green Energy Resources

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grassGreen Energy Resources signed a domestic biomass supply contract worth an estimated $300 million over 10 years with an unidentified U.S. power company.  Normally I would not write this up because the company is not named — what are they ashamed or something? — but it is a big deal and a lot of money so it is of interest. The player eventually will be known.

GRE, based in New York City, says the contract contains additional provisions for monthly fuel adjustments and yearly inflation increases over its 10-year span. According to Green Energy it is the “largest known U.S. supply contract to date for a single supplier.”   GRE estimated the biomass supply stream will begin in 2010.

Under the contract, the power plant requirements will exceed 1 million tons of biomass annually. “The contract is significant in reaching or exceeding Green Energy Resources projected revenue next year of $100 million,” it says.

Green Energy Resources, formerly New York International Log & Lumber Co, is publicly traded on the Pink Sheets under ticker GRGR.  Its mission is to become a major provider of low-cost, high-quality wood fiber fuels.

The company also recently announced a commitment from a group of private financiers, also unidentified, for up to $10 million. It said the private lenders have agreed that the first loan tranche will amount to $2 million.

It is working with various power generating utilities, government agencies and corporations on carbon emission strategies. It says it is 100 percent Kyoto Protocol compliant.

It  sources its biomass from urban wood waste streams, storm damage, cities and municipalities. It has been heavily involved in exporting wood chips to to European power plants.

Written by William DiBenedetto

July 1, 2009 at 4:47 pm

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