News and Trends

DuPont and New Tianlong Industry Co. Ltd. have announced an agreement to begin the development of China's largest cellulosic ethanol manufacturing plant, located in Siping City, Jilin Province in China.

The agreement allows NTL to license DuPont's cellulosic ethanol technology and use DuPont Accellerase enzymes, to produce renewable biofuel from the leftover biomass on Jilin Province's highly productive corn farms. NTL will be able to produce cellulosic renewable fuel for the rapidly growing Chinese liquid biofuel market, which is projected to exceed 1.7 billion gallons per year by 2020.

The announcement is particularly important in light of China's aggressive goals for renewable energy, cutting its reliance on foreign oil and increasing employment opportunities for its citizens.

EgyptAir plans to launch its first plane run on biofuel by next year, said Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal during a graduation project ceremony for students of the Engineering Institute of Aviation and Technology.

The Institute, in collaboration with the National Research Centre, has successfully produced biofuel samples matching the ASTM1655 norm. The samples have been tested and approved by the Misr Petroleum Research Institute, claiming that Egypt can produce biodiesel at a rate of 30 tons per day, under the supervision of the Green Fuel authority.

The biodiesel samples were tested last Tuesday on E200 jet engine model, recording the readings identical with the standard readings, with an improvement in the temperature of the exhaust fumes and fuel consumption.

In New Jersey, Liquid Light and Coca Cola have signed a technology development agreement to accelerate the development of mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) from carbon dioxide. The technology enables more efficient use of plant material to make MEG, a major component for The Coca-Cola's PET bottle.

A bioethanol production facility could make MEG from the CO2 byproduct that results from converting plant material into ethanol. The technology has the potential to reduce both the environmental footprint and the cost of producing MEG. Additional details of the agreement are not being disclosed at this time.

Research and Development

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found a way to increase the ethanol production of yeast.

They spiked the yeasts' growth medium with potassium and an acidity-reducing compound helping them tolerate higher concentrations of the ethanol. With those "supplements," commonly underperforming yeast made more ethanol than did industrial strains genetically evolved for ethanol tolerance. The supplements also enabled lab yeast to tolerate higher doses of high-energy alcohols such as butanol.

The researchers also have promising initial results showing production increases from samples of mixed raw materials actually used in industrial fermentations and are looking to combine chemical supplementation and genetic modification.

The technical and economic effectiveness of the supplementation strategy will depend on its performance at large scale and in an industrial setting. With certain yeasts already high yields, the addition of these supplements could bring even more dramatic increases in the production of ethanol and perhaps second-generation biofuels such as butanol.

Intraspecific variations in biomass composition can influence a plant's suitability for ethanol production. This may be particularly important in species such as Brassica napus, which has many different crop types for different purposes. Researchers led by Keith W. Waldron of the Norwich Research Park in UK tested straw derived from 17 B. napus cultivars, of varying crop types to establish if differences in biomass composition are relevant to cellulosic ethanol production.

Straw from the different cultivars produced varying yields after processing. The amount of fermentation inhibitors released also varied between genotypes. Cultivars with glucan-rich straw did not produce higher saccharification or ethanol yields after processing. The abundance of pectins and arabinogalactans was also shown to have the greatest influence on saccharification efficiency between straw genotypes.

Variations in the abundance of pectins influence the processing efficiency for bioethanol production. This information provides targets for plant breeding in the development of improved cellulase cocktails.

Energy Crops and Feedstocks for Biofuels Production

In North Carolina, biosolids from a wastewater plant outside Raleigh are spread to a nearby field where sunflower is grown.

The biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant is applied to the field as a fertilizer for the sunflower. The sunflowers in turn use the nitrogen keeping it from washing into the streams and rivers. The sunflowers are also harvested and their seeds are used to produce biodiesel.

In past studies, the City harvested the fuel crop from the site and processed it elsewhere. This year, the City will process the oil on site. A company called New Earth Fabricators is constructing a trailer-mounted process unit for the City of Raleigh.

Based on the pilot study, each acre of sunflowers produces about 46 gallons of fuel. The City mixes each gallon of the biodiesel with four gallons of traditionally-produced diesel and uses it to operate the farm equipment at the plant.

Production and Trade

Three companies announced their intent to build Europe's first commercial-scale production facility to create bioethanol from waste gases from steelmaking process. They said that bioethanol can cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 80 percent.

ArcelorMittal, a steel and mining company, is joining LanzaTech, a carbon recycling company from New Zealand, and Primetals Technologies, a service provider to the iron and steel industry. This project aims to produce 47,000 tons of ethanol per year, projected to fuel half a million cars with ethanol blended gasoline.

The project will use LanzaTech's recylcle technology to turn ferment waste gases to produce bioethanol. The site will be the ArcelorMittal's steel plant in Belgium and will be constructed this year. The production of ethanol will happen by mid-2017.

Biofuels Policy and Economics

EU Ministers have today officially approved the new rules to address indirect land use change (ILUC) impacts associated with biofuels. The rules must now be implemented for Europe to meet its energy targets for transport, says the European Renewable Ethanol Association (ePURE).

The agreement introduces a 7% limit on the contribution of conventional biofuels towards the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) target. This comes after the European Commission estimated that the share of renewable energy in Europe's transport sector was 5.7% in 2014.

The new rules enable Member States to introduce national sub-targets for advanced biofuels and require the European Commission to provide a basis for identifying low-ILUC risk biofuels. Member States have 24 months to implement the new rules.

"Today's political conclusion to the ILUC debate is long overdue. With only 5 years left to meet the climate and energy targets for transport, urgent action is now needed at national level to transpose and apply these new biofuel rules. Increasing the amount of sustainable biofuels on the EU market through the roll out of higher biofuel blends, such as E10, is the only realistic, cost-effective way for Member States to meet these targets," said Robert Wright, Secretary General of ePURE.