Second-generation biofuels

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Second generation biofuel technologies are able to manufacture biofuels from inedible biomass and avoid conversion of food into fuel.

Contents

Introduction

The term "second-generation" biofuel has been used to designate multiple meanings:

  • The customary usage of the term designates a biofuel obtained from a feedstock that cannot be used except through some novel, intermediate process. An example of this is cellulosic ethanol, the production of ethanol from woody materials for which the long chains of cellulose must be broken down before conversion to ethanol. Another important example are BTL-fuels (biomass-to-liquids) that are produced from different types of biomass by gasification or putrefaction followed by catalytic synthesis of either ethanol of liquid hydrocarbons (Source: Quo Vadis Biofuels). (The "first generation" of biofuels, in this sense, are therefore those made more readily and traditionally, such as ethanol -- ethyl alcohol -- distilled from grains, sugarcane, potatoes and fruit, in which the shorter starch molecules are more directly converted to ethanol through fermentation.)
    • "Second generation biofuel technologies are able to manufacture biofuels from inedible biomass and could hence prevent conversion of food into fuel." [1]
  • Because of the difficulty in making new technologies, such as producing ethanol from grasses, technologically and economically feasible, the term "second generation" biofuels has by extension also come to be used for biofuel technologies that are sufficiently advanced or experimental in nature as of the present.
    • This definition was used by Galp Energia, a Portuguese oil and natural gas company [2]

News

2012

  • Joint BioEnergy Institute team engineers E. coli to overproduce diesel-range methyl ketones; may be appropriate for blendstock, 15 March 2012 by Green Car Congress: "Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have engineered Escherichia coli bacteria to overproduce saturated and monounsaturated aliphatic methyl ketones in the C11 to C15 (diesel) range from glucose. In subsequent tests, these methyl ketones yielded high cetane numbers, making them promising candidates for the production of advanced biofuels or blendstocks."
    • "The team, led by Dr. Harry Beller, found that it was possible to increase the methyl ketone titer production of E. coli more than 4,500-fold relative to that of a fatty acid-overproducing E. coli strain by using a relatively small number of genetic modifications. Methyl ketone titers in the best producing strains were in the range of 380 mg/L."
    • "A paper describing this work was published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Co-authoring this paper were Ee-Been Goh, who is the first author on the paper, plus Edward Baidoo and Jay Keasling." [3]
  • EPA switches course on new feedstocks in fuel standard, 6 March 2012 by Amanda Peterka for Governors' Biofuels Coalition: "On the heels of opposition from the environmental community, U.S. EPA today withdrew a rule that would have added four new feedstocks to the Renewable Fuel Standard."
    • "The direct final rule, proposed in early January, would have allowed advanced biofuels made from camelina oil, energy cane, giant reed and napiergrass to qualify under the yearly obligations set by the standard. It also would have opened the standard to biomass-based jet fuel and certain renewable gasolines made from crop residues and yard, food and municipal solid wastes."
    • "But in a notice posted today in the Federal Register, the agency said it is withdrawing the rule after receiving 'adverse comment.' EPA had proposed the initial rule without taking public comment, describing it as a 'noncontroversial' action." [4]

2011

  • Biofuel Subsidies Need Reform, 27 December 2011 by The Energy Collective: "Americans want the U.S. to lead the world in renewable energy, but these are screwy times in our nation’s capital. Some people are trying to turn clean, renewable energy into something dirty."
    • "That’s the case with the impending expiration of the main corn ethanol tax credit."
    • "Despite Norquist’s initial defense of the subsidy, at the end of the day, not even the millions the corn ethanol industry spent on lobbying could stand up against the evidence: the VEETC was redundant and wasteful, throwing billions in scarce taxpayer dollar towards another dirty fuel."
    • "The first and most important step in moving towards the biofuels we need is to stop funding mature, conventional, and dirty biofuels."
    • "Second, the entrepreneurs and innovators in the advanced biofuels industry all say that the Renewable Fuel Standard is critical to getting their fuels out of the lab and into the market place. But to be effective, the RFS and its implementation need to be strengthened and improved over time."
    • "And finally, we need to reform biofuel tax credits so that American taxpayers get real clean energy for their money."[5]
  • DOE Researchers Achieve Important Genetic Breakthroughs to Help Develop Cheaper Biofuels, 22 December 2011 by Energy.gov: "Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) announced today a major breakthrough in engineering systems of RNA molecules through computer-assisted design, which could lead to important improvements across a range of industries, including the development of cheaper advanced biofuels."
    • "This will enable scientists to develop new strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli) that are better able to digest switchgrass biomass and convert released sugars to form three types of transportation fuels – gasoline, diesel and jet fuels."
    • "While the work at JBEI remains focused on the development of advanced biofuels, JBEI’s researchers believe that their concepts may help other researchers to develop many other desired products, including biodegradable plastics and therapeutic drugs."[6]
  • Congress ‘lost faith’ in advanced bioenergy, key lawmaker says, 6 December 2011 by Des Moines Register: "Programs the Obama administration has been pushing to promote next-generation biofuels are likely to have little funding in the next farm bill, according to the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson."
    • "He said that the failure of Congress to pass legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions killed off support for agricultural energy programs."
    • "The failure of projects like the Range Fuels biofuels project in Georgia didn’t help either."
    • "Peterson also faulted environmentalists for opposing corn ethanol while promoting advanced biofuels made from non-food feedstocks such as cornfield residue, perennial grasses, or the wood chips from which Range Fuels was going to make fuel."
    • "A farm bill that the congressional agriculture committees drafted this fall would bar the Agriculture Department from providing subsidies for ethanol industry infrastructure. The bill would allow continued subsidies for farmers who provide corn cobs and other feedstocks to biofuel plants but there is no funding earmarked for the payments."[7]
  • Advanced biofuels could meet almost half of UK green transport needs, 18 November 2011 by Greenwise: "A new generation of biofuels could meet almost half of Britain’s renewable transport needs, but without them the UK will miss its 2020 target, a new Government-commissioned report warns."
    • "The study, by the National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials (NNFCC), suggests second-generation biofuels, such as that derived from household rubbish, could meet up to 4.3 per cent of the UK’s renewable transport fuel target by 2020 – almost half of the 10 per cent target the UK must meet under the European Union Renewable Energy Directive."
    • "Vegetable oils currently provide most of the UK’s renewable fuel, but due to limited availability and competing demands for sustainable vegetable oils, the NNFCC says conventional biofuels are likely to produce only up to 6.6 per cent of the energy needed in road and rail transport by 2020."
    • "The NNFCC report predicts that for advanced biofuels to meet the 4.3 per cent of the UK’s renewable transport needs will require around one million tonnes of woody biomass, two million tonnes of wheat (butanol) and 4.4 million tonnes of household, commercial and industrial wastes."[8]
  • Advanced Biofuels Required for UK to See RED, 17 November 2011 by Waste Management World: "The UK is at risk of missing its renewable transport targets without significant investment in a new generation of biofuels, according to a recently published government study."
    • "Under the EU's Renewable Energy Directive (RED), member states will be required to meet 10% of the energy used for road and rail transportation from renewable sources by 2020."
    • "Currently, most of the country's renewable fuel is derived from vegetable oils. However, due to limited availability and competing demands for sustainable vegetable oils, the study argues that conventional biofuels are likely to produce just 3.7% to 6.6% of the required 10% target."
    • "In assessing the how and if the UK will meet the Eu target, NNFCC drew up two illustrative scenarios to examine how the industry could develop in the UK."
    • "Under a modest development scenario, and assuming that advanced biofuels produced from waste feedstocks are eligible to count double towards the RED, advanced biofuel production in the UK could contribute 2.1%age points toward the UK's 10% renewable fuels in transport target."
    • "Under the same assumptions, with favourable economic conditions and strong improvements in policy, a strong development scenario could see advanced biofuels produced from waste and lignocellulosic feedstocks could contribute 4.3% points toward the UK's 10% renewable fuels in transport target."[9]
  • Brazil Lacks Cane to Boost Fuel Exports, Senator Says, 7 November 2011 by BusinessWeek: "Brazilian sugar cane companies, which are preparing to boost ethanol exports to the U.S., don’t produce enough of the renewable fuel to do so, a lawmaker said."
    • "U.S. oil companies, which must comply with government mandates to blend environmentally friendly biofuels, are expected to expand their use of sugar-cane ethanol next year, and more than 100 Brazilian mills are preparing to deliver it."
    • "Under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard, U.S. oil companies must blend into standard fuel 2 billion gallons (7.58 billion liters) of 'advanced biofuels' next year, Alejandro Zamorano Cadavid, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York, said in a telephone interview."
    • "Advanced biofuels must emit at least 50 percent less carbon dioxide than the petroleum-based products they replace, through their entire life cycle, including growing the crops, processing it into fuel and transporting it to the gas pump. Brazilian sugar-cane ethanol meets that standard, while U.S. corn-based ethanol does not, he said."
    • "About 107 Brazilian ethanol mills had registered with the EPA at the beginning of October to export fuel to the U.S., up from 55 in February, the Sao Paulo-based cane industry association Uniao da Industria de Cana-de-Acucar said Oct. 19."[10]
  • Food prices and the influence of biofuels, 15 October 2011 by Columbia Daily Tribune: "While one set of critics argues farm subsidies drive down food prices and contributed to rising rates of obesity, others argue biofuel policies are driving up food prices and contributing to world hunger."
    • "Biofuel policies might do more to raise food prices than farm subsidies do to reduce food prices."
    • "Increasing agricultural production can make it possible to provide more food and more fuel to a growing world, and rising biofuel production is not the only cause of rising food prices."
    • "Reducing or eliminating the RFS could have larger impacts on biofuel production and food prices, and a bill to reduce the RFS when grain stocks are low has been introduced in Congress."
    • "Some have argued that moving to 'second generation' biofuels, such as ethanol made from switchgrass, would alleviate concerns about biofuel production on food prices. According to a recent National Academy of Sciences report, however, such fuels still are not commercially viable."
    • "If oil prices are high enough, biofuel production could continue to increase even if current biofuel policies are removed. That means future food prices might be even more dependent on energy markets than is the case today."[11]
  • Indirect land use change (ILUC) risks can be mitigated, says E&Y report, 10 October 2011 by Biofuels Digest: "In Belgium, a new report by Ernst & Young indicates that indirect land use change (ILUC) risks can be mitigated by incentives that encourage existing and additional sustainable practices in biofuels production, as well as other sectors that use agricultural commodities."
    • "The report, commissioned by a diverse consortium of industry and NGOs, supports a new policy option that incentivizes land use change mitigation practices and supports best practice and behavioral change in the production of biofuels."
    • "This proposal could be implemented by extending the application of carbon incentives, already established by the Directive for degraded land, to qualifying mitigation measures identified in the report."
    • "ILUC mitigation practices identified by Ernst & Young include the development of advanced generation biofuels, improvements to crop yields on existing agricultural land, the use of co-products for animal feed purposes, and crop production on abandoned lands."[12]
  • More Job-Creating Biomass Crop Projects Announced Recently, 7 October 2011 by EESI: "Over the summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the establishment of nine new biomass production project areas across the U.S. as part of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP)."
    • "However, the agency is rapidly running out of funds for new project areas, and the House has zeroed out funding for the program for FY12."
    • "Developing next generation biofuels and bioenergy will help create jobs, reduce U.S. dependence on petroleum and other fossil fuels, help keep more of the nation’s energy dollars invested here at home, and help rural America grow its way out of recession."
    • "Commercial scale bioenergy production requires bringing together biomass producers and bioenergy producers within a close radius so as to minimize the cost of transporting large volumes of bulky biomass."
    • "A bioenergy plant will not be built if there is not an adequate supply of biomass nearby, but biomass producers will not begin planting biomass crops or harvesting biomass residues until they are assured that a nearby bioenergy plant will buy their biomass."[13]
  • Biofuels can be commercialized rapidly for military, says industry group, 4 October 2011 by BrighterEnergy.org: "Advanced biofuels can be commercialized rapidly for military use, on military timelines, with adequate support and coordination of efforts by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense and Energy."
    • "That’s according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which yesterday submitted comments to the Air Force’s Request for Information on the commercial status and market for advanced drop-in biofuels."
    • "Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, stated: 'The U.S. military and the nation as a whole face a significant national security threat from U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy and ongoing price volatility.'"
    • "'Military use of advanced biofuels could in turn validate emerging technologies and unlock private investment in future advanced biofuels production for civilian markets.'"[14]
  • U.S. gives $136 million for advanced biofuels research, 28 September 2011 by Reuters: "U.S. university researchers will get $136 million to develop advanced biofuels, including to develop jet fuel, by using tall grasses, woody plants and energy cane, the U.S. government said on Wednesday."
    • "Nearly two-thirds of the money will go toward aviation biofuels projects in the Pacific Northwest, including efforts to develop a regional source of bio-jet fuel for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport."
    • "Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who announced the awards in Seattle, said the project will help promote growth in rural America."
    • "The projects would focus on using woody crops to produce bio-gasoline and renewable aviation fuel, convert idle sawmills into bioenergy development centers and develop new feedstocks and techniques for sustainable forest production to create a regional source of renewable aviation fuel, and use switchgrass and woody biomass to produce low-cost sugars for conversion to butanol as well as use forest and mill residues and dedicated energy crops to produce biodiesel fuel, heat and power."[15]
  • Department of Energy Announces up to $12 Million in Investments to Support Development and Production of Drop-In Biofuels, 31 August 2011 by EERE News: "In support of the Obama Administration's comprehensive efforts to strengthen U.S. energy security, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced up to $12 million to fund three small-scale projects in Illinois, Wisconsin, and North Carolina that aim to commercialize novel conversion technologies to accelerate the development of advanced, drop-in biofuels and other valuable bio-based chemicals."
    • "The projects, funded through DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, seek to accelerate research and development that will lead the way toward affordable, clean alternatives to fossil fuels and diversify our nation's energy portfolio."
    • "Thermochemical processes use heat and catalysts to convert biomass, in a controlled industrial environment, into liquid and gaseous intermediates—or substances formed as a necessary stage in manufacturing an end product—which can then be chemically converted into fuels and other products."[16]
  • Nevada will get next-generation ethanol plant, 28 June 2011 by DesMoinesRegister.com: "Nevada will be the site of one of the world's few next-generation ethanol plants, DuPont announced Monday."
    • "The biorefinery will use corncobs, leaves and stalks as feedstock rather than corn."
    • "To remain a leader in ethanol production, Iowa must find an efficient, cost-effective way to harvest the tons of biomass left on fields and turn it into biofuel."
    • "Federal renewable-energy goals will require refiners to use 36 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2022, and much of it from sources other than cornstarch."
    • "DuPont Danisco is working with local farmers to get commitments for collecting cobs, leaves and stalks from their fields. The plant will need about 300,000 dry tons of stover annually."[17]
  • Khosla chides Big Oil for lack of biofuels appetite, 6 June 2011 by Reuters: "Billionaire Vinod Khosla took Big Oil to task on Monday for taking more risk on a long-odds deepwater oil well than on the future of biomass energy that he says will change the world within decades."
    • "Speaking the 2011 Brazilian Ethanol Summit in Sao Paulo, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems said that the world is on the verge of a technological breakthrough in cost-effectively converting crops like sugarcane into most of the fuels and consumer products that petroleum now provides."
    • "The winners in his vision of the future world will be those who took the risks to invest in winning technologies, and those in possession of ample reserves of arable land to grow biomass crops, such as Brazil and the United States."
    • "Venture capital fund Khosla Ventures is the lead investor in the U.S.-based biotechnology firm Amyris that has teamed up with Brazilian sugarcane mills to produce advanced biofuels and biochemicals -- including bio-jet fuel, biodiesel, plastics and cosmetics from cane by employing bioengineered yeasts."[18]
  • Analysis: Bioethanol may win in crunch time for EU biofuels, 13 May 2011 by Reuters: "After a two-year investigation, the European Commission has decided that the complex issue of 'indirect land use change' (ILUC) can lessen carbon savings from biofuels."
    • "The battle over ILUC has poured doubt on the security of any new investments, but that could be ended this summer when the Commission announces moves to curb the least sustainable."
    • "EU sources involved in the debate say a ranking is starting to emerge, giving the cleanest credentials to advanced bioethanol from farming residues such as straw. Next comes bioethanol from sugar beet and sugar cane, followed by the most efficient bioethanol from wheat."
    • "The Commission's new evidence will also create pressure to speed up the adoption of next-generation biofuels from agricultural residues such as straw, which do not compete with food and therefore do not create ILUC."
    • "But many industry players say Europe's political incentives are not enough to compensate for the risks and added costs of investing in new technology. 'The technology is available.' said Kare Riis Nielsen of Novozymes. 'Now we are facing a political barrier. The current policies are ineffective. A specific blending target or mandate for next-generation biofuels in all petrol is key.'[19]
  • USDA Announces Project to Encourage Development of Next-Generation Biofuels, 5 May 2011 press release by USDA Farm Service: "Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the establishment of the first Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Area to promote the production of dedicated feedstocks for bioenergy. This project will help spur the development of next-generation biofuels and is part of Obama Administration efforts to protect Americans from rising gas prices by breaking the nation’s dependence on foreign oil."
    • "Comprising 39 contiguous counties in Missouri and Kansas, the first BCAP Project Area proposes the enrollment of up to 50,000 acres for establishing a dedicated energy crop of native grasses and herbaceous plants (forbs) for energy purposes. Producers in the area will plant mixes of perennial native plants, such as switchgrass, for the manufacture of biomass pellet fuels and other biomass products to be used for power and heat generation. The proposed crops also will provide long term resource conserving vegetative cover. The project is a joint effort between the agriculture producers of Show Me Energy Cooperative of Centerview, Mo., and USDA to spur the expansion of domestically produced biomass feedstocks in rural America for renewable energy."
    • "BCAP, created in the 2008 Farm Bill, is a primary component of the strategy to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, improve domestic energy security, reduce pollution, and spur rural economic development and job creation. BCAP provides incentives to interested farmers, ranchers and forest landowners for the establishment and cultivation of biomass for heat, power, bio-based products and biofuels."[20]
  • China Set to Increase Use of Biofuels, 28 April 2011 by Crienglish.com: "China can become a leader in the production of second-generation (2G) biofuels, made from agricultural waste instead of foodstuffs, such as sugar, starch and vegetable oils said a senior executive from one of the industries' leading companies."
    • "By developing 2G technology, China can reduce the import volume of crude oil, and reduce CO2 emissions by 90 percent from current levels, Michael Christiansen, president of Novozymes (China) Investment Co Ltd, said."
    • "The nation has announced plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2020. It's expected that energy consumption of non-fossil fuels could account for more than 11 percent of the country's total energy consumption by 2015."
    • "In addition, 2G biofuel production could benefit the economy with less effect on food supply and prices."
    • "China's use of biofuel ethanol will reach 12.7 billion liters by 2020, while automotive ethanol gasoline usage will be 100 percent, and annual consumption of biodiesel will reach 2.3 billion liters, according to the targets set by the National Development and Reform Commission."[21]
  • Advanced biofuels lag far behind mandates, 19 April 2011 by DesMoinesRegister.com: "Advanced biofuels are developing far slower than Congress imagined when it imposed mandates on refiners to use them, and there’s little sign the production is going to catch up with the targets."
    • "The government expects just 170 million gallons of fuel to be made from crop residue and other sources of plant cellulose by 2014, which is far short of the 1.75 billion gallons that a 2007 law requires refiners to use that year, said Paul Bryan, who manages the Energy Department’s biomass program."
    • "The Environmental Protection Agency already has slashed the mandates for biomass fuels last year and this year because very little is being produced."
    • "He said the next generation of fuels can’t be just new forms of ethanol either because ethanol will displace so much gasoline that it will create economic problems for refineries that are needed to produce diesel, jet fuel and petrochemicals."[22]
  • U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy Announce Funding for Biomass Research and Development Initiative, 15 April 2011 press release by U.S. Department of Energy: "To support President Obama's goal of reducing America's oil imports by one-third by 2025, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) today jointly announced up to $30 million over three to four years that will support research and development in advanced biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products. The projects funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) will help create a diverse group of economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products. Advanced biofuels produced from these projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50 percent compared to fossil fuels and will play an important role in diversifying America's energy portfolio."
    • "Subject to annual appropriations, USDA plans to invest up to $25 million with DOE contributing up to $5 million for this year's Biomass Research and Development Initiative. This funding is expected to support five to ten projects over three to four years. A description of the solicitation, eligibility requirements, and application instructions can be found on the FedConnect website, Fedconnect.net and the Grants.gov website under Reference Number DE-FOA-0000510. Pre-applications are due on May 31, 2011 and must be submitted electronically. It is anticipated that applicants who are encouraged to submit full applications will be notified by August 3, 2011."[23]
  • Midwest senators strike back with pro-biofuels bill, 11 March 2011 by Ethanol Producer Magazine: "Two Midwest senators proposed legislation March 10 favoring the build-out of biofuels infrastructure and continued federal support of ethanol and biodiesel. The Securing America’s Future with Energy and Sustainable Technologies Act, introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., would establish incentives for biofuels infrastructure and deployment, develop a 'more cost-effective' tax credit program for ethanol and biodiesel, establish a renewable energy standard and encourage greater production of hybrid, electric and flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs)."
    • "The bill immediately received widespread support from renewable fuels and agriculture groups."
    • "The 117-page SAFEST Act covers a wide spectrum of renewable fuels interests and contains several important provisions related to the ethanol industry. It amends the definition of 'advanced biofuel' to include corn starch-derived ethanol."[25]
  • Feinstein introduces bill repealing VEETC for corn-based ethanol , 10 March 2011 by Oil Price Information Service: "In a move that she believes would save taxpayers $3 billion in the first six months of implementation, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would repeal the 45ct/gal ethanol tax credit for corn-based ethanol and lower the 54ct/gal ethanol import tariff to match the tax credit."
    • "'Ethanol is the only industry that benefits from a triple crown of government intervention: its use is mandated by law, it is protected by tariffs and companies are paid by the federal government to use it,' said Feinstein. 'It's time we end this practice once and for all."
    • "The bill takes a different direction than the proposal introduced yesterday by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), which would immediately repeal the ethanol tax credit. Feinstein's bill (S.530), co-sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), would eliminate the ethanol tax credit by June 30 only for corn-based ethanol. According to the bill text, after June 30, the tax credit would only be available to ethanol which qualifies as an advanced biofuel as defined by section 211(o) of the Clean Air Act."[26]
  • Biodiesel roars back with mandate, tax credits, B20 OKs, 7 February 2011 by Biofuels Digest: "'The EPA has said that they are going to enforce the 800 million gallon volume RFS2 requirement' said National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe to Biodiesel magazine, 'and we will have the tax credit in place.'"
    • "At the same time, there are challenges on the feedstock front. Bottom line, jatropha, camelina and algae are still emerging feedstocks, soy and canola are pricey, waste oils & greases are tough to find at scale, and palm is politically radioactive."
    • "For sure, the biodiesel industry is in a right jolly mood in comparison to 2009 or 2010, and has set its theme as 'Advance'. In part, that’s a recognition of biodiesel, under the rules of the Renewable Fuel Standard, as an 'advanced biofuel’ and that’s a market position that the biodiesel industry would like to have in the mind of every renewable fuels stakeholder"
    • "We continue to see biodiesel as a growing fuel, but not yet do we see the near-term feedstock availability, at affordable prices, for the fuel to have major US advancements beyond mandated levels in the billion-gallon range, before mid-decade, without importing jatropha oil from abroad (if it is not snapped up by the military or aviation sectors first)."[27]

2010

  • Tide turns against corn ethanol, 20 December 2010 by Jeff Tollefson: "Buffeted by the economic crisis and a drop in the oil price, US producers of corn ethanol are encountering increasing scepticism from the legislators on Capitol Hill even as producers of the 'greener' cellulose-derived ethanol struggle to move beyond basic research and development."
    • "The tax package brokered by US President Barack Obama... included a host of incentives for energy development. Among them was a one-year extension of a tax credit giving refiners nearly 12 cents of federal cash for every litre of corn ethanol they blend into gasoline. A tariff of more than 14 cents per litre on imported ethanol was also extended through 2011."
    • "These are shorter times than industry wanted, marking a victory for environmentalists and budget hawks who see the roughly US$6-billion-a-year benefit as wasteful spending on a mature industry. Critics say the corn ethanol credit eats up scarce federal resources and puts cellulosic ethanol at a competitive disadvantage."
    • "The mandated levels of biofuel production in the United States will increase to 53 billion litres in 2011 — about 8% of the country's total fuel consumption — and will ramp up to more than 136 billion litres by 2022. Around 90% of the biofuel will come from conventional corn ethanol next year, with the remainder coming from biodiesel and other "advanced biofuels". Last month, however, the US Environmental Protection Agency pulled back the 2011 requirement for cellulosic biofuels from 946 million to 25 million litres, citing delays in scaling up production."
  • Navy Drives Biofuel Production With Goal to Buy 336M Gallons a Year by 2020, Enhancing San Diego’s Role as Center for Algae Biofuels, 20 December 2010 by Bruce V. Bigelow: "The U.S. military’s interest in developing algae biofuels dates back at least three years, when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) began to assess the technical capabilities needed to produce JP-8 grade jet fuel."
    • "Editor Jim Lane says the Department of Defense could prove to be the ultimate driver of advanced algae-based biofuels in the United States, 'by stepping up as a buyer, and communicating buying signals to the makers of advanced biofuels and their financiers.'"
    • "That view was seconded in a weekend column by none other than Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times, who wrote that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus... has also set a goal for the Navy to use alternative energy sources to provide 50 percent of the energy for all its war-fighting ships, planes, vehicles and shore installations by 2020."
    • "To meet this goal in 2020, the Navy will need 336 million gallons of drop-in advanced biofuels every year."[30]
  • While Tax Package Richly Rewards Corn Ethanol, Senate Appropriators Propose Pulling Rug Out from Under Next Generation Bioenergy, 15 December 2010 by the National Wildlife Federation: "While the Senate approved a tax package today that includes a $5-billion subsidy for corn ethanol, five lines buried within the almost 2000-page Senate Omnibus appropriations bill unveiled yesterday sound a death knell for next generation bioenergy crops at a critical time for the industry. The omnibus bill proposes to zero out funding for a key program to support development of the next generation of biofuels and bioenergy based on grasses and trees."
    • "The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), enacted as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, has been eagerly awaited by the next generation bioenergy industry as a critical link in making biomass based energy a reality by helping with the “chicken and the egg” problem of ensuring an adequate supply of tree and grass crops to fuel biomass energy facilities. The program would provide annual payments for five years to offset the risk to the landowner of trying these new crops, as well as assistance with the cost of establishing the new crops."
    • "While Senate appropriators claim that it was their intent to deeply cut, rather than to eliminate the BCAP, the language included in the bill would eliminate all funding for the program in Fiscal Year 2011."
  • U.S. corn ethanol "was not a good policy" -Gore, 22 November 2010 by Reuters: "Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore said support for corn-based ethanol in the United States was 'not a good policy', weeks before tax credits are up for renewal."
    • "'It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first generation ethanol,' said Gore, speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens sponsored by Marfin Popular Bank."
    • "A food-versus-fuel debate erupted in 2008, in the wake of record food prices, where the biofuel industry was criticised for helping stoke food prices."
    • "Gore said a range of factors had contributed to that food price crisis, including drought in Australia, but said there was no doubt biofuels have an effect."
    • Gore also stated, "'I do think second and third generation that don't compete with food prices will play an increasing role, certainly with aviation fuels.'"[31]
  • Tsunami: Top 10 Impacts for Biofuels from US Elections, 3 November 2010 by Biofuels Digest: "US voters gave control of the House of Representatives to the Republican Party, when Democrats lost at least 57 seats in the House and six Senate seats in the 2012 mid-term elections."
    • "But what does it mean for biofuels? ...[Ten] impacts — ranging from people to policies — can be seen even now."
    • "The bottom line: moderately positive for biofuels. One of the few areas where Republicans and Democrats agree on priorities is the importance of reforming US energy policy, and biofuels enjoy bipartisan support, especially advanced biofuels. Though the Farm Bill may push to 2013, and gridlock may reign, Obama will have to run on something other than health care and the 2009 stimulus, and is likely to reach out on energy."[32]
  • A wiki for the biofuels research community, 29 October 2010 by PhysOrg.com: "Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have created a technoeconomic model that should help accelerate the development of a next generation of...biofuels....This on-line, wiki-based model enables researchers to pursue the most promising strategies for cost-efficient biorefinery operations by simulating such critical factors as production costs and energy balances under different processing scenarios."
    • "'The high production cost of biofuels has been the main factor limiting their widespread adoption,' says JBEI's Daniel Klein-Marcuschamer. 'We felt that a model of the biorefinery operation that was open, transparent about the assumptions it uses, and updatable by the community of users could aid in guiding research in the direction where it is most likely to reduce the production cost of biofuels.'"
    • "Klein-Marcuschamer, a post-doctoral researcher in JBEI's Deconstruction Division, was the lead author of a paper describing this research that was published in the journal Biomass and Bioenergy. The paper is titled "Technoeconomic analysis of biofuels: A wiki-based platform for lignocellulosic biorefineries (PDF file).'"
    • "The initial JBEI technoeconomic model is formulated to simulate a lignocellulosic ethanol biorefinery that uses corn stover feedstock. Model input factors include the cost of transporting the stover to a refinery, the use of acid pre-treatments to break down lignin and enzymes to break down cellulose into simples sugars, and the fermentation of these simple sugars into ethanol using yeast. From such inputs, users can calculate the resulting energy and greenhouse gas output."[33]
  • Klobuchar bill: trojan horse for bad biofuels, 14 July 2010, Nathanael Greene’s Blog/NRDC: "It should come as no surprise that the first copy of the full text of Sen Klobuchar's energy bill was found on a corn ethanol industry association website; the bill reads like the industry's wish list."
    • "Here are some of laundry list of bad biofuel provisions:
  • "Gutting the definition of renewable biomass so that it would include everything from old growth to garbage..."
  • "Defining mature and mainstream corn ethanol, which has been commercially produced for well over 30 years as an 'advanced biofuel' under the RFS2."[35]
  • Next-Generation Biofuels: Near-Term Challenges and Implications for Agriculture, June 2010 by William Coyle: "Next-generation biofuel companies are using a variety of strategies to overcome high initial capital costs, limited access to low-cost biomass, and other hurdles to remain financially viable during pre-commercial development."
    • "Achieving the U.S. goal to triple biofuel use by 2022 will depend on rapid expansion in cellulosic biofuels, and U.S. agriculture, as a leading source of the Nation’s biomass, will play a significant role in this expansion."
    • "There are more than 30 U.S. companies developing biochemical, thermochemical, and other approaches to produce next-generation fuels. Most of these firms are currently engaged in small-scale production, experimenting with a variety of feedstocks. Most are also focusing on cellulosic ethanol, a fuel identical to corn ethanol—now commonly used as a gasoline additive. Because ethanol provides only two-thirds of the energy of gasoline and faces blending and transportation constraints, some companies are developing products like green gasoline, green diesel, and biobutanol, which are closer substitutes for fossil fuels."
    • "If next-generation biofuels are to play a key role in America’s energy future, a number of challenges must be overcome, foremost of which are reducing costs."[36]
  • New Federal Policies Needed to Jump-Start Clean Advanced Biofuels Industry, 14 June 2010 by The Union of Concerned Scientists: "The federal government needs to adopt a suite of new policies to spur production in the stalled advanced biofuels industry, according to a report, The Billion Gallon Challenge, released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
    • "Advanced cellulosic biofuels – made from grasses, woodchips, wastes and other non-food sources – release dramatically less pollution than gasoline or corn ethanol. Reforming production tax credits for biofuels and providing new loan guarantees, investment tax credits and other financial incentives would spark investment in cellulosic biofuels, cut oil consumption, reduce global warming pollution, and ultimately save taxpayers money, the report found."
    • "Currently, cellulosic biofuels are falling far short of the mandated levels. In 2010, the standard requires fuel suppliers, largely oil companies, to purchase 100 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had to lower this target to just 6.5 million gallons due to a lack of supply."[37]
  • A new, improved outlook for biofuels: UBS sees opportunity in advanced technology, switch to nonfood feedstock, 10 June 2010 by Martin Mittelstaedt of The Globe and Mail: "The mania over ethanol as fuel didn’t play out so well for investors last time, but there might be a new way to profit from the renewable energy industry as companies rush to commercialize what is being dubbed second-generation biofuel production. The big winners are expected to be enzyme makers, forest companies, and the agricultural sector. "
    • "The call by UBS for investors to take a plunge back into biofuels is one of the first by a major investment firm since a disastrous crash in the sector two years ago. The shares of many companies that were trying to make ethanol from corn, for blending into gasoline, have plunged, and scientific critics have assailed the idea of using food as fuel, saying it had few environmental benefits."[38]
  • DOE Announces up to $11 Million for Biofuels Technology Development, 28 May 2010 by US Department of Energy: "The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $11 million in funding over three years for research and development in the area of thermochemical conversion of biomass into advanced biofuels that are compatible with existing fueling infrastructure. The objective of this funding is to improve the conversion of non-food biomass to liquid transportation hydrocarbon fuels via pyrolysis, a process that decomposes biomass using heat in the absence of oxygen to produce a bio-oil that can be upgraded to renewable diesel, gasoline, or jet fuel."
    • "DOE anticipates selecting three to four projects under this announcement and will require a minimum of 20% cost share from applicants. Selected projects will also be required to include an analysis of greenhouse gas reductions as compared with petroleum fuels."[39]
  • DOE juices biofuels industry with 13 “Electrofuels” grants, 30 April 2010 by Biofuels Digest: "In Washington, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it will award $106 million in ARPA-E funding for 37 research projects that produce advanced biofuels more efficiently from renewable electricity instead of sunlight; design completely new types of batteries to make electric vehicles more affordable; and remove the carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants in a more cost-effective way."
    • "According to the DOE, 'today’s technologies for making biofuels all rely on photosynthesis – either indirectly by converting plants to fuels or directly by harnessing photosynthetic organisms such as algae. This process is less than 1% efficient at converting sunlight to stored chemical energy. Instead, Electrofuels approaches will use organisms able to extract energy from other sources, such as solar-derived electricity or hydrogen or earth-abundant metal ions. Theoretically, such an approach could be more than 10 times more efficient than current biomass approaches.'" [40]
  • Obama touts ethanol as vital piece of rural economic recovery, 28 April 2010 by Ben Geman, The Hill:"Obama endorsed expanded ethanol production during a speech at a Macon, Missouri plant owned by POET, the country’s largest ethanol producer."
    • "Obama noted funding for ethanol projects and research in last year’s stimulus law, and also cited his interagency biofuels working group. The administration wants to see ethanol production tripled over the next 12 years, he said. "
    • "POET and other companies are also seeking to develop next-generation fuels made from materials such as crop wastes, algae and grasses."[41]
  • Will Extending the Ethanol Tax Credit Slow Progress Toward Advanced Biofuels?, 25 April 2010 by Solve Climate: "The federal tax credit for ethanol is among the most controversial energy- or environment-related policies in the country. The volume on all sides of the issue is increasing, with some shouting down ethanol’s claim to lower greenhouse gas emissions, others touting the tax credit’s job-creation capabilities and still others lamenting the diversion of farmland for fuel."
    • Autumn Hanna of Taxpayers for Common Sense was quoted in the article as saying, the tax credit "does little more than pad the pockets of big oil companies like Shell. The ethanol tax credit has already cost taxpayers more than $20 billion in the last five years and, if extended, taxpayers stand to lose billions more. Since the 1970's, taxpayers have heavily subsidized corn ethanol. It’s time this mature energy industry stand on its own two feet."
    • "Legislators from agricultural states claim that ethanol won’t prosper on its own yet, and that more than 100,000 jobs would be lost if the credit were allowed to lapse."
    • Craig Cox, the senior vice president for agricultural and natural resources at the Environmental Working Group "argues that extending the ethanol tax credits now will only divert resources from much-needed research into those second-generation fuels."[42]
  • Berkeley Lab To Build DOE Advanced Biofuels User Facility, 2 April 2010 by Berkeley Lab: "The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has been awarded nearly $18 million from the Recovery Act to build an advanced biofuels process development facility. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), this new facility will help expedite the commercialization of next generation biofuels by providing industry-scale test beds for innovative technologies."
    • "Berkeley Lab's Advanced Biofuels PDU will feature pre-treatment of biomass capabilities and bioreactors for the production of microbial or fungal enzymes that can break down biomass into fermentable sugars. The facility will also have substantial capabilities for fermentation or further conversion of sugars into advanced biofuels, along with the capacity to purify these fuels in sufficient quantities for engine testing."[43]
  • Department of Energy to Invest Nearly $18 Million for Advanced Biofuels User Facility, 31 March 2010 by U.S. Department of Energy: "[T]he Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will build an advanced biofuels process development facility aimed at speeding the commercialization of advanced biofuels by allowing researchers and the private sector to test and integrate innovative technologies."
    • "'The Department is committed to developing cost-effective and sustainable advanced biofuels. With this investment, we will vastly increase the capacity to test new innovative approaches on a larger, integrated scale,' said Assistant Secretary Zoi. 'Scaling up these clean energy technologies is crucial to addressing climate change and building a strong, domestic clean energy economy.'"
    • "Planned capabilities include unique pretreatment of biomass, enzyme production, fermentation for the production of multiple biofuels, and product purification in quantities sufficient for engine testing at partner institutions."[44]
  • BIO Calls for a Range of Policies to Support Biorefinery Commercialization and Create Green Jobs, 4 March 2010: "Public policy should extend support to all biorefinery projects, because production of biobased products and green chemicals at integrated biorefineries holds the same potential to generate jobs, boost economic growth, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as advanced biofuels."
    • Brent Erickson, executive vice president for BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section, stated,"The United States is a world leader in developing industrial biotechnology for biofuels, biobased products, and green chemicals. Deployment of the technology can improve U.S. economic competitiveness, contribute to renewed, sustainable economic growth, and create high-wage, green jobs. U.S. employment in plastics and chemical manufacturing has declined over the past two decades and is projected to shrink further, as capital investment for the petroleum-based industry has shifted away from the United States. Development of domestic biobased products and renewable chemicals can restore competitive advantage to the United States and possibly save jobs in the sector."[45]

2009

  • Shell halts wind and solar spending in favour of biofuels, 18 March 2009 by BusinessGreen.com: "Oil giant Shell has announced it is to focus its future renewable energy strategy on biofuels and halt investment in technologies such as wind and solar, which it maintains are failing to offer sufficient economic returns."
    • Shell "has established itself as the world's largest buyer and blender of biofuels and has increased funding for a number of developers of second generation biofuels over the past year, only this month taking a larger stake in biofuel specialist Codexis."
    • "Friends of the Earth (FoE) accused Shell of 'backing the wrong horse' with its focus on biofuels, arguing that they 'often lead to more emissions than the petrol and diesel they replace'."[49]
  • IEA report examines second-generation biofuel challenges, 10 March 2009 by Biomass Magazine: The International Energy Agency "has released a report examining the current first- and second-generation biofuel industries and the challenges at-hand for second-generation biofuel development and commercialization. The report's researchers have concluded that while many technical challenges remain for second-generation biofuels, a steady transition from first- to second-generation biofuels is expected in the near- to mid-future."
    • "According to the report, the transition to an integrated first- and second-generation biofuels industry will most likely be spread over the next one to two decades and will require continued significant governmental support."
    • "Based on various company announcements, the IEA determined that the first commercial-scale second-generation facilities could be up and running by 2012...and that 'the first commercial plants are unlikely to be widely deployed before 2015 or 2020.'"[50]
    • See the full IEA report, From 1st- to 2nd-Generation Biofuel Technologies - An Overview of Current Industry and RD&D Activities.

2008

Events

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

Reports

The March 2010 report by the National Wildlife Federation, Growing a Green Energy Future, examines issues related to the sustainability of biomass utilization in the United States.



Liquid biofuels edit
Oils & fats: Biodiesel | Pure plant oil (PPO)/Straight vegetable oil (SVO) | Renewable diesel
Oil feedstocks: Animal fat, oil palm, rapeseed, soybeans, etc.
Alcohols: Bio-ethanol | Biobutanol - Alcohol feedstocks: cellulosic, sugarcane, corn, sugarbeets, etc.
Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL): Pyrolysis oil | Methanol | Dimethyl ether (DME) - Biomass feedstocks

Other: ETBE | biokerosene


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