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Biofuels:
What Place in Our Energy Future?

(Released April 2009)

 
  by Ethan Goffman  

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News Articles

  1. Frost & Sullivan Believes That Government Support and Accessibility to Feedstocks Are Crucial for the Development of Second Generation Biofuels

    Frost & Sullivan PR Newswire 04-02-2009

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa, April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Almost all of the technologies for the production of second generation biofuels are in the final stage of commercialisation and their launch is expected within the next two years. These are biofuels that are derived from non-food biomass such as agricultural and forest waste, or energy crops like miscanthus and switch grass.

    "The success of such fuels depends, to a large extent, on national policies and measures towards sustainability," says Frost & Sullivan Analyst Phani Rajkumar Chinthapalli. "Ensuring access to the required feedstock for second generation biofuels is also crucial for the sustainability of the market."

    Frost & Sullivan believes that the policies and the long term renewable fuel targets set by the European Union and the US will significantly assist in establishing second generation biofuels. They will also help sustain the commercial success of such fuels up to 2020.

    Second generation biofuels could also find an ally in the forest and food industries. The paper and pulp industries, which have low operating profits for the last 30 years, would benefit from expanding into this new market. . . .

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's eLibrary

  2. Survey Shows High Interest in Biofuels

    Ascribe Newswire 04-01-2009

    MADISON, Wis. -- Most Americans want to know more about biofuels, according to a new survey fielded by researchers in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    The national survey showed that 67 percent of respondents were interested in learning more about renewable biofuels. "These findings indicate people are really interested in this issue," says Hernando Rojas, co-investigator for the study and assistant professor of life sciences communication at UW-Madison. "Biofuels have received substantial media coverage over the past year, and the public is paying attention."

    On the positive side, a majority of respondents perceive some clear benefits of biofuels, with 66 percent agreeing that using them can help the United States reduce reliance on foreign oil. Another 53 percent believed biofuels can have a positive impact on climate change trends by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Respondents had mixed opinions about the advantages and disadvantages of corn-based ethanol (an alcohol biofuel derived from the fermentation of corn), which has become a significant source of energy in the United States. More than 10 billion gallons of ethanol are expected to be included in the nation's fuel supply this year. . . .

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's eLibrary

  3. Enerkem announces plans to enter the United States with next-generation biofuels project in Mississippi

    Life Science Weekly 03-31-2009

    2009 MAR 31 - ( NewsRx.com) -- Enerkem Inc., a leading advanced biofuels and green chemicals technology company, announced its plans to build and operate a second- generation biofuels production facility located in Pontotoc, Mississippi, USA. In addition, the company announced the signature of a Memorandum of Intent with the Three Rivers Solid Waste Management Authority of Mississippi (TRSWMA) for the supply of approximately 189,000 tons of unsorted municipal solid waste (MSW) per year for use as feedstock at the Pontotoc facility (see also Enerkem Inc.).

    Plans call for the plant to be built, owned and operated by Enerkem Mississippi Biofuels, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Enerkem. It is expected to produce 20 million gallons per year of next- generation ethanol using a mix of feedstock comprised of wood residues from regional forest and agricultural operations, as well as urban biomass such as municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, and treated wood. In addition to the biofuels production facility, the investment includes an upstream municipal solid waste recycling and pre-treatment center. The total project represents a US$250 million investment. The Enerkem process will recycle and convert approximately 60% of the MSW that crosses the gate at the Three Rivers landfill. The majority of the MSW will be converted into biofuels and the remainder will be distributed to recycling processors. The overall project is expected to create 150 long-term direct and indirect jobs, and to generate an additional 300 jobs during the construction and start-up phases.

    "We are pleased to collaborate with the northern Mississippi community on building an unprecedented advanced biofuels project. The project, our first in the United States, will leverage the expertise we've gained both at our large-scale pilot facility and at our first commercial plant," said Vincent Chornet, President and Chief Executive Officer of Enerkem. "This project is unique in that it uses a mix of municipal solid waste - which has negative cost - and wood residues as feedstock, allowing Enerkem to achieve substantial commercial scale and favorable economics." . . .

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's eLibrary

  4. No Incompatibility Between Food and Biofuels

    Maputo, Mar 30, 2009 (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- The Mozambican government has insisted that the production of food crops will not be prejudiced by the planting of jatropha, a shrub which can yield biodiesel from its seeds.

    On Thursday, Deputy Energy Minister Jaime Himede visited the first major jatropha plantation in the central province of Manica, covering an area of about 1,000 hectares. He declared that the government's policy of zoning defines which areas should be used for food crops and which for biofuels.

    Speaking to reporters at Socera, 56 kilometres from the provincial capital, Chimoio, where the British company Sun Biofuels is testing 96 varieties of jatropha, Himede said the government is ensuring that there will be no collision between food production and biofuels.

    "The zoning recently authorized by the government seeks to discipline the occupation of agricultural land, so that there is no clash in terms of the areas where food is grown and those where biofuels are produced", he said.

    The Sun Biofuels jatropha fields, he added, were a positive response to the appeal first made by the government in 2006 for a mobilization of private and family agricultural producers to grow biofuels that could substitute imported petroleum-based fuels. . . .

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's eLibrary

Historical Newspapers

  1. Ethanol Industry Booms Amid New Controversy; FTC Investigates Charges Against Big Producer Federal Subsidies Foster Ethanol Industry Growth FTC Reviews Complaints

    Michael Isikoff. The Washington Post Dec 8, 1985. pg. H1, 3 pgs

    Abstract (Summary) ABSTRACT

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

  2. Sterols, Ethanol and Cellulose Head List of the Week's Patents

    Staff Correspondent. New York Times. New York, N.Y.: Nov 18, 1944. pg. 21, 2 pgs

    Abstract (Summary) RICHMOND, Va., Nov. 17 -- Two developments in sterol chemistry, an improved method of obtaining ethanol from molasses, and several inventions in the field of cellulose are among the 523 patents listed as granted in the current issue of the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office.

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

  3. Energy Alchemy; Researchers Say Sugar Made From Cellulose May One Day Provide New Food, Fuel Source

    Jeffrey A. Tannenbaum. Wall Street Journal. Feb 13, 1975. pg. 34, 1 pgs

    Abstract (Summary) NATICK, Mass. Leo A. Spano is a jolly sort with a broad grin. One thing he gets a big kick out of lately is the small jar of glucose crystals on his desk. His associates made the sugar out of some old copies of The Boston Globe.

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

Taken from ProQuest's Historical Newspapers.
Dissertations
  1. Alkaline pretreatment of biomass for ethanol production and understanding the factors influencing the cellulose hydrolysis

    by Gupta, Rajesh, Ph.D., Auburn University, 2008, 260 pages

    Abstract (Summary)
    Alkaline pretreatments were investigated in connection with bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass into ethanol. Corn stover and two different batches of hybrid poplar (High Lignin (HL) and Low Lignin (LL)) were the primary substrates of this study. Two different alkaline reagents, aqueous ammonia and dilute NaOH, were used in pretreatment of biomass for delignification and enhancement of digestibility.

    Two pretreatment processes with aqueous ammonia were used: Soaking in aqueous ammonia (SAA) and Ammonia recycle percolation (ARP). SAA is a batch process whereas ARP is a flow-through semi-batch process. Hybrid poplar is found to be more recalcitrant than the corn stover because of higher lignin content. More than 70%, and 90% of hemicellulose were retained in solids after ARP and SAA pretreatment process, respectively. Presence of hemicellulose is a significant resistance for cellulose hydrolysis. Additional external xylanase supplementation has significantly enhanced enzymatic hydrolysis of treated hybrid poplar. Overall sugar yields of 90%/60% and 90%/77% were obtained from LL/HL hybrid poplar after ARP and SAA treatments respectively. Modification in SAA process was done by adding H 2 O 2 at lower temperature. Different H 2 O 2 feeding strategy and temperature profiles in treatment were attempted in the modified SAA treatment with HL hybrid poplar. Above 60% of delignification was attained for hybrid poplar by stepwise increase of temperature (60C for 4hrs and then 120C for rest of the treatment). Glucan digestibility of 86% was achieved from the HL hybrid poplar treated under these conditions. NaOH was used as an additional pretreatment reagent (without and with H 2 O 2 ) because of its alkalinity much higher than ammonia. Maximum overall sugar yield obtained from HL hybrid poplar was 80% with 5%NaOH + 5% H 2 O 2 at 80C.

    To understand the reaction resistances other than the lignin and hemicellulose, the mechanism of cellulase reaction was investigated using pure cellulosic substrates including Avicel, filter paper, ?-cellulose, cotton and NCC (Non-crystalline cellulose). NCC is highly amorphous and has Degree of Polymerization (DP) of 100-150. It was found that exo-glucanase (Exo-G) also contributes in the generation of COS. Initial hydrolysis rate of cellulose is mainly controlled by endo-glucanase (Endo-G) whose activity is strongly influenced by the crystallinity. DP of NCC affects the reactivity of Exo-G and its terminal hydrolysis rate. Surface characteristics of substrate such as adsorptivity and surface area affect the initial hydrolysis rate but DP and crystallinity of cellulosic substrate determine maximum conversion. On the basis of the unique properties of NCC, an analytical procedure was developed that can simultaneously measure relative activities of Endo-G and Exo-G in different cellulases using NCC.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database

  2. Alternative transportation fuels: Infrastructure requirements and environmental impacts for ethanol and hydrogen

    by Wakeley, Heather L., Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University, 2008, 188 pages

    Abstract (Summary)
    Alternative fuels could replace a significant portion of the 140 billion gallons of annual US gasoline use. Considerable attention is being paid to processes and technologies for producing alternative fuels, but an enormous investment in new infrastructure will be needed to have substantial impact on the demand for petroleum. The economics of production, distribution, and use, along with environmental impacts of these fuels, will determine the success or failure of a transition away from US petroleum dependence.

    This dissertation evaluates infrastructure requirements for ethanol and hydrogen as alternative fuels. It begins with an economic case study for ethanol and hydrogen in Iowa. A large-scale linear optimization model is developed to estimate average transportation distances and costs for nationwide ethanol production and distribution systems. Environmental impacts of transportation in the ethanol life cycle are calculated using the Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) model. An EIO-LCA Hybrid method is developed to evaluate impacts of future fuel production technologies. This method is used to estimate emissions for hydrogen production and distribution pathways.

    Results from the ethanol analyses indicate that the ethanol transportation cost component is significant and is the most variable. Costs for ethanol sold in the Midwest, near primary production centers, are estimated to be comparable to or lower than gasoline costs. Along with a wide range of transportation costs, environmental impacts for ethanol range over three orders of magnitude, depending on the transport required. As a result, intensive ethanol use should be encouraged near ethanol production areas.

    Fossil fuels are likely to remain the primary feedstock sources for hydrogen production in the near- and mid-term. Costs and environmental impacts of hydrogen produced from natural gas and transported by pipeline are comparable to gasoline. However, capital costs are prohibitive and a significant increase in natural gas demand will likely raise both prices and import quantities. There is an added challenge of developing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles at costs comparable to conventional vehicles.

    Two models developed in this thesis have proven useful for evaluating alternative fuels. The linear programming models provide representative estimates of distribution distances for regional fuel use, and thus can be used to estimate costs and environmental impacts. The EIO-LCA Hybrid method is useful for estimating emissions from hydrogen production. This model includes upstream impacts in the LCA, and has the benefit of a lower time and data requirements than a process-based LCA.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database

  3. Analysis of corn-to-ethanol process for automotive applications

    by Syed Shajudeen, Peer Mohideen, M.S., University of South Alabama, 2008, 89 pagesAbstract (Summary)
    This study analyzes the technical feasibility of using corn-to-ethanol as an alternative for conventional fuel in automotive applications. The process of growing corn and its conversion to ethanol is studied to find the stoichiometric yield of ethanol under idealized conditions. Because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, the fate of carbon dioxide through the process is traced. The total energy required for this process is estimated. A sensitivity study is carried out to assess the impact of inefficiencies at each major process step on the overall process. Finally, the energy to generate ethanol from corn is compared to that for generating gasoline. According to the results in this thesis, it would take 0.86 equivalent gallons of ethanol to produce 1 gallon of ethanol product. While the net energy is positive, which implies that this process is feasible, this is clearly not a very efficient process. Distillation of ethanol from a 10% fermentation broth to 99.9% pure ethanol takes up a major portion (67%) of the total energy in the corn to ethanol process even under idealized conditions. Furthermore, the land area available in the United States is not sufficient to grow enough corn to replace current gasoline usage with ethanol produced from corn.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database

  4. Are today's automotive technician students ready for the increased use of ethanol fuels: A study of students' perceptions of ethanol and the effects of E20

    by Mead, Gary R., Ph.D., Capella University, 2008, 178 pages

    Abstract (Summary)
    As the price of petroleum rises, the use of alternative fuels such as ethanol will continue to increase. As ethanol use increases, consumers are asking automotive technicians questions about the fuel. But how much do automotive technicians know about ethanol? In order to answer this question, a study was conducted to describe automotive technician students' knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of ethanol as a vehicle fuel. Automotive students were chosen because they will be tomorrow's generation of technicians who will be working on vehicles that have used ethanol fuels along with flex fuel vehicles. The students were selected from six two-year technical colleges located in southern Minnesota. The six schools were chosen because they are located in areas where ethanol use is prevalent. The study used a 33-question pencil-and-paper survey to measure 184 automotive students' perceptions of ethanol. The survey revealed that students' knowledge of ethanol is very superficial. They know well advertised terms and facts, but lack an in-depth knowledge of the fuel. Also, it was discovered that several myths about ethanol still exist. Because of the lack of knowledge on technical aspects of the fuel, it is recommended that instructors in automotive programs incorporate a one to two hour class covering ethanol fuels into their courses. The second part of this study was a review of several material compatibility studies conducted at Minnesota State University, Mankato on 20% ethanol blends. The studies were conducted on fuel system rubbers, plastics, and metals. Minnesota recently enacted a law that will require all gasoline sold in the state to contain 20% ethanol. These studies were reviewed to see if 20% ethanol, E20, will cause any vehicle fuel system problems that automotive technicians should know about. After reviewing the studies it was determined that the likelihood of fuel system problems from E20 would be very small and isolated. Even though the potential for problems was found to be low, E20 information should be incorporated into an auto program's fuel class to help students understand this fuel and prevent the spread of myths.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Database

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