Thursday, October 30, 2008

St. Joseph demonstration plant for next generation biofuels

Gevo and ICM are teaming up to build a demonstration plant in St. Joseph, Missouri. They will investigate Gevo's technology for converting standard ethanol biorefineries so that they can produce isobutanol and other alcohol-based chemicals from cellulosic agricultural waste materials. The technolofy is outlined here: The end result could be cost effective bio-based renewable auto fuels, diesel fuels, jet fuels, and plastics.
Gevo – Next Generation Biofuels: "“Our data says that it will cost less than $0.30 per gallon to retrofit an ethanol plant to make isobutanol. Isobutanol can be converted to gasoline blendstocks for less than an additional $0.25 per gallon. Think of it: gasoline from an ethanol plant for less than $0.60/gallon additional capital,” stated Gruber. “This technology is a win-win for both the agricultural and petrochemical industries. It opens up new and broader value-added markets to the agricultural community, and it provides the petrochemical industry with an easier route to incorporate renewable fuels and chemicals into their existing infrastructure,” said Gruber."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Method Turns Wood into Sugar for Biofuels

German researchers appear to have a breakthrough in this new method for turning wood into simple sugars. Simple sugars can be easily turned into ethanol or other useful substances.
New Method Turns Wood into Sugar for Biofuels: "Up to now, conventional methods for converting cellulose to sugar have used acid baths or high temperatures and pressures that require massive amounts of energy. This new method, however, works by first dissolving cellulose in an ionic liquid so that the long chains are broken down into shorter, single stranded chains called oligomers."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Improving biobutanol production efficiency

Researchers at the USDA Agricultural Research Service are working on more efficient ways to produce celllulosic biobutanol, an alcohol with properties superior to ethanol. They are able to combine some of the steps necessary to make biobutanol from straw.
Banking on Biobutanol: "If scaled up further, the process could yield 307 combined kilograms, or 99 gallons, of acetone, biobutanol, and ethanol from 1 ton of wheat straw. The P260 strain produces a specific ratio of the three chemicals, but efforts are now under way at Peoria to develop genetically modified bacteria that will make only biobutanol."

Friday, October 17, 2008

UNL study shows ethanol production efficiency growing

Previous studies on ethanol production often used data from outdated technology. More recently, the ethanol industry is using less fossil fuels per unit of ethanol produced, and especially less petroleum.
UNL study: Ethanol energy efficiency growing - Grand Island, NE - Grand Island Independent: "Cassman said if the goal is to reduce dependence on imported oil, his research estimates that 13 gallons of ethanol are produced for every gallon of petroleum used in the production life cycle for corn ethanol."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

New ethanol biorefinery will use barley

Construction has begun on an ethanol biorefinery in Virginia that will use barley as the primary feedstock. Using barley will open up large new areas of the U.S. Southeast for ethanol production. Aslo, barley is generally a winter crop, double cropped with soybeans in this region. This winter crop cuts down on soil erosion and runnoff into the ocean because soil is not left unprotected through the winter. So this is and instance where ethanol could provide environmental benefit and help preserve soil productivity.
DD Construction to begin on new ethanol plant