Biofuels

EPA releases updated biogenic emissions framework

Read the full story from Biomass Magazine.

On Nov. 19, the U.S. EPA released a revised framework for assessing biogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from stationary sources. According to a notice published by the EPA, the second draft of the framework will undergo further review. The agency has also issued a memo providing regulatory guidance on how the updated framework will impact the Clean Power Plan and Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program.

Boosting Butanol’s Role in the Biofuel World

Via e-mail from the Agricultural Research Service.

By Marcia Wood
November 14, 2014

The potential for producing butanol as a biofuel has become a bit more promising, thanks to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their partners. Work by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemical engineer Nasib Qureshi suggests that barley straw and corn stover—both agricultural byproducts—could be cost-effective feedstocks for producing “biobutanol.” ARS is USDA’s chief scientific research agency, and this work supports the USDA priority of developing new sources of bioenergy.

Gallon for gallon, butanol has 30 percent more energy than ethanol and only around 4 percent less energy than a gallon of petroleum-based gasoline. Qureshi has confirmed that both barley straw and corn stover can be converted to butanol via separate hydrolysis, fermentation, and recovery (SHFR) or by simultaneous saccharification, fermentation, and recovery (SSFR). In SSFR, releasing the plant sugars, fermenting them to butanol, and recovering the butanol are combined into a single operation that is performed in a single reactor.

In a recent study, Qureshi’s team used a process called gas stripping to “harvest” butanol fermented during SSFR. They obtained a final butanol yield that was 182 percent of the yield obtained from a control study that used glucose.

Using the same protocols, the scientists were able to ferment over 99 percent of the sugars in pretreated corn stover. This resulted in butanol yields that were 212 percent greater than yields observed from the controls, and 117 percent greater than the butanol yields from the barley straw.

Qureshi, University of Illinois professor Vijay Singh, Ohio State University associate professor Thaddeus Ezeji, and others also evaluated the effectiveness of producing butanol from corn stover in an SSFR process that used vacuum technology—not gas stripping—to simultaneously recover butanol during fermentation. The new process released more than 97 percent of the stover sugars, making them available for fermentation. The total butanol yield was 0.34 grams per liter per hour—higher than the glucose control yield of 0.31 grams per liter per hour.

Qureshi works at the ARS Bioenergy Research Unit in Peoria, Illinois. The scientists published their results in Bioresource Technology and Food and Bioproducts Processing in 2014.

Read more about this research in the November/December 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

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Energy Department Announces Up to $14 Million for Applying Landscape Design to Cellulosic Bioenergy

The Energy Department has announced up to $14 million to support landscape design approaches that maintain or enhance the environmental and socio-economic sustainability of cellulosic bioenergy through the improvement of feedstock production, logistics systems, and technology development. This supports the Department’s efforts to promote the commercialization of environmentally sustainable advanced bioenergy that reduces petroleum consumption and carbon emissions, as well as enhances national security.

Applying landscape design to bioenergy production systems is a promising approach for meeting multiple environmental, social, and economic objectives, such as maintaining or enhancing ecosystem health, as well as food/feed/fiber production, and profitability for landowners. This funding will support interdisciplinary research and development projects that use landscape design principles to incorporate cellulosic feedstock production and logistics into existing agricultural or forestry systems. Examples might include growing energy crops on marginal lands to improve both agricultural productivity and water quality, or utilizing agricultural residue in a way that enhances both profitability and soil quality.

Projects previously supported by the Department have shown the potential for improved sustainability by strategically placing bioenergy feedstock production within a landscape. This FOA will support activities that take the next steps by involving landowners and multi-disciplinary stakeholders in the landscape design process, establishing field research to quantify and improve sustainability metrics, and assessing logistic systems needed to provide high quality cellulosic feedstocks to conversion facilities for bioenergy.

Concept paper deadline is November 21, 2014. Full application deadline is January 12, 2015. For more information and application requirements, visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

The Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. For more information on funding opportunities for advanced bioenergy technology projects, see EERE Bioenergy Technology Office’s financial opportunities.

Energy Department Announces $13.4 Million to Develop Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts

The Energy Department announced today up to $13.4 million for five projects to develop advanced biofuels and bioproducts that will help drive down the cost of producing gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from biomass.  These products not only will help reduce carbon emissions, but also advance the department’s work to enable the production of clean, renewable and cost-competitive drop-in biofuel at $3 per gallon by 2022. The research and development projects, located in Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, Colorado and Georgia, will focus on developing integrated processes for the production of advanced biofuels and chemicals. Two of these selections will address research efforts on the efficient conversion of biogas (a mixture of gases generated from the biological breakdown of organic material) to valuable products other than power.

  • The University of Wisconsin of Madison, Wisconsin will receive up to $3.3 million to develop a process to produce high value chemicals from biomass, which can be used as plasticizers (an additive in certain plastics) and in the production of industrial chemicals and resins.
  • American Process, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia will receive up to $3.1 million to develop and demonstrate processes to upgrade cellulosic sugars to solvents in their demonstration facility.
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory of Golden, Colorado will receive up to $2.5 million to develop a conversion process demonstrating the production of muconic acid from biogas. This acid can be converted into an array of bioproducts, including fuel, plasticizers, and lubricants.
  • Natureworks, LLC of Minnetonka, Minnesota will receive up to $2.5 million to develop a fermentation process, using biogas and bacteria, for the production of lactic acid. This process could be used for the commercialization of biomethane to fuels.
  • Vertimass LLC of Irvine, California will receive up to $2 million to commercialize technology to convert ethanol into diesel fuel, gasoline, and jet fuel blend stocks compatible with the current transportation fuel infrastructure.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates the development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about EERE’s work with industry, academia, and national laboratory partners on a balanced portfolio of research in biofuels and conversion technologies.

Genetic bacterial engineering could herald new era of biofuels [video]

Watch the video at Planet Ark.

Research by scientists at Imperial College London suggests that genetic engineering of bacteria could facilitate the production of propane on a commercial scale, potentially opening up new ways of creating biofuels outside of agriculture, giving hope to those seeking alternatives to fossil fuels. Joel Flynn went to the laboratory to meet them.

How 3 biodiesel companies defy the odds in a challenging industry

In this P2 Impact article on GreenBiz, Donna Walden from WSPPN and Kelsey McCutcheon a graduate student at UNR write about three biofuel companies on the west coast and how biodiesel is good for the environment and the economy.

Previous P2 Impact articles are archived on the GreenBiz web site.

Collaborative Research Uses Camelina to Build Better Biofuel

Read the full story from Kansas State University.

A Kansas State University biochemist is improving biofuels with a promising crop: Camelina sativa. The research may help boost rural economies and provide farmers with a value-added product.

Timothy Durrett, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, is part of collaborative team that has received a four-year $1.5 million joint U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy grant. The project, led by Colorado State University, was one of 10 projects funded this year as part of the federal Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy research program.