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November/December 2013 Issue 6 • volume 7


A world’s first in Italy We take a firsthand look at Beta Renewables’ advanced biofuels facility in action

Tackling ‘Airpocalypse’ Hong Kong sees its first biodiesel plant open this year

Making sweet renewable music

Check out which musicians are supporting US renewable fuel production

Regional focus: biofuels in southeast Asia Regional focus: biodiesel in theand US Australasia

Multi-Feedstock Technology from the market leader

The solution for industrial and municipal waste

Plant optimisation from the technology leader

BDI - BioEnergy International AG Parkring 18 8074 Grambach/Graz, Austria Phone +43 (0)316 4009 100 Fax +43 (0)316 4009 110

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international Issue 6

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November/December 2013 Horseshoe Media Limited Marshall House 124 Middleton Road, Morden, Surrey SM4 6RW, UK managing director Peter Patterson Tel: +44 (0)208 648 7082 publisher Margaret Dunn Tel: +44 (0)208 687 4126 Deputy Editor James Barrett Tel: +44 (0)208 687 4146 Assistant Editor Keeley Downey Tel: +44 (0)208 687 4183 INTERNATIONAL Sales MANAGER Shemin Juma +44 (0)203 551 5751 US SALES MANAGER Matt Weidner +1 610 486 6525 PRODUCTION Alison Balmer Tel: +44 (0)1673 876143 SUBSCRIPTION RATES A one-year, 6-issue subscription costs £150 (approximately $240/€185 depending on daily exchange rates). Contact: Lisa Lee Tel: +44 (0)208 687 4160 Fax: +44 (0)208 687 4130 No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in any form by any mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording or other means without the prior written consent of the publisher. Whilst the information and articles in Biofuels International are published in good faith and every effort is made to check accuracy, readers should verify facts and statements direct with official sources before acting on them as the publisher can accept no responsibility in this respect. Any opinions expressed in this magazine should not be construed as those of the publisher. ISSN 1754-2170

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c ntents 2 Contents 4 Bioethanol news 13 Biodiesel news 19 Technology news 24 Incident report 25 People on the move 26 Green page 27 Regulations European biofuels cap verdict 28 ILUC debate reopened 29 Import worry still alive 30 Maturing US biodiesel industry wears scars 32 New found FAME in Indonesia 34 Profile Diamond Green Diesel 36 Plant update – North America 38 Cover story An inside look of the world’s first advanced biofuels facility 41 Regional focus Biodiesel in the US 46 Let’s take the “bio-” out of biofuels

47 Profile A chat with the UK’s biggest bioethanol plant which reopened this summer 48 Cover story Sequential Pacific Biodiesel is hitting personal targets and has famous supporters 50 Algae A research team in the UAE believes algae-to-biofuels is possible 52 A fresh look at cultivation and growing algae for biofuels production 54 How two people’s idea grew into a project named AlgaeTown 56 Distillation A look at two options available for the biofuels process 58 Catalysts A collaboration in the US has been aiming to achieve direct renewable fuels conversion 60 What new steps are being looked at to unlock key sugars from lignocellulosic waste? 62 Plant construction A different way of working went into a bioethanol project in Argentina 64 How did one company set about delivering a build project within one year? 65 Two companies, despite being separated by 7,000 miles, worked together to deliver a large bioethanol facility in South America

November/December 2013 Issue 6 • volume 7


67 Cover story Find out about Hong Kong’s first biodiesel plant as it opened this autumn 69 Additives Oxidative stabilisers for biodiesel 71 Show review 2013 Biofuels and Feedstocks Trading conference

A world’s first in Italy An advanced biofuels facility opens in Crescentino

Tackling ‘Airpocalypse’ Hong Kong sees its first biodiesel plant open this year

Making sweet renewable music

Check out which US musicians are supporting US renewable fuel production

72 BtL Processing synthetic fuels from biomass 74 Show review 2013 Biofuels International conference 76 Events page and ad index

Regional focus: biofuels in southeast Asia Regional focus: biodiesel in theand US Australasia

Front cover courtesy of BDI – BioEnergy International AG

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And the legislative limbo continues...

Margaret Dunn Publisher


e heard the results of September’s crucial MEP vote surrounded by producers at this year’s Biofuels International conference – an excellent place to hear the industry’s reaction firsthand. We knew what people wanted more than anything was certainty, and for a decision to be reached – something which, unfortunately, could not be achieved. The news that MEPs were backing a 6% cap on first generation biofuels and introducing the first ever sub-target of 2.5% advanced biofuels did not come as much of a surprise. The biggest bone of contention, however, was the continued indecision on ILUC factors. Although MEPs voted to insert ILUC into EU biofuel legislation, this will not apply before 2020. In addition, as Parliament refused a mandate for negotiations to start, the final decision will be further

delayed until at least 2015. It was unfortunate that this latest vote couldn’t provide the answers those in the industry are so desperately seeking. But let’s just hope that once a decision is finally reached, it will be here to stay. If and when ILUC factors are introduced they will effectively end the biodiesel industry as we know it. The proposed methodology rules out most biodiesels made from rapeseed, soya and palm oil, from counting towards the target - a scary thought for all those involved. So, in the meantime, the sector is turning its attention to a topic it can do something about in the more immediate future. The European Biodiesel Board is putting up an impressive fight for the European Commission to extend anti-dumping measures against Argentina and Indonesia. And it seems to be winning the battle. The European Commission has already imposed some anti-dumping duties on these two countries but they only applied for six months. It has also now proposed to update the measures, expected to be between €215 and €250 a tonne for biodiesel imported from Argentina and between €120 and €180 a tonne for biodiesel imported from Indonesia. What impact this will have on the EU biodiesel industry remains to be seen, and judging from experience this may not be as significant

as the market hopes. Back in 2011, similar antidumping measures were implemented retroactively for US biodiesel unfairly entering the EU since 2009. Margins since have shown little improvement. The EU ethanol industry shares a similar story. It too thought its luck was in at the beginning of the year when antidumping duties against the US were imposed. Following an investigation that started in 2011 the European Commission approved a five-year $83.03 per tonne tariff or duty imposed on only US ethanol. But the effects have been less dramatic than expected. While some producers, such as Germany-based Verbio, are reporting that margins achieved have grown, others are less convinced. In May, shortly following the implementation of the anti-dumping measures, Spain’s Abengoa, one of Europe’s largest ethanol producers with six ethanol plants on the continent, said that operating margins in its biofuels segment rose to 2% in the first quarter from 0.2% a year earlier due to ‘improved margins’. UK-based consultancy LMC International, however, reviewed the figures at this year’s Biofuels International conference, and found that ethanol prices have failed to rise significantly. As the latest figures show, margins have improved slightly since March 2013 but this is largely due to falling wheat prices rather than anything else.

One of the main difficulties is the number of countries that find a way of avoiding these duties and industry associations have a fulltime job working to try and eradicate these. Earlier this year the ethanol association ePURE asked the EU to investigate whether certain ethanol blends were being classified as a chemical, rather than a denatured ethanol, allowing certain companies in Finland to circumvent the import duties. The latest from our sources at ePURE is that this loophole has now been closed. But the battle still continues and until ethanol is prevented from entering the EU from other places, such as Pakistan, anti-dumping duties will have little effect. With so much happening in the market right now, we’ve already announced the dates for next year’s Biofuels International conference. It’s being held at the Port of Ghent, Belgium, on 24-25 September 2014. International biofuels trade will certainly feature high on the agenda, and if you have any other suggestions of your own on speakers and topics that should be covered do not hesitate to get in touch, Best wishes, Margaret

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bioethanol news Bioethanol potential from Terreno looks to Dominican tobacco leaves discovered biofuels with MoU Research from the Public University of Navarre in Europe has reportedly shown that genetically modified tobacco plants are viable as raw material for producing biofuels. Ruth Sanz-Barrio, an agricultural engineer of the NUP/UPNAPublic University of Navarre and a researcher at the Institute of Biotechnology, has demonstrated the viability of using specific tobacco proteins (known as thioredoxins) as biotechnological tools in plants Specifically, she has managed to increase the amount of starch produced in the tobacco leaves by 700% and fermentable sugars by 500%. ‘We believe these genetically modified plants could be a good alternative for producing biofuels, says Sanz-Barrio. ‘With these sugars, according to the theoretical calculation provided by the National Centre for Renewable Energies, one could obtain up to 40 litres of bioethanol per tonne of fresh leaves.’ l

Canadian mining exploration and development business Terreno Resources has signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase biofuels concern Dominican Renewables. The deal is said to be worth around $2.5 million (€1.8 million) and would make Dominican a wholly-owned subsidiary of Terreno, which will then concentrate on

biofuel production in the Dominican Republic region while also expanding local mineral exploration projects. ‘Since being in the country we have become acutely aware of the reliance and prohibitive costs of traditional fuel imports with no current local supply,’ Terreno chairman John Icke was quoted as saying. ‘Dominican Renewables is positioned to address this issue in a socially responsible manner by providing a biofuel component blended with traditional fuel products.’ l

New biorefinery opens in US Commercial isobutanol producer Gevo cut the ribbon on its new biorefinery in August. The demonstration-scale plant is located adjacent to its jet fuel plant in Texas, US and will produce renewable paraxylene, a chemical prevalent in fibre and plastic production. Gevo is working with Toray Industries to develop the renewable chemical at the plant, having successfully worked towards that goal at laboratory level two years ago. It is also working with Coca-Cola Company, which has provided R&D support for the new facility under a joint development agreement. ‘We believe we have a viable route to renewable, non-petroleum derived polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and we are pleased Coca-Cola and Toray have supported this work,’ Patrick Gruber, Gevo CEO, was quoted as saying. ‘Fully renewable PET has the

Gevo’s new biorefinery aims to make the world ‘a better place’

potential to make the world a better place by reducing our dependence on oil and the environmental consequences associated with petroleumbased raw materials.’ James Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO), was in attendance at the ceremony.

‘Gevo’s new biorefinery is showing us the role that industrial biotech can play in a renaissance in America’s chemical industry. It is showing us how companies can compete and capture more of our share of the $2.4 trillion (€ 1.7 trillion) global clean energy market and the $3.7 trillion global

chemicals market,’ he says. ‘Looking at this particular operation, you can see that this industry not only is for real, but also has the potential to help transform our future in the US by helping to lessen our dependence on foreign petroleum and help reinvigorate American industry and manufacturing.’ l

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US facility approved for advanced biofuel RIN contribution

The move means the plant’s existing combined heat and power system can generate higher-value D5 advanced biofuels renewable identification numbers (RINs). The EPA approval also includes D5 RIN generation for separated food waste feedstock used at the California-based facility, allowing Aemetis to qualify its ethanol as advanced biofuels through the processing of certain food/beverage waste streams into ethanol. ‘With $190 million (€144.7 million) of revenues in 2012 from our plants in the US and India, we are already at commercial-scale for the production of non-food advanced biofuels and

renewable chemicals,’ says Eric McAfee, Aemetis CEO. ‘Our 50 million gallon a year renewable fuels plant in India was constructed to use the stearine waste product from the edible oils industry to produce non-food biodiesel and refined glycerin.’ The design of its California plant allows Aemetis to use both traditional and advanced feedstocks and energy sources to produce renewable fuels to help meet requirements of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Until now, the D5 advanced biofuels RIN portion of the RFS has been mostly met by imported Brazilian sugarcane ethanol or by substituting D4 biodiesel RINs due to a lack of advanced ethanol production. RINs are numerical codes created with every gallon of biofuel domestically produced or imported into the US, playing a dual role as a renewable fuel credit to incentivise use and as a tracking mechanism to monitor the production, movement and blending of biofuels. l

Renewable oils deal struck by Unilever Renewable oil company Solazyme has agreed to sell algal oil to consumer goods multinational Unilever. The agreement is for at least 10,000 tonnes of product and Unilever expects to complete the total volume purchase within 12 to 18 months. It is

biofuels international

believed this deal has been five years in the making. The product will be produced at the Solazyme Bunge Renewable Oils facility in Brazil, which is located at agribusiness Bunge’s sugar mill in Moema. Unilever revealed earlier this year it is currently sourcing 36% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably. l

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Aemetis, an advanced fuels and renewable chemicals company, has been granted US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval to produce ethanol using grain sorghum and biogas.

bioethanol news Algeria imports US corn products for first time The US Grains Council (USGC) has made its first high-value import into Algeria this September since successfully removing the value added and custom taxes on all feed imports to the country last year. It was Sarl Nutrimag, an Algerian commercial importer, which has made the first ever purchase of US distillers dried grains (DDGS) and corn gluten feed (CGF). According to Cary Sifferath, USGC regional director for the Middle East

and Africa, this shipment is ‘one of the beginning steps to a greater future for US DDGS and CGF in the Algerian market’. ‘Through our continuous efforts and support from our allies, products like DDGS and CGF were included in a list of feed ingredients that have had their import duties and VAT reduced to zero until August 2014,’ Sifferath adds. ‘This shipment will open the door for end-users in Algeria to buy US corn co-products in the future.’ Algeria is the secondlargest country in North Africa and is the second-largest importer of feed grains on the continent after Egypt. l

Ethanol business increases co-product supply chain with gas company Airgas Carbonic, a subsidiary of gas supplier Airbus, has signed a long-term agreement for the supply of liquid carbon dioxide from Fox River Valley Ethanol’s newly acquired plant in Wisconsin, US. Airgas Carbonic will market food and beverage-grade liquid CO2 co-products from the plant in Oshkosh, which is expected to begin production in October and yield 250 tonnes per day of liquid CO2.

‘We have partnered with Fox River’s parent company, Ace Ethanol, for the past decade to market the liquid CO2 coproduct from Ace’s ethanol plant in Stanley and we now expand our relationship to their new plant,’ says Phil Filer, president of Airgas Carbonic. ‘Ethanol plants are an important source of liquid CO2 in the Midwest, and we look forward to beginning production at our plant in Oshkosh and providing the liquid co-product to help serve the needs of the many large users in the region,’ adds Fox River president Neal Kemmet. l

news in brief Ethanol plant changes in Australia passed An ethanol processing plant proposed in north Queensland, Australia has had changes accepted by the Planning and Environment Court. Austcane, the company looking to use around 1 million tonnes of sugarcane a year to produce its ethanol, recently supplied several minor changes to its initial plans for the facility in the Burdekin. The changes concerned subjects such as vehicle access and landscaping. The court found the changes amenable despite opposition from Wilmar, Australia’s largest sugar producer, which was seeking leave to appeal the proposals. The court rejected that application.

Biofuel buses unleashed by UK coach firm UK coach company Stagecoach has added six new buses that run on 100% biofuel to its fleet based in Kent. The six buses will run between the University of Kent and Canterbury bus station, with the university supporting the project by contributing to a storage facility for the fuel at Stagecoach’s depot in Herne Bay. ‘We are determined to try everything we can to reduce pollution and congestion in our city,’ John Gilbey, leader of Canterbury city council, was quoted as saying. ‘Buses play a key role in that strategy, so Stagecoach’s investment in a fleet of new biofuel vehicles is very welcome. I have no doubt that their introduction on such a well-used route will improve the situation greatly.’

Avianca Brasil sources aviation biofuels Airline Avianca Brasil has announced its selection of the Byogy Renewables alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fully renewable aviation biofuel process to source its low carbon fuels for the future. Byogy’s fuels are direct, drop-in substitutes for petrol-based fuels. Based in California, US the renewable energy company produces advanced biofuels from any source of bioethanol. ‘The road to achieve certification of an alternative aviation fuel and reach commercial scale volume production is challenging and long. Avianca is the right partner for long journeys,’ says Kevin Weiss, President and CEO of Byogy. Avianca has selected its Airbus A319, powered by CFMI (a partnership between General Electric and SNECMA of France) CFM56 engines, as the fleet member to be used with Byogy for advanced testing and data acquisition which will support the ATJ specification adoption process which is well underway with ASTM.

6 november/december 2013 biofuels international

bioethanol news Another US state offers E15 to consumers North Dakota has become the ninth state in the US to offer the public E15 fuel at the pumps. A total of six petrol stations now offer the blended fuel and the Renewable Fuels Association believes the US public is becoming more and more

Raízen to collaborate on cellulosic ethanol project Biotechnology business Novozymes will enter into a collaboration agreement with Raizen Energia, Brazil’s largest sugarcane crusher.

receptive to green fuel options. ‘A recent Fuels America poll showed that 82% of Americans want E15 to be available at the petrol station,’ says RFA director of market development Robert White. It is tremendous to see stations in state after state begin to offer E15 and I hope this trend will continue.’

Petro Serve USA is one fuel provider now providing E15 at several locations throughout the state. ‘We are committed to offering our customers choice at the pump,’ says Kent Satrang, Petro Serve CEO. ‘Ethanol blends are the perfect partnership between North Dakota’s corn fields and oil fields.’ l

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As part of the agreement, Novozymes will supply enzyme technology to Raízen’s first commercialscale cellulosic ethanol plant in Brazil, scheduled to be operational by end 2014. The plant will be a bolton facility to Raízen’s Costa Pinto sugarcane mill in the state of São Paulo and will have the capacity to produce 40 million litres of cellulosic ethanol a year from sugarcane bagasse and straw. Novozymes will develop enzyme technology optimised for Raízen’s process and it intends to establish new enzyme-manufacturing capacity in Brazil. ‘This first plant marks an important step in the commercialisation of cellulosic ethanol in Brazil,’ says Thomas Videbæk, Novozymes’ executive VP of business development. The agreement does not have any impact on Novozymes’ financial guidance for 2013. l

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bioethanol news First ethanol plant commissioned in Guyana The first ever ethanol plant in Guyana was started up and commissioned this August by President Donald Ramotar. The 1,000 litre a day capacity demonstration plant is a cornerstone of the government’s energy and transport policy, which includes moving towards a 10% ethanol blend. The unit will use black strap molasses as a feedstock, which is essentially a waste stream, from Guyana Sugar’s Albion Sugar factory. ‘The success that this plant has given us already tells us about the potential that we have in this industry, and in the country, in trying to find cheaper, secure energy for our own development,’ Ramotar said at the ceremony. The plant was designed to produce an ethanol purity of 99.6% for fuel grade ethanol, but during start-up it operated at purities of more than 99.9%. The plant will produce two streams of pure ethanol

Stephan Blum (right) shows President Ramotar and guests some of the plant processes

and pure water which can be re-used with no further treatment needed. The technology for the plant has been supplied by Whitefox Technologies and Green Social Bioethanol. The project is supported and part funded by the Inter-American

Development Bank (IDB). As part of the development of its Climate Change Strategy the IDB has identified sustainable biofuels as a priority area. It was concluded that locally produced biofuels could have a positive impact in Guyana. l

Biofuels scam ‘the largest tax fraud scheme in Indiana history’ Six people and three companies have been indicted by the US District Court of Indianapolis after it was discovered they were defrauding people under the guise of providing so-called ‘government certified top-quality biodiesel’. Two were named as Joseph Furando and Katirina Tracy who sold, via companies called Caravan Trading and Cima Green, over 35 million gallons of fraudulently mislabelled alternative fuels as premium biodiesel to service stations and truck stops. It is believed the scheme conned consumers, taxpayers and investors of more than $100 million (€73.9 million), which was reportedly spent on things like artwork, property, jewellery and cars. Both were released on bail and Furando faces a further charge of obstruction of justice for allegedly making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation last year. US attorney Joseph Hogsett called the indictment ‘the largest tax and securities fraud scheme in Indiana history’. If found guilty all six defendants could face up to 20 years in jail. l

Crime doesn’t pay: fraudsters are looking at up to 20 years in jail

8 november/december 2013 biofuels international

bioethanol news Fuel producers in South Africa get blending date The South African Department of Energy has stated a time from which fuel producers will have to start blending petrol and diesel with biofuels. The date has been set exactly two years from 1 October and producers will be required to blend between 2 and 10% of bioethanol into petrol, and a minimum of 5% biodiesel in diesel. A move of this kind is hoped, as with many other countries, to reduce Africa’s overall dependence on imported fuels. South Africa is the largest agricultural producer on the continent but it is believed the biofuels industry has progressed slowly due to concerns over potential adverse impacts on food security and price. l

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Smart move: it is hoped South Africa can reduce its dependency on imports

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bioethanol news BlueFire to expand ethanol facility BlueFire Renewables, a renewable fuels company, is to incorporate a wood pellet production plant with its ethanol facility in Mississippi, US. The reconfigured design will see a 400,000 tonne per year factory integrated with the company’s existing 9 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Fulton. The pellets will be sold under long-term contracts into the European mandated renewable energy market. Arnold Klann, president and CEO of BlueFire, says: ‘This restructure provides a more robust economic model for the Fulton facility with an increase in projected revenues. It has become apparent in our attempts to obtain financing for the project that the right synergies and revenue model would be needed to build this facility. ‘The optimum use of biomass in the integrated facility strikes a much better balance of revenue with costs and a better utilisation of resources. The more profitable use of capital and the enhanced security of projected revenue streams more closely match what the banks have been requiring Adding value: Bluefire to use pellets in ethanol production in the very conservative and restricted credit markets.’ l

New ASTM standard for butanol use in engines As butanol continues to show strong potential as a biofuel, a new ASTM International standard has been introduced covering butanol intended to be blended with petrol at 1 to 12.5% volume for use as an automotive sparkignition engine fuel. ASTM D7862-13, the specification for Butanol for Blending with Petrol for Use as Automotive Spark-Ignition Engine Fuel, was developed by a subcommittee of ASTM International Committee D02 on Petroleum Products, Liquid Fuels and Lubricants. It establishes performance requirements and test methods for butanol content, water content, acidity, inorganic chloride, solvent-washed gum, sulphur content and total sulphate. ‘The new ASTM standard for butanol will further

commercialisation of a new renewable fuel and provide a fuel quality standard to govern the production and marketing of butanol,’ says Glenn Johnston, executive VP of regulatory affairs at renewable chemical company Gevo and a D02 member. Johnston believes butanol has several benefits as a blending agent in petrol: ‘It is compatible with existing vehicles and refuelling infrastructure, and it also offers a high blending value due to its low vapour pressure, high octane number and favourable distillation properties.’ ASTM believes the D7862 specification will be used by biofuel producers, petroleum refiners, petrol blenders, government agencies, inspection laboratories, plus manufacturers of motor vehicles, marine engines and outdoor power equipment. The subcommittee next plans to develop a proposed standard on the use of butanol in flexible fuel vehicles. l

Biofuels end goal on list for Canadian mustard research New investment will be made into Mustard 21 Canada to help it continue research and development of the crop as an industrial feedstock for the emerging biofuels sector, among others. Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz has announced an investment of CN$4.9 million (€3.4 million) to the non-profit organisation to go towards helping mustard producers ‘increase their competitiveness and profitability’. Development on the industrial side of the equation will focus on higher oil and protein content, early maturing properties and disease resistance. ‘By developing a higher quality Canadian product we are helping producers stay ahead of competing countries in the marketplace,’ Ritz adds. ‘This investment will improve mustard seed yield and quality, ensuring that Canada remains a leader in the mustard industry.’ This builds on a previous investment of CN$4 million from the Developing Innovative Agri-Products (DIAP) initiative, under the Growing Forward policy, to develop new varieties of mustard seed and new market opportunities for farmers. l

10 november/december 2013 biofuels international

bioethanol news Ensus bioethanol plant restarts in UK Natural gas-toThe Ensus bioethanol petrol facility plant in the UK has restarted production on the cards this September for a fourth time after completion of ‘essential maintenance work’.

Within a statement sent to Biofuels International, new owners CropEnergies Back in the game: new Ensus owners claims: ‘Essential promise large cash injection maintenance work taking place since July is now complete and for the food and drink industry annually. market conditions have improved ‘The plant produces bioethanol used meaning the process of getting the plant for greener road fuel and the co-products up to full production can now begin’. ensure that the bioethanol produced does Germany-headquartered CropEnergies not compete with land for food production, purchased Ensus over the summer and while delivering a high greenhouse gas promised to inject £50 million (€59.8 saving compared to products made from million) into the facility and site in Teeside. a fossil fuel,’ the statement continued. The plant employs 100 people and CropEnergies produces 1.2 million m3 of bioethanol per year from production produces 400,000 litres of ethanol, 350,000 facilities throughout Germany, tonnes of dried high protein animal feed Belgium, the UK and France. l and 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide

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Alternative fuel company Primus Green Energy is to commission a 100,000 gallon a year natural gas-to-petrol pre-commercial demonstration plant at its New Jersey, US facility. The demo plant will use Primus’ proprietary technology, a four reactor catalytic process which converts syngas derived from natural gas or other feedstocks to petrol, jet fuel, diesel or aromatic chemicals without, it claims, requiring further treatment. ‘As one of the first plants in the nation to make petrol directly from natural gas, the completion of our facility is of significance for us, the nation and the world,’ says Robert Johnsen, CEO of Primus Green. This move reportedly marks the company’s last before construction of its first commercial plant. l

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bioethanol/biodiesel news Bioethanol industry rejuvenation plan moving in Ireland A new push for a bioethanol and sugar industry in Ireland recently had its first public fundraising event. Beet Ireland, a group comprising farmers and suppliers, launched its first public fundraiser for €6 million ($8.1 million) at the National Ploughing Championships in County Laois at the end of September. The overall project is seen as the next step on the road to developing a new sugar and bioethanol industry for Ireland. The current target date for processing sugar beet is 2017 following the finalisation of the EU CAP agreement last July by minister Simon Coveney, which has enabled the business planning for the project to continue within a clear timeframe. Beet Ireland has been working with financial services company Cantor Fitzgerald to plan the financing of this major strategic infrastructural project for Ireland, which is believed to cost around €400 million. A first tranche of €3 million will be used to finance the pre-development costs for the new sugar and bioethanol production

New dawn: could the Emerald Isle be about to become even greener?

facility, including site investigation and planning, with a view to securing planning permission for the facility. The redevelopment of the Irish sugar

industry is believed to be a major economic stimulus for Ireland. Currently the cost of all sugar imports in to the country is over €300 million a year. l

Manure and brewery waste ‘key’ for fuels Biodiesel plant sale in Waste from dairy farms Anju Dahiya, project the carbon-rich waste from director, president and cothe nearby beer brewery will and beer breweries founder of General Systems be added to create algae. Malaysia could provide the Research, explains that the CAAFI’s involvement necessary ingredients to grow algae-based biofuels say the leaders of a project based in Vermont, US. The US Department of Agriculture awarded the association, which includes the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), a $51,000 (€37,000) grant to research biofuels technology using algae during a news conference at the Nordic Dairy Farm in nearby Charlotte.

waste streams from beer breweries and dairy farms create a nutrient-rich mixture that could be used to grow algae, which can then be used to make biofuels and other organic products. The project’s research will build on existing processes to create algae-based biofuel using Vermont ingredients, Dahiya says. The study will use the Nordic Dairy Farm’s anaerobic digester, which is currently not suited for the project, to capture phosphorous and nitrogen from manure and

comes from their sponsorship of Farm to Fly 2.0, an initiative to research and develop biojet fuels across the US. ‘There are not many places where you can see the entire supply chain in front of you,’ says Richard Altman, executive director emeritus at the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI). ‘There are plans to have similar projects running in every state to look at creative renewable supplies specifically for jet fuel.’ l

Global Ventures Downstream has acquired a Malaysia-based biodiesel plant from Mission NewEnergy subsidiary Mission Biotechnologies. The 100,000 tonne a year facility was sold for $11.5 million (€8.4 million) and the proceeds will reportedly go towards reducing loans from the holding company and, in turn, reduce borrowings at group level. Mission Biotechnologies, after the sale is complete, will become a dormant company. l

12 november/december 2013 biofuels international

biodiesel news Jatropha project in Guatemala gets additional funding SG Biofuels (SGB), an energy crop company has signed a mandate letter with the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) for the debt financing of its 25,000 acre jatropha bioenergy project in Guatemala. The project cost is estimated at approximately $76 million (€56.1 million). This enables IDB and SGB to proceed with financial, technical and environmental due diligence on a project that aims to produce 6.2 million gallons of plant oil and 640,000 tonnes of biomass per year, while stimulating rural economic and social development, including the creation of more than 1,000 new jobs, improved

infrastructure and health and education programs. IDB will consider participating in the financing subject to its satisfactory analysis of the project. It is anticipated that the financing package would consist of an A loan of up to US$30.6 million, to be funded by IDB and complementary financing through a B-Loan or a co-loan in a yet to be defined amount. The project utilizes SGB’s improved Jatropha hybrids – an energy crop that is native to the Guatemala region – grown on sub-prime land that is not desirable for food production. SGB’s hybrids have been developed following five years of breeding, drawing from a diverse germplasm library including more than 12,000 genotypes. ‘The development of locally produced renewable energy is an important goal for Guatemala,’ says Edwin

New palm oil certification proposed for Malaysia It has been reported Malaysia, the world’s second largest palm oil producer, is to launch its own certification standard for next year. The aim of this move is to differentiate homemade palm oil to that produced overseas and to offer a less stringent alternative to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil certification (RSPO). ‘The RSPO is more of a burden to the industry.

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Rodas, Guatemala’s deputy minister of mines and energy. ‘We support the efforts of SGB and its team of partners and investors to develop a project that will directly address our

objectives related to energy security, while promoting rural development through the creation of jobs in areas of the country that needs it most.’ l

s Liquoidney m to m

It has certain conditions that are too stringent, it is very costly, and they keep changing their goals. The premium that we get is also minimum,’ plantation industries and commodities minister Datuk Embas was quoted as saying. ‘To move forward in the palm oil industry, we decided to have our own Malaysian standard.’ It is believed the programme will start out as a voluntary initiative but could become compulsory over time. l

november/december 2013 13

biodiesel news Agreement set to boost jatropha growth in Ghana

Renewable biojet fuel partnership signed in Russia

Ghana-based Smart Oil, active in the production of renewable energy from jatropha curcas and subsidiary of Italian company Smart Oil 2, has signed a license and services agreement with Quinvita, a developer of jatropha as a sustainable bioenergy crop.

An agreement has been made by aircraft manufacturer Airbus and RT-Biotechprom, a division of technology and construction company Rostec, to make aircraft biofuel from renewable sources in Russia.

The agreement provides Smart Oil with access to Qunivita’s advanced agronomy know-how as it plans to further develop its 700 hectare jatropha plantation. ‘This is a logical step in the further development of our current Jatropha plantation,’ claims Smart Oil 2 chairman Rodolfo Danielli. ‘The Smart Oil plantation is one of the most advanced in the northern hemisphere to deliver profitable Jatropha curcas,’ adds Quintiva CEO Henk Joos. ‘In addition it is located in one of the most suitable growing belts for jatropha in the world.’ l

It has been reported the partnership hopes to yield some results by the second half of 2014 and positive test flights will be part of any decision made to take the project to industrial-scale. ‘This partnership will be a significant step in implementing our strategy of developing biotechnology in Russia, including deep processing of renewable biomass,’ RT-Biotechprom CEO Sergei Kraevoi was quoted as saying. ‘Airbus’s expertise in such projects will help us ensure that biofuels made of Russian raw materials meet all international standards.’ Airbus is implementing similar projects across locations in China, Europe, South America, the Middle East and Australia. l

Going nuts for biodiesel in Philippines It has been revealed oil company TWA is set to build a new biodiesel facility in the Philippines. The company has said the facility will have a capacity of 30 million litres and potentially be based in the Visayas region as it aims to be able to cope with a higher demand for biodiesel blends in the future. ‘The Philippine Coconut Authority has said there are enough local raw materials for both local and foreign commitments. They are just waiting for the National Biodiesel Board to make the call on a higher blend requirement,’ TWA operations manager Tanya Samillano was quoted as saying. TWA owns the Flying V brand of petrol stations in the country and has been dispensing B1 fuel for many years: ‘We believe a move to B5 will help both the economy and local coconut farmers,’ Samillano adds. The cost of the new facility is estimated at around P40 million (€681,205), roughly the same as TWA’s similar plant in Davao City. l

A new biodiesel facility is set for the Visaya region of the country

14 november/december 2013 biofuels international

biodiesel news Lemons could be future of jet fuel says researcher An University of Queensland researcher hopes to use a chemical found in lemons and other citrus fruits to produce clean, renewable jet fuel. Claudia Vickers, a senior researcher at the Systems and Synthetic Biology Group at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, is modifying baker’s yeast to produce a synthetic form of the natural chemical limonene. ‘Limonene is a volatile chemical that is best known for contributing to the smell of citrus fruits,’ Vickers explains. Limonene extracted from

citrus peel had been used successfully as a jet fuel component in demonstration flights in the past, but the process of extracting it on a large-scale is highly impractical and not commercially viable. Vickers has pioneered the use of bacterial or yeast cells, the genes to produce limonene are genetically transferred into them from citrus plants, as industrial limonene incubators. ‘Producing it in yeast should provide a route to much greater yields of limonene which are easier to extract,’ she adds. ‘It might sound unlikely, but limonene one day could be a renewable, clean

source of aviation fuel.’ Vickers’ research into synthetic limonene builds on earlier Queensland government-funded research at the AIBN, which demonstrated that sucrose from sugarcane is one of the

best biofuel feedstocks available in the state. A US Department of Agriculture report predicts ‘green chemicals’ produced using biomass will represent 22% of the chemical market by 2025. l

Sharp thinking: the limonene in citrus fruits could add to clean fuel production

Biodiesel company set to be bought in Canada Darling International, a provider of rendering, recycling and recovery solutions to the US food industry, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all of the assets of Rothsay, a division of Maple Leaf Foods, for approximately CN$645 million (€459 million) in cash. Rothsay is a biodiesel producer and recycler of animal by-products in Canada by processing raw materials into finished products of fats and proteins. These finished products are sold in domestic and international markets. It has five rendering plants and one biodiesel operation and has generated approximately $85 million of EBITDA over each of the past two fiscal years. ‘Rothsay is Canada’s premier recycler of animal by-products and a leading biodiesel manufacturer,’ says DArling CEO Randall Stuewe. Darling expects to finance the transaction through a combination of borrowings under a new Senior Secured Revolving Credit Facility and Term A Bank Loan Facility which will be entered into in connection with the closing of the transaction. l

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november/december 2013 15

biodiesel news New York City’s biodiesel fleet law praised

A new law has been passed in New York City for a 5% blend of biodiesel to be used in the city’s vehicle fleet beginning next year. The new law comes into effect 1 July 2014 plus the city will also launch a pilot programme prior to 1 December 2016 to study year round usage of B20 with no fewer than 5% of its fleet. Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the legislation into law and the measure, introduced by councilman Jim Gennaro, codifies the city’s existing use of biodiesel blends in the city’s fleet of approximately 6,000 vehicles. ‘New York City has been, and will continue to be, a champion of biodiesel usage,’ says Renewable Energy Group’s CEO Daniel Oh. ‘This law ensures that legacy of support will continue so that New Yorkers can enjoy the benefits of cleaner air and a healthier environment that biodiesel brings, while diversifying our energy sources and strengthening food supply.’ In addition to the new fleet law, the city has had a B2 biodiesel requirement for home heating oil in effect since last year, plus the city’s Parks and Recreation Department has been using B5 for the last two years and began using B20 this year during warmer months. l

Report prompts further biodiesel calls from Mayor of London A new report produced for the Greater London Authority (GLA) by LRS Consultancy has sparked further support from the Mayor of London to entice the biodiesel industry into the capital. After reviewing The market for biodiesel production from used cooking oils and fats, and greases in London, Mayor of London Boris Johnson says: ‘By capturing used cooking oil right here in London and turning it into biodiesel we could provide 20% of the fuel needed to power London’s entire bus fleet, while saving more than 50,000 tonnes of CO2 and creating hundreds of new jobs.’ LRS also supported the GLA by facilitating a biodiesel

workshop at City Hall, bringing together stakeholders from across the supply chain from waste producers, collectors, reprocessors, manufacturers and potential buyers. ‘Our research shows London has the highest concentration of food businesses in the UK, producing between 32 and 44 million litres of used cooking oil every year,’ adds LRS principle consultant Hugh Smith. ‘There were positive conversations and we hope to see some developments in the near future.’ The vast majority of the biodiesel produced in the UK is currently coming from the north of England and Scotland. Mayor Johnson’s vision is to help deliver the capital’s first biofuel refinery which will be able to tap in to the huge potential for biodiesel in London. l

US biodiesel production figures for August announced The US Environmental Protection Agency has reported 148 million gallons of biodiesel production throughout August, putting year-to-date volume at a record pace of nearly 916 million gallons.

Driving forward: 2014 will see NYC buses using B5

With more than 1 billion gallons of production in each of the past two years, biodiesel is the first EPA-designated advanced biofuel to reach commercialscale production nationwide and is on track to surpass Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) targets again this year. The production volumes are

reported under the biomass-based diesel category of the RFS. The monthly numbers show a total of over 177 million gallons of biomass-based diesel in August. That total includes nearly 30 million gallons of renewable diesel, a similar diesel replacement made with the same resources but using a different technology. For the year, biodiesel and renewable diesel together have already exceeded 1 billion gallons, with nearly 1.1 billion gallons total. Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soyabean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is produced in nearly every state in the country and supports some 50,000 jobs. l

16 november/december 2013 biofuels international

biodiesel news Green aviation fuel key to Indonesian JV An environmentally-friendly air transportation sector is the aim by a collaboration between the Indonesian government and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). It is believed the ICAO will assist in developing local civil aviation human resources and create objectives centred on promotion of alternative fuels

initiatives among other things. One of the first steps is believed to be a mix of 2% biodiesel and bioethanol in aviation turbine fuel by January next year. The joint venture is set to last three years and was signed by Transportation Ministry air transportation directorgeneral Herry Bakti Gumay and ICAO secretary-general Raymond Benjamin. l

Deal done: the collaboration will aim to get planes flying ‘green’

Positive castor beans for biodiesel trial in Brazil Evogene, a plant genomics company, says subsidiary Evofuel has completed three years of successful field trials in Brazil for the development of castor bean as an alternative feedstock for production of biodiesel and other industrial uses. The field trials were conducted in cooperation with agriculture business SLC Agrícola, one of Brazil’s largest landowners, and demonstrated strong yield performance of Evofuel’s proprietary castor seed varieties under rain-fed conditions in northeast Brazil. Evofuel, based on these results, expects to initiate commercialisation of its proprietary castor seeds in 2016, following advanced product development and pre-commercial trials which are targeted to begin next year. The collaboration with SLC is aimed at developing castor as a rotation crop with soyabean. Being grown during a period in which rainfall levels are typically not sufficient to cultivate other crops, castor production under this model does not compete with the production of staple crops. ‘These results are especially encouraging as the past two years were relatively dry, with approximately 50% of the average rainfall,’ says Assaf Oron, Evofuel GM. SLC operates over 280,000 hectares of soyabean, corn and cotton across Brazil and Evofuel estimates that, under the soyabean rotation model and leveraging SLC’s footprint, the potential land area in Brazil for economically viable commercial production of castor seeds is over five million hectares. l

First multi-feedstock biodiesel plant to arrive in Croatia Market and technology company BDI-BioEnergy International has signed a contract with Croatian government representatives to kick-start a pioneering biodiesel pioneer project in the country. The project is set to establish the largest multi-feedstock biodiesel plant both in Croatia and south-east Europe and will cost approximately €20 million ($27 million). The total capacity of the

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plant has been earmarked around 100,000 million tonnes a year. The signing was completed by Edgar Ahn, a member of the BDI management board, and Robert Kovac, president of the management board of client Biom d.o.o. Vesna Trnokop-Tanta, a representative of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, has pledged full support for the project: ‘This is an important step for Croatia in meeting the EU’s demands regarding the renewable energy

directive in the fuel sector. It also acts as a showcase for the future biodiesel market in south east Europe ’ ‘Our technology will enable Biom to convert many different waste and residual materials into high-quality biodiesel,’ says Ahn. ‘Thereby, it does not only make an important contribution to transportation environmental issues, but also helps to safely dispose of or convert problematic waste streams into useful substances.’ The first biodiesel produced via the project is expected by the end of 2014. l

november/december 2013 17

biodiesel news Total and Shell required to up biodiesel blends in Indonesia The two remaining foreign petroleum players in Indonesia have been told to increase the proportion of biodiesel mix at their petrol stations. PT Shell Indonesia and PT Total Oil Indonesia are reportedly obligated to increase their FAME content in diesel fuel mixes to at least 10% by January 2014. Any retailer failing to hit that target will face sanctions ranging from business license revocation

or suspension of operations. ‘We will inspect their petrol stations from time to time to ensure the regulation is being followed,’ director general of renewable energy and energy conservation Rida Mulyana was quoted as saying. The regulation also requires a minimum of 10% biodiesel in diesel fuel mixes used for industrial and commercial purposes and 20% for those used in power plants. Mulyana believes both companies only blend 1% biodiesel into their available diesel fuel at the time of writing. l

Biodiesel plans set for Hawaii The Hawaiian Electric Companies has begun a search for suppliers of cleaner fuels, including ultra-low sulphur diesel (ULSD), biodiesel or biodiesel blends. The companies are seeking up to 150,000 barrels per year to supply Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light generation facilities beginning 1 January 2015 and lasting for three years. ‘This request for proposals offers biodiesel suppliers, including local producers, the opportunity to offer biodiesel or biodiesel blends for all or part of the required volumes on Maui, Molokai, Lanai or Hawaii Island. Proposals will be considered if the biodiesel price is competitive with the price of ULSD,’ a statement read. Hawaiian Electric continues

to use 100% renewable biodiesel on the island of Oahu and it will also do so at the planned Honolulu International Airport emergency generation facility. In addition, all diesel vehicles in the Hawaiian Electric fleets use B20. ‘Using renewable biofuels is one of many paths the Hawaiian Electric Companies are following to reduce Hawaii’s dependency on fossil fuel,’ the statement continued. ‘The companies also continue to seek more energy from renewable sources. Firm generation using biofuels in place of fossil fuels can supply the essential stable backup needed to take maximum advantage of other variable renewables.’ The final negotiated fuel contracts will be submitted for review by the Hawaii State Public Utilities Commission, with input from the Hawaii Office of Consumer Advocacy. l

news in brief

Investment and partnership for Cool Planet Energy Singapore-based Concord Energy has signed an agreement with Cool Planet Energy Systems to establish a joint-venture in the Asia Pacific region. The partnership will develop commercial production facilities for the conversion of non-food biomass into biofuels and soil enhancing biochar. Concord Energy has also made a financial investment into Cool Planet, joining other global investors such as BP, Google Ventures, Energy Technology Ventures and the Constellation division of Exelon.

US state greenlit for increased biodiesel mandate The Minnesota Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency have announced a move to a B10 biodiesel mandate after certain conditions were met. All departments are required to determine whether four statutory conditions had been met before increasing the minimum biodiesel content mandate to B10, which was originally due in 2012, before next moving to B20 in 2015. These conditions involve federal standards for blend specifications, the production capacity of biodiesel in Minnesota, the amount of infrastructure and regulatory protocol for biodiesel blending and the source of feedstocks. ‘The commissioners are hereby giving notice that all four conditions have been satisfied and there the state of Minnesota will move to a B10 biodiesel mandate,’ a statement read this October.

Biofuels investment made in Serbia NIS, a subsidiary of Gazprom Neft, has invested RSD100 million (€874,165) into a biodiesel production project in Serbia. The investment is part of many activities NIS is involved in at the Pančevo oil refinery. The company believes biodiesel production will start within the next two months and it is expected that the biofuel will be exported into the EU. As well as a broad range of petroleum products, NIS is also known for its work in the exploration, production and refining of crude oil and natural gas.

18 november/december 2013 biofuels international

technology news Scientific key could unlock camelina bio-jet fuel Scientists at Canadabased bioscience research organisation Genome Prairie have developed a full genome sequence of camelina sativa, a crop gaining prominence as a feedstock for biodiesel and jet fuel. The study, under a publicprivate partnership called Prairie Gold, believes camelina could now also thrive in the Canadian prairies, offer producers another option within crop rotation and provide a valuable meal by-product. ‘The completion of this camelina genome sequence

marks an important milestone that will enable local businesses to be more innovative in developing camelina-based value-added industrial bioproducts,’ says Genome Prairie CEO Reno Pontarollo. The potential benefit to airlines is that Jet A-1 commercial biofuel derived from camelina can reduce carbon emissions by around 85%. Genome Prairie scientists add that camelina is ‘a technically difficult species to sequence’, and the latest in next generation sequencing techniques were needed in order to assemble a complete and high quality genome sequence. ‘One interesting feature is

Agreement signed for increased facility options A memorandum of understanding between engineer consultancy RC Costello and plant design and build concern Zeton has been signed. The two companies will work together to provide end-to-end facility solutions from feasibility studies, process simulation, front end engineering through design, procurement, fabrication and factory testing. Costello has been involved in the scale-up of biofuels, chemical processes, oil and gas, polymers and pharmaceutical processes from bench-scale, to pilot plant and full-scale operating facilities, while Zeton has know-how in the scale-up of process technology, specialising in designing and building modular pilot and demonstration plants. Costello now believes, via this partnership, it has a ‘one-stop shop to offer clients a complete service’. Zeton has also served clients in a range of industries including biofuels, bioenergy, chemicals and biotech working out of facilities based in Canada and the Netherlands. l

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Advances in camelina sativa could aid the move to renewable jet fuel among others

laboratory settings. This is likely the result of two genome duplication events in a common ancestor in camelina’s evolutionary past,’ Pontarollo adds. l

that the gene complement appears to be almost three times larger than that of Arabidopsis thaliana, a closely related species that is widely used as a model in

New agreement signed to boost algae production Algae International Group (AIG) and Syngar Technologies signed a joint venture using the Syngar technology to stimulate the growth of algae cell mass. AIG will use Syngar’s PlusWave technology to increase the amount of oil harvest for extraction by upwards of 24% as it affects any fermentation process by applying an ultrasound frequency, generated over a range of time, and power levels by equipment known as transducers. ‘The net effect of PlusWave is to speed up growth both in the inoculum phase, as well as the pond-growing phase with an increase in algae cell mass for animal

feed products and extraction of oils for biodiesel/jet fuel production,’ says Syngar CEO Garth Likes ‘This technology works within the existing algae industry infrastructure, not relying upon any genetically modified organisms or other technology requiring follow-on regulatory or new infrastructure build out, to achieve an economic benefit,’ adds AIG president John Potter. AIG plans to enhance its production yields in the development of specific unique algae species, for the extraction of oils and other valuable lipids and products, for a variety of industries ranging from biodiesel and jet fuel, fuel additives, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, nutritional products and cosmetics. l

november/december 2013 19

technology news BASF to acquire Verenium The US affiliate of Germanybased chemical company BASF has entered into an agreement to acquire the outstanding shares of common stock of biotechnology company Verenium for $4 (€3) per share. Based on all outstanding shares and including all net financial liabilities, the enterprise value is valued at approximately $62 million. California-based Verenium generated $57 million in sales last year. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of 2013. BASF will finance the transaction out of operating cash. The transaction was approved by both companies’ boards of directors. In a statement the companies said the new partnership ‘will strengthen BASF’s footprint in the strategic enzyme growth market’. l

Done deal: BASF will increase its presence in the enzyme growth market

Certification reached by Clariant’s cellulosic ethanol Clariant, a chemical producing company, has received International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) for its Sunliquidbrand demonstration plant in Germany. The certificate confirms that the cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues produced at the facility, which celebrated its first birthday this July, is compliant with the sustainability criteria set out in the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED). ‘The biofuel produced here fulfils the sustainability criteria defined in the RED and can be counted toward climate targets – an important prerequisite for establishing the process in the European market,’ says Clariant CEO Hariolf Kottmann. ISCC is one of two certification procedures for the sustainability

of biofuels that are recognised in Germany. ISCC focuses on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable use of land, the protection of natural habitats and social sustainability. ‘Thanks to the 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions enabled by our technology, we can offer an almost carbon neutral process solution,‘ adds Markus Rarbach, head of biofuels and derivatives. European laws on biofuels are based mainly on the RED. This directive sets a target for 10% of the energy used in the transport sector to come from renewable sources by the year 2020. Particular importance is attached to advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol, which are not based on foodstuffs and do not cause competition for crop land. These fuels also generate great reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. l

TÜV Rheinland to develop global activities via REACH Proving continuous expertise in registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals, TÜV Rheinland’s Brazilian subsidiary has been awarded its first REACH contract by a local biodiesel manufacturer. The Brazilian manufacturer has opted for TÜV Rheinland do Brazil to support achieving REACH compliance for products exported to Europe. Luxcontrol, TÜV’s REACH competence centre, was appointed as the manufacturer’s only representative after a tender process. TÜV Rheinland supports small and medium enterprises facing chemical regulation challenges, as illustrated by a recent REACH-related contract in South America and an accreditation in East Asia. l

20 november/december 2013 biofuels international


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technology news Lincolnway Energy adds new milling technology Renewable energy technology provider ICM has sold its selective milling technology to Iowa, USbased Lincolnway Energy. The technology is described as a value-added ICM platform technology which increases ethanol yield and oil recovery for its users. ‘We designed Lincolnway’s ethanol plant and, years later, this is an opportunity to deliver a solution to help improve their bottom line,’ says ICM president Chris Mitchell. ‘This system will allow us to take maximum advantage of the high quality corn produced in central Iowa and help us extract the greatest amount of ethanol, corn oil and DDGS possible,’ adds Eric Hakmiller, Lincolnway CEO. l

Vivergo Fuels signs first engineering framework agreement Grimley Smith Associates (GSA) is the first consultancy to be awarded a framework agreement from Vivergo Fuels for ongoing engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) services. The agreement introduces GSA, a part of Cofely Fabricom GDF Suez, as a partner to one of Europe’s biggest bioethanol plants and the UK’s largest single

source supplier of animal feed. The new framework will enable Vivergo to improve the efficiencies of existing production facilities and maximise its return on investment as GSA operates from three regional centres in the UK. The Vivergo plant, located in Saltend, takes feed-grade wheat grown at local farms and processes it into bioethanol and protein-rich animal feed. Once fully operational it aims to produce 420 million litres of bioethanol a year, as well as the protein required for over 340,000 dairy cows every day. l

DoE progress on switchgrass pretreatment for biofuels Researchers with the US Department of Energy’s (DoE) Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), have reported the first demonstration of a one-pot, wash-free process for the ionic liquid pretreatment and saccharification of switchgrass. A team from Sandia National Laboratories , using an imidazolium-based ionic liquid pretreatment, was able to release high concentrations of two sugars essential to creating biofuels, glucose and xylose. They were then able to separate the sugars at better than 90% efficiency, improving costs and allowing the ionic liquid mixture to be recycled and reused. ‘By combining ionic liquid pretreatment and

Standing tall: JBEI is showing signs of unlocking swtichgrass’ biofuels potential

saccharification into a single vessel, we eliminate the excessive use of water and waste disposal currently associated with washing biomass that is pretreated with ionic liquids,’ says chemical engineer Blake

Simmons, head of JBEI’s deconstruction division. Advanced biofuels made from cellulosic sugars stored in grasses and other nonfood crops and agricultural waste could substantially reduce the use of the fossil

fuels responsible for the release of nearly 9 billion tonnes of excess carbon into the atmosphere each year. JBEI is a bioenergy research centre partnered with DoE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office. l

22 november/december 2013 biofuels international

technology news New lignin pathway discovered for potential biofuels production A multi-university study into biomass-toenergy has claimed to have found a new lignin gene which could aid conversion. A research project involving universities in Scotland, the US and Belgium used the model plant Arabidopsis thanliana and identified an enzyme called

caffeoyl shikimate esterase (CSE), which fulfils a central role in lignin biosynthesis. The research says by removing the CSE gene resulted in 36% less lignin per gram of stem material. Conversely, the direct conversion of cellulose to glucose from nonpretreated plant biomass increased four-fold. ‘This finding was quite

unexpected because the lignin pathway has been widely examined and it had been thought, for the past decade or so, to be completely mapped,’ the University of Dundee’s Claire Halpin was quoted as saying. ‘It looks like it could be very useful in trying to manipulate plant biomass to generate biofuels and other chemicals from non-food

crops. Our studies showed that Arabidopsis with mutated CSE were able to release around 75% more sugars from cellulose without needing harsh chemical treatments.’ Haplin adds these new insights could now be used to screen natural populations of energy crops, such as poplar, eucalyptus and switchgrass, or other grass species for a non-functional CSE gene. l

New programme to assist algae producers The National Algae Association (NAA) has announced a new Algae Production Incubator Programme to be located in Texas, US. The project will be housed across five commercial buildings on 17 acres for new algae production start-up companies that require land, buildings and a source of CO2 for the first 12 months to grow

algae for a range of uses including fuels. ‘After 60 years and $2.5 billion (€1.8 billion) spent on algae research it’s time to get into commercial production with the assistance of commerciallyminded algae researchers, equipment providers and potential investors,’ a NAA statement reads. ‘The only way algaepreneurs will attract investment to their commercial algae farms is to prove themselves outside the laboratory, while keeping start-up costs down for the first

year. We have lowered the CAPEX and up-front risk of getting into the algae production industry through this algae production incubator programme.’ The programme is open to so-called algaepreneurs, college graduates, vets and existing companies that are interested in learning about commercial algae cultivation, harvesting, extraction, economics, markets and new opportunities in the algae production industry. l

Soyabean disease research extended by another year Evogene, a plant genomics company looking at enhancing crop productivity for the biofuels industries, has extend and expand its multi-year research collaboration with DuPont Pioneer for developing soyabean varieties displaying resistance to Asian Soybean Rust (ASR). Soyabean is a crop which supplies protein for human and animal consumption, as well as feedstock for oil production. ASR is a major

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Rows upon rows: Evogene and Dupont aim to protect the common soyabean crop

disease that affects the crop, mostly in the prime soyabean growing regions of North and South America. As part of the original collaboration, signed in 2011, Evogene and Pioneer established a joint research programme aimed at identifying and validating novel genes portraying the

highest probability for inplant resistance to ASR. Under this new one-year extension, the parties will add Evogene’s Gene2Product computational platform to the gene discovery programme. The platform, which offers gene optimisation by using advanced gene stacking and regulation prediction, is designed to

improve the efficacy and probability of success of the resulting novel seed products. ‘Asian soyabean rust remains a challenge for growers,’ says Gusui Wu, senior research director of DuPont Pioneer. ‘We value our collaboration with Evogene and their technology strengths to help deliver effective resistance to this devastating disease to our customers.’ The original collaboration programme included partial funding by the BIRD Foundation, a bi-national foundation which supports and encourages cooperation between Israeli and American companies in various areas of technology. l

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biofuels incident report A summary of the recent major explosions, fires and leaks in the biofuels industry Date



Incident information


Missouri, US

MFA Biomass

A biomass plant suffered a fire which caused $150,000 (€109,578) of damage and shut it down over the weekend. The plant makes pellets for wood-burning stoves from miscanthus vegetation, which is also a popular feedstock for ethanol production, and suffered the damage in both the production and storage areas. The incident is under investigation but it has been reported a fire marshal doesn’t anticipate any foul play involved.


North Carolina, US


A tanker truck carrying a reported 8,000 gallons of ethanol overturned at a junction in Selma. Several nearby restaurants and two petrol stations were evacuated. Selma Fire Department arrived on the scene with a foam truck, but the local police chief said not a lot of ethanol leaked out. A team specialising in moving the ethanol from the tank removed the excess into another truck.


Landis, Canada

Canadian National Railway

A train travelling between Winnipeg and Edmonton derailed and 17 cars carrying liquids jumped track. Of the 17 cars, one was full of ethanol and two were full of natural liquid gas. A crew spent a day cleaning up and a nearby school was evacuated.


Jackson County, US

Alabama Biodiesel

A biodiesel plant shut down after two fires has moved closer to re-opening. Alabama Biodiesel and the state fire marshal’s office reached an agreement whereby the facility needs to becomes code compliant. The fire marshal reveals the particulars were being worked on, after the plant was issued a cease-and-desist order in August.


Ohio, US


A tanker truck carrying ethanol caught fire near Roseville. The cab went up in flames but authorities say the driver escaped unharmed. There were no other reports of injury and the tanker also remained intact.

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People on the move Fenwick settles in at NBB The US National Biodiesel Board (NBB) welcomed Scott Fenwick to its ranks over the summer. Fenwick, as technical director, takes on the day-to-day management responsibilities of running the technical programme and expanding NBB’s technical reach to better match the growing industry needs. He has spent the majority of his career working within the fuel inspection industry, managing several independent fuel labs within the Gulf Coast, including an active technical role for global biofuel specifications. In addition, he has worked with Archer Daniels Midland as its biofuels technical services representative and his most recent experience was with Inspectorate America as its biofuels technical business manager. The appointment introduced the role of technical director

as a staff position in the NBB Jefferson City office and elevated long-term biodiesel industry technical leader Steve Howell to senior technical advisor. Hayashi flying with Concord Energy Singapore-based Concord Energy Group Holding’s most recent appointment has settled into his role over the autumn. Ryoichi Hayashi was brought on as a non-executive director and, in addition to his appointment, he holds a number of directorships and is also senior advisor to Mitsubishi, Energy Business Group and is president of investment company MMP. Hayashi joined Tan Boon Wan and Nasrat Muzayyin on the Concord board of directors and brings 39 years worth of industry experience to the energy trading company.

Genera names new VP of business development Genera Energy, a biomass feedstock supply chain enterprise, has moved Sam Jackson into the role of VP of business development. Jackson joined Genera in 2009 and, since March 2012, he served as VP of biomass feedstock development and supply. The company believes his transition to VP of business Sam Jackson development is a key part of positioning it as a market leader in biomass supply. Jackson earned an masters in forestry from the University of Tennessee and has experience in silviculture, forest management and wood procurement. After also receiving a Ph.D. in natural resources, he became a faculty researcher at the same university with a focus on developing sustainable, practical and economical biomass supply chain solutions. Jackson is also a founding board member of the Council on Sustainable Biomass Production.

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New CEO at BioMCN Netherlands-based MCN biomethanol producer Bio t to Koo oen Jer ted oin has app new its as rs cto dire of rd its boa CEO. of Koot, 51, is the successor ced oun ann Rob Voncken, who , his departure in early August Jeroen Koot s wa nt tme oin and the app ly. ate edi imm effective as being a CEO, having Koot has broad experience tional companies such as worked for various interna Pentaplast. Fokker, Stork and Klöckner

Members selected for new advisory board Edeniq, a biomaterials and sustainable fuels company, has formed a Science and Technology Advisory Board (STAB). The aim of this board will be to provide strategic guidance and insights based on individual areas of expertise. STAB consists of seven members who bring together experience from organisations across many different industries, as well as an unusual diversity of perspectives – academic, industrial, scientific, technological development, engineering, business, and manufacturing operations. The seven members are: Paul Bryan (University of California), Leo Manzer (CEO, Catalytic Insights), Harvey Blanch (Merck professor of Biochemical Engineering, University of California), William Brandt (director, Strategic Integration LightWorks, Arizona State University), John Rice (executive VP commercial and production, Archer Daniels Midland), Neal Jakel (GM, Illinois River Energy) and Jefferson

Tester (Croll professor of Sustainable Energy Systems, Cornell University). Bio-feedstock company names new VP Proterro, the bio-feedstock company which makes sucrose instead of extracting it from crops or deconstructing cellulosic materials, has named Timothy Cooper its VP of engineering. Cooper joins with more than two decades of experience in bioprocessing and, prior to arriving at Proterro, he was responsible for Eastman Chemical’s biotechnology effort by managing genetic engineering and fermentation development programmes, and driving generation of intellectual property. Before Eastman Chemical, Dr. Cooper was fermentation research leader at Dow AgroSciences, where he was responsible for development and scale-up of new fermentation processes and managing the fermentation development efforts of three laboratories. He has also worked with the likes of Novozymes, Diosynth and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. Cooper has earned a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Tennessee Technological University and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin. l

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One tequila, two tequila, three tequila…fuel? One would expect to find a certain amount of alcohol kept in laboratories all over the world with which scientists and researchers can use in their experiments when required. But maybe inspiration will be taken from bottles of actual ‘hard stuff’, particularly if a project in Australia gets the funding it needs to lift off. A facility more traditionally linked to tequila production is being considered as a potential biofuels outlet in Whyalla and it has rapidly

been gathering support. Collaboration between Australian Agave Proprietary and the University of Adelaide wants to use agave plants, species of which are used to make the party drink, for the production of green crude oil. Local council support has already been sought and federal funding is desired next. The Whyalla Council has pledged AU$25,000 (€17,000), five hectares of land and assistance from staff if the project does receive government support. The drought-resistant crop is being touted as ‘very suitable’ to survive the region’s dry climate and so would not be taking land away from food crops.

Well it looks like tequila...maybe sip it first to make sure?

Despite looking like a good investment in any case, perhaps a meeting accompanied by a few

examples of agave’s work in the drinks industry may help sway that extra support sooner rather than later. l

Ethanol industry fights back in media As we entered the autumn of 2013, a nationwide advertising campaign in the US took a retaliation pot shot at the oil industry. Growth Energy, an ethanol industry trade association, has become jaded with Big Oil’s attacks on biofuels and responded by telling the general public not to be taken for dummies – literally! Mr Slick, appearing across TV, print

and radio mediums, is a ventriloquist whose dummy starts talking back during a performance involving the belittling of renewable fuels. ‘Dummy’ proceeds to argue back as Slick tries to make him say why people shouldn’t use ethanol fuel. The full video can be viewed by typing ‘Big Oil presents: Mr Slick and Dummy’ into any internet search engine. ‘We understand we’re the little guy, but the biofuels industry will no longer tolerate misleading information and

nor should the American public,’ says Growth CEO Tom Buis. ‘Big Oil has run a campaign of misinformation and unsubstantiated attacks against the renewable fuels industry for far too long, so it is high time consumers get a reality check from their propaganda designed to protect their market share and enable their monopolistic behaviour.’ Hopefully it will have the desired effect and cut a few more naysayers loose from Big Oil’s marionette strings. l

Top BI Tweets Here is a selection of interesting things from our Twitterverse! (#biofuelsmag) Fuels America E15, E20, E30 ... no, this isn’t bingo. They’re ethanol grade fuels and a lot of Americans want more of them

Bioenergy Crops Lower impacts of biomass, biofuels and energy crops are possible with legumes fixing nitrogen Ethanol Warriors Just filled up with E15 in Fargo – nice work ND on giving consumers more choices at the pump! Algae Biomass Org Joshua Wilkenfeld of Heliae: ‘We can use landfill flue gas to safely grow algae’ - big implications for reducing GHGs from landfills

The US ethanol industry is concerned consumers are dancing to Big Oil’s biased tune

CRFA Cleantech industry expected to triple by 2020. Projects like renewable biofuels will protect environment and benefit Cdns now and tomorrow

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European biofuels cap: the verdict


he vote at the European Parliament concerning proposed changes to the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) was taken mid-September. The use of cropbased biofuels for land transportation was passed and will be capped at 6% of the total 10% aimed for by 2020, but MEPs did agree to pass a 2.5% share from second generation biofuels. The final figure of 6% is marginally higher than the 5.5% cap mentioned during the lead up to this vote, which was passed by 356 votes in favour to 327 against, with 14 abstentions. Plans to measure emissions via indirect land use change from 2020 onwards, which may not sit well with many ‘green campaigners’, was also put into effect. Initial reaction European renewable ethanol industry association ePure believes that a number of the decisions made by MEPs will discourage the ambition of greening Europe’s transport system however. ‘It is disappointing to see that the European Parliament has decided to significantly reduce the market for conventional biofuels in Europe,’ says ePure secretary general Rob Vierhout. ‘At a time when we need to boost our economy it is difficult to see why MEPs agree to curtail jobs and investment in a sector that helps Europe to grow the production of

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clean and sustainable fuels.’ The inclusion of a separate target for ethanol in petrol was welcomed by ePure however, and Vierhout outlined its position on the outcome of the vote in relation to multiple counting. ‘Multiple counting does not give member states an incentive to invest or develop advanced biofuels; more fossil fuel use will be the result. The benefit is symbolic,’ he adds. ‘We are disappointed with the decision to keep ILUC factors as part of the European approach to biofuels too. It is premature to ask for accounting post 2020 knowing that the science will only be reviewed in 2016.’ Poverty fighting organisation ActionAid called the decision a ‘kick in the teeth for the world’s poor’. ‘This vote is a great disappointment for the millions of people facing hunger because of land grabs and rising fuel prices,’ says Nuria Molina, director of policy and campaigns at ActionAid. ‘MEPs from across Europe turned their backs on the world’s poor, as well as their own constituents, by continuing to encourage food being used for fuel.’ South American view The results were also received further afield with Brazilian sugarcane industry association UNICA applauding the increased focus on second generation biofuels via this vote. ‘UNICA appreciates the efforts over the past several months of members of the

European Parliament to push for the consumption of biofuels which have the highest environmental credentials and technical performance,’ says CEO Elizabeth Farina. ‘We are pleased to see MEPs vote to approve measures incentivising the production of more advanced biofuels, including those made from bagasse and straw.’ The decision to reject proposals which would have applied ‘protectionist measures’ against compliant biofuels produced outside of Europe counting towards European fuel quality and renewable energy requirements was also met with positivity. An endorsement of a dedicated 8% target for biofuels produced from sugars and starch crops counting towards renewable transportation fuels by 2020 was reportedly welcomed by Brazilian ethanol and sugarcane producers. ‘This sub-target recognises the important contribution ethanol has in helping Europe meet its energy security and climate change abatement goals,’ adds Farina. Geraldine Kutas, head of international affairs at UNICA, was left disappointed at the overall arbitrary 6% cap on the use of all food crop-based biofuels. ‘A cap ignores important differences between conventional biofuels’ environmental performance. It is also vulnerable to being de facto discriminatory and breaching World Trade Organisation rules,’ Kutas was quoted as saying.

‘UNICA is hopeful EU member states, which will now formally begin to craft their own position on the biofuel dossier, will reject this arbitrary cap.’ Moving forward The European Biodiesel Board (EBB) believes the parliament vote was ‘very tight and de facto, refusing to give mandate to negotiate with member states’, with MEPs calling for a second reading, hence postponing the final position of this institution to next year, with newly elected MEPs, after May 2014 European scrutiny. ‘These rather indecisive results show that doubt persists in using a rather young discipline for policy making,’ says Raffaello Garofalo, EBB secretary general. ‘Europe cannot afford to threaten nearly 220,000 jobs based on simplistic ILUC assumptions.’ Garofalo claims the European biodiesel industry is contributing to higher sustainability standards and reducing Europe’s reliance on imports of diesel and protein from third countries. ‘To include ILUC factors, even for reporting, would convey the wrong signal to citizens. European regulators should be proud of the commitment of the EU biodiesel industry to promote a greener economy, foster agriculture and support industrial jobs. European biodiesel should set an example for higher standards, not be punished based on inconclusive science,’ Garofalo adds. l

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New ILUC studies could re-open biofuels debate


new study conducted by Air Improvement Resource, consultancy (S&T) Squared and the University of Illinois Chicago concluded in much lower indirect land use change (ILUC) values for biodiesel and biofuels. Economic modelling applied to bioenergy has been heavily questioned recently. With successive reports proposing improvements in assumptions, the ILUC estimates on biofuels have decreased sharply. The French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) concluded this June in an 80% reduction of indirect emissions, with a value for biodiesel of 10gCO2eq/MJ. This research observed that current ILUC models use lower values for increasing yields than actual observed data trends. So the new US study Land Use Change Greenhouse Gas emissions of European Biofuel Policies Utilizing the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) evaluated land use changes for several biofuels pathways and policies. ‘This work has found that ILUC calculated using the latest version of GTAP is much less than those calculated by the International Food policy Research Institute in 2011,’ says Steffen Mueller of the University of Illinois. GTAP concludes biodiesel could account for as little as 2,33gCO2eq/MJ, compared to current 55gCO2eq/MJ allocated in a European Commission proposal amending biofuels policy. That represents a 95% difference, mainly due to improved understanding with regards to land use, crop yields and

forest use throughout the EU, Canada and the US. Suggestions for further improvements are also provided, like regionalisation of the analysis and crop specificity of yield. The divergence of results due to a slight change in assumptions, once again, opens the floor to

The Ecofys research examines the casualty between biofuels production, global crop commodity prices and implications for food security with a particular focus on poor regions. It explains that prices of primary global agricultural commodities, from which biofuels are produced,

‘What is my future?’: the food-vs-fuel debate rumbles on

question the validity of ILUC science for policy making. ‘Policymakers can no longer deny the immaturity of science to serve for policy making,’ believes Raffaello Garofalo, secretary general of the European Biodiesel Board. Further probing In another study by energy consultancy Ecofys, released in September, ethanol is highlighted as not being a cause of increasing food price. The research, Biofuels and Food Security: Risks and Opportunities, claims the impact of EU biofuels demand up until 2010 only increased world grain prices by about 1-2%.

are not directly correlated to food prices because both are ‘disconnected from global markets’. ‘This study represents a major step to understand the interrelation of biofuels production and food prices. It reveals the limited impact that biofuels production has had on food prices and recognises the importance that co-products have on managing land use pressure,’ says author Carlo Hamelinck. ‘It recommends looking closer at systemic factors which, in the past, have often been ignored in important scientific reports on biofuels.’ Hemelinck also confirms agricultural commodity prices are strongly linked to oil prices

and ‘biofuels could reduce oil price increases and as such limit future commodity price increases’, while outlining that ‘systemic factors’, such as reduced reserves, food waste, transportation issues and storage costs, play a much larger role in local food prices than imagined. The study also focuses on the importance that protein rich co-products from both ethanol and biodiesel avoid the land use concern largely debated in the European parliament and denied by important nongovernment organisations (NGOs) in Brussels. ‘This is a serious response to all the misunderstandings and confusions created around our industry and food prices. Renewable ethanol is not causing food price increases and capping production of biofuels will not address food security and hunger in the world,’ adds Rob Vierhout, secretary general of ePure. ‘Multiple factors contribute to food prices and policymakers should distinguish between all the benefits that our industry provides to Europe, and the real causes of hunger in the world.’ The Ecofys study is believed to be the first scientific attempt to integrate all the economic forces influencing global and local food prices by addressing low stock impacts on volatility, low food prices and waste, global prices impact on local prices and high prices impact on agriculture and food security. For more on the European vote to cap biofuels made from food-based crops this autumn, turn to page 27. l

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European biodiesel producers have re-raised concerns about the delay of anti-subsidy decisions on overseas imports

Import worry still alive


decision by the European Commission to further delay its definitive anti-subsidy decision on biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia, despite it disclosing a proposal for definitive anti-dumping duties in October, has sparked concern among European producers. As covered by Biofuels International earlier this year, the European Biodiesel Board (EBB) went into bat for its members in response to increased ‘unfair’ imports from the two countries. They managed to increase their combined export levels of biodiesel into the EU by over 10% to 19.3% in the 12 months leading up to July last year. The EBB, which represents approximately two-thirds of biofuels consumed in Europe, lodged anti-dumping and anti-subsidy complaints to counteract export driven policies in these countries. Provisional duties levied against each country have since been put in place and are being discussed for a five-year implementation, but any decision on anti-subsidy duties is yet to be made. In its complaint, the EBB demonstrated how differential export taxes (DETs) have a huge impact on so-called ‘dumped’ market prices and could be alleged as subsidies as they involve a financial contribution from the government of Argentina and Indonesia. Export taxes are set at different levels along the supply chain with higher export taxes applying to raw materials than on final biodiesel products. This differential price is the core tool of a set of instruments that the two countries are using as a means to artificially promote exports of a finished product over the raw material. In a notice of initiation of an anti-subsidy proceeding last

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November, the Commission recognised that ‘the prima facie evidence provided by the complainant shows that the volume and the prices of imported product under investigation have had, among

provisional anti-subsidy duties on Indonesian and Argentinean ‘dumped’ biodiesel exports. ‘Our executive board members were rather taken aback by the European Commission’s declaration

Garofalo: ‘differential export taxes have huge impact on dumped market prices’

other consequences, a negative impact on the level of prices charged and the market share held by the Union industry’. The Commission has released, ahead of a decision to be made this November, proposed duty figures of between €215-250 per tonne of biodiesel imported from Argentina and €120-180 per tonne from Indonesia. While the EBB recognises that as ‘a step in the right direction’, it still believes ‘such duty levels should still be higher in order to cover the full dumping margin identified by the Commission for exporters from the two countries’. Unfair competition During an executive board meeting this August, many EBB members expressed a ‘strong concern for the EU biodiesel industry’ following a decision by the Commission not to adopt high enough

that it would postpone its decision to a definitive stage,’ an EBB statement read. ‘We are committed more than ever to assist Commission Trade services for demonstrating the damaging impacts of this aggressive market behaviour, generated by DETs and resulting dumped prices on the European market.’ ‘The unfair competitiveness provided by DETs policies greatly hampers the viability of the European industry,’ expands EBB secretary general Raffaello Garofalo. ‘We strongly encourage European institutions to consider the adverse effects all this has on the European industry.’ ‘In order to tackle the distorting effects of these DET schemes, the Commission has at its disposal two different and alternative mechanisms: the anti-dumping and the antisubsidy instruments. Since the future of the European biodiesel industry is at risk, we urge it to

adopt anyhow immediate and sufficiently high countervailing duties to counter unfair massive biodiesel imports from Indonesia and Argentina,’ he adds. The EBB believes the situation is getting worse every day and it believes the provisional anti-dumping duties imposed last May fell well below the level needed to stop unfair imports. ‘The market reported that almost 60,000 tonnes of Argentine biodiesel entered the EU territory at the beginning of this year’s summer period and the situation is worsening. It’s the same for Indonesia as Europe is experiencing a new surge on imports,’ the association continues. ‘This confirms that the level of duties was not at all high enough to restrict unfair imports from either country and there needs to be a remedy for the severe injury suffered by the EU biodiesel industry.’ Stark reaction Since 2010, Argentina and Indonesia account for more than 90% of European biodiesel imports, reaching up to 2.5 million tonnes in 2011 and 2012. The EBB is concerned if no appropriate EU countervailing measures are approved in the coming months then the EU biodiesel industry will risk solely benefitting only Indonesian and Argentinean producers. It is believed definitive duties for anti-dumping and anti-subsidy complaints will be set by 29 November and 10 December respectively. ‘European institutions have the opportunity to propose the necessary measures to protect European industry and employment,’ insists Garofalo. l

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Maturing US biodiesel industry wears scars

Brian Milne, energy editor, Schneider Electric


omments from trade sources, corroborated by data from the federal government, shows ongoing growth in US biodiesel production, with the output rate expected to remain strong through the end of 2013. The monthly production rate has increased consistently from November 2012 through July according to the most recent data available from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), reaching record monthly output of 128 million gallons. The production ramp up should not come as a surprise considering healthy producer margins highlighted by the HOBO spread, which calculates the margin between soyabean oil futures and ultra-low sulfur diesel futures, formerly the heating oil contract. The spread surged during the third quarter on forecasts for a large crop this season, topping $1 gallon

early in the fourth quarter during harvest while the ULSD contract advances ahead of peak demand during the winter months. US biodiesel producers also have support from a federal blending mandate set at 1.28 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel this year, with the credit showing compliance with this mandate known as Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) and allowed to trade in the market adding greater value to each gallon of biodiesel produced. Moreover, blenders

which includes biodiesel and renewable diesel. As a result of the broader consideration of fuels, EPA data averaged 27% above the EIA statistics this year through July, implying biodiesel output of more than 129 million gallons in August. Earning credit? This is great news for an industry that experienced turmoil both during and after the recession, as demand dried up amid the US economic contraction

‘The 26% of idle biodiesel plants is strange because this should be an ideal time to be producing biodiesel’ – Study 198: Biodiesel Industry Insight are incentivised through a $1 Biodiesel Mixture Excise Tax Credit to mix biodiesel into petroleum-based diesel fuel. Federal data was delayed by the 16-day partial US government shutdown in October, somewhat blurring the production scorecard, although expectations were firm US biodiesel production continued to increase into the fourth quarter. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows production of 177 million gallons in August under its biomass-based diesel fuel category,

followed by the loss of the blender’s credit for a year in 2012 (that was eventually reinstated for 2013 and made retroactive for 2012). Even now the industry faces headwinds, with many believing the blender’s credit would not be renewed for 2014 while the oil industry announced intentions to sue the EPA if it failed to set the 2014 volume obligations under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) by 30 November, a deadline determined by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). EISA expanded the RFS,

adding biomass-based diesel as a nested category among other renewables such as cellulosic ethanol. EPA, the administrator of the RFS, has missed the November deadline each year since 2010, including 206 days in arrears in establishing the 2013 obligation. EIA also hiked the 2013 biomass-based diesel nested category’s volume requirement from 1 billion gallons to 1.28 billion gallons. EPA is expected to again require 1.28 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel in 2014. The uncertainty frustrates investment in the industry, while sentiment that the blender’s credit would not be rolled over into 2014 was expected to drive biodiesel production and sales higher through the fourth quarter in an effort to secure the subsidy. Capturing RINs this year is also of greater concern due to limitations in expanding ethanol’s share in the gasoline pool beyond 10%, about where it stands now. D4 RINs, those generated for biomass-based diesel fuel, are expected to help bridge a gap between climbing RFS obligations, while road transportation fuel demand in the US remains relatively flat, covering a shortfall of D6 RINs, which are generated for the renewable biofuel nested category satisfied by corn-based ethanol. Long-term vision During a September webcast by the National Biodiesel

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Chicago spot ULSD and biodiesel minus tax credit and D4 RIN value

Renewable identification numbers

Board (NBB), representative Richard Nelson said the lack of certainty regarding these programs clouds the industry’s outlook for 2014. ‘Small producers rely on the credit, so if it goes away, it could do some damage,’ Nelson asserted, saying at the time the NBB had no idea if the credit would be renewed beyond 2013, but if it was it would likely happen ‘at the last minute’. Nelson says the NBB would prefer that the credit, if it is renewed beyond 2013, be renewed for several years rather than one or two years at a time. If it is allowed to lapse, he said it could cause some economic harm to some biodiesel producers. Another detriment for US biodiesel producers is RIN fraud, which hits small producers harder, forcing these supplies to take a discount on their sales as a result. The industry awaits efforts from the EPA to shore up scrutiny of RINs, but obligated parties under the RFS – oil refiners, importers and blenders – don’t want fines or to otherwise be penalised for unwittingly buying fraudulent credits as before so seek out large producers. This scenario is more acute this year as RFS targets overshoot the market’s ability

industry, shifting production to fewer, larger plants that are well integrated and less susceptible to market volatility,’ write the authors. They point to several themes affecting biodiesel plant owners while noting with alarm a lacklustre 74% run rate for plants not closed, compared with utilisation rates near 90% for ethanol plants and oil refineries. ‘The 26% of idle biodiesel plants is strange because this should be an ideal time to be producing biodiesel,’ offers the report. ‘Production should be strong since processing margins seem to be positive across all feedstocks, and we should see in abundance, buyers for both RINs and the fuel itself given the large discount to diesel fuel’. It also notes smaller biodiesel plants are hindered more, partly due to RIN fraud. They also point to a technological gap between first generation biodiesel plants that run exclusively on soyabean oil compared with newer facilities that can shift between multiple feedstocks. ‘The ability to respond to local price changes and logistical issues allows multifeedstock plants to procure feedstock at a significant discount compared to less flexible producers,’ the two brokers add. They note

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to absorb the renewables, spiking RIN values several times this year. The EPA said in early August it would extend the 2013 compliance deadline four months to June 2014 to offer some relief. In early October, an EPA document leaked to the press proposing a sharp reduction in the 2014 blending requirements triggered heavy selling in RINs, weighing down values. In questioning EPA on the document, the agency said 2014 obligations were under interagency review. Two New Jersey-based trading firms, CIMA Green and Augsburg Energy, conducted a survey of US biodiesel plants, releasing their findings in September. The report, named Study 198: Biodiesel Industry Insight, found of the 198 biodiesel plants across the country, only 44% were operating and 33% had closed permanently. They couldn’t confirm the status of 7% of these plants, while another 16% were idled. While the number of plants shrunk, capacity did not, with the 44% of plants operating having a combined capacity of 1.98 billion gallons. The 16% idled at the time had a combined capacity of 238 million gallons, with overall capacity at 2.2 billion gallons. ‘Our results identify a consolidation trend in the

soyabean oil used as a feedstock has held below 60% this year while canola declined, with corn oil filling the gap created with lower soybean oil usage. First generation plants in need of an upgrade face several issues in securing funding made worse by the uncertainty of federal subsidies next year. ‘While older plants have the option of being fitted with pre-treatment processes to increase efficiency, reduce yield loss, and boost their processing time, the bottom line is these upgrades require large upfront capital investments and sizeable downtime,’ according to the report, adding ‘these two things are lethal to a money tight business’. Some of these plants will operate at a competitive advantage and others will search for funding, explain the authors. Five plants in their survey said they are up for sale or filing for bankruptcy. l

For more information: This article was written by Brian Milne, energy editor for Schneider Electric and editor of OilSpot, a weekly newsletter for fuel marketers, buyers and sellers. Milne has been a journalist and editor for 19 years, focusing on the energy markets for 17 of those years,, +1 952 851-7216

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biofuels regulations As Indonesia moves to reduce the amount of fuel imported into the country, another country in South East Asia is looking to increase its biodiesel blend mandate

New found FAME for Indonesia


new regulation issued in Indonesia this summer is expected to lower the country’s fuel imports by at least 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) for the rest of 2013. The new rule, which is expected to reduce diesel imports while increasing levels of locally-produced biodiesel, aims to support an economic stimulus package which was announced to revitalise economic growth and stabilise the rupiah, Indonesia’s local currency. ‘Imports of diesel fuel has partly contributed to the widening of the current account deficit and thus this new ministerial regulation on biodiesel is expected to help reduce it,’ Rida Mulyana, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s (EMRM) director general for renewable energy and energy conservation, was quoted as saying. The government, by using the regulation, will increase the proportion of biodiesel in fuel from the current 2.5% to a minimum of 10%, along with making fuel blending a mandatory requirement. This will effectively replace the current regulation on biofuel, introduced in 2008, which had mandated all oil-based fuels be mixed with biofuel. Ministry data reportedly states the 2008 rule was working below expectations as biodiesel used in subsidised diesel fuel only accounted for 7.5% of the total, and bioethanol only covered 2% of total subsidised petrol. Indonesia was importing

around 35 million kilolitres of diesel oil a year, which included 17.5 million for subsidised diesel oil. A call for state-owned oil and gas company PT Pertaminato to increase the fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) content in diesel fuel for the transportation has also been made. The use of FAME is expected to jump from 2.5% to around 12.5%, according to EMRM deputy minister Susilo Siswoutomo. Indonesia’s national production capacity of FAME has currently been put at 4.3 million kilolitres, but government data expects actual production to hit 2.6 million this year – an increase of 46% on 2012. ‘We will be able to lower diesel fuel imports by increasing the mandatory level of biodiesel use,’ Siswoutomo reaffirmed. Crunching the coconuts Over in the Philippines, one of Indonesia’s neighbours to the north, a 5% mandated biodiesel blend has been earmarked by the department of agriculture as its National Biodiesel Board (NBB) reviews results of a recentlyconcluded road testing project. That blend was tested in passenger

jeepneys, a local form of transport, over 25 days throughout August which compared vehicle performance between the 2% and 5% biodiesel variants. The tests were carried out by the National Centre for Transportation Studies at the University of Phillippines and the Phillippine Coconut Authority. While those results come in, the National Economic Development Authority is also due to report back on the effects of the higher biodiesel blend on fuel prices, which the NBB will incorporate into a final report including the vehicle performance test. While a higher biodiesel blend may have an impact on fuel prices, agriculture secretary Proceso Alcala believes market forces, including the supply of coconut oil, will have the last say on prices. Coconut oil is required to produce coco

methyl ester in blending with biodiesel mix. ‘Coconut oil exports are dependent on prices in the world market,’ Alcala was quoted as saying, while coconut oil refiners claim any higher blend would raise domestic consumption of cococnut oil to 350,000 tonnes from a current demand of 140,000. It was revealed by oil company TWA in September that it set to build a new biodiesel facility moving forwards. According to reports, it will be based in the Visayas region and have a capacity of 30 million litres. ‘The Philippine Coconut Authority has said there are enough local raw materials for both local and foreign commitments. They are just waiting for the NBB to make the call on a higher blend requirement,’ TWA operations manager Tanya Samillano was quoted as saying. l

Going loco for coco: oil from the humble coconut may help the Philippines raise its biodiesel blend mandate

32 november/december 2013 biofuels international

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9th annual

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WHERE THE BIO WORLD MEETS TO DO BUSINESS Returning for a 9th consecutive year there is no other event that provides the breadth of content in the depth covered at WBM. Platinum Sponsors:

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biofuels profile Despite reaching capacity early on, the Diamond Green Diesel facility in the US is still making improvements to ensure a bountiful future

Shining example by James Barrett


iamond Green Diesel, a joint venture between Valero Energy and Darling International, has reached capacity during its start-up phase. The plant, based next to Valero’s St Charles refinery in Louisiana, US began operations this June and uses animal fat, used cooking oil and other waste grease to produce just over 9,000 barrels of biodiesel per day (bpd) currently. The project, two years in the making and claiming to be the largest consumer of recycled restaurant grease and animal fats in North America, has been backed by the US Department of Energy with a $241 million (€180.2 million) loan guarantee. Diamond Green did however reveal in a statement that production would slow down as it replaced a heat exchanger to improve the facility’s overall reliability, a plan which was expected to be completed this autumn. The owners of Diamond Green both brought different components to the table back in 2011 as the pair looked to tackle the emerging renewable diesel market, driven by government mandates such as the US Renewable Fuel Standard 2 (RFS2) and increasing growth opportunities overseas. Darling International prides itself on being the US’s largest rendering-recycling company, providing services in all 50 states, and refining business Valero has over 30 years experience in manufacturing and marketing

fuels. It seems like the proverbial dream team. Bill Day, VP of community relations at Valero, reveals the process of making biodiesel from waste products mirrored one of his company’s already tried and tested processes. ‘Creating renewable diesel uses a system much like the hydrotreating process we use in our petroleum business,’ he explains. ‘We had the land available in Louisiana to build upon, plus access to rail lines, experienced people and power availability. Once we crunched the numbers, it was all systems go.’ The aim of this venture is, once it is operating at maximum efficiency, to convert around 1.1 billion lbs of fats and restaurant grease into 137 million gallons per year of green diesel – the equivalent to 9,300 barrels a day. It is believed, at that rate of conversion, Diamond Green would be converting up to 11% of the country’s animal fat and used cooking oil into biodiesel. It is through Darling that supplies of feedstock arrive at the St Charles facility as the company recycles pork, beef and poultry into more useful products. ‘All that residue material becomes feed-grade fats and tallow, plus they recover and convert used cooking oil,’ Day explains. ‘The cost of feedstock is not very expensive because it is seen simply as a waste.’ The Diamond Green plant uses a process called ecofining which has been developed by international technology

supplier UOP/Honeywell. Day describes it as being similar to the hydrotreating process currently used in petroleum refining, which is why adapting it to Valero operations was ‘simple’. ‘The animal fats and other feedstock enter a reactor where it is heated and treated with hydrogen. The mixture then goes to a separator, where fractions are removed and further

‘This new heat exchanger, once in place, will allow Diamond Green to produce that expected 9,300 barrel a day mark,’ he adds. ‘Production was reduced to between 5,000 and 7,000 barrels daily while the work was on-going.’ The biodiesel is set to be blended in petrol and shipped out via Valero’s distribution channels, with Day believing California could become a

Basking in the sun: the Diamond Green facility is producing several thousand barrels of product a day

refined into renewable diesel, which makes it so practically indistinguishable from petroleum-based diesel,’ Day explains. Day, when asked about the reduction in production due to the change of heat exchanger, explains it ‘became apparent soon after operations began that the original exchanger would have to replaced to ensure operational reliability’, although he would not reveal exactly why.

big market in the future. ‘California’s regulations shouldmake renewable diesel a premium product in that market,’ Day states. ‘But, before we can consider any expansions or additional production, we need to see a return on investment from Diamond Green first. If and when we grow and expand the project then ideas like California and overseas export markets could be broached for discussion.’ l

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For scientists, the proof is in the numbers. Since 2001, Iowa’s bioscience growth has far outpaced the nation in 3 of 5 specialty subsectors. This has attracted R&D investment of more than $600 million a year for our universities in cumulative grants, contracts and cooperative research. In fact, bioscience R&D in Iowa is 12% higher than the national average. Fueling breakthroughs at our three research universities. Spawning a culture of innovation and opportunity. And bioscience success. Learn more at See how our numbers make science an exact science.


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biofuels plant update

Focus on North America Vanerco Location Quebec, Canada Alternative fuel Cellulosic ethanol Capacity 10 million litres per year Feedstock Various Project start date 2014 Investment Potential to hit $39.8 million (â‚Ź29.2 million) Comment Vanerco is a joint venture between technology provider Enerkem and site provider Greenfield

Noble Americas Location Indiana, US Alternative fuel Ethanol Capacity 100 million gallons Feedstock Corn Construction / expansion / Aquisition acquisition Comment Noble Americas have become the new owners of this plant in South Bend and aim to re-start production sometime next year

DuPont Location Iowa, US Alternative fuel Ethanol Capacity 125 million litres a year Feedstock Corn stover Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Designer / builder KBR and Fagan Project start date 2012 Completion date 2014

Flint Hill Resources Location Iowa, US Alternative fuel Ethanol Capacity 110 million gallons per year Feedstock Construction / expansion / Aquisition acquisition Completion date 2013 Comment Flint Hills has increased its portfolio capacity to 600 million gallons of ethanol a year following this purchase from Platinum Ethanol

36 november/december 2013 biofuels international

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Sundrop Fuels Location Alternative fuel Capacity Feedstock

Louisiana, US Green petrol 227 million litres a year Sustainable forestry waste and hydrogen from clean-burning natural gas Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date 2012 Completion date 2014 Comment Methanol-to-petrol technology to be provided by ExxonMobil

Primus Green Energy Location New Jersey, US Alternative fuel Jet fuel, diesel Capacity 100,000 gallons per year Feedstock Various Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date 2013 Comment The demo plant will use proprietary technology which converts syngas derived from natural gas or other feedstocks to petrol, jet fuel, diesel or aromatic chemicals

Biochemtex and USDA

Mascoma Location Alternative fuel Capacity

Michigan, US Cellulosic ethanol 90 million litres on completion of phase one Feedstock Wood Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date 2012 Completion date Late 2013 Investment $232 million (€179 million), including $132 million investment from Valero

Location North Carolina, US Alternative fuel Cellulosic ethanol Capacity 115 million litres a year Feedstock Energy crops Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date 2012 Completion date 2014 Investment $99 million (€78.7 million) Comment Biochemtex will work with biosolutions business Novozymes to produce the end product


Highwater Ethanol Location Minnesota, US Alternative fuel Biobutanol Construction / expansion / Expansion acquisition Designer / builder Fagen Project start date October 2013 Comment The Highwater plant will begin producing biobutanol once the Butamax technology has been installed

West Ventures Location Minnesota, US Alternative fuel Ethanol Capacity 18 million gallons per year Construction / expansion / Aquisition acquisition Investment $5 million (€3.6 million) Comment West Ventures acquisition was approved at the end of August and it aims to restart the plant ‘as soon as possible’

Kior Location Mississippi, US Alternative fuel Cellulosic fuels Feedstock Biomass Construction / expansion / Expansion acquisition Project start date Late 2013 Completion date Early 2015 Investment Approximately $225 million (€165.4 million) Comment Kior is aiming to double capacity through this second facility at its current Mississippi location

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Location Alternative fuel Capacity Feedstock

Oregon, US Cellulosic ethanol 115 million litres a year 650 tonnes of woody biomass and agricultural residues per day Construction / expansion / Construction acquisition Project start date 2013 Completion date 2014 Investment $390 million (€301 million) including a $232 million loan guarantee from the USDA

McGregor Location Washington, US Alternative fuel Biodiesel Construction / expansion / Aquisition acquisition Investment Over $2 million (€1.4 million) Comment McGregor purchased the shuttered biodiesel plant and turned it into a fertiliser distribution facility

Ace Ethanol Location Wisconsin, US Alternative fuel Ethanol Construction / expansion / Aquisition acquisition Investment $16.5 million (€12.1 million) Comment Ace completed the purchase from Utica Energy in August and hopes to resume its operations by the start of winter

This list is based on information made available to Biofuels International by time of printing. If you would like to be a part of this feature please send new plant details or updates to James Barrett via

november/december 2013 37

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Stable policy conditions required: with the technology ready at commercial scale, it will be vital to create stable and conducive policy conditions worldwide, to harvest better the vast opportunities in cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels

​ eta Renewables’ facility will B produce up to 75 million liters of cellulosic ethanol annually from agricultural waste and energy crops

The first of many


n early October over 600 people gathered in the quiet Italian countryside to witness the official opening of the world’s first advanced biofuels facility. The plant, located in Crescentino, has the capability to produce 75 million litres of cellulosic ethanol a year from agricultural waste. Production started back in late 2012 at 40,000 tonnes a year and is now being ramped up to full capacity. Beta Renewables, which is part of the Mossi Ghisolfi Group, partnered with enzyme expert Novozymes a year ago to make this project a reality. The plant uses Beta Renewables’ Proesa engineering and production technology

alongside Novozymes’ Cellic CTec enzymes. The feedstock chosen is wheat straw, rice straw and arundo donax, a highyielding energy crop grown on marginal land. Lignin, a polymer extracted from biomass during the ethanol production process, is used at an attached power plant, which generates enough power to meet the facility’s energy needs, with any excess green electricity sold to the local grid. Where it all began Beta was created in 2011 through a joint venture between polymer producer MG Group’s engineering division, Biochemtex, and investment firm TPG.

Biochemtex owns a 67.5% stake, TPG has 22.5% and Danish biotechnology company Novozymes last year took a 10% stake for $115 million. More than $200 million (€135.5 million) has been invested in R&D since 2011. Developments started at laboratory-scale back in 2007 and a pilot plant has been running since 2009. The full-scale plant took over 1 million man hours to complete – something which was achieved accident free. ‘When the plans were announced to start work on the site, they were met with global scepticism,’ explained Guido Ghisolfi, Beta Renewables’ CEO, at the inauguration. ‘The main concern was that many companies had

tried this approach in the past – tried and failed. ‘But the company has now proved the critics wrong. This plant is the symbol of economic recovery in Italy,’ Ghisolfi explained. ‘At the moment Iowa is the undisputed leader in the biorenewables sector, having added $13 billion to the state’s economy – we believe Italy can replicate this success.’ The best Proesa projects will deliver ethanol at a cost of $1.5/ gallon. This is cost competitive with petrol as long as petroleum stays above $70/barrel. What does the future hold? With one plant up and running, Beta Renewables now has ambitious plans to

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Beta Renewables’cellulosic ethanol facility in Crescentino, Northern Italy

Energy efficiency

license many more facilities across the globe, rather than building additional facilities itself. An estimate was presented that 2,400 facilities like Crescentino will be needed to fulfil the demand for advanced biofuels. It has already started on plants in Brazil, Colombia and the US. The firm expects to sign 10 more licences this year and more than 20 next year. ‘Capital expenditure is not the main risk anymore,’ Ghisolfi explained. ‘The technology is there to be seen. The only risk left is the availability of the biomass.’ ‘There are more plants being built in the US but cost-wise it will not be at the front. For that, Brazil, will be the frontrunner and southeast Asia is immediately behind,’ Ghisolfi said. In Europe, Ghisolfi

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expects to see three to four plants in Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and France devoted to specific types of biomass in the near future. He expects new players to emerge in eastern Europe over the next year. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised to see investment flowing to Poland, Belarus, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia by the end of this year or early next year.’ By the end of 2014, Ghisolfi expects six or seven commercial second generation plants to be operating globally across the industry, with output reaching 100 million gallons. Biochemtex has already planned a 20 million gallon per year cellulosic ethanol facility in North Carolina using Beta Renewables technology which should be up and running by the end of next year. l

Minimising energy consumption is an important part in keeping operating costs down in the Proesa process. Most of the steps of the process are at modest temperatures. An example of this is the heat integration between the pretreatment and distillation stages. To reduce exhaust steam consumption, the engineers at Beta Renewables designed a solution where vapour produced in the pretreatment stage is reused as heating medium in the mash column reboiler. This leads to energy savings and a cut in operating cost. The set-up requires a reboiler on the mash column that can operate with a very small driving temperature difference, i.e. the temperature difference between the heating and boiling media. A standard shell-and-tube heat exchanger would be impossible to use in this duty since it requires at least a 10°C temperature difference. The solution was to use plate heat exchangers as reboilers as their higher thermal efficiency means they can operate with a driving temperature difference as small as 3°C. Choosing the right heat exchanger makes all the difference. Most processing industries have some type of heat integration in their processes, but many still use shelland-tube heat exchangers with low thermal efficiency. The heat exchanger is a key component in a heat integration system and choosing the right type has a direct impact on bottom lines. Modern plate heat exchangers offer many benefits over shell-and-tubes. They allow companies to use low temperature streams for heating and can increase heat recovery by up to 50%.

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REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! 40 november/december 2013 biofuels international

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Loss of tax credits, battling fraud and lacking ethanol’s longevity – despite all this, biodiesel seems to be becoming the US renewable fuel industry’s new king

On an upward trajectory by James Barrett


igures released by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the summer put biodiesel production at 148 million gallons in August alone, making it a volume-to-date of over 916 million gallons. The US industry has bypassed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) targets for the past two years and biodiesel was the first EPA-designated advanced biofuel, which means the EPA has determined it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by greater than 50% relative to petroleum, to hit 1 billion gallons of annual production. ‘The EPA set a cellulosic requirement of just 6 million gallons this year, a mere fraction of the 1 billion gallons originally agreed for 2013. However, it is forecast that cellulosic producers will not even meet the smaller volume requirement, since few commercial scale production plants have been built,’ says Jeffrey Kerr, a managing analyst for downstream oil and gas at GlobalData. ‘That’s where biodiesel makes a significant contribution.’ Soaring ahead The US biodiesel industry seems to be heading towards another marquee year, with a large part of support for blenders coming from the $1 per gallon production tax credit extended by Congress through to the end of 2013.

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Giving people options: biodiesel is becoming more a common sight throughout the US

As cellulosic ethanol is yet to contribute significantly to the 16.55 billion gallons of RFS-mandated renewable fuel required for the nation’s transportation fuel supply this year, biodiesel allows refiners and blenders to meet their EPA mandated production requirements. The EPA has been commended by many for maintaining what has been called a strong 2013 advanced biofuel requirement under the RFS, with advanced biofuels to make up 2.75 billion of that renewable fuels total required for blending.

‘Biodiesel will continue to dominate the RFS2 category over the next few years as I believe cellulosic ethanol will not be able to compete,’ says Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB). Iowa is a state which presents itself as a shining biodiesel beacon within the US as it flies a flag for advanced renewable fuels due to its feedstock availability and longterm support from its agricultural community. ‘We have to remember biodiesel as an industry is

really still in its infancy when compared to the ethanol industry, which has had 30 years of commercial sales and been a solid contributor to the renewable fuels thrust,’ he says. With that 1 billion production target seemingly in reach again, Olson adds biodiesel levels could potentially grow another 50% in total and it is that ‘knocking down of barriers’ which is helping it grab positive headlines. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) believes state and federal policy are also playing a big role and ‘US lawmakers should be commended’ for supporting strong renewable fuels policies. ‘The RFS, along with the biodiesel tax incentive, has helped our industry achieve record production levels each of the last two years, and put us on pace to surpass those records with some 1.7 billion gallons projected this year,’ says Kaleb Little, NBB member specialist. ‘At the same time, individual places are requiring additional biodiesel use as a way to reduce harmful emissions and diversify the fuel supply. States like New York and Rhode Island have recently passed legislation to include biodiesel in home heating oil, while others like Minnesota, Oregon and California have policies that are helping to increase biodiesel use.’

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biofuels biodiesel in the US Losing support? The biodiesel tax incentive is set at $1 a gallon credit and was renewed in January this year as part of the US Congress’ stance to avoid the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’. It is only available to blenders which have produced, sold or used the qualified biodiesel mixture as a fuel in their trade or business. But, despite that restriction, the fact this aid is set to expire on 31 December, and there seems to be no signs of it being renewed again thus far, has caused ripples. One company based in the aforementioned Rhode Island is Newport Biodiesel, which currently produces around 100,000 gallons of biodiesel a month, and managing partner Bob Morton believes it would be ‘terrible’ if the tax credit fell away completely, particularly for producers at the lower end of the industry spectrum. Morton says: ‘We want to expand our operations but have to put plans on hold as, without that incentive, our future is built on uncertainty.’ Morton adds his company depends on the incentive to achieve its price on its output. The facility uses yellow grease as feedstock, which is collected from local restaurants before being processed and treated with methanol to make biodiesel. ‘Around $0.50 goes on purchasing our feedstock so, if the tax credit is removed, it is doubtful our feedstock suppliers will drop their price as a consequence,’ he laments. Olson agrees the IBB would like to see the tax credit continue despite its narrow availability status but feels Congress may not prioritise that discussion this year, adding that he knows of biodiesel producers that are ‘already planning for the lapse now’. ‘We’re seeing production is on pace for a record high this year that will dramatically

outpace the RFS requirement of 1.28 billion gallons. Allowing the incentive to expire again in 2014 would clearly suppress production and likely require many producers to scaleback operations,’ Little explains. ‘Particularly with oil and gas tax incentives written permanently into the tax code.’ New capacity One company is feeling ‘bullish’ about the future of biodiesel in the US. ‘Diesel is the only transportation fuel in the world continuing to grow substantially and both first and second generation biodiesel methods are viable options within that,’ says Chris Frantz, a co-founder of Endicott Biofuels, a second generation producer running out of Texas. Frantz thinks keeping relationships healthy with petroleum refiners will be a key to keeping biodiesel a ‘bright spot’ in the renewable fuels mix, as well as the facts there is no blend wall problem with biodiesel and it doesn’t have the same issues concerning storage and pipeline travel as ethanol. ‘Positive relationships will certainly keep things moving forward because biodiesel can be segued into the overall diesel transportation pot with minimal fuss,’ adds Frantz. ‘With that in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if B2 and B5 blends started to be transported in interstate pipelines in 2014.’ Endicott itself has a split 50% stake with HoneyFrontier in a new biodiesel facility up and running in Port Arthur, Texas branded under a subsidiary named Sabine. It is currently running at 82,000 gallons a day capacity and its main selling point, according to Frantz, is the plant can process any feedstock with the minimum of fuss. ‘Our technology means the facility does not require a switchover of any kind to

handle different feedstocks, and we’ve been using edible oils, natural oils and ultra free fatty acids to date, which makes it an efficient working example of biodiesel production,’ he adds. This business model allows Sabine to keep its expenditure towards the lower end of the scale as it purchases feedstock from those which deal in large commodity sales. ‘This means it can source feedstock which is reasonably priced at any given time, not a bad thing considering the facility will need around 240 million pounds of feedstock to achieve full operating capacity,’ adds Frantz. Long arm of the law The US biodiesel industry has been subjected to another kind of disruption – namely through cases of fraud spread across the industry. There have been recent trials set up to bring to justice individuals whom have set-up bogus companies or dealt in non-existent Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs); actions that deal hefty blows to the credibility and growth of the industry. One scam was named the ‘largest tax fraud scheme in the state of Indiana’ as six people were caught selling what they termed “government certified top-quality biodiesel” and conned consumers, taxpayers and investors out of more than $100 million. In a non-related incident a Texas-based man was sentenced to five years for his role in defrauding investors into putting an estimated $800,000 into a biodiesel plant which was never going to be built. ‘The issue of fraud centres round one of the compliance mechanisms of the RFS. The RINs associated with each gallon of fuel can be separated from the physical gallon of fuel. They can be bought and sold by refiners either with actual gallons of biodiesel, or

the credits by themselves for compliance,’ explains Little. ‘The results of certain fraud cases have been under investigation for several years and happened well before the EPA and the private industry began taking steps to stamp it out. It’s important to understand that these cases weren’t biodiesel producers doing wrong, these were criminals.’ Olson agrees with Little and believes the industry has responded positively to what he termed ‘wake up calls’. ‘Any new business venture will be susceptible to people looking to take advantage, but the US government has been hot on clamping down on it,’ he adds. ‘If anything, these sad tales have brought about a key realisation to obligated parties to ensure due diligence is completed properly.’ Many feel private sector quality assurance programmes (QAP) for RIN verification, as well as the EPA’s efforts, are doing a good job in this respect. Newport Biodiesel has aligned itself with one of the two QAP available under the division of A and B. QAP A is the more stringent of the two pathways as it requires ongoing monitoring of many production components, while QAP B requires more infrequent quarterly monitoring. ‘Our product falls into the QAP A section under the Genscape programme. It costs $0.03 a RIN to give that reassurance to our customers but it is a small price to pay for keeping business channels open,’ says Morton. ‘Fraud was a concern a few years ago but the market is more controlled these days – a refiner or fuel producer would be silly not to buy from fully transparent suppliers.’ Morton adds Newport’s biggest worry now in fact comes from people stealing their yellow grease vats: ‘We have surveillance cameras and padlocked grids protecting

42 november/december 2013 biofuels international

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Picture courtesy of the NBB

One of many: the Imperium Renewables facility in Seattle has a 100 million gallon capacity

something we used to be able to take for free!’ Another reason the RIN system is delivering positive results is because the large refineries are now, seemingly because of this stabilisation, starting to accept them from small- to medium-sized producers. ‘The system seems to be adequately addressed now as refiners drill deeper into a producer’s supply chain and perform in-depth background checks,’ adds Frantz who reveals the internal checking system adopted by Endicott is called RINtegrity. ‘There have been inevitable growing pains but things are levelling out now.’ In and out Although seemingly not needing to import biodiesel, new data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) put imports of biomassbased diesel at 28.6 million gallons this June, a figure up by 12 million gallons from May. There was also an increase by 5.7 million to 22 million gallons of imported ‘other renewable diesel’. Conversely, the US exported 24.6 million of biodiesel during

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the same month with around half of that amount going to Canada and the rest divided up between Spain, Malaysia, Australia and Taiwan. ‘The numbers show imports and exports are essentially canceling each other out most months, so clearly domestic producers are taking advantage of global markets as well,’ says Little. ‘That said, the RFS is designed to promote local production so we’d expect domestic production will continue to make up the majority of the volume requirements moving forward.’ Imports can qualify under the RFS only under limited circumstances that ensure sustainability criteria are met, and July’s EIA numbers show a dramatic decrease in the gallons imported, from 28.6 million gallons to 14.2 million gallons in July. ‘Moving forward, we expect domestic production will continue to fill the vast majority of that market, as intended,’ he adds. ‘There are always going to be imports and exports of products, especially fuels, when there is global demand. Each individual biodiesel producer has their own

particular business model and, for some, that includes exporting some of their fuel.’ One way the import/ export market seemingly affects homegrown biodiesel production is by providing competition for feedstock, according to Morton. ‘Our biggest competitor for yellow grease is a company that purchases and then sells it over to Europe. Is it then being used to make biodiesel which will then be shipped back to the US? Seems crazy when you think about it like that,’ he smiles. The future A new law was passed in the city of New York this autumn which calls for its whole vehicle fleet to be using 5% blend of biodiesel from July 2014, plus it aims to launch a pilot programme sometime before December 2016 to study year-round usage of B20 with no fewer than 5% of its fleet. ‘New York City has been, and will continue to be, a champion of biodiesel usage,’ Renewable Energy Group’s CEO Daniel Oh said back in September. ‘This law ensures that legacy of support will

continue so that the public can enjoy the benefits the healthier environment that biodiesel brings.’ ‘Fleet users have always been some of the biggest biodiesel champions in the industry. This particular fleet has actually been using biodiesel for a number of years as unofficial policy,’ adds Little. Morton reiterates one uncertainty being the future of the tax credit, pointing to a probable period of businesses ‘retrenching’ if it disappears, while adding ‘long-term support’ from the US government is vital. ‘The overall volumes needed for renewable fuel means it’ll still take a while for biodiesel to become its so-called ‘saviour’,’ he adds. ‘It is not a silver bullet but, with the larger producers leading the way, biodiesel can definitely make a difference.’ And, as for the attacks by Big Oil on renewable fuels, Morton feels the industry’s retaliation needs to be slightly redirected. ‘As most of the general public don’t know what the RFS is, I feel a campaign focused on the climate change angle would be beneficial. I still find it hard to understand how people refute what scientists present via research.’ The NBB lays out some bare facts on biodiesel: when 2013 comes to a close the industry will have had three consecutive years of record production and it is, of course, the first advanced biofuel produced in the US to reach a billion gallons annually. ‘Every year more Original Equipment Manufacturers approve higher biodiesel blends in their vehicles,’ adds Little. ‘The industry supports more than 50,000 jobs and is diversifying US fuel supply with a cleaner-burning, renewable product. While there will always be challenges, and at times uncertainty, the future does look bright for biodiesel.’ l

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biofuels economy

Let’s take “bio-” out of biofuels! Brazil 1974 Due to the international oil crisis, the country realises the costs of importing crude went from US$600 million (€442.7 million) in 1973 to a whopping $2.5 billion in 1974. The end result was a US$4.7 billion trade deficit: something unbereable for any developing nation at the time. Recently nominated energy minister Shigeaki Ueki could only recommend a solution which had already been unsuccessful: replace oil for ethanol. So, in 1975, the Pro-Alcool programme was launched nationwide in an attempt to phase out automobile fuels derived from fossil fuels while promoting ethanol from sugarcane. It quickly spreads across gas pumps throughout Brazil and the economy becomes at least stabilised. Brazil 2008 – the Lula government The sub-prime mortgage bubble hits and a world recession takes place, reducing Brazil’s growth from 5.2% to -0.2% in 2009. But, in June 2009, Petrobras announced for the first time in its history that there is more ethanol than petrol being used. At the same time, Brazil claims it is the first country to leave the world recession and, in 2010, sees the country growing at a rate of 7.5%. Brazil 2011 – Dilma Rousseff elected Afraid of the increase in prices due to the huge influx of foreign capital, President Rousseff decides to subsidise the price of petrol. Considering 96% of the cars that run in the country are flex-fuel, and that ethanol is financially viable only if the price to petrol is below 70%, the consumer then switches to the artificially cheap petrol. At the same time, and in huge contrast to the previous government, it becomes clear Rousseff’s government is not fond of ethanol. No subsidises, loans or support is given to producers (although a major loan was given towards second generation ethanol), and it turns a blind eye to the fact ethanol production is diminishing. This resulted in a crisis within the ethanol sector, with producers shutting down their plants and foreign investment pulling out. Indeed Petrobras, the company actually paying for the petrol subsidy, registered a terrible performance over the next 12 months and decided, later in 2012, to suspend investment on a $3.1 billion ethanol pipeline. That project would have helped decrease the overall price of ethanol. While this was going on, Brazil’s GDP

dropped from 7.5% in 2010 to 0.9% in 2012, pushing the country back to seventh on the world’s economy list. Brazil begins to suffer from social unrest as its population asks for better hospitals and other amenities. Finally inflation, which was the reason for the petrol subsidy in the first place, was above an annual rate of 6% (perilously close to the government's 6.5% ceiling). Brazil's central bank said, in August 2013, it will launch a $60 billion programme to halt a currency drop which has fallen in recent days to its lowest level since 2008. This, in practice, means using the country’s $300 billion reserves to buy dollars to pay for an unsustainable situation. Going round and around People need to understand a country with no railroads depends totally on fossil fuels to carry its products and people via road transportation. If that country is also big in terms of land mass then transportation costs will inevitably be expensive. Thus, if the price of crude oil goes up then, as a knock-on effect, everything else will become more expensive. Oil can only be paid for by Brazil in US dollars, a fact which means any country with a dwindling currency doing the same will have to spend more of it in order to eventually be able to afford to buy any crude. So even if the price of the crude itself is unchanged, the end price will still be higher. This creates a vicious circle: prices go up because of some increase in the price of oil, which devaluates the currency which, in turn, makes the price of crude to go up even more. Brazil entered that circle the moment it decided to go back in time and subsidise something which it was unable to provide in its entirety, thus becoming dependant on imports for provision. A study of the Banco Nacional do Desenvolvimento Economico e Social (BNDES) calculated how much Brazil saved on fuel costs between 1976 and 2005 if petrol was used at the 2006 current average price: $195.5 billion in foreign exports, $69.1 billion in imports and $126.4 billion in bank interest. In other words, Brazil avoided spending $391 billion thanks to its ethanol programme and the current regime apparently did not see this. In fact, it seems Brazil forgot the only reason why it embarked on ethanol was because it would literally go bankrupt if

it didn’t. Whereas today reasons such as “green”, carbon neutrality, foreign energy dependency and others are uttered as reasons for the promotion of biofuels, a real reason for its use is that it has a profound effect on a country’s economy than many would think. Brazil is a prime example and could be considered the globe’s laboratory on displaying the effects of biofuels on the economy. It is the only country in the world where a biofuel is widely accepted by the population and used on a regular basis. This affords an atmosphere to create a testing ground free of so many external influences found elsewhere. Outside South America A recent study in the US by consultancy RBC Capital Markets noted petrol prices are putting a huge strain on the country’s GDP and have now become a challenge for growth. The study says every $0.01 increase at the pump shaves about $1.2 billion off non-energy consumption costs. This means if the price of petrol reaches $4 (it is currently $ 3.77), the country’s GDP growth will decline by 0.5%. Still, these kinds of facts are seemingly unknown by many leaders throughout the world. One conversation with a member of the European Commission showed a lack of interest in biofuels as he uttered: ‘Europe now has pressing economic woes which make all that “green” stuff unnecessary.’ He clearly had the common notion the only benefit from biofuels is that they are “bio”. Despite that fact being true, the current economy situation creates much more pressing requirements and thus our politicians need further convincing. Biofuels have an answer to stopping a huge drain of capital because they effectively create resources which can be re-routed to paying debts, creating better infrastructure and so on. Mykola Prysiazhniuk, minister of agriculture in the Ukraine, recently said his country depends on imports of oil products, and that it affects every part of the economy. ‘We understand that producing biofuels is important for us, it is a strategy,’ he says and a law was passed on the voluntary use of 5% bioethanol in light petroleum products in 2013, becoming mandatory from next year. It seems Prysiazhniuk has got the message. l For more information: This article was written by Al Costa, director at Alkol,

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The UK’s biggest bioethanol facility opened this summer. James Barrett caught up with Vivergo’s Rick Taylor to get the inside scoop

Super-size me


hen the £350 million (€416 million) Vivergo Fuels bioethanol plant in Hull, UK officially opened in July, the company became the country’s biggest bioethanol producer and largest single-source supplier of animal feed providing valuable commodities. A joint venture between AB Sugar, global fuel provider BP and science and engineering company DuPont, the Vivergo plant will aim to produce 420 million litres of bioethanol a year at full capacity, currently equivalent to a third of the UK’s current demand. ‘There was a huge sense of excitement and achievement in the lead up to this opening after building the entire business over a six year period,’ says Rick Taylor, Vivergo’s commercial director. Along with the bioethanol, Vivergo will also produce 500,000 tonnes a year of protein-rich animal feed for the UK market, which is sufficient to feed around a fifth of the UK’s dairy herd. ‘Over recent months, we have been ramping up our production output,’ adds Taylor. ‘We have supplied animal feed to UK farms, plus bioethanol into the UK and Europe, and we’ll look to continue increasing our production volumes over the coming months.’ Environmentally, Vivergo’s bioethanol offers greenhouse gas savings in excess of 50% over standard petrol, which it claims is the equivalent of removing 180,000 cars from the road. Its animal feed also reduces the need for imported protein, mainly from South America, which accounts for up to 80% of the demand.

biofuels international

Up and running: the Vivergo plant will aim to produce 420 million litres of bioethanol

The plant itself is situated close to the UK’s main wheat belt which, being its feedstock of choice, made the site an ideal location. ‘The wheat belt area, one of the highest yielding in the world, was a prime reason for Vivergo being located in the Humber region,’ explains Taylor. ‘Of the 1.1 million tonnes of feed grade wheat needed by the plant every year, the aim is to source the majority from local farms in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, making us the biggest wheat buyer in the UK.’ He adds the company’s preference would always be to use UK-sourced wheat relatively local to the plant, whose origin and sustainability is monitored and proven, but if there is a poor local harvest then there are contingency plans to source wheat ‘from elsewhere’. ‘We use the starch in the wheat to make our bioethnaol and the protein and fibre to make our animal feed, therefore feed-wheat is the ideal feedstock for us and we have not considered using any others at this stage,’ Taylor adds.

The bioethanol produced will be supplied throughout the UK via road tankers and into Europe via ships coming out of the Saltend site jetty. The animal feed will be delivered to the UK market and sold through alternative feed sourcing company KW Trident. Taylor claims the long-term plan for Vivergo has always been to increase production volume incrementally over a period of time while bringing the plant into full production, but he reveals the company is ‘deeply concerned’ about the European Commission’s proposal to cap first generation biofuels to 6%. ‘We believe this is based on unproven and immature science relating to indirect land use change (ILUC) which is inappropriate and potentially very damaging to our industry,’ he says. ‘European bioethanol production is already achieving the objectives initially set by the Commission to reduce carbon in the transport sector, provide energy security and support agriculture. ‘We meet the rigorous sustainability criteria in the Rewnewable Energy Directive so introducing

retrospective legislation like this is potentially damaging and undermines investor confidence. It could prevent further economic and climate change benefits from being realised,’ Taylor continues. ‘We urgently need to resolve the current legislation issues, to give current and future investors the certainty needed to develop our industry.’ But Vivergo, when looking closer to home, says it and the industry as a whole has enjoyed support from a UK government level, with business secretary Vince Cable even attending the official opening ceremony. Taylor backs up that support but believes it will need to continue if the uncertainty in Europe is to be resolved. ‘We feel Vivergo brings clear economic and environmental benefits, which can only be good for both the UK and Europe,’ he explains. ‘Our 500,000 tonnes of produced animal feed, for example, will reduce the need for imports, which mainly come from South America, and accounts for up to 80% of the demand.’ And any perceived competition from the restarted Ensus bioethanol plant, located in Teeside and bought by Germanybased CropEnergies this year, is only in the minds of others, according to Taylor. ‘We believe it’s important to have good producers and healthy competition in the marketplace,’ he concludes. ‘There is more than enough UK wheat to service both plants, while demand for both bioethanol and animal feed remains strong. A larger industry has a louder voice in advocating the benefits of UK bioethanol.’ l

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One biodiesel supplier in the US has been hitting the right notes and reached a landmark in terms of production this year, but what does the future hold?

Making sweet renewable music


by James Barrett n September US rock musician Neil Young extolled the virtues of renewable fuel to a gathering of the National Farmers Union while visiting Washington DC. Young revealed he does not get paid to air his views on biofuels and claimed: ‘CO2 is going to be a huge issue in the next couple of years. Ethanol, cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel are the answer to this problem.’ And, over in the Pacific Northwest, one biodiesel company is quietly going about its business to bolster that solution while boasting some heavyweight support from the music world itself. Major milestone That company is Sequential Pacific Biodiesel (SQPB), a commercial producer based in Oregon, and this summer it broke through the 20 million gallon of total production mark of its clean burning, locally produced fuel since forming in 2005. ‘When that figure came onto our radar, and then surpassed, it represented a big deal for the company,’ says Tyson Keever, Sequential’s general manager. ‘After we, as Sequential Biofuels, formed this joint venture business with Hawaii-based Pacific Diesel, it started off producing around 500,000 gallons of biodiesel a year, so this achievement was a wow moment for all involved.’ The achievement is even more impressive when Sequential Biofuels’ origin is taken into consideration. Keever is one of the founding

members and the idea of starting a renewable fuel business was being tossed around alongside copious amounts of pizza dough. ‘Myself and another of the Sequential founders used to discuss the idea of starting a biofuels business while we held down jobs at a pizza parlour during our university years,’ he remembers. ‘Some perceived our plan to enter this industry at that time as a bit risky, but the idea had an alluring, futuristic tinge which we found exciting. We eventually began our journey from out of a garage.’ SQPB is now on course to produce 6 million gallons of biodiesel by the end of 2013, which is up 1 million from last year, but Keever is quick to point to the contribution of local and regional communities to all this success. Greasing the wheels SQPB currently works with over 7,000 restaurant feedstock providers and currently has used cooking oil (UCO) collection depots based in Seattle, Portland and Spokane. ‘Our first supplier was Kettle Foods, which is an international supplier of crisps and nut butters, plus we secured local fast food chain Burgerville early on too,’ Keever says. ‘We then started a serious collection network from 2008, when commodity prices spiked, and grew it to this point.’ He believes it was costing restaurants around $20 to $40 (€15 to €30) to have UCO taken away as waste, no matter how much volume was

Waste not, want not: Sequential’s product is helping reduce transport carbon emissions

waiting to go when the refuse truck arrived. SQPB saw an opportunity to offer them a more beneficial way of getting rid of their residual waste. ‘Our business is based on offering a fair price to our feedstock providers through a rebate programme, but the pay out will depend on variables like how much cooking oil is on offer and the geographical location of the source,’ Keever explains, while adding those with bountiful feedstock levels in nearby locations ‘could expect to potentially receive over $1 a gallon’. And, as SQPB operates a closed loop production cycle, things have indeed gone full circle in this regard as the company recently agreed to recycle used cooking oil from concessions stands operated by the University of Oregon athletics department; the same school where Keever and his founding colleagues met. Most businesses working with SQPB seemingly like this kind of relationship, some even display the fact via

branded signs showcasing their recycling ethos. But Keever admits his company’s service standards cannot afford to slip through complacency. ‘There are others looking to buy this waste product and it can lead to a bit of client fatigue because they get so many enquiries,’ he expands. ‘However, as one example I’ve heard, other collecting companies offer a high purchase price and then do not pick up for a long time, meaning the waste just stacks up and sits there. That just is not our style.’ Another way SQPB gives back to its local communities is via monetary contributions too: ‘We do offer a charitable programme by which we make a donation, in our suppliers’ name, to the Seattle Children’s Hospital in lieu of payment for the oil we’ve collected.’ The future Keever feels there are still many avenues of waste collection for SQPB to explore in the Northwest, but ‘California,

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$1 tax incentive per gallon of pure biodiesel produced. ‘However, again, that aid seems to be available one year then taken away again the next. As fluctuating petroleum prices affect the price of cooking oil, we need any incentives and support to remain as stable as possible,’ he adds. Keever also believes the continual attempted disruption by Big Oil toward renewable fuels is ‘absurd’ because ‘we all need energy diversity to negate the environmental problems which will arise without it’. ‘And, to prove we don’t just mean everyone should be using our product, our in-house motto is actually walk, bike, bus, then biodiesel,’ he smiles.

All smiles: songs in Willie Nelson’s (far right) repertoire include Changing Skies and I’m in the Car Again

with its dense population, the system is not as robust would possibly be the next for a company like us to rely region we’d look to if the on,’ Keever explains. ‘We opportunity is viable’. could not build and maintain And he explains the a business model on them company patiently watches the alone because the prices developments for renewable fluctuate widely and often.’ fuels at a political level. That instability runs alongside ‘When considering another concern Keever has Renewable Identification about the biodiesel Federal Numbers (RINs) for example, Excise Tax credit (FET), which 13347 WBPM Ad Resize_Layout 1 17/10/2013 12:42eligible Page 1for a they can be beneficial but sees blenders

comes from two wellknown musical figures. Country music legend Willie Nelson has invested in SQPB and is a keen environmentalist in general having formed Farm Aid in the 1980s to support the US farming industry, plus he uses his image to promote biodiesel at truck stops all over the country. ‘Willie has been with us from almost the very beginning and we consider him a friend of the business as well as a partner,’ Keever explains. The other singer/songwriter involved is Jack Johnson who SQPB welcomed on board as the company fitted into his investment portfolio of environmentallyfriendly concerns. ‘We are happy to have their support and both parties use biodiesel to power their tour buses. We supply it when they come through the Northwest of course!’ laughs Keever. l

Tuneful support Some unwavering support SQPB can rely on as the company moves forward +44 (0)20 7099 0600

Featuring a major, new co-located event.

World Waste-toPower Markets FEBRUARY 3-5, 2014 Amsterdam, The Netherlands


World Biomass Power Markets is the annual industry forum for the biomass power, cofiring and solid waste-to-energy sectors.




Sessions of streamed content



Exhibit stands

Top level speakers

The World Biomass Power Markets congress was a perfect opportunity to meet key industry players

The networking breaks… never failed to generate great discussions and business development opportunities

Mark Lyra, Cosan

Bill Strauss, Futuremetrics

Excellent conference Linda White, Fairport Engineering biofuels international

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biofuels algae A research team in the UAE believes algae-to-biofuels is possible and is working in the harsh desert terrain of Abu Dhabi to try and prove it

Deciphering cryptic pathways


lgae-to-biofuels programmes have been battered by unfulfilled promises of cheap and plentiful biofuels for all. These programmes have traditionally relied on the isolation of freshwater algae species as sources of biomass for large-scale up, open pond commercial ventures. This puts strain on freshwater supplies and competes with arable land for production of foods. These companies have yet to yield profitable ventures growing algae biofuels and many of them are closing their doors when venture capital dries up. Those that survived have left the algae-to-biofuels model and moved onto nutritionals and pharmaceutical products. There needs to be a paradigm shift; new ways to think about algae as a source of biofuels and what is being looked for as biomass feedstock source. Several desirable qualities wanted from the next generation of algae species include: • Tolerance to a range of high salinities • Tolerance to high heat • Capacity for production of valuable secondary metabolites • ‘Tunable’ production of desired products with minimal change in growth conditions. A research team at the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi set out, with those criteria in mind, to bioprospect in the desert for microalgae in the United Arab Emirates. Ahmed Al Harethi was

Hard at work: Masdar researchers will continue to build on their fledgling findings

brought on board to assist the laboratory team. He grew up exploring the desert around Abu Dhabi, has an undergraduate degree from the Petroleum Institute and worked at the Gasco-owned Habshan gas processing plant. Al Harethi gained firsthand experience at Gasco what the effects of fossilbased fuel extraction from deep underground caused. Those experiences, along with the mandate from the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan calling for an increase in sustainable and renewable energy sources, brought him to the Masdar Institute’s attention. The story so far A bioprospecting plan was formed and, with Al Harethi’s knowledge of the

desert, several algae strains to test in the laboratory were quickly unearthed. One strain in particular, named AAH001, exhibited several of the qualities the team was looking for. It grew in an wide range of salinities and temperatures and even excreted a secondary metabolite under varying CO2 growth conditions. The team has been working over the last 12 months to characterise the growth conditions for the AAH00q isolate, sequence and assemble the genome and characterise the secondary metabolite. In addition, it continues to bioprospect for more desert algae isolates with specific goals in mind. Initial results from the isolation of this species are promising and they

are changing how the Masdar team thinks about bioprospecting for algae in this extreme environment. The AAH001 isolate tackles most of the pressing needs in the algae-to-biofuels space. It lives at a temperature ranging from 25-45˚C and a salinity which ranges from the ocean to 10 times that amount addressing the water evaporation constraints of large open pond systems. An ability to provide a natural deterrent to invasive species from the environment in open pond systems is also exciting. The team is now in the process of constructing an outside testing facility to explore the scale-up potential in the Abu Dhabi environment. It is believed the bioprospecting programme designed in the Masdar

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laboratory will yield algae strains to meet the desired qualities necessary for algae-to-biofuels – but this in of itself is not enough. The new paradigm in commercialisation of algae needs to take advantage of all the parts of the cell. In the food industry the term ‘head to tail’ is used to describe the process of not wasting any part of what an organism has to offer. That same concept needs to be applied to the algae processed here. The number of sequenced algae genomes needs to also be increased. This seems like a daunting task in light of the large number of algae species proposed to exist in the desert environment. A carefully designed bioprospecting and characterisation programme would help mitigate worries

and provide the greatest benefit by preselecting species that already meet several of the proposed criteria listed above. An understanding of the complete genome of the isolated algae species will reveal cryptic metabolic pathways. Understanding these cryptic pathways will lead to better design of genetic engineering platforms to take advantage of the biological pathways being discovered. It is understood algae excrete biological molecules from their interior. Using rational chemicalbased design centred on the native secondary metabolite backbone will allow for the release of designed highvalue chemicals from the interior of the cell, without ending the production

cycle of the algae cells. Recent engineering milestones are revolutionising algae cultivation systems too. This renewed growth capacity needs to be matched with production systems that increase the efficiency of processing and extraction methods, while lowering energy requirements and cost. New processing systems will additionally need to be designed to efficiently incorporate the new product streams produced. Finally, there needs to be a change in how academics and the industry go about representing the work being conducted on algae and its immediate potential. There has been terrible harm done to the algae-to-biofuels industry by conjecture and speculation. As the industry has matured,

so has its knowledge and understanding of the potential and limitations of the algaeto-biofuels industry. The future of this industry is exciting however. The Masdar team is experiencing a philosophical shift in research and development in both academic and industrial settings. Daily news releases provide encouraging progress on the march towards a commercial, viable algae-to-biofuels industry, but past lessons learned need to be heeded to assure the acceptance and longevity of it. l

For more information: This article was written by Hector Hernandez, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Masdar Institute,

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biofuels algae A fresh look at cultivating and growing algae for biofuels production is coming out from a Swiss-based research and development company

Grow your own biomass


ith global warming at the centre of global politics, new political initiatives, legislation and both public and private funding are focusing on sustainable sources of energy, including the key area of transportation fuels. As one of the most abundant plant types on the planet, algae have an

important role to play in the worlds CO2 balance and can provide a rich source of energy in the form of biomass, oils and even bio-hydrogen production. Dependent on light for growth, algal metabolism can be studied and biofuel production processes developed in suitable equipment in laboratories, even if fullscale production is in a large

pond or hectares of tubing. The key to commercial success is improving process efficiency through R&D work, which can be carefully monitored and controlled, either at the initial process development stage or as on-going scaledown experiments alongside full-scale production runs. Doing this work in singleuse bags in a familiar incubator shaker offers a new possibility to obtain volumes in the tens of litres in the laboratory without the need for a complex bioreactor. The INFORS HT Multitron Cell can be equipped with lights for photosynthesis work on a smaller scale and has the capability to mount single-use bags up to 20 litres total volume. Algal cultivation can also be optimised in the INFORS HT Labfors 5 Lux LED Flat Panel Option photo-bioreactor fitted with an array of LEDs, a flat panel vessel allowing unprecedented choice of light spectra and even distribution throughout a culture. Light intensity and gassing with air/CO2 can be precisely controlled and measured. Single-use bags and cultivation

The Labfors 5 Lux Flat Panel photo-bioreactor

This first part of this article describes the culture of diatoms in single-use bags within an INFORS HT Multitron Cell incubator shaker, with ShakerBag Option, and uses data first published in this paper: Wave-Mixed and Orbitally Shaken Single-Use Photobioreactors for Diatom

Algae Propagation (Lehman N. et al. 2013) Chemie Ingenieur Technik 85, 197–201). The culture of diatoms is difficult due to their shear sensitivity. Single-use bags in orbital shakers have shown to be an effective solution for cultivation of shear sensitive mammalian cells. Direct gassing into the bag provides good surface aeration and the induced movement in the liquid ensures efficient gas transfer and mixing. In an incubator shaker, it is the combination of the throw and speed which allows adjustment of the mixing properties. A bonus with using surface aeration over sparged gas input, such as is required for air lift bioreactors, is the absence of damage to cells by bubbles bursting and the formation of significant amounts of foam at the gas/liquid interface. The reduction in foam can eliminate the need for addition of liquid antifoams and so simply any downstream separation and processing. One diatom named P. tricornutum was grown in a Multitron Cell incubator shaker equipped with coolwhite fluorescent lights, which have a strong radiation in the red and blue parts of the visible light spectrum. The operational conditions are provided in Table 1. Cell density and dry biomass were measured daily via sampling and off-line analysis. Specific growth rates were calculated and pH measured offline in the daily samples (see figure 1). The highest dry biomass

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Main process parameters and specific features of the single-use bioreactors Bioreactor

Parameters and specific features

Multitron Cell (INFORS HT)

Cultivation bag

Cultibag RM 2L standard

Shaking rate

110 rpm

Shaking diameter


Aeration 0.5 wm air, 5% CO2, external aeration via air and CO2 rotameter




95 µmol-2s-1, Osram L 15W/77 Fluora

Sensors None

Bioreactor control unit

Control of temperature and agitation rate by the shaker’s control unit, control of the aeration and CO2 concentration via external gas mixing station

Table 1

concentration (0.645 g L–1), cell density (2.11 107 cells mL–1) and maximum specific growth rate (l max = 0.9816 d–1) were found in the Multitron Cell with ShakerBag option, operating with cool-white fluorescent tube illuminated CultiBags. Here the peak dry biomass was between 38 and 40% higher and the maximum specific growth rate was 20% higher when compared to other single-use bag cultivation systems. The quality and duration of growth suggests the materials of the bag did not produce any inhibitory leachates for the duration of the experiments. Growth was stimulated by the spectrum of soft white lights and this proved particularly effective even when compared to red and blue LEDs in other systems. In the absence of suitable disposable sensors for better control of the algal culture conditions in single-use bags, the productivity of even a simple bag in an incubator shaker provides a costeffective, flexible and familiar way to produce algal cells in

Figure 1

biofuels international

quantities of up to 10 litres x 3 (in a three-deck Multitron Cell). Optimal conditions This special design of vessel has a key advantage over standard stirred tank bioreactors – it has little depth, so light penetration is even throughout the culture. For this to work efficiently, a large, flat irradiation unit is also required to provide light across the large surface area of the vessel. Standard probes (including dissolved CO2) can be fitted and the vessel is autoclavable. A gentle air-lift mixing system minimises shear stress. A constant light intensity for a fixed period of time is not as efficient for growth and productivity of many species of algae and plants as a more natural variation in intensity is over time. Control of lighting starting low, rising to a peak and then declining to darkness is something which can be achieved using a short sequence script in SCADA software. This approach can be applied directly to

the Labfors 5 Flat Panel bioreactor and is achieved with incubator shakers using an external controller. Results from a recent joint study with the University of Wageningen in Holland produced the following results with a culture of Chlorella sorokiniana CCAAP 211/8K. The luminostat control gave a rapid increase in biomass while limiting overexposure to light and waste of light energy. The cells were exposed to a more constant light regime compared to traditional batch cultivation. A high cell concentration was achieved at the highest aeration rate. What about scale up? This is a particular problem when considering algal cultures for biomass and/or biofuels. It is a relatively lowvalue product and so must be cultivated in large amounts for minimal costs. This militates for a low-maintenance system that can be created easily of a geographic scale. So, laboratory- and pilotscale cultivation systems are useful for optimisation of medium, culture conditions and strain selection plus production of seed cultures. It is unlikely they will match the geometry and mixing/ aeration characteristics of the actual production vessel such as a pond or long series of tubes. Careful selection of optimisation parameters is necessary to ensure bench-scale work is relevant to rather dissimilar

production conditions. Productive and informative laboratory-scale equipment is vital in these circumstances as they may provide the only detailed process data available. It is possible to create consistency by using the same equipment in different locations, using common recipes and control scripts to ensure reproducibility and even create duplicates of optimised process runs using software that can provide a follow file option such as Iris 6, which is not only suitable for bioreactors but can also connect to Multitron incubator shakers for both data logging and control. Another possibility is to use scale down techniques. Samples from a large process run can be taken and aliquots used for cultivation in multiple, parallel arrays of bioreactors (or bags). Culture conditions can then be synchronised with the production process and various scenarios tested to improve productivity. Resulting strategies can then be applied to the full-scale process in real time to achieve optimisation ‘on the fly’. Conclusion Biofuel production in algae is at a stage where the step from laboratory to full-scale production presents unique difficulties. Low resistance to shear and sensitivity to contamination are special requirements which must be met. The capacity to produce both high quality optimisation data and usable seed cultures is critical to make this step as smooth as possible. Both single use bags and flat panel bioreactors can play an important part in this process, especially if allied to comprehensive SCADA software. l For more information: This article was written by Tony Allman, product manager of fermentation at INFORS HT,

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biofuels algae See how two men came together to begin a project aimed at producing biofuels from algae and how they ended up building a whole town

Second exit to biofuels


he glowing green tanks on the second floor of the Goshen College Science Hall in Indiana, US look like something from a sci-fi movie. This is a fitting description however as the three clear plastic photobioreactors (PBR) have been designed with the future of biofuel production in mind. Each tank, which has large florescent lights strapped on the outside to encourage photosynthesis, are alive with 700 litres of green algae-filled water. Ladies and gentlemen – welcome to AlgaeTown. Intriguing proposition The project was conceptualised four years ago by Dave Slagel, the CEO of engineering and manufacturing company Formco, and Stan Grove, professor emeritus of biology at Goshen College. The project’s end goal is to find an efficient way to produce and harvest algae to be used in biofuels production. When Slagel, himself a Goshen College graduate, began looking for a team of biologists to test his design for an algae growth tank, Grove answered his call. ‘When we started this, we wanted to build a simple system which could be operated by hand, with minimal technology, anywhere in the world,’ says Slagel. Grove had not worked on algae production before but the idea of solving growth and harvest problems intrigued

Photobioreactors: the blue tank contains nutrient only and the green tank has healthy live algae growth

him, so Formco provided the initial photobioreactor and the college provided space, equipment and student assistants. Two assistants helped get the project up and running and now over a dozen contribute to AlgaeTown’s on-going research. Sourcing feedstock ‘We believe we are on a different track with this project,’ believes Slagel. ‘The team is working with buoyant-lift PBRs but Stan and his students began looking for local algal strains to fill them about a year before their installation in 2011.’ The algae strain that currently fills the tanks has been named LC and

was found at a local lake. Slagel explains LC became the feedstock of choice due to its large size and clumping properties. ‘From the beginning we have viewed efficient growth and effective harvest as equal parts of the same problem,’ he adds. ‘We hoped the clumping LCs would simplify the harvest.’ The AlgaeTown team primarily focuses on the challenge of effectively growing and harvesting algae to meet consumer demands through energy positive systems. Energy or space intensive methods, such as centrifuging or evaporating, are currently used to glean algae from its watery habitat. The team admits the

clumping tendency of LC may not appear in spirulina or oil-producing algae however. But, as the US Department of Energy currently considers all concentrated algae as having biomass value, one student suggested: ‘Couldn’t we just modify the cells to produce more oil as well?’ The process LCs at Goshen College are grown in 82cm diameter transparent plastic tanks with an active bell attached to a tall, hollow centre column. The bell is elevated and dropped by a simple aero lift system that alternately captures and releases system sparging air. This system uses ~20 watts to run four tanks.

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the effects of wind and weather to set up outside. We’d like to move out into the sun by next spring if possible,’ says Slagel. ‘We are in communication with the college about possible outdoor sites to evaluate production in natural light.’ Acquiring more support

On hand: a sample of dried algae that was grown in the Goshen College lab

The team is working with three methods of concentration and extraction: a 10 micron woven sleeve, a density specific plate system and folded mesh packets. The 10 micron mesh sleeve is positioned in a plastic cylinder frame in the centre column of the PBR bell. The bottom of the mesh is positioned above a oneway valve, allowing water and algae to flow into the mesh as the bell lowers into the water. As the bell rises up, water runs out of the mesh and down the sides of the centre column, forced outside of the inner mesh due to the valve. The algae is then trapped in the mesh. ‘This method yielded a harvest of four times the tank concentration,’ explains Grove. ‘While this was a fantastic start, the method only worked for so long. The mesh would get plugged, possibly due to constricted water flow and natural secretions from the algae. Attempts to reverse the flow direction, and increase the concentration, have been partially successful.’ The mesh method revealed the centre column as a great location to collect algae and Grove reveals

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that discovery has lead to a number of variations of the original concept. ‘The best result so far has been a harvest that was 30 times the concentration of the grow solution,’ he enthuses. ‘All harvest attempts with this PBR have been localised efforts to isolate and remove a concentrated packet of algae encouraging growth to

reach a settled concentration of 70%. To date this attempt has yielded mixed results. ‘The early trials of the plate seemed to cause algal cultures to die prematurely with stagnation and shading at the bottom possibly to blame. To increase mixing, we’ve tried a number of things including adding density-specific plastic chips,’ he adds.

‘LC became the feedstock of choice due to its large size and clumping properties’ continue. Typically less than 2 of the total 700 litre volume are removed. Our goal is to match harvest with growth and stabilise grow concentration.’ Another collection attempt uses a separation disc less dense than settled LC, but denser than the grow solution to harvest from the bottom of the tank. LCs settle underneath the plate and are periodically siphoned up a small tube. Grove says this method seems logical and is based on an early discovery that LCs are self-concentrating and, once clumped, will eventually

The AlgaeTown team has also found that by adding weight to the top of the bell’s column, stronger currents are formed to help reduce stagnation. This has allowed a revisit to the bottom-plate collection method with more success. As the functionality of collection has grown more concrete, the programme has found itself moving away from the initial so-called exploratory Freeform Science to a need for more standardised research. ‘Our current thought is, given the resources, we will modify the PBR to minimise

The AlgaeTown team feels it needs more support to complete its research however. Formco and Goshen College have funded the project to date, but it launched a fundraising campaign this autumn in an attempt to build publicity and funds for the programme. ‘This project gives students a chance to go beyond the classroom and experience the real-world applications of solving energy needs using biomass,’ says Slagel. ‘Senior business students have also joined the effort this year to bring a commercial perspective to the science side of AlgaeTown.’ ‘The idea that we’re a collaboration between science and industry gives our students quite a different interdisciplinary opportunity in our classes,’ adds Grove. ‘There are few chances for this to happen in most of our classes.’ As well as applying for grants, the project as a whole is currently aiming to raise $18,700 (€13,800) via RocketHub, an online portal which offers projects a way of building support and raising money online via a large number of people donating small amounts of money. All funds raised will go towards additional equipment supplies and student workstudy allocation. l

For more information: This article was written by Natasha Weisenbeck and Brian Yoder Schlabach, part of the AlgaeTown team,

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biofuels distillation A look at two distillation options available for the biofuels process

Obtaining those biofuels


istillation is the most important first generation thermal separation process in use worldwide. Distillation separates components according to their specific vapour pressure at applied temperature. The volatile substance, in this case methyl ester, or low boiler, is evaporated while the high boiler remains in the solution. Energy is needed and heat is the main tool in evaporation, but the energy requirement for evaporation needs to be high because the phase transition from liquid to vapour must be overcome. To ensure a dependably efficient design, a number of key criteria need to be addressed as below: • The mass and energy balance with the according process conditions

(process temperature, working temperature) is the design basis. The composition and physical properties of the bottom liquid, like its viscosity for example, must be known • The heating temperature applied largely determines the type of heating medium (steam or heat transfer oil). Generally, heat transfer oil will be used at temperatures exceeding 220°C • Fouling and scaling are the next design criteria. Layers on the exchanger surface decrease performance; high turbulent flow enhances durability • Lastly, the engineers must select the correct material to construct the system. Is carbon steel sufficient, or would high alloyed steel 904 be the best choice? Biodiesel distillation has its own specific pitfalls like the product has a tendency for fouling and requires a heating temperature of 180°C or above and a vacuum lower than 1 millibars (mbar). Two avenues

An example of a distillation system

There are only a couple of types of evaporators are used in modern-day industry, the simplest type being the falling film evaporator and its main feature is

evaporation taking A short path place inside the evaporator works tubes. The product according to the is fed by an optimal same principle as distributor system a thin film one. and a thin film However, it is fitted flows down on the with an internal heating surface. condenser meaning The thin, and the distance from generally turbulent, the vapours to the film provides for condenser is short. efficient heat transfer, The range of potential thus the evaporation applications is huge takes place at the and varies from heating surface of high evaporation the evaporator. Due rates to high to the turbulent film, vacuum distillation the gasous phase at pressures as low will be moved to as 0.001 mbar. the liquid layer where they can be Second separated. For large generation evaporation rates the liquid is recirculated The most economical and, therefore, it system for second is suitable for high generation biodiesel, liquid loads. to spearate the oil out The second, of any carbonisation, more versatile, for example, is a option is the thin combination of film evaporator, also falling film, thin called the wiped film and short path film evaporator evaporators. – in essence a The main part of combination of a evaporation takes falling film unit and An example of a thin place at the falling an agitated vessel. film evaporator film evaporator The product stage, a simple and flows down the well-proven system. heating surface in a thin film, The other two increases the agitated by wipers mounted distillate cut to the maximum. on a rotor. These wipers, Biodiesel is based on which clean the surface natural feedstocks and so, on continuously, touch and the applied process, physical agitate the film meaning heat properties will vary widely transfer is high. Increased depending on both the source viscosity and product and chosen process. l temperature rises are no issue for thin film operations. Since the product remains in the For more information: system for less than a minute, This article was written by Gerhard hard process conditions can Hogl, marketing director at Gig Karasek be run without degradation.

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choose wisely. Don’t get stuck at the starting line with a first-generation renewable fuel. The revolutionary IH2 technology converts virtually any type of non-food biomass feedstock – such as wood, agricultural residues, municipal solid waste, and algae – directly into fully fungible transportation fuels such as agricultural residues, municipal solid waste, and algae – directly into fully fungible transportation fuels such as gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel. Developed by GTI and exclusively licensed by CRI Catalyst, this process can now take organic material and common everyday waste and turn them into fuel and export steam to help keep our world running smoothly. Let CRI help you find a first-place solution to help fuel your business.

It is all part of our commitment to delivering innovation. CRI Catalyst refers to certain of the companies of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group which are engaged in the catalyst business. Each of the companies which make up the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies is an independent entity and has its own identity.

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biofuels catalysts A collaboration in the US has been aiming to achieve direct renewable fuels conversion from various different feedstocks via IH2 technology

Spoilt for choice


hree years ago two US-based companies, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) in Illinois and CRI Catalysts in Texas, entered into an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement for GTI’s IH2 technology. This technology is a catalytic thermochemical process which directly converts a broad spectrum of residual biomass directly into cellulosic petrol, kerosene and diesel range hydrocarbon fuels and/or blend stocks fungible with current fossil fuels. Feedstocks studied to date have included wood, agricultural residues like bagasse, cane waste and stover, renewable components of municipal waste, as well as algae and various aquatic plants. The preliminary economics of the IH2 technology have been investigated by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The published report suggests a cost-effective route1 to cellulosic hydrocarbon fuels, at approximately $2 (₏1.50) per gallon. Technology IH2 technology can produce cellulosic hydrocarbon fuels from virtually any renewable resource that is part of the carbon cycle. Biomass contains carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulphur as primary components, along with various inorganic materials. In order to produce high-quality hydrocarbons, everything with the exception of the carbon and hydrogen must be removed. The process starts with

Feed me: woody biomass is just one of the feedstocks the IH2 process can handle

feedstock conditioning and is first dried to a moisture content of 30% or less and then reduced in size to approximately 3-3.5mm prior to entering the process. Catalysis is at the heart of the IH2 process and a series of critical reactions occur in two reactors in series. Upon entering the first-stage bubbling fluidised bed reactor, the biomass heats and de-volatilises (i.e. gives off smaller, volatile molecules). These molecules react in the gas phase with the renewable hydrogen and fluidised catalyst system so oxygen is removed, reactive fragments are stabilised and corrosive intermediates are circumvented. This reaction is exothermic. The liberated oxygen combines with the excess fluidising hydrogen to form water as steam, which adds to the total water balance. The produced water, plus the incoming moisture in the biomass, are sufficient to generate export steam.

Approximately 90% of the oxygen has been removed in the first-stage reactor. As the gaseous stream exits the first stage, it is sent through a cyclonic separation system to remove the ash and biochar. From the cyclones, the gas stream enters a second-stage fixed-bed reactor where the remainder of the oxygen is removed and reactions reducing the sulphur, nitrogen and aromatics occur, all of which are exothermic. At the exit of the secondstage reactor, the gases are cooled, condensed and the water is separated. The resulting hydrocarbons can then be distilled into light ends (propane, ethane, methane) and higher boiling range liquids spanning the petrol, kerosene and diesel range hydrocarbons. The light ends are sent to a hydrogen manufacturing unit, essentially a steam methane reformer, where renewable hydrogen is made in sufficient quantity to provide the process hydrogen

requirements for the catalytic reactions in the IH2 process. The IH2 process technology combines known unit operations common to a petroleum refinery. By using known technologies combined in a different way the design risks are mitigated. The timeline to market is short, with showcase five-tonneper-day units intended for mechanical completion by the end of 2014 and commercialscale installations intended for completion in 2016. Catalysts Catalysts are a critical part of the technology impacting, as they do, the yield of hydrocarbon derived from the biomass, the distribution of the hydrocarbons (i.e. petrol, kerosene, diesel, gas oil) and the product quality. This is where CRI’s expertise comes into play; in the past three years of collaboration with GTI, multiple catalysts have been developed and tested in the

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could product quality. As an example, woody biomass carbon is predominantly contained in cellulose, hemicelluose and lignins, whereas algae’s carbons are primarily contained in glycerol esters of long chain fatty acid and proteins. This has been shown to result in a different final product yield structure. The products from these different feedstocks also have different properties, with the former feedstock providing predominantly petrol and the latter predominantly jet and diesel. However, transportation fuels have independent specifications, so regardless of the starting biomass the final product must meet these specifications.

meet the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) mandates. All basic design principles have been validated since the IH2 pilot plant has been online. Key operating factors of the IH2 technology, including the feed and catalyst handling and supply system, the first and second stage reactor conditions and the separation systems for the residual ash and char have been verified. Performance factors are the key process outputs, which for IH2 technology are the liquid hydrocarbons. Woody biomass, agricultural residue like corn stover and aquatic plant residues have been successfully fed through the IH2 pilot plant and converted to petrol, kerosene and diesel products with undetectable oxygen content and low Total Acid Number, comparable to those products produced in the R&D project phase. Subsequent testing will proceed with a variety of feedstocks in support of US Department of Energy (DoE) projects and potential technology licensors. GTI has received funding support from the DoE, via the EERE Office of Biomass Programme, under the integrated biorefinery initiative.


Renewable policies

Delivering any technology to commercial-scale requires many steps. As one of the steps toward commercialisation of the IH2 technology, in the first quarter of 2012 GTI commissioned a new 50kg/day pilot-scale IH2 plant, which operates using the latest CRI proprietary catalyst for the first and second stages. The goal of the pilot plant is to provide validation of the operational and performance factors, which will be key to achieving commercial deployment in 2014, when total advanced biofuels volume requirements will be 3.75 billion gallons to

There are at least 65 countries which have developed or are developing renewable fuel policies. This complex landscape allows for opportunities as well as challenges for implementing technology. CRI, as global licensor of IH2 technology, provides a commercial solution which would potentially allow clients to achieve their local objectives relative to the government policy where they operate. IH2 technology produces liquid hydrocarbons that qualify as an advanced biofuel as defined by the RFS in the US fuel market. The IH2 process produces

Result: end product taken from the IH2 process

IH2 process. These catalyst advances have shifted the hydrocarbon distribution to higher-valued products (petrol, kerosene and diesel), as the third generation catalyst systems no longer produce a heavy gasoil fraction. Catalyst is a contributing factor to the product quality of the hydrocarbons. Although the initial catalysts used in this process resulted in hydrocarbon production, the hydrocarbon quality would not meet transportation fuel specification, meaning it could be a minor blending component at best. However, using new proprietary catalyst systems created at CRI’s research centre in Bangalore, India the IH2 process has been shown capable of producing petrol that meets the ASTM D-481411b Standard Specification for Automotive SparkIgnition Engine Fuel. With additional engine performance testing this fuel has the potential to be registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency as 100% lignocellulosic transportation fuel. Catalyst research and development continues at the technology centre in Bangalore, where assets have been dedicated to screen catalysts with established commercial feeds as well as to screen new feeds for the IH2 technology. Feedstocks vary therefore final product split between petrol, kerosene and diesel can vary, as

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second generation fuels, using non-edible biomass resulting in the destruction of the biomass. To the extent that commercial-scale volumes of algae, aquatic plants or residue could be produced and dewatered efficiently to meet the moisture requirements, the IH2 technology presents either a stand-alone or integrated process technology capable of producing third generation biofuel hydrocarbons. In a stand-alone scenario the IH2 technology could operate anywhere the crop or residue was grown and collected. With an integrated site, the IH2 plant would be co-located with an existing manufacturing process, including ethanol plants. Co-location affords synergy, which can benefit the overall capital cost and reduce the minimum fuel selling price. The process is selfsufficient and self-sustaining with little impact on the surrounding environment. The process requires only transport into and out of the site. The process technology is able to consume a broad range of biomass either as a single feedstock, a mixed feed or a varied feed, including municipal solid waste and algae. The IH2 technology is scalable to >3000 million tonnes per day feed and is currently in basic engineering for multiple feed demonstration units. Life cycle analysis indicates that the resulting fuel is nearly carbon neutral (LCA >94% GHG*2 reduction). l References 1 Tan, E. C. D.; NREL analysis report: Techno-economic analysis of the Integrated Hydropyrolysis and Hydroconversion process for the production of petrol and diesel fuels from biomass, May 2011 2 Shonnard, D, Maleche, E, Glaser, R; Carbon Footprint Analysis of IH2 Biofuels Final Report, submitted to GTI December 2011 For more information: This article was written by Celeste McLeod, renewable fuel specialist at CRI,

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biofuels catalysts

What new steps are being looked at to unlock key sugars from lignocellulosic waste for the biofuels industry?

Knocking down barriers


he unsustainability of food crops as feedstock for biofuels and renewable chemicals has been well documented. Specifically, the finite amount of arable land available globally means the use of it for fuel instead of food has the predictable and undesirable consequence of putting pressure on food supply and potentially increasing food prices. As a result, research has been devoted to utilising non-food crops, agricultural waste and residues as feedstocks for producing biofuels and other renewable

products such as corn stover, sugarcane bagasse, palm residues, municipal solid waste and a variety of dedicated energy crops. These biomass categories, rich in cellulose and lignin, have several characteristics which make them excellent candidates to be feedstocks that are sustainable at global scales. First, cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer on earth and can be broken down into 5-carbon (C5) and 6-carbon (C6) saccharides, which can replace food-based sugars such as sucrose and dextrose as feedstocks for

fuel and chemical production. Additionally, from a cost perspective, waste products and non-food crops are by nature of low economic value. Overall, it is estimated that over 1 billion tonnes of lignocellulosic waste are generated annually worldwide, enough waste biomass to produce over two times the world’s 2012 ethanol production (approximately 30 billion gallons). Growing dedicated lignocellulosic energy crops on nonarable land would increase this figure significantly. From an environmental perspective, much of this

waste is burned or left to rot, processes that both release harmful CO2 or methane emissions. Viable commercial processes converting lignocellulosic biomass into C5 and C6 saccharides used in producing biofuels would therefore be a breakthrough. The challenge, however, comes from the rigid structure of lignocellulose which makes it difficult to access and breakdown cellulose into usable sugars. This is a result of land plants evolving to protect their inner energy stores from microbes and other environmental factors. Many methods for

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converting lignocellulosics into usable saccharides, such as glucose and xylose, have been explored but, to date, lignocellulosic biomass has yet to be widely commercialised as a biofuels feedstock due to high conversion costs. In order to get through the rigid structure of lignocellulose, most existing methods resort to extreme temperature or chemical conditions and often require custom-made equipment, which is costly from both operating and capital expense perspectives. A breakthrough Technology provider Midori Renewables has engineered a novel family of catalysts that overcome the challenges associated with converting lignocellulosic biomass into usable sugars. These catalysts contain multiple chemical functionalities working together to catalytically break down cellulosic material into C5 and C6 sugars. Midori’s catalysts contain both acid and ionic functionalities to digest cellulose efficiently but, unlike aqueous acids and ionic liquids, they are solid and therefore easily separated from sugars and lignin so they can be re-used. They also do not require expensive solvent extraction or distillation methods for recovery, nor do they require solubilisation of the cellulosic material prior to hydrolysis. The catalysts are also non-corrosive, unlike many concentrated aqueous acids, so custom equipment for reactions is not required. Instead, known unit operations from other industries, such as pulp and paper, can be used. The carefully engineered chemical functionalities mean the catalysts can be used in a one-step reaction with low residence time, which helps reduce both capital and operating costs. In addition, the catalysts function at

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relatively mild conditions and produce low quantities of undesirable side products. Midori says its catalysts can convert a variety of lignocellulosic biomass into usable sugars. Downstream, the sugar product can be used with a variety of conversion technologies to produce multiple different fuels, chemicals and renewable products. As a result of this versatility, the technology can be commercialised in different deployment scenarios. For example, the technology could be bolted-on to an existing agricultural mill to convert low-value lignocellulosic waste like corn stover into high-value usable sugars. It could also

to produce electricity for the plant. Use of bagasse in this way gives it a relatively low monetary value. After the addition of Midori’s process, the bagasse, instead of being directly sent to the co-generation facility, is first sent through the bolt-on process to produce a mixed C5 and C6 sugar stream that is used to produce additional ethanol as well as a lignin-rich solid product that can still be used for power generation. That sugar stream has a much higher value (typically five to 10 times) than the original bagasse, while the lignin-rich solid product retains half of the heating value of the original bagasse. Thus, overall, additional

Overall, it is estimated that over 1 billion tonnes of lignocellulosic waste are generated annually worldwide be deployed in a greenfield plant that converts a dedicated lignocellulosic energy crop into sugars that are subsequently converted into ethanol, biodiesel or other biofuels via a partner’s conversion technology. Upstream use of Midori’s technology means feedstock suppliers and agricultural factory owners are given a higher value use for their feedstock or waste than previously available. Downstream, producers of biofuels and other renewable products are given a low cost sugar feedstock that is likely critical to costeffective production of their biofuel products. Case study Cane juice, from a typical facility, is extracted from sugarcane to produce sucrose or ethanol. The leftover bagasse is typically burned

value is added to the sugar mill via the addition of the catalytic process. Midori has optimised this process so its sugar product can be produced at low temperatures in a few hours, which is critical to keeping operating costs low. Also, a hydrolysis process produces minimal undesirable by-products. Only small amounts of acetic acid are produced from the hydrolysis of hemicellulose for example, and the acetic acid can be purified and sold as a separate product or fed to fermentation organisms that can utilise it. For ethanol production, the mixed C5 and C6 sugar stream may be fed to a new host, or a single C6 molasses solution may be fed to the same host already being used for ethanol production. Overall, Midori’s bolt-on lignocellulose-to-usable sugar process can increase ethanol production by up to 25%.

Other deployment Though the above scenario was specific to sugarcane ethanol, similar scenarios are possible for a corn mill or palm oil facility, both of which have lignocellulosic waste currently only used in low-value applications. Downstream, there are also a variety of fuels and other renewable products that can be produced via a low-cost sugar stream, including butanol, fatty acid-based fuels such as diesel, an array of renewable chemicals and animal feeds. Beyond producing fuels, Midori product streams can be used for non-biofuel end products and still benefit the biofuels industry directly. Specifically, for mills and plants currently producing biofuels, monetisation of their lignocellulosic waste into a non-biofuel end product still increases the value of their waste, making the economics of their entire biofuel production process more competitive. Animal feeds, in particular, are a great example of this co-product market opportunity, as their market size is large enough to be viable at fuel market scales and demand is increasing rapidly in many countries. To this end, Midori’s molasses product has been tested and shown to have strikingly similar nutrient profiles as conventional sugarcane molasses used in feeds today. Now that it has demonstrated hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass using its catalytic technology at throughputs of 100kg/hr, Midori is currently planning to construct its first commercial demonstration facility next year, aiming to demonstrate the hydrolysis technology at a commercially relevant scale and test the application of this technology in different end-product markets. l For more information: This article was written by Devesh Khanal, CEO of Midori Renewables,

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biofuels plant construction

In full splendor: the ACA bioethanol site

A bioethanol project in the Córdoba province of Argentina has been subject to a design and build project not centred on the norm

Keep disciplined


elgium-based De Smet Engineers and Contractors (DSEC) is implementing the construction of a corn processing plant with cogeneration facilities in Villa Maria, Argentina for farmers’ cooperative Asociación de Cooperativas Argentinas (ACA). It will produce 125 million litres of fuel-grade ethanol a year, 6.5MWe and 185,000 tonnes of animal feed. Civil works have already been concluded and erection works are progressing to their end, so the project is now in pre-commissioning stage and will allow the factory to start operations in January 2014, as scheduled. This project will enable the region to benefit from the production of valuable dried distillers grains with solubles

(DDGS) in a country with increasing cattle and dairy industries, while the ethanol production will be primarily sold to the country’s domestic market. Argentina benefits from a mandatory blend of 5% ethanol into petrol. ACA is a ‘second degree farmer’s cooperative’, essentially a cooperative of cooperatives, founded in 1922 grouping more than 160 cooperatives and 50,000 agricultural producers. Privately-owned DSEC was formed in 1990 and has completed largescale projects of this kind in over 50 countries. Construction risk management The most consistent solution for construction risk coverage

is known as “turnkey” (or EPC), where all three major construction risks are transferred to the general contractor: time schedule, budget and technological performance. On the other extreme stands the EPCM contractual format that, although including the full project engineering and management, provides less coverage to the client. DSEC is executing ACA’s project in EPC format but could also offer EPCM and those in-between. From the beginning The ACA project presented several challenges and the first one arose during the conceptual phase of the project. ACA needed to select the technology for its plant so DSEC provided neutral

assessment, product, supplier and field experience, and it handled the call for tender for technology so the client could base its decisions on a fully transparent and equitable process. The second biggest challenge of the project came right before the contract was signed, when the Argentinean government established a set of restrictive import policies that severely affected the procurement strategy. DSEC is structured to understand local particularities and, because its project teams are fully empowered to take decisions with an efficient consultation structure towards company management at any time, it designed a strategy which would minimise imports and freeze local (volatile) prices.

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The strategy was implemented by the following action plan: DSEC enforced a local team of engineers to deal with local procurement, provided a guaranteed maximum price to reassure ACA while allowing them to place purchase orders directly to equipment manufacturers in order to simplify the procurement procedure and avoid tax cascades. The result meant ACA felt confident to purchase on its own because DSEC is in charge of all the technical, order follow-up, legal and administration tasks related to the procurement process. On top of this, even if ACA placed the purchase orders, DSEC provided full guarantees on maximum price, time schedule and performance guarantees. The third major challenge of the project was to build the plant quickly and within a tight budget. The solution was to design a subcontracting technique called ‘by disciplines’ instead of the traditional ‘by zones’. Working by zones is easier, but it is more expensive and takes longer. Typical zones in an agro-industrial plant include things like silos, process, cogeneration, cooling towers and water treatment. Typical disciplines are engineering,

equipment fabrication, civil works, erection, electricals and automation, piping, steel structure and transport. Working ‘by disciplines’ consists of contracting disciplines covering the entire plant rather than fractioning it into a mere addition of packages by zone. Working by disciplines meant that DSEC had to do the following: 1) Perform a centralised and extended basic engineering of the entire plant, rather than delegating this to the traditional leaders of ‘zonal packages’ 2) Strengthen the procurement team to be in a position to place a larger number of orders (10-fold compared to the original setup) by specialised engineers rather than procurement officers 3) All fabrications of the same type were grouped and assigned to specialised workshops. The entire steel structure of the plant was ordered from one steel fabrication workshop and the same was done for CS tanks, piping etc. This purchasing technique also allows tighter follow-up of the fabrication in terms of quality and schedule. 4) Orchestrate efficient communication between the vast number of disciplines,

since detailed engineering up to start-up, to make sure they work cohesively all across the plant and beyond each zone. Those are the main reasons why only few companies in the world can offer a true EPC and assume a single point responsibility. This technique ‘by disciplines’ is not only faster and less expensive but also reduces the risk of cracks between ‘zonal packages’ (because there are no such packages). It also ensures a homogeneity of brands and therefore cost efficient spare part management. The time saving is possible thanks to the following aspects: • Activities can be overlapped • Procurement can be started before finalising detailed engineering The ‘by disciplines’ technique was possible because DSEC could manage interfaces between processing plants, utilities and storage units with an interdisciplinary team. It also has experience in installing industrial utility services, such as steam production facilities and electricity generation units. The type of technology used for ACA’s plant is proven and has been extensively used in Europe and particularly USA. Latin America still has

a lot of potential for starch crops conversion into ethanol based on this technology. But DSEC is looking further ahead for innovation and one of its latest developments is a patented technology which allows cane-based ethanol plants to run on starch-grains, such as grain sorghum and corn. Such development would allow the traditional cane to ethanol plants to run during 340 days/year instead of the typical 180 to 220 days and to produce sugar and ethanol simultaneously. The cane juice and the one coming from the starch saccharification can be mixed, fermented using the same yeast strain and run with similar efficiency. The Admiss process requires a limited investment consisting of an ‘add-on’ to the existing cane plant that will only by-pass the cane milling section, therefore allowing the maintenance of the latter during the off-season. The biggest markets for such technology are cane growing areas with easy access to abundant cost-effective starch sources such as Brazil. l For more information: This article was written by Julian Carbonell, business development manager – Latin America, De Smet Engineers and Contractors.

A diagram showing the Disciplines vs Zones approach of plant construction

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How does Bouygues build plants so quickly?


A glimpse inside the Centre for Process Innovation

Clients want their assets yesterday and those in the biofuels space are no exception. Zeb Ahmed, director at Bouygues Energies and Services, speaks to Keeley Downey about how his company ensures projects are delivered within a 12-month timeframe


Bouygues Energies and Services was appointed as the prime contractor for the Centre for Process and Innovation’s (CPI) £9 million (€10.5 million) demonstration-scale biofuel facility at the Wilton Centre in Redcar, UK. How did you secure the contract?


CPI wanted to build the facility in order to test cellulosic feedstocks and determine which are most suitable for second generation ethanol production, in terms of efficiency, ethics and environmental impacts. CPI is a technical innovation centre for the government. It operates a number of facilities which provide proof of concept but, unlike most organisations, it does this at demo-scale and not laboratory-scale. With most

biofuel processes today, a large volume of feedstock (100 units) can be used to yield just 10 units or less of fuel. CPI is working to develop new processes and techniques to improve this yield based on the input materials. Bouygues secured the contract in open competition back in 2010. We have around 15 years’ experience in the fast track delivery of fullyintegrated solutions to the biofuels sector. We started building in December 2010 and it came online exactly one year later. Under traditional circumstances, this would have taken 18 to 24 months. Today the plant can produce up to 1,000 litres of bioethanol, which is sampled and analysed for quality and purity and, if necessary, deployed in different applications.

We have multidisciplinary design capabilities in-house, including process engineering. Compared to our model, other contracting companies might have to employ design consultants, a builder for that element, possibly another to carry out the services for example. We design and self-deliver with our resources in-house. The only parts of a project we do subcontract are the civil and structural engineering. We have learnt that you cannot design fast, that and planning must take the appropriate time. Design should take between three and four months of a year-long project, any less than that and we would be shortcutting it. What we’ve done is learn to build fast. We have two off-site prefabrication facilities, one in Kent and another in Liverpool. From these locations we can build and quality inspect a lot of the equipment and technology in a modular fashion and then install them on-site – like a plug and play system. With a traditional project much of the construction will be carried out on-site, which is less efficient. Building on a live site means health and safety must be managed more stringently and it’s less effective.


What are the challenges associated with fast track construction?


They usually relate to the design phase. Sometimes clients are not clear what they want and construction begins while the project design is still evolving. This is known as ‘building in parallel’ and can result in projects going wrong. We ensure the concept is frozen early so we can complete the design and build quickly.


Tell us about the ‘state-ofthe-art’ feedstock handling and preparation facility that Bouygues installed at the plant.


Cellulosic feedstocks can be either wet or dry. With that in mind the front end of the plant was built with the ability to handle both feeds which is quite novel and means the plant is flexible. To be able to accept a range of diverse materials, we had to couple different technologies together and make sure they all complimented each other. This took quite a lot of designing and engineering to ensure there was a chain of equipment which could handle the various sizes, types and moisture contents of different biomass materials. Some of the technologies for CPI’s plant in Redcar were bought from the marketplace and others we designed ourselves. We built the feedstock handling system, in addition to the continuous media steriliser and the distillation columns. To buy these from the marketplace would have taken 12 to 18 months for delivery. So, due to our in-house services, we were able to design and self-build them instead.


How are you finding the renewable fuels market in the UK at the moment?


It is definitely improving but, equally over the last five years, we’ve faced challenges. Demo plants have been a good market for us and I think we’ve managed to do well because of our diversity in a range of markets. We downsized when the recession hit but we’ve grown again within the last four years and the CPI plant in Redcar is a good flagship reference for us. l

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Take a look at the process adopted by two companies separated over 7,000 miles to bring the largest bioethanol facility online in Argentina

Grand designs


hen bioethanol producer Promaìz planned to construct the largest facility in Argentina, it enlisted the help of Austriabased technology provider Vogelbusch. The plant recently began operations and this is its story of realisation. Picking a partner Biofuel production has taken off in Argentina. Following the introduction of mandates for fuels from renewable resources, investments in further installations have been made, utilising the country’s abundant grain resources. Argentina, which has predominately produced biodiesel, has a rising output of grain-based fuel ethanol which is mainly used for direct blending with petrol. Promaìz decided to bring new ideas to its agribusiness chain and to install a plant for the production of ethanol and animal feed by-products from corn. Alejandro Roca, a small town some 300km

The Vogelbusch bioethanol process

away from the region’s capital Cordoba, was chosen as the location for a plant capable of a daily output of 420,000 litres of anhydrous fuel ethanol. Promaìz management then set about investigating different technologies and respective contractors available on the market. After studying the economic situation it finally came to the conclusion, that energy demand plays a key role in producing ethanol from corn. It was decided Vogelbusch,

Unexpected challenge: visiting sandstorms didn’t halt the project’s progress

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which provides integrated, energy efficient processes for ethanol production, was the appropriate partner for the project. It’s good to talk Vogelbusch bioethanol plants achieve their energy efficiency through proprietary systems such as the Multicont continuous fermentation, multipressure distillation coupled with direct feed to the molecular sieves for

dehydration, and the multieffect evaporation, driven by waste heat from the dried distillers grain with solubles (DDGS) dryer. Vogelbusch’s continuous fermentation achieves high alcohol concentrations and excellent yields continuously over extended periods of time. The mash is distilled in a three column, multipressure distillation system using every kg of steam three times. Further reduction of energy consumption is obtained by recycling stillage. In line with Vogelbusch’s principle to customise designs for optimum process economics, the Promaìz process was no different and regular meetings between the two companies took place in both Argentina and Europe. Promaìz and Vogelbusch decided, when discussing emissions, to base elements of the project, such as the exhaust scrubber and the integration of thermal oxidation in the DDGS drier, upon on the highest European standards in order to establish an energyefficient, environmentally benign and modern process.

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biofuels plant construction Bringing the concept to life During planning, Promaìz went through several concepts of realisation, from turnkey to build-to-order, before finally deciding to act as a general contractor supported by Vogelbusch. Vogelbusch was commissioned to deliver basic and detail engineering of all mechanical components. Additionally layouts for pipes and vessels were compiled. Support and consultancy during the purchase of equipment, as well as supply

of key components, training of personnel, process management, was entrusted to the Austrian company. Tell the people what it’s about It is obvious advanced processes demand increased know-how in operation. Promaìz attached importance to hiring well-educated personnel with a view of further increasing their capabilities via specific training. During the period of mechanical construction, the heads of the different plant

The plant is now operating at 100% capacity

departments were invited to on-site sessions at another plant which was already operational, mainly for both theoretical and practical training from both Vogelbusch technologists and the personnel of the ethanol plant. Back in Argentina, during the plant start-up, all operating procedures were conducted step-by-step. After a successful start-up, a final two day theoretical course on upstream and downstream processing was held. Challenges Apart from the usual difficulties which can be faced during the construction and starting-up of a plant, planning and execution at almost opposite places on Earth offer special challenges. Be it logistical or legal obstacles, regular contact and open communications between partners are matters of consequence when aiming to stay on a time schedule. Trading issues, for example, require flexibility and dependability between the customer and the vendor. It also makes it easier to find the most effective contractors for mechanical and electrical engineering in the respective countries. Promaìz decided to purchase process control and measurement equipment in-house, but to assign the programming of the operating software to Vogelbusch. This necessitated an exact design matching on-site during construction. Vogelbusch had developed and tested the control functions prior to installation in order to save time onsite for testing and proper implementation of the system. This concept enabled parallel tests and predetermination of control parameters even though some parts of the plant had not been fully equipped. It can be challenging for the engineering enterprise when a customer decides to purchase

process equipment on their own, especially as process control equipment parts must be chosen properly. Promaìz kept close contact when equipment was acquired however to help ensure a smooth startup of the process. An engineering company, when considering working on projects overseas, should take into consideration the invariable surprises that may crop up. This thought proved true enough for this bioethanol project in Alejandro Roca, which did suffer one unexpected situation of powerful sandstorms reaching the site at a power usually associated with those found closer to deserts. Achieving results Basic engineering started in September 2011 and, approximately one year later, construction of the buildings and equipment installation had begun. During the following eight months practically the whole plant was built. Starting from the baseplates, casted in October 2012, inclusion of the main equipment was finished around the end of April 2013. In the beginning of May instrumentation, software implementation, loop tests and water-vacuumsteam tests commenced almost in parallel and completed during June/July. Finally, after overcoming all the challenges, the first maize kernel entered the mill on 21 July this year. During the first week the bioethanol plant operated at 50% capacity, followed by increases to 70%, 90% and finally 100%. The first drop of alcohol was also produced in July and from August the Promaìz bioethanol plant went to full capacity. l

For more information: This article was written by Emmerich Haimer, technologist of Vogelbusch Biocommodities,

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ASB Biodiesel CEO Anthony Dixon reveals his thoughts and aspirations as the first biodiesel plant opens in Hong Kong

Facility of dreams by James Barrett

biofuels international

Photo credit: Courtesy of HKSAR government


SB Biodiesel is aiming to start producing biodiesel at its Hong Kong-based processing plant this November. Located at the Tseung Kwan O industrial estate in Kowloon, and backed to the tune of $165 million (€122 million) by the Al Salam Bank based in Bahrain, ASB is expecting to produce around 100,000 tonnes of biodiesel a year at the fully operational facility. The plant will make use of 200,750 tonnes of grease trap waste as feedstock, along with quantities of used cooking oil collected from local restaurants. Construction on the plant itself began in November 2011 and the last two months have consisted of inspections and obtaining operating licenses which ASB Biodiesel CEO Anthony Dixon claims will be ‘all tied up by the end of October’. He also reveals the company has built additional facilities on the site, the main one being a grease trap waste separation facility whereby solids are removed as stage one before oil is extracted for use as feedstock from the waste material. There is also a wastewater treatment plant on-site. ‘The treated wastewater from our plant is discharged to the municipal water treatment facilities. We capture the biogas generated by our water treatment process and reuse it for process heat in our boiler on-site,’ Dixon explains. ‘We also reuse another of our by-products, bio-heating oil, which is a

Hong Kong secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So (left) at the ASB facility with CTO Roberto Vazquez (centre) and Dixon

heavy distillate of biodiesel.’ Initially the biodiesel ASB will produce is expected to be shipped to Europe, but Dixon believes that, within a few years, all of ASB’s production will be consumed domestically. ‘A lot of countries in Asia have already introduced a biodiesel blending mandate and I am confident Hong Kong will move in that direction soon,’ Dixon says. ‘There is a lot of interest in our project from the likes of local government and stakeholders like fleet operators because improving air quality and waste management are high on the agendas in Hong Kong and also in China.’ ‘Beijing, the capital of China, suffered from what was dubbed “the Airpocalypse” at the start of 2013,’ he goes on to say, which was when the

air quality in the city reached crisis levels – many times the threshold defined by the World Health Organisation as hazardous to human health. ‘The government in China is acting decisively to tackle this problem and the use of biodiesel and other clean fuels will no doubt be part of the solution. Hong Kong is also focused on improving its air quality and a 2010 report, which the government commissioned, recommended the adoption of a mandatory B10 biodiesel blend as one measure to reduce carbon emissions.’ Dixon, echoing the famous line from the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams, believes there is a sense of “if you build it, they will come” surrounding the official opening of the ASB facility.

‘We can now showcase a successful business model with multiple environmental benefits – waste recycling, air quality improvements and greenhouse gas reductions, not to mention job creation too, and we are confident it will stimulate a lot of interest from other cities in China and further throughout Asia.’ A look inside The Multi-Feedstock process found within the ASB Biodiesel plant is engineered, built and commissioned by Austria-based company BDI – BioEnergy International. By its nature, and in contrast to classical types of feedstock, waste materials contain significant amounts of water, solids and other impurities. The BDI process foresees

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biofuels biodiesel in asia the cleaning of the feedstock within a first pretreatment step. Waste oils and fats, and in particular trap grease, can also show high content of valuable free-fatty acids (FFA). The BDI High-FFA esterification unit allows esterification of feedstock with up to 99% FFA content. This technology is operated under special process conditions without expensive catalysts so that operating costs can be kept low. Consequently, after a twostage trans-esterification process, the methyl-ester is purified by BDI’s High-End distillation technology. This multi-stage distillation unit secures a biodiesel quality which surpasses the strictest of worldwide standards. Content of monoglycerides is reduced to 0.01% as well as seeing sulphur constantly recorded below 10ppm even when highsulphur feedstock is used. In addition, BDI’s distillation

Sterling service: an example of a BDI Multi-Feedstock system

process works at minimum process costs. Firstly, maximum yield is achieved by squeezing out the bottom product in a speciallydesigned distillation unit. Therefore, methyl-ester

losses in the sump are less than 10%. Secondly, heating energy is saved by both operating the distillation at minimum temperature and the integration of a heat recovery system.

Don’t miss your chance to appear in the January/February 2014 issue of Biofuels International magazine

This plant in Hong Kong is a “lighthouse project” in the Asia-Pacific region to demonstrate competence in waste-to-value solutions,’ says Hermann Stockinger, VP of global sales at BDI. l

Bonus distribution: StocExpo 2014, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Regional focus: Europe – how is the industry reacting to current legislative amendments? Process performance and control:

Who is doing what to improve this important part of the biofuels process

Nutrients for fermentation and antibiotics: How are contaminants being kept at bay?

Plant engineering: What are the cutting edge processes and technologies currently in use? For editorial suggestions contact, +44 (0) 208 687 4126

Storage supplement: Tank design, cleaning, product flow, metering, pumps, leak detection, valves, fire safety, heating

For advertising information and prices contact Shemin Juma, +44 203 551 5751, North America contact Matt Weidner, +1 610 486 6525,

Deadline for artwork:

20th December 2013

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Oxidative stabilisers for biodiesel


rom a global perspective, the commercial introduction of biodiesel has proven to be a great success story. Thanks to mandates and targets being implemented in regions all over the world, both consumption and production have been rising and will inevitably continue to grow in order to meet the demands of a market which is far from having reached maturity. Yet the largest consumer and producer regions of the world are adopting divergent policies which, in one way or another, affect the economics of the biodiesel industry. Stuttering forward in Europe Europe has been, and still is, a major driving force behind the biodiesel implementation process and within the biodiesel industry. In order to meet the targets of a succession of directives from the European Commission, biodiesel consumption has been consistently rising. To support this growth, huge production capacities have been installed all over Europe. Only slightly less than half of the installed capacity is currently in use however. This is because of large quantities of cheaper, subsidised biodiesel flowing into Europe, firstly from the US then Argentina, Indonesia and Brazil. An increasing number of these producers are being certified according to the sustainable criteria of the EU Renewal Energy Directive (RED) in order to be able to export to Europe. Therefore, many of the smaller

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IFT believes non-edible feedstocks, such as jatropha and animal fat, will be increasingly used in the biofuels industry in the future

European producers have either been forced to close down or to recapitalise in order to remain in business. Meanwhile, making matters worse, the EU parliament recently voted a 6% cap on first generation biofuels, including biodiesel. This came as a result of studies supporting the idea of indirect land use change

(ILUC) impact on the GHG balance of biofuels. It is obviously a dramatic shift from the EU Commission’s not-so-distant objective of the introduction of B10. This is a huge setback for the EU biodiesel industry which has massively invested in state-of-the-art production facilities, and has been preparing for the

B10 introduction target. The message being sent is certainly not a good one as the European biodiesel industry continues to suffer from the continent’s erratic political decisions, especially those concerning the future of first generation crop-based biodiesel versus second or even third generation. While the European

Case study One biofuel company using the PerfoLiFT BD-series is Preol, the Czech Republic’s largest biodiesel producer, and it has been employing this technology for several years. Preol, a subsidiary of the Agrofert Holding Group, produces commercial volumes of biodiesel exclusively from rapeseed oil. Its operations include an oil seed processing plant with a capacity of 450,000 tonnes of rapeseed oil per year, and a rapeseed biodiesel production plant with a capacity of 120,000 tonnes per year, in the chemical complex of Lovosice. Preol is also a member of the European Biodiesel Board and is involved with the promotion and development of high quality biodiesel in the Czech Republic and the European Union.

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biodiesel production industry is facing these difficulties, both production and consumption are growing significantly in the other major regions of the world like, for example, the US, Argentina, China and Africa, thanks to local mandates requiring the use of biodiesel, and due to ‘transfer’ production from Europe to these countries. Overall, the world’s biodiesel industry has been, is and will continue to prosper in the near future. Stabilising effect

Biomass Biodiesel Bioethanol Cogeneration From Basic Engineering to Full Turnkey Project Single Point Responsibility through EPC or EPCM+© with guaranteed: ✔ Process Performances ✔ Time Schedule ✔ Budget

Engineers & Contractors Brussels • Belgium Tel.: +32 (0)2 634 25 00 Fax: +32 (0)2 634 25 25 E-mail:

Reliability through Experience

International Fuel Technology (IFT), a supplier of oxidative stabilisers to biodiesel producers and biodiesel blend distributors, offers cost-effective technologies in a market where there is stiff competition and a context of political uncertainty directly impacting the economics and business model of the biodiesel industry. For the time being, and for many years to come, first generation crop-based biodiesel is and will remain the world’s largest and most abundant type. In the future though non-edible feedstocks such as jatropha, karanja, camelina, yellow grease, animal fat, poultry fat, used cooking oil and algae will be increasingly used for production. To guarantee the quality and consistency of commercial biodiesel production, technical specifications have been adopted in Europe and the US. House ad? Besides these standards, local initiatives have emerged. As an example Germany’s official agency in charge of the quality of biodiesel, AGQM, published a No-Harm and Efficiency list for oxidative stabilisers. From the very beginning of biodiesel use as a diesel fuel extender, efforts have been made to address and control oxidation. Antioxidants, or oxidative stabilisers as they are known, are used to protect biodiesel against

premature oxidation. As a result of the interaction of biodiesel with oxygen, free radicals are formed. Once formed, these reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like a domino effect. Antioxidants safely interact with free radicals and stop the oxidation chain reaction. Contrary to the industry’s original widespread belief, there are no universal oxidative stabilisers capable of protecting all types of biodiesel produced from various feedstocks, whether vegetable, animal, or recycled. Giving it a lift IFT has developed an extended portfolio of oxidative stabilisers named the PerfoLiFT BD-series. The formulations all include a complex mixture of advanced chemical molecules, providing protection against oxidation, long-term storage stability and control of the deposit formation, thus preventing the formation of gums and residues from polymerisation. PerfoLiFT BD-grades are also powerful anti-corrosion inhibitors thus limiting the catalytic effect of metals and extending storage life of the treated biodiesel. Besides B100 and biodiesel blends such as B5, B7, B10 and B30, PerfoLiFT BD-grades also stabilise vegetable oils and animal fats. They do not affect the characteristics of B100 according to the EN12214 specification, nor do they affect the characteristics of biodiesel blends according to the EN 590 specification. IFT’s PerfoLiFT BDtechnology features a combination of oxidative stabilisers, deposit control agents and long-term storage stabilisers. l For more information: This article was writeen by Axel Farhi, director of global business development, International Fuel Technology, afarhi@

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Here is a snapshot of discussions being had at this year’s Biofuels and Feedstocks Trading conference held in the UK this October

Feedstock feedback


he 2013 Biofuels and Feedstocks Trading conference, hosted by Argus Media, took place in October as attendees and speakers alike were treated to two days of debate while overlooking views of London from the 28th floor of the Millbank Tower. Chaired by Chris Judge, the VP of European crude and products at Argus, attendees heard from a wide spectrum of industry players focusing on production, trading, pricing and development issues. It was feedstock that featured heavily in a speech given by Godrej International director Dorab Mistry, who gave biodiesel the credit for keeping the vegetable oil market from collapsing six months ago. ‘We are currently in an unusual situation, something that has only happened twice in the past 10 years, in that vegetable oils, particularly palm oil, are actually cheaper than WTI and Brent,’ he said. ‘As a result, it has put a floor under the palm oil market and prevented it from falling any further.’ Mistry places the blame on high vegetable oil prices at the start of 2012 on the serious drought in South America, in particular Argentina, where 25 million tonnes of soyabeans were lost. ‘After that, just when we thought the US planting season was off to a flying start, it simply did not rain in the month of July. So the corn crop was short and soyabeans were affected too,’ he added. ‘The high prices of 2012 have led to a massive supply response

biofuels international

Adam Baisley of Olleco takes to the podium at B&FT 2013

coming from the oilseed side and it has coincided with, what I call, the high cycle of palm oil production as well.’ Mistry believes Malaysian and Indonesian stocks are on the rise again, although he admits no-one is too sure how much will be produced at the time of his speech. Caroline Midgley, the head of biofuels research at LMC International, pointed to a lack of uncertainty at policy level as a reason why the European ethanol industry, for both first and second generation, has seen limited new development since the turn of the decade. ‘The pace of new investment has slowed dramatically since the economical crisis of 2007/8 meaning, between 2011 and now, there have only been nine new ethanol plants coming

onstream,’ she said. ‘Even fewer new projects are due to start up in the period between 2014 and 2016. It’ll be those which sourced funding before the Commission’s amendments of the Renewable Energy Directive which will come online.’ She added the upshot is ‘if you’ve got rising consumption for ethanol and limited scope to increase production, we may see increase of imports of fuel ethanol into Europe in the future’. Despite Europe taking a stance against some importing countries, like the US and Argentina, over so-called “dumping” by imposing a tax duty on them, Midgley revealed that course of action hasn’t significantly lifted prices. ‘There seems to be a lot

of ways of getting ethanol into Europe without paying duties. This year Pakistan was given a duty free quota of 75,000 tonnes and imports from GSP and EBA countries pay no duty,’ she explained. ‘We’ve also seen imports from countries like Peru and Guatemala pick up too in 2013.’ As a representative of one of the UK’s largest organic waste collectors Adam Baisley, commercial director of Olleco, spoke to the gathering about the positives of used cooking oil within the biofuels industry. ‘UCO certainly has a role to play in helping us all reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere throughout the world,’ he said. ‘When looking at base greenhouse gas emission numbers from the RED, waste-derived biodiesel saves almost double the amount of carbon at 83% compared to many of the alternatives out there. Corn ethanol, for example, is shown as saving 49%’. Baisley says the state of double counting has effectively reduced the volumes of biofuels required to meet RED obligations which, he believes, has led many to question its effectiveness. ‘However we are likely to see the double counting practice remain for the next few years but then, if and when the EU moves to its target of 10% renewable fuels by 2020, every available resource will be needed to achieve it,’ he added. ‘UCO is starting to become an internationallytraded commodity – not bad for something a lot of people used to just throw away mere years ago.’ l

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biofuels BtL Large-scale fuel production from biomass can be limited by logistics, but one solution is offered by de-central pre-conversion and large-scale fuel synthesis

Processing synthetic fuels from biomass Photo courtesy of Markus Breig, KIT


patented process named bioliq has been designed to overcome the logistical limitations when using a broad range of different types of biomass, many of which exhibit low volumetric energy densities like straw or forestry residues. Therefore the process has been split up, firstly into a pre-treatment process to increase the energy density of the biomass by fast pyrolysis, which may be conducted in a number of regionally distributed plants. The intermediate energy carrier, also referred as to biosyncrude, is then collected from the de-central plants and converted into synthesis gas which is further processed to synthetic fuels and chemicals in an industrial complex of reasonable economic size. For technical demonstration of the concept, a pilot plant has been erected at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), providing a research platform for further development and optimisation of the overall process and the single key technologies involved. For each of those, industry partners have been contracted for construction, operation, optimisation, technical implementation and contribution to project costs by approximately 25%. The pilot plant has been realised via three stages shown in Table 1 and financial support for the €64 million ($86.6 million) project was provided by the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection, the state Baden-

Bright lights: The KIT project represents an investment of around €64 million

Württemberg and the European Regional Development Fund. The pilot plant consists of four major technological steps: 1) Fast pyrolysis for energy densification Rapid thermal decomposition of the biomass is achieved by fast pyrolysis, yielding a fine char dust, liquid condensates and a fuel gas which, under optimal conditions, is sufficient to run the pyrolysis process. In the case of wheat straw, typically around 20% in weight char, 30% each of a tar and an aqueous condensate and 20% of gas are obtained in the pilot plant with a feed capacity of 500kg/h (2 MWth). For gasification, the tar condensate can be used directly with higher heating values around 22 MJ/kg, while the aqueous

condensate is suspended with the char to achieve a sufficiently high heating value for efficient gasification. A new process involving colloidal mixing of the pyrolysis products and storage of the biosyncrude in container tanks being permanently circulated has been established to produce stable suspension suitable for longer-term storage and later transportation. 2) Gasification to high quality syngas production For gasification, a 5MWth high pressure entrained flow gasifier has been put into operation. One special feature is a refractory lined cooling screen, allowing for conversion of ash rich feed materials of varying fuel properties. The tar-free, low methane

raw syngas is passed through a water quench, which will later be extended to a water injection quench, by which the gas release temperature can be adjusted to the optimum gas cleaning temperature. Gasification pressures up to 80bar can be applied, adjusted to the pressure required by the subsequent chemical synthesis processes. In case of the petrol synthesis realised at the bioliq pilot plant, 65bar is required, which is applied on a separated syngas flow of 700Nm3/h. 3) Gas cleaning and conditioning A high pressure, high temperature process developed at KIT for gas cleaning is been used. Temperatures between 500°C and 800°C can be applied and will be optimised in regard to optimum operation temperatures with a potential of saving energy compared to the conventional low temperature gas cleaning processes. Fines are separated by a particle filter equipped with ceramic filter elements, sour gases (HCl, H2S, COS) are retained by fixed bed sorption. In a catalytic reactor, ammonia, HCN and organic trace compounds are decomposed. Another sorption bed is added as a safeguard. 4) Dimethylether and petrol synthesis Prior to synthesis, carbon dioxide and water are separated from the purified gas. Dimethylether is produced in a single stage from syngas by simultaneous methanol formation, methanol

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dehydration and water gas shift reaction using a mixture of commercial catalysts for methanol production and dehydration. The DME formation is thermodynamically favoured at CO:H2 ratios around 1:1, which typically can be expected from gasification of biomass and biomass-derived intermediates. However, conversion is not complete and syngas recycling through a CO2 separation unit can be done after the petrol synthesis, which, subsequently follows the DME reactor. The raw products of petrol synthesis are separated from the non-converted syngas and distilled to receive the main product, high octane petrol, along with some light and little heavy hydrocarbon compounds. R&D needs and activities Fuel synthesis applying the Fischer-Tropsch process from syngas has been commercialised in several world-scale plants in different locations. The syngas can be produced for these processes from coal (CtL) or natural gas (GtL). New processes for the production of fuels and fuel additives are required which allow, in contrast to the Fisher-Tropsch process, the selective production of single fuels or fuel components with reduced specific investment for the production plant. This is of special interest for the production of fuels from biomass with its relatively small production scales compared to current CtL and GtL plants. This is the reason the modified methanol-to-petrol process has been selected for the bioliq plant. This process offers potential for further innovations including reducing the specific investment for a commercial production plant, the selective production of high performance fuel components for petrol-type fuels and, in the future, also additives and components for

biofuels international

More flexibility, more future – a look at the technology inside the KIT facility Using proven Lurgi technologies, Air Liquide Global E&C Solutions (Air Liquide) has the ability to produce syngas from almost any carbon-containing feedstock including natural gas, associated gas, coal or biomass. Customers simply specify the most readilyavailable feedstock, ensuring syngas production as cost-effective as possible. Air Liquide produces clean syngas, especially when using the most sustainable feedstock – biomass. Clean syngas enables broad and clean application, from commodity production to specialties and ‘green chemical’ production. This key technology enables downstream synthetic biofuel production via Air Liquide’s proprietary processes such as Fischer Tropsch, synthetic routes for biomethanol, bioDME or biopropylene, and other biochemicals. Air Liquide’s technology portfolio delivers a wide range of benefits, including reduced cost, low emissions and high efficiency. It also provides the versatility needed to offer clients a solution tailored to their imperatives. In a world with limited crude oil reserves, the market for synthesis gas is growing. Alternative sources of (carbon-containing) raw materials such as biomass must be leveraged in order to fulfill growing demand for chemicals and fuels in a sustainable way. kerosene or diesel fuel-types. Not only at fuel synthesis stage, but along all key technologies of the process chain, the bioliq project is embedded into a broad research and development network, addressing a variety of issues related to further development, optimisation and technology assessment. As an example, fast pyrolysis has to be qualified towards a high feed flexibility to allow for a maximum feedstock potential. Equipment and operation conditions for stable, long-term operation have to be determined. For the high particle-containing slurries, the fluid properties are to be studied in detail to provide safe handling, storage, transportation and feeding to the gasifier. Important R&D topics

Stage 1

Process Fast pyrolysis

in gasification are the biosyncrude injection in view to efficient atomisation and complete conversion, as well as slag behaviour and management, considering varying feedstock properties. Simulation tools at the Helmholtz Virtual Institute GasTech have been developed for science-based design and scale-up purposes. High temperature, high pressure gas cleaning will be further developed towards an integration of particle filtering, sorption and catalytic decomposition in a single containment by use of entrained flow sorbents to be separated, regenerated and recycled via catalytically active ceramic filter elements. By comparative technology assessment studies the performance of the bioliq

Stage 2

concept has been studied applying different scenarios for feedstock supply, logistics and plant sizes, and configuration. Production costs between €1 and €1.80 have been estimated. Ongoing assessment is being carried out within the EU BioBoost project, where different types of biomass with sufficient potential, several pre-conversion technologies and utilisation pathways of the intermediate energy carriers are investigated to explore the most promising types of biomass-derived energy carriers and complete value chains. l For more information: This article was contributed by N. Dahmen, T. Kolb, J. Sauer, H. Seifert and B. Zimmerlin, researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology,

Stage 3

High pressure entrained flow gasification

Gas cleaning and synthesis 1

Synthesis ll







2MW (500kg/h)

5MW (1t/h)

150 kg/h

50 l/h






In operation

Performance test done

Performance test done


Lurgi GmbH Lurgi GmbH MAT Mischan- lagentechnik GmbH

MUT Advanced Heating GmbH Chemieanlagenbau Chemnitz GmbH

Table 1: Features of the of the bioliq pilot plant construction stages

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Timing is everything Demand by scenario (mb/d

New Policies 2020














26.0 45.0


















World Oil









World biofuels









Long term growth is relatively assured, but expected future supply will come from non-food based biofuels

pass by one vote. This means the issue will require a second reading and may not progress further until after next year’s European elections in May. This further delay provoked an overwhelming feeling of frustration. The lack of policy stability is driving investment out of Europe and to other markets such as the US. Science-based company DSM, for example, formed a joint venture with US-based ethanol producer Poet in order to make cost competitive cellulosic ethanol. The partnership is now building a cellulosic facility expected to begin operating next year adjacent to Poet’s corn-fed ethanol plant. It will have an initial capacity of 20 million

Mg/y cumulative

16000 12000 8000 4000



Number of plants

800 600 400 200 0




Copyright @ 2013 Accenture. All rights reserved



450 Scenario


Regulated demand requirements (2022)


Current Policies


gallons in the first year, growing to approximately 25 million gallons a year. Caroline Midgley, head of biofuels and biomass at LMC International, echoed DSM’s concerns, that a lack of policy post-2020 means that investment in second generation production in Europe is severely limited. ‘Following the commission’s proposal to limit food-based biofuels, no new investment will be made in first generation plants,’ she added. As for whether the 6% cap is a good idea, opinion is still divided. Midgley gave an in depth analysis on exactly what impact such a cap would have. Unsurprisingly she revealed that limiting food-based biofuels would severely restrict future growth in demand for ethanol. Current EU ethanol prices remain low. The gross margin on wheat ethanol production has narrowed in recent years as ethanol prices have failed to rise in line with wheat prices. They were expected to grow when the antidumping duty of €62.3 m3 was imposed in March 2013 but this did not happen. One reason for this may be that a significant volume of ethanol is still coming into the EU duty free from places such as Pakistan. Consequently the market is likely to remain dependant on imports. These are expected to increase in the second half of the decade. The abolition of sugar production quotas in 2017 is potentially good news for the EU ethanol industry. Sugar producers will be free

to divert surplus beets into sugar production. This is likely to offer a better return than ethanol, resulting in the removal of around 900 litres of ethanol from the market As for biodiesel, the fuel currently faces a B7 limit (relating to engine technologies and warranties), which will prevent further market growth from the middle of the decade. James Challinor from Wood Mackenzie explained that there remains huge overcapacity for first generation biodiesel (FAME) worldwide and this situation will persist. As such FAME margins will remain low. Despite this, many companies still believe developing biofuels is the way forward. Arthur Reijnhart, GM for alternative energy and fuels development strategy at Shell stressed that the company remains committed to cellulosic biofuels. The company’s strategy is to keep its main efforts in house to narrow down the options before moving forward on those that have commercial-scale potential. At the beginning of last year Shell built a next generation biofuels pilot plant at its Westhollow Technology Centre in Houston, US to produce drop-in biofuels. ‘This approach increases our chances of success and we are now close to commissioning this technology,’ Reijnhart said. He also believes that the barrier to wide-scale commercialisation does not lie in the technology. ‘Second generation biofuels pose an economic risk of a much larger magnitude,’ he

74 november/december 2013 biofuels international 19

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eptember’s European Parliament vote on matters such as the cap on food-based biofuels, ILUC factors and targets for advanced biofuels was always going to spark debate. So where better to hear the outcome than surrounded by those closest to the industry? The results were revealed during day one of this year’s Biofuels International conference in Antwerp, giving delegates and speakers alike a unique opportunity to share their emotions – elation for some, yet ongoing despair for others. The parliament approved a 6% cap on the contribution of biofuels to Europe’s renewable transport energy target of 10% by 2020. MEPs also agreed to pass a 2.5% share from second generation biofuels. As for plans to include ILUC factors, these will not be taken into account until 2020. However a move to start negotiations with the European council – the body made up of European heads of government – on the legislation failed to

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Price $/t

Market reaction to the RED amendment proposal: FAME premium plunged from $260/t on 19/09/12 to only $21/t in 09/10/12

1,800 1,600 1,400 1,200 1,000 800 600

FAME premium recovered to $104/t on 26/10/12 and $160/t on 10/12/12. It has since averaged $172/ t and was $253/t on 31/05/13.

400 200 4/13/2007

4/13/2008 Diesel

4/13/2009 FAME

4/13/2010 Soybean oil

4/13/2011 Rapeseed oil



Palm oil

FAME and vegetable oil prices have largely tracked the diesel price since 2007

explained. ‘The market has higher capital requirements. Despite the recession there are still 100 technical developers out there. The recession certainly interrupted the flow of capital, but the problem now lies in the lack of stable regulatory support. Policy makers are failing the second generation of biofuels.’ Making the comparison between the EU and other markets, Reijnhart added:

‘Brazil and US both have support and have delivered 25% and 10% biofuels market share respectively. Brazil did not build up its industry by reviewing its policy every three years. We need stability that will last for decades.’ Sustainability In Strasbourg MEPs voted to insert indirect land use change (ILUC) into EU biofuel

Copyright @ 2013 Accenture. All rights reserved. Source: Bloomberg

Historical market price of diesel, vegetable oils and biodiesel

legislation but the result was too close to allow negotiations with member states to begin. MEPs also voted to make ILUC factors binding in the fuel quality directive from 2020. Following this announcement Daan Peters, senior consultant bioenergy at Ecofys, a leading renewable energy consultancy emphasised the importance of ILUC-free biofuels. Peters joked that the delay in implementing ILUC factors is good news in a way, in that it gives the consultancy a little more time to finalise its low indirect impact biofuels (LIIB) certification module. The LIIB module has been developed by Ecofys, WWF and EPFL and is an add-on to existing certification schemes, such as ISCC or RSB. The first version has already been tested by independent auditors but version 1 is not expected to be ready until next year. The methodology contains detailed ILUC mitigation Copyright @ 2013 Accenture. All rights reserved

Key challenges

z Government support • Energy security • Greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions • Economic development • Will it endure? z Economics • Improve conversion costs • Impact of feedstock prices

biofuels international

z Consumer acceptance • E10 experience and higher blends • Understand the benefits • Advanced engines z Competition from alternative sources • Natural gas • Electrification

z • • • • •

Sustainability GHG balance Indirect land use change (ILUC) Food vs fuel Water Measurement

z Advanced biofuels z OEM acceptance

approaches for four different solution types. The solution types are: 1) biomass production on unused land; 2) increased yield increase; 3) integration of biofuel and other agricultural production; 4) biofuel production from wastes and residues. For cultivation on unused land the farmer must demonstrate that land is unused over the three previous years. For yield increase the farmer demonstrates the measures that are likely to achieve a yield increase of over 20%. An example of market integration has been tested in Brazil. In this example the cattle and sugarcane sectors work together – two cows can be reared per hectare instead of one – land is made available for producing sugarcane and the second cow can then be fed with the bagasse. Biofuel production from waste works by placing the feedstock in question on a list (as long as a surplus quantity exists). Ecofys believes the LIIB certification module will be able to aid in developing truly sustainable biofuels for Europe. A policy incentive for ILUC-free biofuels would help to increase market access for these biofuels, for example in the form of an exemption to the cap on conventional biofuels as has been proposed by the European Commission. The overriding themes to come out of this event were that constant policy changes are damaging investor confidence and there is an ongoing need to differentiate between first and second generation biofuels. First generation biofuels are no longer being seen as a stepping stone to developing a sustainable advanced biofuel market. During this event the Port of Ghent announced that they will be hosting next year’s Biofuels International conference on the 24-25 September – let’s hope the European Parliament will have a reached a decision by then. l

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biofuels events and advert index Upcoming biofuels events November 11-13 EABA Expo & Conference

Florence, Italy


Powering Africa: the Finance Options

South Africa


Bioenergy Australia 2013 conference and exhibition



Powering Africa: Ethiopia


December 10-11 Tank Storage Asia

Max Atria, Singapore Expo

January 2014 20-21 Fuels of the Future 2014



San Diego, USA

National Biodiesel Conference & Expo 2014

February 2014 3-5 World Biomass Power Markets



Mumbai, India

6th Sugar Asia

March 2014 4-6 World Biofuels Markets 2014

Amsterdam, the Netherlands


Rotterdam, the Netherlands

StocExpo 2014

june 2014 3-5 World Bioenergy 2014

Jönköping, Sweden


Hamburg, Germany

22nd European Biomass Conference & Expo

September 2014 24-25 Biofuels International Conference

Ghent, Belgium

october 2014 21-22 Tank Storage Canada


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Biofuels International magazine (ISSN 1754-2170) is published six times a year in January, March, May, July, September, November by Horseshoe Media, Marshall House, 124 Middleton Road, Morden, Surrey, SM4 6RW. The 2013 annual subscription price is $370. Airfreight and mailing in the USA by Agent named Air Business, C/O Priority Airfreight NY Ltd, 147-29 182nd street, Jamaica, NY11413. Periodical postage pending at Jamaica NY 11431. Subscription records are maintained by Horseshoe Media, Marshall House, 124 Middleton Road, Morden, Surrey, SM4 6RW. Air Business Ltd is acting as our mailing agent.

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ThE LEADING EvENT FoR ThE ASIAN TANk SToRAGE INDUSTRY REGISTRATIoN NoW oPEN! The technologies and services on display at the FREE EXhIBITIoN will include everything from tank design, construction and maintenance, through to innovations in pumps & valves, multimodal, metering & measuring, automation & loading equipment, inspection & certification services plus lots more - making it a MUST ATTEND EvENT

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CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS DAY ONE 10 DECEMBER • The emergence of a storage hub in Northeast Asia • Indonesia as a market and Pertamina as a challenge • Growth of the Malaysian storage market

DAY TWO 11 DECEMBER • Oil storage infrastructure and expansion projects in China • China’s standards for breather valves and flame arresters • There is no reward for risk takers when it comes to overfill prevention

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Biofuels International November/December 2013  

Biofuels International is brought out 6 times a year and is the leading global publication in the market. Designed to appeal to those who wi...