Biofuels Digest The world's most widely-read advanced bioeconomy daily Sun, 19 Jan 2020 23:32:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Smile! It’s PhotoSeed! Traited Genetics that Improve Photosynthesis and Seeds: The Digest’s 2020 Multi-Slide Guide to Maximizing Anaerobic Digester Output Sun, 19 Jan 2020 23:27:52 +0000

Imagine technology that is applicable across several crops that can enhance yield and improve seed composition including soybean and canola. No need to imagine as ZeaKal shared at ABLC NEXT in San Francisco with this illuminating presentation on their PhotoSeed technology and the latest results from their expanded field trials, and more.

Walking the Fine Line: The Digest’s 2020 Multi-Slide Guide to Maximizing Anaerobic Digester Output Sun, 19 Jan 2020 23:22:18 +0000

Everyone wants to lower their risk. But how do you do that? Just ask John Forcier from Forcier Consulting Engineers and an Associate at Lee Consulting, who gave this illuminating presentation at ABLC NEXT in San Francisco. He shared how manures and WWT sludge have limited energy due to previous digestion, but that there are opportunities as well like a significant energy gain from adding appropriate feedstocks, and more.

UNT scientist looks to lipids to unlock secrets of plant energy Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:57:10 +0000

In Texas, a University of North Texas Regents Professor is questioning decades-old assumptions in plant biochemistry to find better ways of storing and using lipids, the energy molecules found in all plants.

“Biofuels are the future and lipids are the key,” said Kent Chapman, the UNT Professor. “The same energy molecules a plant uses to power itself can also be used to power a home or a city. Lipid molecules in plants are actually very similar in structure to molecules in petroleum. But, unlike petroleum molecules, the lipids in plants can be a more efficient, sustainable fuel.”

Chapman says 30 years ago scientists believed plants used a single protein to package and store lipids. But, by going back to the beginning and asking the same questions using today’s knowledge and technology, Chapman and co-workers have found at least eight more proteins involved in the process.

Lipids are among the most energy-dense organic molecules on Earth and offer many advantages over fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are made up primarily of prehistoric plants. Those plants captured and stored carbon millions of years ago. When burned, that ancient carbon is released into today’s air for a net increase of carbon. But, biofuels can be made from crop plants that are generally less than six months old. The result is carbon neutrality.

Chapman’s work involves understanding the methods plants use to package and store lipids. This will allow scientists to manipulate plants to store lipids in any part of the plant. Right now, lipids are generally concentrated in seeds and some fruits. But, those are the parts of the plants that humans eat.

In soybean plants, the lipids are contained in the beans. The stems and leaves are considered waste products. But, if lipids can be stored in the leaves and stems in addition to the soybeans, a farmer would suddenly have one super efficient crop that can be used both as food and fuel. The same sort of reasoning can be applied to livestock feed.

“Imagine an alfalfa plant that stores lipids in the leaves and stems (the parts of plants that livestock animals eat) rather than in the seeds,” said Chapman. “Ranchers often add seed oil, such as soybean or canola, to alfalfa feed to balance protein calories for livestock. But, by manipulating where lipids are stored and storing them in leaves and stems, alfalfa could become the perfect animal feed right out of the ground.”

RFA says U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will help American ethanol Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:53:12 +0000

In Washington, DC, the Renewable Fuels Association thanked the U.S. Senate for passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), what the RFA refers to as “a crucial trade pact that will benefit U.S. ethanol producers and rural economies across the nation.”

RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper offered the following statement:

“America’s ethanol producers look forward to seeing this important agreement in place. Canada and Mexico are among our most important and reliable export markets for both ethanol and distillers grains, and we look forward to strengthening our trading relationship with the two countries. USMCA is a good deal for the U.S. ethanol industry, the farmers who support us, and our industry’s partners in Canada and Mexico. We thank President Trump and Congress for getting this done.”

Cooper said that, in 2019, Canada ranked second for ethanol exports from the United States, purchasing an estimated 22 percent of U.S. ethanol exports, and ranked in the Top 10 for distillers grains. Canada has imported more ethanol from the United States since 2012 than any other country in the world. Click here for more information.

Mexico was the top export market for U.S. distillers grains in 2019, importing 19 percent of all U.S. exports, and ranked in the Top 10 for ethanol exports. Click here for more information.

Ethanol production rate caps off 11-week rise with a 0.2% decrease Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:51:32 +0000

In Washington, D.C., ethanol production expanded by 33,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 3.1%, to 1.095 million b/d—equivalent to 45.99 million gallons daily and the largest volume since June 2019, according to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels. The four-week average ethanol production rate rose 0.7% to 1.077 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.51 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks grew 2.4% to a 15-week high of 23.0 million barrels. However, inventories were 1.5% lower than the same week last year. Stocks built sharply in the Gulf Coast (PADD 3), the primary region from which ethanol is exported, with smaller increases in the East Coast (PADD 1) and Rocky Mountain (PADD 4) regions. Imports of ethanol arriving into the West Coast were 25,000 b/d, or 7.35 million gallons for the week. This is the first time in five weeks that imports were logged. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of November 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market bounced back from the prior week, up 5.2% to 8.558 million b/d (359.44 million gallons per day, or 131.19 bg annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol followed, increasing 6.6% to 854,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.09 bg annualized. Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production declined to 12.80%.

Vegetable oil price index hits two-year high Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:49:47 +0000

In Germany, the UFOP reports that firm vegetable oil prices caused the vegetable oil price index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to rise considerably at the end of 2019. The surge was mainly driven by firm palm oil prices. However, asking prices for soybean, sunflower and rapeseed oil also picked up significantly.

The FAO vegetable oil price index has increased steadily since June 2019. From 126 points at the time, it climbed just less than 40 points to 165 points by the end of the year. Between November and December alone, the index went up 9.4 per cent, or 14 points. This was the second largest rise in 2019.

The reason for the sharp increase in palm oil prices was buoyant demand, especially from the biodiesel sector, combined with shrinking supply. Prices of soybean, sunflower and rapeseed oil benefited from smaller processing volumes at the end of 2019. Lower processing levels at the oil mills also led to a lower output of by-products, which took pressure off the market and supported prices. Moreover, world demand for soybean, sunflower, and rapeseed oil was brisk.

Concerns over global supply shortages lent additional support to prices. Regardless of the sharp rise in vegetable oil prices since November, the FAO vegetable oil price index for the 2019 calendar year averaged 135.2 points. This was down 8.9 points from 2018 and also the lowest annual average since 2006.

The development of rapeseed producer prices is mainly determined by the price level of the oil component. Despite the recent gratifying increase in producer prices to around EUR 390 per tonne, from the producers’ standpoint, prices continue to remain at an excessively high level, the Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen (UFOP) e.V. has commented.

According to the association, the international vegetable oil markets are mainly supported by government regulations in South America and, above all, Asia, to increase the incorporation rates of biodiesel. Rapeseed oil has also benefited from these regulations. UFOP has complained that, on the other hand, the biofuels policy of the European Union, more specifically the implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive, further restricts the use of locally produced feedstocks or biofuels instead of promoting biofuels that are greenhouse gas-efficient and certified as sustainable.

The association expects the EU to scrutinise this subsidies policy in the context of the Green Deal the EU Commission has announced. According to UFOP, other market support measures under a national or European bioeconomy strategy are not in sight. UGOP has urged that mere announcements are not enough and there is a need for creating marketing alternatives that have a positive impact on market and producer prices.

AW-Energy Oy ups wave energy tech commercialization with new UK certification Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:47:53 +0000

In Finland, AW-Energy Oy, a company that develops near-shore wave energy, will now move forward with wide scale commercialization in the UK and worldwide now that it received certification by Lloyd’s Register (LR) for its WaveRoller device which converts the ocean waves into energy. It has helped to secure the first-of-a-kind grid connection with the WaveRoller device deployed off the coast of Peniche in Portugal.

LR’s Chapman said, “The technology that AW-Energy has developed pushes the boundaries with exciting results. Deriving energy from the ocean provides a sustainable way to develop grid-compatible power in many locations around the world. An important step in scaling the solution is to manage the risks and evidence that technology will achieve its objectives and perform how it’s meant to. We’re pleased LR could deliver this confidence to AW-Energy through our goal-based Technology Qualification process.”

WaveRoller is a near-shore wave energy converter, mounted to the seabed with a panel that oscillates with the wave surge. It paves the way to commercialisation for the wave energy industry and with ongoing projects in Europe and Asia, AW-Energy expects to see rapid growth for its product as governments, operators and energy policy strive for cleaner and more sustainable power generation solutions ahead of this year’s global COP26 in Glasgow, UK.

The Finnish company is leading this new era of energy innovation to ensure power generation from wave energy is bankable with its certified WaveRoller technology. Once the device is deployed offshore it has minimal visual impact and has been proven to help create artificial bases for reef ecosystems to flourish, according to the company press release.

Huntsman sells chemical intermediates and surfactants businesses to Indorama for $2B Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:46:13 +0000

In Texas, Huntsman Corporation completed the sale of its chemical intermediates businesses, which includes PO/MTBE, and its surfactants businesses to Indorama Ventures in a transaction valued at approximately $2 billion, comprising a cash purchase price of approximately $1.93 billion, which includes estimated adjustments to the purchase price for working capital, plus the transfer of up to approximately $76 million in net underfunded pension and other post-employment benefit liabilities.

The final purchase price is subject to customary post-closing adjustments. The net cash proceeds are expected to be just under $1.6 billion.

Peter Huntsman, Chairman, President and CEO said, “This transformational transaction significantly reduces our capital-intensive upstream asset base, further bolsters our already strong balance sheet and allows us to further invest in and grow our downstream businesses. We are committed to retaining our investment grade balance sheet and our continued balanced approach to capital allocation. This transaction greatly expands our flexibility and opportunity for select strategic and accretive acquisitions, as well as for expansions in our core downstream global footprint, and for continued opportunistic repurchases of our shares. We remain disciplined and focused on the creation of long-term shareholder value.

Report shows importance of agriculture in production of sustainable food and raw materials Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:44:59 +0000

In Germany, the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants published a Report on Global Market Supply which indicates the particular importance of agriculture in the production of sustainable foodstuffs and renewable raw materials. Biofuels from cultivated biomass play a leading role when these are being produced according to the legal specifications of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), emphasizes the UFOP.

The Union underscores that the requirements and documentation obligations for proof of the origin of the raw material, certain special criteria and minimum requirements for greenhouse gas saving even in non-member states must be complied with in order to maintain market access in the European Union. RED II is an excellent example for a sustainable “farm-to-tank” strategy, i.e. to ensure sustainability across the entire production process. Exactly this is what UFOP understands to be a national or European bio-economic strategy. Climate change increases the pressure to enable a rapid as possible market access for renewable resources for energy or material utilisation using new or improved legal framework conditions. The regulations for the promotion of e-mobility provide the orientation when it comes to rapidity and funding intensity, demands UFOP.

Sustainable biomass can, both nationally and globally, make a significant contribution towards decarbonising the transport sector and the economy. Research results would therefore have to be put immediately into practice in order to increase productivity and yield security in agricultural production.

UFOP regards the accelerated utilisation of technological progress in plant breeding, plant protection and the digitisation of agricultural production as an important key to sustainable land management. Sustainable development would, however, also have to keep the economy in mind, given that financing this kind of progress should be generated through corresponding producer prices as well. This would not only affect farmers in this country or in the European union, but also in a fundamental way the financing of technological progress as a prerequisite for a world-wide sustainable intensification of agricultural production, emphasises UFOP.

The current Report on Global Market Supply once more underscores that the potential to utilise agricultural commodities is currently not being exhausted. Low prices for cereals, oilseeds, sugar and vegetable oils are the result of a global oversupply. At this price level, sustainable economic activity is not possible, even in the rural regions of Africa. Agriculture lives on economic substance not only in this country, UFOP says. Increasing regulatory requirements would not be offset by adequate value creation to compensate for this. On the contrary: the cultivation of renewable raw materials from cultivated biomass is being gradually put on the shelf, without opening up new sales prospects at the same time, UFOP criticised sharply.

Download the report here.

Eni to appeal $5.6M fine for “green” biodiesel advertisement Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:43:34 +0000

In Italy, the Wall Street Journal reports that Eni, an energy company that operates primarily in petroleum and natural gas, will appeal the €5 million ($5.6 million) fine that the Italian antitrust authority imposed on the company for advertisements that claimed a biodiesel component of the advertised EniDiesel+ product made from palm oil was “green” and significantly contributes to reducing greenhouse emissions.

In the meantime, the company stopped the biodiesel advertisement campaign and according to the Italian authority said it won’t use the word “green” in its fuel ads again.

According to the Wall Street Journal, environmental groups are calling the Italian competition authority’s fine for false or misleading advertising a “historic ruling.”

“Eni has learned with great surprise the Italian competition authority’s decision,” the oil-and-gas major told the Wall Street Journal, adding that “the company reserves the right to assess the grounds for its appeal to the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio.”

“Today’s authority decision represents the first important sanction for ‘greenwashing’ over misleading advertising messages about how green a product really is,” Francesco Luongo, president of consumer association Movimento Difesa del Cittadino told the Wall Street Journal.