Biofuels Digest https://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest The world's most widely-read advanced bioeconomy daily Wed, 08 Apr 2020 02:10:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4 POET to idle 330MG of ethanol production across four facilities and delays Shelbyville https://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2020/04/07/poet-to-idle-330mg-of-ethanol-production-across-four-facilities-and-delays-shelbyville/ Tue, 07 Apr 2020 20:16:51 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=121585

In South Dakota, POET announced it will idle production at its bioprocessing facilities in Chancellor, S.D., Ashton, Iowa, and Coon Rapids, Iowa, and delay the start-up of its new plant in Shelbyville, Ind., as producers across the United States continue to grapple with the economic fallout of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On an annualized basis, these operational changes are expected to reduce corn demand by 110 million bushels, freezing 330 million gallons of ethanol production across the four facilities. POET has also significantly slowed production at other facilities, further decreasing corn demand.

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Ethanol production shuttering squeezing CO2 supplies for meatpackers https://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2020/04/07/ethanol-production-shuttering-squeezing-co2-supplies-for-meatpackers/ Tue, 07 Apr 2020 20:15:52 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=121583

In Illinois, Reuters reports that in addition to lower DDGS production for the livestock industry as a result of ethanol producers shutting their doors in the face of low oil prices and low fuel demand due to COVID-19, meatpackers are also set to suffer due to the lack of carbon dioxide ethanol producers make that is required for chilling meat. The American Farm Bureau Association says the ethanol industry accounts for 40% of CO2 production and the Renewable Fuels Association says 29 of the 45 ethanol plants that sell their CO2 have reduced production or shut down completely.

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California/Mexico border road project using renewable diesel to power equipment https://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2020/04/07/california-mexico-border-road-project-using-renewable-diesel-to-power-equipment/ Tue, 07 Apr 2020 20:14:47 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=121581

In California, the Construction Equipment Guide reports that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and San Diego Association of Governments are using renewable diesel to power off-road construction equipment during the construction of state Route 11 (SR-11)/Otay Mesa East Port of Entry project on the Mexican border. The senior project manager overseeing the construction site says that renewable diesel is about the same price as fossil-based fuel and has no negative impacts on the machinery being used.

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Fluid Quip Technologies launches free webinar series https://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2020/04/07/fluid-quip-technologies-launches-free-webinar-series/ Tue, 07 Apr 2020 20:13:49 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=121579

In Iowa, Fluid Quip Technologies is creating a space for all to share and all to learn. Last Thursday at 1:00 PM CST, FQT launched a weekly live webinar series to help plants solve their most pressing issues and provide any of the 1000’s of tips and techniques the company has developed over the years to improve ethanol facilities.  They plan to cover topics like:

  • 10 ways to cut your plants OPEX cost today”
  • Efficiencies in Distillation & Dehydration
  • Efficiencies in Electrical and gas use

FQTalks will provide 20-40 minutes on a topic filled with solutions and then open up the webinar to conversation and answers to the questions plants and facilities want to know more about. 

provide 20-40 minutes on a topic filled with solutions and then open up the webinar to conversation and answers to the questions plants and facilities want to know more about. 

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Circa Group offers levoglucosenone production capability for coronavirus therapeutics https://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2020/04/07/circa-group-offers-levoglucosenone-production-capability-for-coronavirus-therapeutics/ Tue, 07 Apr 2020 20:12:53 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=121577

In the UK, biotechnology company Circa Group – who produces bio-based solvent CyreneTM in one step from levoglucosenone (LGO) – is offering its LGO manufacturing capability to experts looking for building blocks for coronavirus therapeutics, including ribonolactone.  

Circa’s continuous process for producing levoglucosenone from waste cellulose at its FC5 prototype plant in Tasmania, Australia, with partner Norske Skog, is currently producing LGO in metric ton quantities.

Established in 2006, Circa Group converts waste biomass into advanced bio-based chemicals with its proprietary FuracellTM process at its prototype plant in Tasmania – a joint venture with Norske Skog. Its developing product portfolio includes, flavors, bio-polymers, and bio-solvents including CyreneTM, an alternative to traditional polar aprotic solvents, which is produced in one step from platform chemical levoglucosenone.

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Indonesia to miss E10 yet again as sugarcane yields continue to fall https://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2020/04/07/indonesia-to-miss-e10-yet-again-as-sugarcane-yields-continue-to-fall/ Tue, 07 Apr 2020 20:11:53 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=121575

In Indonesia, the Jakarta Post newspaper reports that despite plans to boost ethanol blending to 10% this year using domestically produced ethanol, challenges in sugarcane production will lead to further delays in implementation. Sugarcane yields have been falling over the past four years in East Java, the country’s key cane-growing region, which has led to a lack of molasses for feedstock to produce the required ethanol. Since 2015, only 2% ethanol is blended into gasoline.

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NREL leads research yielding new insights into how bacteria breaks down lignin https://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2020/04/07/nrel-leads-research-yielding-new-insights-into-how-bacteria-breaks-down-lignin/ Tue, 07 Apr 2020 20:10:59 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=121573

In Colorado, collaboration between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and three other national laboratories has yielded new insight into the ability of bacteria to break down the hardy part of a plant known as lignin. The additional understanding of the process could open a path to industrial applications.

The newly published research builds upon previous observations at NREL, reported in 2015, on the ability of 14 strains of bacteria to break down lignin oligomers and take advantage of those components. With that knowledge, researchers from NREL embarked on a collaborative effort to examine the three bacteria that did the best at attacking lignin.

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Group of 34 bipartisan Senators asks USDA to support farmers during COVID-19 crisis https://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2020/04/07/group-of-34-bipartisan-senators-asks-usda-to-support-farmers-during-covid-19-crisis/ Tue, 07 Apr 2020 20:09:59 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=121571

In Washington, 34 bipartisan Senators wrote a letter to Secretary of Agriculture urging the Administration to ensure the continuity of our country’s food supply and to support rural areas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by providing needed relief to farmers.

“We write to ask that you take action to ensure the continuity of our country’s food supply and support rural areas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by providing needed relief to farmers—including by ensuring that the temporary flexibilities on farm loans recently announced by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) are made permanent for the duration of the pandemic and subsequent economic recovery, and also by ensuring adequate and equitable access to credit during this period of market uncertainty,” the Senators wrote.

“Americans always depend on our nation’s farmers to grow the food, fuel, and fiber that we all need, but that reliance becomes much more pronounced in times of crisis,” the Senators continued.

To provide additional support for those whose operations are being affected by the coronavirus, we urge you to consider making emergency measures such as deadline extensions, loan payment deferrals, payment forbearance, and a full suspension of all current and pending foreclosure actions effective for the duration of the pandemic and subsequent economic recovery. The Department should also consider taking additional emergency actions – including the authorization of loan restructuring and loan balance write-downs – that were not included in the March 26 announcement. Such measures are critical to avoiding disruption in the country’s food supply chain,” the Senators suggested.

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The Straw Man: Looking critically at claims about EV emissions https://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2020/04/07/the-straw-man-looking-critically-at-claims-about-ev-emissions/ Tue, 07 Apr 2020 19:31:51 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=121566

A completely interesting example of what is known as the Straw Man fallacy appeared in coverage of a study that appears in this month’s Nature Sustainability, on electric vehicle emissions.

The lead author of the study, University of Nijmegen’s Dr Florian Knobloch told the BBC: “The idea that electric vehicles could increase emissions is a complete myth. We’ve seen a lot of discussion about this recently, with lots of disinformation going around. We have run the numbers for all around the world, looking at a whole range of cars and even in our worst-case scenario, there would be a reduction in emissions in almost all cases.”

What exactly is a Straw Man fallacy? It is weakening and altering an opponent’s position, and then “demolishing” the altered version.

Example:

Ronald Reagan: “All great change begins at the dinner table.”

Straw Man says: “Ronald Reagan says we have to eat dinner every time we make a decision, which will make us all fat and unhealthy.”

The study attacks the idea that “electric vehicles could increase emissions”, suggesting that “we’ve seen a lot of discussion about this recently”. But, how much is there, really.

People who question the value of electric vehicles almost never say that they increase emissions, per se. What they do say is:

1. Plug-in electric vehicles reduce emissions far less than many people think they do. The myth really is of a zero-emission vehicle, since electric cars simply emit their pollution elsewhere, instead of through the tailpipe.

2. The push for plug-in electric vehicles almost invariably trades on this idea of sharply reduced emissions, when there are more conventional technologies that cost a lot less, involve almost no change in infrastructure or the purchase of a new car, and reduce emissions more than many electric vehicles do.

3. A plug-in electric vehicle is only as green as its grid, and there are countries with such a dependence on coal that a shift to electric vehicle adoption could, in fact, slow efforts to reverse climate change.

4. A rapid conversion to plug-in electric vehicles would require a substantial increase in a) fossil electricity generation or b) intermittent renewable sources such as solar or wind — a slower conversion allows for a safer build-out of grid resources.

Instead of tackling the big issues, the study authors invent a non-issue and report that, “The new research from the universities of Exeter, Nijmegen – in The Netherlands – and Cambridge shows that in 95% of the world, driving an electric car is better for the climate than a petrol car.”

Of course, almost no one drives a pure “petrol car” any more. New renewable fuels have far lower levels of emissions, and can in fact be carbon negative. Trucks operating on renewable diesel have typical emissions 70 percent lower than those operating on fossil fuels.

We’d also take issue with a couple of real myths — not just the straw-man kind — in the BBC report.

Myth #1

The authors state:

“The idea that electric vehicles could increase emissions is a complete myth.

Later in the story they add:

“We have run the numbers for all around the world, looking at a whole range of cars and even in our worst-case scenario, there would be a reduction in emissions in almost all cases.”

The Digest comments:

How can something be a complete myth if it is true on occasion?

Myth #2

The article states:

In 53 of 59 global regions – including all of Europe, the US and China – the findings show electric cars and heat pumps are already less emission-intensive than fossil-fuel alternatives.

Elsewhere in the story the article states:

The only exceptions are places like Poland, where electricity generation is still mostly based on coal.

The Digest comments:

Isn’t Poland in Europe?

Myth #3

The article states:

The new research from the universities of Exeter, Nijmegen – in The Netherlands – and Cambridge shows that in 95% of the world, driving an electric car is better for the climate than a petrol car.

Elsewhere in the story the article states:

In 53 of 59 global regions – including all of Europe, the US and China – the findings show electric cars and heat pumps are already less emission-intensive than fossil-fuel alternatives.

The Digest comments:

Isn’t 53 out of 59 equal to 89.8 percent, not 95 percent?

Myth #4

The article states:

The researchers say average “lifetime“ emissions from electric cars are up to 70% lower than petrol cars in countries like Sweden and France (where most electricity comes from renewables and nuclear), and around 30% lower in the UK.

Elsewhere in the story the article states:

Zero-emission cars on the rise, (citing ‘total UK annual registrations of battery electric cars”).

The Digest comments:

Why is a technology that reduces emissions by 30 percent described as a zero-emission car?

Myth #5

The article notes that “abrasion of electric car tires and brakes will still create pollution in cities.”

But it doesn’t go on to point out that particulate pollution is a hidden problem that comes with tires on roadways, that heavier cars shed rubber faster and electric cars are heavier.

The Digest comments:

Sky emissions are a huge problem, but we shouldn’t rush to solve them without thinking through tire technology first and so that we don’t purchase lower global temperatures through dirtying the air. And in that spirit, let’s point to Birla Carbon, and development partner GranBio Technologies, who have combined carbon black and nanocellulose to improve the performance and sustainability profile of tires.

More on tires and particulate matter here.

The Bottom Line

Electric vehicles are a very special and important type of vehicle, for the right situations and the right owners who can afford them.  The UK numbers are not so incredibly awe-inspiring, either. Roughly 1 in 90 new cars in the UK was a pure electric. Yes, the number has grown, but from a very small base.

By way of disclosure, my wife and I own an all-electric vehicle which we use on our small farm, and we love it. But we are not blinded to the challenges that electrics face as a tool for reducing emissions in the near term.

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PEF Joint Venture to Renewable Polymers and All In Between: The Digest’s 2020 Multi-Slide Guide to Avantium https://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2020/04/07/pef-joint-venture-to-renewable-polymers-and-all-in-between-the-digests-2020-multi-slide-guide-to-avantium/ Tue, 07 Apr 2020 19:29:23 +0000 http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/?p=121495

“2019 was in many ways a pivotal year for Avantium,” writes their CEO, Tom van Aken. We couldn’t agree more, and this 2019 Annual Report recently released by the company delves into the what, why, when, where and more. From the end of their PEF joint venture with BASF, to the acquisition of 100% ownership of the Synvina joint venture with BASF, now Avantium Renewable Polymers, it was quite a year for plants to plastics technologies. Dive into the details.

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