November 2007

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Business Briefs

Canadian fund boosts renewable fuels development



Although funding for new ethanol plants hasn't totally dried up, the same pitch developers made to banks last year probably won't produce the same results today. In the current lending environment only well-established producers with solid concepts, ideal sites and an experienced management team will bring home the bacon.

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.

Sweetening the Pot

By Jessica Ebert

As the U.S. Senate continues to haggle over its version of the Farm Bill, the counterpart legislation passed by the House holds a provision that has some ethanol producers and sugar processors talking. Under the provision, the government would be allowed to sell surplus sugar to ethanol producers.

EPM talks with Drying Technology Inc. about its Delta T Moisture Control System to save ethanol producers cash by gaining tighter moisture control in their distillers grains dryers.

The race to commercialize a scheme for producing ethanol from an array of biomass feedstocks that is cost-competitive with the fossil-based alternative is muddied by a labyrinth of expensive and time-consuming technologies. A new spin-off company, however, aims to commercialize a consolidated bioprocess that promises to create a renewable competitor for gasoline.

U.S. farmers reacted to high corn prices by planting more acres than any time since World War II. More than 92 million acres were planted and production is expected to top 13.3 billion bushels.

Corn Marches On

By Jerry W. Kram

U.S. farmers responded to higher corn prices by seeding record acres and harvesting a bin-busting crop. While the prospect of an unprecedented corn crop has eased price pressure somewhat, events overseas have kept prices higher than expected.

The Imperial Valley in southeastern California is teeming with ethanol project activity. Beef and dairy operations are hefty in the valley, and agriculture thrives with diverted Colorado River water. EPM investigates why this county has attracted so much attention from would-be ethanol producers.

Sorghum plants look like corn until the pannicle or seed bearing head appears.

Tall Texas Sorghum

By Susanne Retka Schill

Sorghum is an old crop getting a new twist at Texas A&M University where researchers are working on two versions simultaneously—new tall hybrids for biomass and new sweet sorghum hybrids.

Blender pumps like this one can be found at filling stations in Watertown, Redfield and Webster, S.D. The pumps are now being installed in Minnesota.

The Blenders Are Back

By Nicholas Zeman

The only way ethanol producers can keep increasing production capacity is to ramp up demand. South Dakota ethanol proponents believe blender pumps are an excellent tool to increase sales of the renewable fuel and to dispel the myth that E10 is the optimum blend rate for nonflexible-fuel vehicles.

Research Reveals New Biofuels Link

By Anduin Kirkbride McElroy

Crude glycerin is a low-value byproduct of the growing biodiesel industry. But one company, Glycos Biotechnologies Inc., sees potential for the product as a feedstock for ethanol production.

The U.S. Congress is getting closer to passing a renewable electricity mandate, which could mean dramatic growth for the biomass industry. Ironically, the Southeastern states-the region most likely to benefit from the development of the biomass industry-are resisting such a mandate.

With waste management, liquid solutions and fuels divisions, St. Louis-based GEI Development, is poised to impact the biomass realm. Biomass Magazine talks with one of the creators of the trademarked E-VAP process, a leachate treatment solution for the waste management industry. Now, the company is bringing the recycling synergies to biodiesel production.

Syntroleum CEO Jack Holmes holds up vials of black rendered poultry fat and white Fischer-Tropsch wax. Both can be refined into clear synthetic diesel or jet fuel.

The Fischer-Tropsch/Fat Connection

By Susanne Retka Schill

The Syntroleum Corp. team and its investors always knew their technology was solid. That confidence was renewed when the company signed a deal with Tyson Foods Inc. to commercialize its refining technology-turning animal fat into renewable diesel and jet fuels. With that process under its belt, Syntroleum plans to turn to biomass gasification.

Researchers are taking another look at animal-processed fiber (APF), a coproduct of the anaerobic digestion process. APF contains an abundance of protein and fiber fractions such as cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin and can be used for a variety of biobased products.

Figuring out how to make fuel and chemicals from biomass is only the first step, making those processes economically viable is the ultimate goal. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado work with large and small businesses to turn their discoveries into commercial successes.

Green Circle Bio Energy Inc. is building the world's biggest wood pellet plant in the heart of the largest plantation-style pine forest in the world. Until U.S. legislation promoting biomass power catches up with directives in Europe, these pellets will be exported to a handful of European power companies.

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