March 2008

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Business Briefs

Belarus ethanol plant to benefit Chernobyl-affected area



Two new ethanol plants received a lump of coal in their Christmas stockings—a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. One plant isn't even completed. Now both face the unenviable task of clawing their way out of a hole to become successful enterprises. And both leave corn farmers and other investors wondering how such lofty aspirations went awry.

Australian of the Year Tim Flannery addresses

What's Up Down Under

By Ian Thomson

Executives with Colusa Biomass Energy Corp., a company securing its niche in rice waste, were searching diligently for an engineering company to take their project to the next level: commercial production. No matter the paths they traversed, CBEC executives say all roads led to BBI International.

The diverse ecosystems that mark the landscape of Costa Rica, ranging from lowland rain forests to cloud forests, lakes and rivers, are a hot spot for life. For scientists, this treasure trove of biodiversity represents yet to be discovered insights into medicine, species diversity and for some, the commercialization and development of enzymes for cellulosic ethanol production.

Flowers in a mixed prairie grass system attract pollinators like bees, which in turn benefit the entire ecosystem.

Feedstock Face-Off

By Susanne Retka Schill

Which system should be targeted to produce biofuels feedstocks in the future—high-input, low-diversity crops such as corn, or low-input, high-diversity systems such as mixed prairie grasses? An ecologist and an agronomist weigh in on the debate.

Developing effective marketing arrangements for ethanol and distillers grains requires just as much due diligence as producing the products.

O'Connor accepts the Green Fuel Industry award at the fourth annual Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit held in December in Quebec City.

Honoring the GHGenius

By Anduin Kirkbride McElroy

Don O'Connor has the breadth and width of knowledge that is second to none in Canada. His analysis of biofuel plants' greenhouse gas emissions has been especially important to the global industry.

A truck unloads at Public Service Co. of New Hampshire's Schiller Station, a 50 megawatt wood-fired power plant in Portsmouth, N.H.

Biomass: At What Cost?

By Jerry W. Kram

Processors believe biofuels will prosper because cellulosic feedstocks will be cheap and readily available. Feedstock owners think they will get rich selling biomass to the ethanol industry. Obviously, they both can't be right. Finding a mutually beneficial balance between buyer and seller is a challenge as the cellulosic ethanol industry finds its feet.

The biomass gasifiers and boilers produce 60,000 pounds of steam an hour, enough to provide 80 percent of the campus' heat requirements in the dead of winter.

Biomass on Campus

By Jerry W. Kram

It's a big job keeping 27,000 students warm though the winter. The University of South Carolina in Columbia looked to a new source of heat and found that the savings would be measured in the millions of dollars.

Burning solid fuels to heat biomass dryers produces two broad types of emissions: fly ash and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Before the dryer exhaust stream is introduced to the regenerative thermal oxidizer for VOC destruction, fly ash must be abated to avoid irreparable damage downstream. Biomass Magazine details an increasingly popular and effective way for biomass processors to accomplish this.

Although it looks like bamboo, the stems of the perennial grass Arundo donax are easier to cut. A standard corn header should work for harvest say University of South Carolina researchers.

The Risk of Invasion

By Susanne Retka Schill

Arundo donax, commonly known as giant reed, has tremendous potential as a biomass crop. It also illustrates the emerging issues around the potential for unintended weedy invasions.

Xcel Energy Inc.'s Renewable Development Fund has disbursed more than $100 million in funding for renewable energy projects, companies, and research and development efforts since 1999. Biomass Magazine talks with the fund's advisory board members about the selection process and its potential impact on the biomass industry.

Delegates were able to watch a live feed of the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony from Oslo, Norway.

Biofuels in Bali

By Jessica Ebert

With the end of the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol just four years away, representatives from more than 180 countries recently met in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, on the island of Bali to agree on a new path toward the adoption of a second-generation protocol. Included in this group were biofuels industry spokespeople.

Biodiesel Magazine takes a look at the various alternative diesel fuels emerging and how they are produced.

Residents of Tanjung Benoa village, Bali, Indonesia, delegates and local Red Cross volunteers plant mangroves to help stop coastal erosion in the village.

Biofuels at Bali

By Jessica Ebert

With the end of the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol just four years away, representatives from more than 180 countries recently met in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, on the island of Bali, to agree on a new path toward the adoption of a second-generation protocol. Included in this group were biofuels industry spokespeople.

Chevron Corp.'s relatively small investment in a Texas biodiesel plant is turning into a public relations nightmare. The oil giant and its renewable fuels subsidiary are accused of fraud and negligent misrepresentation. But the real wounds have been inflicted outside the courtroom where Chevron stands accused of entering the biodiesel venture to "greenwash" its image.


Walking a Tightrope

By Susanne Retka Schill

Thin margins have been dogging biodiesel producers for months, causing many to wonder just how much they can endure before profits go south.


Power Without the Burn

By Jerry W. Kram

Biodiesel is packed with power. Burning it in an engine is just one way of extracting its energy. Washington-based Innovatek Inc. has come up with an alternative to get at biodiesel's energy-a hand-sized processor that could make biodiesel a hot commodity in the electricity generation market.

Equipment manufacturing titans John Deere and CNH Global have expanded biodiesel blend allowances in their agricultural and construction equipment. EPM talks to both companies about how they arrived at endorsing the biofuel.

Following the departure of longtime Executive Director Kory Teneycke, the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association looked for government experience for his replacement. New CRFA President Gordon Quaiattini has taken the lead and is providing the Canadian biofuels industries with an experienced voice.

For decades, smog, acid rain and global warming have all been linked to the transportation industry. As the leading consumer of oil, motor vehicles account for approximately 25 percent of Canada's national levels of greenhouse gas emissions. With rising concerns over climate change, the country is faced with developing alternative transportation solutions to reduce its environmental footprint. From this cloudy problem emerges one clear answer: The road to cleaner air may be paved with biodiesel.

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