Argus Biofuels & Feedstocks 2016
October 18-20, 2016 - London UK

NASA researchers develop cellulosic technology

Scientists at NASA Ames Research Center in California are working to develop an enzymatic hydrolysis process that could be used to convert waste biomass material into food and fuel, using what is called bionanotechnology. The research team is assembling enzyme structures with multiple functions, modeled after a natural enzyme complex that breaks down inedible plant material into usable sugars. Ames Research Scientist Chad Paavola said that NASA's interest in cellulosic technologies stems from the potential for long-term missions in space. "For long-term missions involving either long transit times or for long-term missions on Mars, the moon or other extraterrestrial environments, it becomes worthwhile to cultivate plants for food," he said. "Depending on what crop you are cultivating, a varying amount of the plant will be edible, and a significant fraction of the plant is not edible…We believe that cellulosic technology could be used to convert that [cellulosic material] back into fermentable sugars, which could then be used to create food, fuels or chemicals for the mission."READ MORE

Kentucky waste-to-ethanol plant construction nears

A waste-to-ethanol plant planned for Pike County, Ky., has suffered setbacks in the bleak economy but Agresti Biofuels, the company that will construct and operate it, and some Pike County officials believe it's inching closer to fruition. The $200 million Central Appalachian Ethanol Plant, originally scheduled for construction around December 2008, has become a phased project in the face of a lack of funding, according to the office of Pike County Judge/Executive Wayne T. Rutherford. The project lost $5 million of its funding under the U.S. Senate congressional review process because it spent too much time there, according to Brandon Roberts, with Rutherford's office. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., had placed the money in the federal budget.READ MORE

Conn. company plans low-cost cellulosic ethanol

As corn ethanol producers continue to deal with tight margins and tough markets, a new name in the industry prepares to launch itself to the front of the class by producing cellulosic ethanol for less than $1 per gallon. Connecticut-based American Energy Enterprises Inc. plans to construct a commercial-scale ethanol production facility in New Milford, Conn. and, according to company chairman Christopher Brown, will use wood waste to produce ethanol at a cost of 80 cents to 85 cents per gallon.READ MORE

ACE hosts annual ethanol conference

The American Coalition for Ethanol held its 22nd annual Ethanol Conference & Trade Show Aug. 11-13 in Milwaukee, Wisc. Topics discussed at the conference included: increasing the use of blender pumps throughout the United States, increasing the efficiency of E85, cellulosic ethanol and indirect land use change. Keynote speaker Dallas Tonsager, USDA under secretary for rural development, told attendees that ethanol is a prime example of how to boost rural U.S. economies. "We must ensure that rural communities are creating wealth, self-sustaining, repopulating and thriving economically," he said. Tonsager said the USDA continues to research and assist in developing new sources of renewable energy and that increasing the allowable percentage of ethanol to be blended into ethanol "makes all the sense in the world."READ MORE

National Pork Producers re-visit E15 waiver

In a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the National Pork Producers Council has requested a study of the impact of expanded use of ethanol in gasoline blends. The request was included in a list of items the NPPC sees as vital to return to profitability, including a call for the federal government to purchase an additional $50 million of pork products for federal food programs.READ MORE

Analysis highlights shortcomings of ILUC study

Two researchers from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, recently published a scholarly analysis of the indirect land use change study co-authored by Tim Searchinger and published in Science in February 2008. The scholarly analysis, which was completed by John Mathews and Hao Tan, found that Searchinger et al. was not based on sound scientific standards and that government agencies relying on the findings of Searchinger et al. would be better served by utilizing other controls. In the scholarly analysis, Mathews and Tan argue that Searchinger et al. does not report margins of error, discuss the assumptions that are utilized in the study, explore the validity of those assumptions, or take possible trade effects into account. Moreover, the researchers state that Searchinger et al.'s findings are not replicable because the models and parameters used have not been made accessible to other researchers.READ MORE
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