Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bioethanol news in brief.

Kentucky sets biomass, biofuel production goals
Kentucky has developed a 21-member executive task force to facilitate the development of a statewide sustainable biomass and biofuels industry and to educate state legislators on the ability to utilize local biomass to achieve this goal. The task force held its first meeting Sept. 2, and determined the state needs to produce 25 million tons of biomass annually by 2025 in order for Kentucky to adequately contribute to the federal renewable fuel standard and a state renewable portfolio standard. The state should also produce enough biofuels by 2025 to meet 12 percent, or 775 million gallons per year, of its transportation fuel demand.


NDPSC files motion on VeraSun Hankinson grain elevator
North Dakota's Public Service Commission will seek permission to pursue a state insolvency case against VeraSun Energy Corp.'s grain storage facilities at Hankinson, in southeastern North Dakota. Specifically, the Public Service Commission asks in the filing that the grain elevator "may be liquidated and distributed to certain farmers who allege they have not been paid for grain they delivered to a public warehouse facility operated by [VeraSun Hankinson, LLC.]" While the case proceeds, the commission wants a federal bankruptcy court order allowing it to be appointed trustee of the grain elevator where the corn was stored.


WASDE: Record yields meet increased demand from ethanol
The USDA lowered its expectation for beginning corn stocks by 25 million bushels due to higher expected corn use for ethanol in 2008-'09, according to its Sept. 11 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate. The U.S. DOE Energy Information Agency reported record blending of ethanol into gasoline in July and August and the trend is expected to continue. The USDA now expects over 4 billion bushels of corn to be used in 2009-'10 for ethanol production


South Dakota adds ethanol storage for state fleet
South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds recently announced that ethanol fuel tanks will be installed at three state Department of Transportation regional yards in an effort to increase the use of renewable fuel by the state fleet. Although nearly 40 percent of South Dakota's 3,395 government vehicles are flexible fuel vehicles, state employees have not had access to high ethanol blends, such as E85, at state fueling facilities. Instead, they had the option of purchasing E85 at commercial stations. During the 2009 fiscal year that ended June 30, state employees purchased only 32,640 gallons of E85.


North Carolina explores biofuel feedstock options
The Biofuels Center of North Carolina, Oxford, is investigating the potential for in-state biofuels production from energy crops and forest biomass. Industry leaders, elected officials and others recently toured the center's 4-acre plot of more than a dozen energy crops and fast-growth trees as part of the North Carolina Grows Biofuels event. The state allocated $5 million to the center to fund research and development in three main areas: agronomics, conversion technologies and workforce development, according to Norman Smit, director of communications and education for the center. Grants have been awarded to several companies and liquid biofuels projects. "The biofuel center's goal is to replace 10 percent of all fuel used in the state with homegrown and produced biofuels by 2017," Smit said. North Carolina buys 5.6 billion gallons of liquid fuels annually, according to the center.


Canadian software company targets ethanol producers
Canada-based STI Corp. said despite current difficulties within the industry, ethanol is a growth market and long-term energy demands will prove it's an industry worth investing in. The manufacturing operations management company last year determined that ethanol should be a part of the company's long-term strategy and is now focused on providing ethanol producers with its Manufacturing Execution Systems as a way to increase plant productivity and reduce costs.


Brazilian organizations unite in alliance to fight climate change
Fourteen major Brazilian organizations representing the agribusiness, planted forests and bioenergy sectors recently announced the creation of the Brazilian Climate Alliance, with the goal of contributing solid proposals for the negotiations related to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Brazilian Climate Alliance stresses that Brazil, a country with one of the cleanest energy matrixes in the world, with over 40 percent of its makeup originating from renewable sources, should play a leading role in global climate discussions.

In New Hampshire, Mascoma announced that it has entered into a feedstock processing and lignin supply agreement with Chevron Technology Ventures. Under terms of the agreement, CTV will provide various sources of lignocellulosic feedstock to Mascoma. Mascoma will then convert the feedstock to cellulosic ethanol through its proprietary process, which produces lignin as a by-product. Mascoma will provide this lignin to CTV for evaluation.

There has been considerable research on the use of lignin as a feedstock for hydrocarbon-based fuels, and last year, Chevron and Weyerhaeuser announced the formation of a joint venture, Catchlight Energy, to research the production of fuels from forest materials, including lignin.



In Iraq, the national government has approved a plan to improve agricultural productivity by commencing a project to convert surplus dates into ethanol. The national date palm board said that an unnamed company from the UAE would process dates from the Tigris-Euphrates region in a project intended to assist the agricultural sector which has been beset by soil salinity and exhaustion.