Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Latest Biofuel news around the world

Last week, BP committed $500 million in a ten-year year research program to study "the impact of the Deepwater Horizon incident, and its associated response, on the marine and shoreline environment of the Gulf of Mexico." It recalls the $500 million BP invested in 2007 in the Energy Bioscienes Institute. Deepwater indeed for the oil industry this year - but if there are deep troubles, there are deep pockets.

Pockets are a little smaller around the biofuels industry, where this past week in Washington, four of the companies which have received investment support from oil majors or have formed investment partnerships with them - Coskata (Total), HR Biopetroleum (Shell), Solazyme (Chevron), Algenol (Valero), visited with reporters to discuss "the industry's #1 ask" this political season: the need for sustained and diverse tax credits.

Their goal, to develop "parity with solar and wind" in a tax credit design that unleashed billions in investment for other renewables from private equity.

But - private equity, schmequity. The $500 million committed by BP this week to studying the impact of Deepwater Horizon would have funded virtually any first-in-kind advanced biofuels project currently stalled for lack of finance, many of them already receiving investment from the oil industry and seeking, through "#1 asks" like HR 5412, to deploy their technologies at scale.

In the wake of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, it’s clear the U.S. needs to end its crude-oil addiction as much to protect its economy as the environment.

To move the future forward, America needs one company in particular to come through on behalf of all Americans. In a cruel twist of fate, that company is ExxonMobil (XOM), which is working on arguably the most important energy-research project in the world today. Namely, a project to replace crude with genetically-modified algae that can be cost-effectively refined using existing refinery equipment.

A year ago when Exxon announced its algae project with biotech pioneer J. Craig Venter, the company said that it would take at least 5-10 years to produce commercial quantities of algae-based fuels. “My suspicion, and it’s just a suspicion, is that they still see it as five to 10 years away,” says Addison Wiggin, editorial director of The Daily Reckoning, who has been looking into the Exxon-Venter project for a forthcoming documentary on entrepreneurs in the post-crisis financial world.

Too long. As video of the black death pouring out of that ruptured pipeline gushes onto every American TV and computer screen, it's time for President Obama to declare a new Manhattan Project, a new man-to-moon space race. The goal must be to take America off its crude addiction in less than five years with a literally home-grown industry that will create tens of thousands of agricultural and other jobs without jeopardizing the existing oil industry’s trillion-dollar infrastructure.

Exxon shares would surge the moment this plan became publicly known; however, the President can’t allow the investor payoff to be too bountiful. There will have to be safeguards against Exxon controlling the applicable patents in order to prevent the company from controlling America’s energy future.

Algae oil is no panacea, the President will further need to say. Accelerated development of plug-in electric and all-electric vehicles is needed in order for the U.S. to have, by 2020 or sooner, a nationally-secure, environmentally-sound transportation infrastructure.

In a second twist of fate, not only would Exxon shares likely surge in price, so too might the shares of utilities that generate a lot of electricity from coal. Companies such as Duke Energy (DUK), Southern (SO) and FirstEnergy (FE) might lose their pariah image if part of the President’s strategy were to capture coal plants’ carbon dioxide and use it to accelerate algae growth.

For risk-inclined investors who believe that all this may be on the way, a company that might be worth a closer look right now is tiny OriginOil. (OOIL.OB). The company has started signing up customers as it begins commercializing a technology for producing biofuel from algae using CO2 emissions captured from smokestacks.


International news:

In Canada, the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association released a report on the Total Economic Impact Assessment of Biofuels Plants in Canada, which found that the construction of 28 renewable fuels plants in Canada generated $2.949 billion in economic activity. The construction activity created 14,177 direct and indirect jobs during the respective construction periods.

In Australia, Mission NewEnergy Limited (ASX: MBT) announced that the commissioning of its second 75 Mgy Axens 2nd Generation biodiesel trans-esterification refinery has been completed. Mission expects to begin producing under its Valero contract once the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has accepted palm oil as an approved pathway, and makes palm oil biodiesel eligible for Renewable Identification Number (RINS).

In Barbados, Amelot Holdings and Barbados National Oil Company have signed an MOU for the ownership and operation of a biodiesel production facility, using waste cooking oil as a feedstock. BNOCL also plans to develop B20 pumps for biodiesle distribution. The facility will use containerized modular equipment and proprietary feedstock technology.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Offshore Oil Disaster Could Boost New-Age Biofuels


Gulf of Mexico oil spill has dimmed the prospects for new offshore oil drilling, next-generation biofuels may be able to compensate for that lost production, marking the start of a bigger move away from oil.

Crisis in the Gulf


"Six-billion dollars goes a long way,” says one energy fund portfolio manager, referring to one estimate of the oil spill’s final cost. “With the right amount of investment [in biofuels], eventually the need for new [fossil fuel] production drops at some point. Is it $6 billion? I don’t know.”

Biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel have been commercially available for some time, mandated by various laws and regulations, but are usually blended with their fossil-fuel-derived counterparts.

Next-generation biofuels in the development pipeline now use different processes to create fuels from renewable feedstocks—animal fats and algae for example—that are chemically identical to the products created from petroleum.

Known as “drop-in fuels", they can be put directly into gas tanks and burned like fossil-fuel gasoline and diesel, with no equipment modifications or blending needed.

“There’s no need to rebuild the entire infrastructure” says Advanced BioFuels Association president Michael McAdams, a trade organization representing biofuels developers. “It could be $20 billion to retrofit the market for (more) corn-based ethanol.”

Several members of McAdams’ organization are now ramping up test-production facilities.

Biofuel generation at a Tyson Foods [TSN 17.65 0.92 (+5.5%) ] processing plant in Louisiana will come online later this year, turning chicken fat into diesel with a production capacity of 75 million gallons a year.

Tyson produces about 300 million gallons of chicken fat per year, and would normally sell it for use in other chemical processes or simply pay for disposal.



Finland's Neste Oil is now producing 700 million gallons of diesel from green feedstocks in several different countries.

McAdams notes Neste’s output is the equivalent to that of the entire US biodiesel sector at the moment but the green-fuels sector will need greater scale quickly to replace any new capacity from offshore oil.

Oil firms operating in the Gulf of Mexico produce about 71.5 million gallons of crude daily, and convert some of that oil to about 3 million gallons of diesel daily, according to DOE figures. Offshore oil production currently provides about 8 percent of daily US oil consumption.

Photo by Fred LaSenna

Though the output gap between the two fuels is now enormous, proponents say the seven-to-ten year development window from permits to production for new offshore drilling projects, allows ample time to ramp up production and approach parity.

George Santana, director of research at independent research and banking firm Greener Dawn, says that commercial production of next-generation biofuels is now achievable in that time frame.

He points out that perfecting the enzymes needed for cellulosic ethanol production is probably three to five years away from commercialization, while algae-derived drop-in fuels are five to ten years away.

McAdams agrees that drop-in biofuels are still in the demonstration plant phase, but as firms like Neste and Tyson demonstrate feasibility, investment should flow and scale could be achieved quickly.

“Ethanol took 20 years to achieve commercial scale,” McAdamas points out. “But then took six years to double production.”

John Felmy, API’s chief economist, says take those estimates with a grain of salt. “In the early 80s, people were saying cellulosic ethanol was five years away.”

But the cost gap is closing from both ends, and investment in biofuels today hinges on the rising cost of oil production and on tax incentives to help bridge the remaining difference.

For oil production costs, Felmy points to a 2008 Department of Energy survey placing US offshore production costs at $73/barrel, versus $38/barrel in Canada and $17/barrel in the Middle East.

Joule Biotechnologies, a green energy startup making diesel fuel from algae-like organisms, is aiming for production costs of as little as $30 per barrel.

Cost of production comparisons aren’t the only point of contention between green and fossil fuel energy firms.

As a large employers and sources of tax revenues—often in areas of high unemployment—all energy producers sell themselves as job creators, and all benefit from government subsidies in the process.

McAdams and Felmy disagree over which sector has benefited the most from government tax incentives in recent years, but a 2007 report on oil and gas sector subsidies from the Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan group that provides data and analysis to members of Congress, showed tax credits were evenly distributed.

The Carbon Challenge - A CNBC Special Report - See Complete Coverage

The agency determined that over an eleven-year period, oil and gas exploration/distribution tax credits were $5.6 billion, versus $5.7 billion for all renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives.

Gauging job growth in the nascent biofuels sector is tough at this point, but industry sources claim it requires similar headcount, in production and distribution at least, to the oil and gas sector.

Felmy adds that even if new biofuel production replaces proposed expansion in US offshore drilling down the road, the US will still be consuming oil at that point.

“To the extent we're going to need [oil] and we're going to need it for the foreseeable future, we may as well produce it here, " he says.

DOE and industry sources, however, estimate that any new offshore capacity would meet growth in our domestic oil demand for a period of less than three years, based on projected consumption trends.

Greener Dawn’s Santana says that supports the case for moving investment capital into greener fuels now, when the price of oil is well off its sky-high peak of two years ago.

“Biofuels are not going to drive oil costs down to zero anytime soon,” he says, adding that we’ll be still consuming oil even if biofuels can replace any new offshore oil production. “But it can bend the [cost] curve.”

Gulf oil spill now bigger than Exxon Valdez

Oil spill beach clean up.

From newswire: The threat is here and is real.

COVINGTON, La. – The Gulf oil spill has surpassed the Exxon Valdez as the worst in U.S. history, according to new estimates released Thursday, but the Coast Guard and BP said an untested procedure to stop it seemed to be working.

A team of scientists trying to determine how much oil has been flowing since the offshore rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20 and sank two days later found the rate was more than twice and possibly up to five times as high as previously thought.

Even using the most conservative estimate, that means the leak has grown to nearly 19 million gallons over the past five weeks, surpassing the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, which at about 11 million gallons had been the nation's worst spill. Under the highest Gulf spill estimate, nearly 39 million gallons may have leaked, enough to fill 30 school gymnasiums.

"Now we know the true scale of the monster we are fighting in the Gulf," said Jeremy Symons, vice president of the National Wildlife Federation. "BP has unleashed an unstoppable force of appalling proportions."

BP did not immediately comment on the new estimate.

U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt said two different teams of scientists calculated that the well has been spewing between 504,000 and more than a million gallons a day.

BP and the Coast Guard estimated soon after the explosion that about 210,000 gallons a day was leaking, but scientists who watched underwater video of well had been saying for weeks it was probably more.

Last week, BP inserted a mile-long tube to siphon some of the oil into a tanker. The tube sucked up 924,000 gallons, but engineers had to dismantle it so they could start the risky procedure known as a top kill to try to cut off the flow altogether by shooting heavy drilling fluid into the well.

If that works, BP will inject cement into the well to seal it. The top kill has been used above ground but has never been tried 5,000 feet beneath the sea. BP pegged its chance of success at 60 to 70 percent.

Lt. Commander Tony Russell, an aide to Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said Thursday that the mud was stopping some oil and gas but had a ways to go before it proved successful. The top kill started Wednesday night and it could be several days before officials know if it is working.

"As you inject your mud into it, it is going to stop some hydrocarbons," Russell said. "That doesn't mean it's successful." BP spokesman Tom Mueller also discounted news reports that the top kill had worked.

"We appreciate the optimism, but the top kill operation is continuing through the day today รข€” that hasn't changed," he said Thursday morning. "We don't anticipate being able to say anything definitive on that until later today."

Oil is coating birds and delicate wetlands along the Louisiana coast, and the political fallout from the spill has reached all the way to Washington, where the head of the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling resigned Thursday. Minerals Management Service Director Elizabeth Birnbaum stepped down just hours before a planned White House press conference where President Barack Obama was expected to extend a moratorium on new deepwater oil drilling.

Birnbaum and her agency came under withering criticism from lawmakers of both parties over lax oversight of drilling and cozy ties with industry. An internal Interior Department report released earlier this week found that between 2000 and 2008, agency staff members accepted tickets to sports events, lunches and other gifts from oil and gas companies and used government computers to view pornography. Birnbaum had run the service since July 2009.

After receiving the results of a 30-day safety review from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Obama also planned to delay controversial lease sales off the coast of Alaska and cancel entirely plans for drilling lease sales in the Western Gulf and off the coast of Virginia, according to a White House aide.

Polls show the public is souring on the administration's handling of the catastrophe, and fishermen, hotel and restaurant owners, politicians and residents along the 100-mile stretch of Gulf coast affected by the spill are fed up with BP's failures to stop the oil.

"I have anxiety attacks," said Sarah Rigaud, owner of Sarah's Restaurant in Grand Isle, La., where the public beach was closed because blobs of oil that looked like melted chocolate had washed up on shore. "Every day I pray that something happens, that it will be stopped and everybody can get back to normal."

The Coast Guard pulled commercial fishing boats from oil cleanup efforts in Breton Sound off the Louisiana coast on Wednesday after several people became ill. Crew members on three vessels reported nausea, dizziness, headaches and chest pains, the Coast Guard said. Four people were hospitalized, including one who was flown to a hospital.

If the top kill fails, BP says it has several backup plans, including sealing the well's blowout preventer with a smaller cap, which would contain the oil. An earlier attempt to cap the blowout preventer failed. BP could also try a "junk shot" — shooting golf balls and other debris into the blowout preventer to clog it up — during the top kill process.

The only permanent solution is drilling a second well, but that will take a couple of months. BP plans to go ahead with that even if the top kill works.

Though the spill is now the biggest in U.S. history, it's not the biggest ever in the Gulf. An offshore drilling rig in Mexican waters — the Ixtoc I — blew up in June 1979, releasing 140 million gallons of oil.

Oil rig spill, pictures tell it all. Enviroment-Animals

It’s been more than a month since an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 people and blew out an undersea well that continues to gush oil into the Gulf of Mexico. In the following weeks, there have been attempts to contain and control the scope of the environmental damage.

But so far none have been successful. Over the weekend, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced he intended to proceed with plans to construct sand booms to protect his state's shoreline — without waiting for federal approval. Meanwhile, engineers for BP are working feverishly to prepare for their "top kill" maneuver, hoping an injection of heavy mud will stop the leak.

Dead sharks and dolphins are washing ashore. Crabs, turtles and birds are being found soaked in oil as the slick sloshes into Louisiana’s wetlands. South of New Orleans, chocolate-like globs of oil have shut down the public beach.

Coast Guard officials say the spill’s impact now stretches 150 miles. Some scientists fear the spreading plumes will catch the ocean current to the Florida Keys and up to the eastern seaboard.

NOW...Biofuel is more convinient that man has all the controls on hand. Well, how careful and trustworthy is a robotic arm deep in the murky blue?, see how things can go wrong to such lenght.

Photographers' images, some of them chillingly beautiful, can only begin to hint at the enormity of the disaster. When we go deeper into sea to save the world in search of fuel, we CAN destroy the world in hours.













Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Scientist Attack Biofuel!

There were 90 respected scientist who seem to come seeking any arguable biofuel development loopholes as also being a contributor and needing to 'slack off' policy in USA on biofuels. The biofuel worldwide has eyes on this:

Here is what they say and what we say respectively, readers and audience can judge. The issue is 'backed' seem to me personally by big cats if possible (who knows?).

Here is what they wrote to the speaker Nancy Pelosi:

May 17, 2010
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
235 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0508
Fax: (202)225-4188
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2803
Fax: (202) 224-7327
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Senator Reid,
We write to bring to your attention the importance of accurately accounting for carbon dioxide emissions from bioenergy in any law or regulation designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy use. Proper accounting can enable bioenergy to contribute to greenhouse gas reductions; improper accounting can lead to increases in greenhouse gas emissions both domestically and internationally.
Replacement of fossil fuels with bioenergy does not directly stop carbon dioxide emissions from tailpipes or smokestacks. Although fossil fuel emissions are reduced or eliminated, the combustion of biomass replaces fossil emissions with its own emissions (which may even be higher per unit of energy because of the lower energy to carbon ratio of biomass). Bioenergy can reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide if land and plants are managed to take up additional carbon dioxide beyond what they would absorb without bioenergy. Alternatively, bioenergy can use some vegetative residues that would otherwise decompose and release carbon to the atmosphere rapidly. Whether land and plants sequester additional carbon to offset emissions from burning the biomass depends on changes both in the rates of plant growth and in the carbon storage in plants and soils. For example, planting fast-growing energy crops on otherwise unproductive land leads to additional carbon absorption by plants that offsets emissions from their use for energy without displacing carbon storage in plants and soils. On the other hand, clearing or cutting forests for energy, either to burn trees directly in power plants or to replace forests with bioenergy crops, has the net effect of releasing otherwise sequestered carbon into the atmosphere, just like the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. That creates a carbon debt, may reduce ongoing carbon uptake by the forest, and as a result may increase net greenhouse gas emissions for an extended time period and thereby undercut greenhouse gas reductions needed over the next several decades1
Many international treaties and domestic laws and bills account for bioenergy incorrectly by treating all bioenergy as causing a 100% reduction in emissions regardless of the source of the biomass. They perpetuate this error by exempting carbon dioxide from bioenergy from national emissions limits or from domestic requirements to hold allowances for energy emissions. Most renewable energy standards for electric utilities have the same effect because bioenergy is viewed as a renewable energy even when the biomass does not eliminate or even reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This general approach .
1 J. Fargione, J. Hill, Tilman D., Polasky S., Hawthorne P (2008), Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt, Science 319:1235-1238
appears to be based on a misunderstanding of IPCC guidance2
U.S. laws will also influence world treatment of bioenergy. A number of studies in distinguished journals have estimated that globally improper accounting of bioenergy could lead to large-scale clearing of the world’s forests. Under some scenarios, this approach could eliminate most of the expected greenhouse gas reductions during the next several decades.
3
The lesson is that any legal measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must include a system to differentiate emissions from bioenergy based on the source of the biomass. The National Academy of Sciences has estimated significant potential energy production from the right sources of biomass.
4
Sincerely, . Proper accounting will provide incentives for these sources of bioenergy.
2 T.D. Searchinger, S.P. Hamburg, J.Melillo, W. Chameides, P.Havlik, D.M. Kammen, G.E. Likens, R. N. Lubowski, M. Obersteiner, M. Oppenheimer, G. P. Robertson, W.H. Schlesinger, G.D. Tilman (2009), Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error, Science 326:527-528
3 E.g., J.M. Mellillo, J.M. Reilly, D.W. Kicklighter, A.C. Gurgel, T.W. Cronin, S. Patsev, B.S. Felzer, X. Wang, C.A. Schlosser (2009), Indirect Emissions from Biofuels: How Important?, Science 326:1397-1399; Marshall Wise, Katherine Calvin, Allison Thomson, Leon Clarke, Benjamin Bond-Lamberty, Ronald Sands, Steven J. Smith, Anthony Janetos, James Edmonds (2009), Implications of Limiting CO2 Concentrations for Land Use and Energy, Science 324:1183-1186
4 National Research Council (2009), Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass: Technological Status, Costs, and Environmental Impacts (National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.)
William H. Schlesinger (Member, National Academy of Sciences)
President
(Past President, Ecological Society of America)
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Millbrook, New York
Michael Allen
Director of the Center for Conservation Biology
Chair of the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology
University of California, Riverside
Riverside, California
Viney P. Aneja
Professor Air Quality
Professor Environmental Technology
Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
Gary W. Barrett
Eugene P. Odum Chair of Ecology
Odum School of Ecology
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia
Mark Battle
Associate Professor
Physics & Astronomy
Bowdoin College
Brunswick, Maine
Sharon Billings
Associate Professor
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Kansas Biological Survey
Lawrence, Kansas
Mark A. Bradford Assistant Professor of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Yale University
Donald Kennedy
(Member, National Academy of Sciences)
Bing Professor Environmental Science and Policy
President, Emeritus
Stanford University
Stanford, California
New Haven, Connecticut
Phil Camill
Rusack Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
Earth and Oceanographic Science Director,
Environmental Studies
Bowdoin College
Brunswick, Maine
Elliott Campbell
Assistant Professor School of Engineering & Sierra Nevada Research Institute
University of California, Merced
Merced, California
Joseph Craine
Assistant Professor
Division of Biology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas
Stephen R. Carpenter
(Member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences)
Director and Professor
(Past President, Ecological Society of America)
Center for Limnology
University of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin
Sallie (Penny) Chisholm
(Member, National Academy of Sciences) Martin Professor of Environmental Studies
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Eric Chivian
(Shared 1985, Nobel Peace Prize) Director Center for Health and the Global Environment Harvard Medical School Cambridge, Massachusetts
Norm Christensen
(Past President, Ecological Society America)
Professor of Ecology
Nicholas School of the Environment
Duke University
Durham, North Carolina
James S. Clark
Hugo Blomquist Professor
Nicholas School of the Environment/Dept Biology
Duke University
Durham, North Carolina
Jon Cole
Distinguished Senior Scientist and G.E. Hutchinson Chair
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Millbrook, New York.
Gretchen C. Daily
(Member, National Academy of Sciences) Stanford University Stanford, California
Frank P. Day
Professor of Biological Sciences and Eminent Scholar
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, Virginia
Seth DeBolt
Assistant Professor
Horticulture Department
University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Evan H. DeLucia
G. William Arends Professor of Integrative Biology & Director,
School of Integrative Biology
University of Illinois
Urbana, Illinois
Samir Doshi
Gund Institute for Ecological Economics
University of Vermont
Burlington, Vermont
Dr. Charles T. Driscoll
(Member, National Academy of Engineering)
University Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York
Paul R. Ehrlich
(Member, National Academy of Sciences)
Bing Professor of Biology and
President, Center for Conservation Biology
Stanford University,
Stanford, California
James Ehleringer
Distinguished Professor of Biology
Director, Global Change and Ecosystem Center
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
Erle C. Ellis
Associate Professor
Department of Geography & Environmental Systems
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Baltimore, Maryland
Paul R. Epstein, M.D. Associate Director Center for Health and the Global Environment Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts
Paul Falkowski
(Member of the National Academy of Sciences)
Board of Governors' Professor
Marine, Earth and Planetary Sciences
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Adrien Finzi Associate Professor Department of Biology Boston University Boston, Massachusetts
Andrew J. Friedland
The Richard and Jane Pearl Professor in Environmental Studies
Chair, Environmental Studies Program
Dartmouth College
Hanover, New Hampshire
James N. Galloway
Department of Environmental Sciences
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia
Frank S. Gilliam Department of Biological Sciences Marshall University Huntington, West Virginia
Christine L. Goodale
Assistant Professor
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York
Nancy B. Grimm
(Past President, Ecological Society America) Professor,
Department of Biology
Arizona State University
Phoenix, Arizona
Peter M. Groffman
Senior Scientist
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Millbrook, New York
Nick M. Haddad
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
Charles A.S. Hall
College of Environmental Science and Forestry
State University of New York
Syracuse New York
John Harte
Professor of Ecosystem Sciences
Energy and Resources Group
University of California
Berkeley, California
Harold Hemond
W. E. Leonhard Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Sarah Hobbie
Associate Professor
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Kirsten Hofmockel
Department of Ecology, Evolution, & Organismal Biology
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa
R.A. Houghton
Deputy Director and Senior Scientist Woods Hole Research Center Falmouth, Massachusetts
Benjamin Houlton
Assistant Professor, Terrestrial Biogeochemistry
Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
University of California at Davis
Davis, California
Robert W. Howarth
David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York
A. Hope Jahren
Department of Geology & Geophysics
University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii
Dan Janzen
DiMaura Professor of Conservation Biology
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Daniel Kammen
Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy Professor in the Energy and Resources Group
and in the Goldman School of Public Policy
Director, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California
William S. Keeton
Associate Professor
Center for Natural Resources
Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
University of Vermont
Burlington, Vermont
Thomas H. Kunz
Professor and Director
Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology
Department of Biology
Boston University
Boston, Massachusetts
Beverly Law
Professor, Global Change Forest Science
Department of Forest Ecosystems & Society
College of Forestry
Oregon State University
Corvallis, Oregon
John Lichter
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Bowdoin College
Brunswick, Maine
Gene E. Likens
(Member, National Academy of Sciences)
Distinguished Senior Scientist
(Past President, Ecological Society America)
Founding President, Emeritus (Recipient, 2005, National Medal of Science)
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Millbrook, New York
Thomas Lovejoy
Heinz Center Biodiversity Chair
Heinz Center for Environment
Washington, D.C.
Daniel Markewitz Associate Professor Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources University of Georgia Athens, Georgia
Roz Naylor
Professor, Environmental Earth Science;
William Wrigley Senior Fellow, and
Director, Program on Food Security and the Environment
Stanford University
Stanford, California
Jason Neff
Associate Professor
Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, Colorado
Michael O’Hare
Professor of Public Policy
Goldman School of Public Policy
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, California
Scott Ollinger Associate Professor of Natural Resources Complex Systems Research Center Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space University of New Hampshire Durham, New Hampshire
Michael Oppenheimer
Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs
Woodrow Wilson School
Princeton University
Princeton, New Jersey
Margaret A. Palmer
Professor and Director
Chesapeake Biological Lab
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland
Todd Palmer
Department of Biology
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Richard P. Phillips
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana
Stuart Pimm
Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology
Nicholas School of the Environment
Duke University
Durham, North Carolina
Jennifer S. Powers
Assistant Professor
Department of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
James W. Raich
Professor
Department of Ecology, Evolution & Organismal Biology
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa
Chantal D Reid
Assistant Professor of the Practice
Department of Biology and
Nicholas School of the Environment
Duke University
Durham, North Carolina
William A. Reiners
Professor of Botany and
J.E. Warren Professor of Energy and Environment
University of Wyoming
Laramie, Wyoming
Heather Reynolds
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Indiana University
Bloomington Indiana
G. Philip Robertson University Distinguished Professor W.K. Kellogg Biological Station and Department of Crop and Soil Sciences Michigan State University Hickory Corners, Michigan
Steve Running
Regents Professor and Director,
Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group
Department of Ecosystem Sciences
University of Montana
Missoula, Montana
Lee Schipper
Project Scientist
Global Metropolitan Studies
UC Berkeley
And Senior Research Engineer
Precourt Energy Efficiency Center
Stanford University
Stephen H. Schneider (Member, National Academy of Sciences) Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for
Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, Professor, Department of Biology and Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment
Stanford University
Stanford, California
H.H. Shugart
W.W. Corcoran Professor
Department of Environmental Sciences
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia
Kirk R. Smith (Member, National Academy of Sciences)
Professor of Global Environmental Health
Director, Global Health and Environment Program
School of Public Health
University of California
Berkeley, California
Stanley D. Smith Associate Vice President for Research Professor of Life Sciences University of Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada
Robert Socolow
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Director of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative
Princeton University
Princeton, New Jersey
John Sperry
Professor
Biology Department
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
Dan Sperling
Professor and Director
Institute of Transportation Studies
University of California
Davis, California
Jennifer L. Tank
Galla Associate Professor of Ecology
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana
Pamela Templer
Assistant Professor
Boston University
Boston, Massachusetts
John Terborgh
(Member, National Academy of Sciences)
Nicholas School of the Environment
Duke University
Durham, North Carolina
Thomas P. Tomich
W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems
Director, UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute
Director, UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
Professor of Community Development, Environmental Science & Policy
University of California
Davis, California
Alan R. Townsend
Professor, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Director, Environmental Studies Program
University of Colorado
Boulder, Colorado
Ross A. Virginia
Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science
Director, Institute of Arctic Studies
Dartmouth College
Hanover, New Hampshire
Diana H. Wall
(Past President, Ecological Society of America)
University Distinguished Professor
Director, School of Global Environmental Sustainability
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado
Matthew Wallenstein
Research Scientist Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado
Thomas R. Wentworth
Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor of Plant Biology
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
Donald R. Zak
Burton V. Barnes Collegiate Professor of Ecology
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Cc: Carol Browner, White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy
Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency
Steven Chu, Ph.D, Department of Energy
John Holdren, Ph.D, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology


Here is what we say: Biofuel/biofuel digest-worldwide.

Reaction from the Natural Resources Defense Council

Nathanael Greene, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, commented: “Today a group of leading scientists from across the country sent a letter to congressional leaders and Obama officials urging them to carefully count the carbon from biomass burned for energy as part of a comprehensive climate bill or any other legislation or regulation.
The American Power Act (APA) proposed by Senators Kerry and Lieberman provides a solid framework for reducing our global warming pollution and investing in a cleaner economy. Unfortunately, as proposed, the bill would turn a blind eye towards emissions from biomass combustion, threatening to significantly undermine the bills carbon reduction goals. (For some basic thoughts on how the bill should be amended see this fact sheet put out by NRDC and other groups after the House climate bill passed.)

I did a little video late last year explaining the fundamental flaw in the approach that the APA would take. The letter from the scientists puts it clearly: Replacement of fossil fuels with bioenergy does not directly stop carbon dioxide emissions from tailpipes or smokestacks. Although fossil fuel emissions are reduced or eliminated, the combustion of biomass replaces fossil emissions with its own emissions (which may even be higher per unit of energy because of the lower energy to carbon ratio of biomass). Bioenergy can reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide if land and plants are managed to take up additional carbon dioxide beyond what they would absorb without bioenergy…. On the other hand, clearing or cutting forests for energy, either to burn trees directly in power plants or to replace forests with bioenergy crops, has the net effect of releasing otherwise sequestered carbon into the atmosphere, just like the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. That creates a carbon debt, may reduce ongoing carbon uptake by the forest, and as a result may increase net greenhouse gas emissions for an extended time period and thereby undercut greenhouse gas reductions needed over the next several decades.

The Digest’s take: ”Round up the Usual Suspects.”

The letter was signed by seven members of the National Academy of Sciences and a Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate. and should be taken seriously as a point of view in science, and certainly as a political act.

This letter represents scientists, but does it represent science? Imagine what a country the United States would have turned out to be if every US state ratified a different Constitution.

It was primarily signed by biologists and ecologists and did not include leading scientists noted in the development of bioenergy technologies — such as George Church, Chris Somerville, Bruce Dale, Lee Lynd, or Charles Wyman to cite a few examples. A letter signed by a more inclusive group of scientists would have done more to dispel the sense that this letter represents a narrowly-held view within the scientific community, rather than consensus, and consensus must be the basis of any renewable energy policy which would provide any of the benefits of policy stability that renewables as a sector unequivocally require.

Give me Liberty or Give me Death: Give Us Unity or We’ll Face Dearth

The Digest urgently calls on its friends in the scientific community, through the National Academy of Sciences, or other appropriate vehicles, to develop a point of view which can be generally said to be representative of a broad scientific consensus. We have seen what a lack of consensus can do to side-track the discussion of climate change.

Whatever the consensus is, let the chips fall where they may.

Renewable energy needs stability, not a series of partisan letters from open side of the table that can be expected to be answered with a parallel set of letters from the other. That’s ping-pong, not policy, and the time for games has long since passed.

Here at Biofuel, we believe that we are capable to go green and in one big leap will support the world go green and efficiently support and supply the needed commodity The fuel...that is Biofuel for blend or pure! Beside we are cleaning the tons of trash laid down by 200 years of fossil fuel. A group of scientist from that corner of the world cannot ultimately turn down biofuel..we further emphasis that panel of scientists from all arena will have to give in their grip on Biofuel. Besides, Biofuel is a wheel that is at your disposal to steer the course unlike fossil fuel.


Responses

millercs | May 25, 2010 | Reply

I am amazed at the fossil thinking of these “scientists.”

1) There is a fundamental difference to the carbon content of the atmosphere between using fossil carbon and biogenic carbon sources. Fossil carbon combustion adds GHG that was never part of the carbon cycle before – carbon positive. Biogenic carbon combustion simply recycles that which is already in the atmosphere – carbon neutral.

2) GHG emissions is only one scientific reason for replacing fossil fuels with biogenic. Others include: fossil is not renewable (biogenic is); fossil distillation is getting more toxic (biogenic is getting cleaner); direct fossil land and water use change is severely impacting ecology (i.e., oilspills and tar sands); bioenergy conversion facilities will provide env. clean-up and funding for timberland thinnings, hurricane knockdown, flood demolition, invasive species control, landfill mitigation, etc.

This doesn’t even begin to cover the environment, pollution, and biodiversity costs of present and future strategic commodity resource wars like Iraq.
Someone needs to rethink their carbon accounting.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Algae-Lemna: Biofuel Briefs


Lemna, (top)this possibly have dynamics to be potential energy feedstock. Once cuased havoc in swamps of China specially Taihu Lake in Wuxi city of PR China due to its high photosynthetic efficiency and high adaptations. (right) The algae bioreactor, a mechanism that can go tons per day production bringing the algae biofuel world closer to reality.

While algae has reemerged from 2008 which has been year of algae, 2010 seem to capture more interesting private patented interest and results already look promising with bioreactor/photobioreactor microalgae cultivation. The multi-enduse algae can be used intensively as fuel,medicinal or food based.

Feature: Biofuels: a sea change
Energy, water and food resources are interconnected and in increasing demand worldwide. Scientists at the University of Texas note nearly 1 billion people worldwide are near starvation, nearly 1 billion do not have adequate freshwater, and more than 2 billion people do not have proper sanitation. Systems models and dynamics demonstrate key interdependencies between energy, water and food. For example, increases in wastewater and sanitation industrialisation place greater demands on energy use. Similarly, increasing food production for global population growth creates greater demands for energy and freshwater – two commodities in increasing in demand and limited supply. How can aquatic feedstock systems help to solve these interconnected energy, food, fuel challenges? One solution is emerging from salt-tolerant feedstocks such as seaweed, sea asparagus, algae, and lemna, that can grow in brackish water, saltwater and desert areas, saving freshwater and arable land for vital resources.




Producer News

In Texas, attorney Jon Jaworski, "the Grease Lawyer," was one of the subjects of a look from popular business website Minyanville.com at the phenomenon of grease theft. "I had a guy who was paid with a bottle of vodka and a couple cartons of cigarettes to steal grease," Jaworski told Minyanville.

In California, energy crop company Ceres and Novozymes, the world's largest enzyme provider, have entered a research collaboration to co-develop customized plant varieties and enzyme cocktails for the production of cellulosic biofuel. Ceres and Novozymes will initially work on switchgrass and will move to similar evaluations of sweet sorghum.

"It's the Enzymes, Dr. Watson," writes Digest columnist Dr. Rosalie Lober in a column examining the tie-up between Novozymes and Ceres, looking at the Bioenergy PROFITS Principle: "Position Only for Growth"."What are some of the ways that successful companies position for growth in all industries and particularly in the bioenergy space. Know your customer's business. Provide new and different solutions," adds Dr. Lober.
In India, Farm Minister Sharad Pawar told Business Week that the country will increase ethanol production in anticipation of a bumper sugarcane crop, as an additional market that will keep the global price of sugar from collapsing. "Instead of producing other products, the industry should make more of ethanol," Pawar told the newsweekly.

In Pakistan, Minister for Population Welfare Punjab Neelam Jabbar Ch. told Online News that Pakistan is making strides to increase production of biodiesel and ethanol, as a hedge against oil price volatility. The Minister also said that a domestic production of renewable energy would conserve the country's foreign currency reserves.

US petrol refiner Sunoco’s ethanol plant located in New York is expected to come online in the beginning of July this year.

The plant has been undergoing repairs for almost six months in order to get it to operate at its full capacity of 100 million gallons of ethanol a year.

Sunoco purchased the ethanol plant for $8.5 million (€10 million) in June last year after it was closed when previous owner Northeast Biofuels filed for bankruptcy. At the time of sale Sunoco said that it expected to spend in the region of $10 million to upgrade the plant.

Pilot plant launched in Finland
based process technologies and production solutions, has launched a pilot plant in Oulu, northern Finland.

The $24.4 million (€19.7 million) biorefinery will produce a daily supply of 68 tonnes of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural waste and waste paper.

The facility will also be used to test raw materials for the production of small amounts of bioethanol, biochemicals and papermaking fibres.

The technology the company will use to create bioethanol is called formicobio, which, Chempolis says, can be licensed based on customer demand.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Oil spill-Biofuel go!




Here is one tragic reason why Biofuel will be pushed further (from newswire).

A month into gulf spill disaster, major questions linger
Thursday marks a month since the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform that killed 11 oil workers and unleashed a still-spewing torrent of oil from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. As the first blanket of oil comes ashore on the Louisiana wetlands, questions linger about the spill and its impact. Here's a rundown of issues that inquiries into the disaster have yet to resolve:
How much oil has leaked?
BP initially estimated that the well was pumping about 42,000 gallons daily (from three different leaks) into the gulf. A few days later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued an estimate of five times that.
Scientists examining satellite photos showing the reach of the spill contended that NOAA's estimate should be increased another fivefold— to about 1 million gallons a day.
[Raw video: Coast Guard burns gas from BP well]
As conflicting estimates continued to surface, scientists pushed for the release of BP's underwater video footage of the leak at its source — a request the company stonewalled for weeks (theories seeking to explain BP's reluctance abound, and almost all of them tilt toward the dastardly). Last week, BP finally released a 30-second snippet of footage — thereby furnishing evidence that the spill was much worse than most investigators had assumed, pumping as much as 70,000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf. At that rate, the well was releasing the same amount of oil lost during the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster during a four-day span.
Scientists who study the impact of old spills have faulted the Obama administration for not releasing more information about the gulf disaster — and for failing to compel BP to supply the material for a more timely and accurate assessment . Rick Steiner, a marine biologist who worked on the aftermath of the Valdez spill, told the New York Times that "a vast ecosystem is being exposed to contaminants right now, and nobody's watching it. That seems to me like a catastrophic failure on the part of NOAA."
[Slide show: Giant tar blobs wash ashore]
Earlier this week, BP released some additional video footage that seemed to give a clearer and more sustained picture of the rate of flow from the broken well. Once these images — obtained after more prodding on Capitol Hill from Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and other lawmakers — are analyzed, they may spur another sharp rise in estimates, since they show that the smallest of the three leaks is spewing oil at a much greater volume than previously thought.
All of which is to say that even a month into the disaster, the true scale of the leakage is still unknown. The key to arriving at a reliable estimate, experts say, is to monitor video footage of the leak site for several hours straight to establish the rate of flow from the broken well.
What's the likely fallout of the spill?
This, too, is still largely a matter of conjecture — though as with the oil-leak guessing game, there's little cause to believe that the final answer will be remotely encouraging. With Thursday's landfall in the wetlands off Louisiana's Gulf Coast, the enormous stakes of the catastrophe are starting to sink in for the land-based natural and social order in the spill's path.
[Slide show: Animals bear brunt of oil spill]
Area wildlife has taken a hit: 156 sea turtles, 12 bottlenose dolphins and 23 oiled birds have been found dead since the oil began leaking and since millions of gallons of chemical dispersants — which pose environmental hazards of their own — have been dumped into the gulf to contain it. NOAA Fisheries Director Steve Murawski, commenting Wednesday on the first wave of wildlife deaths, noted that these numbers probably represent a small fraction of the devastation in marine life habitats.
"The impacts are difficult to detect offshore because the area is difficult to observe," Murawski told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "But the long-term impacts of this event are likely to express themselves for years to come."
Forecasters also say that the spill's reach will spread far beyond the Louisiana coast. It already appears to be bound for the Florida coast, and from there, may well move up the Eastern Seaboard in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, giant plumes of oxygen-sucking oil lurk far beneath the surface.
[Video: Oil enters the loop current]
This paints an exceedingly grim picture of the prospects ahead for people in the gulf region who earn their livelihoods from the water — everyone from commercial fishermen and seafood wholesalers to workers in the regional tourist industry. On Tuesday, the federal government closed off one-fifth of the gulf to fishing. That area is sure to expand with the scale of the leak — and no one can be sure when these waters will again be able to safely accommodate fishing and other human activities, especially since the life of the leak may extend for years.
The leak may well wreak some long-term havoc on the existing model for federal regulation of the offshore oil industry — and will almost certainly produce some long-term legal fallout. Observers expect that several executives from the companies involved in the spill — BP; Transocean, which leased the rig to BP; and Halliburton, a contractor on the rig — could face criminal charges. On Wednesday, the White House announced plans to split into three parts the agency that oversees offshore drilling.
The political climate surrounding offshore drilling will probably also change dramatically. In March, President Obama announced that the White House would reverse a longstanding ban on offshore drilling off the Eastern U.S. Commentators hailed the move at the time as politically savvy, but it now looks like a nonstarter at best — and a colossal miscue at worst. In the wake of the spill, public opinion is shifting sharply on the question of expanded drilling. Now doubts are being raised over pending plans to to increase drilling off California and in the Arctic, as well as in the Atlantic corridor opened up under the new White House policy.
Who's to blame?
In recent Capitol Hill testimony, executives at BP, Transocean and Halliburton muddied the question of ultimate accountability for the disaster. President Obama called their performance a "ridiculous spectacle." But more dispassionate accounts of the April 20 explosion that destroyed the underwater well are starting to emerge.
A "60 Minutes" report that aired this past Sunday interviewed a survivor of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and verified that crewmembers had either ignored or insufficiently addressed serious safety concerns on the rig as BP executives pressed them to drill down faster into Earth's core to reach the oil. Based on that survivor's account, Bob Bea, an engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley that BP clearly bore chief responsibility for the disaster.

Where will biofuel stop?




Photos and realities speak better than thousand words.

It seems some people seem to forget that fuel is part of the blood of human today. Blood keeps flowing keeps body alive, fuel keep flowing keeps world going and human live is interwined arround fuel.However, the good all days of fossil fuel which were abundant and thus cheap are marked for the reason that millions of tons of pollution at in terms of carbon dioxide is realesed into atmosphere at daily basis. The climate scientists have better idea to argue here,thus the valididty of biofuel as an alternative way to go has long been embraced. Two way forward, firstly food based and secondly non-food based. The former is subjected further scrutinity given the addtional 800 million people increase per year,meaning increased agriculture,space and demand is proportional linear.
The second item, that is the neone food based has been riggidly addressed as a way to go. Some of these are algae,jatropha, waste to bioeenergy opportunities (biometahen,biohydrogen,syngas etc...).

Algae has gone through a very rapid study and developement with target reaching with in the next ten years in fact some have alreaady pu within the door step in terms of full commercialization.
Just when early-stage companies like Algenol have partnered up with Valero, Dow and Linde; PetroAlgae with Indian Oil; Martek with BP; Synthetic Genomics with ExxonMobil; Solazyme with Chevron; and Sapphire Energy continuing to attract a stream of senior execs from BP, Ex-Im Bank and elsewhere, it’s been starting to feel like the algae biofuels movement has grown into an industry.

It also might appear to readers that the “wild, wild wet” period is over, that innovation will increasingly focus on a handful of companies as they pursue cost parity and scale.

Partly true: the leaders in the algae biofuels space have made screaming progress with strategic investors and developing their commercial-scale strategies and technologies.

I doubt if the Clinton Administration foresaw, in 1996 when they shut down the Aquatic Species program, that 2010 would see virtually every oil major tied up in the algae race, the Navy placing fuel orders, several airlines testing algal biofuels, and Sapphire laying down a vision to reach 1 billion gallons in production, all by its onesy, by 2025.

But wait, there’s more

However, in the tradition of Ginzu knife infomercials – “But wait, there’s more!”

A whole passel of algae companies and ventures are still entering the marketplace, and the Digest today, in Top Story, is dedicated to highlighting just a few of the new. Some of these – in the grand tradition of algal development – are coming out with claims that make you get out your Cliff Notes version of the Laws of Thermodynamics.

But all of them make you marvel at the creativity and persistent entrepreneurship of it all. Bold, brash, brainy – algae has it all. here are some updates on companies from the Wild, Wild Wet.

7 Brides for 7 Investors

In Kentucky, Alltech announced that it will establish the world’s second largest algae farm in Kentucky, and will announce the location in August. Alltech, primarily known as a nutritional supplements maker, said that the deal for land is still under negotiation, but said that the company believed that its algae operations could realize up to 5,000 gallons per acre.

In Texas, Photon8 CEO Brad Bartilson said that his company’s “Traveling Wave Tube” photobioreactor technology can boost algal growth production rates by 500 percent, has slashed production costs associated with other PBR technologies, and has been genetically modifying its algae to double lipid production. Photon8 is presented at the Algae World Summit earlier this week in San Diego.

In Illinois, students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed an algae biofuels photobioreactor, using a collection of parts including an old Apple G4 CPU tower, an Apple iMac CRT, PVC pipes, a Dell Latitude CPX laptop, acrylic panels, and foam. The project’s goal? Bringing algae biofuel production down to the household level, with the project team estimating that a deployment of the BioGrow technology in around 7 million homes would produce enough biodiesel to replace petroleum as a diesel feedstock. The developers say that their algae can be harvested every three days, and can sell for up to a dollar per gallon – with a proposed central collection system that would transport the algae to a biorefinery for oil extraction and conversion to fuel.

In Wales, Merlin Biodevelopments said that it is using anaerobic digestion to harness electric energy from cow slurry and food waste, to bring down the cost of producing protein-laden algae for food consumption, using a closed PBR system. The company has developed a bench-level project at the Moelyci Environmental Centre in Tregarth. The company said it is capturing waste CO2 from waste, as well, and characterized its operation as a means of producing high-value protenin from low-value land.

In Pennsylvania, Berks County state Representative David Kessler has driven through a $175,000 award for a feasibility study for algal biofuels production — and said that he has been collaborating with Colorado-based Algae at Work as well as two unnamed “multi-billion dollar” companies in Houston and DC on the prospects for biofuels in the Keystone State. The feasibility study is due within five months.

In California, Jose Olivares updated Xconomy’s Bruce Bigelow on progress at the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB). Olivares said that the consortium of more than 20 companies and universities is primarily focused on increasing algae production rates to more than 20 grams per square meter per day, and developing cost-effective water and oil extraction systems. By contrast, a typical US soy farm develops an average of 1 gram of soybeans per square meter per day. The consortium has a three-year budget of $69 million from the DOE and cost-shares from the institutions.

In Missouri, Phycal announced that it is moving out of the lab and into the BioResearch and Development Growth Park at the Danforth Plant Science Center, with a 2800 square foot facility. Phycal, which was co-founded by Dr. Richard Sayre, Director of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Danforth Plant Science Center; Chief Scientist of the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB); and Director of the Center for Advanced Biofuels Systems (CABS). The company is based in Ohio, where it is part of the Logos Energy Group, and is building a pilot project in Hawaii that will open this year.

Why Hawai’i? According to Phycal, “energy costs in Hawai’i are the highest in the United States, and its principal source of electricity is oil-fired plants that consume more than 400 million gallons of petroleum-based fuels annually. Phycal’s system can deliver algal oil at a competitive price for the Hawai’i market.” The company also points to the Hawai’i Clean Energy Initiative, which sets stringent clean energy targets. Successful demonstration and testing of components, system performance, and products will support deployment of a commercial scale farm as soon as 2015.
A whole passel of algae companies and ventures are still entering the marketplace. The Digest Top Story today is dedicated to highlighting just a few of the new. Some of these ventures - in the grand tradition of algal development - come with claims that make you get out your Cliff Notes version of the Laws of Thermodynamics, but all of them cause one to just marvel at the creativity and persistent entrepreneurship of it all.

As they development focuses on other important features such as plant source that can strive with reasonable yield, jatropha has been recently embraced for rapid commercialization due to varieties of features. Camalina,grass species etc..which can give abundance feedstock in shorter time,less fertile regions and sustainable development both short and long term.
Now coming back to the question of where will the biofuel stop, no there is no stop! Biofuel is the essential industry and it will reside side by side with fossil fuel. Blend or pure, there is no leave it.

Biofuel in briefs:

From the Manila Times: "Biofuels should not be viewed as a threat to food security. Instead, it should be considered a boon to the industry if the Brazilian experience is any indication...data from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) negate this misconception as only one percent of the cultivated areas in these countries are used for biofuels crops."

Tyson Foods President and CEO Donnie Smith: "If I'm guessing, E-12 [a 12% blend] will be the highest. Of course, we're hoping there's no change. Grain is down, but look where it's down to. There's a new kind of normal."
International News

In the Netherlands, Avantium announced the launch of its technology platform to produce green building block for materials and fuels, called YXY, on which it will collaborate with NatureWorks and DAF among other organizations. Avantium developed a process to convert biomass directly into furanics, green building blocks for materials and fuels.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance is reporting that global clean energy investment reached $27.3 billion in Q1 2010, up 31% from the Q1 2009, but dropping 13.6% from Q4. Asset-based financing was strongest in China, with $6.5 billion, while the fast-mover was the US, growing from $2.4 billion to $3.5 billion between Q1 '09 and Q1 '10. Last year, biofuels investment reached $44.9 billion for all of 2009.

In Brazil, Reuters is reporting that Bunge is promoting a $100 million investment fund that would be dedicated to agricultural land investments in Brazil. Bunge's management said that the fund would invest in multiple types of crops, but would focus on sugarcane production, noting that domestic demand for Brazilian ethanol has been growing at a rapid pace.
In China, China Integrated Energy (CBEH), announced that it has secured production equipment for its new 50,000 ton biodiesel production facility under construction in Shaanxi. The Company's advanced production technology is estimated to reduce production costs by 20%, and will utilize crop straw, agricultural waste, and organic waste as feedstocks.

In South Africa, ADEPT Airmotive unveiled a light general aviation aircraft, liquid-cooled engine, with advanced electronic engine management, that can operate on biofuels, or LP gas. The 320 horsepower engine was fitted recently in Durban to a SA Ravin 500 light aircraft, where it is expected to significantly reduce lead, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emissions and noise levels.

In Brazil, UNICA reports that ethanol sales in South-Central Brazil rose 17.83 percent in April to 1.85 billion liters (489 million gallons), with hydrous ethanol sales reaching 1.32 billion liters in April in the Brazilian domestic market, up 24 percent over March. Meanwhile, cane crushing reached 30.56 million tons in the second half of April, up 14.47% with total recoverable sugars at 121.38 kg per tone, up 6.6 percent.

In Israel, FuturaGene (LSE: FGN) has received an $85.9 million takeover bid offer from Brazil's Suzano Papel e Celulose (Bovespa: SUZB5), with an offer for $1.30 per share. Suzano Papel, a paper giant in Brazil which owns 750,000 acres of forest land, said that it wishes to enter the biofuels business. FuturaGene develops genetic engineering methods for biofuels feedstocks and other agricultural crops.

In Denmark, Novozymes filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin against Danisco for patent infringement. Novozymes believes that Danisco's alpha-amylase products GC358 and Clearflow AA for the biofuel and starch industries infringe Novozymes' US patent 7,713,723. The suit asks for an injunction against Danisco for breach of patent, but did not specify damages.

In Argentina, the Argentine Renewable Energies Chamber has released its latest study in its State of the Biofuels Industry series, covering the B5 and E5 mandates that began this year. Ethanol and biodiesel highlights, and graphs and tables available via biofuelsdigest.com.
In the Philippines, the Star is reporting that the national government will develop a $5 million, 250 acre, seaweed-based ethanol plant and aquafarm cluster. Sen. Edgardo Angara, speaking with the Star, said that seaweed grows faster than terrestrial crops, has no lignin, absorbs more airborne carbon, requires no pretreatment, and is suited at the Aurora site for up to six harvests per year.

In Germany, Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber confirmed to reporters that the airline will commence a transition to aviation biofuels in 2012. The airline's executive team confirmed that a more specific timeline, including blends, feedstocks and processing technologies/partners, will be released later in the year.

In Singapore, Portelet Asia partner Per Dahlen offers a follow up to his popular Southeast Asia, a Bio-Based Arabia? ."With this story we continue to explore the tremendous potential for 2nd generation biofuels in Southeast Asia by reviewing 25 horsepower tractors and the USD 25bn fuel-subsidies. Both will play a tremendous role in the deployment of second generation biofuels, both in this part of the world, and maybe also on a global scale."
In Peru, the SNV Netherlands Development Corporation released an impact assessment of potential biofuels production. Together with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) the reports looks at sustainable palm and jatropha options in the Peruvian Amazon.

In Switzerland, more than 50 organizations expressed support for the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels after support letters were circulated following the withdrawal of the European Biodiesel Board and eBIO from the organization. "We wish to express our continued support to the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) Secretariat" began one letter from members of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group. The signatories are on view at biofuelsdigest.com.

In the Philippines, the Department of Energy has announced a plant to increase biodiesel blends to 20 percent by 2025, with intermediate steps at 10 percent in 2015, and 15 percent in 2020. The Philippines have an E10 ethanol standard scheduled to take effect in 2011, which increases to E15 in 2015 and E20 by 2020.

Monday, May 10, 2010

PARTNER, FOCUS, SCALE: latest on biofuel world over

Camalina plant


Partner, focus, scale


CEOs lay out the bioenergy challenges, solutions at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference in DC


At the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference in Washington, delegates heard yesterday from C-level executives at Coskata, Cobat Technologies, TMO Renewables, Iogen, Sapphire Energy, PetroAlgae, LS9, SG Biofuels, and Solazyme, as well as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan.

Merrigan noted in her keynote address that a partnership approach to commercializing biofuels was driving USDA's activity within the US Interagency Working Group as well as the partnership in Hawaii with the Department of the Navy to develop solutions that would reduce Hawaii's oil imports, which are the highest by percentage in the nation, as well as developing rural economies.

"I have been in Washington for a long time," observed Merrigan, "and recently we started hearing about a new acronym, USG, and a number of us asked each other, what is that agency? But it actually stands for the United States Government - meaning government-wide projects." crossing over traditional turf barriers to drive innovation.

Among other highlights, PetroAlgae chairman John Scott said that the company is now in discussion with 300 companies in 41 countries regarding licensing its technology. Sapphire Energy president C.J Warner confirmed that it is on track to break ground on its 300-acre pre-commercial facility later this year. Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wofson confirmed that the company is now doing multiple production runs per week in leased fermentation equipment. Joule Unlimited CEO Bill Sims confirmed a target of $30 per barrel oil equivalent and said commercial-scale construction would commence this year.

More highlights from ABLC day 2, including comments from INEOS Bio, LS9, SG Biofuels and more from Sapphire Energy, Joule, Solazyme, and PetroAlgae,at biofuelsdigest.com.

Producer News

In California, EdeniQ announced today the closing of a $12.4 million Series B round of financing led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson. EdeniQ will use the funds to speed deployment of its existing yield enhancement technologies and to further develop its Corn-to-Cellulose Migration (CCM) program, which was recently awarded a $20.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

In California, Cereplast announced that it expects to commercialize its first grade of Cereplast Algae Plastics by the end of the year. Cereplast algae-based resins represent a breakthrough in industry technology and have the potential to replace 50% or more of the petroleum content used in traditional plastic resins.
World Opinion

Domestic Fuel: "Ethanol producers and corn farmers who were hoping for President Obama to make a strong show of support for the ethanol industry when he appeared at a POET plant in Missouri on Wednesday were probably a little disappointed...The entire speech, minus introductions, was only 10 minutes long and most of it was spent talking about the economy."

Digest subscriber Ottar Stensvold: "The carbonic anhydrase enzymes as means of carbon fixation? Carbonic anhydrase is an enzyme that assists rapid inter-conversion of carbon dioxide and water into carbonic acid, protons and bicarbonate ions. They are widespread in nature, being found in animals, plants, and certain bacteria...Since these enzymes are extremely efficient and abundant, there is a fair chance they can be harvested and used in carbon capture.

International News

In Denmark, Novozymes and China's Dacheng Group signed an agreement to expand their cooperation in developing biochemicals derived from biomass and to promote the industrialization of plant-based glycol. At the same time, Novozymes reported that Q1 sales increased by 11 percent and earnings increased by 33 percent over the corresponding period in 2009.

In Canada, Tim Cesarek, managing director in the Organic Growth Group of Waste Management, will join the board of Enerkem following from WM's strategic investment in the cellulosic ethanol pioneer. The company's strategy and goals were reported earlier this week in "Waste Management: Portrait of a Renewable Energy Strategic Investor."

In Indonesia, New World Energy, and Bosch and Siemens Home Appliance Group (BSH) of Germany have partnered on a pilot project to distribute the BSH-manufactured Protos, a stove powered by crude jatropha oil instead of kerosene, the dominant cooking fuel in Indonesia.

Research News

In Belgium, researchers determined that legislation to force the separate collection of organic waste in Europe could realize up to $10 billion in economic benefits. Eunomia, ARCADIS were the authors of the report, "'Assessment of the options to improve the management of bio-waste in the EU," which will support efforts by the European Commission to develop a bio-waste directive by the end of the year.
Camelina Aviation Biofuels Study

1 billion gallons of Camelina biofuel are projected to be produced for the aviation and biodiesel sectors by 2025, creating 25,000 new jobs; producing over $5.5 billion in new revenues and $3.5 billion in new agricultural income for U.S. and Canadian farmers. The projections are contained in "Camelina Aviation Biofuels Market Opportunity and Renewable Energy Strategy Report," released today by Biomass Advisors, the research division of Biofuels Digest.

"Camelina Aviation Biofuels Market Opportunity and Renewable Energy Strategy Report," is 116 pages, and includes more than 60 figures, tables and charts, along with regional crop forecast maps for visualizing business opportunities and planning infrastructure needs. The report is available for a purchase price of $695.

Biofuel doubling!

Biofuel has been gaining ground were fossil fuel failed in terms of environment, pollution and economic benefits. Recent studies indicated very positive linear hike in biofuel production (solid,liquid,gas) from renewable sources such as from minute microbes to macro organism. The rise in Bioethanol,biobuthanol, biogas (methane, hydrogen) biodiesel (methyl esters) derived from waste or plant source has been very rapid across EU states, Asia, Asia Pacific specifically Australia picking up on biofuel mandates, USA, Canada, and the South American regions.

The focus is to blend or pure with fossil fuel given the climatic changes and immediate threat worldover. More recently, the oil spill in is changing the course for more imminient support to go biofuel. The scenario seem likely that biofuel have better positioned itself were fossil fuel was for the past 200 years thus the future look green for developers bringing in immense benefits to people as land will be used directly to support production. Given the technology, science and improvement, most of the word’s wasteland can be turned into useful eco-farm for energy feedstock, now here is the logic, put aside those fears and think from this end, if we are using land to produce food that is consumed in millions of tons per day, would the biofuel reach the same way? I do not see the threat in this newer trend , especially non food plant for biofuel, some examples are Jatropha,camalina,algae and host of other potential source for energy processing. Coffee waste processing to Bioethanol (enzymatic-acid hydrolysis) to fermentation and distillations are feasible approach and can be adequately met. Someone can look at the cost and unit operation involved in oil processing and compare that to biofuel processing and weigh the benefits, that will give a clear picture as a way to go is biofuel. Off course blending is the way to go, biofuel does not necessary have to replace fossil fuel,that will be impossible until such time in the future.
A simple google search for biofuel trends showed that biofuel has taken huge toll since 1995 and doubled in 2009, and 2010 is the year of intense race in biofuel, the coming 2020 is mandated to be the year of algae ‘’2020 algae’’.
Biofuel sustainability is inline with focus, it is believe and strongly convinced that biofuel future is coming out more clearly as the ‘energy-focus’ for every nation.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Research and publications: Waste to bioenergy bioprocessing, a circular system

In our studies, I have been working on converting biowaste to value-added products. Using biological agent like algae such as microalga Chlorella vulgaris, or C. protothecoides have shown very interesting outcome. In these publications (Journal of Microbial Biochemical Technology-US base journal, and Indian journal of Science and Technology, we showed that a digestion-fermenter side by side symbiosis system is likely possible for the follwing bioproducts:

Biomethane was produced at 74% content, digestate residue was cleaned and feed to Chlorella vulgaris which showed optimum growth performance (high algal yield biomass, later we designed feeding mechanism that improved algal oil content/yield that was used for making biodiesel.
The residue digestates as semi solid were assessd as biofertilizer and found of high value for crop production. A backyard eco-farm can be sufficiently supported that feeds agro-waste to the digester for biomethane (the cycle)

Briefly, the study was recommendable becuase the biowaste processing-digester-fermenter (alga cultivation) system was new concept that can be easily produced even at family unit. The family housewhole or backyard farm watse,livestock waste can be converted into more useful energy feedstocks(biomethane,algal oil. The big picture here was algae commercialization involving the population, in other words, algae can be produced and be sold to the processor that makes range of biofuel (biodiesel,bioethnaol,biomethane,biobuthanol). In this way, algae becomes a 'cash crop' for many. Thus the algae 2020 plan (USA) can be easily achieved involing people from the bottom up.

Finally, the use of digested waste in microalgae cultivation using different modes of nutrition (dark/light) conditions proved interesting an art. Cellular lipid content and yield were easily increased with carbon source addition at later state of growth. The circular system proofed feasible.

The two abstracts are pasted here:

Abstract 1
Poultry manure (PM) was decomposed under high and low aeration-agitations and the digestates were supplemented in mixotrophic cultivation of microalga Chlorella vulgaris. High aerobic decomposition was recommended for faster mineralization. The study was conducted to find out the effect of poultry manure digestate (PMD) on cell biomass and lipid yield in C. vulagris. The cultivation were conducted ‘with’ (single and two-stage feeding strategy) and ‘without’ PMD feeding. Cultivation ‘without’ PMD at 120 h, dry cell weight (DCW) of 8.2g/L was reached, by 180 h, lipid yield of 2.1 g/L (45%) was reached. In single-stage of adding varied PMD, at 120 h, DCWs of 8.48, 9.39 and 10.45 g/L were achieved for PMD of 20, 30 and 40 ml/L, respectively. By 180 h, lipid contents were 45, 43 and 40% giving yields of 2.4, 2 and 1.8 g/L, respectively. In two-stage feeding (0-120 h and 120-180 h), at 120 h, DCWs were similar to single-stage but improved when supplementing with 2 g/L glucose reaching DCW of 12.6, 13.14 and 14 g/L achieving lipid yields of 2.9, 3.8 and 4.9 g/L, respectively, after 180 h. The addition of glucose seems to assist nitrogen depletion which in turn resulted in rapid increase in cellular lipid. It was obvious that addition of glucose at stationary phase maybe a novel method to improve lipid yields. The algal biomass PMD dependent accumulation showed that PM is an attractive waste which means that PM is potential waste for algae biofuels.

Keywords: aeration; digestion; digestate; Chlorella vulgaris; poultry manure



Abstract 2:
In this study we developed and tested a sustainable system that produces high-yield outputs of biomethane, biofertilizer and biodiesel. These were achieved by blending of poultry manure (PM), paper pulp and algae waste sludge in co-digestion producing biomethane, digestate filtrated to get semi-solid and aqueous, the former as biofertilizer and latter was used in algal cultivation to enhance algal biomass for biodiesel production. The varied blending of the substrates resulted in carbon/nitrogen ratios (C/N) of 26, 30, 31, 34 and 37 which were assessed for biomethane. C/N 26 resulted in 1045 ml/L/d (74% biomethane content) which was highest yield comparing to other C/N, C/N 30 achieved in similar (1010 ml/L/d) making the C/N range for optimum biomethane for these substrates to range between C/N 26 to 30. In comparison, C/N 31 to 37 achieved lower biomethane yields indicating. Pretreatments of the digestate improve the yields of biomethane in C/N 26 and 30 significantly. We assessed all the digestates from each of the C/N 26,30,31,34 and 37 based on nitrogen mineralization and found C/N 26 to 31 as being nutrients-rich. We filtered the digestate and used in algal supplemental feed and also found that glucose depletion was linearly depleted (as sufficiently used in cell growth) lowest with the nutrients-rich that is C/N 26 to 30.As expected, digestates from C/N 34 and 37 in single-addition failed to yield comparable algal yields then yields from C/N 26, 30 and 31 digestates at 120 h that achieved dry cell weight (DCW) of 7.72, 7.8 and 7.12 g/L respectively. To improve alga biomass yield and enhance cellular lipid content and its final yield, we investigated two-stage supplemental feeding strategy using digestates from C/N 26 and 30. Based on cultivation ‘without’ digestate that showed growth phases, we added digestate at lag-exponential (0-120 h) and stationary (120-180 h) phases. The supplemental feeding resulted in rapid glucose depletion achieving 9 g/L at 120 and reaching lipid yield 3.77 g/L after 180 h. Based on this study, it is conceivable that a circular system using the biowastes discussed or those of the similar nature can develop and constitute a self-supporting sustainable system from waste treatment, biogas to algal biofuel opportunities. The simple approach taken in algal cultivation under the condition studied further showed that microalgae biofuel can be easily promoted and commercialized as a revenue generating back-yard entity for housewhole. The way-forward for microalgae biofuel is to attract and make more population as a fun art.

Keywords: poultry manure, biomethane, biogas, biofertilizer, Chlorella vulgaris, alga biodiesel

Monday, January 18, 2010

Jatropha can soon be another Coffee for PNG if we..............

As being said in my past articles regarding jatropha as being potential crop for PNG sub tropic clime. Its going into being an important cash crop as soon fuel will be derived from it and marketed worldover.

The article from biofuel digest says it all. Coffee was wild tree is africa some 150 years ago then it turned into green Gold in PNG and world over so is jatropha!


The New Jatropha
SG Biofuels parters with Life Technologies to accelerate development timelines by 60 percent; new jatropha high-profit cultivars released this year

In California, jatropha pioneer SG Biofuels announced a strategic alliance with Life Technologies, a provider of innovative life science solutions, to advance the development of Jatropha as a sustainable biofuel.

The partnership will initially include sequencing the Jatropha curcas genome, allowing for the rapid introduction of new traits targeted toward increasing the yield of the oil-producing plant. Life Technologies will also become a strategic partner in SG Biofuels.

In terms of metrics, the Life alliance is expected to reduce the cycle time for bringing new jatropha cultivars to market by 60 percent, from five years to two years.

For newer readers of the Digest, SG represents a new fork in jatropha development. In the 2000s, a number of developers emerged in jatropha, hailing it as a high-yield, stress-tolerant, non-food "wonder crop" that could be grown on fallow and otherwise unproductive land. As the Digest's March 2009 story "The Blunder Crop: a Biofuels Digest special report on jatropha biofuels development," detailed, "things would be going great if they weren't going so badly."

In recent months, jatropha has begun to turn a corner. GEM Biofuels has commenced shipping crude jatropha oil from Madagascar, Mission Bioenergy in Australia has steadied its balance sheet, the aviation industry has embraced jatropha as a near-term candidate for aviation biofuels feedstock and conducted successful flight tests, and now SG's alliance with Life promises to accelerate the next generation of high-profit cultivars.

Of particular interest: SG's announcement from last year that it had identified cold-tolerant jatropha varietals in its collection efforts in Central America. Work on those traits - using SG's existing breeding techniques, now combined with Life's genome sequencing tools - may well expand the geography for jatropha over the next 5-10 years.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Oil reserves going offshore-high price is imminent

Big Oil never wanted to be here, in 4,300 feet of water far out in the Gulf of Mexico, drilling through nearly five miles of rock.

It is an expensive way to look for oil. Chevron Corp. is paying nearly $500,000 a day to the owner of the Clear Leader, one of the world's newest and most powerful drilling rigs. The new well off the coast of Louisiana will connect to a huge platform floating nearby, which cost Chevron $650 million to build. The first phase of this oil-exploration project took more than 10 years and cost $2.7 billion -- with no guarantee it would pay off.

Chevron came here, an hour-long helicopter ride south of New Orleans, because so many of the places it would rather be -- big, easily tapped oil fields close to shore -- have become off-limits. Western oil companies have been kicked out of much of the Middle East in recent decades, had assets seized in Venezuela and seen much of the U.S. roped off because of environmental regulations. Their access in Iran is limited by sanctions, in Russia by curbs on foreign investment, in Iraq by violence.

So, Chevron and other major oil companies are moving ever farther from shore in search of oil. That quest is paying off as these companies discover unexpectedly large quantities of oil -- oil that only they have the technology and financial muscle to find and produce.

In May, the first wells from Chevron's latest Gulf of Mexico project came online. The wells are now pumping 125,000 barrels of oil a day, making the project one of the gulf's biggest producers. In September, BP PLC announced what could be the biggest discovery in the gulf in years: a field that could hold three billion barrels.

Beyond the Gulf of Mexico, companies have announced big finds off the coasts of Brazil and Ghana, leading some experts to suggest the existence of a massive oil reservoir stretching across the Atlantic from Africa to South America. Production from deepwater projects -- those in water at least 1,000 feet deep -- grew by 67%, or by about 2.3 million barrels a day, between 2005 and 2008, according to PFC Energy, a Washington consulting firm.

The discoveries come as many of the giant oil fields of the past century are beginning to dry up, and as some experts are warning that global oil production could soon reach a peak and begin to decline. The new deepwater fields represent a huge and largely untapped source of oil, which could help ease fears that the world won't be able to meet demand for energy, which is expected to grow rapidly in coming years.


For oil companies, the discoveries mean something more: After a decade of retreat, large Western energy companies are taking back the lead in the quest to find oil. "A lot of people can get the very easy oil," says George Kirkland, Chevron's vice chairman. "There's just not a lot of it left."

There are challengers to Big Oil's deepwater dominance. Brazil recently has moved to give a larger share of its offshore oil to its state-run oil company, Petrobras. A handful of smaller companies, such as Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Tullow Oil PLC, have had success offshore, particularly in Ghana, where giants like BP and Exxon Mobil Corp. are now playing catch-up.

The enormous investments of time and money required for such projects have made many experts skeptical that they can ease the long-term pressure on global oil supplies. The scale of the projects means that few smaller companies have the resources to take them on. Devon Energy Corp., an independent producer based in Oklahoma City, recently announced plans to abandon its deepwater-exploration business to focus on less-expensive onshore projects, which is says will produce a better return.

"This is technology capable of going to the moon," says Robin West, chairman of consulting firm PFC Energy, involving "extraordinary uncertainty, immense levels of information processing, staggering amounts of capital."

Offshore drilling is almost as old as the oil industry itself. In the 1890s, companies began prospecting for oil from piers extending off the beach near Santa Barbara, Calif. Gulf Oil drilled the world's first fully offshore well from cedar pilings on a shallow lake near Oil City, La., in 1911.

From there, the industry pushed gradually outward, from the Louisiana bayous in the 1920s into the Gulf of Mexico, where Kerr McGee drilled the first well out of sight of land in 1947.

The push into deeper water has come in the past decade.

"What has enabled us to do that is technology," says David Rainey, BP's head of exploration for the Gulf of Mexico. "We have been pushing the limits of seismic-imaging technology and drilling technology."

Perhaps a bigger reason for the recent emphasis on deepwater exploration is that companies had few other places to go. In the early decades of oil exploration, Western companies were the only ones with the technology to manage big oil projects. But as technology spread and state-run oil companies became more sophisticated, foreign governments have relied less on outside help and have demanded greater control of their own oil resources.

With a few exceptions, state-run companies have largely stayed out of the deep water, with its enormous technical challenges and multibillion-dollar investment requirements. Western companies have steadily pushed farther offshore, not just in the Gulf of Mexico but in places like Nigeria, Malaysia, Norway and Australia.

At the same time, traditional oil fields have begun to dry up. In Mexico, the world's seventh-largest oil producer, daily production has dropped 23% since 2004 as output from its giant Cantarell field fell sharply. Other countries have seen their own, mostly smaller, declines.

Falling output from old fields has stoked fears that world-wide production could be nearing its peak. Global oil reserves -- a measure of oil that has been found but not yet produced -- fell in 2008 for the first time in a decade, according to BP's annual statistical review. Moreover, there are signs demand could soon catch up to supply. Global oil consumption has risen by 5.4 million barrels a day in the past five years, while production has risen by just 4.8 million barrels a day.

Such fears helped drive a rapid run-up in oil prices to nearly $150 a barrel in July 2008. The global recession cooled demand, driving down prices, although many experts expect prices to rise again when the economy recovers. Already, prices have rebounded to about $80 a barrel, from under $35 in December 2008.

Rising prices have spurred offshore exploration. By 2008, about 8% of global oil production came from deepwater fields.

Yet even the biggest deepwater projects aren't enough to put a dent in global supply problems on their own. The world's largest deepwater platform, BP's Thunder Horse in the Gulf of Mexico, produces 250,000 barrels of oil a day, just 0.3% of global consumption.

"These discoveries are changing the debate," says Ed Morse, chief economist for LCM Commodities, a brokerage firm. What remains unclear, he says, is whether the deepwater projects will ensure that new discoveries continue to meet demand.

Many in the industry argue the new fields have expanded the limits of where the industry can find oil, potentially delaying a decline in global production.

"There are vast unexplored areas in deep water, so tremendous opportunities for growth," says Steven Newman, president of Transocean Ltd., which owns the Clear Leader rig.

The push into deeper water hasn't always been smooth sailing. Offshore projects are expensive, time-consuming and prone to failure. Chevron boasts of a 45% exploration overall success rate in recent years, a remarkable run by industry standards, but one that also means the company has spent billions on projects that haven't panned out.

Chevron's successes have outweighed its failures. It was expected to be the fastest-growing big oil company in 2009, as measured by oil production, in large part because of new offshore projects in the Gulf of Mexico and off Brazil. Other companies that have embraced offshore exploration, such as BP, are also seeing big growth, while those that haven't are scrambling.

Exxon, which hasn't emphasized deepwater exploration as much as competitors, recently offered $4 billion for a stake in an oil field off the coast of Ghana.

Chevron made its big offshore bet in the 1990s, when it began buying up leases in the Gulf of Mexico that were in such deep water, the technology didn't yet exist to drill there. Confident that technology would catch up, the company in 1996 bid in and won a U.S. government auction for the right to explore for oil in several areas of the gulf, in hopes that a fraction would turn into producing fields.

Chevron then spent six years analyzing its new holdings, figuring out which were most likely to hold oil. The key tool in its arsenal: seismic imaging, a sonar-like process in which sound waves are shot into the rock, and their echoes are picked up by sensors on the surface.

Adding to the challenge: The oil that Chevron was pursuing lay beneath a thick layer of salt, which disrupts seismic sound waves and blurs the images like a smudge on a camera lens. The company had to analyze the data with supercomputers to clear up that distortion.

The analysis revealed a potentially huge oil reservoir. Even so, Chevron estimated it had only a one-in-eight chance of finding commercial quantities of oil. The only way to know for sure was to drill.

So, in 2002, Chevron spent about $100 million to sink its first well in the field, which came to be known as Tahiti. That well needed to hit a 200-foot-long target from five miles away -- akin to hitting a dart board from a city block away.

"You have to roll the dice, and the dice roll now is north of $100 million," says Gary Luquette, president of Chevron's North American exploration and production division.

Chevron's first Tahiti well struck enough oil to make it worth more drilling to see how big the field might be. By 2005, the company had learned enough to go forward with the project. That required building a 700-foot-tall, 45,000-ton floating oil-production platform, and drilling a half dozen wells to feed oil to it. Tahiti produced its first commercial quantities of oil in May.

On a recent morning, the Clear Leader rolled on the waves 190 miles south of New Orleans, held almost perfectly in place by its satellite-controlled navigation system and six Korean-made engines.

In a cabin on the ship's deck, a team of drillers in coveralls monitored computer terminals as they used joysticks to control a drill bit more than 12,800 feet below. The oil they were targeting lay another 14,000 feet underground -- an easy reach for a ship that can drill down 7.5 miles.

The well is part of a second phase of the Tahiti project, which will require drilling several more wells and expanding the floating platform -- an additional $2 billion in spending, still with no guarantee of success.

Kevin Ricketts, a Chevron engineer who worked on both phases of the Tahiti project, recalled looking up at the massive platform while it was still on shore, and reflecting on how his team's analysis had led to its construction.

"I'd never seen anything that big," Mr. Ricketts said. "I thought, holy moly, our production forecast led to that thing being built. I sure hope we're right."