Thursday, May 22, 2008

Biofuels Reports

Blue Fire Ethanol is betting on the rapid US expansion of cellulosic ethanol over the next 5 years. Officials at Blue Fire say the technology is in place, and it is the financing that is slowing down the revolution.
The company plans to build 10 plants with at least 55 million gpy of capacity in five years throughout the United States to make cellulosic ethanol, the new fuel, Arnold Klann, said by telephone on Wednesday. The feedstocks would include agricultural waste, wood scraps and non-food crops such as switchgrass...Cellulosic has been touted as a fuel that won't raise food prices.. __CheckBiotech
The Tri-Cities of Washington State will host the new biofuel laboratory. The new world-class R&D biofuels lab aims to help speed the movement of biofuels discoveries from the lab to production.
Birgitte Ahring, one of the world's leading researchers in ways to convert biological byproducts like wood debris or wheat straw into ethanol, will head the lab.

She brings with her a string of research contracts, staff members and a $24.3 million grant from the Department of Energy to partner with Pacific Ethanol in the construction a biofuel demonstration plant in Boardman.

The combination - key researchers, partnership with a national laboratory, promising students, first-class facility - is certain to help fulfill the community's vision for higher education.

The new lab's potential has even broader implications for Washington..."The time students spend here will prepare them to drive next-generation bioproducts and biofuels from concept to reality in the marketplace," WSU President Elson Floyd said during the lab's recent dedication...That transfer from research to enterprise promises to benefit the state's agricultural industry by creating new markets and opportunities to diversify. __CheckBiotech
Meanwhile, Italy's Eni industrial conglomerate is moving to join China in the neo-colonialist movement within Africa. Eni plans to develop large palm oil biodiesel plantations in the Congo, and to also develop Congolese oil sands and heavy oil deposits.
Eni has reached agreement for the exploration and exploitation of non-conventional oil in tar sands in Tchikatanga and Tchikatanga-Makola, two areas covering a total of 1790 square km which show 'enormous potential'. According to preliminary studies undertaken on a 100 square km area, recoverable reserves are estimated at between 2,5 billion barrels unrisked and 500 million barrels risked.

The agreement will allow Eni to consolidate its unique skills in tar sands t aking advantage of proprietary Eni Slurry Technology (EST) for improvement of the quality of heavy oils.

The project will also benefit from synergies resulting from the close proximity of the M'Boundi oilfield. Gas associated with oil production in this area can also be used to supply the EST plant and enrich the heavy oil, while achieving the goal of reducing atmospheric emissions under the Kyoto protocol.

The Memorandum of Understanding on the Food Plus Biodiesel project outlines a framework for collaboration in the use of vegetable oils from palm tree cultivation on approximately 70,000 unfarmed hectares in the Niari region, in the North West of the country . This land is expected to produce approximately 340 thousand tons/year of crude palm oil, enough to cover domestic demand for food uses and produce 250,000 tons/year of biodiesel.

The project will employ approximately 10,000 people and will establish a consortium which will cooperate with the best international organisations to optimise agricultural production and development in local communities operating on the basis of the principles of protection of environment and of biodiversity: __Biopact
Africa has many regions that are ideal for bio-energy development. The thing that Africa lacks, is a skilled and trained workforce. That is why Africa always must look outside--to China, Italy, etc--for the leadership, investment, and expertise in developing Africa's rich resources.

So although China's and Italy's involvement may appear to be neo-colonialism, in reality there is no other way large and technically advanced projects can get done in Africa, at this time. We hope that this situation will eventually change.

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