Friday, July 16, 2010

Advanced Biofuels Determined to Win Through

Syntroleum and Tyson Foods have partnered to build a 75 mgy advanced biodiesel plant in Louisiana.
The plant is expected to be cash positive at this commercial scale, and is expected to have a material and sustained advantage in feedstocks costs over soy biodiesel, with chicken fats and waste greases trading in the 25 cents per pound range, compared to the 39 cents per pound range for soybean oil. That’s roughly a $1 per gallon differential in the feedstock costs. Overall, the price differential could rise to as much as $1.50 per gallon compared to conventional biodiesel.

The announcement officially moves advanced biofuels from the “where’s the gallons?” era into the commercial scale-up.

...Tyson’s role: procurement of the feedstocks, using their own resources and their trading network. “Since they routinely acquire huge volumes of palatable, low-cost fats and greases to be mixed into their feeds, they are looking at this project, essentially, as if it is a large feedlot they are supplying,” Stinebaugh added. “They have the logistics, the trading platform, everything we don’t know in the feedstock area. That made it a great partnership, because you have two companies that have complimentary but different strengths and we need each other’s role in order to extract the full value.”

Overall, that’s a heady combination – a drop-in renewable fuel that can be blended with the existing diesel fuels without requiring infrastructure changes. A fuel that does not require a tax credit to be economically viable. Does not require the use of additional land for its production, using instead an existing stream of low-value residues and waste to which it adds a high value. Domestically produced without requiring operations at 5,000 feet below sea level in the Gulf of Mexico. Here now. _BiofuelsDigest


Novozymes is announcing two significant partnerships to develop advanced biofuels.

BP has paid $100 million for Verenium's cellulosic ethanol operation

Multiple breakthroughs in bio-refining will be one topic discussed at the Northeast Biomass Conference and Expo in Boston, on 4-6 August 2010.
... of particular commercial interest is the production of ethyl levulinate, a versatile fuel product that can be blended with heating oil, diesel or gasoline. “It is manufactured by combination of levulinic acid with ethanol,” he said. “The development of a renewable heating oil blending component that can be economically produced and used in the Northeast should be of great commercial interest.” He projected that the process can allow profitable production of heating oil blendstock from wood or agricultural residues for less than two dollars per gallon at large scale. “Ethyl levulinate can be blended directly or co-blended with biodiesel,” Fitzpatrick said.

...“Thirty-seven percent of the energy used in this country comes from crude oil. Ten percent of that is used to manufacture plastics and rubber. We can take that 10 percent and bring it back into the energy stream. That can have a major impact.”

...Also presenting at the NEBCE in Boston is Bernhard Quirbach, who will discuss hydrothermal carbonization and pyrolysis, two systems to get a high-energy output without a very high-energy input, he said. Quirbach’s presentation will show the options of how to use HTC and pyrolysis for a “new biofuel and bioenergy generation,” he said.

... “The genome sequence of the Q microbe shows the presence of over 105 different glycosyl hydrolases, and microarray analysis indicated that the glycosyl hydrolases were induced when the organism was grown in the presence of complex carbohydrates and down-regulated when grown on simple sugars,” he said. “Enzyme titration data has shown that the Q microbe achieves maximal productivity with one-fourth to one-fifth the amount of exogenous enzyme required by Saccharomyces cerevisae.”

Gray said a genetic system has been developed such that specific genes can be deleted or over-expressed in order to improve performance, adding, “this presentation will describe recent progress in strain and process development to meet commercial metrics.” _BiodieselMag

Thermochemical production of advanced biofuels, high value chemicals, and plastics -- from biomass -- will be marginally commercially viable in a few years. But in the long run, there is the microbial fuels darkhorse, moving up from the back of the field, well timed to hit commercial viability around 2020.

First generation biofuels -- such as cane and corn ethanol -- keep getting more efficient, as the cruel logic of the marketplace sifts out the operations that cannot innovate quickly enough to survive. Second generation biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol and enhanced biodiesels (Neste etc) will take up more of the market over the next 10 years.

Government mandates based upon greenhouse gas concerns are "helping" biofuels in the short run, but hurting them in the long run. Everything the government promotes ends up handicapped in some way by the government intervention.

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