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USDA Announces Investments in Bioenergy Research and Development

In the frame of President Obama’s strategy to spur innovation of clean bioenergy in the United States and reduce dependence on foreign oil, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $25 million to fund research and development of next-generation renewable energy and high-value biobased products from a variety of biomass sources.
Four projects have been selected for funding through USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA):

  • Kansas State University (5 M$) to make the oilseed crop camelina a cost-effective biofuel and bioproduct feedstock - Camelina production will be incorporated into a cropping system with wheat-based crop rotations in Montana and Wyoming;
  • Ohio State University (6.5 M$) for an anaerobic digestion system for the production of liquid transportation fuels and electricity from animal manure, agricultural residues, woody biomass and energy crops - the novel anaerobic digestion system will be integrated with partial oxidation and Fisher-Tropsch technologies to produce gasoline;
  • Ceramatec, Inc. (6.5 M$) for the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to infrastructure-compatible renewable diesel, biolubricants, animal feed and biopower - new hybrids of energy sorghum will be developed, and other biomass resources include switchgrass and forestry residues, the biomass will be converted to hydrocarbons using innovative pretreatment, fermentation and electrochemical technologies;
  • USDA-Agricultural Research Service (6.8 M$) to develop an on-the-farm distributed technology for converting forest residues, horse manure, switchgrass and other perennial grasses into biofuels and high-value specialty chemicals - the process will use a patent-pending unit that will mimic the petroleum industry's catalytic cracking process.

Grant recipients are required to contribute a minimum of 20 percent matching funds for research and development projects and 50 percent matching funds for demonstration projects.

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Results from NRC's 100% biofuel flight reveal reduction in emissions

Results from the world's first flight powered by 100 percent biofuel that met petroleum fuel specifications without blending were released by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).
Information collected in-flight on October 29, 2012 and analyzed by a team of National Research Council experts revealed a 50 percent reduction in aerosol emissions when using ReadiJet® biofuel compared to conventional fuel. Additional tests from the static  engine show a significant reduction in particles (up to 25 percent) and in black carbon emissions (up to 49 percent) compared to conventional fuel. These tests also show comparable engine performance, but an improvement of 1.5 percent in specific fuel consumption during the steady state operations.

Press release

National Research CouncilCanadaOils seeds / Catalytic processR&D 

Paradigm BioAviation to build an aviation fuel facility in Illinois
Paradigm BioAviation announced plans to build a $120 Million facility in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, designed to transform municipal solid waste into green electrical power and alternative liquid fuels for the transportation and aviation industries.
In the project’s first phase, a gasification plant to produce Syngas for use in producing electrical power will be built together with a Materials Recovery Facility, which will process recyclables and a pilot gas to liquids plant capable of handling 15 tons of garbage each day. Construction should start in 2014 for an entry into service in 2015. In a second phase a full scale Gas to Liquids plant will be built, which is projected to come online in 2017.
The plant will create over 700 direct, indirect and induced jobs, produce 5 MWhe of green electrical power and 8 million gallons of alternative liquid fuels.
The partners of the project include, together with PBA, the Illinois State University (for feedstock supply analysis, impact studies and quality control), Hensel Phelps Construction company (for design and construction), Florida and Southern Research Institute (for gasification equipment and gas to liquid technology).
Paradigm BioAviationU.S.AWaste / Fischer-TropschDeployment 

Neste Oil to produce renewable aviation fuel as part of the EU-funded ITAKA project

Neste Oil will produce a total of 4,000 tons of NExBTL renewable aviation fuel as part of the ITAKA (Initiative Towards Sustainable Kerosene for Aviation) project, which has been initiated last November to support the commercialization and use of renewable aviation fuel in Europe. The fuel, processed primarily from sustainably produced Spanish camelina oil, and possibly also used cooking oil, will be certified in accordance with the European Commission-approved RSB certification system.
Rather than aiming for any commercial gain from the project, the members of the consortium will focus on building up common research and test data on the use of renewable aviation fuel, in areas such as logistics and the practical issues related to fueling associated with scheduled flights in Europe.
The 36-month ITAKA project has been granted approx. EUR 10 million of funding under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development. In addition to Neste Oil, the consortium is made up of Airbus, BIOTEHGEN, Camelina Company Espanã, CLH, EADS IW, Embraer, EPFL, MMU, SENASA, RE-CORD, and SkyNRG. Neste Oil’s role in the consortium will be to produce the renewable fuel used in the project.


Neste OilFinlandOleaginous hydroprocessingDemonstration 

Launch of European ITAKA project to support the use of sustainable biofuels in aviation

Funded by the European Union FP7 program, the ITAKA (Initiative Towards sustainable Kerosene for Aviation) project was launched on 1st November 2012.
ITAKA is a collaborative project that will aim at producing sustainable renewable fuel for aviation and at testing its use in existing logistic systems and in normal flight operations in Europe. The project will contribute to the EU Advanced Biofuels Flight Path program, which aims to speed up the commercialization of aviation biofuels in Europe.
As feedstock, ITAKA targets European camelina oil and used cooking oil, in order to meet a minimum of 60% on greenhouse gas emission saving compared to the fossil jetA1. The project aims to certify the entire supply chain of the renewable aviation fuel, based on the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) standard. In addition, the production and use of camelina as a biofuel feedstock will also be assessed with regards to its contribution to food and feed markets and its potential impact on direct and Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC). The research will also evaluate the economic, social and regulatory implications of the large-scale biofuels utilisation in aviation.
Consortium members include companies and research centres in: feedstock production (BIOTEHGEN and Camelina Company España); renewable fuel production (Neste Oil and RE-CORD); fuel logistics (CLH and SkyNRG); air transport (Airbus, EADS IW UK, Embraer and SENASA); and sustainability assessment (EADS IW France, EPFL and MMU).
Senasa; BIOTEHGEN; Camelina Company Esp.; Neste Oil, RE-CORD; CLH, SkyNRG, Airbus, EADS-IW, EmbraerEuropeOleaginous / HydroprocessingDemonstration 

Progress announced for the British Airways and Solena GreenSky London project

Update from British Airways and Solena about their GreenSky London biofuel plant indicates that the project is getting momentum.
GreenSky London has now signed an exclusive option on a site for the facility and consent work for the site has begun. Barclays has been appointed as advisor to explore the optimal funding through export credit agencies and the consortium providing the facility’s key technology functions has also been announced:
  • Solena Fuels Corporation will provide the gasification process and the overall Integrated Biomass to Liquid;
  • Oxford Catalysts Group/Velocys will supply the Fisher-Tropsch (FT) reactors and catalyst;
  • Fluor provides the engineering and design.
In addition, British Airways has confirmed its commitment to purchasing, at “market competitive” prices, the anticipated 50,000 tonnes of jet fuel produced annually by the GreenSky plant for the next 10 years, which equates to around $500 million at today’s price for conventional jet kerosene.
GreenSky London is a flagship project that will see the construction of a state of the art facility that will annually convert approximately 500,000 tonnes of waste normally destined for landfill into 50,000 tonnes of sustainable low carbon jet fuel, 50,000 tonnes of biodiesel, bionaphtha and renewable power.
British Airways, SolenaUnited KingdomWaste BTLDeployment 

US Senate supports military use of aviation biofuels

US Senate voted an amendment to repeal the section 313 of the annual Defense appropriations bill that was prohibiting DOD from procuring alternative fuels if they cost more than their conventional counterparts.
The Committee-passed annual Defense Authorization bill would have blocked efforts to develop a commercial supply of cost-competitive advanced biofuels as detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The House of Representatives passed similar language to the Section 313 language that offered originally in the Armed Services Committee. Passage of the amendment means that the Senate and House will resolve the differences in the respective Defense appropriations bills through a House-Senate conference, where supporters of military aviation biofuels have vowed an all-out effort.


U.S. SenateUSABiofuelsPolicy 

Qatar University reveals progress of aviation biofuels project.

Qatar University (QU) revealed the progress of its groundbreaking research on developing sustainable alternative biofuels for aviation, on the eve of the UN Climate Change Conference COP-18, which opens on November 26. The QU research team and officials gave Roberto Gonzalez, President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) a tour of the facilities.
The university’s project, in collaboration with Qatar Airways and Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) is now into its third year. The aim is to find a way of producing affordable, sustainable biofuels which do not rely on the use of valuable arable land and which can be produced efficiently in the harsh climate of Qatar.
The research team isolated multiple forms of single-celled photosynthetic organisms (cyanobacteria and microalgae) unique to the country, abundant in the waters of Qatar which grow well in the extreme heat, strong sunlight and highly saline waters of Qatar. The team has already scaled up their tests to tanks of 1,500 litres situated outdoors, at QU’s research farm in Al Khor. Tests with 25,000 litres, specially-designed outdoor research ponds are currently being prepared by the team. If successful, a pre-commercialisation pilot plant will be constructed on a much larger scale – 1.5m litres.
Aviation industry has been following the project throughout its stages.
Qatar University, Qatar Airways, Qatar Science and Technology ParkQatarAlgaeR&D 

Aviation Biofuels - IFAD Calls for Sustainable Pro-Poor Development and Small Farmers Engagement in Developing Countries

An international workshop on Sustainable Pro-poor Development of Aviation Biofuels was held in Rome today at Roma Tre University. Supported by The Boeing Company and the Sustainable Pro-poor Development of Aviation Biofuels, the workshop was organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, the Vicariate of Rome, and Roma Tre University.
Panellists looked at the opportunities biofuels present both in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry and employment creation in rural communities. But panellists agreed that many areas need to be addressed before these opportunities become a reality. The choice of the most appropriate technology to be deployed requires a meticulous analysis of local economic, environmental and social conditions.
In this context, a US$12 million initiative to conduct research and development of alternate crops (non-food or multiple use) is being implemented by a consortium with funds mobilized through IFAD. The consortium comprises the World Agroforestry Centre and other partners who are centres of excellence with proven expertise in selected crops. The objective is to explore options for developing competitive, sustainable smallholder-based biofuel production based on underutilized crops capable of growing on land less suitable for food crop production.
In addition, IFAD has financed $4.4 million in other research grants implemented in partnership with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, the Asian Development Bank, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture and others to study the possibility of producing biofuels, for instance, in the greater Mekong Region as well assess the impact on food security and poverty reduction in other developing regions of the world.



Joint venture between Airbus, EADS and ENN in China to develop algae-based jet fuel

Airbus, EADS Innovation Works and the Chinese bio-energy company ENN have signed a memorandum of understanding on algae-based jet fuel during the China International Air Show in Zhuhai. The scope of the collaboration includes an assessment of algae technology, technical qualification of aviation fuels based on algae oil and the promotion of their use for aviation in China.
Established in 2007, ENN is working on the development of biodiesel from microalgae. After a two years’ trial since 2010, ENN has recently established a 5,000 Tons Microalgae-Biodiesel Demonstration Project in Inner Mongolia for recycling use of CO2 from coal-fired power plants and chemical plants as well as bio energy production. Up to now, ENN has announced 70 technologies with proprietary intellectual property rights in the fields of biomass energy, such as light bio-reactor and bio diesel production.
In the initial first phase of the project, the partners will work together on a maturity assessment of algae oil technology, on oil testing and analysis, and on the development of tools to assess the environmental, economic and societal impact of the technology. An objective is after a technical assessment to plan test flights to take place in 2013 using oil supplied by ENN and afterwards look to scale up the alternative fuel production process to achieve sustainable quantities of aviation fuel for flight use.
Airbus will support the necessary fuel tests and qualification activities leading to the deployment of the sustainable alternative fuels for commercial flights and will coordinate the participation of external partners such as engine manufacturers and airlines.

More on Greenaironline

ENN's press release

Airbus, EADS IW, ENNChinaAlgaeR&D 

European Union suspends the inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS

On 12 November 2012, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard has announced that EU was suspending the inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS to and from non-European countries until after the ICAO General Assembly next autumn.
The European Union believes that there is a chance to get an international regulation for addressing international aviation emissions at the next ICAO Assembly in 2012 and wants to deliver a positive gesture for the negotiation. The decision entails that the EU would not require allowances to be surrendered in April 2013 for emissions from flights to and from Europe during the whole of 2012. The EU ETS will however continue to apply to intra-European traffic.
The EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) was established in 2003 and started operation on 1 January 2005 for land based industrial installations. From 1 January 2012 aviation activities of aircraft operators that operate flights arriving at and departing from Community aerodromes were to be included. The decision raised strong opposition from countries including United-States, China and India. The application of the EU ETS to aviation includes an incentive for airlines to use biofuels which qualify for zero emissions provided that they comply with the sustainability criteria of the European Directive for Renewable Energy.

UE press release

European CommissionEuropeBiofuelsPolicy 

Kior opens its first major Wood-to-Oil plant

Kior has announced the opening of its first commercial-scale plant designed to produce gasoline and diesel from cellulosic feedstock. At full capacity, the facility, located in Columbus Mississippi, will transform 500 tons of dry biomass a day in 40,000 gallons of fuel.
The company’s technology uses a catalyst to vaporize biomass, removing the oxygen and condensing the remainder oil that can be refined into cellulosic gasoline, diesel or jet fuel.
Kior is now planning to build a future facility with at least a three times higher production capability.

Kior has not announced yet any production of jet fuel but is engaged with the Pentagon and DOD which have tested their product.


KiorUSAcellulosic / catalyticDeployment 

First civil aircraft flight using neat biofuels

The first flight of a civil jet aircraft powered by a neat biofuel was undertaken on 29th of October by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) from Ottawa International Airport. The flight was achieved in the frame of a cooperation between Applied Research Associates (ARA) and Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and Agrisoma Biosciences Inc., a Canadian firm with a growing presence in the biofuel feedstock market.
The fuel used for the flight has been produced from a non-food oil-seed, from the mustard family, developed by Agrisoma, using the Isoconversion process developed by CLG and ARA. This process combines a catalytic hydrothermolysis process (ARA), which convert plant oil into a crude oil intermediate, with a catalytic upgrade (CLG) to obtain a fully drop-in jet fuel.
Currently, only the hydroprocessed plant oils (known as Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids - HEFA) are approved by ASTM for aviation use but with a maximum blending ratio of 50% with conventional kerosene. This is because hydroprocessed oils do not contain aromatics, a component of conventional jet fuel which is required for compatibility with existing aircrafts and infrastructure. According to ARA and CLG, the Isoconversion process could overcome this limitation.

More on Greenaironline

Agrisoma's press release

Applied Research Associates (ARA), Chevron Lummus Global (CLG), National Research Council of Canada CanadaOils seeds / Catalytic processR&D 
University of North Dakota has been issued an Australian patent based on the noncatalytic cracking of fatty acid-based oils such as crop oils, algae oil, waste cooking oil, and waste animal fats followed by purification and deoxygenation reactions. Products include 100 percent compatible military (JP-8, JP-5) and commercial jet fuel (Jet A), a diesel fuel meeting ASTM diesel no. 1 specifications, military F-76 diesel fuel, and by-product renewable chemicals.
University of North DakotaUSABiofuelsR&D 
A group of engineers, chemists, and economists gathered in Missoula, Montana as part of the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) to discuss plans to turn waste wood into jet fuel.
Northwest Advanced Renewables AllianceUSABiofuelsR&D 
The European Commission has watered down proposals to reduce the indirect climate impact of biofuels. The changes mean that fuel suppliers will not be held accountable for the indirect emissions biofuels cause by displacing food production into new areas, resulting in forest clearance and peatland draining.
European CommissionEuropeBiofuelsPolicy 
Aviation Biofuels Development Conference : technology-ready but needs capex infusion and RIN reforms.
Aviation biofuel producers should be attracting deep-pocketed investors ambitious enough to build the infrastructure necessary to meet a clearly burgeoning industrial-sized demand. Representatives from eight companies presented strong evidence of a sector that has proven various technologies and is beginning to address its feedstock and cost issues according to a recent conference.
Aemetis, A4A, ASTM, Byogy, Primus Green EnergyUSABiofuelsPromotion 
U.S. Navy will continue its efforts to leverage biofuels technology for its ships and aircraft
Despite continued opposition from lawmakers the U.S. Navy will continue its efforts to leverage biofuels technology for its ships and aircraft. Research shows that biofuels will be a viable alternative for fossil fuel between 2018 and 2024.
USA NavyUSABiofuelsPromotion 
Cooperation agreement between BioJet and JATRO
BioJet and JATRO sign collaboration agreement to drive the commercialization of sustainable plant oil and bio-kerosene production. Areas of collaboration include feedstock development and supply, crushing and refining technology solutions, network integration, logistics and funding efforts among others.
JATRO, BioJetGermanyBiofuelsPromotion 
Sinopec and Airbus to develop Chinese alternative aviation fuel
Sinopec and Airbus are developing and promoting renewable aviation fuel production for regular commercial use in China. The certified fuel will be produced by Sinopec using its own technology in a refinery that is one of the few in the world that has the capacity to produce aviation fuel from biomass in large-scale.

Sinopec, AirbusChinaBiofuelsR&D 
Agreements signed by Lufthansa with Solena Fuels and Australian-based Algae.Tec.
Lufthansa has signed agreements with Solena Fuels and Australian-based Algae.Tec to secure new sources of sustainable jet biofuel. Solena has already identified a site for its first production facility in Germany. Algae.Tec’s collaborative deal with Lufthansa involves the construction of a large-scale plant in Europe to produce aviation biofuel from algae.
Lufthansa, Solena, Algae.TecGermanyBiofuelsFuel contract MoU 
Algae.Tec and Lufthansa have signed a Collaboration Agreement for the construction of a large-scale algae to aviation biofuels production facility in Europe adjacent to an industrial CO2 source. Lufthansa will arrange 100% funding for the project and commit to a long-term offtake agreement of at least 50% of the crude oil produced at an agreed price.
AlgaeTec, LufthansaAustraliaBiofuelsFuel contract MoU 
Primus Green Energy Inc., a biofuel company, expects to sign a deal this month to sell natural gas-based jet fuel to a global airline.
Primus Green EnergyUSAAlternative Aviation FuelsR&D 
LanzaTech NZ Ltd. is seeking technology partners to convert steel industry waste into jet fuel for airplanes. The company expects to supply jet fuel to Virgin Atlantic in 2014 for its Shanghai-London and Delhi-London flights.
LanzaTechChinaAlternative Aviation FuelsFuel production 
The Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT) entered a Development Agreement enabling the 10-15 year major biofuel/bioenergy project between CERT, BioJet, and Tartoosh Environmental. The goals of the project are to refine/convert feedstocks to approximately 250 million gallons annually of renewable (bio) jet fuel and diesel and approximately 300 million gallons of synthetic jet or diesel.

Council of Energy Resource Tribes, Biojet, Tartoosh EnvironmentalUSABiofuelsR&D 
Biofuels have the potential to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint by 80% but that works only if the biofuel industry can scale up to commercial production and scale down prices. Airlines' need for cheap, plentiful biofuel is forcing the industry to scale up and individual airlines are hammering out deals with promising biofuel producers.
A British pilot plans to fly a small private plane 10,000 miles from Australia to England powered by a fuel made from plastic waste. The Cessna uses a diesel engine and will make its run on a product manufactured by Cynar Plc. The fuel uses pyrolysis technology to melt down the waste plastics in an oxygen-free, emissions-free process.
Cynar PlcUKAlternative Aviation FuelsTest flight 
SABRTech works to convert lab-grown and harvested microalgae into biofuel for the aviation industry. Aviation industry stakeholders have already taken note and similar technology is already being employed in some jet fuel powering American military aircraft.
US-Germany sign biofuel development accord to strengthen co-operation in a bid to develop sustainability standards - with a focus on feedstocks from non-food crops - and to gain approval for new production methods while expanding the raw materials choice for aviation fuel manufacture.
Germany, USAGermanyBiofuelsPromotion 
AlgaeTec, recently signed a memorandum of understanding with German carrier Lufthansa that triggered joint evaluation of the potential for aviation biofuel to be developed from clear algae oil produced by the Australia-based company.
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