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quarta-feira, janeiro 27th, 2010 | Author: admin

The National Laboratory of Science and Technology of Bioethanol (CTBE), just inaugurated in the city of Campinas (State of S. Paulo), on January 22, 2010, will be the coordination center for researches on the production of bioethanol, from the plantation to the development of automotive motors.

CTBE is born from a study conceived in 2007 about the challenges for the production of ethanol in Brazil for the next 15 years.  One of its targets was to answer if it would be possible to multiply by ten - but in a sustainable way - the current production of ethanol, until 2015.  The future amount would be equal to 250 billion annual liters, which should be enough to replace 10% of the gasoline consumed in the planet.

“Many of the identified obstacles demand investments in science to solve them”, says  Marco Aurélio Pinheiro Lima, director of the new laboratory.

CTBE will gather the efforts of public research institutions and private laboratories from the whole country that already work on bioethanol. This wide effort is also the aim of the Research program in Bioenergy  (BIOEN) financed by The State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

The BIOEN Program will support the laboratory infrastructure, explains Prof. Marcos Buckeridge, at University of São Paulo, who is both scientific director of CTBE and coordinator of BIOEN Biomass division.

“We are creating a Brazilian system for bioenergies that will gather the researches of an elite of specialists that are dispersed throughout  the country”, announces Buckeridge.

The laboratory has counted on investments of R$ 69 million, and is already developing researches, many of them with the support of Fapesp, that already invested about of R$ 2 million. Currently with 60 employees, CTBE should hire 170 until 2013.

At the inauguration, the new institution has already signed cooperation agreements with the he Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation  (Embrapa), the London Imperial College (UK)  and the Lund University (Sweden).

Cellulosic ethanol

The efforts of the research of CTBE will be concentrated in the development of the ethanol of second generation, produced from sugarcane cellulose.  Although corresponding to two thirds of the available biomass, sugarcane pulp and straw  are not yet enough used.

Buckeridge explains that breaking the cellulose wall is at the core of research at CTBE. The enzymes that may help in the biological decomposition will thoroughly be studied at the laboratories.

CTBE is neighbour to two other laboratories in Campinas: the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS) and the National Biosciences Laboratory (LNBio). “Be close to these facilities gives us access to cutting edge resources such as the Synchrotron Light ring that helps to unmask the structure of the enzymes, and to specific bioinformatics software developed by LNBio”,  Buckeridge says.  The bioethanol researchers will be able to test their results under industrial structure at CTBE, thus adapting the academic research to the needs of industry.

LNBio, LNLS and CTBE will be coordinated by an the recently-created the National Center of Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM), under the direction of physicist Rogério Cerqueira Leite.

Sugarcane direct planting

Under the agreement with Embrapa, the two institutions will together invest in advanced technology, to guarantee the Brazilian production of sugarcane ethanol. The test for this cooperation will be the direct planting of sugarcane, from North to South of Brazil, believes Geraldo Eugênio de França, Embrapa’s CEO.

Direct planting is a technique of agricultural handling, used mainly in cereals fields, which spares the preparation of soil in the planting. Embrapa already works since more than three decades with this technique that reduces costs, keeps the soil nutrients and uses water in a more rational way.

The Agricultural Program of CTBE will develop studies on agricultural machines and low impact crop mechanization. Sugarcane diseases and reaction to herbicides in humid soil, as in direct planting situation, will be also submitted to research.

CTBE and Embrapa will study the impacts of the direct planting in cane in the most diverse climates, soils, rain volume and field administration. The first experiments should happen in plantations in the State of São Paulo. Then similar tests will be accomplished in other producing areas, such as the Cerrado and the coastal boards of the Northeast.

The collaboration between CTBE and Embrapa may continue in the production of enzymes for the hydrolysis of the cane pulp, biochemistry and physiology of plants, fixation of nitrogen and absorption of CO2 by the plant.

© Webioenergias.com.br , with information by Fapesp and  Embrapa

quarta-feira, janeiro 27th, 2010 | Author: admin

O Laboratório Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia do Bioetanol (CTBE), recém-inaugurado em Campinas (SP), no dia 22 de janeiro de 2010, vai abranger pesquisas relacionadas a todas as etapas de produção do etanol, desde a plantação até o desenvolvimento de motores automotivos.

O CTBE nasceu de um estudo sobre os desafios da produção brasileira de etanol para os próximos 15 anos. Concebido em 2007, o estudo tinha como uma das metas responder se seria possível multiplicar por dez, de forma sustentável, a produção atual de etanol até o ano de 2015. O futuro montante equivaleria a 250 bilhões de litros anuais, o que seria suficiente para substituir 10% da gasolina consumida no planeta, de acordo com o estudo.

“Muitos dos gargalos identificados demandam investimentos em ciência para resolvê-los”, conta o diretor do Laboratório, Marco Aurélio Pinheiro Lima.

O CTBE deverá reunir esforços de instituições de pesquisa de todo o país que atuam no desenvolvimento do bioetanol, inclusive laboratórios da iniciativa privada.  A abrangência dos trabalhos coincide com a do Programa de Pesquisa em Bioenergia (BIOEN) da Fapesp (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo).

O Programa BIOEN da Fapesp deverá contribuir com o laboratório e também se beneficiar da sua infraestrutura, explica o professor da Universidade de São Paulo, Marcos Buckeridge, diretor científico do CTBE e coordenador da divisão de Biomassa do BIOEN. “Está se formando um sistema brasileiro de bioenergia que reunirá os trabalhos de uma elite de especialistas espalhados pelo país”, anuncia.

O laboratório contou com investimentos da ordem de R$ 69 milhões e já possui pesquisas em andamento, muitas delas com o apoio da Fapesp, que já investiu cerca de R$ 2 milhões em trabalhos. Atualmente com 60 empregados, o CTBE espera ter cerca de 170 colaboradores fixos até 2013.

Já na inauguração foram assinados acordos para cooperação em pesquisas entre o CTBE e a Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Embrapa), o Imperial College London, da Inglaterra e a Lund University, da Suécia.

Etanol de celulose

Os esforços da pesquisa do CTBE estarão concentrados no desenvolvimento do etanol de segunda geração, produzido a partir da celulose da cana-de-açúcar. Embora correspondam a dois terços da biomassa disponível, o bagaço e a palha da cana ainda não são suficientemente aproveitadas. Buckeridge explica que no coração dessa pesquisa está o processo de quebra da celulose. Na decomposição biológica essa massa é quebrada com o auxílio de enzimas que poderão ser estudadas a fundo nos laboratórios do CTBE.

Ao lado do novo laboratório funcionam o Laboratório Nacional de Luz Síncrotron (LNLS) e o Laboratório Nacional de Biociências (LNBio). “Estar perto dessas instalações nos dá acesso a recursos de primeira linha como o anel de luz síncrotron, que ajuda desvendar a estrutura das enzimas, e software específico de bioinformática, desenvolvidos pelo LNBio”, exemplifica Buckeridge.

Embora autônomos, o LNBio, o LNLS e o CTBE serão coordenados por uma instância recém-criada pelo governo federal, o Centro Nacional de Pesquisa em Energia e Materiais (CNPEM), que será o físico Rogério Cerqueira Leite como diretor.

Os pesquisadores de bioetanol poderão testar seus resultados em processos industriais no CTBE. O diretor científico do CTBE explica que os pesquisadores deverão interagir com os engenheiros do laboratório e, assim, adaptar a pesquisa acadêmica às necessidades da indústria. Esses testes serão executados em uma miniplanta industrial que está sendo construída e fará parte das instalações do CTBE.

Buckeridge espera promover, a partir de 2011, um megaexperimento em formato de workshop, em que todos os grandes trabalhos de pesquisa em bioetanol possam se apresentar. Um dos objetivos do evento será avaliar e acompanhar o “estado da arte” da pesquisa científica nacional em bioetanol. Além do combustível, os trabalhos deverão desenvolver uma cadeia de subprodutos oriundos da cana-de-açúcar como polímeros e medicamentos, nos moldes do que ocorreu com o desenvolvimento do petróleo. Esses novos materiais devem estabilizar a indústria da cana, que hoje conta com apenas dois produtos principais: etanol e açúcar.

Plantio direto da cana

Segundo o acordo com a Embrapa, as duas instituições assumem o compromisso de, em conjunto, investir em tecnologia avançada, para garantir a produção brasileira de etanol, a partir da cana-de-açúcar e de materiais lignocelulósicos (à base de celulose, como resíduos de cana ou madeira). Um dos desafios da Embrapa Agroenergia, unidade da empresa que tem uma interface muito grande com o CTBE, é tornar mais baixo o custo desse processo, explica o diretor-executivo da Embrapa, Geraldo Eugênio de França.

O diretor da Embrapa, acredita que a união das forças agrícola da Embrapa e industrial do CTBE impulsionará os trabalhos. A Embrapa, o CTBE e as empresas manterão relações mais estreitas. O teste, para o diretor, será o plantio direto da cana-de-açúcar, de Norte a Sul do Brasil.

O plantio direto é uma técnica de manejo agrícola, empregada na cultura de cereais, que dispensa o preparo do solo no plantio. A Embrapa já trabalha há mais de três décadas com este sistema, que reduz custos, conserva os nutrientes do solo e utiliza a água de forma mais racional.

O Programa Agrícola do CTBE estuda formas de implementar o plantio direto na cultura de cana. A tarefa, entretanto, tem alguns desafios tecnológicos significativos, como o desenvolvimento de um maquinário agrícola que reduza o tráfego de máquinas sobre a área plantada.

Para solucionar este gargalo, o CTBE desenvolve o projeto de uma Estrutura de Tráfego Controlado (ETC) que atuará em todo o ciclo agrícola da cana, do plantio à colheita. Segundo o diretor do Programa Agrícola do CTBE Oscar Braunbeck, a ETC deve reduzir a área de terreno trafegada de 60% para 13% e o custo da colheita mecanizada de cana em até 30%. A largura maior do equipamento (9m) também permitirá a mecanização da colheita em terrenos com até 20% de inclinação. Hoje, este número se restringe a 12%.

O Programa Agrícola do CTBE tem uma vertente voltada aos estudos de mecanização de baixo impacto e outra ligada ao ciclo agronômico da cana. Esta última será liderada pela Embrapa. Pesquisadores acompanharão o desempenho agronômico da cana sob o regime de plantio direto com baixo tráfego, em comparação ao plantio convencional. As variedades de cana que melhor se adaptam ao plantio direto o comportamento de doenças e pragas e a reação da planta aos herbicidas em situações de solo úmido também serão objetos de pesquisa.

“Estudaremos os impactos do plantio direto em cana nos mais diversos ambientes, solo, volume de chuva e gestão de campo. Os primeiros ensaios devem ocorrer em cooperação com usinas de cana de São Paulo. Depois realizaremos testes semelhantes em outras regiões produtoras como o Cerrado e os Tabuleiros Costeiros do Nordeste”, explica Eugênio.

A Embrapa também participará da construção da Biorrefinaria Virtual de Cana-de-açúcar (BVC). Esta ferramenta de simulação computacional é elaborada pelo CTBE para comparar a sustentabilidade econômica, social e ambiental de rotas tecnológicas no âmbito de uma biorrefinaria, identificando seu estágio de desenvolvimento e permitindo sua otimização. O desenvolvimento da BVC tem a participação de uma Rede de Instituições (coordenada pelo CTBE). A Embrapa vai coordenar a sub-rede agrícola desta rede.

A colaboração entre o CTBE e Embrapa poderá ter continuidade ainda nas áreas de produção de enzimas para a hidrólise do bagaço de cana, bioquímica e fisiologia de plantas, fixação de nitrogênio e captação de CO2 feita pela planta.

© Webioenergias.com.br , com informações da Agência Fapesp e da Embrapa

quarta-feira, janeiro 27th, 2010 | Author: admin

Germany announced on 20 January that it would cut its subsidies for solar power in line with the rapid take-up of the photovoltaic market. The news follows a similar announcement by France.
With around half of the world’s solar market, Germany is a clear leader in photovoltaic solar technology, but other European countries like Spain, Italy and France have in recent years made attempts to challenge this.

The Renewable Energy Directive set individual targets for EU member states in order to reach a collective 20% share of renewables in total energy consumption by 2020. Each country is free to choose which renewables it promotes.Among the most successful examples of government promotion of solar power are beneficial feed-in tariffs to electricity from renewable sources, which were first adopted in Germany and then followed by others. They aim to help technologies that are  not yet commercially viable to reach grid parity, the point at which they cost the same as fossil fuels.

German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen (CDU) announced that the government was proposing to cut feed-in tariffs for new roof-mounted solar power by 15% from April. Open-field sites and farmland installations would follow in July with 15% and 25% cuts respectively. People who mount solar panels on their rooftops and utilise the energy for personal use would, however, receive higher tariffs.
The environment minister said that the planned cuts were due to the success of the solar sector, which had led to over-subsidisation of the industry. The feed-in tariffs have come under pressure, as the price of solar panels has dropped by around a third due to oversupply in the past year.

But the solar industry warned that the cuts, which will come on top of annual reductions under the German Renewables Act, would lead to job losses. Moreover, concerns were raised about the wider paralysis of the global solar market, which is largely driven by Germany, by far the biggest market in the world.
The Federation of Renewable Energy (BEE) said that coupled with the standard reductions under the Renewables Act, these additional cuts would bring down subsidies by at least a third by early 2011.
“The proposed cut threatens the foundations of the German solar industry and the shift to an age of renewables. If the environment minister wants to implement his ambitious plans to base Germany’s energy supply almost entirely on renewable energy by 2050, he must provide for reliable subsidy conditions instead of spooking investors,” the BEE said in a statement.

France pricks a bubble

France also announced on 13 January that it would cut its feed-in tariffs for rooftop systems by 24%, from 55 euro cents to 42 euro cents per KWh. The move was part of a larger overhaul of renewable subsidies, which also saw adjustments to tariffs for geothermal and biomass plants.

The world’s highest tariff at 58 euro cents per KWh was reserved for panels integrated into residential buildings or hospitals and schools. Other constructions like offices and industrial sites would get lower tariffs: 50 cents for existing buildings and 42 cents for newly-built ones.

The government said the new tariffs “would apply only to new projects” and were aimed at pricking a “speculative bubble” that had been developing in the market since November 2009. Therefore, the government said it would not accept applications handed in by generators after 1 November if they had not already applied for a grid connection. They could reapply under the new tariff conditions.

Photovoltaic industry for sustainable tariffs

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) stressed that it would be important for both France and Germany to follow the evolution of market prices in their feed-in tariff systems.
“We are advocating the implementation of sustainable policy support schemes. That support should lead to an accelerated penetration of solar energy but avoid a market overheat and possible speculation,” said Adel El Gammal, secretary-general of EPIA.
He warned, however, that if feed-in tariff cuts were too high, this would have a detrimental impact on the industry. “It would for instance eliminate smaller actors too early, which in some cases would have innovative ideas,” he said.
“I believe that this reduction in France will allow sustainable development,” the EPIA chief argued. Moreover, he said the French move would encourage the development of integrated PV, which focuses on added value downstream and creates local jobs.
When setting the level of feed-in tariffs, all financial elements and the market structure need to be considered, El Gammal stressed. This includes looking at the amount of red tape, investment subsidies and tax rebates as well as the system price, he said.
All things considered, the attractiveness of investment in national markets should be high enough to allow rapid but sustainable growth but below levels that would create a speculative bubble, according to El Gammal.
“The range we would be looking for is that the attractiveness of PV investment is typically 6-10% for private investors and 8-12% for business investors,” he said.
EPIA hopes to see each member state’s support policy converge within these ranges. Although higher support at an early stage could create demand, feed-in tariffs would then be progressively adapted to sustainable levels, El Gammal said.

EurActiv

quarta-feira, janeiro 27th, 2010 | Author: admin

Aviation biofuels are the hottest topic in the field as 2010 begins, no question about it.
This month, Rentech signed an off-take agreement with 13 airlines for renewable, drop-in jet fuel made from waste biomass; AltAir signed with 14 airlines for renewable, drop-in jet fuel made from camelina oil. Later this quarter, Dynamic Fuels will open a commercial-scale facility in Louisiana that can manufacture up to 75 million gallons per year, again from waste biomass.
Add to that a series of successful flight tests by Air New Zealand, Japan Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic, KLM and Continental Airlines, among others – and you have the makings of a monster market.

How big?
Global aviation jet fuel demand is at 60 billion gallons per year – with a 50 percent blend of biofuels and jet fuel expected to be ASTM certified and FAA certified this year, a potential market of 30 billion gallons per year will open up for the industry. To put this in context, biofuels sales for 2009, globally, were around 22 billion gallons.
“I fully expect that in the future,” said Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson, “that I will make my daily 15-mile commute in a car that is powered by green electrons. But heavy rail, heavy truck, heavy marine will be using diesel or diesel-electric hybrids for a long time, and aviation has nowhere to go but aviation biofuels.”
Small wonder the airlines are seeking biofuels contracts. A report from RDC Aviation and Point Carbon has concluded that the aviation industry will face an initial carbon liability of $1.53 billion in 2012 when aviation enters the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme in 2012. Among top airlines, British Airways, United and Delta will all have exposures in excess of 3 million metric tons of CO2, and face offset payments of more than $50 million each. Biuofuels offers a way of escaping the payments and nervously watching the oil price ticker.
The outlook for the aviation is much simpler with respect to fuel: biodiesel and ethanol don’t work in the airline equation, so renewable, drop in fuels have been the accepted standard for some time. Target cost? Again, simple: parity with oil, or better – with perhaps some allowance for a carbon price and for the 1% or so improvement in fuel economy gained by the switch to biofuel.
Simple as that aspect is, there’s much that is complex. Here are the major developments, opportunities, players and issues.

Fuel development
In fuels, there is one basic spec in development: Bio-SPK, which is expected to receive final commercial flight approval this year. Bio-SPK is made primarily from virgin oils such as algae, jatropha or camelina – but waste biomass will be a major factor in the future.
The major processor? UOP Honeywell, which commenced licensing a process that converts virgin oils to renewable jet fuel through hydrotreatment.
The major renewable oil developers. Solazyme, Sustainable Oils, Sapphire Energy and Terasol have been active to date in supplying crushed oils to UOP for processing.

Feedstocks and processors: the players
One of the fuels under study at Wright-Patterson is Dynamic Fuels – the joint venture of Tyson and Syntroleum, which will commence producing 75 Mgy of renewable diesel, and renewable jet fuel, based on the company’s R-8 platform, produced from animal fats and vegetable oil s by the company’s Bio-Synfining process. The Air Force Research Laboratory recently tested 600 gal of R-8 for short. According to a report from Wright-Patterson, “initial physical property and T63 engine testing indicates R-8’s performance as indistinguishable from that of S-8, Syntroleum’s Fischer-Tropsch synthetic jet fuel that first flew in 2006 aboard the B-52. Additional tests of R-8 are underway, with the product also entering the first stages of the MIL-HDBK-510 Alternative Fuel Certification Process.”
Rentech is producing synthetic jet fuel and renewable diesel at its demonstration plant in Commerce City, Colorado. This facility currently produces Jet A fuel for commercial aviation and it is also sold to the U.S Air Force, a deal that was the company’s first commercial sale. This facility also produces Rentech’s clean diesel or Rendiesel which will be produced in commercial scale at the Rialto Project.
The Rialto (CA) Project will take urban yard and woody green waste to produce ultra clean and renewable fuels. It is estimated that Rialto will produce 600 barrels per day of synthetic fuel as well as 35 megawatts of renewable power. The Rialto project is currently completing all feasibility studies and will complete front-end engineering and design in 2010. Estimated completed construction and start up is expected in 2012.
Sustainable Oils, a producer of camelina-based fuels, announced that it has been awarded a contract by the Defense Energy Support Center for 40,000 gallons of camelina-based jet fuel.
The fuel will be delivered to the Naval Air Systems Command fuels team in 2009 and will support the Navy’s certification testing program of alternative fuels. The contract includes an option to supply up to an additional 150,000 gallons of camelina-based jet fuel.
Camelina was selected by the DESC because it does not compete with food crops, has been proven to reduce carbon emissions by more than 80 percent, and has already been successfully tested in a commercial airline test flight. In addition, camelina has naturally high oil content, is drought tolerant and requires less fertilizer and herbicides.
In December, the Air Transport Association of America announced that 14 airlines from the US, Canada, Germany and Mexico have signed MOUs with AltAir Fuels – for the entire output of a new biofuel facility that will be constructed in Mississippi and Washington state.
Twelve airlines from the United States, Canada, Germany and Mexico – Air Canada, American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, FedEx Express, JetBlue Airways, Lufthansa German Airlines, Mexicana Airlines, Polar Air Cargo, United Airlines, UPS Airlines and US Airways – have signed MOUs with both producers.
In addition, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and Honolulu-based Hawaiian Airlines signed the MOU with AltAir Fuels, and Orlando-based AirTran Airways signed the MOU with Rentech.
Sapphire Energy, like others, is developing an affordable, scalable commercial algae production system – its “above ground oil field,” as Sapphire’s Tim Zenk put it. At the same time, it has mounted a parallel effort to identify its “magic bunny” – the strains with the optimal combinations of high energy content, fast reproduction, and ability to tough it out in the wild, wild west of open ponds.
The Sapphire approach to finding the right “bunny” – amidst tens of thousands of microalgal species, and potentially an infinite number of strains: an industrial biotech approach to R&D: equal parts of discipline, throughput, and sense of adventure.
In October, the US Air Force ordered a total of 400,000 gallons of renewable biofuels from Sustainable Oils, Cargill and Solazyme for testing as a military aviation fuel. the companies, in turn, will use UOP’s processing technology to convert oil from camelina, algae and animal fats into renewable jet fuel.
According to UOP, the military has ordered a total of 600,000 gallons of renewable jet fuel to be delivered in 2009 and 2010, in a series of contracts issued by the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC). For the Air Force order, DESC tapped Cargill and Sustainable Oils to provide jet fuel made from rendered animals fats and camelina, respectively; the Navy tapped Sustainable Oils and Solazyme. According to UOP the orders are as follows: “For the Navy, Solazyme will provide up to 1500 gallons of fuel from algae.”

End users
US Navy
Solazyme received an order from the Navy for 20,000 gallons of renewable algae derived F-76 Naval distillate fuel for use in Navy ships. In fulfillment of the jet fuel contract, Solazyme said it will partner with Honeywell’s UOP to use the latter’s renewable jet fuel processing technology. The contract calls for delivery of 1500 gallons of SolaHRJET-5 renewable algae derived jet fuel to the Navy for compatibility testing next year.

US Air Force
The Air Force has announced that it will construct a $2.5 million Assured Aerospace Fuels Research Facility at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, also home to the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Air Force Research Laboratory. The facility is expected to be completed in summer 2010, and according to a report in Daily Tech, “It is expected to develop around 15 to 25 gallons of research jet fuel composed of coal, biofuels, and other gas alternatives every day.”

KLM
In November, KLM has also announced the formation of a joint-venture company to develop sustainable biofuels called SkyEnergy, together with North Sea Petroleum and Spring Associates. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) will advise the consortium in relation to ecological aspects.
According to KLM, the development of biokerosene “is a quest that KLM is pursuing in accordance with strict financial, technological and ecological criteria.”
In December, KLM conducted a flight partly powered by a biofuel produced from the plant camelina. The flight took off from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for a demonstration lasting around one hour. On board were a number of Dutch government officials and industry partners – the first time passengers have been on board a biofuels demonstration flight. Some of the camelina was reportedly sourced from Great Plains-The Camelina company.

Mexican Airports
In October, Boeing, Mexico’s Airports and Auxiliary Services agency and Honeywell’s UOP announced a partnership at the annual ALTA aviation conference to develop sustainable aviation biofuels sources in Mexico. Darrin Morgan, director of biofuel strategy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said that the partners would assess “sustainable biomass systems such as halophytes, algae, jatropha, castor.”
The announcement builds on meetings in September with more than 50 government and business representatives in Mexico. The three partners will commission initial studies on promising biomass systems for Mexico and to formalize this collaboration with a commitment to work via the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, a global multistakeholder initiative developing a global biofuel sustainability framework.

Qatar Airways
In Qatar, Qatar Airways, Qatar Science & Technology Park, Qatar Petroleum and Airbus announced the establishment of the Qatar Advanced Biofuel Platform, which will prepare a detailed engineering and implementation plan for economically viable and sustainable biofuel production, a biofuel investment strategy, and an advanced technology development program.
Last October, Qatar Airways successfully conducted the world’s first commercial flight powered by a Gas-to-Liquid fuel blend last October, which proved to be a significant development in the use of alternative fuels.
The group has been advised by Seattle-based US-based Verno Systems Inc., embarked on a very comprehensive and detailed feasibility study on sustainable Biomass-to-Liquid (BTL) jet fuel. QABP will be structured so that it can be expanded to include additional projects, technologies, investments and partnerships globally, and is focused on short, medium and long term goals. The partners have not disclosed feedstocks or timing at this point, although Airbus noted that the QABP is an “Important step to reach carbon neutral growth in the aviation sector by 2020.”

Continental, Japan Air Lines, Virgin and Air New Zealand
In 2009, these four airlines conducted successful tests of biofuels in their jets, providing valuable flight data for analysis.

Associations
The Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuel Initiative (CAAFI) doesn’t get as much publicity as other organizations, but it’s well worth following. Last October, the CAAFI environmental team established a lifecycle emissions framework for jet biofuels, and CAAFI provided business and economics teams in support of s 46-company meeting at the Department of Commerce last September, including both end-users and producers.
In September 2008, he newly-formed Sustainable Aviation Fuels User Group (SAFUG) announced two research projects. The first, funded by SAFUG founding member Boeing, will complete the first lifecycle analysis of CO2 emissions and socio-economic impact of jatropha curcus. In the other, the Natural Resources Defense Council will perform a similar analysis of algae as a sustainable feedstock for aviation fuel.
In October, Boeing and UOP announced an initiative, with the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group consortium and the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi, to examine the overall potential for sustainable, large-scale production of biofuels made from salicornia bigelovii and saltwater mangroves – plants known as halophytes.
In October, TRI, Rentech, Velocys, Choren, Flambeau River Biofuels/Johnson Timber, AP Fuels and World GTL among other companies banded to form the Low Carbon Synthetic Fuels Association to represent the biomass to liquid fuel industry using the Fischer-Tropsch process to produce synthetic renewable diesel and renewable jet fuel. The Association will focus on lobbying for advanced biofuels, and have received support from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, Auburn University, Audi America, Chemrec AB, Mercedes Benz USA, Pacific Renewable Fuels, Renewable Energy Institute International, and Volkswagen in comments delivered to the EPA on the importance of advanced drop-in biofuels that do not require infrastructure changes.

Biofuels Digest, Jim Lane

quarta-feira, janeiro 27th, 2010 | Author: admin

A Região Sudeste foi a que que registou, em 2009, o maior número de resgates de trabalhadores em regime análogo ao de escravidão.  Essa é a primeira vez que a região fica em primeiro lugar no ranking, cujas primeiras posições normalmente são ocupadas pelas regiões Nordeste e Norte. Os dados sobre ações de combate ao trabalho escravo foram divulgados no dia 25.01.2010 pelo Ministério Público do Trabalho (MPT).

Para o coordenador nacional de Erradicação do Trabalho Escravo do Ministério Público do Trabalho, Sebastião Caixeta, isso é reflexo do endurecimento da legislação penal. “Atribuo isso àa modificação da legislação, que veio a ser mais protetiva e a considerar dois novos tipo de condições de trabalho escravo, que são a jornada exaustiva e as condições degradadas de trabalho que podem se verificar com mais facilidade nos grande centros urbanos”.

No Sudeste, foram resgatados 1.310 trabalhadores. O estado do Rio de Janeiro registrou o maior número de trabalhadores em regime análogo ao de escravidão, 521. Eles foram encontrados na cidade de Campos dos Goytacazes numa empresa de beneficiamento de cana-de-açúcar. Em regime próximo ao de escravidão, foram encontrados no ano passado no estado do Rio 48 trabalhadores.

A Região Centro-Oeste ficou na segunda posição, com 972 trabalhadores resgatados, e Tocantis foi o estado com maior número de resgates, 334. Na Região Nordeste, foram feitos 874 resgates, e o estado com maior número de ocorrências foi Pernambuco.

As regiões Norte e Sul registraram, respectivamente, 368 e 315 casos de trabalhadores encontrados em situação análoga à de escravidão. Na região norte, o Pará apresentou o maior número de trabalhadores resgatados (326). Na Região Sul, a primeira posição foi do Paraná, com 227 resgates.

No total, foram resgatados no ano passado 3.571 trabalhadores encontrados em regime análogo ao de escravos – em 2008 esse número foi de 5.016.

Ele informou ainda que foram registrados trabalhadores em regime análogo ao de escravidão em obras do Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento (PAC). “Normalmente envolvendo subempreitadas, contratações de aliciadores, que não têm uma preocupação com a mão de obra empregada. A repercussão envolve o tomador de serviço – ele é responsável, e isso foi verificado no ana passado. Esperamos que neste ano haja uma responsabilidade maior, porque os órgãos de fiscalização vão ficar focados nessas obras”.

Sebastião Caixeta disse também que, para este ano, o Ministério Público vai fiscalizar com mais rigor atividades que tradicionalmente registram grande número de ocorrências de trabalho análogo ao de escravidão, como carvoarias e cultivo e colheita de cana-de-açúcar.

Agência Brasil

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quarta-feira, janeiro 27th, 2010 | Author: admin

France has outlined plans to impose a carbon tax on large industrial installations until 2013 when they start paying for emission permits under the revised EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS). The tax would come into effect in July.
French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo outlined the upcoming revised proposal on 20 January, after the Constitutional Court rejected the government’s original plan last December.
The government had originally hoped to levy a carbon tax on oil, gas and coal consumption by households and businesses. It was going to be set at €17 per tonne of carbon emissions, rising gradually.
But the Constitutional Council said the large number of exemptions from the legislation would put an unfair burden on consumers and would not fulfil the objective of fighting climate change. It said that the tax would not be applied to 93% of industrial carbon emissions, and over 1,000 of France’s biggest polluters would be able to avoid it. The court pointed out that the law exempted big emitters from power stations to oil refineries and cement works, which are covered by the EU ETS, and imposed lighter tariffs on groups like farmers, fishermen and truck drivers.
The new proposal would amend the problem by subjecting industrial installations under the ETS to a carbon tax until 1 January 2013, the environment minister said. Until now, the power sector has enjoyed free emission permits, but free allocation will be gradually phased out from 2013.
The French government said in a statement that it would also take measures, starting in February, to protect the competitiveness of certain sensitive sectors. It pledged to consult with businesses, social partners and environmental organisations on implementation.
The new text would retain other aspects of the initial proposal, including the tariff of 17 euros per tonne of CO2 and green cheques designed to compensate consumers, the government said.
A new bill is expected to be presented to the French parliament in the next couple of weeks.

EurActiv

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quarta-feira, janeiro 27th, 2010 | Author: admin

A new, widely anticipated Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) should be issued by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “very soon,” Administrator Lisa Jackson said Tuesday. “(EPA is) working very hard to finalize the [new rule] as soon as possible,” Jackson said. The rule is now at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for an interagency review.
Biofuels makers have been waiting for the rules, which are designed to implement a 2007 law that mandated an ever-increasing amount of biofuels be added to transportation fuel. This year, 12.95 billion gallons of renewable fuel must be part of the supply, up almost 17% from last year. Of that total, almost one billion gallons must come from advanced biofuels.
The EPA has been working to determine what biofuels count as advanced. To qualify, each type of advanced biofuel must produce greenhouse-gas emissions that are at least 50% lower than the emissions associated with ordinary gasoline. The question is how to measure emissions, since the EPA must look across the entire life cycle from the time a seed is planted to the time a fuel is burned.  As part of that, the EPA must account for the potential impact of clearing land that absorbs greenhouse gases to make room for crops that absorb less of the gases.
The agency’s ultimate decision will also determine what types of new biofuel plants may break ground.
By law, new biofuel plants must produce fuels with greenhouse-gas emissions that are at least 20% lower that emissions associated with traditional gasoline.
Another question involves the future of corn-based ethanol. When the EPA proposed rules in May 2009, the agency outlined two different scenarios. One scenario largely favored the ethanol industry, and another would prohibit all but one corn-ethanol-production process. At issue is whether the EPA determines that ethanol producers are able to find ways to operate more efficiently–such as through the use of enzymes or other processes.
Oil companies have their own concerns. ConocoPhillips (COP) told the White House recently that the system for ensuring that marketers comply with the standards wasn’t workable. The company also opposed an EPA proposal that would allow biodiesel to qualify. The biodiesel industry is fighting back. The National Biodiesel Board has complained that companies aren’t buying biodiesel in mandated volumes because of the EPA’s delay in issuing rules.

Sugarcane blog

segunda-feira, janeiro 25th, 2010 | Author: admin

Dirigentes das quatro principais instituições finlandesas de pesquisa e desenvolvimento visitaram a Embrapa – Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária – com o objetivo de conhecer as políticas do Governo Federal nos campos da energia e encontrar assuntos de interesse comum que possam ser objeto de projetos conjuntos.
Academia da Finlândia (AKA), o Fundo Finlandês para Inovação (SITRA), o Centro de Pesquisa Tecnológica da Finlândia (VTT) e a Agência Finlandesa de Financiamento de Tecnologia e Inovação (TEKES) formam o Fórum de Pesquisa e Tecnologia que é o colegiado mais importante da implementação da política de Ciência e Tecnologia naquele país.
José Manuel Cabral, Chefe de Comunicação e Negócios da Embrapa Agroenergia, fez uma explanação geral da matriz energética brasileira em comparação a do mundo. Em geral, 88% da energia utilizada no mundo, no ano de 2008, era proveniente de fontes não-renováveis, sendo que 35% vieram do petróleo, 25% do carvão e 21% do gás natural. No Brasil, como resultado de diversos programas governamentais, 46% de toda a energia consumida no ano passado foi gerada por fontes renováveis, com 31,5% provenientes de biomassa, sendo 16% derivados da cana-de-açúcar e 15% da energia hidráulica.
Cabral destacou os aspectos econômicos, sociais e a produção regional de culturas energéticas no Brasil. Quanto ao biodiesel, citou as matérias-primas mais utilizadas (soja, algodão e gordura animal) e as que estão em domesticação (pinhão-manso, macaúba, inajá). Atualmente, no País, todo o óleo diesel recebe 4% de biodesel, porcentual que subirá, a partir de janeiro de 2010, para 5%.
Cabral expôs ainda as pesquisas que estão em andamento na empresa para atender o Plano Nacional de Agroenergia, em especial as florestas energéticas, uma das ações de interesse dos finlandeses.
Com 76 % da sua superfície coberta por florestas, a Finlândia é o país com a maior percentagem de área florestal na Europa. A silvicultura privada desempenha um papel muito importante na Finlândia, pois entre 80 e 90 % da madeira utilizada na indústria vem das florestas privadas. Por causa do número elevado de proprietários de floresta, as propriedades são relativamente pequenas, sendo o tamanho médio de uma propriedade de apenas 26 hectares.
O Brasil é um dos maiores parceiros comerciais da Finlândia na América Latina. Em 2008, cerca de 70% das exportações finlandesas para o Brasil foram de maquinaria e equipamentos de transporte, enquanto o Brasil exportou, principalmente, celulose e resíduos de papel para aquele país.
Cerca de 5,3 milhões de pessoas vivem na Finlândia, sendo que a maior parte da população está concentrada no sul do país. É o oitavo país da Europa em termos de área, com 338.145 km² e o país menos povoado da União Européia.
De acordo com o Presidente da VTT, Erkki Leppävuori, eles têm a meta de redução em 20% das emissões de gases do efeito estufa, de 20% do uso de combustíveis fósseis e também de 20% do consumo per capita de energia até 2020.
Leppävuori, também mostrou dados da utilização de energia na Finlândia, declarando que cerca de 25% da energia consumida naquele país derivam de fontes renováveis, principalmente da madeira e seus resíduos.  A expectativa para 2020 é aumentar o consumo de bioenergia em 50%, de modo a atingir cerca de 38% de energia renovável.
Nos pontos específicos para cooperação, o Diretor Geral da Academia da Finlândia, Markku Mattilla, esclareceu que existe um acordo entre a Academia e o Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) que está financiando a execução de 6 projetos bi-nacionais em assuntos ligados ao estudo das mudanças climáticas e da melhoria das rotas tecnológicas na conversão de energia de biomassa.  Em relação à cooperação com a Embrapa, foram identificados como possíveis temas:  a elaboração de aspectos conceituais e práticos de biorrefinarias para aproveitamento integral das matérias-primas e da energia de diversos tipos de biomassas, a otimização de processos termoquímicos como a pirólise e a gaseificação de madeira e derivados, o aproveitamento de resíduos com finalidades energéticas e o desenvolvimento de instrumentos e processos para utilização de satélites em zoneamentos agro-climáticos, levantamento e quantificação da ocorrência de espécies nativas e plantadas, avaliação de riscos climáticos, entre outros.

Embrapa Agroenergia

segunda-feira, janeiro 25th, 2010 | Author: admin

O Brasil, que atualmente produz etanol basicamente a partir da cana-de-açúcar, poderá contar, no futuro, com novas possibilidades para produção do combustível. A Embrapa Cerrados – unidade da Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária, localizada em Planaltina (DF) – coordenará a partir deste ano pesquisas para avaliar fontes de biomassa que podem ser usadas para produzir o chamado etanol de segunda geração.
Para isso, o projeto vai avaliar o uso de gramíneas forrageiras (usadas na alimentação animal), sorgo, o bagaço e a palha da cana e algumas espécies de árvores (pinus, eucalipto e duas espécies da Amazônia: tachi-branco e paricá), como fontes alternativas de biomassa para produção de etanol.
O etanol produzido a partir da cana-de-açúcar é obtido pela fermentação de açúcares presentes no caldo, obtido pela moagem da planta. Como resultado dessas pesquisas, a perspectiva é que açúcares complexos, como a celulose e hemicelulose existentes na composição das plantas, possam também ser convertidos no combustível, denominado etanol de segunda geração.
Segundo o pesquisador da Embrapa Cerrados Marcelo Ayres, que coordena o trabalho, a escolha das espécies para o estudo buscou contemplar plantas mais adaptadas às condições da região do Cerrado e que apresentem grande potencial de produção de biomassa. Outra vantagem é que já existem estudos anteriores que indicam o manejo desses cultivos. No caso das gramíneas forrageiras, por exemplo, a Embrapa lançou diversas cultivares de braquiária (foto), como a cultivar Marandu, que ocupa mais de 30 milhões de hectares no Brasil. “Ela é muito adaptada às condições climáticas do Cerrado e pode ser plantada até mesmo onde a cana não pode”, explica.
O processo de produção do etanol de segunda geração é composto por duas etapas. Na primeira delas as longas cadeias de celulose e hemicelulose são quebradas - por hidrólise enzimática ou química - para chegar a açúcares com cinco ou seis moléculas de carbono. Em uma segunda etapa, os açúcares reduzidos obtidos no processo de hidrólise são fermentados, assim como ocorre com a sacarose da cana-de-açúcar. Esse é o procedimento que os cientistas devem percorrer até chegar ao etanol. No entanto, a prática ainda é um desafio. “O mundo inteiro está trabalhando para definir quais as fontes e os processos a serem usados”, explica. Para o pesquisador, em relação a outras nações que estão na corrida para desenvolver a tecnologia do etanol de segunda geração, o Brasil tem a vantagem de estar em uma área tropical, o que favorece o desenvolvimento de biomassa.
A pesquisa vai reunir especialistas de universidades (Universidade de Brasília e Universidade de São Paulo) e de diversas unidades da Embrapa (Cerrados, Agroenergia, Floresta, Milho e Sorgo, Gado de Leite, Gado de Corte, Tabuleiros Costeiros, Instrumentação Agropecuária). Eles vão avaliar o potencial de produção de biomassa das espécies estudadas e também as características físico-químicas das plantas. Conduzida pelos pesquisadores da Embrapa Agroenergia, outra etapa do estudo vai pesquisar como converter essa biomassa em etanol, a partir da aplicação de enzimas que serão usadas em uma escala piloto.

segunda-feira, janeiro 25th, 2010 | Author: admin

Industrial biotechnology is gaining supporters among environmentalists as a way to make significant cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions and eventually move to a society free from fossil fuels.
The WWF estimated last September that industrial biotechnology has the potential to prevent emissions of between 1 and 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030. The NGO sought to draw attention to such existing climate solutions that are easily overlooked by politicians and investors alike.
Enzymes have been added to detergents for decades to dissolve stains at lower temperatures. As a result, it is now possible to wash clothes at 30°C instead of 60°C with the same result, saving energy in the process.
Industries using agricultural products as input, such as food, paper and textiles, also currently use biotechnology to manufacture products using less energy and producing less waste, thus reducing pressure on land-use at the same time. Practical examples include adding enzymes to bread during baking to prolong its shelf-life, or using them in juice production to increase juice yield from the same quantity of fruit.

Towards advanced biofuels

The business is booming in the US, where corn-based production of bioethanol uses enzymes to release sugars from the starch in the kernels. The US Renewable Fuel Standard, passed in 2007, requires annual production to rise to 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022.
European markets are also growing, after 2009’s Renewable Fuels Directive set the target of reaching a 10% share of ‘green fuel’ in transport by 2020, including biofuels in this definition.
Lars Hansen, president of Novozymes Europe, says that interest in biotechnology is growing as halting global warming has become a political priority. The Danish company, the world leader in enzyme technology, estimates that its products helped to prevent emissions of 28 million tonnes of CO2 in 2008, the equivalent of taking four million cars off the road.
Nevertheless, there has been much debate over the actual environmental benefits of first-generation biofuels from food crops, as converting forests or grassland for energy crop production can release significant amounts of carbon. Advanced biofuels that use non-food feedstocks are now regarded as more promising, and the enzymes industry believes it holds the key to commercial-scale production.
“This has been the holy grail of biofuels: how can you move from using sugar and corn to using the straw, stalks and other agricultural waste?” said Novozymes executive Hansen.”We have directed 10% of our R&D resources into trying to convert not only starch but also agricultural leftovers into sugar,” Hansen said. “You get a much higher yield from the same acre of land by using what is currently perceived as waste, all the stuff left in the fields from agricultural production.”
Hansen said Novozymes is on track to delive the required technology this year. “We have the enabling technology ready, now someone has to build a factory using it.”
Corn ethanol is currently estimated to produce only a 12-18% net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline, while cellulosic ethnanol could cut carbon emissions by 86-94%. If land-use changes are included in calculations, corn ethanol could actually double emissions, according to some estimates.

Towards a bio-based economy?
The ultimate goal of biotech supporters is to use enzyme technology to move to a “circular economy”. Here, waste is used to produce biogas while the remaining natural carbon could be reused as natural feedstock.The WWF estimated that such “closed loop systems,” which create new products from waste materials, could help trap up to three billion extra tonnes of carbon by 2040. Moreover, technological development would eventually lead to the replacement of oil-based products with natural materials in “biorefineries”.
“Biofuels are just a first step to what we call a ‘bio-based future’ where you replace traditional oil refineries with biorefineries,” Hansen said. “The vision is to have the same kind of refinery but based on biological production so that agricultural products go into producing not only fuels but plastics, feeds, fibres and chemicals.”

Background:
Biotechnology is divided into four branches:
* Green biotechnology is applied to agricultural processes and includes genetic modification of plants and animals.
* Red biotechnology is used in medicine to design organisms to produce antibiotics, for example.
* White, or industrial biotechnology, is used in industrial processes. It involves using organisms to produce valuable chemicals and using enzymes as catalysts to produce valuable chemicals or destroy harmful ones.
* Enzymes are used in a variety of industries, including food, textile, paper and agriculture, to increase the efficiency of processes.
The lofty idea behind industrial, or white, biotechnology is to use nature’s own ingredients to solve industrial problems. White biotech industries use enzymes - proteins that speed up chemical reactions - for various applications to increase efficiency of energy and raw-material use and eventually replace fossil fuels.

EurActiv