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quinta-feira, agosto 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

Documento foi entregue ao ministro do Meio Ambiente, Carlos Minc e faz sugestões ao posicionamento do governo brasileiro em conferência climática

Uma carta-compromisso assinada por 22 empresas privadas e entidades foi entregue ao ministro do Meio Ambiente, Carlos Minc, e ao negociador-chefe da delegação brasileira em Copenhague, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, segundo a qual, as signatárias se comprometem a reduzir e monitorar a emissão de gases de efeito estufa. No grupo estão empresas de energia e consumidores livres.
A iniciativa foi liderada pela Vale, pelo Instituto Ethos e pelo Fórum Amazônia Sustentável. O documento apresenta ainda sugestões ao posicionamento do governo brasileiro na 15ª Conferência das Partes (COP-15) do Tratado da Organização das Nações Unidas para as Mudanças Climáticas, que ocorrerá em dezembro em Copenhague, Dinamarca.
A carta está dividida em três partes. A primeira contém uma visão geral dos desafios do tema mudanças climáticas e a oportunidade do Brasil para liderar as discussões em torno de uma economia de baixo carbono. Na segunda parte, as empresas expõem os compromissos para reduzir suas emissões e, na terceira e última parte, são apresentadas as propostas ao governo brasileiro, incluindo sugestões para a COP 15. Entre as propostas, está a publicação de estimativas atuais de emissões de gases de efeito estufa (GEE) no Brasil. Também está prevista a publicação, a cada três anos, do Inventário Brasileiro de Emissões de GEE, - a última edição é de 1994.
Assinaram a carta as seguintes empresas: Aflopar, Andrade Gutierrez, Aracruz Celulose, Camargo Corrêa, CBMM, Coamo Agroindustrial Cooperativa, CPFL Energia, Estre Ambiental, Grupo Pão de Açúcar, Light, Natura, Odebrecth, OAS, Polimix, Suzano Papel e Celulose, Vale, Votorantim, VCP e Wal-Mart Brasil.

quinta-feira, agosto 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

O Instituto Brasileiro de Estudos do Direito da Energia promove nos dias 9 e 10 de setembro o simpósio Brasil-França de Energia: novos atores, novas relações geopolíticas e o papel da agroenergia.
O evento será realizado em São Paulo e terá seis mesas redondas. Entre os assuntos abordados estão a segurança jurídica para os investidores em energia, políticas do governo federal para a promoção da agroenergia, o fortalecimento das relações Brasil-França, e a geopolítica do petróleo, carvão e biocombustíveis.

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quinta-feira, agosto 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

It’s called thermohaline circulation, or the ocean conveyor belt, and it is a delicate pattern of circulation within the world’s oceans that balances water density gradients generated from surface heat and freshwater entries.
It is an established fact that the ocean conveyor belt regulates climate.  “warm waters around the equator flow northward and bring heat to Northern Europe, while cool waters from the polar region flow southward“.  Without the circulation of ocean waters, some regions of the planet where human civilization has been established would no longer be comfortably hospitable to us.

The global warming skeptics who cite a recent downward trend in global temperatures since 2002 may very well be pointing to evidence that global warming is already at work.  Human activity may very well be speeding up a natural cycle that would usually take several centuries to evolve.

The Pleistocene period, an historical era that has lasted roughly for the past 2.5 million years, is marked by cycles of ice ages and warming periods.  The pattern has repeated itself, experts believe from looking at ice core samples, more than 80 times.
Interglacial, or warming periods are marked by increases in plant and animal communities, as marked by the fossil record.  Glacial periods marked extinction events for species not able to adapt to cooler temperatures or unable to migrate from advancing glaciers.

The Holocene period, the only era after the Pleistocene, is simply the latest 10,000 year warming period.  Some experts do not delineate between the Pleistocene and Holocene and state simply that the pattern of glacial and interglacial periods has not yet been broken.

The distinguishing fator that makes the Holocene period different from the Pleistocene is the introduction of human civilization.  Contrary to all of the other glacial periods in the Pleistocene, now humans have the capacity to influence some of the factors to speed along the cycle of glacial-interglacial.

What happens if the thermohaline circulation is disrupted?
Can humans disrupt the circulation pattern in the world’s oceans?  NASA states: “If the poles warm, it is possible that melt water from glaciers and the polar ice cap can shut off this circulation and interrupt this circulation system. The melt water is fresher and hence less dense than the ocean water it melts into, and thus the melt water will tend to accumulate near the surface. This layer of fresh water acts as an insulating barrier between the atmosphere and the normal ocean water. The water from the tropics can not release its heat to the atmosphere, and the circulation loop is interrupted. The mechanism has a positive feedback potential in that if the ocean circulation slows, then even less heat will make it to the higher latitudes re-enforcing an effect that will cool the climate at these higher latitudes“.

In plain English, if we melt our glaciers quicker than they would normally in natural cycles, and we release enormous amounts of cool freshwater into the ocean conveyor belt, then global temperatures will plummet faster than natural systems can adapt.  By adding more CO2 into the atmosphere, we are speeding up a cycle that has shown its consistency over the past 2 million years.
(CO2 is a greenhouse gas; greenhouse gases trap heat)

Global warming deniers who simply state that the earth is cooling as their sole data for denial do not realize that they are making the case for global warming.  After warming and melting ice that is frozen on land, earth’s temperature drops because the warm ocean currents that regulate our temperatures are disrupted.


Energy Examiner
- John Guerrerio

quinta-feira, agosto 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

Para dar início a uma rede nacional de cooperação entre cientistas, técnicos e pesquisadores da área de geração de energia a partir do biogás, a Itaipu Binacional promove workshop com uma das maiores autoridades mundiais nesse campo. Entre elas, o professor Thomas Amon, da Universidade de Viena (Áustria), coordenador da rede EU-Agro-Biogas.

Participaram do encontro pelo menos 50 especialistas em tratamento de dejetos de animais e produção de biogás, representando diversas instituições de ensino e pesquisa. Segundo o superintende de Energias Renováveis da Itaipu Binacional, Cícero Bley, os participantes relataram suas experiências para permitir um diagnóstico detalhado do estado da tecnologia no país.
“Não se pretende trazer uma solução pronta da Europa, mas trabalhar com a realidade que temos aqui e assim promover o avanço tecnológico, novas oportunidades de desenvolvimento e geração de renda”, afirma Bley.
Amon explicou que um dos principais objetivos das experiências que ele vem conduzindo na Europa é demonstrar a eficiência da produção de biogás sem a necessidade de subsídios para os produtores rurais. Na Áustria, por exemplo, a geração de energia elétrica e de energia térmica a partir de biogás representa 10% da matriz energética do país.
São 325 plantas de biogás (usinas), com capacidade média de 300 kilowatts, totalizando 80 megawatts de potência instalada. “Mas esse é apenas um ponto de partida. Nossa meta é chegar a 8 mil usinas, em poucos anos”, afirma Amon.
A EU-Agro-Biogas é uma rede interdisciplinar, que aborda diversos temas, como aspectos econômicos e ambientais, tecnologias e métodos, e principalmente pesquisas no campo da bioquímica.
Uma das linhas de estudos desenvolvida pelos europeus consiste nas combinações de resíduos como restos de lavouras de grãos e palhas, com diferentes tipos de dejetos (de animais, indústrias de alimentos e até residenciais) para obter uma maior eficiência nos processos de biodigestão e formação do biogás. O banco de dados da rede contém mais de 10 mil informações sobre diferentes misturas de dejetos.
Além de ajudar a rede brasileira a se organizar e a cooperar entre si, Amon diz acreditar que o tipo de pesquisa descrito acima, cujos resultados são de livre acesso para qualquer pesquisador, ajudará muito nos estudos a serem desenvolvidos no Brasil. “Acho que o estado da tecnologia no Brasil é bom, mas é importante que ele melhore com conhecimento próprio dos brasileiros”, comenta.
“Uma das particularidades do Brasil é que aqui, por causa do clima, não existe uma necessidade tão grande como na Europa de canalizar parte do biogás para a geração de calor. Então as aplicações na eletricidade e no transporte poderão ter mais ênfase”.
A Itaipu, por meio da Plataforma Itaipu de Energias Renováveis, iniciativa conjunta com diversos parceiros promovida na região Oeste do Paraná, conta com seis unidades de demonstração da geração de energia a partir de resíduos da agropecuária.
Quatro delas já estão vendendo o excedente de energia para a Companhia Paranaense de Energia (Copel), através da metodologia conhecida como geração distribuída. O programa, agora, está implantando um Condomínio de Agroenergia da Agricultura Familiar, reunindo diversos pequenos produtores em torno da geração de energia com biogás, em regime cooperativo.

Itaipu Binacional

quinta-feira, agosto 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

Em 2010, o sistema vai transportar 12 milhões de m³/ano do produto de Uberaba (MG) a Paulínia (SP) e 6 milhões de m³/ano de Paulínia ao litoral Sudeste. Serão criados 23,6 mil postos de trabalho diretos e indiretos.

A Petrobras e a PMCC (Projetos de Transporte de Álcool) criarão um corredor para escoar etanol do Centro-Oeste e do Estado de São Paulo para o litoral Sudeste.
O Sistema de Escoamento Dutoviário de Álcool e Derivados (Seda) vai operar de Uberaba (MG) a São Sebastião (SP). O projeto permitirá também ampliar a capacidade de exportação do produto pelo Rio de Janeiro e o atendimento ao mercado interno. A estimativa é gerar 4,6 mil postos de trabalho diretos e 19 mil indiretos durante as obras.
Será criada uma rede integrada de dutos para facilitar e incrementar o escoamento de etanol para os mercados externo e interno. No final de 2010, a rede poderá transportar 12 milhões de m³/ano de etanol entre Uberaba (MG) e Paulínia (SP) e 6 milhões de m³/ano de Paulínia ao litoral Sudeste.
Do total de 6 milhões de m³/ano do produto, 2 milhões de m³/ano serão escoados pelo Terminal de São Sebastião (SP). Os 4 milhões de m³/ano restantes seguirão pelo Terminal de Ilha D’Água (RJ).
No total, o corredor terá 682 km de extensão, de Uberaba (MG) a São Sebastião (SP), dos quais 140 km pertencem ao trecho de Taubaté à cidade do litoral norte paulista, cujo escoamento ocorrerá por meio de instalações existentes. Para o restante do traçado será construído um poliduto de 542 km de extensão, a ser implantado nas faixas de dutos existentes do São Paulo/Brasília (Osbra) e do Campinas/Rio de Janeiro (Gascar).
Também serão construídos três centros coletores – em Uberaba, Ribeirão Preto e Paulínia – e uma estação de bombeamento em Taubaté, além de adaptações nas instalações da Refinaria de Paulínia (Replan) e dos Terminais de Guararema e São Sebastião, unidades localizadas no Estado de São Paulo.
O investimento para a implantação do sistema de escoamento é de aproximadamente US$ 1 bilhão. O projeto será executado por meio de parceria entre a Petrobras e a PMCC e prevê no futuro a ampliação da rede até o Terminal de Senador Canedo (GO).

Agência Petrobras de Noticias

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quinta-feira, agosto 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

<!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:”"; margin:0cm; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:595.3pt 841.9pt; margin:70.85pt 3.0cm 70.85pt 3.0cm; mso-header-margin:35.4pt; mso-footer-margin:35.4pt; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –> Amyris Biotechnologies made a $24.7 million first close of a potential $62 million Series C financing to ramp up its synthetic biology platform. Unlike traditional biodiesel from lipids and fatty acids, Amyris produces renewable products by applying a proprietary synthetic biology platform. By altering the metabolic pathways of yeast, Amyris said it is able to engineer “living factories” that convert sugar cane into chemicals and renewable fuels.

Both Khosla-backed biofuel companies are on the verge of closing Series C rounds, focused on aggressive timeframes toward commercialization. The race is on to see who can commercialize next-generation renewable biofuels the fastest.

But with the global biofuel market predicted to surpass $280 billion by 2022, there’s room for friendly competitors Emeryville, Calif.-based Amyris Biotechnologies and South San Francisco, Calif.-based LS9 to share in the potential profits.

Amyris, which makes biofuels from synthetic microorganisms, said today it edged a little closer to the finish line, acknowledging a $24.7 million first close of a potential $62 million Series C to ramp up its synthetic biology platform.

Both Amyris and LS9 are looking to lock in Series C rounds to help them meet aggressive production deadlines.

Amyris spokeswoman Annika Jensen told the company is expecting subsequent closings this fall.“This first close of this Series C will be used to accelerate the development and scale up of Amyris’s synthetic biology platform and supports the commercialization of our renewable fuels and chemicals, which is targeted for 2011,” she said, without providing specifics.

The company has previously raised $120 million.She also confirmed today’s latest round included existing investors Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, TPG Biotech and Votorantim Novos Negocios.

Unlike traditional biodiesel from lipids and fatty acids, Amyris produces renewable products by applying a proprietary synthetic biology platform. By altering the metabolic pathways of yeast, Amyris said it is able to engineer “living factories” that convert sugar cane into chemicals and renewable fuels, which it said have performance attributes comparable to petroleum-based products.

LS9’s CEO Bill Haywood told that his company’s strategy and process is very similar to Amyris, with both companies using metabolic pathways in a host organism.“They have been raising money to scale their technology just like we have been doing,” he said.

LS9 says it has demonstrated the ability to modify the genetic makeup of its microorganisms and tailor its products to have improved fuel properties, such as cetane, volatility and cold flow.

Also a Khosla Ventures-backed company, LS9 has raised $20 million in two rounds. LS9 has a Series C round currently open, where it is looking to add $10 million to the undisclosed amount raised so far and is contemplating a follow-on.

LS9 has a pilot plant in South San Francisco that’s been operating for more than a year now, Haywood said. The company has been working to prove its technology, wants to build a demonstration facility next and then move into commercialization.

“Both companies have very aggressive agendas,” he said. “It has never been done before. It’s cutting-edge stuff. You have very disciplined milestones on the scale and the technology,” he said.

LS9 has said it’s going to be at commercial capabilities in 2011, with commercial quantities being produced in 2013.

“I’m behind what Amyris is doing,” said Haywood, in a supportive way. “I hope we both make it along with two or three others.”

Amyris, spun out from the University of California, Berkeley in 2003, opened a demonstration facility for its bio-based diesel in Campinas, Brazil in June. The facility, located in the midst of the sugar cane processing industry, is the first of its kind in Brazil. It is designed to execute in-country scale-up and demonstration of all Amyris fuels and chemical manufacturing processes, Jensen said.

Amyris has a pilot plant in Emeryville, which houses two 300-liter fermentors producing thousands of gallons of Amyris product a year for testing.
Amyris opened its larger demonstration facility in June in Brazil, which includes a pilot plant similar to the one in Emeryville plus two 5,000-liter fermentors, which have the capacity to produce 35,000 liters of product a year for testing.

The company’s subsidiary Amyris Fuels is building U.S.-based product distribution, generating current undisclosed revenue from an expanding distribution and customer network, she said.

Established in March of 2008, the company’s other subsidiary Amyris Brasil oversees the company’s final scale up, production and distribution in Brazil. It was established when Amyris acquired the outstanding stake in a venture it had with Brazil’s Crystalsev, a sugar and ethanol production company.

Amyris Brasil has approximately 40 employees and facilities in Campinas, including labs, a pilot plant and demonstration facility.

LS9’s business plan also includes making its fuels in Brazil, where sugar cane is inexpensive and there’s good biofuel manufacturing capabilities. LS9’s biofuel product has exceeded both American and Brazilian testing specifications.

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quinta-feira, agosto 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

At the World Water Week conference, held from 16 til 22 August 2009, in Sweden, political leaders and experts called for water to be a key part of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.
The annual event, organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute, acts as a forum for the exchange of a international range of views and experiences from scientific, business, policy and civil society sectors.
The week’s discussion culminated in the ‘Stockholm Statement’, which sends a message to the member states of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) - part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - “that importance of water must be properly and adequately reflected within the COP-15 agreement, and in processes beyond”.
In a statement addressed to global representatives negotiating a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, conference participants agreed that “water is a key medium through which climate change impacts will be felt and it is therefore central to planning and adaptation surrounding climate change”.
The interconnected nature of water in economic, social and environmental issues is highlighted in the document, which insists that a firm and fair agreement is “crucial in order to secure future water resource availability”.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicts that by 2030, 47% of world population will be living in areas of high water stress, if no further action is taken.
In the conference’s opening address, Gunilla Carlsson, Swedish minister for international development cooperation, said that adaptation to climate change was particularly important in developing countries, as they are “more dependent on and exposed to the vagaries of the weather”.
Sweden, current holder of the EU presidency, is putting adaptation to climate change high on the agenda of the upcoming UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December this year, Carlsson said, adding that “the hydrological cycle is an integral part of the climate system” and that “adaptation therefore naturally evolves around water”.
The EU has begun to shift its focus on the issue of climate change adaptation to put more emphasis on water policies, but has previously been criticised for lacking a global vision on the subject. An example of action within the EU comes from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, which has taken various water management initiatives of the River Po. Remo Tavernari, policy officer at the region’s representation in Brussels, told that the river basin “has experienced a dramatic water-decrease since 2003″.
In response, enhanced cooperation between the different institutions and economic sectors involved has allowed Emilia Romagna to put “monitoring, conservation and water-demand control amongst its priorities” and a “more proactive, preventive approach” at the centre of its river basin management.
The Stockholm experts also emphasise the importance of more research into the vulnerability of water resources to climate change and additional funding to support the development of adaptive strategies for vulnerable groups and eco-systems.
On the controversial topic of who should bear the cost of climate change in terms of prevention and adaptation, the conference argued for the initial financing of vulnerable, low-income countries to mitigate effects already underway. It underlined this should then be followed up by the establishment of a “well-resourced mechanism for funding adaptation as part of ongoing climate negotiations”.

Positions
In its working paper on climate change and water, which accompanies the White Paper on Adapting to Climate Change published April 2009, the European Commission makes plain that “there is clear evidence that climate change will have a significant impact on water quantity and quality”.
The 3rd UN World Water Development Report, published this year, estimates that 90% of the three billion people who are expected to boost world population by 2050 will be in developing countries. Many of these will be in regions already experiencing water stress, where the current population does not have sustainable access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
“Water quality and its sustainable use is an urgent global problem. There is a pressing need for clear principles and tools for achieving and demonstrating progress towards sustainable water management,” said Anne-Léonore Boffi, assistant project manager for water at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).  Her comments coincided with the launch of a new report, ‘Water for Business: Initiatives Guiding Sustainable Water Management in the Private Sector’, jointly developed by WBCSD and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
“Many initiatives have emerged around sustainable water management for business. This is a positive signal that water is moving up the corporate agenda. We aim to help companies identify which initiative will best suit their needs,” said James Griffiths, managing director for sustainable forest products, water and ecosystems at the WBCSD.

EurActiv

quinta-feira, agosto 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

A indústria, exportadores, Governo Federal e organizações não-governamentais prorrogaram a moratória da soja até julho de 2010.
Em julho de 2006, a ABIOVE - Associação Brasileira da Indústria de Óleos Vegetais e a ANEC - Associação Brasileira dos Exportadores de Cereais e suas respectivas associadas se comprometeram a não comercializar nenhuma soja, oriunda de áreas que forem desflorestadas, após esta data, dentro do Bioma Amazônia.

Esta iniciativa inédita, que ficou conhecida como “Moratória da Soja” teve a duração de dois anos, uma forma de pressão para diminuir o avanço da cultura na Amazônia.
Durante este período, o setor trabalharia em conjunto com entidades representantes da sociedade civil (principalmente ONG’s ambientais e sociais) para desenvolver e implementar uma estrutura de governança com regras de como operar no Bioma Amazônia e cobrar do governo brasileiro a definição, aplicação e cumprimento de políticas públicas (zoneamento econômico-ecológico) sobre o uso da terra nesta região.

A ABIOVE e a ANEC, representando seus associados, convidaram as ONGs Conservação Internacional, Greenpeace, IPAM, TNC e WWF para compor o Grupo de Trabalho da Soja (GTS) para juntos implementarem a Moratória da Soja.

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quinta-feira, agosto 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

With traditional biofuels under fire for driving up food prices and wreaking environmental havoc, industrialists are stepping up research into algae as a sustainable alternative - but many obstacles remain before algae oil finds its way into our cars and planes.

In December 2008, the EU struck a deal to satisfy 10% of its transport fuel needs from renewable sources, including biofuels, hydrogen and green electricity, as part of negotiations on its energy and climate package.
“The mandatory 10% target for transport to be achieved by all member states should […] be defined as that share of final energy consumed in transport which is to be achieved from renewable sources as a whole, and not from biofuels alone,” says the final text of the EU Renewables Directive.
The new directive obliges the bloc to ensure that biofuels offer at least 35% carbon emission savings compared to fossil fuels. The figure rises to 50% as of 2017 and 60% as of 2018.
The conditionality is linked to increasing concerns about the sustainability of the so-called first-generation biofuels currently available - such as biodiesel and bioethanol - which are made from agricultural crops (including corn, sugar beet, palm oil and rapeseed).
The directive also states that the EU should take steps to promote “the development of second and third-generation biofuels in the Community and worldwide, and to strengthen agricultural research and knowledge creation in those areas”.


Second-generation biofuels facing challenges

With ethanol and biodiesel coming under fire for driving up food prices and putting biodiversity at risk, the EU has committed to ’second-generation’ biofuels as a cleaner alternative.
Second-generation biofuels are made from ligno-cellulosic biomass - the “woody” part of plants - that do not compete with food production. Sources include residues from crop and forest harvest such as leaves, tree bark, straw or woodchips as well as the non-edible portions of corn or cane.
However, converting the woody biomass into liquid sugars requires costly technologies involving pre-treatment and fermentation with special enzymes, meaning that second-generation biofuels cannot yet be produced economically on a large scale.
“It is unlikely that second-generation biofuels will be competitive with first generation by 2020,” said the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in a 2008 study. And if they do, they will use largely imported biomass anyway, the JRC added, as latest studies indicate there will not be enough wood available to meet energy needs while continuing to supply Europe’s existing wood industries.

Algae: High yields, no competition for land
To overcome these problems, some start-ups have now turned to so-called third-generation biofuels.
The United States Department of Energy (DoE) defines those as crops “designed exclusively for fuel production” such as perennial grasses, fast-growing trees and algae. These plants are not normally cultivated for agro-alimentary uses and have a particularly high percentage of biomass, it says.
Chief among those are algae. They are considered the most efficient organisms on earth, because of their rapid growth rate (some species can double their biomass in a day) and their high oil content.
Research into algae for the mass-production of oil is mainly focused on microalgae or phytoplankton – organisms capable of photosynthesis that are less than 0.4 mm in diameter.
“Algae can produce more biomass and more biofuel molecules much more efficiently in time and space than any terrestrial plant,” says Greg Mitchell of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego (UCSD). “For example, algae can produce 100 times more vegetable oil per acre per year than soy beans and 10 times more than oil palm,” he told WIPO Magazine, a publication of the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
According to US oil giant ExxonMobil, which recently launched a $600 million research and development project on the issue, algae could yield more than 2,000 gallons of fuel per acre per year of production (7,580 litres).

Approximate yields for other fuel sources are far lower, it pointed out:

  • palm — 650 gallons per acre per year (2,463 litres).
  • sugar cane — 450 gallons per acre per year (1,705 litres).
  • corn — 250 gallons per acre per year (947 litres).
  • soy — 50 gallons per acre per year (190 litres).


As a consequence, algae need much less land to grow than conventional biofuels, ending the potential for conflict with food production which comes with increased energy crop cultivation.

No need for freshwater
Algae have many other advantages. Aside from better yields, they are able to grow on ocean or wastewater, avoiding tapping into scarce freshwater resources for irrigation.
Algae grow best in seawater, which comes in virtually unlimited supply, says Raffaello Garofalo, executive director at the European Algae Biomass Association (EABA). And the micro-organism seems to be particularly fond of polluted seawater, which helps it grow at exponential rates.
“In all polluted sea places, there is a phenomenon which happens naturally called eutrophisation, which means there is an over-growth of algae,” says Garofalo. “Precisely because pollution brings excess nutrients to the algae and therefore they grow exponentially.”
The idea, he says, is to feed polluted water to the algae via transparent plastic tubes which industry specialists call photo-bioreactors. The algae absorb the pollution as a nutrient, and the water can then be returned back to the sea cleaner than when it entered, he explains. In the meantime, the algae have grown into biomass, which can be used for biofuels.
As a result, algae can be grown on so-called marginal lands, such as in desert areas where the groundwater is saline. Besides, they can feed on waste nutrients, including polluted water produced by the oil and gas industries.

Carbon ‘recycling’
In addition, microalgae have proved to grow more quickly when fed with carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas. When injected into a photo-bioreactor, the CO2 helps the plant grow faster while at the same time providing a way of “recycling” the CO2.
If algae plants are fitted next to factories or power stations, this could even open prospects for reducing emissions from industry.
“You could for example put algae next to a cement plant or a thermo-electric plant and you inject the carbon coming out of the plant in the bioreactor,” Garofalo explains. “This means that the CO2, instead of coming out of the chimney, goes into the bioreactor to produce algae, which is burnt a second time as a fuel and then only goes into the atmosphere. So the same CO2 can be re-used twice.”
In Arizona, GreenFuel, a private company, has developed a large-scale algae-to-biofuel plant, which uses CO2 emissions from a nearby power plant, the Arizona Public Service Redhawk power facility. The facility, which opened in 2005, won the 2006 Platts Emissions Energy Project of the Year Award.


Cost the main challenge

However, a number of challenges remain before algae can reach mainstream commercial applications, with uncertainties about cost the greatest obstacle.
Various algae species typically cost between US$5–10 per kg dry weight, according to US reports, with further research looking into ways of reducing capital and operating costs to make algae oil production commercially viable.
Bernard Raemy, executive vice-president at the Carbon Capture Corporation (CCC), a US-based company which claims to be a leader in the nascent algae-based biofuel industry, acknowledges that algae face a string of challenges. Speaking to WIPO Magazine, Raemy said these include “algae harvesting, dewatering, drying, lipid extraction and conversion”. “Coordinated research efforts are required to bring research from the lab to the field,” he said.


Research challenge: bringing costs down

In the United States, several R&D activities have taken place since the 1950s. The largest was the Aquatic Species Programme, launched in 1978 by the US Department of Energy (DOE). The programme focused on finding the best strains which produce the highest yield and have the highest lipid content, while resisting fluctuations in temperature, particularly when cultivated in outdoor ponds.
Over 3,000 strains of microalgae were collected and screened, with the number later narrowed down to 300. However, no single strain was found to be perfect for all kinds of climate or water and the programme was closed in 1996, when US gasoline prices went down to $26/litre.
According to a review by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), outdoor mass production of algae in open ponds faces a number of challenges, including:
* temperature variations, which affects productivity and growth;

* invasion by native microalgae species, which may wipe out the cultivated strain;

* water loss due to evaporation, and;

* lower lipid content of algae produced in ponds.

When cultivated in photo-bioreactors, other issues come up, mainly:
* finding the right type of plastic or glass for the transparent tubes in order to prevent algae from accumulating and obstructing the light;

* the cost of bringing the water via pipelines when algae are grown in desert areas, and;

* high maintenance cost of the installations.

It is therefore still an open question whether algae are best grown in photo-bioreactors or in open ponds. And the economics are a large part of the problem, as widespread mass production of algae for biofuel production is being hampered by the cost of the equipment and structures needed to begin growing algae in large quantities.
“For most algae applications we are still in fundamental research,” says the EABA’s Garofalo. “There is still research in order to identify the algae kinds or families which are most appropriate in order to produce biofuels. There is still research on what is the best bioreactor shape or plastic that is best to do this.”

Harvesting and oil extraction
Then comes the question of how to harvest the plants. “Because algae are micro-organisms of a size ten times smaller than hair, you cannot harvest them with a net for example,” Garofalo says.
Options for harvesting include centrifugation or chemical flocculation, which pushes all the microalgae together, but there are high costs associated with these processes too.
Whatever the species concerned, harvesting algae and extracting the oil from it appears to be “one the most critical steps” in producing algae-based biofuels, according to research foreseen under the European Commission’s FP7 research programme.
The project, called Aquafuels, intends to bring together researchers and industry in order to streamline European algae research in the future.
But with oil prices up again, new research is being carried out with renewed enthusiasm. And genetic modification seems to open entirely new prospects, with new algae strains being tested for their capacity. The US national biofuels action plan, published in October 2008, appears to hedge its bets on genetic engineering: “Third generation feedstocks should be developed to increase drought and stress tolerance; increase fertiliser and water use efficiencies; and provide for efficient conversion,” the plan says.

Environmental impact and energy balance
In addition, open questions still remain about the potential environmental impacts of biodiesel production from microalgae.
A life-cycle assessment of algae biofuels, performed by French scientists at INRA, raised concerns over the environmental impact of the whole process chain, from biomass production to biodiesel combustion.
Their findings, published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal in July 2009, confirmed the potential of microalgae as an energy source but also raised doubts about the energy balance of the whole process.
Looking at the energy required for the production of fertilisers and construction of infrastructure buildings, the scientists made a distinction between different algae culture and oil extraction techniques.
The study compared two different culture conditions - nominal fertilising and nitrogen starvation - as well as two different extraction options - dry or wet extraction.
“When taking into account all the energy debt of the process chain, it appears that only the wet extraction on low-nitrogen grown algae has a positive balance,” the scientists write. In comparison, “other scenarios lead to negative energetic balance despite a 100% energy extraction from the oilcake”.
Indeed, the scientists found that 90% of the energy consumed in the production process was dedicated to lipid extraction, compared to 70% with wet extraction. As a result, the energy balance “can be rapidly jeopardised, ending up with a counter-productive production chain,” the scientists warn.
“It is then clear that specific research must investigate new processes in lipid recovering with limited drying of the biomass,” they stress.
In conclusion, the study highlights “the imperative necessity of decreasing the energy and fertiliser consumption of the process”. According to the scientists, the low-nitrogen culture “obviously has lower fertiliser requirements but also implies a lower drying and extraction effort,” making this route more promising.

Future profitability lying outside biofuels
However, selecting the right algae strain and production process is not the only challenge which must be met before algae biomass can hit the commercial mainstream.
According to the European Algae Biomass Association (EABA), the key to future commercial profitability is to understand that there is more to algae than just biofuels production.
“It will never be economically viable to produce biodiesel or bioethanol from algae biomass if we don’t think about the co-products,” says the EABA’s Garofalo. “For instance, when you produce biodiesel, the lipid or the oil part of the algae represents about 25-30% of the product. But what do you do with the remaining 70%? We call it a by-product but actually it is the same product in terms of weight.”
Aside from biofuels and jet fuels, the EABA says other applications include nutrients, pharmaceuticals, animal feed or bio-based products. In all these sectors, the EABA says algae and aquatic biomass hold an outstanding potential to achieve a real revolution towards a fully sustainable economy.

Positions
With high oil prices driving the push to find alternatives, oil majors are showing increasing interest in algae fuel.
US oil major ExxonMobil recently launched a $600 million research programme in cooperation with Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (SGI) to develop, test, and produce biofuels from photosynthetic algae.
“While significant work and years of research and development still must be completed, if successful, algae-based fuels could help meet the world’s growing demand for transportation fuel while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Michael Dolan, senior vice-president of ExxonMobil.
Dolan said research will focus first on testing different strains of algae for their fuel-making potential. Research there can proceed more rapidly than for other crops with longer lifecycles, he said. The second phase will look into the best method for producing algae on a large scale: open pond, closed pond or photo-bioreactor. The last phase will see the development of “small to midsize plants” with a view to scaling up to a commercial module, which Dolan said could be “five to ten years away”.
If successful, bio-oils from photosynthetic algae could be used to manufacture a full range of fuels, including gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel, meeting the same specifications as today’s products, ExxonMobil said.
In December 2007, Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell built a research centre in Hawaii to study the commercial viability of selected algae strains. The facility will grow only non-modified, marine microalgae species in open-air ponds using proprietary technology. Shell says algae can double their mass several times a day and produce at least 15 times more oil per hectare than alternatives such as rape, palm soya or jatropha. Some algae species grow so fast that they double their size three or four times in one day, it said, highlighting their potential for large-scale commercial fuel production.
“Algae have great potential as a sustainable feedstock for production of diesel-type fuels with a very small CO2 footprint,” said Graeme Sweeney, Shell executive vice-president for future fuels and CO2. “This demonstration will be an important test of the technology and, critically, of commercial viability.”
UOP, a subsidiary of Honeywell, and Boeing have teamed up with leading airlines to create the Algal Biomass Organisation (ABO), a trade group which aims to test and develop algae fuels for use in aeroplanes.
Air New Zealand, Continental, Virgin Atlantic and Boeing will work together through the new group to push for long-term innovation and investment in algae as an energy form.
By May 2009, Bill Glover, managing director of environmental strategy at Boeing, said the group had concluded four successful test flights using different kinds of biofuel blends, including algae, camelina and jatropha. The international standards board that approves fuels and chemicals could certify the plant-derived biofuels within a year, Glover said, meaning they could be immediately used as a drop-in replacement.
“There is significant interest across multiple sectors in the potential of algae as an energy source and nowhere is that more evident than in aviation,” said Glover, who co-chairs the Algal Biomass Organisation (ABO). “Air transportation is a vital contributor to global economic prosperity, but is being threatened by record rises in fuel costs. Together we recognise that algae have the potential to help offset those fuel costs, while also contributing to improved environmental performance for the aviation industry.”
In a statement, the Algal Biomass Organisation (ABO) said algae fuels can annually deliver up to 2,000-5,000 gallons of fuel per acre of non-arable land, and can be a central part of an overall strategy to reduce oil dependency, without competing with food crops.
Raffaello Garofalo, executive director of the European Algae Biomass Association (EABA), says there are many potential benefits form using algae in biofuels production, particularly because it does not need to compete with land used for food crops.
But he warns against over-enthusiasm for the technology, saying there are still many obstacles before it can be developed on a commercial scale. And he refuses to be drawn into predictions about when the technology could become commercially viable. “It would not be responsible to give you dates,” he told. “What we want to avoid is a kind of Internet bubble where people make speculations about the quantities and prices of microalgae in the future.”
“There is a lot of investment in research and this research is driven by the conviction that economies of scale, improvement in yields and output are achievable. It is a matter of time.”

EurActiv

quinta-feira, agosto 27th, 2009 | Author: admin

A comercialização de automóveis flex no Brasil cresceu 5% entre janeiro a julho de 2009, em relação ao mesmo período do ano passado. Quando se compara julho em relação a junho de 2009, porém, houve uma queda de 6,56% nas vendas. Os dados foram divulgados pela Associação Nacional dos Fabricantes de Veículos Automotores (Anfavea) , e compilados pelo departamento econômico da União da Indústria de Cana-de-Açúcar (Unica).
No período de janeiro a julho, 1,474 milhão de carros foram vendidos, mais de 63 mil unidades acima das vendas registradas nos primeiros seis meses de 2008, quando foram emplacados 1,411 milhão de veículos.
“As vendas de veículos flex no País apresentaram uma esperada redução em julho, mas o importante é que a frota de veículos vem aumentando diante da preferência do consumidor. A queda em julho resulta da antecipação de compras de junho. Importante notar, contudo, que o volume de vendas de julho ainda supera a média das vendas mensais de janeiro a maio de 2009”, analisa o diretor técnico da Unica, Antonio de Padua Rodrigues.
Parte do recuo nas vendas de julho em relação a junho é creditado à isenção do Imposto sobre Produtos Industrializados (IPI), anunciado pelo Ministério da Fazenda no final de 2008. A expectativa era de que o incentivo terminasse em julho, o que provocou uma antecipação nas vendas de automóveis em junho.
As vendas de motos registraram queda de 21% no acumulado de janeiro a julho deste ano, também em relação ao mesmo período do ano passado. Por outro lado, o desempenho da única moto flex do mercado, a CG Titan Mix de 150 cilindradas lançada pela Honda em março deste ano, mostra uma curva ascendente. Nos seis primeiros meses de oferta do novo modelo, foram licenciadas mais de 79 mil motos  flex em todo o país. Os dados são da Associação Brasileira dos Fabricantes de Motocicletas, Ciclomotores, Motonetas, Bicicletas e Similares (Abraciclo).
O Brasil é o único país a ter uma motocicleta flex no mundo. Com a versão desenvolvida exclusivamente para o público brasileiro, a intenção da Honda é beneficiar segmentos que utilizam o veículo para o trabalho, como é o caso do moto-frete.
“Além do bolso do consumidor, o meio ambiente também foi beneficiado por este lançamento, pois a moto já vem equipada com tecnologia que proporciona uma redução significativa de emissão de poluentes”, atesta o especialista em tecnologia e emissões da Unica, Alfred Szwarc.

Unica

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