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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.”

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.

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

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.

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.”


quarta-feira, abril 01st, 2009 | Author: admin

The international airline association IATA is aiming to approve biofuels for commercial flights by 2010 or 2011.
Recent tests by Continental Airlines, Japan’s JAL, Air New Zealand and Virgin had shown that next generation sustainable clean burning biofuels were successful, IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani says.
Biofuels would still need to be produced in commercially viable quantities with common quality standards, and suppliers worldwide would also need to be equipped for storage.
US aircraft maker Boeing estimates that biofuel blends with jet fuel could cut emissions by 50% without the need to change aircraft.
Certification is widely regarded as a first technical step that could eliminate some of the investment uncertainties that cloud the use of high quality biofuels in aviation.

Biofuels International

sexta-feira, janeiro 02nd, 2009 | Author: admin

An Air New Zealand passenger jet powered in part by vegetable oil successfully completed a two-hour flight on Tuesday 30 December. One engine of a Boeing 747-400 aeroplane was powered by a 50-50 blend of oil from jatropha plants and standard A1 jet fuel. The flight was the first to use jatropha as part of a biofuel mix.
The test flight out of Auckland International Airport included a full-power takeoff and cruising to 35,000 feet where the crew manually set all four engine controls to check for identical performance readings among the biofuel-powered engine and those using jet fuel.
Pilots also switched off the fuel pump for the biofuel engine at 25,000 feet to test the lubricity of the fuel, ensuring its friction in the pipe did not slow its flow to the engine.
It will be at least 2013 before the company can ensure easy access to the large quantities of jatropha it would need to use the biofuel on all of its flights, Air New Zealand group manager Ed Sims says.
The airline bought the seeds from plantations in East Africa and India totalling 309,000 acres.
The company targets 10% of its flights will be partly powered by biofuels by 2013.
Most of those using the blend would be short haul domestic services.

                           Biofuels International

segunda-feira, dezembro 22nd, 2008 | Author: admin

Pesquisa realizada no Instituto de Biologia da Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) indica que microalgas encontradas no litoral brasileiro têm potencial energético para produzir 90 mil quilos de óleo por hectare.
Entre as matrizes vegetais, a soja é a principal base do biodiesel do Brasil, mas sua escala de produtividade é baixa – de 400 a 600 quilos de óleo por hectare – e tem apenas um ciclo anual.
O girassol pode produzir um pouco mais, de 630 a 900 quilos.
Segundo o estudo da UFF, as algas têm diversas outras vantagens. Do ponto de vista ambiental, o biodiesel de microalgas libera menos gás carbônico na atmosfera do que os combustíveis fósseis, além de combater o efeito estufa e o superaquecimento.
A alternativa também não entra em conflito com a agricultura, pode ser cultivada no solo pobre e com a água salobra do semi-árido brasileiro – para onde a água do mar também pode ser canalizada – e abre possibilidades para que países tropicais (como a Polinésia e nações africanas) possam começar a produzir matriz energética. Além disso, as algas crescem mais rápido do que qualquer outra planta.
“O biodiesel de microalgas ainda não é viável, mas em cinco anos haverá empresas produzindo em larga escala”, estima o biólogo Sergio Lourenço, do Departamento de Biologia Marinha da UFF, responsável pelo estudo.
Lourenço identificou dezenas de espécies com potencial para produzir o biodiesel em larga escala. O problema é que a porcentagem de lipídios de cada alga não é alta – poucas espécies chegam a 20% de concentração. Mas a soja (18%) e o dendê (22%) também concentram baixas quantidades de lipídios. O amendoim concentra 40%.
“Se a matriz tem baixa concentração de lipídios, temos que acumular muito mais massa”, explica o biólogo. Por isso, ele e sua equipe trabalham em métodos para estimular a concentração de lipídios. “Por meio de técnicas de manipulação das condições de cultivo, conseguimos alterar a composição química nos meios de cultura, aumentando assim a concentração de lipídios. Em dez dias a biomassa está apta a ser colhida.”
Há pouco mais de um ano, o projeto vem sendo articulado com o Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia, o Ministério da Agricultura, a Secretaria Especial de Água e Pesca e a Casa Civil, que conduz o Programa Nacional de Biodiesel.
Conversas têm sido feitas com a Petrobras para apoiar o projeto. O financiamento permitiria o cultivo em grande densidade, em tanques de 20 mil litros, primeiramente em uma unidade da UFF, antes de ser levada ao semi-árido. Há também, segundo Lourenço, outra vantagem ecológica nesse cultivo: para fazê-las crescer, é necessário tirar carbono da atmosfera.
As microalgas são usadas há décadas na produção de encapsulantes e na aquacultura, para alimentar peixes e outros animais. Segundo o pesquisador, desde a década de 1970, depois da primeira grande crise do petróleo de 1973, já se pensava na aplicação desses organismos marinhos para a produção de energia a partir da biomassa.
“Perdemos terreno por nunca ter investido o suficiente nessa frente. Hoje, o barril do petróleo custa US$ 70 e já chegou a custar US$ 143 este ano, batendo um recorde histórico. O Brasil tem tudo para se tornar a potência energética mundial. Nos encontramos na vanguarda dos biocombustíveis: além de termos alcançado a auto-suficiência na produção de petróleo, temos o maior programa de álcool do mundo”, destacou.
De acordo com Lourenço, outra vantagem é que, assim como a cana-de-açúcar, matéria-prima do etanol, as microalgas demandam uma área pequena para seu cultivo e podem produzir uma quantidade de biocombustível bem maior.

“A cana-de-açúcar ocupa 2% da área agrícola do Brasil, aproximadamente 45 milhões de hectares. A Embrapa indica que o país tem ainda 100 milhões de hectares que pode ocupar. O programa energético prevê mais 2 milhões de hectares, ainda assim uma fração da área total disponível. Com o cultivo das microalgas ocupando apenas 1% da área que a soja utiliza hoje, pode-se produzir a mesma quantidade de biodiesel que ela produz ao ano”, afirmou.
Algas para aviação
Presidente da Associação Brasileira de Biologia Marinha e autor do livro Cultivo de Microalgas Marinhas: princípio e aplicações (2006), Sergio Lourenço explica que não são todas as espécies de microalgas com potencial para biocombustível, mas conta que aquelas que identificou também poderiam ser aplicadas para a produção do bioquerosene, maior interesse do setor da aviação na atualidade.
Em fevereiro de 2008, um Boeing da companhia aérea Virgin Atlantic fez um vôo entre Londres e Amsterdã movido a bioquerosene à base de óleo vegetal – uma mistura de babaçu e coco. As empresas aéreas gastam 85 bilhões de galões de querosene tradicional por ano e são responsáveis por 3,5% das emissões de dióxido de carbono no mundo.
“O setor tem que diminuir as emissões e pretende trabalhar com uma mistura de 20% de bioquerosene, hoje feita à base de óleos vegetais, com o querosene tradicional, que custa o equivalente a 40% do preço de uma passagem aérea”, disse Lourenço.
Segundo ele, o processo de produção do bioquerosene é semelhante ao do biodiesel – ambas as moléculas estão presentes nas microalgas, com a diferença de que as do biodiesel são maiores.
“Elas têm a mesma classe de moléculas, mas com características químicas diferentes; uma alga descartada para aplicação de biodiesel pode ser usada para bioquerosene”, disse.
Em fevereiro de 2009, o setor aeronáutico estará reunido em Montreal, no Canadá, no Congresso da Associação Internacional de Aviação (Iata) para discutir, entre outros assuntos, o uso das microalgas na produção de bioquerosene. Esse foi também o destaque de um evento promovido pela Boeing em outubro passado.
O projeto da UFF será um dos destaques de um Congresso da Associação Brasileira de Biologia Marinha que será realizado em abril de 2009, na cidade de Búzios, no Rio de Janeiro.


Agência FAPESP – Washington Castilhos




segunda-feira, dezembro 22nd, 2008 | Author: admin

Japan Airlines (JAL) will be the first airline to conduct a demonstration flight using camelina-based biofuel, planned for
30 January 2009 at Haneda Airport, Tokyo.
A blend of 50% biofuel and 50% traditional Jet-A jet (kerosene) fuel will be tested in one of the four Pratt & Whitney JT9D engines of a JAL-owned Boeing 747-300 aircraft.
The biofuel component to be used will be a mixture of three second-generation biofuel feedstocks: camelina (84%), jatropha (<16%), and algae (<1%).
Camelina, also known as false flax, is an energy crop, with a high oil content and ability to grow in rotation with wheat and other cereal crops.
The crop is mostly grown in more moderate climates such as the northern plains of the US. It can be grown in dry areas, poor soil and at high altitudes.
The camelina to be used in the JAL demo flight was sourced by Sustainable Oils, a US-based provider of renewable, environmentally clean, and high-value camelina-based fuels.
Terasol Energy sourced and provided the jatropha oil, and the algae oil was provided by Sapphire Energy.
‘Prior to take-off, we will run the No. 3 engine (middle right) using the fuel blend to confirm everything operates normally. In the air, we will check the engine’s performance during normal and non-normal flight operations, which will include quick accelerations and decelerations, and engine shutdown and restart,’ JAL environmental affairs VP Yasunori Abe explains.
Once the flight has been completed, data recorded on the aircraft will be analysed by Pratt & Whitney and Boeing engineers.
Several of the engine readings will be used to determine if equivalent engine performance was seen from the biofuel blend compared to typical Jet A-1 fuel.