November 2009 news

26.11.09 Scientists find key to creating clean fuel from coal and waste

Millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide could be prevented from entering the atmosphere following the discovery of a way to turn coal, grass or municipal waste more efficiently into clean fuels.

Scientists at Columbia University have adapted a process called "gasification" which is already used to clean up dirty materials before they are used to generate electricity or to make renewable fuels. The results could have significant impacts on transport fuels.

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(source: Guardian)


24.11.09 Passengers test biofuels flight

It has been tested in aeroplanes before, but now biofuels have made new aviation headlines.

On Monday 23 November KLM Royal Dutch Airlines transported passengers above the Netherlands for 90 minutes with one engine powered with a 50 percent mix of biofuel and 50 percent kerosene, the typical air craft fuel, which fuelled the three other engines.

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(source: Biofuels International)


23.11.09 Could abandoned mines help grow biofuel?

Researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (U.S) are planning to grow algae for fuel in abandoned mines using light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.

Algae need light to produce lipids, or oil, but they work best when they use only the red and blue parts of the light spectrum and when they are given time in the dark to process the photons. That is where LEDs can come in as they can be tailored to emit only the needed light frequencies.

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(source: Climate Ark / Scientific American)


20.11.09 Large-scale algae cultivation at coal-fired plant in Australia

The Australian company MBD Energy has ambitious plans to produce algae to be used for biofuels and protein-rich animal fodder in Australia. The company plans to utilise the CO2 emitted by coal-fired power plants and plans to build a 500 square metre demonstration plant in Townsville, Queensland. A research department will be opened here on 20 November 2009.

MBD Energy and Australia's James Cook University have developed a CO2 capture system that will be coupled to the coal-fired power plant. The CO2 captured will then be transported to the algae farm and emitted there. The algae will also be fed on sewer water, animal waste and commercial fertilisers.

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(source: GAVE-news / MDB Energy)


18.11.09 Risk of EU biofuel policy causing more harm than good

There is a substantial risk that current EU biofuel policy will cause more harm than good, according to a new report published on 11 November by a group of environmental and development organisations.

The report highlights the failure of EU law to account for the environmental impact of indirect land use change (ILUC) when calculating the greenhouse gas benefits of biofuels. Assessing the impact of ILUC and incorporating it in biofuels policy is critically important to ensuring biofuels reduce carbon emissions in the transport sector rather than increase them.

The report also issues a warning about the potential harmful effects that biofuels will have on biodiversity and vulnerable communities in poorer world regions.

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(source: Transport & Environment, press release from 11 Nov 2009)


16.11.09 Biogas production and utilisation in the Baltic States in the spotlight

Use and production of biofuels in the European Baltic States is the focus of the 9th edition of the Biofuel Cities quarterly newsletter. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – the three Baltic States on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea joined the European Union (EU) in 2004. Gradually, the three countries have been adopting the EU’s bioenergy policies and are now facing the target to increase the market share of biofuels in transportation to 5.75 percent.

But this target cannot be achieved by focussing on biodiesel only. It is only recently that the unused potential of biogas has been recognised as an important means to diversify biofuel resources. The three countries have taken the first steps to remove obstacles and create financial incentives for the production of biogas, but the situation varies from country to country.

Download this issue [pdf file].

To read previous newsletter issues click here


12.11.09 Biofuel as social fuel

Based on the question how  "bio" fuels might become a synonym of social progress and global responsibility, the project "Biofuel as Social Fuel" refers to the necessity of a socio-ecological transformation process into north and south. This includes technological development as well as changes in methods of production and consumption habits.

A new research group will examine two project regions Brandenburg (Germany) and Ribeirão Preto (Brazil) as examples to analyse whether the production of biogenic fuels conforms with the concept of sustainability in all its dimensions and where, in contrast, new problems are generated. These issues will be discussed in Potsdam, near Berlin on Friday, December 11th.

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(source: PIK)


06.11.09 German bioethanol demand up four-fold

Figures for the first half of 2009 show an improvement in Germany’s bioethanol market. Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) data shows that bioethanol production was up 61% during the first half of 2009, with demand standing at 453,000 tonnes. This figure is more than 3.6 times demand in the same period of 2008, which stood at 91,000 tonnes.

(source: GAVE-news/Biofuels International)


26.10.09 UNEP: New report brings greater clarity to burning issue

According to a major report released on the 16 October by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), a far more sophisticated approach needs to be taken when developing biofuels as an environmentally-friendly energy option.

The report, the first by UNEP's International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, says some first generation biofuels such as ethanol from sugar cane can have positive impacts in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. As currently practiced in a country such as Brazil, this can lead to emissions reductions of between 70 percent and well over 100 percent when substituted for petrol.

However, the report also highlights the importance of production methods, as a determinant for the level of greenhouse gas emissions.

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(source: GAVE-news / UNEP)