Posted by: davidgarnerconsulting | March 17, 2010

Brazil: PetroBras to Double Biofuel Prodcution

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Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2 March – Brazilian state oil company Petrobras said Monday it would invest 66 million reals to double production at the country’s biggest biodiesel factory.

The investment will make it possible to increase production at the Candeias unit from 108.6 million litres per year to 217.2 million litres per years, the company said in a statement.

The unit, located in Candeias, in the state of Bahia in north eastern Brazil, and opened in 2008, was Petrobras’ first biodiesel unit, is responsible for producing 35.7 percent of all the renewable fuel produced by the company.

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Of the 157 million litres of biodiesel produced by Petrobras since 2008, 56 million were manufactured at the Candeias unit the statement said.

Biodiesel is a derivative of oil producing plants such as soy, sunflowers and palm, with which Brazil plans to encourage production by smallholders and reduce gas emissions.

In order to encourage production of this vegetable-based fuel, Brazilian legislation requires distributors to mix 4 percent biodiesel into every litre of conventional diesel sold. (macauhub)

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Posted by: davidgarnerconsulting | March 17, 2010

Algae Promises Biofuel Solutions

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Second-generation biofuels, like cellulose-based ethanol and biodiesel, have a few problems. First, there’s not enough arable developed land to grow the amount of second-generation feedstocks for the ethanol or diesel biofuels needed to offset imported petroleum (60% of our total use) and meet our gasoline and diesel requirements. Biofuels can and are offsetting some petroleum usage, but the upside scalable volumes are severely limited.

Then there’s the fact that second-generation feedstocks don’t have the high-energy densities of the petroleum-based fuels they’re being asked to replace (76,000 Btu/gal versus 116,000 Btu/gal typically). The total costs of current bioethanol and biodiesel processes are not competitive with petroleum-based processes, and, while progress is being made, they are still substantial sources of greenhouse gases. Finally, these feedstocks offset the food stocks that could be grown in their place.

These issues and the complex processing requirements to convert them into usable biofuels also create a cost structure that’s not competitive with that of traditional fuels.

 

As such, an alga is being considered as a viable alternative biofuel feedstock. In a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, the editors picked nuclear-, wind- and algae-based biofuels as the most likely alternative energy sources of the future. Numerous supporters believe algae could replace all U.S. liquid fuel requirements in the future while offsetting the carbon dioxide generation of other greenhouse gas sources—when converted into a biofuel and burned, algea emits only the carbon dioxide it absorbed, adding no new CO2 into the atmosphere. All of these are promised, along with the possibility of $1 to $2 per gallon production costs.

The Basics

“The process of sourcing, growing and harvesting clean algae is a complicated procedure,” says Mark Hansen, a principal partner with Stoel, Rives LLP. While the use of algae as a biofuel is a relatively new technology, growing algae is not a new process—it’s been done for nutritional products, nutraceuticals, animal feedstock, wastewater treatment, and CO2 mitigation for a long time.

The primary requirements for growing are sunlight, water and CO2. Algae also require nutrients (nitrates, phosphates, iron and silica) and environmental conditions appropriate to the specific algal species. There are three primary algae cultivation systems being evaluated for biofuel production—open pond-like systems, photobioreactors (PBR), and hybrid systems.

 
Cultivating microalgae can employ fresh water, but saline or brackish water can also be used. Large waste CO2 sources, like flue gas from a coal-fired or gas-fired power plant, can also be used as a resource for algae biofuel systems.
Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge

The vegoil content of algae fuel can be converted in biodiesel, while its carbohydrate content can be fermented into bioethanol. Microalgae (the unicellular algae micro-organisms) have a high lipid (oil) content (~60%) and rapid growth rates (one doubling/day), and produce more lipids per acre than other terrestrial plants (from 10 to 100x). Microalgae also does not compete with food or feed stocks.

While a theoretical maximum value is not yet known for the lipid content of microalgae, some researchers have estimated it to be as high as 85% of their dry cell weight. Higher lipid values in microalgae are, however, also associated with lower growth rates; therefore a biofuel application would not try to maximize lipid content but attempt to develop maximum productivity.
“Making biofuels from algae is all about the economics,” says Nigel Quinn, a water resources engineer at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. “In order to cultivate and convert algae into a biofuel, you need huge systems. Right now, algae biofuel can probably be made for a very non-competitive $9 or $10 per gallon.”

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The Issues

While developing algae-based biofuels has only recently become relevant to our overall energy-sourcing picture, the failures of ongoing development programs reflect the complexity of this overall process.

One of the largest issues concerning the development of algae into biofuel is the cost of the capital equipment for a pond or PBR process.

Pond systems require vast amounts of land. Harvesting in these systems is done with screens and needs to be automated. Water losses need to be monitoried and controlled, but doing so may adversely affect the systems’ economics. Also, the larger the pond, the larger the mixing velocity and mixing power required, the latter of which goes up as a cube of the velocity.
Open pond systems are also prone to contamination, not just from non-biological sources but also from the various algae species that might become invasive. Contaminants could also affect the culture medium (alkalinity and pH).

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PBRs are easier to control than pond systems but can cost 10 to 100x more. In a number of cases, organizations over the past 20 years tried PBR systems only to fail due to rising costs.
Gas sources and gas generation also need to be accounted for in the cultivation system developed for algae. For pond systems, a rich source of CO2 needs to be ensured, which reflects on their siting preferences near large power plants. For PBR systems, the generation of O2 from the algae needs to be managed.

Infestations of platyzoan rotifers (near-microscopic animals that eat algae) can also devastate an algae culture, requiring difficult- and expensive-to-clean systems. While a large number of algae species are known to exist, the type most often used in current culturing systems is a wild strain. Little work in the past has been made on selective breeding of algae species, especially for optimal oil yields.

The Industry

Thermo Scientific's Nicolet iS10 FT-IR spectrometer can obtain spectra and lipid content from dried algae.
Thermo Scientific’s Nicolet iS10 FT-IR spectrometer can obtain spectra and lipid content from dried algae.

With all the promises that algae-based biofuels offer, and with economies of scale being one of the barriers to entry, more than 150 industrial companies are looking to create a process that can take advantage of these promises. ExxonMobil R&D Co., for example, announced in 2009 that it was investing $600 million to develop liquid transportation biofuels from algae. Their effort involves a partnership with Synthetic Genomics, the La Jolla, Calif. company founded by genomics pioneer J. Craig Venter. “This agreement represents a comprehensive, long-term R&D exploration into the most efficient and cost-effective organisms to produce next-generation algal biofuel,” says Venter.

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Chevron has also partnered with algae biofuel producer Solazyme of South San Francisco and the National Renewable Energy Lab to develop jet fuel and other biofuels from algae. Solazyme’s fermentation process, which is grown in PBRs, is considered to be the closest to maturity.

Sapphire was awarded $104 million as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 and the Biorefinery Assistance Program. Sapphire Energy’s Green Crude from algae is a complete drop-in replacement technology for crude oil. The Green Crude can be refined directly into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. “Sapphire has the largest cultivation of enhanced algal strains, with more than 200 patents in the algal fuel space,” says Brian Goodall, Sapphire’s VP of Downstream Technology.

Melbourne, Fla.-based PetroAlgae licenses commercial micro-crop technologies that enable the cultivation of algae-based biofuels. The PetroAlgae system removes 98% of the water used to grow micro-crops. The process includes large-scale open bioreactors that are harvested via vacuum skimming to stationary screen filters. A screw press dewaters the resulting filtrate, which is then dried and refined into green fuel. PetroAlgae has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. and foreign companies for its large-scale production facilities.

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Naples, Fla.-based Algenol Biofuels recently received a $25 million grant from ARRA funds to build a biorefinery in Freeport, Texas. The company is also expanding a plant in Mexico, where it partners with Sonora Fields to commercialize Algenol’s “Direct to Ethanol” process. Their first commercial project is expected this year.

Metrohm's 873 Biodiesel Rancimat analyzer evaluates the fatty acid methyl esters present in oil.
Metrohm’s 873 Biodiesel Rancimat analyzer evaluates the fatty acid methyl esters present in oil.

Algenol also stated that it plans to create two new programs: one to create algae-based biofuel from chemical feedstocks and the other in carbon dioxide management. The Algenol process links sugar production to photosynthesis with enzymes within individual algae cells. The naturally occurring enzymes are the same as those used to produce bread, beer, and wine and thus pose no risk to humans.

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During a webinar this February, Algenol stated that its prototype production strains were expected to produce ethanol at a rate of 10,000 gal/acre/yr by the end of 2009 and could increase to 20,000 gal/acre/yr.

The Research

A large number of universities are also working on algae biofuels. Milt Sommerfield and Qiang Hu at Arizona State Univ.’s Polytechnic Campus, Phoenix, are developing an algae species that would work well in Arizona’s climate and produce the largest quantities of lipids. They’ve already identified that algae production increases when they’re stressed, which is easily controllable in PBR systems.

Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, researchers are also looking to optimize algae species for hardiness, rapid growth and biofuel capabilities. UA’s Professor Joel Cuello is focusing their research on a PBR they refer to as Accordion, which they use to grow Botryococcus braunii, an oil-rich algae that could be used to produce jet fuel. The device flows water and nutrients through a vertical series of clear polymer panels, allowing the mix to have a controlled flow and steady light gradient.

Martin Spalding, a researcher at Iowa State Univ. (ISU), Ames, is working on stacking traits in the Chlamydomonas algae, similar to the way researchers have developed genetically modified (GM) corn. Working with ARRA funding, Spalding is trying to create algae biofuels similar to their petroleum-based counterparts.

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The Instruments

As researchers in industry and academia work to develop and commercialize algae-based biofuel production systems and materials, they’re being aided with specialized instruments.
The Nicolet iS10 FT-IR spectrometer from Thermo Scientific, for example, was originally created for pharmaceutical high-throughput screening systems. It can, however, be applied effectively to the analysis of algae. Researchers are always looking to increase the amount of lipids produced by the algae. To achieve this, FT-IR can be used to characterize the composition of biological samples, including bacteria, single cells, and tissues. FT-IR has been documented as a viable method for determining the protein, carbohydrate, and lipid content in biomass from algae. Configured with a Smart iTR diamond accessory or Smart OMNI-transmission accessory, the iS10 can be used to obtain spectra from dried algae.

Similarly, a Raman-specific 1064-nm spectrometer from BaySpec, Inc. was designed for measuring micro-algae. Using its Nunavut 1064-nm system, researchers are able to overcome characterization issues with fluorescence seen at lower wavelengths.

Metrohm’s 873 Biodiesel Rancimat can be used to evaluate the oxidation stability of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) present in oil. The amount of water in a biodiesel determines the calorific value and its shelf life. Biodiesel with high water content has a lower oxidation stability.

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There also are a number of customized instruments that researchers utilize in the development of algae biofuels. The National Renewable Energy Lab and the Univ. of Colorado, for example, collaborated to purchased a custom BD FaCSAria (Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorter) for high-speed algal cell sorting of populations and individual cells. This keystone system was put into the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels. Another one of their strategic equipment acquisitions for algae development was a cryopreservation system (MVE Eterne Series) for the long-term maintenance of algal cultures. These cryo systems minimize damage to the algae during low-temperature freezing and storage and thus maintain the long-term cell viability.

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Source: laboratoryequipment.com

Posted by: davidgarnerconsulting | March 17, 2010

29,000 New Jobs Created From Biofuel Investments

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The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has just announced that David Kappos, Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, will be a featured speaker at the Intellectual Property Super Session taking place during the 2010 BIO International Convention. The May 3 event, entitled “Leveraging IP to Spur Global Biotechnology Innovation, Investment and Jobs,” will examine the role that intellectual property systems play in attracting biotech investment and how some countries are successfully leveraging their patent policies to foster economic growth.  Among the many events for BIO International, there will be BIO Career Fair, which is free to all job seekers.  Additionally, BIOPark will host academics, tech transfers and early stage companies looking to showcase innovative technologies.

“BIO is thrilled that Director Kappos, a renowned thought leader in IP policy, will be joining us at the 2010 BIO International Convention. His comments will provide attendees with new insight into global IP issues, the future of patent reform and the effect of patent policy on scientific discovery,” said BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood.

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The Convention will include an entire track dedicated to legal issues and IP, featuring judges, legal experts, government officials and academics as speakers. The IP sessions will include:

  • Patenting Genes: In Search of Calmer Waters
  • Follow-on Biologics: The Proposed Legislation and Its Impact on Your Patent Portfolio
  • Global Patent Strategy: Perspectives Of International Patent Leaders

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Meanwhile, last week BIO last week released a white paper on the growth and jobs potential of green chemicals and briefed Congressional staff on the commercial status of industrial biotechnologies for algae applications, biobased products, and advanced biofuels.  BIO’s position is that federal tax policies should incentivize commercial deployment of advanced industrial biotechnologies, which can create jobs, reduce reliance on petroleum, and achieve greenhouse gas reductions.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president for BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section, stated, “Over the last two decades, competitive advantage for petroleum-derived chemicals and plastics manufacturing has shifted away from the United States, and consequently domestic employment in the sector has dropped. Biobased chemicals and plastics can supplement or replace a wide variety of petroleum-based products, and the United States has a substantial potential competitive advantage in their manufacture. Growth of this industry can produce high-paying green jobs across the United States, just as advanced biofuel production.”

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BIO’s white paper, Biobased Chemicals and Products: A New Driver of U.S. Economic Development and Green Jobs, shows that even in its nascent state, the biobased chemicals and plastics industry accounts for over 5,700 direct jobs and is likely responsible for over 40,000 jobs economy wide. Total U.S. employment in the sector declined by 20 percent over past two decades. A recent report commissioned by BIO, U.S. Economic Impact of Advanced Biofuels Production, projects that development of advanced biorefineries could create as many as 29,000 jobs over the next few years.”

BIO’s proposals for Congressional policy options include:

  • Fund development and deployment programs for biobased products and renewable specialty chemicals;
  • Provide product parity and early-stage support for biobased products through both a production and an early-stage R&D tax credit;
  • Open existing DOE and USDA loan guarantee programs to biobased product projects;
  • Open existing cellulosic biofuels tax credits to algae-based biofuels and extend the credits through 2017;
  • Double funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs to deploy cellulosic feedstocks; include eligibility for value-added biobased materials, products and chemicals;
  • Fund the reverse auction for cellulosic biofuels already incorporated in law.

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For more information see Biobased Chemicals and Products: A New Driver of U.S. Economic Development and Green Jobs.

BIO is also gearing up for its semiannual IP Counsels Committee Conference, which over the last 8 years has become a popular and growing event among our members’ IP and legal professionals. The 2010 IPCC Conference will next be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, from April 19 -21 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

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Source: ipwatchdog.com

Posted by: davidgarnerconsulting | March 17, 2010

Agrofuels and Their Threat to the Human Race

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Let’s start with this, from the agrofuels-mad U.S. of A.: http://environmentalresearchweb.org/blog/2010/03/the-smallprint-of-rfs2.html One remarkable detail that stands out in this (worrying) article is that the Environmental Protection Agency (sic.) analysis here accounts for the reduction in food consumption which is associated with using foodstuffs for fuel as a GHG benefit… Quick translation: Starving people is supposed to be good for the planet!

That moment of madness tells you a lot about the rise of agrofuels, which is all about profit, and none about reducing GHG emissions, let along about being good for people.

The issue of land-use being altered away from food toward fuels is big in Europe right now too. Take this newspaper headline, again from just last week: “Four environmental groups have sued the European Union’s executive for withholding documents they say will add to a growing dossier of evidence that biofuels harm the environment and push up food prices:” http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-environment/ngos-take-commission-court-over-biofuels-reports-news-321885?utm_source=EurActiv+Newsletter&utm_campaign=14fe74fa7d-my_google_analytics_key&utm_medium=email

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In November 2008, eight of the largest agrofuel-producing countries, including Brazil and Indonesia,
threatened the EU that they would go to the WTO if restrictions on agrofuels-influenced land-use change were not
removed: this was following a massive lobbying effort by agrofuel companies in Brussels. Yet land-use-effects have by far the greatest negative climatic impacts of agrofuels. Removing any land use restrictions gives producer countries a free licence to destroy vital ecosystems and habitats. …Bottom-line: If we want to feed people, rather than cars, and if we want to stop rainforests etc. being trashed to set up monocultures, then we must stop agrofuels companies and mass-producer states from dominating the debate. The actions of these four environmental groups in taking the EU to court over this is thus very welcome.  

But there has been bad news as well as good lately for those of us campaigning against agrofuels. Take this, for instance:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/18/palm-oil-biofuels-eu-plan
The recent draft communication from the European Commission to the European Parliament on the sustainability of biofuels says natural forests have to be protected. But the devil is in the definition of a forest. The document says: “Continuously forested areas are defined as areas where trees have reached, or can reach, a height of five metres, making up a crown cover of more than 30%. They would normally include natural forest, forest plantations and other plantations such as palm oil. This means that a change from  forest to oil palm would not per se constitute a breach of the criterion [for sustainability].”

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If plantation bosses succeed in redefining palm oil as forestry then that will attract double subsidies from European taxpayers – for managing forests and for producing agrofuels. Double subsidies – for ripping up rainforests!

The hugest long-term threat posed by the agrofuels business is in greenwashing aviation. The aviation industry is ‘committed’ to reducing their CO2 by more than 90% by 2050. This is simply and utterly impossible, given the industry’s massive expansion plans. So the aviation industry pretends that they will put the entire aviation sector on to agrofuels, and greenwashes their emissions in the process. The problem is that agrofuels, in part for the reasons given above, are far more destructive to the environment (in most cases) than kerosene…

Last but not least, check this out: http://rupertread.fastmail.co.uk/FYI%20%20Highlevel%20biofuels%20lobbying.doc . This email, that some MEPs received last week from the dismal Burston Marsteller PR firm, and that at least one of them had the courage to pass onto us and thus to make public, will give you some idea of the kind of massive lobbying effort that the agrofuels profiteers are currently engaged in, as they endeavour to replace biodiversity and resilience with monocultures – and temporary profits.

I’ve been campaigning against industrial biofuels for nearly a decade now. It is absolutely vital that we have politicians in Westminster as well as in Brussels who are committed to being truly green, not to the ludicrous greenwash of agrofuels. Please think about that, in the run-up to May 6th.

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Source: http://rupertsread.blogspot.com

Posted by: davidgarnerconsulting | March 17, 2010

EU Warns Against Biofuel Link to Hunger

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The European Union’s promotion of plant-based biofuels will raise EU farm incomes and agricultural commodity prices, but could create food shortages for the world’s poorest consumers, draft EU reports show. The EU has a legal target to get a tenth of its road transport fuels from renewable sources such as biofuels by 2020. For EU farmers hit by falling incomes, Europe’s 5 billion euros-per-year ($6.84 billion) biofuels market is coveted as a source of new revenues.

Impact studies drafted for EU policymakers — included in 116 documents released to Reuters under freedom of information laws — predict that current biofuel policies will boost EU farm incomes by 3.5 percent in 2020. But the studies also reveal concerns about the unintended impact of Europe’s thirst for biofuels.

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“A new and strongly growing non-food demand for agricultural output will undoubtedly boost farm prices and hence farmers’ incomes,” one report says. “However, the desired effect may come at a potentially high cost: a human cost paid by the world’s poorest consumers who may face higher food prices or food shortages.”

High food prices in 2008 led to food riots in some developing countries and were partly blamed on biofuels such as ethanol consuming part of the U.S. corn crop. “The simulated effects of EU biofuels policies imply a considerable shock to agricultural commodity markets,” the report reads….

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Source: carbon-based-ghg.blogspot.com

Posted by: davidgarnerconsulting | March 17, 2010

Group to Sue EU Over Biofuel Documents

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A coalition of environmental groups announced Tuesday that they are suing the European Union’s executive, the European Commission, alleging that it has refused to hand over documents on the environmental impact of plant-based biofuels. The EU is committed to drawing 10 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources, including biofuels, by 2020. But environmental groups fear that the policy will do more harm than good by encouraging farmers in developing countries to cut down rain forests so they have more land to farm.

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According to environmental groups, the commission holds a considerable body of research into the environmental impact of biofuel production, but has refused to release the documents.

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“The commission is withholding time-sensitive and critical environmental information necessary for meaningful public participation in biofuel policymaking,” the groups said in their submission to the European Court.

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The coalition of environmental pressure groups asked the commission to make the documents available on October 15, invoking an EU rule which allows the public to access EU papers.

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However, “following intense internal deliberations and multiple extensions, the commission refused to turn over the documents by the statutory deadline, 9 February 2010. Instead, it informed the coalition of their right to sue,” the groups said in a statement.

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In a rare, although not unprecedented, move, the groups therefore decided to take the commission to the European Court in Luxembourg.

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But a commission spokesman said that that move was “premature” from the EU executive’s point of view.

 “We have not refused to grant access to the requested documents. We have already provided a large number of documents: there are 8,000 pages in question and we have provided a large proportion of those,” commission spokesman Mark Gray said.

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“The commission is not stalling anything … When that first request came, there was no inventory, it was simply a catalogue of demands without a clear set of documents identified. We then did respond in time and ask for an extension, the applicant did not accept this,” he said.

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It now falls to the court’s legal services to review the groups’ claim and, if necessary, set a date for a hearing.

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The plaintiffs are legal pressure group Client Earth, transport policy group Transport & Environment, bird protection group Birdlife International, and a coalition of 140 grassroots organizations, the European Environmental Bureau.

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Source: Earthtimes.org

Posted by: davidgarnerconsulting | March 17, 2010

Scitentist Draw Biodiesel From Tea leaves

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Acording to a study made in 2008, people produce and consume several million tonnes of tea annually (more than 3.8 tons of black tea). Considering the large amounts of tea consumed worldwide, Pakistani scientists have begun to think seriously about converting waste tea leaves into biofuels. They found a way to produce biodiesel from used tea leaves, using a nanocatalyst that is able to accelerate chemical reactions.

To convert tea leaves into biodiesel, Researchers from the Nanoscience and Catalysis Division at Quaid-i-Azam University had to follow a process called gasification. They heated a mixture of tea leaves with a Cobalt nanocatalyst at 300 Celsius degrees.

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After completing this process, the liquid extract went through a second process that resulted in 40% ethyl ester, 28% hydrocarbon gas and 12% charcoal. Despite the fact that tea leaves are converted into biofuel in a high percentage (methanol, ethane and methane can be also used as a fuels), Kausar Malik, head of the Biotechnology Department at Forman Christian College in Lahore questioned the efficiency of this process. He said that converting plants as Camellia sinensis or Aspergillus niger into biofuels could cost more than the cost of the energy produced by this biofuel. “If we do a mass balance of input and output, we find is it not an economical option to be employed at industrial level,” said Kausar Malik.

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Source: greenoptimistic.com

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The UK’s Carbon Trust is bringing together a consortium of businesses to develop commercially viable ‘carbon efficient’ biofuel from municipal and wood waste.

The consortium led by Axion Energy, along with Catal International, CARE and Aquafuel Research, will aim to turn the pyrolysis process into a cheap and green way of producing biofuel on a large scale.

The Carbon Trust estimates that using pyrolysis to produce biofuel from waste could achieve a carbon saving of 95% compared to fossil fuels, a much higher figure than conventional biofuels based on crop feedstock.

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Using waste to produce biofuel also avoids the controversial issues of increased carbon emissions from land use change and the potential adverse effects on food crop production and prices.

The consortium aims to start producing biofuel from a pilot plant in 2014 and could ultimately produce over 2 million tonnes of biofuel a year from UK biomass.

Despite criticism of the environmental credentials of biofuel, the UK Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) already stipulates that petrol and diesel must include 3.25% of biofuel and this could rise to 10% by 2020 under EU directives.

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The Carbon Trust says that pyrolysis offers the cheapest way of producing biofuel and could meet over half of the 2020 RTFO target.

The Government is supporting the effort with £3.8 million over two years, confirmed Transport Minister Sadiq Khan. The Carbon Trust, meanwhile, says it will invest £7 million over 3-4 years in funds from the Departments for Transport and Energy and Climate Change.

“In just a few years pyrolysis could change the way in which we produce biofuels and by 2020 be a commercially viable option,” says Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust.

Within ten years, he says, we could see a network of small-scale biofuel refineries near landfill and other waste sites around the UK.

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Source: energyefficiencynews.com

Posted by: davidgarnerconsulting | March 16, 2010

Saudi Arabia Eyes Overseas farmland Investments

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Gulf Arab countries, heavily reliant on food imports, have been buying farmland in developing nations to ensure food security after a spike in food prices.

Top OPEC oil exporter Saudi Arabia, which abandoned its wheat cultivation programme two years ago due to dwindling water resources, has emerged as a major buyer of wheat from global markets and is also trying, with the help of private Saudi investors, to secure farmland in Africa and elsewhere.

“The goal (of investments) is to support supply of main goods which cannot be produced locally like rice and sugar or which requires a lot of water in production like wheat, malt and fodder,” Fahad Abdul-Rahman Balghunaim told daily al-Watan.

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Saudi Arabia also wanted to secure fish and livestock, he said, adding that the investments were all long-term plans.

The government has urged companies to invest in farm projects abroad.

In April, Riyadh set up a company with capital of 3 billion Saudi riyals ($800 million) to invest in farmland abroad, focusing on wheat, rice, sugar and soybeans.

State-owned Saudi Industrial Development Fund is granting financing facilities to firms exploring agricultural investments abroad. Several Saudi firms also launched farmland investment abroad ranging from Indonesia to Ethiopia.

Balghunaim said investing in farmland was no land-grabbing as described by some media outlets.

“The initiative… to invest in farmland production abroad has no political goals,” he said, adding that host countries were also benefiting from the investments.

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Source:  business.maktoob.com

Posted by: davidgarnerconsulting | March 16, 2010

Farmland Investor Appoints Chief Investment Officer

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MFC Global Investment Management has named Chris Conkey, CFA as Chief Investment Officer, Global Equities, MFC Global President and Chief Executive Officer J-F Courville said today. His appointment is effective immediately.

Based in Boston and reporting directly to Mr. Courville, Mr. Conkey will lead MFC Global’s equity group, and be responsible for the overall investment performance and risk management of the firm’s portfolio of equity strategies globally. He also will be responsible for developing and overseeing the execution of all strategic, financial, and operating plans and policies for the equity teams around the world. He will be a member of the MFC Global Investment Management Executive Committee.

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Mr. Conkey will work closely with Barry Evans, Chief Investment Officer—Global Fixed Income, and Mark Schmeer, Chief Investment Officer—Asset Allocation, Strategy and Research to generate strong returns across all public market strategies for the benefit of MFC Global clients. Mr. Schmeer previously held the role being taken on by Mr. Conkey.

MFC Global, the asset management arm of Manulife Financial, has equity teams in Toronto, Boston, Berwyn, London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, as well as throughout Southeast Asia including the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

We are delighted to have Chris join the MFC Global team at this important stage of our growth,” Mr. Courville said. “Chris Conkey is a seasoned investment professional with a strong track record of building and motivating teams within a performance-oriented culture.”

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Mr. Conkey brings nearly 25 years of investment management experience across fixed income and equity asset classes to this role. Most recently, he was Chief Investment Officer of Evergreen Investment Management Company where he had overall management responsibility for  $180 billion in assets. He was the Chair of the Investment Strategy Committee and led several distinct teams in managing fixed income, equity and alternatives strategies.

Prior to his role as CIO, Chris spent three years as Evergreen’s Equity Chief Investment Officer, following a merger between Keystone Investments and Evergreen. Mr. Conkey spent 13 years at Keystone, where he held several investment management positions, culminating with the role of President and Chief Investment Officer. Keystone Investments, a privately held firm, was acquired by Wachovia Corporation in 1998. Keystone and other Wachovia investment affiliates were merged to form Evergreen Investments in 2001.

Mr. Conkey graduated from Clark University with a B.A. in Economics and later earned an MBA from Boston University. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst.

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Source: PRNewswire.com

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