DuPont Tate & Lyle BioProducts (DPTL) is a joint venture between DuPont and Tate & Lyle which provides natural and renewably sourced industrial materials. In collaboration with Climalife, DPTL has developed and launched a new line of heat transfer fluids (HTF) under the brand name Greenway.
Chemical giant DuPont has started construction of a large-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Iowa capable of converting corn stalks and leaves into a biofuel that could be used in place of fossil fuels at some power plants.
The $200 million facility, which will be among the first
As I wrote last month, global biofuels production is nearing 2 million barrels per day – an impressive number that ranks biofuels ahead of Libya among oil producing nations – but most of this consists of conventional biofuels derived from corn starch and sugarcane. While these fuels may meet ground transportation needs, they lack the performance
How Waste = Food
Imagine if we could create a super-efficient world where there was no waste… Actually, there’s no need to imagine it: nature is already ahead of us on this one.
In nature, almost all “waste” from one organism can be used as “food” or fuel by another organism—a
concept explored by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their seminal book Cradle To Cradle.
For example: a fruit tree’s blossoms fall to the ground and decompose into food for other living things. Bacteria and fungi feed on the organic waste of both the trees and the animals that eat its fruit, depositing nutrients in the soil in a form ready for the tree to use for growth. And so one organism’s waste is food for another, and nutrients flow indefinitely in cycles of birth, death, decay and rebirth.
Humans—the only creatures on the planet that produce landfills—are not quite so efficient. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States alone generates about 250 million tons of waste annually, with nearly 175 million of those tons being thrown into landfills. To make matters worse, the decomposition of waste in landfills releases large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, making landfills the most significant human–related source of methane in the United States.
Clearly, humans need to change their ways to avoid turning the earth into one massive landfill. Fortunately, a number of clean technology companies are taking innovative steps to address this problem by turning what seems to be waste into energy, fuel, or other useful materials.
For example, California-based Enventix is developing proprietary conversion systems for turning waste, biomass, and other low-grade feedstocks into ultra-clean energy. This technological breakthrough rids waste and biomass of impurities in an economical manner—helping municipalities generate renewable power that is free of harmful emissions at efficiencies that were previously unattainable.
Meanwhile, Washington-based General Biodiesel, Inc. has tackled the seemingly dirty job of collecting used cooking oil from hundreds of Seattle-area restaurants. But instead of burning or burying it, the company recycles the grease as biodiesel, the ultimate non-foreign fuel. Springboard Biodiesel, based in Chico, California, takes this idea “on the road” by providing smaller biorefinery machines that can process used cooking oil wherever it’s generated, whether it’s at a restaurant, a community co-op, or a university.
California-based Micromidas is tackling an even dirtier form of waste than used cooking oil: sewage sludge. The company has found a way to harness microbes to naturally transform the carbon and other nutrients in sewage into biodegradable plastics that are safe enough to be used as food packaging or as biomedical sutures.
Across the Atlantic, French company Pyrum Innovations is developing a tire-recycling machine that “deconstructs” used tires back into separate quantities of rubber, metal, and usable petrol. This invention provides a way to tackle the existing mountains of used tires that never degrade and thus pose a huge environmental problem. It also offers tire factories a way to more effectively handle new waste that they produce. Given that European tire plants generate 2,000 to 7,000 tons of production waste annually—and have to pay €200 to dispose of a single ton—Pyrum’s potential impact is sizable.
With each of these innovations, our wasteful ways can come a little bit closer to nature’s closed-loop system—one where “waste = food”.
A series of recent policy-related developments within the biofuels industry may have set the stage for what could prove to be a significant shift in biofuel geopolitics over the next decade.
To recap: the European Court of Justice (ECJ) affirmed an earlier ruling that held the imposition of
It’s a $160 billion a year market you’ve probably never heard of.
Ethylene, the intermediary chemical compound from which popular plastics and many other high value products are derived, has traditionally been made in the petroleum industry via steam cracking, an energy- and carbon-intensive process. It’s the most produced
Biofuels have been heavily promoted in the hydrocarbon-poor third world as both a fuel source and a valuable earner of foreign currency.
Now however, The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is seeking to sell is 50 percent holding of Transload (Pvt) Limited, a biodiesel fuel manufacturing joint
What if the ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide that are heating up the atmosphere could be used to produce an abundant supply of liquid fuels? The U.S. government and private labs are pursuing that Holy Grail of renewable energy — but for now the cost of large-scale production is prohibitive.
Biofuels have been dismissed by environmentalists as an unsustainable alternative to fossil fuels. But some hope that second-generation biofuels could offer a better solution to the dirty oil crisis.
Second generation biofuel, or cellulosic biofuel, is made of non-food feedstocks such as straw and
Butanol may be used as a fuel in an internal combustion engine. Because its longer hydrocarbon chain causes it to be fairly non-polar, it is more similar to gasoline than it is to ethanol. Butanol has been demonstrated to work in vehicles designed for use with gasoline without modification. University of California,
Our country needs a strong, vibrant rural economy. Advanced biofuel production will help create it. Not only will biofuel production from non-food sources create new jobs and new streams of farm income, it will improve environmental quality and reduce our dependence on fossil fuel imported from foreign countries.
As I wrote last week, aviation demand for biofuels is bursting at the seams. The trouble is, there are no easy alternatives. Sustainable, non-food feedstocks like camelina and jatropha are just getting traction and the process of turning algae into fuel is still under development, which leaves few alternatives for the petroleum-dependent aviation industry.
Unlike ground transportation, the key issue for airlines is that they are entirely dependent on liquid fuel, and this — right now — is hurting their bottom line. According to the Air Transport Association (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, fuel expenses have historically ranged from 10 to 15 percent of U.S. passenger airline operating costs, but averaged more than 35 percent in the third quarter of 2008.
Aviation demand for biofuels is bursting at the seams. Hemmed in by emerging certifications, a petroleum-based distribution network, and lack of supply, the industry is stuck on petroleum fuels for now, but not by choice.
Pressure to integrate more biofuels into the supply chain is palpable: oil price increases, oil price volatility, oil scarcity, greenhouse gas emission regulation, and increasingly, corporate social responsibility commitments. The future of the aviation sector is dependent on its ability to pivot away from petroleum-based fuels to alternative sources of energy, and they must do it quickly.
One caveat: while demand may be substantial, no one knows for sure if supply can keep pace, which makes statements from aviation experts at the World Biofuels Markets taking place in Amsterdam this week all that more interesting.