Business Briefs

By Ron Kotrba | January 08, 2018

Renewable Industries Canada announced in December the launch of a public awareness campaign on the environmental and economic benefits of biofuels mandates. Dubbed “Facts Don’t Lie,” the campaign is designed to educate the public on the role of biofuels in reducing carbon emissions from transportation. Given that renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are the fastest and easiest way to reduce greenhouse gases in the transportation sector, the campaign will explain why now is the time to increase mandates for renewable content in Canada’s fuels. The RICanada campaign, which calls for the federal government to increase mandates for renewable content in fuels, will feature print and digital ads in Ottawa and key markets across Canada.

Air Liquide Engineering & Construction has signed a new agreement with Cargill for engineering and supply of a world-scale biodiesel plant in Wichita, Kansas. The state-of-the-art biodiesel plant is planned to start operation in January 2019 and will produce 60 MMgy. The agreement is another step in the long-term partnership between the two companies. Air Liquide Engineering & Construction has already built six biodiesel plants for Cargill worldwide. Air Liquide Engineering & Construction’s leading-edge Lurgi biodiesel technology offers a complete oleochemical production chain and provides customers with a range of plant options designed to maximize efficiency, improve the quality of the product, and help minimize operating costs and environmental footprint.

Algae growth and carbon dioxide sequestration company PHYCO2 is collaborating with Michigan State University under a $1 million U.S. DOE grant to develop technologies to transform the efficiency and operating costs of reducing power plant carbon dioxide emissions and create marketable chemicals. The process will utilize PHYCO2’s algae photobioreactor (APB) technology to grow algae, and a new chemical conversion process to create high-efficiency, absorbent chemicals for carbon dioxide reduction, while using low energy and costs. If successful, the PHYCO2 APB and MSU/DOE technology then will be commercialized in this process and offered to emitting manufacturers and power plants across the U.S., minimizing costs for emission reduction. PHYCO2 will be utilizing its APB technology throughout this three-year cross-disciplinary effort to grow algae from carbon emissions, and then using algae-derived chemicals as a high-efficiency absorbent for greenhouse gases. The project will take place at the T.B. Simon Power Plant on MSU’s campus.

Deutz AG has approved the latest generation of its entire TCD engine range for operation with alternative fuels, including biodiesel and renewable diesel. While electrification is a viable option in the low-power output range, there is no suitable replacement yet for the combustion engine as the primary source of power in medium- and heavy-duty applications. And while Deutz says electrification can improve efficiency as part of a hybrid system and allows for a downsizing of the combustion engine, there is still considerable potential for improving the ecofriendliness of conventional engines by choosing different fuels. Deutz now approves the engine series TCD 2.9 / 3.6 / 4.1 / 6.1 / 7.8 / 12.0 / 16.0 under the current EU Stage IV/U.S. Tier 4 standard, as well as all older Deutz engines without exhaust aftertreatment, for operation with paraffinic diesel fuels and biodiesel or biodiesel blends. The term paraffinic diesel fuel encompasses a wide range of products. The approval covers 100 percent biodiesel for EU Stage IV as well as biodiesel blends for EU Stage IV and U.S. Tier 4 engines.

Hawaiian Electric Co. and Pacific Biodiesel Technologies signed a three-year biodiesel supply contract for the new 50-megawatt Schofield Generating Station, 8-megawatt Honolulu International Airport Emergency Power Facility, and other Oahu generation facilities. Set to go into effect this year, the contract calls for Pacific Biodiesel Technologies to supply 2 to 4 MMgy of biodiesel produced at its 5.5 MMgy production facility on the Big Island of Hawaii via barge to the island of Oahu, where the fuel will be trucked to the utility’s various sites. Pacific Biodiesel currently supplies biodiesel to Hawaiian Electric’s Campbell Industrial Park generation station and the airport emergency facility owned by the state and operated by the utility. The new Schofield plant, which broke ground in August 2016 and is expected to be fully operational early next year, will use a mixture of biodiesel and petroleum diesel in six Wärtsilä 34DF engines.

Evonik Performance Materials GmbH recently announced a global price increase for its potassium methylate solution alkoxide, effective Nov. 1. The company said that while all existing contracts will be honored, the price of its potassium methylate 32 percent solution in methanol, KM32, will go up 4 percent. “The increase is unavoidable and necessary to offset the ongoing escalation of regulatory and operating costs,” the company stated. “Evonik appreciates the long-term and solid relationships with our business partners and will remain focused on providing high-quality products and excellence in value-added services.”

BDI-BioEnergy International AG, known for its development and construction of biodiesel plants, has taken the first step toward implementation of an in-house-developed algae technology, together with its subsidiary BDI-BioLife Science GmbH. The Styria, Austria-based plant manufacturer is investing roughly 16 million euros in the construction of an industrial plant for production of algae biomass. After several years of research, BDI succeeded in bringing an innovative algae production system to industrial maturity. With engineering, construction and operation of an industrial algae production plant, BDI enters this rapidly developing international business sector as a premium producer. As a first step, BDI-BioLife Science will produce algae-based additives for the food supplement and cosmetic industries. The location for this production plant is Hartberg/Styria and was deliberately chosen by BDI. The close proximity to the in-house research center and to local universities provides synergies for the further development of the algae product range of BDI-BioLife Science.

Biodiesel producer Biodico introduced its Master Community Design technology in November to business leaders, farmers, farmworkers, academics and local governments at the Zero Net Energy Farm Summit hosted at Red Rock Ranch in Five Points, California. The technology enables farms and local communities to identify on-site renewable sources of clean energy and then create a plan to convert those resources into electricity and liquid biofuel. Biodico worked with mapping and spatial analytics company ESRI to develop an application that generates interactive referencing maps of renewable resources anywhere in California. Biodico’s Zero Net Energy Farm is the world’s first fully sustainable liquid biofuel facility to help address energy needs and climate goals in California’s Central Valley. The region has some of the worst air quality in the U.S. and is home to the poorest cities on the West Coast.

ExxonMobil and Renewable Energy Group Inc. announced in November that by utilizing REG’s patented fermentation technology, the companies’ joint research program has demonstrated the ability to convert sugars from a variety of nonedible biomass sources into biodiesel. During their initial research, the companies successfully validated the feasibility of the REG Life Sciences fermentation technology, which relies on microbes to convert cellulosic sugars into biodiesel in a one-step fermentation process, across multiple cellulosic sugar compositions produced with a variety of methods from various nonedible biomass sources. The research also confirmed REG Life Sciences’ technology is capable of achieving substantial reductions of full life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional diesel fuel. ExxonMobil signed an agreement with REG in January 2016 to study the production of biodiesel through fermentation of renewable cellulosic sugars from sources such as agricultural waste. The companies have agreed to extend the research program based on their positive findings and are excited to continue to jointly explore the technology’s potential for scalability.

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