Business Briefs

By | September 20, 2010
French automaker Peugeot introduced a diesel-electric version of its 3008 series crossover Hybrid4 model. The car is outfitted with a 163 brake horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that powers the front wheels and an electric motor powered by nickel-metal hydride batteries that mobilize the rear axle, with a total system output of 200 horsepower and 500 Newton meters of torque. The car also features four-wheel drive capabilities along with regenerative braking. A turbocharged clean diesel engine is connected to an electronically-controlled six-speed transmission that can be operated in manual or full automatic mode. Shifting is done either by a console shifter or steering wheel paddles. The car can operate in three driving modes: electric-only, diesel only or a combination of both. The diesel hybrid achieves 69 miles per gallon and can go zero to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds. The car will hit the European market by spring 2011.

Sun Power Biodiesel LLC will be the recipient of more than $1 million in financial assistance for equipment and infrastructure upgrades at its 3 MMgy plant in Cumberland, Wis. The funding package includes $800,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money provided to Sun Power Biodiesel through Wisconsin's State Energy Program. The state is also awarding a $349,825 Community Development Block Grant-Public Facilities for Economic Development grant to the city of Cumberland aimed to help pay for infrastructure investments including water mains, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, street construction, electric installation and lighting. The funds will be a boon for Sun Power Biodiesel as it will also provide additional working capital to sustain operations. According to CEO Ron Ruppel, the funding for the Sun Power Biodiesel project is in the form of a seven-year low-interest loan, which is expected to create 31 jobs over five years of the loan, and retain four.

California-based Biodiesel Industries Inc. has been selected by the California Energy Commission to receive an $886,815 grant to support a multi-year project that will demonstrate biodiesel production using algae in an integrated energy system monitored by the Automated Real-time, Remote, Integrated Energy System (ARIES) platform. The grant was awarded under the state's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. Construction on the project is currently expected to begin in late September, and will take an estimated 29 months to complete. According to Russell Teall, Biodiesel Industries president and founder, the funding will be used to install additional equipment and infrastructure at the site, including greenhouses, ponds, containment vessels and testing equipment.

A team of researchers from Rutgers University and Harvard University is working with a well-known microorganism to aid in the production of biodiesel. The research, based on the E. coli microorganism, commonly associated with food poisoning, is being led by Desmond Lun, associate professor of computer science at Rutgers. Lun and his team are working to modify the genetic make-up of the E. coli organism, creating a strain of the bacteria that overproduces fatty acids which can then be used in biodiesel production. "Biodiesel is something that we can generate quite easily," Lun said. While E. coli is highly studied and understood, Lun noted that the work on the organism for biodiesel use will be "quite drastic" and require "major intervention." Instead of performing minor changes to specific genes he said, the work will modify large sections of the genome and put in "entirely new traits rather than modifying existing traits."

The USDA has issued an amendment for advanced biofuel producer requirements necessary for the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, now allowing both nonrural and foreign-owned producers to qualify for the program. In March, the USDA issued a notice seeking requests for eligible advanced biofuel producers, but at that time, according to the USDA, "to receive payment, eligible advanced biofuels must have been produced in a biofuel facility located in a rural area and whose owners met U.S. citizenship requirements." After receiving several comments questioning the eligibility requirements, the USDA issued the change. One of the groups contesting the initial requirements was the Indiana Soybean Alliance, speaking in particular for the large Indiana refinery owned by Louis Dreyfus, Claypool LD Biodiesel and Soybean Processing Plant.

American Electric Power Co. Inc. announced Aug. 26 that it is seeking quotes for the supply of biodiesel to one or more of its coal-fired power plants in Ohio. Quotes were to be received by Sept. 23. According to AEP spokeswoman Melissa McHenry, the company is investigating the use of biodiesel-blended fuel oil as a possible compliance strategy to meet Ohio's alternative energy requirements. The biodiesel blend would replace petroleum fuel oil used for flame startup and stabilization. AEP is interested in using three different blends of biodiesel at is facilities. According to McHenry, B99.9 can be used from April 15 to Oct. 14. A blend of B50 can be used in the facilities from Oct. 15 through Dec. 14, while a B30 blend can be used from Dec. 15 to April 14.

Industrial biotechnology company Solazyme Inc. announced that Bunge Limited, a leading global agribusiness and food company, has joined its Series D round as a strategic investor. The strategic investment represents a foundational step for the two companies to collaborate at critical portions of a new value chain enabled by Solazyme's sugar-to-oil technology platform. Bunge is one of the world's largest originators and distributors of vegetable oils and one of the largest sugarcane processing companies in Brazil. Braemer Energy Ventures and Morgan Stanley led Solazyme's Series D round, with all major existing investors from previous rounds participating, including Lightspeed Venture Partners, The Roda Group, Harris and Harris Group, VantagePoint Venture Partners and Zygote Ventures. Existing strategic investors CTTV Investments LLC, the venture capital arm of Chevron Technology Ventures LLC, and San-Ei Gen, a major Japanese manufacturer and distributor of food ingredients, also participated.

Alternative Petroleum Technologies has developed an emulsified biodiesel fuel-a proprietary blend of water, a surfactant additive and biodiesel-that eliminates the increased emissions of nitrogen oxides often associated with biodiesel use, the company said. This technology has been used in both on-road and off-road diesel engines to prove the NOx mitigation benefit of emulsified biodiesel blends relative to conventional biodiesel. APT chose biodiesel produced by Community Fuels in a demonstration of the technology at the Port of Los Angeles. The APT emulsified biodiesel fuel has reduced NOx emissions over a wide range of biodiesel blend levels. For B20, NOx emissions were 4.9 percent lower compared to conventional biodiesel and only 0.6 percent higher compared to ULSD.

Ft. Collins, Colo.-based New Belgium Brewing cycled through the Midwest portion of its renowned 13-city, national bicycle festival dubbed the Tour de Fat-aptly named after the brewery's signature Fat Tire beer-and welcomed a generous supply of B100 supplied by Ames, Iowa-based producer Renewable Energy Group Inc. at events hosted in Chicago, Minneapolis and Milwaukee. REG provided B100 made from corn oil at its 30 MMgy facility in Newton, Iowa, to Fort Dodge, Iowa-based Decker Truck Lines LLC, which served as the event hauler for the Midwest portion of the Tour de Fat.
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