PHYS.ORG tells us that the successful conversion of crops to fuel is all about the math. Researchers evaluating energy crops, including grain sorghum and sugarcane, have concluded that if we use more fuel than we produce or if it costs too much to grow energy crops we will be back at square one – fossil fuels. “Lots of crops can be converted to fuel but to do it successfully we need to identify energy crops that can be grown on marginal land without irrigation, because water can be an expensive input” says Dr. Juan Enciso, an irrigation engineer at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center.  The team is comparing the energy efficiency of energy crops to determine which plants produce the greatest amount of biomass with the least amount of water: energy sorghum, energy sugarcane and miscanthus, a perennial grass. The purpose is to identify prolific crops that can be grown throughout Texas and the US southwest using the least amount of water, preferably on dryland fields that depend only on rainfall. The test is taking place over a two year period.

Australia’s Virgin Airlines is testing cooking oil to power its ground transportation equipment at Brisbane airport to determine its effectiveness as a biofuel reports the Herald Sun. The trial involves using a biodiesel blend derived from locally sourced tallow and used cooking oil as fuel for a baggage tug and a push-back vehicle at the airport. Should the 8 week trial be successful, the company expects to roll out biodiesel to its round service equipment in Brisbane and other Australian airports.

Thailand will have a a pilot plant for algae-based biofuel says MENAFN. The location of the plant will likely be beside a power plant in Ratchaburi province so that carbon dioxide from the plant can be used to feed the algae. Construction will start in mid-2012 and it will be completed several months later. However, it could take years to search for the appropriate algae species for the production process. The facility is rated to produce 10 tonnes of biofuel per day with an input of 90 tonnes of algae per day.

Western Farm Express believes that replacing crude oil with biomass will revolutionize global politics.

Energy and Environmental Management finds the UK leads Europe on coal-to-biomass conversion.  The UK is the biggest driver in Europe of the conversion of coal-fired power stations to the combustion of biomass, according to a new report from IHS Emerging Energy Research, Europe Biopower Markets and Strategies: 2012-2035. Its market and installed capacity is more than three times that of its nearest rival, Denmark. However, nearly all of UK demand for biofuel is being satisfied by imports from other countries, notably wood pellets from the Americas. The Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Poland are also fuelling the expansion of biomass use in power generation through imports. By contrast, Italy, France and Spain are concentrating on feeding their power stations with home-grown biomass. About 20% of the UK’s bioenergy is currently supplied by 15 biomass power stations.

Italy is testing a combined solar and biomass facility reports Biomass Power & Thermal. A small-scale, modular, polygeneration solar power plant, in combination with biomass power, will produce roughly 1 to 5 MW of electricity, 24 hours per day. The aim of the project is to pretreat the agricultural and woody biomass with process steam generated from the solar thermal energy technology, and then utilize biogas in the auxiliary molten salts heater to produce 40% of the plant’s electricity output. Although most of the biomass will be used for electricity generation, a portion will also be used for biofuel production.

The same source tells us that the largest biopower facility in the U.K, to be built in Fife, Scotland, will process roughly 400,000 metric tons of waste wood per year to produce 50 MW of electricity. The facility is expected to be completed in 2012 and will power a paper mill. The remainder of the electricity will be sent to the national grid.

Biomass is going to provide heat to a sawmill in the Canadian province of British Columbia posts the Journal of Commerce. The biomass will replace a propane-fired system. The new system will use waste wood or hogg fuel (a mixture of bark and sawdust) to heat oil which goes to the dry kiln to dry wood that has just been cut. This will significantly reduce the heating costs for the mill.

China Guangdong Nuclear has started to build an integrated biomass-solar power electrical generation plant in Singapore. According to RECHARGE, the 10 MW project will be fueled by wood and horticultural waste, as well as by a solar installation on the rooftop. The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2013.

Power Engineering informs us that Brazilian power company CTEEP intends to add 10 GW of biomass power to the national grid by 2017. The company currently generates 30% of the country’s electricity and almost 100% of the state of Sao Paulo’s power.

The town of Montgomery in New York state will have a 21 MW biomass gasification plant says Biomass Power & Thermal. Construction will commence next month and the plant will be in full operation by the end of 2013. The plant will generate electricity using wood waste and construction and demolition debris as well as municipal solid waste. The plant will be able to provide power to 23,000 homes.

Caterer and Hotelkeeper tells us about the UK’s largest used cooking oil biodiesel plant. The facility, in Liverpool, opened this week and will manufacture biodiesel from used cooking oil and will complement Agri’s existing national used cooking oil collection business. It will produce 16 million litres of biodiesel per year.

Finnish firm, Neste Oil, is beginning to produce NExBTL renewable diesel from waste fat sourced from the fish processing industry at its Singapore refinery. The waste fish fat used as raw material comes from freshwater Pangasius farmed in Vietnam and Thailand. Eco-Business writes that fresh water Pangasius farming is one of the fastest growing types of aquaculture in the world. Neste Oil’s NExBTL technology is capable of processing a very wide variety of different bio-based raw materials – such as vegetable oils, waste animal fat, and by-products from vegetable oil production – into NExBTL renewable diesel.

Digital Journal reports that methane from a landfill in New Springfield, Ohio will produce electricity. The plant will be in operation by the end of the year and will generate 4.8 MW of electricity for the grid, enough to power over 3500 homes. Meanwhile, a landfill in Northern Ireland will also generate electricity says the Belfast Telegraph. Power from that project will be sold to renewable energy firm, Airtricity, under an initial three-year power purchase agreement. The methane from the landfill will generate 850 kW of electricity.





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