September 2008

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Business Briefs


Seed industry veteran joins Ceres



From hurricane winds and flooding, to radicals piloting passenger jets into skyscrapers, disasters are a tragic part of life. After people are safely removed from harm's way, proper planning and technology could be used to revolutionize debris management.

Furfural, a sister chemical to the increasingly popular hydroxymethylfurfural or HMF molecule, is regaining attention as a biobased alternative for the production of everything from antacids and fertilizers to plastics and paints.

Sustainability is a buzzword in the biomass industry. But sustainable can mean many things. You can do your best by Mother Earth, but if you don't make money, your operation isn't sustainable. You can have the ability to make money hand-over-fist, but if you can't get the biomass to your plant, that's not sustainable either. A collaboration of researchers studied a biomass operation in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota to look at all the different components of a sustainable biomass harvesting operation.

Seawater distillation tents, a project of Radulovich's and the Sea Gardens.

Oceans of Biomass

By Anna Austin

From animal manure to crop residue, all options are being explored to reduce global dependency on fossil fuels. In response to this quest, one Costa Rican scientist poses a novel question: What about the ocean? Seaweed is primarily grown in the Eastern Hemisphere to produce fertilizer and food, but what potential do these plants and our oceans hold for biomass applications?

The Biomass '08 Technical Workshop was held July 15-16 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D.

Biomass, Wind, Coal, Hydro, Petroleum ...

By Ron Kotrba, Jerry W. Kram, Bryan Sims, Anna Austin

The Energy & Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks, N.D., hosted the Biomass '08 Technical Workshop in July. Hundreds gathered from the United States and six countries to learn about the latest developments in the production of fuels, power and chemicals from biomass. The main message that came out of the conference was the need for strong partnerships and many different fuels.

2008 Proposed Biodiesel Plant List

By Craig A. Johnson, Timothy Charles Holmseth, Erin Vogele, Anna Austin, Suzanne H. Schmidt and Ryan C.

Biodiesel Magazine presents its annual roundup of proposed plants from across the United States and Canada. This year's list includes 26 plants somewhere between concept and construction. This number is lower than in past years, reiterating a slowdown in projected growth but also confirming continued interest in the industry's potential.


Paying a Premium

By Ron Kotrba

Oil prices of $140 a barrel will naturally apply significant upward pressure on all transportation fuels, but diesel prices have ballooned relative to gasoline in recent times. High global demand and slow-to-catch-up diesel refining capacity are largely to blame, so what's being done about it?

Biodiesel producers are on the lookout for low-cost feedstocks and the means to process those feedstocks as the cost of soy oil remains out of reach for many operations. This isn't stopping a group in north-central Missouri, who may have a solution to tight profit margins. Producer's Choice Soy Energy plans to build and operate a soybean crushing facility next to a biodiesel plant.

IJM Plantation's corporate headquarters are in Sandakan, in the Malaysian state of Sabah.

Plantation-Scale Oil Production

By Susanne Retka Schill / Story & Photos

Some aspects of palm oil production parallel American soybean production practices, but many others reveal a radically different system.

To avoid high-priced virgin vegetable oils, many in the industry are looking for alternatives. But inexpensive feedstocks are cheap for a reason-they carry high levels of undesirable components such as free fatty acids that make it difficult to produce biodiesel. Pretreatment systems, however, can clean up less than desirable feedstocks and improve producers' bottom lines.

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