February 2009

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Business Briefs

Helius Energy receives Scottish Green Energy award



From Digestion to Distribution

By Ryan C. Christiansen

Power companies in dairy regions have known for years that there is a distributed source of energy underfoot: cow manure. Using anaerobic digestion, manure can be converted into biogas and combusted in a generator to produce electricity. However, anaerobic digesters aren't cheap. It takes collaborative funding and diligent project management to bring multiple anaerobic digesters on line within a power district-and that's just the beginning.

Similar to cellulosic ethanol, there have been challenges to overcome in developing and advancing torrefaction. Now on the brink of commercialization, the thermochemical treatment process has the potential to serve as a substantial upgrade for coal and biomass combustion, co-combustion and gasification applications.

In Europe, wood pellets are used as fuel for utility, commercial and residential applications to produce electricity and heat, but in the U.S. pellets have largely been relegated to the residential markets. Effective policy drivers and a different mindset exist in Europe, while in the U.S. it's hard to compete with cheap coal.

Anaerobic Options

By Barnett Koven

The use of anaerobic digesters on a small scale could provide localized energy sources while reducing the negative effects of greenhouse gases.

San Francisco has taken the lead when it comes to creating a communitywide, multifaceted biodiesel initiative. The city serves as an example of what is possible when leaders and community-based grassroots organizations work together to better their community.

Biodiesel Magazine talks with major U.S. biodiesel marketer Renewable Energy Group and midstream energy giant Kinder Morgan, about the preparedness of the nation's infrastructure to meet the forthcoming U.S. biodiesel mandate.

The Chinese tallow tree is a potential feedstock for biodiesel, however, it's invasive nature could limit production, especially in areas where it isn't currently growing.

Franklin's Gift

By Susanne Retka Schill

The Chinese tallow tree may rival algae as a promising new biodiesel feedstock, if yield reports of 1,000 gallons of oil per acre are true. Its invasive tendency, however, has raised red flags.

"Right now, oil is trump and we are losing because the other side holds all the trumps," Zubrin says. "To win, we need to change the fuel trump."

Growing Beyond Oil: The 2008 Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit

By Khalila Hammond Photos By Brigitte Bouvier

This year's fifth annual Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit was packed full of interesting speakers, new ideas and predictions for the biofuels sector. Industry leaders gathered from around the country to discuss policy, marketing and the need to look beyond the traditional notions of our fuel needs in an effort to 'grow beyond oil.'

Algae developers are riding a wave of interest due to the single-celled plant's ability to grow rapidly and produce valuable products that can be used to make biodiesel. How industrial algae plants will be configured is yet unknown, but producers will face the same problems as other alternative energy producers-where to put the facility and how to get government permission to build it.

Meal: More Than Just Chicken Feed

By Susanne Retka Schill

As new alternative oilseeds are considered for biodiesel production, a big consideration is whether there will be a viable market for the meal.


While economies around the world slow and credit options dwindle, the biomass-to energy industries keep churning forward. Capital exists for those looking to develop projects.

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