Thursday, June 17, 2010

$80 Billion Market for 2nd Gen Biofuels by 2022

Union Bank of Switzerland foresees a significant ramping up of 2nd generation biofuels throughout the next decade.
UBS sees high potentials for companies such as Weherhaeuser, Novozyme, Danisco and Syngenta. Together, these companies represent technologies that will allow producers to use nonfood feedstock, and as such will have the benefit of allowing governments to boost their national farm sectors while reducing their dependence on foreign oil. Coauthor Alice McKeown Jasperson of Worldwatch Institute notes “ We really strongly believe in the potential of second-generation biofuels, but we also believe that there need to be tests along the way. ” _BiofuelsDigest

Even Robert Rapier is able to find some positive notes for next generation biofuels.

Here is some information from a recent conference on advanced biofuels:
The one-day Advanced Biofuels Workshop, a co-located event at BBI International’s 26th annual Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, took place June 14 in St. Louis. The conference’s first panel—Game-Changing Pathways: Exploring New Roads to Tomorrow’s Advanced Biofuels—demonstrated the wide range of products from, and process techniques for, advanced biofuels production.

Today the advanced biofuels industries are in the “let a thousand flowers bloom” mode, said Gregory Pal, senior director of corporate development with LS9 Inc. “Over time there’ll be a shake-out and others will fall by the wayside,” Pal said, referring to the questionable feasibility of some products and processes now under investigation.

LS9 has made headlines in recent months for its novel one-step approach using designer microbes to convert sugars, not lipids, into various diesel fuel substitutes. The microbes, what some have referred to as “magic bugs,” ferment sugars into either methyl ester biodiesel or a renewable hydrocarbon fuel the company trademarked UltraClean Diesel depending on the desired end product. “There are no miracles required,” Pal said.

The company is focused on diesel fuel substitutes because it rightfully recognizes that diesel is the dominant fuel outside the U.S., and in years to come diesel applications are expected to gain significant ground in the U.S.

Pal told the audience that LS9’s pilot plant has been operating in South San Francisco for nearly two years, and mentioned the demo-scale plant in Florida expected to come online next year. LS9 also recently gained U.S. EPA registration to sell its fuels into commercial markets.

While LS9 is focused on diesel fuels, Virent Energy Systems Inc. is focusing on biogasoline—and the company has big names backing it up. Cargill is invested in Virent and is helping arrange feedstock supply; Royal Dutch Shell is also deeply financially invested as its development partner while opening up market channels; and Honda is testing its fuels and providing performance feedback.

The company’s vice president of business development, Greg Keenan, said there are similarities between the pathways of LS9 and Virent. “While LS9 is going biological route, we’re using a solid state catalyst, the goal is to reduce oxygen to carbon ratio and increase the hydrogen to carbon ratio,” Keenan said.

The severity of Virent’s process, called BioForming, increases from hydrolysis at 100 degrees Celsius, followed by pyrolysis at temperatures between 400 and 700 degrees, then gasification at around 1,000 degrees. In one to two hours, Virent’s process moves from sugar in to drop-in product out.

The Btu content of Virent’s biogasoline comes in at around 120,000 Btu per gallon compared to petroleum unleaded gasoline at about 115,000 Btu, and ethanol at 76,000 Btu. The Reid Vapor Pressure of biogasoline is similar to that of fossil gasoline, Keenan said.

Keenan said the company is looking at beet and cane sugars, in addition to corn syrup, as feedstocks.

Another panelist on the Game-Changing Pathways panel at the ABW was Randal Goodfellow, senior vice president of corporate relations for Ensyn Technologies Inc., one half of the Envergent Technologies joint venture with UOP.

Envergent’s process utilizes oxygen-free fast pyrolysis in a circulating fluidized bed in which the ultra-hot sand heats bits of biomass and vaporizes them. Goodfellow joked that even though the Rapid Thermal Processing reaction takes less than one second, he tells people that it takes less than two seconds because public perception was that under a second is “too fast.” _BiodieselMag
More information at the link above.

Advanced catalysts and other breakthroughs in thermochemical processes will increase the profitability of 2nd gen biofuels. But once 3rd gen biofuels find their stride, the cost savings will allow these new fuels to fully compete with and displace both petroleum fuels and earlier biofuels.

The field is in rapid evolution, and only those companies which are capable of reading the changes and adapting to them will survive.



Blogger bruce said...

wish I could understand the relationship between a sugar beet and the ounces of product made.
acre to barrels

8:55 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

True, but just when you think you know the numbers -- they all will change!

There is not one number for any crop or form of biomass or oilseed. More like a range, depending on the strain of plant, soil quality, climate, pest situation, and other unpredictables.

They are still working it out, but just when they do, everything will change.

9:48 AM  
Blogger bruce said...

well, in a round about way I'm thinking the product per acre is too small.
take algae/pond scum, for example,
an acre pond, a 1/2 inch layer, all rounded up and dried out= x, "refine" it to product and you have a quart of oil.

with balances like that, if a collector catches a cold you are operating at a net loss.
Sounds to me like this line of development should be refocused on making replacements for oil derived products... not oil itself.

11:29 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

Well, you could grow a lot more than a single 1/2 inch layer of scum in an acre if you lay it out right.

And you could use the biomass in addition to the oil, to do a lot of different things.

Check out for some of the things that algae can do.

11:33 AM  

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