Posted on February 02, 2017 by Kathleen M Roberts
On January 18, 2017, Christopher Grundler, the Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), signed a notice inviting comment on its analysis of the upstream greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the production of sugar beets for use as biofuel feedstock. The notice describes the analysis performed, which considers the extraction of non-cellulosic beet sugar for conversion to biofuel and the use of the remaining beet pulp for animal feed, and how EPA may use the analysis to determine whether biofuels from sugar beets qualify as renewable fuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program based on the GHG emission threshold requirement. The notice states that biofuels from sugar beets could qualify as renewable fuel or advanced biofuel, depending on the type and efficiency of the fuel production process technology used. A prepublication version of the report is available now, with a final publication date to be announced. A 30 day public comment period will begin after the formal proposal is published in the Federal Register.
Posted on May 20, 2016 by Heidi
In May of 2016, the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) awarded the University of Illinois and the University of Florida $300,000 to continue researching ultra-productive biofuel crops. The research project is called Plants Engineered To Replace Oil in Sugarcane and Sweet Sorghum (PETROSS), and this is the third round of funding that it will receive from ARPA-E. PETROSS is engineering sugarcane and sorghum to produce 20 percent oil, compared to the 0.05 percent oil that is naturally provided. So far 13 percent oil production has been achieved, with PETROSS continuing work to reach 20 percent yield though improved photosynthesis. The ARPA-E funding will also support a techno-economic analysis of converting the PETROSS oil into jet fuel, and phenotyping the PETROSS sugarcane and DNA.
Posted on October 03, 2014 by Heidi
BRAG member Micromidas, along with the Michigan Molecular Institute and Michigan Sugar Company, is working on a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from DOE with the goal of developing a process to convert sugar beet waste into useful chemicals. After sugar has been extracted from sugar beets, the remaining residue still contains a significant amount of sugars that can be converted into biobased PET. The development of biobased packaging materials, such as those championed by Coca-Cola, Heinz, and Proctor & Gamble, has resulted in an increased demand for biobased PET that can match the cost of petroleum-based PET. While research is still in the early phases, it is possible that additional work could continue "through an SBIR Phase II grant, which is $1,000,000." More information is available online.
Posted on December 13, 2013 by Heidi
Renewable fuel and chemical company Virent and cellulosic sugar producer Renmatix have announced plans to collaborate to convert cellulosic sugars to renewable chemicals and biobased packaging materials. According to Virent's press release on the effort, "Renmatix's Plantrose™ platform will be evaluated and potentially optimized to provide an affordable sugar stream for Virent's Bioforming® process for the large-scale production of bio-based paraxylene. Paraxylene is a basic raw material used in the manufacture of purified terephthalic acid (PTA), an important chemical in the production of plastic bottles and fibers made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Integrating local feedstock processing with on-site commercial production will lower costs and increase the viability of using renewable chemicals in bio-based packaging and plastics for industrial and consumer goods." Virent's press release is available online.
Posted on November 22, 2013 by Heidi
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced its Commodity Credit Corporation's (CCC) third sale of sugar this year for use as a feedstock for bioenergy production under the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) Feedstock Flexibility Program (FFP). The minimum FFP bid has been increased to 50,000 short tons (100 million pounds) to provide the opportunity for commercial-scale sugar use in bioenergy production. The opportunity to purchase sugar under this sale is available online.
USDA has sold sugar twice this year under the FFP, both times at a loss for the government. The 2008 Farm Bill, which expired on September 30, 2013, directs USDA to keep sugar prices at or above certain levels, and authorizes USDA either to acquire sugar through forfeiture of sugar loans made by USDA's CCC, or to buy sugar and sell it to bioenergy producers until prices rise to those levels. Domestic sugar prices have been falling this year. BRAG's reports on the previous sales are available online.
Posted on October 11, 2013 by Heidi
On September 30, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it had completed its second sale of sugar under the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) Feedstock Flexibility Program (FFP). Reportedly, USDA purchased the sugar for $65.9 million and sold it immediately for $12.6 million, a $53.3 million loss. Currently, no information is available about the sale on USDA's website because the website is suspended during the government shutdown.
The 2008 Farm Bill, which expired on September 30, directs USDA to keep sugar prices at or above certain levels, and authorizes USDA either to acquire sugar through forfeiture of sugar loans made by the USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation or to buy sugar and sell it to bioenergy producers until prices raise to those levels. Domestic sugar prices have been falling this year.
USDA was criticized for its first sale of sugar as part of the FFP because in that instance USDA had purchased 7,118 short tons of refined beet sugar for $3.6 million and sold it to renewable fuel producer Front Range Energy for $900,000 (a loss of $2.7 million).
Posted on September 05, 2013 by Heidi
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it had purchased 7,118 short tons of refined beet sugar for $3.6 million and sold it to renewable fuel producer Front Range Energy for $900,000 (a loss of $2.7 million) under the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) Feedstock Flexibility Program (FFP). This was the first time USDA had utilized the FFP. The 2008 Farm Bill directs USDA to keep sugar prices at or above certain levels, and authorizes USDA to either acquire sugar through forfeiture of sugar loans made by the USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation or to buy sugar and sell it to bioenergy producers until prices raise to those levels. A copy of the USDA press release on this announcement is available online.
Posted on August 26, 2013 by Heidi
While in Brazil last week, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz stressed the importance of biofuels as part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, Secretary Moniz called for greater partnership between the U.S. and Brazil on biofuels. Significantly, it was reported that Secretary Moniz stated that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority and ability, and will continue to consider imports when EPA sets the annual renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This statement is important and signifies that EPA could continue to allow imported Brazilian sugarcane ethanol to meet annual RFS requirements.
As we recently reported, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Export Green Initiative continues plans for an upcoming trip to Brazil September 30-October 2, 2013, to encourage an increased relationship between that country and the U.S. on biofuels. Representatives from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the trade association representing the Brazilian sugarcane industry (UNICA), and the Advanced Biofuels Association, along with 15 companies that produce biofuels in the U.S., are expected to attend the trip. More information is available online.
Posted on August 26, 2013 by Heidi
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it will, for the first time, use its Feedstock Flexibility Program to help restore U.S. sugar prices at or above specific levels. Under the program, U.S. sugar producers may sell their sugar to USDA, which then plans to sell it to biofuels producers. Under the 2008 Farm Bill, USDA is required to keep U.S. sugar at prices at or above certain levels. This year's prices have been low.