Researchers are finding new ways to increase the yield of cellulosic ethanol production—this time using genetically engineered bacteria and yeast. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency is being asked by more than 40 senators to do more to encourage the production of biomass-based diesel. Keep reading for these headlines and more from this week in bioenergy news.

 

Falling corn futures may delay ethanol purchases by Asian importers

U.S. ethanol producers want to do business in Asia, but falling prices may be encouraging potential customers to postpone buying until Q4 of this year.

 

As prices drifted lower, Platts reported, some producers have lowered their export premiums significantly—in some cases halving them from usual levels. But if corn futures are being used as a bellwether, then prices could be expected to continue to fall for the remainder of the year. From a customer perspective, this would make Q4 look like a much better time to purchase if you have that kind of flexibility—which buyers in China and India may. Get more on this story from Platts.

 

Researchers patent technology to increase ethanol yield

Scientists from the Illinois Institute of Technology received a patent for a method to genetically engineer bacteria and yeast to increase bioethanol production, especially from cellulosic material in biomass like twigs, branches, plant stalks and husks, and woodchips.

 

Cellulosic ethanol is less common than starch-based ethanol in part because these polymers are fairly difficult to break down into their component sugars. This makes it difficult to produce enough fuel-grade ethanol cost-effectively. And so, work in recent years has focused on genetically modifying yeast and other materials used in producing ethanol from cellulose to speed the breakdown process, improve yields and lower costs. Learn more at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

 

More than 40 senators call for EPA to increase biodiesel target

A bipartisan group of 40 U.S. senators called this week for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to increase the biodiesel targets in the newest Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) proposal.

 

The group, including Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.), sent EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy a letter calling on the EPA to raise the 2018 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) for biomass-based diesel. While the EPA recently proposed to increase these requirements to 2.1 billion gallons in 2018, senators said the 100 million gallon increase is not enough, and have called for the requirements to be raised at least 400 million gallons more to 2.5 billion gallons. Read more on the story at Biofuels International.

 

Veolia acquires biomass plant in Hungary

Veolia has purchased the fifth largest power plant in Hungary dedicated to producing electricity solely from biomass. The company already operates several other power plants in the country, which in total produce more than 600 GWh of electricity per year.

 

Since 2009, the newly-acquired Szakoly power plant has produced 130 GWh of electricity per year from the combustion of wood chips and sawmill by-products, equivalent to the consumption of 50,000 households. Through its continued operation, the plant will help Hungary reach its goal of having 14.65% of its total electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. Read more on the purchase and Hungary’s renewable energy ambitions at 4 Traders.

Geoff Hayward

Communications Writer at Novozymes
Geoff writes about Bioenergy for the Communications team at Novozymes. When he isn’t advocating for an industry that’s changing the world for the better, he can be found on a North Carolina bike path or playing slide guitar.