October 31, 2006

October 2006 Digest

"Clearing the air" with biomass conversion technologies.

With the passage of the landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 California is poised to take the lead in the national effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. But will Governor Schwarzenegger be able to use a carbon credits program to implement the legislation? What technologies will come into play? Will Proposition 87 spur development or just add more bureaucratic inertia? It has been an important month for renewable energy - here are some top stories:

General Topics--------------
Greenhouse Gases as Feedstock?
Terra Preta: Black is the New Green
Impact of Global Growth on Carbon Emissions
Geoplasma Answers Trash Vaporization Questions
Inventing the BIOstock Services Concept
Welcome Earthbeat Radio listeners!
U.S. D.O.E.: Strategies for Reducing Greenhouse Gases
Ethanol Stocks: Survival of the Fittest

Around the Nation--------------
CALIFORNIA: Enforcing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limits
CALIFORNIA: L.A. Solid Waste Task Force fights for Conversion Technology Reforms in Sacramento
CALIFORNIA: Air Resources Board tackles Global Warming
CALIFORNIA: L.A. Politicians Talk Clean Air
CALIFORNIA PROP 87: Bureaucracy vs. Private Enterprise
TEXAS: Fossil Fuels... and Fossil Thinking

Around the World-----------------
L.A. and U.K. Discuss Sustainable Energy

Please forward a link to this digest to anyone you know who would be interested in keeping track of change that will affect us all. They can add their name to the mailing list on the BioConversion Blog.

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October 29, 2006

Enforcing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Limits

The real, gritty work involved in carrying out what is probably the biggest project in the history of state regulation has begun.
- Daniel Weintraub

Here's a challenge that may put a practical halt to the enforcement of the far-reaching Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

The legislators who passed the bill are displeased with how Governor Schwarzenegger intends to bring companies into compliance with its carbon caps. In short, the Democrats and their environmentalist allies want to force companies within each industry to comply across-the-board with the limits contained in the bill.

The Governor, who signed the bill, sees using a carbon credit program as being a more practical way to implement the bill's provisions. Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee describes it as " a market-based system that allows companies to buy the right to pollute from others who have done more than their share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The idea behind such a market is to achieve the desired amount of reduction without crippling a particular industry or company."

It is incumbent upon drafters of the legislation to realize that resistance to change by those who will have to pay for it will ultimately delay its implementation. Imagine the lawsuits that could pit major industries and utilities (electricity generation, oil and gas extraction, oil and gas refineries, cement production and landfills) against the State. They are trying to comply with the provisions of the bill but are prevented from implementing solutions because of failure of the State to reform antiquated regulations and permitting legislation.

The other obvious unintended consequences - companies will leave the state or be force to cut back rather than be faced with fees that will render them uncompetitive within their own industries. Utilities could easily outsource across state borders. These consequences could prove disasterous for California's tax revenues at the state and local level, depressing employment and adversely affecting labor unions. How does that promote the interests of the Democrats political base?

Unless industry-requested regulations and permitting reforms are passed, companies and utilities can effectively argue in court that the California legislature is hamstringing their efforts to deploy solutions to meet the provisions of this bill.

Weintraub has written an excellent article - excerpts are listed below:

Grit hits the fan on pollution credits
By Daniel Weintraub, Sacramento Bee

California's landmark law to fight global warming by clamping down on greenhouse gas emissions has not even taken effect, and already the Democrats in the Legislature who crafted the bill are at odds with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, if he is re-elected Nov. 7, will be responsible for making it work.

Democrats and their environmentalist allies are charging that Schwarzenegger is breaking commitments made during a long summer of negotiations on the bill, AB 32. The governor, they say, is taking steps that could undermine the state's ability to cut greenhouse gases 25 percent by 2020, the bill's ambitious goal.

Schwarzenegger aides counter that the governor is merely trying to position the state's environmental bureaucracy to get a running start implementing the law when it goes into effect Jan. 1.

Behind the confrontation is a fundamental dispute over exactly how California should force its industries to comply with the caps on greenhouse gas emissions as they are phased in during the years ahead.

Democratic lawmakers and most environmental groups want to emphasize state-imposed standards and regulations to limit greenhouse gases.

Industries would be ordered by the Air Resources Board to retool their operations in particular ways to limit the production of carbon dioxide.

Schwarzenegger is not averse to this kind of direct regulation, which opponents characterize as "command and control." But the governor has also insisted that the new regulatory regime include a market-based system that allows companies to buy the right to pollute from others who have done more than their share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The idea behind such a market is to achieve the desired amount of reduction without crippling a particular industry or company.

Now Schwarzenegger has issued an executive order calling on the Air Resources Board, whose members he appoints, to move forward immediately with a market-based system that allows the trading of emissions credits with the European Union and a group of northeastern states that have begun a similar program.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Senate Leader Don Perata have objected, saying the bill they passed contemplated emissions trading only after other, more direct measures were taken.

Perata, in a letter to Schwarzenegger, said the order was "ill-timed and unnecessary," and called on the governor to rescind it. But Schwarzenegger's chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, told me in an interview that Schwarzenegger has no intention of backing down.

"The governor is committed to developing a workable cap and trade system that includes market-based incentives," Kennedy said. She added that the two approaches -- direct regulation and the trading of emission credits -- need to be developed into a comprehensive system that offers industry the flexibility it needs to comply in the most cost-effective manner possible.

"This needs to be seamless," she said. "It will be seamless."

This is only the opening skirmish in what promises to be a long and contentious battle over AB 32. The smiles and hugs and bipartisan press conferences that heralded the bill's passage last month are now history. The real, gritty work involved in carrying out what is probably the biggest project in the history of state regulation has begun.

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October 26, 2006

Greenhouse Gases as Feedstock?

Will bacteria play THE major role in the production of biofuels and sequestering of carbon dioxide? Patents already exist for strains of bacteria that can convert syngas into ethanol.

New research being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to study new roles for bacteria. The challenge is to sequence the DNA of certain cyanobacteria that can extract greenhouse gases from the air and, using sunlight, convert them into "thick mats of green biomass, from which liquid ethanol can be extracted." Sounds similar to the idea of using algae as a "breath mint" for smokestacks - but much more refined.

Here are excerpts form an article that appeared in "Washington University in St. Louis News & Information":

Sequencing The DNA Of Six Photosynthetic Bacteria To Make Biofuel To Warm Homes And Run Cars
by Tony Fitzpatrick

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has devoted $1.6 million to sequencing the DNA of six photosynthetic bacteria that Washington University in St. Louis biologists will examine for their potential as one of the next great sources of biofuel that can run our cars and warm our houses.

That's a lot of power potential from microscopic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that capture sunlight and then do a variety of biochemical processes. One potential process, the clean production of ethanol, is a high priority for DOE.

A natural at fermentation

"The Department of Energy is very interested in the production of ethanol or hydrogen and other kinds of chemicals through biological processes," said Pakrasi, who also is director of the University's Bioenergy Initiative. "Cyanobacteria have a distinct advantage over biomass, such as corn or other grasses, in producing ethanol, because they use carbon dioxide as their primary cellular carbon source and emit no carbons and they naturally do fermentation. In biomass, yeast needs to be added for fermentation, which leads to the production of ethanol. Cyanobacteria can offer a simpler, cleaner approach to ethanol production." Pakrasi heads a group of nearly two dozen researchers who will do a lengthy, painstaking manual annotation of the gene sets of each organism to figure out what each gene of each strain does.

"The diversity in those sequences will give us the breadth of what these organisms do, and then we can pick and choose and make a designer microbe that will do what we want it to do," Pakrasi said. "We want to tap into the life history of these organisms to find the golden nuggets."

One possible way to produce ethanol using Cyanothece strains is a hybrid combination of the microbe and plant matter where the cyanobacteria coexist with plants and enable fermentation. The model exists in nature where cyanobacteria form associations with plants and convert nitrogen into a useful form so that plants can use the nitrogen product.

Extracting ethanol

At Washington University, Pakrasi and his collaborators have designed a photobioreactor to watch Cyanothece convert available sunlight into thick mats of green biomass, from which liquid ethanol can be extracted.

Pakrasi led the sequencing of Cyanothece 54112 as the focus of a Department of Energy "grand challenge project" that resulted in the sequencing and annotation of a cyanobacterium gene that could yield clues to how environmental conditions influence key carbon fixation processes at the gene-mRNA-protein levels in an organism.

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October 23, 2006

Terra Preta: Black is the New Green

In August I cited an article on Terra Preta that focused on an organic method of sequestering carbon in the soil.

On the World Changing website, I recently ran across an article and a conversion technology animation involving pyrolysis and the generation of charcoal for the production of a high carbon fertilizer. Such a process would not only add to the sustainability of soil for the cultivation of healthy crops, but also provide a carbon sink alternative to geosequestration methods.

Terra Preta: Black is the New Green
by David Zaks and Chad Monfreda

Carbon sequestration faces some major hurdles. Technical geosequestration methods could pump large amounts of CO2 deep underground but are still under development. On the other hand, natural methods that store carbon in living ecosystems may be possible in the short term but require huge swathes of land and are only as stable the ecosystems themselves. An ideal solution, however, would combine the quick fix of biological methods with the absolute potential of technical ones. Terra preta may do just that, as a recent article in the journal Nature reveals.

The difference between terra preta and ordinary soils is immense. A hectare of meter-deep terra preta can contain 250 tonnes of carbon, as opposed to 100 tonnes in unimproved soils from similar parent material, according to Bruno Glaser, of the University of Bayreuth, Germany. To understand what this means, the difference in the carbon between these soils matches all of the vegetation on top of them. Furthermore, there is no clear limit to just how much biochar can be added to the soil.

Claims for biochar's capacity to capture carbon sound almost audacious. Johannes Lehmann, soil scientist and author of Amazonian Dark Earths: Origin, Properties, Management, believes that a strategy combining biochar with biofuels could ultimately offset 9.5 billion tons of carbon per year-an amount equal to the total current fossil fuel emissions!

Biofuels are touted as 'carbon neutral', but biofuels and biochar together promise to be 'carbon negative'. Danny Day, the founder of a company called Eprida is already putting these concepts into motion with systems that turn farm waste into hydrogen, biofuel, and biochar.

The Eprida technology uses agricultural waste biomass to produce hydrogen-rich bio-fuels and a new restorative high-carbon fertilizer (ECOSS) ...In tropical or depleted soils ECOSS fertilizer sustainably improves soil fertility, water holding and plant yield far beyond what is possible with nitrogen fertilizers alone. The hydrogen produced from biomass can be used to make ethanol, or a Fischer-Tropsch gas-to-liquids diesel (BTL diesel), as well as the ammonia used to enrich the carbon to make ECOSS fertilizer.

Terra preta's full beauty appears in this closed loop. Unlike traditional sequestration rates that follow diminishing marginal returns-aquifers fill up, forests mature-practices based on terra preta see increasing returns. Terra preta doubles or even triples crop yields. More growth means more terra preta, begetting a virtuous cycle. While a global rollout of terra preta is still a ways away, it heralds yet another transformation of waste into resources.

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October 22, 2006

TEXAS: Fossil Fuels... and Fossil Thinking

The urgency for developing and deploying clean coal-gasification alternatives to coal combustion could not be any more clear than reading that "154 new coal-fired plants are on the drawing board in 42 states." In the Lone Star State 16 new coal-fired power plants have been announced - 11 by power giant TXU Corp.

According to the article below - "Coal gasification plants can cost up to 20 percent more to build than a conventional plant." It should read "ONLY 20 percent more to build" and TXU should take the coal gasification option. The social costs from CO2 emissions of coal-fired plants have obviously not been taken into consideration. If they are only comparing to the older power plants they will be replacing they should think again - compare the "new and improve" coal-fired plants against the next generation available. Considering that there will be 16 more plants in Texas, even more efficient plants are likely to produce substantially more emissions than their current output unless there is a fundamentally cleaner technology at its base.

One wonders if even a few nuclear power plants would be environmentally preferable compared to the liabilities of the proposed coal-fired plants.

Below are excerpts from a recent Time/CNN Business & Technology article...

U.S. Coal Plant Boom Poses Big Environmental and Economic Questions
Should power companies be permitted to build new plants that pollute more but are reliable and less expensive?

A building boom that would add scores of new coal-fired power plants to the nation's power grid is creating a new dilemma for politicians, environmentalists and utility companies across the United States. Should power companies be permitted to build new plants that pollute more but are reliable and less expensive? Or should regulators push utilities toward cleaner burning coal plants, even if it means they will cost more and are based on newer, yet still unproven, technology?

Nowhere do these competing interests play out with such force as in Texas, where 16 new coal-fired plants are proposed — 11 of them by Dallas-based TXU Corp., the state's biggest power company.

"TXU put its stake in the ground and said it will (build the plants) faster and cheaper than anyone else," said Daniele M. Seitz, analyst with investment firm Dahlman Rose. "So they have something to prove." The company is hardly alone, however. Some 154 new coal-fired plants are on the drawing board in 42 states. Texas and Illinois are the only states where 10 or more plants are planned, according to the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Coal now accounts for about 50 percent of the power generated in the U.S. By the year 2030, that share will increase to 57 percent, according to Energy Department forecasts. The U.S. has the world's largest coal reserves, enough to last for the next 200 to 250 years, analysts believe.

Larry Makovich, managing director for consulting group Cambridge Energy Research Associates, said the urgency to bring more power-generating plants online cannot be understated. "A fundamental reality of the power business is there is no single fuel of choice, so if you are going to survive in the long run, you need to have a good mix of fuels and technologies," he said. "If we are going to keep supply and demand in balance, you're looking at a five-year lead time, so you have to get started building these plants now."

The debate soon could end up in federal court. Dallas attorney Rick Addison recently announced plans to sue TXU, alleging potential violations of the federal Clean Air Act. "It's remarkable and unnecessary the amount of pollutants they are going to put in the air," said Addison, a member of the Houston-based Locke Liddell and Sapp law firm. "The only way to get these issues resolved is at the highest level and reviewed under the appropriate law." The battle lines were drawn April 20, when TXU Chief Executive John Wilder announced the company's plans shortly after much of Texas underwent a rolling power blackout. Since then, each side has assembled a team of backers comprised of affected residents, lawmakers, and lawyers.

Coal gasification plants can cost up to 20 percent more to build than a conventional plant. But they also can be more efficient to operate and save utilities the hassle and expense of adding pollution-control devices. Already, American Electric Power, of Columbus, Ohio, Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc. and Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp, are reviewing plans to implement this technology. Mike Morris, chairman for American Electric Power, said the pressures on power companies to burn fuel in the cleanest way possible will only gain momentum in coming years.

"From our vantage point we think the technology for clean coal is there," he said. "It can be done, but there is a challenge." For it's part, TXU says turning the coal into synthetic gas remains an unproven technology and not as reliable as burning pulverized coal — the process the company's new plants would be designed to use. Several analysts agree. "For purposes of generating electricity, a pulverized system is well-proven," said John Mead, who heads the Southern Illinois University Coal Research Center in Carbondale, Ill. "Gasification has much more limited commercial experience," Mead said. "There are still some unknowns as to just what the operating costs would be and how reliable would such a system be."

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October 19, 2006

CALIFORNIA: L.A. Solid Waste Task Force fights for Conversion Technology Reforms in Sacramento

If the recent passage of California AB32 (the "Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006") proved anything it is that there is considerable interest in revising the way the state addresses air quality, energy supply, and waste pollution problems. One hundred years of relying on fossil fuel combustion as the accepted energy paradigm has resulted in wasted energy and a super-consuming culture in which profligate waste is a status symbol.

It would surprise most Californians to learn that there is any debate that new technological approaches need to be developed and implemented without delay. Yet there is not only debate, but subterfuge and bad faith negotiating in the California State legislature that is frustrating the sincere, coordinated, and professional efforts of The Los Angeles County Solid Waste Management Committee (SWMC) to move America's third largest city to a cleaner and more energy self-sufficient future.

In 1990, The SCWMC established the Integrated Waste Management Task Force. The Task Force is comprised of representatives from local government, the solid waste management and recycling industry, and members of the general public, the business sector and the environmental movement.

The Alternative Technology Advisory Subcommittee of the Task Force is responsible for evaluating and promoting the development of conversion technologies to reduce dependence on landfills and incinerators.

On August 18, 2005, the Task Force formally adopted the Subcommittee's comprehensive Conversion Technology Evaluation Report. This Report represents a culmination of 18 months of exhaustive and very expensive research conducted in conjunction with URS Corporation. This report is the first step in the effort to deploy a demonstration conversion technology (CT) facility in Southern California, in order to obtain real-world data on the impacts and benefits of these technologies.

Incredibly, instead of supporting California's largest city in SWMC's efforts to develop conversion technologies (CTs), the State Assembly Natural Resources Committee has ignored the findings of the report including its numerous regulatory change recommendations. No reasons given. Through two rounds of committee review (AB 1090 and AB 2118), this committee has manipulated its meeting agendas and funneled negotiations through unelected organizations with a vested interest in the status quo. It is a blatent attempt to wear down the Task Force of its energy and "starve" a chief lobbyist, the BioEnergy Producers Association headed by Senator David Roberti (ret.), of its war chest.

This blog has recently received a copy of a letter sent to the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) in Sacramento confirming the frustration which the Solid Waste Management Committee of the Task Force has been experiencing - "Although California is leading the way, the development of conversion technologies in the State has stalled."

Through a Catch-22 of state regulations no CTs can be deployed in California unless successful air emissions tests are passed within the State. In other words, you have to pass a test in a facility you are not allowed to build - not even simply to run the test. Test results from outside the State do not qualify. Test results of similar technologies do not qualify.

One year ago three CT facilities - a pyrolysis plant in Romoland, California, a pilot syngas fermentation plant in Arkansas, and a plasma arc gasification plant in Richland, Washington - were tested for air quality emissions by the strictly independent Center for Environmental Research and Technology of the Bourns College of Engineering of the University of California/Riverside (aka, CE-CERT). According to Principal Development Engineer William Welch who conducted the report:

The pilot plant test results that we have witnessed and have evaluated independently indicate compliance or near compliance with air pollutant emissions regulations.

In fact, most of the emissions levels were mere fractions on the standards that are sought by the extremely vigilant South Coast Air Quality Management District. The one non-compliant result was for NOx emissions from the Romoland pyrolysis plant. The operators were unaware of the testing standard. Through modification of their syngas scrubbing process, the emissions today are well below the standard and would pass any test with flying colors.

Which proves a very important point. For there to be any advance in substantially changing the hazardous combustion paradigm, we need to deploy investment-worthy solutions, test them, refine them, and test them again. That is the procedure in most states. If the facility cannot be made to comply, it is shut down and the investors, the risk-takers, lose. At no time is the public at any risk.

Unless, of course, the status quo is left to persist - which results in keeping the public health in constant danger until other solutions are deployed. As the parent of four, one with chronic asthma, I have to ask - how can the inertia of the State government be good for curing the status quo?

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October 16, 2006

Impact of Global Growth on Carbon Emissions

"Business as usual" could could have serious long-term consequences for global energy consumption and carbon emissions. According to a report released by PriceWaterhouse-Coopers (PwC) last month, global carbon emissions from fossil fuels are going to more than double by the year 2050 unless a number of significant policy changes are enacted soon to deploy technological emission reduction measures.

In March 2006, PwC published a report, The World in 2050: How big will the emerging market economies get and how can the OECD compete?, on the rapid growth of the "E7" emerging economies (China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, India, and Turkey). They project the combined economies of these countries could be 25-75% greater than the G7 countries (U.S., Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Canada) by 2050.

The questions unaddressed by that report - what consequences on global climate will that growth cause? What is the need for change?

These questions are covered in a follow-up study, The World in 2050: implications of global growth for carbon emissions and climate change policy released in September. In it, the author provided a baseline estimate of carbon emissions with the current rate of energy efficiency. He then developed five different scenarios incorporating more successively aggressive measures.

It is a sober look at the paths open to us and the need to start implementation. Our leaders must recognize the need to start deploying clean solutions now and adjust them as we go. Civilization cannot afford to squander decades (as we have since the last big oil crisis) holding out for "ideal" solutions. According to PcW:

The analysis also suggests that there could be significant costs to delay, given the time required to develop and implement the necessary technologies and policies. As emissions from the faster-growing emerging economies will almost certainly continue to rise over the next few decades, the G7 economies may need to take the lead in reducing their carbon emissions.

But this should create major new market opportunities, allowing companies in the established OECD economies to specialise in areas of comparative advantage, while their consumers benefit from low cost imports from the emerging economies — a "win-win" outcome rather than "one winner takes all".

A few excerpts:

The World in 2050: implications of global growth for carbon emissions and climate change policy
Report outlines 'Green Growth Plus' strategy that could curb global carbon emissions without significantly reducing long-term economic growth
John Hawksworth, Head of Macroeconomics, PriceWaterhouse-Coopers

The report considers six possible scenarios but focuses most attention on two key possibilities:

• A baseline scenario in which energy efficiency improves in line with trends of the past 25 years, with no change in fuel mix by country; this ‘business as usual’ scenario acts as a benchmark against which to assess the need for change, rather than as a forecast of the most likely outcome; and
• A scenario called Green Growth + CCS, which incorporates possible emission reductions due to a greener fuel mix, annual energy efficiency gains over and above the historic trend, and widespread use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Of the scenarios considered in the report, only this ‘Green Growth Plus’ strategy stabilises atmospheric CO2 concentrations by 2050 at what the current scientific consensus suggests would be broadly acceptable levels.

The chart below shows how it might be possible to get from the baseline scenario to the preferred Green Growth + CCS scenario for global carbon emissions in three steps.

1. A shift to a much less carbon intensive fuel mix through increased nuclear and/or renewables supply (more than doubling the current non-fossil-fuel primary energy share to around 30% by 2050) and reduced fossil fuel.
2. Energy intensity reductions significantly faster than historic trends (2.6% per annum rather than 1.6% per annum, which would reduce carbon emissions in 2050 by around a third relative to our baseline scenario).
3. Significant investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and capacity of the order of 1.5GtC per annum by 2050, which could reduce carbon emissions by a further 20%, relative to our Green Growth scenario without CCS.

John Hawksworth concludes: "Our analysis suggests that there are technologically feasible and relatively low-cost options for controlling carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Estimates suggest that the level of GDP might be reduced by no more than around 2-3% in 2050 if this strategy was followed, equivalent to sacrificing only around a year of economic growth for the sake of reducing carbon emissions in 2050 by around 60% compared to our baseline scenario".

"But if this is to be achieved, it will take further concerted action by governments, businesses and individuals over a broad range of measures to boost energy efficiency, adopt a greener fuel mix, and introduce carbon capture and storage technologies in power plants and other major industrial facilities".

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October 14, 2006

Geoplasma Answers Trash Vaporization Questions

On September 10th I drafted an article about a plan to use plasma-arc technology to gasify waste in St. Lucie County, Florida titled FLORIDA: County to Vaporize Trash. In addition to writing my concerns about the emissions from the process, I listed five questions that I wanted to have clarified by the developer, Geoplasma of Atlanta, Georgia. I sent the list to the president of Geoplasma, Hilburn Hillestad, who very graciously sent me the following reply:

Response to BioConversion Blog Questions about Trash Vaporization
From Hilburn Hillestad, President of Geoplasma, LLC.

Below you will find our answers to your questions. Thank you for your interest in our proposed facility.

1. Question: How much energy does the plasma-arc use?
The plasma-arc facility uses approximately 40 megawatts of energy per hour. This is approximately one-quarter of the total output of hourly energy received from MSW.

2. Question: What will be the source of the plasma-arc energy?
The facility will receive its energy from its total output. For St. Lucie, it is expected that the 3,000 tons of MSW processed per day will create 160 megawatts of energy per hour. As stated previously, 40 megawatts will be used to power the facility and the remaining 120 megawatts will be sold to an Electric Utility.

3. Question: What does the energy source emit?
See question 5.

4. Question: Is the high heat of the plasma-arc being captured and utilized?
Because of the nature of a closed-loop system the heat will be captured and utilized both in the plasma gasification process and later in the production of steam.

5. Question: How are they going to combust the syngas to keep the emissions low?
There is no combustion during the gasification process. The Plasma-arc gasification process is a chemical reduction process that converts MSW from its original state to a glass-like aggregate solid at the bottom, and a synthetic fuel gas, also known as syngas, at the top.

Once gasification is over, the syngas is cleaned in a multi-step process, bringing it to levels near natural gas cleanliness. It is then compressed before being used as fuel for a gas turbine.

The gas turbine for this process is a modified natural gas turbine that mixes the cleaned syngas with air from the atmosphere, combusts the mixture and sends the hot gases through a turbine. The turbine spins an electric generator to produce electricity. The discharged hot gases are then passed through a heat recovery steam generator to produce more steam and to cool the hot gases. The cooler exhaust gases are then discharged into the atmosphere via a stack.

Emissions from this process are very similar to natural gas combined cycle plants which are considered to be ‘clean’ and are located and permitted all over the U.S., and for that matter the whole world.

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October 13, 2006

L.A. and U.K. Discuss Sustainable Energy

Los Angeles (October 13, 2006): Last July, two "heads of state," British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, met in Long Beach, California to discuss global warming, energy technology, and other environmental issues. As a direct followup, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom hosted an "International Sustainable Energy Symposium" on the UCLA campus. The purpose: to provide an opportunity for academics, technologists, and policy makers from both sides of the Atlantic to share notes (and business cards) on a broad range of issues involving sustainable energy and climate change.

Why conduct the symposium?
Bob Peirce, the British Consul General at Los Angeles stressed the commonality and mutual respect that the U.K. and U.S. have for each other on the subjects of energy and air quality. He reminded the audience that the first nation to embrace coal during the industrial revolution (the U.K.) dominated the world militarily, economically, and politically. Similarly, the U.S. achieved the same result when it was the first to develop and exploit oil. His inference was clear - there will be a certain advantage to whomever is the first to embrace renewable energy. Collaboration will speed the process and strengthen the bond between our nations.

This symposium was an opportunity to consider and learn about the focus of various groups in each country. The subject matter was as diverse as the biographies of the panels:
- The "academic panel" discussed wind and water power, photovoltaics, electrical grids, green architecture, and environmental education.
- The "industrial panel" addressed biomass conversion technologies, and utility initiatives for renewable energy.
- The "policy panel" focused on California AB 32 air quality assessments, low carbon technologies, collaborative networks, and air quality regulations and control.

Biomass Conversion Technologies
Relevant to the focus of this blog, biomass conversion, Coby Skye from the Los Angeles Department of Public Works presented a report on L.A. efforts to identify and deploy clean conversion technologies (CTs). Many facilities in Europe and Japan have deployed clean waste-to-energy facilities. The U.S. is lagging behind although revolutionary clean technologies have already be tested in pilot plants throughout the country. The LA/DPW will most certainly build one of the first commercial-scale CT facilities in the country.

No only will CTs divert waste from landfills, they will contribute to cleaning up air pollution, generating green electricity, and reducing our dependence on oil. Questions from the audience focused on the state regulatory requirements that would need to be changed to enable Los Angeles' RENEW L.A. plan to be deployed. He said that the DPW would proceed with its plans and continue to make its case for Los Angeles until the necessary changes are made in Sacramento. Los Angeles is running out of landfill space.

Nancy Sutley, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor on Energy Environment spoke about Mayor Villaraigosa's recent trip to the U.K. and the city's efforts to: purchase clean energy vehicles, expand the mass transit system, tap methane gases from landfills, plant one million trees, and expedite green building permitting. Questions about the Mayor's support of conversion technologies and specifically RENEW L.A. were repeatedly addressed by the audience during and after the presentation. She referred favorably to the summer's Emerging Waste Technologies Forum at UCLA where CTs were the topic of discussion. However, she appeared to hedge any commitment on the Mayor's position by saying there were passionate viewpoints expressed on both sides of the issue.

Richard Germain of Navigant Consulting was on hand to moderate the industries panel. He has been personally involved in drafting many recommendations and preparing the Governor's BioEnergy Action Plan for California. As stated in the report "The recommendations contained in the Action Plan are intended to create the necessary institutional and regulatory changes that will substantially increase the production and use of bioenergy in California. These recommendations represent near-term first steps that can be taken by state agencies and the Bioenergy Interagency Working Group to invigorate the biopower and biofuels sectors."

Continuing Collaboration
While the purpose may have been to foster cross-Atlantic business relationships, there was too little time for attendees to meet and discuss ways to continue the collaboration. However, it is clear that there are many benefits to continuing collaboration. I invite attendees to this event to submit links to biomass conversion developments they hear about and comment frequently to any articles posted here.

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October 12, 2006

Inventing the BIOstock Services Concept

"Boom" periods provide investors with high potential return - at high risk. To reduce these risks, early business collaborations are often formed with seasoned providers of products and services that can reliably meet project requirements and deadlines. These relationships represent a real value to new enterprises by providing sure-footed execution of critical parts of the operation based on experienced management and knowledge of existing resources.

Other outsourced products and services that will contribute to the success of new biofuel facility investments include: marketing, publicity, training, lobbying, consulting, real estate, insurance, financing, manpower, shipping, procurement, engineering, design, construction, sales, etc., etc.

A good example of a company that is taking its core business and repositioning itself to service the booming biofuels industry is the Price Companies, Inc. of Monticello, Ark. They recognize that, to be successful, new biorefineries will require a steady, year-round flow of biomass feedstock ("biostock") which needs to be contracted, shipped, stored, pre-processed, and conveyed into the facilities. With very little variation, these are the same services that Price currently provide at 19 wood processing installations throughout the southeastern U.S.

Price recently hung a new shingle establishing a division called Price BIOstock Services under the control of experienced General Manager Dick Carmical. Below is a press release that provides a glimpse of their business vision.

The Price Companies, Inc. introduces new Price BIOstock Services division
Experienced wood processing facilities operator markets management services for handling other biomass feedstock

Monticello, ARK (October 12, 2006): The Price Companies, Inc. has announced the launch of a new division called “Price BIOstock Services.” As a wood processing services company for over forty years, the new division will focus on offering a broad range of management and operations technology services to companies involved in the rapid growth of biofuel refineries in North America and abroad.

The future of biofuels production will involve using cellulosic biomass (like wood chips, rice straw, corn stover, and even urban waste) as feedstock for the refinery/conversion process. Capitalizing on the parent company’s existing resources and experience from operating state-of-the-art facilities at nineteen sites in the United States, the new division offers an expanded set of services for managing other biomass feedstock materials. These services include consulting, procurement, systems design/engineering, and facilities management.

“From industry changes we are monitoring through our association memberships, we anticipate a surge in demand for the products and services that The Price Companies have been providing, with minor modification, for over forty years,” says Price BIOstock Services General Manager Dick Carmical. “The need for specialized equipment and personnel will be huge worldwide. Price can provide people and facilities to procure, grow, harvest, and process the fiber necessary for biofuels. We are eager to work with enterprises in search of an experienced, professional team that can source, build, and manage biostock.”

In a related development, The Price Companies, Inc. has announced the signing of a contract with fine paper manufacturer PaperlinX Limited of Australia. Under the terms of the contract, Price will build, own, and manage a state-of-the-art facility that will enhance the quality and consistency of pulp to be produced for PaperlinX’s Maryvale Mill pulp capacity and bleach plant in Victoria, Australia.

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October 11, 2006

CALIFORNIA: Air Resources Board tackles Global Warming

Now that the landmark California Global Warming Solutions Act has been signed, it is time for the state legislature to pass bills that will enable AB32 to be implemented.

Who will execute the act's provisions? Turns out, it will fall primarily on the California Air Resources Board (with the appropriate acronym "CARB").

What industries will feel the heavy breath of CARB? According to Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraug:

The legislation does not limit the air board's discretion in deciding which industries and companies to target. But officials expect that, at least initially, most of the attention will be focused on five major sources of greenhouse gases: electricity generation, oil and gas extraction, oil and gas refineries, cement production and landfills.

Using a health analogy, California's entrenched waste management and wasted energy status quo is the disease - air polluton is the noxious symptom. Private enterprise and public utility deployment of clean biomass conversion technologies (CTs) offers a wealth of cures.

It is difficult to imagine that CARB will be able to levy and enforce fines on companies for failure to comply with their mandates if the target violators' willingness to deploy soutions has been straight-jacketed by outdated waste management regulations and permitting procedures.

Hopefully a motivated CARB will have success bringing some heat on the California Assembly Natural Resources Committee (NRC) within the next few years to free the deployment of biomass conversion technologies. Changing some of the most critical waste regulations has been the responsiblity of the NRC. The sad history of committee inertia over CTs (AB 1090 and AB 2118), which would have legitimized clean CTs in the state years ago, should frustrate CARB as it has the broad range of reform supporters throughout California.

Below are excerpts from Weintraub's excellent column describing the challenge ahead for CARB...

Air board will do the real work on global warming
By Daniel Weintraub - Sacramento Bee Columnist

The legislation California enacted last month to seize for itself a leading role in the fight against global warming is only the beginning of what will likely be five years of intense, behind-the-scenes battles over just how to reduce greenhouse gases to the level emitted in 1990, when California's population and its economy were much smaller than they are today.

AB 32 was titled the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. But the bill does little more than establish the goal of reducing the state's greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent below levels now projected for 2020. That's about 174 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which, by volume, is equivalent to filling 64 Empire State Buildings from the lobby to the tower above the observation deck.

Most of the heavy lifting will be done by the Air Resources Board, an 11-member panel that includes 10 citizen regulators and one full-time chairman appointed by the governor. The legislation grants the board extraordinary powers to set policies, draw up regulations, lead the enforcement effort and levy fees to finance it all and fines to punish violators.

The board's first comprehensive plan for how the state will meet that goal is due by January 2009. That document is supposed to spell out how much of the reduction will come from which industries. It will also describe how much of the reduction will be achieved through direct regulation of business practices and how much through a market in which companies can purchase the right to pollute from other firms that have reduced their emissions by more than the required amount.

Chuck Shulach, who is managing the greenhouse gas reduction program for the air board, said the 2009 plan will be a kind of bridge between the general legislation lawmakers adopted last month and the ultimate, detailed regulations that will force companies to change the way they do business.

"That plan is the place in which we will get very specific about which sources and sectors would be regulated in what fashion, and how many tons of reductions we expect to achieve," Shulach said.

The legislation does not limit the air board's discretion in deciding which industries and companies to target. But officials expect that, at least initially, most of the attention will be focused on five major sources of greenhouse gases: electricity generation, oil and gas extraction, oil and gas refineries, cement production and landfills.

The effect of the new rules will not end at the state's borders. The state's utilities, for example, will be held responsible for carbon dioxide emitted by coal plants elsewhere if those plants supply electricity to California. And California companies will probably be free to buy emission credits -- the right to pollute -- from other sources around the world.

These are revolutionary changes, breathtaking in their scope. The technical, legal and regulatory grind to come will represent one of the greatest social engineering projects ever undertaken by state government. It will deserve close scrutiny.

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October 8, 2006

CALIFORNIA: L.A. Politicians Talk Clean Air

Los Angeles is the nation's crucible for clean air politics.

Its harbors are the nation's largest entry port for fossil fuels, automobiles, and other Pacific Rim merchandise - which are, in turn, shipped via diesel-spewing haulers and trains to the four corners of the North America. Its clogged freeways are a study in idle vehicle emissions. Its oil refineries befoul the air while the concrete-lined L.A. "River" rushes debris and stinking pollution to our oft-tainted ocean playgrounds. Add infrequent rainfall, brush fires, and the seasonal inversion layers that hover over its suburban valleys and you can easily understand why Los Angeles annually ranks highest as the home of the dirtiest air in the country by the American Lung Association.

This was the backdrop to a very convivial evening featuring key L.A. politicians and environmentalists at L.A.'s Museum of Tolerance Theater on October 5th. The topic under discussion - "The Impact of the November Initiatives." It was an opportunity to meet and listen to political stakeholders explain their positions on key environmental legislation before the voters - in particular Prop 87, The Clean Alternative Energy Initiative. The 90-minute panel discussion was video-taped by the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) for eventual airing on television.

The line-ups were impressive. When scheduled Speaker of the California Assembly Fabian Nunez was unable to make it, we were treated to three distinguished substitutes - Assemblymember Fran Pavley (co-author of AB32, the historic California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, Assemblymember Judy Chu (Chair of the Appropriations Committee), and State Senator Debra Bowen (candidate for CA Secretary of State). All represent districts in Southern California. The other slated politicians included L.A. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and my own L.A. City Councilmember Wendy Greuel (District 2).

The environmentalists on the panel included the leaders of The Nature Conservancy (Mark Burget), the Coalition for Clean Air (Tim Carmichael), The TreePeople (Andy Lipkis), and the Department of Water and Power (David Nahai).

There were four proposed state measures that came up repeatedly in the discussion. There was general agreement that voters should support Proposition 1B (the $19.9 billion Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act) to reinforce California's traffic infrastructure. Also supported was the $5.4 billion Proposition 84 (Water Quality, Safety and Supply, Food Control, Natural Resource Protection, Park Improvements Bonds Initiatives Statute).

Soundly condemned was Proposition 90 (the Government Acquisition, Regulation of Private Property, Initiative Constitutional Amendment). The audience was warned that this was not to be confused with the controversial national eminent domain judgements that the proponents would have us believe. Passage of this amendment would significantly hamstring the state's ability to implement necessary zoning changes to advance public interests.

The main focus, however, was on Prop 87 - for which there was no opposition voiced in the discussion. The local concern for the state of air quality and pollution, particularly in the coastal waters around Southern California's tourist attraction beaches, has trumped any other concern about the efficacy of the bureaucracy the proposition would establish or the impact on business in California. It appears that these politicians, representing every level of L.A. leadership, are hungry to find popular approval for some measures that would otherwise be beyond the reach of Sacramento to even consider much less enact (see CLCV 2005 California Environmental Scorecard).

While 2006 has seen election-year passage of vote-getting environmental and alternative energy legislation - The Million Solar Roofs Plan (SB1) and the CA Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32) - the key to true improvement in clean air will come through "boring" regulatory reform and a loosening of advanced technology permitting.

Without reform many of the innovative responses to the mandates of AB32 (such as L.A.'s revolutionary RENEW L.A. plan) will never be implemented. As a result, landfill and wastewater pollution, truncated recycling efforts, inefficient waste management, environmental injustice, and fossil fuel electricity generation - the true clean air challenges - will remain intransigently the status quo.

With reform, innovative business ventures will raise investment capital and begin deploying new technological solutions that will achieve the target emissions reductions of AB32.

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October 7, 2006

CALIFORNIA PROP 87: Bureaucracy vs. Private Enterprise

Chevron is about to get hit hard in the pocketbook - albeit a pocketbook full of recent windfall oil profits.

To its credit, Chevron has tried to get in front of the renewable energy movement. They claim that they spend $300 million/year in technology to support new energy sources and 15 months ago they created their "Will You Join Us?" campaign - a marketing tool to affect public perception about Chevron's guardianship of its customers' energy security. In the field of public relations they are head and shoulders above their competition (remember the Exxon Valdez).

What troubles Chevron is that they are the major oil producer in California and the state has The Clean Alternative Energy Initiative (Prop 87) up for a vote this November. This initiative will tax producers a total of $4 Billion on oil they extract within the state. These revenues will be administered by the reorganized California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority. The new funds will be used to finance research and production incentives for alternative energy, alternative energy vehicles, efficient technologies, education and training according to its very loosely worded percentage breakdown.

Chevron is spending an historic amount of money fighting California's Prop 87. But the voting "parisioners" in this citadel to automotive freedom are mad as hell and the initiative is likely to pass no matter what arguments Chevron presents. Sounds great to the public but I am not so sure.

Does California need another extra-governmental bureaucracy? I believe the challenge before Californians is not money - it's vision and implementation on a timely basis. A speedy and successful renewable energy paradigm shift will require the R&D and deployment of many new technologies addressing a host of challenges and opportunities. Too many, in fact, for a single bureaucracy to grasp, much less manage and fund with integrity. Is it realistic to expect this authority, which only managed expenditures of $203,000 last year, to judiciously administer over 20 times that amount in the each of the next ten years?

The primary ingredient for success of the paradigm shift will be profit motive - the blind spot of bureaucracies. We have a precedent for how paradigm shifts can take place in a short amount of time without an extortion tax (L.A. Times editorial) levied against any industry. We saw the breathtaking rise of Silicon Valley during the 70s-90s on a unifying vision of placing computers on every desk and in every household. The ROI was not only economic but this spectacular paradigm shift produced the fastest rise in productivity and communications in the history of man.

If Prop 87 passes, no real progress will come from the oil profit tax unless the new bureaucracy can persuade the state government to reform regulations and permitting of new technologies. As the BioEnergy Producers Association's president CA Senator David Roberti (ret.) can attest, passing energy, waste management, and the environmental reforms are much more challenging than what Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have ever had to face.

Progress will not come without making mistakes - lots of them - and California's environmental idealists are prone to shoot down unproven technologies before deployment. Legislators must lead and educate their constituents on the merits of emerging technology now that California's groundbreaking Global Warming Solutions Act has been signed.

If Sacramento can capture the vision and make the proper reforms necessary, we won't need the $4 Billion. Companies will flock again to California - our employment and tax coffers will rise on the investments. If Sacramento does not support the new bureaucracy in the face of environmental idealists, no amount of money will be enough to deploy the changes needed. In that case, California will be stuck with the status quo, and $4 Billion will be wasted.

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October 3, 2006

Welcome Earthbeat Radio listeners!

This morning I briefly participated in a public radio interview with Mike Tidwell, a well-recognized global warming activist/author/radio personality, about the use of bacteria to convert waste into ethanol and electricity using syngas fermentation. This was in the context of a whole show devoted to an exploration of how microorganisms might be used to help generate energy while reducing global warming. A podcast of this show will be uploaded soon to the Earthbeat website.

This blog deals in depth with how biomass (including agricultural, forestry, and urban waste) is being converted into useful biofuels and electricity through clean technologies with virtually no toxic emissions. Most of these technologies already exist either in Europe and Japan, or in pilot plants waiting for commercial-scale deployment.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, I invite you to start by reading The Benefits of Conversion Technologies and Syngas Fermentation - The Next Generation of Ethanol.

If you would like to monitor this site, I email a monthly digest of article titles to my mailing list subscribers.

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October 1, 2006

U.S. D.O.E.: Strategies for Reducing Greenhouse Gases

On September 21st the U.S. Department of Energy released their Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP) Strategic Plan which describes broadscope measures that the D.O.E. should pursue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The publication of the study confirms that the U.S. Department of Energy considers "climate change" to be a pressing issue:

As a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United States shares with many other countries the UNFCCC’s ultimate objective, that is, the “…stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in Earth’s atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system . . . within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.” Meeting this objective will require a sustained, long-term commitment by all nations over many generations.

Technologies emphasized for development are hydrogen extraction, biorefining, renewable power generation, clean coal and carbon sequestration, nuclear fission and fusion. Of these, biomass conversion is applicable to all but nuclear fission and fusion.

Below are some excerpts that relate specifically to biomass conversion and syngas technologies:

U.S. Climate Change Technology Program Strategic Plan
September 2006

The Plan sets six complementary goals:

1 - Reducing emissions from energy use and infrastructure;
2 - Reducing emissions from energy supply;
3 - Capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide;
4 - Reducing emissions of other greenhouse gases;
5 - Measuring and monitoring emissions; and
6 - Bolstering the contributions of basic science to climate change.

These six CCTP strategic goals focus primarily on mitigating GHG emissions to make progress toward stabilizing atmospheric GHG concentrations. They are not intended to encompass the broad array of technical challenges and opportunities that may arise from climate change.
—CCTP Strategic Plan

A recent assessment of potential biofuel resources concluded that by mid-21st century it would be technically possible to produce enough biomass to displace about one-third of current petroleum consumption. The study made no conclusions about economic feasibility. This level of biofuel production would require economically-competitive technologies to convert cellulosic biomass (rather than just the sugars and starches) into ethanol, and developing cellulosic ethanol technologies is a central aspect of the Biofuels Initiative and the President’s Advanced Energy Initiative.

Biochemical Conversion of Biomass. Research is required to gain a better understanding of genomes, proteins, and their functions; the enzymes used for hydrolyzing pretreated biomass into fermentable sugars; the micro-organisms used in fermentation; and new tools of discovery such as bio-informatics, high-throughput screening of biodiversity, directed enzyme development and evolution, and gene shuffling. Research must focus on improving the cost, yield, and equipment reliability for harvesting, collecting, and transporting biomass; pretreating biomass before conversion; lowering the cost of the genetically engineered cellulose enzymes needed to hydrolyze biomass; developing and improving fermentation organisms; and developing integrated processing applicable to a large, continuous-production commercial facility.

Thermochemical Conversion of Biomass. Research is needed to improve the production, preparation, and handling of biomass; improve the operational reliability of thermochemical biorefineries; remove contaminants from synthesis gas and develop cost-competitive catalysts and processes for converting synthesis gases to chemicals, fuels, or electricity. All processes in the entire conversion system must be integrated to maximize efficiency and reduce costs.

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Ethanol Stocks: Survival of the Fittest

In the rush to secure a position in the booming biofuels industry there are already early winners, companies with promising futures, and companies that will have to persevere to stay in the game. As last week has amply demonstrated (see 9/23/06), every drop in the price of oil affects the speculative value of ethanol related stocks. Even the strong players have recently witnessed bearish performance, but that is unlikely to dissuade pending deals from going through. Buyers beware - investing in this sector presents high risks.

On the other hand, high flying venture capitalists are betting big on the future of ethanol. We are clearly at the "bleeding edge" of the ethanol product lifecycle - and it is going to be a BIG one.

The first phase is based on the deployment of corn and sugar fermentation refineries. There has been a huge surge of investment in this field feeding off the President's Advanced Energy Initiative of 2005, concern about our dependence on Middle East oil, hurricane Katrina's damage to oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and the huge spike in oil prices in 2006.

The second phase involving cellulosic feedstock conversion to ethanol has yet to officially begin with the construction of commercial-scale facilities. With the rosy forecasting of people who should know, many investors are holding their chips for this second round to begin proving itself.

An online monitor of the price and health of existing ethanol stocks is the GoG2G Blog whose role is "Looking into Socially Responsible Stocks and the future of alternative fuels." Konrad Imielinski has just published Ethanol's Winners and Losers which list the winners as Pacific Ethanol, Inc. (PEIX) and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). The losers during the early going are Xethanol (XNL) and GS CleanTech Corporation (GSCT.ob).

Here are the "Top ethanol plays" as identified by the Yahoo Finance website and Seeking Alpha:

Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE: ADM - News) is the most obvious ethanol play, since it controls about 25% of the capacity in the U.S. The company gets about 25% of its operating profits from ethanol and the sale of related byproducts.

Pacific Ethanol (NASDAQ: PEIX - News) is the biggest pure play on ethanol production. The company currently markets ethanol in several western states including California, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon. But it hopes to have five ethanol plants running in the region by the end of 2008.

Green Plains Renewable Energy (NASDAQ: GPRE - News), a recent initial public offering with plans to build an ethanol plant in Iowa.

Diversa (NASDAQ: DVSA - News) is developing enzymes for use in what may be the next generation of ethanol production techniques discussed by Bush in his State of the Union address.

MGP Ingredients (NASDAQ: MGPI - News) is a producer of food-grade and fuel-grade alcohol,with $300 million in sales in the last 12 months.

VeraSun Energy Corp. (NYSE: VSE - News) is an producer, focusing primarily on the production and sale of ethanol and its co-products. This focus has enabled the Company to grow its ethanol production capacity and to work with automakers, fuel distributors, trade associations and consumers to increase the demand for ethanol.

Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AVR - News) is a producer and marketer of ethanol in the United States. The Company markets and distributes ethanol to many of the energy companies in the United States.

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