CARB Proposes New Regulations for Alternative Diesel Fuels

In a public workshop held yesterday, the California Air Resource Board discussed its proposed new regulations for alternative diesel fuels as well as conventional diesel fuels.  There are a wide range of issues on the table which can best be reviewed on the CARB website for the proceeding.  Of particular interest to the advanced biofuels community, CARB is proposing a phased process for introducing alternative diesel fuels to the California market.  Prior to supplying any alternative diesel fuel to market, a producer would need to obtain a Memorandum of Exemption (MOE) granted by CARB.  I raised the issue that the language was sweeping and would perhaps be more restrictive than the federal standard established by the Fuels and Fuel Additive Registration system found in 40 CFR Part 79 (FFARs).  FFARs authorizes producers to provide some pre-commercial supply which can be highly valuable to companies testing and proving out new fuels for the marketplace.  CARB officials who attended were receptive to further input on this issue during the public comment period.  CARB encouraged public comments by June 24th if possible though the formal period is longer than that. 

California Issues 2012 Bioenergy Action Plan

The California Bioenergy Interagency Working Group has released its 2012 Bioenergy Action Plan, with the goal of facilitating the development of bioenergy in California on a variety of levels, including research and development support, streamlining and consolidating permitting, facilitating access to transmission, pipelines, and other distribution networks, and policies and laws to monetize the benefits of bioenergy. The Working Group is a broad coalition of state energy, environment, and resources agencies, including the California Public Utilities Commission, Energy Commission, Air Resources Board, Natural Resources Agency, Cal Fire, Cal Recycle, and the Department of Food and Agriculture, as well as the California Biomass Collaborative and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. The 2012 Plan builds on the Working Group’s 2006 and 2011 Bioenergy Action Plans, providing a more detailed set of actions for the constituent agencies to undertake and incorporating more of Governor Brown’s policies for energy, waste reduction, and job creation.  Bioenergy has met some obstacles in California in recent times, including challenges by major and local environmental groups to biomass-fueled electrical generation contesting claims of greenhouse gas neutrality and the Energy Commission’s suspension, in most cases, of pipeline biomethane as an eligible renewable fuel for gas-fired facilities to help meet the state’s 33% renewable portfolio standard. A concerted focus by the state agencies on specific Action Plan items will undoubtedly help move bioenergy forward in California. Bioenergy advocates should also keep an eye on several bioenergy and biomethane bills still active during this last week of the California 2011-2012 Legislative Session, including A.B. 1900, A.B. 2196, and S.B. 1122.

Stoel Rives' Mark Hanson and Loren Hulse to speak at Metabolic Design and Algae World Summit 2011

Stoel Rives Partners Mark Hanson and Loren Hulse will be at San Diego’s Biotech Beach on May 23 for Metabolic Design 2011.  This event is co-located with the 3rd Annual Algae World Summit.

Metabolic Design 2011 brings together research leaders, technology developers and R&D directors to share strategic insights and management practices.  Learn about the availability of potentially untapped opportunities in new markets, and open up new collaborative possibilities.

The Algae World Summit  will provide a comprehensive strategic survey, analysis and showcasing of the critical innovations, and emerging solutions for each set of challenges along the length of the production cycle.

This event will provide the essential platform for algae developers, vendors, scientists, investors, distributors and end-users to share the most cutting edge research results and breakthrough strategies, in search of the creative synergy that will advance the algae products industry into the future. 

Click here for a detailed agenda an exclusive Stoel Rives registration discount!

LexisNexis Selects Renewable + Law Blog to its Top 50 Environmental Law Blogs List

Having first reported to our readers in February that LexisNexis had nominated the Stoel Rives Renewable + Law Blog for its Top 50 Environmental Law & Climate Change Blogs for 2011 award, we are pleased to announce we made the list of winners! In publishing its Top 50 list, LexisNexis declared that our Renewable + Law bloggers’ “avowed passion for solar energy, wind energy, biofuels, ocean and hydrokinetic energy, biomass, waste-to-energy, geothermal and other clean technologies is evident in the care they take with this blog-the posts are frequent, the topics are interesting and cutting edge, and the writing is top notch.”

 

Thanks again to all our readers who make regular use of Renewable + Law Blog and those who wrote in to support us for this award. We're honored and inspired, and we plan to keep those Blogs and letters coming.

 

This Week in Biofuels, A Patent Perspective

On December 2, 2010, the United States Patent Office published two Novozymes applications relating to bioethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass and an Iogen application relating to bioethanol production from lignocellulosic. On the same date, the World Intellectual Property Organization published a Solazyme application relating to biodiesel, renewable diesel and jet fuel production.

  1. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0306879 (Novozymes) is directed to polypeptides having cellobiohydrolase activity useful for saccharifying cellulosic material in the production of ethanol. The patent application identifies two Family 6 Cellobiohydrolase polypeptides, one isolated from Thielavia hyrcaniae NN045097 and one isolated from Thielavia hyrcaniae NN045178.
     
  2. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0304437 (Novozymes) is directed to polypeptides having cellulolytic enhancing activity and to saccharifying cellulosic material in the production of ethanol using an enzyme composition in the presence of a polypeptide having cellulolytic enhancing activity. According to the specification, ‘cellulolytic enhancing activity’ means a biological activity catalyzed by a GH61 polypeptide that enhances the hydrolysis of a cellulosic material by enzyme having cellulolytic activity. The specification provides a procedure for determining celluloytic enhancing activity and identifies an Aspergillus fumigatus gene encoding a Family 61 polypeptide having cellulolytic enhancing activity.
     
  3. US Patent Pub. No. 2010/0304438 (Iogen) is directed to modified beta-glucosidase enzymes that exhibit improvements in one or more kinetic parameters (i.e KG, KG2, kcat) relative the wild type beta-glucosidase. The application generically refers to modified Family 3 beta-glycosidases, which comprise genetically engineered amino acid substitutions selected from V43I, V43C, V101A, V101G, F260I, F260V, F260Q, F260D, 1543N, 1543A, 1543S, 1543G, and 1543L (TrCel3A numbering) and which have an amino acid sequence that is at least 80% identical to the amino acid sequence of the parental Family 3 beta-glycosidase from which it is derived. The application more specifically refers to modified beta-glucosidase enzymes derived from the Trichoderma reesei Cel3A beta-glucosidase and which have amino acid substitutions at one or more of positions 43, 101, 260 and 543, and optionally have further substitutions at least at one or more positions 66, 72, 96, 235, 248 and 369. According to the specification, the modified beta-glucosidases are useful in industrial process requiring efficient conversion of cellobiose to glucose, such as the hydrolysis of pretreated lignocellulosic feedstock.
     
  4. WO2010/138620 (Solazyme) relates to methods of extracting a lipid from a microorganism. The method involves: lysing a cultured microorganism to produce a lysate, wherein the microorganism has not been subjected to a drying step between culturing and lysing; treating the lysate with an organic solvent for a period of time sufficient to allow the lipid from the microorganism to become solubilized in the organic solvent; and separating the lysate into layers comprising a lipid:organic solvent layer and an aqueous layer. The specification exemplifies the use the microalgae as Chlorella protothecoides as the microorganism and coconut oil as the organic solvent. The specification also indicates that Prototheca moriformis can be preferably used and discusses methods of culturing and transforming Prototheca. The application also relates to methods for producing hydrocarbon or lipid compositions for production of biodiesel, renewable diesel, jet fuel, and lipid surfactants, the compositions having various carbon chain lengths, including C8, C10, C12, C14 and C18.

REMINDER: Applications for SBIR and STTR Phase I Grants Due November 15th

Don't forget that the deadline for Phase I grant applications under the U.S. Department of Energy's ("DOE") Small Business Innovation Research ("SBIR") and Small Business Technology Transfer ("STTR") programs is 8:00 p.m. Eastern, November 15, 2010.  Qualified small businesses with strong research capabilities in science or engineering in any of the research areas identified in the September 28, 2010 Funding Opportunity Announcement are encouraged to apply.  Phase I grants of up to $150,000 will be awarded in FY 2011 under the SBIR; and grants of up to $100,000 will be awarded under the STTR. 

The Phase I Technical Topics document lists several areas of particular interest for the renewable energy industry.  Note that the following is not an exhaustive list.  The full list and descriptions can be found in the Phase I Technical Topics document.

  • Advanced Cooling and Waste Heat Recovery: Advanced Cooling; Advanced Waste Heat Recovery; Geoexchange heat pump (GHP) component R&D; Innovative GHP System/Loop Designs.
  • Production of Bioenergy and Biofuels from Cellulosic and Non-Food Biomass:  Biomass Feedstock Stabilization and Drying; Biomass Torrefaction; Sugar Catalysis to Advanced Biofuels and Chemical Intermediates; Pyrolytic Thermal Depolymerization.
  • Hydrogen and Fuel Cells:  Reducing the Cost of High Pressure Hydrogen Storage Tanks; Fuel Cell Balance-of-Plant; Demonstration of Alternative-Fuel Fuel CElls as Range Extenders.
  • Innovative Solar Power:  High Efficiency, Low Cost Thin Film Photovoltaics; Low Cost Building Integrated Photovoltaics; Static Module PV Concentrators; Solar-Powered Water Desalination; Distributed Concentrating Solar Power ("CSP").
  • Advanced Water Power Technologies: Pumped Storage Hydropower; Advanced Hydropower Systems; Wave and Current Energy Technologies; Advanced Component Design for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Systems.
  • Wind Energy Technologies: Transportation and Assembly of Extremely Large Wind Turbine Components for Land-Based Wind Turbines; Wind Energy Capture in Non-Conventional Wind Resources; Offshore Grid Infrastructure Hardware Development; Offshore Mooring and Anchoring Technology.

Detailed descriptions of each subtopic are included in the Phase I Technical Topics document.

House Passes Algae-based Renewable Fuel Promotion Act of 2010

On September 28, 2010, the House of Representatives passed the Algae-based Renewable Fuel Promotion Act of 2010 (H.R. 4168). The Act amends the Internal Revenue Code to (1) expand the definition of "cellulosic biofuel" to include algae-based biofuel for purposes of the cellulosic biofuel producer tax credit; and (2)  provide for accelerated depreciation of property used in the production of algae-based biofuel.  The legislation now will proceed to the Senate.   For the complete text, please click here.

New Tool for Renewable Energy Investors, Entrepreneurs, and Companies

On June 30, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy ("DOE") launched its Technology Commercialization Portal (the "Portal").  The Portal is an online resource that provides a mechanism for investors, entrepreneurs and companies to identify new technologies coming out of DOE laboratories and other participating research institutions.  Relevant technologies include:

  • Advanced Materials
  • Biomass and Biofuels
  • Building Energy Efficiency
  • Electricity Transmission and Distribution
  • Energy Analysis Models, Tools and Software
  • Energy Storage
  • Geothermal
  • Hydrogen and Fuel Cell
  • Hydropower, Wave and Tidal
  • Industrial Technologies
  • Solar Photovoltaic
  • Solar Thermal
  • Vehicles and Fuels
  • Wind Energy

The Portal contains marketing summaries about the various DOE technologies that are available for licensing.  Each marketing summary describes a technology's applications, advantages, benefits and state of development.  Further, the Portal also provides access to information on patents and patent applications that have been created using DOE funding since 1992.

The Portal is located at http://techportal.eere.energy.gov/

DOE Awards $24 Million for Algal Biofuels Research

 

 

On Monday, the DOE announced that is had awarded up to $24 million to three research consortiums for the commercialization of algae-based biofuels. The three consortia include partners from academia, national laboratories, and private industries located across the country. Projects are expected to continue for three years.

 

The three awardees are:

  • The Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium led by Arizona State University, will get up to $6 million for testing the acceptability of algal biofuels as replacements for petroleum-based fuels,  investigating the biochemical conversion of algae to fuels and products and analyzing the physical chemistry properties of algal fuels and fuel intermediates.
  • The Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization led by the University of California, San Diego, will receive up to $9 million developing algae as a robust biofuels feedstock by focusing on algal crop protection, algal nutrient utilization, and genetic tools.
  • The Cellana, LLC Consortium led by Cellana, LLC, of Hawaii, will also receive up to $9 million for examining the large-scale production of fuels and feed from microalgae grown in seawater, new algal harvesting technologies with pilot-scale cultivation test beds, and for developing marine microalgae as animal feed for the aquaculture industry.

Washington Revising its State Energy Strategy

The Washington State Department of Commerce (formerly the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development or CTED) has announced that it is attempting to revise Washington’s comprehensive energy plan (the “State Energy Strategy”). 

The State Energy Strategy was last revised in 2003, and it does not serve current energy realities and forecasts. Therefore, the Washington State Legislature has tasked the Department of Commerce with updating the State Energy Strategy while taking account the following three goals and nine principles:

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