January 30, 2006 | General

BioCycle World

BioCycle January 2006, Vol. 47, No. 1, p. 6

GM Forms Consortium To Promote Ethanol As Alternative, Renewable Fuel

Earlier this month, General Motors (GM) announced it will lead a project with the state of California, Chevron Technology Ventures and Pacific Ethanol to get more information on consumer acceptance of E85 as a fuel in GM flexible-fuel vehicles. GM plans to offer up to 100 E85-capable Chevrolet Impala passenger cars and Silverado pickup trucks to be used by the California Department of Transportation in Northern and Central California. E85 is a blend of 85 percent ethyl alcohol and 15 percent gasoline. Currently, there are more than 400 public E85 fueling sites in operation across the nation.

Sustainability Hits The Streets Of Portland At 22nd Annual BioCycle West Coast Conference

At the sessions of the 22nd Annual BioCycle West Coast Conference in Portland, Oregon March 20-22, 2006, and also on the field trip and walking tour, you’ll get a real sense of how sustainability comes to life. You’ll meet many of the staff at the city’s Office of Sustainable Development who are directly involved with innovative solutions that improve lives, enhance neighborhoods and enliven the entrepreneurial spirit and imagination of Portland’s business community.
About its role in solid waste and recycling, food policy, green building and renewable energy, executive director Susan Anderson explains that “we have support from nonprofit and government partners. And mostly, we have the people of Portland, this community spirit that says we aren’t afraid to tackle the big issues.” Some examples: In 2001, the City created the first green investment fund, allocating $800,000 for 74 projects from green roofs and food residual composting to energy-saving innovations. Last year, Portland renewed the fund with $500,000 for future grants.
And then there’s the emphasis on local food by supporting farmers’ markets, regional supermarkets like New Seasons, and a Citizen’s Food Policy Council. Plus there’s a strong partnership with Metro, the regional government serving three local counties that has been reducing the waste stream by maximizing recovery. All these programs add up to great examples of how sustainability is creating change in an urban center. See how and why it’s working by coming to the 22nd Annual BioCycle West Coast Conference; see pages 15-16-17 of this issue for the program agenda.

Recycling In Pennsylvania Tops 4.8 Million Tons, Saving Materials Valued At $113 Million

Last month, the Governor’s office announced that Pennsylvanians recycled a record 4.8 million tons of MSW in 2004, the latest year for which statistics are available. Economic benefits are estimated at more than $113 million in materials collected and more than $259 million in avoided disposal costs (based on an average disposal cost of $54/ton). The Commonwealth’s recycling and reuse industry includes 3,200 businesses with total annual sales of $18.4 billion. The industry employs more than 81,000 people with an annual payroll of $2.9 billion. Employment, payroll and sales numbers are more than any other states in the Northeast.
Other benefits: Recycling saved almost 66 trillion BTUs of energy, enough to power 643,000 homes for one year; Recycling in 2004 eliminated more than 2.5 million metric tons of air emissions, including greenhouse gas emission reductions of 1.9 metric tons of carbon equivalent. Part of air emissions savings total was 7,731 metric tons of sulfur oxides. Nitrogen oxides, a precursor to smog, were reduced by 8,814 metric tons. Water pollutant totaled nearly 9,000 metric tons.
Recycling, disposal and waste combustion data for all states are being compiled by BioCycle and Columbia University for the 2006 State of Garbage in America report, to be published this spring. The survey now is conducted every two years (it was conducted annually from 1989 to 2001).

$14 Million For Biomass Research Announced By USDA And DOE

In late November 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy announced a joint solicitation for applications for financial assistance addressing research and development of biomass-based products, bioenergy, biofuels and related processes. This is the fourth year in which the agencies have jointly solicited R&D under the Biomass Initiative. This funding is intended to promote greater innovation and development related to biomass. It also supports Federal policy calling for greater use of biomass-based products, feedstock production, and processing and conversion.
Up to $2 million in DOE funding and $12 million in USDA funding is expected to be available for new awards under this announcement. Approximately 10 to 20 awards are anticipated. Awards may range from $250,000 to $2 million per award.
Technical areas covered include the following: Feedstock production through development of crops and cropping systems relevant to production of raw materials for conversion to biobased fuels and biobased products; Overcoming recalcitrance of cellulosic biomass through developing technologies for converting cellulosic biomass into intermediates that can subsequently be converted into biobased fuels and biobased products; and Product diversification through technologies relevant to production of a range of biobased products (including chemicals, animal feeds, and cogenerated power) that eventually can increase the feasibility of fuel production in a biorefinery.
For additional details, visit Or call James Liebman, US EPA-Region 9, San Francisco at (415)947-4241. E-mail

Whole Foods Makes Landmark Purchase Of Renewable Energy Credits

Whole Foods Market, the world’s largest natural foods grocery chain, has made a landmark purchase of renewable energy credits from wind farms to offset 100 percent of the electricity used in all of its stores, facilities, bake houses, distribution centers, regional offices and national headquarters in the United States and Canada. This is the largest wind energy credit purchase in the history of the United States and Canada and makes Whole Foods Market the only Fortune 500 Company purchasing wind energy credits to offset all of its electricity use. “In the corporate world, this is huge,” says Kurt Johnson, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. “When a market leader does something like this, others will emulate.”
Like most businesses, Whole Foods can’t get its power directly from renewable energy sources. Instead, it is contracting to purchase 458,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of the renewable energy credits. One credit represents one megawatt-hour of electricity from renewable sources. Whole Foods has chosen Boulder, Colorado-based Renewable Choice Energy as its exclusive supplier of renewable energy credits after an extensive search process. Renewable Choice Energy is a leading national provider building the market for clean and renewable sources of energy. According to an article in USA Today, Whole Foods declined to say what it spends on utilities or what it’s paying for the wind credits. In states with programs to promote credits, many business customers pay a one cent premium or less, Lori Bird with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory told USA Today.

Crop Coproducts From Stalks, Hulls, Chaff And Manure Create Valued Assets

Forget the waste category, says the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) based in Crookston, Minnesota, which sees it as “coproducts” for making valuable assets. Emerging uses for crop residues, animal waste and other materials include biofuels, feeds and polymers, says Al Doering, manager of the AURI coproducts lab. “There are very few facilities like ours around the country where entrepreneurs can do experimental work on coproducts,” says Doering.
For ethanol production, the desired corn component is starch, which is converted to sugar, then fermented to produce grain alcohol. The leftovers – dried distiller’s grains – can be used in swine, poultry and cattle rations or as a biomass energy source.
In biodiesel refining, soybean oil goes through a transesterification process that yields soy methyl esters (otherwise known as biodiesel). A by-product is glycerin, which is used in soap and toothpaste. Manure provides these coproducts: A Benson, Minnesota company is building a power plant that will generate 50 megawatts of renewable energy from turkey litter beginning in 2007 – expecting to use 500,000 tons of turkey manure/year. Methane from dairy manure through anaerobic digestion is being used on livestock farms to make electricity, while at least two Minnesota cities want to produce biogas from manure or food waste.
An Alexandria, Minnesota company is making phosphorus-free turf grass fertilizer from liquidfied fish and distillers grains. A commercial tilapia farm in Renville, Minnesota composts dead fish for fertilizer. And whey from cheese making is being made into protein concentrate and added to bakery products and infant formulas. Meanwhile, a company called Northern Excellence Seed in Grand Forks, North Dakota is testing a small-scale gasifier as a potential fuel source for electrical generation. The company is testing two types of grass-seed chaff – ryegrass and bluegrass. “We’re getting better quality gas with ryegrass than with woodchips,” says a research manager. And the two partners in Green Range Renewable Energy in Ironton, Minnesota plan to sell soybean-based biodiesel directly to truckers and motorists from their 250,000 gallons/year facility, serving a market between Brainerd and Duluth. “Energy in any form is saleable in this day and age,” adds co-owner Jay Idzorek, “particularly one that flows right into the infrastructure that’s already in place.”

Meat Processing Residues Improve Diesel Fuel Quality

Based on early findings at the University of Missouri, a small amount of animal fat tallow added to a tank of diesel fuel can lower sulfur emissions and provide needed lubricity. (EPA mandates that by June 2006 diesel fuel must have a sulfur level of 15 parts per million.) The tallow may replace various additives now on the market. Explains Missouri researcher and American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers member Leon Schumacher: “American consumers have become more conscious of fat intake in their daily diet. Packing plants have responded by removing excess fat from beef. This has produced a large volume of tallow that must be disposed of each day.” Successful utilization of beef tallow in biodiesel would create a new marketing opportunity and reduce waste in the processing industry, Schumacher wrote in Resource magazine, published by the Society. As little as one percent of tallow mixed with petroleum diesel fuel may provide the needed lubricity.

Study Shows Four Out Of Five Consumers Will Pay More For Publications Using Recycled Paper

According to a new study, 80 percent of book and magazine buyers would pay more if they’re printed on recycled paper. Results showed the following percentage of consumers who said they are willing to pay: $1 more per book – 42 percent; 75 cents more – 4 percent; 50 cents more – 14 percent; 25 cents more – 19 percent. For magazines, findings ranged from 23 percent for 75 cents more; 24 percent for 50 cents more; and 16 percent for 10 cents more. “While price premiums don’t always exist, higher prices for recycled and (Forest Stewardship Council-certified) paper is the most common hurdle,” noted Tyson Miller of the Green Press Initiative that cosponsored the study which was reported by

Grease Trap Waste Article Corrections

An article in the December 2005 issue of BioCycle, “New Companies Are Entering The Biodiesel Industry,” suffered several editing errors that require correcting. In the first sentence of the article, the words “grease trap waste” were omitted, notes author Cindy Rovins. The sentence should read “Until now the production of biodiesel from grease trap waste has yet to be implemented commercially.” The significance of this story revolves around using grease trap waste to make biodiesel, versus other feedstocks such as used fryer oil or oil seed plants like canola.
Elsewhere in the article, it notes that the Rutgers EcoComplex team can make power for the region, but in fact, the EcoComplex, located at the Resource Recovery Complex in Burlington County, New Jersey, served as an advisor to the project on converting grease trap waste into biodiesel. The Rutgers EcoComplex houses a business incubator, and the company profiled in the article, North American Biofuel Corporation, is building a pilot plant at that location.

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