WBIA BLOG

Wisconsin company advances in US Air Force renewable fuel testing

A Madison based company has developed a renewable jet fuel which has recently received the green light after the first round of testing  by the US Air Force.

The one hundred percent renewable fuel produced by Virent was recently tested at US Air Force Laboratory as a result of a strong push by the Pentagon to depend less of foreign fuels. The chemical conversion process which Virent uses to produce its biofuel was developed in the labs of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Aaron Imrie, Virent’s commercial fuels manager, expressed his excitement over the results from US Air Force by stating:

“These ARFL results are exciting because they demonstrate the potential of Virent’s catalytic process to create renewable plant-based jet fuel that can meet or exceed petroleum.”

Earlier this year, the US Air Force completed a test flight using a 50-50 blend of petroleum and a biofuel derived from camelina. Honeywell also announced this summer the first successful trans-Atlantic flight using the same biofuel-petroleum blend.

To read more about Virent’s biofuel success, click here.

Or, to learn about Virent, click here.

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Future of the Bio Industry from Georg Anderl

Following our last WBIA meeting, we asked our speaker Georg Anderl, Vice President of Engineering for DDCE, to talk briefly about the future of the bio industry. Hear what he had to say.

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Fueled by cheese

Categories: Bio Fuels,Development

These days, your car could be fueled by corn, grass, wood, alcohol or even garbage. Leave it to Wisconsin researchers to add cheese to the list. Researchers at Concordia University say the microbe Lactococcus lactis, used to produce cheese, buttermilk and yogurt, can also be used to produce biofuels.

The research paper explains that scaffolding proteins on the surface of the microbe could be engineered to break down plant material into biofuels. Researchers say this study could lead to studies of other microbes that could be used to create biofuels.

Read more about the study here.

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Ethanol Plants Planning Upgrades

Here is a great story from Ethanol Producer Magazine about how several ethanol plants in the Midwest, including Wisconsin’s very own Ace Ethanol, are planning upgrades. Check it out here. Ace received $595,000 in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money to upgrade its waste heat recovery system. These plants are all at the forefront of technological innovation as they upgrade.

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Following initial backlash, biomass plant supporters emerge

For the past several weeks, we have posted blogs and news stories about the opposition facing the proposed biomass plant in Rothschild, Wisc. The plant’s supporters are now taking their turn to speak up.

The Wausau Daily Herald ran Tom Tyskiewicz’s letter to the editor on June 17 in which he stated his support of the project. Tyskiewicz asked  Rothschild residents to embrace change and progress for the sake of our future. He said he believes renewable energy is a big part of that future.

Tyskiewicz reminds us that Domtar and WE Energies are two companies “held in high standards by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, EPA and DNR.” He adds that “nothing will be built without their final stamp of approval.”

Tyskiewicz was not alone in his sentiments. Today the Wausau Daily Herald ran Kathleen M. Ruenger’s letter to the editor pledging her support of the plant and calling it “a win-win situation for all involved: Domtar, WE Energies, the Village of Rothschild and all other communities involved.”

Ruenger address concerns that the new biomass plant would reduce air quality in the area. She refers to the Rothschild Paper Mill’s storied past in which it was always environmentally and socially responsible. Ruenger believes the new plant will be no different.

We at the WBIA are glad to see Wisconsin communities rise up in support of a good cause. The support of Wisconsinites like Ruenger and Tyskiewicz is crucial if the WBIA hopes to achieve it’s goal of helping Wisconsin be the nation’s leader among states to improve the efficiency, conservation and profitability of bio fuel production.

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Biofuels advancement taking place right here

Wisconsin continues to lead the way in bio industry advancement.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison research group at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center developed a strain of bacteria which could lead to more cost-effective cellulosic biofuels. The team’s findings were published online by the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology on June 11.

The breakthrough has made it possible to perform genetic analysis on the bacteria, which has long been known to convert biomass to sugars. The team developed a way to mutate any gene with the bacteria, which should bring greater success to the difficult process of breaking down plant cell walls to extract sugar molecules for producing biofuels.

Also advancing the bio industry is Milwaukee-based Lallemand Ethanol Technology, which just introduced Thermosacc® GOLD, a new fresh-cake yeast better able to withstand fermentation. Thermosacc GOLD was designed to use sugars more efficiently and increase yield.

The WBIA is proud to see Wisconsin leading the way in the biofuels industry, and we hope this is just the beginning of Wisconsin’s contribution to the global movement toward bio power.

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Newest protester of Rothschild biomass power plant baffling

In a great Wednesday article, the Wausau Daily Herald reported that the D.C. Everest Area School District is looking to join the decision making process behind the proposed $250 million Rothschild biomass power plant.

The district wants “intervenor” status along with such groups as the Wisconsin Public Service Co., Citizens Utility Board, Wisconsin Paper Council, Memominee Tribal Enterprises, labor unions and a group opposed to the power plant called Save Our Air Resource.

The Superintendent Kristine Gilmore said the district’s involvement is crucial because it is responsible for the health and safety of all its students and staff. The district believes that the plant’s emissions could be harmful to students with asthma and other respiratory conditions and that nearby schools do not have the proper ventilation or cleaning equipment to handle the emissions.

The district’s intervenor request was filed well past the April 30 deadline, but  WE Energies spokesman Brian Manthey said PSC typically grants intervenor requests even if they are filed after deadline.

Superintendent Gilmore’s concerns are genuine and respectable, but perhaps the district is missing the bigger picture. It is precisely this younger generation that will suffer if we do not continue to strongly pursue bio power.

Also important to remember is that use of biomass as an energy source results in little net production of carbon dioxide, because the CO2 generated during combustion of plant material equals the CO2 consumed during the lifecycle of the plant. Biomass reduces air pollution by being a part of the carbon cycle, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent compared with fossil fuels.

We understand the school district’s concerns, and considering its stake in the matter, it should be granted intervenor status, but the pursuit of bio power will benefit these child in the long run.

Manthey, however, did say that WE Energies plans to have the plant operational by 2013 and that opposition by the D.C. Everest Area School District, SOAR and others should not slow the project.

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WBIA Member Boldt Wins $255 Million Biomass Plant Contract

WBIA member The Boldt Co. won the construction contract for WE Energies new $255 million biomass plant in Rothschild.  Boldt will provide all construction services for the plant that is to be built at the Domtar paper mill, and will use wood waste to produce electricity.

The project is now pending approval by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.  If approved, work will begin in spring 2011.

This project will help Wisconsin toward complying with the mandate that 10 percent of all the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2015. It is another important step for advancing Wisconsin’s biomass industry and securing energy security for our state and nation.

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Didion Works to Increase Energy Efficiency

WBIA Member Didion Ethanol has begun work to increase the plant’s energy efficiency using $5.5 million from a recent DOE grant.  The project, which will cost a total of $11 million, will decrease energy use while allowing the plant to produce more ethanol.  We are proud to see one of our members taking such a big step towards energy efficiency and the improvement of the ethanol industry.  The project will also created an estimated 10 permanent positions, plus 75 temporary construction jobs.

Read more about the project in this article in Ethanol Producer Magazine.

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Miron Executive Discusses Green Building, New Biorefinery

Theresa Lehman, director of sustainable services for WBIA member Miron Construction was recently interviewed in the Appleton Post-Crescent about the new green building trend. Miron Construction has been a leader in this field and has shown a deep commitment to renewable energy.

Lehman discusses the new biorefinery they are helping to in Park Falls at the Flambeau River Paper mill:

Miron Construction is involved with an innovative project in Park Falls with the Flambeau River Papers mill. What can you share about that?

As we all know, pulp and paper mills were the bread and butter for the Fox Valley at one time. But paper mills today are having a tough time in the global marketplace. What’s happening in Park Falls is a unique opportunity. What they’re doing is creating a process … taking wood mass and converting it into wax and biofuel.

It takes a tremendous amount of heat to do this and what they’ll be able to do is take the heat to create steam to generate electricity for the plant. This will save a lot of money and help the plant become more competitive.

It certainly is a step toward energy independence and the technology is something that can help paper mills be more competitive in the global marketplace.

This is a key project for the bio industry in Wisconsin. With an ample supply of biomass materials, Wisconsin is poised to be a leader in this area. The Flambeau River project will be the second largest biorefinery of its kind in the US.

We at the WBIA are proud to see one of our members contributing so successfully to building this sector of the bio industry.

Click here to read the entire article.

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