Friday, June 23, 2006

Green Star Biodiesel Process

Green Star Products, Inc. (OTC:GSPI - News) announced that they have developed and successfully commercially tested their 10 million gallon per year advanced biodiesel reactor. GSPI reactors require only two minutes to complete the biodiesel conversion reaction compared to over one hour that is typical for a conventional biodiesel plant.

GSPI Biodiesel Plants have the following competitive advantages:
  • All plant design is modularized so additional capacity can be added at minimal cost.
  • Speed of construction - plant can be placed in service in 14-16 weeks versus industry standard average of 14 to 18 months.
  • Small footprint of plant because of its modularized "continuous flow waterless design" versus industry batch plant design, which also results in lower production and maintenance costs.
  • Minimum plant management and operations staff required because plant is automated.
  • Proven technology - Industrial size plant operated and produced biodiesel for over three years in Bakersfield, California.
  • Minimal permits required from regulatory agencies. Plant requires no wastewater permit, which could take up to one year to obtain and minimum air quality permits.
  • The plant design is very energy efficient and reduces energy requirements by over 30% of industry average.
  • Lower capital costs by at least 40% compared to biodiesel industry standards. (between $.80 cents per gallon to a high of $1.25 per installed gallon for conventional biodiesel plants)
  • Plants require 30 to 40% less energy (increased efficiency) to run motors and pumps.
  • Faster achievement of positive cash flow is due to a much shorter time frame to complete construction and permitting.

Since GSPI's Continuous Flow Biodiesel Production (CFBP) system is completely enclosed and waterless, it greatly reduces the time to secure construction permits, which can take a year or longer to obtain. Mr. LaStella, President of GSPI, points out that California is probably the toughest state to obtain air and water discharge permits. Recently, the GSPI CFBP system received the permits to construct a biodiesel plant in California in only eight weeks. Since many cities and towns across the U.S. do not have the expertise to evaluate new biodiesel plants being built in their jurisdiction, they have welcomed the California permit package to save them the need to research this emerging biodiesel technology and save GSPI the time to receive these valuable permits.

The basic production cost to build the reactors has been reduced to only $30,000 per 10-million GPY reactor module. Smaller units will cost even less. This will significantly reduce the costs and time to build biodiesel plants. The prefabricated reactors make it possible to construct plants within 14-18 weeks versus the 14-18 months that is typical for conventional plants. The balance of the infrastructure--which includes land, building, electrical, storage facilities, railroad access and final cleanup of biodiesel--will still be required.

American Biofuels, L.L.C. (ABF), which is 35% owned by Green Star Products, Inc. and is the operator of the biodiesel plants, expects to increase biodiesel production to 40,000,000 gallons per year in 2006. ABF's Bakersville, Ca site is where the original 5-million GPY biodiesel plant was located. The original plant was first started up in late 2003. Three different sizes of the current reactor design were tested from January 2005 through February 2006 at the Bakersfield biodiesel plant facility. The largest reactor was rated at 10-million GPY and was operated from August 2005 through February 2006.

The Bakersfield facility was expanded to 10-million GPY in March 2006. ABF is planning to increase the capacity to 20-million GPY, estimated for completion by late 2006. ABF is also planning a new 20,000,000-GPY East Coast facility to supply New York state and surrounding states which is scheduled to be in production by late 2006.

Green Star Products, Inc. plans to construct total bio-refinery complexes for production of both biodiesel and biomass ethanol at each facility.The first bio-refinery is planned to be in North Carolina and the location of the second facility is to be announced soon in the northwestern sector of the United States. The bio-refinery complex would fully integrate both a biodiesel processing plant and biomass ethanol processing plant to optimize engineering strategy and cost reduction through planned synergic processing.

Each bio-refinery will have a start-up production of between 10 to 20 million gallons per year with quick expansion capabilities. The facility infrastructure will be capable of expanding to 60 million gallons per year (and further expansion capabilities could reach 100-million gallons per year).

The combined bio-refinery has the following advantages:

1) Ethanol plants operate at high temperatures above 1,200 F, while biodiesel plants require low temperatures below 240 F. Therefore, the waste heat from the ethanol plant is enough to run the biodiesel plant at almost no additional heat processing cost.

2) The biodiesel and ethanol plants can utilize the same laboratories, QC facilities, maintenance equipment and personnel. They can also share dispatch operations and management personnel.

3) One of the greatest advantages for the bio-refinery is the fact that domestically produced vegetable oil (soy oil, canola oil, etc.) will be used to make biodiesel and the waste products from the plants (stalks, etc.) can produce low cost ethanol.

4) Since the biodiesel production process requires approximately 10% methanol and since much of the methanol in the U.S. is presently supplied from outside of the U.S. borders, there could be a time when supplies could be cut short. The bio-refinery would simply use part of its ethanol, which works just as well as methanol. This would insure that the bio-refinery is always in operation backed by the output of the U.S. farmer.

The North Carolina biodiesel facility will be funded and owned by Renewable Resources International (RRI), which is owned by a group of environmentally conscious investors that collectively own approximately 3% of GSPI stock. The RRI facility is located close to existing biodiesel feedstock plants (soy oil crushing facilities) and adjacent to primary diesel fuel distribution terminals.

Initial Phase I of construction will provide for infrastructure expansion up to 60 million gallons capacity per year. Expansion will proceed from 10 million gallon capacity to the maximum infrastructure capacity by adding 5 million gallon per year capacity reaction modules in stages.

Phase II of the RRI program incorporates much larger production on a worldwide basis.

Green Star does not reveal any details about its reactor, so how it is constructed and how it works is not known. The reaction time in reactors can be increased by mixing either from the flow regime, through the use of mechanical agitation or from doing the reaction in several smaller well mixed stages. A good process description and flow schematic for a conventional biodiesel plant is found in the Van Gerpen reference. Based on this reference the reaction with the catalyst (usually sodium hdroxide) and alcohol normally takes 1 hour in a stirred reactor.

A patent application,#20050188607, by LaStella indicates that it has been proposed to use a methanol removing substance in place of the water rinse to remove methanol from the biodiesel, e.g., a silicone based gel adsorbent. This patent also claims that operating the plant at 145 F, above the normal 110 F, reduces the required retention time substantially.


Green Star Products, Inc, Chula Vista, CA
Biodiesel Production and Fuel Quality, Van Gerpen, University of Idaho

Biodiesel Conference in Canada (17-18 July, 2006)

Plan now to attend Biodiesel: Powered by Canola. Fueling our Future - a conference to kick start the development and growth of a canola-based biodiesel industry in Canada.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bio-diesel – a renewable energy source

Finally, diesel-powered vehicles are gaining in popularity in North America. Europe, of course, has long embraced this efficient powerplant because of its much higher fuel prices. As gasoline prices climb here, Canadians and Americans are warming up to diesel propulsion too. Recognising this trend, automobile manufacturers are planning more diesel vehicles, such as the Jeep Liberty diesel and Mercedes' new E320 CDI diesel.

However, while the diesel engine is more efficient than gasoline engines, it still uses a non-renewable resource for fuel. This dependence on fossil fuels could decrease with the addition of bio-diesel into the marketplace.

Bio-diesel fuels are methyl or ethyl esters. Esters are oxygenated organic compounds derived from a broad variety of renewable sources such as vegetable oil, animal fat and cooking oil that can be used in compression ignition engines. Some of their key properties are comparable to those of diesel fuel. "Soy Methyl Ester" diesel ("SME" or "SOME"), from soybean oil, is the most common bio-diesel in the United States while "Rape Methyl Ester" diesel ("RME"), from rapeseed (Canola) oil, is the most common bio-diesel fuel available in Europe. Bio-diesel is produced by a process called transesterification: where various oils are converted into methyl esters through a chemical reaction with methanol in the presence of a catalyst such as sodium or potassium hydroxide.

There are several reasons to consider using bio-diesel.
It reduces our dependency on petroleum-based fuels. Bio-diesel has the potential to provide emission reductions with direct emission advantages for current engines and potential to retrofit older technology engines. Bio-diesel provides lubricity improvements for the fuel system and engine components over conventional diesel fuels and finally, production of bio-diesel could boost domestic industries such as farming and fuel production facilities.

While it is possible to run a diesel engine on 100% bio-diesel, there are several concerns about using fuel at this level. Initially, 20% bio-diesel/80% regular diesel was seen at a practical target but even this has been reduced to only 5% bio-diesel because of vehicle manufacturer concerns. Even at 5%, bio-diesel could extend our non-renewable fuel resources greatly. Currently, much of Europe is using 5% bio-diesel but there are some slight differences in their vehicles to ensure good driveability.

One of the concerns with using bio-diesel has to be its cloud point. One hundred percent (B100) Bio-diesel starts to "cloud" or solidify at zero degrees C. This compares to regular #2 diesel with a cloud point of –15 C. Blending regular diesel with 5% bio-diesel keeps the cloud point near -15 C so there is negligible effect on vehicle operation. However, fuel line heaters and fuel tank heaters are used on some European vehicles to keep the fuel liquid at cold temperatures.

Another disadvantage of Bio-diesel is that B100 has an energy content about 11% lower than that of petroleum-based diesel fuel resulting in a loss of approximately 5-7% in maximum power output. This disadvantage is much less when 5% bio-diesel is used. Even though it has less energy, bio-diesel fuel has higher viscosity than petroleum-based diesel fuel, which tends to reduce injection pump barrel/plunger leakage and slightly improve injector efficiency.

The cost of Bio-diesel fuels varies depending on the basestock, geographic area, variability in crop production from season to season, production facilities and many other factors. This cost may be reduced if relatively inexpensive feedstock, such as waste oils or rendered animal fat, is used instead of soybean, corn or other plant oil - but still, the average cost of bio-diesel fuel still exceeds that of petroleum-based diesel fuel. However, the cost of converting to bio-diesel blends is much lower than the cost of converting to any other alternative fuel because no major engine, vehicle, or dispensing system changes are required.

Another advantage of bio-diesel is lower emissions. There is no significant sulphur content, and if we were able to use 20% bio-diesel, we would have only a +2% increase in NOx emissions but have 12% lower in particulate emissions, 20% lower in Hydrocarbon emissions and 12% lower in carbon monoxide emissions.

Bio-diesel is not coal slurry, raw unprocessed vegetable oil, used cooking oil from McDonalds or raw vegetable oil mixed with diesel. It is a processed fuel from renewable resources. While there is still much to learn about long term use of bio-diesel and how best to store the fuel, research is ongoing around the world. As petroleum-based fuels continue to increase in price, the attractiveness of using of bio-diesel will grow. Maybe those exhaust fumes will smell better too!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Researchers Work on Alternative Jet Fuel

The spike in oil prices has prompted plenty of drivers to consider biodiesel-powered or hybrid cars for their daily commute, but what about that gas guzzler we use to fly across country?

Government and corporate researchers are looking into ways to power commercial jet engines with alternative fuels, although many caution that widespread use could be years or even decades away.

Scientists face myriad obstacles, including the difficulty of producing, transporting and using massive amounts of these fuels under harsh conditions such as extreme cold. And for now at least, experts say many alternative jet fuels are more expensive than traditional ones.

"It's just so much easier to develop a fuel for automobile applications than for airplane applications," said Billy Glover, director of environmental performance for Boeing Co.

Still, rising oil prices are prompting increased interest, giving some researchers hope their preliminary efforts will someday pay off.

Boeing researchers say the practical concerns go beyond just the rising cost of jet fuel.

"We are interested in alternative fuels because we want to make sure that there's fuel available for the future," Glover said.

Today, most commercial airplanes use a fuel similar to light kerosene. It's heavier than the gasoline in most cars but not as heavy as diesel fuel, and is designed for the particular rigors of plane travel, such as cold conditions.

One alternative researchers are studying is biodiesel, which can be made from soybeans, corn and other products, and is used in some cars and trucks today.

A big problem, though, is that biodiesel freezes at a much higher temperature than traditional fuel, which could spell trouble in the frigid air at 35,000 feet.

Scientists are working on ways to keep the fuel from freezing so readily. But even if such efforts are successful, another big issue is supply. Scientists say there just isn't enough U.S. farmland to produce the crops needed to power jetliners, in addition to feeding people.

Robert Dunn, a U.S. Department of Agriculture chemical engineer who is studying biodiesel jet fuel, said he doubts airlines will be interested until it gets cheaper.

"The main challenge right now is economics," Dunn said. "Even though the price of petroleum is going up, biodiesel is still at a disadvantage economically. It simply costs more to produce."

Glover thinks it's more likely that airplanes would fly with a mix of biodiesel and traditional fuel.

Another option, which has been considered for decades, is whether jetliners could run on hydrogen. Gerald Brown, a senior research engineer with NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, said it would require relatively little modification to run a regular jet engine using liquid hydrogen. The hard part is storing it on board.

Liquid hydrogen has to be stored at minus 424 degrees. While lighter, it also takes up far more space than regular jet fuel. Airplanes would have to be redesigned to accommodate it.

Also, since hydrogen occurs mainly in combination with other elements, such as water, it's costly and takes a great deal of energy to produce it.

Since the Hindenburg disaster of 1937, there have been worries about hydrogen's explosive qualities. But Stan Seto, an engineer with consulting firm Belcan Corp. who has researched airplane fuels, said people now have decades of experience handling such fuel, so that's not a primary worry.

Hydrogen burns cleanly, releasing water as a combustion product. But Glover said that actually could be a concern: the amount of water released by a high-flying, hydrogen-powered jet could turn it into a cloud-making machine.

"The dynamics of the upper atmosphere are pretty complex, so you wouldn't want to do that without understanding that that was actually a good thing," he said.

Another option, which is in limited use today, is to run airplanes on synthetics, made by turning coal, oil shale or natural gas into a liquid that can act like traditional jet fuel. Chi-Ming Lee, chief of the combustion branch at NASA Glenn Research Center, said rising oil prices mean synthetics could be a cheaper alternative.

But Glover said synthetics currently require more resources to produce than traditional jet fuel.

Still, Lee says synthetics could be used in ultra-efficient jet engines that are under development today, potentially saving energy. Another advantage is the U.S. has large coal and natural gas reserves.

Although research into commercial jet fuel alternatives is still in the early stages, some expect quicker success in using alternative fuel for specialized aircraft.

AeroVironment Inc., based in Monrovia, Calif., is at work on the Global Observer unmanned surveillance aircraft that would be powered by liquid hydrogen. Spokesman Steven Gitlin said liquid hydrogen allows the aircraft to fly about four times longer than traditional jet fuel, although it is two to four times more expensive.

AeroVironment also developed - and successfully flew - a solar-powered aircraft, although the Helios Prototype crashed in later flight tests because of structural problems.

In the immediate future, the focus remains on making traditional airplanes more fuel-efficient. Boeing says its new 787 jetliner, scheduled to enter service in 2008, promises to be as fuel-efficient per person as a hybrid car traveling with two passengers.

"We try to build the most fuel-efficient airplane, so we need as little as possible fuel to meet the demand," Glover said.

Ford Motor working with Asian governments on biofuel use - report

KUALA LUMPUR (AFX) - Ford Motor Co is working with several Asian governments, including Malaysia, on the use and development of biofuels, which are considered as alternative sources of fuel, the New Straits Times reported, quoting Ford Malaysia Sdn Bhd managing director Michael J. Pease.

Pease said the gas fuels being discussed include liquefied petroleum gas and compressed natural gas.

'The move in the Asian region to look at biofuels is a good first step although there is a need to find a balance between affordability of cars and fuel prices,' he added.

Pease said that although Ford is committed to helping its Malaysian customers in the face of rising fuel costs, its hybrid model may not be affordable in the local market.

'We are therefore intent on providing fuel-affordable vehicles to Malaysia,' he added.

The government had said that biodiesel is scheduled to be commercially available in the country by early 2007.

Malaysia IJM Plantations in JV with CTI Biofuel to set up biodiesel plant

KUALA LUMPUR (AFX) - IJM Plantations Bhd said it has signed a 60:40 joint venture agreement with CTI Biofuels Malaysia (CTIBM) to build, own and operate a biodiesel plant in Sandakan, Sabah for the manufacture and sale of biodiesel.

In a statement, the plantation firm said its unit IJM Biofuel Sdn Bhd, the joint venture company which will undertake the operation of the biodiesel plant, will have an issued and paid-up capital of 2.5 mln rgt, comprising 2.5 mln ordinary shares of 1.0 rgt each.

The plant, it added, will be installed on a modular basis to achieve production capacity of up to 90,000 metric tons per annum of biodiesel, with an estimated project cost of 74 mln rgt.

'The first of the three modules, for production of 30,000 (MT) per annum, is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2007,' it said.

CTIBM is a 95 pct subsidiary of CTI Biofuels, LLC, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Capital Technologies Incorporated of USA.

(1 usd = 3.69 rgt)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Chevron Creates Biofuels unit

SAN RAMON, Calif (AFX) - Chevron Corp said it has formed a biofuels business unit to advance technology and pursue commercial opportunities related to the production and distribution of ethanol and biodiesel in the US.

In Galveston, Texas, the company held a groundbreaking ceremony to inaugurate construction of one of the first large-scale biodiesel plants in the US.

'Biofuels are a growing component of the world's energy base and will be an active part of Chevron's efforts to help diversify the world's energy supplies. Chevron's capabilities and experience in producing and distributing high-quality fuels make us ideally positioned to pursue opportunities in this sector as it expands,' said Donald Paul.

The biofuels business unit will operate within Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV), a corporate subsidiary dedicated to identifying, developing and commercializing emerging energy technologies.

Mike Wirth, executive vice president, Downstream, said, 'Chevron is already active in biofuels, with our marketing assets and experience blending ethanol in our gasoline. We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to further extend biofuels across Chevron's integrated operations.'

In the US, Chevron currently blends about 300 mln gallons of ethanol per year for use in gasoline blends.

In January, the company announced it is participating in an E85 demonstration project with the state of California, General Motors and Pacific Ethanol. The project will study performance, efficiency and environmental issues over a one-year period using California-formulated E85, a renewable fuel comprising 85 pct ethanol and 15 pct gasoline.

In May, Chevron announced its investment in Galveston Bay Biodiesel (GBB). This Houston-based company is constructing a biodiesel production and distribution facility in Galveston, scheduled for completion by the end of 2006.

GBB will produce biodiesel from soybeans and other renewable feedstocks and is expected to have initial production of 20 mln gallons per year.

Biofuel Benefits Go Beyond Environment

Climate change and energy security priorities have created a policy framework that will produce a rapid expansion of the biofuels market, despite marginal economics.

Biofuel currently come in two forms:

-- Ethanol: Ethanol is made using a plant feedstock such as corn, beetroot, sugar beet or sugar cane and fermenting it. It can be used directly in pure ethanol-fired cars or be blended with gasoline at the pump to make "gasohol." Alternatively, ethanol can be combined with isobutylene to create ETBE (ethyl tertio butyl ether). ETBE is less volatile than ethanol and can be blended at the refinery, thereby avoiding the investment needed to allow blending at the pump.

-- Biodiesel: Biodiesel is made by combining raw vegetable oil with methanol to make a vegetable oil methyl ester (VOME). This can be used directly as fuel or blended with petroleum diesel.

The development of the biofuel industry is likely to prove rapid as government incentives drive forward what is still only a marginally economic product. There are three reasons behind this:

-- Security of supply: Increasing demand for oil has increased competition for existing oil resources by reducing global spare capacity, raising prices dramatically. Biofuels in most countries can be grown and processed domestically, providing an almost zero risk source of supply.

-- Climate change targets: Biofuels are cleaner than traditional fuels. In addition, biofuels are renewable and consume carbon dioxide as they are grown, offsetting that produced when burnt as fuel. Views are divided over the complete carbon life cycle of biofuels. Nevertheless, they are favored politically as one of the few means of "greening" the transport sector.

-- Import substitution and new exports: Many countries dependent on refined oil products have stimulated domestic biofuel production as a means of reducing rising oil import bills.

Both developing and developed countries are tightening their fuel specifications. In addition, governments are setting specific targets for biofuel use. Increasingly, these are being made mandatory. Developing economies are also promoting and subsidizing biofuel production. In tropical countries, the economics of biofuel are competitive with imported or locally refined petroleum fuels. However, in other countries they are generally dependent on subsidies and tax incentives.

Despite high oil prices, diesel remains cheaper than the raw material for biodiesel, though the gap has been much reduced. Some refiners argue that biofuels are more expensive than oil products at any conceivable sustained oil price scenario. Biofuels are dependent on fiscal incentives and have to demonstrate their benefits to society in other terms. However, benefits such as greenhouse gas emissions reductions or security of supply are not undisputed.

Biofuels bring energy and agricultural markets into direct competition. While this may serve to keep biofuel production costs high, there are possible policy trade-offs between agricultural subsidies and biofuel incentives.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Malaysian-German Partnership To Build Biodiesel Plants

February 16, 2006 Johor Bahru, Malaysia [] Two new biodiesel plants to be built by a Malaysian-German partnership will be located on a 20 hectare site at Tanjung Langsat Industrial Area in Johor Bahru and the other at Singapore's petrochemical hub of Jurong Island. The biofuel partnerships call for Kulim holding 51% in the Johor plant while CremerOleo would take up the rest. The German company would have majority stake in the Singapore facility.

Diversified palm oil group, Kulim (Malaysia) Berhad, sealed its partnership with Germany's CremerOleo GmbH & Co., as they plan to set up plants in Johor and Singapore to produce biofuel and other downstream specialty chemical derivatives this year.

"Seen through the eyes of a producer and raw Thmaterial supplier, biodiesel is a local business around the world. However, as a fuel it is also part of the global energy network. With our production and trade of bio commercialize fuels we help to integrate and commercialize renewable energy in these global markets," said Thomas Cremer, managing director of Cremer Gruppe.

The plants will have total capacity of 200,000 tons per annum -- 100,000 tons in Tanjung Langsat and 100,000 tons in Jurong -- producing methyl esters for biodiesel and glycerin as byproduct bound for the export markets, mainly the European Union countries. Both plants are expected to be in production as early as 2007.

According to the release, as global demand for biodiesel is expected to exceed 10 million tons in the next few years. Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui, a Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, said recently that Malaysia can be positioned to capture at least 10% of the overall market.

"We definitely want to have a slice of this lucrative market," said Ahamad Mohamad, managing director of Kulim. "In the European Union for example, biodiesel production almost doubled from 1.06 million tons in 2002 to 1.93 million tons last year. In the U.S., biodiesel output has gone from 500,000 gallons in 1999 to 25 million gallons in 2004."

The Malaysian government, in public support of its country's biodiesel production capacity, is drafting a national biofuel policy and will trial biodiesel on state-owned diesel-powered transport vehicles from three of its ministries: defense, transport and plantation.