Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Philippines in $1.3 Billion Biofuel Deal (23 May 2007)

The alternative fuels division of state-owned Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) has signed a US$1.3 billion (€966 million) deal with UK-based NRG Chemical Engineering Pte. to establish a joint venture and build a biodiesel refinery, a jatropha plantation, and two ethanol plants.

NRG Chemical will own a 70% stake in the joint venture and provide the bulk of the equity requirement in building a biodiesel refinery, two ethanol plants and a million-hectare (2.4 million-acre) jatropha plantation. PNOC-AFC will own 30% of the project.

The refinery, expected to be in operation by early 2008, will have an initial capacity of at least 350,000 metric tons a year (about 106 million gallons US), with a projected ramp to 3.5 million tons a year.

The refinery will initially use coconut and vegetable oil as feedstock until the planned jatropha plantation can start commercial production.

DoD Begins Field Testing of O2Diesel/Biodiesel Blend

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has begun field testing of a new ethanol/biodiesel blend developed by O2Diesel. A demonstration fleet at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada, is now using the new fuel, O2Biodiesel, which consists of 28% renewable sources: ethanol, biodiesel, and a proprietary biomass-derived stabilizing additive.

Earlier emission testing at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, demonstrated the synergy between the additive package, ethanol, and biodiesel with respect to the key regulated air pollutants: particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

While further emissions testing continues, the new fuel will undergo real-world operational challenges under military spec. These include storage and handling, and use in extreme conditions of heat, cold, humidity, and variations in types of use.

O2Diesel fuel is a blend of 7.7 vol% ethanol treated with the company’s stabilizing additive.

In December 2006, O2Diesel Corporation received an additional $1 million in funding from the DoD to continue its existing demonstration projects and develop a new fuel with at least 20% renewable sources.

Testing of the O2Diesel/B20 biodiesel blend is also underway at Ben Franklin Transit (BFT) in Richland, Washington. The 210-day operational test there, which began in January, is using 20 vehicles that represent four different chassis manufacturers running six different diesel engines ranging in age from 1988 to 2006.

Operational data will span winter and summer months.

One effect of combining ethanol and biodiesel is the lowering of the pour point (the temperature at which the fuel begins to gel). Conventional practice for winter blends has been to mix No. 2 diesel with No. 1 diesel to lower the pour point. The use of e-diesel may reduce the need to blend No. 1 diesel into winter blends (depending upon the ethanol content and other additives).

GM Vauxhall Begins B30 Commercial Van Customer Trials in UK

GM’s Vauxhall has introduced B30-compatible models of its Vivaro and Movano panel vans, and will begin trials with two key fleet customers.

The biodiesel B30-compatible models use the existing 2.0 CDTI Vivaro and 2.5 CDTI 98 hp and 118 hp Movano engines, and offer up to 20% less CO2 emissions on a ‘source to wheels’ basis compared to the standard Euro 4-compliant diesel units.

As part of a controlled fleet trial, a number of vans will run on biodiesel B30 across the country as GM and Vauxhall investigate the long-term potential for the fuel in the UK, and look towards a more widespread distribution network for it.

Vauxhall is also calling on the UK government to look at establishing a quality specification for the fuel.

In August 2006, Citroën announced it was running its UK Head Office-based diesel cars and vans, including all those used by the media, on a 30% biodiesel blend. The B30 blend can be used in all current Citroën diesel vehicles without any modifications.