Green crop farm digesters were twice as efficient as official figures, according to a leading independent biogas consultant.
An East Anglian trial of more than a dozen varieties at a "maize for biogas" trial near Mildenhall showed the performance gap between official figures and farm anaerobic digesters.
Richard Crowhurst, managing director of Enagri, told farmers and growers that the biofuel generating potential was much higher than official figures.
He said that the current projects would more than double the existing capacity of on-farm anaerobic digesters.
The Shropshire Group, which had staged the trials of 12 Syngenta varieties to assess the agronomic performance.
Mr Crowhurst said that politicians did not appear to understand the complete energy picture. "It just shows that they do not understand how these crops are grown specifically as a biofuel source for efficient green energy production."
The crucial factor for energy production from AD plants was the quality of feedstock, said Syngenta's maize specialist Nigel Padbury. "When selecting suitable maize varieties for biogas feedstock it's all about the yield of digestible dry matter."
In order to produce as much methane as possible from an AD plant, a variety with more concentrated energy was key.
"But as it doesn't make sense to harvest, ensile and handle more material than necessary, gross yield is not the best way to compare varieties for biogas production. From a movement and storage point of view, I would go for the concentrated energy of NK Bull every time."
"An energy rich maize variety generates more output from any given volume going into the digester," said Mr Padbury.
ActionAid’s biofuels campaign has been shortlisted for the European Public Affairs awards. This is a great chance to raise the issues of biofuels among this audience.
We need to spread the news far and wide, and encourage as many people and other organisations to vote for us. The link you need is here: http://www.epaawards.com/index.php/2012-shortlist/campaign-of-the-year - click on ‘vote now’ under ActionAid.
Voting is open until Wednesday 31st October. It’s important to get as many different organisations to vote for us, as where lots of people from one organisation have voted for one campaign, the votes will be put together in one block and counted as one vote.
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When 1 billion people are hungry globally, putting crops into cars - rather than mouths is bonkers! Watch Drive Aid - Stop the biofuels landgrab: http://bit.ly/driveaidvideo
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But there are many different approaches to growing algae, such as growing the microscopic plants in shallow outdoor ponds, or in enclosed plastic tubes called bioreactors. And the industry is far from settled on a single approach. No matter what the strategy, however, the NRC committee concluded that current technology scaled up to produce 39 billion liters a year—approximately 5% of U.S. transportation fuel needs—would require an unsustainable level of inputs. Current technologies, for example, need between 3.15 liters and 3650 liters of water to produce the amount of algal biofuel equivalent to 1 liter of gasoline, the panel concluded. (That's potentially less than the estimated 5 liters to 2140 liters of water required to produce a liter of ethanol from corn, but more than the 1.9 liters to 6.6 liters of water needed to produce a liter of petroleum-based gasoline.) Growers would also have to add between 6 million and 15 million metric tons of nitrogen and between 1 million and 2 million metric tons of phosphorus to produce 39 billion liters of algal biofuels. That's between 44% and 107% of the total use of nitrogen in the United States, and between 20% and 51% of the nation's phosphorus use for agriculture.
UNAC statement on the ProSavana Programme
We, peasants of the Provincial Nucleus of Peasants in Nampula, the Provincial Nucleus of Peasants in Zambezia, the Provincial Peasants Union of Niassa and the Provincial Union of Peasants of Cabo Delgado, and who are all members of the National Peasants' Union (UNAC), met on the 11th of October 2012, in the town of
Nampula with the aim of discussing and analyzing the ProSavana Programme.
The ProSavana Programme is a triangular project between the Republic of Mozambique, the Federal Republic of Brazil and Japan, for the development of large-scale agriculture in the Nacala Development Corridor, affecting 14 districts in the provinces of Niassa, Nampula and Zambezia, covering an area of approximately 14 million hectares. The project was inspired by an earlier agricultural development project implemented by the Brazilian and Japanese governments in the Brazilian Cerrado (savannah), where large-scale industrial farming of monocrops (mainly soybeans) is now practiced. This Brazilian project led to a degradation of the environment and the near extinction of indigenous communities living in the affected areas. The Nacala Corridor was chosen because its savannah has similar characteristics to the Brazilian Cerrado, in terms of its climate and agroecology, and because of the ease with which products can be exported.
Ever since hearing about the ProSavana Programme, we have noticed a lack of information and transparency from the main stakeholders involved (the governments of Mozambique, Brazil and Japan), and this is why we held the aforementioned meeting.
We, peasant farmers, condemn the way in which the ProSavana programme was drafted and the way it is intended to be implemented in Mozambique, which has been characterised by reduced transparency and the exclusion of civil society organisations throughout the process, especially peasant organisations.
Following a comprehensive analysis of ProSavana, we peasant farmers have concluded that:
· ProSavana is a result of a top-down policy, which does not take into consideration the demands, dreams and basic concerns of peasants, particularly those within the Nacala Corridor;
· We vehemently condemn any initiative which aims to resettle communities and expropriate the land of peasants to give way to mega farming projects for monocrop production (soybeans, sugar cane, cotton, etc.);
· We condemn the arrival of masses of Brazilian farmers seeking to establish agribusinesses that will transform Mozambican peasant farmers into their employees and rural labourers.
· We are extremely concerned that Prosavana requires millions of hectares of land along the Nacala Corridor, when the local reality shows that such vast areas of land are not available and are currently used by peasants practicing shifting cultivation.
Considering the way in which the ProSavana programme was drafted and the process for implementing it, we peasant farmers warn of the following expected impacts:
· The appearance of landless communities in Mozambique, as a result of land expropriation and resettlement;
· Frequent social upheaval along the Nacala Corridor, and beyond;
· The impoverishment of rural communities and a reduction in the number of alternatives for survival;
· An increase in corruption and conflicts of interest;
· The pollution of water resources as a result of the excessive use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, as well soil degradation;
· Ecological imbalances due to vast deforestation for agribusiness projects.
If there is to be investment in the Nacala Corridor, or in Mozambique in general, we recommend and demand that these investments be made in developing peasant farming and the peasant economy, as a priority, which we, members of UNAC and members of Via Campesina, know is the only kind of farming capable of creating dignified and lasting livelihoods, of stemming rural exodus, and of producing high-quality foods in sufficient quantities for the entire Mozambican Nation, all of which will lead us towards the realization of Food Sovereignty.
We remain firmly committed to peasant farming and the agroecological production model-- the foundations of Food Sovereignty-- as alternatives to the development of the agricultural sector in Mozambique which consider all aspects of sustainability and are, in practice, friends of nature.
Peasant farming is the pillar of the local economy and contributes to maintaining and increasing rural employment, as well as allowing towns and villages to survive. It allows collectives to strengthen their own culture and identity. The development policies in this alternative model must be socially and environmentally sustainable and must be adapted to the real challenges and demands of the people.
Peasants are the guardians of life, nature and the planet. As a peasants' movement in the family sector, UNAC pursues production models based on the foundations of peasant farming (respect and conservation of the soil, use of adapted and appropriate technologies, and a rural extension that is participative and interactive).
At a time when the United Nations, through the FAO, informs us that one out of eight people in the world are hungry, with hunger especially severe in developing countries, as is the case of Mozambique, we demand that the Government of Mozambique give priority to the production of food by the family farming sector for domestic consumption, aiming to develop local potential and involving different segments of society.
UNAC, 25 years of peasant farming struggles for Food Sovereignty
Fighting to give peasant farmers a greater role in building a fairer, more prosperous society, based on solidarity.
Nampula, October 11th 2012
Corn Ethanol Makers Weigh Switch to Butanol
BYLINE: By HENRY FOUNTAIN
SECTION: Section F; Column 0; Energy; Pg. 4
LENGTH: 833 words
NEARLY a decade after the adoption of federal renewable fuel standards led to a sharp increase in production of ethanol, some producers in the Corn Belt are considering making a different fuel. The fuel, butyl alcohol, or butanol, is worth more to refiners because it has more energy than ethanol, is easier to handle and more of it can be blended into each gallon of gasoline. But producing it will require costly retrofitting of ethanol plants, and plant capacity will be reduced.
Several companies are leading the push for butanol, including Gevo of Englewood, Colo., and Butamax Advanced Biofuels, a joint venture of BP and DuPont based in Wilmington, Del. They have developed ways to make butanol the same way ethanol is made, through yeast-based fermentation and then distillation.
''There are few if any new biofuel molecules that can be made from an existing ethanol plant,'' said Paul Beckwith, chief executive of Butamax. ''The beauty of what we're offering is, it's so similar.''
New butanol-specific plants could also be built, he said, including ones that, like cellulosic ethanol plants, use switch grass or other nonfood raw materials rather than corn.
Butamax is producing butanol at a demonstration plant in Hull, England. And in the United States, it has organized an alliance of ethanol producers who are considering making the shift. The idea, Mr. Beckwith said, is to convert many plants simultaneously, beginning in 2013.
Gevo began making butanol at a 22 million gallon a year ethanol plant in Luverne, Minn., in May, although it has now stopped production.
''We're currently in the process of switching back to ethanol while we give engineering team to make some improvements,'' said Chris Ryan, Gevo's president.
The two companies also are involved in a legal dispute over patents that is working its way through the courts.
Brian D. Kletscher, chief executive of Highwater Ethanol in Lamberton, Minn., a member of Butamax's alliance, said his company would talk with gasoline refiners before making a final decision to convert its plant. ''We see a potentially valuable commodity here,'' Mr. Kletscher said. ''It could allow maybe a 20 to 30 percent increase in our margins. That's the No. 1 thing that sparks us to look at it.''
Last year, Highwater used nearly 19 million bushels of corn to produce about 55 million gallons of ethanol, which was shipped by rail tankers to refineries on the East Coast. If the company decided to go ahead with conversion, the work would take up to a year, Mr. Kletscher said, although the plant would be shut only about two weeks.
Butamax estimates that converting an ethanol plant will cost 20 percent to 30 percent of a plant's original price tag -- perhaps $10 million to $15 million for one the size of Highwater's, more for larger facilities. The conversion will also reduce a plant's capacity about 20 percent, the company said, but the greater value of butanol should more than make up for the lost volume.
Mr. Ryan said Gevo's conversion costs would be somewhat higher, at least initially. Most of the butanol produced at Luverne was sold to the chemical company Sasol, he said. Butanol has long been used in the chemical industry as a solvent.
But Mr. Ryan said Gevo was withholding some of the butanol to develop fuels, and it had a small contract with the Air Force to convert butanol to jet fuel.
Butanol offers several advantages to gasoline refiners, Mr. Beckwith said. It contains about 30 percent more energy than ethanol, and it can be blended with gasoline at a higher percentage -- Butamax recommends 16 percent butanol, compared with the current 10 percent standard for ethanol. That would allow refiners to more quickly meet the Environmental Protection Agency's renewable fuel standards, which were adopted in 2005 and mandate that transportation fuels contain increasing amounts of alternative fuels over time.
Because ethanol evaporates relatively easily, refiners have to remove some of the lighter components from their gasoline so the blended product meets air-quality standards. Butanol evaporates less readily, so refiners can leave many of these more volatile components in, saving money.
Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, an industry group, said butanol was a ''drop-in'' fuel, able to be used with existing gasoline pipelines and other equipment because it does not have a tendency to take up water, as ethanol does.
''It's more fungible in the existing infrastructure,'' he said. ''You could blend it with gasoline and put it in a pipeline -- no problem.''
Butanol would also help producers get around the so-called blend wall, Mr. McAdams said. Given the amount of gasoline used annually in the United States, and the blending limit of 10 percent ethanol, producers are close to their capacity limits, now about 13 billion gallons of ethanol a year.
With the 10 percent limitation, ''you don't have enough gasoline to put the ethanol in,'' he said. ''You don't have that problem with butanol.''