jueves, 29 de marzo de 2007

Without homegrown crops, biodiesel still will be imported fuel

THE quest to reduce imports and use of fossil fuels in the islands appears to be trending toward biodiesel production with two plant proposals on the drawing board.

Though biodiesel could be developed as a strong alternative, if the raw materials from which the fuel is derived cannot be grown here, Hawaii still would remain largely reliant on outside sources for energy production.

That said, using biodiesel still would be better and cleaner for the islands than continuing our current dependence on oil and coal for electricity and fuels to power vehicles and machinery. But it should be just one component in a multipronged strategy to transform Hawaii's energy portfolio.

The Star-Bulletin's Diana Leone reports that a Seattle-based company is the latest enterprise considering the state for a biodiesel plant. Imperium Renewables Inc. has told a West Oahu neighborhood board that it plans to build a $90 million facility on state land in the Kalaeloa area to generate 100 million gallons of biodiesel annually. That's an ambitious yield considering Imperium's only plant currently in operation produces only 5 million gallons a year.

Meanwhile, the company that provides most of the electricity in Hawaii also plans to get into biodiesel production with a plant on Maui, but it wants the state government to help out. Maui Electric Co., an affiliate of Hawaiian Electric, and its new subsidiary, BlueEarth Maui Biodiesel LLC, is asking the lawmakers to back its venture with special purpose revenue bonds.

A bill to authorize the assistance is advancing through the Legislature, but is opposed on a number of points. Among them are whether the bonds, though they do not encumber the state financially, nonetheless give BlueEarth Maui an unfair advantage in the marketplace. There also is the question of the advisability of extending the electric company's dominance in power production through its control of a fuel source.

Moreover, there already are worldwide concerns about the environmental tolls of growing the crops used for biodiesel, particularly palm oil, the demand for which has resulted in destruction of rain forests and other acreage.

For Hawaii, the best practice would be to use homegrown fuel crops. But even if all available agriculture land not already in food or other production were to be planted with feedstock, yields would not support the proposed facilities. If self-reliance in energy production is the goal, biodiesel is promising, but Hawaii must develop a diversity of renewable sources, as well.

miércoles, 28 de marzo de 2007

Megaproyecto: Nátura abre en Toledo la primera de tres plantas de biodiesel

OCAÑA, Toledo (Reuters) - El grupo energético Nátura ha inaugurado una planta capaz de producir 100.000 toneladas al año de biodiesel en la localidad toledana de Ocaña, y dijo que tiene en proyecto otras dos plantas de mayor tamaño.

La primera planta, gestionada por Biocarburantes Castilla La Mancha, es la mayor hasta ahora construida en España y en abril comenzará la producción a gran escala usando semillas de soja importada, dijo el presidente de Nátura, Juan Carlos Jiménez, en rueda de prensa el lunes.

El biodiesel puede ser usado en lugar del diesel normal para reducir las emisiones de dióxido de carbono, principal gas responsable del calentamiento global, y los gobiernos de la Unión Europea están animado a su uso como parte de los esfuerzos para atajar el cambio climático.

A finales de 2008, Nátura tiene previsto haber completado una planta de 200.000 toneladas al año en el puerto de Alicante y otra de 500.000 en el puerto de Gijón, que dice que será la mayor del mundo.

"Por ahora estamos usando semillas importadas, principalmente de soja, pero podemos usar cualquier aceite vegetal, cualquier cosa que España pueda producir", dijo Jiménez.

La compañía ofrecerá a los agricultores contratos a largo plazo y les está animando a cambiar al girasol, soja o colza.


Otra ventaja es que estos son cultivos que necesitan menos agua que la alfalfa, el maíz o la remolacha.

Sustituir estos cultivos en 1,2 millones de hectáreas - el área que Nátura estima que sería necesaria para proveer a sus tres plantas - podría ahorrar 4.000 metros cúbicos de agua al año, dice.

"Hay un déficit tremendo de biodiesel en España", dijo Jiménez. La planta de Ocaña ya ha vendido su producción para los primeros dos años, principalmente a las grandes compañías de combustibles, que lo etiquetarán como diesel mineral.

A medida que se conozca la marca Nátura probablemente se venderá más diesel para su uso en la forma pura. La mayoría de los vehículos pueden usar biodiesel sin ninguna modificación .

Aproximadamente el 70 por ciento de los vehículos en España son diesel y el país produce una pequeña fracción del biodiesel que necesitaría para alcanzar el objetivo del 5,75 por ciento de su uso en el transporte para 2010.

martes, 27 de marzo de 2007

City, producers skeptical about legislator's biodiesel proposal

Sen. John Brueggeman, R-Polson, says it's time the nation got serious about energy independence. With that in mind, he has introduced the Renewable Fuel and Energy Independence Act, which aims to jump-start a biodiesel industry in Montana.

Brueggeman's Senate Bill 432 would require all diesel fuel sold in Montana to contain a percentage of vegetable oil, but only if the state develops the infrastructure to produce fuel from crops.

"I definitely think it's time for us as a nation to have a stable, affordable and clean source of energy," Brueggeman said. "Oil is a scarce resource, and as developing nations demand more, it's going to be especially difficult to get."

Dan Downs, owner of Montana Seed & Grain and Chemical in Billings, has invested thousands of dollars in a study to test the feasibility of a farmer-owned oilseed crushing plant in the Billings area. He supports SB432.

"We don't know where (the plant) is going to be yet. But as soon as we know if it's going to work, we'll get the investment," Downs said. "It will be a co-op owned by farmers and ranchers."

Billings City Councilman Ed Ulledalen has two words to describe the bill: "Unfunded mandate."

"It's a feel-good bill that's poorly worded," Ulledalen said.

SB432 has passed the Senate and is scheduled for a public hearing Monday before the House Transportation Committee.

In a recent conference call with Jani McCall, the city's lobbyist, Ulledalen urged the city to oppose SB432. Deputy City Administrator Bruce McCandless estimated that a state mandate for biodiesel could increase the city's fuel costs by $200,000 a year. But other council members said they needed more information before they can make a final decision.

"I know there is strong support for this kind of a bill in the rural areas," said Councilwoman Peggie Gaghen.

Russ Doty, chairman of the Billings Energy and Conservation Commission, said he's familiar with Brueggeman's bill, but the commission has yet to make a recommendation to the City Council on SB432.

When the city of Billings solicited annual bids for fuel last fall, biodiesel was bid as an alternative. Two firms offered a biodiesel blend, but the city chose to buy traditional fuel because it was cheaper.

Biodiesel flopped when it was introduced to the Billings retail market last summer.

Town Pump offered biodiesel at its convenience store on 32nd Street West and King Avenue. The company discontinued sales by the end of the year because motorists wouldn't buy it.

"Sales were very poor so we had to make a decision, and when it got close to winter, we decided that we needed to offer another kind of product," said Jim Kaneally, supply and distribution manager for Town Pump.

Kaneally said the Billings station initially introduced biodiesel at a price slightly higher than conventional diesel. "Eventually, we had to drop it to the same price, but it still wouldn't sell," Kaneally said. "We tried it in Great Falls and we had the same result."

Kaneally said he wasn't opposed to biodiesel, recognizing that "it will be needed eventually."

One of the problems with biodiesel is that it can gel or block fuel filters in cold weather, Kaneally said. Biodiesel advocates say that certain biodiesel blends perform about the same as traditional diesel fuel in cold weather.

Dave Galt, executive director of the Montana Petroleum Association, said mandating the sale of biodiesel would require distributors to build new mixing facilities. At a cost of $2 million per terminal, the state's 11 terminals would have to spend $22 million on new equipment if the bill passes, he said.

Fuel marketers also worry about where biodiesel comes from, Galt said.

"Quality is the biggest issue," he said. "It doesn't mean that all biodiesel coming from producers is going to meet the right specifications" for motor fuel.

"I think anybody who drives a diesel vehicle or uses a diesel generator should be concerned," Galt said. "The market for biodiesel will be driven by demand, but it's wrong to mandate it."

"I'm not a big fan of mandates," Brueggeman conceded. "But this is an attempt to have a market system with the greater good of the country in mind. We're taking some tangible steps toward creating a greater public good."

SB 432 also would require the state to make sure all biodiesel sold in Montana complies with motor fuel standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials, an international organization that establishes quality standards for many products.

City departments in Bozeman and Missoula have been using biodiesel for years.

John Van Delinder, street superintendent for the city of Bozeman, said biodiesel has performed well in city vehicles there and in a fleet of buses operated by Montana State University and Gallatin County.

Van Delinder said Bozeman's street department and forestry department use a B20 blend (20 percent vegetable oil and 80 percent diesel fuel) in the summer, and a B5 (5 percent vegetable oil) blend in the winter. Bozeman has been using biodiesel since 2001. The fuel has caused no maintenance or weather-related problems, and the price is about the same as regular diesel fuel, he said.

Bozeman Forestry Department workers who use a diesel-powered chipper say biodiesel exhaust doesn't smell as bad, Van Delinder said.

"I drive a diesel pickup, and there's less smoke when you accelerate," he said.

Ed Gulick, a member of the Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council and the city's energy and conservation commission, said local manufacturing and distribution systems are key to helping a biodiesel industry get started.

"Research has shown that the price of biodiesel is extremely competitive in areas where there are distributors," Gulick said.

The mandate of SB432 would go into effect only if a Montana biodiesel industry managed to produce the equivalent of 2 percent of all Montana diesel fuel sales from 2005. Based on state Department of Transportation figures, that would require biodiesel production in the state of around 9 million gallons a year.

The minimum biodiesel content for motor fuel would increase to 3 percent if the capacity of the state's biodiesel industry increases to around 14 million gallons per year.

According to the National Biodiesel Board, 105 biodiesel plants have been developed or are under construction in the United States, but no commercial scale plant is operating in Montana.

Ultimately, economics could derail Montana's efforts to develop biodiesel, Ulledalen said. Most plants producing ethanol and biodiesel are being built in the Midwest, where corn and oilseeds are plentiful and rail traffic is readily available.

"In Montana, we're at the end of the road," he said.

lunes, 26 de marzo de 2007

Company plans to mass-produce biodiesel in Kapolei

A Seattle-based company wants to build a biodiesel plant in Kapolei that it says will be one of the country's largest.

Imperium Renewables Inc. is planning a $90 million "advanced method biodiesel processing" plant on state Department of Transportation land at Barbers Point Harbor, company representatives told the Makakilo-Kapolei-Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board last month, its Chairwoman Maeda Timson said.

Imperium representatives said the plant would produce 100 million gallons a year of biodiesel from imported vegetable oil, Timson said. The nonfossil fuel source could be oil palms imported from South East Asia, plus locally grown Hawaii plants and possibly, when the technology develops, algae, she said.

That plant size would be equal to Imperium's under-construction plant in Gray's Harbor, Wash., which the company touts in a Feb. 21 press release as "the nation's largest biodiesel plant."

Imperium told the neighborhood board its Oahu plant will create 70 "high-paying, permanent jobs" and employ 350 during construction, Timson said.

Imperium's Feb. 21 release announced that it had received $214 million in investments -- including $113 million of private equity -- and that it "plans to open additional facilities around the world, including Hawaii, the Northeast United States and internationally."

However, "Imperium is not making any formal comments on details surrounding the potential for a facility in Hawaii," John Williams, a public relations spokesman for the company, said Friday by e-mail.

By comparison, Imperium's only operating biodiesel plant -- Seattle Biodiesel -- has produced 5 million gallons a year of biodiesel from vegetable oils since 2005, the company Web site says.

Hawaii's only two biodiesel plants -- Pacific Biodiesel's Maui and Oahu operations -- together could produce 1.5 million gallons a year of biodiesel from waste cooking oil, Pacific Biodiesel President Robert King said.

The Imperium plan is not the only biodiesel proposal on the drawing board. Last month, Maui Electric Co. and BlueEarth Maui Biodiesel LLC proposed a $61 million refinery on Maui to produce up to 120 million gallons a year of biodiesel to run MECO's largest diesel-fired power plant.

Because the joint-venture involves a regulated utility (MECO parent Hawaiian Electric Co.), it must be approved by the state Public Utilities Commission. BlueEarth/HECO's Maui venture also is seeking special-purpose revenue bonds to finance construction from the state Legislature via Senate Bill 1718, House Draft 1. The bill is awaiting scheduling by the House Finance Committee.

BlueEarth hopes to start operating the first phase of its refinery in 2009 with imported oils -- probably palm oil, said its company spokesman Ray Sweeney. But it could ultimately produce biodiesel fuels made from Hawaii-grown oil products that could include coconut or kukui nuts.

The Maui plant is proposed to start producing up to 40 million gallons a year in 2009.

Meanwhile, HECO hopes to build a new, peak-power generating plant at Campbell Industrial Park, also by 2009, said HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg.

HECO has promised the new plant will run on either biodiesel or ethanol, which can be made from sugar cane. Rosegg said he cannot disclose whether Imperium was among a number of bidders to supply the 5-20 million gallons a year that plant needs, because the request-for-proposals process is not public.

HECO's proposed plant would not need a large quantity of fuel because it will operate as an on-again, off-again "peaking" power plant that can be quickly fired up for short-term use, such as during the 5-9 p.m. highest use of electricity, Rosegg said.

HECO will decide based on the proposals it receives whether to run the new plant on biodiesel or ethanol, Rosegg said.

The HECO plant also requires approval from the PUC before construction.

Biodiesel is diesel fuel made from plant-based oils. It can be used in diesel engines alone or in mixtures with petroleum-based diesels. It is cleaner-burning, less combustible and less toxic than petroleum-based diesel.

Ethanol, or grain alcohol, can be produced from corn, sugar or other plant resources and used in a mixture with gasoline.

Some observers say that not all biodiesel is equally "green." Worldwide demand for the most prolific biodiesel source -- palm oil -- is driving rain forest slashing and burning to make way for oil palm plantations, a destructive practice that contributes to global warming through forest fires, according to testimony at the state Legislature from Environmental Defense, Life of the Land and other groups and individuals.

According to a state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism study, Hawaii has, at most, about 173,000 acres of agricultural land not currently in sugar or other agricultural production on all islands that might be used for biomass -- either biodiesel or ethanol feedstocks.

Even if all that land were planted in the highest-yielding oil plant -- palm oil -- and it produced at maximum levels about 750 gallons per acre per year, the resulting biodiesel would be unlikely to supply even one of the two large plants now on the drawing board, calculated Kelly King, Pacific Biodiesel marketing and communications director.

The Kings say their concern with the large plants is that they are not sustainable with Hawaii-raised crops. Pacific Biodiesel's corporate strategy is to size Hawaii-based biodiesel production to the quantity of feedstock that can actually be grown here, they say.

Any production of biodiesel larger than what can be grown on state agricultural lands that are not being used for food crops would have to come from imported vegetable oils, industry observers agree. Opinions differ on whether that is "environmentally friendly."

Hawaii state government has set a goal of getting 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and has required 20 percent of gasoline sold in the state to be composed of ethanol since April. So far, none of the proposed Hawaii ethanol plants have broken ground, so the ethanol is being imported, just like the gasoline it is replacing.

Imperium talked informally with state Department of Health Clean Air Branch officials last year about what the state's air emission requirements are, but the company has not submitted an application for a permit, said Nolan Hirai, the branch's engineering supervisor.

viernes, 23 de marzo de 2007

Vermont biodiesel plant to open soon

SWANTON, Vt., March 22 (UPI) -- Final construction is being completed at Biocardel Vermont LLC, Biocardel's first U.S. biodiesel plant.

The plant is expected to open at the end of the month, said plant manager Stephen Daigle.

The Swanton, Vt., plant will import soybean oil from nearby Quebec farms and convert the oil, as well as canola oil, to biodiesel fuel. The only byproduct is glycerol, which is purified and sold to manufacturers.

Biocardel's biodiesel fuel plant doesn't use water and leaves a minimal environmental footprint, according to Daigle. The process of converting organic oils to biodiesel fuel produces no emissions and the fuel used in diesel engines greatly reduces emissions from traditional petrodiesel-consuming engines, Biocardel President Pierre Migner said.

The biodiesel will be sold to local fuel blenders and then blended with petrodiesel and distributed to gas stations. One of the benefits of biodiesel as opposed to ultra-low sulfur diesel is that it can easily be incorporated into the existing infrastructure and brought to the gas pumps without degrading the quality of the fuel, Migner said.

Once operational, the plant is expected to produce about 4 million gallons of biodiesel annually; it is expected to increase to 12 million gallons in its third year of operation.

jueves, 22 de marzo de 2007

B20 biodiesel blend approved for use in Cummins engines

Cummins Inc. this week announced the approval of biodiesel B20 blends for use in its 2002 and later emissions-compliant ISX, ISM, ISL, ISC and ISB engines. This includes the recently released 2007 products.

Cummins is able to upgrade its previous position on the use of biodiesel fuel, which limited the use to B5 blends only, up to B20 for three reasons, company officials said in a press release. First, the American Society of Testing Materials specification ASTM D6751 now includes an important stability specification for B100 biodiesel. Second, the availability of quality fuels from BQ-9000 Certified Marketers and Accredited Producers is growing rapidly; and third, Cummins has completed the necessary testing and evaluations to ensure that customers can reliably operate their equipment with confidence using B20 fuel.

"We have completed exhaustive analysis and test evaluations which enable Cummins to provide the necessary guidance and information to our customers for the proper and successful use of this fuel in our engine," said Edward Lyford-Pike, Cummins chief engineer for advanced alternative fuel programs. "This will enable our customers to have a choice that includes renewable fuel."

The popularity and use of biodiesel fuel continues to climb. Recent studies predict that by 2008, 1.2 billion gallons of B100 biodiesel will be produced in the United States

miércoles, 21 de marzo de 2007

New biodiesel production method created !!

A new material developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory might replace a costly process in biodiesel production.

Scientists at the laboratory's Nanoscience Center say the technology might replace the biodiesel manufacturing process that consumes chemicals, water and energy and also reduces the yield of the final product.

During production, catalysts must be applied to transform biodiesel from a thick and sticky substance into a fluid that can easily be pumped into vehicles. Following that process, the corrosive catalysts must be neutralized and washed from the fuel.

ORNL researchers Sheng Dai and Chengdu Liang created a material of solid acid nanocatalysts that can be fixed inside a reusable column or filter through which the biodiesel can flow to remove the catalyst materials.

The scientists said the nanomaterial shows promise for other applications as well, such as fuel cells, batteries and other energy storage and conversion technologies

martes, 20 de marzo de 2007

Texas power plant runs on biodiesel

Biofuels Power has opened up a 5-megawatt power plant that runs entirely on biodiesel--and it plans to follow up with another facility that can produce twice as much power.

The Oak Ridge North, Texas, plant runs its three diesel power generators entirely on biodiesel, a form of diesel made from vegetable oil or animal fat, agricultural byproducts that don't have a huge resale value. Other power plants buy biodiesel in limited quantities, but mix it with regular diesel.

By operating strictly on biodiesel, Biofuels says it can become a showcase for alternative energy. A second facility that will produce 10 megawatts of power is already on the drawing boards. Ten megawatts can provide power for about 3,000 homes.

Although biodiesel mostly gets discussed as an alternative to regular diesel for running cars, the inherent properties of biodiesel made from animal fat fit better for power plants. Animal fat biodiesel doesn't function well in cold climates and needs to be kept somewhat warm.

"They really aren't a suitable fuel unless we can come up with a suitable additive to improve these cold flow properties and do it at a low cost. Hence their major use may be for situations where we can keep the fuel supply warm, say above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, such as for heating fuels," Vernon Eidman, a professor at the University of Minnesota, wrote in response to a recent inquiry.

Biodiesel from waste products won't solve the U.S. dependency on oil. The U.S. generates about 2.7 billion pounds of waste vegetable grease a year. If all of it were harvested and converted to biodiesel, it would produce about 350 million gallons of fuel. If half of the inedible tallow and animal fat from slaughterhouses were harvested, another 500 million gallons would be produced, according to figures from Eidman.

The U.S., however, consumed an estimated 62 billion gallons of diesel last year, so these contributions would amount to about 1 percent.

Still, the amount of biodiesel produced in the U.S. will increase in the near future from all sources. Imperium Renewables, which specializes in "fresh" biodiesel, is expanding production, and agribusiness giants, such as Tyson Foods, are looking at building facilities that will take old chicken fat and turn it into fuel.

Other alternative energy experiments in Texas include a series of thermophilic digesters that convert cow manure into natural gas.

lunes, 19 de marzo de 2007

Bush y Lula firmaron un acuerdo sobre biocombustibles. ¿Cuál es el negocio?

En su visita a Brasil, George W. Bush firmó un acuerdo con Lula para fomentar el uso del etanol. Por debajo, se esconde un billonario negocio que podría convertir a Brasil en la Arabia Saudita del futuro...

A esta altura, los especialistas coinciden en que los tiempos del petróleo barato han quedado definitivamente enterrados. El precio de 50 dólares por barril, que hace unos años parecía récord absoluto, ahora ya parece un piso que no volverá a perforarse.

Y, en este contexto, en su reciente viaje por América Latina, el presidente norteamericano George W. Bush (curiosamente, descendiente de una familia petrolera) firmó un acuerdo con su colega brasileño Lula Da Silva para fomentar el uso de combustibles alternativos.

El destino del viaje estuvo bien elegido. De hecho, Brasil es uno de los países que más saben en el mundo sobre nuevas fuentes de energía. Desde hace ya varios años cuenta con un plan estratégico para fomentar el uso del etanol, un combustible producido a base de caña de azúcar.

Según el informe Positioning Brazil for biofuels success de la consultora McKinsey, el cielo luce despejado para el uso de esta fuente de energía limpia. Ante la tendencia alcista de los precios del petróleo, se espera un explosivo crecimiento de la demanda mundial de etanol que podría convertir a Brasil en la Arabia Saudita de los biocombustibles. De mantenerse la actual tendencia, hacia el 2020 Brasil podría exportar la friolera de 160 mil millones de litros.

Sin embargo, hay algunos nubarrones sobre el horizonte. Desde luego, no es sencillo pasar de producir los 17 mil millones de litros actuales a exportar 160 mil millones.

La producción de caña de azúcar no es problema. Para alcanzar el objetivo de ventas, los analistas de McKinsey estiman que Brasil necesitaría unos 11 millones de hectáreas adicionales destinadas al cultivo de caña. Para un país de las dimensiones de Brasil, esto no es ningún desafío.

Sin embargo, las dudas surgen cuando analizamos la parte industrial y la infraestructura de transporte de la cadena del etanol.

Actualmente, Brasil tiene capacidad de almacenar y transportar cuatro mil millones de litros anuales. Sin embargo, para convertirse en una súper potencia exportadora, se estima que serán necesarios unos 2.000 kilómetros extra de oleoductos y vías férreas. Nada que una inversión de unos 2.000 millones de dólares no pueda solucionar.

La cuestión verdaderamente crítica se encuentra en la fase de industrialización de la caña. Hoy, los 350 molinos brasileños procesan 460 millones de toneladas de caña anuales (aunque sólo la mitad se destina a la producción de etanol).

Ahora bien, advierten los expertos de McKinsey, por cada mil millones de litros adicionales, se necesitan cinco nuevos molinos a un costo de 120 millones de dólares cada uno. Haciendo las cuentas, para exportar 160 mil millones de litros, harían falta 600 nuevos molinos. ¿El costo total? ¡Noventa mil millones de dólares!

Muchos dudan de que Brasil esté en condiciones de realizar semejante inversión. La mayor parte de los productores de etanol son empresas familiares que carecen del capital para emprendimientos de semejante envergadura. Por otro lado, los mercados de capitales brasileños no son lo suficientemente fuertes como para proveer el financiamiento necesario.

De esta forma, la principal esperanza parece quedar en manos de las inversiones de compañías multinacionales. ¿Estarán interesadas en apostar por los biocombustibles brasileños? Veamos unos números...

Según estimaciones de McKinsey, hacia el 2020, el costo de producir un litro de etanol brasileño y transportarlo a Europa Occidental pagando todos los impuestos pertinentes y suponiendo márgenes razonables de ganancia dejaría un precio de venta al consumidor de 0,73 dólares por litro. ¿Cuál es el precio promedio actual del litro de combustible en las estaciones de servicio europeas? 1,60 dólares por litro. Más claro, échele agua.

Construirían planta de biocombustibles

En pleno proceso electoral, y ante la posible resistencia de los ciudadanos entrerrianos, se supo en estos días que es "muy probable" que en el espacio que dejó libre la española ENCE -en lo que pareció el único logro para los asambleístas de Gualeguaychú- podría funcionar una fábrica de biocombustibles que proyecta levantar allí la empresa brasileña Petrobrás. A la petrolera carioca le interesan el puerto construido en el lugar y el proyecto de biocombustibles impulsado por Estados Unidos.

Para el proyecto turístico de los vecinos de Gualeguaychú es una malan oticia, aunque no existe ningún argumento jurídico sobre el cual intentar una oposición. Las fábricas de combustible no involucran a las aguas comunes de ambos países, aunque la chimenea quemaría importantes masas de etanol.

La gestión del intendente

El intendente de Río Negro, Omar Lafluf, inició las gestiones para que la petrolera brasileña Petrobrás se haga cargo del puerto y de las plantaciones que abandonó ENCE para iniciar otro emprendimiento en Las Conchillas, departamento Colonia. En ese lugar, en M Bicuá, Petrobrás instalaría un fábrica de biodiésel, con una inversión de treinta millones de dólares.

Fuentes empresariales próximas a ENCE señalaron que "hay una negociación incipiente" con Petrobras en especial por la posible venta de los terrenos. "La venta del puerto no se descarta, pero es un polo logístico y Ence lo tiene en sus planes de futuro para el traslado de celulosa", agregaron los informantes.

El proyecto de Petrobrás

La empresa está interesada en expandir su presencia en los mercados de refinación y distribución de combustibles de Uruguay. Petrobrás ya controla casi todo el negocio de la distribución de gas natural del país y posee parte de la comercialización de combustibles tras adquirir el año pasado las 89 estaciones de servicio de Shell. También inició conversaciones con el gobierno uruguayo para proyectos de etanol y biodiésel.

"Tras el interés mostrado por Estados Unidos en el etanol y el biodiésel se han elevado las perspectivas de establecer estos proyectos en otros países," dijo el presidente de la petrolera brasileña José Sergio Gabrielli, en referencia a la visita la semana pasada a Brasil del presidente
estadounidense, George W. Bush.

El presidente de Petrobras en Uruguay, Clovis Correa de Queirós, calificó al puerto de M'Bopicúa, sobre el río Uruguay, como "excelente, bien hecho y moderno". Correa dijo que las negociaciones entre Petrobras y ENCE están "enuna etapa preliminar".

Petrobras considera que la región "ofrece enorme potencial" para el biodiesel y "se están estudiando varias líneas de trabajo", agregó Correa.

Small fuel project holds big promise

A PROJECT to test crops for their oil yields could further spur agricultural and biodiesel production in Hawaii while reducing imports and use of fossil fuel. The research project lines up groups whose collaboration would be needed for success in making biodiesel here.

Partners represent plant growers through the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center and the University of Hawaii-Hilo forestry and agriculture college, the only biodiesel producer in the state, a construction supply company that will run equipment emissions tests on the fuel, as well as the Oceanic Institute, which will separately study plant leftovers for use as fish food.

Four tree crops -- kukui nuts, avocado, coconut and jatropha -- will be tested to see which ones yield the most oil and which oils are most suitable for conversion into fuel to either replace or blend with diesel.

Identifying the best crops will help farmers and agricultural businesses grow feedstock in sufficient quantities. This will help Pacific Biodiesel -- the Maui-based company that uses virtually all the available waste cooking oil in the state to make the alternative fuel -- expand production, and possibly motivate others to enter the market. Businesses that use diesel to power vehicles and equipment, like project participant Grace Pacific, would benefit. Hawaii's environment would also see fewer harmful pollutants.

If plant residues can be converted for use as aquaculture or livestock feed, ranchers and others who raise food animals could see their costs decrease significantly.

Though small, the one-year project holds great potential for cutting the state's reliance on fossil fuels, adding biodiesel to the tools for sustainability.

Portland revs up as engine for biodiesel

Fuel - Commissioner Randy Leonard promotes the idea; still needed are production-ready sites

City Commissioner Randy Leonard stumps across Oregon to pump up Portland as a regional biodiesel hub.

Leonard says biodiesel can disconnect this liberal bastion from foreign oil, offering a green alternative that's good for Oregon farmers.

And Portland has competitive advantages for biofuel makers and politicians. Oregon has just one biodiesel plant, a small one in Salem, but 20 biodiesel or ethanol firms have poked around Portland for a site.

"It's a grass-roots Willie Nelson propellant that creates jobs in America," the former firefighter, who pays $3.29 a gallon to fill his Jeep Liberty, says of the country star with his own BioWillie blend. "Why not have that be centered here in Portland?"

But Leonard hit a very un-green roadblock: Two of the three prime spots are too polluted. "We would have one or two of those concerns signed on, were it not for the Superfund," Leonard said.

The Arkema Inc. property in Northwest Portland and the Time Oil property in North Portland have the right amenities, but both are tied up in years of investigations and cleanups through the Willamette River's federal Superfund status.

Leonard's biodiesel initiative comes as politicians in Portland and Salem try to drive an Earth-friendly agenda that cuts greenhouse gas emissions, reduces dependence on foreign oil and attracts sustainable employers.

California has been a leader in the next-generation green movement. Oregon, which has colored itself green since the 1970s bottle bill, is playing catch up.

This year, Gov. Ted Kulongoski turned sustainability into his legacy issue, signaling he wants Oregon to be the clean energy capital of the nation. In response, the Legislature is working on new tax credits to encourage farmers to grow crops, such as canola, that can be turned into biodiesel.

Leonard brought biodiesel to City Hall after gas price run-ups in 2005. Or, as Leonard calls it: "The price gouge."

domingo, 18 de marzo de 2007

Ventajas e inconvenientes del Biodiesel


* El biodiésel disminuye de forma notable las principales emisiones de los vehículos, como son el monóxido de carbono y los hidrocarburos volátiles, en el caso de los motores de gasolina, y las partículas, en el de los motores diésel.
* La producción de biodiésel supone una alternativa de uso del suelo que evita los fenómenos de erosión y desertificación a los que pueden quedar expuestas aquellas tierras agrícolas que, por razones de mercado, están siendo abandonadas por los agricultores.
* El biodiésel supone un ahorro de entre un 25% a un 80% de las emisiones de CO2 producidas por los combustibles derivados del petróleo, constituyendo así un elemento importante para disminuir los gases invernadero producidos por el transporte.
* Por su mayor índice de cetano y lubricidad reduce el desgaste en la bomba de inyección y en las toberas.
* No tiene compuestos de azufre por lo que no los elimina como gases de combustión.
* El biodiésel también es utilizado como una alternativa de aceite para motores de dos tiempos, en varios porcentajes; el porcentaje más utilizado es el de 10/1.
* El biodiésel también puede ser utilizado como aditivo para motores a gasolina (nafta) para la limpieza interna de estos.


* A pesar de sus muchas ventajas, también presenta algunos problemas. Uno de ellos es derivado de su mejor capacidad solvente que el petrodiésel, por lo que los residuos existentes son disueltos y enviados por la línea de combustible, pudiendo atascar los filtros. Otro ítem es una menor capacidad energética, aproximadamente un 5% menos, aunque esto, en la práctica, no es tan notorio ya que es compensado con el mayor índice cetano, lo que produce una combustión más completa con menor compresión.

* No existe registro de que produzcan mayores depósitos de combustión ni tampoco que degrade el arranque en frío de los motores.

* Otros problemas que presenta se refieren al área de la logística de almacenamiento, ya que es un producto hidrófilo y degradable, por lo cual es necesaria una planificación exacta de su producción y expedición. El producto se degrada notoriamente más rápido que el petrodiésel.

* Hasta el momento todavía no está claro el tiempo de vida útil del biodiésel; algunos dicen que posee un tiempo de vida muy corto (meses) y otros que su vida útil llega incluso a 10 años o más. Pero todos concuerdan que depende de su manipulación y almacenamiento.

* El rendimiento promedio para oleaginosas como girasol, maní, arroz, algodón, soja o ricino ronda los 900 litros de biodiésel por hectárea cosechada. Esto puede hacer que sea poco práctico para países con poca superficie cultivable; sin embargo, la gran variedad de semillas aptas para su producción, muchas de ellas complementarias en su rotación o con subproductos utilizables en otras industrias, hace que sea un proyecto sustentable.

Definición de Biodiesel

El biodiésel es un biocombustible sintético líquido que se obtiene a partir de lípidos naturales como aceites vegetales o grasas animales.

El producto fabricado industrialmente por procesos de esterificación y transesterificación, se aplica en la preparación de sustitutos totales o parciales del petrodiésel o gasóleo obtenido del petróleo. Como sustituto total se denomina B100, mientras que otras denominaciones como B5 o B30 hacen referencia a la proporción o % de biodiésel utilizado en la mezcla.

El biodiésel, cuyas propiedades son conocidas desde mediados del siglo XIX, se destina a la combustión en motores de ciclo diésel convencionales o adaptados, según el fabricante y por ello a principios del siglo XXI se impulsa su desarrollo como combustible para automóviles alternativo a los derivados del petróleo.

El impacto medioambiental y las consecuencias sociales de su previsible producción y comercialización masiva, especialmente en los países en vías de desarrollo o del Tercer Mundo es objeto de debate entre los especialistas y los diferentes agentes sociales y gubernamentales internacionales.