Friday, July 31, 2009

Chemrec's grant application for industrial-scale biofuels plant accepted by Swedish Energy Agency

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Chemrec recently announced that the Swedish Energy Agency has selected for further consideration a grant application from Chemrec to build an industrial-scale plant to produce renewable automotive fuel from biomass through gasification of black liquor. The planned location will be at the Domsjo biorefinery complex in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.

Since 2005 Chemrec has been operating a black liquor gasification pilot plant in Piteå in northern Sweden. This project is currently being expanded with a BioDME production facility.

The next step is to go from a pilot plant to an industrial scale plant. Should this grant application be successful it will provide US$64 million towards the total cost of US$350 million to make this a reality. It is estimated that the plant could be fully operational by late 2012.

“The energy feedstock for the fuel is logging residues, bark and industrial wood waste. The project will create substantial employment under the construction phase and permanently in forestry and plant operation.

“Fully implemented the technology can globally reduce fossil origin carbon dioxide emissions by over 90 million tons annually and replace about 30 million tons of fossil-origin diesel oil with renewable fuel. Planned production in this full-scale Chemrec plant is about 100,000 metric tons second-generation renewable automotive fuels BioDME and Biomethanol produced from gasified black liquor from pulp mills. It will reduce fossil carbon dioxide emissions by about 250,000 metric tons per year.”

While the future of DME in Europe looks promising, a related story shows that there is more work to do in North America. Newpage Corporation, based in Miamisburg, Ohio, recently announced that they will discontinue work on a biofuels gasification plant slated for a pulp and paper mill in Michigan. They had partnered with Chemrec on the project.

The cost of the installation combined with the low current market prices for methanol and DME plus the lack of demand for methanol and DME as transportation fuels in North America were given as reasons for shelving the project.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Indonesian presidential ticket included DME in energy policy

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Although the Indonesian general election is over and the ticket of Megawati Soekarnoputri and her running mate Prabowo Subianto lost to incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Blue Fuel/DME featured prominently in the energy policy of the second-place finishers.

According to an article in the Jakarta Post, Megawati and Prabowo proposed constructing "geothermal and hydroelectric plants to generate 10,000 MW, to build DME refineries, and to build 56-MTPA bio-ethanol plants (with 4 million hectares dedicated to growing sugar palms, in a plan intended to create 24 million jobs). It is believed that they included DME in their platform because Indonesia has significant experience in gas processing, if not in Blue Fuel/DME processing itself.

Since 1977, Indonesia has exported LNG to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China and the United States and natural gas by pipe to Singapore and Malaysia and it is considered a problem that a country rich in various energy resources has become oil-dominated and allowed itself to be trapped as a net oil importer. A key element of Indonesian energy policy recently is energy security and the Blue Fuel/DME refineries were intended to help with the security issue.

Megawati Soekarnoputri is the leader of the PDI-P party. She served as the President of Indonesia from 23 July, 2001 to 20 October, 2004 and was the country's first female President. She is also the first Indonesian leader to be born after independence. Megawati is the daughter of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Swedish investment in hydrogen fuel converters

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: As reported in The Engineer Online recently, two Swedish organizations - one government, one private - are investing in fuel cell development to the tune of over US$30 million over the next three years.

Specifically, the Swedish Energy Agency and Volvo are jointly investing SEK200m (£15.7m or US$25.7m) in the development of fuel cells, a move that should hopefully create roughly 100 jobs in the Gothenburg region over the next three years.

What's exciting from a Blue Fuel/DME Standpoint is that fuel converters can produce hydrogen gas from DME as well as biogas, methanol, ethanol, biodiesel, and also from regular diesel or petrol. The PEM fuel cell then converts the hydrogen gas into electricity. Per Wassén, investment director at Volvo Technology Transfer and chairman of Powercell Sweden said that "This is truly a major step in the development of fuel cells.’

To accelerate the introduction of fuel cells into the market, the Volvo Group, through Volvo Technology Transfer, will receive investment from Midroc New Technology and OCAS, as well as from the Swedish Energy Agency.

Powercell Sweden is founded on two patented components: a fuel converter (reformer) and a PEM fuel cell, which is the type of fuel cell most often used in transport applications.

"Thanks to our reformer technology we are now ready to start our production without having to wait for an infrastructure for the distribution of hydrogen gas,"’ said Wassén.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

US Energy Secretary meets DME producer and academics in China

As reported on both the US Department of Energy's (DOE) website and, among others, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke were in China from July 14-17 to "highlight the tremendous potential for mutually beneficial relationships in the clean energy sector."

“Clean energy will drive the economy of the future, both in the United States and around the world,” Chu said. “From renewable energy to more efficient buildings to carbon capture and storage, clean energy technologies can create millions of jobs. Working together, we can accomplish more than acting alone. It’s in our interest and China’s to explore ways to cooperate for our mutual benefit -- by promoting renewable energy, encouraging energy efficiency and cutting pollution.”

Besides meeting with important Chinese government officials such as Zhang Ping (Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission) and Wan Gang (Minister of Science), Secretaries Chu and Locke had two important sessions extremely relevant to the Blue Fuel/DME world.

On Wednesday, July 15, "Secretary Chu delivered a major address to an audience of top scientists, faculty and students at Tsinghua University focusing on the growing threat China and the U.S. face from climate change, from extreme heat waves to declining rice and agricultural production to flooding of major urban areas in coastal regions. He stressed that dealing with climate change presents opportunities as well as challenges, including the opportunity to create millions of jobs in the clean energy sector. He also outlined a number of solutions that the two countries are working to address, such as developing more efficient batteries, lower cost photovoltaics, and commercial scale carbon capture and sequestration technologies."

The significance of the Tsinghua University address for the Blue Fuel/DME industry is that one of Tsinghua University's leading environmental scientists is Professor Ni Weidou, well known for his innovative research into making the production of methanol/DME "greener" by integrating wind power with the modern coal chemical industry. Also, as an interesting human aside, Secretary Chu noted in his talk that both his parents were graduates of Tsinghua University and that his aunt was a chemistry professor at Tsinghua as well.

On the final day of their official trip, Secretaries Chu and Locke visited ENN headquarters in Langfang, Hebei Province (population approx. 62 million) in northeast China. ENN is an "innovative and integrated 'new energy' company founded in 1989" and is now China's seventh largest private company. On its Langfang campus, ENN "has a cutting-edge underground low-temperature coal gasification plant producing dimethyl ether and has also "recently signed a contract to build a plant in Egypt that will produce 200,000 tons of dimethyl ether annually."

That Secretary Chu, arguably the world's most influential environmental policy maker, met with such important DME players as ENN and Tsinghua University academics (and where he has personal connections, as well) during his trip to China seems fortuitous and good news indeed for anyone involved in the Blue Fuel/DME world.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

DME world gearing up for 6th Asian DME Conference in Seoul

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: The 6th annual Asian DME Conference (2009) will take place in Seoul, South Korea from Thursday, September 17th to Saturday September 19th, 2009.

Hosted by the Korea DME Association (chairman, Professor Gye-Gyu Lim, who is also president of the KDA), the conference venue is the Hotel Seoul KyoYuk MunHwa HoeKwan (located in southern Seoul near the Yang-Jae subway station on Line 3, south of the Han River).

According to the conference website, there will be technical tour on Sept. 19th and presentation topics include:

1. Technology / Society / Economic Vision of DME
2. Manufacturing Technology of DME
3. The Technology of Using DME in Development of Commerce, Industry,
4. LPG / Diesel Alternatives
5. Environment Issues & DME Safety
6. Supply Plan of DME (Market, Business Model, Supply Chain etc.).

Pre-registration deadline for the Asian DME conference is August 31, 2009.

The International DME Association website, lists other key conferences to follow including the International Conference on Coal Science & Technology in Cape Town, South Africa (Oct 26 - 29, 2009) and the World Methanol Conference in Miami, Florida, USA (Dec 8-9, 2009).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Alternative Fuel Technology Inc. making DME headlines

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Alternative Fuel Technology, Inc. (AFTC), a research, development, and manufacturing organization for advanced fuel systems using DME and based in Detroit, Michigan, has been making DME headlines recently.

As reported in Marketwire recently, AFTC has completed submission of its advanced propulsion solution for the US Navy. According to the article, "The US NAVY is in need of an alternative to current diesel fuel propulsion systems; one that allows for increased payloads without sacrificing speed and acceleration. More specifically, an innovative solution that decreases 'weight to power ratios' significantly, thereby enabling increases in mission system payload weight and personnel transport capability."

To answer this need, "(AFTC) submitted its proposal on June 15, ahead of schedule, and expects an answer in the next 60 to 90 days. The project includes three phases. Phase one could generate a total $100,000; Phase two could exceed $1,000,000, and Phase three which includes the completion of a full prototype engine installed in a marine craft, would likely approach $20,000,000. The US NAVY defines only the scope of the work rather than the contract dollar amount."

CEO Jim McCandless reported that, "All of us here in management at AFTC feel really solid about the proposal we submitted. Our proposal is not only extremely competitive, but we believe our technological ingenuity and ability to provide the next generation of fuel solutions can satisfy the Navy objectives of hauling greater weight without putting our troops' lives at risk. Gaining this opportunity would be a win for the company, of course, but a project we would be elated to be a part of."

More recently, on July 8, WebWire reported that AFTC had "received a second order from the Korea Institute of Energy (KIER) for four more DME feed pumps. This order brings the total purchased by the KIER to 10.

"KIER is adopting AFTC DME technology as a gradual replacement for traditional diesel fuel to improve air quality and strengthen Korea’s energy security." Yahoo Science also picked up the story and added that, "KIER ... views DME as an economic means by which the country may improve air quality and gain increased energy security in the future. In addition, government officials realize the potentially massive economic benefits associated with widespread adoption of DME as a fuel source." The Korea Institute of Energy is a Government entity which focuses on advanced energy Research and Developments projects with the goal of mass implementation and Commercialization of efficient, clean energy alternatives.

Finally, on June 23 in a story on and other sites, AFTC announced that, "after the signing of a contract in 2008 with Ford Motor Company to supply them with a DME fuel system for a single cylinder alternative fuels/emissions research project, the Company is on schedule to make delivery of the DME Fuel System in August of this year. AFTC is using a Ford Land Rover 4-cylinder diesel engine that will fire only on one cylinder. The Company is testing this system now and all tests currently are on track for shipping. If successful, Ford has stated that they will do a full engine and car demonstration."

Friday, July 10, 2009

Obama administration says research and development key to innovation

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: The Obama administration in the United States has made innovation in the field of alternative energy a cornerstone of their platform to advance the American economy. To support this strategy, the Department of Energy (DOE) is funding many research and development projects.

One example is a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-000103) designed to encourage research and development in the field of hydrogen extraction from coal. While the $five million grant is not huge, it demonstrates a belief that alternative fuel technologies could lead the way out of the current global recession and provide many of the answers to the current global climate crisis.

The DOE states: “This program is designed to support the Department of Energy (DOE) Strategic Plan by providing core competencies related to Hydrogen Separations Technologies. The specific objective of this activity is to competitively solicit projects under the Hydrogen and Clean Fuels program area to develop novel Hydrogen Production technologies. The goal of the Hydrogen and Clean Fuels program is to develop advanced and novel energy technologies which will facilitate the use of our nation’s abundant coal resources to produce, deliver, store, and utilize affordable hydrogen in an environmentally clean manner. The program helps to reduce environmental concerns associated with energy use in automotive and stationary power applications through clean production of hydrogen from coal in tandem with carbon sequestration, and will ensure availability of hydrogen in sufficient volumes for fuel cell-powered vehicles expected to enter the transportation market sector in the future.”

Although the emphasis of the research is on developing sufficient hydrogen resources for a future based on hydrogen-fueled vehicles, the potential to use new technologies developed under this program to produce other alternative fuels, such as Blue Fuel/DME, is evident.

The type of forward-thinking commitment to funding research and development exemplified here by the DOE should serve as a model for all governments looking for answers to the challenges the world is currently facing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chemrec black liquor gasifier reaches 10,000 operating hours producing green syngas

BLUE FUEL ENERGY.COM: Readers of this website and the blog in particular are familiar with our support of the BioDME project in Sweden. Here is the latest update from Chemrec:

“The Chemrec development plant in Piteå, Sweden has now reached 10,000 accumulated operating hours. Chemrec’s plant is the only gasification plant world-wide producing high-quality synthesis gas based on 100 % renewable feedstock. The syngas will be used to produce second generation green motor fuels.

The development plant, DP-1, has a capacity of 20 metric tons of solids per day, is oxygen-blown and has an operating pressure of 30 bar(g). It gasifies black liquor, a by-product in the kraft process, using the Chemrec entrained-flow, high temperature technology. This technology is unique in that it is from a renewable feedstock and in a single step achieves full char conversion to produce a gas which is very low in methane and tars -- essential characteristics of synthesis gas -- for production of synthetic motor fuels or chemicals.

The results achieved in DP-1 are being used in the current scale-up of the technology to full commercial size gasifier units for 500 metric tons of solids per day. The full-scale technology has in several independent evaluations been shown to provide uniquely high greenhouse gas emission reductions and energy efficiency while providing an opportunity for very substantial second-generation biofuels production.

In a separate activity, the BioDME project, Chemrec together with partners is adding a technical demonstration plant for production of dimethyl ether, DME, to the DP-1 facility. The DME, a high-performance second-generation diesel fuel, will be used in fleet trials with heavy trucks by AB Volvo.

Chemrec AB is a Swedish company providing technology for black liquor gasification which integrated in pulp mills provides the opportunity to produce large quantities of renewable motor fuels or electricity from biomass. The technology has the potential to globally provide motor fuels equivalent to over 45 billion litres/year of gasoline (12 billion gallons/year). Chemrec's owners are VantagePoint Venture Partners, Volvo Technology Transfer, Environmental Technologies Fund and Nykomb Synergetics.”

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tokyo DME Seminar a Success

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: On Tuesday, June 16th, approximately 300 people attended the DME Seminar 2009 in the Heisei Plaza at the Tokyo International Exchange located on Tokyo's waterfront.

The Seminar was a cooperative venture of prominent Japanese DME organizations: the Japan DME Vehicle Promotion Committee (DMEVPC), the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan DME Forum, and the DME Promotion Center. The meeting also had the support of the Kanto Economic Development Organization as well as Kanagawa and Niigata Prefectures and Niigata City..

Hosted by Dr. Mitsuhara Oguma of AIST, the seminar theme was Opening Doors to the Practical Application of DME.

There were seven presentations and included topics such as the Practical Applications of DME in Japan, Japanese Trends in DME, the Approach of Regional Governments to DME, DME in China Today, LPG/DME Blending Technology, Dewatering Technology for Sewage Sludge and a Panel Discussion which included a presentation from Canada's Blue Fuel Energy Corporation.

Noted speakers included Dr. Shinichi Goto of AIST, Akira Ishiwada of FDME and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical, Yasuhito Mikita of Iwatani International, Emiko Murakami of the Kitakyushu Office for International Environmental Cooperation, Koichi Nishimura of Isuzu Motors, and others. The panel discussion was moderated by Professor Iida of Keio University while the closing address was by Chairman Fujimoto of Japan DME Forum.

Following up on the seminar, on Monday, June 22, DMEVPC's Fuel Group held a working session which included six presentations including sessions on ISO standards for DME purity from Mr. Hiroshi Kita of MGC and Professor Oguma of ASIT, as well as a fascinating overview of world fuel markets from Total Japan. Blue Fuel Energy Corp. was also invited to give a presentation as were members from Bosch and JFE Holdings. Yasuto Ando of JFE's Corporate Planning Dept. described the trial project "100 Tons of DME per Day" which, though successful in achieving its goal, ended in 2006 in Kushiro, Japan.

Twenty-two Fuel Group members and guests attended the session.